Sunday, March 7, 2010

Symbols And Symbolism

"Nature speaks in symbols and in signs."
- John Greenleaf Whittier

Symbols are mankind's way of attempting to express abstract
concepts and Divine Mysteries by way of drawings, artwork,
statues, patterns and designs.

We find artistic representations (Symbols) of the abstract and
Divine in the calligraphy writing of China and in the hieroglyphic
characters of the ancient Egyptians, Mayans and Aztecs.

We see Symbolic representations of abstract concepts etched
upon ancient pottery and carved upon cave walls and stone
monuments. We even see Symbols drawn within burial sites that
pre-date recorded history and the most ancient writing.

Since the most ancient times mankind has expressed its thoughts,
experiences, feelings and beliefs through the use of Symbols.
Ancient cultures understood that certain animals, metals, patterns,
Cycles and Events - both earthly and heavenly - were physical
expressions of the unseen Divine Forces which governed their
everyday existence and they used Symbols to pictorially represent
these Divine Essences and Events.

The Ancients also understood that they lived in a world of duality
which expressed itself as either a masculine or feminine principle
of nature. Masculine principles are those aspects of nature which
are assertive, bestowing, logical and conscious - the Seed.
Feminine principles are those aspects of nature which are passive,
receptive, intuitive and subconscious - the Womb.

We are most familiar with these masculine and feminine Symbolic
expressions by way of the Egyptian Neters (generally referred to
as Egyptian gods and goddesses) whereby either a masculine or
feminine figure is portrayed with either the head of an animal,
or some type of physical Symbol depicted atop their head. If the
Neter expresses a feminine principle of Divinity it has a woman's
body and if the Neter expresses a masculine principle of Divinity
it has a man's body.

Abstract concepts such as Truth, Harmony, Justice, Order and
Balance were also expressed through Symbols. And the Ancients
were very exact in choosing which animal, weapon, shape or
implement they selected to express these abstract concepts.
The most important thing to keep in mind when attempting to
translate and understand a Symbol is that a Symbol does not
simply represent a word, or a letter of an alphabet. A Symbol
represents a Concept! And because it represents a concept, it
encompasses all of the various meanings, definitions and insights
contained within that particular Concept.

It is extremely difficult to evaluate Ancient expressions (Symbols)
by way of modern Western thought; for modern Western thought
is bound, and limited, by letters and Words. However, Ancient
Symbolism, and even current Eastern thought, is unbound and
evaluates life, Nature and Divinity by way of Concepts - Concepts
portrayed by way of Symbols.

An equally important thing to keep in mind, when attempting to
understand Symbols and Symbolism is that for us to properly
understand the meaning of Ancient Symbols we must imagine the
way in which Ancient Cultures lived, thought, farmed and hunted.
We must also try to imagine the immense, dark, star-studded and
awe-inspiring night sky under which these Ancients lived; a rotating
night sky full of not only stars but planets, comets, meteors,
Shooting-Stars and Lightening. And finally we must try to imagine
how these Ancient peoples interacted within their society, with
their neighbors and with the countless, and uncertain, elements of
Nature to which they were exposed.

And finally, we must remember that because Symbolism is
extremely Ancient, the Divine Principles and Concepts which the
Ancients Symbolized could only be expressed in the tools, weapons,
and implements which were available to Ancient Cultures during
their Time.

For example: Where we would express "measurement" by means
of surveying equipment, the Ancients would use a rope to Symbolize
this same Concept. Where we may use a bullet to express the
"speed of thought" the Ancients Symbolized this concept by means
of the Arrow. Where we may express the means of "cutting" or
"dissecting" by way of a laser beam, the Ancients would Symbolize
this concept with a knife or Sword. And, where we would express
the concept of "communication" by way of a computer or radio, the
Ancients would Symbolize this same concept through the image of
the Tongue.

When we consider all that must be absorbed into the translation
of Symbols and Symbolism it is easy to understand how Ancient
Symbols can easily be either Mis-translated or partially translated.
This in turn can lead to our misunderstanding, and confusion, of
what a particular Symbol fully represents. And if we have difficulty
in understanding a single Symbol, how can we possibly fully
understand the Divine Truths and Concepts contained within
Ancient texts which are "written" with only Symbols?

Since Symbols represent Concepts, they can only be understood
through our intuition and Subconscious; not through reason and
logic. Ancient Symbols are the archetypes, the original mental
impressions, which have been part of our nature since the earliest
beginnings of Time. Symbols are Sacred esoteric depictions which
the Ancients used to describe Divine Concepts.

And because Symbolism is embedded deeply within each one of us,
it is up to us to reach deep within if we wish to understand, feel and
un-Veil the Sacred Concepts which Ancient Symbolism is designed
to reveal to us.

Comments and Emails: I welcome comments and emails from
people with similar thoughts and feelings. My email address is
located in the upper-left area of this page. Comments can be
posted by using the "Comment" link located below each article.
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Disclaimer: None of my articles should be considered to be
either advice or expertise. They are simply personal opinions
and no more. Everyone is encouraged to seek competent
advice from a licensed, registered, or certified professional
should such advice or service be required.

© copyright Joseph Panek 2010
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