Many / One

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A Dictionary of Symbols
J. E. Cirlot

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

2 "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."

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

4 "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."

5 "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.'"

6 "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'."

7 "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.'"

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

10 "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

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

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

14 "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."

15 "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."

16 "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'."

17 "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."

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

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

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

21 "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."

22 "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."

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

24 "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

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

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite