This ancient window is the oculus in the roof of the Pantheon in Rome, and it allows air filled with light to fall into the otherwise dark interior of the temple. It gives the gods an eye to look down through, but it also allows their sacred light to move into and around the enclosed temple space. The word oculus itself means eye, and this gives us a clue about how windows were seen in the past. They are a way into and out of closed spaces, for air, light and energy, but not for the physical body which moves instead through doors.
To sit and watch light streaming through a window is always an uplifting experience, and the feeling of a space will change as the external light changes with the hour of the day and the season of the year. The quality and direction of light will offer many clues about where we are in time and space. Our ancestors knew this, and they constructed many ways to harness these clues, windows or portals being just one example. These tall slender sandstone windows would once have been filled with coloured glass, which would have thrown beautiful patterns across the stone interior of this royal chapel. Many of the Stuart Kings and Queens of Scotland would have worshiped in this space, including Mary Queen of Scots. As a little girl she might have been entranced by the coloured lights streaming through these very windows, dancing across the stone walls.
The English word window originates from the Old Norse ‘vindauga’. This is made from two Norse words: vindr which means wind or air, and auga which means eye. So we have an eye of the wind or air, letting the energy of air, including light, in or out of the building. We also find natural windows, carved by flowing water through stone, which offer movement between the worlds. Stones with holes were used by seers in Scotland to look into the world of magic, of the old gods and fairies, and into the future. These round windows were portals which could also allow movement into our world of healing and protective energies. So again there is a two way flow of energy, but not of the physical body. In the same way our own eyes allow light and vision to flow into our bodies and minds, where otherwise we would be enclosed in darkness. From within our bodies we sit and look out into the world, and it’s ever changing light, and the light flows in affecting our body clocks and internal rhythms.
The light we see is never the same from one moment to the next, and by taking notice of this we can come to enjoy each unique moment as it flows through our awareness. Windows can offer us frames through which we can see time passing, hour by hour, day by day. The view from this window out across Linlithgow Loch has hardly changed in the 600 years since it was a royal bedroom, and yet it changes every minute as the sun rolls across the sky. Light is timeless and yet full of time, if we know how to pay attention. Resting in an awareness of its movement, and it’s qualities we can come more fully into the present moment of our lives. We live in a beautiful flow of light which opens and closes each day, as we open and close our eyes.
It’s said that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and we should remember that those windows allow energy to flow in as well as out. We drink the world in through our eyes, and pour ourselves out through them into its beauty.