SYMBOLISM AND HISTORICITY
ORIGIN AND CONTINUITY OF THE SYMBOL
SYMBOLISM IN THE WEST
THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF DREAMS
THE SYMBOLISM OF ALCHEMY
DEFINITIONS OF THE SYMBOL
THE 'COMMON RHYTHM' OF SCHNEIDER
ANALYSIS OF THE SYMBOL
SYMBOL AND ALLEGORY—SYMBOL AND ARTISTIC EXPRESSION
APPRECIATION AND INTERPRETATION
LEVELS OF MEANING
THE SYMBOLIZING AGENT AND THE SYMBOLIC OBJECT
Delimitation of the Symbolic
on entering the realms of symbolism, whether by way of systematized artistic forms or the living, dynamic forms of dreams and visions, we have constantly kept in mind the essential need to mark out the field of symbolic action, in order to prevent confusion between phenomena which might appear to be identical when they are merely similar or externally related. The temptation to over-substantiate an argument is one which is difficult to resist. It is necessary to be on one's guard against this danger, even if full compliance with the ideals of scholarship is not always feasible; for we believe with Marius Schneider that there is no such thing as 'ideas or beliefs', only 'ideas and beliefs', that is to say that in the one there is always at least something of the other—quite apart from the fact that, as far as symbolism is concerned, other phenomena of a spiritual kind play an important part.
When a critic such as Caro Baroja declares himself against any symbolic interpretation of myth, he doubtless has his reasons for so doing, although one reason may be that nothing approaching a complete evaluation of symbolism has yet appeared. He says: 'When they seek to convince us that Mars is the symbol of War, and Hercules of Strength, we can roundly refute them. All this may once have been true for rhetoricians, for idealist philosophers or for a group of more or less pedantic graeculi. But, for those who really believed in ancient deities and heroes, Mars had an objective reality, even if this reality was quite different from that which we are groping for today. Symbolism occurs when natural religions are degenerating In point of fact, the mere equation of Mars with War and of Hercules with Labour has never been characteristic of the symbolist ethos, which always eschews the categorical and restrlctive. This comes about through allegory, a mechanical and restricting derivative of the symbol, whereas the symbol proper is a dynamic and polysymbolic reality, imbued with emotive and conceptual values: in other words, with true life.
However, the above quotation is extremely helpful in enabling us to mark out the limits of the symbolic. If there is or if there may be a symbolic function in everything, a 'communicating tension', nevertheless this fleeting possession of the being or the object by the symbolic does not wholly transform it into a symbol. The error of symbolist artists and writers has always been precisely this: that they sought to turn the entire sphere of reality into a vehicle for impalpable 'correspondences', into an obsessive conjunction of analogies, without being aware that the symbolic is opposed to the existential and instrumental and without realizing that the laws of symbolism hold good only within its own particular sphere. This distinction is one which we would also apply to the Pythagorean thesis that 'everything is disposed according to numbers', as well as to microbiological theory. Neither the assertion of the Greek philosopher on the one hand, nor the vital pullulation subjected invisibly to the science of Weights and Measures on the other, is false; but all life and all reality cannot be forced to conform with either one theory or the other, simply because of its certitude, for it is certain only within the limits of theory. In the same way, the symbolic is true and active on one plane of reality, but it is almost unthinkable to apply it systematically and consistently on the plane of existence. The consequent scepticism concerning this plane of reality—the magnetic life-source of symbols and their concomitants—explains the widespread reluctance to admit symbolical values; but such an attitude is lacking in any scientific justification.
Carl Gustav Jung, to whom present-day symbology owes so much, points out in defence of this branch of human thought that: 'For the modern mind, analogies—even when they are analogies with the most unexpected symbolic meanings—are nothing but self-evident absurdities. This worthy judgement does not, however, in any way alter the fact that such affinities of thought do exist and that they have been playing an important role for centuries. Psychology has a duty to recognize these facts; it should leave it to the profane to denigrate them as absurdities or as obscurantism'. Elsewhere Jung observes that all the energy and interest devoted today by western Man to science and technology were, by ancient Man, once dedicated to mythology. And not only his energy and interest but also his speculative and theorizing propensities, creating the immeasurable wealth of Hindu, Chinese and Islamic philosophy, the Cabala itself and the painstaking investigations of alchemy and similar studies. The view that both ancient and oriental man possessed a technique of speculative thought which assured them of some success in prophecy is affirmed by, for example, the archaeologist and historian, Contenau, who maintains that the schools of soothsayers and magicians of Mesopotamia could not
have continued to flourish without a definite proportion of correct prognostications; and again by Gaston Bachelard , posing the question: 'How could a legend be kept alive and perpetuated if each generation had not "intimate reasons" for believing in it?' The symbolist meaning of a phenomenon helps to explain these 'intimate reasons', since it links the instrumental with the spiritual, the human with the cosmic, the casual with the causal, disorder with order, and since it justifies a word like universe which, without these wider implications, would be meaningless, a dismembered and chaotic pluralism; and finally, because it always points to the transcendental.
To revert to the question of the limits of the symbolic and to fix more precisely the aims of this work, let us consider how, on the facade of a monastery, for example, we may note:
(a) the beauty of the whole;
(b) the constructional technique;
(c) its period-styling, bearing in mind the geographical and historical implications;
(d) the implicit or explicit cultural and religious values, etc.; and also
(e) the symbolic meaning of the forms.
In this instance, the appreciation of the symbolical implications of an ogival arch beneath a rose window could constitute an item of knowledge different in kind from the other items we have enumerated. To facilitate analyses of this kind without, let us repeat, confusing the symbolic essence of an object—the transitory symbolic function which heightens it at any given moment—with its total significance as a real object in the world—that is our main aim. The fact that a Romanesque cloister corresponds exactly to the concept of temenos (sacred precinct) and to the images of the soul, the fountain and the central fount—like sutratma (silver thread), linking a phenomenon by way of its centre to its origin—does not invalidate or even modify the architectural and utilitarian reality of this cloister; it enriches its significance by identifying it with an 'inner form'.
SYMBOLISM AND HISTORICITY
One of the most deplorable errors of symbolist theory, in its 'spontaneous as well as in its occult and even its dogmatic interpretations~ lies in opposing the symbolical to the historical. Arguing rom the premise that there are symbols—and, indeed, there are many—which exist only within their own symbolic structure, the false conclusion is then drawn that all or almost all transcendental events which appear to be both historical and symbolic at once in other words, to be significant once and for all time—may be seen simply as symbolic matter transformed into legend and thence into history.
The most authoritative students of religion, orientalists and even esoteric scholars have recently raised their voices in Protest against this error. Mircea Eliade asserts that 'the two points of view are only superficially irreconcilable . . ., for it must not be thought that a symbolic connotation annuls the material and specific validity of an object or action. Symbolism adds a new value to an object or an act, without thereby violating its immediate or "historical" validity. Once it is brought to bear, it turns the object or action into an "open" event: symbolic thought opens the door on to immediate reality for us, but without weakening or invalidating it; seen in this light the universe is no longer sealed off, nothing is isolated inside its own existence: everything is linked by a system of correspondences and assimilations. Man in early society became aware of himself in a world wide open and rich in meaning. It remains to be seen whether these "openings" are just another means of escape or whether, on the other hand, they offer the only possible way of accepting the true reality of the world'.
In this quotation we can see clearly formulated the distinction between the historical and the symbolic. We can also see the everpresent possibility of a bridge linking both forms of reality in a cosmic synthesis. The hint of scepticism in the concluding words of this Rumanian scholar should be ascribed to his predominantly scientific training at a time when science, with its emphasis upon the analytical approach, has achieved admirable results in every sphere of reality without showing itself capable of grasping the overall organic pattern, that is: as 'multiplicity in unity'. This scientific disaffection has been well defined by Martin Buber: Imago mundi nova, imago nulla. In other words, the world today lacks its own image, because this image can be formulated only by means of a universal synthesis of knowledge—a synthesis which, since the Renaissance and the de omni re scibili of Pico della Mirandola, has daily become more difficult.
In connexion with this question of the relationship between the historical and the symbolic, Rene Guenon has observed: 'There is indeed over-eager acceptance of the belief that to allow a symbolic meaning must imply the rejection of the literal or historical meaning; such a view shows an ignorance of the law of correspondences. This law is the foundation of all symbolism and by virtue of it every thing proceeding essentially from a metaphysical principle, which is the source of its reality, translates and expresses this principle in its own way and according to its own level of existence, so that all things are related and joined together in total, universal harmony which is, in its many guises, a reflection, as it were, of its own fundamental unity . . . One result of this is the range of meaning contained in every symbol: any one thing may, indeed, be regarded
as an illustration not only of metaphysical principles but also of higher levels of reality'.
The above considerations make it clear that the symbolic in no way excludes the historical, since both forms may be seen—from the ideological point of view—as functional aspects of a third: the metaphysical principle, the platonic 'idea'; or all three may be seen as reciprocal expressions of one meaning on different levels. Going to the kernel of the problem, religion—which naturally absorbs so much of his attention—Jung agrees with Eliade and Guenon in his belief that 'the psychic fact "God" is a collective archetype, a psychic existent, which must not in itself be confused with the concept of a metaphysical God'. The existence of the archetype (that is, of the symbol) 'neither postulates a God, nor does it deny that he exists'; yet although this is, strictly speaking, unquestionable, it must surely be agreed—if only in theory—that the universality of an archetype affirms rather than denies the reality of the principle in question. Consequently the symbolic, being independent of the historical, not only does not exclude it but, on the contrary, tends to root it firmly in reality, because of the parallelism between the collective or individual world and the cosmic. And because of the great depth of the hidden roots of all systems of meanings, a further consequence is our tendency to espouse the theory that all symbolist traditions, both western and oriental, spring from one common source. Whether this one source once appeared in time and space as a primeval focal point, or whether it stems from the 'collective unconscious', is quite another matter.
We should like to emphasize that when we refer, in the various passages quoted and paraphrased, to 'tradition' or 'traditional doctrine', we are referring only to the continuity—conscious or unconscious—and the coherence of a system, as much in the dimension of space as in that of time. Some writers favour the doctrine of a spontaneous growth of historically unrelated ideas, while others believe only in the spread of ideasthrough culture. Loeffler, for example, comments upon the importance of proving that the creation of the storm-myth belongs neither to race nor tribe, since it occurred simultaneously in Asia, Europe, Oceania and America; this is akin to the contention of Rank that: 'The myth is the collective dream of the people', a concept substantiated by Rudolf Steiner. Bayley, following Max Muller, believes in the common origin of the human race, which he contends is proved by the universal themes of folklore, legend and superstition. Orientalism, the study of comparative religion, mythology, cultural anthropology, the history of civilization and art, esoterism, psychoanalysis, and symbological research have all combined to provide us with ample material to substantiate Psychological truth', and this 'essential oneness'; further evidence has been forthcoming from the psychic and also from physiological bases common to us all on account of the importance of the human body—its shape as well as its postures— in relation to the simplest elements of symbolist dialectic.
ORIGIN AND CONTINUITY OF THE SYMBOL
The Development of Symbolism Diel rightly asserts that the symbol is a vehicle at once universal and particular. Universal, since it transcends history; particular, because it relates to a definite period of history. Without going into questions of 'origin', we shall show that most writers agree in tracing the beginnings of symbolist thought to prehistoric times—to the latter part of the Palaeolithic Age. Our present knowledge of primitive thought and the deductions which can justifiably be drawn concerning the art and the belongings of early than substantiate this hypothesis, but substantiation has been forthcoming particularly from research upon epigraphic engravings. The constellations, animals and plants, stones and the countryside were the tutors of primitive man. It was St. Paul who formulated the basic notion of the immediate consequence of this contact with the visible, when he said: 'Per visibilia ad invisibilia' (Romans i, 20). The process whereby the beings of this world are ordered according to their properties, so that the words of action and of spiritual and moral facts may be explored by analogy, is one which can also be seen, with the dawning of history, in the transition of the pictograph into the ideograph, as well as in the origins of art.
We could adduce an immense weight of testimony offered by human faith and wisdom proving that the invisible or spiritual order is analogous to the material order. We shall come back to this later when we define 'analogy'. Let us recall the saying of Plato, taken up later by the pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite: 'What is perceptible to the senses is the reflection of what is intelligible to the mind'; and echoed in the Tabula Smaragdina: 'What is below is like what is above; what is above is like what is below', and also in the remark of Goethe: 'What is within is also without.' However it may be, symbolism is organized in its vast explanatory and creative function as a system of highly complex relations, one in which the dominant factor is always a polarity, linking the physical and metaphysical worlds. What palaeolithic Man evolved out of this process is impossible to know except through indirect deductions. Our knowledge about the latter part of the neolithic age is considerably wider. Schneider and Berthelot both consider that this was the period (that is: possibly the fourth millenary before history) when man underwent that great transformation which endowed him with the gifts of creation and organization, qualities which distinguish him from the merely natural world. Berthelot, who has studied this process in the Near East, has given the name of 'astrobiology' to the religious and intellectual cultures of that epoch. The evolution of Man up to this point in history must have passed through the following stages: animism; totemism; and megalithic, lunar and solar cultures. The subsequent stages must have been: cosmic ritualism; polytheism; monotheism; and, finally, moral philosophy. Berthelot considers astrology, astronomy, arithmetic and alchemy of Chaldean origin, a contention which points conclusively to a single focal point in time and space.
He defines the value and significance of astrobiology in the following terms: 'Between on the one hand the world-vision—in many other respects variable and complex—of primitive races, and the vision of modern science and Western Europe on the other, an intermediary view has long held sway in Asia and the Mediterranean. It is what may be termed "astrobiology" or the interplay of astronomic law (the mathematical order) and vegetable and animal life (the biological order). All things form at one and the same time an organic whole and a precise order. The domestication of animals and the care of plants (agriculture) had become a reality long before history began, both in Chaldaea and in Egypt—that is, before 3,000 B.C. Agriculture ensures the regular production of precisely determined species of vegetable, and also ensures an appreciation of their annual "rhythm" of growth, flowering, fructifying, sowing and harvesting, a rhythm which is in direct and constant relation to the calendar, in other words, the position of the heavenly bodies. Time and natural phenomena were measured by reference to the moon before they came to be measured by the sun . . . . Astrobiology hovers between a biology of the heavenly bodies and an astronomy of human beings; beginning with the former, it tends towards the latter'.
During the neolithic era the geometric idea of space was formulated; so also were the significance of the number seven (derived from this concept of space), the relation between heaven and earth, the cardinal points, and the relations between the various elements of the septenary (the planetary gods, the days of the week) and between those of the quaternary (the seasons, the colours, the cardinal points, the elements). Berthelot believes in the slow spread of these ideas, rather than in their spontaneous and independent appearance He points to their probable dissemination through either the northern or southern areas of the Pacific, mentioning in passing that America may well have been, in spirit, a colony of Asia before that of Europe; and another stream may have been flowing in the opposite direction: from the Near East into Central Europe.
The argument about whether European megalithic culture came before or after the great oriental civilizations is far from settled. Here questions of symbolism arise. The importance of the FrancoCantabrian zone in the palaeolithic age is well known; it is also known that the art forms of this district spread across Europe in the direction of Siberia and southwards across North Africa to the southernmost part of the continent. There was, no doubt, a period of transition between this early flowering and the great megalithic monuments. However that may be, Schneider specifically says in connexion with the symbolic forms studied by him: 'In the sixth chapter I shall try to summarize this esoteric doctrine, the systemization of which seems to have been originally the work of megalithic cultures.' And his attitude towards the zone of origin leaves little room for doubt for he states that 'the megalithic must have spread from Europe to India via Danubian culture, a new stage of development beginning with the Age of Metals'. He points out that there are marked similarities between the ideas of regions as far apart as America, New Guinea, Indonesia, Western Europe, Central Asia and the Far East, that is to say, of areas in all parts of the world.
Let us consider now the similarity between the discoveries attributed by Schneider to megalithic European culture and those ascribed by Berthelot to the Far East. In Schneider's opinion the final stage of neolithic development differed from the earlier stage 'in the preference it showed for static and geometric forms, in its organizing and creative genius (evolving fabulous animals, musical instruments, mathematical proportions, number-ideas, astronomy and a tonal system with truly musical sounds). The carrying over of totemistic mystical elements into a more advanced, pastoral civilization explains some of the fundamental characteristics of the new mystique.... The entire cosmos comes to be conceived after the human pattern. As the essence of all phenomena is, in the last resort, a vibrant rhythm, the intimate nature of phenomena is directly perceptible by polyrhythmic human consciousness. For this reason, imitating is knowing. The echo is the paradigmatic form of imitation. Language, geometric symbols and number-ideas are a cruder form of imitation.' Schneider then observes that according to Speiser and Heine-Geldern, 'the outstanding cultural elements of megalithic culture are: cyclopean buildings, commemorative stones, stones as the dwelling-places of souls, cultural stone-circles, palafittes, head-hunting, the sacrifice of oxen, eyeshaped ornaments, death-ships, family-trees, signal-drums, the sacrificial stake, and labyrinths'.
It is precisely these elements that have most successfully preserved their symbolic form down the ages. And did not these express, even in megalithic times, the very essence of human life, bursting from the unconscious in the shape of a constructive and configurating longing? Or was it, rather, the ever-present, primary forms of life, sacrifice and intellection of the world which found everlasting expression in these cultural creations, making an ineradicable impression on the mind of Man? One may unhesitatingly answer in the affirmative to both questions, for they refer to the different but parallel phenomena of culture and psychology.
SYMBOLISM IN THE WEST
It was Egypt who gave shape, in her religion and hieroglyphics, to Man's awareness of the material and spiritual, natural and cultural duality of the world. Either independently or together, the various civilizations of Mesopotamia developed their own particular systems; yet these systems were but outward variations of the one true, innermosf, universal pattern. There are differences of opinion about dating the first appearance—or at any rate the final crystallization—of some of the most important and complex symbols. Some writers argue strongly in favour of remote origins. Krappe holds that the scientific study of the planets and their identification with the gods of the Babylonian pantheon date only from the 7th century B.C.; but others trace these beginnings as far back as the age of Hammurabi (2000 B.C.) or earlier.
Father Heras, for example, says: 'The early Indians, as has been revealed by inscriptions, were the discoverers of the movements of the sun across the sky—the basis of the zodiacal system. Their Zodiac had only eight constellations and each constellation was supposed to be a "form of God". All these "forms of God" in the end became deities, each one presiding over one particular constellation; this is what happened in Rome, for example. The eight Indian signs of the Zodiac are: Edu (ram), Yal (harp), Nand (crab), Amma (mother), Tuk (balance), Kani (arrow), Kuda (pitcher), Min (fish).' The dodecatemorian system of the Zodiac first appears in the form in which we know it as late as the 6th century B.C. Egyptian and Chaldean science was partly assimilated by the Syrians, Phoenicians and Greeks, reaching the latter largely through secret societies. Herodotus points out, m writing of the Pythagoreans, that they were obliged to wear linen clothes 'in accordance with the Orphic ceremonies, which are the same as the Egyptian . . .'.
The mythologies of the Mediterranean peoples were characterized by a vivid, dramatic vitality which came to be expressed both in their art and in their myths, legends and dramatic poetry. These myths enshrined the moral principles, the natural laws, the great contrasts and the transformations which determine the course of cosmic and human life. Frazer points out that 'under the names of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis and Attis, the peoples of Egypt and Western Asia represented the yearly decay and revival of life, especially of vegetable life'. The tasks of Hercules, the legend of Jason, the histories' of the heroic age of Greece which provided the inspiration for the classical tragedies, have such great archetypal power that they constitute timeless lessons for mankind. But beneath this mythological and literary symbolism and allegory, a subterranean stream of oriental influence was beginning to flow in from the East.
Principally during the Lower Roman Empire, when the cohesion of the classical world was beginning to dissolve, Hebraic, Chaldean and Egyptian elements began to ferment. Dualist Manichaeism and Gnosticism began to threaten the position of early Christianity. Among the Gnostics, the emblem and the graphic symbol were used for the propagation of initiatory truths. Many of the innumerable images were not of their own creation but were compiled from various sources, mainly Semitic. Symbolism veers towards the Unitarian doctrine of reality and comes to be a specialized branch of speculation. Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, Tacitus, Plutarch, Apuleius all reveal some familiarity with oriental symbolism. Aristotelian thought also contained a strong element of symbolism. In Syria, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia and Egypt, oriental Christianity had absorbed a vast symbological inheritance. Similarly, those Roman colonies in the West that survived the Nordic invasions retained many attributes of ancient times, including traditional symbols.
The concept of the analogy between the visible and the invisible world is, then, held jointly by the pagan religions of the Lower Empire, by neoplatonic and Christian doctrines, except that each one of these three systems uses this concept for its own ends. According to Eliade, Theophilus of Antioch would point out, to those who denied the resurrection of the dead, the signs which God places in reach of Man in the realm of natural phenomena: the cycle of the seasons, of the days and nights. He would even go further and say: 'May there not perhaps be resurrection for the seeds and the fruits?'. In his Letter number LV, St. Augustine shows that teaching carried out with the help of symbols feeds and stirs the fires of love, enabling Man to excel himself; he also alludes to the value of all things in nature—organic and inorganic—as bearers of spiritual messages by virtue of their distinctive forms and characteristics. All the mediaeval lapidaries, herbals and bestiaries owe their origin to this concept. Most of the classical Fathers of the Church have something to say about symbolism and since they enjoyed such a high reputation in Roman times, one can see why this was the period when the symbol came to be so deeply experienced, loved and understood, as Davy emphasizes (L4). Pinedo mentions the immense cultural value, particularly during the Middle Ages, ,, of the Clavis Melitoniae—an orthodox version of ancient symbolism.
According to Cardinal Pitra—quoted by Pinedo—an awareness l of this 'Key' is to be found in most mediaeval authors. This is not e the place to give a summary of their ideas or works, but we should like to mention in passing the important works of: Alan of Lille, De Planctu Naturae; Herrad of Landsberg, Hortus Deliciarum; Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias Domini, Liber Divinorum Operum Simplicis Hominis; Bernard Silvestris, De Re Mundi Universitate; Hugh of St. Victor, Didascalion, Commentarium in Hierarchiam Coelestem, etc. The Key of St. Melito, bishop of Sardis, dates from the 2nd century A.D. Some other sources of Christian symbolism are: Rabanus Maurus, Allegoriae in Sacram Scripturam; Odo, bishop of Tusculum; Isidore of Seville, Etymologiarum; Johannes Scotus Erigena, John of Salisbury, William of St. Thierry, etc. St. Thomas Aquinas himself speaks of the pagan philosophers as sources of external and demonstrable proofs of Christian truths. Concerning the intimate nature of mediaeval symbolism, Jung observes that, in those days 'analogy was not so much a logical figure as a secret identity', that is to say, a continuation of primitive, animistic thought.
The Renaissance also showed great interest in symbolism, although in a manner more individualistic and cultured, more profane, literary and aesthetic. Dante had fashioned his Commedia upon a basis of oriental symbols. In the 15th century particular use was made of two Greek writers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. They are Horapollo, with his Hieroglyphica; and the anonymous compiler of the Physiologus. Horapollo, inspired by the Egyptian hieroglyphic system, the key to which had been lost by his time, tried to reconstruct its meaning upon the basis of its configuration and elemental symbolism. In 1467, an Italian writer, Francesco Colonna, wrote a work, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (published in Venice in 1499), which enjoyed widespread success and in which the symbol had now acquired the particular, mobile significance which has come to characterize it in modern times. In 1505, Colonna's editor published Horapollo's work which in turn influenced two other important writers at the same time: Andrea Alciati, author of Emblemata (1531), which was to arouse a disproportionate taste for profane symbolism throughout Europe (Henry Green in his Andrea Alciati and his Books of Emblems, London 1872, names more than three thousand titles of books dealing with emblems); and Giampietro Valeriano, author of the compendious Hieroglyphica (1556). In 15th-century painting there is abundant evidence of this interest in symbolism: Botticelli, Mantegna, Pinturicchio, Giovanni Bellini, Leonardo, for example; later, during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, this interest tended towards the allegorical. One may say that, from the latter part of the Middle Ages onwards, the West lost that sense of unity which characterized the symbol and symbolist tradition.
Yet proof of its continued existence is offered by the occasional revelation of diverse aspects in the work of poets, artists and writers, from Giovanni da Udine to Antonio Gaudi, from Bosch to Max Ernst. In German Romanticism, the interest in the deeper layers of psychic life—in dreams and their meaning, in the unconscious—is the fount which has given rise to the present-day interest in symbology, which, although still partially repressed, again dwells in the deep wells of the spirit, as it did before being circumscribed by a system with a rigid cosmic pattern. Thus, Schubert, in his Symbolik des Traumes (1837), says: 'The prototypes of the images and forms utilized by the oneirocritic, poetic and prophetic idioms, can be found around us in Nature, revealing herself as a world of materialized dream, as a prophetic language whose hieroglyphics are beings and forms.' Most of the literature of the first half of the 19th century, especially the Nordic, presupposes a feeling for the symbolic, for the significant. Thus, Ludwig Tieck, in Runenburg, says of his protagonist: 'Insensitive from that moment to the beauty of flowers, in which he believes he can see "the gaping wound of Nature" throbbing' (the theme of Philoctetes as well as of Amfortas in Parsifal), 'he finds himself drawn towards the mineral world.'
Innumerable genera still conserve symbols in semeiotic form, ossified and sometimes degraded from the universal plane to the particular. We have already referred to literary emblems. In a similar class are the distinctive marks used by mediaeval andc Renaissance paper-manufacturers. In this connexion, Bayley says that, from their first appearance in 1282 up to the second half of the 18th century, they had an esoteric meaning; and that in them, as in fossils, we can see the crystallization of the ideals of numerous mystic sects of mediaeval Europe. The popular art of all European peoples is another inexhaustable mine of symbols. One only has to glance through a work like that of Helmuth Th. Bossert in order to find amongst the images such well-known subjects as the cosmic tree, the snake, the phoenix, the ship of death, the bird on the rooftop, the two-headed eagle, the planetary division into two groups of three~and of four, grotesques, rhomboids, lines and Zigzags etc. Furthermore, legends and folktales, when their editors have been faithful, as in the case of Perrault and the Grimm brothers, have retained their mythical and archetypal structure. In the same way, in Iyrical poetry, alongside works created within the canons of explicit symbolism—best illustrated in the works of Rene Ghil—there are frequent flowerings of symbolic motifs springing spontaneously out of the creative spirit.
THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF DREAMS
What a myth represents for a people, for any one culture, or for any given moment of history, is represented for the individual by the symbolic images of dreams, by visions and by fantasy or Iyricism. This distinction does not imply dichotomy: many dreams have been known to express premonitions. But when the symbol—or the premonition—goes beyond the particular and the subjective, we find ourselves in the realm of augury and prophecy; symbolic laws can explain both phenomena, but the latter may be a revelation of the supernatural.
Given our contemporary psychoanalytic concept of the 'unconscious', we must accept the placing within it of all those dynamic forms which give rise to symbols; for, according to Jung's way of thinking, the unconscious is 'the matrix of the human mind and its inventions'. The unconscious was 'discovered' theoretically by Carus, Schopenhauer and Hartmann, and experimentally by Charcot, Bernheim, Janet, Freud and other psychologists. But this newly acquired knowledge merely showed to be internal what had formerly been thought to be external to Man. For example, Greek seers believed that dreams came from 'without', that is, from the domain of the gods. Now, esoteric tradition, in accordance with the Hindu doctrine of the three planes of consciousness, had always been aware that the vertical division of thought could also be seen on three levels: the subconscious (instinctive and affective thought); consciousness (ideological and reflexive thought); and superconsciousness (intuitive thought and the higher truths). Hence, by way of simplification, we shall adopt the Jungian term 'unconscious' instead of 'subconscious', since one rightly asks oneself when dealing with many authors: 'How can they be so certain that the unconscious is "lower" and not "higher" than the conscious?'.
The interest in dreams and their symbolic content goes back to Antiquity, when, although the theory was never consciously formulated, it was implied that the phenomenon could be considered as a kind of personal mythology, even though the manner of its expression was the objective, collective myth. The famous dreams of the Bible; the book of Artemidorus Daldianus; the interpretative dictionaries of Chaldean, Egyptian and Arabic origin bear witness to the attention paid to dreams as harbingers of hidden truths about the submerged life of the psyche and, more rarely, about external and objective facts. The mechanism of oneiromancy, like that of other divinatory or prophetic techniques, is a universal phenomenon; for such techniques are based upon the higher activity of the unconscious in response to certain stimuli, and upon the automatic acquisition of unconscious stores of knowledge remaining unperceived until 'read' in accordance with the principles of numbers, orientation, form and space. We must again underline the way in which Jung approaches this universal phenomenon. He says that the fact of 'an opinion being held for so long and so widely necessarily demonstrates that in some way it must be true, that is, psychologically true'- He explains psychological truth as a fact, not as a judgement or an opinion, and he considers that careful demonstration and corroboration are evidence enough for this.
Since an extensive bibliography of dreams is already available, it is here intended only to recall that they afford Man another means of making contact with his deepest aspirations, with the geometric or moral laws of the universe, and also with the muted stirrings of the submerged unconscious. Teillard points out that in dreams all layers of the psyche are revealed, including the deepest. And just as the embryo passes through the evolutionary animal stages, so we carry with us archaic 'memories' which can be brought to light. on the other hand, Carus believed that the soul was in communion with the cosmic, and that, oneirocritically speaking, the soul was susceptible to truths different from those which rule the waking life; in this way he associated dreams with those rituals which enabled Man to enter into the great secrets of Nature. It is usually accepted that modern ways of thinking differ from primitive thought-processes only with regard to consciousness, and that the unconscious has hardly changed since the Upper Palaeolithic Stage.
Oneirocritic symbols, then, are not strictly different from mythical religious, Iyrical or primitive symbols. Except that, with the primary archetypes, one finds intermixed a kind of subworld consisting of the remains of existential images drawn from reality, which may be lacking in symbolic meaning, which may be expressions of the physiological—merely memories—or which may also possess a symbolism related to the material and primary forms from which they originate. In this dictionary we have kept to traditional symbols only, but it is evident that other more 'recent' symbols must derive from the older—asxthe motor-car from the carriage—or else must be related through the symbolism of form, although this must always be a question of similar symbols, not of the same symbol nor of the same order of meaning.
There is another problem which we cannot ignore: not all human beings are on the same level. Even if we do not accept the idea of radical differences, or the concept of spiritual growth—a concept which always has a touch of the oriental and esoteric about it— it is undeniable that differences of intensity (emotion, inner life, richness of thought and feeling) and of quality (intellectual and authentically moral education) bring about essentially different levels of thought, whether it be logical or magical thought, rational speculation or oneirocritic elaboration. Havelock Ellis has pointed out that extraordinary dreams are confined to people of genius, and according to Jung even primitive races make a similar distinction; the Elgonyi tribe in the Elgon jungle explained to him that they recognized two types of dream: the ordinary dream of the unimportant man, and the 'great vision', generally the exclusive privilege of outstanding men. Hence interpretive theories of symbolic material must vary according to whether they are drawn from the analysis of the dreams of more or less pathological individuals, from the dreams of normal people, from those of outstanding men, or from collective myths. The materialistic tone pervading the symbolic classifications of many psychoanalysts is accounted for by the nature of their sources of information. On the other hand, the symbology of philosophers, founders of religions and poets is wholly idealist and cosmic in direction, embracing all objects, seeking after the infinite and pointing to the mysteries of the mystical 'centre'. This is verified by Jung, who shows that accounts of fantasy or of dreams always contain not only what is most peremptory for the narrator but also what for the moment is most painful (i.e. most important) for him. It is this 'importance' which fixes the plane upon which any system of interpretation must exist. Freud's definition ('Every dream is a repressed desire') points to the same conclusion, for our desires are the index of our aspirations and our potentialities.
THE SYMBOLISM OF ALCHEMY
In his on Psychic Energy, Jung has asserted that: 'The spiritual appears in the psyche as an instinct, indeed as a real passion. . . It is not derived from any other instinct, but is a principle sui generis, that is, a specific and necessary form of instinctual power.' Apart from the fact that this asseveration would seem to put an end to the assumption that science is necessarily materialistic, its importance lies in that it takes up the essential platonic doctrine of the soul, which we here equate with the Jungian principle of spirituality, even though at times it may be necessary to treat the two principles separately. Plato in Timaeus, Plotinus in the Enneads, elaborate the idea that the soul is a stranger on earth, that it has descended from the spaceless and timeless universe, or that it has 'fallen' on account of sin into matter, that it initiates a rocess of life-giving growth corresponding to the period of volution.
At any given moment, the inverse of this downward and inward movement can be produced: the soul recalls that its origin is beyond space and time, beyond living creatures and the world of objects even beyond images; it then tends towards the annihilation of the corporeal and begins to ascend towards its Origin. Iamblichus explains this as follows: 'A principle of the soul is that it is superior to all Nature, and that through it we can rise above the order and the systems of the world. When the soul is thus separated from all subordinate natures, it exchanges this life for another and abandons this order of things to bind itself inseparably with another.' The idea of rotation is the keystone of most transcendent symbols: of the mediaeval Rota; of the Wheel of Buddhist transformations; of the zodiacal cycle; of the myth of the Gemini; and of the opus of the alchemists. The idea of the world as a labyrinth or of life as a pilgrimage leads to the idea of the 'centre' as a symbol of the absolute goal of Man—Paradise regained, heavenly Jerusalem. Pictorially, this central point is sometimes identified with the geometric centre of the symbolic circle; sometimes it is placed above it; and at other times, as in the oriental Shri Yantra, it is not portrayed at all, so that the contemplator has to imagine it.
But constantly we find a given theme reappearing under the guise of a new symbol: the lost object, the impossible or very difficult enterprise; or else it comes to be equated with a variety of qualities; knowledge, love, obtaining a desired object, etc. Alchemy was developed in two fairly well-defined stages: the mediaeval and the Renaissance, the latter terminating by the 18th century, when it split once again into its two original components: mysticism and chemistry. Alchemy is a symbolic technique which, together with the desire for positive discoveries in the field of the natural sciences, sought to materialize spiritual truths. Instead of confronting the mythical dragon in their search for 'treasure', like Cadmus, Jason and Siegfried, the alchemists sought to produce it by means of hard work and virtue. Their work was not aimed at a simple revelation of esoteric truths, nor was it materialistic: both purposes coalesced, however, to achieve something which for them had the significance of the absolute. Each operation, each detail, every subject, every Instrument was a source of intellectual and spiritual life: they were authentic symbols. After being forgotten for a period, alchemy was reassessed as 'the origin of modern chemistry', and recently Bachelard~ Silberer, Jung and others have come to see the true Completeness of its meaning, at once poetic, religious and scientific.
Bachelard points out that alchemy 'possesses a quality of psychological precision' and that, far from being a description of objective phenomena, it is an attempt to project human love into the 'heart' of things (l). Jung insists that the experiments of the alchemists had the sole purpose—like the ancient techniques of divination, though the former was more ambitious and persistent— of stimulating the deepest layers of the psyche and of facilitating psychic projections in material things, or in other words, of | experiencing material phenomena as symbols which point to a complete theory of the universe and the destiny of the soul. For this reason, he says that 'the investigator had certain psychic experiences which appeared to him as the particular behaviour of the chemical process'. Elsewhere he defines this as 'chemical research which, through projection, incorporated unconscious psychic material', a remark which he rounds off by affirming that 'the real nature of matter was unknown to the alchemist.
He knew it only by L allusion. Searching for a solution, he projected the unconscious into the obscurity of matter in order to illuminate it. To explain the mystery of matter, he projected another mystery into what was to be explained'. The summa of this mystery, the deepest of secret aspirations, was the coincidentia oppositorum, of which 'the alchemists i are as it were the empiricists, whereas Nicholas of Cusa is its phil^ osopher'. But the alchemist did not merely pretend to carry out his experiments; he was, indeed, profoundly and pathetically engrossed in his search for gold. It was this interest, together with his sense of dedication that—as in the search for the Holy Grail— was the guarantee of final success, by dint of the virtuous practice which his unceasing labour demanded.
To discover the secret of making gold was the mark of divine favour. Jung interprets the process psychologically as the gradual elimination of the impure factors of the spirit in the progress towards the immutable values of eternity. But this interpretation had been fully grasped by the alchemists themselves: Michael Maier, in Symbola Aureae Mensae (1617), says that 'chemistry encourages the investigator to meditate upon celestial blessings'. Dorn, in Physica (1661), alludes to the relationship which must exist between the worker and his research when he asserts: 'You will never make Oneness out of Otherness until you yourself have become Oneness.' Oneness was achieved by annihilating the desire for what is different or transitory and by fixing the mind upon what is 'higher' and eternal. Famous indeed is the maxim of the alchemists: Aurum nostrum non est aurum vulgi. This assertion—that their gold was not ordinary gold—seems to indicate that their symbolism excluded the material reality of the symbol, in favour of the spiritual. But, of course, it is hazardous to talk as if the varied work of so many researchers with such differing backgrounds was all of a piece. The demand for actual gold could be interpreted as being the same as the longing of the doubting
Thomas. The chosen few were well content with the dream of the 'subterranean Sun' shining at the bottom of the alchemist's oven like the light of salvation within the depths of the soul, no matter whether this salvation is considered to be the product of religious faith or of that hypothetical 'process of individuation' into which Jung seems to have poured his finest thoughts and sentiments about Man. Of course, beneath this concept there lie hidden none other than the three supreme longings which seem to lead to felicity: first, the alchemic Rebis, or the androgynous being, signifying the conjunction of opposites and the cessation of the torment caused by the separation of the sexes, beginning with the time when the 'spherical man' of Plato was split into two halves; second, the establishing of the 'volatile' principle, that is, the annihilation of all change or transition, once the essence has been obtained; and, finally, the concentrating into one central point, as a symbol of the mystical centre of the universe—that is, of the irradiant origin and of immortality.
DEFINITIONS OF THE SYMBOL
Definitions and analyses of the nature of symbols and of symbolism are all too frequent. But we should like to study some of the more thoughtful suggestions, keeping, as always in this work, within the limits of comparative analysis. For the Hindu philosopher Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, symbolism is 'the art of thinking in images', an art now lost to civilized Man, notably in the last three hundred years, perhaps in consequence of the 'catastrophic theories of Descartes', to quote Schneider. Coomaraswamy, then, shares the views of Fromm and of 13ayley, explicit in the titles of their respective works: The Forgotten Language and The Lost Language of Symbolism. However, this loss—as anthropology and psychoanalysis have shown
is limited to consciousness and not to the 'unconscious', which, to compensate, is perhaps now overloaded with symbolic material.
Diel considers the symbol to be 'a precise and crystallized means of expression', corresponding in essence to the inner life (intensive and qualitative) in opposition to the external world (extensive and quantitative). In this, he agrees with Goethe, who asserted:. 'In the symbol, the particular represents the general, not as a dream, not as a shadow, but as a living and momentary revelation of the inscrutable we suggest that the distinction made by Diel between the inner and the outer worlds is a general truth, applicable not only to the Cartesian method: the world of res cogitans is one which recognizes extension. How is it possible, then, for it to ignore the quantitative if the qualitative arises from 'groups' of quantity?
Marc Saunier, in his literary and pseudomystical style, points to an important characteristic of symbols when he states that they are 'the synthesizing expression of a marvellous science, now forgotten by men', but that 'they show us all that has been and will be, in one immutable form'. He thereby assigns to symbols—or recognizes, rather—their didactic function as timeless objects per se, at least in their intimate structure, for the other factors are cultural or personal variants.
The connexion between created and Creator is also apparent in the symbol. Jules Le Bele recalls that 'every created object is, as it were, a reflection of divine perfection, a natural and perceptible sign of a supernatural truth', thus echoing the Pauline proposition Per visibilia ad invisibilia, as well as the assertion of Sallust that 'The world is a symbolic object.' Landrit insists that 'symbolism is the science of the relations which unite the created world with God, the material world with the supernatural; the science of the harmonies existing between the diverse parts of the universe (correspondences and analogies)', operating within the process of involution, that is, of the materiality of all things.
Here we must interpose a distinction and a clarification. Erich Fromm, steering his course along the normal channels of symbolic knowledge, lays down three kinds of symbol which are different in degree:
(a) the conventional,
(b) the accidental,
(c) the universal.
The first kind comprises simple acceptance of a constant affinity stripped of any optical or natural basis: for example, many signs used in industry, in mathematics and in other fields. The second type springs from strictly transitory conditions and is due to associations made through casual contact. The third kind is that which we are now studying and is defined, according to Fromm, as the existence of the intrinsic relation between the symbol and what it represents. It is obvious that this relation does not always have the same vitality. For this reason, as we have already pointed out, it is difficult to classify symbols with exactitude.
This language of images and emotions is based, then, upon a precise and crystallized means of expression, revealing transcendent truths, external to Man (cosmic order) as well as within him (thought, the moral order of things, psychic evolution, the destiny of the soul); furthermore, it possesses a quality which, according to Schneider, increases its dynamism and gives it a truly dramatic character. This quality, the essence of the symbol, is its ability to express simultaneously the various aspects (thesis and antithesis) of the idea it represents. Let us give a provisional explanation of this: the unconscious, or 'place' where symbols live, does not recognize the inherent distinctions of contraposition; or again, the 'symbolic function' appears at the precise moment when a state of tension is set up between opposites which the consciousness cannot resolve by itself.
For psychologists, the symbol exists almost wholly in the mind, and is then projected outwards upon Nature, either accepting language as its being and its form or converting being and form into dramatic characters, but it is not seen in this way by orientalists and esoteric thinkers, who base symbolism upon the incontrovertible equation macrocosm=microcosm. For this reason Rene Guenon points out that: 'The true basis of symbolism is, as we have said, the correspondence linking together all orders of reality, binding them one to the other, and consequently extending from the natural order as a whole to the supernatural order. By virtue of this correspondence, the whole of Nature is but a symbol, that is, its true significance becomes apparent only when it is seen as a pointer which can make us aware of supernatural or "metaphysical" truths—metaphysical in the proper and true sense of the word, which is nothing less than the essential function of symbolism.... The symbol must always be inferior to the thing symbolized, which destroys all naturalist concepts of symbolism'. This latter idea is repeatedly stressed by Guenon, declaring that 'what is superior can never symbolize what is inferior, although the converse is true' (provided, we must add, that one is dealing with a specific symbol of inversion). On the other hand, what is superior can remind us of what is inferior.
The observations of Mircea Eliade are very interesting in this respect. He assigns to the symbol the mission of going beyond the limitations of this 'fragment' which is Man (or any one of his concerns) and of integrating this 'fragment' into entities of wider scope: society, culture, the universe. Even if, within these limitations, 'an object transmuted into a symbol—as a result of its being possessed by the symbolic function—tends to unite with the All . . . this union is not the same as a confusion, for the symbol does not restrict movement or circulation from one level to another, and integrates all these levels and planes (of reality), but without fusing them—that is, without destroying them', integrating them, in short, within a system. On the other hand, Eliade believes that if the All can appear contained within a significant fragment, it is because each fragment restates the All: 'A tree, by virtue of the power it manifests, may become a blessed haven, without ceasing to be a tree; and if it becomes a cosmic tree it is because what it manifests restates, point by point, what the totality manifests'. Here we have the explanation of the 'intrinsic relation' mentioned by Erich Fromm. Though transmuted to another plane of reality, it consists of the essential relationship between one process and another, between one object and another, an intimate relationship which has been defined as rhythm.
THE 'COMMON RHYTHM' OF SCHNEIDER
The analogy between two planes of reality is founded upon the existence in both of a 'common rhythm'. By rhythm we mean here not 'perceptible order in time' but the coherent, determinate and dynamic factor which a character or figure possesses and which is transmitted to the object over which it presides or from which it emanates. This rhythm is fundamentally a movement resulting from a certain vitality or from 'a given 'number'. It shows itself as a characteristic expression or formal crystallization. Thus, between the live snake, with its sinuous movement, and the snake appearing in inanimate relief, there may be an analogy which is not only formal (in the design, disposition, or in the specific shape of the animal) but also rhythmic—that is, of tone, of modality, of accent, and of expression.
Martin Buber, in his study of natural, primitive poetry, points out that Man—whether it be megalithic Man, our contemporary Primitive, or 'romantic' Man seeking natural spontaneity in his relations with the cosmos—'does not think about the moon as such, which he sees every night; for what he retains is not the image of a wandering, luminous disc, nor that of an associated demonic being, but that of the immediate emotive image, the lunar fluid flowing through bodies' (quoted by Gaston Bachelard, 2). This is exactly the view of Schneider also, pointing to the aptitude for symbolic and rhythmic thought of Primitive Man, who could identify the movement of a wave with that of the backs of a moving flock of sheep. Davy recalls that Boethius had alluded earlier to a 'common rhythm' when he asserted that only those things which have the same matter in common—meaning, in this context, the same 'vital aspect'—can mutually transform and interchange themselves. Rhythm may be understood as a grouping of distances, of quantitative values, but also as a formal pattern determined by rhythmic numbers, that is, as spatial, formal and positional similitude.
But there is a deeper meaning to the concept of rhythm, which is precisely that expounded by Schneider upon the basis of Primitive Man's identification of one 'living, dynamic cell' with two or more different aspects of reality. For this reason, he points out that: 'The definition of the common rhythm varies considerably according to the culture in question. Primitive beings found related rhythms particularly in the timbre of the voice, the rhythm of walking, motion, colour and material. More advanced cultures preserve these criteria, but they give more importance to form and material (the visual) than to the criteria of the voice and the rhythm of walking.
Instead of conceiving these related rhythms dynamically and artistically as primitive people did, higher cultures think of them as abstract values and order them according to a reasoned classification of a static and geometric kind.... Whereas Primitive Man saw that forms and phenomena are essentially fluid, more advanced civilizations have given pride of place to the static aspect of forms and the purely geometric outlines of shape'.
Rhythms and modes, then, allow relationships to be established between different planes of reality. While natural science establishes relationships only between 'horizontal' groups of beings after the classification of Linnaeus, mystic or symbolic science erects 'vertical bridges' between those objects which are within the same cosmic rhythm, that is, objects whose position 'corresponds' to that of another 'analogous' object on another plane of reality: for example, an animal, a plant or a colour. According to Schneider, this idea of correspondences comes from belief in the indissoluble unity of the universe. Thus, in megalithic and astrobiological cultures, the most disparate phenomena are brought together, by virtue of their having a 'common rhythm'; 'hence one finds that such elements as the following are correlated: musical or cultural instruments and implements of work; animals, gods, and heavenly bodies; the seasons, the points of the compass, and material symbols; rites, colours and offices; parts of the human body and phases in human life'. Symbolism is what might be called a magnetic force, drawing together phenomena which have the same rhythm and even allowing them to interchange. Schneider deduces some important ontological conclusions from this: 'The apparent multiplicity of outward forms spreading out over concentric planes is deceptive, for, in the last resort, all the phenomena of the universe can be reduced to a few basic rhythmic forms, grouped and ordered by the passage of time'. He also draws gnostical conclusions: 'The symbol is the ideological manifestation of the mystic rhythm of creation and the degree of truth attributed to the symbol is an expression of the respect Man is able to accord to this mystical rhythm'. The rhythmic link between the world outside Man and the physiology of Man is demonstrated by Schneider's affirming that Primitive Man and his animal-totem—though different beings are joined in a common rhythm, whose basic element is the cry-symbol. Jung has amplified the psychological implications of this concept, demonstrating the deep and constant relationship between rhythm and emotion.
At this point we must comment upon the conclusion implicit in Schneider's thesis that, in spite of the multiplicity of forms which phenomena seem to take on, there is a lack of clearly independent forms in the universe. Indeed, morphology in its systematic analysis of forms has found that only a few are fundamental: this is particularly true of biology, in which the ovoid is a basic form from which the sphere, its segment and many intermediate forms are derived. In fact, symbological analyses often seem to offset a certain narrowing of scope by an added richness in depth, for the few basic situations that do exist appear under varying, though secondary, guises. Similarly, the only 'original' numbers are the first decade of the Greek system or the numbers up to twelve in the oriental system. The rest come under the rule of 'multiplicity', which is merely a reordering of the basic series. Besides, the place of symbolism is within the archetypal pattern of each being, each form, each rhythm. Within this archetypal pattern, thanks to the principle of concentration, all like beings can be presented as one being. And in addition, by virtue of this oneness, the predominant rhythm transmutes all that might appear to be separate; so that, to give an example, not only do all dragons stand for The Dragon, but any symbolic daub resembling a dragon is also The Dragon. And we shall see that this is a consequence of the principle of 'sufficient identity'.
In the equation macrocosm=microcosm there is the implied possibility of explaining the former by the latter, or vice versa. The 'common rhythm' of Schneider belongs rather to the tendency to explain Man by reference to the world, while Jung's 'archetype' tends to explain the world by reference to Man. This is logical, since the archetype does not stem from forms or from figures or objective beings, but from images within the human spirit, within the turbulent depths of the unconscious. The archetype is, in the first place, an epiphany, that is, the revelation of the latent by way of the recondite: vision, dream, fantasy, myth. These spiritual manifestations are not, for Jung, substitutes for living things—are not lifeless effigies; they are the fruits of the inner life perpetually flowing out from the unconscious, in a way which can be compared with the gradual unfolding of creation. Just as creation determines the burgeoning of beings and objects, so psychic energy flowers into an image, an entity marking the true borders between the informal and the conceptual, between darkness and light.
Jung uses the word 'archetype' to designate those universal symbols which possess the greatest constancy and efficiency, the greatest potentiality for psychic evolution, and which point away from the inferior towards the superior. In on Psychic Energy, he specifically says: 'The psychological mechanism that transforms energy is the symbol.' But, in addition, he appears to give a different meaning to the archetype, linking it strictly with the structure of the
psyche, when he distinguishes it from the symbol in so far as its ontic significance goes. To clarify this, let us quote some of Jung's Own observations: 'The archetypes are the numinous, structural elements of the psyche and possess a certain autonomy and specific energy which enables them to attract, out of the conscious mind, those contents which are best suited to themselves. The symbols act as transformers, their function being to convert libido from a "lower" into a "higher" form.... It was manifestly not a question of inherited ideas, but of an inborn disposition to produce parallel images, or rather of identical psychic structures common to all men, which I later called the archetypes of the collective unconscious. They correspond to the concept of the "pattern of behaviour" in biology'. 'The archetypes do not represent anything external, non-psychic, although they do of course owe the concreteness of their imagery to impressions received from without. Rather, independently of, and sometimes in direct contrast to, the outward forms they may take, they represent the life and essence of a nonindividual psyche'. That is to say, there is an intermediate realm between the oneness of the individual soul and its solitude, and the variety of the universe: between the res cogitans and the res extensa of Descartes, and that realm is the imagetof the world in the soul and of the soul in the world, in other words, the 'place' of symbolism 'working' in areas prepared by the archetypes— eternally present, the 'problem being whether the consciousness perceives them or not'.
In his Essais de psychologie analytiqae, Jung again defines the nature of the archetypes as the ready-made systems of both images and emotions (that is, of rhythms). They are inherited with the brain-structure—indeed, they are its psychic aspect. They are, on the one hand, the most powerful of instinctive prejudices, and on the other, the most efficient aids imaginable towards instinctive adaptations. Jung points out that the idea of such 'image-guides' of ancestral origin had already appeared in Freud, who called them 'primitive fantasies'. Jolan Jacobi, in her work upon Jung's psychology, says that Jung took the expression from St. Augustine, who used it in a sense which is very similar to the platonic 'idea', that is, the primordial reality from which the realities of existence arise as echoes and fragments. Archetypes are like all-embracing parables: their meaning is only partially accessible; their deepest significance remains a secret which existed long before Man himself and which reaches out far beyond Man. Jolan Jacobi identifies symbols for practical purposes with the archetypes, mentioning as examples of the latter: the 'night sea-crossing', the 'whale-dragon', figures such as the prince, the child, the magician or the unknown damsel. We cannot further debate Jung's concepts without going more
deeply into his psychological and anthropological theory, which would be beyond the scope of this work. To return to the relationship between, or identity of, the symbol and the archetype, we might say that the latter is the mythical and merely human aspect of the former, whereas a strict system of symbols could exist even without human consciousness, since it is founded upon a cosmic order determined by those 'vertical' relationships which we mentioned when commenting upon the 'common rhythm' of Schneider. In short, it is a synthesis which transmutes systems of vibrations, echoing one basic and original 'model', into a spiritual idiom expressed usually in the numerical series.
ANALYSIS OF THE SYMBOL
The basic ideas and suppositions which allow us to conceive of 'symbolism', together with the creation and vitality of each symbol, are the following:
(a) Nothing is meaningless or neutral: everything is significant.
(b) Nothing is independent, everything is in some way related to something else.
(c) The quantitative becomes the qualitative in certain essentials which, in fact, precisely constitute the meaning of the quantity.
(d) Everything is serial.
(e) Series are related one to another as to position, and the components of each series are related as to meaning.
This serial characteristic is a basic phenomenon which is as true of the physical world (in its range of colours, of sounds, of textures, of landscapes, etc.) as of the spiritual world (in its virtues, vices, humours, feelings, etc.). Factors which account for serial arrangement are: limitation; the integration of discontinuity and continuity; proper order; graduation; numbering; the inner dynamism of the component elements; polarity; symmetrical or asymmetrical equilibrium; and the concept as a whole.
If we take any 'symbol'—for example, the sword, or the colour red—and analyse its structure, we shall see that it can be split up into both its real and its symbolic components. First, we find the object in itself, in isolation; in the second place we find the object linked to its utilitarian function, to its concrete or factual reality in the three-dimensional world—directly, in the case of the sword; or indirectly, giving colour, for example to a cloak, in the case of the colour red; in the third place, we find what enables the object to be considered as a symbol: that structure which we have termed 'symbolic function', or the dynamic tendency of the object to link up with its corresponding equivalents in all analogous series, nevertheless principally tending to show the particular metaphysical meaning. In this symbolic function we can still distinguish between the symbolic meaning and the general meaning, the latter being frequently ambivalent and charged with allusions whose variety, however, is never chaotic, for it is marshalled along the co-ordinate line of a 'common rhythm'.
Thus, the sword, iron, fire, the colour red, the god Mars, the rocky mountain, are all interrelated because they are oriented along one 'symbolic line'. They all imply the longing for 'spiritual det~ermination and physical annihilation', which is the profoundest meaning of their symbolic functions; but in addition they are joined together —they beckon to each other, one might say—by virtue of tine inner affinity that binds all these phenomena, which are, in truth, concomitantS of one essential cosmic modality.
In consequence, apart from this network of relations linking up every kind of object (physical, metaphysical, mental, real and unreal in so far as they have 'psychological reality'), the symbolic order is established by a general correlation between the material and the spiritual (the visible and the invisible) and by the unfolding of their meanings. These components, which account for the 'mode of being' of the object, may be complementary or disparate; in the case of the latter an ambivalent symbol is produced. Schneider mentions the flute as an example. The flute in form is phallic and masculine, whereas its sound is feminine. It is an instrument which stands in curious, inverse relation to the drum, with its deep masculine tones and its rounded, feminine shapes. One indispensable aspect of the relationship between abstract forms (geometric or biomorphic, intellectual or artistic) and objects is the mutual influence they have upon each other. Let us analyse another symbol: water, for example. Its predominant characteristics are:
(i) it fertilizes;
(ii) it purifies;
(iii) it dissolves.
These three qualities have so much in common that their relationship can be expressed in a ]variety of ways, although one constant factor always emerges: the suspension of form—that is, the lack of any fixed form (fluidity) —is bound up with the functions of fertilization or regeneration of the material, living world on the one hand, and with the purification or regeneration of the spiritual world on the other. It is this bond l which helps to explain the vast symbolism of water, appearing in the midst of solid areas of the cosmos, with the power of destroying the corrupt and of initiating a new cycle of life—the latter meaning is one that extends to the zodiacal signs of Aquarius and Pisces, and confirms the words of the Psalm: 'I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint' (Psalm xxii, 14).
These basic concepts, then, are the justification and the fundament of the symbolic order of things. Jung, however, working within the ] framework of his symbolic logic, does not accord them the same priority. Speaking of the libido, or vital energy, he says that we have the following possibilities of symbolization:
(i) Analogous comparison (that is, a comparison between two objects or forces on the same co-ordinate of a 'common rhythm'), as, for example, fire and the sun.
(ii) The objective, causative comparison (which is based upon the properties of the symbolic object itself), as, for example, the sun as life-giver.
(iii) The subjective, causative comparison (which functions like the second group, except that it immediately s identifies the inner force with some symbol or some object possessing a relevant symbolic function), as, for example, the phallus or snake.
(iv) The functional comparison, based not upon symbolic objects themselves but upon their activity, informing the image with dynamism and drama; for example, the libido fecundates like the bull, is dangerous like the boar, etc. The relevance to myth of this last group is self-evident.
According to the Tsbula Smaragdina, the threefold principle of the analogy between the outer and the inner world is:
(i) the common source of both worlds;
(ii) the influence of the psychic upon the physical;
(iii) the influence of the physical world upon the spiritual.
But the analogy lies not only in the relation between the inner and the outer world, but also in the relation between the various phenomena of the physical world. Material or formal resemblance is only one of the many possible analogies, for analogy can also exist in connexion with function. At times, the act of choosing reveals a basic analogy between the inner motives and the ultimate goal. Let us quote some examples of analogy by way of clarification. From religious literature we learn that the Order of St. Bruno preferred precipitous and remote places for their communities; the Benedictines would choose mountain-heights; the Cistercians, pleasant valleys; and the Jesuits of St. Ignatius, the cities. For those conversant with the character of these foundations it is almost unnecessary to point out that their very choice of situation implies a landscape-symbolism, or that, looked at in another way, the places selected are eloquent proof of the guiding spirit behind each of these communities.
The Pignues of Equatorial Africa believe that, in the rainbow, God expresses His desire to communicate with them. This is why, as soon as the rainbow appears, they take up their bows and shoot at it..... The incomparable beauty of this striking image tells us more about analogy than any analysis can. Other aspects of the same kind of thing may be seen in certain superstitions, such as the belief of many races that by undoing the bolts, locks and latches of the home during the birth of an infant, they can facilitate its coming into the world. One more analogy: the process of creation— which oriental theogonies explain as both progressive multiplication and as division, since all things derive from unity—has its analogous counterpart in the related myths of the carving up of the body of Osiris in Egypt, of Prajapati in India and of Dionysos in Greece. As examples of formal analogy or resemblance, we quote four symbolic ways of referring to the Centre: the Hindu Wheel of Transformations in the centre of which is a space which is either quite unadorned or else filled with just the symbol or image of a deity; or the Chinese pi, a disc of jade with a hole in the centre; or the idea that the Pole star, piercing the sky, points the way along which the merely temporal world must move in order to rid itself of the restrictions of time and space; or, finally, in the West, the Round Table with the Holy Grail standing at its centre point. We can see in all these very different objects an almost obsessive repetition of the image of a duality: the centre contrasted with the circumference, as a twofold image of the ineffable origin of the world of phenomena. But there is one legend which opens up great possibilities in analogy, for it contains both formal analogy (resemblance) and functional analogy. It is the myth of the cursed hunter, who leaves the Mass just when the Consecrated Form is being raised aloft, to go hunting. One can see delineated here a spiral movement which 'repeats' the creation of the physical world. The soul abandons the centre (the circular form of the Host) and leaves for the outer part of the wheel, where movement is swifter (symbolized by the endless chase after an unattainable quarry).
Analogy, as a unifying and ordering process, appears continuously in art, myth and poetry. Its presence always betrays a mystic force at work, the need to reunite what has been dispersed. Let us quote two cases—one of art criticism, the other literary but bearing upon the first—which have analogy as their sole foundation. Cohn-Wiener says 'Reliefs enable us to appreciate that there (in Babylon) clothes do not emphasize the shape of the body, as in Egypt: they hide it, in the way that murals conceal the rough Marks of a building.' T iseophile (Jautler characterized Burgos cathedral as: 'Vast as a stone pyramid and delicate as a woman's curl', and Verlaine called the Middle Ages (which had created this cathedral): 'Vast and delicate'.
We have to persist in our study of analogy, for it is perhaps the corner-stone of the whole symbolic edifice. If we take two parallel actions, as expressed in the phrases: 'The sun overcomes the darkness', and 'The hero slays the monster', there is a correspondence between the two phrases (and the two actions). we have to conceive of each one as a three-part series: subject, verb, predicate. There is an analogy in function: both subjects, both verbs, both predicates are interrelated. In addition, as we have chosen two actions with a 'common rhythm', the parts of the series could be replaced or interchanged without causing any break or confusion in the system: we could equally well say 'The sun slays the monster' or 'The hero overcomes the darkness'. To take another example, in the parallel expressions: 'The sun shines with golden brilliance' and 'Gold shines with golden brilliance', the common predicate allows not only the interchange but also the identical equation of subject. From the intermediate phrase: 'The sun shines like gold' or 'Gold shines like the sun', comes the irrefutable conclusion: 'The sun— in so far as its brilliance is golden—is gold.' This equation occurs not because of the intrinsic value of its components but because of the significance of their position, for the relationship is concerned only with the dynamic or, in other words, symbolic, position of objects. This identical equation, then, is what we have called 'the principle of sufficient identity' and what we consider to be the core of symbolism. Clearly, this identity is 'sufficient' (that is, sufficient for symbolic purposes) from the very moment it is created in the very heart of the dynamic potential of the symbol. When their functions coincide and reveal their allegiance to one essence, both objects, although different on the existential plane, become one on the symbolic plane and therefore interchangeable; they are now— to use the scholastic terms—the coniunctio (integrating conjunction) of what was formerly distinctio. This is why symbolic technique is a matter of progressively ordering such identities within genuine common rhythms. Also, for the above reasons, the symbolic image is not an 'example' (an external and hypothetical relation between two objects or two correspondences) but an internal analogy (a necessary and constant relationship).
SYMBOL AND ALLEGORY—SYMBOL AND ARTISTIC EXPRESSION
As a general rule, writers on the subject distinguish in essence between the symbol and the allegory. Bachelard defines the latter as 'a lifeless image, a concept which has become over-rationalized'. For Jung, allegory is a limited kind of symbol reduced to the role of a pointer, desis no many potential series of dynamic meanings. Again, the difference between vv X y ard symbol may be understood by reference to the hypothesis of Wirtn; for whom the essential function of the symbol is to explore the unknown and—paradoxically—to communicate with the incommunicable, the partial discovery of these unfathomable truths being achieved through symbols. Diel illustrates the difference between allegory and symbol with a vivid example: 'Zeus hurls a thunderbolt, which on the meteorological plane is a straightforward allegory. This allegory is transmuted into a symbol when the act acquires a psychological meaning, Zeus becoming the symbol of the spirit and the thunderbolt symbolizing the sudden appearance of an illuminating thought (intuition) which is supposed to come from the god himself'. This cipher is a semeiotic expression, a conventional abbreviation for a known constant. Allegory is seen therefore as the mechanism of the symbol, in which the chief characteristic of the latter is devitalized and turned into a mere cipher which, because it is dressed up in traditional, symbolic garb, may even appear to be alive.
Allegories have often been created quite consciously with theatrical or literary ends in mind. Cesare Ripa's Iconologia is a vast thesaurus of personifications and allegories. Mythological dictionaries provide many examples in which realistic portrayal deprives i them of symbolic value. Thus, according to Cochin, Cruelty is depicted as a fearful hag smothering a child in its cradle and laughing in the firelight; and Dusk as a youth with a star on his forehead and 3 the black wings of a bat, fleeing beneath a veil representing night. Even more mechanical are the allegories representing science, the arts or industry, Cosmography is usually shown as an old woman; she wears a blue cape studded with stars while her dress is earthcoloured. In one hand she holds an astrolabe, in the other a compass. At her feet are the globes of the earth and the heavens. These examples prove that the elements of allegory are symbols which are in no way distinguishable from true symbols. Their function alone is modified and inverted, for, instead of indicating metaphysical and spiritual principles—instead of possessing an emotional content—they are artificial creations designating physical realities and nothing else.
But in certain circumstances the components of allegory can revert to their symbolic state, that is, if the unconscious seizes upon them as such, overlooking their semeiotic and representational ends. Hence we may speak of an intermediate zone of images consciously created, even if calling upon ancestral memories, perhaps through the medium of dreams or visions. We find an example of this in the playing-cards of the Tarot, the compositions of which seem to be carried out according to a criterion analogous to that of many allegories or mythic; Ton onlx difference is that their .,nvstf.^ ,b places them beyond the reach of reason and enables them to act as stimuli to the unconscious. The same thing frequently happens in art: symbols have come to be placed within conscious, traditional and dogmatic systems, but their inner life still pulses beneath this rationalized order, even becoming audible from time to time. In ornamentation, strict rhythm rather than symbolic rhythm is at work. The inner force of the rhythm is conveyed to the observer who is moved by it according to his nature, but it is rare for even the suspicion of a psychological or cosmic significance to rise to the surface of his consciousness, although he may perceive its dynamic essence. We have read with interest Rene Alleau's recent work, De la nature des symboled and find the distinctions he draws between symbol and synthema interesting from a formalistic standpoint but of less help than hindrance towards the proper understanding of the spiritual and psychological meaning of symbols.
The same thing occurs with artistic expression, which may be related to symbolization but must not be confused with it. Artistic expression is a continuous, flowing, causal and direct relation between the inspiration and the final representation, which is both the means and the end of the expressive process. Symbolization is discontinuous, static, indirect, transcending the object in which it is enshrined. In music and in painting, one can easily distinguish between the expressive and the symbolic factors. But since we cannot here go into such particulars, we shall confine ourselves to determining the parts played by these factors in some general artistic tendencies. Thus expressionism, confronted with the material world of objects, tends to destroy them and to submerge them in a swirling stream of psychic forces, overwhelming the expressive figures and, with its power, obliging them to become part of a system of free rhythms. Symbolism, on the other hand, while isolating each form and each figure, attracts, as if with magnetic lines of force, all that has 'common rhythm', that is, all that has natural affinity. It thus reveals that the profound meaning behind all series of symbolic objects is the very cause of their appearance in the world of phenomena. Concerning the relationship of the art-form with the author, let us refer again to the concept of endopathy, anticipated by Dante in his Canzoniere: 'He who would paint a figure, if he cannot become that figure, cannot portray it.' This is a further affirmation of 'common rhythm', like the earlier observation of Plotinus that the eye could not see the sun unless it became to some degree a sun itself and vice versa. In symbolist doctrine, there is never any question of mere relation between cause and effect but rather of 'mutual causality'. In symbolism, everything has some meaning, everything has a purpose which at times is obvious, and at others less so, and everything leaves some trace or 'signature' which is open to investigation and interpretation.
APPRECIATION AND INTERPRETATION
The Problem of Interpretation In the l9th century, mythology and symbolism were much discussed particularly in connexion with the problem of interpretation. Max Muller derived the majority of myths from solar phenomena, in particular Dawn representing victory over Darkness, while Schwartz and his school gave pride of place to the storm. Soon another interpretative approach came into being, in which all celestial and meteorological images came to be considered as secondary to mental and spiritual symbols. So, for example, Karl O. Muller, in his Kleine deutsche Schriften, remarked that, essentially, the myth of Orion had nothing astral about it, and that only subsequently did it come to be placed in the heavens. This process of projecting the worldly into the celestial sphere, in particular into the astral, is known as catasterism. The arrival of the psychological thesis, however, did not invalidate the arguments for celestial provenance—such as those put forward by Dupuis in his L'Origine de togs Yes cultes—and this is yet a further proof that the symbol is plurisignal, a term first used by Philip Wheelwright.
Basically, all these problems of 'origin' are of very secondary importance. From the point of view of symbolist tradition, there is no question of priority, only of simultaneity: all phenomena are parallel and related. Interpretations only indicate the starting-point of the interpreter, not the causal or prior condition within the system itself.
These inevitable qualifications inherent in symbolic interpretation are underlined by Gaston Bachelard in his prologue to Diel, when he says, not without irony: 'Are you a rationalist historian? You will find in myth an account of famous dynasties. Are you a linguist? Words tell all, and all legends are formed around sayings. One more corrupted word—one more god! Olympus is a grammar controlling the functions of the gods. Are you a sociologist? Then in myth you will find the means by which, in primitive society, the leader is turned into a god.' The only all-embracing interpretation which would seem to fit the original meaning of myths and symbols is the one that takes this meaning right back to the metaphysical source, to the dialectic of creation. Louis Renou praises Zimmer's 'intuitive appreciation of the metaphysical approach to the myth', which is to say, his fidelity to his subject, an approach embracing both the philosophical and the religious aspects. But argument about all the possible interpretations dates not from our times, nor from recent times, but from Antiquity. Seznec recalls that the ancients evolved theories about the origins of the gods, based upon interpretations which can be summed up as expressions of three essential attitudes:
(a) myths are more or less modified accounts of historical facts, of people raised to the rank of gods, as happened in historical time with Alexander the Great;
(b) myths express the conflicts inherent in the natural world, for which reason gods had to be supernatural, cosmic symbols;
(c) myths are the fabulous expression of philosophical or moral ideas.
We would rather say that myths, and a great number of other archetypal symbols, are all three things at once. Or better still, that they are concrete, historical realities, that they are at once cosmic and natural; moral and psychological realities are merely restatements on three planes (history, the physical world, the psychic world) of the same basic ideas. Euhemerism, a system which gives preference to historical interpretation, does not, however, in any way affect the nature of symbol or myth, because, as we have already said, the simultaneous occurrence of an abstract and general manifestation with its materialization in a moment of space-time not only implies no contradiction, but actually is a proof of their true existence on both planes.
In the world of symbols, totemistic interpretation does no more than demonstrate relationships, without elucidating meanings:
it forges connecting-links between beings endowed with 'common rhythm', but it does not indicate the meaning of these beings. To say that Athena was the nocturnal owl, the Magna Mater a lioness or Artemis a she-bear, is to say nothing about the meaning of the gods nor about their respective animal-symbols. The analysis of meaning is the only thing which can lead to the reconstruction of the inner structure of each symbol. Similarly, realism, which sees in a fable merely a different version of the original event or an amalgam of varied elements, offers only a secondary explanation of the problem of 'origins' without attempting to go deeply into the raison d'etre of the entity. To say that the image of the bat gave birth to the idea of the hippogryph, the chimaera and the dragon, is to give the minimal idea of the expressive and symbolic value of such fabulous animals; only an analysis of their context, their behaviour and their purpose can bring us close to the myth of the symbol with its considerable capacity for dynamic transfiguration. Krappe is speaking in terms of realism when he says that the well-known tradition of associating the tree with the serpent can be traced 'quite simply to the fact (easily verifiable in all countries where snakes live) that these reptiles generally make their holes at the foot of a tree'. Even if we grant the accuracy of this explanation, what could it tell us about the intensity of this myth, with its powerful symbolism expressing Biblical temptation? Clearly, symbolism is something quite different. It is the magnetism which reality—whether it be simple (the object) or complex (the relationship)—is seen to exert by virtue of its spiritual potential within the cosmic system. The snake and the tree are related analogously in their outlines, in the resemblance of the reptile to the roots of a tree, and in the relationship between the tree and the erect snake on the one hand, and the columns of Boaz and Jachin on the other: a binary image of the essential paradox of life— the paradox of Good and Evil. While the tree raises its branches to the sun as if in an ecstasy of adoration, the snake is poised ready to strike. This is the essence of the symbol and not the fact that snakes nest at the foot of a tree. What is more, applying the traditional law that facts never explain anything but are the mere consequence of principle, we can say that if the snake makes its nest beneath trees, this is precisely because of this inner relationship.
Given that every symbol 'echoes' throughout every plane of reality and that the spiritual ambience of a person is essentially one of these planes because of the relationship traditionally established between the macrocosm and the microcosm, a relationship which philosophy has verified by presenting Man as the 'messenger of being' (Heidegger): given this, then it follows that every symbol can be interpreted psychologically. So, for example, the secret room of Bluebeard, which he forbids his wife to enter, is his mind. The dead wives which she encounters in defying his orders are the wives whom he has once loved, that is, who are now dead to his love. Jung emphasizes the twofold value of psychological interpretation; it has thrown new light upon dreams, daydreams, fantasies and works of art, while on the other hand it provides confirmation of the collective character of myths and legends. He also points out that there are two aspects of the interpretation of the unconscious: what the symbol represents in itself (objective interpretation), and what it signifies as a projection or as an individualized 'case' (subjective interpretation). For our part, objective interpretation is nothing more nor less than understanding. Subjective interpretation is true interpretation: it takes the widest and profoundest meaning of a symbol in any one given moment and applies it to certain given examples.
Psychological interpretation points the middle way between the objective truth of the symbol and the particular circumstances influencing the individual who experiences the symbol. The prejudices of the interpreter must, in varying degrees, also be taken into account, for it will often be difficult to wean him from his particular likes and dislikes. It is here that symbols acquire secondary, accidental and transitory meanings, quite apart from their universal quality. The sword, without ever losing its objective meaning (which we explained earlier) comes to acquire various secondary meanings —which may even, because of its vital potential, appear momentarily as the primary sense—according to whether the symbol occurs in the mind of a soldier, a priest, a collector of swords or a poet. And this is to mention only one limiting factor, in itself extensive enough, embracing, as it does, character-study. The symbol, then, like water, finds its own level, which is the level of the interpreting mind. The difficulties of interpretation are therefore enormous, whereas the difficulties in the way of appreciating the symbol are almost elementary. Much scepticism about symbolism—especially among psychologists—arises because of the confusion of two quite different aspects of the function of symbolism:
(i) the manifestation of the true meaning of the symbolic object, and
(ii) the manifestation of a distorted meaning superimposed by an individual mind prejudiced by circumstantial or psychological factors.
The difficulties of psychological interpretation concern not so much the series of 'multivalencies' of the symbol (common rhythm), as the variety of outlook of the interpreting mind, influenced either unconsciously by the power of the symbol or consciously by his own Weltanschauang.
One example of this kind of prejudiced interpretation can be seen in the Freudians, who claimed to unveil the universal sexuality of all objects and forms because they demonstrably belonged to one or the other of two broadly opposed groups: the masculine and the feminine. But the Chinese, with their Yang-Yin symbol, and the Hindus, and the Hebrews had long ago established the essential polarity of the world of phenomena according to generic principles, including the sexual division. Nevertheless, no matter how an object might be classified, it would never lose its potential significance; for its grouping constitutes only one of its symbolic representations and not, of course, the most important. The Talmud, furthermore, had discovered the interesting method of interpreting sexual dreams not always as immediately meaningful but often as indirectly significant or portentous (Fromm, 23). To dream of sexual relations with, for example, one's mother signified the attainment of the highest degree of wisdom. That Roman divines were also aware of this is proved by the interpretation given to a similar dream of Julius Caesar, to whom it was prophesied that he would inherit the world. But on the other hand one cannot deny those psychological interpretations which point to sexual ends. When a man, in the Talmud, 'sprinkles an olive tree with olive oil', he betrays symbolically an incestuous desire. The distortion of symbols inherent in any method of psychological interpretation derived from abnormal minds and applied to abnormal conditions may be seen in the patterns of meaning evolved by Volmat in his L'Art psychopathologique. For him, the symbol 'grows around a dynamic system, that is, around a structure within the dimensions of time and personality'. Such distortion of the true meaning of symbols arises from an over-restriction of their function, from over-identification with the psychological mechanism which construes it and with the alter ego, although it makes up for this restriction by its added intensity. Everything is made as subjective as possible: the tree is no longer the cosmic tree, but a projection of the self; and similarly with mountains. Water and fire present only their negative and destructive connotations, not the positive ones of purification and regeneration. By associations, only the tragic and mournful connotations are investigated: such is the construction put upon flowers and animals, for example. In the same way, this kind of interpretation overruns the object, altering it wherever necessary to fit abnormal symbols. Houses lose their doors and windows (symbols of openings, outlets, hopes of salvation); trees lose their leaves and never bear fruit. Catastrophes, which in traditional symbolism have the ambivalent meaning of both destruction and of fecundation and regeneration, are here limited to negative and destructive functions. One can understand that symbology built upon interpretation at this level can lay no claim to objectivity: it is no longer metaphysical but psychological.
On the other hand, to limit symbolic interpretation to the analysis of meaning, or to enumerating the qualities of the thing and its spiritual counterparts, is not enough. Not because the method is inherently deficient, but because in practice no one can see clearly and wholly what the object in question is.
A confrontation with symbolist tradition therefore becomes necessary, a tradition with secular associations and interpretations of undoubted value and universality; it is, then, essential to apply the comparative method whenever possible.
LEVELS OF MEANING
Corresponding to the multiplicity of symbolic objects linked by a 'common rhythm' is the multivalency of their meanings, each one distributed analogously on a separate level of reality. This power of the symbol to evince a meaning not only on one level but at all levels is borne out by all those who have written about symbology, notwithstanding their scientific outlook. Mircea Eliade stresses this essential characteristic of the symbol, emphasizing the simultaneity of its different meanings —although, strictly, instead of 'different meanings' one ought to speak of the different values and particular aspects assumed by the basic meaning. Schneider gives a vivid example of this kind of progressive ordering of meaning, with its separate patterns on each plane of reality. He notes that if we take three fundamental planes:
(i) vegetable and meteorological life;
(ii) natural human life; and
(iii) spiritual growth; then the concepts of death and rebirth—respectively symbolized by the moon in its waning and waxing phases—signify on these three levels:
(a) drought and rain;
(b) illness and cure; and
(c) fossilization and flux.
Schneider goes on to suggest that the symbol is the inner link between all that is analogous or associated, rather than the dynamic potential of each separate object. He suggests that 'every symbol is a rhythmic whole embracing the essential, common rhythms of a series of phenomena, which are scattered over different planes by virtue of their secondary rhythms. They spread out from a spiritual centre and their clarity and intensity decrease as they approach the periphery. The reality of the symbol is founded upon the idea that the ultimate reality of an object lies in its spiritual rhythm—which it incarnates—and not in its material aspect', or its functional aspect. Diet shares this view, applying it to myths, such as that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, where he points out that the Eleusinian Mysteries imply three levels of meaning: the agrarian, the psychological and the metaphysical, the mystery Iying in the integration of these three levels of reality; and these three levels correspond to the levels of all forms of sense-perception and knowledge. Hence, interpretation becomes the selection of one level as predominant, leaving aside the question of interaction, symbolic degradation and over-restriction within the particular. It is quite legitimate to see Medusa as a cloud, Chrysaor the golden sword as lightning, the galloping hoof beats of Pegasus as the thunder. But by limiting the upwards-tending dynamism of the symbol within these meteorological concepts, the unbounded potential significance of the symbol becomes confined within the limits of allegory.
From the Freudian school onwards, the level of a great many symbolic interpretations has been that of sexual activity. The swan, for example, has come to be seen simply as a symbol of hermaphroditism; yet on the mystical plane it has always alluded to the androgynous god of many primitive and astrobiological religions, as well as to the rebis of the alchemists and to the bisexual Man of Plato. Confining the symbol in this way within the narrow limits of allegory, restricting it to a lower plane in the pattern of the universe, is known in symbology as the 'degradation of the symbol'. And this degraded meaning may not only affect the interpretation it receives, but also the symbol itself. At times, degradation is brought about by trivial vulgarization: thus, arising from the myth of Mercury and Perseus flying through space with the aid of their winged sandals, we have the more modest journeyings of those who wear the seven-league boots ; out of the myth of the 'Islands of the Blessed', which is connected with the mystical 'centre', there has arisen the urge for 'ocean paradises' which even Gauguin sought to turn into reality; out of the mythical battles between Osiris and Set, and Ormuzd and Ahriman, come the struggles between the 'good' and the 'bad' in literature. Levy-Bruhl, in L'Experience mystique et Yes symboles chez les primitifs, adduces some similar examples of fairy-story deformation of the symbol. Other forms of degradation are: over-particularized interpretation, leading to lengthy and arbitrary descriptions of 'the language of flowers' and so on. Over-intellectualized, allegorical interpretations are another aspect of the same thing—for example, asserting that 'the union of Leda and the swan signifies the pairing of Power and Injustice'; similarly, 'identifications' through so-called analogy. This dangerous tendency is what led to the decadence of symbolist movements during the Renaissance. In all the examples of deformation we have given, one finds the same basic falsification: the creative drive of the symbol—its tendency to revert to its Origin—is restricted, and it is made to bear labels which are over-concrete, too materialized or inferior. Its metaphysical function is arrested, and consequently a single plane of reality comes to be mistaken for the sum of all possible levels of symbolic meaning. If this use of symbols is recognized ass deformation, then as we suggested earlier when commenting lupon Caro Baroja—a general distrust of ready-made symbolic meaanings and the attend to use them to explain myth, would seem lto be justified. The influence of the symbol must be allowed to pervade all levels of realty; only then can it be seen in all its spiritual grandeur and fecundity
THE SYAMBOLIZING AGENT A4D THE SYMBOLIC OBJECT
In accordance with our usual practice of using the comparative rather than the deductive methodmd avoiding over-classification, we have not dlrawn rigid dividing-lies between the separate meanings of each partiecular symbol on its various levels of reality. We have not done so bbecause our sources hsve been very varied and we have preferred to]reproduce their contest with a minimum of editorial comment. Amother reason for not sitting clear-cut conclusions is that in our opini(on it is not always possible to accept the particular views of some writers, however estmable they may be as compilers or even as interpreters of symbols For example, Loeffler says that in oriental amd Nordic mythology each symbol, myth or legend contains 'foulr superimposed morallessons:
(i) an historical lesson, that is, an elpic narration dealingwith real facts and people and serving as a ]kind of "material basking" for the symbolic teaching involved;
(ii) F a psychological lesson depicting the struggle between spirit and maltter on the human pane;
(iii) a lesson bearing upon life on our pllanet; and
(iv) a lessol upon the constitution of matter and cosmic Order'.
This schematic division is surely misleading, for we must remember that, for eny given level of meaning, it is not the meaming itself which chanfes but the way it is adapted or applied. Finailly, we have not favolred this kind of classification— despite its sserial 'multivalency'—for the reason that symbols, traditionally 'at least, seem to haXe an inborn tendency to settle upon one pearticular plane. Thub some symbols are primarily concerned witth psychology, others faith the cosmological or natural orders. There are those too, we must point out, which exist in order to reconcile dlifferent levels of realty, particularly the psychic with the spatial. The best example of ths is that of the mandala, and all those symbolls of conjunction or hose uniting the three worlds. Thus, for exalmple, steps are symbolic of the connexion between the conscious, and the unconscious just as they are a connexion between the Upper, the terrestrial end the nether worlds. The idea of order is am essential one in symbolism and is expressed through the ordering /of space, geometric forms, and numbers, and by the disposition off living beings as symbols in positions determined by the law of Correspondences. Another essential idea of symbolist doctrine is that of the cycle, either as a series of possibles—expressed particularly through the septenary and all its associated or derived symbolic forms—or as a process which closes up some of the possibilities once the cycle is completed. Zodiacal symbolism is a perfect illustration of this cosmic structure. The relation of destiny with the cyclic process is implied in the figures of the legendary Tarot pack; the wealth of symbolic knowledge which is contained in each and every one of its cards is not to be despised, even if their symbolic significance is open to debate. For the illustrations of the Tarot afford clear examples of the signs, the dangers and the paths leading towards the infinite which Man may discover in the course of his existence.
The great themes of death and resurrection, related respectively with the cycle of involution (progressive materialization) and evolution (spiritualization or the return to the point of origin), gave rise to many myths and legends. The struggle to come to grips with truth and the spiritual centre appears in the form of battles and trials of strength, while those instincts which shackle Man and hold him down appear as monsters. According to Diel, 'the symbols most typical of the spirit and of intuition are the sun and the sunlit sky; those of the imagination and the darker side of the unconscious, are the moon and night. The sea symbolizes the mysterious immensity from which everything comes and to which everything returns'. All natural and cultural objects may be invested with a symbolic function which emphasizes their essential qualities in such a way that they lend themselves to spiritual interpretation. So, for example, rocks, mountains and all topographical features; trees and vegetables, flowers and fruit, animals, works of architecture and the utilities, the members of the body and the four elements. But it should be remembered that this catalogue of objects becomes much shorter when the objects become possessed of certain symbolic potentials, when they are strung together, as it were, along one line of meaning. For example, within the symbolism of levels and of the relation between heaven and earth, the mountain, the tree, the temple and steps can often be equated. On occasions, such a relationship appears to be created by or at least to bear the imprint of one principal symbol. It is for this reason that Mircea Eliade can say that 'the intuitive awareness of the moon as the source of rhythm as well as the source of energy, life and regeneration (of material things) has built up a veritable network between all the different cosmic planes, creating symmetries, analogies and communion between phenomena of infinite variety.... We have, for example, the series: Moon, rain, fertility, woman, snake, death, periodic regeneration; but at times only a part of the series is apparent: Snake, woman, fecundity; snake, rain, fecundity; or woman, snake, eroticism, etc. A complete mythology has been built up around these smaller, secondary groups', especially around the principal.
The symbolic object appears as a quality or a higher form, and also as an essence justifying and explaining the existence of the symbolizing agent. The most straightforward of symbological analyses based upon simple enumeration of the qualitative meanings of the object, sometimes, while the 'mode of existence' is being investigated, will reveal a sudden opening which illuminates its meaning through an association of ideas. This association should never be thought of as a mere external idea in the mind of the investigator, outside the symbol itself, but rather as a revelation of the inner link—the 'common rhythm'—joining two realities to the mutual benefit of both. For this reason, when one reads in Picinello's work: 'Sapphire:—Arouses pity. In colour similar to the sky: it shares its colour. It gladdens the heart. A symbol of heavenly reward. Contemplative', then one must agree that, within the limits of his implicit analysis, the writer is right as far as he goes, although the terms implying anticipation ('arouses pity') and moral effect ('it gladdens the heart'), are not strictly explanations of the symbol but of a reaction arising from its contemplation.
Symbols, in whatever form they may appear, are not usually isolated; they appear in clusters, giving rise to symbolic compositions which may be evolved in time (as in the case of story-telling), in space (works of art, emblems, graphic designs), or in both space and time (dreams, drama). It is necessary to recall that, in symbolism, each detail invariably has some particular meaning , and that the way a symbol is oriented also calls for attention: for example, fire pointing downwards represents erotic life; while, pointing towards the sky, it expresses purification. Schneider mentions also the importance of the location of the object: a basket changes its meaning when placed on the head, for 'any given object changes in significance according to the "common rhythm" it is made to respond to'. Combinations of symbols evidence a cumulative meaning. Thus, a crowned snake signifies the crowning of instinctive or telluric forces. Emblems are very often based upon a conjunction of various simple symbols in any given sphere. At times they are concordant symbols, at times discordant. An example of the former is the frequent mediaeval emblem of the heart enclosed within a circle from which tongues of flame radiate. The three constituent parts of this emblem refer to the Trinity: the heart represents Love and the mystic centre, the circle represents eternity and the flames, irradiation and purification. On other occasions the symbol is formally simple yet structurally it is made up from two or more sources: thus, the tree is given the form of a cross, or the cross the form of a leafless tree—a symbol which also occurs in mediaeval emblematic designs. An example cited by Bachelard falls within this class of confederate symbol: appearing in a dream of Jean-Paul are 'white swans with wings outspread like arms'. This kind of symbolic syntax is found most frequently in allegories and attributes. If the globe, the symbol of the world, has an eagle above it, it expresses the consecration of power. Medusa's head—with its negative, destructive character—placed in the centre of a symbolic space, signifies destructiveness . Very important, too, is the vertical positioning of the symbol. Higher elevation along a given vertical axis always indicates spiritual superiority—by analogy of physical with metaphysical 'height'. For this reason, the uraeus of Egyptian sovereigns expressed the spiritualization of the inner force (symbolized by the snake) when it was positioned on the forehead, on a spot the importance of which is well known to Tantrist Yoga.
Symbolic syntax, in respect of the relationship between its individual elements, may function in four different ways:
(a) the successive manner, one symbol being placed alongside another; their meanings, however, do not combine and are not even interrelated;
(b) the progressive manner, in which the meanings of the symbols do not interact but represent different stages in the symbolic process;
(c) the composite manner, in which the proximity of the symbols brings about change and creates complex meanings: a synthesis, that is, and not merely a mixture of their meanings;
(d) the dramatic manner, in which there is an interaction between the groups and all the potentialities of the preceding groups are synthesized.
We have followed the practice of Enel—who would appear to have settled the problems which preoccupied Horapollo and Athanasius Kircher—and taken several examples from the Egyptian system of hieroglyphics, which well illustrates the last group. Further ideas upon the 'de-ciphering' of complex symbols can be drawn from what we have suggested when dealing with spatial and pictorial symbolism. Moreover, we note that the meaning of any symbol can be enriched by the application of the law of correspondences and its corollaries. In other words, objects possessing 'common rhythm' barter some of their properties. But we must also recall that the Scylla and Charybdis of symbolism are (firstly) devitalization through allegorical over-simplification, and (secondly) ambiguity arising from exaggeration of either its meaning or its ultimate implications; for in truth, its deepest meaning is unequivocal since, in the infinite, the apparent diversity of meaning merges into Oneness.
If we take all the possible applications of an analytical method founded upon the symbolism of space or of lineal direction, or of ;; determinate or indeterminate, regular or irregular forms, or of the gamut of texture and colour, we can see that they are indeed very numerous; one in particular is the comprehension of those works; of art which portray the immediate projection of inner forces and fantasies not in the figurative world but in the material. It could here be objected that abstract—geometric, biomorphic or textural —painting, or surrealist visions, do not call for conscious dis. crimination, since the aim of the creator—as Richard Wagner said of his music—is to forget all about the psychological mechanism and let the unconscious speak to the unconscious. This is as true as it is to note that the implications of symbology are sometimes disturbing and even sinister. For this reason, and others already mentioned, we have not given analytical descriptions of paintings dreams or literature. This is not the place to discuss the implications of symbolist theory; anyone who wishes is free to make use of the mystic bonds to which we allude or to ignore them as he sees fit. We only wish to add that we regard our work less as a reference-book than a book to be read at leisure. And that only by seeing all the 0 symbols compiled as a whole can the reader learn anything about any one of them; for symbolic meanings are often surprising, such as that implied in the relationship between the retiarius and mirmillo gladiators and the zodiacal signs of Pisces (aquatic forces of dissolution, its attributes being the net and the trident) and Cancer (the solar force, its attributes being fire, the shell of the crab and the swordWa relationship which explains and justifies the gladiators unceasing struggle in the gilded amphitheatres of Rome. Then again, dynamism plays an important role. The sun, for example, may rulet over or be ruled by the moon. In the latter case, we are faced with the law of becoming; in the former, with the law of being, as defined by Evola. One last observation: we have on occasion added to the symbolic meaning those allegorical meanings which we have thought might prove of some interest.