In cabalistic symbolism, the sacred palace, or the 'inner palace', is located at the junction of the six Directions of Space which, together with this centre, form a septenary. It is, consequently, a symbol of the occult Centre of the 'unmoved mover' . It is also known as the 'silver palace', the 'silver thread' being the hidden bond which joins man to his Origin and to his End . This concept of the Centre embraces the heart and the mind; hence, in legends and folktales, the palace of the old king contains secret chambers representing the unconscious which hold treasure (or spiritual truths). Loeffler suggests that palaces made of glass or of mirrors, and also those which suddenly appear as if by magic, are specially symbolic of the ancestral memories of mankind of the basic, primitive awareness of the Golden Age,.
The architectural pillar and lintel owe their origin to the palafitte or lake-dwelling. Paul Sarrasin has shown that the classic Greek temple derives directly from lacustrine structures . The palafitte came about not just because of topographical necessity but as a consequence of motives of a mystic order: the urge to raise one's dwelling above the general level. Now, lake-dwellings acquire greater symbolic interest still by virtue of their connexion with three of the Elements: earth, since the lake-dwelling is a home and the home is always associated in turn with the cave and the mountain; air, since it is elevated; and water, because the piles which support it are immersed in this Element. The palafitte is, then, a symbol of the world: it is both the Tree of Life and a mystic vessel, for its 'masts' touch the water, and its roof, sickle-shaped, is representative of the mandorla q.v. .
A classic emblem of fecundity and of victory . For Jung, it is also symbolic of the anima .
The god Pan is a symbol of nature, and is usually represented with horns expressive of the sun's rays and of the aggressive force of Aries and with legs covered with hair denoting the vitality of base forces, earth, shrubs and the instincts . In astrology, Pan is one aspect of Saturn, and is also equated with Satan and with life in its involutive, and, in particular, its base, aspects .
According to Diel, Pandora is symbolic of the wicked temptations besetting humankind the rebellious Promethean beings who have risen up against the divine order . She is also at times a representation of the irrational, wild tendencies of the magmation.
In Spanish, (Pensamiento in Spanish is the common name for 'thought' and the popular word for 'pansy'. The English word 'pansy' derives, of course, from the French 'pensee'; and our synonym, 'heart's ease', is perhaps another pointer to the symbolic interpretation. Translator) this flower is called 'thought' precisely because it is thought which it symbolizes by virtue of its clearly pentagonal pattern: five being the number that symbolizes man .
In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, a rolled papyrus is a determinative sign defining the concept of knowledge. The fact that the papyrus is rolled signifies progress, efflorescence and omniscience. The unfolding of life itself is also symbolized by a roll of papyrus, though more frequently by a mat or carpet; in the words of Themistocles to Artaxerxes: 'Human life is like a rolled-up carpet slowly unfolding', an idea which Stefan George incorporated in one of his poems. In every case the symbolic significance corresponds not so much to the object or material in question as to the process of its manifestation .
Symbolic of the mystic 'Centre' or, rather, of its manifestation in space. The Chinese locate it in central Asia, referring to it as a garden inhabited by 'dragons of wisdom', with the four essential rivers of the world the Oxus, Indus, Ganges and Nile rising out of a common source which is termed the 'lake of the dragons' . Leaving aside the Christian dogma, there are a host of Western and oriental legends dealing with the lost Paradise. It is found in symbolic traditions all over the world, and it is here that its true beginnings should be looked for. As a symbol of the spirit, it corresponds to that state which is above all queries and quibbles. The fall of man from the paradisiac state and his return to it find varied manners of symbolic expression, the most characteristic being the labyrinth.
As Saunier has observed: 'When man comes to ponder this mysterious problem, he knows no more peace, for his mind, faced with a series of insurmountable obstacles, is shattered, filling his heart, his soul and his body with rage and despair.... Man, urged on by his desire ... bent his mind to a rigorous investigation into the smallest particles of the cosmos, enshrined his intelligence in matter, and strove by hard and constant work to rediscover himself in the labyrinth of science. Only once he had grasped the worlds of the infinitely small and the infinitely large could man once again vibrate in sympathy with the cosmic harmonies and blend in ineffable communion with all the beings and things in earth and heaven' .
The 'weekly day of rest' is a temporal image of Paradise, comparable with the Islands of the Blessed and E1 Dorado, etc., in geographical symbolism. The 'lost' characteristic, which gives the symbol of Paradise its particular symbolic direction, is connected with the general symbolism of the feeling of abandonment and fall, recognized by modern existentialism as an essential part of human make-up.
The partridge is very common in Romanesque ornamentation in the southern gallery of the cloister at Silos, for instance. Pinedo has noted how Aristotle, Theoph}astus, Pliny and other ancient and mediaeval writers all have something to say about the characteristic habit of the partridge, succinctly expressed by St. Jerome as follows: 'Just as the partridge lays eggs and hatches young birds who will never follow it, so the impious man possesses wealth to which he is not entitled, and which he must leave behind when he is least inclined.' It is this idea that underlies the symbol of the partridge. Another symbolic function comes from the bird's capacity for deception. In the words of St. Ambrose: 'The partridge, taking its name from the word perdendo and in Hebrew called kore (to call and shout), is Satan tempting the multitudes with his voice' .
According to Bachelard, the notion of matter is very closely related to that of paste. Water is here a predominant constituent, imparting cohesion. Hence it has been said that 'matter is the unconscious of form'. Mud is the 'dust' of water, just as ash is the 'dust' of fire. Bachelard goes on to suggest that mud, dust and smoke afford images which, in a changed and shadowy form, imply the matter from which they arise they are the residue of the four Elements . They correspond to a quasi-aquatic state, and hence come into the symbolisms of dissolution and regeneration: ash and dust are expressive of an ending, but all ends are beginnings.
On Roman coins, the peacock designates the apotheosis of princesses, just as the eagle does of victors . The peacock's tail, in particular, appears in the eighty-fourth emblem of the Ars Symbolica of Bosch as a symbol for the blending together of all colours and for the idea of totality . This explains why, in Christian art, it appears as a symbol of immortality and of the incorruptible soul . The common motif of the two peacocks symmetrically disposed on either side of the Cosmic Tree or horn a feature which came to Islam from Persia and subsequently reached Spain and the West denotes the psychic duality of man (related to the myth of the Gemini) drawing its life-force from the principle of unity . In the mystic horology, the peacock corresponds to dusk . In Hindu mythology, the patterns on its wings, resembling innumerable eyes, are taken to represent the starry firmament .
One of the eight 'common emblems' of Chinese tradition. It symbolizes 'genius in obscurity' , doubtless after the rather less categorical observation of Lao-tse that, 'Hence, the chosen one wears coarse garments, but in his breast he hides a precious stone' by allusion to the pearl hidden inside its oyster. Because of all this, psychoanalysts have recognized that the function of the pearl is to represent the mystic Centre and sublimation seen here as the transfiguration of an infirmity, or of some abnormality . The Moslems often have recourse to the pearl as a symbol of heaven, since their belief is that the blessed are enclosed in a pearl, each one with his houri ; there is an obvious connexion here with Plato's androgynous 'spherical man' who is both primordial and final. They also believe and this confirms the parallel with the Platonic spherical man that the pearl is the product of the 'conjunction' of fire and water. It has also been identified as the human soul . Pearls in large numbers take on a different character: despite their high value, they come to be mere beads: when joined they correspond to the symbol of the necklace, and when scattered they relate to the symbol of dismemberment, like all things that are dispersed.
A winged horse which sprang from the blood of Medusa, the Gorgon, when Perseus cut off her head with the aid of the magic weapons given him by the gods. Bellerophon rode upon Pegasus in his fight with the chimaera. A similar being finds its way into mediaeval legends under the name of hippogryph. It symbolizes the heightening power of the natural forces the innate capacity for spiritualization and for inverting evil into good.
An aquatic bird which, as legend has it, loved its young so dearly that it nourished them with its own blood, pecking open its breast to this end . It is one of the best-known allegories of Christ, and it is in this form that it figures as the seventieth emblem of the Ars Symbolica of Bosch .
As Gaston Bachelard has shrewdly observed , scent or perfume in its association with the general symbolism of the air is tantamount to the wakes or tracks that mark the passage of solid bodies through the atmosphere, and consequently symbolic of memories or reminiscences. Whereas the pure, cold air of mountain heights is associated with heroic and solitary thought in St. John of the Cross quite as much as in Nietzsche a scent-laden atmosphere is expressive of the mind saturated with emotion and with nostalgia. The over-enthusiastic application of the laws of correspondences has led some people to lay down hard-and-fast symbolisms for every particular smell. It is feasible, however, to pick out some of the basic and characteristic significances attaching to particular smells and to arrange them in serial order so that they constitute a scale of values equivalent to those of colours, textures, shapes and all phenomena that are characterized by both continuity and discontinuity and that express the graduated differentiations of Oneness.
A personification of earth and of spring. The myth tells how the goddess was gathering flowers when the earth opened up and Pluto, the god of the underworld, appeared and carried her off to be his queen in hell. Her mother, Demeter, obtained this concession that Persephone should spend two-thirds of the year with her (spring to autumn) and only one-third with her ravisher (winter). Folklore in many European countries preserves the archetypes of Persephone and Demeter in the figures of the 'Harvest Maiden' and the 'Mother of the Corn' .
This may be defined as the attribution of human properties to an object, and as the embodying of an idea. The urge to personify objects or ideas is a peculiar characteristic of mythic thought, but it played a particularly important part during the period from the latter days of pre-history up to the rise of Christianity, which was the age of elaboration and crystallization of abstract ideas. Personification results from a synthesis of animism and of the anthropomorphic view of the world. The Ancients personified the great themes of destiny life, death, good, evil, of the cosmic and elemental entities heaven, earth, ocean, rivers, springs, man's emotions and impulses fear, laughter, love and desire, the virtues (fortune, liberty, constancy, victory, fecundity), the collective entities (town or city) and the cultural fields (history and astronomy). These themes came to constitute allegories once certain symbolic elements and attributes had accrued to them, so giving formal expression to their inherent reality or adapting irrational nature to more intelligible forms in which human conversation the original form of analytic thought was feasible. It hardly needs to be said that mythological deities can be explained, in part, as products of personification apart, that is to say, from the fact that they correspond to the basic truths, to the basic 'series', and to the diversified meaning, of the universe.
The myth of Deucalion, who made men out of stones, as well as lithophany, find their inversion in legends about petrifaction. This is clearly a question of the antithetical tendencies of evolution and involution. To petrify is to detain or to enclose. The glance of Medusa the Gorgon, so it was said, was sufficient to turn men-to stone. There are many folktales and mediaeval legends which tell of similar cases of petrifaction or enchantment. Fairies, sometimes, instead of sending people to sleep although the symbol is the same turn them to stone and leave them looking like statues. In Beauty and the Beast, the two wicked sisters of the heroine are turned into statues. The words the author puts into the mouth of the good fairy illuminate the symbolic meaning: 'Become two statues, but retain your reason beneath the stone which envelops you. you shall stay by the door of your sister's palace and I shall inflict no other punishment upon you but to require you to witness her happiness. You may not return to your original state until you recognize the error of your ways' . Petrifaction, then, is the detention of moral progress of the evolution of the soul. sin forces this spiritual evolution from its proper course and, even if it does not plunge into the abyss, at least it arrests ('petrifies)' and stagnates it. This is what happens in the case of Lot's wife, and this is the peril which Ulysses resolutely surmounts in his journey back to Ithaca (a symbol of the celestial homeland of eternity assuming the aspect of temporal existence).
A symbol for the perpetuation of life, of active power and of the propagation of cosmic forces .
Similar in symbolism to the cock. In China, it was the allegorical animal of light and of day .
A mythical bird about the size of an eagle, graced with certain features of the pheasant. Legend has it that when it saw death draw near, it would make a nest of sweet-smelling wood and resins, which it would expose to the full force of the sun's rays, until it burnt itself to ashes in the flames. Another phoenix would then arise from the marrow of its bones . Turkish tradition gives it the name of Kerkes, and Persian Simurgh. In every respect it symbolizes periodic destruction and re-creation . Wirth suggests a psychological interpretation of the fabulous bird as a symbol of the 'phoenix' which we all keep within ourselves, enabling us to live out every moment and to overcome each and every partial death which we call a 'dream' or 'change'. In China, the phoenix is the emperor of birds and a sun-symbol . In the Christian world, it signifies the triumph of eternal life over death . In alchemy, it corresponds to the colour red, to the regeneration of universal life and to the successful completion of a process.
we quote the definition of phonetic symbolism as it appears in the Rituale mitriaco, bearing the stamp of traditional Egyptian ideas mentioned in the Book of the Dead: 'And the word, which is fundamentally an acoustic phenomenon, has greater value as a sound than as an expression of an idea, since the sound contained in it, and emanating from it as certain given vibrations, is the modulation of the cosmic breath; to sound a word, tuning it in, as it were, to the varied rhythms of the cosmos, is tantamount to restoring its elemental power' . Hindu tradition often alludes to the meaning, as sound, of letters, syllables and words. So, for example, the sound of each letter of the words Makara and Kumara is given a precise value as part of the general meaning of the word: the trilled 'r' is onomatopoeic, alluding to thunder as the symbol of creative power it is for this reason that most verbs in almost all languages contain the letter 'r', and the syllable 'Ma' refers to matter, etc. .
The tradition is that the entire essence of the universe is contained in the syllable 'Om' or Aum of the Hindu or Tibetan languages: A=the beginning, U=transition, M=the end, or deep sleep. This mystic belief in the power of phonetics per se led the Gnostics and the followers of Mithras to insert passages entirely devoid of any literal sense into parts of their ritual chants, as a kind of symbolic music effective only by virtue of the power of their phonetic significance.
In part it is a phallic symbol. The fact that, being an item of headgear, it corresponds in symbolism to the head, ensures that its significance will embrace eroticism in its superior and sublimated and at times obsessive form. Hence, the Trojan Paris, being a pure type of Venusian man, who is destined in times of fortune and misfortune always to be at the mercy of Eros, is depicted with a Phrygian cap. Its red colour may also imply a sacrificial significance either of self-immolation (as in the case of Cybele's priests) or of the immolation of others as in the case of the French revolutionaries in 178. In principle, every red bonnet has a similar meaning. The cap worn by the Venetian Doge (it corno) is a stylized version of the fisherman's bonnet for the dignitary and the fisherman are symbolically alike and, like the Phrygian cap, ends in a point.
Changes or transformations in matter may afford a symbolic significance comparable with the marks used by Rorschach in his tests. It was, in fact, upon the symbolism pertaining to processes of elaboration of 'prime matter' that the alchemists founded their entire practice, since they aspired to pass beyond the stages of combination of mercury with sulphur in order to produce, not the aurum vulgi, but the philosophers' gold; all of which is a clear indication of the spiritual nature of alchemy or, in other words, of its affinity with symbolism. As Rene Alleau has said, 'the material technique was only an apprenticeship, preparing the neophyte for the understanding of truths'. If we were to take works of art and ignore the material result, we would then see the genesis of the artist's work as a long process of self-education and of groping towards the ideals of truth and beauty.
Every pictorial creation gives rise to an image, either imitated or invented, figurative or non-figurative. In any such image, alongside the symbolic significance attached to the subject or figure, there are also implications arising from the spatial distribution, the colours, the inclusion or absence of geometric shapes, the signs, predominant axes, rhythms, composition and texture. In the most recent, so-called 'informalist' style of art, the expression and symbolization is realized primarily by means of texture and line-rhythm, colour being of secondary significance. In order to grasp the 'meaning' of any particular work, it is first necessary to classify its component elements and to estimate the significance of each class of such components according to their prominence within the pictorial whole. Exactly the same is true of architecture and sculpture.
The concept of man as a pilgrim and of life as a pilgrimage is common to a great many peoples and traditions , for it accords with the great myth of the celestial origin of man, of his 'fall' and his hopes of being restored to the celestial realm, since the effect of all this is to make him something of a stranger during his stay on earth and to imprint the mark of the transitory upon his every step. Man leaves and returns to his place of origin exitus and reditus. It is precisely this view of life as a pilgrimage that lends the Christian pilgrimage its special value . The following are the attributes associated with the symbolism of the pilgrim: the shell, the crook or staff, the well of the water-of-salvation which he finds in his path, the road, the cloak, etc. The idea is cognate with that of the labyrinth: to go on a pilgrimage is to come to understand the nature of the labyrinth, and to move towards the mastery of it as a means to the 'Centre'.
Pillar The solitary pillar is related to the world-axis, as are the post, the mast and the tree. The Egyptian hieroglyphic sign zed is interpreted both as a pillar and as the spinal column there is no symbolic contradiction here . Frobenius says that Africans interpret pillars as caryatids shorn of their human likeness, that is, as indirect images of man . When there are two pillars, the symbolism corresponds.to that of the cabbalistic columns of Jachin and Boaz.
Like other evergreen trees, the pine is a symbol of immortality. Conifers, by virtue of their shape, also partake of the symbolism of the pyramid. The Phrygians chose the pine for their sacred tree, associating it with the cult of Attis. Pine-cones were regarded as symbols of fertility ,
The last sign of the Zodiac, closely bound up with the symbolism of water and of the 'dissolution of forms' which takes place in the Akasha. Neptune whipping up the waves with his trident, and calling forth bulls and horses out of them, is a symbolic expression of the resurgence of cosmic energy from the watery deeps of the primordial ocean. If Capricorn marks the beginning of the process of dissolution, Pisces denotes the final moment which, for this very reason, contains within itself the beginning of the new cycle. Related to Pisces are the avatar in the form of the fish of Vishnu in India, and the Chaldean myth of Oannes the man-fish. This twelfth house of the Zodiac, when transposed, by analogy, to the existential and psychic plane, denotes defeat and failure, exile or seclusion, and also mysticism and the denial of the self and its passions . The dual aspect of this symbol is well expressed by the zodiacal sign itself, composed of two fishes arranged parallel to one another but facing in different directions: the left-hand fish indicates the direction of involution or the beginning of a new cycle in the world of manifestation, while the fish that faces the right points to the direction of evolution the way out of the cycle .
Like bunches of ribbons, rosettes, ties and knots, the plait is symbolic of intimate relationship, intermingling streams and interdependence .
They are personifications of idealized qualities of Man: 'modes' of existence and the range of the essential possibilities in behaviour and knowledge. Since these gods are endowed with enviable powers and disport themselves upon a delectable field of action, they have come to symbolize the triumph of the particular principle pertaining to each one of them; hence they frequently appear in mythology in association with ideas of justice and the underlying laws governing life . Through the process of catasterism, the major gods were projected into the heavens and identified with the sun, the moon and the five nearest planets. This can be clearly seen in the beginnings of astrobiological thought in Mesopotamia. For the Chaldeans, the astral bodies were living but divine beings, an idea which persists in clear though fragmentary form in Aristotle and throughout the Middle Ages in the Western world, as Seznec has shown . The respective names of the gods among the Chaldeans, the Greeks and the Romans were these: Shamash, the Sun, Helios, Apollo; Sin, the Moon, Artemis, Diana; Marduk, Zeus, Jupiter; Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus; Nabu, Hermes, Mercury; Nergal, Ares, Mars; Ninib, Cronos, Saturn. By virtue of the theory of correspondences, the relationships stemming from these gods embrace the whole or almost the whole of the pattern of the universe.