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A type of witch in Hispanic folklore, the name perhaps being derived from Jana or Diana. These witches take on the form of old women to test out the charity of human beings. In their true form they are beautiful young women, fair haired and blue-eyed, clothed in tunics made of flowers and silver stars. They carry a gold staff and wear green stockings. They watch over animals and have underground palaces full of jewels and other treasure. The touch of their staff turns everything into riches . Symbolism of this kind reveals ancestral memories of druidesses; at a deeper level it also signifies the soul renewed by fusion with the Lana personality'. The staff, a sigmoid symbol, is the emblem of those relationships linking apparently unrelated things. The green stockings allude to the primitive forces of virgin nature. The treasures and riches signify the spiritual powers harboured by the unconscious.
The age of an object confers upon it an additional significance which eventually becomes more important than the original significance of the object itself. The significance of antiquity is derived from the following considerations: (i) Whatever is old is authentic, unadulterated, true, a link with the other world; old things do not deceive, therefore they stand for truth itself; (ii) Whatever is old is primitive, closer to that 'primigenial era' which boasted the 'Golden Age' of humanity; (iii) By analogy, whatever is old is related to the primitive stages in the individual's life, i.e. to the carefree life of the child, the 'paradise lost' of childhood.
An attribute of Ceres, ants were utilized in soothsaying . There is an Indian myth in which they symbolize the pettiness of all things living the fragile character and impotence of existence; but they also represent the life which is superior to human life . on account of their multiplicity, their symbolic significance is unfavourable.
A symbol of the earth and of matter. It corresponds to the passive and feminine principle, as opposed to the hammer, which denotes fecundation.
Apocalyptic Beast
A symbol of matter in the process of involution: a snake or a dragon, for example, in so far as they are enemies of the spirit and a perversion of higher qualities . It has sometimes been equated with the feminine principle, in so far as this is a source of temptation and corruption, and particularly of stagnation in the process of evolution. Myths such as those of Calypso or the sirens are related to this theme.
In mythology and alchemy, his spiritual and symbolic significance is identical with that of the sun. The spreading golden hairs which crown the god's head have the same meaning as the bow and arrow (sunrays). The Greek name for Apollo is, of course, Apollon, which means 'from the depths of the lion' and expresses the meaningful relationship of the sun with the fifth sign of the Zodiac, Leo .
Being almost spherical in shape, the apple signifies totality. It is symbolic of earthly desires, or of indulgence in such desires. The warning not to eat the forbidden apple came, therefore, from the mouth of the supreme being, as a warning against the exaltation of materialistic desire. The intellect, the thirst for knowledge as Nietzsche realized is only an intermediate zone between earthly desire and pure spirituality.
The eleventh archetypal sign of the Zodiac. Its allegorical representation is a figure of a man pouring water from an amphora. In the Egyptian Zodiac of Denderah, Aquarius carries two amphorae. This version merely affects the numerical symbolism; it affords clearer proof of the dual force of the symbol (its active and passive aspects, evolution and involution), a duality which is of the essence in the important symbol of the Gemini. All Eastern and Western traditions relate this archetype to the symbolic flood which stands not only for the end of a formal universe but also for the completion of any cycle by the destruction of the power which held its components together.
When this power ceases to function, the components return to the Akasha the universal solvent which is symbolized by Pisces. In these two signs of the Zodiac, then, the cosmic pralaya, or Brahma's night, runs its course. Its function, according to Hindu tradition, is to reabsorb into Oneness all those elements which originally seceded from it to lead separate individual existences. Thus, each end carries the seed of a new beginning (Ouroboros). The Egyptians identified Aquarius with their god Hapi, the personification of the Nile, whose floods were the source of the agricultural, economic and spiritual life of the country. Consequently, Aquarius symbolizes the dissolution and decomposition of the forms existing within any process, cycle or period, the loosening of bonds; the imminence of liberation through`the destruction of the world of phenomena .
The symbolism of architecture is, of course, complex and wide-ranging. It is founded upon 'correspondences' between various patterns of spatial organization, consequent upon the relationships, on the abstract plane, between architectural structures and the organized pattern of space. While the basic pattern of architectural relationships provides the primary symbolism, secondary symbolic meanings are derived from the appropriate selection of individual forms, colours and materials, and by the relative importance given to the various elements forming the architectural whole (function, height, etc.).
The most profound and fundamental architectural symbol is the 'mountain-temple' (the Babylonian ziggurat, Egyptian pyramid, American teocalli or stepped pyramid, Buddhist stupa). It is based on a complex geometrical symbolism including both the pyramid and the ladder or staircase, as well as the mountain itself. Some of this symbolism can also be found in Western religious building, particularly Gothic cathedrals. Such temples often include essential elements from the mandala symbolism (that is, the squaring of the circle, through a geometrical diagram combining the square and the circle, usually linked through the octagon as an intermediate step) and from the symbolism of numbers (the significant figure standing for the number of essential factors: for example, 7 is very common in stepped pyramids; and, in the Temple of Heaven in Peking, 3 the number of floors is the basic number, multiplied by itself because of the 3 platforms and the 3 roofs) . The figure 8, as we have seen, is of great importance as the link between 4 (or the square) and the circle. The Tower of the Winds, in Athens, was octagonal in plan.
The eight pillars of the Temple of Heaven in Peking are another instance . As the cave inside the mountain is an essential element in mountain symbolism, it follows that the 'mountain-temple' would not be complete without some form of cave. In this sense, Indian rock-cut temples are a literal expression of the mountain-cave symbol: the temple actually is the cave cut into the side of the mountain. The cave stands for the spiritual Centre, the heart or the hearth (cf. the cave in Ithaca, or the Cave of the Nymphs in Porphyry). This symbolism implies a displacement of the symbolic centre, that is, the mountain peak of the world 'outside' is transferred to the 'inside' (of the mountain, and so of the world and of Man). The primary belief in the fundamental significance of an external form (such as the menhir, omphalos or pillar) is replaced by an interest in the space at the centre of things', identified as the ancient symbol of the 'world egg'. One of the specific symbols of this is the dome, symbolizing also the vault of heaven (which is why domes in ancient Persia were always painted blue or black). In this connexion, it is important to note that, in the geometrical symbolism of the cosmos, all circular forms relate to the sky or heaven, all squares to the earth, and all triangles (with the apex at the top) to fire and to the urge towards ascension inherent in human nature. Hence, the triangle also symbolizes the communication between earth (the material world) and heaven (the spiritual world).
The square corresponds to the cross formed by the four Cardinal Points . And, of course, the pyramid is square in plan and triangular in section. This general symbolism, however, can be profoundly modified in certain directions by the addition of powerful secondary meanings or associations. Thus, whereas Christianity comes to stress the importance of the human individual rather than the cosmos, temple-symbolism emphasizes the transcendence of the human figure rather than the contrast between heaven and earth though the primary meaning can by no means be ignored. Already in Greek, Etruscan and Roman temple-building, this symbolic contrast, as well as the symbolism of gradual ascent (as in Babylonian ziggurats) had become subservient to the concept of a temple mirroring on earth the division of the heavens into an ordered pattern, and resting on supports (pillars, columns) which since they originate from primitive lake-dwelling structures relate the earth's surface to the 'primordial waters' of the ocean.
The typical Romanesque church combines the symbolisms of the dome, and of the circle and the square, with two new elements of the greatest importance: the subdivision of the main body of the building into nave and two aisles (symbolic of the Trinity) and the cross-shaped plan, derived from the image of a man lying prostrate with his arms outstretched whereby the centre becomes not man's navel (a merely symmetrical division) but his heart (at the intersection of nave and transept), while the main apse represents the head. As indicated above, each architectural element contributes to the general symbolism. Thus, in Gothic architecture, the symbol of the Trinity occurs repeatedly in triple doors, trefoiled, scalloped and pointed arches.
The ogive in itself is nothing but a triangle with curved sides, with all the specific implications of trianglesymbolism outlined above . The flammigerous arch, as the name indicates, is a symbol of fire, and it would be possible to see in the formal evolution of 15th-century Gothic a return to the apocalyptic meanings which were so important in Romanesque iconography. Jambs, pillars and side columns can be interpreted as 'guardians' of the doorway. Porches are the external counterpart of the altar-piece which, in its turn, is as it were the 'programme' set up in the heart of the temple. Cloisters also possess cosmic and spiritual implications. On the cosmic plane, and regarded as a spatial expression of a period of time, they stand for the cycle of the year, and by analogy, for the life-span of Man.
The correlation is as follows: North-East side of the doister October/December; North-West January/March; South-West April/June; South-East July/September. The four divisions of the year (or of the human life-span of which it is an analogical image) are further correlated to the four phases of a ritual cycle of healing (or salvation): the first phase death, danger and suffering; second phase purifying fire; third cure; fourth convalescence. According to Pinedo, the South side, whence the warm winds blow, pertains to the Holy Spirit, inspiring the soul with the fire of charity and divine love; the North side, exposed to the cold winds, pertains to the devil and his insinuations that freeze the soul . As regards one of the most characteristic features of Gothic cathedrals the twin frontal towers Schneider points out that they are related to the two peaks of the Mountain of Mars (with its related symbols of the Gemini, Janus and the number 2), while the dome over the intersection of the nave and transepts stands for the Mountain of Jupiter (or unity). Paradise is above the platform and Hell (represented by the gargoyles) beneath. The four supports, pillars or piers which subdivide the facade and determine the location of the three doorways are the four rivers of Paradise.
The three doors stand for faith, hope and charity. The central rosette is the Lake of Life, where heaven and earth meet (sometimes it also stands for heaven, towards which the apex of the triangular ogive points) . Attempts have also been made to define the probable allegorical significance of other parts of the architectural fabric of the cathedral. Thus, according to Lampérez, the church walls stand for humanity redeemed; the counterforts and flying buttresses for uplifting, moral strength; the roof for charity and shelter; the pillars, for the dogmas of the faith; the ribbing of the vaults, for the paths of salvation; the spires, for God's finger pointing to the ultimate goal of mankind. It will be seen that the special symbolic meanings here are obviously related to the appearance and functions of the various architectural elements. Two further facts should also be mentioned:
the 'degraded' interpretation suggested by psychoanalysts whereby every building is seen as a human body (doors and windows openings; pillars forces) or spirit (cellars subconscious; attics mind, imagination) an interpretation arrived at on an experimental basis; and the possibility of elaborating increasingly complex', 4 systems by combining a number of symbolic principles. Kubler, in his Baroque Architecture, analyses the case of Fr. Giovanni Ricci who, following the example of his mannerist forerunners Giacomo Soldati and Vincenzo Scamozzi, endeavoured to develop a new 'harmonic' or ideal architectural order, by integrating the existing systems (Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, etc.) into a scheme whereby each different mode was related to a specific temperament or to a certain degree of holiness (Plate III).
The Ram, a symbol of the creative impulse and of the spirit at the moment of its inception. The first sign of the Zodiac. In Hindu symbolism it stands for Parabrahman, that is, for the undifferentiated whole. Because the Zodiac is the symbol of the cycle of existence, Aries, its first sign, stands for the original cause or the thunderbolt which emerges from the Akasha of Pisces, that is, from the 'primordial waters'. Aries, because it stands for the initial impulse through which the potential becomes actual, is also related to the dawn and to Spring, and generally to the beginning of any cycle, process or creation. In Egypt the ram was the symbol of Amon-Ra, and the god was depicted with ram's horns. As regards human physiology, Aries controls the head and the brain, that is to say, the organs which are the centre of the individual's physical and spiritual energies, as Parabrahman is the centre of the cosmic forces .
Both on the material and the spiritual planes the ark symbolizes the power to preserve all things and to ensure their rebirth. Biologically speaking, it can be regarded as a symbol of the womb or of the heart , there being an obvious connexion between these two organs. The symbolism of Noah's ark has been the subject of much discussion beginning as early as St. Ambrose, De Noe et Arca, and Hugh of Saint Victor, De area Noe morali and De area mystica. The basic symbolism of the ark is the belief that the essences of the physical and spiritual life can be extracted and contained within a minute seed until such time as a rebirth creates the conditions necessary for the re-emergence of these essences into external life. Guénon has found subtle analogies, of great symbolic interest, between the ark and the rainbow. The ark, during the cosmic pralaya, floats on the waters of the lower ocean; the rainbow, in the realm of the 'upper waters', is a sign of the restoration of the order which is preserved below in the ark. Both figures together, being complementary, complete the circle of Oneness. They therefore correspond to the two halves of the ancient symbol of the 'world egg' . As a symbol of the heart (or of the mind, or of thought) the image of the ark is similar to that of the drinking-vessel, so frequent in mediaeval mysticism.
In Egyptian hieroglyphs, the sign of the arm stands for activity in general. Other signs derived from this primary sign stand for special kinds of activity, such as working, offering, protecting, donating, etc. The hieroglyph depicting two raised arms is a symbol of invocation and of self-defence , a meaning which is universally recognized. A frequent motif in heraldic and emblematic devices is that of a weapon held by an arm emerging from a cloud, or from the surround of a picture. This is the avenging arm of the Lord of Hosts, or a call from the heavens for vengeance .
The weapon of Apollo and Diana, signifying the light of supreme power . In both Greece and pre-Columbian America , it was used to designate the sun's rays. But, because of its shape, it has undeniable phallic significance, specially when it is shown in emblems balanced against the symbol of the 'mystic Centre', feminine in character, such as the heart. The heart pierced with an arrow is a symbol of 'Conjunction'.
The symbolism of ascension or ascent has two main aspects: externally a higher level in space signifies a higher value by virtue of its connexion with the symbolism of space and height; and, secondly, it pertains to the inner life, the symbolism of which concerns the 'upward impulse' rather than any actual ascent. As Mircea Eliade has observed: 'Whatever the religious context, and whatever the particular form they may take (shamanist or initiation rites, mystic ecstasy, dream-vision, heroic legend), ascensions of all kinds, such as climbing mountains or stairs or soaring upwards through the air, always signify that the human condition is being transcended and that higher cosmic levels are being attained. The mere fact of "levitation" is equivalent to a consecration....' But, according to a more straightforward interpretation based upon the concept of energy, the action of rising (as, in music, going from bass to treble, or from piano to forte) expresses an increase in intensity , whether it concerns domination or the lust for power, or any other urge whatsoever. All world-axis symbols (the mountain, ladder, tree, cross, liana, rope, the thread of the spider, spear) are connected with the symbolism of ascension .
In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, the sign incorporating the ashlar (or squared stone) symbolizes material which has been worked upon, or the results of creative activity. By analogy, it refers to the trials necessitated by the spiritual evolution which Man must undergo before he can attain to the essential conditions of regularity, order, coherence and continuity. The idea here is the same as that expressed in the alchemic dialectic of the fixed and the volatile principles. The connexion between the ashlar and the human spirit arises from the general symbolism of the stone combined with the notion of humanity as a perfect structure which ensures that every 'saved' man is whole and firm as rock.
This symbolic animal appears as an attribute of Saturn, in his capacity as the 'second sun'. It is always on heat, and hated by Isis . The significance of the mock crucifix, with an ass's head, from the Palatine, must be related to the equation of Yahve with Saturn , although it may be that it is related to the jester-symbol. In connexion with the latter, the ass's head, frequently found in mediaeval emblems, marks and signs, often stands for humility, patience and courage. Sometimes there is a wheel or a solar symbol between the ass's ears. This symbol, also found on the heads of oxen, always denotes that the animal is a sacrificial victim . But the symbolism of the ass involves still further complexities: Jung defines it as daemon triunus a chthonian trinity which in Latin alchemy was depicted as a three-headed monster, one head representing mercury, the second salt and the third sulphur, or, in short, the three material principles of matter .
A circular or oblong halo surrounding bodies in glory. According to a 12th-century text, attributed to the abbey of St. Victor, the oblong shape derives from the symbolism of the almond, which is identified with Christ. This, however, does not change the general sense of the aureole as a relic of solar cults, and as a fire-symbol expressive of irradiating, supernatural energy , or as a manifestation of the emanation of spiritual light (which plays such an important part in Hindu doctrine) . The almond-shaped aureole, which usually surrounds the whole of the body, is usually divided into three zones, as an active expression of the Trinity .
A symbol of the power of light. The battle-axe has a significance which is equivalent to that of the sword, the hammer and the cross. But much more important and complex is the significance of the twin-bladed axe, related to the sign tan . This doubleheaded axe is to be found in a host of works of art from India to England, and specially in the Mediterranean countries in Africa and Crete. Very often it is located over the head of an ox, just between its horns, when it comes to symbolize on the one hand the mandorla (related to horns because of its shape), and, on the other, the function of sacrifice in the relationship between the valleysymbol and the mountain-symbol (that is, between earth and heaven) . According to Luc Benoist, this twin-bladed axe is the same as the Hindu vajra and Jove's thunderbolt, becoming therefore a symbol of celestial illumination. Nowadays the double-bladed axe (the labrys) is associated with the labyrinth, both being symbols in the Cretan cult. The labyrinth denotes the world of existence the pilgrimage in quest of the 'Centre' . In some paintings in Crete, such as that on a sarcophagus from Hagia Triada, we see a symbol made up of a cone, a double-bladed axe and a bird. The cone alludes to the deity; the axe, like all things dual, is an aspect of the Gemini, that is, of the focal-point of symbolic Inversion; the bird has been recognized as an image of the human soul ever since the time of the Egyptians (Waldemar Fenn). The axe is also symbolic of death ordered by a deity.