Many / One

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Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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A Dictionary of Symbols
J. E. Cirlot

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

2 "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'."

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

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

6 "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."

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

8 "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."

9 "The symbol proper is a dynamic and polysymbolic reality, imbued with emotive and conceptual values: in other words, with true life."

10 "One: Symbolic of being and of the revelation of the spiritual essence. It is the active principle which, broken into fragments, gives rise to multiplicity, and is to be equated with the mystic Centre, the Irradiating Point and the Supreme Power. It also stands for spiritual unity – the common basis between all beings."

11 "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."

12 "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."

13 "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'

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

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

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

17 "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

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

19 "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'."

20 "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."

21 "In neo-platonic philosophy, the soul is explicitly related to the shape of the sphere."

22 "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."

23 "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."

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

25 "Psychoanalysts have noted that the joining of the square with the circle (in such forms as the star, the rose, the lotus, concentric circles, the circle with a visible central point, etc.) is symbolic of the final stage in the process of individuation, or, in other words, of that phase of spiritual development when imperfections (irregular shapes) have been eliminated…for the sake of concentrating upon the achievement of Oneness."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite