Element Encyclopedia Of Secret Signs And Symbols

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The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs andSymbolsThe Ultimate A-Z Guide from Alchemy to the ZodiacAdele Nozedar

For Adam and for the seven secrets

‘In every grain of sand there lies Hidden the soil of a star’Arthur Machen‘I do not need a leash or a tie To lead me astray In the land where dreams lie’YoavIn Nature’s temple, living pillars rise Speaking sometimes in words of abstruse sense; Man walksthrough woods of symbols, dark and dense, Which gaze at him with fond familiar eyes.Like distant echoes blent in the beyond In unity, in a deep darksome way, Vast as black night and vastas splendent day, Perfumes and sounds and colors correspond.From “Correspondences,” Charles Baudelaire

Table of ContentsCover PageTitle PageEpigraphIntroductionPart One Signs and Symbols of Magic and MysteryPart Two FaunaPart Three FloraPart Four Flowers of the UnderworldPart Five Sacred Geometry and Places of PilgrimagePart Six NumbersPart Seven Sacred Sounds, Secret SignsPart Eight The Body as a Sacred MapPart Nine Rites and Rituals, Customs and ObservancesPart Ten The Nature of the DivineCopyrightAbout the Publisher

INTRODUCTIONThe aim of this book is to seek a true understanding of the secret signs, sacred symbols, and otherindicators of the arcane, hidden world that are so thickly clustered around us. During this process,we’ll shed light on the cultural, psychological, and anthropological nature of our signs and symbols.We’ll also be surprised to discover that many of the everyday things we take for granted can holdhidden secrets, and by having the key to this knowledge we’ll gain an insight into the minds andconcerns of our forbears who constructed these symbols.NO BEGINNING, NO END: ANATOMY OF A SIMPLESYMBOLRodin said, “Man never invented anything new, only discovered things.” While it’s true to say thatsome symbols have been man-made for a specific purpose, it’s equally accurate to argue thateverything is inspired in some way by the natural world around us, by the forms of nature, plants,animals, the elements. Even a reaction against the fluid forms of nature is generally inspired by adesire to provide an alternative. Sometimes the revelation of a natural symbol is immediate; othersuch discoveries are the result of years of painstaking observation.One of our simplest symbols has elaborate and arcane origins.Here is a picture, not of a manmade or computer-generated pattern, but of the shape made in thesky by the Planet Venus. Venus is the only planet whose dance around the Sun in the depths of spacedescribes such a definite and distinctive form, and we can only imagine the sense of wonder that musthave been felt by the ancient Akkadians who first charted the design. They also realized that theMorning Star and the Evening Star, previously considered to be two separate celestial bodies, wereone and the same. This discovery had a profound effect, which has cast such a long shadow over the

archeology of symbols that we are still governed by it today. Here’s why.Because of Venus’s proximity to the Sun, its light is often obliterated, and so it is visible only inthe early morning or in the evening, either just before sunrise or just after sun-set. The Greeks calledthe morning star Eosphoros, “bringer of the dawn” (later, the star would be called Lucifer, thebrightest of the angels cast out of the Heavens). As the Evening Star, it was called Hesperos, “star ofthe evening” (which gives us the name of evening prayers, or vespers).It takes eight years and one day for the appearances of Venus to complete an entire pentagram.These days we can plot these movements relatively easily, but for our ancestors the process musthave been elaborate and painstaking, as uncertain and laborious a voyage of discovery as thetraversing of any great physical ocean. The Goddess that we know as Venus was, to the Akkadians,Ishtar/Inanna, divinity not only of love and harmony but also Goddess of war. Incidentally, Venus isthe only major planet of our solar system, aside from the Earth itself, to be designated a femininespirit.The Mayans determined their calendrical system from the movements of Venus, and chosepropitious positions of the planet to determine the time of a war. The five-pointed star that is stillused as a military symbol—stenciled onto tanks, for example, or used in insignia—derives from thestately movement of this great astral Goddess.Similarly, the apple given by Eve to Adam contained a hidden symbol within it; the pentagramcreated by the pattern of the pips. Eve offered Adam not only knowledge of the divine feminine—aholy grail indeed—but offered him a symbol of the true marriage of opposites, the feminine numbertwo wedding to the masculine number three. Eve, therefore, personifies Ishtar/Venus/Aphrodite as theGoddess of sensual love (and Venus, incidentally, is the derivation of the word “venereal”). Further,Ishtar was demonized in the Bible as the Whore of Babylon.So, a seemingly simple thing such as the shape made in the sky by the path of a planet can be fullof complexities and contradictions, which not only clarifies some aspects of the symbol but alsoposes further questions. The truth is that the quest to understand the meaning of a symbol is as much apersonal voyage of discovery as a collective one, and it is in the spirit of exploration that I hope youwill adventure into this book.THANKSThere are several people without whom this book would never have been written. I’d like to thankKaty Carrington, Terence Caven, Jeannine Dillon, Chris Wold, Simon Gerratt, Graham Holmes, KateLatham, Faith Booker, and Laura Summers at HarperCollins. Charlotte Ridings, Martin Noble, andMark Bolland were the editors. I’d also like to thank Wanda Whiteley.Any book about symbols would be nothing without the illustrations. Paul Khera has done thebulk of these, with additional thanks to Anat Cederbaum, Myong Hwi Kim, Kruti Sanaija, and YukiNakamura for advice and help with some aspects of these pictures. I am also lucky enough to haveFinlay Cowan contribute images to this book.Other illustrators include David Little, Lyndall Fernie, and Kalavathi Devi. I would also like tothank Willa and Milo Seary for their drawings. Thanks are also due to Gavin and Davina Hogg,Sigorour Atlason, Caroline Danby, Tania Ahsan, Hamraz Ahsan, Carla Edgley, Judy Roland, TheoChalmers, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, Stuart Mitchell, and the good people of Raquetty

Lodge, Hay on Wye. Most of all I have to thank starship commander Adam Fuest for putting up withmy obsession about this book and my possible bouts of absent mindedness about anything else duringthe writing of it.FIRST SIGNS: THE BASIC SHAPES OF SYMBOLSThere are certain elemental structures that occur repeatedly, not only as component parts of moreelaborate symbols, but also with rich meanings of their own. In fact, it’s probably true to say that thesimpler the symbol, the more scope there is for interpretation; ergo, the more meaningful it is and,paradoxically, the more complex it becomes. These primary shapes transcend barriers of time,geography, and cultural context, part of a universal language that goes before, and beyond, words.Don’t be fooled into thinking that these basic shapes are as self-explanatory as to need no analysis. Atrue understanding of what they represent can only add to the comprehension of the more elaborateshapes and symbols that follow in this section.SPACEThe elements of a symbol are defined only by the space that is a part of its construction. Like thewind, the effect of space is gauged by its effect on the things within it or surrounding it. The conceptof space, the void, is a profound part of our experience. To reach a state of “emptiness” is, for many,the ultimate spiritual experience and a way of connecting to the Absolute. When John Lennon wrote“Imagine,” whose lyrics gradually strip away the trappings of the material world, it was this idea thatinspired him.To be aware of the possibility of space within a flat, two-dimensional representation is to givethat shape substance and a new kind of reality that lifts it off the page and makes it real. Space is notflat and cannot be confined by lines on a piece of paper. The page and the shape on it do not exist inisolation, but are a part of a greater cosmos. This book and you, the reader, are a part of this equation.The concept of zero is a space. Indeed, the realization that “nothing” can be “something” markeda profound leap forward in man’s development. All creation myths begin with a Void, symbolic ofpotential.Although attempts to explain the concept of space are inevitably faulty, it might help to think of ablank page. Before a mark is made upon the paper, the potential for what might appear there is so vastas to be unimaginable, a consideration which causes consternation for some artists and writers.Without this space, there is no arena for anything else to exist. This absence of any thing means that nothing is the most important symbol in the World.DOTA dot might seem to be an unassuming little thing, the first mark on the pristine sheet of paper. In thiscase, the dot is a beginning. But see what just happened there? The dot, an essential component in thestructure of the sentence, closed it, making it a symbol of ending. Therefore, the dot is both anorigination and a conclusion, encompassing all the possibilities of the Universe within it, a seed fullof potential and a symbol of the Supreme Being. The dot is the point of creation, for example the

place where the arms of the cross intersect.The dot is also called the bindhu, which means “drop.” The bindhu is a symbol of the Absolute,marked on the forehead at the position of the third eye in the place believed to be the seat of the soul.The presence of dots within a symbol can signify the presence of something else. A dot in thecenter of the Star of David marks the quintessence, or Fifth Element. It also acts as reminder of theconcept of space. The decorated dots that surround the doorways of Eastern temples are not merelyornamental devices but have significance relevant to the worshippers. Dots frequently appear in thisway, acting as a sort of shorthand for the tenets of a faith. In the Jain symbol, for example, the dotsstand for the Three Jewels of Jainism. The dots in each half of the yin-yang symbol unify the twohalves: one dot is “yin,” the other “yang.” Together they demonstrate the interdependence of opposingforces.CIRCLEThe next logical magical symbol is the circle. Effectively an expansion of the dot, the circlerepresents the spirit and the cosmos. Further, the circle itself is constructed from “some thing” (theunbroken line) and “no thing” (the space inside and outside this line). Therefore, the circle unifiesspirit and matter. The structure itself has great strength—think of the cylindrical shape of a lighthouse,built that way in order to withstand the fiercest attack by a stormy sea.The physical and spiritual strength of this symbol are there because the perfect circle has nobeginning and no end; it is unassailable. This power is the reason why the circle is used in magicalpractices such as spell-casting. The magic circle creates a fortress of psychic protection, a physicaland spiritual safe haven where unwanted or uninvited entities cannot enter.Hermes Trismegistus said of the circle:God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere.Where would ancient man have seen the most important circles? Obviously, in the Sun and the Moon.As the Sun, the circle is masculine, but when it is the Moon, it is feminine. Because the passage oftime is marked by the journey of the Sun, Moon and stars in orbit around our Earth, the circle is asymbol of the passage of time. In this form, it commonly appears as the wheel.Because the circle has no divisions and no sides, it is also a symbol of equality. King Arthur’sRound Table was the perfect piece of furniture for the fellowship of Knights who were each asimportant as each other. Similarly, the Dalai Lama has a “circular” Council.ARCPerhaps the most prominent arc of the natural world appears in the elusive form of the rainbow,which primitive man saw as a bridge between the Heavens and the Earth.As a part of a circle, the arc symbolizes potential spirit. The position of the arc is important.Upright, shaped like a cup or chalice, it implies the feminine principle, something that can contain thespirit. If the arc is inverted, then the opposite is true and it becomes a triumphal, victorious,masculine symbol. As such, the arc can take the form of an archway. The vaulted or arched shape of

many holy buildings, from a great variety of different faiths, represents the vault of the Heavens. Thearc shape often appears in planetary symbols.VERTICAL LINEMan, alone in the animal kingdom, stands upright, so the vertical line represents the physical symbolof the number One, man striving toward spirit. This simple line is the basic shape of the World Treeor Axis Mundi that connects the Heavens, the Earth and the lower regions. It is not only a basicphallic symbol but also signifies the soul that strives for union with the Divine.The upright line tells us where we are at a precise moment; think of the big hand of the clock,vertically oriented at 12 o’clock.HORIZONTAL LINEThe opposite of the vertical line, the horizontal line represents matter, and the forward and backwardmovement of time. This line also signifies the skyline or horizon and man’s place on the Earth.CROSSHere, the vertical and horizontal lines come together to create a new symbol—the cross. There are ofcourse countless different types of cross, a few of which are covered in this section of the book.Despite any embellishments or devices, however, the basic meaning of the cross stays the same.The earliest example of the cross comes from Crete and dates back to the fifteenth century BCalthough the sign is much older than this, ancient beyond proper recko

The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols The Ultimate A-Z Guide from Alchemy to the Zodiac Adele Nozedar. For Adam and for the seven secrets ‘In every grain of sand there lies Hidden the soil of a star’ Arthur Machen ‘I do not need a leash or a tie To lead me astray In the land where dreams lie’ Yoav In Nature’s temple, living pillars rise Speaking sometimes in words of .

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