De Maconnieke Encyclopedie zoekt
Een ogenblik !
ISLAND OF THE BLESSED
The ibis is related to Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom. According to the Greek scholar Aelian, in his De Natura Animalium, this bird was chosen because it tucks its head under its wing when it sleeps, so that it comes to resemble the shape of the heart; and also because of the fact that the stride of the ibis measures exactly a cubit which was the measure used in the building of temples, and because it destroyed harmful insects . There were two kinds of ibis: the white bird associated with the moon and the black. The belief was that Thoth hovered over the Egyptian people in the form of an Ibis religiosa, and that he taught them the occult arts and sciences .
Given that water is the symbol of communication between the formal and the informal, the element of transition between different cycles, yielding by nature, and also related to the ideas of material, earthly fecundity and the Heraclitean 'death of the soul', it follows that ice represents principally two things: first, the change induced in water by the cold—that is, the 'congelation' of its symbolic significance; and, secondly, the stultification of the potentialities of water. Hence ice has been defined as the rigid dividing-line between consciousness and the unconscious or between any other dynamic levels . Although the negative sense is predominant, it is not lacking in a positive sense in so far as the solidification is tantamount to toughness, and the coldness implies resistance to all that is inferior; in this latter sense it corresponds to Nietzsche's freezing and 'hostile' air of mountain-peaks.
Many symbols can, like the gods of old, be equated, relatively speaking, one with another. For example: the Ship of Fools and the Endless Chase of the Accursed Hunter; or the 'centre' of the cross and the Holy Grail; or the centaur and the Gemini; or Pandora's box and effulgence. In the proper application of identities lies much of the true science of symbolism.
A pattern of forms and figures endowed with unity and significance. It is implied in the theory of form—and is true, also, of melody—that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts being, in a sense, their origin and justification. If for Sartre the image is a degraded awareness of knowing, for other psychologists the image is, in fact, the highest form that knowing can assume, for all knowledge tends towards a visual synthesis. Also to be borne in mind is the theory propounded by Sir Herbert Read in Icon and Idea, according to which every creation in the visual arts—and, in fact, every kind of pattern—is a form of thought and therefore corresponds to an intelligible mental concept. This leads us towards an intuition of the world as a vast repertoire of signs that await being 'read'. we may note here that some of the works of Trithemius and Athanasius Kircher tend towards this interpretation.
From about the middle of the last century, the tendency of poetry and the visual arts has been towards a mode of expression whose antecedents go back through the ages—but received a particular impetus, around the year 1800, from the works of William Blake—and which might, with justification, be termed hermetic. This movement was characterized by the quest for the obscure as a self-sufficient goal, and by the representation of 'harmonious wholes' whose fascination lies in their remoteness. There is an illuminating definition of poetry in this sense by the German poet Gottfried Benn: 'The writing of poetry is the elevation of things into the language of the incomprehensible.' It is this type of unfamiliar pattern that constitutes the 'unknownimage'—apattern of words, shapes or colours that has no correspondence with the normal, either in the world of exterior reality or in that of normal, human feelings. These 'unknown images' create their own kind of reality and express the spiritual need of particular individuals to live within this created reality. They symbolize, in sum, the unknown, the antecedents and the aftermath of man, or that which surrounds him and which his senses and his intelligence are incapable of apprehending or of appropriating. The scope of the unknown is immense, for it encompasses the Supreme Mystery or the Mystery of mysteries the secret of the cosmos and of creation and the nature of Being, and also the psychological—and, indeed, existential —mystery of the 'unexplored'. What is unknown is that which is unformed. The 'unknown image' is also related to death and to the thread which connects death with life Plate XIX.
This theme of the 'impossible' is one which appears very frequently in legends and folktales, embracing, for example, the life of the unborn, or the fruit of one tree growing upon another, etc. Some refrains reflect the same ideas, such as the well-known Spanish saying: 'Over the sea run the hares, over the mountain the sardines.' They may well be symbols of Inversion, but it seems clear that they are more likely to pertain to subversion. There is a possible relationship between such impossibilities, as well as errors or comedies of mistaken identity—likewise owing their origin to folklore—and the belief in the existence of beings, imps and goblins bent upon creating disorder. Father La Pena, in his work 1D1 ente dilucidado, has discussed the problem of whether men can live without eating, whether they can fly, and so on. In short, all these examples may be interpreted as a 'call to chaos': symbols of the regressive, orgiastic desire , comparable with certain aspects of surrealism.
Whereas the union of analogous matter is a symbol of incest—in music, for example, the idea of a concerto for harp and piano—incest in itself symbolizes, according to Jung, the longing for union with the essence of one's own self, or, in other words, for individuation. This explains why the gods of antiquity very frequently engendered offspring through incestuous relationships .
Symbolically, they are objective portrayals of potentialities, actions and desires. Each instrument, therefore, possesses a purely literal meaning, as well as a further significance when it is applied to the psychological and spiritual plane.
The intersection of two lines, objects or paths is a sign of 'Conjunction' and communication, but also of symbolic Inversion, that is, of that point or zone where a transcendental change of direction is induced or sought. This is what lies behind the superstitious crossing of fingers or of objects. In medicinal dances, swords and iron bars are crossed in order to encourage a change that is, a cure, or, to put it another way, to alter the course of a process so that it does not reach its ordinary or expected outcome .
An Egyptian determinative sign defining the concept of circulation . In a broader sense, intestines carry the same symbolism as the alembic.
According to Schneider, the continuity of life is assured by the mutual sacrifice which is consummated on the peak of the mystic mountain: death permits birth; all opposites are for an instant fused together and then inverted. What is constructive turns to destruction; love turns to hate; evil to good; unhappiness to happiness; martyrdom to ecstasy. Corresponding to this inner inversion of a process is an outer inversion of the symbol pertaining to it. This gives rise to a reversed arrangement of the symbolic structure. When the symbol has two aspects the inversion of one determines that of the other. So, for example, if what is below is black and it seeks to ascend, it may do so by turning white. Or, conversely, if what is black is below and seeks to turn to white, then let it ascend and white it will be. This 'symbolic logic' of Inversion is, it hardly needs to be said, closely bound up with the myth of sacrifice. The more terrible the situation, the more urgent the need to transform and invert it as in a public calamity or an unsuccessful war and the greater must be the sacrifice; this explains the sacrifice of the Carthaginians and the pre-Columbian Mexicans. There is a psychological basis to this, since the mind, through the process of sublimation, is always promoting inversions and metamorphoses of this order. Ambivalence, contrast, paradox, or the coincidentia oppositorum, are capable, on account of their transcendent implications, of pointing the way to the other world, or of pointing, in a more practical way, to the focal point of Inversion. Jung observes that this is why the alchemists would express the unknowable by means of contrasts ; and Schneider notes that, since the world is a duality, each phenomenon or thesis is denoted by its opposite. The closer phenomena come to the focal point of Inversion, the more they tend to collide with one another. The numerical expression of Inversion seems to be two and eleven. Symbols of Inversion are: the double-spiral, the hour-glass, the drum shaped like an hour-glass, St. Andrew's cross, the letter X, the quiver of arrows, and, in general, all that is X-shaped. Hence, the superstitious act of crossing the fingers is tantamount to tempting Fate; and, similarly, crime is a feature of many desperate rites, while primitives often insult the dead, because the insults, after passing through the focal point, are inverted—like rays of light—and changed into praise . Also symbolizing Inversion are all those beings or objects which are depicted upside down, such as the figure of the Hanged Man in the Tarot pack, the bat or vampire hanging from rock or branch, the acrobat on the trapeze, and so on. Still other examples of Inversion are those which tend to take the form of an antithesis; for example, according to L. Charbonneau Lassay in Le Bestiaire do Christ Bruges, 194, the malevolent animals—the toad, the scorpion, the rhinoceros and the basilisk— are the natural enemies respectively of the beneficent animals—the frog, the scarab, the unicorn and the cock. Similarly, the wasp is the antithesis of the bee, the he-goat of the crow. There are some inversions of symbols which owe their origins to racial or national factors, or to a change in the predominant caste: in Islam, politeness demands that the man should not remove his headgear, the opposite being the case in Christian countries. An instance of positive, historical sublimating inversion might be some humiliating situation —such as that in which the Roman army was made to pass under the yoke at Caudium—transformed into one of glory with its characteristic expression of the triumphal arch, which was a particular obsession of the Romans. The custom among certain layers of society of turning the head of a saint downwards, or against a wall, is less an intended 'punishment' for the holy image than a consequence of the symbolism of Inversion: by inverting the physical position of the effigy, the faithful hope to invert his attitude towards them, and by virtue of the change in his attitude, to induce a change in their destiny.
To become or to be invisible, psychologically corresponds to repression or to what is repressed. On the other hand, to become invisible is also, for the unconscious, an image of dissolution. Related to this symbol are the Night Sea-Crossing, Devouring and the sol niger of the alchemists .
A man with horse's hoofs, a feature of Romanesque decoration. It is undoubtedly related to the symbolism of the centaur, of which it may be a simplified version.
Ishtar is pictured in many Western images and books of magic, as well as in esoteric thought, with a ring in her left hand and a cup or chalice in her right; or else armed like Minerva. These attributes denote the continuity of life, the power of invigorating liquids such as water, milk, blood and soma related to the draught which Isolde gives to Tristan to drink, and the hardships of existence. Her weapons announce quite clearly that Ishtar loves the hero and despises the coward .
A complex symbol embracing several different meanings. According to Jung, the island is the refuge from the menacing assault of the 'sea' of the unconscious, or, in other words, it is the synthesis of the consciousness and the will . Here he is following the Hindu belief that—as Zimmer notes—the island is to be seen as the area of metaphysical force where the forces of the 'immense illogic' of the ocean are distilled . At the same time, the island is also a symbol of isolation, of solitude, of death. Most island-deities have something funereal about them—Calypso for instance. One could perhaps postulate an equation of counterpoise and identity between island and woman on the one hand, and monster and hero on the other.
Island of the Blessed
Hindu doctrine tells of an 'essential island', golden and rounded, whose banks are made of pulverised gems, giving rise to its name of the 'island of the gems'. Sweet-smelling trees flourish on the land, and in the centre is a palace—the oriental equivalent of the lapis philosophorum. Inside the palace, in a jewelled pavilion, is the enthroned Magna Mater . According to Krappe, the 'Island of the Blessed' in its Greek version was the Land of the Dead , that is, a symbol, albeit a negative one, of the 'Centre' itself. Krappe goes on to speak of the perennial validity of the symbol, recalling how the Spanish nobleman Juan Ponce de Leon set off in search of Bimini and discovered Florida. The belief in the existence of the Island, or Islands, of the Blessed is something which one comes across in the most varied of sources. Blavatsky observes that 'Tradition says, and the records of the Book of Dzyan explain, that . . . where now are found but salt lakes and desolate barren deserts, there was a vast inland sea, which extended over middle Asia . . . and an island of unparalleled beauty' and this island was an exact copy of the island situated in the midst of the zodiacal wheel in the Upper Ocean or the Ocean of the heavens. The signs of the Zodiac are themselves conceived as twelve islands . Finally, the Island of the Blessed or the Happy Island seems to be symbolic of earthly paradise for most classical writers. Schneider mentions the island visited by St. Brendan, according to mediaeval legend, where there was a huge tree growing near a fountain, and on its branches lived many birds. Two rivers flowed across the island: one was the river of youth and the other that of death . Here we have the clearest possible example of landscape-symbolism in which the terrestrial substance is integrated into a cosmic pattern by means of the essential elements of traditional symbolism.
Consecrated by the Phrygians to their god Attis. The eunuch-priests tattooed themselves with patterns of ivy leaves . It is a feminine symbol denoting a force in need of protection.