Many / One

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A Dictionary of Symbols
J. E. Cirlot

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

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

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

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

5 "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.'"

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

7 "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."

8 "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."

9 "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."

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

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

12 "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.'"

13 "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."

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

15 "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

16 "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."

17 "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'."

18 "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."

19 "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."

20 "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."

21 "Neolithic thought was very close to the medieval in its conviction that an eternal and invisible essence underlies all appearances."

22 "The mandala is an image and a synthesis of the dualistic aspects of differentiation and unification, of variety and unity, the external and the internal, the diffuse and the concentrated. It excludes disorder..because, by its very nature, it must surmount disorder. It is, then, the visual, plastic expression of the struggle to achieve order – even within diversity – and of the longing to be reunited with the pristine, non-spatial and non-temporal 'Centre', as it is conceived in all symbolic traditions."

23 "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."

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

25 "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."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite