A DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLS——by Cirlot.
ALCHEMY:—is a symbolic technique which, together with the desire for positive discoveries in the field of natural sciences sought to materialize Spiritual Truths, such as ‘Gold tried in the Fire.’
ANCHOR:—In early Christian times, the anchor always signified Salvation and Hope. It was shown upside down with a star, cross, or crescent to denote its mystic nature.
APPLE:—‘So Eve ate the apple?’–an apple is symbolic of earthly desires, or of indulgence in such desires.
ARK:—The Ark symbolized the power to preserve both on a material and spiritual plain, all things—and to ensure their rebirth.
The basic symbolism of Noah’s Ark is the belief that the essence of the physical and spiritual life can be extracted and contained within a minute seed until such time as a rebirth created the conditions necessary for the re-emergence of these essence into external life. When comparing the Rainbow and the Ark, there is great symbolic symbolism. The Ark floats on the lower ocean. The Rainbow is in the realm of the upper waters, and is a sign of restoration of the order which is preserved below in the Ark. Both–together, being complementary then complete the circle of ONENESS. They then correspond to the two halves of the ancient symbol of the ‘World Egg’ which we remember from the Old Big Book.
ARM:—The Hieroglyph depicting two raised arms is a symbol of invocation and self-defense, a meaning which is recognized world wide. An Arm emerging from a cloud, or from the surroundings of a picture is understood to be the avenging Arm of the LORD OF HOSTS, or a call from the heavens for vengeance. Remember, how Moses held his arms up so that the Israelites would win, and when he became tired and his arms dropped, the Israelites would lose?
AXE:—A symbol of power of light. The Battle Axe is a twin blade axe related to the sign of ‘Tau’. You find the double headed axe in art work from India to England, thru the Mediterranean countries, in Africa, and even in Crete. In Hindustan, this double headed axe was like a thunderbolt. Therefore a symbol of Celestial illumination.
BABYLON:—is a symbol of a fallen and corrupt existence, just the opposite of the Heavenly Jerusalem or Paradise.
BEES:—In Christian symbolism, and particularly during the Romanesque period, Bees were symbols of diligence and eloquence. In Indo-Aryan and Moslem traditions, they are the symbols of souls. The souls are said to swarm from the Divine unity in a similar manner.
BIRD:—In ancient Egyptian symbolism, they supplied the bird with a human head, thus advancing the idea that the soul flies away from the physical body after death. The reverse of this symbolic notion is found in Rev. 17:2–wherein Babylon is the hold of every foul bird or spirit.
BULL:—The Bull is associated with the symbolism of Taurus (House of Joseph). It seems to symbolize the connecting link between heaven and earth. It is a symbol for the father, the ruler, or leader of the family.
BUTTERFLY:—The Butterfly is a symbol of rebirth.
CADUCEUS:—is a symbol very ancient. It was found in ancient India engraved upon stone tablets. In Mesopotamia it was in the design of the sacrificial cup of King Gudea of Lagash (2600 B.C.). The S shapes of serpents were said to be illness and convalescence. The two serpents represent the health on the lower plain and the wings represent the higher level of the spirit. (Actually, the symbolism was more in depth than sought today, but from this came the symbol for the Doctors. The two serpents symbol of opposing forces.)
CANDELABRA:—a symbol of light and salvation. And the Hebrew 7 branched Candelabra corresponds to the seven heavens and seven planets—thru which they came to earth.
CASTLE:—A castle on a hill is symbolic of the entrance to the other world. It is over all a dwelling place.
CHAIN:—a symbol of marriage, linking also of heaven and earth.
COCK:—an emblem of vigilance and activity and resurrection, as it greets the dawn. It is a symbol of the sun even before it rises in the east.
CROMLECH:—corresponds to the general symbolism of Stone Monuments. It is a symbol of the Great Master of Creation.
CROSS:—The St. Andrews Cross X is symbolizing the union of upper and lower worlds. There are many types of Crosses, and to the Aryan, the Christian it is by way of THE CROSS that you come to your Father (God).
DELUGE:—The Deluge always stands for the final stage of a cycle, coinciding with the Zodiacal sign of Pisces.
DISC:—An emblem of the sun. The two small serpents which are seen next to the disc are of the Caduceus alluding to the equipoise of opposing forces. The winged Disc signifies the disc in flight, used in this age which has learned to dominate air and space. (You always see the symbol of the Winged Orb throughout the Western world. And although it came from way back in our history, still it was the symbol that Israel would move out and on in their destiny.)
DOLPHIN:—The Dolphin is an allegory of Salvation. It is a friend of man and its figure is associated with the Anchor. (We have explained before about the Dolphin. Thus that would explain why it is an allegory of Salvation.)
DOVE:—Symbolic of the Soul or the Holy Spirit.
EAGLE:—The Eagle is a symbol of height, of the Spirit, as the sun, and of the spiritual principals in general. In the Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Eagle represents the letter A–the first—pertaining to the warmth of life, the origin, the day. The Eagle is also identified with the Father figure, and represents heroic nobility. In the Vedic, the Eagle is the Messenger. In other art forms, it is the emblem of the Thunderbolt.
According to St. Jerome, the Eagle is the emblem of the Ascension and of prayer. Since it can fly higher than any other bird, it is regarded as an expression of Divine Majesty. It is said to dominate and destroy baser forces. Thus making it the symbol of Imperial power. (Look for the references to the Eagle found in Strongs Concordance.)
EGG:—The Egg is the symbol of Immortality. The vault of space was known as an egg which consisted of seven enfolding layers, thus was seven heavens. It was in Egypt where this symbol most frequently appeared. The God, Ra, was displayed resplendent in his egg. The image of an egg is shown floating above a mummy signifying hope of life hereafter. The Winged Orb and the Beetle pushing its ball along, have similar implications.
ETERNITY:—is pictured as the figure of a girl holding the sun and the moon in her hands (Thus Israel.) Eternity is also represented as ‘infinite time.’ The Phoenix is another symbol of Eternity.
EUPHRATES:—is the symbol of the River of Time, or the irreversible nature of processes as they move onward. (Consider this symbolism with the scripture—the drying up of the Euphrates. What does it then mean to you?)
EYE:—The light is symbolic of intelligence and of spirit. Thus the process of seeing represents a spiritual act, and symbolizes understanding. Hence, the ‘Divine Eye’ of the Egyptians, was said to be ‘HE’ who feeds the sacred fire, or the intelligence of (Adam) man, and called Osiris. The possession of two eyes conveys physical normality and its spiritual equivalent. And the ‘third’ eye is symbolic of the superhuman, or the Divine.
FISH:—an early Christian symbol. The mystic ship of life spinning out the cycle of life after the pattern of the Lunar Zodiac. The Chaldeans used to portray the Fish with the head of a Swallow, as a harbinger of cycle regenerations, an idea directly related to the symbolism of Pisces. For the Christians, it became the symbol of life, of the spiritual world, the life force surging up. The Fish is the symbol of regeneration. And the fisherman is able to work upon the sources of life because of his knowledge of things.
FLAG:—The Flag–a symbol of victory and self-asserting is always placed at the top of the pole, raising it above the normal level.
GOLDEN FLEECE:—a symbol denoting the conquest of the impossible or ultra reasonable. The sheep is symbolic of innocence, and gold represents Supreme Spirituality and Glorification. The Golden Fleece thus signifies that the quest of the Argonauts was for Supreme Strength of Spirit through purity of soul–this quality which distinguished Sir Galahad, the Medieval Knight of the Holy Grail story. It is thus one of the most advanced forms within the general symbolism of treasure. The quest for the Grail implies a search for the Mystic center, the ‘Unmoved Mover.’ One of the most widespread legends relates the Grail to the plate in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the Blood which dripped from the body of THE CHRIST as HE hung on the Cross.
IBIS:—The Ibis bird is related to Thoth the Egyptian God of Wisdom. This bird tucks its head under its wing when it sleeps and comes thus to resemble the shape of the heart. The stride of the Ibis measures exactly a cubit–the measure used in building temples.
ISLAND OF THE BLESSED:—The signs of the Zodiac are conceived as 12 islands, and the Isle of the Blessed is symbolic of an earthly Paradise.
JEWELS:—in most symbolic traditions signifies Spiritual Truths. On the other hand, the Jewels were used by the darkness to signify their beliefs and gods. The Hebrews knew the symbolism and used those Jewels on the Breastplate of their Priests.
JOURNEY OF THE SOUL:—according to Hindu (Aryan) belief, the individual upon freeing himself from the shackles of the manifested world, follows a route which is the reverse of that Path which he took when entering into it.
KEY:—symbolic of mystery or enigma, the Key (Spirit) to open the gates of Heaven. It is the Key of Eternal Life that opens up the gates of death on to immortality.
LAMB:—The symbol of the Lamb signifies purity, innocence, meekness, as well as an unwarranted sacrifice. The Lion and the Lamb point to the interesting relationship between the two according to their symbolic meanings.
LANCE:—it is connected with the symbolism of the cup or Chalice. It compares with the symbolism of the Branch–the Tree–the Cross.
LETTERS:—symbolize the Divine principle, the essence of life. The reason for creation is represented by the Eagle, but within the microcosm, this same sign expresses the reason, the faculty which brings man into proximity with the Godhead, raising him above all created beings. The Hebrew letters all have a numerical value and a symbolic meaning.
LEVIATHAN:—(Actually the Leviathan is the arch type of things inferior and connected to Tiamat, the Chaos monster.) The Jewish explanation of this symbol is what the Rabbis claim—that the Leviathan was destined for the supper of the Messiah.
LIBRA:—The 7th sigh of the Zodiac, is like the Cross and the Sword related to the symbolism of the number 7, and stands for the balance between the solar world and the planetary manifestation, or between good and evil. One pan points toward the Scorpion (worldly desires) and the other toward the sign of Virgo, the story of Salvation. The number 7 represents the connection between the Spirit inside and the outward you.
LILITH:—in Hebrew legend was the tempter of Adam–a night phantom and the enemy of child birth and the new born. (Actually, she was the consort of Lucifer, the Serpent in Symbolism, and the cause of Adam’s fall.)
LOCUST:—in symbolism they represent the forces of destruction. (Rev. 9:1-10)
MERCURY:—in astronomy is the son of heaven. In essence, he is the Messenger of heaven. His Greek name is Hermes. He epitomizes the power of the spoken WORD, and the emblem of THE WORD. Mercury, in Identity Symbolism, is associated with the U.S.A.
MINOTAUR:—was a fabulous monster, half man, half bull.
MISTLETOE:—a parasite plant associated with the Oak Tree. It symbolizes regeneration and restoration of family life.
MONOLITH:—In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Monolith is associated with the God Osiris and signifying ‘to last.’ The Monolith also is a sign of Resurrection and life Eternal.
OBELISK:—a symbol of the Sun-Ray, by virtue of its shape. Because of its substance, it is bound up with the symbolism of Stone. It is also related to the myths of solar ascension, and of light as the ‘Penetrating Spirit’ in consequence of its upright position, and the pyramidal point in which it terminates.
OLIVE TREE:—a symbol of Peace, connected to Jupiter.
OAK TREE:—The Oak Tree has its symbolic meaning thru out the Aryan culture. It is connected to Jupiter in legends, and it represents World Axis-Ruler.
OCTAGON:—The Octagon shape–8 sides–symbolizes spiritual regeneration.
PINE TREE:—is a symbol of immortality.
PARADISE LOST:—is the symbolic center of the Great Mosaic (or the place from which Adam fell.)
PHOENIX:—a symbol of destruction, then re-creation.
PRESTOR JOHN:—the realm of the fabulous Prestor John, like certain other mystic lands, is in fact, a symbol of the Supreme Spiritual Center.
ROSE:—The single Rose is in essence a symbol of completion and achievement and perfection. More definite symbolic meanings are derived from the Color and the number of its Petals. The relationship of the White Rose to the Red Rose is in accordance with the relationship as defined in Alchemy. The Blue Rose is symbolic of the impossible. The Golden Rose is a symbol of absolute achievement. The Seven Petaled Rose, is connected to the 7 directions of space, the 7 days of the week, the 7 planets, the 7 degrees of perfection. The 8 petaled Rose symbolizes Regeneration.
SCORPIO:—In the Middle Ages the Scorpion makes its appearance in Christian art as an emblem of treachery. Thus as a symbol for the Jew. It corresponds to that period of the span of (Adam) Man’s life which lies under the threat of death.
STAR:—As a light shining in the darkness, the Star is a symbol of the Spirit. The Star nearly always alludes to multiplicity, in which case, it stands for the forces of the spirit struggling against the forces of Darkness. This meaning has been incorporated into emblematic art all over the world. For this reason, identification with the Star is possible only to the ‘chosen few.’
The Flaming Star is a symbol of the Mystic Center–of the force of the Universe in expansion.
The Five Pointed Star is the most common. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, it signified ‘rising upward toward the point of Origin, and formed part of the words such as –to bring up, to educate, the teacher and so forth.
STONE CIRCLE:—often called the ‘Cromlech’ and popularly known as referring to the Great Stone Circles of Stonehenge, and others of like order. Often standing in the midst of the Stone Circles is the one called ‘The Sun Stone.’
SCRIPTURE:—becomes God’s WORD, when read under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
SWASTIKA:—This graphic symbol is found in almost every ancient and primitive art all over the world, in Christian Catacombs in Britain, Ireland, Mycenac, and Gascony; among the Hindus, the Celts and the German people; in Central Asia as well as in America. The shape of the Swastika has been interpreted as a solar wheel with rays and feet sketched in at extremities. It has been suggested by Schneider, that the Swastika is the symbol of the succession of the generations (of Adam’s Race), and that the hooks on the ends of its arms are the ships of life. Or put another way, the different stages of life.
THE THUNDERBOLT:—an emblem of Sovereignty.
TUAT:—(The name of the Kingdom of Osiris in earth.)
UNICORN:—Symbolic of Chastity, and an emblem of the Sword or WORD of GOD. It is mentioned early in the Vedas. (Ephraim and Manasseh carried the Unicorn as symbols, and you find it in other tribes of Israel—thus the WORD OF GOD.) (The Unicorn was considered as a secondary symbol, found in Britain and to a much lesser amount in some of the other Israelite nations under the wind of the House of Joseph. You find this symbol back in the history of Persia. And the Single Horn is said to be the Story foretold. The House of Joseph received a double portion of the position of leadership since both Manasseh and Ephraim were to find their positions in this destiny, and they were thus to receive this power from the single horn (power) of YAHWEH, who is our YAHSHUA, Savior. The House of Joseph as thus to carry this Secondary emblem along with the Lion emblem which signified the throne transferred to the West. Ephraim’s main emblem was the Bull, while Manasseh carried the symbol of the Outstretched Wings of the Eagle. Then with those symbols, came the Unicorn and the Ruling Lion.)
THE WINGED MAN:—symbolized an Angelic being, or a being from Celestial places having knowledge.
These are just some of the symbols I thought you might be interested in. Those in ( ) are by E.M.