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LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET
An architectonic structure, apparently aimless, and of a pattern so complex that, once inside, it is impossible or very difficult to escape. Or it may take the form of a garden similarly patterned. Ancient writings mention five great mazes: that of Egypt, which Pliny located in lake Moeris; the two Cretan labyrinths of Cnossus (or Gnossus) and Gortyna; the Greek maze on the island of Lemnos; and the Etruscan at Clusium. It is likely that certain initiatory temples were labyrinthine in construction for doctrinal reasons.
Ground-plans, sketches and emblems of mazes appear fairly frequently over a very wide area, but principally in Asia and Europe. Some are believed to have been conceived with the purpose of luring devils into them so that they might never escape. It is to be supposed, therefore, that, for the Primitive, the maze had a certain fascination comparable with the abyss, the whirlpool and other phenomena . Nevertheless, Waldemar Fenn suggests that some circular or elliptical labyrinths in prehistoric engravings those at Pena de Mogor, for example should be interpreted as diagrams of heaven, that is, as images of the apparent motions of the astral bodies.
This notion is not opposed to the previous one: it is independent of it and, up to a point, complemen tary, because the terrestrial maze, as a structure or a pattern, is capable of reproducing the celestial, and because both allude to the same basic idea the loss of the spirit in the process of creation that is, the 'fall' in the neoplatonic sense and the consequent need to seek out the way through the 'Centre', back to the spirit. There is an illustration in De Groene Leeuw, by Goosse van Wreeswyk (Amsterdam, 167, which depicts the sanctuary of the alchemists' lapis, encircled by the orbits of the planets, as walls, suggesting in this way a cosmic labyrinth .
The emblem of the labyrinth was widely used by mediaeval architects. To trace through the labyrinthic path of a mosaic patterned on the ground was once considered a symbolic substitute for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land . Some labyrinths shaped like a cross, known in Italy as 'Solomon's knot', and featured in Celtic, Germanic and Romanesque decoration, are a synthesis of the dual symbolism of the cross and the labyrinth; they are known, for this reason, as the 'emblem of divine inscrutability'. It is not difficult to make out, in the centre of the pattern, the figure of the swastika, which adds to the basic symbolism a suggestion of rotating, generating and unifying motion ). For Diel, the maze signifies the unconscious, and also error and remoteness from the fount of life . Eliade notes that the essential mission of the maze was to defend the 'Centre' that it was, in fact, an initiation into sanctity, immortality and absolute reality and, as such, equivalent to other 'trials' such as the fight with the dragon. At the same time, the labyrinth may be interpreted as an apprenticeship for the neophyte who would learn to distinguish the proper path leading to the Land of the Dead .
In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, the schematic figure of a lake expresses the occult and the mysterious, probably by allusion to the underground lake which the sun has to pass over during its 'night-crossing' (but also simply by associating it with the symbolism of level, given that water always alludes to the 'connexion between the superficial and the profound'; a lake becomes, then, a fluid mass of transparency). In the temple of the god Amon, at Karnak, there was an artificial lake symbolizing hype or the 'lower waters' of protomatter. And, at certain times during the year, a procession of priests would cross the lake in boats, in this way re-enacting the 'night-crossing' of the sun mentioned above (l. The symbolism here is the same, broadly speaking, as that of the watery deeps.
The Irish and Breton belief that the Land of the Dead is at the bottom of the ocean or of lakes may be derived from watching the sun setting over the water; and the death of human beings, and therefore by analogy the setting of the sun, was interpreted as passing over into the nether world. But, as we have suggested, the structure of lake-symbolism may have arisen directly out of the symbolism of level; for this latter symbolism, so deeply rooted in the psyche of man, equates all that is on a low level spatially with what is low in a spiritual, negative, destructive, and hence fatal, sense. The fact that water-symbolism is closely connected with the symbolism of the abyss serves to corroborate the fatal implications of the lake-symbol, for the part played by the liquid Element is to provide the transition between life and death, between the solid and the gaseous, the formal and the informal. At the same time, the lake or, rather, its surface alone holds the significance of a mirror, presenting an image of self-contemplation, consciousness and revelation.
The origins of the symbolism of the lamb are to be found in the Book of Enoch . It signifies purity, innocence, meekness (as well as unwarranted sacrifice). In allegories, it lies at the root of representations of either pure thought, or a just man, or the Lamb of God ). Pinedo, however, points to the interesting relationship between the lamb and the lion, by inversion of their respective symbolic meanings. Examples of this are common in Christian symbolism, especially during the Romanesque period; a good instance is that of a tympanum in the church at Armentia, where the Agnes Dei is shown inside a circle (symbolizing the All, or perfection) accompanied by the epigraph: 'Mors ego sum mortis. Vocor Agnus, sum Leo fortis' (I am the death of death. I am called a lamb, I am
a strong lion) (Plate XX).
The mythic queen Lamia, celebrated for her beauty, was turned into a wild beast because of her cruelty. Ancient writings refer to lamias, in the plural, as beings similar to sirens, found in the company of dragons in caves and deserts. In 1577, Johann Wier published an entire treatise upon these beings, entitled De Lamiis Liber. According to Caro Baroja, this belief in lamias still persists in Gascony. Their attribute is the gold comb a fish skeleton perhaps? with which they comb their hair . Legend has it that lamias are devourers of children ). Jung has pointed out that the fact that 'lamia' is also the word used for a huge and very voracious fish (from 'lamos' an abyss) verifies the connexion between the devouring lamias and the dragon-whale of the kind studied by Frobenius in Zeitalter des Sonnengottes .
A symbol of intelligence and the spirit . It appears in this sense in the Greek myth of Psyche, in the legend of Diogenes and in the hermit (the ninth enigma) of the Tarot pack . The lamps of the ancients were shaped according to their function profane, religious or funereal and to suit the nature of the god to whom they were dedicated. There were lamps with twelve wicks, symbolizing the Wheel of the Zodiac. And there were perpetually burning lamps such as that kept alight by the vestal virgins, or that of the temple of Venus noted by St. Augustine ).
A symbol of war, and also a phallic symbol ). It is a weapon of earthly character, in contrast to the celestial implications of the sword. It is connected with the symbolism of the cup or chalice. Generally speaking, the lance is comparable from the symbological point of view with the branch, the tree, the cross, and all symbols pertaining to the valley-mountain axis.
Logically speaking it may be deduced that the countryside landscapes of all kinds is the mundane manifestation of a dynamic complex which in origin was non-spatial. Inner forces are liberated to unfold as forms which disclose in themselves the qualitative and quantitative order of their inner tensions. Thus a mountain crest becomes a graphic sign. Let us take, by way of illustration, landscapes as they appear in dreams. Leaving aside the phenomenon of memory, reminiscence, or the complex association of various sense-data, the scenes and towns which figure in dreams are neither arbitrary and indeterminate nor objective: they are symbolic that is, they well up in order to illuminate certain momentary experiences called forth by varying combinations of influences in varying degrees of intensity. Landscape-scenes arising in the imagination in this way are sustained solely by the validity, duration and intensity of the feelings which aroused them.
Form just as in physical morphology is the diagram of force. Now, what we have said about landscapes in dreams can be applied also to an actual landscape, seen and selected by an automatic response of the unconscious, which detects in it an affinity that gives us pause and makes us return to it again and again.
This, then, is a question not of a projection of the mind but of an analogy whereby the landscape is adopted by the spirit in consequence of the inner bond linking the character of the scene with the spirit of the observer himself. Subjectivism concerns only the act of choosing. The intellection of the significance of a landscape is, then, wholly objective, as is the grasping of the symbolic values of colours and numbers. The Chinese saw this with the utmost clarity: as Luc Benoist has observed Chinese art has always placed more emphasis upon landscape than upon man (as a figure, that is to say), and upon the macrocosm rather than the microcosm.
'If the superior man loves the countryside,' to quote the words of Kuo Hsi, 'why is this so? Hills and gardens will always be the haunts of him who seeks to cultivate his original nature; fountains and rocks are a constant joy to him who wanders whistling among them. . .' ). It is a well-established tradition of symbology that the different worlds (or zones) are strictly only different states of being. Hence the fact that the 'chosen site' is the enshrining image which arises out of it. The 'trysting place', when it truly possesses that character, and is not merely arbitrary or fortuitous, signifies a meeting or 'conjoining' in precisely this same sense that is, transposed into topographical or spatial terms . However revolutionary these assertions may seem, they are nevertheless confirmed by the findings of the psychology of form and by isomorphism, since it has been shown that it is not possible to distinguish between psychic and physical formal processes other than externally. In support of all this, there is the comment of Mircea Eliade that 'In point of fact, man never chooses a site, he simply "discovers it".... One of the means of discovering one's situation is by orientation' .
Now, in order to grasp the symbolic sense of a landscape it is necessary to distinguish between the predominant elements and the merely incidental, and between the character of the whole and the character of the component elements. When the predominant element is a cosmic one, its effect is to bind all the other components together, and it is this cosmic ingredient which makes its influence felt over and above that of the individual features of the landscape. Instances of such cosmic features are the sea, the desert, the icy wastes, the mountainpeak, clouds and sky. It is when the ingredients of landscapesymbolism are varied and evenly balanced that symbolic interpretation is most needed.
The interpreter must, then, look for the following:
(a) a spatial pattern organized within particular limits which endow it with a structure after the manner of a building or a work of art. By spatial symbolism we mean, in the first place, the symbolism of level, that is, the disposition of the zones of the landscape according to the three levels of the normal, the lower and the higher; and secondly the symbolism of orientation, that is, the position of the accidental elements in relation to the north-south and the east-west axes. He must then bear in mind
(b) the form the pattern or the shape of the terrain, whether it is undulating or broken, steeply sloped or flat, soft or hard;
(c) the positional relationship of the particular area chosen to the region as a whole or to the zone surrounding it whether it is lower or higher, more open or more enclosed; and finally
(d) the natural and artificial elements which make up the organized pattern: trees, shrubs, plants, lakes, springs, wells, rocks, sandy shores, houses, steps, benches, grottoes, gardens, fences, doors and gates.
Also important is the predominating colour, or the clash of colours, or the general feeling of fecundity or barrenness, of brightness or gloom, of order or disorder. Roads and cross-roads are of great significance, and so are streams. About the objective meaning of each of the factors we have listed above there is much that we could say; however, since the more important factors such as the symbolism of level are dealt with under separate headings, we will here add no more than a few notes. Steepness indicates primitiveness and regression; flat country denotes the apocalyptic end, the longing for power and for death. There is a Persian tradition that, when the end of the world has come when Ahriman is vanquished for ever, the mountains will be levelled and all the earth will become one great plain.
Ideas cognate with this are to be found in certain traditions of Israel and France . It would no,t be hard to point to the history of architecture and town-planning as evidence of the subconscious application of these principles. Furthermore, there are some aspects of landscapes which have a symbolic air about them that is very difficult to analyse intellectually. For instance, the following descriptive passage from Dante's Commeet/ia has always seemed to us to evoke an atmosphere of profound mys tery: 'Around this little island, in its lowest reaches, there, where it is lashed by the waves, reeds grow in the soft mud' (Purgatorio I, h0. Independent of the cosmic significance of landscape, there may also be a sexual implication. It is also essential to bear in mind that this is not strictly a matter of symbols as such but of complex, symbolic functions. For instance, in scenes depicting low-lying topographical features, the following factors may be at work:
(a) depth in the sense of what is base, comparable therefore with the wicked! and infernal;
(b) depth in the sense of what is symbolically profound;
(c) depth as it pertains to the material earth itself, implying a chthonian and maternal symbolism.
Only the context can help us to tell the essence from the accessory as is true also of the vast majority of symbols. Here we must bear in mind the primitive concept of the archetypal 'ideal countryside'. Schneider has observed that the fact of there being so many identical names for rivers and mountains in different parts of the world, suggests that megalithic ways of thought must have led to the custom of naming the topographical features of different regions after some ideal model.
This model, it may be argued, could be the product of the lasting impression made upon the mind of Primitive Man by a particular environment endowed with such unity and variety as to prevent him from ever wishing to leave it; but it could also be explained as the projection of a psychic order founded upon laws comparable with those governing quaternary patterns, or the mandala, etc. Man's attention was first drawn to the contraposition of heaven and earth by topographical features, and he gave expression to this in the struggle between gods and Titans, angels and demons, and in the opposition of mountain and valley. Next, he set out to explain the earth's surface by means of the laws of orientation, taking the four points of the compass from the apparent orbit of the sun as well as from the human anatomy, and identifying them as ambivalent forces ambivalent because they are at once hostile to things external and the defenders of their limits. As Schneider adds: 'To preserve cosmic order, the gods fought with the giants and the monsters which had from the very beginning of creation sought to devour the sun. They stationed the heroic lion on the celestial mountain.
Four archers' the tetramorphs 'are continuously on guard day and night against anyone who attempts to disrupt the order of the cosmos' . The stockade, the wall or stone enclosure, comments Eliade, are among the oldest known parts of the structure of temples, appearing as early as in proto-Indian civilizations such as that of Mohenjo-Daro and also in Crete .
They owe their origins to the same basic, primordial idea of the symbolism of landscape its representation of cosmic order. The mountain with one peak is symbolic of the One of transcendent purpose; the two-peaked Mountain of Mars stands for the Gemini, the world of appearances and the dualism of all forms of life. Both these symbolic mountains find their symbolic complement in the general pattern of archetypal landscape also, incidentally, an image of the year; this pattern is composed of the river of life (denoting the positive phase) and the river of oblivion (the negative phase) which flow through the sea of flames (expressing infirmity) and well up from a single source (birth or the Origin).
According to this scheme, every landscape has a disastrous and a felicitous tendency, corresponding on the temporal plane with the self-evident distinction between 'coming' and 'going' which in turn is analogous to the two halves of human existence. But, quite apart from all this, the symbolic interpretation of a landscape may be determined according to the laws governing diverse and individual correspondences, as well as the overall significance derived from the complex of meanings afforded by its separate features.
By way of an illustration of the many possibilities of interpreting the significance of a landscape, we will conclude with some comments on Vallcarca with its characteristic low-lying features. The gardens are at a lower level than the city proper, and screened from it by the vegetation, which has something of the archaic and oriental about it. The main street leads north towards an open plain, signifying the process of disintegration. On the other hand, those streets which lead towards the mountain are on the favourable axis. In this case, the interpretation is obvious enough, as it is in all instances of scenes where it is possible to identify the essential features of archetypal landscape.
Like all 'lights' that are independent of the Light that which, in other words, is severed the lantern symbolizes individual life in the face of cosmic existence, transitory fact in the face of eternal truth, 'distraction' in the face of essence. This explains the magic use of lanterns. Because of its psychological interest, we quote here a passage taken from a Chinese work of the Tang dynasty: 'On the mid-Autumn feast-day, the devil turned himself into a man, ingratiated himself with women and children and led them off to secret places whence they could not escape (a deathsymbol). Seeing that this demon was greatly persecuting the people, the jurisconsult Bao-Cong informed the king of the matter and persuaded him to issue a decree to the effect that paper lanterns, shaped like fishes, should be hung at the entrances of the houses. In this fashion would the carp-demon, deceived by these images, leave the Hundred Families in peace' .
A tree sacred to Apollo and expressive of victory. Laurel leaves were used to weave festive garlands and crowns. The crowning of the poet, the artist or conqueror with laurel leaves was meant to represent not the external and visible consecration of an act, but the recognition that that act, by its very existence, presupposes a series of inner victories over the negative and dissipative influence of the base forces. There is no achievement without struggle and triumph. Hence the laurel expresses the progressive identification of the hero with the motives and aims of his victory. An associated idea is the generic implication of fecundity pertaining to all vegetation-symbols.
A metal associated with Saturn. The alchemists employed the image of a white dove contained in lead to express their central idea that matter was the receptacle of the spirit . The specific symbolism of lead is the transference of the idea of weight and density on to the spiritual plane.
One of the eight 'common emblems' of Chinese symbolism, it is an allegory of happiness. When several leaves appear together as a motif, they represent people; in this sense it is closely related to the significance of herbs as symbols of human beings ).
In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, the figure of a leg is symbolic of erecting, lifting and founding . The symbolic significance is related to that of the foot, and both symbols emphasize the fundamental difference, from the merely biological point of view, of the human form as compared with other animals, in that humans stand erect. The leg is also equivalent to the pedestal, and in cabalistic thought it denotes qualities of firmness and splendour.
The Romans gave this name to disembodied spirits. According to Ovid, the festival of the Lemuralia was a commemoration of the dead. It is likely that the umbra the ghost or apparition is closely linked with the lemur, and that both are symbolic of certain states of psychic dissociation .
The fifth sign of the Zodiac. It corresponds to solar power, the will, fire and the clear, penetrating light which passes from the threshold of the Gemini into the realm of Cancer. It is connected with feelings and emotions .
An attribute of Dionysos, the leopard has been equated with Argus-of-the-thousand-eyes ). It is a symbol of ferocity and of valour ). The leopard, like the tiger and panther, expresses the aggressive and powerful aspects of the lion without his solar significance.
Letters of the Alphabet
Letters, in all cultures, have a symbolic significance, sometimes in a twofold sense corresponding to both their shape and their sound. Letter-symbolism probably derives from Primitive pictograms and ideographs quite apart, that is, from the theory of cosmic 'correspondences' which prescribes that each component of a series must correspond to another given component of a parallel series.
Enel, in La Langue sacrée, has subjected the Egyptian alphabet to a profound and scrupulous study, selecting those that have a phonetic value from the vast repertory of syllabic and ideographic signs. He recalls that Horapollo Niliacus in antiquity, and Kircher and Valeriano in the Renaissance, tried unsuccessfully to analyse the meaning of these symbolic signs; it is only the work of Champollion, Maspero, Mariette, etc., which has made a true understanding possible. The significance of many Egyptian signs can best be understood by grasping the import of the so-called 'determinative signs, governing groups of phonetic signs. We cannot here give any idea of this complex Egyptian system, which was a mixture of ideographic signs and phonetic signs, abstract allusions and concrete pictograms in the form of visual patterns, such as the sign for combat (two arms holding an axe and a shield) or figures denoting geographical places (Lower Egypt was represented by plants characteristic of the Delta). we must limit ourselves, then, to the so-called Egyptian alphabet, which Enel sees closely linked, in its development, with the idea of creation itself. Here is his explanation:
'Thus the divine principle, the essence of life and the reason for creation, is represented by the eagle, but, within the microcosm, this same sign expresses reason the faculty which brings Man into proximity with the godhead, raising him above all other created beings. The creative manifestation of the reason-principle is action, depicted by an arm, a sign which is symbolic of activity in all its aspects, and is opposed to that for passivity represented by a broken line as the image of the primary element. The nature of the action, and the vital movement, convey the divine word represented as a schematic image of a mouth as the first manifestation of the world's beginning....
The creative action irradiated by the word continues and develops into all the varied manifestations of life; its sign is a curving spiral a pattern of the universe, representing the cosmic forces in action. From the point of view of the microcosm, as an expression, that is, of man's labours, the sign corresponding to the cosmic spiral is the squared spiral a sign of construction.
By his own efforts, and by utilizing the forces of nature susceptible to his will, Man can transform brute matter denoted by a kind of irregularly formed rectangle into organized matter: a rectangle, or a stone, with which he builds his home or a temple for his god (this being a schematic sign also pertaining to the temple). But the development of the creative forces of the macrocosmos, like that of human labour, is subject to the law of equilibrium (expressed by a semicircle based upon its diameter). There are two aspects to this equilibrium: ) the swing of the needle of the scales through 180 degrees, and ) the daily trajectory of the sun across the sky from East to West the alpha and omega of St. John represented by the bird of day (the eagle) and the night-bird (the owl), and corresponding respectively to life and death, dawn and sunset....
The connexion between the two opposite poles of these constant alternations is symbolized by the distinction between the "upper waters" and the "lower waters", and represented by a sign which is equivalent to the Hebrew mem. Through this connexion, day is transformed into night and life is born of death. This ceaseless flux forms the cycle of life which is symbolized by a snake which ceaselessly rears and undulates. The bonds uniting life with death, where man is concerned, are represented by swaddling clothes (echoed by the bandages that swaddle a corpse).... The forces which animate every manifestation of life are the dual streams of the evolutive/involutive principle, or descent and ascent, represented by the leg as a sign of upward movement. This hieroglyph has the same meaning, also, in relation to man's activities, since it is by means of his legs that he can go where he will: towards failure as well as towards success. The relationship between the dual streams is symbolized by a plaited cord....' Other signs follow the same pattern: the tie or loop signifies the connexion between the Elements; the bolt, the fixed state of a mixture; the cane-leaf, human thought, etc. .
The letters of the Hebrew alphabet are characterized by a similar system with symbolic and semantic meanings; the system has two aspects: the cabalistic, and that which corresponds to figures on the cards of the Tarot. For example, the letter aleph denotes willpower, man, the magician; beth, science, the mouth, the temple door; ghimel, action, the grasping hand; etc. . In alchemy, too, letters are significant:
A expresses the beginning of all things;
B. the relation between the four Elements;
M, the androgynous nature of water in its original state as the Great Abyss, etc. .
But this is really a case of the fusing of true symbolism with purely conventional connotations although the significance of the letter M is symbolic in the true sense.
As Blavatsky observes, M is the most sacred of letters, for it is at once masculine and feminine and also symbolic of water in its original state (or the Great Abyss) ). It is also interesting to note the relationship of the letter S with the moon by virtue of the symbolism of form; the S can be said to consist of a waxing and a waning moon counterbalancing each other.
Letters of the alphabet played a very important part among the Gnostics and in the mysteries of Mithraic cults; equivalents ascribed to them were taken from the symbolism of numbers, as well as from the signs of the Zodiac, the hours of the day, etc. one of the early Fathers of the church, Hippolytus, quotes the remark attributed to Marcus the Pythagorean that: 'The seven heavens . . . pronounced severally their vowels and all these vowels together formed a single doxology, the sound of which, transmitted below, became the creator. . .' ). Similarly, each vowel was related to a colour . The seven letters also corresponded to the seven Directions of space (that is, the six extremities of the three-dimensional cross plus the centre) .
Among the Arabs, too, letters had a numerical value: the number of the letters in the alphabet was twenty-eight, like the days of the lunar month. Given the importance traditionally attached to the word the Element of air it is easy to understand why Man, in every system ever formulated, has always tried to prove the divine power of letters by making them dependent upon mystic and cosmic orders.
Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, in L'Archéometre 91, has made a broad study of letter-symbolism, although, in our opinion, he comes to somewhat arbitrary conclusions concerning the relationship between the alphabet, colour, sound, planets, the signs of the Zodiac, virtue, the element of nature, and so on. As an example here is what he says about the letter M: 'It corresponds to the natural Origin, which gives rise to all temporal forms of existence. Its number is 40. Its colour, sea-green; its sign, Scorpio; its planet, Mars; its musical note, Re.' Of greater symbolic authenticity is the summary which Bayley makes, drawing upon a variety of sources of information to arrive at a synthesis of the intrinsic significance of the letters which now comprise our Western alphabet. Clearly, there are some letter-symbols of more obvious meaning than others.
Here are some of the less obvious suggested by Bayley:
A is related to the cone, the mountain, the pyramid, the first cause;
C, the crescent moon, the sea, the Magna Mater;
D, the brilliant, the diamond, the day;
E is a solar letter;
F signifies the fire of life-
G. the Creator;
H. Gemini, the threshold;
I, number one, the axis of the universe;
N. the waves of the sea and the undulations of the snake;
O is a solar disk, denoting perfection;
P. R. the shepherd's crook, the staff;
S. the snake or serpent;
T. the hammer, the double-headed axe, the cross,
U. the chain of Jupiter
V, a receptacle, convergence, twin radii;
X, the cross of light, the union of the two worlds the superior and the inferior;
Y. three in one, the cross-ways; and
Z. the zigzag of lightning ).
As an interesting sidelight, here are Bayley's conclusions concerning the ideas merely conventional in this instance related to initials most commonly figuring in mediaeval and 16th-century emblems:
A (combined with V) signifies Ave.;
M is the initial letter of the Virgin Mary, and also a sign of the Millennium, that is, of the end of this world;
R stands for Regeneratio or Redemptio;
Z for Zion;
S for Spiritus;
SS for Sanctus Spiritus;
T for Theos, etc.
Any study of letter-symbolism must be closely related to the examination of words. Loeffler recalls that, among the Aryans and also among the Semites, M has always been the initial letter of words related to water and to birth of beings and the worlds (Mantras, Manu, Maya, Madhava, Mahat, etc.) . Concerning the connexion between M and N. we believe that the latter is the antithesis of the former, that is: if M corresponds to the regenerating aspect of water, N pertains to its destructive side, or to the annihilation of forms. Letters, because of their associations, were one of the techniques used by the cabalists.
We cannot here do more than mention the study of the 'tifinars', or prehistoric symbolic signs, made by R. M. Gattefossé in Les Sages Ecritures (Lyon, 194. Also very interesting is the philosophy of letters and of grammar in their symbolic context worked out by M. Court de Gebelin in his Do Génie allégorique et symbolique de l'antiquité (Paris, 177. Basing his study upon a primitive tongue, he draws conclusions concerning the mental attitudes which inspired the symbolism of proper names, linguistic roots, sacred fables, cosmogonies, symbolic pictures, escutcheons, hieroglyphs, etc., as well as of letters. For example, A, he suggests, can be: a cry, a verb, a preposition, an article, an initial letter apart from its character in oriental tongues, etc.