Mar 31, 2012

Achetypal Brain Part II


In my discussion of Adam Kadmon, or The Cosmic Man, I failed to mention that this symbolic representation of the divine protoplastus should really not be taken as a strictly masculine symbol. It is not. This figure has traditionally been viewed as androgynous:
The yearning to return to an original condition of life has as presupposition the belief that man descends from a divine hermaphrodite thought to have been the progenitor and paradigm of all creation. In the first treatise of the Corpus Hermeticum ("The Poimandres"), a collection of sacred documents attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, the reputed father of the alchemical art, the archetypal androgyne appears as the macrocosmic Primal Man "commensurate with . . . physical creation." (Stanza my Stone: Wallace Stevens and the Hermetic Tradition, by Leonora Woodman).
This filius macrocosmi was believed to bring together in itself all aspects of Nature. Humanity was thought to have once been united to this hermaphroditic reality. Humanity and Nature connected, this is what we have lost and what we must, once again, regain.

As I stated earlier, in Adam Kadmon, the Macrocosmic Brain plays a similar role; it is an informational interface between the World Soul, anima mundi, and the collective consciousness of all humanity. The Macrocosmic Brain is simply a powerful and complex tool for Soul to process information from the World Soul to our consciousness. Don't forget that this is not to be taken literally, but mythopoetically.  The lesson of this myth is that all things, Nature, Humanity, and the Divine, are interrelated.

At some point in human history, it is believed that we experienced a Fall into a polarized state of being, where the union of Humanity, Nature, and the Divine was breached. This state of disconnectedness was a dire reality for humans, leaving us with a spark of divinity, what Paracelsus calls "the star in us," but no direction as to how we should restore and reintegrate that lost state of beneficence.

The very fact that I am sitting here writing this article proves that there is a movement in the World Soul, not only within me, but in all seekers of Truth, that will eventually reunite us with what has been lost. This has been occurring now for some time, but seems to be growing stronger, as consciousness of these matters disseminates and permeates throughout the Earth.

Consciousness brings about integration; we know this from Carl Jung. The Macrocosmic Brain will play a prominent role in processing information from the Divine, as it emanates down through the realms of being and into our hearts, providing us with the knowledge we need to complete our journey back to The Center.

Mar 28, 2012

Archetypal Brain Part I



The human brain is an image, just like all material objects. There seems to be this idea in science that, if we could only understand everything about the brain, all the secrets of human psychology would unveil themselves to us. They will need to think more deeply, for the physical brain has correspondence to that which it mirrors. Only that which it mirrors can bring about true understanding.

Just as the heart has been raised to mythological significance by countless references to its being the center of a human being and even of God, so the brain also has a mythical story to tell. For example, there is the story of "right-brain" and "left-brain." Of course, seekers of Truth, such as we, are inclined to more right-brain pursuits, since it is simply the right thing to do. And we view left-brain pursuits as if they were the left-hand path of black magic! Yes, I'm getting carried away, but you see how even the brain has a story.

All jesting aside, let's get down to brass tacks. The brain, from a strictly materialistic point-of-view, is a very complex computer that is the control center of our physical body. We've all learned about the various parts of the brain, neurons, the firing of synapses, and so on. That's all well and good. I'm sure this medical knowledge has helped many people. But that's not what I'd like to discuss. In my thinking, and the thinking of many, on whose shoulders I stand, all things on the earth mirror higher realities. So, with that in mind, what is the higher reality the human brain is pointing to?

In esoteric teachings, there is an idea of what is known as Adam Kadmon in Kabbalah, or the Pre-Existent Logos in Pauline Christianity, or The Primeval Man in Gnosticism. In Jungian theory, it is Cosmic Man, an archetypal person that shows up in creation myths. We know that humans are The Microcosm in Hermeticism. The Kabbalstic Adam Kadmon corresponds to The Macrocosm.
...this is how the Western esoteric tradition has generally imagined it. All Neoplatonists, Hermetic philosophers, alchemists and Kabbalists have asserted that the cosmos is animated by a collective soul which manifests itself now spiritually, now physically, now – daimonically, both at once; but which above all holds all phenomena together. It is a macrocosm, containing all images, daimons, individual souls, including the human soul. But because it is daimonically contradictory, it can also be seen as a microcosm – an individual soul containing a profound collective level, in which we are connected to each other and, indeed, to all living things (Seeing Things, by Patrick Harpur).
The human brain mirrors the brain of Adam Kadmon, the Cosmic Man. In The Microcosm, the brain is a physical computational interface between Soul and human consciousness. In Adam Kadmon, the brain plays a similar role; it is an informational interface between the World Soul, anima mundi, and the collective consciousness of all humanity. We could call this the "Macrocosmic Brain." Just as the human brain controls movement and action in the physical body, so, too, does this Macrocosmic Brain act as a control center for movement and action in the collective consciousness of all humankind.

This will be continued, for it is a fertile field for thought, indeed.

Z

Mar 24, 2012

Nature's Way

Nature has a way of thinking which is very different from the type of thinking that is predominant in our world. First of all, Nature does not think using the concepts of time and space. These are created by the human mind. We say things like, "It was," and "You were;" but, for Nature, all is.
. . .what was, was always so; what will be is virtually in what is, in such a way that what was "is" virtually what will be and has itself only been the essence of the future( R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Nature Word).
If we are to become, we must vanquish our limited, dichotomous way of thinking. It limits us to this material world. We are not limited to this world. We are Universes, like seeds of universes that have been planted. This Metaverse cannot come to fruition until we begin to adopt our true nature. It won't thrive until we act.

One such trait to be rejected as illusion is antinomies. Heraclitus attempted to transcend this primitive way of thinking in his philosophy, what little remains of it. Hegel attempted to incorporate the Heraclitean mode of thought into his logic. Of Heraclitus, he said,
"Heraclitus is the one who first declared the nature of the infinite and first grasped nature as in itself infinite, that is, its essence as process. The origin of philosophy is to be dated from Heraclitus. His is the persistent Idea that is the same in all philosophers up to the present day, as it was the Idea of Plato and Aristotle ( Hegel, G. W. F.. "Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie". pp. 336–337)"
If nothing else, use antinomic thinking as a springboard to leap beyond the opposites. The way up and the way down are the same.

Certainly, one must admit the practical usefulness of rationalistic, scientific ways of thinking. That's fine, but do you want to be an observer of Nature, or be a participant, as in the participation mystique? Outside time and space, rationalistic science is useless, since there are no measurements to be made. Our destiny, however, is to transcend our limited ways of thought and become indistinguishable from the many worlds that we will enjoy throughout eternity.
Can it really be said that before the day of our pretentious science, humanity was composed solely of imbeciles and the superstitious (R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz)?
Science has served us well the past few hundred years, but, as the Apostle Paul said, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:11). Let us become what we are destined to become.

Mar 23, 2012

Spring

The Return of Persephone, by Frederic Leighton
Lately, I find that I am becoming more conscious of Nature. We, here, are enjoying an early Spring this year, which makes it very conducive to contemplation, as one walks through the park or in the forest. Life is exploding all around! There is no better therapy than to walk in natural surroundings.

While in the park today, I thought about how good the air felt, how pleasant the blossoming trees and flowers smelled, and how the colors were beginning to burst all around me. The birds were sweetly singing and the animals were busy running about gathering food. Spring is my favorite time of year, for it is when Life awakens from its long winter slumber and reincarnates on the earth.

All things that we experience are emanations of Soul. As Sol rises higher in the Spring and bathes the Earth in His light and heat, so also does Soul bring forth new life. One Spring-related myth of Soul involves the Greek goddess, Persephone:
Persephone was the goddess queen of the underworld, wife of the god Haides. She was also the goddess of spring growth, who was worshipped alongside her mother Demeter in the Eleusinian Mysteries. This agricultural-based cult promised its initiates passage to a blessed afterlife.
Persephone was titled Kore (the Maiden) as the goddess of spring's bounty. Once upon a time when she was playing in a flowery meadow with her Nymph companions, Kore was seized by Haides and carried off to the underworld as his bride. Her mother Demeter despaired at her dissappearance and searched for her the throughout the world accompanied by the goddess Hekate bearing torches. When she learned that Zeus had conspired in her daughter's abduction she was furious, and refused to let the earth fruit until Persephone was returned. Zeus consented, but because the girl had tasted of the food of Haides--a handful of pomegranate seeds--she was forced to forever spend a part of the year with her husband in the underworld. Her annual return to the earth in spring was marked by the flowering of the meadows and the sudden growth of the new grain. Her return to the underworld in winter, conversely, saw the dying down of plants and the halting of growth (http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Persephone.html).
So, Persephone has indeed arisen from the depths of Hades (early this year) to bring forth her riches to us. Her mother, Demeter, overjoyed at her return, causes the Earth to flower and blossom once again. We will enjoy Persephone's visit until, once again, she must descend to her husband, Hades.

Mar 21, 2012

Death and Initiation

"Death and the Gravedigger" by Carlos Schwabe, 1890s

Death is change, transformation, passing from one state to another. In the Perennial Philosophy, as Leibniz (and later Aldous Huxley) called it, death is closely associated with esoteric initiation into the Higher Mysteries. Plutarch wrote
At first there is wandering, and wearisome roaming, and fearful traveling through darkness with no end to be found. Then there is every sort of terror, shuddering and trembling and perspiring and being alarmed. But after this a marvelous light appears, and open places and meadows await, with voices and dances and the solemnities of sacred utterances and holy visions. In that place one walks about at will, now perfect and initiated and free, and wearing a crown, one celebrates religious rites, and joins with pure and pious people. Such a person looks over the uninitiated and unpurified crowd of people living here, who are packed together and trample each other in deep mud and murk, but who hold onto their evil things on account of their fear of death, because they do not believe in the good things that are in the other world. — Quoted in Stobaeus, Anthology 4.52.49
Even the Greek words for death and initiation (teleutan and teleisthai) closely resemble each other. This is no accident.

What it is about initiation into the Mysteries that is akin to death?

Mar 20, 2012

The Emerald Tablet


Known to scholars since the 7th-10th century, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes is the point of origin for Hermetic philosophy and alchemy. Legend has it that the text was carved by the Thrice-Great One himself (Hermes a.k.a. Thoth) from a single piece of green crystal. Supposedly, it was placed in the king's chamber of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. According to www.alchemylab.com,
The Emerald Tablet is an ancient artifact that reveals a profound spiritual technology, which has survived to this day despite centuries of effort to suppress it. Encoded within the tablet's mysterious wording is a powerful formula that works in very specific and comprehensible steps on all levels of reality at once -- the physical, the mental, and the spiritual -- and shows us how to achieve personal transformation and even accelerate the evolution of our species. The source of alchemy and the Hermetic sciences, the tablet's universal approach made it forbidden knowledge, condemned by patriarchal powers for thousands of years, from the Egyptian priesthood, to the medieval Church, to our modern politicians and religious leaders. To ensure the survival of such "dangerous" principles, which guide people to higher states of consciousness, the ancients concealed their knowledge in a succinct declaration that has become a time capsule of wisdom for future generations.
The text is the source of the famous maxim, As above, so below; As below, so above. This is one of the touchstones of Hermetic and alchemical doctrine. This phrase, and the other teachings of the Tabula Smaragdina, as it is known in Latin, has given us a model to follow, that we may drink deeply of Soul and Her truths. The following translation comes from www.azothalchemy.org:


Jungian Analyst, Dr. Edward Edinger, says this of the Emerald Tablet:  
It is the cryptic epitome of the alchemical opus, a recipe for the second creation of the world, the unus mundus (Anatomy of the Psyche, p. 231).
There is a great light hidden in the words of the Tablet that I feel can lead us to a revelation regarding the nature of matter and the role it really plays in the cosmos. My thoughts have not yet coalesced sufficiently to offer a formal treatise; I am still ruminating.

We would do well to meditate on these words, for they could quite possibly hold the key to a new world. 

Mar 18, 2012

Zombies

Today, I ventured out to the local You-Know-What "superstore." I wouldn't have journeyed there myself, but Mrs. Zeteticus wanted to go because of the "low prices." Walking in, I thought about the people who have been brainwashed into thinking that this establishment is the best place to shop. I suppose it depends on what sort of shopping atmosphere you prefer. Me, I would be perfectly happy at the local hippie grocery. The prices may be a little higher, but so what? The quality is much better. The people working there are actually polite most of the time. Hippies love everybody, even one such as I. The store has soul, whereas the employees at the superstore seem to be totally devoid of intelligence, civility, and soul.

You may notice I use the word, "soul," a lot in my writings. I am in agreement with James Hillman's idea of soul, which goes like this:
By soul I mean, first of all, a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing itself. This perspective is reflective; it mediates events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment -- and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground.

It is as if consciousness rests upon a self-sustaining and imagining substrate -- an inner place or deeper person or ongoing presence -- that is simply there even when all our subjectivity, ego, and consciousness go into eclipse. Soul appears as a factor independent of the events in which we are immersed. Though I cannot identify soul with anything else, I also can never grasp it apart from other things, perhaps because it is like a reflection in a flowing mirror, or like the moon which mediates only borrowed light. But just this peculiar and paradoxical intervening variable gives one the sense of having or being soul. However intangible and indefinable it is, soul carries highest importance in hierarchies of human values, frequently being identified with the principle of life and even of divinity (Re-Visioning Psychology).
I can tell you flatly that what Hillman is referring to does not exist at the superstore. It is empty and lifeless. It is yet another temple to the god of mammon. The swarms of oddballs who frequent the store make me anxious and nervous. The check-out people are rude and obnoxious folks, who I feel sorry for because their lives are soulless. It is very sad because I realize these people must make a living somehow.

The woman who checked us out stared glassy-eyed at the items she was scanning. She moved slowly, as if in a daze. When she tried to speak, her lips moved but no sounds emanated. I realized I was experiencing a mindless specter, a zombie.

 Obviously, a Jungian-inclined thinker would say that a zombie is a Shadow symbol. It may very well be, but what does that tell us? I would rather concentrate on the notion that a zombie is a human that possesses no soul. Our culture is full of them. My question to you, dear reader, is how do we help them find Soul?


Mar 16, 2012

The Loss of Myth

Medusa by Arnold Böcklin, circa 1878
. . .the individual who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is posed today, has need, first and foremost of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish — as he ought — to live without self deception or self-delusion (C.G. Jung, MDR, pg 330).
I've been thinking a lot this past week of the sixteen dead in Afghanistan, the victims of an obviously disturbed Army sergeant. I am not of the mind that we should resort to cause-and-effect thinking to try and find a rationale for such an act. Something so heinous is unexplainable in anything resembling rational terms. War is hell, indeed, as it has always been. This is not the first such atrocity. History is replete with wartime slaughter of innocent civilians.

I just read a headline, which stated: "Could brain injury have sparked soldier's rampage in Afghanistan?" In our culture of scientism, the first thought that comes to mind is that there must be a biological or chemical explanation for such evil. This is a shallow response, devoid of deep thinking and contemplation. It is the age-old problem of what philosophers call theodicy. Thinkers have been wrestling with it for two millenia. It's not going to be that easy to explain. Our simple-solution culture can't cope with deep problems like this, so they try to materialistically rationalize it away.

What I always try to do is think mythologically when such catastrophes occur. If we are to survive, we must do this, for myths and symbols are the filtering mechanisms the psyche uses to temper the onslaught of the overwhelming tsunami of unconscious forces latent within us. One of the real problems in our world, and especially in our Western culture, is that mythological and symbolic thinking is of little or no importance anymore. This has brought about much suffering in the West.

Is it possible that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales did not posses significant mythologies and protective symbols that would have allowed him to deflect the onslaught of evil arising within him? It is not uncommon nowadays for people to be totally ignorant of the power of myths and symbols. Such precious knowledge should be taught to our children in our schools. A long time ago, a classical education was remedy to many societal ills. Now, all we study is technology, not to live, but to work and profit our corporate masters. Perhaps Sgt. Bales was overcome by a flood of unconscious evil that he, in his weakened Western malaise, could not control.

This is not something that has arisen recently either. The degradation of mythological thought has been occurring since the Enlightenment. Somewhere along the way, we either lost these treasures of Soul, or we purposely discarded them, exchanging knowledge of Soul for scientific (materialistic) knowledge.

Just as Perseus used Athena's polished shield to view Medusa's hideous reflection without being turned to stone, so we reflect upon images and symbols to better understand the evil within us, without giving ourselves over to it. This is the purpose of the Shadow archetype, in Jungian terms. We are protected by the myths; they have a mitigating effect on the power of the unconscious forces. We live without them to our demise.


Mar 11, 2012

Ascent of the Soul

Photo by Pauk
initial imaginative operation is to typify (tamthll) the immaterial and spiritual realties  in  external or sensuous  forms,  which  then  become  "ciphers"  for  what they manifest. After that the Imagination remains the motive force of the ta'wil which is  the continuous ascent of the soul In short, because there is imagination there is  ta 'wll; because there is  ta 'wll,  there is symbolism;  and because there is symbolism, beings have two dimensions (Alone with the Alone, by Henry Corbin).
Could it be that we, in this material world of self-aggrandizement, are really asleep? In our humdrum day-to-day existence of relying on the physical senses to perceive this world, truly a one-sided state of affairs, we don't realize that we're omitting the most important aspect of reality.

The Hermetic doctrine teaches,
For All things, are but two Things, That which Maketh, and that which is Made, and the One of them cannot depart, or be divided from the Other (Corpus Hermeticum, Book 17).
Every empirical object is not just an entity to be observed and measured. All things are two. These cannot be divided; they are actually one reality. This other corresponds to the physical object, but it is not observable by the physical senses.

Let's take a concrete example and discuss a tree, since I like talking about trees. Let's talk about an oak tree. The oak tree has spirally arranged leaves; its fruit is a nut called an acorn. Within this hard little nut is another tall, strong oak tree in potentia. The bark is hard to the touch. These are physical characteristics of the tree. Is this all there is to an oak? What about the awesome symbolism inherent in such a mighty tree? The spiral, which I have discussed on this blog, is a tremendous spiritual image. Each oak leaf is based on a spiral pattern, which expresses the famous Fibonacci series. Tremendous imagery! The acorn has been used by psychologist, James Hillman, in his book, Soul's Code, to theorize concerning individual human destinies. This is just scratching the surface of the rich depths of symbolism the oak possesses. 

When we begin to experience the depths inherent in Nature via Imagination, our Souls begin an ascent back to their origin. This is all about Imagination. Corbin talks a lot about ta'wil. This idea, taken from Islamic mysticism, is spiritual exegesis on, not only sacred texts, but also on the world around us. Through Imagination, we experience the Twin of all material things. The maxim, As above, so below, leads us to greater understanding of ourselves. That is why we can discuss, say, a flower, and discover a plethora of truths inherent in its reality. 

All manifested forms function as ciphers that, if read properly, will unveil their inherent truths. This is exactly how the ancients formulated their spiritual ideas. It is a hermeneutical, imaginative reading of Nature. Jung's active imagination is very effective in this pursuit of truth.

So say those who have gone before us, if we follow this truth, our souls will also ascend to their rightful place in the universe.

Mar 10, 2012

Eyes of the Soul


We've all heard that the eye is the window to the soul. But what ideas does it really refer to? As everything else in this manifested world, the eyes are powerful symbols that point to higher Truths.

Since the dawn of mankind, the act of seeing has been associated with spiritual understanding. To the ancients, the eye is one the most important symbols used to convey spiritual truth.

The eye is a multifaceted symbol that would takes volumes to describe. For this short article, I will deal with just one aspect of the image. The symbol I would like to talk about today is called a mandorla, which means "almond." Here is the image:


Recently, I have written much concerning Henry Corbin's mundus imaginalis, which he believes is the realm of Imagination (as opposed to the imaginary). It is an intermediate world, a metaxy, situated between spirit and matter. A mandorla is the intersection of two overlapping circles. This eye-shaped image speaks of the intermingling of two worlds. This is a beautiful image of the intermediary nature of Soul and the mundus imaginalis. No wonder the eyes are the windows to Soul!

Via our eyes, we have the ability to gather sense data about our material world. This is a blessing, for our world of Nature is truly a work of art. Similarly, we also have more subtle eyes with which we may view other worlds, such as the mundus imaginalis. Corbin believed that active imagination was the method that would open this atrophied inner organ, allowing us to view these very real worlds, which otherwise are invisible to us. A good example of this is the worlds we traverse every night in our dreams. An opened eye is awakened consciousness.

A mandorla, macrocosmically, could be seen as a portal between two worlds; microcosmically, it is the entry-point to our material world, our mother's womb. It has been much used in Christian symbolism over the centuries in iconography, especially dealing with the Holy Virgin.
The union of the two worlds, or the zone of intersection and interpenetration (the world of appearances), is represented by the mandorla, an almond-shaped figure formed by two intersecting circles. In order that, for the purposes of iconography, the mandorla might be drawn vertically, the two circles have come to be regarded as the left matter and the right spirit.
Think of the left-brain/right-brain image: left deals better with the material, right is better with spiritual things. I won't say this is a strict dichotomy because, via the corpus collosum (another wonderful image of the intermingling of worlds), these two areas of the brain work in unison.

I am not saying here that the brain is the location of Soul, as Descartes tried to do, saying it was situated in the pineal gland. I see all material things as images of the True. Soul is not a thing, not an entity at all.

The intersection of the two circles, or
The zone of existence symbolized by the mandorla, like the twin-peaked Mountain of Mars, embraces the opposing poles of all dualism . Hence it is a symbol also of the perpetual sacrifice that regenerates creative force through the dual streams of ascent and descent, appearance and disappearance, life and death, evolution and involution. Morphologically, it is cognate with the spindle of the Magna Mater and with the magical spinners of thread (Dictionary of Symbols, by J.E. Cirlot).
Matter is the realm of polarity. Our Mother, the Earth, through these polarities, spins Her thread into what we experience physically. The mandorla, the Eye, the "twin-peaked Mountain of Mars," is the "zone of existence," where polarity is dissolved; the polarities of the material world are commingled in loving embrace.This is Soul. This is who we are.

Mar 5, 2012

Living Water


. . . 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 (Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols).
Water is our mother. It is one of the most perfect symbols we have available to us in this realm of existence. We can learn many deep things from it if we apply the idea of correspondence, as we do with all natural symbols.
That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing  (The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus).
According to Robert Fludd (Utriusque Cosmic Historia, II), "Man is a whole world of its own, called microcosm for it displays a miniature pattern of all the parts of the universe" (Wikipedia).
Our bodies are composed of about 70% water, which is vastly important to the issue at hand. If Man is truly a microcosm, as Fludd claims, then  what does the abundance of water on our planet and in our bodies point to in the higher realms? I find it very intriguing that our planet is also about 70% water. This is more evidence of our interconnectedness to the Earth. There are many parallels on the various levels of Being when we begin to investigate these matters.

The ocean has been considered for millenia to be a symbol of the unfathomable and limitless, but also of potentiality, for all creation proceeds from it, the fons et origo. Jung considered the ocean to be a prime symbol for the collective unconscious. This tells me that Soul is this ocean, although no one symbol can encompass it's depth. The ocean is but one of many symbols that speak to the truth of Soul.

Of all the four classic elements of antiquity, water is perhaps the most transitional. It is an intermediary between life and death because it brings forth life in abundance, but it is also a destroyer par excellence. Just think of the Japanese tsunami from last year. I am also reminded of the Greek conception of death as having to pay Charon to cross the river Styx, prior to entering Hades.

Water is such a powerful and multifaceted symbol of Soul, it would take a lifetime to think about it. It is one of the primary archetypes of our world. These few thoughts are but a trifle of the riches to be found in water symbolism.


Mar 4, 2012

Snowflakes

Watching the snow softly fall this morning, I am reminded that each snowflake is exquisitely unique, each falling to earth in shapes that speak to the sacredness of our planet and the universe. The shapes are truly amazing. Click here for a sample.

Snowflakes are powerful symbols that point to the sacred individuality of each human being. Snow flakes descend from the heavens, from clouds. According to Cirlot's Dictionary of Symbols,
There are two principal aspects to cloud-symbolism: on the one hand they are related to the symbolism of mist, signifying the intermediate world between the formal and the non-formal; and on the other hand they are associated with the ‘Upper Waters’—the realm of the antique Neptune. The former aspect of the cloud is symbolic of forms as phenomena and appearance, always in a state of metamorphosis, which obscure the immutable quality of higher truth. The second aspect of clouds reveals their connection with fertility-symbolism and their analogous relationship with all that is destined to bring fecundity. In ancient Christian symbolism interprets the cloud as synonymous with the prophet, since prophecies are an occult source of fertilization, celestial in origin. According to Bachelard the cloud should be taken as a symbolic messenger (page 50).
Clouds are symbols of the intermediate state between the upper and lower worlds. They relate to the symbolism of fog, which I have written about here. I said,
Fog is a low-lying cloud that pulls the vault of heaven down to earth, enveloping us. In this way, it symbolizes heaven and earth intertwined, an intermediate state of being, the metaxy of Soul.
 In a sense, this applies to clouds, as well. There is a definite delineation between heaven and the earth. This is Corbin's mundus imaginalis, the intermediate state of Soul, the realm of the Imaginal.

Snowflakes emanate from the heavens, as do we. Souls descend from the intermediate state of Being, just as snowflakes, and we each are beautiful, sacred forms, frozen in matter. Snowflakes are frozen water. Water is a deep and very ancient symbol of Truth:
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 (Cirlot, ibid.).
Snowflakes do melt at some point after landing upon the earth. They become water again and are recycled through the ecosystem. Again, this is a powerful statement about Souls. We don't remain upon this material planet; we once again ascend back into the heavens. There is symbolic justification in this for our reincarnations, again and again, until we reach our destiny.

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