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GOBLET (OR DRINKING-CUP)
GOG AND MAGOG
The garden is the place where Nature is subdued ordered, selected and enclosed. Hence, it is a symbol of consciousness as opposed to the forest, which is the unconscious, in the same way as the island is opposed to the ocean. At the same time, it is a feminine attribute because of its character as a precinct . A garden is often the scene of processes of 'Conjunction' or treasurehunts connotations which are clearly in accord with the general symbolic function we have outlined. A more subtle meaning, depending upon the shape and disposition, or the levels and orientation, of the garden, is one which corresponds to the basic symbolism of landscape (q.v.).
Fabulous animals and monsters make their appearance in mediaeval religious art as symbols of the forces of the cosmos, or as images of the demoniacal and dragon-infested underworld; in the latter case they are captive animals prisoners under the sway of a superior spirituality. This is shown by their position in the hierarchy of the ornamentation: they are always subordinated to angelic, celestial images. They never occupy the center.
It has been said that everything in the universe is linked as in a garland; the observation may serve as a pointer to the actual symbolic significance of the garland. It is related to the grotesque, to the rosette, to string and all other tokens of bonds or connection. The uses to which the garland has been put provide us with further definitions of its symbolism. The ancients would hang them at the entrance to their temples on feast-days, as a symbol of fellowship; and they used also to crown their captives with them. Here, as also in the case of the crowns worn by the guests at Egyptian, Greek and Roman banquets, it is the symbolism of the flower which prevails (signifying ephemeral beauty and the dualism or life and death).
This animal is an emblem of the soul. From Primitive times it has been depicted in iconography in flight from or in the jaws of a lion or a panther. It symbolizes the persecution of the passions and the aggressive, self-destructive aspect of the unconscious.
The As the third sign of the Zodiac, these heavenly twins take on the general significance of all symbolic twins (in that they are both divine and mortal, black and white), but the Gemini acquire the additional significance of a characteristic phase of the cosmic process as symbolized in the Wheel of Transformations: the moment, that is to say, in which pure creative force (Aries and Taurus) is severed into two parts, in such a way that one side of the dualism is elevated but the other descends into the multiplicity characteristic of phenomena.
The pillars of Hermes, or those of Hercules, or the so-called Jachin and Boaz columns of the Cabala, are all symbols deriving from the great myth of the Gemini. In the zodiacal symbolism, the third sign is that of the objectivized and reflected intellect.
Marius Schneider has made a profound study of the Gemini-myth in megalithic culture, showing that it has two tendencies, one white and the other black; one creates, the other destroys; both these characteristics are indicated by the arms of each of the Twins, which, in landscape symbolism, are identical with the river of youth and the river of death. The Gemini represent creative Nature (Natura naturals) and created Nature (Natura naturata), and this duality is sometimes illustrated in tales by a being that wears a mask, or by a Protean being capable of turning into a giant, a man or an animal. In medicinal rites, the Gemini, by virtue of their double but constant nature, are both the doctor and more particularly the invalid, as is borne out in legend and in myth the Parsifal story, for example (Jean Arthur Rimbaud unknowingly alluded to this duality when he remarked that the poet is both the great invalid and the seer). At times, two different conceptions of the Gemini can be distinguished (as in the parallel myth of the primordial and androgynous being): the 'Heavenly Twin', expressive of opposites, fused together and integrated into Oneness (represented by the spherical or perfect being); and the 'Earthly Twin' displaying the break, the split (as in two-headed Janus, or triform Hecate, etc.), that is, opposites in conflict or at least in dissidence.
There is a third aspect, which is that of the individuation or splitting of the 'double being', but this has to do with the existential order and not the mythic. As a result of the dynamic tendencies of all contradictions (white tends towards black, night seeks to become day, the evil man aspires to goodness, life leads to death), the world of phenomena becomes_a system of perpetual inversions, illustrated, for example, in the hour-glass which turns upon its own axis in order to maintain its inner movement: that of the sand passing through the central aperture the 'focal point' of its inversion. The Gemini, in essence a symbol of opposites, is, in its dynamic aspect, then, a symbol of Inversion. According to the megalithic conception and here we are following Schneider the mountain of Mars (or Janus) which rises up as a mandorla of the Gemini is the locale of Inversion the mountain of death and resurrection; the mandorla is another sign of Inversion and of interlinking, for it is formed by the intersection of the circle of earth with the circle of heaven.
This mountain has two peaks, and every symbol or sign alluding to this 'situation of Inversion' is marked by duality or by twin heads.
Two-headed eagles and cocks are also to be found in this context, the general symbolism of which is that of alternating contradiction: positive/negative, or low/high-pitched. All these are symbols of the harmonious ambiguity of 'thesis and antithesis, paradise and inferno, love and hate, peace and war, birth and death, praise and insult, clarity and obscurity, scorching rocks and swamps, surrounding the fountains and waters of salvation.
Here, gay matters are discussed in grave tones, and the most tragic events are joked about.' If this cosmic situation were worked out in psychological terms, it would mean that the 'zone of contradiction' would become the threshold of unifying and unified mysticism.
This would explain the abundance of contradictory epithets in the most sublime poetry, and the extraordinary richness of paradox in the deepest thinkers, such as Lao-Tse. Also corresponding to the mystery of the Gemini is the morphological fact that in every individual object there are two formal components, one varying, the other unvarying. In other words, one of its faces bespeaks its individuality, the other links it with its species (Plate XII).
The deepest and most ancient meaning of the myth of the giant alludes to the supposed existence of an immense, primordial being, by whose sacrifice creation was brought forth. This cosmogonic myth was very common among primitive and ancient peoples, and it shows how rites involving the sacrifice of humans are an attempt to revive the initial sacrifice and to resuscitate the cosmic forces or to reawaken, at least, their favorable proclivities. Now, the giant is, in himself, neither good nor bad, but merely a quantitative amplification of the ordinary; hence, as the case may be, there are some legendary giants who are protectors and others who are aggressive.
This sense of the giant as 'that which surpasses' human stature (here symbolic of power and strength), is also indicative of the broad significance of the giant. He may be an image of the 'Terrible Father', arising from childhood memories children see their parents as giants or an image of the unconscious, the 'dark side' of the personality menacing the Jungian Selbst, etc. It is interesting to note that in folklore the giant is tutelar in character: he is usually the defender of the common people against the overlord, upholding their liberties and rights. Without generalizing, one implication of the giant may be said to be the personification of collective Man as implied in the maxim 'united we stand' or of the life of a community.
But the general myth of the giant is far from being confined to this specialized meaning. In nearly all symbolic traditions, he tends to appear as an outcropping of the marvelous and the terrible, even though he always has a certain quality of the inferior or the subordinate about him. The Bible refers to Goliath and to Og, king of Bashan at the time of the exodus.
Samson has certain characteristics of the giant. In the West, Bodo, Rubezahl, Geryon, Gargantua and Hercules are the most significant in gigantomachy; in Greek tradition, there are the Titans and the Cyclops. Christian tradition has often seen Satan as a giant The tragic hero is intimately linked with the giant, although, at times, in inverse relation as his adversary. Frazer describes the numerous cases in which giant figures in wood or wickerwork were set fire to during midsummer festivals, comparable with the Valencian Dallas (or bonfires).
The ancients would fill these figures with animals and even live men, who were burnt with the effigy. They were considered as representatives of the spirit of vegetation, or of the god sacrificed to the world which brings us back once again to our cosmogonic interpretation. The giant may be a symbol of 'everlasting rebellion', of the forces of dissatisfaction which grow within Man and determine his history and his destiny; it may, that is to say, be a symbol of the Universal Man (Adam Kadmon, ).
Now, according to Jungian psychology, the giant's essence or his appearance, rather seems to correspond to the fathersymbol, representing the spirit that withstands the instincts, or as the guardian of the treasure (that is, the mother the unconscious), in which case it is identical with the dragon-symbol. Reviewing all this, Jung quotes the example of Humbaba, the guardian of the garden of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh epic.
The sphere is a whole, and hence it underlies the symbolic significance of all those images which partake of this wholeness, from the idea of the mystic 'Centre' to that of the world and eternity ,or, more particularly, of the world-soul. In neoplatonic philosophy, the soul is explicitly related to the shape of the sphere, and the substance of the soul is deposited as quintessence around the concentric spheres of the four Elements. The same is true of the primordial man of Plato's Timaeus .In alchemy, the globe, when it is black in colour, is a symbol of prime matter, or it may be depicted with wings to imply spiritual movement or evolution as, for example, in the Philosophia Reformata of Mylius (1622). Another important association is that of perfection and felicity. The absence of corners and edges is analogous to the absence of inconveniences, difficulties and obstacles.
Gloves, since they are worn on the hands, derive their symbolism from them. Of special interest is the right-hand glove, on account of the ceremonial custom of removing it when one approaches a person of higher rank, or an altar, or the Lord. This custom has twin symbolic roots: in so far as it implies a glove of mail, it signifies disarming oneself before one's superior; at the same time, since the right hand pertains to the voice and to the rational side of Man, it is a custom which suggests candour and the frank disclosure of one's mind.
Goblet (or Drinking-cup)
In Romanesque times, and especially when, as a chalice, it was furnished with a lid, it was a symbol of the human heart . In a broader sense it is, like the coffer and the chest, a notable symbol of containing. To a certain extent it may be seen as a material expression of the surrounds of 'wrapping' around the mystic Centre. An important secondary meaning, in addition to the main symbolism of containing, is derived from the symbolism of the particular liquids which can be contained in goblets, glasses or chalices, and expressive of the non-formal world of possibilities ... This is the explanation of the fact that hydromancy is practized with crystal or glass vessels which are supposed to have the power of talismans .
Gog and Magog
They signify respectively the king and the people, as in Ezekiel, where the people of the North-East of Asia Minor are specifically called the enemies of God. This meaning still persists among the Moslems.
In Hindu doctrine, gold is the 'mineral light'. According to Guénon, the Latin word for gold aurum is the same as the Hebrew for light aor. Jung quotes the delightful explanation offered by the alchemist Michael Maier in De Circulo Physico Quadrato to the effect that the sun, by virtue of millions of journeys round the earth (or conversely) has spun threads of gold all round it. Gold is the image of solar light and hence of the divine intelligence. If the heart is the image of the sun in man, in the earth it is gold . Consequently, gold is symbolic of all that is superior, the glorified or 'fourth state' after the first three stages of black (standing for sin and penitence), white (remission and innocence) and red (sublimation and passion). Everything golden or made of gold tends to pass on this quality of superiority to its utilitarian function. Chrysaor, the magic sword of gold, symbolizes supreme spiritual determination. Gold is also the essential element in the symbolism of the hidden or elusive treasure which is an illustration of the fruits of the spirit and of supreme illumination.
This is one of the symbols denoting the conquest of the impossible or the ultra-reasonable . Since the sheep is symbolic of innocence and gold represents supreme spirituality and glorification, the Golden Fleece signifies that the quest of the Argonauts was for supreme strength of spirit through purity of soul that quality which distinguished Sir Galahad, the mediaeval Knight of the Holy Grail. It is, in consequence, one of the most advanced forms within the general symbolism of treasure.
According to Frobenius, the gorgon is a symbol of the fusion of opposites: the lion and the eagle, the bird and the serpent, mobility and immobility (as in the swastika), beauty and horror ). Hence it is symbolic of conditions beyond the endurance of the conscious mind, slaying him who contemplates it. Like other fabulous entities, it is also symbolic of the infinite number of forms in which creation can manifest itself.
A symbol for artificial interference in the realm of natural order . It also has a sexual significance.
The Grail is one of the most beautiful and complex of legendary symbols. Basically, it embraces two different symbols, but it involves others too. The two main symbols are that of the Grail proper, and that of the quest. According to the Western legend (the Fisher King), a mysterious illness (symbolic, like that of Philoctetes) has stricken down the ancient monarch, the keeper of the Grail's secret. And in this rhythm and on this level everything around him is wilting like the peccant King himself (this being the theme of Poe's Fall of the House of Usher and of Eliot's Waste Land).
The animals are declining, the trees bear no fruit, the fountains have ceased to play. Day and night, physicians and knights tend the ailing monarch. Sir Parsifal questions the king forthrightly: Where is the Grail? Instantly, the king rises and Nature is regenerated . The Swiss Knight Templar, Wolfram von Eschenbach, the author of Parsifal, locates the action in Gaul, on the borders of Spain, where the hero Titurel has founded a temple for the preservation of the chalice of the Last Supper . It is said that the Grail came from the East and there it must return , which is a clear allusion to its significance as the 'source of illumination'.
The cup itself has its own symbolism, but there is a legend which tells how it was fashioned by angels from an emerald that dropped from Lucifer's forehead when he was hurled into the abyss. Thus, just as the Virgin Mary redeems the sin of Eve, so the blood of the Redeemer redeems through the Grail the sin of Lucifer. This emerald, as Guénon has shown, is reminiscent of the urna, the pearl fixed to the forehead which, in Hindu symbolism, is the third eye of Siva (or Shiva), representing the 'sense of eternity'.
The loss of the Grail is tantamount to the loss of one's inner adhesions, whether they are religious ties or in the degraded (that is, the psychological) forms of the mystery some other 'source of happiness'. Hence, this lapse of memory entails the loss of the primordial or paradisical state, as well as the death and withering up of Nature (that is, of one's own spiritual life).
The Grail signifies at once a vessel (grasale) and a book (gradale). The quest, on the other hand, concerns, broadly speaking, the 'treasure hunt', which is actually the inversion of the endless chase of the 'Accursed Hunter', since the latter pursues phenomenal forms in their constant interplay of being and nonbeing, whereas the Grail implies, above all, the quest for the mystic 'Centre' the 'unmoved mover', of Aristotle, or the 'unvarying mean' in Far Eastern tradition. The appearance of the Grail in the centre of the Round Table, round which are seated the Knights, closely parallels, in the symbolism of its form, the Chinese image of heaven (Pi), which is shaped like a circle with a hole (analogous with cup or chalice) in the middle. Ms. Fr. 112 of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, Lancelot do Lac, depicts the moment in which the Grail is placed by two angels in the centre of the mystic Round Table (Plate XIII).
Grapes, frequently depicted in bunches, symbolize at once fertility (from their character as a fruit) and sacrifice (because they give wine particularly when the wine is the colour of blood). In baroque allegories of the Lamb of God, the Lamb is often portrayed between thorns and bunches of grapes.
we could compile and catalogue an immense repertoire of graphic signs. There is perhaps greater symbolic significance in these signs than in any other aspect of symbolism, because of the clear intention behind them to express an explicit meaning. One contemporary scholar, Ernst Lehner, tells us that he himself collected 60,000 symbols, signs and marks of different kinds, from varying sources, cultures and periods.
The graphic symbol (whether engraved, etched or drawn, or contrived in the form of a diagram, emblem or plan by any other means, such as that of papermakers' watermarks) offers a clear illustration of the mystic doctrine of form, such as it was developed by oriental civilizations in particular. As Shukrasharya has said with such lyric fervour:
'The character of the image is determined by the relationship between the worshipper and the worshipped'; in this he is unconsciously echoing the biologist's definition of form as 'the diagram between the inner urge of a body and the resistance of the (physical) medium'. In Hindu doctrine, beauty is the result not of external characteristics but of the emanation of a spiritual attitude; and the same is true of other aspects of form, such as direction, order, arrangement, or the number of components. German mystics, as Luc Benoist recalls , have also applied themselves to shape (both in the round and diagrammatically) as a manifestation of the spirit. As Anna Katerina Emmerich observed: 'Nothing is pure form. Everything is substance and action, by virtue of signs.' The symbol as crystallized in creative art involves a high degree of condensation, deriving from its inherent economy of form and allusive power.
This, then, is the psychological basis of the symbolism of graphics (the basis of the magical interpretation is to be sought in the literal interpretation of the theory of correspondences). It underlies the graphic symbolism of amulets, talismans, pentacles and divinatory signs from prehistoric times right up to the present day. Hence the strong and perfectly justified attraction exerted by certain shapes, emblems, flags, coats of arms, marks and medals, based not upon convention, as is usually suggested, but upon inner bonds of symbolic 'common rhythms' . Quite apart from their function as integrating or synoptic symbols, graphic symbols possess a singular mnemonic power, as Schneider has shown. He points to the fact that such figures as the spiral, the swastika, the circle with a central point, the lunar crescent, the double sigma, etc., were capable of conveying the most varied of philosophical, alchemical or astronomic data a technique of interpretation capable of applying all the information supplied by these three disciplines to a single plane of significance. Any one given figure (with its series of multivalencies that is, embracing several meanings which are not irrelevant or equivocal) varies in appearance and in significance with the 'rhythm-symbol' (that is, the idea and the intended direction) pervading it. Schneider adds, in connexion with Tanew's Das Ornament die Elbetiza (Ipek, 1942), that this constitutes one of the predominant features of ancient art, which 'is often unfortunately called decorative or ornamental art'.
To enumerate some of the fields of activity which have been profoundly influenced by graphic symbolism: mythological attributes and figures, signs in astronomy and astrology, alchemy, magic and primitive mysticism, religions, heraldry, fabulous figures and monsters, ornaments, signs of diverse offices, numismatic signs, marks on porcelain, watermarks, etc. . If we pause to consider the prodigious variety offered by only one of these categories ornaments, for example it will become apparent that even a rough inventory of the symbolic ramifications would be impracticable here for material reasons.
And we could add further headings: alphabets, for example, or ideographs, pictographs, metagraphs and mandalas, as well as graphic artistic compositions, embracing abstract painting for example, which like Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Nordic ornamental art provides an unceasing flow of significant forms, expressed willy-nilly, for Man is quite incapable of creating anything which does not bear the marks of his subtle, urgent and all-embracing need for communication. To widen now the scope of this exposition, let us consider the lapidary signs to be found in the stones of many architectural edifices. A great many kinds of different marks have been catalogued, and, without doing violence to their esoteric meaning, we may group them, as follows, into: initial letters, anagrams, astrological, numerical, magic or mystico-Christian signs, or marks pertaining to associations or groups, or to building, or to nationality or race, or to benefactors, etc.
In ornamentation, Greek frets, wavy lines, series of spirals, coils of varying rhythms, sigmas, X-shapes, diamonds, circles, ovals, arrows, triangles, zigzags, triskeles and swastikas are all graphic shapes which, in symbolism, are grouped under the general heading of 'cosmic background', because they are all in effect symbols of the activity of natural forces and of the four Elements .
In varying degrees, depending upon the period and personal or cultural prejudice, scholars researching into the history and pre-history of art since few of them have taken any interest in the autonomous doctrine of symbolism have either lumped these graphic symbols together as sun-symbols, or else as symbols of the hurricane and the heavens. J. Déchelette, for example, says in his Manuel d'Archéologie préhistorique that all the signs concerning dual, bilateral symmetry or the irradiating Centre 'were employed as images of the sun from the Bronze Age onwards'. we must not fail to mention one important fact, and that is the connexion of the symbolism of form with divination.
The Chinese pa Kua whose system is described in the I Ching (The Book of Changes) the random dots of geomancy, and the innumerable fancies' which have come down to us from Antiquity in a great many works upon the subject, are all founded for the most part upon the symbolism of form; this can be seen both in the identification of a given 'matrical shape' with the figure of a particular being (as happens in the case of Rorschach's tests with ink-blots) whose symbolic implications will determine the augury, and in the splitting up of a shape into its numerical components and its tendency towards a particular direction in space, in which case its symbolic sense is determined by the significance of the numbers and the space-zone associated with it.
Frazer, for example, describes the Chinese belief that the life and destiny of a city is so influenced by its shape that its fortunes must vary according to the character of the thing which that shape most nearly resembles; and he relates that, long ago, the town of Tsuen-cheu-fu, the outlines of which were like those of a carp, frequently fell a prey to the depredations of the neighbouring city of Yung-chun, which was shaped like a fishing-net Jung has shown great interest in the question of graphic symbolism, geometric diagrams and numbers determined by the quantitative factor of component elements, without, however, working up his interesting and valid findings and conclusions into a comprehensive theory. He observes, for example, that the relationships between number and shape depend not only upon the quantity of the elements but also upon their individual shape and direction, because the direction influences the quantitative factor in the same way as fracture does.
By way of illustration, he mentions that in the ninth key of the Duodecim Claves Fratris Basilic Valentini (in Museum Hermeticum, Frankfurt, 1678) there is an instance of triunity appearing as unity, realized by splitting a Y-sign in the centre, so that it becomes three strokes; and another of duality as a quaternaryp by forming a four-armed cross not with four lines but with two independent but counterbalancing right angles, so that they can be said to be two components by virtue of their continuity but four from the point of view of their direction. He comments also upon the fact that irregular quadrilaterals are expressive of the tendency in the equilibrium of the symbolism of the number four to adapt itself in conformity with the direction of the major axis. If the horizontal line is predominant, then it reveals the superiority of the merely rational intellect, whereas if the vertical line prevails then it denotes spiritual non-rationalism.
The sign of the conjunction of the quaternary (the cross or the square) with unity is expressed through the union of the numbers four and one, that is, of the square (or the cross) and the circle. The relationship between two intersecting diameters and the circumference is emphasized by sometimes depicting the centre visibly as a small circle symbolic of the mystic 'Centre'. The figure thus arrived at is of great symbolic value: it expresses the original Oneness (symbolized by the centre), the 'way out to the manifest world' (the four radii, which are the same as the four rivers which well up from the Sons vitae or from the foot of the Cosmic Tree in Paradise), and the return to Oneness (the outer circumference) through the circular movement which 'smooths away' the corners of the square (these corners implying the differentiation characteristic of the multiplicity and the transitoriness of the world of phenomena).
By adding a further cross, shaped like an X, to this figure, the wheel is obtained; and the wheel is the commonest symbol of the 'Centre' and of the cycle of transformations. The importance of the relationship between the circle and the square is quite extraordinary; religious and symbolic art as well as profane works provide us with a great variety of shapes incorporating both the circle and the square. But to limit ourselves to religious symbolism, let us quote two instances which are entirely unrelated yet produce the same result: first, the so-called 'pentacle of Laos', a squared figure with a small square at its centre and four circles inside the angles, each divided into four internally; and secondly, the retable in the Cartuja de Miraflores (the Carthusian monastery near Burgos), which is arranged in a similar pattern, but incorporates figures of the Pantokrator and of tetramorphs.
The underlying logico-symbolic force of such figures is so strong that, when one has recourse to an abstract image of a cosmic order, capable of expressing the intimate and intense relationship between the 'two worlds', one turns inevitably to this coniunctio joining the symbol for earth (the square) with that for heaven (the circle). The fact that figures incorporating the irradiant 'Centre' are cosmic symbols of the ultimate destiny of the spirit accounts for the fact that they are also psychological images of this same destiny, that is, of its presentiment and of the way of fulfilling it in short, of the mystic idea of consummation . Hence, psychoanalysts have noted that the joining of the square with the circle (in such forms as the star, the rose, the lotus, concentric circles, the circle with a visible central point, etc.) is symbolic of the final stage in the process of individuation, or, in other words, of that phase of spiritual development when imperfections (irregular shapes) have been eliminated, as have all earthly desires (represented by malignant, biological symbols of monsters and wild beasts), for the sake of concentrating upon the achievement of Oneness and a vision of Paradise (such as that described by Dante at the end of his masterpiece) .
Other conclusions of Jung concerning the psychology of shapes are these: opposites are symbolized by a cross (signifying inner urges) and by a square (standing for the horizon); the process of rising above these urges is symbolized by the circle , exact duplication implies confirmation, but when the two symbols face in opposite directions they express the longing for wholeness, that is, the desire not only to explore the two spheres but to conquer all space; to go towards the left is to turn towards the unconscious and the past, to go to the right is to face consciousness and the future. Jung points, as an example, to an illustration in the Viatorium of Michael Maier (Rouen, 1651), showing two eagles flying in Opposite directions .
Concerning graphic compositions proper, and their corresponding symbolic significance, we must not overlook the existence of the theory that they were originally ornamental, a thesis which is upheld by Baltrusaitis among others. He insists upon the a priori thesis that artists are faced with a certain area to fill up and the need to achieve certain artistic effects, proceeding from concepts of order, symmetry, logic and clarity. But man's aesthetic urges arose long after his need to express cosmic significance; and the contemporary concept of art as a sign and testimony of a state of mind, rather than as the creation of beauty or of aesthetic pleasure (which would seem automatically to preclude many modern works of art lacking in positive or loveable qualities), appears to favour the view that the primary impulse is to express a symbolic meaning. According to tradition, symmetrical forms in art spring from the same source (the Gemini) as the bilateral symmetry of the human figure, a symmetry which is echoed in the duplication of certain organs; such symmetrical forms include, for instance, the distribution of figures on a Romanesque or Gothic tympanum, or the arrangement of the supporters, the shield and helmet on an escutcheon.
But if this idea of a common origin seems unacceptable, then the artistic preference for symmetry may be conceived as a simple anatomic projection, granted that the conviction of primordial rightness can only be experienced when the artificial is felt to be parallel, analogous or corresponding to the natural. A being with two arms at the sides of a body surmounted by a head must tend to formulate primarily an order or pattern in which one principal shape is located in the middle and two secondary shapes are placed at the sides. These elementary notions were first appreciated not in all probability in the Palaeolithic Age (an age about which our knowledge is scant, and when man was, in any case, living under constant pressure from the need to exert himself in utilitarian ways), but in the period of the dawning of history, from the latter part of the Neolithic up to the Bronze Age, or, in other words, from 5000 to 3000 B.C. This was the period, then, when cultural factors first appeared or when they reached a definitive stage of development. Ortiz is right to suggest that man not improbably, before arriving at a generic configuration of life, first created ideograms of the tangible realities of life, and specially of those entities, such as the wind, which have no concrete shape. Fire was seen as flame; water as a succession of waves; rain was likened to tears; lightning to the zigzag, and so on .
We do not wish to suggest that all pictographs or ideographs, let alone signs, of primitive or astrobiological cultures owe their origins to such motives as these, or that they disclose a similar, morphological process of development. We must here distinguish between: realistic, imitative images in the first place (properly, drawings or paintings); in the second place, diagrammatic, imitative images (which seek after the inner 'rhythmic' meaning of a given figure, as well as its outer form); and, in the third, pure, rhythmic images (such as signs for animals deriving from their tracks). Schneider observes that, in intermediary cultures, animal-symbols are not representations of physical shapes but rhythmic lines determined by the animals' movements. He adds that, in Malacca, the symbolism of a given animal may be applied to one of the four Elements: so that, for example, the symbol for water is derived from the rhythmic movements of the frog's legs (which, in any case, are comparable with the rhythm of the waves); similarly, ants, as well as centipedes, are signified by the rhythm of their movements .
This concept of 'rhythm' opens up enormous possibilities when applied to the conception of the light of the spirit. Every man has his own rhythm; and so has every culture. Style or personality are in the last resort simply expressions of rhythm. Germain Bazin, in his Histoire de Part (Paris, 1953), suggests that abstract art is the attempt to externalize the essential rhythms of the human, individual and collective soul (the process being closely related to that of endopathy as conceived by Aristotle, Vischer, Kant, Lipps, etc.)
Consequently, in order to decide upon the significance of any graphic figure, we must bear in mind the following factors:
(a) its resemblance to figures of cosmic beings;
(b) its shape, whether open or closed, regular or irregular, geometric or biomorphic;
(c) the number of component elements making up the shape, together with the significance of this number;
(d) the dominant 'rhythms' as the expression of its elemental, dynamic potential and its movement;
(e) the spatial arrangement, or the disposition of its different zones;
(f) its proportions;
(g) its colours, if any. Factor
(a)its resemblance to other figures is so wide in scope and so obvious in its implications that comment would be superfluous.
(b) The significance of shape depends upon the relevant geometric symbolism, which we have examined above.
(c) The number of its components confers an added symbolism to the secondary though at times very important consideration of the shape (for example), the seven-pointed star derives its significance as much from the septenary symbolism as from the stellar shape).
(d) Concerning the 'rhythms', we have already pointed out the connexion with the number of component elements and with animal-movements (Greek frets, and the broken line fashioned after the trapeze are usually said to correspond to earth-symbolism, the wavy line to air-symbolism, a succession of incomplete spirals or waves as well as the broken line, to watersymbolism, although fire is also associated with water because of the triangular shape of the tongue of flame).
(e) Regarding the spatial arrangement: along the vertical axis, it is the symbolism of level which matters most (implying qualities of morality and energy), and on the horizontal axis, the left side is, as we have said, retrospective (for it is the zone of 'origin', linked with the unconscious and with darkness), and the right side looks to the outcome. Hence, the line running from the left downwards and then upwards towards the right does not indicate a fall but an ascent, the converse also being true.
And for this reason, the St. Andrew's cross, with its two intersecting and opposing lines standing for fall and ascent respectively, is symbolic of the intermingling of the 'two worlds', and is therefore comparable with the mystic mandorla. In those figures which feature a centre together with dual, bilateral symmetry, we have two symbolic tendencies: first, that in which the rhythmic movements tend inwards, denoting concentration and also aggression (as for example in the classical symbol of the four winds blowing towards the centre); and secondly, that in which rhythms well up from the centre towards the four cardinal points, indicating the defence of 'wholeness' (the cross of St. Ferdinand is related to this) and bearing a certain relationship with the tetramorphs and the 'four archers' of megalithic culture. Irradiating figures denote dispersion, growth and involution. It must also be borne in mind that lines, in addition to their morphological properties, are also means of communication and of conjoining; this is why their significance must always be closely linked with the nature of the zones which they bring into contact.
There are, it must be said, some theorists who carry the study of graphics to extremes of prolixity and detail. Ely Star, for example, examines the various shapes suggested by an upright line crossing a horizontal, simply by the process of linking the upright with the active principle and the horizontal with the passive. He comments that straight lines are always expressive of activity, compared with curves which denote passivity .
To turn now to the way the first ideographic signs were associated with the constellations, it is very important to note that the modern view favours the theory that the constellations were the source of the alphabet. Gattefossé, Fenn and others are quite explicit upon this point. Zollinger shows how the Great Bear is the origin of the sign representing a bond, a link or an item of knowledge, how the Gemini gave rise to the number 8 and the letter H. how the eternal cyclic laws of the sun's orbit or the polar rotation of the earth gave rise to the swastika, the division of the increate into different forms inspired the Chinese Yang- Yin sign, the manifest world inspired the horizontal line, the 'Centre' the cross, and, finally, how the union of the three principles as represented by the signs for the Sun, the Moon and the cross originated the graphic symbol known as the emblem of Hermes. He goes on to mention the family resemblance between forms of bilateral symmetry such as the Yang-Yin sign, the labrys (the twin-bladed axe), the labarum and the cross .
Bayley found that, among his collection of watermarks, were a large number of graphic signs with a precise meaning to them: three circles, or the clover-leaf and its derivatives stand for the trinitarian; the labyrinth shaped like a cross, denotes both inscrutability and close ties; wheels indicate the sun as the motivating force behind change and cycles . Concerning the symbolism of crosses, of which the varieties are numerous, we shall confine ourselves to indicating that they depend upon the shape of their arms and the 'rhythmic direction' which these arms suggest (as in centrifugal, centripetal, neutral or rotatory crosses) . The symbols for planets and many other marks which cannot be reduced to a simple geometric figure or explained as a combination of simple component elements, but which disclose a certain complexity of pattern, may nevertheless be interpreted with the help of the principles enumerated above.
To give just one example: In alchemy, the sign for 'antimony', representing the intellectual 'soul' alive with all its virtues and faculties, is a cross placed upon a circle; the sign for 'green', denoting the vegetative 'soul' or the physiological world, is a cross inscribed within a circle; the sign for Venus, corresponding to instinctive behaviour or the base urges, is a cross placed below a circle. In short, there is nothing arbitrary about graphic symbolism : everything obeys a system which develops out of a single point and expands into more complex forms in which shape, rhythm, quantity, position, order and direction all help to explain and define the pattern.
The This is a term which is to be found in some Hermetic writings. According to Piobb, it owes its origin to an incorrect reading of the Greek, mistaking 'he who governs himself alone' for 'he who governs alone' . Be that as it may, the symbolism of the king refers, in any case, to him who triumphs over himself, that is, to the hero definitive and victorious .
The The archetype of the Great Mother corresponds to certain feminine deities such as Ishtar in Babylonia, Isis in Egypt, Astarte in Phoenicia, Kali-Durga in India, Ge and Demeter in Greece . It is usually considered to be a symbol of the fertilized earth , though the sea also appears in ancient cosmogonies with the same connotation . For Jung, the Magna Mater represents the objective truth of Nature, masquerading, or incarnate, in the figure of a maternal woman, a Sybil, a goddess or a priestess, but sometimes taking the form of a church, for instance, or a city or district. This archetypal image he calls Dana personality', corresponding to the 'Ancient of Days' who likewise takes such forms as the magician, sorcerer or sage .
The The fifth enigma of the Tarot pack. The card shows him seated upon a throne between the two columns Jachin and Boaz (symbolic of intuition and reason). He wears white gloves to symbolize the purity of his hands. His sceptre terminates in a triple cross, the rounded ends of whose arms give rise to the septenary, alluding to the virtues necessary to combat the seven capital sins: Pride the Sun; Sloth the Moon; Envy Mercury; Wrath Mars; Lust Venus; Greed Jupiter; and Avarice Saturn. Also depicted in this image are two disciples, both kneeling, one dressed in red (for activity) and the other in black (passivity). on the positive side, this enigma signifies the moral law, duty and conscience .
The The second enigma of the Tarot, representing Isis as the goddess of the night. She is seated, holding a halfopened book in her right hand and two keys in her left, one of which is golden (signifying the sun, the word, or reason) and the other silver (the moon or imagination). Her throne is situated between two columns being two in number, they are an allegory denoting the feminine principle which are in fact the columns called Jachin and Boaz in the Temple of Solomon, joined together by the veil which covers the entrance to the sanctuary. The first (the solar) column is red and corresponds to fire and to activity; the second (the lunar) is blue. The tiara which crowns the head of the Great Priestess has a lunar crescent a symbol of cyclic phases and of the world of phenomena; this emphasizes the predominance of the passive, reflective and feminine qualities of the figure. She is leaning against the sphinx of the great cosmic questions, and the floor, being composed of alternate white and black tiles, denotes that everything in existence is subject to the laws of chance and of opposites. In the Besancon Tarot, this enigma takes the form of the figure of Juno. On the positive side, the Great Priestess signifies reflection and intuition; on the negative, intolerance .
A fabulous animal, the front half of which is like an eagle and the rear half like a lion, with a long, serpentine tail. The blending of these two superior solar animals points to the generally beneficent character of this being; it was consecrated by the Greeks to Apollo and Nemesis . The griffin, like certain kinds of dragon, is always to be found as the guardian of the roads to salvation, standing beside the Tree of Life or some such symbol. From the psychological point of view it symbolizes the relationship between psychic energy and cosmic force . In mediaeval Christian art, from Mozarabic miniatures onwards, the griffin is very common, being associated with signs which tend towards ambivalence, representing, for instance, both the Saviour and Antichrist .
A type of ornament serving a largely decorative purpose. Favoured by the Romans, it became very common from the 15th century onwards, especially in the Plateresque style. Some of its characteristics owe their inspiration like emblems to Gnosticism which, as is well known, made wide use of the symbolic image in order to spread its doctrines. Bayley has collected a large number of grotesques and similar decorative motifs, among which the following figures predominate: the phoenix, swan, sheep, winged horses, serpents, dragons, gardens, diverse flowers, shrubs, sheaves, garlands, creepers, roses in jars, fruits, baskets of flowers and fruits, vines, pomegranates, trees (especially the evergreen sort), crosses, lilies, caducei, bolts, masks, steps, trophies, rosettes, bows, shields, brackets, swords, lances, cups and chalices, nude children, twins, sowers, fertility goddesses with multiple breasts, caryatids, damsels. All these items have their place in the world of symbolism as component parts of allegories, emblems, Romanesque and Gothic capitals, and so on. But the grotesque in itself, as a form and as a system, emphasizes the close bond between continuity and discontinuity of ambivalence, that is to say, as expressed, for instance, in the myth of the Gemini. Hence, the grotesque is a general symbol for the world of phenomena and of the coherent unfolding of existence .
as the powers of the Earth must be defended, so, by analogy, must all mythic, religious and spiritual wealth or power be protected against hostile forces or against possible intrusion by the unworthy. Hence the familiarity of the 'keeper of the treasure' in legends: almost invariably, this guardian is a griffin or dragon, or else a warrior endowed with superhuman powers. In temples, the idea of defence is implicit in the spatial organization and confirmed by the disposition of the walls, the doors and towers. In the Far East, the guardians are usually fabulous monsters. In Western countries, the same function may be performed by the figures inscribed on doorways. From the psychological point of view, guardians symbolize the forces gathered on the threshold of transition between different stages of evolution and spiritual progress or regression. The 'guardian of the threshold' must be overcome before Man can enter into the mastery of a higher realm.
The term Gummi arabicum was one employed by the alchemists to denote the substance of transmutation, for they believed that, once spiritualized, it became endowed with analogous qualities of spiritual adhesion. It is a symbol for the seminal substance .