What is a Symbol?

imagesThe ancient mystics were centuries in advance of their time as it is only now, in our own time, that men of science are beginning to grasp a simple, basic truth, realized long ago by the mystical philosophers. The mystics of old realized that words were quite inadequate to describe certain experiences and realizations, especially those that involved an interplay of thought and intuition. They realized that words were limited in their scope of expression and that they actually constricted the conscious mind, forcing it into a narrow appreciation of something that was very much wider.

If we care to look back in time, we will find many analogies and things that seem to happen over and over as in some kind of pattern. For instance, in  the Babylonian pantheon, the water god Ea ruled over the slimy waters of the great deep out of which the world was formed. It ihas bben written that In token of this tradition, a large basin of water was kept in all Babylonian temples. Ancient myths represent Ea as being a friendly deity who rose out of the sea each morning to teach man agriculture, civil government, handcrafts, and other arts of civilization. In early sculpture he is portrayed as half man and half fish and might even have been the original Aquarius, the water man in the zodiac, as well as the forerunner of Neptune.

In later versions, Ea appears as Ioannes, and as the fish god Dagon, he was worshiped by the Philistines. According to some interpretations, Ea or Ioannes represented a primeval sun god who spread his benefactions over the earth and, at the close of day, dropped into the sea to spend the night beneath the waves like a fish.

In Hindu Brahmanism, the god Vishnu, in his first incarnation, is alleged to have appeared to humanity in the form of a fish, or half man and half fish, exactly the same as Ioannes or Dagon was represented among the Chaldeans and other peoples. In the Indian version, Manu, the Hindu Noah, was saved by Vishnu who, in the form of a fish, dragged Manu’s boat to the top of a rock. Davkina, the consort of Vishnu, seems to be the same as Dav-ki or Damkina, the consort of Ea.

The Greek myth of Hercules and Hesione describes the slaying of darkness by the sun god. It relates that after King Laomedon of Troy had bound his daughter Hesione
to rocks by the sea, a sacrifice to Poseidon’s destroying monster (darkness), Hercules (the sun), saved the maiden by leaping fully armed into the fish’s gaping throat and cutting his way through the monster’s belly. The rescue of Andromeda by Perseus is another version of the same myth. The story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale and then thrown on the shore at Joppa, after three days in its belly, contains several elements which connect it with the story of Hercules and Hesione. It may also be compared with Oannes being swallowed by Tiamat, the dragon of darkness at the time of the winter solstice. Primitive Culture—Tylor

One of the most graphic pictorial symbols that my teacher showed me was of the Rosy Cross. This symbol contains much information about the elements, astrology and Kabbalah as well as other coded information. See illustration above.