Many / One

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Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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A Dictionary of Symbols
J. E. Cirlot

1 "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."

2 "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'

3 "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."

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

5 "Alchemical evolution is epitomized in the formula 'Solve et Coagula' (Dissolve and Coagulate), that is to say: 'analyse all the elements in yourself, dissolve all that is inferior in you, even though you may break in doing so; then, with the strength acquired from the preceding operation, congeal.'"

6 "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."

7 "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."

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

9 "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

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 "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."

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

13 "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."

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

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

17 "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

18 "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."

19 "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."

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

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

22 "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."

23 "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."

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

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

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite