Bachelard has suggested that there is an interesting connexion between radiance, the human glance and starlight. In itself, a brightness or radiance is always felt to be supernatural, like a message standing out clearly against a negative or neutral background. Brightness is, of course, related to fire and to daylight both in their positive and in their destructive aspects.
Rags and Tatters
They are symbolic of wounds and gashes in the soul. More precise meanings are derived from the actual garment which is in tatters.
This priestess symbolizes primordial chaos mastered by God in the beginning of time, comparable with Tiamat vanquished by Marduk in Chaldean tradition . She represents the essential idea of all cosmogonies.
Rain has a primary and obvious symbolism as a fertilizing agent, and is related to the general symbolism of life and water. Apart from this, but for the same reason, it signifies purification, not only because of the value of water as the 'universal substance'—as the mediating agent between the non-formal or gaseous and the formal or solid, an aspect which is common to all symbolic traditions —but also because of the fact that rainwater falls from heaven . Hence it is also cognate with light. This explains why, in many mythologies, rain is regarded as a symbol of the 'spiritual influences' of heaven descending upon earth . In alchemy, rain symbolizes condensation or albification—further proof that, for the alchemists, water and light were of the same symbolic family.
The rat occurs in association with infirmity and death. It was an evil-doing deity of the plague in Egypt and China . The mouse, in mediaeval symbolism, is associated with the devil . A phallic implication has been superimposed upon it, but only in so far as it is dangerous or repugnant.
of all geometric forms, the most rational, the most secure and regular; this is explained empirically by the fact that, at all times and in all places, it has been the shape favoured by man when preparing any space or object for immediate use in life: house, room, table, bed, for example. The square implies tense domination born of an abstract longing for power, whereas the circle avoids all earthly associations by virtue of its celestial symbolism. Less regular shapes than the rectangle, such as the trapezium or the trapezoid, are abnormal or dolorous forms, expressive of suffering and inner irregularity .
Red Sea
In alchemic symbolism 'crossing the Red Sea' is symbolic of the most dangerous part of an undertaking or of a stage in a man's life. To leave Egypt for the Promised Land implies the act of crossing this sea bloodied with wounds and sacrifice; hence the crossing is a symbol of spiritual evolution and also of death seen as the threshold between the worlds of matter and of the spirit. The man who sacrifices himself, in a sense dies.
Reefs and shoals were, in antiquity, the object of religious awe and were personified as giants and aquatic monsters . Sandbanks and even islands were looked upon in the same way. Here we can see the great myth of regression or petrifaction that is, stagnation of the spiritual flow of evolution which the ancient mind considered the worst of all crimes. Hence, in the Odyssey, reefs, islands, complete with their enchantress Calypso or Circe, and quicksands, are all symbols of every kind of enchantment and obstruction of destiny.
Regard or Glance
To regard some object, or simply to see it, is traditionally identified with acquaintance or awareness and also with the possession of knowledge or simply with possession . On the other hand, the glance is symbolically comparable with the teeth in representing the defensive barrier put up by the individual against the world round him—the towers and the city wall, respectively, of the 'city within'.
Reins enter into the symbolism of the chariot and of horses. Since the chariot is symbolic of the body and horses signify the forces of life, the reins bespeak the relationship between the soul and the body—the nerves and willpower. To cut the reins is equivalent, symbolically, to dying .
The depth of a relief, in general corresponding to the vividness of the forms depicted rather than to their intensity, is connected with the ideas of truth and material reality. A relief which is lacking in force symbolizes futility, falsity, equivocation and utter lack of persuasive power or of attractive 'values' of any kind. An intensely expressive relief, on the other hand, denotes the powerful surge of an emotion or of an idea in all its nascent power.
The return home, or the return to the material home or to the motherland or birthplace, is symbolic of death, not in the sense of total destruction but of reintegration of the spirit into the Spirit. As the Chinese thinker Lieh-tzu observed, 'when the soul leaves the form, both are restored to their true essence, and that is why they are said to have returned home' .
According to Hentze cit. Eliade, 1, the rhomb is emblematic of the female sexual organ. This would seem to confirm the Greek definition of the rhomb as an instrument of magic which, when brandished, was supposed to excite and inflame the passions of men —an analogous and related idea, fetishist in character.
Ribbons knotted together to form a circle worn by Romans as a kind of diadem in the same way as they wore garlands of flowers are symbols of immortality by virtue of their circular shape. They also carry a heroic significance, like all crowns or garlands, for the very act of 'crowning' an undertaking fulfilled is so called because of the symbolic relationship between the crown and the concept of absolute fulfilment.
Like every closed circle, the ring is a symbol of continuity and wholeness. This is why like the bracelet it has been used both as a symbol of marriage and of the eternally repeated time-cycle. Sometimes it occurs in animal form, as a snake or an eel biting its tail Ouroboros; sometimes as a pure geometrical form , 20, 3. It is interesting to note that, in some legends, the ring is regarded as the only remaining link of a chain.
Thus, it is told that when Jupiter allowed Hercules to rescue Prometheus, it was on condition that the latter should thereafter wear an iron ring, set with a piece of rock from the Caucasus, as a symbol of submission to his punishment . Another type of ring is found in the circle of flames surrounding the dancing Shiva as he performs the cosmic dance; this flame-ring can be related to the Zodiac. Like the Zodiac and the Ouroboros of the Gnostics, it has an active and a passive half evolution, involution, and stands for the life-cycle of both the universe and each individual being: the circular dance of nature in eternal process of creation and destruction. At the same time, the light radiated by the ring of flames symbolizes eternal wisdom and transcendental illumination .
Rite de perfection
In essence, every rite symbolizes and reproduces creation . Hence, rites are connected with the symbolism of ornaments . The slow-moving ritual, characteristic of all ceremonies, is dosely bound up with the rhythm of the astral movements . At the same time, every rite is a meeting, that is, a confluence of forces and patterns; the significance of rites stems from the accumulated power of these forces when blended harmoniously one with the other.
An ambivalent symbol since it corresponds to the creative power both of nature and of time. On the one hand it signifies fertility and the progressive irrigation of the soil; and on the other hand it stands for the irreversible passage of time and, in consequence, for a sense of loss and oblivion .
The Chinese attribute to the rock a symbolism denoting permanence, solidity and integrity , and this may be taken as generally valid. Like the stone, it is held in many traditions to be the dwelling-place of a god. As a Caucasian tradition has it: 'In the beginning, the world was covered with water. The great creator-god then dwelt inside a rock' . It seems, then, that man intuitively regards stones as in the myth of Deucalion and rocks as the source of human life, while the soil inferior because more disintegrated is the mother of vegetable and animal life. A mystic significance is attributed to this mineral, arising from the sound it makes when struck and because of its unity—that is, its solidity and cohesion.
A symbol of individuality—of private thoughts. The windows symbolize the possibility of understanding and of passing through to the external and the beyond, and are also an illustration of any idea of communication. Hence, a closed room lacking windows may be symbolic of virginity, according to Frazer, and also of other kinds of non-communication. Many rites involving the enclosureimage are performed to mark the reaching of puberty, all over the world. The legend about Danae, shut up by her father in a bronze tower, pertains to this particular symbolism.
There is a Siberian legend concerning a 'dark house of iron' which is also relevant to it . we might also mention the 'vase with a lid', one of the eight emblems of good luck in Chinese Buddhism, and a symbol of wholeness, of the idea with no 'exit', or, in other words, of supreme intelligence triumphant over birth and death signified respectively by the doors and windows of the room . This explains why the hermetically sealed room may possibly be a variant form of the 'vase with a lid'.
Like the chain, it is a general symbol for binding and connexion. Knotted cord, in Egyptian hieroglyphics, signifies a man's name. Since the knot is a symbol for the individual's existence, there are various hieroglyphic signs related to the name of a person in the shape of a knot or a bow or a belt or a crown and so on. The seal has the same significance . The silver cord in Vedic teaching has a significance which goes still deeper: it expresses the sacred, inner path which binds the outer consciousness of man his intellect with his spiritual essence the 'centre' or 'silver palace' .
The single rose is, in essence, a symbol of completion, of consummate achievement and perfection. Hence, accruing to it are all those ideas associated with these qualities: the mystic Centre, the heart , the garden of Eros, the paradise of Dante , the beloved , the emblem of Venus and so on. More precise symbolic meanings are derived from the colour and number of its petals. The relationship of the white rose to the red is in accordance with the relationship between the two colours as defined in alchemy q.v.. The blue rose is symbolic of the impossible.
The golden rose is a symbol of absolute achievement. When the rose is round in shape, it corresponds in significance to the mandala. The sevenpetalled rose alludes to the septenary pattern that is, the seven Directions of Space, the seven days of the week, the seven planets, the seven degrees of perfection. It is in this sense that it appears in emblem DCCXXIII of the Ars Symbolica of Bosch and in the Summum Bonum of Robert Fludd . The eight-petalled rose symbolizes regeneration .
Round Table
The Round Table is equated, by its shape, with the Chinese disk of jade, pi, which represents the sky. The appearance of the Grail in the centre of the table completes the symbolism, for the concave shape of the sacred chalice corresponds to the central hole in the Chinese pi. The twelve knights are related to—but not identical with—the signs of the Zodiac, expressing in particular a parallel tendency, the struggle for the triumph and the establishment of 'paradise regained', or, in other words, of the 'unvarying mean'.
The tasks allotted to the knights implied the perfection of the circle of the sun, and involved succouring the weaker sex, the chastisement of tyrants, the liberation of the bewitched, the outwitting of giants, and the destruction of all evil men and noxious animals ; and this programme was but the prelude to the establishment of the reign of the 'Centre'. Similar institutions are the 'round council' of the Dalai Lama consisting of the twelve great Namshans and the Twelve Peers of France. The model which is composed of twelve parts is the most important of all the next being the ternary division, and then the quaternary and septenary since it is equated with the circle and, in consequence, with the idea of totality which is at times also expressed by the number ten. It was for this reason that the Etruscan state was divided into twelve parts and Romulus created twelve lictors .
The evil that afflicted the Round Table, through the love of Queen Guinevere for Lancelot and the frailties of other knights, was sufficient cause for the failure of the community of knights to achieve their mystic ends; only Sir Galahad of the pure heart could come near to fulfilment once he had been granted the divine gifts of the shield and the sword.
In ancient representations of ships, the rudder frequently plays an important part as an allegory expressive of the ideas of safety and the steering of a straight course. It figures with the same significance in mediaeval and Renaissance emblems.
The symbolic sense of ruins is self-evident~and derived directly from the literal sense: they signify desolation and life defunct. They are tantamount to sentiments, ideas or bonds which are no longer animated by the breath of life but which nevertheless persist shorn of any use or function relevant to thought and existence, but saturated with the past and redolent with a sense of the destruction of its reality wrought by the passage of time. Ruins are symbolically equivalent to biological mutilation.