Its significance is diverse, depending upon which of its different characteristics is taken as fundamental. In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, the wall is a determinative sign conveying the idea of 'rising above the common level' ; clearly the predominant sense here is that of its height. A wall enclosing a space is the 'wall of lamentations', symbolic of the sensation of the world as a 'cavern'—of the doctrine of immanentism or the metaphysical notion of the impossibility of reaching the outside. It expresses the ideas of impotence, delay, resistance, or a limiting situation. Now, the wall seen from within as an enclosure has a secondary implication of protection which, according to its function and the attitude of the individual, may even be taken as its principal meaning.
Psychoanalysts frequently regard it in this light and hence have classified it as a mother-symbol, comparable with the town and the house or home . Bayley sums up the two essential features of the wall as follows: Like the house, it is a mystic symbol representing the feminine element of mankind. This enables us to understand the otherwise absurd assertion of the Shulamite in the Song of Songs: 'I am a wall'. At the same time, this image has another term of comparison, that of matter as opposed to spirit . It should be noted that the symbolism in the latter case remains unchanged, since matter corresponds to the passive or feminine principle, and spirit to the active or masculine.
Rolling on the ground, and especially wallowing in mud or swamp, form part of primitive therapy all over the world. The custom also figures in some rites involving rain or fertility, and is also to be found in magic practices where a man is required to roll on the ground in order to rise up again transformed into a wolf . The myth of Antaeus is connected with this belief. In all this, the supposition is that contact with the earth instigates certain latent possibilities either in the cosmos or in the individual or his spirit. The desire to be cured, or for metamorphosis or rain, corresponds to the general longing for 'Inversion'—the upsetting of a given order so that it may be replaced by its opposite. To roll on the ground is, then, one of those sacrificial acts that are supposed to encourage or facilitate inversion, a change in circumstances or in
the broad stream of life.
Alongside the 'technical' symbolism implied by its material or its colour, its significance derives from the magic power attributed to it, which in turn derives from the concept of every stick or wand as a straight line, embodying implications of direction and intensity. Derived, or related, forms are the royal sceptre, the marshal's baton, the battle-club, the mayor's staff and the conductor's baton .
The legend of Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, is believed to be of Western origin. Underlying it is the symbolican idea of the man who cannot die, or who, after his apparent death King don Rodrigo, or don Sebastian, or King Arthur, for example appears again. The tradition can be related also to that of the Eternal Youth—the oriental Jadir. In Jung's opinion they are but one symbol alluding to the imperishable side of Man, suchf as in the myth of the Dioscuri or the Gemini
In a cosmic sense, every war concerns the struggle of light against darkness—of good against evil. In mythology, there are copious examples of such struggles between the powers of light and the forces of darkness: Jupiter's combat with the Titans, Thor versus the giants, Gilgamesh and other heroes versus monsters .
The particular field of action is symbolic of the plane of reality on which the action takes place. In Islamic tradition, material war is merely the 'little holy war', whereas the 'great Holy War' is that which liberates man from the enemies within. The more just the war, the more faithful the image of it. Guenon specifically states that the only justification for war is the reducing of multiplicity to unity—disorder to order. In this way, war can be seen as the means of reinstating the original order, or as a kind of 'sacrifice' which echoes the cosmogonic sacrifice. Exactly the same applies to the psychic plane: Man must seek to achieve inner unity in his actions, in his thoughts, and also between his actions and his thoughts. Unity of purpose is symbolized by ritual orientation, in which the terrestrial
'centres' the North star, or the East become visual images of the one true 'Centre' .
They symbolize forebears, or the latent forces within the personality ready to come to the aid of the consciousness. If the warriors are hostile, then they signify antagonistic forces, but still
within the framework of the personality. This symbolism is similar to that of the four archers who defend the cardinal points; the 'spaces' rendered independent of the 'centre' are illustrations of the forces which may rise up, as it were, against the integrity of the individual. Defenders and attackers then become, respectively, forces for and against the personality.
In Egyptian hieroglyphs, the symbol for water is a wavy line with small sharp crests, representing the water's surface. The same sign, when tripled, symbolizes a volume of water, that is, the primaeval ocean and prime matter. According to hermetic tradition, the god Nu was the substance from which the gods of the first ennead emerged .
The Chinese consider water as the specific abode of the dragon, because all life comes from the waters . In the Vedas, water is referred to as matritamah the most maternal because, in the beginning, everything was like a sea without light.
In India, this element is generally regarded as the preserver of life, circulating throughout the whole of nature, in the form of rain, sap, milk and blood. Limitless and immortal, the waters are the beginning and the end of all things on earth . Although water is, in appearance, formless, ancient cultures made a distinction between 'upper waters' and 'lower waters'.
The former correspond to the potential or what is still possible, the latter to what is actual or already created . In a general sense, the concept of 'water' stands, of course, for all liquid matter. Moreover, the primaeval waters, the image of prime matter, also contained all solid bodies before they acquired form and rigidity. For this reason, the alchemists gave the name of 'water' to quicksilver in its first stage of transmutation and, by analogy, also to the 'fluid body' of Man . This 'fluid body' is interpreted by modern psychology as a symbol of the unconscious, that is, of the non-formal, dynamic, motivating, female side of the personality.
The projection of the mother-imago into the waters endows them with various numinous properties characteristic of the mother . A secondary meaning of this symbolism is found in the identification of water with intuitive wisdom. In the cosmogony of the Mesopotamian peoples, the abyss of water was regarded as a symbol of the unfathomable, impersonal Wisdom. An ancient Irish god was called Domnu, which means 'marine depth'. In prehistoric times the word for abyss seems to have been used exclusively to denote that which was unfathomable and mysterious .
The waters, in short, symbolize the universal congress of potentialities, the Sons et origo, which precedes all form and all creation. Immersion in water signifies a return to the preformal state, with a sense of death and annihilation on the one hand, but of rebirth and regeneration on the other, since immersion intensifies the life-force. The symbolism of baptism, which is closely linked to that of water, has been expounded by St. John Chrysostom Homil. in Joh., XXV, : 'It represents death and interment, life and resurrection.... When we plunge our head beneath water, as in a sepulchre, the old man becomes completely immersed and buried. When we leave the water, the new man suddenly appears .
Tlne ambiguity of this quotation is only on the surface: in this particular aspect of the general symbolism of water, death affects only Man-in-nature while the rebirth is that of spiritual man. On the cosmic level, the equivalent of immersion is the flood, which causes aLll forms to dissolve and return to a fluid state, thus liberating the elements which will later be recombined in new cosmic patterns. The qu alities of transparency and depth, often associated with water, go far towards explaining the veneration of the ancients for this element which, like earth, was a female principle.
The Babylonians called it 'the home of wisdom'. Oannes, the mythical being who brings culture to mankind, is portrayed as half man and half fish . Moreover, in dreams, birth is usually expressed through water-innagery v. Freud, Introduction to Psycho-Analysis. The expressions 'risen from the waves' and 'saved from the waters' symbolize fertility, and are metaphorical images of childbirth. On the other hand, water is, of all the elements, the most clearly transitional, between fire and air the ethereal elements and earth the solid element. By analogy, water stands as a mediator between life and death, with a two-way positive and negative flow of creation and destruction. The Charon and Ophelia myths symbolize the last voyage. Death was the first mariner. 'Transparent depth', apart from other meanings, stands in particular for the communicating link between the surface and the abyss. It can therefore be said that water conjoins these two images .
Gaston Bachelard points to many different characteristics of water, and derives from them many secondary symbolic meanings which enrich the fundamental meaning we have described. These secondary meanings are not so much a set of strict symbols, as a kind of language expressing the transmutations of this ever-flowing element. Bachelard enumerates clear water, spring water, running water, stagnant water, dead water, fresh and salt water, reflecting water, purifying water, deep water, stormy water. Whether we take water as a symbol of the collective or of the personal unconscious, or else as an element of mediation and dissolution, it is obvious that this symbolism is an expression of the vital potential of the psyche, of the struggles of the psychic depths to find a way of formulating a clear message comprehensible to the consciousness. On the other hand, secondary symbolisms are derived from associated objects such as water-containers, and also from the ways in which water is used: ablutions, baths, holy water, etc.
There is also a very important spatial symbolism connected with the 'level' of the waters, denoting a correlation between actual physical level and absolute moral level. It is for this reason that the Buddha, in his Assapuram sermon, was able to regard the mountainlake—whose transparent waters reveal, at the bottom, sand, shells, snails and fishes—as the path of redemption. This lake obviously corresponds to a fundamental aspect of the 'Upper Waters'. Clouds are another aspect of the 'Upper Waters'. In Le Transformationi of Ludovico Dolce, we find a mystic figure looking into the unruflled surface of a pond, in contrast with the accursed hunter, always in restless pursuit of his prey, implying the symbolic contrast between contemplative activity—the sattva state of Yoga—and blind outward activity—the rajas state. Finally, the upper and lower waters communicate reciprocally through the process of rain involution and evaporation evolution.
Here, fire intervenes to modify water: the sun spirit causes sea water to evaporate i.e. it sublimates life. Water is condensed in clouds and returns to earth in the form of life-giving rain, which is invested with twofold virtues: it is water, and it comes from heaven . Lao-Tse paid considerable attention to this cyclic process of meteorology, which is at one and the same time physical and spiritual, observing that: 'Water never rests, neither by day nor by night. When flowing above, it causes rain and dew. When flowing below, it forms streams and rivers. Water is outstanding in doing good. If a dam is raised against it, it stops. If way is made for it, it flows along that path. Hence it is said that it does not struggle. And yet it has no equal in destroying that which is strong and hard' . When water stands revealed in its destructive aspects, in the course of cataclysmic events, its symbolism does not change, but is merely subordinated to the dominant symbolism of the storm. Similarly, in those contexts where the flowing nature of water is emphasized, as in the contention of Heraclitus that 'You cannot step twice into the same river; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.'
Here the reference is not to water-symbolism as such, but to the idea of the irreversible flow along a given path. To quote Evola, in La tradizione ermetica: 'Without divine water, nothing exists, according to Zosimus. On the other hand, among the symbols of the female principle are included those which figure as origins of the waters mother, life, such as: Mother Earth, Mother of the Waters, Stone, Cave, House of the Mother, Night, House of Depth, House of Force, House of Wisdom, Forest, etc. one should not be misled by the word "divine". Water symbolizes terrestrial and natural life, never metaphysical life.'
These are mythic beings in Hispanic folklore, diminutive figures with a star in their forehead, shimmering, strawcoloured bodies and golden locks. On the fingers of their right hand they wear white rings and on the left wrist a gold band with black stripes. Legend has it that yellow flowers spring up in their footprints, bringing happiness to the person who finds them . These
endearing creatures exactly illustrate the functioning of symbolic mechanism: the antithesis of black and white reflects the theme of symbolic inversion; and gold is an emblem of power. In short, thesem water-maidens are endowed with the power to stir up and invert theit
order of things, bringing happiness to the wretched—that is, to everyone.' .
There is a Chinese tradition that the waves are the abode of dragons, and that they are also symbolic of purity . The apparent contradiction here arises from the fact that the ocean swell
offers two different aspects: because of their rhythmic undulations they are reminiscent of dragons, and by virtue of their white foam they suggest purity. There is thus no question of dual tendencies here—only juxtaposition.
Within the general symbolism of the hero's struggle, his weapons are, in a way, the counterpart of the monsters he has to fight. Just as there are different kinds of monsters, so there are different kinds of weapons. Hence, the weapon used in mythic combat has a deep and specific significance: it defines both the hero, and the enemy whom he is trying to destroy. Since, in a purely psychological interpretation of the symbol, the enemy is simply the forces threatening the hero from within, the weapon becomes a genuine representation of a state of conflict.
The wings of Icarus, the sword of Perseus, the club of Hercules, the staff of Oedipus, Neptune's
trident, Hades and Satan . Jung summarizes this by saying that 'weapons are an expression of the will directed towards certain end' . Paul, giving advice on how the Christian should meet the enemy, says, in the Epistle to the Ephesians vi, 10-17): 'Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to; stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod
with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God' . According to St. Ephraem, the allegorical interpretation of Paul's symbolism is as follows: the helmet—hope; the girding of the loins—charity; shoes —humility; the shield—cross; the bow—prayer; the sword—the word of God . Diel's interpretation of the symbolism of weapons also stresses their moral significance; he observes that, with 'the weapons lent by the deity'—it will be recalled that in myths, mediaeval legends and folklore weapons are often miraculously given to the hero—man must struggle against the urge of his irrational desires, against the beguiling monster, thus serving the higher aims of the spirit and of the-species. Arms therefore symbolize the powers and functions of sublimation and spiritualization, in contrast to monsters, which stand for the baser forces .
This is why myths and legends stress the almost autonomous power of the weapons, attributes and objects belonging to heroes, saints and demigods, such as Roland's oliphant, Thor's hammer and the rod of Moses . In addition to this general significance, the symbolism of some arms is enriched by the associations of the Element to which they pertain. Thus, the bolas of South American Indians and gauchos, and the sling, have associations with the air; the spear, with earth; the sword, with fire; the trident, with the watery deeps . Further connotations follow on from certain groupings of arms in connexion with status or character: the sceptre, the mace, the staff and the whip are attributes of royalty; the spear, the dagger and the sword are the weapons of the knight; the knife and the poniard are secret weapons and, to a certain extent, base; the thunderbolt and the net are the arms of the Uranian gods, and so on.
A comparison between the different symbolic grades of arms and the Jungian archetypes would give the following correlations: Shadow knife, dagger, Anima spear, Mana mace or club, net, whip, Self sword. on the basis of this correlation, Schneider states that the combat of spear against sword is that of earth against heaven. On the other hand, a further specific meaning pertains to the sword as the 'weapon of salvation', in connexion with medicinal rites and with ceremonies more exalted in implication. Crushing weapons, such as the club, stand for destruction rather than victory .
The act of weaving represents, basically, creation and life, and particularly the latter in so far as it denotes accumulation and multiplication or growth. In this sense it was known, and put to magic and religious use, in Egypt and the pre-Columbian cultures of Peru . Beigbeder recalls that weaving was an attribute of the Parcae, and also of the Virgin in Byzantine iconography. The weaving symbol is universal, and of prehistoric origin.
The pattern of the week is related to that of the seven Directions of Space: two days are associated with each of the three dimensions, while the centre, as the 'unvarying mean' or the image of the Aristotelian 'unmoved mover', corresponds to the day of rest. The fact that this space-time prototype, founded upon the number seven, embraced also the planetary spheres and the principal deities of each pantheon, can be seen in the way each of the planets (including the sun and the moon) gave its name to one of the weekdays. As a consequence of this influence of the planetary gods comparable in their negative aspect with the seven deadly sins, the sevenheaded monster of myth, legend and folklore also refers to the dangers of temptation growing day by day as the week progresses.
In Christian symbolism the well falls within the group of ideas associated with the concept of life as a pilgrimage, and signifies salvation . The well of refreshing and purifying water is symbolic of sublime aspirations, or of the 'silver cord' which attaches man to the function of the Centre. Demeter and other deities were shown standing beside a well . But this symbol is found not only in the higher cultures of Antiquity but also among the primitives. Schneider has noted that, in the medicinal rites of peoples at the animistic level, the centre of the scene is taken up by a lake or well in whose water the sick wash their hands, breast and head. At the water's edge, reeds grow and shells are to be found, and both are signs of the waters of salvation . In particular, the act of drawing water from a well is—like fishing—symbolic of drawing out and upwards the numinous contents of the deeps . To look into the waters of a lake or well is tantamount to the mystic attitude of contemplation. Finally, the well is also a symbol of the soul, and an attribute of things feminine .
Symbolic of the world, the body and the grave , and also regarded as an essential symbol of containing and concealing. Rabanus Maurus Operum, III, Allegoriae in Sacram Scripturam lays particular stress on this aspect . Nowadays, however, the whale seems to have acquired more independence as a symbolic equivalent of the mystic mandorla, or the area of intersection of the circles of heaven and earth, comprising and embracing the opposites of existence .