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LOAVES OF BREAD
LOOPS AND BONDS
This is a term which refers to that aspect of the symbolism of space which is concerned with the simple moral pattern deriving from the notions of height and ultimately of centre. Hindu doctrine describes the three fundamental states of the human spirit as sattva, which is 'loftiness' of spirit; rajas manifestation, struggle and dynamism; and tamas, or obscurity and brute instinct; and these three states are located on three vertical levels. Strictly speaking, there are five zones or levels: the absolute low level and the absolute high level, plus the central area divided into three zones merging into each other and at the same time bringing the outer extremes into progressive relationship. When the baser levels concern not the intellectual but the moral which is in essence infinitely more complex and mysterious then the precise significance of the symbolism is not nearly so hard-and-fast. There is always the possibility of symbolic Inversion, in which case the two opposing directions have something in common in that both partake of the idea of depth. Hence the saying: 'Deep calls to deep.'
The temptations endured by the chosen few find their counterpart in the abysses of salvation which may be opened up for the reprobate. Dostoievski has spoken eloquently about this. Finally, here is a quotation from L'Art chinois by M. Paléologue, written in 1888: 'Under the Chinese Chou dynasty (llth century B.C.), the dead of the lower classes
were buried in the plains; princes, on hills of moderate height; and emperors in tombs built on a mountain-top. The head of the corpse would be turned to face North.' In virtually every work of art whose composition is of an ideological rather than a naturalistic character, the vertical line locates the Three Worlds of the infernal, terrestrial (with its own, internal orders the marine, the animal and the human) and celestial.
Thus, in the Mesopotamian stele (or Kudurru), the illustrations are arranged on several levels, divided off by lines to suggest their relative values: the most primitive beings are placed at the lowest level (since they are closest to the 'primordial monster') while astral bodies and symbols of the godhead are situated on the highest plane. The same principles are true of Romanesque art.
A huge, fabulous fish which bears the weight of the waters upon its back and which the Rabbis claimed was destined for the Supper of the Messiah ). In Scandinavian mythology, the oceans are the creation of a great serpent or dragon which swallows the waters only to regurgitate them; this being is called Midgardorm .
The Leviathan is an archetype of things inferior of the primordial monster connected with the cosmogonic sacrifice, such as the Mesopotamian Tiamat (or Tiawath). Sometimes it is in all respects identical with the world or, rather, with the force which preserves and vitalizes the world.
The seventh sign of the Zodiac, Libra, is, like the cross and the sword, related to the symbolism of the number seven, and the sign for equilibrium, on both the cosmic and the psychic planes, and concerning both social and inward legality and justice. It is said, therefore, that the balance or scales designates the equilibrium between the solar world and planetary manifestation, or between the spiritual ego of Man (the Selbst of Jungian psychology) and the external ego (or the personality).
It likewise indicates the equilibrium between good and evil; for, like Man, the scales has two tendencies, symbolized by the two symmetrically disposed pans, one tending towards the Scorpion (denoting the world of desires) and the other towards the sign of Virgo (sublimation). Man must, after the model of the scales, balance out his inner tendencies. According to traditional astrology, the sign of the balance rules the kidneys. The seventh sign pertains to human relations and to the union of the spirit within itself, that is to say, to spiritual and mental health. As an allegory of justice, it refers to the intimate and moderating influence of self-chastisement . As a symbol of inner harmony and of intercommunication between the left side (the unconscious, or matter) and the right (the consciousness or spirit), it represents 'Conjunction' (Plate XXI).
All things that flow and grow were regarded in early religions as a symbol of life: fire represented the vital craving for nourishment, water was chosen for its fertilizing powers, plants because of their verdure in spring-time. Now, all or very nearly all symbols of life are also symbolic of death. Media vita in morte sumus, observed the mediaeval monk, to which modern science has replied La vie c'est la mort (Claude Bernard). Thus, fire is the destroyer, while water in its various forms signifies dissolution, as suggested in the Psalms. In legend and folklore, the Origin of life or the source of the renewal of the life forces takes the form of caves and caverns where wondrous torrents and springs well up .
LIGHT, ORDER OF.
LIGHT, TO BRING TO.
Light, traditionally, is equated with the spirit ). Ely Star asserts that the superiority of the spirit is immediately recognizable by its luminous intensity. Light is the manifestation of morality, of the intellect and the seven virtues . Its whiteness alludes to just such a synthesis of the All. Light of any given colour possesses a symbolism corresponding to that colour, plus the significance of emanation from the 'Centre', for light is also the creative force, cosmic energy, irradiation . Symbolically, illumination comes from the East. Psychologically speaking, to become illuminated is to become aware of a source of light, and, in consequence, of spiritual strength .
The sonorous, the transparent and the mobile constitute a trilogy which is related to the sensation of lightness within. Air is the Element which corresponds primarily to this sensation. From the oneirocritic and literary points of view, the desire for lightness is depicted by the symbol of the dance as in Nietzsche rather than by flight. If the latter is in essence expressive of the will to rise above oneself and above others, the former concerns the urge to escape.
Lilith, in Hebrew legend, was the first wife of Adam. She was a night-phantom and the enemy of childbirth and of the newborn. In mythic tradition she was regarded as a satellite invisible from the earth ). In Israelite tradition, she corresponds to the Greek and Roman Lamia. She may also be equated with Brunhild in the saga of the Niebelungen, in opposition to Kriemhild (or Grimhild, or Eve). She is symbolic of the Terrible Mother. All these characteristics relate her closely to the Greek figure of Hecate, with her demands for human sacrifice.
Lilith personifies the maternal imago in so far as she denotes the vengeful mother who reappears in order to harry the son and his wife (a theme which, in some respects, is transferred to the Stepmother and to the Mother-inLaw). Lilith is not to be related literally to the Mother, but with the idea of the mother venerated (that is, loved and feared) during childhood. Sometimes she also takes the form of the despised mistress, or the 'long forgotten' mistress, as in the case of Brunhild mentioned above, or of the temptress who, in the name of the maternal imago, seeks and brings about the destruction of the son and his wife. There is a certain quality of the virile about her, as there is about Hecate, the 'accursed huntress'. The overcoming of the threat which Lilith constitutes finds its symbolic expression in the trial of Hercules in which he triumphs over the Amazons.
An emblem of purity, used in Christian and particularly mediaeval iconography as a symbol and attribute of the Virgin Mary . It is often depicted standing in a vase or jar, which is, in its turn, a symbol of the female principle.
The lingam is not just a sign for the phallus, but for the integration of both sexes, symbolizing the generating power of the universe ). It is very commonly found in Hindu temples. A comparable symbol is that of the Tree of Life of the Persians whose seeds when mixed with water preserve the fertility of the earth . All symbols of 'conjunction' of this kind allude to the zeros gamos, without which the continuous process of creation and preservation of the universe would be inconceivable; hence they find their way into fecundity and fertility rites. In China, the lingam is called Kuei; it is an oblong piece of jade terminating in a triangle. The seven stars of the Great Bear are often engraved on the Kuei , probably symbolizing space and time (that is, the Seven Directions and the seven days of the week).
The lion corresponds principally to gold or the 'subterranean sun', and to the sun itself, and hence it is found as a symbol of sun-gods such as Mithras. In Egypt, it used to be believed that the lion presided over the annual floods of the Nile, because they coincided with the entry of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Leo during the dog-days. The lion-skin is a solar attribute ).
The equation of the sun and the lion, borne out by primitive and astrobiological cultures, persisted into the Middle Ages and found its way into Christian symbolism , although the significance of the lion is enriched by a variety of secondary symbolisms. In alchemy, it corresponds to the 'fixed' element to sulphur. When counterbalanced by three other animals, it represents earth (although elsewhere it has been said that it stands for 'philosophical fire') , while gold is given the name of 'lion of metals'; the red-coloured lion is more strictly applicable to the latter .
But, apart from these considerations, which lie more in the province of the theory of
correspondences than in symbology proper, the lion, the 'king of beasts', symbolizes the earthly opponent of the eagle in the sky and the 'natural lord and master' or the possessor of strength and of the masculine principle. As Frobenius notes, the motif of the solar lion which tears out the throat of the lunar bull is repeated interminably in Asiatic and African ornamentation . According to Schneider, the lion pertains to the Element of earth and the winged lion to the Element of fire. Both are symbolic of continual struggle, solar light, morning, regal dignity and victory. As a symbol of the Evangelists, the lion came to be associated with St. Mark in particular. Naturally, other meanings may be derived from the location or the context in which the lion appears. The young lion corresponds to the rising sun, the old or infirm lion to the setting sun.
The lion victorious represents the exaltation of virility; the lion tamed carries, on the symbolic plane, the obvious significance which it has in real life . For Jung, the lion, in its wild state, is broadly speaking an index of latent passions; it may also take the form of a sign indicating the danger of being devoured by the unconscious . But this latter sense goes beyond lion-symbolism as such, being related to the general symbolism of devouring (which in turn is related to the symbolism of time). The wild lioness is a symbol of the Magna Mater .
Loaves of Bread
As with grains of corn, loaves are symbols of fecundity and perpetuation, which is why they sometimes take on forms that are sexual in implication.
In Christian symbolism, locusts represent the forces of destruction , a symbolism which can be traced banck to the Hebrew tradition of the 'plagues of Pharaoh'. To quote the words of the Bible (Revelation ix, 1-1: 'And the fifth angeR sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and tc) him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but they should be tormented five months: and their torment Was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.'
The Logos is the light and the life, at once spiritual and material, which combats both death and night ). It is the antithesis of disorder and chaos, of evil and darkness. It is also cognate with the word and with thought.
Loops and Bonds
In mythology and iconography, the symbolism of loops and knots has an endless number of variants, both as images of connexion and as forms of ornamental art, appearing as plaited links, rosettes, knots or ties, ribbons, cords ,or string, ligaments, nets and whips. In the broadest sense, loops and knots represent the idea of binding. It would seem that, if modern man according to the 'existentialist' approach feels himself to be thrown' into the world, the primitive, oriental and astrobiological man perceived that he was 'bound' to the world, to the Creator, to the order and society of which he was part.
Jurgis Baltrusaitis, in his Etudes sur Part medieval en Céorgie et en Arménie, distinguished the following types of rosette in Romanesque ornamentation: intersecting, intertwining, connecting and linking. He comments that intertwining plaits pertain to the most ancient of forms created by man, for they cannot be accounted a product of either barbarian art or of any particular Asiatic influence. Entangled in the knots, nets or cords, very commonly one finds monsters, animals or human figures.
In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, the loop or tie was a sign corresponding to the letter T. and equivalent grammatically to the possessive (such as 'to bind', 'to dominate' or 'to possess') (l. A related symbol is that of Entanglement (q.v.). But there are particular aspects of this symbol which present it in a favourable light: the 'golden thread', for example, identical with the 'silver cord' in Hindu tradition, and with 'Ariadne's thread', and symbolic of the path leading to the creator. The mystic sense comes about by inversion: instead of the symbol representing external bonds, it comes to stand for inner links. The cordons which are such a constant feature of heraldry also pertain to these 'inner links', sometimes in the form of knots, or of ribbons bunched together to form the letter S or the number 8 ), representing linkage or dependence in the feudal system of hierarchies (ratified in the oath of allegiance), or the sublimation of the idea of being 'in bondage' to one's superior . on the other hand, the external net which envelops and immobilizes should be related in significance to the words of the Bible (quoted by Pinedo):
'Upon the wicked he shall rain snares' (Psalms xi, . Mircea Eliade has made a special study of the symbolism of knots and ties as they concern the tangle of thread which has to be unravelled in order to solve the essential basis of a problem. Some gods, such as Varuna or Uranus, are shown holding a length of rope, signifying their prerogative of supreme power. Eliade notes that there is a symbolic relationship between loops and bonds on the one hand and threads and labyrinths on the other. The labyrinth may be regarded as a knot to be untied, as in the mythic undertakings of Theseus and Alexander. The ultimate aim of mankind is to free himself from bonds.
The same thing is to be found in Greek philosophy: in Plato's 'cave', men are fettered and unable to move (Republic, VII). For Plotinus, the soul 'after its fall, is imprisoned and fettered . . . but when it turns towards (the realm of) thought, it shakes off its bonds' (Enneads IV, . Eliade has also studied the morphology of bonds and knots in magic cults, distinguishing two broad divisions: (a) those which are beneficent and a protection against wild animals, illness and sorcery, and against demons and death; (b) those which are employed as a form of 'attack' against human enemies symbolically the inverse of severing ropes or bonds . This latter practice is carried to the extent of tying up dead bodies to prevent them from performing the injurious acts which they were supposed to have indulged in 7, 1. Sometimes symbolic loops and ropes appear in vegetable form as foliage which inextricably envelops bodies that fall into it; this is a theme which is related to the symbolism of devouring, as well as to grotesques.
A siren in Germanic mythology who appears on a rock bearing her name in the Rhine, and whose song is the perdition of mariners, for when they hear her singing they forget to watch out for the reefs and are dashed to pieces. The Lorelei is also related to the legend of the treasure of the Niebelungen.
Loss on the one hand, the sense of loss is bound up with the feeling of guilt together with a presentiment of ultimate purification or pilgrimage and journeying. On the other hand, the idea of losing and of rediscovering oneself, or the notion of the 'lost object' that is missed very painfully, are concepts parallel to that of death and resurrection . To feel lost or neglected is to feel dead, and hence, even though the blame for, or cause of, this feeling may be projected onto circumstantial matters, the true cause always lies in forgetfulness of the Origin and severance of the individual's attachment to it (as expressed in the thread of Ariadne). Within the twofold structure of the spirit (symbolized by the Gemini twins), loss corresponds to the equation of consciousness with the merely existential aspect of life, ignoring the eternal aspect of the spirit; and it is this which lies behind the 'lost feeling', or purposelessness, or the symbolic lost object.
There is a certain parallel between the symbolism of the lotus and that of the rose in Western culture. In Egypt, the lotus symbolizes nascent life, or first appearance . Saunier regards it as a natural symbol for all forms of evolution . In the Middle Ages it was equated with the mystic 'Centre' and, consequently, with the heart 6, 1. As an artistic creation it is related to the mandala, its significance varying according to the number of its petals: the eight-petalled lotus is considered in India as the Centre where Brahma dwells and as the visible manifestation of his occult activity
The figure eight is like the mandorla of Romanesque art, signifying the intersection of the earth (four, or the square) with heaven (the circle). The 'thousand-petalled' lotus symbolizes the final revelation; in the centre there is usually a triangle and inside the triangle is the 'great emptiness' symbolic of formlessness. René Guénon has examined lotus-symbolism at great length, observing that 'The potentialities of being are realized by means of an activity which is always internal' (this is the 'growth' of Father Gratry) 'since it is exercised from the centre of each plane; furthermore, from the metaphysical point of view, it is impossible for external action to be brought to bear upon the total being, for such action is possible only on a relative and a particular plane.... This realization of potentialities is depicted in various symbolisms as the unfolding of a flower on the surface of the "waters"; generally, in oriental traditions, it is a lotus, and a rose or lis in the West. There is a further relationship between these flowers and the circumference as a symbol of the manifest world, as well as with the cosmic Wheel.
This symbol finds other forms of expression in many different ways, but always related to the symbolism of numbers, that is, depending upon the number of petals' . From the remotest days of antiquity, the lotus was the unanimous choice of the Chinese, the Japanese the Hindus, the Egyptians and the Aryans. The lotus Rower growing out of the navel of Vishnu, symbolizes the universe growing out of the central sun the central point or the 'unmoved mover'. It is the attribute of many deities ). In lotus symbolism, the idea of emanation and of realization predominated over that of the hidden Centre, which is a Western accretion.
Traditional symbols of love always express a duality in which the two antagonistic elements are, nevertheless, reconciled. Thus, the Indian lingam, the Chinese Yang-Yin, or even the Cross, where the upright beam is the world-axis and the cross-beam the world of phenomena. They are, in other words, symbols of a conjunction, or the expression of the ultimate goal of true love: the elimination of dualism and separation, uniting them in the mystic 'centre', the 'unvarying mean' of Far Eastern philosophy.
The rose, the lotus flower, the heart, the irradiating point these are the most frequent symbols of this hidden centre; 'hidden' because it does not exist in space, although it is imagined as doing so, but denotes the state achieved through the elimination of separation. The biological act of love itself expresses this desire to die in the object of the desire, to dissolve in that which is already dissolved. According to the Book of Baruch: 'Erotic desire and its satisfaction is the key to the origin of the world. Disappointment in love and the revenge whichfollows in itswake are the rootofalltheevilandtheselfishness in this world. The whole of history is the work of love. Beings seek and find oneanother; separateandhurtoneanother; andintheend,comes acute suffering which leads to renunciation.' Or to put it another way: Maya as opposed to Lilith, illusion balanced by the serpent.
The sixth enigma of the Tarot pack. It is related to the legend of Hercules which tells how he was given the choice of two women, the one personifying Virtue (or decisive activity, vocation, sense of purpose, and struggle) and the other Vice (passiveness, surrender to base impulses and to external pressures). The Lover, faced like Hercules with these two opposite modes of conduct, hesitates. He has parti-coloured clothes divided vertically: one half is red (for activity) and the other green (neutral for indecision). On the positive side, this mystery-card implies the making of the right choice and represents moral beauty or integrity; on the negative side it alludes to uncertainty and temptation .
One of the eight 'common emblems' of the Chinese, symbolic of victory. In graphics, the lozenge is simply a rhomb elongated along the vertical axis ). The rhomb is a dynamic sign, as in St. Andrew's cross, and denotes the intercommunication between the inferior and the superior.
A legendary man whom the devil covers with a wolf's skin and forces to roam howling over the countryside ), and symbolic of the irrationality latent in the baser part of man and the possibility of his awakening. Hence, it is similar in meaning to all evil monsters and fabulous beings.
A symbol of the harmonious union of the cosmic forces, a union which, in its chaotic aspect, is represented by a flock of sheep . The seven strings of the lyre correspond to the seven planets. Timotheus of Miletus raised the number of strings to twelve (corresponding to the signs of the Zodiac). A serial development of a similar kind is that effected by Arnold Schoenberg in our day by giving the same value to chromatic notes as to the notes of the diatonic scale, creating in place of the old scale of seven notes, a new one of twelve. Schneider draws a parallel between the lyre and the fire, recalling that in the temple of Jerusalem (according to Exodus xxxviii, there was an altar with horns 'overlaid with brass' on either side, and the smoke of sacrifice rose up between them. The lyre, similarly, produces its sounds through the horns forming the sides of its structure, and representing the relationship between earth and heaven .