Many / One

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Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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A Dictionary of Symbols
J. E. Cirlot

1 "What Man saw in the grain, what he learnt in dealing with it, what he was taught by the example of seeds changing their form when they are in the ground, that was the decisive lesson….One of the main roots of soteriological optimism was the belief of prehistoric, agricultural mysticism that the dead, like seeds underground, can expect to return to life in a different form." Mircea Eliade, 'Tratado de historia de las religiones', Madrid, 1954

2 "Among the Chinese, the infinite being is frequently symbolized as a point of light with concentric circles spreading outwards from it."

3 "Nothing is isolated inside its own existence: everything is linked by a system of correspondences and assimilations." Mircea Eliade, 'Images and Symbols'

4 "In cabalistic symbolism, the sacred palace, or the 'inner palace', is located at the junction of the six Directions of Space which, together with the centre, form a septenary... This concept of the Centre embraces the heart and the mind."

5 "Every created object is…a reflection of divine perfection, a natural and perceptible sign of a superntural truth." Jules LeBele

6 "The common origin of the human race is proved by the universal themes of folklore [and] legend….Orientalism, the study of comparative religion, mythology, cultural anthropology, the history of civilization and art, esotericism, psychoanalysis, and symbolological research have all combined to provide us with ample material to substantiate psychological truth, and this essential oneness."

7 "The universality of an archetype affirms the reality of the principle in question."

8 "The mystic 'Centre' [is] the non-apparent point which is the irradiating origin of every branch and shoot of the great Tree of the World."

9 "Image: A pattern of forms and figures endowed with unity and significance. It is implied in the theory of form – and is true, also of melody – that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts being, in a sense, their origin and justification…..Also to be borne in mind is the thory propounded by Sir Herbert Read in 'Icon and Idea', according to which every creation in the visual arts – and, in fact, every kind of pattern – is a form of thought and therefore corresponds to an intelligible mental concept. This leads us towards an intuition of the world as a vast repertoire of signs that await being 'read'."

10 "The law of correspondences is the foundation of all symbolism and by virtue of it every thing proceeding essentially from a metaphysical principle, which is the source of its reality, translates and expresses this principle in its own way and according to its own level of existence, so that all things are related and joined together in total, universal harmony which is, in its many guises, a reflection of its own fundamental unity." Rene Guenon

11 "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts being, in a sense, their origin and justification."

12 "The sphere is a whole, and hence it underlies the symbolic significance of all those images which partake of this wholeness, from the idea of the mystic 'Centre' to that of the world and eternity, or , more particularly, of the world-soul. In neo-platonic philosophy, the soul is explicitly related to the shape of the sphere, and the substance of the soul is deposited as quintessence around the concentric spheres of the four Elements. The same is true of the primordial man of Plato's Timaeus….Another important association is that of perfection and felicity. The absence of corners and edges is analogous to the absence of inconveniences, difficulties, and obstacles."

13 "All things form at one and the same time an organic whole and a precise order."

14 "Point: The point signifies unity, the Origin and the Centre. It also represents the principles of manifestation and emanation….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 Ramon Lull in his 'Nova Geometria' – has the smallest conceivable or practicable magnitude and is a symbol of the principle of manifestation. Moses deLeon 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.'"

15 "The idea of rotation is the keystone of most transcendent symbols: of the mediaeval 'Rota'; of the Wheel of Buddhist transformations; of the zodiacal cycle; of the myth of the Gemini; and of the 'opus' [work] of the alchemists. The idea of the world as a labyrinth or of life as a pilgrimage leads to the idea of the 'centre' as a symbol of the absolute goal of Man – Paradise regained….Pictorially, this central point is sometimes identified with the geometric centre of the symbolic circle."

16 "The mandla fulfils its function as an aid to man in his efforts to regroup all that is dispersed around a single axis."

17 "Symbolism is what might be called a magnetic force, drawing together phenomena which have the same rhythm and even allowing them to interchange."

18 "Symbolism adds a new value to an object or an act, without thereby violating its immediate or historical validity. Once it is brought to bear, it turns the object or action into an 'open' event: symbolic thought opens the door on to immediate reality for us, but without weakening or invalidating it; seen in this light the universe is no longer sealed off, nothing is isolated inside its own existence: everything is linked by a system of correspondences and assimilations."

19 "The symbology of philosophers, founders of religions and poets is wholly idealist and cosmic in direction, embracing all objects, seeking after the infinite and pointing to the mysteries of the mystical 'centre.'"

20 "The reality of the symbol is founded upon the idea that the ultimate reality of an object lies in its spiritual rhythm – which it incarnates."

21 "The prototypes of the images and forms utilized by the oneirocritic, poetic and prophetic idioms, can be found around us in Nature, revealing herself as a world of materialized dream, as a prophetic language whose hieroglyphics are beings and forms." Franz P. Schubert (1797-1828), Austrian composer, 'Symbolik des Traumes'

22 "In all symbols expressive of the mystic Centre, the intention is to reveal to Man the meaning of the primordial 'paradisal state' and to teach him to identify himself with the supreme principle of the universe. This centre is in effect Aristotle's 'unmoved mover'…Hindu doctrine declares that God resides in the centre, at that point where the radii of a wheel meet at its axis. In diagrams of the cosmos, the central space is always reserved for the Creator…Among the Chinese, the infinite being is frequently symbolized as a point of light with concentric circles spreading outwards from it."

23 "The influence of the symbol must be allowed to pervade all levels of reality; only then can it be seen in all its spiritual grandeur and fecundity."

24 "The whole of Nature is but a symbol, that is, its true significance becomes apparent only when it is seen as a pointer which can make us aware of supernatural or metaphysical truths." Rene Guenon

25 "All natural and cultural objects may be invested with a symbolic function which emphasizes their essential qualities in such a way that they lend themselves to spiritual interpretation."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite