Many / One

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A Dictionary of Symbols
J. E. Cirlot

1 "Everything in the universe is linked as in a garland."

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

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

4 "All the energy and interest devoted today by western Man to science and technology were, by ancient Man, once dedicated to mythology. And not only his energy and interest but also his speculative and theorizing propensities, creating the immeasurable wealth of Hindu, Chinese and Islamic philosophy, the Cabala itself and the painstaking investigations of alchemy and similar studies."

5 "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."

6 "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."

7 "In Jung's view, mandalas and all concomitant images….are derived from dreams and visions corresponding to the most basic of religious symbols known to mankind – symbols which are known to have existed as far back as the Paleolithic Age, as is proved, for example, by the Rhodesian rock engravings."

8 "A synthesis is the result of a thesis AND an antithesis. And true reality resides only in the synthesis."

9 "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."

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

11 "In alchemy…the philosopher's stone is the supreme realization of mystic identification with the god within us and with the eternal."

12 "All centres are symbols of eternity, since time is the motion of the periphery of the wheel of phenomena rotating around the Aristotelian 'unmoved mover'."

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

14 "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

15 "A great many ritual acts have the sole purpose of finding out the spiritual 'Centre' of a locality, which then becomes the site, either in itself or by virtue of the temple built upon it, an 'image of the world'."

16 "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."

17 "The point signifies unity, the Origin and the Centre. It also represents the principles of manifestation and emanation, and hence in some mandalas the centre is not actually shown but must be imagined….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 Raymond Lull in his 'Nova Geometria' – has the smallest conceivable or practicable magnitude and is a symbol of the principle of manifestation."

18 "All symbolist traditions, both western and oriental, spring from one common source."

19 "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."

20 "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

21 "The archetype does not stem from forms or from figures or objective beings, but from images within the human spirit."

22 "St. Augustine shows that teaching carried out with the help of symbols feeds and stirs the fires of love, enabling Man to excel himself; he also alludes to the value of all things in nature – organic and inorganic – as bearers of spiritual messages by virtue of their distinctive forms and characteristics."

23 "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

24 "The vertical axis through the centre of the Yang-Yin constitutes the unvarying mean or, in other words, the mystic 'Centre' where there is no rotation, no restlessness, no impulse, nor any suffering of any kind. It corresponds to the central zone of the Wheel of Transformations in Hindu symbolism, and the centre or the way out of the labyrinth in Egyptian and western symbolism."

25 "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."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite