Walnut of Eden

  • Plato found an interrelationship between man and the universe. The universe is the macrocosm – a gigantic living organism; man is the microcosm – the universe in miniature.
  • The world inside the walnut shell is the microcosm within the macrocosm of the surrounding universe. It is life, all of life, condensed "in a nutshell."
  • The encapsulated shell is a symbol of the Garden of Eden. It represents paradise.
  • A walled garden is protected from the external world.
  • Some Hindu gardens are designed in the shape of a mandala. A safe and private place of contemplation, these gardens reveal a people who value the ability to withdraw inwardly, away from the rest of the physical world.

The painting depicts the morning after Creation. The very embryonic structure of the walnut speaks of it. Newborn light paints the scene in the finest tones of brown and pink. Daybreak fills all of the space, illuminating every living cell as it pulses with life. The branches and fruits of the tree are clearly and distinctly visible; bright dewdrops are rolling down dark green leaves. There is a sense of newness, of youth. There is life but no decay. This is the Garden before the fall of man.

The walnut tree symbolizes the beginning and continuing of life. Two essences – male and female, yang and yin – are united inside the nurturing, protective space of the shell. This is a union of two opposites. Together they make a whole; apart, they are incomplete.

It is no surprise that in the old days a nut was believed to bring luck to those in love. A place of safe haven, it reminds us of Hamlet's declaration, "O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space."