PUMPKIN OR GOURD, DOUBLE
The planets constitute a particular order within the cosmos. It is the business of the science of astronomy to study them from a naturalistic and mathematical point of view, upon the basis of the system which Copernicus established with his De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium of 1543, according to which the sun is the centre around which are set the orbits of the planets: Mercury, the nearest, followed by Venus, Earth, Mars, the Asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune (and Pluto). But astrology and traditional symbolism owe their inspiration not to the Copernican system but to that which had been accepted by the Ancients. Since the validity of the symbolism here depends exclusively upon a process of catasterism that is, the projection of a given mental order into the celestial order, or the interpretation of a 'series' capable of explaining phenomena in the psychological and spiritual world it is unnecessary for us to examine the complex question of how far the Ptolemaic system( in part confirmed by the Theory of Relativity) can be reconciled with the Copernican.
At the same time, the fact of there being seven planets responds to the idea of the seven planetary heavens, which in turn tallies with that of the seven Directions or areas in space (which in turn, when transposed into terms of time, becomes the origin of the seven days of the week). The relationship of the planets to the seven points in space is as follows: Sun the zenith, Moon the nadir, Mercury the centre, Venus the West, Mars the South, Jupiter the East, and Saturn the North . The order in which astrology places the planets counting the Sun and the Moon also as planets is as follows, taking the Earth as the centre and then proceeding from the nearest to the farthest: Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn Uranus and Neptune, although these two are not generally counted. The sex of these entities is clearly established so far as Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are concerned. Mercury appears as both masculine and androgynous. The Sun and the Moon have interchanged their sex through the ages, according to the culture of the period. The mystic basis of the planetary myth is to be sought in the generalization of Varro to the effect that the planets are celestial bodies and, at the same time, generators of life .
Each of these generating powers has a characteristic sphere of action, which is its 'heaven'-, and the influence of this 'heaven' spreads out through the interpenetrating zones of space. Planetary symbolism reaches its highest degree of complexity in its relationship to the Zodiac; whereas the Zodiac symbolizes the grades and phases of a given cycle of creation, the planetary 'series' expresses rather the pattern of the moral world. The theory of 'correspondences', applied to the planets, educes a complex system wherein each planet is seen as a particular 'mode' endowed with a specific characteristic, and related to one particular Sense, or a metal, a perfume, or a plant, for example. It is more important, however, to grasp the connexion of each planet with a given virtue or tendency: thus, the Sun is related to the will and to activity, the Moon to imagination and the world of forms, Mars to action and destruction, Mercury to intuition and movement, Jupiter to good judgement and direction, Venus to love and relationships, Saturn to endurance and reserve.
However, the fundamental tendencies of these qualities are sometimes negative and sometimes positive. Ely Star suggests the following arrangement, in accordance with the principles of evolution and spiritualization: Sun potential good, Moon potential evil, MercuryWuality and, consequently, free will, Venus objective good, Mars objective evil, Jupiter subjective good, Saturn subjective evil. The planets are thus divided into two zones, one luminous and the other dark, both of them necessary to the cycle of existence; these zones correspond to the clear and dark sections respectively of the Chinese symbol of universal flux the Yang-Yin . Mertens-Stienon has studied the planetary powers in their theogonic aspect, proceeding from the outside inward, so that the most distant becomes the oldest and the most 'primitive' of the gods: Uranus engenders Saturn celestial space creates time, and the reign of Saturn is succeeded by the constructive order of Jupiter; next comes the offspring of Jupiter Mars the active principle, Venus the passive and Mercury the neutral . From the symbolic point of view, this evolutive series draws the inquirer inwards, concentrating itself within the human spirit, since the spirit is the microcosm which reflects the macrocosmic universe.
The importance of the planetary archetypes is apparent in the persistent influence of Graeco-Roman mythology, for it was the classic myths that most clearly and forcibly expressed their inner meaning; as Jean Seznec has shown, these myths continued in popularity throughout the Christian culture of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance unopposed by the Church, since it perceived their symbolic and psychological truth. Waldemar Fenn maintains that there are certain prehistoric engravings which contain groups of four and of three component elements and that these drawings correspond to planetary configurations. The popular art of the Nordic races, of course, keeps to this division of the spheres essential from the psychological viewpoint into two groups: an inner group of three factors and an outer one of four. Given the equation of the planets with the seven Directions of Space as we have previously outlined, then the inner group (disposed along the vertical axis) would comprise the series of Sun-MercuryMoon, while the outer, equivalent to the cardinal points, relates to Venus-Mars-Jupiter-Saturn. This suggests that, as components of the human spirit, the three central ingredients have more importance and greater influence than the outer four, since the latter concern the square and the symbolism of situation and limitation (as with the tetramorphs), whereas the former constitute the very psychic dynamism of the ternary order, comprehending the active, the passive and the neuter.
An image of life, expressive of the manifestation of the cosmos and of the birth of forms. Aquatic plants, in particular, are symbolic of the 'nascent' character of life. In India, cosmic images are depicted as emerging from the lotus flower . At the same time, man, conscious that biologically he was related to the animals, could not but be aware that his upright posture was more closely related to that of the tree, the shrub and the very grass, than to the horizontal posture of all animals other than the celestial birds. Thus, whereas totemism drew up relationships between man and certain animals, the astrobiological era was characterized by frequent connexions and equations between mythic beings and plants. In particular, lives which had come to a violent end were supposed to carry on a metamorphosed existence in vegetable form. Osiris, Attis, Adonis, to name only a few deities, are closely related to plants. Another aspect of plant-symbolism is the annual cycle, in consequence of which they sometimes symbolize the mystery of death and resurrection . The fertility of the fields affords the most powerful image of cosmic, material and spiritual fecundity.
The entire pack of playing-cards is symbolic in origin. It finds its fullest expression in the twenty-two major enigmas of the Tarot pack each card representing an integral allegory which is, up to a certain point, complete in itself, followed by the fifty-six lesser enigmas. The latter comprise fourteen figures in each of the four suits: gold equivalent to diamonds made up of circles, disks and wheels, clubs truncheons and sceptres, spades swords and cups equivalent to hearts. The gold symbolizes the material forces; the club or staff the power of command; the cup or chalice varies somewhat in significance but generally concerns the receptacle as such: the chalice or the chest, for instance; the sword is an emblem, in this particular instance, of discrimination between error and justice. The number inscribed on each card implies the symbolism pertaining to that particular number, see TAROT.
The constellation of the Pleiades comprises the central group in sidereal symbolism. Both Hebrew and Hindu traditions see in these stars the image of the septenary as applied to space, to sound and to action .
Symbol of fertilization. In an Aryan legend, Rama, the hero, marries Sita the furrow. Because the earth is female in nature, ploughing is a symbol of the union of the male and the female principle. The former Chinese custom of ceremonial ploughing by the emperor at the beginning of his reign is connected with this symbolism .
The point signifies unity, the Origin and the Centre. It also represents the principles of manifestation and emanation, and hence in some mandalas the centre is not actually shown but must be imagined by the initiate. There are two kinds of point to be considered: that which has no magnitude and is symbolic of creative virtue, and that which as suggested by Raymond Lull in his Nova Geometria has the smallest conceivable or practicable magnitude and is a symbol of the principle of manifestation. Moses of Leon defined the nature of the original Point as follows: 'This degree is the sum total of all subsequent mirrors, that is, of all external aspects related to this one degree. They proceed therefrom because of the mystery of the point, which is in itself an occult degree emanating from the mystery of the pure and awe-inspiring ether. The first degree of all is absolutely occult, that is, not manifest, and cannot be attained' . This explains why the Centre identical with the mystic point of Moses of Leon is usually represented as a hole:
The mystic 'Centre', or the 'unvarying mean', is the fixed point which all symbolic traditions concur in designating as the 'pole', since the rotation of the earth takes place around it . On the other hand, the pole is also identified with the zenith. In ancient China, it was represented by the hole in the centre of the jade disk known as pi . The 'unvarying mean' is, nevertheless, the
cause of all change. The Chinese Book of Changes shows that the continuous metamorphoses of matter are generated by the great pole a Oneness located far beyond all duality, beyond all occurence, and equated with the 'unmoved mover' of Aristotle . This contradiction between the immobile and the cause of all movement was expressed metaphorically by the alchemists in the saying: 'At the pole lies the heart of Mercury, which is true fire' .
The Greeks believed that the pomegranate sprang from the blood of Dionysos. There are similar beliefs linking anemones with Adonis and violets with Attis . But the predominating significance of the pomegranate, arising from its shape and internal structure rather than from its colour, is the reconciliation of the multiple and diverse within apparent unity. Hence, in the Bible, for example, it appears as a symbol of the Oneness of the universe . It is also symbolic of fecundity.
In addition to the general symbolism attached to trees, wood and vegetable life, the poplar has a special allegorical significance connected with the fact that the two sides of the poplar leaf are of a different shade of green. Thus, it becomes the tree of life, bright green on the side of water moon and a darker green on the side of fire sun . The poplar also has a place within the general range of bipolar symbols positive-negative .
This is the name given by the Greeks to compositions depicting the figure of a man between two animals; they were much used in ancient and mediaeval art for example, the harp of Ur in Mesopotamia; the capital at Estany; Cappadocian seals, or Sumerian ivories. Sometimes this feature attached itself to legendary or historic figures: Gilgamesh in Mesopotamia, or Daniel and the lions in the Christian, Biblical tradition. But, for the Greeks, this composition was a symbol of the union of man with nature, or of the equilibrium of forces necessary to bring this union about. Now, in the view of Shekotov, the Russian art critic, 'the symmetrical disposition of figures around a single centre denotes, both in an artistic context and in religious or profane ceremonies, the idea of triumph'.
The symbolism of power has been subjected to an extensive study by Percy Ernst Schramm in his Herrschaftszeichen and Staatssymbolik (Stuttgart, 1954). Power, as a symbol, represents irradiating force, but it is only latterly that it has acquired this significance, for in totemistic and primitive times it was generally understood more in the sense of an image of the forces of nature (and of the animal world in particular) than as an expression of abstract or temporal dominion. Hence, the principal attributes of a superior power are simply magnified versions of totemic emblems or of adornments derived from them, such as necklaces of teeth and
claws, hides, head-dresses, horns, and various kinds of standards exhibiting these objects. It was probably with the dawning of the solar cult that the diadem the original form of the crown came to be adopted as another attribute of power. The immediate effect of the assumption of power upon the body and the attitude of mind is to confer impassivity, indifference either real or affected and serenity and, equally, a tendency to 'swell with pride'.
Hence the fascination of the hieratic gesture and its use on solemn occasions. Dynamic movements such as stretching out the arms or nodding or turning the head may also be executed in a rhythm suggestive of hieratic strength and calm. Ancient art gave expression to a basically similar attitude towards the powers of the world. Height above ground-level, and the situation of a particular symbolic element at the centre of a symmetrical pattern the Greek Potne Theron for instance are further illustrations of power-symbolism, deriving from the symbolisms of level and of the 'Centre'. Differentiated expressions of power give rise to the king, the priest and the military leader, each one characterized by his respective attributes. The synthesis of power is denoted by ternary symbols such as the triple crown. Certain other symbols embracing the threefold power, such as the trident, are generally reckoned to pertain to the infernal regions, but this has come about rather through the influence of traditional, mythological ideas than by true symbolic logic. Magic power a corrupt form of religious power is symbolized by the wand and sometimes by the sword. There are also certain other objects linked with the idea of power, but they are attributes or instruments rather than symbols proper.
Of great interest is the complex symbolic system behind the emblems of the Egyptian pharaoh. The double crown denotes Upper and Lower Egypt, but it also expresses the ideas of the masculine and feminine principles, and of heaven and earth. Sceptres straight (the lash) and curved (the crook) are probably attributes of cattle-raising and of agriculture respectively; yet at the same time they denote the straight path (or the solar, diurnal, logical course) and the crooked path the lunar, nocturnal and intuitive. The Uraeus beyond doubt symbolizes the sublimated serpent raised, that is to say, in height (the kundalini), so as to become a symbol of strength transformed into spirit or an aspect of power. In itself, the idea of power embraces the notions of extreme self-awareness and integrity, defensive concentration of forces, appropriation and domination of the environment, and effulgence. Hence, to take these ideas in turn, the symbols of power are names, seals, marks, standards and signs; masks, helmets, head-dresses, swords and shields; sceptres, crowns, pallia and palaces; and effulgence is expressed by gold and precious stones.
Domination also finds expression in such forms of the quaternary as four-headed sceptres, hermae or thrones alluding to the cardinal points. The crown, in its most highly developed form, embraces the diadem or circle and the hemisphere or image of the vault of heavens, and sometimes it denotes the four points of the compass or suggests them by means of four bands which rise up from the diadem to meet higher up, in the middle, surmounted by another symbolic motif. The idea of royalty is, of course, linked with sun-symbolism, and therefore the animals associated with it are such as the eagle and the lion, and on occasion the dragon. Once Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire, various Christian symbols of sublimation accrue to the symbolism of power, notably the crucifix and the fleur-de-lis. The latter symbol is found in Byzantium, whence it reached Central Europe, Germany, France and the Western world by the 1st millennium A.D.
All images to do with the precinct an enclosure, a walled garden, a city, a square, a castle, a patio correspond to the idea of the temenos, or a sacred and circumscribed space which is guarded and defended because it constitutes a spiritual entity. Such images as this may also symbolize the life of the individual and in particular the inner life of his thoughts . It will be recognized that a square or a circle is the tactical formation commonly adopted as a means of defence in a critical situation against a more powerful adversary. This in itself would suffice to explain the meaning of the mandala, or any one of the innumerable symbols that are based upon the notion of the precinct or the protection of a given space, identified with the self. Circular dances, such as the maypole dance, or the sardana of Catalonia; or the prehistoric stone-circles sometimes known as cromlechs; or emblems featuring fences or people formed in a circle all carry this same symbolic meaning, this same notion of self-protection, as Adama van Scheltema has noted in Documents VII Paris, 193 in connexion with the Centre feminin sacre.
The realm of the fabulous Prester John, like certain other mythic 'lands', is, in fact, a symbol of the supreme, spiritual 'centre' .
This represents the basic stage out of which grew the alchemic process with its quest for the transmutation of gold, that is, for perfect and definitive sublimation, or the consolidation of the spirit itself. The alchemists gave a host of names to this unidentified prime matter: quicksilver, lead, salt, sulphur, water, air, fire, earth, blood, lapis, poison, spirit, sky, dew, shade, mother, sea, moon, dragon, chaos, microcosm, etc. The Rosarium terms it 'root of itself', and elsewhere it is named 'earth of paradise'. This explains why prime matter was thought to come from the mountain where distinctions are still unknown and where all things are one, neither distinguished nor distinguishable . It is also regarded as associated with the unconscious.
The prince, or the son of the king, is a rejuvenated form of the paternal king, as the nascent sun is a rejuvenation of the dying sun. The prince often figures as the hero in legends; his great virtue is intuition and it is by no means rare for him to possess the powers of a demiurge .
This word, expressive of the idea of marching, finds its truest expression in the liturgical procession. Davy points out that it takes its meaning from the idea of a pilgrimage and indicates the need for constant progress unfettered by earthly things, although making progressive use of them. The idea of the procession is also reminiscent of the Exodus of Israel and of the desert-crossing . As Schneider has noted, the movements of claustral processions imply a symbolism related to space-time: the hymns which are sung last the length of the procession; the return to the cloister is equivalent to the passage of a year by virtue of the correspondence of the four sides with the cardinal points and the seasons. But, speaking more generally, every procession is a rite which gives substance to the concept of the cycle and passage of time, as is proved by the fact of its returning to the point of departure. Various symbolic and allegorical figures are attached to it: the Chinese dragons, for instance, or the Roman eagles (since a military marchpast is a form of procession).
Christianity has incorporated some early aspects of the symbol into its rites; for example, there is a book upon St. Macarius that contains some allegorical chariots with all the principal symbolic animals drawing them, from the bear and the rhinoceros to the unicorn and the phoenix. Those festivals which have incorporated elements of folklore have likewise assimilated the symbolic implications of folk art. From prehistoric times, giants, carnival grotesques, dwarfs, dragons, vipers, lions, oxen, have all figured in processions. The famous tarasque (The figure of a huge serpent or dragon carried in Corpus Christi processions. Translator ) of Tarascon, has been seen as the Great Whore of Babylon. The eagle may correspond to St. John; the viper and the dragon allude to the legend of St. George. According to esoteric thought, giants, dwarfs, salamanders and nymphs are elemental spirits pertaining respectively to air, earth, fire and water. To carry them in procession is to display man's dominion over them, for although they are borne in triumph, they are really exhibited as captives; and it was in this sense that the Romans incorporated them into their grand march-past at the end of a campaign.
Schneider has noted the sober and artisan character of mystic thought, with its belief that an individual's profession or calling is what basically determines his mythic and cosmic situation. This is not to invalidate common-sense ways of thinking, but to substantiate them by rooting them firmly in the plane of transcendence. Were we to envisage an ideal landscape with a valley, a mountain with its corresponding cave, and the sea, we would find that the sea is the haunt of seamen and fishermen, the valley corresponds to labourers and gardeners, the mountain-side to shepherds, the cave to blacksmiths and perhaps also to potters, and the mountain-peak to the ascetic and the lofty-minded sages. Schneider suggests that, by analogy, the mountain is also the dwelling-place of warriors, miners, doctors and martyrs . In order to determine the appropriate grade of each profession it is necessary only to apply the laws of the symbolism of level. If the symbolic significance of any profession lies in the translation of its practical aspects to the realm of the spiritual or the psychological, the sailor's calling symbolizes the coming to grips with the unconscious and with the passions, or the struggle at the level of the chaotic.
The fisherman draws symbolic tokens out of the deeps. The farmer is in close contact with fecund nature and contributes with his labours to the fertility of the soil. The gardener fulfils the same function on a higher spiritual and intellectual plane, for the garden is a symbol of the soul, and he works upon his garden in order to improve it. Blacksmiths and potters are creators of forms, masters of matter. The miners' work is analogous to that of fishermen, since they extract what is valuable from one of the Elements. The ascetic and the sage direct the pattern of life, virtually without action. Doctors purify existence and combat what is harmful. The martyr suffers and triumphs over life by his sacrifice. Other callings related to the demiurge are those of the weaver and the spinner (who spin and sever the threads of existence). There were certain professions which, about the 4th millennium before our era, characterized the period of the profoundest development in man.
As Berthelot has observed, the devising of the calendar, the development of metallurgy and the production of the first of the alloys (bronze), seem to have been the causes of the change from primitive to civilized cultures (in Mesopotamia and Egypt in the first place). Berthelot has also drawn an interesting parallel between the development of certain cults and the corresponding growth of the professions which determined and demanded them as the level of civilization rose. The hunters, fishermen and weavers of the Palaeolithic Age limited their cults to the animals which provided them with their subsistence; the shepherd and seafarer of Neolithic and early historical times based their cults upon the moon and the stars, which were their means of orientation; the blacksmith, metallurgist and early chemist, with whom the era of recorded history opens, exalted fire in their cults, since it played a decisive part in their work. And finally, the agricultural worker, or the prevalence of his conception of the world, ensured the predominance of the solar cult, since the sun is the creator of the cycle of the year and of the seasons. In the above observations, then, we have attempted to show how men's callings are graduated from the most primitive to the most recent, with their corresponding symbolism . The caste-system may also be related to this.
The Prometheus myth, according to Piobb, is an illustration of sublimation by virtue of the family resemblance between the vulture and the eagle which confirms the alchemic relationship between the volatile and the fixed principles. At the same time, suffering like that of Prometheus corresponds to sublimation because of its association with the colour red the third colour in the alchemic Magnum Opus, coming after black and white. The rescue of Prometheus by Hercules expresses the efficacy of the process of sublimation, and its outcome .
The The Promised Land the Holy Land was, for the alchemists, with their concept of the three worlds as 'states' and of landscapes as 'expressions', the 'final stage of an experiment'. Where, within the order of time, peace and perfection is the goal, within the order of space it becomes the Promised Land, whether it is Canaan for the Jews wandering in the desert, or Ithaca for Ulysses sailing the seas . The Israelites identified their spiritual 'Centre' with Mount Sion, known to them as the 'heart of the world'. Dante described Jerusalem as the 'pole of the spirit' .
Pumpkin or Gourd, Double
A Chinese emblem of Li T'ieh-kuai, the second of the Eight Immortals. Like the hour-glass, twin drums, St. Andrew's cross or the letter X, it is a symbol of the link between the two worlds the upper and the lower and of the principle of inversion regulating the ordered pattern of events of cosmic phenomena, that is, night and day, life and death, infamy and sublimity, sorrow and joy. Li T'ieh-kuai was, in effect, a mythic figure whose essential characteristic was his ability to leave his body and visit heaven. He was also symbolized by a column of smoke . But this symbol of the twin pumpkin is very far from being limited to the Far East; it was also common in the West. Among other representations, the frontispiece of Book II of Maier's work on alchemy, Symbola Aureae Mensae 61 shows us the twin pumpkin in the form of two amphorae, with the top one up-ended. The surprising thing is that this image also incorporates the above-mentioned symbol of the column of smoke joining the interior of the lower amphora with the upper; in this case there is not just a single column, but a ring of smoke circulating between the mouths of the two amphorae.
Schneider has summed up one of the most profound of all symbolic questions with his remark that 'to create a poetic pun is to jump over or annihilate the distance between two logical or spatial elements to place under one yoke two elements which are naturally discrete'. This is the explanation too of the mystic sense of modern poetry derived from Rimbaud and Reverdy. In the words of the latter: 'The image is a pure creation of thz spirit. It is born not of a comparison, but of the reconciliation of two more or less distinct realities. The more distant and apt the two realities so reconciled, the stronger will be the image, and the greater emotive force and poetic reality will it possess' symbolic reality, we would rather say. In consequence, what is equivocal tends towards the orgiastic disruption of the 'given order' to make way for the 'new order'. Hence the fact that 'the art of equivocal phrases' always expresses, in a cultural sense, the need to invert one style in order to attain the opposite as, for instance, from the Gothic to the Renaissance, or from l9th-century realism to the formalist style of the 20th century.
The alchemic symbolism of putrefactio, with its graphic representation as black crows, skeletons, skulls and other funereal signs, embraces the concept of life renewed like the zodiacal sign of Pisces. Hence it has been said that it signifies 'rebirth of matter after death and the disintegration of the residue' . From the psychological point of view, putrefaction is the destruction of the intellectual impediments in the way of the evolution of the spirit.
There is an apparent contradiction in the symbolism of the pyramid. In the first place, in megalithic culture and in European folklores which have preserved its memory, it is symbolic of the earth in its maternal aspect. Pyramids with Christmas decorations and lights, moreover, express the twofold idea of death and immortality, both associated with the Great Mother. But this concerns the pyramid only in so far as it is a hollow mountain, the dwelling of ancestors and an earth-monument. The pyramid of stone, of regular geometrical shape, corresponds to fire, at any rate in the Far East . Marc Saunier has suggested the right approach to a more precise understanding of the problem. He regards the pyramid as a synthesis of different forms, each with its own significance. The base is square and represents the earth. The apex is the starting-point and the finishing-point of all things the mystic 'Centre' (Nicholas of Cusa), in his disquisitions, concurs with this interpretation). Joining the apex to the base are the triangular-shaped faces of the pyramid, symbolizing fire, divine revelation and the threefold principle of creation. In consequence, the pyramid is seen as a symbol expressing the whole of tne work of creation in its three essential aspects .