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Mound of Earth
Multiplicity of a Common Element
A fabulous monster the lower half of which was a man and the upper a bull. It was in order to contain the minotaur that the Cretan Labyrinth was constructed.
The monster was carnivorous, and the vanquished Athenians were obliged every seven years to deliver up seven youths and seven maidens for it to eat. This tribute was paid three times, but on the fourth occasion Theseus slew the minotaur with the aid of Ariadne and her magic thread . Every myth and legend which alludes to tributes, monsters or victorious heroes illustrates at once a cosmic situation embracing the Gnostic ideas of the evil demiurge and of redemption, a social implication for example, of a state oppressed by a tyrant, or a plague, or by some other hostile force and a psychological significance pertaining either to the collective or the individual implying the predominance of the monster in man, and the tribute and sacrifice of his finer side: his ideas, sentiments and emotions. The minotaur all but represents the last degree in the scale of relations between the spiritual and the animal sides in man.
The predominance of the spiritual is symbolized by the knight; the prevalence of the monstrous is denoted by the centaur with the body of a horse or bull. The inversion of this, where the head is animal-like and the body human, implies the dominance of base forces carried to its logical extreme. The symbolism of the number seven as in seven-headed dragons, or a period of seven years, or the sacrifice of seven youths always denotes a relationship with the essential series namely: the days of the week, the planetary gods, the planets, and the Vices and Cardinal Sins together with their corresponding Virtues. To vanquish a seven-headed monster is to conquer the evil influences of the planets in consequence of the equation of the planets with the instincts and the baser forces.
The The first enigma of the Tarot pack, this figure of a minstrel is a symbol of the original activity and the creative power of Man. He is depicted on the Tarot card wearing a hat in the form of a horizontal eight the mathematical sign for infinity; he holds up a magic wand 'clubs' in one hand, and the other three symbols of the card-pack are on the table facing him; these are the equivalent of diamonds, spades and hearts, which, together with the wand 'clubs', correspond to the four Elements as well as the points of the compass. These attributes symbolize mastery over a given situation. The minstrel's garb is multi-coloured, but the predominant colour is red—denoting activity. In its transcendental implications, the enigma is related to Mercury .
As a symbol, it has the same characteristics as the mirror in fact; the temporal and existential variety of its function provides the explanation of its significance and at the same time the diversity of its meaningful associations.
It has been said that it is a symbol of the imagination—or of consciousness—in its capacity to reflect the formal reality of the visible world. It has also been related to thought, in so far as thought—for Scheler and other philosophers—is the instrument of self-contemplation as well as the reflection of the universe. This links mirror-symbolism with water as a reflector and with the Narcissus myth: the cosmos appears as a huge Narcissus regarding his own reflections in the human consciousness. Now, the world, as a state of discontinuity affected by the laws of change and substitution, is the agent which projects this quasinegative, kaleidoscopic image of appearance and disappearance reflected in the mirror. From the earliest times, the mirror has been thought of as ambivalent.
It is a surface which reproduces images and in a way contains and absorbs them. In legend and folklore, it is frequently invested with a magic quality—a mere hypertrophic version of its fundamental meaning. In this way it serves to invoke apparitions by conjuring up again the images which it has received at some time in the past, or by annihilating distances when it reflects what was once an object facing it and now is far removed. This fluctuation between the 'absent' mirror and the 'peopled' mirror lends it a kind of phasing, feminine in implication, and hence —like the fan—it is related to moon-symbolism. Further evidence that the mirror is lunar is afforded by its reflecting and passive characteristics, for it receives images as the moon receives the light of the sun .
Again, its close relationship to the moon is demonstrated by the fact that among the primitives it was seen as a symbol of the multiplicity of the soul: of its mobility and its ability to adapt itself to those objects which 'visit' it and retain its 'interest'. At times, it takes the mythic form of a door through which the soul may free itself 'passing' to the other side: this is an idea reproduced by Lewis Carroll in Alice Through the Looking Glass. This alone is sufficient explanation of the custom of covering up mirrors or turning them to face the wall on certain occasions, in particular when someone in the house dies . All that we have said so far by no means exhausts the complex symbolism of the mirror: like the echo, it stands for twins thesis and antithesis, and specifically for the sea of flames or life as an infirmity 0, 5. For Loeffler, mirrors are magic symbols for unconscious memories comparable with crystal palaces . Hand-mirrors, in particular, are emblems of truth , and in China they are supposed to have an allegorical function as aids to conjugal happiness as well as a protection against diabolical influences . Some Chinese legends tell of 'the animals in the mirror'.
Mist is symbolic of things indeterminate, or the fusing together of the Elements of air and water, and the inevitable obscuring of the outlines of each aspect and each particular phase of the evolutive process. The 'mist of fire' is that stage of cosmic life which follows upon the state of chaos and corresponds to the three Elements which existed prior to the solid Element—earth.
A parasitic plant associated with the oak. Celtic druids once used to gather it to use in their fertility rites . It symbolizes regeneration and the restoration of family-life . Frazer has equated it with the 'golden bough', of which Virgil wrote: 'A wondrous tree shimmering with a golden light among the green foliage. Just as, throughout the cold winter, the mistletoe, guest of a tree that never engendered it, unfailingly displays its fresh greenery, flecking the sombre trunk with the yellow of its berries, just so do golden leaves show among the green foliage of the oak, and so would these golden leaves whisper to the gentle breeze' Aeneid, VI. The yellow colour of the withered mistletoe-branch was thought—by a process of sympathetic magic—to be endowed with the power to discover buried treasure .
The simians generally symbolize the baser forces, darkness or unconscious activity, but this symbolism—like that of legendary fabulous beings—has two sides to it. If, on the one hand, this unconscious force may be dangerous, while it may degrade the individual, nevertheless it may also prove a boon—like all unconscious powers—when least expected. This is why, in China, the monkey is credited with the power of granting good health, success and protection, being related in this way to sprites, sorcerers and fairies .
In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, the monolith is a determinative sign associated with the name of the god Osiris and signifying 'to last'. In the myth, Osiris was slain by Set or Typhon and put together again by Isis. The ceremony performed in commemoration of this event included the erection of a monolith a symbol of lithophanic unity as a sign of resurrection and life eternal , or of unity counterbalancing multiplicity, fragmentation and disintegration this, in turn, being a symbol of the world of phenomena 'fallen' into the multiplicity of the diverse—space— and the transitory—time. The monolith, because of its shape and position, possesses other secondary meanings alluding—as in the case of the menhir—to the masculine, the solar and the procreative principle.
They are symbolic of the cosmic forces at a stage one step removed from chaos—from the 'non-formal potentialities'. on the psychological plane, they allude to the base powers which constitute the deepest strata of spiritual geology, seething as in a volcano until they erupt in the shape of some monstrous apparition or activity. Diel suggests that they symbolize an unbalanced psychic function: the affective whipping up of desire, paroxysms of the indulged imagination, or improper intentions .
They are, then, par excellence, the antithesis—or the adversary—of the 'hero' and of 'weapons'. For weapons are the positive powers granted to man by the deity, and this is the explanation of the mysterious, miraculous or magical context of weapons wielded by heroes in myth and legend. Weapons, then, are the symbolic antithesis to monsters. Diel has pointed out that, paradoxically, the chimerical enemy— perversion, the fascination of madness or of evil per se—is the fundamental adversary in the life of Man. On the social plane, the motif of the monster ravaging a country is symbolic of the ill-fated reign of a wicked, tyrannical or impotent monarch . The fight against a monster signifies the struggle to free consciousness from the grip of the unconscious.
The hero's deliverance corresponds to the sunrise, the triumph of light over darkness, of consciousness or the spirit over the affective strata of the unconscious . In a less negative sense, the monster may be equated with the libido . Monsters are closely connected in symbolism with fabulous beings, which afford a wider range of meanings embracing some that are wholly favourable and positive such as Pegasus, the phoenix, etc. Some of the principal monsters known to tradition and perpetuated by art are the following: the sphinx, the griffin, the siren-fish, the siren-bird, the lamia, the bird with the head of a quadruped, the bird-serpent, the winged bull, the dragon, the giant fish, the giant sea-serpent, the chimaera, the Gorgon, the minotaur, the triton, the hydra, the salamander, the merman, the harpy, the hippogryph, the sea-demon and the Fury .
There are some prehistoric paintings that depict a squatting man in such a way that his outline resembles the jagged or 'serrated' skyline of a mountain. And—although it is mere coincidence—the significance of Montserrat the 'Serrated Mountain' near Barcelona is precisely that it presents Man as occupying, through sacrifice, a marginal position at the point of intersection of the circles of heaven and earth corresponding to the crosssymbolism. At the same time, some mediaeval representations of the siren are entitled Serra.
The symbolism of the moon is wide in scope and very complex. The power of this satellite was noted by Cicero, when he observed that 'Every month the moon completes the same trajectory executed by the sun in a year.... It contributes in large measure to the maturation of shrubs and the growth of animals.'
This helps to explain the important role of the lunar goddesses such as Ishtar, Hathor, Anaitis, Artemis. Man, from the earliest times, has been aware of the relationship between the moon and the tides, and of the more mysterious connexion between the lunar cycle and the physiological cycle of woman. Krappe believes—with Darwin—that this follows from the fact that animal life originated in the watery deeps and that this origin imparted a rhythm to life which has lasted for millions of years. As he observes, the moon thus becomes the 'Master of women'. Another essential fact in the 'psychology of the moon' is the apparent changes in its surface that accompany its periodic phases. He postulates that these phases—especially in their negative sense of partial and gradual disappearance—may have been the source of inspiration for the Dismemberment myth Zagreus, Pentheus, Orpheus, Actaeon, and Osiris for example.
The same might be said of the myths and legends of the 'spinners' . When patriarchy superseded matriarchy, a feminine character came to be attributed to the moon and a masculine to the sun. The zeros gamos, generally understood as the marriage of heaven and earth, may also be taken as the union of the sun and the moon. It is generally conceded nowadays that the lunar rhythms were utilized before the solar rhythms as measures of time, and there is also a possible equation with the resurrection—spring follows upon winter, flowers appear after the frost, the sun rises again after the gloom of night, and the crescent moon grows out of the 'new moon'.
Eliade points to the connexion between these cosmic events and the myth of the periodic creation and recreation of the universe . The regulating function of the moon can also be seen in the distribution of the waters and the rains, and hence it made an early appearance as the mediator between earth and heaven. The moon not only measures and determines terrestrial phases but also unifies them through its activity: it unifies, that is, the waters and rain, the fecundity of women and of animals, and the fertility of vegetation. But above all it is the being which does not keep its identity but suffers 'painful' modifications to its shape as a clear and entirely visible circle.
These phases are analogous to the seasons of the year and to the ages in the span of man's life, and are the reasons for the affinity of the moon with the biological order of things, since it is also subject to the laws of change, growth from youth to maturity and decline from maturity to old age. This accounts for the mythic belief that the moon's invisible phase corresponds to death in man, and, in consequence, the idea that the dead go to the moon and return from it—according to those traditions which accept reincarnation. 'Death', observes Eliade, 'is not therefore an extinction, but a temporal modification of the plan of life. For three nights the moon disappears from heaven, but on the fourth day it is reborn....
The idea of the journey to the moon after death is one which has been preserved in the more advanced cultures in Greece, India and Iran. Pythagorean thought imparted a fresh impulse to astral theology: the "Islands of the Blessed" and all mythic geography came to be projected on to celestial planes—the sun, the moon, the Milky Way. It is not difficult to find, in these later formulas, the traditional themes of the moon as the Land of the Dead or as the regenerating receptacle of souls. But . . . lunar space was no more than one stage in the ascension; there were others: the sun, the Milky Way, the "supreme circle". This is the reason why the moon presides over the formation of organisms, and also over their decomposition as the colour green. Its destiny consists of reabsorbing forms and of recreating them.
Only that which is beyond the moon, or above it, can transcend becoming. Hence, for Plutarch, the souls of the just are purified in the moon, whilst their bodies return to earth and their spirit to the sun.' The lunar condition, then, is equivalent to the human condition. Our Lady is depicted above the moon, thereby denoting that eternity is above the mutable and transitory . Rene Guenon has confirmed that, in 'the sphere of the moon', forms are dissolved, so that the superior states are severed from the inferior; hence the dual role of the moon as Diana and Hecate—the celestial and the infernal. Diana or Jana is the feminine form of Janus 6, 1. Within the cosmic order, the moon is regarded as a duplication of the sun, but in diminished form, for, if the latter brings life to the entire planetary system, the moon influences only our own planet. Because of its passive character— in that it receives its light from the sun—it is equated with the symbolism of the number two and with the passive or feminine principle.
It is also related to the Egg of the World, the matrix and the casket . The metal corresponding to the moon is silver . It is regarded as the guide to the occult side of nature, as opposed to the sun which is responsible for the life of the manifest world and for fiery activity. In alchemy, the moon represents the volatile or mutable and feminine principle, and also multiplicity because of the fragmentary nature of its phases. These two ideas have sometimes been confused, giving rise to literal interpretations which fall into the trap of superstition.
The Greenlanders, for example, believe that all celestial bodies were at one time human beings, but the moon in particular they accuse of inciting their women to orgies and for this reason they are not permitted to contemplate it for long .
In pre-Islamic Arabia, as in other Semitic cultures, the cult of the moon prevailed over sun-worship. Mohammed forbade the use of any metal in amulets except silver . Another significant aspect of the moon concerns its close association with the night maternal, enveloping, unconscious and ambivalent because it is both protective and dangerous and the pale quality of its light only half-illuminating objects. Because of this, the moon is associated with the imagination and the fancy as the intermediary realm between the self-denial of the spiritual life and the blazing sun of intuition.
Schneider has drawn attention to a highly interesting morphological point with his observation that the progressive change in the shape of the moon— from disk-shape to a thin thread of light—seems to have given birth to a mystic theory of forms which has influenced, for example, the manner of constructing musical instruments . At the same time, Stuchen, Hommel and Dornseif have demonstrated the influence of the lunar shapes upon the characters of the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets, in addition to their profound effect upon the morphology of instruments. Eliade quotes Hentze's comment to the effect that all dualisms find in the moon's phases, if not their historical cause, at least a mythic and a symbolic model. 'The nether world—the world of darkness—is represented by a dying moon horns=quarter moon; the sign of a double volute=two quarter moons facing in opposite directions; two quarters superimposed back to back=lunar change representing a decrepit, bony old man.
The upper world— the world of life and of the nascent sun—is symbolized by a tiger the monster of darkness and of the new moon with the human being, represented by a child, emerging from its jaws' . Animals regarded as lunar are those which alternate between appearance and disappearance, like the amphibians; examples are the snail which leaves its shell and returns to it; or the bear which vanishes in winter and reappears in spring, and so on. Lunar objects may be taken as those of a passive or reflecting character, like the mirror; or those which can alter their surface-area, like the fan. An interesting point to note is that both objects are feminine in character.
The eighteenth enigma of the Tarot. It shows an image of the moon dimly lighting up the objects of the world with its uncertain light. Beneath the moon there is a huge, red crab resting upon the mud. The allegory also shows two watchdogs guarding the orbit of the sun and barking at the moon. Behind them, to the left and right, are two castles in the form of square towers, flesh-coloured and edged in gold. The moon is represented by a silvered disk bearing the outlines of a woman. Long, yellow rays stream out from this disk, intermixed with other shorter, reddish rays. Inverted drops of water are floating in the air, as if attracted by the moon. It is a scene which illustrates the strength and the dangers of the world of appearances and the imagination.
The visionary sees things in a lunar light. The crab, like the Egyptian scarab, has as its function that of devouring what is transitory—the volatile element in alchemy —and of contributing to moral and physical regeneration The watchdogs are a warning to the moon to stay away from the realm of the sun the logos; the towers, on the other hand, rise up as a warning that the approach to the domain of the moon is beset by very real dangers the 'perils of the soul' of primitive man. As Wirth describes it, behind the towers is a steppe-land, and behind that, a wood the 'forest' as it appears in legends and folklore full of ghosts. Beyond that there is a mountain Schneider's 'twin-peaked mountain' and a precipice bordering a stream of purifying water.
This seems to suggest the route followed by the shamans on their ecstatic journeys. There is another ancient Tarot card depicting a harpist singing, in the moonlight, to a young girl loosening her hair at a window. The image here alludes to the mortal characteristics of the moon, for the harpist is a widespread symbol of death and of the death-wish, and the girl is unquestionably a symbol of the soul. This Tarot enigma, in sum, seeks to give instruction upon the 'lunar way' of intuition, imagination and magic as distinct from the 'solar way' of reason, reflection, objectivity; but at the same time it is pregnant with negative and fatal significance. In the negative sense, it alludes to error, arbitrary fantasy, imaginative sensitivity, etc. .
Mother-symbols are characterized by an interesting ambivalence: the mother sometimes appears as the image of nature, and vice-versa; but the Terrible Mother is a figure signifying death .
For this reason, Hermetic doctrine held that to 'return to the mother' was equivalent to dying. For the Egyptians, the vulture was a mother-symbol, probably because it devours corpses ; it also stood for the means whereby Hammamit the universal soul was split up into separate parts to form individual souls . For the same reason, the maternal sentiment has been said to be closely bound up with the nostalgic longing of the spirit for things material , or with the subjection of the spirit to the unformulated but implacable law of destiny. Jung mentions that in Jean Thenaud's Traite de la Cabale of the 16th century there is a mother-figure actually represented in the form of a god of destiny . He mentions further that the Terrible Mother is the counterpart of the Pieta, representing not only death but also the cruel side of nature—its indifference towards human suffering .
Jung also notes that the mother is symbolic of the collective unconscious, of the left and nocturnal side of existence—the source of the Water of Life. It is the mother, he argues, who is the first to bear that image of the anima which the man must project upon Woman passing from the mother to the sister and finally to the beloved . A predominantly maternal social pattern—a matriarchal society—is characterized, according to Bachofen, by special emphasis upon blood relationships, telluric allegiances, and the passive acceptance of natural phenomena. Patriarchies are distinguished by a respect for man-made laws, the favouring of works of art and craft, and obedience to the hierarchy .
Even now that matriarchal societies, sociologically speaking, no longer exist in the West, psychologically man is nevertheless passing through a phase when he is in all essentials dominated by the feminine principle. To come triumphantly through this stage and to reinstate the masculine principle as the guiding-rule of life—bringing to the fore the characteristically patriarchal qualities noted above—would signify an achievement of the kind that was once symbolized by the transformation of the 'lunar work' into the solar, or by the transmutation of mercury into sulphur. To quote Evola: 'Symbols of the earth-mother are: water, the mother of the waters, stone, the cave, the maternal home, night, the house of depth, and the house of strength or of wisdom.'
Mound of Earth
A sign in the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs in the form of a rectangle with two sides incomplete. It symbolizes the intermediate stages of matter, and is related to the symbols of primordial waters and of slime .
The different meanings which have been attached to the symbolism of the mountain stem not so much from any inherent multiplicity as from the various implications of each of its component elements: its height, verticality, mass and shape. Deriving from the first idea height are interpretations such as that of Teillard, who equates the mountain with inner 'loftiness' of spirit , that is, transposing the notion of ascent to the realm of the spirit.
In alchemy, on the other hand, the reference is nearly always to the hollow mountain, the hollow being a cavern which is the 'philosophers' oven'. The vertical axis of the mountain drawn from its peak down to its base links it with the world-axis, and, anatomically, with the spinal column. Because of its grandiose proportions, the mountain came to symbolize, for the Chinese, the greatness and generosity of the Emperor; it is the fourth of the twelve imperial emblems . But the profoundest symbolism is one that imparts a sacred character by uniting the concept of mass, as an expression of being, with the idea of verticality. As in the case of the cross or the Cosmic Tree, the location of this mountain is at the 'Centre' of the world.
This same profound significance is common to almost all traditions: suffice it to recall mount Meru of the Hindus, the Haraberezaiti of the Iranians, Tabor of the Israelites, Himingbjor of the Germanic peoples, to mention only a few. Furthermore, the templemountains such as Borobudur, the Mesopotamian zxggurats or the pre-Columbian teocallis are all built after the pattern of this symbol. Seen from above, the mountain grows gradually wider, and in this respect it corresponds to the inverted tree whose roots grow up towards heaven while its foliage points downwards, thereby expressing multiplicity, the universe in expansion, involution and materialization.
This is why Eliade says that 'the peak of the cosmic mountain is not only the highest point on earth, it is also the earth's navel, the point where creation had its beginning'—the root lL . The mystic sense of the peak also comes from the fact that it is the point of contact between heaven and earth, or the centre through which the world-axis passes, binding the three levels together. It is, incidentally, also the focal point of Inversion—the point elf intersection of the immense St. Andrew's cross, which cXpres;ses the relationship between the different worlds. Other sacred mountains are Sumeru of the Ural-Altaic peoples and Caf in Moslem mythology—a huge mountain the base of which is formed by a single emerald called Sakhrat . Mount Meru is said to be of gold and located at the North Pole , thus underlining tLhe idea of the Centre and, in particular, linking it with the Pole Star—the 'hole' through which all things temporal and spatial must pass in order to divest themselves of their worldly characteristics.
This polar mountain is also to be found in other symbolic traditions, always bearing the same symbolism of the world-axis 2; its mythic characteristics were, in all probability, based upon the fixed position of the Pole Star. It is also called the 'white mountain', in which case it embraces both the basic mountain-symbolism with all the implications outlined above and that of the colour white intelligence and purity.
This was the predominating characteristic of Mount Olympus , the supreme, celestial mountains which Schneider sees as corresponding to Jupiter and equivalent to the principle of the number one. There is another mountain, Relevant to the symbolism of the number two, and that is the mountain of Mars and Janus—that is, as the Gemini; basically, they represent two different aspects of the same mountain, but blending together the symbolism of the 'two worlds' of Atma and Buddhi, or lthe two essential, rhythmic aspects of manifest creation—light and dalrkness, life and death, immortality and mortality.
This mountain alas two peaks, in order to give visual expression to its dual or ambivalent meaning. It occurs constantly in traditional, megalithic Culture, particularly in the form of a landscape, illustrating yet again the Protean myth of the Gemini, which bursts out in so many different forms in primitive thought and art. This mountain is also a form of mandorla consisting of the intersection of the circle of the heavens with that of the earth, and this mandorla is, as it were, the crucible of life, containing the opposite poles of life good and bad, love and hate, fidelity and treachery, affirmation and negation, the numbers 2 and 11—both equal to one plus one—and finally construction and destruction.
Incidentally, the animals which correspond to this all-embracing significance of the mandorla are the whale and the shark . In Hindu legend, the castle of Indra was built on this mountain; whereas in Roman legend it was the castle of Mars, and the home of the thunderbolt, the two-headed eagle and the Gemini. It has been called the 'mountain of stone' and is at once the abode of the living the exterior of the mountain and of the dead the hollow interior . Krappe has borne this out with the observation that 'The interior of a mountain has frequently been taken as the location of the Land of the Dead: the derivation of the Celtic and Irish fairy-hills, and of the legend, widespread in Asia and Europe, of a demiurge or hero asleep inside a mountain, one day to emerge and renew all things sublunar' . This myth has obvious connexions with the myth of Entanglement—of the castle inextricably entangled in a wood—and also with the story of the 'Sleeping Beauty'.
All such myths are concerned with the mystery of a disappearance between appearance and reappearance. Schneider lists the following trades and professions as being associated with Mars: those of the king, physician, warrior and miner, as well as the martyr . In Western tradition, the mountain-symbol appears in the legend of the Grail, as Montsalvat the 'mountain of salvation' or 'of health'~just as much a 'polar mountain' as it is a 'sacred island', according to Guenon; but always it is inaccessible or difficult to find like the 'centre' of the labyrinth . In general, the mountain, the hill and the mountain-top are all associated with the idea of meditation, spiritual elevation and the communion of the blessed. In mediaeval emblems, the symbolism of the 'mountain of salvation' is further defined by a complementary figure surmounting it, such as the fieur-de-lis, the star, the lunar crescent, the cross, steps, the crown, the circle, the triangle, or the number three.
The letter Z sometimes occurs, standing for Zion; similarly, an R is short for Regeneratio . Some of these symbols have lent themselves to a poetic treatment that is well worth examination. From the moment when the mountain, so to speak, divests itself of its terrestrial and material character and becomes the image of an idea, the more numerous the component elements pertaining to this idea, the greater will be its clarity and force.
Hence, mount Meru of India is considered to have the shape of a pure, seven-sided pyramid corresponding to the seven planetary spheres, the seven essential virtues and the seven Directions of space and each face has one of the colours of the rainbow. Seen as a whole, the mountain is a shining white, by which token it may be equated with the 'polar mountain' and the all-embracing image of totality also symbolized by the pyramid-symbol, tending towards Oneness symbolized by the peakWto avail ourselves of the concepts of Nicholas of Cusa.
In the symbolism pertaining to the body, the most elementary association is the one between the organ or member and its function. It is, then, self-evident that, in Egyptian hieroglyphs, the mouth should stand for the power of speech and hence for the creative word. In this sense it stands for the pristine emanation of creative power.
Very closely connected with this hieroglyph is another showing a mouth with a solar disk inside. This disk, primarily standing for the sun, is connected, but not identical, with the eye. In hieroglyphs which are coloured, the eye is wholly blue, while the sign under discussion consists of a blue mouth with a little red circle inside . Guenon supports this interpretation of the sign , pointing to the example of the Mdndukya Upanishad where, apropos the state of deep sleep, the mouth is said to represent integral consciousness .
In the Old Testament, the concepts of mouth and fire are frequently associated; epithets such as 'devouring' or 'consuming', frequently applied to the latter, are descriptive of the functions of the former. Hence the fire-breathing animals of legend. Jung explains these associations by synaesthesia and suggests that they are connected with Apollo, the sun-god who is depicted with a Iyre as his characteristic attribute. The common link between the symbolisms of sounding, speaking, shining and burning finds a physiological parallel in the phenomenon known as 'coloured hearing' whereby some individuals experience sounds as colours.
Furthermore, it is hardly a coincidence that the two main characteristics that set Man apart from all other beings are the power of speech and the use of fire. Both are, in fact, the product of mana psychic energy . In consequence, mouth-symbolism, like fire-symbolism, has two aspects: creative as in speech and destructive devouring. And, of course, the mouth is the point of convergence between the external and the inner worlds. This explains the frequent symbol of the 'monster's mouth', with sets of upper and lower teeth that are expressive of the 'interlocking' of the two worlds: heaven and earth or, more often, hell and earth . There are, in mediaeval iconography, abundant examples of the mouths of dragons or large fishes affording access to the inner world or to the underworld.
Mud signifies the union of the purely receptive principle earth with the power of transition and transformation water. Mud is regarded as the typical medium for the emergence of matter of all kinds . Plasticity is therefore one of its essential character istics, and it is related, by analogy, with biological processes and nascent states.
Given the mystic and emanatistic character of the philosophy of symbolism whereby—as in neoplatonism—the One is identified with the Creator, it follows that multiplicity must represent the farthest point from the Source of all things. If the image of the circle is taken to express the relationship between unity and multiplicity, then the centre corresponds to unity and the outer circumference or rim relates to multiplicity as in the Buddhist Wheel of Transformations .
Jung has corroborated this principle from the psychologist's point of view, observing that multiplicity is always regressive in character, and recalling that when the protagonist of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili appears surrounded by a bevy of women, this is an indication of the nature of the unconscious —but of the unconscious revealed as in a state of fragmentation. Hence the Greek maenads, Erinyes, Bacchantes, harpies and sirens all express a situation in which man's inner wholeness is torn to shreds . This is something which greatly concerned the alchemists, and one part of their work was directed to transforming the volatile or the transitory and multiple into the fixed the stable, or the unified. Another way in which multiplicity is induced is by the creation of hierarchies. But, in addition to all this, we must note that multiplicity, and its consequence, diversity, may be products of division as well as of multiplication. For symbolic purposes, the essence of multiplication is division.
As an example, we might suggest that in contrast to a unitary fruit like the apple, the pomegranate is a perfect illustration of multiplicity because it is internally subdivided into a multitude of cells. Hence the negative character of multiplicity, and hence the symbolic doctrine that the totality of the individual has no value until it has become transmuted—that is, until the individual has destroyed in himself the desire for dispersal in space corresponding to multiplicity and in time corresponding to transitoriness so that ultimately he may be transformed into an image of the One and so be assimilated into the eternal principle.
This is a mystic tendency which does not fail to make its mark on the plane of existence, particularly where the moral issues of love are involved. Legends such as that of the Flying Dutchman afford a precise illustration of just such a pilgrimage of the spirit in its quest for the unique soul, searching through all those imperfect forms that lie in its path. The 'temptations' of Parsifal likewise correspond to this same symbolism. Symbolic jewels, when they come to lose their unitary significance as 'treasure' conceived as an integrated whole, and fall into multiplicity, acquire negative and distracting implications.
Multiplicity of a Common Element
A dream that occurs quite often among certain abnormal types of subjects involves a multitude —of objects or of people—all with the same characteristics, that is, the multitude comprises the multiplication of one single phenomenon instead of a collection of many different ones. This is a symbol alluding to the secret and, at root, terrible unity of all things. Now, the anguish which nearly always attends this symbol is a psychological consequence of 'repetition' as studied by Kierkegaard and of the fact that in this world it seems to be the law of diversification that prevails. Or, to put it another way, diversity justifies multiplicity. Multiple monsters imply the multiplicity of their own symbolism as images of disintegration, dissociation, dispersion and separation. For this reason it is a characteristically pathological symbol.
The symbolism of music is of the greatest complexity and we cannot here do more than sketch out some general ideas. It pervades all the component elements of created sound: instruments, rhythm, tone or timbre, the notes of the natural scale, serial patterns, expressive devices, melodies, harmonies and forms. The symbolism of music may be approached from two basic standpoints: either by regarding it as part of the ordered pattern of the cosmos as understood by the ancient, megalithic and astrobiological cultures, or else by accepting it as a phenomenon of 'correspondence' linked with the business of expression and communication.
Another of the fundamental aspects of music-symbolism is its connexion with metre and with number, arising out of the Pythagorean theory .
The cosmic significance of musical instruments—their allegiance to one particular Element—was first studied by Curt Sachs in Geist and Werden der Musikinstrumente Berlin, 192. In this symbolism, the characteristic shape of an instrument must be distinguished from the timbre, and there are some common 'contradictions' between these two aspects which might possibly be of significance as an expression of the mediating role of the musical instrument and of music as a whole for an instrument is a form of relationship or communication, substantially dynamic, as in the case of the voice or the spoken word. For example, the flute is phallic and masculine in shape and feminine in its shrill pitch and light, silvery and therefore lunar tone, while the drum is feminine by virtue of its receptacle-like shape, yet masculine in its deep tones .
The connexion of music-symbolism with self-expression and even with graphic art is well in evidence in primitive music-making, which often amounted to almost literal imitations of the rhythms and movements, the features and even the shapes of animals. Schneider describes how, hearing some Senegalese singing the 'Song of the Stork', he began to 'see as he was listening', for the rhythm corresponded exactly to the movements of the bird. When he asked the singers about this, their reply confirmed his observation. Given the laws of analogy, we can also find cases of the expressive transferred to the symbolic: that is, a melodic progression as a whole expresses certain coherent emotions, and this progression corresponds to certain coherent, symbolic forms. On the other hand, alternating deep and high-pitched tones express a 'leap', anguish and the need for Inversion; Schneider concludes that this is an expression of the idea of conquering the space between the valley and the Mountain corresponding to the earth and the sky.
He observes that in Europe the mystic designation of 'high music' that is, high-pitched and 'low music' low-pitched persisted right up to the RenaiSsance- The question of relating musical notes to colours or to planets is far from being as certain as other symbolic correspondences of Music Nevertheless, we cannot pass on without giving some idea of the profound, serial relationship which exists in phenomena: for instances corresponding to the pentatonic scale we usually find patterns grouped in fives; the diatonic and modal scale, since it has seven notes, is related to most of the astrobiological systems, and is unquestionably the most important of all the series; the presellt-daY tendency towards the twelve-note series could be compared to the signs of the Zodiac. But, so far, we have not found sufficient evidence for this particular facet of musicsymbolism.
All the same here are the correspondences as set down by Fabre d'Olivet, the French occultist: Mi—the Sun, fa—Mercury, sol—Venus, la—the Moon, ti—Saturn, do—Jupiter, re—Mars . A more valid series of relationships, at least in the expressive aspect, is that which links the Greek modes with the planets and with particular aspects of the ethos, as follows: the mi-mode the Dorian —Mars who is severe or pathetic; the re-mode the Phrygian— Jupiter ecstatic: the do-mode the Lydian—Saturn pained and sad; the ti-mode the Hypodorian—the Sun enthusiastic; the la-mode the HypophrYgian—Mercury active; the sol-mode the Hypolydian>Venus erotic; the fa-mode the Mixolydian—the Moon melancholy .
Schneider's profound investigations into the symbolism of music seem to us well-founded. The tetrachord formed by the notes do, re, mi, fa, he considers, for instance, to be a mediator between heaven and earth, the four notes corresponding respectively to the lion signifying valour and strength, the ox sacrifice and duty, man faith and incarnation and the eagle elevation and prayer- Conversely, the tetrachord formed by sol, la, ti, do, could represent a kind of divine duplicate of the previous tetrachord. Fa, do, sol, re are regarded as masculine elements corresponding to the Elements of fire and air and to the instruments of stone and metal, whereas la, mi, ti, are feminine, and pertain to the Elements of water and earth.
The interval fa-ti, known to musicologists as a tritone or augmented fourth, expresses with its dissonance the 'painful' clash between the Elements of fire and water —a clash occurring in death itself . we have been able to suggest here- only a few outlines of the music-symbolism developed by Schneider in his work The Musical Origin of Animal-Symbols, the scope of which is so wide that, as he has privately intimated to us, he believes all symbolic meanings are at root musical or at least to do with sounds. This becomes easier to understand when we recall that singing, as the harmonization of successive, melodic elements, is an image of the natural connexion between all things, and, at the same time, the communication, the spreading and the exaltation of the inner relationship linking all things together. Hence Plato's remark that the character of a nation's music cannot be altered without changing the customs and institutions of the State .
The musician is a common symbol of the fascination of death personified by the Greeks as a youth. The Pied Piper of Hamelin in the well-known tale, the harpist and the citharist in legends and folktales, all allude to this one symbol. Music represents an intermediate zone between the differentiated or material world, and the undifferentiated realm of the 'pure will' of Schopenhauer. Hence its use in rites and liturgies together with fire and smoke.