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Mythic dactyls or fingers are related to the Cabiri (q.v.), and correspond to chthonian cults, their function being to link the nether world with the terrestrial . Symbolically they may be seen as those forces of the psyche which ordinarily go unheeded but which help as much as hinder the conscious projects of the reason. For Jung they figure among the symbols of 'multiplicity' which form around the essential elements of the psychic structure.
The corporeal image of a given process, or of becoming, or of the passage of time. In Hindu doctrine, the dance of Shiva in his role as Nataraja (the King of the Cosmic Dance, symbolizing the union of space and time within evolution) clearly has this meaning . There is a universal belief that, in so far as it is a rhythmic art-form, it is a symbol of the act of creation. This is why the dance is one of the most ancient forms of magic. Every dance is a pantomime of metamorphosis (and so calls for a mask to facilitate and conceal the transformation), which seeks to change the dancer into a god, a demon or some other chosen form of existence. Its function is, in consequence, cosmogonic. The dance is the incarnation of eternal energy: this is the meaning of the circle of flames surrounding the 'dancing Shiva' . Dances performed by people with linked arms symbolize cosmic matrimony, or the union of heaven and earth—the chain-symbol and in this way they facilitate the union of man and wife .
Equated with matter, with the maternal and germinant, but it pre-exists the differentiation of matter . The dualism of light/darkness does not arise as a symbolic formula of morality until primordial darkness has been split up into light and dark. Hence, the pure concept of darkness is not, in symbolic tradition, identified with gloom on the contrary, it corresponds to primigenial chaos. It is also related to mystic nothingness, and, in consequence, Hermetic language is an obscure per obscures, a path leading back to the profound mystery of the Origin. According to Guénon, light is the basic principle behind differentiation and hierarchical order. The gloom which preceded the Fiat Lux always, in traditional symbolism, represents the state of undeveloped potentialities which give rise to chaos. Hence, the darkness introduced into the world, after the advent of light, is regressive; hence, too, the fact that it is traditionally associated with the principle of evil and with the base, unsublimated forces.
Day of Rest
Like so many other aspects of existence both in customs and in utilitarian activities the concept of the Day of Rest does not arise from material or empirical necessity (even leaving aside the religious implications). According to Erich Fromm, the observance of the Sabbath amongst the Hebrews does not denote mere repose for reasons of health, but rather something much more profound. In effect, because work implies a state of change of war between man and the world around him, it follows that rest designates peace between him and Nature. One day a week a day which, by virtue of the analogy between time and cosmic space, corresponds to the idea of the centre implicit in the position of the sun among the planets or the location of the earth according to the geocentric system must be set aside for experiencing the spontaneous, perfect harmony of man in Nature. By not working, the human being can break away from the order of change which gives rise to history, and thereby free himself from time and space to return to the state of paradise. This symbolism provides the explanation, furthermore, of what Bell called 'the fiery restlessness of the rebel': the instinctive hatred of all forms of rest characteristic of the man of warlike spirit who challenges all Nature and the world as it appears to the senses.
Death Symbolically
death represents the end of an epoch, particularly when it takes the form of sacrifice or the desire for selfdestruction in the face of unendurable tension (as with Romeo and Juliet, or Tristan and Isolde). The hero dies young for this same reason: Siegfried, Achilles or Balder for example. The public necessity for a sacrifice of this kind was what lay behind the 'ritual assassination of the king' in which the possibility of his survival was sometimes left open, should he prove victor in combat. As an example of this rite, Frazer cites a festival called 'The Great Sacrifice' in which the king of Calicut was made to hazard his crown and his life. It took place every twelve years, at the time the planet Jupiter turns back towards the constellation of Cancer, since there was a supposed relationship between the planet and the king's destiny.
The The thirteenth enigma of the Tarot pack. This playing-card shows the well-known allegory of the skeleton with the difference that here, contrary to custom, he wields his scythe towards the left. And the bones of the skeleton are not grey but pink. The ground is strewn with human remains, but these remains, like those in legend and folklore, have the appearance of living beings heads, for instance, keep their living expression; hands emerging from the ground seem ready for action. Everything in this enigmacard tends to ambivalence, underlining the fact that if life is, in itself, closely bound up with death (as Heraclitus pointed out and as mediaevalists and modern scientists have corroborated), death is also the source of life and not only of spiritual life but of the resurrection of matter as well. one must resign oneself to dying in a dark prison in order to find rebirth in light and clarity. In the same manner as Saturn pruned the tree in order to rejuvenate it, so Siva (or Shiva) transforms beings by destroying their form without annihilating their essence. On the other hand, death is the supreme liberation. In the positive sense, then, this enigma symbolizes the transformation of all things, the progress of evolution, dematerialization; in the negative, melancholy decomposition, or the end of anything determinate and therefore comprehended within a period of time. All allegories and images of death have the same significance. In Greek mythology, death was envisaged as the daughter of the night and the sister of sleep. Horace depicts death with black wings and a net for snaring his victims, a net which is identical with that of the Uranian gods as well as that of the Roman gladiator. Death is related to the Element earth and to the range of colours from black, through the earth-coloured shades, to green. It is also associated with the symbolism of manure.
Ritual decapitation arose from the discovery in prehistoric times that the head is the receptacle of the spirit. The preservation of heads, as practised by certain primitive peoples, holds the same significance as the separate burial of that part of the body. The same symbolic meaning is attached to the decorative use of sculpted heads, set at particular vantage points in many mediaeval temples, such as Clonfert Cathedral, in Ireland.
(or Medals) The inverse of wound-symbolism. They denote sublimation and glorification, and are related to the red/white principle of alchemy.
(or Gorge) Within the symbolism of landscape as a whole, the gorge corresponds to the lower regions and is therefore closely related to the maternal, the unconscious and, ultimately, to the forces of evil. If the cavern, or the hollow interior of a mountain, are authentic illustrations of the unconscious, which remains unknown or enigmatic or is experienced indirectly, then the gorge and the fissure is a symbol of a crack in the conscious life through which the inner pattern of the individual psyche, or of the worldsoul, may be glimpsed . Because of its associations with strategy, or with other derived ideas, the gorge also incorporates the notion of danger. By its shape, it implies a sense of inferiority in the face of overwhelming odds (suggested by the mountains or masses of earth and rock which in effect constitute the gorge). on the other hand, these negative considerations may themselves be negated by the symbolism implicit in the fact that water often runs along the bed of the gorge and water is always related to birth, regeneration and purification; this is further proof that the gorge has a maternal symbolism.
The tradition of the deluge, or of several deluges, is to be found in all parts of the world, with the exception of Africa. Science appears to have verified its historical reality. Within the symbolic relationship between the moon and water, the deluge, according to Eliade, corresponds to the three days of the 'death of the moon'. As a catastrophe, the deluge is never represented as final, because it takes place under the sign of the lunar cycle and of the regenerating properties of water. It destroys forms, in other words, but not forces, thus leaving the way open for the re-emergence of life. Consequently, apart from its material connotation, the deluge always stands for the final stage of a cycle, coinciding with the zodiacal sign Pisces . Torrential rains always retain some of the great symbolic content of the deluge; every fall of rain is tantamount to purification and regeneration, which in turn imply the basic idea of punishment and completion.
It has a profound and clear-cut symbolism. Berthelot observes that the Biblical prophets, in order to counter the agrarian religions based on fertility rites (related, according to Eliade, to orgies), never ceased to describe theirs as the purest religion of the Israelites 'when they were in the wilderness'. This confirms the specific symbolism of the desert as the most propitious place for divine revelation, for which reason it has been said that 'monotheism is the religion of the desert' . This is because the desert, in so far as it is in a way a negative landscape, is the 'realm of abstraction' located outside the sphere of existence, susceptible only to things transcendent. Furthermore, the desert is the domain of the sun, not as the creator of energy upon earth but as pure, celestial radiance, blinding in its manifestation. Again: if water is associated with the ideas of birth and physical fertility, it is also opposed to the concept of the everlasting spirit; and, indeed, moisture has always been regarded as a symbol of moral corruption. On the other hand, burning drought is the climate par excellence of pure, ascetic spirituality of the consuming of the body for the salvation of the soul. Tradition provides further corroboration of this symbolism: for the Hebrews, captivity in Egypt was a life held in opprobium, and to go out into the desert was 'to go out from Egypt' . Finally, let us point to the emblematic relationship of the desert with the lion, which is a sun-symbol, verifying what we have said about the solar symbolism of the desert.
The traditional symbols of destruction are always ambivalent, whether we take the thirteenth mystery of the Tarot, the twelfth sign of the Zodiac (Pisces), the symbolism of water or fire, or of any form of sacrifice. Every ending is a beginning, just as every beginning contains an end; this is the essential idea of the symbols of mystic 'Inversion' which Schneider has subjected to such careful study. All this, then, should be borne in mind when we read such observations as the following by Rudolf Steiner (taken from La Philosophie de la Liberté): 'To transform being into an infinitely superior non-being, that is the aim of the creation of the world. The process of the universe is a perpetual combat . . . which will end only with the annihilation of all existence. The moral life of man, then, consists in taking part in universal destruction.' This 'destruction' like the alchemic process concerns only phenomena, or what is separate in space (the disjunct or the remote) and in time (the transitory). This is why Steiner entitled a collection of his poems Destruction or Love.
The The fifteenth mystery of the Tarot pack. It takes the form of Baphomet (of the Knights Templars) portrayed as having the head and feet of a he-goat and the bosom and arums of a woman . Like the Greek sphinx, it incorporates the four Elements: its black legs correspond to the earth and to the spirits of the nether world; the green scales on its flanks allude to water, the undines, and dissolution; its blue wings to sylphs and also to bats (because the wings are membranous); and the red head is related to fire and salamanders. The aim of the devil is regression or stagnation in what is fragmentary, inferior, diverse and discontinuous. Finally, this Tarot mystery-card is related to the instincts and to desire in all its passionate forms, the magic arts, disorder and perversion.
This symbol, which finds its literal expression in the act, or the fear, of being devoured, is to be found in modified form in the notion of Entanglement, and also, according to Diel, in that of sinking into mud or a swamp. Jung, in connexion with this, quotes the Biblical passage about Jonah and the whale, but Jonah is really better associated with the 'Night Sea-Crossing'. Jung also thinks that fear of incest becomes fear of being devoured by the mother, and that this is then disguised by the imagination in such forms as the witch who swallows up children, the wolf, the ogre, the dragon, etc. On the cosmic plane, the symbol doubtless relates to the final swallowing up by the earth of each human body after death, that is, to the dissolution of the body, so that the symbol may well be related to digestion. In consequence, all those stories which 'have a happy ending', in which children who have been swallowed whole still live inside the animal and eventually escape, refer no doubt to the Christian dogma of the hope of resurrection in the flesh.
All that comes down from the heavens (the thunderbolt, the aerolite, the meteorite, rain or dew) has a sacred character. But dew has a double significance, alluding also to spiritual illumination, since it is the true forerunner of dawn and of the approaching day . The clear, pure water of dew is, according to some traditions, closely connected with the idea of light. There are occasional references in the Far East to the 'tree of sweet dew' situated on mount Kuen-Lun, the equivalent of the Hindu Meru and other sacred mountains symbolizing the world-axis. Light spreads outwards from this tree, and, through the process of synaesthesia, it has come to be known as the 'singing tree' of legend and folklore.
Diamond Etymologically
it comes from the Sanskrit dye, meaning 'luminous being'. It is a symbol of light and of brilliance. The word 'adamantine' is connected with the Greek adamas, meaning 'unconquerable' . In emblems, it often indicates the irradiant, mystic 'Centre' . Like all precious stones, it partakes of the general symbolism of treasures and riches, that is, moral and intellectual knowledge.
The goddess of woods, related to nature in general and to fertility and wild animals. She bears the Greek name of Hecate, meaning 'She who succeeds from afar', and she is therefore linked with the 'Accursed Hunter' (such as Wotan). Accompanied by dogs, she becomes a night-huntress, in turn linked with the demons of chthonian cults. It has been pointed out that her characteristics vary with the phases of the moon: Diana, Jana, Janus. This is why some mythological and emblematic designs show her as Hecate with three heads, a famous, triform symbol which like the trident or the three heads of Cerberus is the infernal inversion of the trinitarian form of the upper world. According to Diel, these threefold symbolic forms of the underworld allude also to the perversion of the three essential 'urges' of man: conservation, reproduction and spiritual evolution. If this is so, then Diana emphasizes the terrible aspect of Woman's nature. Nevertheless, because of her vows of virginity, she was endowed with a morally good character as opposed to that of Venus, as can be seen in the Hippolytus of Euripides.
A symbol for swallowing, mastery, assimilation and dissolution. What is 'undigested' is what cannot be dissolved, that is, what cannot be conquered or assimilated. The alchemists identified digestion with the dragon and with the colour green (representing the irreducible element of nature, in contrast with those substances which could be sublimated or transformed into spirit, or, in other words, 'digested'). Romanesque iconography is characterized by an extraordinary number of monsters swallowing or carrying in their belly or vomiting up animals, both real and fabulous, which they have devoured whole. The symbolism here must be that which we have just outlined, that is, parallel with yet contrary to the belief of the cannibal that by devouring and digesting the vital organs of his enemy he finally vanquishes him, incorporating within himself the potentialities of his victim.
An infernal deity, and a symbol of the uninhibited unleashing of desire, or of the lifting of any inhibition or repression . Nietzsche drew attention to the antithesis between Apollo and Dionysos as symbols of the extreme views of art and of life, drawing man, respectively, towards either order or chaos; or, in other words in accordance with the Freudian death-wish towards either existence and eternal life, or self-annihilation. The insatiable character of the Greek god who is supposed to have come from Asia Minor or from Scythia is apparent in the attributes commonly ascribed to him, such as the thyrsus surmounted by a phallic pine-cone, or the serpent, the horse, the bull, the panther, the he-goat and the hog. According to Jung, the Dionysos-myth signifies the abyss of the 'impassioned dissolution' of each individual, as a result of emotion carried to the extremes of paroxysm and in relation to the urge to escape from time into 'pre-time', characteristic of the orgy; the myth is therefore representative of an unconscious urge.
An emblem of the sun and also of the heavens. In China, the 'sacred disk' is à symbol of celestial perfection , and the disk that actually represents the sky (the jade disk called pi) has a hole in the centre. The 'winged disk' is one of the most widespread of ancient symbols, which is still in use today in signs and emblems; in the profoundest sense, it represents matter in a state of sublimation and transfiguration. The two small serpents which are often to be seen next to the disk are those of the caduceus, alluding to the equipoise of opposing forces . But in a more esoteric sense, the winged disk signifies the disk in movement in flight; it is therefore correctly used today in emblems created by an age which has learnt how to dominate the air and space.
Disguise or rather, 'transvestism' finds its basis in the wearing of clothes belonging to the opposite sex. According to Eliade, this is a rite which is analogous to the symbolism of the orgy and frequently practised in it. its purport is to resuscitate the hypothetical, primordial, androgynous being referred to by Plato in his Dialogues. Zimmer corroborates this symbolism, despite certain discrepancies, pointing out that in India there is a rite carried out every year at the beginning of the rainy season, in which an elephant is escorted in procession by men dressed as women, who in this way pay homage to maternal nature.