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Image Reminders for Mind and Soul

“The initiates of old warned their disciples that an image is not a reality but merely the objectification of a subjective idea. The images of the gods were not not designed to be objects of worship but were to be regarded merely as emblems or reminders of invisible powers and principles. Similarly, the body of man must not be considered as the individual but only as the house of the individual, in the same manner that the temple was the House of God. In a state of grossness and perversion man’s body is the tomb or prison of a divine principle; in a state of unfoldment and regeneration it is the House or Sanctuary of the Deity by whose creative powers it was fashioned. ‘Personality is suspended upon a thread from the nature of Being,’ declares the secret work. … The immortal is the reality; the mortal is the unreality.” ~Manly P Hall

Images and Symbols

In an age when many people never visit parks or other countries in person, but instead view videos online, or read the Facebook posts of those who do, it is not surprising that they can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is merely symbols or images of reality. In a sense, of course, an image is a kind of reality. But the reality of a photo of a rose is not the reality of an actual rose. Even if you could make the photo three dimensional and add the scent of a rose, it would still be just an image.

Image Reminders

When we do go on a trip, we are likely to take photos. These photos are used to show others where we went, but also as reminders to ourselves in the future. A reminder is not the thing itself, however. Looking through our vacation photos is not the same as retaking the vacation.

When it comes to the mostly invisible world of spirit, we are more prone to confuse images with reality. Since we can’t see the reality of angels, we start worshiping the statues and paintings of them. Paintings and statues which, by the way, almost never depict angels as they really are (hint: they are not people with bird wings on their backs). Likewise, people start worshiping statues of God and saints as if the image was the actual thing. When I visited Vatican City many years ago, I saw an old copper statue in St. Peter’s with it’s feet nearly worn off. That is because many worshipers visiting the place will put their hands on the feet while they pray. They can certainly see that they are damaging the statue by doing so, yet they continue. They can understand the physical reality of a statue better than the abstract concepts behind it, so they are really praying to the statue, even if they deny it. Similarly, in a Greek monastery, I saw elderly woman shoving tourists aside so they could get close enough to touch a painting of an important saint and pray to him. They need to touch the image, but not the actual saint. Again, confusing the symbol with the think itself. Ann religion is not the only place we find this. Continue reading “Image Reminders for Mind and Soul”

dragons and serpents

Dragons, Snakes, Serpents, and Energy Flow

“Whatever religion—Judaeo-Christian or otherwise—we might subscribe to, there are certain images that have a particular resonance with what, thanks to C.G. Jung, is now known as the Collective Unconscious.
“The snake or serpent is such a potent image in creation myths that it is found in almost every religious and belief system. …In Celtic myth, the world originated from an egg which came from the mouth of a serpent. … In the mythology of most of the world’s peoples, a serpent or dragon is linked to the origin of the world and to creation—it is the primordial being, the still undivided unity that held sway before the creation of the world.” ~Bernard Simon

Creation of the World

We must understand that when these myths talk about the creation of “the world” by a snake, serpent, or dragon, they are talking about the creation of the physical world or the realm of matter. In other words, they are saying that this serpent was responsible for the Great Fall. When Man, symbolically represented by Adam and Eve, were thrown out of Heaven by Angels, it was not as usually depicted by artists. Angels did not go after them with swords and chase them off. It was an automatic process. A reaction to an action. As we might spit out something foul-tasting, they were rejected from heaven by no longer fitting in there. And this process, initiated by the Serpent, included the creation of the lower realms of matter. Spiritual realms existed long before the Great Fall and will exist long after that error is corrected. The serpent, snake or dragon is generally considered an evil being, and rightly so. It is therefore logical that the worlds or dimensions they created are not good and not what God intended.


In Chinese mythology dragons are symbols of great power, especially power over water, rain, and storms. Vietnamese and Korean dragons are also associated with water and power over it. In European tales, they are usually guarding a treasure, and are often defeated by a hero or saint. Thus they are symbols of sin, evil, and ferocity. While not usually mentioned, their guarding of a treasure indicate they also symbolize greed and materialism.

The dragon is also, in some places, a symbol of good luck and good fortune. This is, however, only on a material level, never spiritual. So again we see the dragon representing the values of materialism and greed. Continue reading “Dragons, Snakes, Serpents, and Energy Flow”


Hermetic Symbols, Alchemy, and Spiritual Growth

“Of all the symbolic systems in which the truth has been enshrined none is so complete, so picturesque, and now so little understood as that of the “Hermetic Philosophers” or Spiritual Alchemists. This fact would itself be sufficient to justify us in examining some of the chief features of their symbolism. …
“The alchemical symbols, especially as applied to the mystic life, are full of often deliberate obscurity; which makes their exact interpretation a controversial matter at the best. Moreover, the authors of the various Hermetic writings do not always use them in the same sense. …
“The process of this work, sometimes describes in chemical, and sometimes in astrological terms, is more often than not disguised in a strange heraldic and zoological symbolism dealing with Lios, Dragons, Eagles, Vultures, Ravens and Doves: which is unequaled in its power of confusing the anxious and unwary inquirer.” ~Evelyn Underhill

Hermetic Symbols

Trying to understand Hermetic philosophy and Alchemical Mysticism by studying and interpreting the symbols used can be a daunting task. As Ms. Underhill notes, various writers on the subject can’t agree on the meanings of them. So what was the point of using such symbols?

The idea was to share teachings with the students without revealing the secrets to the uninitiated who could not be trusted to use such great knowledge and power wisely. This may even have resulted in different uses of a symbol by different teachers, or several symbols used to mean the same thing. That is why trying to understand spiritual truth by studying Hermetic symbols is like trying to find your way out of a jungle maze by studying the pebbles on the path. Still, it may be worth while looking at a few common ones. Continue reading “Hermetic Symbols, Alchemy, and Spiritual Growth”

ancient wonders

Ancient Wonders and Their Symbolism

“The Seven Wonders of the World, while apparently designed for divers reasons, were really monuments erected to perpetuate the arcana of the Mysteries. They were symbolic structures, placed in peculiar spots, and the real purpose of their erection can be sensed only by the initiated. …

  1. The Colossus of Rhodes … was the work of an initiated artist, Chares of Lindus. … This gigantic gilded figure, with its crown of solar rays and its upraised torch, signified occultly the glorious Sun Man of the Mysteries.
  2. … A joint monument to the patron goddess, Diana. The place chosen was Ephesus, a city south of Smyna. …The original temple [of Artemis], designed as a miniature of the universe, was dedicated to the moon, the occult symbol of generation.
  3. Upon his exile from Athens, Phidias—the greatest of all the Greek sculptors—went to Olympia in the province of Elis and there designed his colossal statue of Zeus. … As its name implies, this monument was dedicated to the spirit of the planet Jupiter, one of the seven Logi who bow before the Lord of the Sun.
  4. The Lighthouse of Alexandria … is described as being of white marble and over 600 feet high. … It was naturally assigned to Saturn, the Father of the gods and the true Illuminator of all humanity.
  5. The Mausoleum [at Halicarnassus]was built … for the enlightenment of the world.
  6. The Gardens of Semiramis at Babylon—more commonly known as the Hanging Gardens—symbolized the planes of the invisible world. …
  7. The great Pyramid was supreme among the temples of the Mysteries. … It is the universal symbol of wisdom and letters.”

~Manly P. Hall

The Ancient Wonders

The ancient wonders of the world were true wonders. While they were great works of art and architectural accomplishment, they were more. They were guides to the hidden knowledge. Stepping stones of enlightenment.

First of all, we have the number seven. We see this all over the ancient world. We see the number seven used a lot in the Bible, especially in Revelation. This is usually interpreted as representing the energy centers (chakras) of man. This is probably true, even though there are actually eight such centers.

Each of these wonders had much of the spiritual wisdom of the initiated within it. Let’s look at a few more deeply. Continue reading “Ancient Wonders and Their Symbolism”