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Full text of "Life symbols as related to sex symbolism : a brief study into the origin and significance of certain symbols which have been found in all civilisations, such as the cross, the circle, the serpent, the triangle, the tree of life, the swastika, and other solar emblems, showing the unity and symplicity of thought underlying their use as religious symbols"

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tffrom Assyria. 

Life Symbols as Related 
to Sex Symbolism 

I'holn. Minari 

Adam and Kvi; Drivkn nvr of Pauaijisi;. — Masaccio 
(Brancacci C'liapel, Santa Maria di-l ('aniline, Florence) 

Life Symbols as Related to 
Sex Symbolism 

A brief study into the origin and significance of certain 

symbols which have been found in all civilisations, such 

as the cross, the circle, the serpent, the triangle, 

the tree of life, the swastika, and other solar 

emblems, showing the unity and simplicity 

of thought underlying their use as 

religious symbols 


Elizabeth E. Goldsmith 

Author of " Sacred Symbols in Art," 
" Toby: the Story of a Dog " 

With mote than 100 Illustrations 

G.P.Putnam's Sons 

^J^-vvYork ^ London 

^I]c '^mckerbockEC PresB 

Copyright, 1924 


Elizabeth E. Goldsmith 

Made in the United States of America 



WHENEVER I find myself becoming depressed over 
world conditions I turn to symbolism for re-assur- 
ance. These old, old symbols of the profound 
mystery of life which, as Bergson puts it, is "continually mak- 
ing and unmaking" have an extraordinary effect. You follow 
them back and back — only to discover that you have made a 
step forward into a more extensive reality. Having gone 
thus far, it is possible that your conclusions may offend the 
orthodox and dismay the visionary, nevertheless I ven- 
ture to affirm that whoever makes the excursion boldly yet 
reverently will return with vision clarified, faith heartened 
and belief in the Eternal Verities joyously renewed. He 
will have perspective ; feel the brevity yet measurelessness of 
time, the immensity of the ages, the tremendous force of Life. 
He will see, too, that hovv^ever many times mankind has failed, 
the bent of man's nature is toward the higher, and if there is a 
long road behind strewn with his defeats, there is still a longer 
road ahead and the future is ever young. 

In preparing this book I am under greater obligations than 
I can express to the friends who have loyally sustained and 
encouraged me ; my grateful acknowledgments are also due to 
George Haven Putnam for his charming courtesy and interest, 
to Louise Wallace Hackney for sharing with me some of her 
notes on China and the Chinese, to Ralph Adams Cram for 
permission to use at my own discretion portions of a private 
letter and to Harold Bayley for having written The Lost 
Language of Symbolism — a book that is a constant joy. 

E. E. G. 
Sorrento, Italy, 
September, 1924. 


"Love in which some have seen the great mystery of life, 
may possibly deliver us life's secret. It shows us each genera- 
tion leaning over the generation that shall follow. It allows 
us a glimpse of the fact that the living being is above all a 
thorough-fare and that the essence of life is in the movement 
by which life is transmitted." 

Creative Evolution — Bergson. 


"The traditio, the handing down of the intellectual acquisi- 
tions of the human race from one generation to another, the 
constant selection of thoughts and discoveries and feelings and 
events so precious that they must be made into books, and then 
of books so precious that they must be copied and re-copied and 
not allowed to die — the traditio itself is a wonderful and august 
process, full, no doubt, of abysmal gaps and faults, like all 
things human, but full also of that strange, half-baffled and yet 
not wholly baffled splendour which makes all the characteristic 
works of man. I think the grammaticus, while not sacrificing 
* his judgment, should accept it and rejoice in it — rejoice to be 
the intellectual child of his great fore-fathers, to catch at their 
spirit, to carry on their work, to live and die for the great 
unknown purpose which the eternal spirit of man seems to be 
working out upon the earth. . . . The Philistine, the vul- 
garian, the great sophist, the passer of base coin for true, he 
is all about us, and, worse, he has his outposts inside us, perse- 
cuting our peace, spoiling our sight, confusing our values, 
making a man's self seem greater than the race and the present 
thing more important than the eternal. From him and his in- 
fluence we find our escape by means of the grammata into that 
calm world of theirs, where stridency and clamour are for- 
gotten in the ancient stillness, where the strong iron is long 
since rusted and the rocks of granite broken into dust, but the 
great things of the human spirit still shine like stars pointing 
man's way onward to the great triumph or the great tragedy." 

Religio Grammatici — Gilbert Murray. 


A WOMAN of my acquaintance averred the other 
day that she was perfectly sure that hfe to her 
young daughter aged sixteen meant a low, 
high power, rakish looking, bright yellow runabout, gas 
full on, daughter at the wheel, car going eighty miles 
an hour. And one must admit that this is a wholly con- 
vincing and delightful picture of youth, motion, life, the 
present age. It is a little too obvious, too circumscribed, 
however, to be a symbol. 

Stretching across the horizon of man's beginnings, 
their origin lost in remotest antiquity, there are certain 
symbols that for thousands of years have bored the 
materialist, piqued the curious, enchanted the mystic, 
fascinated the student, bothered the Church and de- 
lighted the wise. Possibly simple and uncomplicated 
in their inception, adopted by every religion, they have 
added, taken on and lost until they seem to hold the 
magical essence of everything that has gone before 
without altering or losing their original meaning which 
has been invariably associated with Life. 

Few in number, it is their persistence, their vitality, 
the way they have been interwoven with everything that 
we think, feel, do — that puzzles and amazes. You follow 
them back. They lead like a torch through much that 


xii Sntrobuction 

you would rather not see and can never hope to explain. 
You tread gingerly looking askance at taboos, magic, 
animism, totemism, fetiches. If on the way you linger 
under the shade of Frazer's Golden Bough — especially 
when you come to taboos — you may lose some pre-con- 
ceived notion that we had gone very far beyond the 
savage. You are willing to leave it to Frazer, however, 
whether the recent colossal taboo is an advance in civili- 
sation or a reversion to savagery. Fetiches, too! You 
can't resist feeling that although we may not make 
fetiches of stones and shells — which even in primitive 
times were worshipped not for themselves but as the 
dwelling places of spirits supposed to inhabit them — 
yet we do things equally amusing. We encase an idea 
in a word or phrase and then believe quite as naively as 
the savage that the ideal state or god or goddess resides 
within the word. 

You begin to wonder a little uneasily, as you make 
your way through an incoherent maze of outworn and 
discarded religious forms that at one time or another 
represented men's thoughts on life, if the instinct for 
taboos and fetich worship so long indulged in has not 
become ineradicable. It is with a sensation of release 
that you finally reach the place where interpretations 
vanish — where nothing remains but the old and potent 
symbols of life. 

Whether even now you are at the beginning of 
things, or have merely reached some clear open space 
that stands between us and some lost civilisation pos- 
sibly higher than our own, none can say. The tradition 
of the lapse of mankind from a Golden Age and the 
destruction of the world by water is current in all races. 
Geologists have assumed that in the tertiary epoch there 
was a land connection between the two continents. This 

Sntrobuction xiii 

may have been the lost island of Atlantis which was said 
to have been overwhelmed by the sea about 9600 B.C. 
The theory has been advanced that the submersion of 
Atlantis may account, too, for the universal legend of the 
Great Flood and that the "lost cradle of civilisation was 
not in Asia but in Atlantis." The fact that these life 
symbols are found on both continents, also the similarity 
of superstitions, folk lore and fairy tales among all 
ancient peoples would indicate that mankind had a com- 
mon cradle — but where ? — We can only speculate. Nor 
do we know except as we are haunted by dreams of a 
world like a garden — very beautiful, very fair — whether 
civilisations in the long processes of time have lost or 
gained. As the sublimer portions of the Egyptian 
religion are the oldest, Bayley infers that "the remoter 
the time the simpler and purer was Humanity." And it 
is in some such spirit of belief that one approaches these 
ancient symbols. None know how they came into being 
nor what further portal of past or future life they 
guard. They take one beyond the farthest reach of 
thought — so far back that men and women cease to 
be individuals. Their idiosyncrasies, their tragi-comic 
aspects that give pith and point to meditation are 
swallowed up in the resistless flow of the life current. 
And men and women are merely the active and passive 
principles through which the life current flows — peace- 
fully when its appointed channels are kept strong and 
fit, and destructively, wastefully, breaking down all 
barriers when the channels have become weakened and 

Our glorious and inglorious past would be of little 
moment however unless we could link it up with 
oui' glorious and inglorious present. Nor would the 

xiv Sntrobuction 

study of these symbols of life be anything but sheer 
waste of time, or at most the gratification of intellectual 
curiosity if, in trying to discover what the ancients were 
through their religious customs and beliefs, we were 
not seeking the answer to the even more difficult ques- 
tion of what we ourselves are. 

Reinach, while admitting that he does not like it, 
calls religion "a sum of scruples which impede the free 
exercise of the faculties." Max Miiller defines it as 
"a faculty of mind which enables man to grasp the in- 
finite independently of sense or reason." 

I am inclined to suggest something less recondite, if 
only to see how far it carries us. It seems simpler and 
perhaps nearer the truth to say that Religion is Life — 
and that all religions have as their fundamental basis 
reverence for life. 

Worship of this mysterious, impersonal, quickening 
power would easily explain man's changing beliefs 
which at one time or another have exalted nearly every 
phase of life. In his long history man has had many 
gods — war-like, merciful, stern, just, compassionate — 
evoked in response to some revealing conception of life 
which he believes will enable him to interpret and be 
at one with the universe. The form his religion takes 
depends, with but one exception, upon his arrogance or 
humility before the mystery of the Life Force which 
without being able to account for he sees in himself and 
reproducing itself in countless ways in nature. It may 
well have taken the form of nature worship, animism, 
in the old days when agriculture itself was a religious 
art. At various periods, too, primitive man appears 
to have looked upon life mainly from the standpoint of 
his own appetite and physical well being as we see still 
done by the lower order of intelligence. Nevertheless, 

Sntrobuction xv 

although gods came and vanished, beliefs changed or 
became debased, back in man's consciousness there 
seems to have been ever present the haunting desire to 
know and be at one with a Supreme Being, the Primum 
Mobile, the Lord of All Life. 

If, as seems probable, the continuity of life was the 
primary animating impulse back of all ancient religions 
— Life — not only the way life was come by, but life that 
unfolds, develops through the awakening race, the "son 
being that which is better"; if this was, in truth, the 
dream, the aspiration — the desire for perfectioning until 
at last man is fit to walk with the gods and Life Ever- 
lasting is attained, then the motive for existence itself 
becomes clear. 

The moment you bring the race thought to bear the 
sjTubolism of the ark, as well as many of the savage 
customs which Frazer chronicles as taking place at the 
time a girl reaches puberty, instantly become intelligible. 
Always keeping carefully in mind, however, that Life 
to the ancients was not merely physical life and not 
merely spiritual life but the union of spirit and matter. 
Even in the oldest religions there is evidence that the 
ancients reverenced the physical, not as distinct from the 
spiritual but as the form through which the spiritual 
manifested itself. That the two forces were looked 
upon as inextricably interwoven is also shown in ritual, 
sacrament and symbolism where they blend or counter- 
act each other precisely as in man himself. It is a curious 
fact that those who would purge the church of these 
ancient symbols and customs, because founded upon 
nature worship or sex, end usually by leading nowhere 
except in the direction of abysmal doubt. One is almost 
forced to believe, so repeatedly has the effort failed, 
that the attempt to brush aside these forms as untrue. 

xvi Sntrobuction 

pagan, profligate is the real profanation which Life 
itself resents. 

To experience the true joy of understanding, of 
being en rapport with Life in all its fullness — one must 
first, however, divest one's self of one's literal mind and 
approach these ancient symbols imaginatively — not as 
theological points to be argued over or explained away, 
but as something unalterably sweet and true — to be felt 
as one feels the beauty of nature, to be accepted as a 
part of our inheritance from the past. 

Man, woman, the serpent, of course, and the Sun, 
giver of all life and light — the moon, earth, air, fire, 
winds — light and darkness, sun and water — these are 
the forces symbolised since primeval days, and these 
are the forces in their relations to religions, to each 
other and to Life that will be considered in the following 



I. — The Elements 1 

II. — Creation Myths 7 

III. — The Lotus 1^ 

IV. — The Dual Principles 31 

V. — The Chinese Trigrams 39 

VI. — The Cross ^1 

VII. — Pole or Axis and Circle, Pillars, Stones, Rocks, 

Altars ....•••• "^ 

VIII. — The Tree of Life 91 

IX. — Sacred Birds ^^^ 

X. — The Serpent , 135 

XL — The Four Supernatural Creatures of the 

Chinese , . • • • • . 149 

XII.— The Sun . . . • • • • .167 

XIIL— The Swastika 223 

XIV.— The Zodiac 241 

XV. — Horns and the Crescent Moon . . . 257 

XVI.— The Trisula 269 

XVII. — Father Gods and Mother Goddesses . . . 277 




XVIII. — Legend of Ishtar and Tammuz . 
XIX. — Legend of Isis and Osiris 

XX. — The Sistrum of Isis 
XXI. — The Triangle .... 
XXIL — Conclusion: Mainly Controversial 
Glossary ..... 





Adam and Eve Driven out of Paradise (Masaccio). Bran- 
cacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence 


Primitive Mother Goddesses ..... 

Nu KuA Shih ........ 

Archaic Greek Statuette of a Woman and Babylonian 
Goddess. Museo Barracco, Rome 

Founders of the "Three Religions" 

Thoth Presenting the Symbol of Life to Horus . 

Hermes (Mercury). Museo Ludovisi Boncompagni, Rome 

Demeter (Ceres). Museo Nazionale delle Terme, Rome 

Two Kings Kneeling Beneath the Emblem of the Deity 100 

Winged Females Standing Before Sacred Tree. Nimroud 100 





Pan and Olympus. Museo Nazionale, Naples 

Attis. Louvre, Paris ..... 

Anubis. Owned by Mrs. Myron C. Taylor . 

Griffins as Table Supporters. Vatican, Rome 

Serpent Symbols in Egypt 

Athene (Minerva). Museo Nazionale, Naples 



XX SUusitrations; 


Dragon. Musee Chinois, Fontainebleau . . . .154 

The Lady with the Unicorn. Musee Cluny, Paris . .158 

The God Bes, Identified by some with Set. Louvre, Paris 170 

Marduk Killing Tiamat the Chaos Monster . . . 176 

Winged Bull with Human Face from Sargon's Palace, 

Khorsabad. Louvre, Paris . . . . . .178 

DiONYsos. Museo Nazionale, Naples . . . . .184 

Ceremony in Honour of Demeter (Ceres). Museo Na- 

zionale, Naples . . . . . . . .186 

Apollo Belvedere, Vatican, Rome . . . . .196 

Sphinx with Woman's Head. Museo Barracco, Rome . 200 

Sekhebet .......... 200 

Ptah-Seker-Osiris ........ 200 

Herakles. Museo Nazionale, Naples ..... 202 

The God Apis. Louvre, Paris ...... 204 

Lion of the Serapeum. Louvre, Paris .... 204 

Sphinx. Louvre, Paris ....... 208 

The Vision of Ezekiel (Raphael). Pitti Palace, Florence 214 

Ares (Mars) in Repose. Museo Ludovisi Boncompagni, 

Rome 246 

Giloamesh and the Lion, Sargon's Palace, Khorsabad, 

Louvre, Paris ........ 264 

Artemis (Diana). Vatican, Rome ..... 262 

Dove Shrine. Schliemann, Mycence .... 264 

Poseidon (Neptune). Lateran, Rome .... 272 



Zeus (Jupiter). Vatican, Rome .... 

Artemis (Diana) of Ephesus ..... 

Head of Cybele. Museo Nazionale delle Terme, Rome 

The Youthful Bacchus. Museo Nazionale, Naples . 

Atarqatis. Museo delle Terme, Rome 

Osiris, Isis and Horus. Louvre, Paris . 

Isis. Museo Nazionale, Naples 

The Pentacle ..... 

Psyche. Museo Nazionale, Naples 





Crux Ansata ......... 54 

Greek Cross ......... 55 

Latin Cross ......... 65 

Maltese Cross ......... 55 

The Swastika . . . . . . . . .55 

Four Taus Placed Back to Back ..... 57 

Cross Enclosed in Circle ....... 67 

Greek Cross Representing Winds from Cardinal Points: 

Dakota Indians 58 

St. Andrew's Cross ........ 59 

Cross Enclosed in Square ....... 69 

Celtic Crosses ......... 60 

Monogram of Christ. Labarum of Constantine . .61 

Various Forms of Crosses in use Among North American 

Indians, from Greek Cross to Swastika ... 62 

Lycia . 67 

Persian Seal ......... 67 

Group of Sacred Pillars on Mycen^an Vase from Haliki 68 

Libation Vase of Green Stone .... 

Conventionalised Lotus 

"The Thirty-six Gates" 

Mithra Born from the Rock ..... 
Carthaginian Pillar Shrine on Stele, Nora, Sardinia 
Entrance to Tattu in Amenta 



3llu2!tration2( xxv 


Egyptian Lion Gods "Yesterday and To-day" Supporting 

Solar Disk ......... 84 

Sacred Tree Terminating in Lotus Buds or Pine Cones 95 

Mexican Sacred Tree ....... 98 

From a Sassanian Bowl ....... 98 

Sicilian Bas-Relief ........ 98 

Serpent in Background: Chaldean Cylinder. British 

Museum 99 

Sacred Tree Showing Divided Pillar .... 100 

Capital of the Temple of Athene at Priene . . . 102 

Persian Cylinder . . . . . . . . 102 

Ph(enician Bowl ........ 103 

Bas-Relief of the Baptistery of Civldale . . . 103 

From the Church at Marigny . . . . . .103 

From the Athens Cathedral ...... 104 

Syria ........... 104 

Tree Terminating in the Sacred Cone Protected by 

Birds and Lions. From the Cathedral of Torcello . 110 

Jesse Window, Dorchester Cathedral . . . .115 

Assyrian Cylinder 117 

Detail of Assyrian Relief, Layakd . . . . .121 

Balance Used to Weigh the Heart in the Judgment of 

the Dead . . • • • • • • .122 

Hawk on Lotus Anthemion 123 

xxvi 3Uu2!tration£{ 


The Bird of Fire 124 

Early Greek Vase . . . . . . . .125 

Eagle Headed Figures Holding Symbolic Cone . . 127 

Geese and the Lotus, Swastika and Diagrams. Detail of 

Rhodian vase in Metropolitan Museum . . . .130 

Bird and Sacred Tree ....... 132 

Mayan Assignment of Animals to Parts of the Body . 139 

Naga Kings Supporting the Lotus Pedestal . . .141 

Japan . . .156 

Bull Unicorn and Sacred Tree of Lotus Buds: Assyrian 

Relief ......... 164 

Chinese Longevity Symbols ...... 161 

Three Worlds Supported by Elephants Resting on a 

Tortoise 164 

Marduk the Chief Babylonian Deity . . . .176 

Adad the God of Storms ....... 177 

Symbol of Ashur . . . . . . . . .179 

Assyrian Standard . . . . . . . .180 

Various Forms of Constantine's Monogram or Cross . 200 

Cock and Lotus ......... 205 

Cocks on Lotus Facing Double Lotus Flower . . . 206 

Facsimile of Celebrated White Horse Near Shrivenham, 

England ......... 210 

Eight-Spoked Wheel of Buddhism ..... 213 

Types of the "Roue de la Loi" .,..,. 214 

JUufiitrationsi xxvii 


Mycen^an Vase: Old Salamis ...... 218 

Fragment of Stone Slab from the Ancient Maya City of 

Mavapan ......... 225 

Swastika of Four T's ....... 226 

Archaic Greek Vase with Five Swastikas of Four Dif- 
ferent Forms: Athens ...... 227 

Footprint of Buddha as Carved on the Amarvati Tope . 228 

Aztec Figure of the Year Cycle 231 

Nandyavarta 232 

The Lotus and Swastika with Solar Geese and Solar 

Deer 234 

Swastika with Arms Bent to Right and Left . . 235 

Tetraskelion (Four Armed) 236 

Triskelion (Three Armed) ...... 236 

Five or Many Armed ....... 236 

Ogee Swastika with Circle ...... 236 

Sicilian Coin ......... 237 

Swastika Design ........ 238 

Meander Detail with Solar Geese ..... 239 

The Zodiac 244) 

Lion-Head Figure of the Mithraic Kronos or Boundless 

Time . . 247 

Signs of the Zodiac as Given in the Famous "Zodiac of 

Dendera" ......... 250 

Chart of the Stars in the Region of the North Pole 252 
Metropolitan Museum of Art 

xxviii SUusJtrationsi 


Egyptian Lion Supporters of Sun .... 254 

Lotuses and the Moon God: Assyrian Seal . . . 260 

The Monogram of Buddha ...... 272 

Sceptre and Different Forms of the Dorje . . . 274 

Egyptian Ur^us Pillar. Cypro-Mycen^ean Comparisons. 

Dual Ur^us Staff of Ishtar ..... 276 

Equilateral Triangle ....... 323 

Solomon's Seal ......... 335 

The Pentacle ......... 335 

Triangle as Used by American Indians .... 335 

The illustrations on the front and back linings are reproduced 
from Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man with the kind per- 
mission of Albert Churchward and his publishers, Geo. Allen 
and Unwin, Ltd. 

Life Symbols as Related to Sex Symbolism 


''All knowledge begins and ends with wonder, hut 
the first wonder is the child of ignorance, while the sec- 
ond wonder is parent of adoration/' — Coleridge. 

"That is true symbolism, in which the particular 
represents the gerieral, not as a dream and a shade, hut 
as a. living, momentary revelation of the inscrutable J" 
— Goethe. 


THE reverence of the elements and the belief that 
they were a manifestation of divine power 
played a large part in Mazdaism, the ancient 
religion of the Persians. 

The four elements were considered eternal by the 
Hindus. Hence the doctrine that nothing will be an- 
nihilated but only changed — souls by transmigration, 
matter by transmutation. 

It was believed by the ancients that the soul also 
was composed of the four elements — fire, water, air, 
earth — and that when united these took the form of fire 
or flame. "The Supreme Spirit was idealised as im- 
maculate fire and symbolised as a pure and elemental 
flame burning in infinitude. . . . The Egyptians de- 
fined spirit as a subtle fire as did the Hindus in whose 
conception the mystic element spread until it permeated 
the streams, quivered in the trees and, in fact, pervaded 
the universe." * 

The conception of the elements as fire, water, earth, 
air which was commonly accepted by the Greek and 
Indian philosophers was not held originally by the 
Chinese Taoists who resolved the elements into five: — 
water, fire, wood, metal, earth — and believed that these 

* Bayley's "Lost Language of Symbolism." 


4 life ^pmbols; 

conquered one another according to a definite law. Thus 
wood conquered earth; earth, water; water, fire; fire, 
metal and metal, wood. 

"No one can do anything against these phenomena, 
for the power which causes the five elements to counter- 
act each other is according to the natural dispensation 
of heaven and earth. Large quantities prevail over 
email quantities, hence water conquers fire. Spiritual- 
ity prevails over materiality, the non-substance over 
substance, thus fire conquers metal; hardness conquers 
softness, hence metal conquers wood ; density is superior 
to incoherence therefore wood conquers earth; solidity 
conquers insolidity, therefore earth conquers water." ^ 

The five elements were also associated with the five 
planets. Thus Venus represented metal; Jupiter, wood; 
Mercury, water; Mars, fire; and Saturn, earth. 

The Chinese metaphysicians and occultists carried 
out this inter-relation of the elements with each other 
and with their planets, designating them as parent, 
child, enemy, friend. They believed that all misfor- 
tunes came about from some disturbance of the five 
elements, some change in their given position. Thus 
the Chinese were strongly opposed to any interference 
with nature, or to doing anything that might perchance 
alter natural conditions. 

Later the Chinese Buddhists adopted the Greek and 
Indian idea, adding ether, however, to the other 
elements of fire, water, earth, air. Doing this, no doubt, 
so that the conception might equal in number the older 
Taoist form of enumeration. 

This Chinese diagram of the elements differs hardly 
at all from the European. The earth is represented by 

' From the rule preserved by Liu An, second century b.c.j quoted in 
"Chinese Thought" by Paul Carus. 

^f)t Clements; 

a square, water by a circle, fire by a triangle, air by a 
crescent and ether bj^ a gem — irmni^ "the jewel in the 
lotus" which surmounts the whole. Practically the 
same diagram or form was employed by the mediaeval 
alchemists of Europe, the only difference 
being that they considered the two upper sym- 
bols as one and called it air. 

The Caitya or Stupa, representing the five 
elements, is found in the open square of every 
Buddhist monastery in Japan and Tibet, and 
all over the interior of Asia wherever the in- 
fluence of Chinese civilisation extends. There 
is a well founded reason for the prevalence of 



Cams, Chinese Thought. 

the stupa among the Buddhists. Its purpose is to re- 
mind those who are living that the body of the dead has 
been reduced to its original elements, has been absorbed 
in the All, has returned to the origin and source of all 

In these "elemental" stupas the square becomes a 
cube, the circle a globe, the triangle a four-sided pyra- 

6 TLiit g)pmlioIs{ 

mid and the moon crescent and linga-shaped spike or 
"gem" are also solid. This symbolism of the five ele- 
ments is also depicted surmounting the memorial poles 
which the Chinese place on the tombs of the dead on 
their All Souls Day. 

In considering the various symbols of life, it will be 
a matter that may induce wonder and later reflection 
that these five "elemental" symbols march steadily 
along with man — taking on new meanings, amplifying, 
while always retaining their original signification. 

The position of the elements in the diagrams is also 
worth noting. It will be seen that the circle (water) 
stands between the square (earth) and the triangle 
(fire). And we shall have occasion to refer more than 
once to the peculiarly important relation that water 
bears to the earth (matter) and also to fire (spirit). 
The importance of water in this connection may be 
likened to fluids in the human body. Nor apparently 
does this end with the physical. Le fluide is a French 
expression for sympathy, "II n'y a du fluide entre 
nous" "Vous n'avez pas de fluide pour — '' Nor is 
it wholly a figure of speech that the heart melts, that 
thought is fluid. We are quite conscious that a hard 
face indicates inner sterility. Hardening of the arteries 
means death, as a hard heart causes spiritual death. 



"The humid nature being the origin of the universe 
produced the first three bodies earth, air, fire/* — - 

''In nearly every myth of importance . . . you have 
to discern these three structural parts — the root and the 
two branches; the root in physical existence^ sun^ or shy, 
or cloud, or sea; then the personal incarnation of that, 
becoming a trusted, companionable deity, with whom 
you may walk hand in hand, as a child with its brother 
or its sister; and lastly, the moral significance of the 
image, which is in all the great myths eternally and 
beneficently true/' — Ruskin. 

''To create a myth . . . to catch a glimpse of a 
higher truth behind a palpable reality is the most mani- 
fest sign of the greatness of the human soul." — Sabatier. 

"Every mythological figure is a philosophical con- 
cept." — Roeder. 



WHETHER the idea of the "sea as the Great 
Mother of all creation" found its inception 
in the fact that physical life was supposed 
to have originated in water, or whether it was used sym- 
bolically, water typifying Trutlj and Wisdom, the two 
factors Spirit and Water enter into ^11 the ancient 
stories of creation. 

The earliest germ of a creation myth appears to 
have been based on the idea that night was parent of 
the day and water of the earth. Out of darkness and 
death came light and life. Life was also motion. When 
the primordial waters became troubled life began to be. 

The creation mji;hs of Babylonia and Assyria de- 
pict "chaotic darkness brooding over a waste of waters. 
Heaven and earth were not as yet. Nought existed 
save the primeval ocean Mommu Tiawath (or Tiamat) 
from whose fertile depths came every living thing." 

Tiamat is the chaos demon — the Great Mother. As 
the origin of good she was believed to have created the 
gods. She was also the dragon of the sea and therefore 
the serpent or the leviathan. She is thus seen to have 
had a dual character. In her beneficent form she sur- 
vived as the Sumerian goddess Bau who is obviously 
identical with the Phoenician Baau "mother of the first 
man." Another name for Bau was Ma. Niritu a "form 

lo TLitt &j>mtJols« 

of the goddess Ma" was depicted as half woman and 
half serpent with a babe at her breast. 

The Egyptian letter M was called ma and also 
meant country, place, universe. The word "ma" con- 
tained for the Egyptians the idea of earth. 

In the language of the Mayas, according to Le 
Plongeon, "ma" likewise meant country, earth. 

One of the Babylonian goddesses was called Ama, 
Mama or Mami or the "Mother of all things." In 
Chaldea "Mama" signified the "Lady of the Gods." 

In this primitive conception the Great Mother deity 
was believed to be self -created and self-sustaining. The 
typical Great Mother was a Virgin goddess with a 
fatherless son. Like the Babylonian Tiamat and the 
Celtic Danu she was the "mother of the gods from 
whom mankind was descended." Her characteristics 
varied in different localities. In one she was associated 
with the earth, in others with water and in others again 
with the sky. 

In her baleful aspect she was the enemy of mankind. 
It is she who attempts to destroy all life and to prevent 
the coming of summer. Her son, on the contrary, is a 
beneficent being. He is the Spirit of Life, the one who 
brings summer and who is the lover of all mankind. 
It is the son with his life giving power who defeats the 
goddess Mother in her efforts to hold back growth and 
keep the earth bound in her sterile clasp. 

There is a great divergence of ideas in the Egj^ptian 
creation myths, although in Egj^pt as well as in Baby- 
lonia there was the early belief that life in the universe 
had a female origin. 

"At the beginning naught save darkness and 
water. The spirit of night the Great Mother and her 

Xeith, Libyan Earth 


(Metropolitan Museum of Art) 

Cypriote, Mother Goddess, 

Bronze Age 1500-1200 B.C., 

(Metropolitan Museum of Art) 

IsiiTAR AS Tiip; Mother 
(Jastrow, Civilisation of 
Babylonia and Assyria) 

Leaden Idol of Artemis 

Nana of Chaldea with 

Swastika Enclosed in a 


Third City 

(Schliemann, llios) 

Creation iWptf)s( n 

first born the moon child. Life came from death and 
Light from dcarkness." 

Neith the Libyan Earth Mother was beheved to be 
self-sustaining as she was self-produced. She was the 
Unknown One, the Hidden One and like other Virgin 
goddesses she had a fatherless son. 

A creation myth of Heliopolis refers to "one god of 
the primordial deep." It was at Heliopolis, too, that 
Ra the sun-god was first exalted as the Great Father 
who created all things. Ra created everything that 
had being, in the waters and upon the dry land. Men 
were born from the eye of Ra. Ra the ruler of the gods 
was the first king on earth. 

As related in a creation myth of the Egyptian sun 
worshippers the world was in the beginning a waste 
of waters called Nu. Nu gave being to the sun-god 
who appeared first as a shining egg floating on the 
waters. The spirits of the deep — the fathers and 
mothers — were with him there as he was with Nu. 
Ra, however, was greater than Nu. He was the divine 
father who created Shu, the wind-god and Tefunt, his 
consort. Then came Seb, the earth-god and Nut, the 
sky-goddess whom Shu, the uplifter raised on high so 
that Nut formed the vault which is arched over Seb, the 
earth. From the union of Seb and Nut — earth and 
sky — came forth Osiris and Isis. 

Egypt had also the chaos goose who cackled 
loudly to the chaos gander, when she laid the egg of 
the sun. Ra became the historic egg and Seb, the earth- 
god the gander. Later Amen Ra of Thebes who com- 
bined many deities represented the chaos goose and 
gander in one. 

The god Kneph whom the Egyptians called "intel- 
ligence or efficient cause of the universe" was said to 

12 TLiit ^pmbols; 

have vomited an egg from which was produced another 
god named Ptah or Vulcan (the principle of fire or the 
sun) and that this egg represented the world. 

Kneph was depicted as a man dressed in deep blue — 
the colour of the sky — a sceptre in his hand, a belt — the 
zodiac — encircling his waist, on his head a cap with 
feathers and issuing from his mouth the great egg — the 

Khnemu the 'Moulder' one of the oldest gods of the 
Egyptian religion also ranked as a 'maker of mankind' 
and the primeval egg was associated with Khnemu as 
with the other creator gods. 

The cosmic egg the 'germ of the universe' occurs in 
many mythologies with and without the 'precious 

''Cet oeuf mysterieucVj, resultat d'idees obscurcies par 
les temps et par les egarements de V esprit humain, a 
surnage au naufrage de toutes les opinions cosmogo- 
niques. II est reste au milieu des plus nuageuses con- 
ceptions comme le type consaci'e du monde physique." ^ 

Bayley in the Lost Language of Symbolism sug- 
gests that the fairy tale of the goose that laid the golden 
egg may have been derived from this ancient myth of 

P'an Ku, a late but conspicuous figure in the Chin- 
ese cosmogony was said to have emerged from the cos- 
mic egg. It was P'an Ku who fashioned the universe 
out of chaos. He was the offspring of the "original dual 
powers of nature the Yin and the Yang." He is repre- 
sented as a man of dwarf -like stature dressed in bear- 
skin or leaves, or merely with an apron of leaves. He 
has two horns on his head, and holds a hammer in his 
right hand and a chisel in the left, or again he is depicted 

' "Hinloire et Theorie du Symbolisme Religieux," M. I'Abbe Auber. 

Nij KuA Shih 
(Werner, Myths and Legends of China) 

Creation iWptfjs; 13 

with the sun in one hand and the moon in the other. In 
some pictures he is attended by the four supernatural 
creatures the phoenix, the unicorn, the dragon and the 
tortoise. His task of creation took 18,000 years. 

The Chinese had several other conceptions of the 
origin of things that brought in a personal creator. 
There was Nii Kua who was said to be the creator of 
human beings when the earth first emerged from chaos. 
"She or he had the body of a serpent and the head of an 
ox," or is sometimes represented with a human head as 
in the illustration. 

Sometimes the name is separated and Nii and Kua 
are brother and sister, the first human pair. "At the 
creation they were placed at the foot of the K'un-lun 
mountains. Then they prayed, saying, 'If thou, O God, 
hast sent us to be man and wife, the smoke of our sacri- 
fice will stay in one place; but if not, it will be scattered.' 
The smoke remained stationary." ^ 

On the whole, however, the Chinese mind seems to 
have been better content with abstract, philosophical ex- 
planations of the cosmos even when too abstruse for the 
ordinary mind to understand. 

According to Charencey the Chinese admitted five 
primordial agencies "1 ° le principe male et actif, le dieu 
inconnu. 2° le chaos ou la matiere inerte, representant 
le principe femelle; de leur union resultent; 3° le del et 
4° la terre. Ces deux dernier s s'agissant Vun sur V au- 
tre donnent naissance au 5° principe qui est Vhomme. 
Ce principe male est appele Yang et exerce une influ- 
ence bienfaisante. Au contraire le Yin ou principe fem- 
inin a une action nefaste. C'est lui qui cau^e la mort et 
la decadence de tous les etres." ^ 

'"Myths and Legends of China," E. T. Chalmers Werner. 
* "La Symbolisme des Points de I'Horizon," M. H. de Charencey. 

14 mtt ^j^mfiolsf 

The egg is also found in a Hindu theory of creation 
which relates that the Supreme Spirit laid a golden egg 
resplendent as the sun and from this was born Brahma 
the progenitor of the universe. 

The ancients in India first worshipped Mother 
Earth. Ida, the Universal Mother was said to have 
been formed by Manu, the thinker out of the 'waters 
which were impregnated with the heavenly seed.' Ida 
thus represented the purified earth cleansed by sanctify- 
ing waters. When she arose from the waters cleansed 
and purified, the myth relates that Mitra and Varuna 
the twin deities wished to claim her for their own. Re- 
fusing to acknowledge them as parents, however, she 
remained true to Manu the thinker. 

Another Hindu creation myth pictures the Great 
Originator as infinite, eternal, immaterial, round. 
"This universe was formerly soul only in the form of 
Purusha." Purusha having passed an unlimited time 
in self-contemplation and desiring to manifest himself, 
he caused himself to fall asunder in two parts. Hence 
came husband and wife, and these, assuming various 
animal forms "thus created every living pair whatso- 
ever down to the ants." 

Purusha was also called the chaos giant. From him 
were born the 'Trimurti' — the three gods of the Hindus 
— Brahma, Vishnu and Siva — Creator, Preserver and 

Among the Buddhists, Adi-Buddha the most excel- 
lent first Buddha the "saint of the wheel of time" was 
the beginning deity. "When nothing else was he was." 
When all was perfect void the mystic syllable Aum be- 
came manifest from which at his own will the Adi-Bud- 
dha was produced. This mystic syllable Aum signi- 
fied the three precious Tri-ratna, the Buddhist triad — 

Creation JHptJjs; 15 

Buddha, intelligence, soul, Dharma, matter, the body, 
and Sangha, the union of the two. 

A Creation myth of the Persians divides creation in 
six galians or galian-hars which represent six periods of 
time — called by Zoroaster the thousands of God or 
Light. In the first period God created the heavens, in 
the second the waters, in the third the earth, in the 
fourth the trees, in the fifth animals and in the sixth 

The Etrurians had a similar tradition. The myth 
of creation in the Zend-Avesta has many points in com- 
mon with that related in Genesis. There is a first man 
and a first woman living in a state of celestial innocence. 
Instead of a serpent, however, the tempter approaches 
them in the guise of a great lizard, the symbol of Ahri- 
manes the power of evil. Then the warfare between 
Alirimanes, the genius of evil or darkness and Ormuzd 
(or Ahura-Mazda) , the god of life and light, the end of 
the world in six thousand years, the coming of the lamb 
or mediator between Light and Darkness, the new 
world, the life to come, the passage of the soul over the 
bridge of the abyss to a place of felicity, or despair, the 
celebration of the mysteries of Mithra, the unleavened 
bread that is set apart for the initiated — many of these 
ideas and rites bear a close resemblance to the Hebrew. 

"Breathed upon the face of the waters" occurs in 
marjy cosmogonies. 

One of the oldest of the Hindu myths relates that in 
the beginning there was one God self-existent who 
passed through all eternity absorbed in the contempla- 
tion of his own reflections. Finally desiring to manifest 
himself he created matter or substance. The four ele- 
ments of which the world is composed, lay in a state of 
mingled confusion till he breathed upon the face of the 

1 6 life ^pmibol£{ 

waters, and they immediately became an immense bub- 
ble shaped like an egg. This egg is the vault or globe of 
the heavens in which the world is enclosed. This god 
"is the source of motion." 

In the Hebrew version of the creation as given in the 
Book of Genesis "And the spirit of God moved upon 
the face of the waters" there is the same thought. 

Nearly all the creation myths seem to recognise a 
First Cause, a Great Mover, a Vital Spirit which dif- 
fused through all beings animates the vast body of the 
world. Back of chaos is discerned a Primum Mobile, 
Unknown and Unknowable — then Chaos, then Oi'der. 
This is the creative process. With rare exceptions, 
chaos was associated by the ancient myth makers with 
the feminine principle, and order, organisation with the 
masculine. The idea of Darkness first, then Light 
emerging from darkness, or night giving birth to day 
never varies, nor do the principles themselves ever les- 
sen in importance. Called by many names — fire and 
water, spirit and matter, positive and negative, active 
and passive, man and woman — they themselves never 
change. They pass down through the ages "an in- 
separable pair" — the same two principles that, although 
the result is an infinitely varied expression of the crea- 
tive process, are invariably associated to produce life. 

In all the ancient cosmogonies the largest share in 
the divine government and control of the universe is 
given to the two powers sun (or fire) and water, as 
representing the two chief forces of nature upon whose 
harmonious adjustment rests the prosperity and welfare 
of mankind. 

Troward gives an involved but highly illuminating 
interpretation of water as related to spirit and matter 
or fire and earth in ancient symbolism. He describes 

Archaic Greek 
Statuette of a Woman 

Photo. Alinari 

Babylonian Goddess, Babylonian 
Art 3000 b.c. 

(Museo Barracco, Romej 

Creation iHptfjjJ 17 

water as the "universal psychic medium in which the nu- 
clei of the forms hereafter to become consolidated on 
the plane of the concrete and material, take their in- 
ception in obedience to the movement of Spirit or 
Thought. This is the realm of potential forms and is 
the connecting link between Spirit or pure thought 
and Matter or concrete form." He adds that the ex- 
istence of this intermediary between Spirit and Matter 
must never be lost sight of, and that it may be called the 
Distributive Medium, in passing through which the hith- 
erto undistributed Energy of Spirit receives differen- 
tiation of direction and so ultimately produces differen- 
tiations of forms and relations on the outermost or visi- 
ble plane. "This is the Cosmic Element esoterically 
called 'Water.'"* 

Woman or the feminine principle is associated with 
the earth, matter. The feminine principle is also asso- 
ciated with water. Thus water, the intermediary be- 
tween spirit and matter, typified "woman the soul, the 
psychic side of man — the mother of individual life." ° 

The circle symbolised water or the feminine princi- 
ple in nature, also eternity. 

Zigzag lines representing waves or ripples of the 
sea are also one of the pre-historic symbols of water. 
The Egyptian hieroglyph for water was a wavy or 
zigzag line. 

Two wavy lines are the zodiacal sign of Aquarius, 
the Water Carrier. 

* "Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning," T. Troward. 



''The flower that was in the Beginning, the glorious 
lily of the great Water/' 

''When Buddha was horn a lotus bloomed where he 
first touched the ground; he stepped seven steps north- 
ward and a lotus marked each footfall/' 

"The entire history of European pre-historic orna- 
ment, and therefore of European civilization may re- 
ceive a new direction from an observation based upon 
the sepal of a water lily/' — Goodyear's "Grammar of 
the Lotus." 





THE use of the lotus as a symbol of creation or the 
beginning of life extends back beyond the meas- 
urements of time. 
A growth of the watery element, without roots in the 
earth, nourished by the rays of the sun, 
the lotus was the symbol par excel- 
lence of the power of nature through 
the agency of fire and water. As the 
world was conceived to have come into 
being by the inter-action of these two 
elements, the lotus became the dual 
symbol of spirit and matter or the 
"spirit moving upon the face of the 

In the Hindu cosmogony the world is likened to a 
lotus flower floating in the centre of a 
shallow vessel which rests on the back of 
an elephant and the elephant on the back 
of a tortoise. 

"Brahma springs from the lotus which 
in its turn rises from the navel of Vishnu." 
SHIPPER AND Again Brahma is frequently depicted 

di8k!^°^°^^ as floating on the waters supported by a 

Assyrian seal. lotUS leaf. 

Assyrian seal. 

Goodyear, Grammar 
the Lotus. 


22 life ^pmboIs( 

The myth of Horus as the new born sun rising from 
a lotus fiower expanding its leaves on the breast of the 
primeval deep, conveys the same idea — the union of fire 
and water — as does the Hebrew ac- 
count of creation in the book of Gene- 

The belief that the lotus is sacred 
to the sun is one of the most ancient 
traditions of the Egyptian and Hin- 
du mythologies and has been the most 
LOTUS SUPPORTING tcuaciously held and preserved. 

WINGED SOLAR DISK. ^-^ , . . „ . , 

Fromacylindershownin C)ne CXplaUatlOU of thc Solar Slg- 

Lajard.c«/*.d.M./;.ra. nificaucc of thc lotus is that "the mo- 
ment of its opening corresponds to the dawn." 

"Je suis un lotus, issu du champ du soleilj" * 

It is used in connection with the sun apparently to 
suggest the renewal of the sun rather than as a symbol 
of the sun itself. 

"It perhaps symbolised less the sun itself than the 
solar matrix, that mysterious sanctuary into which the 
sun retires every evening there to acquire fresh life. 
This miracle which was believed to be renewed each day 
was regarded as the origin of whatever exists," ^ 

The Egyptians thus believing that the world sprang 
from the liquid element, made the sun proceed from a 
lotus which had emerged one day from the primordial 
waters. From a symbol of solar renascence it became 
a symbol of human re-birth as well as life in its eternal 

The lotus not only was a symbol of life, immortality, 
resurrection, fecundity, the feminine principle, re-birth, 
but it also symbolised nature in her infinite manifes- 

* "Livre des Morts," Pierret. 

»"The Migration of Symbols," Count Goblet d'Alviella. 

®f)e lotus; 23 

tations, and more particularly the productive power of 

Goodyear points out that, in considering the Egypt- 
ian ideas of resurrection and the future life which 
played such an important part in their religion, we must 
never lose sight of the fact that these ideas were prac- 
tically built up upon a worship of the creative and re- 
productive powers of nature, which were conceived to be 
solar in their origin. "It is the supposed passage of the 

Lajard, Culte de Mithra. 

sun at night through a lower world which makes Osiris 
( the sun at night ) the God of the Lower World and of 
the dead ; hence he himself is represented as a mummy. 
As the God of the Resurrection, his especial and em- 
phatic character, he represents the creative energy of 
the Sun god. Hence the lotus as an attribute of Osiris 
is at once a symbol of the sun, of the resurrection, and 
of creative force and power. . . . This three-fold sig- 
nificance is to be considered in all cases . . . but it is 
the solar significance which explains the others." ^ 

Its association with the mummy and the doctrine of 
the future life explains the use of the lotus in a mortu- 
ary or funerary way. It appears on the sepulchral tab- 

* Goodyear's "Grammar of the Lotus." 


%itt ^pmbols 

lets of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and was also 
employed in early Christian art to symbolise the resur- 
rection and immortality of the 

The lotus — as well as the 
scarabffius, serpent and palm 
tree — was an early androgynous 
symbol of self-creation. 

Among the Buddhists the 
padma or lotus is the symbol of 
self-creation. "The lotus flower, 
itself a prodigy, coming into ex- 
istence without being nourished 
by the earth" became the perfect 
symbol of the germinating power 
of water when acted upon by 
the sun or the active power of the 
Creator Adi-Buddha. 

When all was void Aum be- 
came manifest. In Aum Adi- 
Buddha, the first Buddha "who is 
present in all things, formless, passion- 
less, who possesses the Tri-ratna — was 
produced by his own will." 

As every Buddha and Bodhisattva is 
self-created and self-existent, the lotus 
flower as a support typifies his divine 
birth. Although the lotus pedestal is 
best known through the statues of Bud- 
dha, it is common to all Hindu gods. 

The lotus flower support to the solar 
gods Horus and Vishnu and in the hands 
of Hathor and Lakshmi the goddesses 
associated with them, indicates, as does much of the 


Ivory plaque from Nimroud 
British Museum. 

Perrot and Chipiez. 


Supporting the 
throne of the 
Master between 
two Naga Kings. 

D'Alviella, Migra- 
tion of Symbols 

Cfje ILotusf 25 

Eastern s^Tnbolism — notably that of the serpent — a 
shade of thought too subtle to be more than indirectly 

Among; the Buddhists the lotus was also the em- 
blem of Nirvana. Its mysterious growth, rising from 
stagnant water and ooze into perfect flower gloriously 
white and unsullied, typified the future possibilities of 
the soul, just as its expanded flower resting upon the 
surface of the placid waters typified the ultimate re- 
pose of the soul after all desire has fled. 

Brahma appears on a golden lotus. He is also said 
to keep watch over the world six months of the year 
and sleep the remaining six "in a lotus flower of ex- 
traordinary beauty." 

It is related by the Buddhists that once upon a time 
Amitabha — god of infinite light, a sun-god who pre- 
sides over the western paradise — "after giving himself 
up to earnest meditation caused a white ray of light to 
issue from his right eye which brought forth Padma- 
pani (Avalokita) into existence. Amitabha blessed 
him and the Bodhisattva gave utterance to the prayer 
'Om, mani, padme, hum/ 'Oh! the jewel (of creation) 
is in the lotus.' According to Hodgson the correct 
translation is 'The mystic triform is in him of the jewel 
and the lotus.' " * 

The Mantra ''Om, mani, padme, hum" — the 'jewel 
is in the lotus' — is used in the Yoga system to express 
the union of the Two Parts, the entire system being 
founded upon the union of the two forces. Spirit and 

Upon the creation of the world Adi-Buddha, the first 
Buddha was said to have revealed himself on Mount 
Sumeru in the form of a flame issuing from a lotus flow- 

♦'The Gods of Northern Buddhism," Getty. 

26 life ^j>mbol£f 

er. In Nepal the Buddha is always represented by this 
symbol (union of fire and water). The flame symbol 
will also be encountered again and again rising from 
the centre of a moon crescent. Some of the Nepalese 
writings thus describe the manifestation of the first 
Buddha: — 

"A lotus flower of precious jewels appeared on the 
^ summit of Mount Sumeru which is the 

N-^ centre of the universe and above it arose a 

tmoon crescent." ^ 
We first see the flame symbol in the 
moon crescent in the diagram of the ele- 
ments or in the elemental stupa form. Its 
DETAIL OF AN shapc chaugcs slightly and it is known un- 

ASSYRIAN SEAL. , . I . • . 

Good ear Gram- ^^^ various uamcs Dut its mcaumg remams 
marlf the Lotus, unaltcrcd. Whcthcr the flame rests in a 
moon crescent or in the lotus it is the symbol of the union 
of the dualistic forces that produce life. 

The phallic significance of the lotus as related to the 
resurrection and the reproductive forces of nature is, 
of course, obvious. And this is more distinctly implied 
in the symbolism of the "jewel in the lotus." In its 
phallic aspect the 'jewel in the lotus' represents the 
union of the masculine and feminine principles, the 
jewel indicating the masculine and the lotus the femi- 
nine, while the bursting seed pods symbolised fecundity. 

The lotus is thus given to Isis in her character of 
goddess of fecundity. 

In the Christian religion the lotus becomes the Lily 
of the Virgin. 

Goodyear in reminding us of the antiquity of the 
lotus says that the papyrus which is commonly asso- 
ciated with the lotus — the papyrus for the north and 

"Getty's "The Gods of Northern Buddhism." 

arfje Hotus; 


the lotus for the south — 
"sinks out of sight as we 
go farther back." 

The ancients, who did 
nothing in a meaningless 
way, creating and develop- 
ing form not only to shel- 
ter and protect life, but to 
express in all ways, as 
beautifully as their imagi- 
nation and skill would per- 
mit, their profound belief 
in and worship of Life, 
made elaborate use of the 
leaves, buds and flowers of 
the lotus as decorative mo- 
tifs, and this symbol be- 
came one of the most im- 
portant decorative features 
in the architectural designs 
of Egypt and India. 

Goodyear believed that 
the egg and dart motif 
which architects still use 
was derived from the lotus. 

The lotus, the flower 
of Buddha, was sometimes 
conventionalised into a 
wheel design, the petals re- 
presenting spokes and 
symbolising the doctrine of 
perpetual cycles of exist- 
ence. The wheel symbol 
was also indicated by the 










<^ ^ 




- ■ g 

a) «*; t3 

a o '^ 

tzj ^ JS 

t3 a 5 

* u 


life ^pmbolfi; 

round top of the seed vessel. An eight leaved lotus 
flower represented the 'heart of being.' 


Bas-relief from Khorsabad. 

The rosettes so frequently found as an architectural 
ornament were probably derived from the lotus, and 
thus take on a solar significance. 

The Egyptians, according to Breasted, created the 
column and originated the colonnade. Sometimes 
these columns represented a palm tree with its capital 
a crown of foliage, or again "a bundle of papyrus stalks 
bearing the architrave upon the cluster of buds at the 
top which form the capital." ^ 

On the majority of these columns, however, the capi- 
tal represented a lotus flower with the upper part cut 
off, swelling at the base and tapering toward the top, 
or again the capital is in the form of a calyx whose sur- 
face is decorated with convex lobes to indicate the petals 
of a flower. 

Always arriving by way of nature, it is interesting 
to trace back definitely to the underlying thought of 
Life. And nowhere is the idea of growth from the soil 
upward, reaching toward heaven, better expressed than 

"Breasted's "History of Egypt." 

Srije lotus; 29 

in these Egyptian columns which, resting jBrmly upon 
the ground, terminate above in capitals formed like the 
lotus — symbol of creative energy, life, immortality. 

The lotus is called the Flower of Light and Flower 
of Life, flower de luce and fleur de lys and "as an em- 
blem of the Trinity is one of the few survivals still re- 
tained in the Christian ecclesiology. Lux lucet in Tene- 
hris. This light shining in the darkness was like Christ 
the Light of the World symbolised by the Fleur de 
Lys." ' 

' Bayley's "Lost Language of Symbolism." 



"There are in life two elements, one transitory and 
progressive, the other comparatively if not absolutely 
non-progressive and eternal'' — Gilbert Murray. 

"Polarity or the inter-action of Active and Passive 
is the basis of all evolution/' — Troward. 

"The very touch of the eternal in the two sexual 
tastes brings them the more in antagonism; for one 
stands for a universal vigilance and the other for an al- 
most infinite output." — Chesterton. 

"Tranquillity according to His essence, activity ac- 
cording to His nature; perfect stillness, perfect fecun- 
dity, this is the two-fold character of the Absolute" — 



THE Egyptians built their temples to represent 
the world as they conceived it to be. "The sun 
journeying from east to west cut the universe 
into two worlds, the north and the south. Like the uni- 
verse the temple was double, and an imaginary line 
drawn through the axis of the sanctuary divided it into 
two temples." ^ 

This idea of duality was carried throughout into all 
the ceremonies and rituals. Believing the earth to be a 
flat, shallow plane, oblong in form, and that Shu lifted 
up the sky which, stretched over the earth like a vault, 
was supported by four props or huge pillars, they made 
their ceilings correspond to the sky, the four corners 
of the chamber typified the supports, and the temple 
pavement was the equivalent of the inhabited world. 
Each part thus was decorated according to its signifi- 
cance. Everything touching the ground was covered 
with vegetation. The columns represented plants or 
trees that grew on the banks of the Nile. The base of 
the walls were decorated with long stems of papyrus or 
lotus flowers; sometimes cattle were depicted. The 
temple ceilings resembled the starry heavens, being 
painted dark blue and sprinkled with golden five point- 
ed stars. 

* "Manual of Egyptian Archeology," G. Maspero. 


34 life ^pmbote 

"In so far as Egyptian symbolism is concerned it is 
well to remember that its religious philosophy was a 
highly refined and intellectual system and that it found 
expression in pictorial allegories supplied by reptile, 
beast and bird without detriment to this philosophic 
quality." (Goodyear.) 

The Hindus gave the name of the "pair of oppo- 
sites" to the dual aspect of nature which manifests it- 
self as sun and moon, light and darkness, heat and cold, 
fire and water, man and woman, day and night, etc. 

From remotest times man, the active principle has 
been symbolised by fire, by whatever is pointed, direct — ■ 
a spear, shaft, column, dart, arrow, sword, the "Rod 
of Jesse." And woman, the feminine or passive princi- 
ple by water, by everything that is sinuous, concave, 
curving, receptive — by the earth — the all creative 
Mother Earth — by mounds, high places, mountains — 
"as in Germany the famous Horselberg or Venusberg," 
by the moon, ark, crescent, pearl — anything, in short, 
that was hollow, oval, cavernous, circular, a receptacle. 

The red of fire typified the masculine principle and 
the blue of the sea the feminine. The belief in a Sav- 
iour God born of a Virgin often named Maria or some 
word meaning mare — sea — was common among many 
of the ancient races. 

The old Chinese religion was based on the idea that 
Heaven and Earth — themselves the greatest gods — pro- 
duce all things by the inter-action of the opposites — 
heat and cold, light and darkness, male and female. 
Smce time immemorial the Chinese have divided nature 
into two great parts. In this dualistic philosophy Yang 
is the masculine principle denoting light, warmth, life. 
Yin is the principle of darkness, cold, death. Yang is 
the sun, Yin the earth. Yang is the Celestial Breath 

Srije JBml ^rincijplcsf 35 

and shares supreme sway in nature with the Terrestrial 
Breath which is Yin the passive or feminine principle. 
Heaven the highest spirit, not only was conceived to be 
the cause of natural phenomena but the source of the 
order of nature (the Tao — the way). 

"Heaven and earth existing all things got their exist- 
ence. All (material) things existing, afterwards there 
came male and female. From the existence of male 
and female came husband and wife. From husband 
and wife came father and son. From father and son 
came ruler and minister. From ruler and minister 
came high and low. When high and low had existence 
afterwards came the arrangements of propriety and 

Moore in his History of Religions cites the Chi- 
nese imperial sacrifice to heaven as being one of the most 
grandiose acts of worship ever performed by men. The 
same definite symbolism is shown in this worship. The 
sacrifice to heaven is at the winter solstice when the 
powers of light and warmth begin to prevail against 
the cold and dark of winter. The sacrifice to earth oc- 
curs at the summer solstice for the opposite reason. 
"For in the dualistic physical philosophy of the Chinese 
Heaven belongs to the Yang the bright, warm male 
principle, and Earth to the Yin the dark, cold female 
principle. Thus the altar to Heaven is south of the city 
[Peking] while that of the Earth is north; the former 
is white and round like Heaven; the latter dark and 
square and surrounded by water like the earth. Heaven 
has a round, blue jade stone, Earth a square yellow 

Among the ancient Chinese jade was the most pre- 
cious mineral and was always identified in their philoso- 
phy with Heaven. Certain things like jade and gold 

36 life ^pmliote 

were believed to be imbued with vital energy derived 
from the great element yang. Heaven being the de- 
pository of vital energy its symbols must likewise be in- 
destructible, unchangeable. Hence the saying "Heav- 
en is jade, is gold." 

Jade and gold were also prominent minerals in 

The Great Monad, the ovum mundi of the Chinese 
which symbolises the Chinese philosophy of opposites, 
is a circle divided by two arcs of opposite centres. In 
this mystic union of the two principles the dark repre- 
sents yin the material or feminine principle and the 
light yang the spiritual or masculine principle. 


A third arc from above is sometimes depicted unit- 
ing them. This represents the "Tai-Kih or Great Ulti- 
mate Principle which according to ancient philosophy is 
the genitor of the so-called Liang-I or Two Regulating 
Powers or the Superior Breaths Yang and Yin which 
create by their co-operation all that takes place in na- 
ture. These two Regulators who, mutually extinguish- 
ing and giving way to each other, keep at work a 
ceaseless process of revolution which produces all the 
phenomena of existence." ^ 

The circle is sometimes divided by three lines re- 
sembling the Chinese Y, the latter a symbol of vast 
antiquity used to indicate the Great Unit, the Great 
Plan, the Great Uniter. The Chinese Y held the same 

*De Groot's "Religious Systems of China." 

Founders of the "Three Religions" 

Buddha in the centre, Lao-tse on the left (the most honourable place in 
China) and Confucius on the light. 

Henry Dore, S. J., Researches into Chinese Superstition 

significance as the Egyptian Ankh (the crux ansata). 
The way this symbol was employed to express the Chi- 
nese conception of the universe — which is really based on 
parenthood — will be referred to under another heading. 

In attempting to understand the anomaly presented 
by Chinese thought someone has said that a man in 
China was born a Taoist, lived a Confucian and died a 
Buddhist. As a matter of fact the theory of immortal- 
ity advanced by the Taoists was as little acceptable to 
the philosophers and thinkers as the Indian conception 
of Nirvana. Between the two ideas, one of negation 
or annihilation in the future state and the other of the 
ultimate union of the two dualistic forces into one thus 
representing completion stood Confucius with his feet 
firmly planted on what is, and giving as little thought 
as possible to life after death "preferring to teach men 
how to live." 

Okakura-Kakuzo relates the Sung allegory of the 
Three Vinegar Tasters as explaining admirably the 
trend of the three doctrines. "Sakyamuni, Confucius 
and Lao-tse once stood before a jar of vinegar — the 
emblem of life — and each dipped in his finger to taste 
the brew. The matter of fact Confucius found it sour, 
the Buddha called it bitter and Lao-tse pronounced it 
sweet." ^ 

Yet whether Life was sweet, bitter or sour neither 
doctrine attempted to disguise the enormous importance 
of the two principles, which united produce life. 

The symbolism of the interaction of the yang and 
yin as developed in the famous eight trigrams of the 
Yi King or Book of Changes forms a fascinating and 
thought provoking chapter by itself. 

"The Book of Tea." 


"The reason that can he reasoned not eternal reason. 

Name that can he named not eternal name. 

The unnamahle heginning of heaven and earth. 

The namable mother of all things. . . . 

These two things spiritual and material, though we call 
them hy different names, in their origin are one and 
the same. This sameness is a mystery. This mys- 
tery the gate of all spirituality.'' — Trans, of Tao- 

'The successive movements of the active and inac- 
tive elements make what is called the course of things. 
Existence and non-existence give rise to each other." 



THERE is a legend that a 'dragon horse' emerged 
from the river Ho bearing on its back an ar- 
rangement of marks which gave Fuh-Hi (or 
Fu-Shi) the idea of the trigrams. These groupings 
or symbols are supposed by some authorities to go back 
to B.C. 3322, while others consider that Fuh-Hi lived 
between 2853—2738 B.C. 

These trigrams are contained in the Yi King or Book 
of Changes. Also the earliest Chinese philosophy is 
found in notes added to the Yi. This ancient book 
has been venerated by Chinese scholars and sages of 
every period, who have looked upon it as a "clue to 
the mysteries of nature and an unfathomable lake of 
metaphysical wisdom." ^ 

The interpretation of the Yi was raised to a science. 
Confucius classified and wrote various appendices to 
it and is reported to have said toward the end of his 
life that if fifty years more could be given him to devote 
to the study of the Y he might hope to escape many 

According to de Groot the Taoists regarded the 
Yi King as their Book, par excellence. He emphasises 
this as against the generally accepted opinion that the 
principal Taoist Bible is the Tao-Teh-King. 

^ De Groot's "Religious Systems of China." 


42 %ift S)j>mbo(s! 

The "I" or "Y" consisted originally of eight tri- 
grams and sixty-four hexagrams made up of a com- 
bination of broken and unbroken lines arranged in such 
a way as not to repeat each other. 

These were derived from the two elementary or 
primary forms called Liang-I. De Groot quotes from 
the Yi in his Religious Systems of China. "Of the 
system of divination laid down in the Yi King or Book 
of Changes it says 'There is in the system of the meta- 
morphoses of nature the Great Ultimate Principle and 
this produces the two Regulating Powers. These Pow- 
ers produce the four forms which again produce eight 
trigrams. These trigrams determine good and evil and 
good and evil cause the great business of human life.' " 

The two elementary forms or Regulating Powers 
are: — 

Yang bright, Yin dark ; Yang the principle of heav- 
en, Yin the earth which when not acted upon by the 
heavens is nothing but a cold, dark, lifeless mass. Yang 
is the sun, Yin the moon. Yang is the active, mascu- 
line principle, Yin is passive, the feminine principle. 
Yang is positive, Yin negative. Yang is strong, un- 
bending, Yin is weak, submissive, pliant. 

Everything produced by Yang and Yin being the 
natural result of the Celestial and Terrestrial Breaths, 
the outcome for good or ill is in exact mathematical 
proportion to the way these are combined. The strug- 
gle between and different admixtures of these two con- 
trasting, elementary forces make all the conditions that 

Yang is symbolised by a whole line indi- 
cating strength. 

Yin is symbolised by a divided line indi- 
cating weakness. 

tCfje Cfiinese Erigrams 43 

These lines placed over themselves and each other 
formed the four Hsiang or Emblematic Symbols. 

These same lines placed successively over each other 
formed the eight Kwa or Trigrams. There are only 
eight possible combinations of such trigrams, to each 
of which was assigned a special meaning which formed 
the basis of divination. 

The two fundamental lines added to each of the 
eight trigrams produce sixteen figures of four lines 
each. This is carried on to thirty-two figures of five 
lines each. A similar addition produces the sixty-four 
hexagrams each of which form the subject of an essay 






in the text of the Yi. The Hnes increase in an arith- 
metical progression whose common difference is 1 and 

44 Itife ^pmbolsf 

the figures in a geometrical progression whose common 
ratio is 2. 

The eight trigrams were called: — 

"Khien, heaven, sky, celestial sphere. 

Tui, watery exhalations, vapours, clouds. 

Li J fire, heat, sun, light, lightning. 

Chen, thunder. 

Sun, wind, wood. 

Khan, water, rivers, lakes, seas. 

Ken, mountains. 

Khwun, earth, terrestrial matter." ^ 

Khien represented by three undivided strokes is 
'Unalloyed Yang.' Khwun represented by three di- 
vided strokes is 'Unalloyed Yin'. In the mixed groups 
the lower line indicates the place of most importance. 

Khien symbolises Heaven which directs the great 
beginnings of things, and Khwun the Earth which 
gives to them their completion. 

Khien and Khwun are the gate of the Yi. Move- 
ment and rest are the regular and inherent qualities of 

The six minor trigrams or children are water and 
fire, thunder and wind, mountains and large bodies of 

In China the four "heaven spirits" were cloud, rain, 
wind, thunder, and the worship of mountains and rivers 
was closely associated with the worship of heaven. 
Mountains and rivers were believed to control climatic 
conditions — both physical and spiritual climates. 
There were four mountains in the four quarters of the 
empire as well as the four great rivers and the four 

"De Groot's "Religious Systems of Claina." 

Srije Cf)ine£(e ^Trigrams; 45 

seas which "according to mythical geography bound the 

The trigrams contain the three powers, heaven, 
earth and men. These three are one and the same. 
When doubled into hexagrams the three powers unite 
and are one. "But there are the changes and move- 
ments of their (several) ways and therefore there are 
separate places for Yin and Yang and reciprocal uses 
of the hard and soft." ^ 

This system of divination was really an attempt — 
and an amazingly clever one at that — to explain the 


^ Summer ^ 



origin of nature on mathematical principles. Numbers 
were conceived of "not as relations predicable of things 
but as constituting the essence of things." Numbers 

' Legge's trans. Yi King. 

46 TLift ^pmbolfii 

Avere the rational reality to which appearances as recog- 
nised by the senses may be reduced. Troward must 
have studied the Yi for he speaks of the "three great 
principles into which all forms of manifestation may 
be analysed — the Masculine, Positive or Generating 
Principle ; the Feminine, Receptive or Formative Prin- 
ciple; and the Neuter or Mathematical Principle 
which, by determining the proportional relations be- 
tween the other two gives rise to the principles of va- 
riety and multiplicity." * 

In the Yi production and re-production are what is 
called change. The whole system, in fact, is based up- 
on the "contractions and expandings, recedings and ap- 
proachings of the productive and completing powers of 
the even and odd numbers." 

Yang being represented by an undivided line or 

one stroke therefore all odd numbers belong 

to Yang. 

Yin having a divided line or two strokes 

hence all even numbers belong to Yin. 

Three was assigned to heaven and two to earth. 

Heaven was high, earth low. That which is high 
is noble, honourable. Things low are mean. 

Yang was nine, and Yin six. 

Nine being the triple multiple of the undividable 
number which represents Yang or Heaven, means in 
Chinese the 'fullness of Yang.' 

In Hebrew the number nine was equivalent to 
Truth. When multiplied the immutable number nine 
reproduces itself. Thus 2 X 9 = 18. 1 + 8 = 9. 
3X9 = 27. 2 + 7 = 9 and so on. 

The Pythagoreans attached something the same 
meaning to numbers using the unit and odd numbers 

* "Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning," T. Troward. 

Srije Cl)ines!e ^TrigramsJ 47 

for good and the even for whatever is fluent, crooked, 
indeterminate, evil. 

Plato assigns dexter things and odd numbers to the 
Olympic gods and the opposite to the dsemons. 

Among the Pythagoreans: — 

1 — is the niLmber of essence. 

2 — signified otherness, involving difference, di- 

3 — mediation, atonement, completeness — beginning, 
middle, end. 

4 — indicated squareness, justice, earth. 

5 — being the combination of odd and even symbol- 
ised marriage. 

6 — the number of lu£h or chance. 

7 — was the number of the entire cosmos, 3 represent- 
ing the deity and 4 the world. God and the 

8 — solidity. 

9 — the treble triad. The cube of three being nine, 
nine was regarded by Pythagoras as the extent 
to which numbers would go, all others being 
embraced and revolving within it. Ten but 
recommences a fresh series capable of infinite 

In the minor trigrams those which contain only one 
undivided line belong to Yang. The Yang trigrams 
represent one ruler and two subjects thus indicating 
superiority. Those which contain two undivided lines 
belong to Yin and signify two rulers and one subject 
symbolising inferiority, weakness, dissension. 

In the preface to his translation of the Yi King 
Legge refers a little scornfully to the fact that Chinese 
scholars are fond of saying that all the truths of elec- 


TLiit ^pmliols; 

tricity, heat, light and other branches of European 
physics are to be found in the eight trigrams. And if 
you reflect upon it, as representing an eternal process 

The "Pah-Kwa" or eight trigrams with the Great Monad in the centre are also a 
powerful charm against evil and are often seen above the entrance door of houses or 
carved on a wooden shield and nailed on the lintel of a door. Henry Dore, S. J., 
Researches into Chinese Superstition, 

developed from unity to multiplicity by the inter-rela- 
tion of the active and negative forces, this may not be 

The most superficial study of the trigrams reveals 

arfjc Cfjinese ^vi^vami 49 

a certain authority, that touch of the universal that cap- 
tivates the imagination. And one finds in them the 
same undying vitality that pertains to all the ancient 
sjTiibols of life. 

The system or philosophj^ as developed in the Yi 
King is strikingly unlike the majority of religious be- 
liefs. There is no sort of a notion conveyed of the ul- 
timate marriage of heaven and earth, nor of a day 
when the lion and the lamb are going to lie down to- 
gether. On the contrary, the Chinese, who are intense- 
ly practical as well as mystical, seem to have accepted 
the fact that the lion and the lamb are temperamentally 
unfitted for any permanent association, and that heav- 
en and earth can only unite for the purpose of produc- 
tion. Indeed, the entire conception of the trigrams is 
based upon the idea that these forces active and passive, 
masculine and feminine, heaven and earth not only are 
directl}^ antagonistic, but that their being so is a part 
of the scheme of things. 

The changeableness of human affairs — union gives 
way to separation — from separation comes re-union — 
this is the theme of the Yi King. "The ever changing 
phenomena of nature and human experience." 

"Sun goes, moon comes. Moon goes, sun comes. 
Cold goes, heat comes. Heat goes, cold comes. That 
which goes becomes less, that which comes increases. 
Thus the seasons, year, all life completes itself." 

"Notes of the same key respond to one another. 
Creatures of the same nature seek one another. Water 
flows toward the place that is low and damp. Fire rises 
up toward what is dry. Clouds follow the dragon and 
winds follow the tiger." 

It is, perhaps, this very acceptation and develop- 
ment of the idea of displacement and change that gives 

50 life ^pmbolsf 

the Yi King its uncanny fascination. You find your- 
self repeating "Sun goes, moon comes. Moon goes, sun 
comes . . . Water flows toward the place that is low 
and damp. Fire rises up toward what is dry. Clouds 
follow the dragon and winds follow the tiger." Under 
its spell you, too, begin to feel that displacement, con- 
stant displacement is the secret of continued existence 
and growth. The weak and the strong alternately give 
way to each other, just as in the lineal figures of the 
trigrams strong and weak lines push each other out. 
And it is this alternation that produces all the changes 
and transformations. 

The weak rule when the Yang element is lacking — 
and civilisations fall. The weak in turn are displaced 
by the strong and good rises again. Yet each has its 
purpose in the way of fulfilment. 

The Chinese believe, however, that a great man can 
neither be all heaven nor all earth but must have a 
blending of both to be truly great. 

"A great man is he who is in harmony in his at- 
tributes with heaven and earth, in his brightness with 
sun and moon, in his orderly procedure with the four 



''The three main forms in which the life force mani- 
fests itself are the globe, the star and the cross. . . . 
Of the third all trees and plants having upright stems 
and leaves or branches growing at right angles, not 
forgetting man himself, who, tree-like, with trunk and 
branches makes with outstretched arms throughout 
long vistas of human history 'the sign of the cross/ ** 
— Eva Martin. 



IF you go to the Egyptian rooms of any of the large 
museums — the Louvre at Paris, the British Mu- 
seum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of 
New York or that of Cairo — you will find graven on 
fragments of temple walls, and on tombs and sarcophagi 
that existed 4,000 years before Christ, various forms of 
the cross. You will see it portrayed thus X — still used 
as the sign of multiplication — and thus + — used to this 
day as the plus sign — and again thus T — the "Sacred 
Tau." You will then notice constantly repeated a fig- 
ure like this ■?■ — the tau cross with a circle or ovoid 
above it. This is known as the Crux Ansata, the Egyp- 
tian Ankh, the Key of the Nile, the Key of Life or 
the Cross of Egypt. Although this form of the cross 
is more closely associated with Egypt, the criur ansata 
was also reverenced as the "hidden wisdom" by the 
Phoenicians, the Chaldeans, the Mexicans and all other 
ancient races of whom any records can be found. 

Used as a sign by primordial man, found in its dif- 
ferent forms as a religious emblem among the most 
widely scattered races, and in every stage of civilisation, 
reverenced by the Incas, tattoed on their foreheads by 
the Patagonians, made a feature of their worship by 
the Druids, taken over by the Christians as their high- 



Hife ^pmbol2( 

est emblem of Life Everlasting, it is significant that the 
meaning of life attached to the cross has never been lost. 
Its prevalence, its undying vitality, the tenacity with 
which it has been preserved and reverenced seems to be 
an instinct of race consciousness comparable to the in- 
stinct for life in the individual, which physicians tell us 
is the strongest instinct we possess. As a symbol of 
life it would have been impossible for the Christian re- 
ligion not to have adopted it. 

The cross has been called the cosmic symbol of the 
four quarters of the earth or universe. Some have be- 
lieved that it was derived from the two crossed fire 
sticks. It has been likened to a bird with outstretched 
wings. It has been traced back to two human figures 
crossed. Plato saw the divine man stamped upon the 
universe in the form of a cross. Except that it means 
life, however, everything else about the cross — its origin 
and from what source derived is pure conjecture. 

The invariable signification of the cruoc ansata — 
implied also by the simpler cross — is 'Life to Come.' 



The crux ansata is the inseparable accompaniment 
of the chief triad of Egyptian deities, nor is its use re- 
served for superior deities alone. Maat the goddess of 
Truth is depicted presenting it to the Sun the source of 
all life, typifying that Life and Truth are eternal. 


Wl}t Crofiifi! 


Deities are frequently pictured holding it to the lips of a 
dying man, or sometimes receiving it as a passport to 
the soul. Placed on tombs and sarcophagi it signified 
the ever living spirit, the immortality of the soul. 




The Tau cross among the ancient Irish symbolised 

The tau was considered a divine symbol by the 
Mexicans, who called it the Tree of Life, Tree of Nutri- 
ment, Tree of our Flesh and who later consecrated it to 
the god of rain. 

Thor's hammer was said to be the tau cross. The 
double hammer of Thor was a symbol of lightning and 
rain and thus fertilitj^ Thor's hammer has 
also been called the swastika or fylfot cross. 
Other authorities, however, consider that 
the hammer of Thor more properly belongs 
with the Y — that mystic Y of the Chinese. 

The tau cross was given to St. Anthony 
the Hermit, who besides using it as a crutch, was de- 
picted in Greek art with the tau — always blue — on the 
left shoulder or on the cope. 

The candidates for admission into Mithraism are 
said to have received the mark of the tau on their fore- 
heads at the time of their initiation. 

The tau cross as well as other forms of the cross were 
used as instruments of execution. 

As a symbol of life in a perverted sense, a phallic 


56 TLift ^pmbolss 

meaning has been attributed to the tau, and the opinion 
has been expressed that in the old bibhcal days of 
Ezekiel the tau was the mark ordered by the Lord to be 
placed "upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and 
that cry for all the abominations." (Ezekiel 9:4.) 

The monogram of the Egyptian Tau is formed of 
three taus h'^-i. This is similar to the Masonic jewel 
of the Royal Arch. It is interesting to note here 
that much of the symbolism that enters so largely into 
Masonic rites goes back through unbroken tradition to 
the days of primordial man. Churchward finds that the 
gavel used by the Free Masons was a sacred symbol of 
the Pygmies. Objects discovered under the obelisk of 
Cleopatra's Needle reveal that many of the symbols 
used in the ceremonial rites of modern Free Masonry 
were employed by building organisations and architects 
in Egypt in 1900 B.C. The same symbols were also in 
use among the Mayas, according to Le Plongeon, who, 
in discussing the origin of Free Masonry, says that, al- 
though it has been attributed to Pythagoras and "its 
esoteric doctrines and symbols can be plainly traced to 
the doctrine of Pythagoras and from there to the re- 
ligious mysteries of Egypt" — on the other hand, he 
goes on to say, although some consider that it was 
founded by the first Christians, others that it originated 
in the building of Solomon's Temple and others again 
that it goes back to the days of Adam, he himself be- 
lieves that Free Masonry existed before Adam. Bayley 
notes that the same symbolism was used in Mithraism, 
preserved by the Gnostics, made a part of their ritual by 
the Rosicrucians and Templars who "when driven out 
of Germany reappear in England as Free Masons." 

In Egyptian symbolism sometimes four taus are 
used placed back to back. "These point like the flaming 

^fje Crosis; 57 

sword that guarded Eden to all four quarters of the 

The tau cross 
is also associ- 
ated with the 
sacred axe of 
the pygmies, 
w h e n stones 
took the place 
of sticks. 

The cross 
with four equal 
arms, sometimes 

formed of ser- four taus placed back to back. 

pentS, has been B.yley, Lost La.,ua,e of Symtolisn.. 

called the symbol of the four elements. 

When composed of two or four sceptres with a circle 
at the point of intersection it indicated "divine poten- 

The four cardinal points were of great importance 
in all primitive symbolism. The year with its four re- 
curring seasons and twelve periods of time set off by the 
appearance of each new moon; the sunrise and sunset, 
the right and left hand of a man as he faced the 
east, these all became fixed points of reference. And 
one may believe that from the latter picture of him- 
self facing the rising sun, man derived the idea of the 
four cardinal points. 

The simple cross enclosed in a circle as a sign 

0of the earth was intended, it may be supposed, 
to indicate the four quarters — north, south, east, 
west — or extension in length and breadth. 
The tradition of the four rivers of Paradise flowing 
towards the cardinal points dividing the land cruci- 

58 life ^pmfiolfii 

formly has been handed down in many mythologies. 
In the Sineru of the Buddhist grows the four hmbed 
Damba-tree or tree of life, and from its roots gush 
forth four sacred streams — north, south, east, west. 
From the four sides of the golden Mount Meru or the 
"Celestial Earth" of the Hindus, proceed the four 
primeval rivers. The "celestial mountain land" of the 
Chinese is divided by the four streams of immortality. 
Four rivers of milk flowed through Asgard the Elysium 
or abode of happiness of the Scandinavians. 

The Aztec goddess of rain bore a cross in her hand. 
The Greek cross represented the winds from the 
four cardinal points. 

This cross was also used by the ancient Americans 
to represent the winds which bring rains. 

' In the Swastika by Thomas Wil- 
son one finds the following legend of 
the Dakota Indians interpreting the 
cross which symbolises the winds: 

"The four winds issue out of the 

four caverns in which the souls of 

men existed before the incarnation of 

T/xxNorNosroM the human body. The top of the cross 

CARDINAL POINTS. jg thc coM, dcvastatiug North Wind, 

Dakota Indians ^j^^ ^^^^ powerful of all. It is wom 

Tenth Annual Report of 

the Bureau of Ethnology, on thc bodv ucarcst thc hcad, the seat 

Fig. I2SS. •^ ' _ 

of intelligence and conquering de- 
vices. The left arm covers the heart, it is the East Wind 
coming from the seat of life and love. The foot is the 
melting, burning South Wind indicating as it is worn 
the seat of fiery passion. The right arm is the gentle 
West Wind blowing from the spirit land, covering the 
lungs from which the breath goes out gently, but into 
the unknown night. The centre of the cross is the earth 


■A: ® <^ 

arije Crogflf 


ST. Andrew's cross. 

and man moved by the conflicting influences of Gods 
and Winds." ^ 

St. Andrew's cross or Saltire, the 
crux dccussata represented perfection. 
The original meaning of dccuses was 
the number ten, the Roman sign for 
which (X) is made of two Vs (or fives) 
put point to point. 

The crossed fire sticks of the Chinese have been 
likened to St. Andrew's cross. 

The cross with a wheel in the centre called Kiakra, 
Tschakra or Cakra is regarded as one of the oldest sym- 
bols of majesty and power in India. Vishnu the per- 
sonification of the sun is given the cross to signify his 
eternal and ever vigilant government and his mighty 
power of life and light that penetrates heaven and earth 
and vanquishes darkness and evil. 

"The word cross c?nix resolves itself into ak-ur-os the 
Light of the Great Fire. . . . Hammer — anglo-saxon 
hamor means fire or gold of the Immutable Sun." 

Brahma is represented holding a fiery cross. 

Fiery Crosses were used in the early days by the 
Norsemen to smnmon the nation to a council of war. 

The Assyrians represented Anu, god of the sky, by 
an equilateral cross. The ideogram of the god was 
formed by four cruciform characters radiating from a 
centre denoting the sun. 

In China a cross inscribed in a square was a symbol 
of the earth. 

'The Swastika," Thomas Wilson, pp. 934-5. 

6o TLiit S>pmbols; 

The cross among the Celts and the Germans was 
the Celestial Two Headed Mallet which symbolised 

The Mallet as a religious symbol is also found in 

Japan where it is called the "Creative Hammer," and 

typifies the Yo and In ( Yang and Yin) or 

the masculine and feminine principles of 

nature which lead to the creation of all 

things. On the striking portion was figured 

a circle the symbol of the tama or sacred 

pearl the "gem of transcendental wis- 

cELTic CROSS, dom, its lambent glow, the emblem of 

pure essence." 

The Celtic crosses as the name implies are found 
principally in Ireland and Scotland. They are gener- 
ally of stone and are usually found dis- 
tinguishing some spot by the road side. I I 

Numerous forms of the cross are // \ f \\ 
found among the North American In- 
dians as will be seen on page 62. 

The Maltese Cross was the symbol 
of the Knights of Malta. 

The Cross pattee differs a little hav- 
ing the sides of the limbs slightly curved in. It signified 
the open wings of a bird and was adopted as their sign 
by the Knights Hospitaller. 

The Latin Cross is the one more closely identified 
with the Christian religion, although other forms were 
also used and with the same signification. 

Lowrie in the Monuments of the Early Church, 
says "Never has the cross been held in higher estimation 
than it was in the first centuries of the Church. ... It 
was used as a gesture not only in ecclesiastical functions 

aClje CrosJs; 6i 

but in private life. Tertullian . . . says *At every ac- 
tion which we begin, in coming in and in going out, 
when we clothe ourselves, or put on our 
shoes, when we bathe, when we seat our- 
selves at table, at lamp lighting, on going 
to bed, we trace on our foreheads the 
sign of the cross." 

Lowrie adds "The Christians saw in 
these pagan symbols a mystic presage of monogram op 

1 rt t • t CHRIST. LA~ 

the Gospel, but the only one oi which babum of con- 
they make any use during the second and 
third centuries was the swastica, an ancient oriental 
symbol which was conmionly used in the West for 
purely decorative purposes." 

The old mystical idea of man as the microcosm of 
which the universe is the macrocosm is a familiar one. 
Nor is it a new idea that the ancients proportioned their 
sacred temples from the human figure. The sculpture 
of the Greeks and Egyptians reveals the fact that they 
studied the body abstractly in its exterior presentment. 
The rules for its proportion having been established for 
sculpture it is not unreasonable to suppose that these 
same rules and measurements were developed and 
elaborated upon in architecture. Vitruvius and Albert! 
both lay stress upon the fact that all sacred buildings 
should be founded on the proportions of the human 
body. Troward declares that the "human body forms 
the basis of the proportions observed in such ecclesias- 
tical architecture as is designed according to canonical 
rules of which Westminster Abbey and Milan Cathedral 
are good examples." 

One has only to take up the dictionary and glance 
at the definition of cubit "measure from the elbow to the 
tip of the middle finger," or watch a woman measure 


TLiit ^pmbolss 


o o\ 




o 0/ 


Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. 1880-81, PI. lui. 

off a yard from the hand with extended arm to the tip 
of the nose, or an eighth of a yard from the tip of the 
middle finger to the knuckle, or a man estimating the 
size of a room by pacing across it heel to toe to realise 
that man has built up his world on himself — made him- 
self the measure of all things. 

It seems plausible, therefore, that the symbol of the 
cross may have been adapted from man himself standing 
with outstretched arms, typifying the highest form of 
life really known to man — his own. 

And thus, with the poetic justice that the ancients 
delighted in, criminals were nailed to the cross, the 
symbol of themselves, the symbol of life which they had 
desecrated and profaned. In Greece where the cross 
also meant future life it was used as a sign of mercy. 
Criminals who were acquitted had their names marked 
by a cross — the sign of life. The Romans indicated 
acquittal in the same way. 

To this day a man who cannot write signs his name 
with a cross. 

Interpreted as symbolising man himself, the reason 
for placing crosses at cross roads where man passes, and 
in market places where men were apt to congregate is 
not difficult to understand, nor is the reverence that is 
attached to the cross in any degree lessened by the 
thought that throughout his strange and shadowed his- 
tory, in his painful efforts at self -understanding man 
has seen in the cross the reflection of his own divine 
potentiality, that divinity which he recognises dimly at 
times, overpoweringly at others, as the living part of the 
inexpressibly complex nature of man. 

His religion is thus indissolubly an integral part of 

Interpreted as man himself the symbolism of the 

64 TLiit fepmbolsf 

cross with the circle above it becomes clear. Univer- 
sally reverenced as an emblem of life and immortality, 
the cruj^ ansata or tau cross with an ovoid above it has 
been used from pre-historic days to typify the union 
of spirit and water, masculine and feminine, the active 
and passive principles of life. There is something awe 
inspiring, superb in the continuity of life represented 
by this one symbol. It goes back to creation itself — 
"The spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" 
— carries us through the human, and on to spiritual life 
and immortality. 

"Toward the spiritual perfection of Humanity the 
stupendous momentum of the cosmic process has all 
along been tending." 

The swastika, the most ancient of the many forms of 
the cross will be considered elsewhere. 



"The Universal Pillar which supports all things." 

''The Eternal Circle from Goodness through Good- 
ness to Goodness." 

"Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful 
and hast forgotten God that formed thee/' Deut. 32:18. 

"Jesus saith, wherever there are two they are not 
without God, and wherever there is one alone, I say, I 
am with him. Raise the stone and there thou shalt 
find Me, cleave the wood and there am I." 

"Duality . . . the greatest of mysteries . . . for it is 
the vmivei'sal mystery of attraction upon which all re- 
search even in physical science eventually abuts," — 




THE combination of upright and circle — "I the 
'Holy One,' the Pole or Axis of the universe" 
and O — eau, water, the Perfect One, the Pearl, 
the Divine Receptacle, lends itself to an infinite variety 
of sacred forms and ideas. 

In this symbolism the Pole or Axis becomes the 
stabilising force. It is the Pillar of Heaven, the type of 
all sacred pillars. Around it revolves the whole uni- 
verse. "There, too, at the end of the axis 
are placed those Triune emblems the fleur- 
de-lys and the trident while the axis becomes 
the spear, lance, dart of so 
many classic myths. "^ 

The axis of the universe 
is also symbolised as a fiery column, or 
a pillar, staff, spindle, spike, nails, 
torso, rod, axle-tree, pivot, pole — 'un- 
der the character of Eros the God of 
Love or Attraction, the first principle 
of animation, the father of God and man.' The regula- 
tor and disposer of all things was worshipped under the 

* "The Night of the Gods," by John O'Neill. 


Migration of 


life ^pmbols; 

name of Priapus. He was said to pervade the Universe 
with the motion of his wings bringing pure light and 
thence was called the 'Splendid, the Self -illumined, the 
Ruling Priapus.' 

The word pole is a derivative of a Phoenician word 
.•. which means 'he 

breaks through' or 
'passes into.' 

The axis is asso- 
ciated with the great 
tower of Kronos the 
mainstay of the uni- 

The pillar is con- 
stantly referred to in 
the Bible as a sym- 
bol of the Creator. 

One of the Egyp- 
tian names for the 
sacred city of the 
sun signified stone 
pillar. The tradi- 
tions of stone wor- 
ship survived in the 
Egyptian custom of 
erecting obelisks similar to Cleopatra's Needle before 
their temples. 

Our church spires are a relic of the same primitive 
symbolism of creative force and Life Everlasting or 
belief in the continuity of life. 

Pillars, obelisks, columns, monoliths and shafts have 
an undoubted phallic origin and as symbols of creative 
energy they were objects of reverential worship among 
all ancient races. 





Evans, Mycenaan Trees and Pillar Cult. 

Photo. Alinari 

HtHMEs (Mercury) 
(Museo Ludovisi Boncompagni, Rome) 

$ole or 9xiss anb Circle, etc. 69 

The tower is an outgrowth of the pillar, and the 
Round Towers in Ireland, which are supposed to have 
been built by Persian refugees probably reflected this 
same form of worship. 

The Sacred Tat Pole of Egypt, the Measurer of the 
Inundation, is sometimes depicted with a scarabseus 
and two ur^eus snakes symmetrically posed on either 
side. These are all life symbols. 

To show their divinity and their association with 
hfe, a rayed sun disk is frequently depicted with these 
pillars or shafts, sjonbolising the same idea that 
was conveyed in Egyptian religious art by the two 
uraus serpents curving up either side of a pole or 

The classic form of the caduceus, a winged rod en- 
twined by two serpents, was originally a rod — believed 
to be the sacred tau — surmounted by a circle upon 
which rests a crescent. It was the emblem of life and 
power and Mercury always bears the caduceus when 
conducting the souls of the dead. 

Serpents twined around a pole were a symbol of 
Baal Hamman. 

The crosier — which was originally in the form of 
a tau cross and only assumed the bent appearance in 
the seventeenth century — also the shepherd's crook 
come under this class of symbols. Osiris in judging the 
dead is represented as holding in his hands "the crook, 
the sceptre and the flail, emblems of rule, sovereignty 
and dominion." 

The three pointed wand conventionalised into the 
fleur-de-lis is derived from the same symbolism. 

"Pillars supporting a pavihon or tent are found in 
the older sculptures of Nimroud. They are probably 
of wood, appear to have been painted and were sur- 


life ^pmboU 

mounted by a pine or fir cone, that religious symbol so 
constantly recurring on Assyrian monuments." ^ 

Jastrow, Civilisation of Babylonia and Assyria. 

The pine or fir cone had the same meaning as the 
crua? ansata of the Egyptians. It has also been inter- 
preted as a symbol of fire, hence life. 

Among the Babylonians Ea the Sumerian god of 
water, as the 'world spine' is symbolised as a column 
with a ram's head standing on a throne beside which 
rests a 'goat fish.' 

The column symbolising the solar god Marduk 
(Merodach) terminates in a lance head. Nergal's 
column bears a lion's head. 

' Layard's "Nineveh." 

$oIe or 9xis( anb Circle, etc. 71 

In the earliest representations of the pillar in Cy- 
prus and Chaldea it assumes the form of a staff support- 
ing a semicircle. 

The Staff of Life depicted in a great variety of 
forms is found on ancient gems and coins and sculpture. 

'The rod of mine anger . . . the staff in their hand' 
is the battle standard given as a symbol to Ashur, Tam- 
muz and Osiris, who were tree-gods as well as corn and 
vegetation gods. 

The Phrygians depicted lions, bulls or winged 
sphinxes facing each other, and between them they 
placed the phallus, or sacred 
pillar, or an urn. 

In Palestine besides the 
stelai or hdmmdmin which sym- 
bolised Baal, they also vener- 
ated "a simulacra of A s h- „, „. . . , ,, 

The PhcEmcians used the same 
toreth, representing this god- form, in this case it appears to 
/» 1 f» • /» 1 J ^^ *^^ conventionalised lotus. 

deSS of the fruitful and nOUr- B-Alviella. Migration of symbols. 

ishing earth under the form of 

a tree, or rather a stake begirt with draperies and ban- 
delets. These are the asherim which the Hebrews, in 
spite of the unbraidings of the prophets of Yahvew, 
did not cease to 'construct' and 'plant.' " ^ 

The identification of the Asherdh or Ashera — 
(singular for asherim) — as an attribute of the goddess 
Ashtoreth (Astarte) the feminine counterpart of Baal, 
is disputed by many scholars who consider that the 
Sacred Pole or Asherah of the Hebrews belongs to the 
same symbolism of life and reproduction that is ex- 
pressed in the Old Testament by Aaron's rod which 
"budded and brought forth buds and bloomed blossoms 
and yielded almonds." (Num. 17:8.) And also by 

'D'Alyiella's "The Migration of Symbols." 

72 mtt ^|>mbol2( 

the Rod or Stem of Jesse, "And there shall come forth 
a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a Branch shall grow 
out of his roots." (Isa. 11: 1.) 

Representations of the genealogical Tree of Jesse 
were very popular in mediaeval paintings, sculpture and 
embroideries. And the same account of Christ's descent 
taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew is elaborated in 
the Jesse windows which are found in some of the old 

The circle has always symbolised eternity — that 
which is without beginning or end. It is also, as we 
have seen, one of the symbols of water or the feminine 

The circle O meaning water enters into the mystery 
of numbers and in the figure 8 becomes the "twin circles 
of Love and Knowledge." Christ in "His essential 
elements His number is eight." Water from remotest 
times was used as a sacrament of regeneration to wash 
away sins, its use thus symbolising spiritual re-birth. 
The baptismal fonts in Christian Churches were made 
octagonal in form to typify the biblical account of crea- 
tion, which, having been completed in seven days, thus 
eight figured regeneration, the beginning anew. The 
symbolism of the octave also enters in here. 

Spirit being the mysterious bond between men this 
unseen but potent force was indicated by "mystic ties 
or links." These were frequently formed out of a com- 
bination of the S of spiritus and the figure 8. Some- 
times three circles were used as a symbol of perfection. 
Again the trefoil is employed, also the cross. "The 
principle of the Divine Essence" was typified by the 
trefoil or clover leaf. 

The spiral was used in the East to denote thunder 
from which issues a flash of lightning. 

$ole or ^xis! anb Circle, etc. 73 

The spiral ornament also appears on Egyptian 
scarabs, on spectacle stones in Scotland as well as in 
Crete, France, Denmark, Scandinavia. This spectacle 
ornament resembled twin wheels or circles and was re- 
garded as a symbol of the Deity. 

Among the Egyptians the letter O was the hiero- 
glyph of the sun and was looked upon as a symbol of 
new birth, new life. 

The Trinity which was common to all people of an- 
tiquity was sometimes symbolised by three concentric 

In the Caves of Ellora three circles arranged in the 
form of a triangle two below and one above were indic- 
ative of a Caitya or Stupa as well as of the Tri-ratna 
or Three Jewels. 

Four circles linked in cruciform shape to a larger 
central one was used by the mystics as a symbol of 
Wisdom who is "the mother of fair love and fear, and 
knowledge and holy hope." 

The Egyptians symbolised the "Splendour of Day- 
light" by five circles. Among the Pythagoreans five 
typified light as well as marriage. The modern Free 
Masons have Five Virtues or Points of Fellowship. The 
Greeks held the number sacred to their solar god Apol- 
lo. Five was universally regarded by the ancients as 
belonging to the God of Light indicating the number 
of his attributes: — Being, sameness, diversity, motion, 
rest — or Omnipotence, omnipresence, eternity, omni- 
science, unity. 

The Druids represented the Northern Heavens by a 
circle and the Southern Heavens by a circle, each circle 
surrounded by twelve equidistant pillars. These cir- 
cles were joined together by a smaller circle which also 
had twelve pillars, the pillars of the latter symbolising 

74 ^itt S>pmtiols( 

the twelve signs of the zodiac. These thirty six divi- 
sions were symbolic of the thirty six gates of the "Great 
House of Him who is on the Hill." 

Churchward, Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man. 

The Circle also denotes perfection, the Perfect One, 
the Pearl of Price. 

In Japan the circle is associated with the lotus and 
the man ji (swastika). 

There as well as in China the circle is sometimes di- 
vided by three lines resembling the Chinese Y, indicat- 
ing the Great Unit, the Great Uniter. 

The Maoris are said to worship a First Cause under 
the name of lo. 

The decade 10 is a combination of upright and circle 
and was interpreted by Pythagoras as forming, as it 
were, a monad with which re-commences a fresh series 
capable of infinite expansion. 

In Bayley's Lost Language of Symbolism there 
is an illustration of a spear or dart typifying "the pri- 
mal, energising force of Light or Rod of Jesse," trans- 
fixing a wavy line which terminates in a circle. Bayley 
interprets this as "being the M of mare, sea or a com- 

Phoio. Alinari 

Demeter (Ceres) 
(Museo Xazionale delle Terme, Rome) 

$ole or ^xin anb Circle, etc. 75 

bination of I the Holy One and o — eau — a variant of the 
symbolism known to miderlie the Maypole and its ring." 

Nowhere is the nature of this symbolism more clear- 
ly shown than in our modern Maypole and its ring, 
which is simply a survival of some ancient springtime 
festival in which the pole, the symbol of the reproduc- 
tive powers of nature, is laden with garlands of flowers 
and all the conventional attributes of life and produc- 
tivity, and ceremoniously planted in the warm, receptive 
earth, while those who celebrate the return of spring 
sing and dance about it. 

In this symbolism of pole and circle, the dominant, 
forceful upright was looked upon as Creator, and the 
circle was the "regulator or bridle of time and motion." 
One sees here also the esoteric connection between the 
circle and the tides of the sea. 

The ancient metaphysicians were not always com- 
plimentary to the passive principle. True, as Chester- 
ton says, "In all legends men have thought of women 
as sublime separately but horrible in the herd." 

Nevertheless, in spite of her legendary beginning in 
which she is depicted as a malignant force, a monster 
like the Scottish Hag — in spite of Eve, the very tempt- 
ing first woman of the Hebrews, the mystics of all ages 
have delighted in portraying woman as enclosing, 
guarding, protecting — as the "house or wall of man 
without whose bounding and redeeming influence he 
would inevitably be dissipated and lost in the abyss." 

The supreme importance of these forces Life itself 
proves. And the rise and fall of civilisations and the 
happiness and misery of individuals can be largely in- 
terpreted by their juxtaposition. The trouble with the 
circle, of course, is that it cannot go forward without 
returning to itself — without coming back to the begin- 

76 life ^pmhol^ 

ning, and with the pole or dart or arrow, that it loses 
itself, goes on and on until spent unless bounded and 
restrained by the circle. 

To this ancient conception of the active and passive 
principles of life as angular and curved, has been at- 
tributed many of the intricate and elaborate designs 
used from time immemorial in architecture — such as 
the egg and dart motif, the bead and reel, and many 
others that one still sees pictured on friezes, and carved 
on capitals and mouldings. Whether, as Goodyear be- 
lieves, the egg and dart is derived from the lotus, or 
whether the inception comes from some earlier form, 
one may assume without fear of contradiction that it 
represented this tenaciously held conception of the 
dualistic principles. 

This feeling for life was carried into medigeval 
church architecture where one tower — the feminine — 
was always a little lower. Nor is it altogether fanciful 
that it was this thought of Life — used reverently and 
with full knowledge of its meaning — that creates the dif- 
ference between ancient and modern art. 

The statement that all architecture had a phallic 
origin is one of those fragmentary truths that mankind 
is so fond of uttering — a shallow and surface way of 
expressing a tremendous, vital, underlying truth. Look- 
ing around upon the work of his hands and brains, if 
man finds nothing but imitation and ugliness if he is 
honest, he will say "This is myself." When he resorts 
to imitation, however, or merely expresses the ugly and 
meretricious his best is perverted, he is no longer an hon- 
est workman. It is one of the unbreakable laws, ap- 
parently, that when an architect or artist does not 
express in his art from the very depths of his inner 
consciousness this union of spirit and matter he is act- 

$ole or 13x12! anb Circle, etc. 77 

iially saying nothing to us. His buildings, pictures, 
statues are meaningless forms. 

And this leads one to modern church architecture. 
In the old days towers, columns, church spires symbol- 
ised the creative impulse reaching up toward the sky, 
toward the spiritual — to the divine union of heaven and 
earth, spirit and matter. In building our modern church 
without spires — the old phallic emblem — it may be the 
shame of knowledge that overtook Adam or Eve, or 
possibly a reflex of puritanical training that instead of 
sublimating the natural instincts we should deny their 
existence, but is it not more truly an unconscious betray- 
al of how little we ourselves enter in — does the absence 
of the church spire symbolise only too truthfully that the 
church has lost its aspiration to lift the whole of man up ? 

Whatever we do is so apt to indicate more than we 

Among all ancient races rochs and stones were wor- 
shipped as symbols of the Creator. 

A theory has been advanced that in simpler times 
when man lived closer to nature he was responsive to all 
her subtle influences, so that even the spirit of the stone, 
which we are now too dulled and atrophied to recognise, 
carried a message to him. Hence arose the belief in 
the magical and medicinal qualities, in the luck or ill 
luck, that have been since time immemorial, attributed 
to certain precious stones. 

The Egyptians perpetuated the worship of trees 
and wells, stones and mounds. A great block of stone 
was believed to be inhabited by one of the spirits of the 

The early Cretan religion seems to have consisted 
largely in the worship of natural objects such as trees 

78 life S)j>mbol2i 

and stones, or artificial, such as the sacred pillar, cones, 
the 'horns of consecration' and the double axe. 

In the worship of the Druids the stone pillar or men- 
hir was associated with their sacred trees. In the primi- 
tive religions of India there was the same custom of 
setting up sacred stones underneath holy trees. 

Rocks, stones, altars and pillars are constantly re- 
ferred to in the Old Testament as symbols of the Crea- 
tor. Jacob sets up a pillar where he had talked with 
God, "even a pillar of stone." And again he takes the 
stone which he had used for a pillow and sets it up for 
a pillar and pours oil upon the top of it, "And he called 
the name of that place Beth-el." Evans identifies 
Beth-el with bastylic or the heaven sent meteoric 

The Israelites at the command of the Lord take 
twelve stones from the bed of the river Jordan and 
Joshua later sets them up at Gilgal. 

When the psalmist says, "The Lord is my rock and 
my fortress and my deliverer ; my God, my strength in 
whom I will trust ; my buckler and the Jiorn of my salva- 
tion and my high tower/' (Ps. 18:2.) he is not origin- 
ating these images out of his own mind; he is simply 
making use of old symbols of life that had been known 
and believed in since time began. 

A. J. Evans in his Mycencean Trees and Pillar 
Cult says of the cavern shrines of the Diktgean Cave 
that "it is clear that the natural columns of this cave 
were regarded as the baetylic forms of the divinity just 
as the cave itself is here his temple. Some of the shorter 
stalagmitic formations of this 'Holy of Hohes' are per- 
fect representations of the omphalos type and may sup- 
ply the true explanation of the origin of this form of 
sacred stone." 

^ole or 9x1)0! anb Circle, etc. 



and a lighted torch in the other. 

Bas-relief found in the Crypt of St. Cle- 
ments at Rome. Cumont, Mysteries of 

The ancient Greeks appear to have had the idea that 
men were derived from trees and rocks. 

"Mithra was said t o 
have been born of a rock, to 
have wedded a rock and to 
have been the parent of a 

Bayley finds justifica- 
tion for thinking that the 
word rock is associated with 
Great Fire. Hence Stone- 
henge, seat or stronghold of 
JResplendent Fire. Stone 

circles were symbolic of the His head is adorned with a Phrygian 
-r L ^ ^ c< cap. He has a dagger in one hand 

Immutable hun. 66. 

"The reference in Jere- 
miah 'Saying to a stock 
Thou art my father and to a stone — Thou hast brought 
me forth' means, no doubt, the sacred stock (ashera) 
and the sacred stone (masseba) of the sanctuary which 
the Israelites regarded as their father and mother. The 
sacred stock seems to have been a tree stripped of its 
branches. The sacred stone was usually shaped like a 
pillar, cone or obelisk."^ 

In their worship of the sacred stone or pillar known 
as Masseba, pouring oil on the stone was a part of 
the ritual. 

In the cult of Asherah it might be either a living tree 
or an artificially constructed pole or post before which 
the Canaanites placed their altars. 

Stone pillars and shafts and monuments to mark 
graves were originally placed there not only as a sym- 
bol of the Creator — of the animating force of life here 

*Frazer's "The Golden Bough." 

8o Hife ^pmbols; 

and hereafter, but also as a place of indwelling for the 
ghost of the departed. Stones and trees were thought 
to be the depositories of the divine life, and were there- 
fore worshipped, not as things, but for the divinity they 
were supposed to contain. 

In the old Jewish burial ground in Prague — one of 
the oldest in existence and long since disused, one sees 
a curious exemplification of this ancient reverence for 
stones, in the quantities of small stones which still lie 
piled up upon the graves and tombstones where they 
were placed, according to Jewish custom, as a token of 
esteem by relatives and friends of the deceased. 

Altars and rocks were modified forms of pillars; the 
rock a simplification of the pillar, and the altar a place 
of offering. In the early religions of Northern India 
the first sacrifice was to Mother Earth which was the 
feminine manifestation of creative energy. The altar, 
a heaped up mound of earth, was a symbol of the sacred 
mother. This altar not only was the earth itself but 
the earth as woman. The original altars among the Jews 
were also of earth. 

In time these altars became slabs for votive offerings 
and were placed over the "pillar shrines which were of 
a slightly conical shape." The corner posts which were 
only added for security gave rise to a table form and 
"when the aniconic image had been superseded, to a 
Cretan form of altar and certain types of tripod." ^ 

In the most primitive form of stone and pillar wor- 
ship, the offerings were simply placed on the holy stone. 
Again a basket or some receptacle will hold the offering. 
The symbolism of fruitfulness and plenty is obviously 
indicated in a Gra?co-Roman relief where the "shovel 
shaped basket of Bacchus laden with grapes and fruit" 

* A. J. Evans's "Mycenaean Trees and Pillar Cult." 

^ole or Sxis; anb Circle, etc. 


is depicted surmounting a divine pillar. The same type 
of basket plays an important part in the religious cere- 
monies of the Hittites and Babylonians. There, too, it 
is sometimes placed on the summit of what "must cer- 
tainly be recognised as a beetylic cone." ^ 

A close relationship appears to have existed be- 
tween moon and stone worship. The moon spirit was be- 
lieved to inhabit the lunar stone. 
Moon worship also links itself with 
earth worship and both with water 
worship, or in other words, with 
the feminine cult, all three being 
looked upon as manifestations of 
the feminine principle. 

The Urim and Thummim 
(lights and perfections) were, ac- 
cording to Josephus, twelve pre- 
cious stones of extraordinary beau- 
ty and purity worn on the breast 
plates of the Jewish high priests. 
These were the sacred symbols 
worn 'upon his heart' by the high 
priest and by which God gave 
oracular responses to His people 
for their guidance and safe conduct 
in all matters temporal. Josephus 
also speaks of two additional stones 
worn on the shoulders. These were 
supposed to be two sardonyx buttons, which were said 
to emit luminous rays when the response was favourable. 
Although all definite knowledge of what the symbols 
were seems to have been lost in obscurity since the days 
of Solomon, some authorities incline to the belief that 


The moon-Spirit was be- 
lieved to inhabit the 
lunar stone. 

Evans, Mycencen Trees and 
Pillar Cult. 



JLiit ^pmbolsi 

the Urim and Thummim were contrasting symbols re- 
presenting light and darkness or yang and yin, and 
while probably unlike the Chinese, they typified the 
same forces and were used for the same purpose of divi- 
nation. On the other hand, modern Egyptologists seem 
to find the clue in Egypt where the Egyptian high 
priests who were also magistrates wore around the neck 
a jewelled image representing Truth on one side and 


Showing the two Tat Pillars, and Ra the God in Spirit, and Osiris who is God 
in the Body or Mummy-form. 

Churchward, Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man. 

Justice or Light on the other. When the accused was 
acquitted the judge held out the image for him to kiss. 
Osiris as judge of the dead wears around his neck the 
precious stones representing "Light and Truth." 

The custom of wearing charms is a relic of stone 

The two opposite forces were also represented 
two pillars, twin horsemen, the "j^rimeval twins." 


^o(e or ^xisi anb Circle, etc. 83 

In the Indian Rig-veda there were the twin deities 
Mitra and Varuna who were the regulators of the sun, 
moon, stars, winds, tides, waters, seasons ; the bestowers 
of all heavenly gifts and who measured out the length 
of human life. Varuna represents the concavity of the 
sky (as does the Greek Ouranus) and carries the noose 
associated with death. 

In the Vedic mythology Yama the god of the dead 
and his sister Yami were the first human pair. 

Yama's messengers were the owl and the pigeon. 
Yama also had two dogs each with four eyes. These 
two brown, four-eyed dogs of Yama who guard the way 
to the abode of death bear a strong resemblance to the 
four-eyed dog or white dog with yellow ears of the 
Parsi who was supposed to drive away Death, as well 
as to the three-headed Cerberus that watches at the 
gateway that leads to hell. 

There were also the Persian Celestial Twins, Yima 
and Yimah, who are likened to Mitra and Varuna. 

The "Celestial Twins" were sometimes symbolised 
by two children, two eyes, two circles as well as by two 
pillars which become II the zodiacal sign of Gemini. 

The A9wins, the twin horsemen in Indian mythology 
resemble the Greek Dioscuri — Castor and Pollux. They 
were called Vitrahana because they "ushered in the Sun- 
light and destroyed Vritra the Darkness." They are 
pictured as beautiful youths, children of Dyaus (heav- 
en) and brothers of Ushas (the dawn) and are next in 
importance to Indra, Agni and Soma in the Rig-veda. 
"In early India the twin horsemen seem to have repre- 
sented father and mother and afterwards day and 
night." ' 

The Agwins were the special gods of horsemen 

' "The Early History of Northern India," J. S. Hewitt. 


life ^pmbolsf 

and charioteers and were symbolised by two inter- 
lacing Vs. 

In Egypt the Dioscuri were symbolised by two lions 
who in their solar phases represented Day and Night. 

The "Twin Brother Idea" — one of whom envies and 
slays the other, or deprives him of his birthright, as in 
the story of Jacob and Esau — plays a most important 
part in all ancient mythologies. It appears under vari- 
ous names such as Cain and Abel, Baldur and Loki, 


Osiris and Set. It is a theme that is still used in mod- 
ern romances. Guy de Maupassant employs it in 
"Pierre et Jean." The Twin Brother Idea is merely a 
dramatic version of the old struggle between Light and 
Darkness, good and evil, growth and destruction or the 
positive and negative forces which represent Life. 

It was an ancient Babylonian belief that the sun- 
god re-enters the inhabited world each morning between 
two pillars. Thus it was customary to place two pillars 
in the Semitic temples. And long after the meaning 
was lost, even in the temples of Jerusalem the two bra- 
zen pillars were never missing. The Phoenician sailors 
believed that the two rocks of Gibraltar were the two 

^ole or axisi anb Circle, etc, 85 

pillars of IVIelkarth through which the sun-god passed 
on his descent to the lower world of darkness. 

The Two Pillars were called in Egypt the North 
Pole or Light and the South Pole or Darkness and typi- 
fied the Door of Heaven, the Gateway of Life, the Por- 
tals of Eternity, the Double Gate of the Horizon. 

This symbolism was reversed, as we have seen, by 
the ancient Chinese. With them the North indicated 
cold, darkness, the feminine principle, and the South 
light, warmth, the masculine principle, Heaven. 

The psalmist, however, agrees with the Egyptians 
and pictures Zion on the North. "Beautiful for situa- 
tion, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion, on the 
sides of the North, the city of the great King." (Ps. 

One of the most important features of Solomon's 
Temple are the two pillars which guard the entrance. 

The building of Solomon's Temple 'without sound 
of hammer nor axe nor saw' has been interpreted as a 
mystical way of describing the universe which is "creat- 
ed silently and by natural development." 

The Temple of Solomon has also been likened to 
the "New Jerusalem, the City of the Sun, the spirit- 
ual city which lay four square and whose length was as 
large as its breadth." ^ 

In the description of the Temple given by the He- 
brew chroniclers one notes how lavishly and with what 
profusion the Oriental symbols of life, reproduction and 
fecundity are employed either as supports or decora- 
tion. There were palm trees, lily work, pomegranates, 
wheels, axle-trees. There were "nets of checker work, 
and wreaths of chain work which were upon the top of 
the pillars; seven for the one chapiter, and seven for 

' Bayley's "Lost Language of Symbolism." 

86 life S>pml)ols( 

the other chapiter. . . . And round about upon the 
one network . . . were pomegranates. . . . And the 
chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars were 
of lily work." Twelve oxen support a molten sea "and 
the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, 
with flowers of lilies. . . . And on the borders that 
were between the ledges were lions, oxen and cheru- 

The cherubim in the Temple of Jerusalem and in 
Solomon's Palace are identical with the winged bull of 

The priests bring in the ark of the covenant. The 
ark, a most precious symbol in all ancient religions, is 
invariably associated with the feminine principle. They 
bring the ark "into the most holy place even under the 
wings of the cherubim; for the cherubim spread forth 
their wings over the place of the ark and the cherubim 
covered the ark and the staves thereof above." (II 
Chron. 5:7-8.) 

"The sacred symbols apply, not only to man, but al- 
so to his environment. The Tabernacle of Moses and 
the Temple of Solomon not only represent the Micro- 
cosm but also the Macrocosm. And this leads us to 
the threshold of a very deep mystery, the effect of the 
spiritual condition of the human race upon Nature as a 
whole. . . . The Building of the Temple is thus a 
three-fold process, commencing with the individual 
man, spreading from the individual to the race, and 
from the race to the whole environment in which we live. 
This is the return to Eden where there is nothing hurt- 
ful or destructive." ^ 

The symbolism of the Two Pillars was so well known 
that they must have been used advisedly as symbols of 

' "Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning," T. Troward. 

^ole or Sxis; anb Circle, etc. 87 

high import, as was, indeed, the case with all the other 
decorations that were used in the building of this gor- 
geous temple. 

"And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one 
on the right hand and the other on the left; and called 
the name of that one on the right hand Jachin ('The 
Stablisher') and the name of that on the left Boaz ('In 
it is strength')." (II. Chron. 3: 17.) 

Troward in identifying the English J with the 
Oriental Y interprets Jachin as being an intensified 
form of the word Yak or One, thus denoting first the 
"principle of unity as the foundation of all things and 
then the mathematical element . . . since all numbers 
are evolved from the one." This, he affirms, is the ele- 
ment of measurement, proportion. The pillar Jachin 
is therefore balanced by the pillar Boaz which may be 
interpreted as Voice or Spirit, the vital element of Feel- 
ing, Volition. "And the only way of entering 'The 
Temple' whether of the Cosmos or the individual is by 
passing between these two pillars." 

Back we are again to the two potent forces which 
whether represented by the crucc ansata of the Egyp- 
tians, by the broken and unbroken lines of the Chinese 
trigrams, by the 'jewel in the lotus' of the Hindus, or by 
stones, rocks, columns, poles, pillars — back we come to 
the active and passive, positive and negative, masculine 
and feminine principles — those two extraordinarily 
complex and interesting forces that guard the portals of 

One may add here that much that has been found 
confusing and contradictory will be avoided, if we keep 
constantly in mind that the ancients were not specialists 
and that their religious symbols are almost as manifold 
in their meanings as life itself. 

88 TLiit ^pmboIsJ 

Inman and many other writers of a former genera- 
tion and a similar turn of mind, found but one meaning 
and that an obscene one in the phallic symbols of fecund- 

Others of more tolerant disposition dismissed them 

a little superciliously as representing the "infancy of 
man's mentality" when, unable to comprehend the 
forces and wonders of the world about him, "he clothed 
them with the imagery of his untutored mind." 

Later and more chastened investigators, however, in 
the light cast upon ancient civilisations by excavations 
going on in Egypt, Babylonia, Crete and elsewhere, are 
less positive that they are arriving at the "infancy of 
man's mentality." Moore in his History of Religions, 
commenting upon the high order of civilisations shown 
by these remains, emphasises the fact that the cult of 
phallicism was a phase rather than a religion. 

In other words the symbols of life and fecundity did 
not originate in phallic worship, nor, apparently, does 
phallic worship end in that remote and mythical past. 

It seems nearer true that whenever phallicism came 
to be worshipped per se, instead of as a symbolical rep- 
resentation of a high and holy mystery, degeneracy had 
already set in. Logically enough, therefore, when 
civilisations became decadent and Life itself profaned 
and debased, the symbols that typified Life were cor- 
respondingly debased and profaned. Decadence in- 
variably exaggerates the process instead of the mani- 
festation, concerns itself with the means of life and 
ways of prolonging it, rather than with the renewal of 
life — forgetting that it is this stream of continuity that 
comes into and flows out of us that is all that makes life 
significant. Phallicism represented clearly and unmis- 
takably this attitude. And in these periods of phallic 

^ole or axis{ anb Circle, etc. 89 

worship the life symbols reflected accurately the meas- 
ure of men's thoughts. Instead of creative power, they 
merely typified the instincts and passions of various 
races at various times as strength oozed out of them and 
the spirit fled. 

Seemingly, one may assume, therefore, without go- 
ing far wrong, that in their origin these symbols were 
used reverently and with high intent. Thus the intri- 
cate maze of ideas and poetic fancies — ideas sacred and 
profligate, reverential and obscene, imaginative and 
literal that have clustered about these ancient symbols 
of life resolve themselves simply enough to Life itself — 
to the interplay of those primal, transcendent forces 
known since time began as Fire and Water, Light and 
Darkness, Man and Woman. 

It is tout simplement the world man and world wo- 
man, not in relation to their trappings, their individual 
caprices, their present day revealings, wants, desires — 
but their relation to the earth, air, heavens, sun, moon, 
stars, heat and cold, wind and storm, and above all their 
relationship to each other that is forever being typified 
by the life symbols. 

Thus the meaning of pillars, columns, poles and 
circles is the same as that commonly ascribed to the tau 
cross with circle above it, which is seen so frequently on 
ancient tombs and temple walls as an emblem of life 
and immortality. 

None can gainsay that the union of spirit and matter 
forms the paradox of existence, for man is sternly bent 
on accomplishing it, and equally bent on disregarding 
it. How can we doubt that the ancients knew this? The 
ancient man did not need Freud to tell him that he was a 
complex. His symbolism proves that his knowledge 
of this point in his make up was precise and far reach- 

90 ILift ^pmbols; 

ing, displaying an understanding of life so comprehen- 
sively true and subtle, that it still keeps scholars gasp- 
ing. In truth, it is a little staggering to our amour 
propre when it first dawns upon us how much the an- 
cients really did know about this very interesting thing 
called Life. 

The real difficulty in adjusting the different mean- 
ings attached to any one of these symbols of life, seems 
to arise from our inability or unwillingness to grasp the 
fact that each symbol typified, not spirit alone to the an- 
cient religionists — as the cross is now used by the Chris- 
tians — nor matter alone as many have interpreted the 
phallic emblems, but the divine union of spirit and mat- 
ter, fire and water, positive and negative, masculine and 
feminine — in other words, Creation, Life. Different 
forms were used to represent the Creative Life Prin- 
ciple, but there is the same idea of essential and derived 
life, of unity passing into multiplicity, the same creative 
idea carried up from the physical to the metaphysical, 
from its material aspect to the spiritual until it is one 
again with the "universal life which is over all and 
through all and in all." 



'' Wisdom is a tree of life to them that lay hold of 

"Cet arhre mysteriemv, symbol d'immortalite, tou- 
jour s vert, oderiferant, charge de fruits/' — Gaillard. 

''The old standing feud between those who heard 
the pipes of Pan and those who would deny them into 
ridicule and silence." — Bay ley. 


If, walking in the forest gnarled and old. 

Some wind-sweet, magic day. 
Behind the shelter of a moss-hung tree 
The laughing face of Pan peers out at me, 

I shall not run away — 
But rather, xmth surprise and joy grown bold, 
''Oh, tarry here. Wood God!" my prayer will be — 

"One little hour, and play 
Upon your pipe of reeds those notes that make 
The timid nymphs hide listening in the brake. 

Though greatly longing, they. 
To yield them to your lilting melody! 
Play me the message of the whispering trees — 

The mystery of the pine. 
The sorrow of the oak that sighs and grieves. 
Tune my dull ears to hear the singing leaves — " 

And Pan, whose heart, like mine. 
Loves the deep woods, will pipe me songs 
like these! 

— Mazie V. Caruthers. 



THE pillar or dolmen is found constantly asso- 
ciated with sacred trees. There is the same 
religious idea that the thing worshipped, 
whether pillar or tree is possessed by divinity. It is per- 
fectly easy to see how the two objects would merge into 
each other. The pillar being formed of the wood of 
the living tree retained the sacred character of the other 
— became its reflex, a part of the same expression of 

Nor is it difficult to understand why trees were ob- 
jects of worship. Nothing in all nature was a more 
perfect symbol of the miracle of reproduction and man's 
belief in immortality than the tree with its leaves and 
blossoms and fruit. It became again the symbol of 
'dying to live' which is the framework of all ancient 

The cypress, fir, pine and palm — continually green 
— were symbols of the ever living spirit, green symbol- 
ising the everlasting. 

On the other hand, the trees that shed their leaves 
in the autumn only to put forth again into quickening 
life in the spring, conveyed the message of re-newal, of 
dying only to live again in greater beauty and glory — 
a message that man was quick to apply to himself. 


94 TLiit ^pmbote 

The Sumerians believed that the spiritual — the Zi 
was that which manifested life. The test of life was 
movement. "All things that moved possessed self- 

Bergson elaborately re-affirms the same idea: — 

"In reality life is a movement, materiality is the in- 
verse movement, and each of these two movements is 
simple, the matter which forms a world being an un- 
divided flux, also the life that runs through it cutting 
out in it living beings all along the track .... In 
order to advance with the moving reality you must re- 
place yourself within it. Install yourself within 
change." ^ 

Believing this, the ancients saw life in everything 
that moved. Rivers were living things, the sun and 
moon were vessels in which the divine spirit sailed across 
the sky. A beneficent spirit spoke in the life giving 
winds on a sultry day. The god of destruction made 
himself heard in. the howling storm winds and tornadoes. 
Trees groaned and sighed from the buff ettings of these 
furious blasts, yet the voice of divinity forever mur- 
mured in their rustling leaves. 

The life principle in trees was believed to have been 
derived from the "Creative tears of the gods." And 
the living tree as the receptacle of divine life was doubt- 
less placed near pillars in the cult of pillar and stone 
worship with the thought primarily in mind of assisting 
or bearing witness to the divine life in stock and stone. 
Aiding the gods has ever been the desire of man. 
He not only apes them but ceremoniously assists them. 
In the first stages of all his religious conceptions, how- 
ever, he is always true, simple, sincere. Unfortunately 
his very nature obliges him to elaborate, to graft on 

^Bergson's "Creative Evolution." 

arfje arree of TLiit 95 

more and more, to lose himself in subtleties and neglect 
the substance, to pay greater and greater attention to 
form or its visible aspect and 
forget the invisible spirit which 
makes form a living thing. 

The Sacred Tree which, 
worshipped in the beginning sacred tree terminating in 
for its divine essence formed a ^'^'^^^ ^^°^ °« ^^^^ ^°^^"- 

. La,ya.Td, Nineveh. 

part of all ancient religious 

systems and was universally reverenced and adored as a 
symbol of highest import, became later merely an in- 
tricate and indispensable artistic form. 

Both the Aryan and the Semitic races had a Tree of 
Life, a Tree of Knowledge and a Tree of Heaven. The 
fruit of the latter related to the "igneous or luminous 
bodies of space, the Tree of Life produced a liquid con- 
ferring eternal youth and the Tree of Knowledge 
had the power of foretelling the future or of divi- 
nation." " 

The Haoma whose sap gave immortality was the 
traditional Tree of Life of the Persians, and was pre- 
served in almost the same form as found on the Assy- 
rian monuments until the overthrow of the Persian em- 
pire by the Arab invasion. This is the Cosmic Tree 
which produces ambrosia and dispenses salvation. 

Fruits of the vine and the tree yielded by fermenta- 
tion a liquid which is still called eau de vie. 

There were two trees that stood out above all others 
in the Garden of Eden. "And out of the ground made 
the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the 
sight and good for food; the tree of life, also in the 

* D'Alviella's "Migration of Symbols." 

96 TLiit ^pmbolsi 

midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good 
and evil." 

After Adam and Eve, tempted by the serpent, par- 
take of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they 
are driven forth and the Lord places "at the east of the 
garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword which 
turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of 

It is the Tree of Life that is so jealously guarded. 

The Chinese Tree of Life was one of seven marvel- 
lous trees that grew on the slopes of the Kuen-Luen 
Mountains — the terrestrial paradise presided over by Si 
Wang Mu. This tree, which was 10,000 cubits high and 
1,800 feet in circumference, was all of jade and chryso- 
prase, and bore fruit but once in three thousand years. 
Si Wang Mu the goddess of the Tree of Life, the "Roy- 
al Mother of the West" is the queen of immortal beings. 
Originally a sun-goddess, the Jesuits associate her with 
the Queen of Sheba, and others liken her to Juno — or 
the daughter of heaven and earth. The fruit of this 
tree over which she presides was supposed to be the 
sacred peach which enters so largely into the mystical 
fancies of the Taoists, who used the peach tree as a sym- 
bol of marriage, longevity and immortality. The Chin- 
ese goddess is depicted bestowing the fruit on her vota- 
ries, one of whom was the Emperor Wu. Anyone to 
whom she gave the fruit became immortal. In Chinese 
art Si Wang Mu is symbolised by a peach and the phoe- 

The Buddhists have a legend of an enormous tree 
with four boughs from which great rivers are continu- 
ally flowing. Each river bears golden pips which it 
carries down to the sea. This tree the Buddhists call 
the Tree of Wisdom. The legend bears a strong re- 

JEfje atree of life 97 

semblance, however, to the Hebrew Tree of Life and 
the four rivers of paradise. 

The Bhagavad-Gita speaks of the Ashwattha, the 
eternal sacred tree which grows with the roots above 
and the branches below. The Ashwattha tree "is the 
Primeval Spirit from which floweth the never ending 
stream of conditioned existence." 

In Teutonic myths the Polar star around which the 
heavens are supposed to revolve was called the 'world 
spike' while the earth was said to be sustained by the 
'world tree.' 

The American Indians had a "World Tree." 

In Certain Iroquois Tree Myths and Symbols, 
Arthur C. Parker relates the Seneca's myth of a Celes- 
tial Tree on whose branches hung flowers and fruit 
the year around. Its branches pierced the sky and its 
roots extended to the waters of the underworld. The 
Big Chief ordering it to be pulled up, a great pit was 
seen where its roots had been. Into this pit fell the 
Sky Mother on the wings of a waterfall who placed her 
on a turtle's back. 

In another myth after the "birth of the twins Light 
One and Toad-like (or dark) One the Light One notic- 
ing that there was no light created the Tree of Light." 

The Delawares, who also had a Central World Tree 
believed that all things came from a tortoise. "It had 
brought forth the world and in the middle of its back 
had sprung a tree from whose branches men had 

This resembles the Hindu myth of the Tortoise who 
supports the world. 

The Five Nations always expressed peace under the 
metaphor of a tree. "We now plant a Tree whose tops 
will reach the sun and its Branches spread far abroad 

98 life ^pmtjolfli 

. . . and we shall shelter ourselves under it and live in 
Peace." ^ 

Crosses, used by the ancient Indians and Mexicans 
to represent the winds which bring rain, were often 
given a tree-like form or that of a stem with two 
branches. A bird is frequently depicted standing upon 

D'Alviella, Migration of Symbols. 

the fork. Sometimes the tree is flanked on either side 
by two persons with wreaths of feathers on their heads 
facing each other. 

A bird standing on the fork of the Sacred Tree or 
resting near it is also a feature of the Persian repre- 
sentations of the Tree of Immortality. 



D'Alviella, Migration of Symbols. 

In this symbolism of life as typified by the world 
tree, the bird and the serpent are constantly employed. 
The spirit is depicted in the form of a bird which de- 
scends to give life to tree or stock or stone. In the pillar 

• "Certain Iroquois Tree Myths and Symbols," Arthur C. Parker. 

®f)e arree of TLitt 



Chaldean cylinder. British 

Perrot and Chipiez. 

cult twin pillars frequently bear the symbolic eagles of 
the god to express this wide-spread belief that life is in 
the soul. 

The serpent in all countries and among all nations 
is also associated with the Sacred Tree or Tree of Life. 
Sometimes it is coiled about the 
tree and again it appears in the 

The Chaldeans "saw in the 
universe a tree whose summit 
was the sky and whose foot or 
trunk the earth." 

The tree in its earliest form 
in Chaldea and also in Cyprus 
was a staff supporting a semi-circle. 

The Assyrian Tree of Life is one of the oldest as 
well as the most famous of all sacred trees, and still 
gives definite form to various ornamental designs. 
Starting in Assyria where Layard believes it to have 
been connected with the worship of Venus (or Ishtar) 
it was introduced into Arabia on the one side, and Cen- 
tral Asia, Asia Minor and Persia on the other. 

It first appears on Chaldean cylinders as a pillar or 
'world spine' surmounted by a crescent. Sometimes 
this pillar is thrice crossed by branches resembling bulls 
horns each tipped by ring symbols. The highest pair 
of horns have a larger ring between them which shows 
but a part of itself as if it were a crescent. These rings 
are frequently replaced by flowers and fruit. 

About the beginning of the tenth century B.C. the 
tree becomes more complex. It has been convention- 
alised into elaborate and graceful forms and is one of 
the most conspicuous objects found on the sculpture 
and monuments of Khorsabad and Nimroud, From 


life ^j>mbote 

the "mystic flower of the Assyrians" which Goodyear 
identifies with the lotus, innumerable branches spring 
from an intricate scroll work or interlacing design. The 


Layard, Monuments of Nineveh. 

pillar or trunk of the tree is sometimes divided, sugejest- 
ing the same idea of duality or union of spirit and mat- 
ter that was conveyed by the bird and serpent. The 
divided pillar is surmounted by a conventionalised form 
of the mystic flower or lotus. Sometimes the branches 
terminate in the same form of the lotus, or they will 
bear a fruit resembling the pomegranate. Frequently 
the fruit is shaped like a fir or pine cone. Again it is 
suggestive of a lotus bud. In each case, however, the 
fruit of the tree is one of the well known symbols of 
life and fecundity. 

Sometimes the wild goat or sacred bull with ex- 
panded wings is represented kneeling before the mystic 
tree. A bird or human figure frequently takes the place 
of the bull or goat. On some of the older cylinders the 
tree is represented between two animals which may be 

Two Kings Kxeelixg Beneath the Emblem of the Deity 

Winced Females Standing Before the Sacred Tree 

dTfje STree of life loi 

unicorns, winged bulls, or eagles with the bodies of 
men. It is often shown between two Kings facing 
each other in an attitude of worship. Sometimes the 
kings are flanked by two priests who carry in the one 
hand the sacred cone — which among the Babylonians 
and Assyrians was a symbol of life, fire, the masculine 
principle, and in the other a metal, shovel-shaped basket 
which is also when filled with fruit and flowers one of the 
attributes of Bacchus. Its use here has puzzled many 
students. The suggestion that it contained holy water 
and the fact that the "ritual watering of sacred trees 
from a natural or artificial source was a regular feature 
of this form of worship" lends credence to the idea that 
we are once more confronting one of the simplest yet 
most profound and persistent associations in ancient 
symbolism — the union of fire and water to produce life. 

Two priests clad in fish robes as attendants of Ea 
or the goddess Ishtar are seen on either side of the Sa- 
cred Tree. Again it is represented between two winged 
females who are depicted with one hand extended 
toward the tree in a gesture of adoration, while in the 
other they hold the ring or circle, symbol of eternity, 
water, the feminine principle. 

To indicate the high significance of the tree as a 
religious symbol the winged circle of the deity is fre- 
quently shown above it. 

Jastrow calls the various animals or winged figures 
"guardians of the sacred tree with which the same idea 
was associated by the Assyrians and Babylonians as was 
with the tree of life in the famous chapter of Genesis as 
well as with other trees of life found among other an- 
cient races. The cones which the winged figures be- 
side the tree hold indicate the fruit of the tree plucked 
for the benefit of the worshippers by these guardians 


life ^pmliol£( 

who alone may do so. A trace of this view appears in 
the injunction to Adam to eat of all trees except one 
which being of the tree of knowledge was not for mor- 
tal man to pluck — as little as of the fruit of the 'tree of 
life.' " ' 

The tree of life and wisdom was a theme which "lent 
itself both to the refinements of ornamentation and to 
the fancies of the symbolical imagination." Yet, al- 
though conventionalised into all sorts of fantastic forms 
until its tree-like appearance is nearly lost, the symbolic 
idea conveyed is precisely the same. Strangely enough, 
too, although other features are inserted and the tree it- 
self is sometimes replaced by other symbolic objects, the 
grouping remains essentially the same. 



Sometimes an altar or pyre takes the place of the 

In China the tree becomes the Sacred Pearl between 
two dragons. 

In India the two figures become Nagas or Snake 
Kings, their heads entwined with cobras. 

The Tree of Life is sometimes represented between 
two peacocks. The peacock, besides being an emblem 
of immortality was believed to kill serpents. 

* "Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria," Jastrow. 

aCfje ®ree of TLift 


In adapting this idea to the temptation and fall of 
man, the only change necessary was "to give a different 
sex to the two acolytes." 

An interesting illustration is shown by Count Gob- 
let d'Alviella in his Migration of Symbols. It is a 
Phoenician bowl discovered by Cesnola on the Island of 
Cyprus. The Tree stands between two figures who are 
plucking the lotus blossom with one hand and hold the 


cruoj ansata in the other. Thus showing that the tree, 
the lotus and the Key of Life are but variations of the 
same religious thought — the quest of Life. D'Alviella 
points out that the Assyrian priests and gods hold the 
pine cone precisely as the gods of Egypt sometimes 
handle the crux ansata. 

Sometimes the myth varies, and the two monsters, 
griffins, unicorns or other fabulous beasts are shown 



approaching the tree as if to pluck the fruit or flower. 
In general, however, the tree is usually portrayed as be- 
ing jealously guarded by mythical beasts or birds who 
protect it from demons or rivals who are seeking to gain 
possession of it. 


TLiit ^pmbols! 

The Christians in making use of this symbolic form 
sometimes depicted the two figures as lambs or again 
doves or peacocks. The cross of Christianity was be- 












lieved at one time to be like a tree. This symbolism is 
typified in the Holy Rood or Rod. 

Lowrie in the Monuments of the Early Church 
says that "of all the various notions which attached 
themselves to the Christian cross none were so common 
nor so fundamental as that which regarded it as the 
tree of life. ... In a fresco inS. Callistus the cross 
still dissimulated is represented under the figure of a 
green tree with two horizontal branches under which 
stand two doves." He also notes that the symbolic sig- 
nificance of the early chalice, the classical cantharus 
which appears upon the altar in two mosaics of Raven- 
na and which is almost invariably associated with the 
Eucharist is plainly indicated by the "vine which springs 
out of it, the two harts which approach it on either side 
panting to quench their thirst with the water of life, and 
by the peacocks which symbolise its potency for immor- 
tality." He believes that it was rarely if ever used in 
administering the wine to the people, that it was a "con- 
ventional decorative motive which the Church bor- 

Vtf)t ®ree of life 105 

rowed from ancient art and to which it attached its own 
meaning." The design, which was originally the Sa- 
cred Tree of Life of the Assyrians with its animal 
guardians, is altered by the Christians, who make the 
vase in which the tree grew the chief motive, substitute 
the symbolic vine, and instead of panthers or grifRns 
place the gentler animals as guardians. 

The Sacred Tree of the Mayas was often depicted 
with two branches springing out horizontally from the 
top of a pillar or trunk in the form of a tau cross. 

The Sacred Tree, the one that was the supreme ob- 
ject of worship, varied in different localities. Appar- 
ently each race and country adopted as its highest relig- 
ious emblem the one that was considered the most valu- 

In Europe the oak was venerated because of its 
strength and vitality. It was associated with the gods 
of fertility and lightning including Thor and Jupiter. 

The Greeks had a Tree of Heaven. This was the 
oak which gave shelter to the Dioscuri — the twin broth- 
ers of Light and Darkness. 

The leaves of the oak, eight-lobed and flaming in 
autumn, suggested re-generation and fire. Then, too, 
the acorn in its cup was one of nature's most perfect 
and manifest symbols of the lingam and yoni or the 
'jewel in the lotus' or the "combination of I the Holy 
One and O the generating cup or crater." 

The oak was the sacred tree of the Druids, In con- 
secrating their holy oak trees they made them cruciform 
or shaped like the fylfot cross, either by cutting off or 
by inserting branches. They chose oak-woods for their 
sacred groves, and no rites were performed without oak 
leaves. The cutting of the mistletoe (the druidical 

io6 ILiit ^j>mbol2( 

name meaning All Heal) from an oak of thirty years 
growth was a matter of great ceremony. The Druids 
were said by Pliny to worship the mistletoe because they 
believed it to have fallen from heaven, and to be a token 
that the tree upon which it grew had been chosen by the 
god himself. The mistletoe was rarely met with but 
when found, provided the tree was an oak, it was gath- 
ered with impressive ceremony on the sixth day of the 
moon when the moon was believed to have its greatest 
vigour. A white robed priest climbed the tree and with 
a golden sickle cut the mistletoe which was not per- 
mitted to touch the earth but fell into a white cloth held 
by votaries below. Then followed the sacrifice of two 
white bulls whose horns had never been bound before, 
and prayers that God might make his gift prosper with 
those upon whom he had bestowed it. 

A tree struck by lightning was naturally thought 
to be "charged with a double or triple portion of fire." 
Fire kindled by lightning was looked upon with super- 
stitious awe. God himself spoke in the thunder and 

The reverence paid to the oak by the ancient peoples 
of Europe may be due, therefore, to the "greater fre- 
quency with which the oak appears to be struck by light- 
ning than any other tree of our European forests." A 
peculiarity which recent scientific investigations seem to 
have confirmed. For this reason the ancients believed 
that the great sky god "loved the oak above all the trees 
of the world and often descended into it from the murky 
clouds in a flash of lightning, leaving a token of his 
presence or his passage in the riven and blackened trunk 
and the blazed foliage. Such trees would thenceforth 
be encircled by a nimbus of glory as the visible seats of 
the thundering sky god. . . . Both Greeks and Ro- 

2Lfje arree of life 107 

mans identified their great god of the sky and of the 
oak with the lightning flash which struck the ground 
and they regularly enclosed such a stricken place and 
held it sacred." ^ 

In this connection Frazer hazards the conjecture 
that the real reason why the Druids worshipped ahove 
all others a mistletoe-bearing oak was the belief that the 
mistletoe had dropped on the oak in a flash of lightning 
and that the oak thus bore among its branches a "visible 
emanation of celestial fire." 

Thus, too, the "rich golden yellow which a bough of 
mistletoe assumes when it has been cut and kept for 
some months" indentifies it with the celestial fire of the 
sun. "The bright tint is not confined to the leaves but 
spreads to the stalks as well, so that the whole branch 
appears to be indeed a Golden Bough." One may sup- 
pose, therefore, Frazer ingeniously concludes, that "in 
the old Aryan creed the mistletoe descended from the 
sun on Midsummer Day in a flash of lightning." 

It was a rule strictly adhered to by the ancient Ger- 
mans, Celts and Slavs that the Sacred Fire should be 
ignited annually by the friction of two pieces of oak- 
wood. "In some places the new fire for the village was 
made on Midsummer Day by causing a wheel to revolve 
round an axle of oak till the oak took fire. This curious 
custom may have had its origin from the idea that the 
oak tree symbolised the Cove, Pole or Axis of Imma- 
culate Fire." ^ 

"It may be" or "It may have been" — quite unlike 
Tennyson's doleful "It might have been" — are the most 
enchanting phrases of archaeology. One may believe 
that the original man — if there ever was a first man — in 

" Frazer's "The Golden Bough.*' 

' Bayley's "Lost Language of Symbolism." 

io8 Hife ^pmbols; 

pondering upon various inscrutable things, that alas! 
still remain inscrutable, said to himself: "It may be 
that le hon Dieu intends." Or, perhaps, when life was 
simpler he went to the Great Source for an explanation. 
It may be — some believe this — it may be that the origi- 
nal man knew. 

His descendants, however, soon fell victim to man- 
kind's insatiable love of embroidering with picturesque 
phrase and florid explanation some ancient, elemental, 
outstanding truth. Later generations take the past 
seriously and say: "It may have been that he thought 
thus," when the ancient may simply have been amusing 
himself by letting his imagination go, as we are letting 
ours go when we try to interpret him. 

The game of supposing is a very old and delightful 
pastime. History and science as well as fairy stories 
and myths are built upon it. And we are indebted to it 
for many of the most enthralling fancies, especially 
those that have been entwined about the oak and the 
mistletoe. This was doubtless a very simple form of 
worship originally. The same that the ancients ex- 
tended to whatever in nature grew without roots in the 
earth — whatever remained ever green and living while 
other things fell into decay. Thus the mistletoe grow- 
ing on the oak and remaining green while the oak was 
barren and leafless was another of those mystical em- 
blems that gave man such reassurance of the potency 
of the divine union of spirit and matter, and renewed 
his belief and faith in the glorious continuity of life. 

The Senal Indians of California "profess to believe 
that the whole world was once a globe of fire whence 
that element passed up into the trees and now comes 
out when two pieces of wood are rubbed together." 

®f)e 2Cree of TLiit 109 

Agni the fire-god of India was spoken of as "born 
in wood, as the embryo of plants or to strive after them." 

The Sien trees of the Chinese are those that confer 
life, strength, health, immortality, such as the jejube, 
plum, pear, peach — any trees, in short, that produce 
fruit or aromatic or edible matter. 

From time immemorial it has been the custom in 
China to plant trees on graves in order to impart 
strength to the soul of the deceased and thereby preserve 
his body from corruption. The cypress and pine, be- 
cause they were evergreen, were thought to be fuller of 
vitality and were therefore preferred for this purpose 
above all other trees. 

The ^r and pine tree were also worshipped for their 
straightness, their uprightness. The fir tree was a sym- 
bol of elevation and was related to the God of Israel. 

It has been suggested that the pyramidal form of 
certain trees was one of the factors that contributed to 
their worship. 

The ''pyramidal Yache" was the sacred tree of the 

A flame-like tree is likened to the Fire of Life or 
rod or stem of Jesse. 

The poplar tree once sacred to Hercules was an ob- 
vious symbol of the Holy Rood, pole, spike, spire or rod. 

The laurel was sacred to Apollo. 

The All Father was identified with the mighty ash. 
This tree was also an object of reverence because of its 
clusters of red berries. 

Ezekiel compares the Assyrian to a "Cedar in Le- 
banon with fair branches." 

The pine tree was sacred to Attis, Dionysos and 
other spring time gods. The sanctity of the pine tree 
is thought by some scholars to have originated possibly 


mtt ^pmljols! 

from its resemblance to a spiral of flame, and that the 
cone from its inflammable nature as well as its shape 
was originally a symbol of fire. Here the analogy and 
the later use of the pine cone as a phalhc emblem be- 
comes perfectly clear for fire was invariably regarded 
as one of the most powerful attri- 
butes of the direct, pointed, creative 
masculine principle. 

The sabred cone was used to 
typify an existence united yet dis- 
tinct. As has been said before in 
another connection it had the same 
meaning among the Semites as the 
C7'ux ansata of the Egyptians, and 
was also looked upon as a talisman of 
high import exclusive of its phallic 

It is found on sepulchral urns and 
tombs of the Etruscans or sometimes on top of a 

"In Graco-Roman paganism the fruit of the pine 
discharged prophylactic, sepulchral and phallic func- 
tions." ^ 

The pine cone enlarged and conventionalised is still 
seen on gateways in Italy as a talisman of fecundity, 
abundance, good luck. 

The traditional sanctity of doorways and portals or 
gateways — anything that gives entrance to something 
beyond, or something secluded, hidden — has come down 
from the most ancient times and portals and gateways 
with their two pillars are frequently depicted in connec- 
tion with the sacred tree. 

After the 'aniconic idol' had been superseded by 

^"The Migration of Symbols," D'Alviella. 

Tree terminating in the 
Sacred Cone protect- 
ed by birds and lions. 

From the Cathedral of 
Torcello. D'Alviella. 

SCfje STree of life m 

representations of the gods in human form, the original 
meaning seems to have been lost. The Sacred Cone on 
burial urns was supposed to be the attribute of some 
hero, whereas it was simply one of the symbolic expres- 
sions used to "represent life in its dual aspect — the dual 
type of the Creator, of the God himself." 

The banyan tree in India symbolises "eternal life, 
productive powers, perfect happiness, supreme knowl- 
edge." These are the gifts of the tree which represents 
the universe. 

The Buddhists depict the Sacred Tree between two 
elephants facing each other. This is the sacred Bo 
Tree or Bodhi Tree under whose shade Sakya-Muni sat 
for seven years before he received enlightenment and be- 
came the Buddha. The elephants are an allusion to 
the legend that when Sakya-Muni left the Tushita hea- 
vens to be born again on earth as Gautama Buddha, he 
descended in the form of a white elephant. 

One notes that the Sacred Tree among the Bud- 
dhists also dwindles into the mystic flower of the lotus 
flanked by the same two elephants. Again the connec- 
tion between the two is obvious, the fleur de lis or lotus, 
the sacred plant is called the Tree of Life of Mazdaism. 

In the symbolism of the Buddhist Triad or Tri-rat- 
na Buddha (intelligence, soul) is given the trisula 
placed upon a pillar surrounded by flames. Dharma — 
(matter, the body) — a wheel, and Sangha who repre- 
sents the union of Buddha and Dharma, or soul and 
body — is given a tree. 

Each Buddha had a special Bo-Tree or Bodhi-Tree, 
the Tree of Wisdom or Enlightenment under which 
he is supposed to have been born, to do penance, preach 
and die. 

Although some have pictured it as the Banyan Tree 

112 life ^pmbols; 

— dear to the hearts of the Hindus — whose branches 
lean down only to take root again when touching the 
ground, the fig tree — ficus religiosa — is the one under 
which Gautama Buddha is usually represented as re- 
ceiving hodhi or knowledge. 

The Sacred Fig Tree — jicus religiosa — was held in 
especial veneration as an emblem of life — combining 
both masculine and feminine attributes. Its tri-lobed 
leaf, suggesting the masculine triad, became the sym- 
bolical covering in sculptured representations of nude 
figures, while the fruit — the eating of which was sup- 
posed to aid fecundity — was identified in shape with the 
yoni. In all the countries bordering on the southern 
shores of the Mediterranean the fig tree was an object 
of worship. And although the cypress, plane and pine 
as well as the fig tree were held sacred in Crete, the 
traditional sanctity of the fig tree, Evans finds, was well 
marked in the later cult of Greece as well, being, be- 
cause of its fruitfulness and the belief in its prophylac- 
tic power against lightning, an object of special sacred- 
ness in the primitive ^gean cult. Besides being a sa- 
cred tree of the Mycensean world it was also worshipped 
in Rome. He notes that "near the original seat of Ficus 
Ruminalis was the cave of Pan connected with the old 
Arcadian cult, and that the fabled suckling of twins 
beneath the tree by the she wolf reproduces a legend of 
typically Arcadian form." ^ 

In the primal principle this recognised duality was 
believed to have been androgynous or bi-sexual. Thus 
the palm tree as well as the lotus, the serpent and the 
scarabeeus were believed to be self -created and were all 
androgynous symbols. 

The Palm Tree was especially reverenced because it 

■"Mycenaean Trees and Pillar Cult," A. F. Evans. 

Photo. A linari 

Pax and Olympus 
(Museo Xazionale, Xaples) 

©fje arree of life 113 

was the only tree known to the ancients that never 
changed its leaves. It was believed, therefore, to be 
self-renewed. Hence the miracle of reproduction repre- 
sented by the symbolical Tree of Life found its highest 
expression in Chaldea, Assyria and Babylonia in con- 
ventional representations of the date palm. 

It is "quite conceivable that the inflorescence of the 
date palm may have performed a symbolical function 
.... as a pre-eminent emblem of fertilising force." 

Thus the palm that the Christians used as a symbol 
of martyrdom, although I believe it has a deeper mean- 
ing — the triumph of life over death — was an ancient 
sjTnbol par excellence of creative force, the universal 
matrix, the generating power of nature, the flame of 
fire. Baal Tamar a Phoenician deity is called 'Lord of 
the Palm.' A palm tree encircled by a serpent is de- 
picted on Phoenician coins. 

The Sacred Tree in Japan is the Sa-ka-ki tree. 
In the various ceremonies in the temples branches of 
the Sa-ka-ki tree to which are attached a mirror, a 
sword and a jewel are among the offerings. These 
ceremonies are followed by two dances one by men and 
the other by a dozen girls twelve or thirteen years old 
who carry in their hands branches of the Sa-ka-ki tree. 

The "divine Lady of Eden or Edin" was called in 
Northern Babylonia the "goddess of the Tree of liife." 

The Sacred Tree embodying as it did a conception 
of the renewal of life, frequently typified the feminine 
principle in nature under the name of Astarte, Ishtar, 
Mylitta and other nature goddesses. A cypress is some- 
times depicted on the coins of Heliopohs in place of the 
conical stone which commonly symbolised Astarte. The 
name of Cypress was given to Venus of Lebanon. "Up- 
on an altar of the Palmyrene is depicted on one side 

114 Hife ^pmbols; 

a solar god, and on the other a cypress with a child 
carrying a ram on its shoulder showing in its foliage. 
The pine in which Cybele imprisons the body of Atys 
till springtime belongs to the same class of images. 
The tree becomes the symbol of the matrix." ^ 

In the legend of Osiris the body of Osiris is con- 
cealed in "the branches of a bush of Tamarisk which in 
a short time had shot up into a tall and beautiful tree" 
which grew around the sea-drifted chest in which his 
body was hidden. 

The Phrygian Atys ( or Attis ) was said to have met 
his death by self -mutilation under a sacred tree. Adonis 
sprang from a tree. Diamid hid in a tree when pursued 
by Finn. Tammuz died with the dying vegetation. 

The Tree of Life of the Egyptians was a 'high 
sycamore tree upon which the gods sit.' The sycamore 
with its thick foliage which gave grateful shade was 
thought to be the resting or the abiding place of the 
beneficent tree spirit who gave sustenance to the parts 
of the dead. Hence the deep veneration accorded to the 
sycamore particularly in the vicinity of Memphis. The 
sycamore was always associated with a goddess. In the 
south it was called the "living body of Hathor." 

The Ivy which the Greeks consecrated to Bacchus 
was called by the Egyptians 'Osiris's Tree.' 

Nowhere is the reverence for trees more clearly 
shown than in the Old Testament. The Old Testa- 
ment is filled with references that indicate how deeply 
imbedded was this ancient association of divinity with 
trees. Divine revelations take place under trees. Some- 
times it is a palm tree, sometimes a cypress and again an 
oak, terebinth or tamarisk. Deborah the prophetess 
of the Children of Israel sat under a palm tree. The 

• D'Alviella's "The Migration of Symbols." 

(Louvre, Paris) 

Photo. Alinari 

arije Zxtt of life 


angel of the Lord who sent Gideon to deliver the Israel- 
ites "sat under an oak which was in Ophrah." Jehovah 
declared himself to Moses "in a flame of fire out of a 
bush .... and behold the bush burned with fire and 
the bush was not consumed." (Ex. 3:2.) The pome- 
granate, fir, apple, cedar, palm, vines, grapes and ber- 
ries which are al- 
luded to in a figur- 
ative sense in the 
Songs of Solomon 
are all ancient sym- 
bols of life. 

The Tree of Life 
becomes the genea- 
logical tree, the fam- 
ily tree, the tree of 
Jesse. The latter, 
representing the 
genealogy of Christ 
as related in the gos- 
pel of St. Matthew 
was a favourite sub- 
ject for ecclesiastical paintings and embroideries in 
the Middle Ages as we have already seen. In these 
representations the roots of the tree encircle the body 
of Jesse who is reclining upon the ground. On the 
branches which stretch out from either side of the tree 
are the different personages who composed the links 
in the chain of descent, while at the very top stand- 
ing in an aureole of glory are Christ and the Virgin 
Mother. Candlesticks formed like a tree with 
branches were called Jesses. The Jesse windows in 
mediaeval churches show the same subject treated in 
stained glass. 


ii6 life ^pmbolsf 

Bay ley points out that the word leaf is identical with 
love and life and further adds that it is a scientific fact 
that a tree lives by its leaves. 

Troward places together the Bible, the Great Pyra- 
mid and the Pack of Cards, the three showing a unity 
of principle and each throwing light upon the other. 
"The three stand out pre-eminent all bearing witness to 
the same one truth." ^^ 

Besides the enormous diversity of combination, and 
the mathematical fascination of cards, it is an odd fact 
that the four designs are all symbols of life. The spade 
is derived from the leaf, the heart is the source of life, the 
diamond or lozenge is a symbol of the yoni or the fem- 
inine principle and the club (trefle in French) is the 
trefoil, one of the most ancient symbols of the Trinity 
or the three-fold aspect of life. 

Early serpent worship was associated with groves, 
and tree worship undoubtedly had a dark side and de- 
generated into a form of phallicism just as darkness al- 
ternates with light. From earliest times, however, the 
Tree of Life has been one of the most cherished sym- 
bols of man's estate, and Ruskin believed, and I am glad 
to believe with him, that in itself tree worship was al- 
ways healthy and becomes instead of symbolic, real. 
"Flowers and trees are beloved with a half -worshipping 
delight which is always noble and healthful." ^^ 

In this connection the thought occurs, if some re- 
former — a purist of a prohibitory turn of mind — were 
to blot out from the Bible all reference to trees, stones, 
altars, rocks, hills, pillars, pomegranates, vines, grapes, 
wine, sun, moon, stars, rivers, seas — because at some 
periods these manifestations of the power of Yahveh 

" Troward's "Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science." 
" Raskin's "Queen of the Air." 

STfje Wvtt of TLiU 


were worshipped or made symbolic use of to express ex- 
cess of life in its lowest form — degeneracy — how much 
of the Bible, one wonders, would there be left! 

Having done this, having stripped it of all poetry 
and imagery, the next step logically, of course, would 
be to demolish Nature itself. And that is a bit difficult 
even for a reformer of an aridly righteous and unim- 
aginative mind. 




"The bird in which the breath and spirit is more full 
than in any other creature and the earth power least," 
— Ruskin. 

''There are no myths . . . by which the moral state 
and fineness of intelligence of different races can be so 
deeply tried and measured as by those of the serpent and 
the bird" — Ruskin. 

'^ . . . The Bird that halting in her flight 
Awhile on boughs too light. 
Feels them give way beneath her yet sings. 
Knowing that she has wings." — Victor Hugo. 



THE bird symbolises the spirit of the air, the spirit 
of hfe. 
The wing of a bird symboHsed the wind. 
A circle or globe with bird's wings issuing from it 
on either side, was an Egyptian and Assyrian symbol 
of the deity. 








;X I 





In one of the early Egyptian triads of gods Nut 
is heaven, Seb the earth and Shu the air or space which 


life g)pmlioIfi{ 

separates them. The hieroglyph of Shu is an ostrich 
feather "the most imponderable object for its bulk that 
could be selected," hence the symbol of space. 

Maat the Egyptian goddess of truth carried a 




It was thought that after a man died he was brought 
before Osiris the judge of the dead and "his conscience, 
symbolised by the heart, was weighed in the balance be- 
fore him." In the Egyptian representations of the Last 
Judgment the heart of the deceased is weighed before 
an assemblage of the gods over against a feather the 
symbol of truth, to test the truth of his plea. The light- 
ness of the feather, the ease with which it ascends sym- 
bolised the eternal quality of truth which, when 
"crushed to earth rises again." We still say "Heart as 
light as a feather" to indicate freedom from care, happi- 
ness, a good conscience. 

The panache is a part of this same symbolism, as 
well as the three feathers of the Druids — "three rods 
of light" — light meaning power, divinity. Light of the 


(Owned by Airs. Myron C. Taylor, New York City; 

feacreb JBirbiel 123 

World, and which later were adopted by King Edward 
and other Princes of Wales as a badge. 

The bird power was humanised by the Greeks in 
their flying angels of victory. It is also associated with 
the Hebrew cherubim which guard the Tree of Life. 

The soul, which was commonly believed to be exhaled 
from the mouths of the dying in the last breath was 
frequently pictured as a bird. It was a part of the 
funeral rites of a Roman Emperor to burn his waxen 
image on a pyre. As the flames were seen ascending 
an eagle was let loose from the burning pyre to carry 
the soul to heaven. 

In Egypt the soul is often portrayed as a human- 
headed bird hovering about the mummy. Or again it 
will be depicted perched in a tree near by regarding 
curiously its own funeral. 

The sun-god Ra is pictured as a falcon winging his 
swift course across the sky. 

The hawk is connected with 
all solar gods and was partic- 
ularly venerated in Egypt. 
Horus is the falcon god. The 
hawk of Horus typified the AST^i^^J^^^V ^ \ 
spirit of the sun. ' M n ^ \ J 

Layard quotes from a frag- ^^"^ 

ment of the Zoroastrian oracles °^^^ ^'^ ^°"^' anthemion. 

«/-( 1 Greek pottery fragment. 
preserved by EusebmS, God Goodyear.Crammar of the Lotus. 

is he that has the head of a 

hawk. He is the first, indestructible, eternal, unbegot- 
ten, indivisible, dissimilar; the dispenser of all good, 
incorruptible; the best of the good, the wisest of 
the wise; he is the father of equity and justice; self- 
taught, physical and perfect and wise and the only in- 
ventor of the sacred philosophy." 

124 Itife ^|>mbolflJ 

Sometimes the head of the hawk is given to the body 
of a lion, the latter is also associated with the might and 
power of the sun. 

The hawk or falcon, vulture and phoenix in Egypt, 
and the eagle in India and Babylonia are birds of the 
sun, fire, wind, storms, immortality. 

Among the Egyptians where decomposition set in so 
rapidly, the vulture was regarded as an emblem of puri- 
fication, of compassion, as a worker of all good. The 
vulture also symbolised maternity. Nekhebet the vul- 
ture goddess is identified by the Greeks with Eileithyia 
the goddess of birth. She is generally represented as a 
vulture hovering above the king. Mut another Egyp- 
tian goddess whose name signified mother, 'queen of the 
gods,' 'lady of the sky,' was supposed to represent na- 
ture the mother of all things and like Nut, Neith and 
Isis and other great mother goddesses was symbolised 
by the vulture. Hathor, who was the female power in 
nature, wears a head-dress in the shape of a vulture and 
above it a disk and horns. Hathor is called 'lady of 
the sycamores' and 'mistress of the gods.' 

The phoenix a fabulous bird of 
the sun, one of the four super- 
natural creatures of the Chinese, has 
symbolised life and immortality 
from remotest antiquity. Accord- 
ing to the legend this "bird of won- 
der" combines both feminine and 
THE BIRD OF FIRE. masculiuc attributes. "It lives five 
B&y\ty Lost Language of huudrcd vcars Or a little more. 

Symbolism. -J ' 

when it will become young again 
and leave its old age." 

When its time to put off old age arrives, it makes for 
itself in some secret place somewhere in Arabia a nest 

S>acreb JBirbsf 


of rarest spices. These, becoming ignited by the heat of 
the sun and the fanning of the bird's own wings, burst 
into flames consuming the phoenix, which arises from its 
oA\Ti ashes, buoyantly young, to pursue "the same never 
ending life and re-birth." 

In the Egyptian religion the phoenix is the embodi- 
ment of Ra the sun-god. The Egyptians believed that this 
mj^stic bird came out of Arabia every 
five hundred years and burned itself 
on the hi^li altar in the Temple of the 
Sun of Heliopolis, rising again from 
its own ashes young and beautiful. 

Among the Romans, where crema- 
tion was practiced, the symbolic use 
of the phoenix signified resurrection 
and immortality. This emblem of life 
was taken over by the Christians as a 
symbol of immortality and was also 
used by the alchemists. 

The eagle among the Greeks was 
the symbol of supreme spiritual en- 
ergy. It is a solar bird like the hawk 
and shares with the latter the power 
of being able to out-stare the sun. 

The eagle is the symbol of royalty, 

power, authority, victory. Zeus is at- Goodyear.^Grammaro/<A. 

tended by an eagle. On ancient Greek 

medals and coins the eagle of Zeus is often portrayed 

carrying the thunderbolt. 

The Babylonian shepherd Etana (or legendary 
King) is borne aloft by an eagle to the Celestial Moun- 
tains where grows the plant of life. 

The Etana eagle figured as a symbol of royalty in 


126 life ^pmbolsi 

The eagle is associated with Ashur, the solar god 
of the Assyrians, and occupies a prominent place in 
the mythologies of Sumeria and Assyria as a symbol 
of fertility, of storm and lightning, the bringer of chil- 
dren and the deity who carries souls to Hades. 

The eagle was looked upon as the inveterate enemy 
of serpents. The contest between the sky or sun and 
the clouds was symbolised as a fight between serpents 
and eagles. 

In its cruel aspect the eagle is identified with the Zu 
bird, a storm demon, a worker of disaster, a prolific 
source of evil. The Zu bird symbolised also a phase of 
the sun, also fertility and slays serpents. 

Garuda the solar vehicle of the Indian god Vishnu, 
half eagle, half giant — was also a destroyer of serpents 
and, like the Babylonian Etana eagle when it was born 
it "issued from its tgg like a flame of fire, its eyes flashed 
the lightning and its voice was the thunder." 

In a hymn which Mackenzie quotes in the Myths 
of India the Garuda is lauded as the "bird of life, the 
presiding spirit of the animate and inanimate universe, 
destroyer of all, creator of all. It burns all as the sun 
in his anger burneth all creatures." The same hymn 
identifies the sacred bird with Agni, the god of fire, with 
Brahma, the creator, with Indra, god of fertility and 
thunder and with Yama, god of the dead who carries off 
souls to Hades. The Garuda is also called the "steed- 
necked incarnation of Vishnu." 

The double-headed eagle — a form of the Garuda 
bird — was worshipped by the Hittites as a symbol of 
omniscience. It was the emblem of the King of Heaven 
and as such was given to kings and emperors who were 
his Divine representatives on earth. The Hittite Bird 
of the Sun is also identified by some with the magic 


Photo. Alinari 

Griffins as Table Supporters 
(Vatican, Rome) 

^acreb Ptrbs; 


Roc, mortal enemy of serpents, the bird that bore Sind- 
bad aloft. 

"The cherubim guarding the Tree of Life are mod- 
elled on the Double-Headed Eagle." 

The double-headed eagle of the Hittites figured 
until recent days on the royal arms of Austro-Hungary 
and Russia. 

In Layard's Nineveh he notes that eagle-headed 
or vulture-headed human figures were constantly repre- 
sented in colossal proportions on walls or guarding the 
portals of chambers. Often they were depicted con- 
tending with other mythic animals such as a human- 
headed lion or bull. In these contests the eagle-headed 
figure was always victorious, which he believes may 
denote the superiority of the intellect over mere 
physical strength. 

Assyrian eagle-headed genii are depicted advancing 
towards the Sacred Tree holding the symbolic cone. 

In Christian art St. John the 
Divine is given the eagle, or some- 
times he is depicted as an eagle, 
when as one of the four evan- 
gelists they are represented by 
the four creatures of Ezekiel — a eagle headed figures 


man, an ox, a lion, an eaffle. 

° Lajard. Culte de Mithra. 

The lion with the wings of an 
eagle typified strength and power — the union of spirit 
and matter. 

Doves played a prominent part in the worship of 
Astarte the great goddess of nature of the Phoenicians. 
The dove was a symbol of Bacchus, the First Begotten 
of Love! 

Doves were also an attribute of Ishtar. 

Doves bring ambrosia to Zeus. 

128 TLiit ^pmbote 

Doves and snakes were associated with the mother 
goddess of Crete, typifying her connection with air 
and earth. 

It was beheved that Semiramis, the mythical founder 
of Nineveh, took flight to heaven in the form of a dove. 

Doves were sacrificed to Adonis. 

The dove, swallow, sparrow, wry-neck and swan 
were sacred to Aphrodite. 

Doves and pigeons were sacred birds in Egypt. 

In Vedic literature Yama is the god of the dead and 
his messengers are the owl and the pigeon. 

A dove with an olive branch was used as a symbol 
of Athene or re-newed life. 

In the Hebrew story of the Great Flood Noah sends 
forth first a raven and then a dove. But the dove found 
no rest for the sole of her foot, and returned to the ark. 
In seven days Noah sent her forth again. "And the dove 
came into him in the evening; and lo, in her mouth 
was an olive leaf pluckt off." Noah "stayed yet other 
seven days ; and sent forth the dove ; which returned not 
again to him any more." 

In the Babylonian flood myth Pre-napish-tim the 
Babylonian Noah sends forth a dove on the seventh day. 
The dove finding no resting place returns. Next he 
sends a swallow which likewise returns. "Then Pre- 
napish-tim sent forth a raven and the raven flew away." 

Sacred doves are usually associated with the 
sepulchral cult. Evans gives an illustration of one of 
the "dove shrines" of Myceneea. These shrines were also 
connected with sacred trees and pillars. 

In Christian art the dove is the symbol of the Holy 
Ghost. It is used pre-eminently as the emblem of the 
soul and in this sense is seen issuing from the lips of 
dying martyrs. The dove as the Holy Spirit hovers 

S>acreb Pirbsi 129 

about the Virgin. It is also given to certain saints who 
were believed to be divinely inspired. 

The 'primeval goose' that laid the golden egg of 
the world comes down through the ages as an object of 
endearing worship. It is safe to say that no woman 
ever really resented being called a "silly goose." 

While the ancients looked uj^on blood as the pri- 
mary vehicle of life, believed that the blood of a god 
flowed in the sacred waters, that inspiration and re- 
newed life came from drinking blood — hence the Eucha- 
rist — they also saw that life was in the breath, that air 
was life, without air man could not breathe. Thus they 
reverenced the atmospheric gods — the gods of the mov- 
ing winds. Hera is the "Queen of the Air." Anu is 
the sky and atmosphere god of the Babylonians. Zeus 
and Jupiter are gods of the winds and storms as well 
as of "heaven, earth, fire, water, day and night." As 
the gods grew more highly complex — and thus indicat- 
ing the growing tendency towards monotheism — the 
solar gods eventually took over all the powers that had 
formerly been given to other gods. But whether cen- 
tralised or scattered the forces that lie back of all vege- 
tation and growth — sun, storm, wind, earth, water, fire, 
air — were none the less worshipped as divine manifesta- 
tions of life. 

From earliest days, perhaps because of its sibilant 
hiss, the goose became associated with the sound of the 
rushing wind. 

The Hindus depict Brahma the Creator, the Breath 
of Life riding on a goose. The goose or 'breath bird' 
was sacred to Juno the Queen of Heaven (the Greek 
Hera). In Egypt the goose was the attribute of Seb 
the earth god who in the creation myth was the 'chaos 


TLitt ^pmbolfiS 

The goose was associated with the sun in Egypt, 
India, Greece and Britain. Thus as a solar bird it was 
given to Osiris, Horus, Isis. It was also sacred to 
Apollo, Dionysos, Hermes, the Roman Mars and Eros. 
Eros the god of love is depicted riding on a goose. The 


Detail of Rhodian vase in Metropolitan Museum. 

Goodyear, Grammar of the Lotus. 

'beautiful goose' is sacrificed to Venus in Cyprus where 
it was an emblem of love. It was sacred to Priapus in 
Italy. Among the Hindus it was the symbol of elo- 
quence. The Greeks gave the goose to Peitho the 
"goddess of winning speech." In Germany and France 
the goose was believed to be endowed with the power of 
forecasting events as well as being a good weather 

"The goose represented love and watchfidness, the 
'watchfulness of a good housewife.' " It was called the 
"blessed fowl." The mystics likened themselves to "un- 
slumbering geese." A goose with flames issuing from 
its mouth typified the Holy Spirit and symbolised the 
way of life or regeneration. 

The oath taken by Socrates and his disciples was 
"by the goose." 

The goose or Bird of Heaven was held sacred in 
China where it was regarded as peculiarly a bird of 
yang or the principle of light and masculinity. 

^acreb j&ithsi 131 

The word for goose has a common origin in Latin, 
Greek, Sanscrit and German. 

The Crane in China and Japan is a sacred bird said 
to hve to a fabulous age. It symboHses longevity and 
happiness; "longevity" coinciding with our idea of im- 
mortality. It is often represented standing on the back 
of a tortoise. The crane also transported to heaven 
those who had attained immortality. 

The Stork was one of the symbols of hsiao, "filial 
piety," which occupies such a high place in Chinese 
ethics. Confucius whose ideals lay in the past, or in 
modelling conduct upon the best that had gone before, 
defined filial piety as "carrying on the aims of our fore- 
fathers." Hence the "nursery lore of the stork bring- 
ing babies — doing as our fathers have done." 

"There is a tradition of the Great Wisdom whose 
emblem is the serpent surrounding a pair of storks." ^ 

The Mandarin Duck is a Chinese symbol of con- 
nubial affection and fidelity. 

Crows in pairs were the symbol of conjugal fidelity 
in Egypt where the same quality has been given them 
that attaches itself to the pigeon in other countries — 
that if either dies the other never consoles itself — ^never 

Birds not only symbolised the soul, sun, wind, 
storms, fecundity, growth, immortality but they were 
'fates.' Certain birds had the gift of presage. The 
screech owl was a bird of ill omen. The hooting of an 
owl even now brings a sense of coming disaster. In- 
stinctively we still experience the inherited shudder. 

In Japan the crow is looked upon as a bird of ill 
omen. If the crow cries when anyone is ill, death is 
near. The same idea of misfortune attaches itself in 

* Bayley's 'Ivost Language of Symbolism." 


TLiit ^pmbolsi 

Duran, Historia de las Indias de Nueva Espafla. 

g)acreb pirbs; 133 

Italy and France. In the fable of "Lcs Dcilx Pigeons" 
La Fontaine makes the pigeon who is urging the other 
not to leave him say : — 

"Qui vous pressed Un corbeau 
Tout o Vheure annon^aif malheur a quelque oiseau." 

In the stories of wanderings, which are a part of 
every myth and saga, the spirits that aid or accompany 
the heroic figure or dragon slayer are birds or wild 
beasts. The bird Mimi delivers over the secret to Sieg- 
fried. "A little bird whispered it in my ear," is still a 
common saying, relic of an ancient belief. 

St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds has come 
do'vvn the centuries as a touching evidence of the purity 
of his soul. 


"It is fate itself, swift as disaster, deliberate as 
retribution, incomprehensible as destiny/^ 

"Swift, powerful, graceful, without feet or paws, 
yet it can glide, coil, stand erect, leap, dart and like- 
wise swim" — Waring. 

"The serpent in which the breath or spirit is less than 
in any other creature and the earth power greatest. 
. . . It is the strength of the base element that is so 
dreadful in the serpent. It is the very omnipotence of 
the earth. It moves like a wave but without wind, a 
current but with no fall . . . all with the same calm 
will and equal way . . . one soundless, causeless march 
of sequent rings and spectral processions of spotted 
dust, with dissolution in its fangs, dislocation in its 
coils. Startle it, the winding stream will become a 
twisted arrow, the wave of poisoned life will lash 
through the grass like a cast lance." — Ruskin. 




THE Serpent is a notoriously complicated symbol. 
Its meaning is subtle and contradictory. It 
has figured as a life symbol from remotest 
times, sometimes in a positive and again in a negative 
sense. No symbol has a more confused variety of 
meanings — good, evil, life reproduction, wisdom, power, 
eternity — everything also that is base, dark, evil, low. 
It is one of the universal attributes of the creative prin- 
ciple and is found in every portion of the globe as a sym- 
bol of life. It is common to both elements earth and 
water, is closely associated with groves and tree wor- 
ship, and from earliest times has been inseparably con- 
nected with sun worship. 

The earth in early days was thought to be sur- 
romided by a celestial river whose circumambient course 
was likened to a serpent biting its tail. 

The serpent with tail in its mouth forming a circle 
was an Egyptian symbol of eternity and immortality. 

The fact that the serpent was believed to be an- 
drogj^nous — self-creating — added to its reverence. Its 
annual sloughing of its skin made it a symbol of re- 
newal, of being born anew. 

It was the emblem of destruction and death. "As 
the worm of corruption it is the mightiest of all adver- 
saries of the gods." 


138 TLiit ^pmbols; 

Typifying darkness in this connection, it is the 
especial enemy of the gods of light and creative power. 
Apollo the god of day kills the python of darkness as 
soon as he is born. Ra, the sun-god of Egypt spends 
his nights in mortal combat with Apep the great ser- 
pent of mist, darkness, discord, destruction. In India 
Indra, the martial god of heaven kills the serpent Vri- 
tra, and liberates the waters which the serpent had kept 
imprisoned in mountains or clouds. Among the sun 
worshippers the serpent was believed to be the incarna- 
tion of evil and darkness. 

The serpent was also used as a symbol of solar rays, 
lightning, clouds and rivers. 

The undulating movement of the serpent was 
thought to typify the motion of the waves of the sea. 
This and its association with earth as well as water made 
it a symbol par excellence of the feminine principle. 
All the more so because, although used to denote 
evil, disaster, darkness, it was also employed with equal 
potency to signify life, understanding, wisdom, power, 
re-generation, re-production, eternity. 

In the very early days in India there is found traces 
of an ancient religion which consisted of the worship 
of Mother Earth and the Great Snake Father. 

In the Indian flood myth Manu is warned by the 
fish-god of the coming destruction, and counselled to 
build a large ark in which Manu and the seven Rishis 
are saved. The tradition of a Great Flood is found 
among all ancient peoples. The flood myth is thought 
by some to be a variant of the Indra myth which shows 
how Indra destroyed the snake worshippers. This in 
turn may have found its origin in Babylonia, where Ea 
the fish-god and water snake ordered the building of 
the ark and the destruction of the wicked snake wor- 

&. i'ljyt't 

-■ -'-'^ l^gTP"- 


■li jB^ 


Serpent Symbols in Egypt 

Fig. 6, "Kneph or Phanes, the most powerful deity, lion-headed, serpent bodied, 
winged and bearing on head the usual emblems of wisdom and fecundity, con- 
templating the sacred staff of his divine office and resting upon the sacred Nile jar." 

In place of head fig. 7 is given the serpents of divine wisdom and "holds wisdom 
in each hand as a sign of power." 

Waring, Ceramic Art in Remote Ages 

^Tfie S>erpent 


shipping race. In the Egyptian flood myth it is Ra who 
becomes angry with the rebeUious acts of men and con- 
sults with Nu, the god of primeval waters who orders 
the wholesale destruction of mankind. The Mexican 
deluge is caused by the 'water sun' which suddenly 
discharged the moisture it had been drawing from the 
earth in the form of vapour. That fire and water unite 
to destroy a race inimical to both, is evident in all the 



Cams, Chinese Thought. 

flood legends. These may have been snake worshippers 
or races far gone in the iniquities symbolised by the ser- 

140 TLitt S>pmbote 

The Maoris have a legend that in the beginning 
heaven and earth were united. The union was later 
destroyed by a serpent. This resembles the serpent in 
the Garden of Eden. 

The Indian Nagas are said to be "snakelike beings 
resembling clouds." They are said also to occupy 
eighth rank in the system of the world. Other enumer- 
ations put them next to the Devas. The Naga world 
was beneath the ocean. There were heavenly Nagas, 
divine Nagas, earthly Nagas and Nagas who guarded 
the treasures of the deep. The Indian serpent-shaped 
Naga is identified with the Chinese dragon because 
both are gods of rivers, seas and the givers of rain. 
The Nagas were "Lords of the earth more than 
anyone else and send, when having been insulted, 
drought, bad crops, diseases and pestilence among 

The Nagas are represented m three ways in the 
Indian Buddhist art, first as human beings having on 
the head a urseus-like snake which curves out of the 
neck, often with several heads. Second, they are de- 
picted in their snake-like form, and third they are shown 
with the trunk of a man, the lower part of the body and 
the head being that of a serpent. 

In one of the legends of Gautama, when the Buddha 
sat under the tree where he received enlightenment, his 
brilliant light shone into the Naga's palace under the 
sea, just as the light had spread from his three predeces- 
sors who had sat in the same spot. The Naga rejoicing 
in the new Buddha, arose from the water and surround- 
ing the Buddha with "seven coils covered him with his 
seven heads." For seven days and seven nights the 
Buddha sat motionless protected from storm and temp- 
est by the royal snake. Thus, the legend concludes, 

3rtje Serpent 



D'Alviella, Migra- 
tion of Symbols. 

"These fearful serpents by the influence of Buddha's 
Law became blessers of mankind." 

The Nagas or serpent-gods were believed to be su- 
perior to men. Gautama Buddha was said to have put 
the Sacred Book under the protection of the Nagas "un- 
til sucHi time as man should have acquired 
sufficient wisdom to understand it." 

The Naga kings Nanda and Upan- 
anda are depicted as entirely human with 
five serpents over their heads. They 
were said to have created the lotus, and 
are frequently shown in a kneeling atti- 
tude at the base of Buddha's pedestal 
supporting the lotus. 

The Naga god has practically disap- 
peared from India except in the south 
where it is still reverenced. 

The Nagas were worshipped in China from earliest 
times. It is related that two heaven-sent serpents pre- 
sided over the first washing of Confucius. The snake 
symbol is much less common in China, however, where 
its place is taken by the dragon. 

From pre-historic times the serpent has been an ob- 
ject of worship in Japan, and Naga shrines may still 
be found there. Benten, one of the seven gods of good 
luck, is usually represented riding on a snake or a 

The mighty and powerful Nagas were only help- 
less before their deadly enemies the Garudas, the fabu- 
lous, golden winged birds of the sun, of whom they 
stood in constant terror. 

The snake inspired awe, fear and worship among all 
primitive races. Many of these customs and traditional 
observances still survive among the American Indians. 

142 life ^j>mtJolsi 

The Egyptian goddess Neheb-kan was represented 
as a serpent. The beneficent mother goddess Nazit of 
Buto was also a serpent and the goddesses Isis and 
Nephthys had serpent forms. The serpent was a sym- 
bol of fertility and as a mother was a protector. All the 
great nature goddesses of fertility are given the serpent. 

The serpent is found in greatest profusion on Egyp- 
tian tombs and temple walls. The kings and gods of 
Egypt wear the urseus serpent crest in their crowns. 
Ra the Egyptian sun-god who had the sun's disk for 
an emblem was frequently represented with the head 
of a hawk crowned by the disk of the sun upon which 
rests the curving uraeus snake. 

Ruskin speaks of this, "The serpent crest on the 
king's crown, or of the gods on the pillars of Egypt is 
a mystery, but the serpent itself gliding past the pillar's 
foot, is it less a mystery?" 

In hymns to Amen-Ra — who is a later form of Ra 
and took over many of the attributes of Ra and other 
gods as well — ^Amen-Ra is called "Lord of rays, creator 
of light ... he that placest the urseus upon the head 
of its lord. . . . Lord of the urseus crown; exalted of 
plumes, beautiful of tiara, exalted of the white crown; 
the serpent 'mehen' and the two ursei are the orna- 
ments of his face . . . the two ursei fly by his forehead. 
. . . The flame makes his enemies fall, his eye over- 
throws the rebels, it thrusts its copper lance into the 
sky and makes the serpent Nak [Apep] vomit what 
it has swallowed." 

"He that placest the urceus upon the head of its 
lord" seems to deliver the secret. As the solar gods 
were always engaged during the night in fighting the 
serpent of darkness, mist, storm, evil, it may be that the 
urajus serpents worn on the crowns of the sun-gods 

Photo. Alinari 

Athene (Minerva) 
(Museo Nazionale, Naples) 

3rf)e Serpent 143 

and the Pharaohs of Egypt were placed there to con- 
vey the same symhoHc idea that is typified by the hon's 
skin which Herakles wears, in other words, they were 
worn as trophies of victory. 

Serpents were worshipped as defenders of house- 
holds, and images of them hung up for luck or protec- 
tion as horse shoes were hung up as lucky omens in 
the peaceful, mid-victorian days before the horse was 
superseded by the automobile. 

Snake charms, snake rings and snake bracelets were 
worn as fertility and protective charms. 

The serpent in Rome was connected with the wor- 
ship of Lares the household gods of the Romans, and 
among both Greeks and Romans it was regarded 
as a guardian spirit of places. A serpent kept in a 
cage in the temple of Athene at Athens was called the 
"guardian spirit of the temple." A snake is one 
of the symbols of Athene the goddess of wisdom. 
The Romans regarded the serpent as an object of 

Vishnu the preserver of the Hindu Trimurti sleeps 
on the World Serpent's body. 

It was believed that Mercury the herald of the gods, 
with the caduceus — a rod with wings entwined by two 
serpents — in his hand "could give sleep to whomsoever 
he chose." 

iEsculapius god of medicine and son of Apollo 
carries a staff encircled by a serpent, symbolising heal- 
ing, the re-newing power of life. 

Hippocrates is also given the same symbol. 

Hygeia the goddess of health is depicted bearing a 
serpent in her hand. 

There is an interesting communication that throws 

144 T^iit S>j>mlJols; 

a great deal of light on serpent symbolism, in the 
American Journal of Archeology for Jan-Mar., 1922, 
from Prof. A. L. Frothingham of Princeton Univer- 
sity, regarding a former contention of his, which identi- 
fied the so-called Medusa in the temple at Corfu as 
Artemis. An inscription found after the publication of 
his theory proves that the temple was, in fact, a temple 
of Artemis and his theory of the identification of Me- 
dusa with both the goddess and the sun has been ac- 
cepted by Dr. Dorpfeld. Prof. Frothingham goes on 
to say: — 

"There are two phases in the creation and develop- 
ment of the Gorgon Medusa. Originally she is pre- 
Olympian. She is a child of Mother Earth and belongs 
to the primitive stage of proto-Hellenic religion, the 
matriarchal stage when the mother goddess was supreme 
and when the great snake, the emblem of life, was also 
the emblem of the great productive forces of mother 
earth. Medusa was the embodiment of this material, 
productive force. The second stage in the Gorgon 
evolution coincided with the substitution of the male 
for the female deity as leader of the Pantheon, when 
in the duality of productive forces the father sun heat 
took the upper hand of the other element in the pro- 
duction of life, the mother-earth-moisture element. In 
this second phase the darting snakes of the solar heat 
around the Gorgon's nimbus were symbolic of one side 
of the Gorgon's function, in the same way as the great 
snakes at her girdle were symbolic of the earth moisture 
forces of the great mother. . . . The two children of 
Medusa represent the two elements of heat and mois- 
ture. Chrysaor is Apollo in his character as sun god. 
In historical times the epithet of Apollo as a solar god 
was Chrysaor and his darting arrows are described as 

3rf)e Serpent 145 

snakes. Pegasus, the horse is of course the well known 
symbol of Poseidon, the god of waters, and therefore in 
primitive JNIedusa symbolism represented the other ele- 
ment moisture. At Corfu, therefore. Medusa is the 
great producing force of the universe through a com- 
bination of heat and moisture. She is the presiding 
genius over the creative evolution out of which world 
order is produced." 

The Serpent coiled about the Egg of the World 
symbolises the same idea of production by generative 

The cross entwined by a serpent was the emblem of 
spiritual re-birth. 

Frazer finds the serpent associated with life-giving 
plants, and that there is a close connection between the 
fertility of the soil and the marriage of woman to 
the serpent; also that there seems to have been a 
Greek notion that women may conceive by a Serpent 

According to the legends Jupiter Ammon, appear- 
ing to Olympias as a serpent, became the father of 
Alexander the Great. Similar legends were told of 
Jupiter Capitolinus as the father of Scipio Africanus. 

Jastrow considers that "In the Biblical narrative 
the sexual instinct and the beginning of culture as sym- 
bolised by the tree of knowledge are closely associated. 
According to rabbinical traditions the serpent is the 
symbol of the sexual passion." ^ 

Conceived of in this way the whole analogy of ser- 
pent symbolism becomes stupendously clear and enters 
into the very essence of our being. 

Another authority says "The serpent among the 

* " Adonis, Attis and Osiris." 

^Jastrow's "Religion of Babylonia and Assyria." 

146 ILife S>pmtioli^ 

Eastern nations had the subtle significance of rep- 
resenting an emotion, the animating spirit of procrea- 
tion, the sexual instinct, the Divine Passion. While 
this instinct as a factor in the work of the Creator was 
the source of all good, when it represented the sexual 
nature in its sensual and lustful aspect the serpent be- 
came the symbol of sin." ^ 

As the manifestation of the Life Principle in obedi- 
ence to law it becomes the symbol of wisdom, power, 
goodness. In the negative or evil sense it becomes the 
deadly reptile with no higher aspirations than material- 
ism and sensuality. It was the serpent in this latter 
aspect that brought about the expulsion of Adam and 
Eve from the Garden of Eden, or Garden of the Soul. 

With this interpretation in mind it is not difficult 
to understand how the snake came to be thought of by 
the literal minded and the ignorant, for whom the origi- 
nal meaning had been lost, not as a symbol of the means 
of creation but as the Creator himself — the Great Snake 
Father. Or again by others as an object whose pres- 
ence gave potency to the life impulse. Even the sinister 
chapter that relates to serpent worship no longer 
puzzles, although it is a bad chapter in the history of 
humanity. It is the dark side made manifest. An 
amazing phase that defeats itself. 

Troward sums it up very clearly: — "The serpent 
a favourite emblem in all ancient esoteric literature and 
symbolism, is sometimes used in a positive and some- 
times in a negative sense. In either case it means life 
— ^not the Originating Life Principle but the ultimate 
outcome of the Life Principle in its most external form 
of manifestation. Recognized in full realization that it 
comes from God, it is the completion of the Divine 

'"Sex Symbolism," Clifford Howard. 

^fje Serpent 147 

work by outward manifestation. In this sense it be- 
comes the serpent which Moses hfted up in the wilder- 
ness. Without the recognition of it as the ultimate 
mode of the Divine Spirit, it becomes the deadly reptile 
not lifted up but crawling flat upon the ground; it is 
that ignorant conception of things which cannot see the 
spiritual element in them and therefore attributes all 
their energy of action and re-action to themselves, not 
perceiving that they are the creations of a higher power. 
Ignorant of the Divine Law of Creation the Serpent 
symbolizes thus that conception of Life which sees noth- 
ing beyond secondary causation." ^ 

Nothing beyond Sex, in other words. Thus the 
Freudian theories of "Sex urge," the CEpidus complex, 
as well as other abnormal complexes that have seized 
upon modernism, especially the modern novel, are com- 
parable to the phallicism of an earlier age. The only 
difference is that the modern uses words to symbolise 
precisely the same thought on life that was expressed 
in the degenerate stages of phallicism. 

And whenever, as we have seen, phallicism is wor- 
shipped per se either by 'graven images' or by the 
written word, it is clear to the observing that the rela- 
tion of the sexes is about to describe another circle. 

D. W. Lawrence who is a sex expert — not with the 
definition in mind that "an expert knows nothing else," 
for I find him extremely well versed in symbolism — 
seems to foreshadow the male revolt against the sexual 
supremacy of the modern woman in the closing chapter 
of Aaron's Rod. 

One character asks the old, old question that the ages 
have asked tirelessly, "But can't there be a balancing of 

* "Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning," T. Troward. 

148 TLift g>|>ml)ols( 

The other says "My dear boy, the balance lies in 
that, that when one goes up the other goes down. One 
acts, the other takes. It is the only way in love. And 
the woman is nowadays the active party. Oh, yes, not 
a shadow of doubt about it. They take the initiative 
and the man plays up. That's how it is. The man 
just plays up. Nice manly proceeding, what?" 

Lawrence goes on about the "power urge" which 
will have to issue forth again in man. He would not 
be modern, of course, if he did not put it that way. To 
keep to the old terms, however, this sounds like the re- 
crudescence of the masculine. And when the masculine 
principle, as typified by heaven, light, fire, strength, the 
spiritual comes uppermost, hybridism goes out and the 
brazen serpent is once more lifted high. 




In unravelling the meaning of the lotus, dragon, 
tama, nimbus, or wheel of the law they become living 
records of the thoughts and beliefs of ancient peoples." 
— Claude Rex Allen. 

''The simplest truths in philosophy are hidden in the 
Hindu allegory that the world rests on an elephant and 
the elephant on a tortoise." — Lloyd P. Smith. 

''The dragon is the spirit of change, therefore, of 
life itself . . . taking new forms according to its sur- 
roundings yet never seen in a final shape. It is the 
great mystery itself. Hidden in the caverns of inac- 
cessible mountains or coiled in the unfathomed depth 
of the sea he awaits the time when he slowly arouses 
himself into activity. He enfolds himself in the storm 
clouds, he washes his mane in the darkness of the seeth- 
ing whirlpools. His claws are in the fork of the light- 
ning . . . His voice is heard in the hurricane . . . The 
dragon reveals himself only to vanish. He is a glorious 
symbolic image of that elasticity which shakes off the 
inert mass of exhausted matter." — Okakuro-Kakuzo. 

"Cloud follows the dragon. Wind follows the tiger." 





IT has been suggested that the dragon may have been 
the traditional form of some huge saurian or pre- 
historic monster, or perhaps a conventionalised 
form of the alligator found in the river Yangtse. What- 
ever its origin, from the remotest times the dragon has 
figured in the folk tales and mythologies of nearly every 
ancient race as the personification of the malign forces 
of evil and chaos. "The combination of every bad 
feature in nature — the sum of every creature's worst." 

In Babylonia Tiamat, the chaos dragon or Great 
Mother is the serpent or leviathan of the sea. In 
Egypt it is associated with the great serpent or night 
demon Apep with whom Ra the sun-god battles. In 
China he is a sun and moon swallowing monster during 
an eclipse. In India the dragon is the serpent Vritra 
who keeps the waters imprisoned in the clouds. Hydra 
the water serpent slain by Hercules belongs to the same 
class of images. There were dragons, too, of the wells. 
In all these representations the dragon is merely the 
idealised serpent. 

In Egypt the dragon is also associated with the 


152 mtt ^pmtiols; 

The dragon symbolised water, clouds, rain, floods, 
sin, evil. 

It is the sea monster of the Hebrews. "In that day 
the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall 
punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan 
that crooked serpent ; and he shall slay the dragon that 
is in the sea." (Isa. 27:1.) St. John describes the 
dragon "A great red dragon having seven heads and 
ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads. And his 
tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did 
cast them to the earth." (Rev. 12 :3-4.) And again he 
sees an angel who came down from heaven and "laid 
hold on the dragon that old serpent which is the Devil 
and Satan and bound him a thousand years." (Rev. 

The scriptural phrase 'the jaws of hell' was rendered 
literally in early Christian art by depicting a dragon 
with jaws open from which are seen issuing flames. St. 
Michael is the victorious angel over the "great dragon 
that deceived the world," and in devotional pictures he 
is frequently represented in full armour, carrying a 
sword, standing with one foot on the half -human, half- 
dragon form of Lucifer. St. George was another dra- 
gon slayer as were nearly all the heroes of myth and 

The Chinese, however, — and also the Japanese who 
borrowed most of their religious ideas from China — 
give a much wider meaning to the dragon. Water 
which is associated with the dragon is a source of great- 
est good as well as evil, and in China the dragon be- 
comes the most potent symbol of the blessing, the rain- 
giving, the wonder working gods of water. 

It is almost impossible for the Western mind to 
grasp the mystical subtleties that are embodied in their 

jFour Supernatural Creatures; of tfje Cf)ines(e 153 

dragon symbolism nor the profound hold it has. The 
dragon and all that it implies enters into the very warp 
and woof of Chinese thought and imagery. 

It is the sjTnbol of power, royalty, sovereignty. It 
is the symbol of floods, clouds, rain. It is one of the 
four supernatural creatures who preside over the fate 
of China. But above all else — that thought so dear to 
the Chinese mind — to the Chinese who believe that their 
civilisation is eternal — "the dragon is the spirit of 

Lao-tse defines the Tao, "I do not know its name and 
so call it the Path. With reluctance I call it the Infin- 
ite, Infinity is the Fleeting, the Fleeting is the Van- 
ishing, the Vanishing is the Reverting." 

Commenting upon this in The Book of Tea Oka- 
kuro-Kakuzo says, "The Tao is in the Passage rather 
than in the Path. It is the spirit of Cosmic Change — 
the eternal growth which returns upon itself to produce 
new forms. It recoils upon itself like the dragon, the 
beloved symbol of the Taoists. It folds and unfolds as 
do the clouds. The Tao might be spoken of as the 
Great Transition. Subjectively it is the Mood of the 
Universe. Its Absolute is the Relative." 

In the Yi King; the Book of Changes, the dragon is 
the symbol of Chen (or Kan) one of the yang trigrams 
meaning thunder. 

There is a legend that a 'dragon horse' emerged 
from the river Ho bearing on its back an arrangement 
of marks which gave Fuh-Hi the idea of the trigrams. 
The 'dragon horse' with wings at its sides that could 
walk on the water without sinking symbolised the vital 
spirit of heaven and earth. 

According to the Yi King the symbol chen, corres- 
ponding to the third of the four primary developments 


TLiit ^pmbote 

of the creative influence, is synonymous with lung the 
dragon and in conformity with this dictum the powers 
and functions of nature which are governed by the 
forces thus indicated, such as east, spring, etc.. are 
ranked under the symbol of the azure dragon. This 
also designates the Eastern quadrant of the Urano- 
sphere, as the White Tiger is given to the Western 

The four cardinal points and the four seasons were 
thus represented : 

















De Groot places the azure dragon as highest in 
rank among all the dragons in China because blue is 
the colour of the East. This idea may have been de- 
rived from India where Indra the rain and sky god 
is the patron of the East and Indra-colour is blue or 
blue-black, the colour of rain clouds. 

According to other authorities, however, the yellow 
dragon is the most honoured. 

The blue dragon symbolises the vital spirit of water. 

The yellow dragon is the essence of divine, mani- 
festing power. 

"The dragon can be bigger than big, smaller than 
small, higher than high, lower than low." 

The dragon wields the power of transformation and 
invisibility. He conceals himself or becomes brilliant. 

When the dragon breathes his breath changes to a 
cloud upon which he rides to heaven. He mounts to 
the sky at the time of the spring equinox. When he 
flies too high and cannot return the "thirsty earth must 


(Musee Cliinois, Fontainebleau) 

Jfour g>upernatural Creatures! of tfje Cfjinejse 155 

wait for liis blessings and sorrow prevails." At the 
time of the autumnal equinox he plunges down into the 
depths. He sleeps in the pools in winter and arouses 
himself in the spring. He is the god of thunder and 
appears in the rice fields as rain, or as dark clouds in 
the sky. 

The symbol of imperial sovereignty is an ascend- 
ing dragon which belches forth a ball. The ball in this 
case is the thunder and not the sun pursued by the 
dragon. Sometimes the object depicted between two 
dragons is shaped like a spiral, the spiral denoting the 
rolling of thunder from which issues a flash of light- 

The dragon devours the moon during an eclipse, 
and the ball between the two dragons has been identi- 
fied as the moon which the dragons are attempting to 
swallow. The conjunction of moon and water is ob- 
viously a magical one and was a symbolism used for 
the purpose of drawing down the fertilising rains. 

More frequently, according to Chinese belief, the 
ball is a 'precious pearl,' a form of the tama or sacred 
gem which typified the spirit or divine essence of the 
gods and also denoted the force which controls the ebb 
and flow of tides. The pearl was believed to be the 
"concrete essence of the moon distilled through the 
secret workings of the secondary principle of nature 
within the mussel of the shell which produces it. Hence 
it acts as a charm against fij^e, the active or primary 
principle." ^ 

The intense desire of the dragons to regain posses- 
sion of this jewel, which has been wrested away from 
them by the covetousness of man, is a favourite sub- 
ject in myth and legend and is constantly being de- 

* Mayer's "Chinese Reader's Manual." 

156 TLiit ^pmt)oIs( 

picted in Oriental art, where the dragons are shown 
either guarding or battling for it. 

In The Dragon in China and Japan M. W. 
de Visser describes a great ball of glass covered with 
gold which is said to hang from the centre of the roof 
of the great hall of the Buddhist Temple ra(h)-yu- 
sze, "Temple of the Rain of Law." Eight dragons 
are carved on the surrounding "hanging pillars" 
eagerly stretching out their claws towards the ball in the 
centre — the "pearl of perfection." This is again ex- 
plained as the "divine pearl." He divides the dragon 
into five sorts: 1. Serpent dragons, 2. Lizard dragons, 
3. Fish dragons, 4. Elephant dragons, 5. Toad dragons. 
The usual number in China, however, used in the 
ethical or abstract sense are four. These are the dra- 
gons of the four seas. They are 
four brothers named Yao who 
govern the North, South, East, 
West seas. They are called : — 
1. The Celestial dragon 
who upholds the heavens, 
guarding and supporting the 
JAPAN. mansions of the gods so that 

Naga Kings with two dragons xk j ±. i?„i] 

on shoulders upholding the ^'^^V ^" ""^ ^'^^^• 

lotus pedestal of the god. 2. The Spiritual or Divine 

D'AlvieWa, Migration of Symbols. ■, ■• i r?! i • j 

dragon who benefits mankmd 
by causing the wind to blow and the rain to fall. 

3. The Earth dragon who marks out the courses 
of rivers and streams. 

4. The Dragon of Hidden Treasure who watches 
over the wealth concealed from mortals. 

The connection of the dragons with pearls is here 
obvious. The masters of the sea would jealously guard 
its treasures. 

jFour Supernatural Creatures! of tfje €i)int^t 157 

As far back as 2700 B.C. Yao the dragon was 
one of the six symbolic figures painted on the upper 
garment of the emperor. 

Imperial coffins used to be painted with a sun, a 
moon, a bird, a tortoise, a dragon and a tiger. 

Coffins of grandees displayed the blue dragon, sym- 
bol of the Eastern quarter on the left side, and a white 
tiger representing the West on the right. The sun and 
moon are on the top. The burial garments for women 
had dragons embroidered on them surrounded by 
clouds, bats, phoenixes, stags, tortoises and cranes — 
emblems of fertilising rains, longevity, bliss, immor- 
tality, prosperitj^ happiness. 

De Visser quotes from the philosopher Kwan who 
writing on the nature of dragons says, "Those who, 
hidden in the dark can live or die are shi (a plant the 
stalks of which are used in divination), tortoises and 
dragons. The tortoise is born in the water; she is 
caused to disclose (what she knows) in the fire and 
then becomes the first of all creatures, the regulator of 
calamity and felicity. A dragon in the water covers 
himself with five colours, therefore he is a god (shen). 
If he desires to become small he assumes a shape re- 
sembling that of the silk worm and if he desires to be- 
come big he lies hidden in the world. If he desires to 
ascend he strives towards the clouds, and if he desires 
to descend he enters a deep well. He whose trans- 
formations are not limited by days and whose ascend- 
ings and descendings are not limited by time is called 
a god (shen).'' 

Japan has three kinds of dragons coming from 
India, China and Japan. These may all be classed, 
however, as thunder, storm arousing, rain bestowing 

158 ILife ^j>mt)ol2( 

The dragon in Japan is the symbol of the Mikado, 
whose garments are the robes of the dragon, whose face 
is called the dragon face and who is seated on a dragon 

The dragon is depicted with flame-like wings or 
appendages curving out from shoulders and hips. Its 
feet are given either three, four or five claws. The 
Japanese dragon has three claws. The imperial dragon 
of China is always given five. This may be in allusion 
to the fact that Japan has but three kinds, whereas 
China has five, or it may symbolise the Chinese myth 
that the dragon in water covers himself with five 

"The people paint the dragon's shape with a horse's 
head, and a snake's tail. He is given five fingers, three 
joints and 'nine resemblances' — the horns of a stag, 
head of a camel, eyes of a demon, neck of a snake, belly 
of a clam, scales of a carp, claws of an eagle, soles of a 
tiger, ears of a cow. Upon his head is a big lump — 
ch'ih-muh. If a dragon has no diih-muh he cannot 
ascend to the skies." ^ 

The symbolism of the dragon and the tiger pre- 
ceded the yang and yin. The dragon typified spring, 
heaven, the sky and the tiger autumn, the earth. They 
are often depicted together symbolising power. 

The dragon, being the fullest of yang is chief 
among the four supernatural, divinely constituted 
beasts called Ling. These are the unicorn, the phoe- 
nix, the tortoise and the dragon. "They are called the 

Ling has been translated by Couvrez as "animaux 
qui donnent des presages." Dr. de Visser believes that 
it has a stronger meaning and translates it as spiritual 

""The Dragon in China and Japan," M. W. de Visser. 

The Lady with the Unicorn 
(One of six tapestries in the Musee Cluny, Paris) 

jFour Supernatural Creatures; of tfje Cljinesie 159 

beings, adding that the "effective operation of the Tsing 
or vital spirit of these four creatures is, indeed, enor- 
mously strong and therefore they may be justly called 
'the four spiritual animals, par excellence.' " 

Their appearance was considered to be an omen 
but this was due to their symbolic spiritual powers. 
The dragon being full of yang symbolises those of 
mankind who are fullest of light and its appearance 
is the presage of their coming. The Emperor, the great- 
est of all men, being the fullest of the heaven power 
yang, was symbolised by the dragon. 

The dragon diffused light, "A black dragon vomits 
light and makes Darkness (yin) turn into Light 

Of the others of the four supernatural creatures 
the unicorn, called K'i-lin in Chinese and Ki-rin in 
Japanese (K'i male and lin or rin female) like the 
phoenix was believed to combine both the masculine 
and the feminine principles. The unicorn appears in 
the earliest examples of Chinese art, where it closely 
resembles the dragon-horse. It is depicted in ancient 
Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is spoken of in the psalms, 
"But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an uni- 
corn," (Ps. 92:10.) as well as being mentioned in other 
books of the Old Testament. 

The horse has invariably symbolised wisdom, in- 
telligence, the intellectual side. The white horse typi- 
fied innocent and pure intellect or reason. The white 
horse when given one horn becomes the unicorn which 
has figured in all countries from pre-historic days as a 
symbol of purity, strength of body and virtue of mind. 
It was regarded as the "noblest form of animal crea- 
tion, the emblem of perfect good." Among the 
Chinese it was considered to be the incarnate essence 


life ^pmbols; 

of the five primordial elements, and was believed to live 
one thousand years. It ranks first among the four 
sacred animals which preside over the destinies of 


Assyrian relief. 

Layard, first series 46. 

China and only makes its appearance when some great 
event is about to occur. 

The unicorn, adopted by the Christian religion as 
a symbol of female chastity in allusion to the fable that 
it "could never be captured except by a virgin stainless 
in mind and life," was given only to the Virgin Mary 
and St. Justina. In the art of the Renaissance the uni- 
corn figures frequently with the lion. 

Feng (phoenix) a fabulous bird of a mystic nature, 
second among the supernatural creatures is associated 
with the sacred Ho-o or Ho-ho — which was represented 
in the earliest art in China as a huge eagle bearing off 
large animals in its claws. The ho-o had the same 
characteristics and functions as the sacred garuda of 
the Hindus, the Persion rukh and the Greek gryphon. 
Later it is depicted as a compound of the peacock and 
the pheasant. The female was called hwang or luan 

Jf our Supernatural Creatures; of tfje Cfjinesie i6i 

and this name combined with feng the male becomes 
feng-lncang or feng-luan the name by which this 
wondrous bird is usually designated. The phoenix like 
the k'i-lin or unicorn is supposed to unite in itself both 





Carus, Chinese Thought. 

masculine and feminine principles. "In poetry many 
covert allusions to sexual pairings are intimated by 
references to the inseparable fellowship of the feng and 
hwang." ^ 

' Mayer's "Chinese Readers Manual." 

i62 life ^pmbote 

The plumage of the phoenix was of five colours 
typifying the five cardinal virtues. Its appearance 
was the forecast of wise and beneficent rulers. This 
supernatural bird was looked upon as the essence of 
fire, and Chinese mystics believed that it symbolised 
the entire world. "Its head is heaven, its eyes the 
sun, its back the crescent moon, its wings the wind, 
its feet the earth, its tail the trees and plants." ^ 

The phoenix as a royal emblem was given to the 
Empress, as the dragon was given to the Emperor. 

Kwei — astrologically this is the divine tortoise which 
was thought to be embodied in Ursa Major. Another 
account says that the first dragon sprang from the 
great Yuan — a form of tortoise and dragon which ac- 
companies the god of waters — and from this came the 
divine tortoise. It was the divine tortoise who pre- 
sented to the sage Lii a scroll of writing on its back com- 
posed of the numbers 1 to 9. Lii made this the 
basis of his philosophy or "nine divisions of the Great 

The tortoise was a symbol of longevity, the faculty 
of transformation and was believed to conceive by 
thought alone. It was believed also, that the tortoise 
could create by its breath a cloud, a fog or an enchanted 

As has been said before 'longevity' among the 
Chinese means life everlasting, immortality, as well as 
long life on earth. The five blessings which are so 
constantly symbolised are, longevity, riches, peaceful- 
ness, serenity, the love and attainment of virtue. The 
five eternal ideals are humaneness, propriety, insight, 
uprightness and faithfulness. 

* "Japanese Art Motives," Maude Rex Allen. 

Jf our Supernatural Creatures! of tfje Cfjinesie 163 

"The characters which stand for the five blessings 
and also the five eternal ideals are the most popular 
symbols all over China. . . . Among them the char- 
acters 'longevity' and 'blessing' are most used of all. 
. . . Blessing is called fu in Chinese which is an 
exact homophone of fu meaning 'bat' and so the five 
blessings tew fu are frequently represented by five bats. 
The word 'longevity' is commonly transcribed by sheu 
'long hfe.' " ^ 

The life of the tortoise was supposed to be one 
thousand years, although it is sometimes represented 
in art with a long bushy tail which it is said to attain 
in its ten thousandth year. 

The Chinese had two chief modes of divination, one 
was by the stalks of the yarrow and the other by the 
tortoise shell. The latter was regarded as the nobler 
method. It consisted in applying a thick black pig- 
ment to one side of the tortoise shell and fire to the 
other side until cracks appeared in the coating, which 
the diviner interpreted according to the rules of his 
art. Thus the tortoise was believed to hold the secrets 
of life and death. 

The tortoise is also a symbol of fecundity and it 
was thus used by the Egyptians. The Greeks give the 
tortoise to Venus as well as the dove, dolphin, ram, 
hare and swan. In Greek art Venus is sometimes 
represented standing on a tortoise. 

As one studies into its symbolism one finds that 
the tortoise had no mean function to perform in the 
estimation of the ancients, for besides everything else — 
the power of divination, of transformation, of fecund- 
ity, of longevity, it was said to carry the world on its 
back. The belief that it does this is almost universal. 

•"Chinese Thought," Paul Carus. 


TLitt ^pmbols; 

Sometimes it upholds the treasure mountain of the mys- 
tic jewel the 'tama/ In Japan it upholds the moun- 
tain abode of the gods. In the Hindu legend the tor- 
toise sustains an elephant upon whose back rests the 
world. The Delaware Indians believed that the Cen- 

Three worlds supported by elephants resting on a tortoise the whole encircled 

by a serpent with tail in its mouth. 

Waring, Ceramic Art in Remote Ages. 

tral World Tree grew out of the middle of the back 
of a tortoise. Among the Senecas the sky mother fell 
into a great pit on the wings of a waterfall who placed 
her on a turtle's back. In an ancient Arab myth a 
whale performs the 'all sustaining office' of the tor- 
toise. Earthquakes were caused by the awakening of 
the earth tortoise, the tortoise yawned and all nature 
was convulsed. 

The use of the tortoise as a support in various repre- 
sentations in bronze, or sculptured in stone is no doubt 
derived from this widespread legend. The symbolism 
of the four supernatural creatures has been fascinat- 
ingly expressed in ancient Chinese art. 

jFour Supernatural Creatures; of tfie Cfjinesie 165 

In the Bhagavad-Gita a man who is confirmed in 
spiritual knowledge is likened to the tortoise who "can 
draw in all his senses and restrain them from their 
wonted purposes." 



"Set (Darkness) and Horus (Light) are the first 
two elemental powers/' — Churchward. 

''Whoso venerates the Sun that is immortal, hril- 
liant, swift-horsed . . . he venerates Ormazd, he ven- 
erates the Archangels, he venerates his own soul/' — 
From the Nyaishes or Zoroastrian Litanies of the Sun. 

''If, for us also, as for the Greek, the sunrise means 
daily restoration to the sense of passionate gladness 
and of perfect life — if it means the thrilling of new 
strength through every nerve, — the shedding over us 
of a better peace than the peace of night, in the power 
of the da.wn, — and the purging of evil vision and fear 
by the baptism of its dew; — if the sun itself is an in- 
fluence, to us also of spiritual good — and becomes thus 
in reality, not in imagination, to us also a spiritual 
power, — we may then soon over-pass the narrow limit 
of conception which kept that power impersonal, and 
rise with the Greek to the thought of an angel who 
rejoiced as a strong man to run his course, whose voice 
calling to life and to labor rang round the earth, and 
whose going forth was to the ends of heaven/' — ^Ruskin. 

"In the commencement was Brahman without be- 
ginning or end, unborn, luminous, free from decay, 
immutable, eternal, unfathomable, not to be fully 
known/' — Mahabharata. 

"To the Brahmans the sun is the most glorious and 
active emblem of God/' — Goodyear. 




MOST of the ancient religious rites, while ac- 
cumulating in the long processes of time 
all sorts of rubbish which now seems 
puerile and childish — all sorts of dogmas, priestly ter- 
rors, magical rituals and practices — appear, one can 
scarcely doubt, to have been based upon that profound- 
est of all instincts reverence for the most holy, the great 
and insolvable mystery of life. 

In this quest of life it was inevitable that almost 
from primeval days the sun should be exalted above all 
the other gods of nature as the Supreme Creator, the 
source of all Life, Light, Power. 

The Egyptian religion has been called a solar 
drama. Their gods, typifying the forces of nature, 
presented a dramatic and moving picture of the uni- 
verse. The cult of one god superseded another, the 
attributes and symbols were frequently transferred, 
one god might be confused with another, but the fun- 
damentals of the Egyptian religion — based upon the 
enduring and unchangeable powers of nature remained 
always the same. 

Back of the ancient worship of the various gods of 
nature there seems to have been even at a very early 
time, especially in Egypt, a belief in the existence of 


170 TLiit fepmliolfli 

one God — self-existent, almighty, eternal — one great 
God who created all the other gods of sky, storms, sun, 
moon, earth, stars. These were worshipped, not as the 
divine, self-created power — but as glorious manifesta- 
tions of that mysterious First Cause, the Primum Mo- 

It is probable that the sun worshippers placed this 
power in the sun, figured that it resided in the sun, as 
later cults have said God is in the heavens. As no 
attempt apparently was made to sjanbolise this mys- 
terious Life Force or to realise it in visible, objective 
form, the sun, as the highest manifestation of this Un- 
known Power of creative energy and life, came to 
typify that power and was addressed as that power. 

"The material symbol of God was the sun, who was 
personified under the form of Ra, or later Amen-Ra; 
and although Osiris who was probably an indigenous 
god, is far older than Ra in Egypt, Ra was declared 
to have been the father of Osiris, and Osiris was his 
only son. Osiris was of divine origin, and he reigned 
wisely and well on earth, but at length he was slain 
and mutilated by Set, the personification of the powers 
of darkness. But he rose from the dead, and became 
the god of the underworld and of the beings who were 
therein. Because he suffered, died and rose from the 
dead, he became the type of the resurrection to the 
Egyptians who based all their hopes of everlasting life 
upon the belief that Osiris was immortal and eternal." 

The solar gods changed in Egypt as elsewhere, one 
god displacing another, but the force symbolised re- 
mained ever the same. 

Tum, the primeval sun-god of the Egyptians, is 
lost sight of and Horus and Set typify the elemental 

Photo. Alinari 

The God Bes, Serapeum 
(Louvre, Paris) 

Clje ^un 171 

powers of light and darkness. Horus, the falcon-god 
was also originally the sky — the "sun is the eye of 

Horus prepares the way for Ra the great sun-god — 
the "Horus of the Two Horizons." 

Later Horus reappears as the morning sun — the 
son of Osiris and Isis. 

"Ra at the beginning rose from the primeval deep 
in the form of the sun-egg or lotus flower. 

He that openeth and he that closeth the door; 

He who said 'I am but one.' 

Ra who was produced by himself ; 

\\Tiose various names make up the group of gods; 

He who is Yesterday (Osiris) and the Morrow (Ra) ."^ 

Men were born from the eye of Ra. Ra the ruler of 
the gods was the first king on earth. 

The Egyptian hieroglyph of the sun-god Ra was 
a point within a circle. The life of Indian and 
Egj^ptian gods was in the egg. The 'dot within the 
circle,' a symbol that goes back to remotest times, may 
have typified the seed within the egg. This is the 
'Orphic egg,' symbol of the universe whose yolk in the 
middle of a liquid surrounded by an encompassing 
vault, represented the globe of the sun floating in ether 
and surrounded by the vault of heaven. 

A point within a circle is still used as the astronom- 
ical sign of the sun, as a circle divided by a cross is the 
astronomical sign of the earth. In Egypt the circle 
also symbolised the course of the sun about the uni- 

Worship of the sun-god Ra became first prominent 

* "Egyptian Myth and Legend," Mackenzie. 

172 mtt ^pmbols; 

at Heliopolis where it received its fullest development. 
The priests of Heliopolis were the first religious think- 
ers of Egypt of whom any records are extant. Their 
theology gained wider and wider acceptance, until with 
the Fifth Dynasty (2700 b.c.) the solar religion of 
Heliopolis became the religion of the state. 

Ra was exalted as the Great Father who created 
gods and men. Hymns proclaimed him as self-begot- 
ten, king of the gods, lord of heaven and lord of 
earth, creator of those who dwell in the heights and of 
those who dwell in the depths. "Thou art the ONE 
god who came into being in the beginning of time. . . . 
Worshipped be thou whom the goddess Maat [god- 
dess of truth] embraceth at morn and at eve. . . . Thou 
stridest across the sky with heart expanded with joy. 
. . . Hail thou Disk, lord of beams of light, thou 
risest and thou makest all mankind to live. Grant thou 
that I may behold thee at dawn each day." 

The sun was frequently represented as a falcon, 
and from this idea of the sun as a hawk or falcon taking 
his lofty flight across the sky, may have originated the 
Egyptian symbol of the deity, a sun disk with the out- 
spread wings of a hawk. This solar emblem of life, 
omnipotence, power was also widely venerated in Asia 
Minor. Horus the falcon-god is symbolised by the 
solar disk. The emblem of Ra was a sun disk. In 
papyri and on bas-reliefs he is depicted with the head 
of a hawk, wearing the disk over which curves the 
urffius serpent. Ra is also identified with the ass, cat, 
bull, ram and crocodile. 

Amen-Ra, a later form of Ra, who was extensively 
worshipped at Thebes, is given the ram's head, the ram 
symbolising the masculine principle or solar creative 

^Tfje ^un 173 

Under Amen-hetep IV (Ikhnaton or Khu-en- 
Aten), the 'Heretic King' who preceded Tut-ankh- 
amen, Amen-Ra was temporarily dethroned. The sun- 
god was clearly distinguished from the material sun. 
To the old name Ra was added Aton or Aten, 'Heat 
which is the sun' — the solar disk, which was looked 
upon as the source of all things. The king was thus 
deifying the vital heat which is found accompanying 
life. The god was everywhere active by his rays and 
his sjTiibol was a disk in the heavens darting down 
towards the earth diverging rays which terminated in 
hands, each holding the symbol of life. "In so far 
as it rejected all other gods the Aten religion was 
monotheistic." Upon the death of the king, Amen- 
Ra was restored and the old gods found favour again. 

"The sun was the great Proteus, the universal 

The three steps of the sun indicated "His Going 
Down, His Period of Darkness and His Rising Again." 

The heat and glow of the noonday sun represented 
Ra. The sun going down typified the death of Osiris. 
In the morning sun Osiris lives again as the incarnate 

Dawn, noon, sunset, represented "three in one of 
the sacred substance of the sun as three divine persons 
existed perpetually in the substance of Uncreated 

In this thrilling drama, the sense of contest, sus- 
pense, struggle between the power of light and the 
power of darkness is never lost. What the sun does 
during the long hours of the night is a mystery, appeal- 
ing to all the emotions of curiosity, fear, hope, appre- 
hension, mystification. When the orb of day re-appears 

174 3tif^ ^j>mlJols{ 

in the morning after a night of mortal combat with his 
old enemy Set — now in the guise of Apep or Nak, the 
huge serpent of mist and darkness — there is rejoicing, 
the tension goes, the play ends well. Good has tri- 
umphed over evil. The meaning of life is fulfilled. Yet 
the drama begins again with each night. There is al- 
ways the constant, never ending struggle, if light is 
to win over darkness. The legend of Isis and Osiris 
becomes more personal. The human forces enter in — 
the eternal feminine and the eternal masculine. Osiris, 
who is dismembered by Set, is avenged by his son 
Horus and his mutilated remains found and restored 
by Isis. It is as fascinatingly complex yet simple as 
life itself. From the days of Plutarch down every 
generation has sought to explain to its own satisfaction 
the solar myth of Osiris and Isis. 

To one who would understand the race thought 
and its marvellous persistence, nothing is more deeply 
satisfying than to trace back these old religious beliefs 
and myths to their perfect simplicity — ^to the 'first 
narrow thought' and then, as Ruskin puts it, to see, as 
the intelligence and passion of the race develops, how 
leaf by leaf their beloved and sacred legends expand, 
until "the real meaning of any myth is that which it 
has at the noblest age of the nation among which it is 

It is questionable whether the present day city 
dweller is able to realise or comprehend the loving in- 
timacy of the ancients with nature, and the number of 
sacred ideas that owe their inspiration to the revolution 
of the universe, to the orderly movement of the heavenly 
bodies, and to man's supreme reverence for the Un- 
known Power that lies behind that all containing 
motion. Even among the most primitive and savage 

2rt)e ^un 175 

races there is found the desire to understand the forces 
and wonders of the universe, the causes of phenomena, 
— the winds, the seas, the tides, the transmission of Hfe 
from one generation to another, the fecundity of nature, 
growth — the secret of that omnipotent, creative power 
that causes a plant to spring from a tiny seed. All this 
man, savage and scientist, has brooded over, seeking the 
solution since time began. 

So close and so normal is man's association with 
nature, it represents such a large part of his religious 
life, constantly reminding him of eternal processes, 
of the wondrous works that are beyond the power of 
the human mind, however avid for the knowledge, to 
grasp, that, apparently throughout the ages, whenever 
he forsakes nature and shuts himself up in the artificial 
life of cities, he loses God. As cities and commerce 
grow, his religion develops into an ethical sense which 
ultimately loses force as it loses its direct, yet mythical 
and awe inspiring association with the hidden powers 
of nature. 

The same great drama that is represented by the 
Egyptian religion, the drama of Life and Death, Light 
and Darkness and the magical, miraculous return to 
Light, Life, Immortality is played out by all the other 
great religions. 

Sun worship was of great antiquity in Babylonia. 
The Babylonians had many gods, but the most im- 
portant place, as we have seen, was given to the gods 
of fire and water as representing the two chief forces of 
nature that control and preserve the health, prosperity 
and happiness of mankind. 

Anu, one of the earliest Babylonian gods, is origin- 
ally a sun-god and Enlil is a storm-god like the He- 


TLitt ^pmt)ol£{ 

brew Yahveh and is described as a mighty ox or bull 
The bull is associated with the gods of humidity. 

To this ancient duality is added Ea, god of water, 
whose symbol is a goat-fish. In this triad Anu be- 
comes god of heaven and 
Enlil god of earth. Ea, the 
god of water is pictured as 
always beneficent, constantly 
on the side of humanity, the 
embodiment and source of 

These transfer their pow- 
ers to Marduk (Merodach) 
a solar god who in his com- 
plexity resembles the Egyp- 
tian god Osiris. 

Marduk is called the son 
of Ea. He is pictured as the 
victor over Tiamat the 
primeval chaos monster. 
Marduk died to give origin 
to human life. He com- 
manded that his head should 
be cut off and that the first pair should be formed by 
mixing his blood with the earth. "He was lord of 
many existences . . . the mysterious one, he who is 
unknown to mankind. It was impossible for the hu- 
man mind a greater than itself to know." 

It is Marduk who directs and controls the forces 
of the chief triad. To him are given the attributes and 
supremacy that was formerly attached to all the other 
great gods, to Sin, the moon-god, to Ninib, Shamash 
and Nergal the three great sun-gods, to Ea and Nebo, 
gods of the deep; he also absorbs the powers of Adad, 



From Jastrow. 

Marduk Killing Tiamat the Chaos Monster. He Holds the Doitble 

Trident or Thunderbolt in Each Hand 

(Jastrow, BUdermappe zur Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens) 

Cfje ^un 


the storm-god; he is the wind-god who brings the air of 
life; he is the god of thunder and the sky. 

Marduk "starting out at Babylon by the absorption 
of the character of Ea, combining in his person the two 
powers water and sun which comprise so large a share 
in the divine government and the control of the uni- 
verse, he ends by taking over all the duties of Enlil of 
Nippur. . . . He becomes, like Enlil Lord of many 
lands. It is he who seizes the tablets of fate from the 
Zu bird — the personification of 
some solar deity — and henceforth 
holds the destiny of mankind in his 
hands. . . . Addressed in terms 
that emphasise the fact that he is 
the one and only god we find all 
the tendencies toward true mono- 
theism centering on Marduk the 
solar deity of Babylon." ^ 

The lion was given to Marduk 
also the goat. 

Nergal typified the destructive 
power of the sun and heads the 
pantheon of the lower world where 
dwell the dead. 

Shamash the other great solar 
deity of the Babj^lonians is con- 
stantly associated with Adad or 
Rammon — the Rimmon of the Bible — a storm-god, a 
hammer-god, god of wind and thunder, a rain bringer, 
a corn-god, a god of battle resembling Jupiter, Indra, 
Thor and other gods of storm and sky. Adad is repre- 
sented with the symbol of the thunderbolt or forked 
lightning which he holds in his hand. 

"Jastrow's "Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria." 


From Jastrow's Civilisation of 
Babylonia and Assyria. 

178 TLitt &j>mbol£{ 

Shamash is given no other powers save those bene- 
ficent ones which reside in or emanate from the sun. He 
is Lord of the Hving, a mighty judge who loves right- 
eousness and abhors darkness and sin. His hght shines 
over all. Without him all mankind would die. He 
illumines the world, his rays penetrate into every corner 
revealing all things. "He dominates by his majesty 
and power. He sees all things. Nothing can be hidden 
from Shamash." 

In the Babylonian flood legend it is the sun-god 
Shamash who decides the time when the heavens shall 
rain down destruction. 

The symbol of Shamash was the solar disk from 
which flow streams of water. The union is again sig- 
nificant, showing the pertinacity of this ancient concep- 
tion of the powers which produce life. These rays were 
apparently 'fertilising tears' like the rays of the Egyp- 
tian sun-god Ra. 

Ashur is the sun-god of the Assyrians. All the 
other gods are of Babylonian origin, but Ashur is the 
god of his people and reflects their aspirations and ex- 
periences. He is the national hero, but he also reflects 
the origin of the greatness of Assyria, as well as ex- 
emplifying in himself its power and might. 

Ashur also absorbs the attributes of the other and 
older gods. He bears a close resemblance to Marduk, 
has traits in common with Tammuz, the god of vegeta- 
tion, takes of the functions of Ninib, Nergal and Sha- 
mash, as well as those of the older triad of gods Anu, 
Bel Enlil and Ea. He is a god of fertility, a corn-god, 
a water-god, and thus the rippling water rays appear on 
his solar disk. He becomes the dominating figure, over- 
shadowing all others. "He is the Great God, God of 
Gods, the embodiment of the genius of Assyria." 

I'hol'i. Alinari 

Winged Bull with Humax Face from Sargox's Palace, Khorsabad 

(Louvre, Paris) 

©be ^un 179 

Having absorbed so much, Ashur becomes, like 
Osiris and Marduk an exceedingly complex and mysti- 
cal deity. "Like the Indian Brahma he may have been 
in his highest form an impersonation or symbol of the 
'self-power' or Svorld soul' of developed naturalism, the 
creator, preserver and destroyer in one, a god of water, 
earth, air and sky, of sun, moon and stars, fire and 
lightning, a god of the grove whose essence was in the 
fig and fir cone as it was in all animals." ^ 

The Assyrian winged bulls and lions typified the 
power of the sun. 

Ashur was not the goat but the bull of heaven. He 
was also given the lion and the eagle. As the bull he 
was the ruling animal of heaven. 

The symbol par excellence of Ashur is a sun disk 
with wa\'y lines extending to the circumference of the 
disk. He is also sym- 
bohsed by a winged 
disk with horns en- 
closing four circles 
radiating around a 
middle circle, with 
rippling rays stream- 
ing down from either 
side of the disk; Also 

by a circle or wheel with wings, and inside the circle a 
warrior drawing his bow to discharge an arrow. And 
again by the same circle, the warrior having his bow in 
the left hand, however, and the right hand upHfted as 
if to bless his worshippers. It has been conjectured 
that the Assyrians drew the circle to denote eternity, 
the wings omnipotence and the human figure supreme 
wisdom. Jastrow considers that the warrior was added 

• "Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria," Mackenzie. 


life g)pml3ote 

to the old solar symbol of the winged globe, and that its 
presence evinces a de-spiritualisation which "reflects the 
martial spirit of the Assyrian empire." 

Other authorities contend, however, that the sun 

symbol on the sunboat 
of Ra enclosed a 
similar figure which 
was seemingly con- 
ceived to represent the 
soul of the sun — "the 
life of the god was in 
the 'sun egg.' " 

The arrow is asso- 
ciated with the sun, 
moon and gods of the 
atmosphere. It is a 
symbol of fertility, 
rain, lightning, as well 
as war, famine, dis- 
ease, death. 

Apollo gave 
Hercules a solar ar- 

It seems credible, 
therefore, that the 
archer was as truly 
solar as his rays, and 
that the warrior in 
the sun-disk repre- 
sents Ashur as god of 
his people. 

An Assyrian standard shows the disk mounted on 
a bull's head with horns. The warrior's head, part of his 
bow and the point of his arrow protrude from the upper 


^Tfte ^m i8i 

part of the circle. The ripphng water rays, which are 
V shaped, stream out from either side, and two bulls 
are depicted in the divisions thus formed. Two heads, 
that of a lion and a man, each with gaping mouths are 
also shown symbolising possibly the scorching, destruc- 
tive power of the sun. 

In the Saba\an system, which is one of the most 
ancient religions of which there is any record, preced- 
ing even that of the Egyptians, the heavenly bodies 
were worshipped as visible evidences of the power and 
majesty of the supreme deity of which the sun was the 
highest divine manifestation. Emblems of the sun, 
moon, etc., were often depicted with seven disks which 
may represent the seven great heavenly bodies — 'that 
mysterious number so prevalent in the Sab^ean system.' 

In Assyrian representations, the King is seen in 
adoration only before one emblem of the sun-god — the 
figure with wings and tail of a bird enclosed in a circle. 
The king is generally shown standing or kneeling be- 
fore this figure, one hand uplifted in sign of worship. 
The Sacred Tree is before him, but only, it may be 
supposed, to give further emphasis to the Life thought. 
This symbol — the winged circle — is never represented 
over a person of inferior rank and in its warlike aspect, 
as protector and guardian of the king in battle, the 
warrior within the circle is represented shooting an 
arrow with head shaped like a trident against the ene- 
mies of Assyria. 

The Assyrians exaggerated the muscular, and 
gloried in the combative, masculine aspect of the sun. 
Their gods were always bearded. 

Layard finds that the Persians adopted their re- 
ligious symbols from the Assyrians, and that the form 

1 82 life S>pmbol£f 

of the supreme deity — the winged figure within the 
circle — and the types of wisdom and power are pre- 
cisely the same on the monuments of both people. 

Ormuzd or Ormazd (Aliura-Mazda) all- wise, all 
good, the power of light is the Persian solar god. Ahri- 
manes, symbolised by a great lizard or serpent is the 
power of evil, darkness, sin. Mithra is the god of sun- 
light and bears the same relationship to Ahura-Mazda, 
the Supreme solar deity that Christ bears to God the 
Father. He is the messenger, the light of the world, 
the Mediator between Light and Darkness, the god of 
re-generation, the power of God made manifest. 
Ahura-Mazda, like Ra and Shamash is remote, awe- 
inspiring — a force that needs to be interpreted by a 
divine intermediary. 

Mithra corresponds in his symbols and attributes to 
the Babylonian Marduk. 

The highest deity among the Japanese is not heaven 
as in the religion of the Chinese but the sun. The sym- 
bol of the sun-god in Ise is a metallic mirror which the 
sun-goddess gave with a jewel and sword to Ninigi her 
grandson when he was about to descend to earth. In 
other temples also a mirror is the most common repre- 
sentation of the god. 

The Egyptians, too, had the Ank or Sacred Mirror 
wherein every great deity contemplates perpetually his 
own image, representing the ideal and the material 
semblance of the ideal. 

According to Aquinas the "universe exists in a tv^o- 
fold manner first ideally in the mind of God, and sec- 
ondly materially, externally to liim, so that in Creation 
the Almighty contemplates his own mind as in a 

arte &un 183 

The Baals of the Canaanites were personifications 
of the sun. The Phoenician sun-god Melkarth was the 
Baal of Tyre. Baal signified the lord, the owner. 

In the changing centuries, and as populations and 
political power shifted from one centre to another, 
younger gods displaced the older gods as leaders in 
the pantheon. In this change, the older god became 
the father, and the younger god his son. 

In Egypt Osiris, less abstract with more human 
qualities than Ra, although an older god was called 
the son of Ra, and was raised to first place in the pan- 
theon of gods. In this transformation there was 
evidenced a long step towards monotheism, in that 
Osiris a solar god should gradually absorb the functions 
and attributes of the other gods, while Isis, who is the 
moon, absorbs those of Neith the earth goddess and 
Xut the sky and water goddess. 

"Ra is the soul of Osiris and Osiris the soul of Ra." 

Horus, one of the oldest sun-gods, reappears as the 
youthful, ever gloriously young morning sun. Although 
older, he is now called the son of Osiris who has become 
the god and judge of the dead. 

In the Babylonian religion, Anu is the beloved 
father of Enlil. In the Ninib cult, Ninib is the son of 
Enlil and these become the two gods of sun and storm. 
"In this union of the two, Enlil is represented as the 
power behind the throne who hands over his attributes 
— symbolised by storm weapons — to his beloved son 
who proceeds to conquer the monster, i.e. chaos." * 
Marduk was called the son of Ea. In the Nebo cult 
Xebo becomes the son of Marduk. 

It was an accepted and common form of the ritual 

* Jastrow's "Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria." 

1 84 Hiit ^pmbols; 

for the two gods — father and son — ^to be invoked 

In featuring this drama of the universe — which 
surely gives magnificent play to the imagination if one 
is to interpret it at all, the younger gods of vegetation, 
gods of fertility, storm, fire, gradually assume solar 
attributes and become the twice-born gods. They are 
the spring sun-gods and fire-gods. The Phrygian Attis, 
the youthful Tammuz of the Babylonians, the Greek 
Adonis and the Egyptian Osiris represented the yearly 
decay and the renewal of life — more especially the life 
of all nature and vegetation, which they personified as 
gods who died annually and then rose again from the 
dead. Dionysos is also a twice-born god of regeneration. 
In a painting at Pompeii Dionysos is depicted as a 
solar deity with his symbolic animal the panther. Again 
as a solar god he is pictured seated on a sun globe 
strewn with stars. 

Mithra is also identified with the Greek god Diony- 
sos and all the other twice-born gods of regeneration, 
and each is said to be born on December 25th, for it is 
then that the sun is born, the winter solstice is past and 
the "great luminary begins his revivifying journey 

In this mighty pageant the sun was represented as 
the Creator, the twelve months his attendants, the 
twelfth month his betrayer through whom he meets his 
doom. He descends into the abode of death only to rise 
again in the full glory of light and power for the eternal 
salvation of man. 

'Dying to live' was, as we have seen, the keystone of 
all ancient religions and each year as spring returned 
all nature revived this faith in the immortality of life. 

The Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries of the Greeks, 











(Museo Nazionale, Naples) 

Photo. Alinari 

STfje ^un 185 

the Saturnalia of the Romans, the mysteries of the 
Babylonians, of Cybele and Attis as well as many 
others were originally vernal festivals in celebration of 
the resurrected life and generative powers of nature. 

"In the mysteries of INIithra caverns and grottoes 
were consecrated to the world, the universe and the 
nymphs. One of the rites consisted in imitating the 
motion of the stars in the heavens. The initiates took 
the name of constellations and assumed the figures of 
animals. One was a lion, another a raven, a third a 
ram, etc. Hence came the use of masks in the first 
representations of the drama." ^ 

This "Dance of the Stars" was the origin of the 
various forms of round dancing which is found among 
all races, just as the statelier dances go back to the 
circular worship of walking around trees and shrines. 

The Egj'^ptians had a festival in which men and 
women, representing the seasons, the months of the year 
and the different parts of the day walked in procession 
after the god of life. 

In the mysteries of Ceres (Demeter) the procession 
was headed by a figure who was called the Creator, a 
torch bearer following him represented the Sun, the 
one nearest the altar was the Moon, and the herald of 
the procession was Mercury. 

Some of the rites observed in these vernal festivals 
have still survived in our own Easter, in which the egg 
symbolising from time immemorial the hidden mystery 
of life, plays such an important part still. 

In their spring time festivals it was the custom 
among the early Franks and Germans to make offer- 
ings of eggs and buns. The same custom prevailed 
among the Egyptians who impressed the cross, the em- 

^ Volney's Ruins. 

1 86 3Li(e ^pmbolsJ 

blem of life upon the buns, as we do now upon our hot 
cross buns. Eggs and buns also figured in the Chal- 
dean rites connected with the worship of Ishtar, the god- 
dess who descended to and arose from the nether world. 

It has been conjectured that these crossed cakes 
may have been a mystical allusion to the four rivers of 
Paradise flowing towards the cardinal points. 

In Egypt the sacred bulls were fed upon a cake 
composed of flour, milk or oil and honey, upon which 
a cross was impressed. On high festivals priests and 
worshippers partook of these cakes. 

The sacrament of eating bread and drinking wine 
was a part of the Eleusinian mysteries in celebration 
of the re-newed life of the sun. Here the bread was 
supposed to represent Ceres, the goddess of corn and 
harvest, and the wine Bacchus, god of the vintage and 
the cultivation of the fruits of the earth. Partaking of 
the body and blood of the gods of productivity in this 
symbolical way was a religious rite among all ancient 
peoples. And the idea of sanctifying one's self by as- 
similating a divine being may be traced back to this 
custom of a remoter period when the forces of nature 
typified Life. 

It was but a step up to transform the symbol into 
the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist, which is 
merely the old idea sublimated, carried on like the oc- 
tave. In the continuance of all these symbolical repre- 
sentations, one finds the physical idea interwoven with 
the nature idea into a myth which holds something 
"eternally and beneficently true" — a truth, which lost 
or disregarded for a time, is forever being discovered 
afresh and carried on into the new life of the spiritual 

Fire plays a large part in the ritual and ceremonies 

fe- = 

Srije ^un 187 

of the sun worshippers. The belief that the sun died in 
winter only to be born again in the spring, led to the 
feeling that man, the recipient of all his blessings could 
and should aid the god who was the principle of life 
and light, in his struggle with the opposing principle 
of death. 

Thus the religions of all these ancient civilisations 
became magical dramas in which were shown not only 
the natural processes which were to be seen on every 
side reflected in growth and decay, production and dis- 
integration, marriage, death, re-production and re-birth 
— but also the artificial means which were used to as- 
sist the gods of light and life, vegetation and fertility. 

Fire as a manifestation of heat and warmth on earth 
was worshipped as a secondary principle of solar crea- 
tive force. The Egyptians saw in the glowing fire the 
"Creator spirit Ptah." Ptah was called 'the black- 
smith' as was Vulcan (the Greek Hepheestus) who was 
the god of fire and forged the thunderbolts for Jupiter. 

Although there are no traces of fire worship on the 
earliest monuments, there are abundant proofs of its 
prevalence at a later period in Assyria and Babylonia 
as well as in Persia. None of the fire-gods of Babylonia 
were so important, however, as Agni (ignis) the great 
god of India, "the moving flame" who was both destruc- 
tive and beneficent. Nusku like Agni was the "mes- 
senger of the gods" and when Marduk was exalted to 
first place in the pantheon, it is Nusku who carries his 
messages to Ea. In this capacity Nusku may have 
symbolised the rays of the sun. 

Perpetual fires were kept burning in honour of the 
sun-god who was light, power, life. As his forces began 
to wane at midsummer, great bonfires were lit to 
strengthen him. 

i88 TLiit S)pmt)ols; 

These fire festivals that prevailed all over Europe 
down to the beginning of the nineteenth century, and 
that are still observed in some places, have the same 
general characteristics, differing slightly in different 
localities and at the different seasons, and as usual ac- 
quiring and taking on much that was undreamed of in 
the earlier conception. 

Probably the purest and simplest form of sun ador- 
ation was manifested by the ancients in the altars placed 
on top of pyramids, built in triangular form (symbolic 
of fire) , where fire was kept constantly burning in hom- 
age to the sun, the source of all light and warmth. This 
is a custom that is still carried out in the Catholic 
Church in the light that is never permitted to die out. 

From this first form of worship there came the 
practical idea — ever dear to man's heart, with its over- 
mastering appeal to the eternal busy-ness of him, to his 
mei^tal as well as physical agility — which suggested 
utilising fire to aid the god, to show him that man under- 
stood that he, the mighty sun was struggling against 
fearful odds; to cheer him, put heart into him by the 
genial glow of the secondary creative force which had 
been magically delivered to man through the agency of 
the fire sticks. This was done absolutely selflessly at 
first, we may be sure. He was still single minded, until 
there came about quite fortuitously, the understanding 
that in giving assistance to the god he was incidentally 
helping himself, and that fire was a means of purifica- 
tion as well as worship, and fire festivals an occasion for 
merry making as well as prayer. 

If this were not true, we would not have the simple 
beauty of the original idea. It must be that the first 
thought in every religion is that of disinterested wor- 
ship — a pouring out of self without thought of return. 

3rf)e ^un 189 

The secondary aspect, after this emotion has spent it- 
self is the practical viewpoint of those less idealistically 
inspired, who without adoring, respect religion on the 
basis of what religion can do for them. So we get the 
eternal paradox which seems to puzzle antiquarians and 
archeologists — the outgoing and incoming aspect of all 
these ancient symbolic customs, which are as much a 
part of life as breathing — and both are true. 

Fire festivals occurred most commonly in the spring 
or at jNIidsummer, although in some parts they were 
held at the end of autumn or during the course of the 
winter, particularly on Hallowe'en, Christmas Day and 
the eve of the Twelfth Day. 

The spring fire festivals usually fell on the first 
Sunday in Lent, on Easter Eve and on May Day. In 
one of the French provinces the first Sunday in Lent is 
known as "Sunday of the Fire brands," and in Switzer- 
land as "Spark Sunday." The Easter fire festival is 
still celebrated all over Northern and Central Germany, 
the fire being kindled in the various localities year 
after year on the same mountain. The eve of May Day 
is the notorious Walpurgis Night when witches are 
abroad everywhere, and kindling bonfires on this night 
was called "driving away the witches." 

In the Central Highlands of Scotland the Beltane 
fires — a Druidical festival — were lighted with much 
ceremony the first of May. "Like the other public 
worship of the Druids the Beltane feast seems to have 
been performed on hills and eminences. They thought 
it degrading to him whose temple is the universe to sup- 
pose that he would dwell in any house made with hands." 
Their religious ceremonies and sacrifices were therefore 
held in the open air. The idea of a scape goat or human 
sacrifice is shown in the Beltane feast where whoever 

I90 Hiit ^pmbolsi 

gets a particular piece of the Beltane cake was called 
"the Beltane carline a term of great reproach." In 
some places whoever draws the black bit "is the devoted 
person who is to be sacrificed to Baal." 

Of all the fire festivals, however, that of Midsum- 
mer Eve, the 23rd of June (later called the Eve of St. 
John) or Midsummer Day the 24th of June ranked 
above all the others in importance. 

It was a matter of knowledge to the ancient sun wor- 
shippers — who kept such a watchful eye on nature — 
and never failed to give them a certain feeling of solici- 
tude that "the summer solstice or Midsummer Day is 
the great turning point in the sun's career, when after 
climbing higher and higher day by day in the sky the 
luminary stops and thenceforth retraces his steps down 
the heavenly road." The Midsummer fires were to 
help rekindle the dwindling light of the sun. Huge bon- 
fires were built, and men and boys in procession carried 
lighted torches around the fields. It was customary to 
have the festival on a mountain, and in some places a 
great wheel made of straw was set fire to and sent roll- 
ing down the hill. The wheel rolling down from a high 
eminence typified the sun which now "having reached 
the high point in the ecliptic" was on the descending 
way. Frequently cartwheels were smeared with pitch 
then lighted and sent rolling down the hills. Sometimes 
an oaken stake was driven in the ground and a wheel 
fixed on it making the stake an axle. The villagers 
worked by turns to keep the wheel revolving rapidly 
until it was ignited by friction. Bayley's belief that this 
curious custom may have had its origin from the idea 
that the "oak tree symbolised the core, pole, or axis of 
Immaculate fire" is worth noting again. The regular 
method of producing these sacred fires was by the fric- 

Cfje &un 191 

tion of two pieces of wood wliich were generally oak. 
Among the Celts, Germans and Slavs it was strictly 
commanded that the fire sticks should be of oak. In 
other words, there is here a blending of Tree worship 
and Sun worship, each symbolising life. 

In many places the young people were in the habit 
of throwing blazing disks in the air. These were made 
of "thin, round pieces of wood a few inches in diameter 
with notched edges to imitate the rays of the sun or 

This is simply the crude beginning of the modern fire 
works with which the southern Italians celebrate Christ- 
mas, Easter and all the festas of the saints, and other 
nations use to celebrate patriotic events. The wheel of 
St. Catherine, the Catherine wheels of our fire works 
and the fiery disks of the ancients all have a common 
origin — all are seemingly derived from the solar wheel. 

In some places the custom was adopted of putting a 
straw man in a hole and burning him. This was called 
the "burying of Death." 

It was believed that the more bonfires there were the 
more fruitful would be the year. And the midsummer 
bonfire on the Eve of St, John was the most joyous 
night of the whole year. The people danced around the 
fires and young people hand in hand would leap over or 
through the fire. 

In Norway and all over Bohemia the fires are still 
lighted on Midsummer T^ve. In Brittany also the cus- 
tom still obtains. Bayley quotes from Le Braz "that 
in every village hamlet and farm in Brittany on the 
night of the 23rd of June there still occurs the annual 
burning of the consecrated log." When the flames die 
down the assemblage kneels by the fire, "an old man 
prays aloud. Then they all rise and march thrice round 

192 TLih ^i^mtjols; 

the fire; at the third turn they stop and everyone picks 
up a pebble and throws it on the burning pile. After 
that they disperse." ^ 

The Midsummer fire was sometimes called the "fire 
of heaven." 

The Yule log was the counterpart of the Midsum- 
mer fire but, owing to the season, the ceremony was 
held indoors. This made it more of a private or family 
festival, contrasting in marked fashion with the riotous 
publicity of the Midsummer celebration. On Christ- 
mas Eve the "Yule-clog or Christmas-block" was 
lighted by a fragment of its predecessor which had been 
kept from the last Christmas for this purpose. 

Besides these fire festivals which occurred at fixed 
dates, in many places the peasants were wont to resort 
to a ritual of fire in seasons of distress or epidemics 
among man or beast, or in times of drought. These 
were called Need-fires and were supposed to bring heal- 
ing and welfare. 

In the division of opinion as to the origin of these 
sacred fires, those who support the solar theory fall back 
upon sun charms and imitative magic, while others in- 
sist that the fire festivals were solely for purificatory 
purposes designed to destroy everything harmful — 
witches, evil intentions, vermin, disease — all that is foul 
and corrupt. As a matter of fact, the two theories are 
not irreconcilable once we admit that man is spirit plus 
matter, a sun worshipper first, who finds that fire wor- 
ship and bonfires and ashes have a potent influence in 
driving away noxious things — that fire is a practical 
help as well as a means of evincing his glad impulse to 
be of service to the mighty Sun. And so he mingles the 
practical and the diverting with the ideal, and the fire 

• "The Golden Bough," Frazer. 

arfje S>un 193 

festivals become joyous ceremonials into which creep 
all sorts of little human customs and superstitions. 
These grow and grow until the main purpose is almost 
lost sight of and forgotten. 

In the days when agriculture itself was a religious 
rite, the days before the satanic quality about machinery 
had impersonalised work and stifled all mirth — man in- 
tensified his work, identified it with the gods of storm 
and sunshine, prayed, feared, sang, danced with growth, 
fertility, fecundity, Life more abundant ever in mind. 

There is a bit of this left in Sorrento. There are still 
the wine pressers in Sorrento and Capri — laughing 
youths who tread the grapes in the vat with their bare 
feet, singing the while the Italian folk songs, or 
"Giovanezm' — the ringing, joyous marching song of 
the Fascisti that all Italy is singing, humming, playing. 

Fire was also a symbol of re-newal, purification, 
youth. In order that the reigning power, like the sun, 
might be ever young and glorious there came about the 
annual burning of kings or their effigies — or in many 
cases men were elected or chosen by casting lots to im- 
personate the king for the time being, and become the 
sacrifice. This, too, became a pageant. The beggar 
who was king for a day or two days or whatever period 
of time may have been decided upon, was given all the 
trappings and power of royalty. To make the sacrifice 
more impressive, he was frequently chosen for his beauty 
and physical perfection. All knees bent to him as if 
he were truly king. He has his moment — then passes 
on. Dramas are still fa^shioned out of this ancient mo- 
tif. Anthony Hope's Prisoner of Zenda is merely an 
enchantingly told revival or development of this old 
theme of "King for a Day." 

194 ?ti^^ ^pmbolfli 

Most of the world's fairy stories that come down to 
us from remotest times, and that are found to be prac- 
tically the same among widely scattered races are vari- 
ants of old solar myths. Anatole France gives a 
delightful exposition of this in the latter part of "Le 
Livre do Mon Ami" Bayley finds that "Little distinc- 
tion can be drawn between classic myth and popular 
fairy tale . . . and what is often supposed to be mere 
fairy tale proves in many instances to be unsuspected 

It has been said that every mythological figure con- 
tained a philosophical concept. And it is extraordinary 
how many things become clear and full of poetic beauty 
when interpreted as solar myths passed over to us from 
preceding civilisations. 

Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella — especially 
the Indian version of the latter as given by Ernest 
Thompson Seton under the Indian name of Little 
Burnt All Over — show marked solar influence. Blue- 
beard slaying his seven wives is the sun slaying the 
dawn, Prince Charming on the other hand is the Sun 
as lover waking the Sleeping Princess and the whole 
world to love and light. Bayley interprets the Song 
of Solomon most ingeniously as a "mythical and drama- 
tic love duet between the sun and moon" — the moon 
typifying Wisdom, and maintains that the idea that 
Solomon was an inveterate sensualist originated from 
the "literalisation and misconception of the time 
honoured and poetic fancy that the Sun was the great 
fecundator and All Lover whose eye shone impartially 
upon the just and the unjust." 

The Round Table of King Arthur typifies the Sun, 
the glorious King of Life; and the twelve knights 
are the twelve months or twelve signs of the zodiac. 

(Cfie g)un 195 

Dido is the mythical bride of the sun. Siegfried, St. 
George, King Arthur, Horus — all the heroic dragon 
slayers enact the old story, play the old immortal part. 

Whether or not one accepts sun worship as an 
explanation of much that would otherwise seem non- 
sensical and meaningless, it must be conceded that it 
gives a consecutiveness, a common origin to thought 
that is tremendously vitalising and illuminating. 

Even now any story that elaborates upon this 
ancient idea of the sun as hero, protector, the Great 
Lover, the slayer of dragons, the redeemer, who 
destroys sin and chaos, who suffers for the sins of 
others, one who struggles with death and darkness only 
to emerge triumphant in the splendour of re-newed 
life and power — a story on any one of these themes 
goes along with Life — partakes of the eternal aspect. 
The hero may be a Parsifal or a swashbuckler like the 
imiportal D'Artagnan, it doesn't matter, the eternally 
dramatic quality of heroic strife is there. 

And so, too, with Cinderella, the little fire tender, 
the spirit of truth and service abused by the hateful sis- 
ters Pride and Selfishness and finally taken as his bride 
by the Prince of Light ! It is simply charming the way 
young and old adore the fairy story of Cinderella. It 
is a notorious literary fact that you have only to give 
fresh costumes and new surroundings to the Cinderella 
idea and you have a successful story or play to your 

The rays of the sun were called by the old imagists 
the hair of the sun-god. The strength of the sun-god 
departs when he is shorn of his hair in winter. The 
Egyptians depicted the sun at the winter solstice as 
having but a single hair or ray. The Assyrians also 

196 TLift ^pmbols; 

had the same idea. The tuft of hair of the Moham- 
medans is derived from this ancient conception. The 
priest's tonsure represents the disk of the sun. The 
Arabs shaved their heads in a circle in imitation of the 
sun. Devotees of the sun would also voluntarily shave 
their heads to show their willingness to partake of the 
same sacrifice and undergo the same diminution of 
strength. The hair was sacred to the sun-god. Cutting 
the hair was a sacrificial offering. The priests of Egypt 
and India had shaven heads. Sakya-Muni when he re- 
tired from the world before becoming the Buddha cut 
off his hair. The hair as a source of strength in the 
biblical story of Samson and Delilah is clearly derived 
from this old fanciful conception of the rays of the sun. 
The story itself has been interpreted as a solar myth. 

"Nothing can be more suggestive of Samson's solar 
character than the loss of his strength. . . . Apollo is 
called by Homer 'he of unshorn hair' which translated 
into Hebrew would mean Nazir. Samson's hair is put 
up in seven braids in the style of the sun-god who in 
one of the Mithraic monuments is represented with 
seven rays, characterising the mysterious power of the 
seven planetary gods. . . . The name of the traitress 
Delilah is symbolical and means the 'weakening or de- 
bihtating one.' Finally Samson is blinded (the sun 
loses his light) and when he dies he stands between the 
two pillars of sunset, at Gaza, the most western city in 
Danite geography." ' 

Sim worship led to all sorts of fanciful and poetic — 
even grotesque conceptions. The course of the sun 
through the heavens and the way he goes back again at 
night to his daily starting point appealed profoundly 

^"The Story of Samson," Paul Carus. 

/'/ n/.i. 1 Unari 

Apollo Belvedere 
(.Vatican, Rome) 

^f)e S>un 197 

to the imagination of the Egyptians, as to all other 
ancient races. 

Sometimes they pictured him as a calf born each 
day of Hathor, the cow-goddess of the sky. Sometimes 
he traversed the heavens on the back of the sky cow in 
a boat such as was used by kings on the Nile. At eve- 
ning he exchanged this boat for another returning to 
the East at night through the dark North quarter. 

Again the sun is represented by a wild ass which 
was ever chased by the night serpent Hain as it ran 
around the mountains supporting the sky. Sometimes 
the sun is a great cat which fought with the night ser- 
pent Apep below the sacred tree at Heliopolis. Apep 
was represented in the form of a serpent with his back 
stuck full of knives. 

The Cat because its eyes varied in form like 
the sun with the period of day, represented to 
the Egyptians the splendour of light. Thus the cat 
is frequently depicted cutting off the head of the ser- 
pent of darkness in the presence of the Sacred Three — 
Ra, Osiris and Horus, or the three phases of the sun. 

The Egyptian Bast was a feline goddess and her 
car was drawn by cats. All feline goddesses repre- 
sented the variable power of the sun. 

Set — identical with Typhon — the red-haired god of 
pre-historic times, became the Egyptian Satan and was 
symbolised under various names as a black pig, a black 
serpent or red mythical monster. 

The sun-god was sometimes represented seated at 
the helm of a ship, the ship resting upon a crocodile. 
The crocodile symbolised the human passions — these 
were not intrinsically bad when brought under subjec- 
tion by the soul. "Thus the crocodile which attacked 
the departed before new birth is rendered divine in the 

198 TLiit ^j>mfaol2J 

regenerate form and held in high reverence by the 
Egyptians because it spoke of a time when man should 
regain the mastery of his passions and when the last 
barrier between himself and his glorious soul should be 
removed forever." ® 

The Egyptian Cartouche or oval in which the name 
of a royal person was enclosed was originally a circle 
symbolising the circular course of the sun about the 
universe. Inscribing the king's name inside a circle de- 
noted his association as a being of majesty and dominion 
with the sun-god, that his power followed the course of 
the sun, and that he and those of his name like the sun 
would endure forever. 

In Egypt teachers of the sun cult sold charms and 
received rewards so that the chosen worshippers might 
enter the Sun boat of Ra. 

To reach the Island of the Blessed a river must be 
crossed, and the ferryman would only take those who 
were "righteous before heaven and earth and the 

As sun worship extended, the ferryman became the 
boatman of Ra the sun-god, and the Island of the 
Blessed was transferred to the skies. The sacred texts, 
whether in the form of appeals or commands were 
chiefly concerned in persuading the boatman to ferry 
the king across the river, to induce the gates of the sky 
to open and the sun-god to take the king in his barge 
and set him upon the throne of Osiris. 

It was also believed that the king mounts to heaven 
by the ladder which Ra and Horus provide for him. 
Among the ancient Egyptians it was believed that the 
sky was so close that one could climb to heaven on a 

•"The House of The Hidden Places," W. Marsham Adams. 

arje ^un 199 

Sakya-muni was said to have descended from the 
Tiishita heaven by a ladder brought to him by Indra. 
This ladder is often portrayed with the footprints of 
Buddha on the top and bottom rung. 

In the mysteries of Mithra a ladder of seven steps 
composed of seven different kinds of metal representing 
the seven spheres of the planets by means of which souls 
ascended and descended, symbolised the passage of the 
soul. Small bronze ladders were placed in tombs. They 
were also used as amulets. The superstition that walk- 
ing under a ladder brings bad luck may be a relic of 
this ancient superstition, typifying the sinister side, the 
refusal to climb, one who dodges, ignores the true way 
to salvation. 

This is the same ladder, doubtless, of Jacob's vision 
showing that ideas travel if they do not multiply. Stairs 
were also a symbol of ascending to heaven. Osiris was 
called 'God of the Stairs.' 

The Pythagoreans put it more exquisitely. They 
believed that the glittering motes dancing in a sunbeam 
were souls descending on the wings of light, and that in 
the same way the sun re-absorbed the souls of the 

Worship of the rising sun began with the dawn — 
"at the moment when its first rays struck the demons 
who invaded the earth in the darkness. ... In temples 
thrice a day — at dawn, at midday and at dusk — a prayer 
was addressed to the heavenly source of light, the wor- 
shipper turning toward the East in the morning, 
towards the South at mid-day and towards the West in 
the evening." ® 

The Moslems still do this, and it is even now a part 

•"Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans," Franz 

200 life ^pmbolsi 

of the liturgy for clergymen and priests to turn to the 
East when reciting the creed. 

It was also and still is customary, I believe, to bury 
the dead so that upon the day of resurrection when 
graves yawn and the dead rise up they may look first 
to the East — to the rising sun of Light, Life, Majesty, 

The observance of Sunday, the day of the sun — 
as a day of rest and worship is also a survival of ancient 
solar worship. 

Crowns worn by kings and emperors symbolised the 
sun's rays. 

The sixty-five symbols on Buddha's sacred foot are 
nearly all solar emblems. 

Amber because of its golden transparency was a 
symbol of the sun and is still worn as an amulet against 
evil and disease. 

"The god of the world is in the light above the firma- 
ment and His emblems are upon earth; it is unto those 
that worship is paid daily." ^° 

The symbols of the sun — the lotus, the winged disk, 
solar birds, solar animals, the scarabgeus, the solar wheel 
have but the one purpose, that of reflecting the varying 
aspects of Creative Force, the multitudinous and be- 
wildering ways in which it manifests itself — this surg- 
ing, permeating, quickening, illuminating spirit of Life. 

The Sphinx is a form of Horus. "Hence Horus is 
represented as the sphinx, whose face turned eastward 
is the radiant sun and whose body in the form of a lion 
is emblematic of his divine strength." ^^ 

The Sphinx with the head of a woman and the body 

""Maxims of Ani," now in Museum at Cairo. 
" Goodyear's "Grammar of the Lotus." 

Phulo. Alinari 

Sphinx with Woman's Head 
(Museo Barracco, Rome) 



3rf)e feun 20I 

of a lion may have been used to symbolise the invincible 
power represented by the union of the masculine and 
feminine principles. 

The lion typified the scorching, unrelenting midsum- 
mer heat of the sun. As the sun-god was believed to 
have the power of modifying solar heat, he is often 
represented, as in the Samson myth and the myths of 
all other solar heroes, as the slayer of the lion. Herakles 
of the Greeks wears the lion's skin. 

The Kara-shishi, the Heavenly Dog, the Dog of 
Foo — Foo meaning Buddha is a form of lion found 
at the entrance to Shinto and Buddhist shrines. "They 
are given hideous grinning faces, curly manes and 
bushy, flame-like tails." They are placed in pairs 
before temples, palaces and tombs, the one male and 
the other female. The male has the mouth open, the 
female has the mouth closed. Usually one is green, 
the other blue. They are the protectors, the symbols 
of divine guardian-ship. Sometimes they are repre- 
sented playing with the sacred ball or 'tama.' Depicted 
thus the Dog of Foo or lion becomes the defender of 
the sacred symbol. 

Lions in pairs as guardians have played an immortal 
part in history. They have guarded the Sacred Tree, 
stood at door ways and before the temples of all ancient 
races, faced each other on the gates of cities, and with 
power still unabated, perform the same office of watch- 
fulness at the entrance to large public buildings, or 
on monuments where courage is to be extolled even 
in the present day. 

In the heraldic grouping of animals in Mycenaa 
occen and goats were confined to trees or tree pillars, 
whereas lions were associated with altar bases or struc- 
tural columns, just as in the religious art of Egypt 

202 life ^pmbols! 

one finds them "exclusively acting as supporters of the 
sun symbol on the horizon." 

Layard found winged human headed lions and bulls, 
"magnificent figures guarding the portals of Assyrian 
temples" and believed that power was probably typi- 
fied indiscriminately by the body of a lion or bull. 

The lion seated showing whole figure was the em- 
blem of courage; showing head and shoulders only it 
typified force; head only with eyes open, the lion 
symbolised vigilance. 

The lion figures prominently in mediaeval church 
architecture, at the doors of churches as the guardian 
of the sanctuary, and as a support to pulpits as in the 
duomos of Siena, Pisa, Ravello, Lucca and elsewhere 
in Italy. Its use thus being merely a time honoured 
extension of the historic idea. It was also given to 
certain saints. The symbol of St. Mark is a lion usu- 
ally winged. St. Jerome also has the Hon in allusion 
to a well known legend. 

Among the ancients one cult or section identified 
the spirit of life or heaven with a bull and another with 
a goat. In Assyria the sacred bull and the wild goat 
are pictured together kneeling before the Tree of Life. 

"The bull has always held a prominent place in the 
religious systems of Asia. The sacred bull of the As- 
syrians, the Apis of the Egyptians and the bull Nandi 
of the Hindus are evidently identical types. The 
Golden Calf of the Israelites will not be forgotten, and 
for the use of the bull as a sacred ornament by the Jews 
the brazen sea in the temple of Solomon may be 
cited." '' 

The bull in ancient religions symbolised the power 
residing in the sun. It also was a symbol of the humid 

" Layard's "Nineveh." 

Photo. Alinari 

Hkrakles (Hercules) 
(Museo Xazionale, Naples) 

3rf)e S>un 203 

side of nature and was thus given to Osiris who besides 
being a sun-god represented also the river Nile and 
everything that was moist, beneficent and generative 
in nature. 

The Bull god Apis of the Egyptians was believed 
to be an incarnation of Osiris, and an offspring of the 
sun-god Ptah of Memphis. As a symbol of creative 
force and reproductive powers this bull god Apis plays 
an enormous part in the early religious worship of the 
Egj^ptians. He was searched for, examined with meti- 
culous care and recognised as the divine exponent by 
certain signs — these were a triangular mark on the 
forehead, a small lump shaped like a scaraba^us ( symbol 
of self -creation) under the tongue, and a mark in the 
form of an eagle (symbol of omnipotence) on the 

In this reverence shown for the sacred bull there is 
found again that curious mixture of the ideal and the 
practical. Apis is also the ox into which the soul of 
Osiris enters "because that animal had been of service 
in the cultivation of the ground." 

Osiris is identified with Dionysos, whom the Greeks 
not only regarded as a tree-god and god of wine but 
as the god of the whole humid nature. Thus the ox or 
bull was looked upon as an incarnation of the generative 
power of Dionysos by the Greeks, and the sacrifice and 
eating of the ox was a part of the cult of Dionysos. 
The sacrifice of the bull was also one of the leading 
features in the Mithraic rites. 

The goat typified the masculine principle, the re- 
productive powers of the sun, "generative heat or the 
vital urge. Demi-urge is a gnostic term for the Deity 
meaning the Ever Existent Fire, the Solar en-urgy." 

204 Itife g>j>mbo(s; 

The sacred Sumerian goat bore on its forehead the 
same triangular symbol as the Apis bull of Egypt. 

The Goat is given to the Babylonian sun-god Mar- 
duk. It was the custom among the Babylonians, after 
having prayed to Marduk to take away from them all 
sin and disease, to release a goat and drive it into the 
desert. This resembles the Jewish scapegoat. 

Tammuz as sentinel of the night heaven has the goat. 

The goat in India was associated with Agni and 
Varuna. A goat was slain at funeral ceremonies to 
let the gods know that a soul was on its way to beg 
permission to enter heaven. 

Thor, god of thunder and fertility had a chariot 
drawn by goats. 

The Greeks gave Pan — the god of shepherds, hunts- 
men and all inhabitants of the country. Pan, who dwelt 
chiefly in Arcadia — the horns, ears, and limbs of a goat. 

The Asp was identified with the solar gods and rep- 
resented the hissing, seething heat of the sun. It was 
an Egyptian symbol of dominion. Among the Greeks 
it denoted protecting or benevolent power. 

The creative tears of Ra, the sun-god descended as 
shining rays upon the earth. Osiris and I sis also wept 
creative tears. Khepera, too, the father of the gods 
and creator of all things, identified with the rising sun 
and thus resurrection, was said to have gathered his 
members together and wept over them and "men and 
women sprang into existence from the tear that fell 
from my eye." 

The god Khepera has a beetle for his head. This 
is the scarabccus which was also called Khepera by the 
Egyptians, and was a pre-eminently sacred symbol 
typifying the rising sun and eternal life. 

The Scarabceus or Sacred Beetle symbolised divine, 

The God Apis, Serapeum (Saitic Period) 
(Louvre, Paris) 

Photo. Alitiari 

Photo. Alinari 

Lion of the Sehapeum or Tomb of Apis 
(Louvre, Paris) 

aCfje g)un 205 

self-created power. The early Egyptians believed that 
it had no female but deposited its generative seed in 
round pellets of earth which it rolled about by thrusting 
it backward as it moved, by means of the hind legs "and 
this in imitation of the sun, which while it moves from 
West to East turns the heaven in the opposite way." 
From this mysterious ball the beetle comes forth full 
of life after twenty-eight days of incubation by the 
moon. It was believed that the beetle was born anew 
from the egg which it alone had created, and thus it 
symbolised for the Egyptians self -existent being. It 
was so highly reverenced that the wings on the winged 
globe or sun disk — the sacred symbol of the deity — 
have been thought by some to represent the scarabasus 
instead of the falcon. 

The Chinese regarded the sun as the concrete es- 
sence of the masculine principle and the source of all 

Like the falcon, eagle and goose the cock is associ- 
ated with the sun. The cock was sacred to Mithra, Zas 
and to nearly all the other solar gods 
of antiquity. The cock is the herald ^^ 

and announcer of Apollo. The Chi- ,^^Y \ 
nese symbolised the sun by a cock /k V^%<'-'^'^ 
within a circle, and in their symbolic U ^ j^3^i-- 

writings the cock is still the emblem 

of the sun, being frequently depicted ^^^ ^^° lotus. 

,,, . . p ,, I'lji From Goodyear's Gram- 

aS Clappmg WmgS 01 gold while the mar of the Lotus. 

sun rises behind him." 

The cock, the acknowledged emblem of the sun, who 
still loudly proclaims the rise of the God of Day, with 
the same assiduous watchfulness now as in the olden 
times, was also looked upon by the Chinese as an ex- 


JLitt ^pmbote 

orcising agency. De Groot quotes a Chinese writer as 
saying "The cock is the emblem of the accumulated 
Yang (the sun) and the South. Etherial things which 
partake of the yang element have the property of 


Greek vase in Louvre. 
From Goodyear's Grammar of the Lotus. 

flaming up, hence when the yang arises above the hor- 
izon the cock crows because things of the same nature 
influence each other." As the spirits of darkness are 
identified with yin the passive or negative principle, 
the cock was used at funerals, because being imbued 
with yang matter, it would neutralise or dissipate the 
power of evil spirits. It was a cardinal belief also that, 
the spirits of darkness are put to flight each morning 
by the crowing of the cock. 

The fish is also associated with the sun. It is one of 
the oldest and most widespread symbols of fertility. It 
also denoted knowledge, wisdom, intellect, water. In 
tlie first incarnation Vishnu returned as a fish. The fish 
thus becomes identified with a saviour. The fish as one 
of the symbols of Buddha indicated freedom — one who 
moves freely in all directions as a fish moves in the 
waters. Ea the Babylonian god of waters is typified 
by a goat-fish. 

©fje ^un 207 

In early mythology the dolphin "strongest and 
swiftest of fish, called by Gregory of Ny-ssa 'the most 
royal of swimmers' " was supposed to bear the soul of 
the deceased across the sea to the Island of the Blessed. 
Thus the symbolical use of the fish on ancient tombs. 

Among the Latins and Greeks the dolphin was 
venerated as the saviour of the shipwrecked. Thus 
Christ is frequently symbolised by the early Christians 
as a dolphin. 

In the catacombs Christ is represented by two fishes. 
Two fishes are the zodiacal sign of Pisces. The Trinity 
was sometimes symbolised by three fishes typifying 

The fish because of its extraordinary fecundity was 
given to Venus, also to the Egyptian Isis and the Japa- 
nese Kwannon. The Christians gave it to the Virgin 
Mary. In the mystical Vesica Piscis, however, there is 
no reference except in name to the fish. The oval that 
surrounds the Virgin represents the almond, mandorla 
— symbol of virginity and self -production. 

In Egypt, according to Plutarch, the fish is a phallic 

It has been conjectured that the connection of the 
fish with the sun came from the ancient conception of 
creation which divided the waters above and below the 
firmament — the ocean and waters below the earth, and 
the waters of the clouds causing rain and floods above. 
The god of the sun passes through these as a fish, or 
in his sun barge. 

The association of the fish, symbol of fecundity, 
water, the feminine principle, with the sun which typi- 
fies power, light, fire, the masculine principle, makes one 
suspect, however, that we are merely encountering 
another of the ancient devices for symbolising the union 

2o8 life ^pmbolsi 

of sun and moon, fire and water, masculine and femi- 
nine. If this is the explanation of what otherwise would 
seem far fetched to the verge of absurdity, we are once 
more confronted simply enough, by that immortal com- 
bination which the ancients regarded as the inseparable 
accompaniment of Life. 

In India "Surya is the sun seen in the sky who trav- 
erses the way prepared for him by Varuna in a car 
drawn by swift steeds, or flies across the sky like a great 
red bird, or he is the eye of Mitra and Varuna or 
Agni." '' 

In the Hindu pantheon Surya, the sun is shown 
drawn by seven horses with Aruna as charioteer. 
Another representation portrays the chariot of the great 
Aum drawn by seven green horses — green typify- 
ing renewal, eternal Life — preceded by Aruna the 

In Indian symbolism the horse is associated with the 

The chariot and horses of fire which bore aloft the 
prophet Elijah were presumably, the horses and chariot 
of the sun. Indra figures as 'driving a car of light 
and lustre.' 

The horse symbolised knowledge, understanding, 
intellect, wisdom. The wooden horse introduced in the 
siege of Troy may have typified the conquering power 
of intelligence. Four horses denoted equity, justice. 
The ancients depicted the sun as a charioteer driving a 
team of four horses across the heavens. The chariot 
of Phoebus Apollo the Roman god of light and the 
presiding deity over poetry, music and eloquence is 
drawn by horses. 

" Moore's "History of Religions." 

Sphixx (XIIIth Dvxasty) 

(Louvre, Paris) 

Photo. Alinari 

8Djje S>un 209 

Pegasus the winged horse becomes the favourite of 
the muses. 

Among the Greeks Neptune, god of the waters and 
the force and flow of life was typified by the horse which 
was to them "as a crested sea wave animated and 
bridled." Neptune (or Poseidon) is generally repre- 
sented sitting in a shell-shaped chariot drawn by sea 
horses or dolphins, and holding his trident in his hand. 

The Arabs likened the word Wisdom to a horse's 

The White Horse, as we have seen under the head- 
ing of the unicorn, symbolised innocent, unblemished 
intellect and reason. 

Buddha left his house to become an ascetic on a 
white horse. A white horse saves Buddha from the 
evil designs of the Rakshasa the cannibal demons. The 
white horse plays a notable part in Chinese Buddhism 
and is attached to all important Shinto shrines. 

The Hindu Vishnu is supposed to come in one more 
manifestation for the salvation of the world appearing 
for the final time with drawn sword riding on a white 

The second coming of Christ on a white horse has 
also been prophesied. 

The connection of the white horse with a saviour 
may explain the rather stale joke of looking for a white 
horse after meeting a woman with red hair, going back 
to the pre-historic Set, the red-haired god of destruction 
and the white horse as symbol of the sun, light, the 

St. John's vision of the Four Horsemen is never 
read without a feeling of fascinated terror. 

"And I saw and behold a white horse; and he that 
sat on him had a bow ; and a crown was given unto him ; 

210 TLiit ^pmbols! 

and he went forth conquering and to conquer. . . . 
"And there went out another horse that was red; and 
power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace 


This same symbolic horse appeared on a British gold coin about 150 B.C. 

Bayley, Lost Language of Symbolism. 

from the earth, and that they should kill one another; 
and there was given unto him a great sword. 

"And when he had opened the third seal. ... I be- 
held and lo a black horse ; and he that sat on him had a 
pair of balances in his hand. . . . 

"And when he had opened the fourth seal. ... I 
looked and behold a pale horse; and his name that sat 
on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And 
power was given unto them over the fourth part of the 
earth, to kill with sword and with hunger and with death 
the beasts of the earth." (Rev. 6:2-8.) 

Goethe makes powerful use of this figure of Deatli 
in the Erl-King. 

The enormous sale of Ibanez's Four Horsemen of 
the Apocalypse published the year of the Armistice 
which puzzled both critics and publishers, may possibly 
be explained on the hypothesis that its title appealed 
to some imperious, inherited instinct, touched some 
quivering, sensitive cord of association which for ages 
past had seen the Conqueror appear on a white horse, 
War on a red, Famine riding a black horse and Death 
seated on a pale horse. The one chapter on the Russian 

GTfje S>un 211 

and the Four Horsemen lifted the book from the com- 
mon-place and gave it its entrance into the enlarged 
field of universal human consciousness. 

There could be no curvetting, prancing joy in the 
religion of life of the Hebrews. "A horse is a vain 
thing for safety." 

The Jews worshipped the ass. To the Hebrew the 
horse typified the might and the oppression of the 
Egyptian and the Canaanite, while the ass by its adapt- 
ability to the needs of locomotion in a mountainous 
country, represented the attainment of peace and rest 
for the promised seed. The horse was identified with 
the worship of the sun, but the ass became the sacred 
animal of the children of Yahveh and the subject of 
special enactments of the Mosaic law. 

Kings, judges and prophets rode on white asses. 

The angel of the Lord endowed Balaam's ass with 
the gift of speech. 

The ass was sacred to Dionysos "who is represented 
in many antique pictures and bas-reliefs as coming to 
mankind surrounded by his merry followers riding on 
a donkey." 

Christ makes his entry into Jerusalem riding on an 

In mediaeval times in southern France the ass or 
crier had a special mass in his honour, in which the con- 
gregation in place of saying amen brayed the re- 

I confess to a real affection for those patient little 
beasts of burden that I see so much of here in Italy — 
an affection so real that I know but one word for it — 
the donkey and I are simpatica. The donkey knows 
quite as well as his master that it is ^'tres difficile de 

212 %iit ^pmbote 

contenter tout le monde et son pere." His bray says so 
much that I feel but cannot say. I have an inner con- 
viction, truth to tell, that in an earlier civilisation he 
may have been my symbolic animal — or I the donkey. 
Thus I take distinct pleasure in recording here the fact, 
that in the Christian Church in Southern France back 
in mediaeval days the donkey was held in such high 
esteem that he had a special mass celebrated in his 

The Wheel with its spokes of which 'none is the last' 
is one of the most ancient, and easily the most important 
symbol of the mystic power of the sun. 

Anything that could be used to symbolise motion 
or endless creation seems to have entered into the very 
fibre of thought of the ancients. 

The solar wheel is traced back to the sun disk crossed 
by the four cardinal points, and the development, rami- 
fications and associations of this one symbol, which be- 
gan with the circle and cross, are as mystical as they 
are enthralling. 

"The wheel in India was connected with the title of 
Chakravartin from Chakra a wheel — the title meaning 
a supreme ruler or a universal monarch who ruled the 
four quarters of the world and on his coronation he 
had to drive his chariot or wheel to the four cardinal 
points to signify his conquest of them." ^^ 

It is related that "Buddha at his birth took 
seven steps towards each of the four cardinal points 
thus indicating the conquering of the circle or uni- 

The wheel is associated with the lotus flower, the 
symbol of the solar matrix, the mysterious sanctuary. 

""The Swastika," Thomas Wilson. 

^f)E &un 213 

The full bloom lotus with its centre surrounded by 
eight petals becomes the eight-spoked wheel of Bud- 
dhism. The eight spokes — or multiples of eight sym- 
bolise the eight-fold path of self con- 
quest. The eight glorious emblems of 
Buddha are the lotus, fish, knot, 
conch-shell, umbrella, jar or sacred 
bowl, canopy and wheel. 

Cah'a, or wheel in the days of the 
Veda typified the occult power of the 
sun. It represented unending, perfect completion. 
With the Buddliists it is the Excellent Wheel of Good 
Law "which turns twelve times or three revolutions for 
each of the four noble truths." 

Buddha is the wheel king — the 'king whose wheel 
rolls over the whole world.' 

The turning of the wheel symbolised the doctrine 
of perpetual cycles of existence. 

Karma was called 'the wheel of fate that revolves 
relentlessly and unceasingly.' 

The sun with rays becomes the 'thousand spoked 
wheel of victory.' 

The Mahabharata tells of the Garuda bird's at- 
tempting to steal the Soma (ambrosia) of the gods. 
First the Garuda quenches the fire which protects 
the Soma. Then he sees a revolving wheel, "a wheel 
of steel, keen edged and as sharp as a razor re- 
volving incessantly" which protects the Soma. The 
Eagle-giant passes through the spokes of the wheel 
only to encounter two great snakes of the 'lustre 
of blazing fire.' These the Garuda bird slays and 
snatches the Soma, which the gods later recover. 

One of the symbols of Vishnu, who in later times 
superseded Varuna, the greatest of the gods of the Rig- 


life S>pmboIs; 

veda, is the discus or fiery wheel which "revolves and 
returns to the thrower like lightning." 

Among the Assyrians the solar wheel was a symbol 
of life and the god within the wheel not only was a god 
of war but of fertility. The life or spirit of the god 
was in the solar wheel. The spirit of Ashur, the great 


Gaillard, Croix et Swastika en Chine'. 

sun-god was thought to animate the wheel that brought 
the changing seasons. 

Shamash the solar god of the Babylonians is shown 
seated on his throne with a sun wheel in front of him. 
The spokes of the wheel are shaped like stars with the 
three-fold rippling water rays. 

The Vision of Ezekiel, so frequently quoted, testi- 
fies to the importance and prevalence of the wheel sym- 
bol. In the first chapter he describes the four living 
creatures that had the face of a man, the face of a lion, 
the face of an ox and the face of an eagle. "Their ap- 
pearance was like burning coals of fire . . . and the 
fire was bright and out of the fire went forth lightning. 
And the living creatures ran and returned as the ap- 
pearance of a flash of lightning . . . behold one wheel 
upon the earth by the living creatures with his four 

Photo. Alinari 

The Vision of Ezekiel — Raphael 
(Pitti Palace, Florence) 

3Cj)e ^un 215 

"The appearance of the wheels and their work was 
hke unto the colour of a beryl; and they four had one 
likeness ; and their appearance and their work was as it 
were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. . . . And when 
the living creatures went the wheels went by them; 
and when the living creatures were lifted up from the 
earth the wheels were lifted up, . . . for the spirit of 
the living creature was in the wheels." 

And again in chapter ten in his vision of the cheru- 
bim, the Lord commands the man clothed with linen to 
"take fire from between the wheels." 

"And when I looked behold the four wheels by the 
cherubim . . . one wheel by one cherub and another 
wheel by another cherub ... as for their appearances 
they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in 
the midst of a wheel. . . . And their whole body, and 
their backs, and their hands and their wings, and the 
wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels 
that they four had. 

"As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my 
hearing, O wheel," (Ez. 10: 9-13.) 

These are the four beasts of Revelation that were 
"full of eyes before and behind. . . . And the first 
beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, 
and the third beast had a face like a man, and the fourth 
beast was like a flying eagle. 

"And the four beasts had each of them six- wings 
about him ; and they were full of eyes within ; and thej^ 
rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy. Lord 
God Almighty which was, and is, and is to come." 
(Rev. 4:7-8.) 

These four living creatures become in the Christian 
religion the four conventional symbols of the four evan- 
gelists. St. Matthew is given the angel or man, St. 

2i6 life ^pmbols; 

Mark the lion — usually with wings, St. Luke the ox, 
and St. John the eagle. 

One can only speculate as to the origin of these four 
mysterious creatures. Their meaning is lost in obscur- 
ity. That there was a meaning of high import attached 
to them seems obvious, however. 

Layard found that a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle 
were constantly portrayed on the sculptured walls of 

Mackenzie points out that in an earlier stage, be- 
fore the gods of Babylonia and Assyria were given 
human form, Nannar (Sin, the moon-god), Ninib 
(Saturn the old sun) and Enlil were symbolised by 
the bull, while Nergal a tribal sun god was given the 
lion. The eagle was represented by the Zu bird which 
symbolised storm, fertility and a phase of the sun. 

In the moon cult the god Sin is depicted as an old 
man with flowing beard. 

The Hebrews have been accused of being "a people 
who never invented anything, yet produced the great- 
est sacred literature in the world." So, too, the Hebrew 
prophets were greatly given to utilising "for their poetic 
imagery the characteristic beliefs of the peoples to whom 
they made direct reference." A method which resulted 
in a picturesque and turgid way of making a direct, 
telling and unanswerable appeal. 

It is highly probable, therefore, that when he de- 
scribed the four living creatures and the wheel, Ezekiel 
was simply making use of Assyrian symbolism which 
he had seen again and again when the Jews were in 

If this be the case, then there is no mystery. And 
we are merely encountering an ancient symbolic repre- 
sentation of the old forces of life — the old factors, fire 

9rf)e ^un 217 

and water, sun and moon, combined with the silently 
moving, orderly revolution of the universe, typified by 
the solar wheel. 

The nimbus, aureole or glory which is used in Chris- 
tian art to distinguish holy personages is derived from 
the solar disk which was given to emperors and kings 
in ancient art to express their divine origin and their 
association with the life and power of the sun. 

The cruciform nimbus found its first inception in 
the wheel cross. 

The rosette so extensively used in decorative art 
and architecture is a solar emblem derived from the 

The umbrella or parasol, an emblem of royalty and 
power, universally adopted by Eastern nations, and car- 
ried over the heads of emperors and princes in times of 
peace and sometimes in war, is derived from the solar 
wheel. The umbrella is placed over the head of Buddha 
to signify power. 

Knossos on the island of Crete was the seat of the 
great sun worship of the pre-historic Greek civilisation, 
and the legend of the Minotaur is supposed to be the 
mythical marriage of the sun and moon. Excavations 
in recent years have unearthed the palace of King Mi- 
nos called the Labyrinth or 'Palace of the Axe' — from 
the old word labrys which signified axe or double axe. 
The two-edged or Double Axe is found throughout the 
palace, outlined on the walls as a religious symbol of 
the sun or the "power of Light." 

Among the Egyptians also the axe was a symbol 
of the sun and was called the 'Clever One,' the 'Cleaver 
of the Way.' The battle axe as a symbol had the same 
meaning as the hammer, sword or cross. 

2i8 TLiit ^pmtjols! 

The sacred double axe as a religious symbol of the 
sun is, however, pre-eminently associated with the 
island of Crete. 


Old Salamis. 
Evans, Mycenaan Trees and Pillar Cult. 

Evans finds the double axe set in the ground be- 
tween pairs of bulls, the bulls having a double axe also 
between their horns, and adds that "the appearance of 
the divine double axe between two bulls and the con- 
nexion of the God of the Double Axe with the animal is 
shown again and again and takes us back to Crete and 
to the parallel associations of Zeus-Minos and the 
Minotaur." '^ 

Curiously enough the woodsman when he marks a 
track through the forest with his axe still speaks of it 
as 'blazing a trail.' A decade or so ago a popular novel 
of the Michigan forests by Stewart Edward White was 
called The Blazed Trail. 

It was the Chaldeans, those wise and learned men of 
the East — astronomers, astrologists, diviners — who de- 

" "Mycenaean Trees and Pillar Cult," A. J. Evans. 

^Tfje ^un 219 

veloped the primitive worship j^aid to the sun, the moon 
and certain stars, into a lofty system of theology in 
which the Sun Lord of Life held supreme sway. Sun 
worship was now pantheism become scientific, which 
saw the gods as cosmic energies. It was the "logical re- 
sult of paganism steeped in erudition." Even in this 
new religion, however, which was to spread later to 
Greece and Rome, the Babylonian theology never quite 
broke with the primitive reverence which all the Semitic 
tribes bestowed upon the mysterious forces that sur- 
rounded man, and they continued to combine in their 
worship the old festivals of nature with the ideas derived 
from astrology. 

Cumont quotes from Jastrow, "An astral theory 
of the universe is not an outcome of popular thought, 
but the result of a long process of speculative reason- 
ing carried on in restricted learned circles." 

When therefore the "Greeks conquered Mesopo- 
tamia under Alexander they found above a deep sub- 
stratum of mythology a learned theology founded on 
patient astronomical observations." ^^ 

Although the "whole spirit of the Hellenic religion, 
profoundly human, ideally aesthetic . . . was opposed 
to the deification of celestial bodies," the belief that the 
heavenly bodies were divine appealed profoundly to the 
Greek philosophers, notably Plato and Aristotle. It 
influenced the stoics who in turn did much to reconcile 
it with popular beliefs. The Romans, who were said to 
know all religions while preferring none, ended by 
transferring their pagan worship to the skies. The 
Roman emperors lent it their interested support. They 
based their claim to divine rights upon the sun. It was 
believed that the monarch's soul descended from heaven 

"• "Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans," F. Cumont. 

220 %itt ^prntiote 

by grace of the sun who bestowed upon it its own sover- 
eign power. Among the numerous symbols of the sun, 
that of Sol Invictus, a circle with rays, was used by the 
Roman emperors and later adopted by Louis XIV (Le 
Roi Soldi) of France. 

Even after our era the cult of Mithraism or sun 
worship vied with Christianity in popular favour. In 
274 A.D. Aurelian created the new cult of the "Invinci- 
ble Sun." A century later Diocletian officially recog- 
nised Mithra as the protector of the restored empire. 
The Christian emperors Constantine and Constantius 
were not wholly blind to the advantages of a form of 
worship that bestowed upon them so 'illustrious a de- 
scent.' Constantine, indeed, was strongly suspected of 
leanings toward Mithraism. 

+ tTX 9- 


The famous labarum of Constantine's according to 
Bayley "was a symbol used long ages before Christian- 
ity and probably stood for X the Great Fire and P 
pater or Patah." Other writers have looked upon it in 
its older form as an adaptation of the solar wheel. It can 
hardly be denied that the various forms of Constan- 
tine's monogram or cross would indicate either catholic- 
ity of belief or religious philandering — or, perhaps one 
might better say, a profound respect for the great sym- 
bols of Life. 

STfje ^un 221 

In the fourth century Juhan the Apostate, the last 
pagan to occupy the throne of the Caesars attempted to 
revive sim worship, but the growing power of the Chris- 
tian rehgion had become too strong to be set aside. "The 
Invincible Sun, conquered at last passed on its sceptre 
to the new religion of Life." 

It was not until sometime between 354 and 360 a.d. 
that the Church adopted the 25th of December, the 
birthday of Mithra and other twice-born gods, as the 
date of the Nativity of Christ, the new Sun of Right- 
eousness in whom mankind saw again embodied the old, 
tenaciously held, mystical idea of 'Dying to Live.' 



The Wheel is the emblem of creative motion because 
"Manifesting Force is rotary, being, in fact, the 'Wheel 
of the spirit of Life' involving the whole system of the 

"A constantly moving something circling about a 
pure central point." — Goethe. 

"Repetition, being a law of the cosmos and mani- 
festing itself in the movements of the stars and of 
atoms, in biology, ties of mankind — will continually oc- 
cur because the Law of Series is at work." — Paul Kam- 

"The Sun which is as a bridegroom coming out of 
his chamber and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a 
race."—Fs. 19: 4. 




ARISTOTLE said "Life is movement." The 
Stvastika with its 'bent arms poised for flight' 
has been saying the same since time began. 
Reveahng also a further truth, to those with eyes to 
see, that all harmonious movement must necessarily 
spring from a central source. 
Less awe-inspiring than 
some of the other life sym- 
bols, the Swastika has been 
looked upon from earliest 
times down to the present 
day as a charm or amulet 
that brings good luck, long 
life, fortune. It is a happy, fragment of stone slab from the 


re-assurmg, friendly symbol, ^^^^ ^^^^^^^ (Tetraskdion). 
suggesting not movement wuson. The swastika. 

alone, but movement that is 

orderly progression, movement that is planned, guided 
by an eternal law. 

Swastika is a Sanskrit word composed of su, good 
and astij being, with the suffix ka, and is the equivalent 
of *It is well,' or 'That it may be so,' or 'So be it,' im- 
plying, under no matter what circumstances, complete 
resignation — or perhaps acceptance is a better word 


226 life ^pmbols; 

for a sign that was used to denote life, movement, pleas- 
ure, happiness, good luck. 

The swastika was reverenced in India more than 
three thousand years before the Christian era, and is 

still used by the Hindu wo- 
men as a charm against evil. 
_ ^^^1 y^^. ^^\ Among the Chinese it car- 
^■iTl ^^.^T^^N^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^ perfection. 

Gaillard, Croix et Swastika en Chine. 

It stood for a great num- 
ber, infinity, many bless- 
ings. It was the key to 
excellence. Enclosed in a 
circle it was the word for 
the sun. It was known in Japan under the name of 
Mang-ziou (the sign of 10,000 years). It is stamped 
on archaic vases and pottery found in India, Persia, 
China, Italy, Greece, Cyprus; it is found on ancient 
bronze ornaments in England, France, Etruria; it ap- 
pears on bronze objects found in the Swiss lake dwell- 
ings and on ceintures of bronze, also on weapons and 
various articles of dress and ornament in Germany and 
Scandinavia; it is graven on sculptured stones and 
Celtic crosses in Ireland and Scotland, and is found in 
pre-historic burial grounds in Scandinavia, Mexico, 
Peru, Yucatan, Paraguay and the United States. It 
was used before the Aryans commenced their migra- 
tions, and has been called the oldest Aryan symbol. 
Apparently it was never adopted by the Phoenicians, 
Babylonians, Assyrians, or Egyptians, yet it has been 
found in Egypt, the inference being that it was brought 
there by the Greeks. Wherever it appears, like the 
wheel it was considered to be an image of the sun and 
was thus honoured. The heraldry of the Middle Ages 
blazoned it on shields. In modern heraldry it is given 

i:f)e ^ttiasittka 


the name gammadion or crucV gammata from its resem- 
blance to a four-fold repetition of the Greek gamma. 

It was a symbol of high religious import among both 
Brahmins and Buddhists. It has been called the mono- 
gram of Vishnu and Siva. 

It was the cross of the Manicheans and was their 
sole symbol. The only form of the cross of which the 
Christians made any use during the second and third 
centuries was the swastika. 


Wilson, The Swastika. 

In Great Britain it was called fylfot from the An- 
glo-Saxon fower-fot — four footed or many footed. 

The symbol of Thor the Scandinavian god of thun- 
der was a solar wheel, and his weapon the hammer. 
Thor's hammer has a confusing record. Some author- 
ities call it the fylfot cross, others the crucc ansata and 
others again liken it to the Chinese Y. This, perhaps, 
because the swastika itself has been connected with the 
cross, the circle and the Y. 


%iit ^pmtjols; 

The swastika has been given as an emblem to sun- 
gods, sky-gods, rain-gods ; it is the sun chariot of Agni ; 
it is found in the footprints of Buddha; it is the especial 


From Schliemann's Ilios. 

symbol of the esoteric doctrine of Buddha; Buddha is 
sometimes depicted in the 'swastika posture' — with legs 
crossed and arms cross-wise over chest; in Japan it is 
the symbol of Buddha's heart and is frequently dis- 
played on his breast. It has been given a phallic mean- 
ing by some, while others believe that it typified the 
generative or feminine principle, justifying their belief 
by its appearance on statues of various nature god- 
desses — Ceres, Astarte, Hera and notably upon a lead- 
en statuette of Artemis Nana of Chaldea found at 

STfje S>toasJtifea 229 

Troy, where the swastika is shown on a triangular 
shaped shield. Wilson in his book on The Swastika 
cites the fact that the aboriginal women of Brazil wore 
a triangular shield or plaque made of terra-cotta sus- 
pended from the waist in front of the body by cords, 
and that one of these, which is in the U. S. Museum at 
Washington, is decorated with two swastikas, which he 
Ihinks "may have been a charm signif jring good fortune 
in bearing children," and that as children were be- 
lieved to be God's greatest blessing, its symbolism may 
well have been extended, may also have represented 
the desire of man to raise up 'heirs of his body' and pre- 
serve the continuity of Life. He finds that the male 
aborigines used a somewhat similar covering and 
comments upon their resemblance to the ''Ceinture de 
Cliastete, specimens of which are shown privately in 
the Musee de Cluny at Paris and are said to have been 
invented by Fran^oise de Carara of Padua, Italy," and 
applied to all the women of his seraglio. 

The same authority says "Of the many forms of the 
cross the swastika is the most ancient. Despite the 
theories and the speculations of students its origin is 
unknown. It began before history and is properly 
classed as pre-historic." ^ 

It is not unreasonable to believe, however, that its 
origin may have been — doubtless was, simple enough. 
"Starting with the sun's disk as a circle and wishing 
to represent its motion sometimes they gave it wings, 
again they depicted it as a wheel, while motion 
in one direction was indicated by taking away part 
of the rim of the wheel leaving only sufficient to show 
its course. Thus came the swastika of the Hindus 
and the fylfot of the Northern races, one of the most 

*"The Swastika," Thomas Wilson. 

230 Hife S>pmbol2{ 

universally diffused of all the mystic emblems of sun 
worship." ^ 

Some attribute its origin to the Hittites, while 
others contend that it was used in the Bronze Age 
which was prior to the Hittites or the Aryans. 

It has always been a matter of keen conjecture 
how the swastika came into North America, reviving 
stories of the lost island of Atlantis, the lost tribes of 
Israel and the migration of Buddhism from Asia. 
Nothing is known, however, except that the swastika 
is there at the beginning of history, and that it was 
also a favourite symbol in Mexico, Peru, Yucatan and 

Brinton in The Taki, the Swastika arid the Cross 
in America, says "When the symbol of the sun and the 
four directions was inscribed within the circle of the 
visible horizon we obtain the figure representing the mo- 
tions of the sun with reference to the earth as in. . . . 
the wheel cross, as distinguished from the ring cross." 

Taking the Aztec figure of the year cycle — which 
is reproduced here from the Atlas of Duran's "His- 
toria de las Indies et Nueva Espana" — Brinton traces 
the development and primary signification of those 
world-wide symbols, the square, the cross, the wheel, 
the circle, the swastika — the illustration of the Aztec 
figure shows the beginning of the latter in the elements 
of the broken circle — and he finds it easy to see how 
from this figure was derived the "Nuhuatl doctrine 
of the . . . Four Motions of the Sun with its ac- 
cessories of the Four Ages of the World," and adds 
that "the Tree of Life so constantly occurring in May- 
an and Mexican art is but another outgrowth of the 
same symbolic expression for the same ideas." 

' "Origin of Triads and Trinities," John Newton. 

5Cf)e g>tDa2itifea 


The Druids were said to have shaped their trees 
in the form of the swastika or fylfot cross. 



In the opinion of Count Goblet d'Alviella no sym- 
bol has given rise to so many interpretations "not even 
the trisula of the Buddhists." 

The figure of a swastika enclosed in a square with 
radiating lines for the corners has been called the seal 
or mark of a deified saint of the Jains of India, also a 
"sacred temple or edifice, a species of labyrinth, a gar- 
den of diamonds, a chain, a golden waist or shoulder 
belt, and a conique with spires turning to the right." 






232 TLift ^pmljolsi 

Goodyear considers the swastika the equivalent of 

the lotus, of the solar diagram, of the solar rosette, of 

^ the centre of the rosette, of concen- 

V 1 ^ ti'ic rings, of the spiral scroll, of the 

geometric boss, of the triangle and 

of the anthemion. 

Gaillard speaks of the "X de fer 

^^> Chinois" — also called St. Andrew's 

cross — which becomes a sceptre in 

A third sign of the foot- the hauds of thuudcr gods, the em- 
print of Buddha. , , p t j> i • 

blem 01 royal power lor kmgs, em- 
blem of the two pillars or dual principles, and when 
crossed or re-duplicated becomes a sign of good omen — 
a variation of the swastika or the conquering sun or the 
"roi de la roue/' ^ 

The swastika is persistently connected with the sa- 
cred fire sticks. Agni was the god of the fire stick 
(the swastika) and it was he who was the author of 
divine heat which was the 'efficient cause of life both 
in heaven and earth.' 

''The Samidhs or kindling sticks are said to repre- 
sent Spring. They are to be used in lighting the sac- 
rificial fire and are ordered to be applied to light the 
three enclosing sticks (paradlii) which are placed in 
the form of a triangle around the firewood. These en- 
closing sticks are said to be the three former Agni 
(fire gods) who were struck down by the thunderbolt 
of Indra. These gods are (1) the Lord of the Earth, 
(2) the Lord of the Universe, and (3) the Lord of 
Living Things, or, the old triad of Mother Earth, the 
Phallic god the Father and the vital power animating 
both." These enclosing sticks or fire gods are "kin- 
dled by the two samidhs which are the swastika or fire 

* "Croix el Swantika en Chine," Louis Gaillard. 

sticks which when rubbed together produce the flame. 
They are said to represent the heavenly and earthly 
fire. With the first the priest kindles the middle en- 
closing stick at the base of the triangle which represents 
the vital and creative power which animates both the 
mother earth and the universal father and binds them 
together. He then kindles with it the fire material 
which the triangle encloses. He thus kindles the three 
former gods and the sacred central fire, the emblem 
of the divine power in the latent heat, the creative force 
of which was greater than that of the old gods. With 
the second samidli, or the earthly fire which he puts on 
the burning fire wood he kindles the Spring and the 
whole productive year. The functions of the Samidhs 
. . . clearly represent the vivifying power of heat which 
kindles into life the old generating gods of the popular 
triad, and these when they receive the requisite impulse 
from the animating heat kindle the earth into life in 
the Spring. . . . Thus the Samidhs are the 'produc- 
tive pair' which typify the union of heaven and earth 
under heavenly influences." ^ 

If one becomes bewildered by the number of mean- 
ings attached to this one symbol, on the other hand 
there is this to be said, too, that no symbol brings home 
more forcibly a fact that the modern is apt to overlook, 
and that is how much was formerly expressed by a few 
symbolic lines. 

As we have said before, the ancients were not spe- 
cialists. Their best loved symbols were as inclusive as 
life itself. 

This marvellous symbol of motion, good fortune, 
long life seems to have touched everything and every- 
where, vivif jang whatever it touched. It is the skele- 

* Hewitt's "Early History of Northern India." 


%iit ^pmbolsi 

ton symbol of the solar wheel or whirligig, its bent 
arms or rays indicating motion, universal movement; 

Goodyear, Grammar of the Lotus. PI. 38, p. 251. 

it is connected with the labyrinth; it typified the four 
cardinal points, the pre-Christian cross, the revolution 

STfje S>tDas!tifea 235 

of the wheel of life; it was the representation of zig- 
zag lightning and the double hatchet or axe; it could 
signify "rain, storms, lightning, sun, light, seasons;" 
and it could also be the fire sticks, fire wheel, sun 
chariot and a symbol of fecundity. 

How derived, and whatever else it may have typi- 
fied, the swastika stands out pre-eminently as the sym- 
bolical representation of solar energy. 

Goodyear finds its solar significance proved by 
Hindu coins of the Jains and that it "appears with 
solar deer, solar antelope, the symbolic fish, the solar 
ibex, the solar sphinx, the solar ram and the solar 
horse. Its almost constant 
association is with the solar 
bird." ^ 

The Greeks associated 
the swastika with the cult of 

Max Muller believed that the swastika with hands 
pointing to the right was originally a symbol of the 
sun, perhaps the vernal sun, and he called the other 
with arms bent to the left the suavastika or the au- 
tumnal sun. 

The Hindus are said to have given the 'right hand- 
ed' swastika to the god Ganesh representing the mas- 
culine principle or light, life, glory, the sun — and the 
'left handed' to the goddess Kali or the feminine prin- 
ciple typifying the subterranean course of the sun or 
darkness, death, destruction. 

It is more generally conceded, however, that no 
distinction was intended to be expressed by the 
way in which the arms were bent whether to the right 
or left. 

' Goodyears' "Grammar of the Lotus." 


236 life ^pmbolsi 

The swastika and the triskelion seem to have origi- 
nated from a single symbolic idea. 

"Different forms of the swastika, i.e. those to the 
right, left, square, ogee, curved, spiral and meander. 



Wilson, The Swastika. 

triskelion and tetraskelion have been found on the same 
object showing their inter-relationship." ^ 

The triskelion, a variation of these whirling sym- 
bols of the sun, is found on ancient Greek shields and 
Roman coins, its rays sometimes taking the form of 
legs, thus indicating conclusively the idea of motion, 
energy, victory. The triskelion proceeds apparently 
from the same symbolic idea of the swastika, its branch- 
es usually curved radiating from a centre on a solar 
face. The well known trinity of legs with bent knees 
has been used from the most ancient times as the arms 
of Sicily and the Isle of Man. The triskelion is found 
also in Ireland and in North America. It has many 
variants. Sometimes two, three or four arms or rays 
proceed from a central hub or dot conveying the idea 
of circular motion. 

•"The Swastika," Thomas Wilson. 

Vlf)t ^txyaitika 237 

Perrot and Chij)iez speak of the triskelis or trique- 
tra as a name derived from three serpent's heads which 
"usually figure in the field much 
after the fashion of those support- 
ing the famous tripod at Delphi 
consecrated by the Greeks to Apollo 
after the battle of Platcca." 

The number of heads was not 
constant, but the three rayed design 
seems to have been the more ac- Sicilian coin. 
cepted form and gradually super- wanng, ceramic ah in Re. 
seded the others. 

It has been suggested that the swastika on Buddha's 
breast is the equivalent of the ur^eus snakes of the Egj^p- 
tians "two in nimiber and known as the winged sun." 

Brinton associates the three legs diverging from 
a centre with the ancient triquetrum or triskeles which 
is seen on the oldest coins of Sicily and Lycia, Asia 
Minor, and also on Slavic and Teutonic vases "disin- 
terred from mounds of the bronze age or earlier in 
Central and Northern Europe." The triquetrum is 
a figure with three straight or curved lines springing 
from a central point and surrounded by a circle. In 
the figure with curved lines he finds the "precise form of 
the Chinese Tai-Ki a symbolic figure which plays a 
prominent part in the mystical writing, the divination 
and the decorative art of China." The Tai-Ki is prop- 
erly translated the Great Uniter. (Ta great, Ki to join 
together, to make one, to unite.) "As the Chinese be- 
lieve in the mystic power of numbers and as that which 
reduces all multiplicity to unity naturally controls or is 
at the summit of all things, therefore the Ta-Ki ex- 
presses the completest and highest creative force." ^ 

' "The Taki, the Cross and the Swastika in America," D. G. Brinton. 


life ^pmbolsJ 

Yang and yin, heaven and earth, masculine and 
feminine, are thought to be 'brought into fructifying 
union by Ta-Ki/ And thus to the symbolic represen- 
tation of the 'pair of opposites' — a circle divided by 
two arcs with opposite centres and called the Chinese 
monad — is added a third arc from above, the Ta-Ki 
which unites the two. 

The triquetrum with three straight lines springing 
from a central point and surrounded by a circle is the 
same as the Chinese Y without the circle, a symbol of 
untold antiquity that conveyed precisely the same 
meaning of unity or productive union. 

The triquetrum the 'three comma shaped figure' is 
the same as the Japanese mitsu-tomoe and has been 
associated with the ancient spiral which denoted 
thunder. The Chinese triquetrums differ somewhat 
from the Japanese yet the whirling motion is evident 
in them all. 

Besides everything else the swastika was always 
ornamental, and from it have been developed some of 



the most exquisite running and interlacing designs. 
You find it on old bits of pottery, or on rugs or fabrics, 
where it is cunningly woven into labyrinthine forms 

^i}t ^basittka 


that are without beginning or end. In Italy these 
were called 'Solomon's Knots' and were supposed to 
typify divine inscrutability. 

Greek " geometric " vase in the Louvre. 

"It was Kipling who suggested that Bok should 
name his Merion home 'Swastika.' Bok asked the 
author what he knew about the mystic sign: 

'There is a huge book (I've forgotten the name but 
the Smithsonian will know)' he wrote back, 'about the 
Swastika (pronounced Swas-ti-ka to rhyme with 'car's 
ticker'), in literature, art, religion, dogma, etc., I be- 
lieve there are two sorts of Swastikas . . . one is bad, 
the other good, but which is which I know not for sure. 
The Hindu trader opens his yearly account books with 
a Swastika as an 'auspicious beginning' and all the 
races of the earth have used it. It's an inexhaustible 
subject and some man in the Smithsonian ought to be 
full of it. Anyhow the sign on the door or the hearth 
should protect you against fire and water and 
thieves.' " « 

' "The Americanization of Edward Bok." 



''Those (literal ones) who make Bacchus wine and 
Vulcan flame are like men who would make cable, sail 
arid anchor of a ship the pilot, or take yarn and web 
for the weaver. One who hath bought the books of 
Plato we say has bought Plato/' — Plutarch. 

"The celestial 'circle of necessity/ '* 



A BABYLONIAN creation myth relates that 
Marduk, who brought order out of chaos, 'set 
all the great gods in their several stations' and 
created their images in the stars of the zodiac. The 
early astronomers of Babylonia believed that the "sun 
travelled from West to East along a broad path, 
swinging from side to side of it in the course of a year. 
This path is the zodiac — the celestial 'circle of 
necessity.' " 

One can only touch upon these zodiacal symbols 
which are so closely inter-allied with the hours, days, 
weeks, months, seasons; with the gods and goddesses 
of light, power, fecundity, productivity, sterility, decay, 
death and resurrection; with the heavenly bodies and 
with the earth; with man's toil, and with the symbolic 
animals that typify the generative aspects of the sun. 
The attempt to connect man and his destinies with the 
planets as guiding forces represented a gigantesque 
religious conception based upon the idea of a divine 
cosmic law which not only influences, but unites and 
dominates everything that lives and moves and breathes, 
everything that grows or enters into decay, sometimes 
for good, sometimes for ill. 

"At Babylon a number was a very different thing 



life ^pmbolfli 

from a figure. Just as in ancient times and, above all, 
in Egypt, the name had a magic power, and ceremonial 
words formed an irresistible incantation, so here the 
nmnber possesses an active force, the number is a sym- 
bol, and its properties are sacred attributes."^ 

The revolving year with its recurring seasons, 
marked into twelve periods of time or months by the new 
moon, the twelve hours between sunrise and sunset, — 
the Chinese as well as the Babylonians divided the day 
of twenty-four hours into double hours believing that 
it bore a definite relationship to the twelve signs of the 
zodiac and the twelve mansions of the elliptic — the four 

^ Cumont's "Astrology and Religion." 

8Cf)^ Hobiac 245 

cardinal points, the four seasons, the seven days of the 
week made the numbers 4, 7 and 12 for thousands of 
years sacred numbers of highest significance. 

The Four Ages were originally the four seasons. 
The sun-god was associated with the Spring — the Ital- 
ian primavera is a most lovely and expressive word for 
the season that brings to view once more the associa- 
tion of the mighty sun with the re-awakening of nature. 
The moon belonged to the summer, Venus presided over 
the autumn months and Mars was the god of winter. 
The Greeks, however, gave to their Aphrodite (Venus) , 
goddess of love and beauty the month of April — aperilis 
— the opening, the germinating month. 

The sun, moon and five planets became the 'sacred 
seven.' The five planets like sun and moon "traversed 
the constellations of the zodiac," and in Babylonia were 
identified with the great deities. "Jupiter whose golden 
light burns most steadily in the sky" was assigned to 
Marduk, Venus was one of the forms of the goddess 
Ishtar, Saturn fell to Ninib, Mercury to Nebo and 
Mars to Nergal, the god of war. 

The seven days of the week belong to the "sacred 
seven." Sunday is the day of Mithra the sun-god. 
Monday (Ital. lunedi, Fr. lundi) belongs to Diana the 
moon goddess. Tuesday (Ital. martedi, Fr. mardi) is 
the day of Mars. Wednesday (Ital. mercoledi, Fr. 
merer edi) belongs to Mercury. Thursday (Ital. gio- 
vedi, Fr. jeudi) to Jupiter (Jove), the Teutonic Thor. 
Friday (Ital. venerdi, Fr. vendredi) to Venus. Friday 
also corresponds to the German Freitag the day of 
Fria or Freya the Teutonic goddess of love. Saturday 
(Ital. sabato, Fr. samedi) is the day of Saturn. 

These planets were the tutelary deities, not alone of 
the days but of the hours, years, centuries and even the 

246 life S>|>mtJol£( 

thousand of years. To each planet was ascribed a plant, 
a stone and a metal. These derived peculiar and mirac- 
ulous powers under this benign and celestial protection. 

The Babylonians gave the following colours to the 
sun, moon and five planets : — The Sun, gold ; the Moon, 
silver; Jupiter, orange; Venus, yellow; Saturn, black; 
Mars, red ; and Mercury, blue. 

Later on in Greece the planets become the stars of 
Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares, Zeus and Kronos. 

In the earliest days in Babylonia the moon was 
masculine and to the ancient astronomers Sin, the moon- 
god was a more powerful divinity than Shamash, the 
sun, and before the duration of the year was known, 
time was reckoned by the phases of the moon. The 
people of India also used the lunar year for ages before 
the solar year became the official measure of time. 

"The magic idea of a power superior to man was 
connected from the very beginning with the notation 
of time."^ 

Thus the centuries, years and seasons — as related 
to the four winds and four cardinal points, — the twelve 
months presided over by the twelve signs of the zodiac, 
the seven days of the week, day and night, the twelve 
hours were all "personified and deified as being the 
authors of all the changes in the universe." 

The hours were goddesses and the months gods. 
Infinity of time was exalted as the Supreme Cause. 

Sacred calendars regulated religious ceremonies and 
civil life according to the course of the moon. These 
calendars were of high religious import in star worship, 
their most important function being to record the days 
and hours or periods of time which would be auspicious 
or inauspicious. 

* "Astrology and Religion," Cumont. 

Photo. Alinari 

Ares (Mars) in Repose (after Lysippus) 
(Museo Ludovisi Boncompagni, Rome) 

arfje Hobiac 


Among the Mithraites Time was represented as a 
huge monster with the head of a Hon to show that he 


The body is entwined six times by a serpent, and four wings having the 
symbols of the four seasons spring from the back. A thunderbolt is en- 
graved on the breast. In the left hand is a key and in the right a key and 
sceptre or long rod the emblem of authority. At the foot of the statue 
are the hammer and tongs of Vulcan, the cock, the sacred cone and the 
wand of Mercury typifying that the power of all the gods is embodied in 
the Mithraic Suturn. 

Cumont, Mysteries of Mithra. 

devours all things. Again Time is shown helping Truth 
out of a cave. 

Numbers were held sacred, but unlike Time and 
all its divisions were never deified. 

248 Hife ^j>mljols; 

The Chaldeans placed the planets in the following 
order, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the Sun, Venus, 
Mercury and the Moon. The Sun occupies the fourth 
place, having three above it, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars 
and three below, Venus, Mercury and the Moon. In 
other words, the sun has the central position among the 
seven circles of the universe. 

This system no longer presented itself as a "learned 
theory taught by mathematicians but as a sacred doc- 
trine revealed to the adepts of exotic cults which have 
all assumed the form of mysteries. . . . The mysteries 
of Mithra imported into Europe this composite the- 
ology, offspring of the intercourse between Magi and 
Chaldeans; and the signs of the zodiac, the symbols of 
the planets, the emblems of the elements appear time 
after time on the bas-reliefs, mosaics and paintings of 
their subterranean temples."^ 

Nor did this symbolism die out with the advent of 
Christianity but instead, was incorporated — uncon- 
sciously, perhaps, as a graphic representation of the 
eternal flux of life. 

The worship given to the sun, moon and five planets 
was also extended to all the constellations of the firma- 
ment, and especially reverenced were the twelve signs 
of the zodiac to which were attributed a powerful in- 
fluence over the life and destiny of all mankind. Each 
of the zodiacal signs was divided into three decans and 
"a god imagined for each of these thirty-six compart- 
ments." The Druids also recognised these thirty-six 
divisions which they called the thirty-six gates of the 
Great House of Heaven. 

Among the Babylonians Sin, Shamash and Ishtar 
were the three great rulers of the zodiac. The Sun, 

■"Astrology and Religion," Cumont. 

Wht Hobiac 249 

Moon and Venus were distinguished from the other 
planets and Venus as the powerful Ishtar was called the 
'rival of the sun and moon.' 

A Latin couplet gives the names of the zodiac: — 
"Sunt Arks, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, 
Libraquc, Scorpius, Arcitenus, Caper, Amphora, 

The symbols of the zodiac begin with the opening 
of spring. 

1 Aries (the ram or lamb) Mar. 20 — April 19. 

2 Taurus (the bull) April 20— May 19. 

3 Gemini (the twins) May 20 — June 19. 

4 Cancer (the crab) June 20 — July 19. 

5 Leo (the lion) July 20— Aug. 19. 

6 Virgo (the virgin) Aug. 20 — Sept. 19. 

7 Libra (the balance) Sept. 20— Oct. 19. 

8 Scorpio (the scorpion) Oct. 20 — Nov. 19. 

9 Arcitenus (Sagittarius the 

Archer) Nov. 20— Dec. 19. 

10 Caper (Capricorn the goat) .Dec. 20 — Jan. 19. 

11 Amphora (Aquarius the vase 

or waterman) Jan. 20 — Feb. 19. 

12 Pisces (the fishes) Feb. 20 — Mar. 19. 

The sky was deified in its whole and in its parts. 
The two portions, light and dark, were worshipped 
under the form of the Dioscuri. These twins shared in 
turn life and death and were identified with the two 
hemispheres. Gemini, or Castor and Pollux are repre- 
sented in the Chinese and Hindu zodiacs as a man and a 

To the Greek imagination the "Ram was the famous 
ram of the Golden Fleece ... or it misfht be the ram 



life ^pmtiolsi 

11. Aquarius. 12. Pisces. 


Now in the Bibliot&que Nationale, Paris. 
Budge, Cods of the Egyptians. Vol. II, p. 315. 

(ZTfje Zobiac 251 

which guided the thirsty company of Bacchus to the 
wells of the oasis of Ammon." 

Cancer the crab is called the scarab in the Egyptian 

The dolphin takes the place of Caper or Capri- 
corn in the Chinese zodiac. It will be recalled that the 
Babylonian water god Ea was symbolised by a goat- 
fish. Both the goat and the fish are symbols of 

Volney gives an interesting interpretation of the 
ancient's ingenious method of generalising and trans- 
ferring their ideas to everything that seemed in any way 
analogous. Thus the Egyptians, having noticed that 
the return of the inundation was constantly signalled 
by the appearance of a very beautiful star towards the 
source of the Nile, compared it with the fidelity and 
the watchfulness of a dog and called it 'Sirius, the dog, 
the barker.' In the same manner they called "stars of 
the crab, those which showed themselves when the sun 
having reached the bounds of the tropics, returned 
backwards and side wise like the crab or cancer; stars 
of the wild goat those when the sun having arrived at 
its highest altitude . . . imitated that animal who de- 
lights in climbing the highest rocks ; stars of the balance 
those when the days and nights being of the same length, 
seemed to observe an equilibrium like that instrument; 
stars of the scorpion those which were perceptible when 
certain regular winds brought a burning vapour like 
the poison of the scorpion. . . . Thus in time those 
same animals which the imagination had raised to 
heaven descended again to earth . . . decked in the 
livery and invested with the attributes of stars." ^ 

What was first looked upon as a talisman or har- 

*Volney's "Ruins." 

252 life &j>mf)ols( 

binger was later, when the original meaning was lost, 
adored as a fetich. 

These sacred animals became symbols of power. 
The ram which figures as Aries in the zodiac, symbohs- 



(Metropolitan Museum of Art.) 

ing the renewal of solar energy, creative heat, became 
the celestial ram, the deliverer, or again the lamb who 
sacrificed himself for the sake of the world, the one who 
releases the heavens from the evil and malevolent spirits, 
who saves the world from cold and desolation, who con- 
quers the serpent of sin and darkness or Satan. 

The hull like the sun was the great fecundator of 
nature who in the spring revives vegetation and brings 
back abundance. The celestial ram is the one who opens 
the way to renewed life, who breaks down the icy clutch 
of winter, and Taurus and the Sun plow the blue mea- 
dows of the heavens, signifying the eternal productive 
pair. The bull Apis of the Egyptians, the golden calf 

arfje Hobiac 253 

of the Jews, the Assyrian winged bull, the bull of the 
Apocalypse with wings, the bull sacrificed in the 
mysteries of Mithra symbolise not so much the sun itself 
as the companion force which unites with the sun to pro- 
duce life. In ancient religions the bull typified the 
power residing in the sun. In the flood myth of the 
JNFexicans the deluge was caused by the 'water sun' which 
suddenly discharged the moisture it had been drawing 
up from the earth in the form of vapour through long 

In the "Reclierches sur le Culte de Venus" Lajard 
finds that the two principal attributes of Venus both 
in the Orient and the Occident are the lion and the bull. 
The lion sjonbolised the sun, heat, light, the active, gen- 
erative power. The bull was the symbol of the humid 
power, the passive power. When the two animals are 
given together to Venus they typified the hermaphro- 
ditism of the goddess. 

The symbolism of the ox, the bull and the cow was 
carefully differentiated. The cow was sacred to the 
Great Mother. The Egyptians gave it to Hathor and 
to Isis as a symbol of productivity. The cow was also 
worshipped by the Hindus and it is still revered in 
India. The ox tj^pified strength, renunciation, patient, 
unremitting toil. Thus this sign of the zodiac, the bull 
of heaven, found its counterpart on earth in the ox who 
represented in the early days the spirit of agriculture, 
the slow, plodding labour of upturning the earth, plant- 
ing the seed, releasing the powers of nature. 

The zodiacal sign of Leo represented the midsum- 
mer splendour and raging heat of the sun. This sun, 
called 'master of double strength' by the Egyptians 
was represented by the hieroglyph of two lions, or some- 
times two lions are seated back to back supporting the 


TLxit ^pmbols; 

globe of the sun. Plutarch affirmed that the Egyptians 
honoured the lion and put lions' heads at the entrance 

to temples because 
the Nile rises when 
the sun enters the 
zodiacal sign of Leo. 
The scorpion was 
associated with 
drought, disease, dis- 
aster, death. It was 
a malignant enemy, 
a hurtful force, the very opposite to growth. "Their tor- 
ment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh 
a man." It was believed to 'pour out his venom 
upon earth' causing the destruction of all things, 
and in the zodiac the scorpion is placed in opposition 
to Taurus symbolising the period of the year when 
winter approaches and all nature loses its produc- 

The signs of the zodiac gave immense play as well 
as a fixed limitation to the imagination. Innumerable 
stories are set going only to be arrested, kept in form 
by the sacred number twelve. 

Many Assyriologists consider that the twelve tablets 
of the Izdubar (or Gilgamesh) epic were founded on 
the sun's passage through the twelve signs of the zodiac. 
The hero begins his career in Aries as a king. The 
ram, typifying creative energy and force thus becomes 
associated with kings who are called 'bell wethers or 
leaders — the rams of their people.' The Gilgamesh 
epic is the great mythological poem of Babylonia. 
"Like all solar deities — like the sun itself — the birth 
and origin of Gilgamesh is wrapped in mystery. He is, 

GiLGAMEsn .VXD THE Liox. Sargon's Palace, 

(Louvre, Paris) 

©fje Hobiac 255 

indeed, one of the 'fatal children' like Sargon, Perseus 
or Arthur." ^ 

The Round Table of King Arthur and his Twelve 
Knights typify the Sun the mighty King of Life, the 
round table is his disk, the twelve knights are the twelve 
months or twelve signs of the zodiac. Twelve is a number 
of tremendous importance. There are the twelve 
labours of Herakles who is called a solar hero — one 
who "never gained victories for himself"; the twelve 
prophets, twelve tribes of the children of Israel, twelve 
disciples, a jury is still composed of twelve persons. 

The Odyssey is said to "reflect the myth of the sun's 
migrations. It is a myth changed into a saga." 

• "Myths of Babylonia and Assyria," Mackenzie. 



"Tanuanpat or Summer, tJie moon god, the impulse 
which gives life to the three heavens, earth, air and shy 
is called the 'rippling one who flies through the wide 
heavens wetting his horns.' " — Hewitt, 

*' Representations of the su/n by a disc or radiating 
face, the moon by a crescent, water by fishes or wavy 
lines, air by birds do not belong to any definite region 
or race but are common to all humanity/' — D'Alviella. 




THE moon cult preceded sun worship. As we 
have seen the earliest germ of a creation myth 
represented night as parent of the day and 
water of the earth. 

"At the beginning naught save darkness and water. 
The spirit of night the Great Mother and her first born 
the moon child." 

"Out of darkness and death came light and life. 
Life was also motion. When the primordial waters 
became troubled life began to be." 

One finds a close connection between moon worship, 
earth worship and water worship — all three represent- 
ing the feminine or passive principle in nature. The 
moon was supposed to exercise a generative influence 
on nature, and the light of the moon on growing crops 
was believed to be more beneficial than the scorching 
rays of the sun. It was also thought to be the source 
of all moisture and that everything from the sap of 
plants to the blood of all beings and animals was vital- 
ised by the water of life which the moon controlled. 

So pronounced has been this age-long connection 
between the moon and water that even now it is not 
uncommon to hear the weather-wise speak of a wet 
moon or a dry moon, basing his dictum upon the position 


26o Tiiit ^pmfote 

of the crescent moon in the skies. When a new moon 
ushers in rain, it is also a common saying that rain will 
continue until the moon changes into the next quarter. 
Strangely enough although the moon is thought to 
have represented originally the "feminine power which 
gave life to mother earth and her offspring" and the 
moon itself is a symbol of the Celestial Mother, — and 
the crescent moon of virginity — the moon 
god was masculine. 

In Egypt, Assyria and throughout 
most of the ancient world the moon god 
LOTUSES AND was callcd the 'father of the gods' and the 
THE MOON <fpigjjj Qf man.' The god of the moon 

Assyrian Seal, was believed to coutrol nature by his fer- 
mar%7he ^iMus. tilisiug powcr causing trees and grass and 
crops to grow. By his mild and beneficent 
light he also robbed the serpent of darkness of much of 
his power and helped to dispel the terrors of the night. 
Sin the moon-god of the Assyrians is the god of 
wisdom. The moon cult was associated with astrology 
and it is Sin who reads the signs of the heavens. 

Tanuanpat the moon-god of ancient India was called 
self -created, "the heavenly fire, offspring of himself." 
Narasamsa (beloved of men) was also another name 
of the moon-god and both seem to have been used to 
typify the moon-god as smnmer, or the visible symbol 
of life-giving and productive energy which manifests 
itself in the warmth and glow of summer. The moon 
as summer becomes the uniting bond between spring 
the time of inception and autumn the time of garner- 
mg. The harvest moon is the moon which ripens. 

According to Plutarch the Egyptians called the 
moon the mother of the world and believed her to have 
both the male and the female nature, "because she is 

Jlorns; anb tfie Cresicent Moon 261 

first filled and impregnated by the sun and then herself 
sends forth generative principles into the air, and from 
thence scatters them down upon the earth." 

In Babylonia as well as in Egypt opinions differed 
as to the origin of life. The worshippers of Ea be- 
lieved that the essence of life was to be found in the 
liquid element. Blood was the vehicle of life and the 
worship of rivers and wells was connected with a wide 
spread belief that the blood of a god flowed in the sa- 
cred waters. Rivers were thus looked upon by the 
Babylonians as the "source of the life blood and the seat 
of the soul." In India it was common to speak of sap 
as the 'blood of trees.' 

The idea prevailed that no remission of sins was 
possible without shedding of blood. It was also a 
cardinal belief from remotest times that inspiration — 
a fresh access of life was derived from drinking blood 
or fermented liquors made from the 'blood of grapes' 
or the sap of plants. 

The custom of drinking was originally a highly 
ceremonious function of a deeply religious character. 
In the East water was vitalised by the sacred juice of 
the Soma plant which filled with religious fervour and 
ecstasy the hearts of those who drank of the precious 
liquid. Thus "He that . . . drinketh my blood, 
dwelleth in me and I in him" perpetuates, gives living 
assurance to an ancient belief founded on nature wor- 
ship or the worship of life. Nor need one doubt that 
the devout believer in Jesus Christ assimilates the char- 
acteristics of Christ — which were all spiritual — when 
he partakes of the symbolic bread and wine. Nor is 
it any reproach that the Church has merely given new 
meaning, lifted to the higher needs of the soul a form of 
religious worship as old as man himself. 

262 Hilt ^pmbols! 

In the vibration of religious thought which gave 
supremacy first to the moon and then to the sun, Mac- 
kenzie thinks it possible that the belief obtained "even 
among the water worshippers of Eridu that the sun 
and moon which rose from the primordial deep had 
their origin in the everlasting fire in Ea's domain at 
the bottom of the sea. In the Indian god Varuna's 
ocean home an 'Asura fire' (demon fire) burned con- 
stantly; it was bound and confined but could not be 
extinguished. Fed by water, this fire it was believed 
would burst forth in the last day and consume the 
universe. A similar belief can be traced in Teutonic 
mythology." * 

Here again one finds the intimate, mystical, yet 
highly practical association between fire and water, and 
always the unquenchable desire to discover the origina- 
tion of life. Is it to be found in the 'everlasting fire 
at the bottom of Ea's domain' which at the last day 
bursts forth and consumes the universe? 

Speaking generally one could almost say even now 
that the world divides itself between the sun wor- 
shippers and the water worshippers — those who sit by 
the tranquil stream of life and those who exult in the 
heat and fury of it. And always the few Great Adepts 
who, standing above passion and desire, see that sun 
without water and water without sun are destructive 
forces. One scorches from intensity until it dries up 
the springs of action. The other drenches with the 
sentimental, the meaningless until force and energy 

The moon was called the ' Awakener and Assembler 
of the stars.' 

^ "Myths of Babylonia and Assyria," Mackenzie. 

photo. Alimiri 

Artemis (Dianaj 
(Vatican, Rome) 

5|orns! anb tfie Cresicent JHoon 263 

The moon attended by stars is still perpetuated in 
the arms of Turkey and Egypt. The former has the 
crescent with one star and the latter the crescent and 
three stars. 

"All over Europe rays of the sun and the crescent 
moon seem to have typified horns. Pan had pyramidal 
horns tapering from earth to heaven, Moses was repre- 
sented with horns or two shafts of light springing from 
his forehead. Thus horns were a symbol of light. 
The branching antlers of the buck were likened to the 
rising of the sun." ^ 

The moon god Sin was depicted as an old man with 
flowing beard. Upon his head was a cap with the horns 
of the moon. 

A cap with upturned horns symbolised divine 

The winged figures of Assyria are depicted wearing 
the horned cap. 

Horns typified the 'call of the spirit.' 

Horns as a symbol of divinity and power go back to 
the moon cult. 

In Egypt Khensu, who was associated with Amen- 
Ra and IMut in the Theban triad, was the god of the 
moon and was portrayed with the head of a hawk sur- 
mounted by the lunar disk and crescent. The Egyp- 
tian goddess Hathor the "ubiquitous, universal mother" 
is given the head of a vulture surmounted by a disk and 

Thoth, the scribe of the gods and the measurer of 
time is also in one aspect the god of the moon and is 
given the head of an ibis and above it rests the crescent. 

The crescent moon was also given to Isis, Ishtar, 
Diana and the Virgin Mary. 

' Bayley's "Lost Language of Symbolism." 

264 ii^^ ^pmbols( 

"All people have understood the horns to be a sym- 
bol of power. The Israelites were, of course, quite 
familiar with horns upon the heads of the gods of 
Egypt, and fresh from the land of bondage they would 
readily believe that their great law giver had become 
divine, that he had miraculously received the mark of 
divinity and of kingly power. The behef that Moses 
actually descended with solid horns upon his head was 
devoutly held and has continued to be believed down to 
the Middle Ages." ^ 

The crescent was given the name of the horned 
moon. Later the symbolism was developed realistic- 
ally and the horns of animals were used. The horns 
of the bull or cow typified honour, power. Those of 
the ram or goat signified fecundity, fertility. 

In the early Minoan worship the "horns of conse- 
cration" occupy a prominent position along with the 
other religious symbols such as trees, stones, pillars, 
cones and the double axe. 

On a painted sarcophagus from Hagia Triada now 
in the Metropolitan Museum of New York and which 
is estimated to date from the Late Minoan II or the 
beginning of the Late Minoan III period, or about 
1400 B.C., there are scenes depicted representing fu- 
nerary rites. On one side, among other figures, a woman 
is shown pouring a libation into a large vase which 
stands between two posts or pillars surmounted by 
double axes and sacred birds. On the other side is an 
altar upon which are placed the "horns of consecra- 
tion" and a pillar which is also surmounted by the sa- 
cred double axe and the sacred bird — the customary 
Cretan symbols of life. 

A. J. Evans considers that the Mycenaean "horns 

' "Horns of Honour," F. T. Elworthy. 

Dove Shrixe ix Gold with Four Horxs ox Top axd the Columns 

IX THE Three Opexixgs Sprixgixg from the 

"Horxs of Coxsecratiox" 

(Schlieraann, Mycence) 

J^orns! anb tfje Cresicent jlloon 265 

of consecration" suggest the horns of the altar of the 
Hebrew ritual, and that this may relate to the sacri- 
ficial oxen whose horns were set upon the altar as a 
part of the ritual of primitive worship, "but it is more 
likely to have been derived from Egypt and to rep- 
resent the lunar cult — the horns of the crescent 

He finds that the "horns of consecration" are of a 
portable nature, they are superimposed on the summit 
of the 'dove shrines' of Mycensea, surmount archways, 
are found at the foot of sacred trees as well as on the 
roof of shrines and are equally associated with sacred 
pillars. He adds that "this distinctive piece of Myce- 
naean ritual furniture" occupies the same position in re- 
lation to the double axe that it does to the tree and pillar 
form of divinity indicating that the double axe also 
represented the indwelling place of a divinity. He also 
makes the interesting suggestion that the double axe 
was more than a symbol of the sun — that it represented 
the "conjunction of the divine pair — a solar and lunar 

The illustrations on pages 84 and 254 of lion sup- 
porters of the Egyptian solar disk shows the conven- 
tionalised sacred horns of the crescent moon. 

The emblem came to be regarded as in itself power- 
ful and was used as a badge of victory, of royal dignity. 
The crest and the panache of heraldry and the plume of 
modern days were used originally to convey the same 
idea of strength, power, triumph that the ancients ex- 
pressed by horns on the head. 

"Soon as Aurora drives away the night 
And edges eastern clouds with rosy light, 
* "Mycenaean Trees and Pillar Cult," A. J. Evans. 

266 %iit ^pmbols; 

The healthy huntsman with the cheerful horn 
Summons the dogs, and greets the dappled morn." 

The horn of Diana was an emblem of the chase as 
well as typifying the moon-goddess. 

Horns in all ages were a symbol of luck. They 
were looked upon as protective amulets and were placed 
on tombs and over doorways of houses to ward off the 
evil influences of the unseen. 

Horns over doorways may still be seen in the vicin- 
ity of Sorrento showing that this ancient belief in the 
efficacy of horns obtains in certain parts of Italy even 
to this day. 

The Italians, also, to protect themselves against a 
person suspected of bringing the iettatura — bad luck, 
misfortune, one who was possessed of the mcd occhio, 
the evil eye, employed the mano cornuta — the middle 
fingers closed and the fore and little fingers thrust out 
like horns. Nor was the use of the mano cornuta 
wholly confined to Italy. The same gesture was also 
resorted to as a protection against evil forces in England 
and the north countries. 

The Italian of today will admit half laughingly to 
the gesture, although professing not to believe in it. 
It is a matter of instinct now, done secretly with the 
hand at the side, in order not to mortify the person 
under suspicion. 

Some of us still avoid walking under ladders. Some 
of us are inexplicably comforted for a moment when, 
glancing up at the sky, we see the crescent moon, the 
new little moon, over the right shoulder for good luck, 
and are, in spite of all reason, a bit cast down when we 
have the bad fortune to see it for the first time over the 

JlornjJ anb tfje Cresicent iWoon 267 

The cornucopia or Horn of Plenty, a horn in which 
are displayed flowers and various fruits, symbolised 
peace and prosperity, and was associated in Greek art 
with the great nature goddesses and the gods of vege- 
tation and the vintage. 

The cornucopia is the equivalent of the calabash 
or gourd which the Chinese placed on a tripod as a sym- 
bol of blessing and fertility. The calabash typified the 
creative power of nature. Druggists kept medicines 
in gourd shaped bottles. For the same reason the 
Elixir of Life was stored in a calabash. 

According to Frazer the South Slavonian peasant 
crowns the horns of his cows with wreaths of flowers 
on St. George's day — the 23rd of April — in order to 
guard the cattle against witchcraft. 



"The plasticity of the Trisula is only equalled by 
its power of absorption. It borrows from the vegetable 
kingdom as well as from man and the moon and the sun 
or flames/' — D'Alviella. 

''Throughout the symbology of Egypt life was the 
centre, the circumference, the totality of good. Life 
was the sceptre in the hand of Amon; life was the 'rich- 
est gift of Osiris.' 'Be not ungrateful to thy Creator' 
says the sage Ptah-Hotep, in what is perhaps the oldest 
document in eccistencc, 'for he has given thee lifef — 
W. Marsham Adams. 

"Tranquillity according to His essence, activity ax;- 
cording to His nature; perfect stillness, perfect fe- 
cundity, this is the two- fold character of the Absolute/' 
— Ruysbroeck. 




THE trisula (tri-three, sula--point,) and the 
thunderbolt are forms of the trident. 
Like the swastika the ramifications of the 
trisula are almost endless. It has "alternately been 
considered to be an equivalent of the thunderbolt, a 
form of the Sacred Tree, a contraction of the scarab, a 
combination of the solar globe and crescent, connected 
with horns — symbolical of divine power — and the Ash- 
erah stake entwined with bandelets." ^ 

There is a strong resemblance between the trisula 
and the conventionalised fleur de lis. Sceptres in the 
West were frequently surmounted by the fleur de lis 
or flower of light, an ancient emblem of the Trinity or 
three in one. 

The trisula has been called the caduceus of India. 

The original form of the caduceus — a rod or the 
sacred tau surmounted by a circle or disk upon which 
rests a crescent — is significant. The classic form a 
winged rod encircled by two serpents is thought by some 
to have been used by the Greeks to symbolise the com- 
bination of the two forces, or hermaphroditism. 

In some places the trisula seems to represent the 
"Siviat emblem of the ling am between two serpents." 

"'The Migration of Symbols," D'Alviella. 



TLiit ^pmbolss 

The linga is the flame in the lotus or the form in 
which Adi-Buddha manifested himself at the beginning 
of the world. The flame symbol is also seen issuing 
from the centre of a moon crescent indicating the union 
of fire and water or the active and passive principles. 
"Vajrasattva in some of the Nepalese writings is 
identified with the first Buddha who manifested him- 
self on Mt. Sumeru in the following manner. A lotus 
flower of precious jewels appeared on the 
summit of Mt. Smneru which is the centre 
of the universe and above it arose a moon 
crescent upon which supremely exalted 
was seated V ajrasattva. It is not probable 
that the image of the god is here meant but 
the symbol which designated him, a linga- 
shaped flame. If the moon crescent which 
arose above the lotus flower is represented 
with the flame symbol in the centre instead 
of the image, it forms a trident." " 

The trisula placed upon a pillar sur- 
mounted b}^ flames is the monogram of 
It is also the emblem of the Tri-ratna or 


Three Jewels. 

The Assyrian gods are represented holding the tris- 
ula or trident with zigzag shaped points to typify 

The Sacred Trident is an ancient symbol of the 
heavenly triad. Thus the trident of Poseidon (Nep- 
tune) may have symbolised the third place the sea holds 
after heaven and air, but it is also here a "sceptre en- 
dowed with marvellous power." 

In Egypt the trident or trisula is associated with the 
winged globe. 

^"The Gods of Northern Buddhism," Getty. 

Photo. Alinari 

PosEiDox (Neptune) 
(Lateran, Rome) 

As the vajra — "diamond or that which is inde- 
structible" — usually translated thunderbolt, the trisula 
becomes the 'sceptre of diamonds' of Indra the storm 

The trisula is one of the principal symbols of Siva, 
who is generally represented with a sceptre in his hand 
surmounted by a trisula. In the temples of Siva the 
trisula was placed, not above the entrance, but on the 
sikhara. or spire where it is still to be found to this 

In Buddhism the trisula is given a prominent place 
along with the stupa, the Sacred Tree of Life, the 
swastika and the 'Excellent Wheel of Good Law.' 

The symbol was given a high place in the worship 
of Vishnu, and signified male and female, or Rama or 
Sita. It was combined of the two colors white and red, 
the outer and lower parts white and the central line 

The thunderbolts given to Zeus with forked light- 
ning projecting from either side bear a strong re- 
semblance to the trisula. 

The vajra or thunderbolt has sometimes been 
likened to the discus, the weapon of Vishnu. As both 
the vajra and the discus, like the celestial two-headed 
mallet or the double hammer, of Thor were weapons 
of the gods, symbolising lightning, rain and thus life 
and fertility they are probably only variant symbols 
of divine power. 

"The discus of Vishnu goes by the name of chakra 
and although not represented as a wheel it is doubtless 
the same symbol. . . . Viswakarma like the Greek 
Hephffistos the architect or artificer of the gods was 
said to have formed the discus of Vishnu, the trisula 
of Siva and the vajra or thunderbolt of Indra, making 


ILiit ^j>mbol2i 

them from parings of Surya the sun which he put in 
a lathe and turned. Here we get the solar origin." ^ 

Buddha is believed to have wrested the vajra from 
Indra changing the symbol by closing the points of 
the dart. 

The vajra is a sceptre as well as a weapon in the 
hands of the thunder gods. It is a symbol of royal 
power for kings and an emblem of the two pillars or 
dual principles. 


The Lamas of Thibet have a small sceptre about 
six inches long with a trident at each end. It is made 
of brass and called the dorje. Occasionally the ends 
are composed of two or four tridents arranged like a 

The gods of Mesopotamia carried a double trident. 

The Surya (sun or sun disk) surmounted by a tri- 
dent is called surya-mani or sun jewel. Issuing from 
the lotus it represents Adi-Buddha at the creation of 
the world. 

» «'The Trisula Symbol," William Simpson. 

arfje arrisiula 275 

D'Alviella considers that this emblem — the trident 
on the wheel — is its most rational form and that it 
represents a flash of lightning, is the image of a three 
tongued flame and when coupled with the disk is a 
symbol of fire or solar radiation. 

Simpson, on the other hand, does not believe that 
it was originally connected with the wheel. He classi- 
fies it as an universal symbol and one of the most im- 
portant of the ancient world — a symbol so ancient and 
so widespread that its first origin has been lost. "That 
the trisula is a development of solar and lunar forms 
as symbols of creative power, would explain its uni- 
versal application." This, he believes is the most ten- 
able explanation of its sacred character — that it grew 
out of a combination of solar and lunar symbols. "These 
two symbols representing the dual creative or re-crea- 
tive power of the universe — the power which continues 
all life both animal and vegetable — their conjunction be- 
came a fit emblem of the divine energy which preserves 
and rules. It expressed the power w^hich produced the 
cosmos out of chaos." * 

According to Plutarch the trisula typified the idea 
of Being — the Eternal and Ever Living as opposed 
to the constant change, the alternate death and resur- 
rection of nature. 

Thus it was a symbol of life not only in its inception 
but in its continuance — it not only symbolised the 
mystery of life but was the emblem of Life Everlast- 
ing. With this interpretation of the trisula in its scep- 
tre form the sceptre ceases to be a meaningless adjunct 
of royalty and becomes instead a high and potent sym- 
bol of creation, power, life. 

In its sceptre form the trisula has been associated 

*"The Trisula Symbol," William Simpson. 

276 ILiit ^pmtiolss 

with the pillar with a globular break in the middle and 
two urseus serpents curving up on either side. This 

symbol is seen frequently in 
the hands of the Babylonian 
f\\ ^17 yC\' D Ishtar. These pillars with the 
y^KJt \/i UU ^ vi '' break were sometimes double 
1. EGYPTIAN uR^us PILLAR. Qoues, but thc meamuff is al- 

2 and 3. cypro-mycen^an o 

COMPARISONS. 4. DUAL UR^ ways the same and typified 

us staff OF ISHTAR. . - , 1. <<T i1 * 1 

Evans, Mycencean Trees and Pillar the dual Cult. lu the primal 

'^""" principle this duality was 

considered androgynous or bi-sexual." The divided 
column or sceptre thus expressed the ancient Semitic 
conception of a bi-sexual god-head. 

"The Babylonian religion shared the trait so com- 
mon in all Semitic cults of the combination of the male 
and female principles in the personification of the pow- 
ers that controlled the fate of man." (Jastrow.) 

In its trisula form it is supposed to have been de- 
rived from the juxtaposition of the solar emblem or 
flame within the crescent and thus also is the equivalent 
of the "old androgynous notion . . . which was simply 
a personification of creative power." 

The Assyrians frequently represented the disk of 
Shamash the sun-god within the crescent, "Sin the 
moon-god of the Assyrians was depicted standing in 
the centre of the crescent. The old legend of the 'man 
in the moon' placed there as a punishment for gather- 
ing sticks on Sunday gains new significance. The 
golden hand of the sun resting in a crescent becomes a 
form closely approximating the trisula." ^ 

The trisula was used as an amulet or charm, and 
like the lotus, fleur de lis and swastika was also used 
as a decorative motif. 

•Simpson's "The Trisula Symbol." 



"The gods might die annually. The goddesses 
alone were immortal" 

"The unnamahle beginning of heaven and earth j 
the namable mother of all things/^ 

"There must be in every centre of humanity one 
human being upon a larger plan, one who does not 'give 
her best' but gives her all." — Chesterton. 

"God made man and man returned the compli- 
ment." — Voltaire. 



CLOSELY interwoven with the dual conception 
of sun and moon, fire and water, light and 
darkness, which were personified by various 
gods, is found "another and more philosophical dual- 
ity representing the male and female principles." 

^^Hierever the sun cult prevailed there were also 
goddesses who represented the Great Mother Earth. 

"The earth bringing forth its infinite vegetation 
was regarded as the female principle rendered fruitful 
by the beneficent rays of the sun. 'Dust thou art and 
unto dust thou shalt return' illustrates the extension of 
this analogy to human life which in ancient myths is 
likewise represented as springing into existence from 
mother earth." ^ 

The Mediterranean races, the neolithic tribes of 
Sumeria, Arabia and Europe whose early religion had 
not yet taken the form of temple worship but was a 
part of their daily life, made worship of the mother 
goddess the predominant part of their religion. 

Worship of the Great Earth Mother was one of the 
most prominent features of the Babylonian religion. 
The Egyptians reverenced and exalted motherhood 
both in religious and social life. Among all the Semit- 

*Jastrow's "Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria." 


28o %iit ^pmbols; 

ic races the Great Goddess — Virgin and Mother, seems 
to have been looked upon as the dispensing agency of 
Hfe, prolific and wasteful or destructive by turns — a 
force accurately reflecting nature "under her two-fold 
aspect of cruel and beneficent." Wherever the Semites 
settled this conception of the Great Mother as the 
symbol of the Earth is found to exist and to enter 
largely into all the sacred rites and rituals of their 

The Aryans and the Germanic tribes were fattier 
worshippers. Indeed, among all the wandering tribes, 
wherever life was rugged and hard, wherever the 
prowess of the male had to be relied upon to obtain the 
food supply, the masculine gods of force and strength 
were exalted, and the foremost deity of the pantheon 
was the Great Father, the Baal, the 'lord of heaven.' 
He was Rammon, 'the Rimmon of the Bible.' a hammer 
god imported by the Semites from the hills. He was 
Indra, Thor, Jupiter, Tarku and other gods of the 
sky. He was a god of rain, thunder, fertility and war 
who finally takes on solar attributes. Yet, when in 
the shift of political power the god fell or was dis- 
placed, 'The Great Mother lived on, being the goddess 
of the land.' 

And when on the other hand the worshippers of 
Father gods appeared as conquerors, having invaded 
the kingdoms of Mother worshipping races and set up 
their gods to be worshipped, they found themselves 
powerless to dispossess the Mother goddesses. "The 
Aryan Hellenes were able to plant their Zeus and 
Poseidon on the high hill of Athens but could not over- 
throw the supremacy of Athena." 

In Egypt the land of ancient mother deities the 
primeval deities appear to have been grouped in four 

Photo. AUnari 

Zeus (Jupiter) 
(Vatican, Rome) 

Jfatljer (gobs; anb Jflotfjer (gobbesisiefl; 281 

pairs symbolising the reciprocal principles of nature. 
This seems to have been the case also in Babylonia The 
female in the first pair was more strongly individual- 
ised than the male. 

The typical Great Mother was a virgin goddess 
self -created and self-sustaining. She represented the 
feminine principle and her fatherless son the masculine 
principle. Her associations varied in different local- 
ities. In one it was the earth, in another the sky and 
again water. She was worshipped as the World 
Mother, the 'giver of all good things,' the 'Preserver' 
and also the 'Destroyer.' It was a cardinal belief 
among the ancients that the Great Mother of the Uni- 
verse was undecaying, eternal. 

While recognising the male, the mother worshippers 
reverenced the Great Mother as First Cause, and 
women held a high social status wherever the goddess 
was worshipped. Whenever also xne political power of 
her worshippers became extensive the attributes of the 
Great Mother grew correspondingly. She became the 
Great Lady. Her power was felt and worshipped in 
all the relations of life. "Not a few of the Pharaohs 
reigned as husbands or sons of royal ladies." Among 
the Hittites also succession to the throne was regulated 
by female descent. 

The most universal and sacred symbol — the sym- 
bol par excellence of the feminine principle is the Arh. 

The arh represented the Holy of holies, the conse- 
crated receptacle of life and was one of the most im- 
portant symbols in the religious rites and ceremonies 
of the ancients. The ark of the Egyptians held the 
symbols of the creative forces of life, the phallus, typi- 
fying the sun, the masculine principle, the active crea- 
tor; the egg, symbol of the preserver, the passive or 

282 life S>pmtJolsi 

feminine principle; and the serpent, symbolising the 
destroyer or the reproducer. This ark, the sanctified 
repository of the divine symbols of life was the most 
sacred of all images connected with the worship of 

"The evidence which connects ships and Mother 
worshippers most closely together is the great reverence 
paid to the sacred ark — the Din or Christa, the recepta- 
cle of the law which was no less sacred to the Zoroas- 
trians than to the Jew. This sacred ark . . . was 
originally among the Sumerians of the Euphrates 
valley the ship of the gods in which they were carried 
in procession." ^ 

The Cista is the mystic chest in which were kept the 
various symbolic images of life used in the mysteries of 
Dionysos and Demeter. 

The word ark is Egyptian, meaning a covered chest 
or box. 

The arks of the Old Testament are Noah's ark in 
which the righteous were saved, the ark in which Moses 
was hidden and the Ark of the Covenant. 

The finding of Moses has been likened to the finding 
of S argon. The bulrushes are identified with the papy- 
rus, used probably by the mother of Moses because the 
plant being sacred to Isis would protect the child from 
crocodiles. Isis was said to have concealed her son 
Horus among the papyrus plants so that he might not 
be found and destroyed by Set. In the legend Isis 
when searching for the scattered portions of her hus- 
band's body "makes use of a boat made of the reed 
papyrus in order the more easily to pass through the 
lower and fenny parts of the country. For which rea- 
son say they, the crocodile never touches any persons 

' Hewitt's "Early History of Northern India." 

jFatljer i^obsf anb ifWotjjer (Sobbesisies; 283 

who sail in this sort of a vessel, as either fearing the 
anger of the goddess, or else respecting it on account 
of its once having carried her." (Plutarch.) 

The Egyptians still believe that the papyrus plant 
is a protection against crocodiles. 

"The ArJx'. of the Covenant was a chest (not a boat) 
made of shittim wood overlaid with gold, on the lid 
of which was placed the golden 'mercy seat' over which 
two cherubim extended their wings." In it were placed 
and preserved the two tables of stone on which was en- 
graved the Covenant between God and His people. 
It contained also by divine command an omer of man- 
na, Aaron's rod which sprang into life and budded, and 
the books of the Law. 

This Jewish ark of the covenant bears a close re- 
semblance to the sacred ark of the Egyptians and as a 
feature in the religious life and worship of the Israel- 
ites its importance and the reverence it inspired can 
hardly be overstated. 

Among all ancient races the ark was a symbol of 
salvation, its preservation implied safety, sanctifying 
the nation who honoured it as the abiding place of divine 
wisdom and power. 

The Great Mother, goddess of nature and fertility 
was worshipped under many names. In Egypt Mut 
was the Universal Mother who represented 'Nature 
the mother of all things.' Neith was the Libyan Great 
Mother and was goddess of the earth. Nut was god- 
dess of the sky. Hathor represented the feminine 
principle in nature and was called 'Hathor of Thebes,' 
'lady of the Sycamore' 'mistress of the gods.' These 
goddesses are depicted holding the crucc ansata in one 
hand and the sceptre in the other. Hathor, as goddess 

284 T^iit ^pmholsi 

of maternity, is given the head of a vulture surmounted 
by the moon crescent or horns, and the solar disk. 
Again she is represented as a cow. Bast another 
Egyptian goddess was given the head of a cat, Nazit 
was a serpent goddess, Hekt a frog. (The frog 
was an Egyptian symbol of fertility and abundance). 

In time all these sacred animals were associated with 
the great Egyptian goddess Isis who absorbed the at- 
tributes of the other goddesses who were looked upon 
as her manifestations. 

Ishtar was the great nature goddess of the Baby- 
lonians. At Comana in Pontus the Great Mother was 
known as the goddess Ma a name which may have been 
as old as the Sumerian Mama (the creatrix) or 
Mamitum (goddess of destiny) . Anaitis was the Great 
Mother of Armenia. Ate of Cilicia, Artemis (Diana) 
of Ephesus, Astarte of the Phoenicians with her great 
sanctuary at Byblus and who is a form of Ishtar and 
identical with the biblical Ashtoreth are all nature 
goddesses. The worship of Aphrodite among the 
Greeks is said to have originated in Cyprus where traces 
of the Astarte cult are found. Atargatis was the Syr- 
ian Astarte of Hierapolis. The Phrygian Cybele, the 
Mother of the Gods, was the great Asiatic goddess of 

In Crete the chief divinity was a great nature god- 
dess generally known as Ariadne. She was a serpent 
goddess and is usually depicted holding snakes at arms 
length or with serpents coiled about her. In Asia 
Minor the Great Mother goddess is associated with a 
lioness. Among the gods and goddesses worshipped 
in the Babylonian temples Layard identifies Rhea and 
Hera as part of a triad whose statues were of beaten 
gold. Rhea seated on a chair of gold had two lions 

Artemis (Diana) of f>HEsus 
(Lateran, Rome) 

Photo. Alinari 

jFatfjer (^obsi anb JHotfier (^obbesisies; 285 

at her side, and near her were large silver serpents. 
Hera stands erect holding a serpent by the head in 
her right hand and a sceptre studded with precious 
stones in her left. "In the rock tablets of Pterium she 
is represented standing erect on a lion and crowned 
with a tower or mural coronet which we learn from 
Lucian was peculiar to the Semitic figure of the god- 
dess. To the Shemites she was known as Astarte, 
Ashtoreth, Myhtta and Alitta." ^ 

Mylitta is the Assyrian Venus. 

Venus in Cyprus was known as 'my lady of Trees 
and Doves.' The Scandanavian Freya like the Egyp- 
tian goddess Bast was associated with the cat, her car 
was drawn by cats. "All feline goddesses represented 
the variable power of the sun." 

Cybele the mother goddess of Phrygia is best known 
as the mother of Attis who is associated with Osiris, 
Mithra, Dionysos, Adonis, Tammuz and other twice 
born gods of vegetation, while Cybele is simply another 
form of Aphrodite, Ishtar and Isis. 

The two distinct kinds of Supreme deities, the 
Great Father and the Great Mother and her son, was 
an early conception developed and adhered to tena- 
ciously by peoples of widely divergent origin and totally 
different habits of life. In Egypt finally, under a 
highly centralised government, these opposing worships 
were merged and ultimately brought about a fusion of 
religious beliefs which in turn developed into a highly 
complex and very fascinating mythology. The Great 
Father then became the husband of the Great Mother, 
or the son-god was worshipped as the 'husband of his 
mother.' Isis was mother, wife and sister to Osiris, 
Ishtar mother and wife to Tammuz, Aphrodite is 

'Layard's "Nineveh." 

286 life ^v^Mi 

mother and wife of Adonis. The Great Mother god- 
dess played all parts. She was mother, daughter and 
wife of a god, sister, wife and servant — friend and 
adviser, 'cruel and beneficent,' 'mighty queen of all 

This complex relationship spread from Egypt to 
other countries. 

Although some legends call Attis the son of Cybele, 
others represent him as a fair young herdsman or 
shepherd whom the goddess loved, and condemned to 
a life of celibacy. Attis was a tree spirit as well as a 
god of vegetation and after his death he was said to 
have been changed into a pine tree. 

The great seat of worship of Aphrodite and Adonis 
was Paphos. "The sanctuary of Aphrodite at Old 
Paphos (the modern Kuklia) was one of the most 
celebrated shrines in the ancient world." 

The image of Aphrodite was a white cone or pyra- 

"A cone was also the emblem of Astarte at 
Byblus, of the native goddess whom the Greeks called 
Artemis at Perga in Pamphylia, and of the sun-god 
Heliogabalus at Emasa in Syria. Conical stones which 
apparently served as idols have been found at Golgi in 
Cyprus and in the Phoenician Temples at Malta; and 
cones of sandstone came to light at the shrine of the 
'Mistress of the Turquoise' among the barren hills and 
frowning precipices of Sinai." ^ 

Some of the 'specialised Mother goddesses' whose 
attributes corresponded to the thought and moral as 
well as political development of the states they repre- 
sented, were brought into Egypt — the land where 
mother deities had been reverenced from most ancient 

*Frazer's "The Golden Bough." 

jFatfter (Sobs; anb ifWotf)cr (DobbesfsJesi 287 

times — during the Empire period by the Rameses 

Of these imported goddesses Astarte the goddess 
of love was the most popular. Astarte is the 'goddess 
of evil repute' whom the Bible refers to as Ashtoreth. 
Kadesh another form of Astarte was called 'mistress 
of all the gods' and represented the "hcentious phase 
of Ashtoreth." The Egyptians depicted her as a moon 
goddess standing naked on the back of a lioness. She 
holds lotus flowers and what appears to be a mirror in 
one hand and in the other two serpents. Astarte is 
sometimes given the head of a lioness. 

The Oriental cults were gradually adopted by 
Rome. Cybele and Attis, who had become a solar god 
as well as a god of vegetation, were transported from 
Phrygia, Isis and Scrapis from Alexandria and Mithra 
from Persia. 

The worship of Cybele the Great Mother goddess 
of the Phrygians was adopted by the Romans in 204 
B.C. when the small black stone in which the great god- 
dess of fertility was embodied was brought to Rome, as 
their long struggle with Hannibal was approaching its 
end. The prophecy revealed in the Sybilline books 
that the presence of the goddess would drive out the 
invader was fulfilled the following year. Harvests, 
too, were abundant. "A further step was taken by Em- 
peror Claudius when he incorporated the Phrygian wor- 
ship of the sacred tree and with it probably the orgiastic 
rites of Attis in the established religion of Rome." ^ 

The great spring festival of Cybele and her youth- 
ful son or lover was now celebrated at Rome. 

The Great Mother goddess who personified all the 
reproductive powers of nature was thus worshipped 

Trazer's "The Golden Bough." 

288 life ^pmbolss 

under various names but the myth and ritual were prac- 
tically the same. Associated with the goddess was a 
lover, or perhaps a succession of 'lovers divine yet mor- 
tal' with whom she mated year after year, "thereby en- 
suring the fruitfulness of the ground and the increase 
of man and beast." 

The worship of Cybele, the Asiatic goddess of fer- 
tility and her lover or son, was very popular under the 
Roman Empire, surviving the establishment of Chris- 
tianity by Constantine. "In the days of Augustine 
her effeminate priests still paraded the streets and 
squares of Carthage with whitened faces, scented hair 
and mincing gait, while like the mendicant friars of the 
Middle Ages they begged alms from the passers by. 
. . . The religion of the Great Mother, with its curi- 
ous blending of crude savagery with spiritual aspira- 
tions ... by saturating the European peoples with 
alien ideals of life gradually undermined the whole 
fabric of ancient civilisation." ^ 

It seems nearer true, however, to say that it was 
not the worship of the Great Mother but the prostitu- 
tion of this worship that contributed largely to the fall 
of ancient civilisations. 

It is significant that worship of the Great Mother 
goddesses was more prominent among highly civilised 
races who had established themselves in luxurious sur- 
roundings in large communities and cities, while the 
Father gods were worshipped in the solitude of the 
mountains or the lonely deserts by wandering nomads. 
As civilisations became more advanced the worship of 
the father gods receded until the masculine principle 
was nearly lost sight of as an object of worship. Again 
and again the male has had to be rescued from extinc- 

• Frazer's "The Golden Bough." 

Photo. AUnayi 

Head of Cybele 
(Museo Xazionale delle Terme, Rome) 

jFatljEr (§oH anb JWotfjer (^obbesisies; 289 

tion — rescued from himself. It is the male apparently 
who forgets the purpose of life and prostrates himself 
to the goddess, who is no longer the Great Mother but 
the goddess of love. Slie has become Venus, Aphrodite, 
Astarte — the Ashtoreth of the Bible the 'mistress of 
all the gods' and ceremonies associated with the worship 
of the great goddesses of nature and love are as elabo- 
rate as they are indecent. In this periodic evolution 
of nations, when the shift goes to cities, Mother Earth 
is no longer reverenced, children are denied and religion 
itself dies out. The cult of the feminine principle 
flourishes, however, and love is exalted. Life is refined, 
beautiful, made a matter of exquisite sensation, but 
productivity is no longer the ultimate meaning of love, 
and grossest licentiousness prevails. 

Seemingly it is the force of inertia that brings 
about the sway of the feminine principle per se — and 
as such dissociated from the principle of growth. 

Always pre-eminent, a force to be reckoned with, 
the history of ancient civilisations shows this constant 
oscillation between the Supreme Mother goddess cult 
and the Father cult — the swing from the brute to effem- 
inacy. In this age-long struggle to adjust the problem 
of sex, one is struck by the marvellous insight of the 
ancients. Was it gained empirically — by experience, 
or was it revealed ? 

"The earlier generations saw God face to face; we 
through their eyes." (Emerson.) 

The oldest records show that the malign influence 
of these forces when used against each other, or when 
either was allowed to have supreme power seems to 
have been clearly understood, and that it was the con- 
stant effort of the ancients, in all soundly conceived and 
healthy civilisations, to harness these two absolutely 

290 life Spmbolsi 

antagonistic principles and make them travel together. 
Their whole symbolism reflects this. 

The recognised principle of balance, the modern 
idea of fifty-fifty may well have been the underlying 
reason for their androgynous gods. 

In India also, there was the same swing. There 
was the Universal Mother Ida. Then Idah the rains, 
the plural of Ida, which apparently means the two Idas 
who as "male and female were the ancestors of Nahusha 
the great serpent father of the royal families of the 
snake race." In time the feminine principle was over- 
shadowed by the masculine and the male god Pushan 
reigned supreme. Various systems of religious belief 
followed. The Aryans gave exclusive worship to Agni 
god of fire, the masculine principle. Ushas the virgin 
goddess of the dawn was the only feminine divinity un- 
til Krishna exalted the feminine principle which again 
came into power, as civilisation in India grew more re- 
fined and as a consequence less virile. The Idah, repre- 
senting the masculine and feminine principles were still 
worshipped, however, as Ardhanari the combined figure 
of Siva and Parvati. 

In both China and Japan the masculine principle 
is regarded as of first importance since no woman, un- 
less she gains masculinity through repeated incarna- 
tions, can be received in Sukhavati the Western Para- 
dise presided over by Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite 

Ho-Hsien-Ku, who was the only woman among the 
eight immortals of the Taoist faith to gain immor- 
tahty, achieved the masculine principle as well as the 

The Buddhist or Taoist conception of immortality 
is the ultimate union of the two dualistic forces into 

Jfatfjer ^oH anb JWotfjer <©otibes(siEfi( 291 

one — thus representing completion instead of negation 
or annihilation. 

The fundamental principle of the Yoga system 
is the union of the individual with the universal spirit. 
The whole system being built upon the union of Spirit- 
ual and Material — the "Oneness of the Two Parts." 

In spite of their philosophy which recognised that 
displacement, continual displacement rather than ul- 
timate balance and union is the law of the universe, and 
that Life is not a mould but a living, changing thing, 
the Chinese yielded to the hunger for union in their god- 
dess Kwanyin — identical with the Japanese Kwannon 
— who was worshipped as both masculine and femin- 
ine. She was the feminine form of the god of mercy 
Avalokitesvara and was worshipped not as the consort 
but as the feminine manifestation of the god. Al- 
though worshipped as masculine by the priests and the 
educated classes, the feminine form was more generally 
favoured both in Japan and China. She was wor- 
shipped by some as sex-less and by others as bi-sexual. 
To the common people Kwanyin was the goddess of 
infinite mercy and compassion — the goddess of many 
arms. "She of a thousand arms." Kwanyin is de- 
picted in Buddhist art sometimes seated upon a lotus 
and again with many arms. To those who look beneath 
the surface, it is not the grotesque image but the 
thought behind the image that brings assuagement, 
"She of a thousand arms!" 

Traces of this androgynous notion of the deity are 
found in Egypt, India and Greece as well as scattered 
over many other parts of the ancient world. The an- 
drogynous form was simply a way of personifying 
creative power, which in the primal principle was be- 
lieved to be androgynous or bi-sexual. Hermaphrodite 

292 life ^pmbols; 

represented the union of Hermes and Aphrodite. The 
Syrian goddess Atargatis is beheved by some to have 
been bi-sexual, Dionysos was given a two-fold nature. 

Each male deity had a female sakti or energy sym- 
bolising the reciprocal principles of nature who, if 
painted takes his colour but of a paler shade. The 
symbols representing the union of the two elements 
took various forms in the East. As we have seen 
one of the most wide spread symbols was the flame 
rising from the lotus or the crescent moon. A flame 
was also depicted issuing from the Kalasa — the vase 
which was supposed to contain the Waters of I^ife. 
This is precisely the same symbolism — the union of fire 
and water. In China it is sometimes typified by a 
willow in the Kalasa and in Japan by the vajra or thun- 
derbolt; in Tibet the As'oka branch was placed in the 
sacred vase. The Asoka was called the Tree of Con- 
solation and Buddha was born between the Asoka and 
the Bod-hi tree. The feminine Kwanyin is frequently 
depicted holding the Kalasa or with it at her side. A 
willow branch with which she sprinkles the waters of 
Life is either in the vase or she holds it in her hand. 
The masculine form of Kwanyin often has the lotus 
bud in the Kalasa. 

Both in China and Japan the most important sym- 
bol typifying this mystic union is the great monad or 
circle divided by a wavy line. 

There is no doubt that in the earlier periods these 
symbols of the reciprocal powers of nature or Life, that 
in a later and more profligate age became gross, were 
in their inception frank, simple, true. 

On the other hand, it is possible that the 'bearded 
Aphrodite' which has shocked posterity, may have been 
a despairing effort against decadence, a desire to bring 





^ ll 

Photo. Alinari 

The Youthful Bacchus 
(Museo Xazionale, Naples) 

Jfatfjer <©obsi anb iHotfjer (gobbesis^esi 293 

home in a visible, objective way to those too brutahsed 
or indifferent to grasp it, the subtler meaning conveyed 
by the sceptre, the twin pillars, the ankli cross, the 'jewel 
in the lotus' and all the other religious emblems of life. 

There are those who believe that the present age is 
verging toward, if it has not arrived at one of those 
periodic intervals when sex is worshipped and Life for- 
gotten. The tools of expression have changed. Where 
the decadent Romans amused themselves with phallic 
images, the modern writes phallic novels. 

But does the modern phallicist amuse? He shows 
sex obsession, but is it worship? Someway the interest 
seems too academic, too studied to be real. One can't 
help suspecting that the motive back of this pre-occu- 
pation with sex is not so much worship as it is a scien- 
tific curiosity that wishes to tabulate sex, explain it, 
label it, broadcast it. 

Given the proper perspective sex is a supremely 
interesting thing. It is one of the most elemental facts 
of life, however, that to be alluring at all it needs the 
quality of the elusive, the vanishing, the escaping, the 
mysterious — and the modern with his tiny microscope, 
who would know all, say all has forgotten this. 

Sex resists to the death the microscopic investiga- 
tor. To those who would profanely penetrate its 
mysteries, it transforms itself like the dragon into some- 
thing hideous. It defies the literal ones, those who 
would approach it scientifically, as much as religion 

Life, which is all paradox, insists upon the equi- 
voque, the double entendre. 

Even in the illustration of the great nature goddess 
Atargatis, the Syrian Astarte of Hierapolis, whose 

294 Tiift ^pmbolsf 

statue goes back thousands upon thousands of years, 
one finds expressed to perfection precisely what the 
modern lacks. 

You look at it! The goddess may be encircled by 
the serpent of life, productivity. She is a nature god- 
dess and all nature goddesses had the serpent. Or 
again it may be the serpent of sexual passion, sensu- 
ality. It must be admitted that the expression suggests 
the latter. The statue erect, shameless, brazen seems 
to mock at modern lasciviousness — and alas! the repu- 
tation of the goddess is all against her — but who 
knows? Who can say positively what the complicated 
serpent says and unsays as he winds and glides through 

Nature, you may say what you will, is never bald. 
There may come rents and fissures, but she covers 
them, if only with gaudy weeds as soon as she decently 

The realist, in his eagerness to strip life bare to 
the bone, strips off also the serpent of life and all that 
the serpent implies. His morbid curiosity leaves us 
cold. And here, perhaps, instead of being dangerous 
the modern phallicist is after all an instrument of 
grace, the very one who is going to save our civilisation 
for us. Back of every myth lurks unsuspected the- 
ology. Concealed in the modern phallicist is the un- 
suspected and unsuspecting moralist. 

The truth is, he is making phallicism a bore. 

Photo. Alinart 

(Museo delle Terme, Romej 



"Over and over again as Being and Becoming, as 
Eternity and Time, as Transcendence and Immanence, 
Reality and Appearance, the One and the Many — these 
two dominant ideas, demands, imperious instincts of 
man's self will re-appear, the warp and woof of his 
completed universe" Evelyn Underbill. 

''God according to the Person is Eternal Works but 
according to the Essence and Its perpetual stillness He 
is Eternal Rest/' — Ruysbroeck. 



FROM the remotest periods of history Ishtar the 
great nature goddess of the Babylonians, 
stands out pre-eminent, supreme. Whatever 
god headed the pantheon the Babylonians never failed 
to include the 'powerful and potent Ishtar,' who, when 
associated with Shamash or Marduk partakes of their 
attributes, precisely as when with the solar god of the 
Assyrians, Ashur — who is war-like, a god of battle, 
Ishtar is also goddess of war. Under the astrological 
system of the Chaldeans Ishtar is associated with the 
planet Venus and thus becomes 'Queen of Heaven.' 

"Appearing under manifold designations she is the 
goddess associated with mother earth, the great mother 
goddess who gave birth to everything that has life ani- 
mate and inanimate. The conception of such a power 
clearly rests on the analogy suggested by the process 
of procreation which may be briefly defined as the com- 
mingling of the male and female principles. . . . Ishtar 
is the goddess of human instinct or passion which ac- 
companies human love. She is the mother of man- 
kind — but also she who awakens passion." ^ 

Thus Ishtar was worshipped as the great mother 

^ "Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria," Jastrow. 


298 Hife ^pmbofe 

goddess of fertility, as the goddess of war and the god- 
dess who awakens love. 

She was accused by Gilgamesh of abandoning her 
lovers — was said to desert them like "Ija Belle Dame 
sans Mcrci" but nature is as pitiless as it is sometimes 
kind. It is Ishtar who destroys the youthful Tammuz 
who dies with the dying vegetation. It is Ishtar, too, 
who descends into the nether regions of death and decay 
searching for her lover Tammuz. 

The myth has lent itself to various interpretations 
that are full of charm and poetic imagery. In its orig- 
inal form it is simply another variant of the solar epic, 
Tammuz personifying the sun as well as vegetation, 
and Ishtar mother earth. Their representation as 
lovers or as husband and wife was the customary way 
of expressing the idea of life, and these two, Ishtar and 
Tammuz, stand out for all time as closely related figures 
symbolising vegetation, or the combination of the two 
forces whose conjunction brings about life and whose 
separation death. 

The first act of Tammuz is to slay the demons of 
frost and cold. The festival of Tammuz was celebrated 
just before the summer solstice. His death was an- 
nually mourned. Dirges were chanted over an effigy 
of the dead god which "was washed with pure water, 
anointed with oil and clad in a red robe, while the fumes 
of incense rose into the air as if to stir his dormant 
senses by their pungent fragrance and wake him from 
the sleep of death."^ 

In the early days when agriculture was intimately 
associated with religion, the whole process became a 
dramatic pageant which was entered into emotionally, 
with joy and reverence as well as with fear and awe. 

''Frazer's "The Golden Bough," 

legenb of SsiJjtar anb ^Tammu^ 299 

There were weeping ceremonies as well as rejoicings. 
The gods of vegetation were 'weeping deities who shed 
fertilising tears.' When the seed was cast into the 
ground 'to die,' it was done ceremoniously the sowers 
enacting the role of mourners. 

The angel of the Hebrew God brought Eze- 
kiel to the "door of the gate of the Lord's house 
which was toward the north; and behold, there sat 
women weeping for Tammuz." He is shown fur- 
ther and "greater abominations." Ezekiel is brought 
into the inner court of the Lord's house and 
behold, men "with their backs toward the temple of the 
Lord and their faces toward the east; and they wor- 
shipped the sun toward the east." (Ez. 8: 14-16.) 

Tammuz was called Adon, the Semitic word for 
'lord' by the Semitic peoples of Babylonia and Assyria. 
The myth passed over to the Phoenicians and then was 
adopted by the Greeks who are thought to have derived 
their name Adonis from the title given to Tammuz by 
the Babylonians. Jastrow finds that the story of Adonis 
and Aphrodite may easily be traced back to Tammuz 
and Ishtar and that the weeping for the lost sun-god 
and the rejoicing when nature awakens to new life are 
again embodied in the story of the crucifixion and the 
resurrection of Christ. "The Son of God is slain to 
re-appear as the risen Lord just as in the Phrygian 
story of Attis and Cybele and in the Egyptian tale 
of Osiris and I sis we have another form of the same 
myth symbolising the change of seasons." ^ 

In one of the more dramatic forms of the myth 
Tammuz is beloved by two goddesses Ishtar, the Queen 
of Heaven and Erishkigal, the queen of the Nether 
world. As the summer season wanes and the dearly 

' Jastrow's "Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria." 

300 %itt S>j>mbol2i 

loved Tammuz, god of vegetation and solar radiation 
dies, Ishtar descends to the nether regions of death and 
decay searching for him. The gradual passing of sum- 
mer into winter is symbolised by the ornaments and 
articles of clothing that Ishtar is obliged to give to those 
who guard the seven gates that lead to the presence of 
the grim and wrathful goddess Erishkigal. At the first 
gate she is forced to yield up her crown, at the second 
her earrings, at the third her necklace of precious stones, 
at the fourth the ornaments from her breast, at the fifth 
her waist girdle studded with gems, at the sixth gate 
the bracelets are wrenched from her arms and ankles, 
and at the seventh her robes are stripped from her 
body, and Ishtar is brought naked before the Queen 
of Hades. By this time nature is bare, vegetation has 
disappeared, the god of winter is in full possession of 
the earth. Ishtar is still proud, and arrogantly demands 
the release of Tammuz. Whereupon Erishkigal, her 
sister and rival orders the plague demon to strike her 
with disease in all her body. The effect is disastrous 
upon earth. Ishtar is kept a prisoner by her jealous 
sister and all life and fertility cease on earth. The gods 
mourn. Shamash the great sun-god laments. Finally 
Ea creates a mysterious being Asushu-namir — clearly 
a counterpart of Tammuz the solar god of spring — 
and sends him to the nether abode of Erishkigal to re- 
claim Ishtar, who is first sprinkled with the water of 
Life. As she passes out through the seven gates each 
jewel and ornament and article of clothing is returned 
to her, and Ishtar comes forth with the spring from 
the nether world of disease and death, in all her old 
time beauty and splendour. 

In the Greek version Adonis the beloved of Aphro- 
dite is hidden as an infant by the goddess in a chest 

Hesenb of Ssifitar anb STammu^ 301 

which falls into the possession of Proserpine, queen of 
the nether world, who refuses to give him back to 
Aphrodite. Zeus finally settles the dispute between 
the two goddesses of love and death by permitting him 
to spend six months with each. Other versions say 
that Adonis was killed in hunting by a wild boar, or 
by the jealous Ares who assumed the likeness of a boar 
in order to slay his rival, and that Proserpine restored 
him to life on the condition that he spend six months 
of the year with her. This decree that Adonis shall 
spend part of the year under ground and a part above 
ground is simply a variant of the annual disappear- 
ance and re-appearance of Tammuz. 

As time goes on Tammuz becomes a shadowy, elusive 
figure, beloved for his youth and beauty but no longer 
dominant, and is gradually superseded by Ishtar in 
the official ritual of the temple. 

The powerful goddess of nature lives on. Seven 
centuries after the religion of Assyria and Babylonia 
had passed out leaving hardly a trace, and when faith 
in the Greek and Roman gods had also lessened, the 
Romans brought Cybele, the mother goddess of 
Phrygia to Rome and built a temple in her honour. 
"It was Ishtar of Babylonia transformed to meet 
changed conditions. The same great feminine principle 
of nature in its various manifestations of mother earth, 
the source of all fertility, at once 'the loving mother of 
mankind and of the gods.' " 



''Tout ce que les Grecs out dit de Jupiter et de 
Junon est place en Egypte sous la respousabilite d'lsis 
et Osiris. . . . Osiris est auteur de toute civilisation 
dans son pays; Isis invente Vagriculture. Osiris est 
considere . . . comme le soleil dont les vicissitudes 
periodiques et annuelles sont exprimecs par les phases 
de son histoire legendaire; Isis est done la lune dont les 
rapports avec lui sont si f rap pants et si connus. Uun 
est la chaleur, Vautre est Vhumidite. . . . Tous deux 
ont leur functions a part mais concomitant es dans la 
creation et la conservation des etres. Cette creation 
est designe par Voeuf auquel les deux epoux avaient 
eu une egale part, qu Isis fendit de ses comes de vache 
et duquel sortit Vunivers." — Auber, 

Isis veiled: "I am all that has been, all that is, and 
all that will be and no mortal has drawn aside my veil." 




WHILE the other gods of Egypt were wor- 
shipped each in his own locahty Osiris and 
Isis were adored in all. 

It has been said that one may speak of the religious 
ideas of the Egyptians, but not of an Egyptian reli- 
gion. Highly complex and divergent as were these 
ideas, they seem gradually to have centred, and found 
their fullest and most enduring expression in the 
mystical cult of Isis and Osiris. 

Osiris and Isis became the mightiest of the Egyptian 
gods and were also joint creators of the world. 

Osiris represented the river Nile — everything that 
was moist and generative in nature. He was a god of 
life like the Greek god Dionysos. He was a solar god, 
a moon-god, the god of agriculture; he was the earth 
spirit, the "Apis bull of Memphis, the ram of Mendes, 
the reigning Pharaoh," fused with Ra the sun-god he 
died each day as an old man, appearing in heaven at 
night as the constellation Orion which was his ghost. 

Osiris is "he that bringeth three to the mountains." 

From the death and resurrection of Osiris the 
Egyptians drew all their hope of eternal life. Of the 
dead they said "Thou hast not gone dying thou hast 
gone living to Osiris." Every one who shared the fate 
of Osiris might also return to life. "As Osiris lives, 


3o6 TLiit S>pmlia(s! 

so shall he also live; as Osiris died not, so shall he 
also not die; as Osiris perished not so shall he also not 

We are told that the Egyptians held a festival 
of Isis at the time when the Nile began to rise. They 
believed that the goddess was then mourning for the 
lost Osiris, and that the tears which dropped from her 
eyes swelled the impetuous tide of the river. 

The symbols of Osiris are the eye and the sceptre 
typifying providence and power. He has the head of 
a hawk or a man and holds the crucV ansata the symbol 
of life in his hand. As god of the dead he wears 
the atef crown with plumes and holds in his hands the 
crook, sceptre and flail, symbols of rule, sovereignty 
and dominion. Osiris is usually represented, however, 
as a mummy holding in his hands the crook, the sceptre, 
the flail and the crux ansata. 

In a series of bas-reliefs the dead god is first de- 
picted lying swathed as a mummy ; in each scene he has 
raised himself higher and higher until in the final rep- 
resentation he has left the bier and is seen erect with 
the devoted Isis a little behind him, while a male figure 
holds up before his eyes the cruoj ansata the symbol of 
life. The resurrection of the god is even more graphic- 
ally portrayed in another representation where the dead 
god is shown with stalks of corn springing from his 
body which a priest is watering from a pitcher that 
he holds in his hand. Here Osiris is the corn god who 
produced corn from himself. 'He gave his own body, 
to feed the people : he died that they might live.' The 
inscription reads 'This is the form of him whom one 
may not name, Osiris of the mysteries, who springs 
from the returning waters.' 

Osiris has been called the son of Isis. Originally 

Osiris, Isis and Horus 
(Louvre, Paris) 

Pholo. Alinari 

Itegenb of Mia anb 0&ivisi 307 

Isis was a Virgin Mother and Horus her fatherless son. 
She is a nature goddess, the Great Mother, the daughter 
of Nut the sky. Isis and Osiris are twin brother and 
sister. Her marriage with Osiris and his adoption of 
Horus is a later adaptation. Set the principle of evil 
is also her brother as well as the brother of Osiris. Set 
marries Nephthys his sister and sister of Osiris and 

Isis absorbs the attributes and functions of the other 
goddesses, of Nut the sky and water goddess, of Neith 
the earth-goddess who typified growth. She is the moon 
goddess, she is all things. She is given the lotus and 
the horns of the crescent moon and sometimes the solar 
disk encircled by the urseus snake. All the sacred 
animals are associated with Isis. 

In the age of Osiris and Isis "laws stern and inex- 
orable as nature disciplined the people and promoted 
their welfare," 

Isis as a mythical figure differs essentially from the 
powerful Ishtar, the capricious goddess who abandons 
her lovers, makes war on earth, descends into Hell and 
queens it in the skies. She differs, too, from Venus the 
queen of beauty who scatters love, beloved by all. Nor 
was she ever associated with Astarte in any of her 
degenerate manifestations or representations under dif- 
ferent names. Isis has been likened to Ceres, but except 
as a goddess of nature there the relationship ends. Isis 
stands above, apart. It has been said that but for her 
presence in Egypt the world would never have known 
a madonna. Her cult obtained a great hold upon the 
Romans, and its influence upon the later religion of 
Christianity was profound. "Spiritualised by ages of 
religious evolution" the goddess becomes the refined 
and exquisite type for all the ages of the "true 

3o8 TLiit ^|)mbol£( 

wife, the tender mother, the beneficent queen of nature, 
encircled by the nimbus of moral purity, of immemorial 
and mysterious sanctity." 

"In that welter of religions which accompanied the 
decline of national life in antiquity her worship was one 
of the most popular at Rome and throughout the em- 
pire. ... In a period of decadence when the fabric of 
empire itself, once deemed eternal, began to show omi- 
nous rents and fissures the serene figure of I sis with her 
spiritual calm, her gracious promise of immortalitj'- 
appeared to many like a star in a stormy sky . . . and 
roused in their breasts a rapture of devotion not unlike 
that paid in the Middle Ages to the Virgin Mary. . . . 
Her stately ritual with its shaven and tonsured priests, 
its matins and vespers, its tinkling music, its baptism 
and aspersions of holy water, its solemn procession, 
its jewelled images of the Mother of God presented 
many points of similarity to the pomps and ceremonies 
of Catholicism." ^ 

We are indebted to Plutarch for the only connected 
account of the story of Isis and Osiris. The legend 
which follows is given as he relates it only in abbreviated 

At the time of the murder of Osiris by his brother 
Set (whom the Greeks called Typhon), Osiris had be- 
come king of Egypt and by his wise rule had brought 
Egypt to an idyllic state. His people had so greatly 
benefitted by his discipline and care for their welfare, 
by his instructions in the arts of husbandry and his laws 
to regulate conduct and induce reverence and worship 
of the gods, that his brother Set (or the principle of 
evil) saw that his power over the minds of men was 

»Frazer's "The Golden Bough." 

legenb of Mia anb ©siiris; 309 

gone, that these happy, trustful people could no longer 
be reached by evil unless Osiris himself could be en- 
trapped and overthrown. 

Thereupon Set with seventy-two others concocted 
a plot to rid the world of Osiris. Having stealth- 
ily taken the measurements of Osiris's body. Set 
caused a most beautiful chest to be constructed of the 
same size, and which was set off with all manner of 
ornaments to attract and please the eye. This chest 
was brought into his banquetting room, and at a great 
feast given to Osiris where all the conspirators were 
assembled, after the chest had been much admired. Set 
promised jestingly to give it to the one whom it should 
fit. Amid much merriment various ones tried it but 
found it too short or too long. At length Osiris was 
persuaded to lay himself down in it, whereupon the 
conspirators instantly clapped down the lid, fastened 
it with nails, sealed it with melted lead and carrying it 
to the river side they sent it out to sea "by way of 
the Tanaitic mouth of the Nile, which, for this reason 
is still held in the utmost abomination by the Egyptians 
and never named by them but with proper marks of 
detestation." Accounting the sea abominable the 
Egyptians prohibited the use of salt (or Typhon's 
foam) at table. They would also make the picture of 
a fish to denote hatred. 

The death of Osiris was "thus executed upon the 
17th day of the month Athor, when the sun was in 
Scorpio in the 28th year of Osiris's reign ; though there 
are others who tell us that he was no more than twenty- 
eight years old at this time." 

The rest of the legend relates to the search made 
by the disconsolate Isis for her husband's body. 

Isis wanders everywhere all over the country mourn- 

310 Hife ^pmbols; 

ing and seeking for Osiris. Seven scorpions accompany 
her in her flight through the papyrus swamps of 
the Delta. A child is stung to death by one of the 
scorpions. Her heart, touched by the mother's grief, 
Isis "laid her hands on the child and uttered her power- 
ful spells ; so the poison was driven out of the child and 
he lived." 

After a wearisome time Isis receives definite news 
of the chest. She learns that it had been carried by 
the waves of the sea to Byblus on the coast of Syria 
and "there gently lodged in the branches of a bush of 
Tamarisk, which in a short time had shot up into a 
large and beautiful tree, growing round the chest and 
enclosing it on every side so that it was not to be seen ; 
and further, that the king of the country, amazed at 
its unusual size, had cut the tree down, and made that 
part of the trunk wherein the chest was concealed a 
pillar to support the roof of his house. These things, 
say they, being made known to Isis in an extraordinary 
manner by the report of demons." 

Isis goes immediately to Byblus, where in humble 
attire she sits down by a fountain and refuses to speak 
to any one except the queen's women who chanced to 
be there. "These she saluted and caressed . . . plait- 
ing their hair for them and transmitting into them part 
of that wonderfully grateful odour which issued from 
her own body." 

Hearing of her from her hand maidens and at- 
tracted by the divine perfume which still clung about 
them, the queen sent for Isis and made her nurse to one 
of her sons. 

At last disclosing herself, the goddess requests that 
the pillar be given to her which was accordingly done 
"and then easily cutting it open, after she had taken 

Hegcnb of Ssiis^ anb ©sKris; 3" 

out what she wanted, she wrapped up the remainder 
of the trunk in fine linen and pourint^ perfumed oil 
upon it, delivered it into the hands of the kin^ and 
queen . . . then she threw herself upon the chest, mak- 
ing at the same time such a loud and terrible lamenta- 
tion over it as frightened the younger of the king's sons 
who heard her out of his life." 

I sis sets sail with the chest for Egypt. 

"No sooner was she arrived in a desert place where 
she imagined herself to be alone, but she presently 
opened the chest and laying her face upon her dead 
husband's embraced his corpse and wept bitterly." 

Isis leaves the chest in a lonely, unfrequented spot 
and goes to her son Horus who was being nurtured by 
Leto in the marshes about Buto. Here Set, who was 
hunting by the light of the moon accidentally finds it. 
Breaking open the chest he cuts the body of Osiris into 
fourteen pieces and scatters these over the length and 
breadth of the land. 

Once more Isis sets out searching sorrowfully every- 
where for the scattered fragments of her husband's 
body, and using a boat made of the reed papyrus "in 
order the more easily to pass through the lower and 
fenny parts of the country." The legend relates that 
Isis found all the pieces of Osiris's body — save one. 

Isis buried each part of Osiris wherever she found 
it, erecting a temple over each to the memory of her 
husband, which accounts for the number of tombs of 
Osiris in Egypt. Others say, however, that Isis fash- 
ioned images of Osiris which she buried in different 
cities and localities instead of the real body, doing this, 
not only that the homage paid to his memory might be 
more extended, but also that she might hope thereby to 
elude the malignant Set who finding so many sepulchres 

312 %ift ^pmtiol2( 

would be confused and distracted from any further 
attempt to find the true one. 

After being thus entrapped, murdered and dis- 
membered by Set and partially restored by Isis, Osiris 
becomes King of the Nether World where he judges 
men according to their deeds. "Whatsoever a man 
soweth that shall he also reap." 

Horus is now the reigning king. Desiring to take 
vengeance upon Set for the injuries done to Osiris and 
Isis, Horus engages Set in battle. The battle lasts 
for days. In the end Horus is victorious, right and 
justice triumph over evil, and having made Set prisoner, 
Horus gives him over into the custody of his mother 

Isis, instead of putting Set to death, loosens his 
chains, and lets him go. 

"And the majesty of Horus was enraged against 
his mother Isis like a panther of the south, and she fled 
before him. On that day a terrible struggle took place, 
and Horus cut off the head of Isis; and Thoth trans- 
formed this head by his incantations and put it on her 
again in the form of a head of a cow." 

This briefly is the famous legend which has had so 
many mystical interpretations and led to so many philo- 
sophical deductions. 

According to Plutarch "Isis is the power in matter 
which becomes everything and receives everything, as 
light and darkness, fire and water, day and night, life 
and death, beginning and end, so given all colours, 
many hues. Osiris is without shade, untempered, un- 
mixed, the first principle or light." ^ 

He considers that "Osiris and Isis typify all that is 
orderly and good. Typhon (Set) typifies excess, in- 

' Plutarch's "Isis and Osiris," trans, by Goodwin. 

Hegenb of Ssiifli anb ®&ivi9i 313 

temperance, disorder. In the legend Typhon is sub- 
dued but not destroyed, for the 'principle opposite to 
moist must not be entirely destroyed.' Although Osiris 
is 'lord of all the best instincts' it is impossible to do 
away utterly with evil — but the better is stronger. 
Typhon is that part of the soul that is unreasonable, 
passionate, uncontrolled; in the material world that 
which is perishable, diseased, violent — such as bad crops, 
drought, earthquakes, floods. Typhon invariably stands 
in the way of right development and the course of 
things. Osiris represents the true doctrine which Ty- 
phon scattered and Isis gathered again inviting her 
followers to join with her in the search. Osiris is the 
god of knowledge and Typhon the god of ignorance. 
Osiris is the soul, intellect, reason, Typhon is every- 
thing that is brutish in man or nature. 

"Typhon's sjTnbols are the ass, the stupidest of all 
domestic animals, and the crocodile and hippopotamus, 
the most brutal of wild beasts. In a statue at Hermop- 
olis Typhon is represented as a hippopotamus upon 
which has alighted a hawk — which signifies power and 
rule — contending with a snake. Typhon often comes 
into possession of this power through violence and does 
not cease troubling himself and others. 

"Now Isis is the female in nature and receives all 
generation and is therefore called by Plato the nurse 
and all receiver, but by the common people the many 
sided, the goddess with the thousand names — because 
under the influence of reason she receives all forms. 
And she has an inborn affection for the first principle 
of all things — which is the same as good — and she longs 
for it and pursues it. On the other hand, she flees the 
evil principle and thrusts it away, although she is space 
and matter for both. However, she always inclines to 

314 lite ^pmboIsJ 

the better and freely offers herself to it for the Tecep- 
tion of its effluxes, and for the reproduction of its like- 
nesses in which she rejoices. For generation is an image 
of true being presented in matter and that which is 
born is always an imitation of that which exists. 

"Therefore they do not improperly recount in the 
myth that the soul of Osiris is imperishable, but that 
Typhon often tears asunder and hides his body, while 
Isis wanders about until she has found it and fitted to- 
gether the parts. "^ 

The myth emphasises in Isis the receptive, the like- 
ness to Mother Earth which receives good seed and bad, 
is incapable of discrimination, of eliminating, of dis- 
carding — and although preferring the good, must de- 
pend upon the intelligence and responsibility of the 
sower to obtain it. 

The vitality of the story — its continued fascination 
for us probably lies in the fact that it is so soundly and 
universally conceived that it covers every phase of life. 
It is far more than the old contest between good and evil, 
light and darkness. It is primarily the story of man 
and woman. Isis, the leading figure is the eternal fem- 
inine who lacks the creative impulse yet completes crea- 
tion, — who is negation, growth, multiplicity, inertia, 
form. If man makes Life for her, she in return makes 
him — but only so much as he is capable of being. She 
re-acts — ^one must never forget that, nor that matter 
is tool in the hands of the master builder. 

The history of all womankind centres in her. To 

'The above translation of Plutarch's Isis and Osiris is taken from 
a volume of miscellaneous pamphlets bound together under the title of 
The Triangle and belonging to the Isaac Myer Collection presented to 
the Public Library of New York, 

legenb of Mia anh ©sd'nsi 315 

understand Isis is to understand all women. She has 
all the virtues and all the faults. She is blind, far- 
seeing, wise, foolish. She tries to overcome the ravages 
and desolation occasioned by evil — and when evil is 
captured and put in her charge she pities and lets it 
go. The goddess mourns over the death of Osiris, 
makes untold sacrifices, searches for him everywhere, 
demeans herself, becomes a servant to mortals in order 
to recover his body. Having accomplished this, she 
leaves it to go to her son Horus. In her absence the 
spirit of evil again takes possession of Osiris and this 
time dismembers his body and scatters it to the four 
^vinds of heaven. 

Having permitted the havoc to be wrought by her 
own negligence, Isis starts forth again, and with incred- 
ible toil and patience and faithfulness she at last suc- 
ceeds in finding all the parts of Osiris — save one. 

The myth relates that of the fourteen parts that Set 
the destroyer had scattered, Isis found everything but 
the creative, energising force. Concealing the loss, 
covering up the lack, Isis made substitutes and set up 
imitations which she asked the world to worship. In 
spite of all she could do, however, she could only imi- 
tate, she could not supply the creative force, and thus 
having lost the life giving power, Osiris inevitably 
ceased to be the god of the living and sank into the 
nether realm of darkness where he became god of the 
dead and his son Horus, the solar god of the morning 
light reigned in his stead. 



''The intellect so skillful in dealing with the inert is 
awkward the moment it touches the living/^ — Bergson. 

''The advance of knowledge is an infinite progression 
towards a goal that forever recedes/' — Frazer. 

"Wisdom is more moving than any motion; she 
passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her 
pureness . . . she is the brightness of the everlasting 
light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God/' — 
Wisdom of Solomon 7:24, 26, 


Photo. Alinari 

(Museo Xazionale, Xaples) 



ISIS the immortal, the goddess of Life, the Eternal 
Feminine has many symbols, but only one weapon, 
one instrument to play upon when she wants to 
change conditions, to startle us into consciousness, to 
make us see the meaning of our habitual acceptances, 
and that's the sistrum — an instrument that now as ever 
is a particularly valuable feminine adjunct. 

"The sistrum shows that whatever exists ought to 
be shaken and never cease from movement, but should 
be aroused and agitated as if it were asleep and its life 
quenched. For they say that by the sistrum they drove 
Typhon away; by this they set forth that destruction 
binds and halts, but by means of movement generation 
frees nature." (Plutarch.) 

"Whose voice then shook the earth; but now he hath 
promised, saying yet once more I shake not the earth 
only, but also heaven. 

"And this word yet once more signifieth the remov- 
ing of things that are shaken as of things that are made, 
that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." 
(Hebrews 12:26-7.) 




There are ''three fundamental principles of the uni- 
verse, the Unity, the Duality and the Trinity. . . . 
The three great principles into which all forms of mani- 
festation may be analysed — the Masculine, Positive or 
generating principle; the Feminine, Receptive or form- 
ative principle; and the Neuter or Mathematical 
principle, which by determining the proportional rela- 
tions of the other two, gives rise to the principles of 
variety and multiplicity." — Troward. 

"The Trinity was first shown in man, for Adam was 
first formed from the earth, then the woman from 
Adam. Afterwards was man created from both and 
so there is therein a Trinity." — Durandus. 

''Ethical idealism by which is here meant a high sense 
of duty and a noble view of life is possible only, so it 
would seem, under txvo conditions, either through a 
strong conviction that there is a compensation else- 
where for the wrongs, injustice and suffering in this 
world, or through an equally strong conviction that the 
unknown goal toward which mankind is striving can be 
reached only by the moral growth and ultimate perfec- 
tion of the human race, whatever the future may have 
in store." — Jastrow. 

"That a quest there is and an end is the single secret 
spoken." — Underbill. 




The Triangle, the geometrical emblem of three 
things, one above two, the two lower uniting to produce 
the higher, or the union of the positive and negative 
forces to produce the third is the most 
complex and mystical as it is the most 
uncompromising of all the life symbols. 
None other holds within itself so much 
of the hidden meaning of that myster- 
ious thing called Life. It is in very truth the symbol 
of the inexorable Law of Life. And it is no exagger- 
ation to say that much of man's checkered career has 
been spent in struggling with the triangle — if not 
actually, then metaphysically. 

Beginning with chaos, then unity or the self -created, 
there comes duality. And man's thoughts are no sooner 
ensnared by that — for he is so made that he loves his 
opposite — than a third force presents itself, and this 
force is the result — or life. '^ — Pere, mere et fits (es- 
sence, substance et vie)." 

From earliest times primitive man appears to have 
grasped the idea of the three-fold nature of the universe 
— the divine, the human, the natural world and that he 
himself was the image or mirror of the macrocosm, com- 
posed of three things — body, mind, soul or spirit. There 


324 Tiitt ^j>mbols( 

seems hardly to have been a time since history began 
when the idea of a unit of three in one was not a part 
of man's consciousness. In addition to the obvious 
duahsm of nature he saw everywhere a third and higher 
aspect evolved by the union of these two opposite forces, 
and the triangle was used by primordial man at first 
presumably as a race symbol, signifying the family — 
father, mother, child, "The Egyptian Temples were 
dedicated to three gods. The first the male principle, 
the second the female, and the third the offspring of 
the other two, but these three are blended into one." 

From the trinity of the family and the multitude 
of triads in nature arose, it is assumed, the conception 
of a trinity of gods. It is significant that the most 
ancient religions contain such trinities or family groups. 

Set, Horus and Shu were the primary Egyptian 
Trinity symbolised by a triangle enclosed in a circle. 
In the earlier mythology Horus was the Water Season. 
Set his brother was the Drought, the Destroyer. Be- 
tween these two was eternal conflict. Shu the Recon- 
ciler and Mediator was the god of winds and equinoctial 
storms. Shu was the god who first lifted up the heavens 
from the earth in the form of a triangle, and he is 
depicted standing on seven steps within a triangle. 

The symbol of Set god of the South was the equi- 
lateral triangle. Horus god of the North had the tri- 
angle reversed. The two powers were symbolised thus : 
This was called the Double Pyramid or Hand 
of the Egyptians and signified the union of fire 
and water. 

When Horus became the Supreme Deity the tri- 
angles were merged into the five pointed star. This be- 
came the symbol of the Celestial world or the House 
of Horus. 

Wht triangle 325 

Two interlacing triangles represented the "Double 
Horizon of Horus." 

In one of the innumerable Egyptian triads Nut is 
heaven, Seb the earth and Shu the air and space which 
separates them. The most popular triad, however, and 
the one that more nearly epitomised Egyptian thought 
was Osiris, Isis and their son Horus. Osiris first cause, 
Isis receptive and Horus the result, or "Osiris, father or 
spirit, Isis, the material or matrix and Horus the sen- 
sible world." Osiris represented soul, intellect, reason. 
Horus, born of the union of reason and matter, was the 
"sensible image of the mental world." 

The majority of these triads personified the powers 
of nature under various groupings such as, Heaven, 
earth, water. Fire, water, air. The sun, moon, Venus. 
The fire, light, ether of the Zoroastrians, and fire, light, 
spirit or air of the Hebrews. 

In the Babylonian religion, to the gods of storm and 
sun, or fire and water was added a third representing 
the earth, fertility, productivity, or heaven, earth, water. 
Anu originally the sun becomes the god of heaven, Enlil 
starting as a storm-god becomes god of the earth and 
is sometimes called Bel or Bel-Enlil 'Lord of many 
lands.' To these are added Ea god of water. In time 
these transfer their powers to other triads but the forces 
symbolised, remain unchanged. Under whatever names 
the triad typifies heaven, sun, or fire, the power of mois- 
ture showing itself in storms and rains, and the power of 
fertility, fecundity personified by the earth. 

Later "influenced by theological speculations which 
betray the astrological tendency" the Babylonians wor- 
shipped another triad which represented the three great 
divisions of the universe. This triad gave first place 
to Sin, the moon-god followed by Shamash and the god- 

326 %\tt ^pmbolss 

dess Ishtar as the planet Venus. ''These deities again 
summing up the chief manifestations of divine power 
in the universe. Sin as leader of the hosts of the mighty 
heavens, Shamash the beneficent power of the sun and 
Ishtar in her original attribute as goddess of the earth, 
mother of life and source of fertility." 

Hewitt finds that in India worship began first to 
Mother Earth, then to the Father and Mother of all 
things then came triads in the following order ( 1 ) The 
father, the life-giving bi-sexual power, and the mother 
earth. (2) The father, the moon-goddess, the mother 
earth. (3) The self -producing fire, the moon goddess, 
and the mother earth. 

When Indra worship came into being the system 
was altered, material agents were no longer recognised 
and the god of the water of life, the god who makes 
rain became the father of all things. Worship of Indra 
succumbed to Vishnu, who was substituted for Varuna 
as third person of the triad, while Siva re-appeared as 
phallic god at its head. In this triad Pushkara the 
moon "meaning the divine lotus or the mother of 
the earth resting on the sanctifying waters" is the 
ruling god. It is thus seen that the popular 'trimurti' 
typified the "varying aspects of the mystery of 

The triad or 'trimurti' of the Brahmins are Brahma, 
the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver and Siva, the De- 
stroyer or Apathy. 

The Tri-ratna, the 'three precious Tri-ratna' or the 
Buddhist triad are Buddha, intelligence, soul, the gener- 
ative power, Dharma, matter, the body, the productive 
power, and Sangha the union of the two. From this 
union, or as the result of this union Sangha becomes the 
author of creation. 

arfje triangle 327 

The mystic syllable Aum also signified the Tri- 
ratna or Three Jewels. 

The triangle was a symbol of the tri-ratna and 
"according to the secret doctrines of certain sects rep- 
resented the 'yoni' from which the world was manifest," 
or the source of all things. 

As we have seen, at the beginning of the world Adi- 
Buddha was said to have manifested himself in the form 
of a flame rising from a lotus. Sometimes the stalk of 
the lotus is depicted rising from a triangle. 

The Buddha discoursing on the symbol of three dots 
arranged in the form of a triangle, one dot above two, 
used the triangle as a symbol of the embodied form of 
the Tathdgdta or he who will have no more re-births. 
The Tathagata is also used to designate the Tri-Kaya 
or the three-fold embodiment, or living in three worlds 
at one time. 

In the mystic doctrine of the Mandala of Two Parts 
of the Yoga system, the fundamental principle of 
which is the union of the individual with the universal 
spirit, the Mandala is the mystic circle that has for its 
centre an eight leaved lotus flower representing the 
heart of beings, the 'solar matrix,' the mysterious sanc- 
tuary to which the sun retires each night to be re-born. 
The eight petals typify the four Dhyani-Bodhisattvas 
who have created the four worlds, and their four spiri- 
tual fathers or Buddhas. Above the lotus symbol is a 
triangle resting on its base and which here typifies Adi- 
Dharma or matter. 

The six elements which when united produce the 
"six-fold bodily and mental happiness" are the five ma- 
terial elements of which man and the visible world are 
believed to be composed, earth, water, fire, air, ether — 
and the sixth element manas (mind), a particle of the 

328 Hife ^pmbolsi 

essence of Adi-Buddha. This represents the diamond 
element or complete Enlightenment and is symbolised 
by the triangle (or tri-kona) the point below. The 
matrix or embryo element, the Material world which is 
"likened to the womb in which all of the child is con- 
ceived" — body as well as mind — contains the universe 
which it cares for and nourishes. The matrix element 
is composed of reason or form and the five elements and 
is symbolised by the triangle with the point above. The 
two elements — the spiritual and the material — are "one 
for 'Wisdom cannot exist without Reason nor Reason 
without Wisdom'." 

The triangle among the Hindus represented also 
the generative power of the earth. 

Although the Chinese divided nature into two great 
parts yang the masculine principle and yin the femi- 
nine principle, it was by the co-operation of these two 
principles that Life or the third or neuter principle was 

The Taoist's triad was heaven, yang and yin. It 
was their belief that the union of the three alone em- 
bodied creative force. This was also called the 'union 
of the Three Powers.' 

The Chinese trigrams contain three powers, heaven, 
earth, men. These three are one and the same. When 
doubled into the hexagrams the three powers unite and 
are one. 

In the Zoroastrian triad Ahura Mazda (Ormuzd) 
is the Sun, or power of good, life, light, heaven. Ahri- 
manes is the power of darkness, evil, death, the earth or 
matter, and Mithra is the sunlight, the power of Truth, 
the Mediator between heaven and earth. 

The triune conception represented a very early 
phase of Greek religion. 

^fje (Criangle 329 

In the tree and pillar cult are found trinities of 
trees and pillars. These trinities were supposed to be 
the abode of a single divinity visualising the idea that 
"groups of two or three pillars could be the embodiment 
of a single divinity, a conception which lent itself to the 
idea of a triune god. The dove shrines of Mycensea also 
supply a similar parallel. These shrines have three 
openings in each of which is an aniconical column which 
have at their base showing their divine character the 
'horns of consecration'." ^ 

The three sons of Saturn were Jupiter, the king of 
heaven and the soul of the world, Pluto, god of the 
nether regions and Neptune, god of the waters. 

The Orphic trinity was Metis, Eros and Ericapeus or 
Will, Love and Life-giver or Phanes the Creative force 
which includes the three powers Light, Life, Energy. 

According to Plutarch, Hesiod makes the first cause 
of all things Chaos — earth, hell, love. Isis is the earth, 
Typhon (Set) is hell and Osiris is love. Thus Osiris 
or love is First Cause, Isis is the faculty of reception 
and Horus is the result. 

Plutarch divides the divine nature into three parts, 
the intelligible part, matter, and that which is made up 
of both "which the Greeks call Cosmos — ^trimness or 
order — and which we call the world." 

Plato believed in the self -activity of an intelligent 
first cause, and that the world was made up of two forces 
one beneficent, and the other the opposite, with a third 
nature between resting upon the preceding forces. He 
called the first the intelligible part or the father, the 
second, matter, the mother, nurse, receptacle of genera- 
tion, and the third is that which springs from both, the 
offspring or production. 

* "Mycenaean Trees and Pillar Cult," A. J. Evans. 

330 TLilt S>j>mtiols; 

Triplicity has been called the very soul of astrology, 
magic, divination. 

Agni, the fire god of India was worshipped as "dis- 
playing thine eternal triple form — as fire on earth, as 
lightning in the air, as the sun in the heaven." 

To the Egyptian sun worshippers dawn, noon and 
sunset represent the three-fold aspect of the sun typi- 
fied by Horus in the morning, Ra at noon and Osiris at 

The goddess Hecate was called Luna in heaven, 
Hecate in hell and Trivia at crossroads. Diana was 
also worshipped as Trivia and statues of her were 
usually placed wherever three roads met. Diana was 
in turn identified with Hecate and the moon and was 
thus called Triformis. 

Some sects of the Buddhists not only believed in the 
three-fold embodiment but also that a Buddha may live 
in three separate spheres at one and the same time. 

The number three is mysterious, mystic, magical. 
"Even its use is three-fold, one definite showing intrin- 
sic value, the other symbolic, esoteric and the third in- 
definite signifying many." 

Three is the primitive plural. Many times and 
thrice are equivalents in the Greek. 

Aristotle looked upon the "triad as the number of 
the complete whole, inasmuch as it contains a begin- 
ning, a middle and an end. Nature herself has provided 
us with this number for use in the holy service of the 

The importance of the triad conception and the 
hold it had and still has, for that matter, on the imagi- 
nation, not only is shown in the ancient triad of gods 
or the tri-une god — carried on into the Christian re- 
ligion as Father, Son and Holy Ghost — but by the 

3Cfje 2Cr (angle 331 

way thought instinctively groups itself in threes. Sun, 
moon, stars; birth, life, death; heaven, earth, water; 
the three fates, three furies, three graces. Various 
fabulous monsters that had three heads — Chima3ra 
had the head of a lion, a dragon and a goat and continu- 
ally vomitted flames, Cerberus was the three headed dog 
of Pluto who guarded the entrance into hell, Hydra 
was said originally to have had three heads. There are 
the three dimensions, the three parts in every sequence 
of thought, Hegel's three aspects of truth — thesis, anti- 
thesis and synthesis. We demand three cheers. We 
speak of the 'world, the flesh, the devil' as opposed to 
the 'good, the true, the beautiful.' Goethe puts it "From 
the useful, through the true, to the beautiful." The 
former, however, expresses better the 'three in one' idea 
which is the very cadence, the haunting, mystical qual- 
ity, the superb truth contained in these various group- 

The mystics symbolise "the Trinity as Light, Life 
and Love: — 

''Light J the perfect symbol of pure undifferentiated 

''Life, the Son, the hidden Steersman of the Uni- 
verse, the Logos, Fire or Cosmic soul of things. This 
Life is the flawless expression or character of the 
Father, the personal and adorable Object of the mystic's 

"Love, the principle of attraction. If we consider 
the Father as the supreme Subject and the Son as the 
Object of His thought, the personal Spirit of Love is 
the relation between the two and constitutes the very 
character of the two. 

"The love wherewith we love is the Holy Spirit." ^ 

* "Mysticism," Evelyn Underbill. 

332 life S>|>mbols( 

The triangle among the Japanese is a flame symbol 
typifying fire or the third element. From the days of 
the stupa the triangle has represented fire. 

Three triangles or rays typifying the three-fold 
light of the world are found among the Mexicans, 
Egyptians and many other ancient races. Among the 
Chaldeans Eusoph the Light of Life was given the 
symbol of the equilateral triangle. 

The triangle was the symbol of the great Aum 
'dwelling in the infinite.' It was the emblem of heaven 
in three divisions. 

The triangle was the primary form of the pyramid, 
which was typically the pyramid of heaven. The pyra- 
mids with their triangular sides were universally recog- 
nised "not alone as tombs for the dead, but as monu- 
ments to the Great Sun the Giver of Life and Light." 
Many had an altar on the apex in which the fire was 
never permitted to die out. The Chaldeans built pal- 
aces as well as temples in the form of a pyramid. 
Temples and monuments in pyramidal form are found 
correctly orientated in India, China, America, Java and 
the Polynesian Islands. 

"The great pyramid of Cheops was built on lines 
ascertained by astronomical observations. It faces the 
four cardinal points and the tunnel which pierces its 
northern slope is in reality a telescope forever turned to 
the point of the heavens touched by the polar star in 
its lowest declination. A crystal lens has been dis- 
covered on the site of Nineveh and a few Egyptian 
priests are believed to have known and used the tele- 
scope." ^ 

In an ancient papyrus Isis is referred to as the ruler 
of the pyramid. 

* "Symbolism and Science," Lloyd P. Smith. 

arfje ^Triangle 333 

"The form of the pyramid enters into the hieroglyph 
of the star Sothis or Sirius. For the Grand Orient or 
position of the star when its rising forms the immediate 
harbinger of da^vn was, as is well known, the great 
starting point for the age-long cycles of Egyptian reck- 
oning. And whereas the figure employed to denote the 
pyramid embraces both edifice and platform on which 
it is built, the hieroglyph of Sothis represented the ma- 
sonic portion alone. . . . , viz, the structure, represent- 
ing to the Egyptian mind Eternal Light apart from its 
earthly support." * 

A recent book on The Mysterious Science of the 
Pharaohs by the Abbe Moreux, director of the Obser- 
vatory of Bourges, discusses the pyramid of Cheops "as 
a manifestation of the marvellously exact mathematical 
and geographical knowledge of the ancient Egyptians," 
adding that "we glorify acquisitions as our own which 
were known at least 6,000 years ago. The savants of 
antiquity had measured the earth! They had deter- 
mined our distance from the sun! They had traced an 
ideal meridian! All that presupposes an advanced 
science and a very able technique." 

The Egyptians called the nature of the universe the 
fairest of triangles. 

The triangle was the delight of the Greek philoso- 
phers. Pythagoras adopted it as the most perfect geo- 
metrical figure inasmuch as it was the first form 
complete in itself. 

Plato used the triangle as a symbol of marriage. In 
this triangle he makes the perpendicular equal 3, the 
base 4 and the hypothenuse 5. The perpendicular rep- 
resents the male, the base the female and the hypothe- 

* "The House of the Hidden Places," W. M. Adams. 

334 5-We ^pmbote 

nuse their offspring. This is Osiris, the first principle, 
Isis, the matrix and Horus the completed world, for 
"three is the first odd number and is perfect, four is a 
square that has an even number — two — for its side, 
and five is in some respects like each parent for it is 
the sum of three and two." In this diagram of marriage 
Plato calls the son 'that which is better.' 

Plutarch calls the "area within the triangle the 
'Plain of Truth' in which the Reason, the forms and the 
pattern of all things that have been and shall be are 
stored up." 

St. Augustine expressed his obligation to Plato for 
enabling him to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. 

The Druidic Harps were made in the form of a 
triangle. "Their strings were three and their turning- 
keys had each three arms." 

The famous abracadabra, a cabalistic word which 
was believed to have curative powers and when worn 
as an amulet was supposed to ward off evil was depicted 
in the form of a triangle reversed. It is one of the mys- 
tery words which played such an important part in the 
secret rites of the early mystics. Its root is abraxas the 
Greek letters of which as numerals amounted to 365. 
It was thus adopted by the Egyptian Gnostic Basilides 
to signify the Supreme Deity as ruler of the 365 heavens 
of his system. Another authority speaks of it as "one 
of the numerous mystery words coined to express 
mathematically the unspeakable name of the Supreme 
Spirit . . . and accepted as the mystic equivalent of 

The well known Hexagram or Solomon's Seal with 
which he was said to have worked miracles warded 
off danger and curbed rebellious spirits was made of 
two equilateral triangles interlaced forming a six 


a^^ ccue^^. 


Bayley, Lost Languag; of Symbolism 

3rf)e ©riangle 335 

pointed star. Sometimes the lower triangle is dark and 
the upper one light, signifying the union of the spiritual 
and the material or spirit and matter. 


The Pentacle or five pointed star, an ingenious 
elaboration of the triangle, was used by the Pytha- 
goreans and others as a mystical emblem of perfection 
or of the miiverse. "Among the followers of Pythagoras 
the triple triangle typified Light and was an emblem of 

The American Indian used the triangle re- 
versed, duplicating it thus as a symbol of growth, 
expressing by a sign the same idea that Berg- 
son advanced a few thousand years later, that 
the tendency of Life "is to develop in the 
form of a sheaf, creating by its very growth 
divergent directions among which its impetus 
is divided. . . . If . . . the unity of life is to 
be found solely in the impetus that pushes it 
along the road of time, the harmony is not 
in front but behind ... it is given at the 
start as an impulsion, not placed at the end 
as an attraction." ^ 

The conflict between unity and multiplicity is not 
new. It is clear that if you wish to represent unity then 
multiplicity you have only to tip the triangle upside 
do^\Ti. This was a tendency, however, that even the 
most primitive religions seem to have reckoned with and 

' Bergson's "Creative Evolution." 

336 ILife ^pmtjolss 

tried strenuously to prevent. The history of the tri- 
angle is the history of man. And Life never looked 
fair nor perfect to the ancients except as they visioned 
it through the equilateral triangle accurately placed 
on its base and uniting towards the heavens above. All 
the great religions of life were founded on the family 
group idea of divergence then unity on a higher level. 
This was also a part of race development carried on like 
the octave on an ever ascending scale. 

The triangle, whatever else it may have expressed, 
was, from the remotest periods of which we have any 
knowledge the pre-eminent symbol of the Trinity in 
Unity. Other symbols typified a section, a part of life. 
The equilateral triangle symbolised the completed 
whole of life. Simple, complex — clear, mysterious, it 
contained all the moral law and the prophets. 

It is presumable that man was conscious almost from 
the very first that there was a part of himself higher 
than the body or the mind, and that he looked upon the 
divine in himself as a spark from the Divine Fire, the 
Light of Lights, the Unknown and Unknowable Source 
of All Life. In all his religions one finds this reaching 
out toward something higher. Man seems to have rea- 
lised intuitively that in resj)onding to the divine in him- 
self he was fulfilling the Divine Will or Primal Cause, 
and to have feared instinctively the disintegrating in- 
fluence of multiplicity unless enclosed by a surmount- 
ing, overtopping singleness of purpose. 

His religions are strewn with totems and magic, 
fetiches, taboos and sacrifices which represent man's 
heroic efforts to harness nature and himself, to subdue 
the lower to the higher. 

Eternal conflict and the desire to propitiate or sub- 
due are a part of man's inheritance. 

®1)E triangle 337 

The Hindu religion perhaps more nearly realises 
the triumph of renunciation. 

While recognising the three qualities they, too, em- 
phasise the need of subduing the lower to the higher. 
They call the three qualities sattva, light or truth, rajas, 
passion or desire, and tamos, darkness or indifference. 
"These are the powers born of nature; they bind . . . 
the eternal lord of the body within the body." 

Thus the history of man reflects his age long strug- 
gle with the triangle. Again and again he has revolted 
against the eternal over lordship of the soul, rebelled 
against the triangle, tried the parallel — the feminine 
principle adores the parallel — only to discover that Na- 
ture will not tolerate anything so dull as two straight 
lines ; he has tried to repeat himself, to rest, to lie down, 
only to find that Nature objects to resting, or sameness, 
or standing still. He has attempted to abandon it to 
escape from the "Plain of Truth"; he has gone off on 
tangents of experimentation with only one side of his 
nature; he has taken up cults of phallicism, stoicism, 
epicureanism, asceticism and a thousand others with 
the avowed purpose of realising life ; he has sprawled on 
the bottom with the serpent of materialism and sensu- 
ality; invented the French triangle; tipped it in every 
possible way that he could think of, dragged it about 
with him like a chain and ball 

He couldn't live with it, and he couldn't live with- 
out it, for it was himself, his family, his universe, his 
gods, his all. And one may not unfairly ascribe the 
swift rush of decadence that has occurred again and 
again in history to these times of rebellion against the 
demands of the whole nature, to the fact that man had 
lost his sense of proportion, lost his conception of him- 
self as 'three in one.' 

338 Hilt S>pml3ol2; 

Now comes the most interesting and illuminating 
as it was the most daring of all religions. The highest, 
the most poignantly beautiful conception — the Chris- 
tian religion — may be called the absolute revolt of the 
soul. Heretofore, in all his religions of life, man had 
reckoned with his three-fold nature. 

It was reserved for the Christians to give an unex- 
ampled twist to the symbol. Like all other religions it 
was a new presentation of an ancient idea — something 
built out of the old, a part of the ever flowing stream of 
life. The Church Fathers discarded, codified, retained 
many of the old solar myths under a new form, retained 
the Eucharist, created a magnificent, "comprehensive 
system where under the shadow of a great epic ... a 
place was found for as many religious instincts and as 
many religious traditions as possible." 

The Church naturally and inevitably took over all 
the old symbols of life that have figured in every re- 
ligion. The cross became the symbol of Life Everlast- 
ing and the triangle was as usual the highest symbol of 
all — the symbol of the Trinity now realised in one God 
— Father, Son and Holy Ghost. 

The history of Christianity may be regarded as a 
prolonged and hectic combat with the triangle. 

Mankind, ever amenable to suggestion, soul sick of 
everything that other religions were offering, ready to 
try anything that was the exact reverse to a degenerate 
and corrupt paganism — the early Christian typifies the 
inspiration of the impossible. While accepting the 
symbol, he resolutely rejected the base, cut away the 
foundations of his own being, and, poised on the peak 
of the triangle endeavoured to live in the soul alone. 

Nothing more sublime nor more pathetic was ever 

©fje SCriangle 339 

He believed that the world was coming to an end, 
that the second coming of Christ was near, that the here- 
after was all.'' He welcomed torture. Death was a 
sweet pmiishment that proved his faith. When he 
couldn't die for his belief, he mortified the flesh, wore 
hair shirts, inflicted flagellations upon his quivering 
body. He renounced the world, took to the desert — and 
wherever he went, whatever he did the triangle came 
to disturb him. No amount of blinding himself as to 
ultimate values, no denials, no affirmations of what con- 
stituted the highest expression of life could change its 
proportion, nor lessen its power as an irresistible force 
that soon or late must be reckoned with — soon or late 
would demand its toll. 

He himself had been formed by the union of two. 
The three in one of which the triangle was the potent 
emblem was himself, his universe, his God. Yet as real- 
ised in himself he despised it. He gave up family. He 
became a monk — transcendental, mystic. He would 
live on a point above everything earthly without visible 
means of support. And to his credit, be it said, the early 
Christian has given us the highest proof of sincerity 
and the most exquisitely beautiful religion the world 
has yet known. 

The trouble was, of course, the triangle. 

* It has been shown how essential and integral a part of the Jewish 
belief in the Messiah was this expectation of the final completion of his 
mission in the dissolution of the world, and the restoration of a para- 
disiacal state in which the descendants of Abraham were to receive their 
destined inheritance. . . . This appears to have been the last Jewish 
illusion from which the minds of the Apostles themselves were disen- 
chanted. And there can be no doubt that many of the early Christians 
almost hourly expected the final dissolution of the world, and that this 
opinion awed many timid believers into professions of Christianity and 
kept them in trembling subjection to its authority." — Milman's "History 
of Christianity." 

340 life ^j>mbol£( 

Men married still — common men — not men with re- 
ligion as their avowed purpose in life — loved and mar- 
ried, for there is no doubt that, in spite of its manifold 
faults, there is something very lovable about the femi- 
nine principle. In this new religion the "notion of 
woman as the ally and satellite of Satan" which harked 
back to the Hebrew version of the Fall of Man was in- 
tensified by the "institution of sacerdotal celibacy." The 
fact that woman was now regarded openly as an in- 
fluence to be fought against and resisted put her in the 
irresistible and j)leasurable category of the forbidden. 
Not that she wished to be there. On the contrary, tak- 
ing her colour as usual from the prevailing mode of 
thought, she wished ardently to be a nun. 

She was a nun — and a thoroughly good nun at that. 
And if man had stayed a good monk, no doubt the prob- 
lems of our modern civilisation would have been spared 
us — for there would have been no civilisation — the 
Christian materialistic one, I mean. There would have 
been no fundamentalists or modernists. We would 
have been dead long ago. We would have died out in 
purity and sanctity — the soul triumphant over the body. 

But it was not to be. It wasn't in man to be a monk 
too long. Life is too strong to permit so simple a solu- 
tion. Because he had placed himself a bit too high, 
though, in the beginning, one can understand why, in 
yielding to the inexorable need of his nature, he did so 
with a feeling that he was falling and that sex was a 
shameful thing. Consciously or unconsciously this atti- 
tude has pervaded the Christian religion ever since. In 
truth, the Christian had many things, many discrepan- 
cies, many wide gaps between his professions and what 
he really was to trouble him. Demons and wild beasts 
iii the jungle were nothing to the tortures that were in- 

flicted by his own alert and chastening soul. Nor was 
that all. lie was sore beset, not only by the triangle of 
himself — his three-fold nature — but by the triangle as 
an emblem of the Trinity. 

Believing the Christian religion to be a direct ema- 
nation from God, the position of the symbol became a 
torment to the theologians. To reverse it meant multi- 
plicity instead of ultimate union with the Most High. 
To keep it as it was suggested the old days of pantheism, 
the divine in everything merging in the One above All. 

Controversy raged in the Middle Ages over the in- 
terpretation of the Trinity by the equilateral triangle. 
The Trinity became a metaphysical subtlety — a source 
of acute contention to the keen intellects of the thir- 
teenth century who "cared little to comprehend any- 
thing but the incomprehensible." 

The attempt to change the whole nature of man in 
order to make it fit into an idealised, dogmatic, denying 
religion — or conception of Life — became like a strait 
jacket to the normal minded, thin ecstasy and emotion- 
alism to the dreamer and an uneasy ghost to the logician, 
who is rarely concerned with the essence of things — and 
religion is the essence of life. It was at this period 
when discussion of the Trinity ran highest — especially 
in France that the Church stepped in. It poured oil 
upon the troubled waters. It diverted, disarmed, 
soothed. The Church saw with alarm that instead of a 
religion it had a debating society on its hands, that its 
whole system which was to have been above body and 
mind was now lodged firmly in the mind, and was be- 
coming as a consequence coldly, arrogantly intellectual 
— a lop-sided development into the soaring and unfet- 
tered masculine, which might lead anywhere under the 
shining sun — anywhere except to unity. There was 

342 ILiit ^pmbolsJ 

but one brake that could be applied successfully to this 
intellectual runaway called the masculine principle. 

The Church applied it, deftly, artfully, delightfully. 
It exalted the feminine. The Church became the 
Mother Church. And the divine Mother of Christ the 
second Eve, the Mother of all the world, the Virgin of 
Virgins. In devotional pictures she was crowned as 
the Queen of Heaven and was given the sceptre. At- 
tended by adoring angels she was the Queen of Angels. 
Weeping or holding the crown of thorns, she is our 
Lady of Sorrow (Mater Dolorosa). She is the Ma- 
donna, the Blessed Virgin, the Santa Maria Virgine. 
She was called Stella Maris 'Star of the Sea.' She was 
the woman of the Apocalypse "clothed with the sun, 
having the moon under her feet, and on her head a 
crown of twelve stars" and was portrayed in art with 
the glory of the sun about her and the crescent moon 
under her feet. She was the Virgin of all the old nature 
myths with a fatherless son, and was given all the old 
symbols — the fleur de lis, the palm, cypress, olive, rose, 
pomegranate, dove, apple, globe. The serpent was de- 
picted under her feet in allusion to the prophecy 'she 
shall bruise thy head,' and seven doves typifying 
the gifts of the spirit, when she is depicted as the 
Mother of Wisdom (Mater S apientice) . In the 
days of chivalry the Virgin was given the title of Our 
Lady — Notre Dame, La Madonna. She became the 
Virgin of Mercy — Our Lady of Succour and appeared 
as intercessor. Her most popular representation in art, 
however, was as Mater Amahilis or the Virgin and Child 
where she is depicted simply as the Mother. Raphael's 
pictures of her in this character have never been sur- 

The Church succeeded beyond its hopes. Worship 

©fje ^triangle 343 

of the Virgin became a passion, sweeping intellect aside, 
before, with it, engulfing it. 

Henry Adams devotes a characteristically amusing 
chapter to this in Mont Saint Michel and Chartres. 
He says "Not only was the Son absorbed in the Mother 
but the Father followed, and the Holy Ghost fared no 
better. The poets regarded the Virgin as the Templum 
Trinitatis. . . . The Trinity was absorbed in her. . . . 
This is a delicate subject in the Church and you must 
feel it with delicacy without brutally insisting on its 
necessary contradiction." 

This graceful assumption could not last, however. 
Still maintaining the idea of a direct and definite revela- 
tion that broke with tradition, as she gradually incor- 
porated into her religion the accumulated wisdom of all 
the ages back of her, enemies within and without accused 
the Church of subterfuge. The Catholic Church knew, 
if her critics did not, that she could do no other and re- 
main a religion of life. The Church realised but too 
well that it could have no real and vital religion and 
no adherents or followers if it broke with Life — and 
Life was sex, life was three-fold, life was body, mind, 
soul — father, mother, child. 

The triangle spoke irrefutably of this one eternal 
truth. While adopting the symbol the tenets and dogma 
of the Church denied by implication its meaning. And 
it may have been because of this — because of this funda- 
mental difference that no amount of argument or soph- 
istry could reconcile, that bigotry took the place of 
faith and self-assertiveness of meekness. In spite of 
all that she believed, all that she stood for the Church's 
record became one of hypocrisies, compromises, perse- 
cutions, intolerance, worldliness. Exalting the Virgin 
was undoubtedly the most mystically satisfying of all 

344 TLiit ^pmbols! 

the things that had been adapted from past religions by 
this most deeply mystical and esoteric religion. In ex- 
alting the feminine principle the Church was simply 
responding to the inexorable need of the human heart, 
although in doing this she was contradicting the idea 
upon which Christianity was founded. In this new re- 
ligion of the soul alone, there could be no soft dalliances, 
no pleasures that were not deadly sins. The flesh not 
only was to be subdued, but harshly, ruthlessly sacri- 
ficed to the spirit. It was a swing of the pendulum, per- 
haps, against the dissolute practices of a decadent 
paganism. Another of man's undying efforts to realise 
his best. The Christian religion was built up upon the 
belief that once the soul was satisfied there would be, 
could be no heart hunger nor physical hunger. Christi- 
anity was founded upon the idea that life was of no ac- 
count — something to be extinguished gloriously in order 
to win Eternal Life. 

'Dying to live' was again the keystone, but living 
was not renewed annually with the awakening of na- 
ture in the Spring, but removed from this world entirely 
to a remote region of the fancy — a 'new heaven and a 
new earth' where there 'shall be no more death neither 
sorrow nor crying . . . for the former things are passed 
away.' It was in the Holy City of the Apocalypse, its 
streets paved with pure gold, its walls garnished with 
precious stones and each gate a pearl. There in the 
midst of the street of it, on either side of the river — a 
'pure river of water of life' — thei'e stood "the tree of life 
which bore twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit 
every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the 
healing of nations." (Rev. 22: 2.) 

To adjust a religion to life that had originated in a 
magnificent though futile disdain of life required com- 

3Cf)e ^Triangle 345 

promise. But no matter how delicately administered 
nor how deftly inserted, the soul, which had been tri- 
umphantly in the ascendant so long, sniffed the 
danger to itself in the Church's attitude and re- 
sented it. 

Revolt flamed up again in Luther only to find the 
last condition worse than the first. Still doing battle 
gallantly, implacably against our own evil nature we 
dropped away from the Wise Mother Church which was 
prone to forgive, prone to deal too kindly with those 
who failed to sacrifice the flesh to the spirit. We of the 
protesting religions once more sternly abjured the femi- 
nine principle. We refused to regard the Virgin as an 
object of worship. We discarded myths, symbolism, 
saints, poetry. The old Covenanters tried to abolish the 
festivals of Christmas and Easter as heathen celebra- 
tions carried over from paganism — as, in fact, they were 
— but here nature was too strong. Nature and habit to- 
gether can outwit even a Scotch Presbyterian. Christ- 
mas and Easter refused to be banished from the pro- 
testant religions. Or, what is more likely we refused 
to let them go. Most of us retained the Trinity and all 
of us the belief that Christ was born of a Virgin. We 
had, in truth, borrowed most of our religion from the 
Catholics, as the Catholics had borrowed before us, in- 
corporating from the past those things that can never be 
safely discarded — except, in our zeal to purify and be 
'holier than thou,' we had taken a religion founded on 
love, and again made it an expression of all that was 
unlovely. And all the time we were trying desperately 
to be good. 

And thus, after vain struggles and acrimonious con- 
tentions with the Mother Church, whereby we gained 
nothing in saintliness of living and the Church grew no 

346 JLiit ^j>mtjols( 

worse, perfectly outraged by our own insubordination 
we landed as inevitably as you please into the dismal 
and depressing triangle of Galvanism — Original Sin, 
Depravity and Atonement. 

And there we remained, grim, determined — resolved 
on uprightness for ourselves and others — alas, very 
much for others! A hard and sterile formalism seized 
upon the tenderest and most elevated of all religions. 
We became puritans. We kept the Sabbath. We 
burned witches — until we couldn't stand our own re- 
pressions any longer. We broke up into innumerable 
sects, each professing to be Christian, and each antago- 
nistic to the other. We had — not a re-birth into joyous 
living — ^not yet. We were now quite past being saved 
or mollified or even distracted by the feminine princi- 
ple which, left to itself was making ready to enact 
a new role. Siva the god of religious apathy and de- 
struction had become our master, multiplicity our ab- 
sorption, wars — industrial wars, political wars, sex wars, 
wars of aggression, wars for greed and power our 

This culminated in 1914, as if in response to some 
imknown and undreamed of Law, in the greatest war 
of all history. 

The war ended leaving us suddenly, brutally con- 
fronted by the fact that we have added enormously to 
the means of life — the accessories, the non-essentials — 
have acquired an incredible amount of knowledge as to 
scientific ways of destroying life, but of Life itself, 
whence it comes and whither it goes we know no more 
than the first man of all. 

Since the Armistice that left us so far from peace, 
we have been drifting, appalled by our own complexity, 
reduced to confessing that so far, as Santayana puts it, 

®f)e arriangle 347 

mankind has found "no way of uttering the ideal mean- 
ing of life." 

The ancient Greeks, perhaps, came the nearest. No 
race has equalled them in joyousness of living, nor left 
such imperishable records of beauty in drama, art, litera- 
ture. No race more fully lived. The Greeks developed 
the whole man. They had such a healthy conception 
of life, such balance, that everything that they did was 
done intelligently and beautifully. They believed that 
all was good — soul, mind, body. In time, however, as 
their power as a nation weakened, their poetic concep- 
tion of life became dulled and gross, they lost their sense 
of balance, of just proportion, and yielding to man's be- 
setting sin, they concentrated upon a part instead of 
the whole, ended by exalting the human body as the 
highest and most beautiful of all things — and the Greek 
civilisation passed out with so many others. 

The triangle looks back upon a long, long path. It 
still holds its inscrutable message of Perfection, of the 
Unrealised. This immutable symbol in its stark, aus- 
tere, almost terrifying simplicity suggests an interpre- 
tation of life that had it been realised in the physical or 
family sense alone, must have carried us to the skies. 

In witnessing the failure of the soul when it disdains 
the body — its failure alone to preserve a pure religion 
of life unsupported by mind and body, one asks, if the 
old feud between soul and body could be made up — is 
that it? Had the Greeks paid greater homage to the 
soul — it is so eocigeant, the soul — might they not still be 
the leading race? Has not the soul been a little selfish 
these past two thousand years — one hesitates to say it 
— but has it not? Must the soul put itself into every- 
thing that the mind conceives and the body performs — 

348 %iit S>pmbols; 

lose itself to find itself — the soul above, but permeating 
and making divinely beautiful the whole man — is that 
the message of the triangle? 

It is so important ! No wonder the ancients debated 
the position of the triangle. If we hold strictly to the 
analogy of the trinity, to the unit of three in one, we 
must conclude that the religion of life holds further pos- 
sibilities never yet fully realised — possibilities of orderly 
sequence, orderly progression, going forward with your 
whole self. 


"Man is a mis-shapen monster with his feet set for- 
ward and his face set back. He can make the future 
luxuriant and gigantic so long as he is thinking about 
the past . . . to-morrow is the gorgon; a man must 
only see it mirrored in the shining shield of yesterday. 
If he sees it directly he is turned to stone." — Chesterton. 



LA FONTAINE, who borrowed from ^sop, 
from history and mythology, from all the arts 
and professions as well as the popular customs 
of the day, composed his fables, one half suspects, for 
the delight he experienced in tacking on to them a few 
observations — moral or otherwise — of his own. 

As this book is another borrower from the eternal 
sources of myth, fable and symbolism, I trust that I 
may be forgiven for following so illustrious an example. 
Although, I hasten to add, these are hardly conclusions 
— it is most unsafe to draw conclusions about life — and 
there is but one moral. The rest is speculative, scarcely 
more than suggestion, in no sense assertion — the specu- 
lations that come unbidden to the mind that seeks with- 
out prejudice, bias or partisanship for truth. 

Nothing has greater or more enduring interest than 
to be meeting and overtaking ourselves on the long, 
brightly checkered path that history makes. It is on the 
whole an enchanting path — made so by ourselves. It is 
ours — our record. 

When I return from one of these excursions, my 
mind still full of these ancient, lovely myths and beliefs 
— ^physical, mystical, spiritual — each supplementing, 


352 life S>pmbote 

supporting, strengthening the other, — I look at man 
with fresh understanding. I find him a dear — at core 
quite imtouched. I feel like saying joyously as one 
says to a much loved friend who has been away for ages 
but has now come back, "Well, here you are! And you 
don't look a day older than you did before you went 
away." You see, in the present civilisation we have 
missed him, he has been away a long time. 

Always doing something grandiose, superlative, 
spectacular — this man! In one age he is obsessed with 
pyramid building, in another he creates aeroplanes and 
automobiles and moving pictures. His toys change 
but he himself remains the same. He is forever busy 
hitching something together to see how it will work, 
even "hitching his wagon to a star" if he happens to 
be Emerson. 

Here he is! Impelled by the same forces — the 
same creature of insensate passions, having the same 
desires, wants, emotions, the same needs, same longings, 
same conflict of wills 

Curiosity enormous 

The same unquenchable love of theorising and pro- 
phesying and explaining 

Pursuing throughout the ages the same path from 
unity through duality to multiplicity 

The same losing the way in multiplicity until forced 
to go back to unity again. 

As we survey man's picturesque efforts to change 
nature and change himself, to understand nature and 
understand himself, the real wonder is, not that we 
have lost our way so often, but that in the maze — 
mostly self-created — we ever find it at all. 

In all this maze of ideas, however, two things stand 
out and they are curiously explicit. One is that we 

Conclusiion 353 

never get away from the swing between the two forces, 
Spirit and Matter or Form. 

The other which is equally emphatic, inescapably 
so, and will be referred to at some length later on, is the 
survival of om- primal instincts. 

Whenever religions past or present lose them- 
selves in subtleties neglecting the substance, or again 
when they pay greater attention to form or its visible 
aspect and neglect the invisible spirit they fall into 

To keep these forces in equilibrium has teen the 
problem of the ages — the problem of ancient religions. 

All symbolism deals with these two principles which 
merge into the Creative Life Principle. Methods and 
manifestations change and pass out, the Eternal things 

Death has various ways of terminating man's exist- 
ence on earth. He may meet it now flying or in an 
automobile accident, where in Roman days it overtook 
him in the hippodrome or in chariot racing. Yet — 
Death itself as a force remains unchanged. 

Life, Death. 

Spirit, Matter. 

Light, Darkness. 

Heat, Cold. 

Fire, \¥ater. 

Order, Disorder. 

Osiris, Set. 

Man, Woman. 

These are the unchangeable forces — the "pair of 
opposites," that were forever being sjinbolised in 

354 ^i^t ^pmbolsf 

the effort to adjust the equilibrium of harmonious 

Beyond death man sees life renewed by the same 
power of progression that brings light again as dark- 
ness passes. His desire to prolong either phase, to make 
day into night, or night into day — to worship either 
principle exclusively, or to negative both principles 
and worship their manifestations, may account for his 
many failures. In spite of failure, however, his ideal- 
ism persists. That's the beauty of him. No matter 
how often deceived, nor how many times he deceives 
himself, a(ii fond "man is the born enemy of lies." 

The one thing that we cannot afford to lose sight 
of — cannot let little things crowd out, is the tremendous 
importance of man and woman since time began. 

The potency still of the old religious symbols of the 
dual principles show how momentously they have im- 
pressed themselves upon religion and civilisation. If 
the father god is worshipped exclusively you have a 
certain sort of a civilisation. When the pendulum 
swings and the Mother goddess is exalted you have 
another kind which eventually and inevitably, it would 
seem, passes out. 

In all religions, as in Life itself, there are the two 
forces, one non-progressive, inert, becoming static — 
those who would sit by the tranquil stream of life dream- 
ing that all is known, all has been said — and those who 
like fire rush on sweeping over and consuming the re- 
sults of ages of effort, unless checked by the wholesome 
power of water — or the negative force that binds and 
restrains. Thus man fails when he drops out of the 
unhurried movement of life, when he no longer re-acts 
to change; he also fails disastrously, creating wide- 
spread havoc when he rushes headlong, bent only on 

Conclusiion 355 

change and loses the resilient power of coming back. 
It is this coming back that is so great. And it is here 
that the feminine or passive principle is of such enor- 
mous value. It corrects the excesses of the masculine 
not by any power of reasoning but simply by the law of 
its own being. 

Whenever the vibration between the two forces 
Spirit and Matter or Positive and Negative ceases to 
be normal and creative, there comes conflict, antagon- 
ism, dissolution. 

The old religions all show this — show poise first, 
then overbalancing of forces, a weakening of the spirit 
until the material preponderates; matter or form with- 
out the quickening power of the spirit becomes inert, 
lifeless, unresponsive, corrupt — and religion and 
civilisation go out together. 

Throughout his entire history one finds the tendency 
to develop one side — never the whole nature of man — 
to sacrifice and subdue, never to strengthen, which 
force is to be subdued depending upon which force is 
in the ascendancy. 

The Christian religion, as we have seen, began in 
a supreme disdain of form. It was the soul's revolt 
against the corrupt practices of a decadent paganism. 
And it seems scarcely an exaggeration to say that in 
Christianity the soul took the bits in its teeth and ran 
away with religion. It opposed itself relentlessly to 
nature worship, and quite as relentlessly to the feminine 
principle, which happened at that time to be the princi- 
ple that men were worshipping. The soul had again 
been forgotten, and it exacted penance to the last ounce 
of flesh. It contrived a religion of expiation for past 
orgies. Making no attempt to reconcile the dual prin- 
ciples it scorned the body, nature, earth. Instead of 

356 TLift ^pmbols; 

illuminating the dark corners of existence the soul was 
now chiefly concerned in absorbing all life and light for 

I confess that the soul troubles me. I think the 
soul can trouble any one. Having had some experience 
with eocigeant souls I believe that there is nothing so 
unstable as the human soul. I am inclined to think 
that the soul can be recalcitrant, proud, obstinate, a 
self-willed shirk. The body automatically rebels, where- 
as the soul willfully neglects its job. It loves to soar 
in higher space, to imagine, dream, escape restraint. 
It is even more insubordinate than the mind, for mind 
and body are both clay whenever the soul is content to 
use them to express its purpose. 

If you happen to have one of these dodging, soaring, 
escaping souls, that loves to dwell in the blue ether and 
doesn't care a bit whether you are symmetrical or not, 
you will understand what I mean. And I cannot help 
fancying that you will agree that the abandon to the 
soul of all religious functions has not improved our 
minds, our bodies, nor our looks. 

The soul cares nothing for the body, however. It 
is no penance to the soul to mortify the flesh. It adores 
it. I am perfectly convinced that the early saints took 
ecstatic and cruel delight in mortifying the poor, quiver- 
ing, agonising body. It was done as a re-action against 
a corrupt paganism that had exalted the body above 
the soul — but was it religion? 

Not being at all sure that it was ever intended that 
the soul should refuse to live at peace with the body, 
or that it should leave the body before the last flight 
comes, I ask the question tentatively. Can the soul 
create, and has it been able to create a workable religion 
alone? Has not the soul been a rebel in the Christian 





Wm'\ a 




; :--V'->->^^ 

Photo. Alinari 

(Museo Nazionale, Naples; 

Conclusion 357 

religion enjoying itself hugely at the expense of every- 
thing else, sanity included? 

If this seems a little harsh, I may add that I am 
only inimical to the soul that is draped in pretension. 
There is proof on every hand that there is nothing so 
easy as to lose yourself in spiritual ecstasy. One can 
be a spiritual voluptuary as well as a physical volup- 
tuary. And what is far more menacing, spiritual ecstasy 
has an ominous way of degenerating into the physical. 
Having a somewhat difficult soul that would soar off 
on the slightest provocation, the point I would make 
is this. Whenever the soul attempts to escape from 
the body, when it loses the protection, the sanity, the 
form given it by the body does it not, as a rule, fall vic- 
tim to its mortal enemy the mind — fall prey to a sort of 
arid, unemotional intellectualism that eventually de- 
stroys it? If the soul is the animating force of the body 
can it afford to neglect the body? Does not the soul 
also need the body as well as the body the soul ? 

When the soul rises up undaunted after disaster we 
hail it joyfully. It represents to us the eternal triumph 
of life. It may be true as the Catholics say that certain 
natures are called upon to be high examples of faith 
and renunciation for all the world to see, but I am 
always a little afraid when the soul seems to be having 
too good a time. There is nothing so conducive to one's 
own inner cheerfulness and every one else's misery as 
being an acknowledged martyr. 

Chesterton describes the death of St. Francis of 
Assisi on the bare, cold earth, and adds, that in spite of 
physical suffering he was probably the happiest man in 
the whole world. 

There is not a doubt of it. He had carried the mat- 
ter consistently through. 

358 nut ^pmbolss 

If I may be permitted to say so, and without 
the slightest wish to offend those who look upon 
the soul as an infallible guide, I think that in 
the Christian religion, except at brief intervals of 
recurring sanity, the soul has been having the time 
of its life. 

I was expressing myself in some such way to a 
Jesuit priest not long ago. 

He looked at me keenly, then said thoughtfully 
"So you think that in the Christian religion the soul 
went off on a spiritual lark." 

As I had been working for months and months with 
archeologists who make tentative suggestions, rather 
than positive assertions, I replied cautiously, making 
use of the time honoured archeological phrase "It may 
be so." 

The point is, however, that much as you may regret 
it, nothing stays. These revolts against paganism and 
materialism were necessary, and the body must be put 
down if the soul was to pursue its high and respected 
way alone — but was that the intention ? Did Life really 
mean that the soul should ignore the body and go off 
on spiritual quests alone? 

We are enormously amenable to suggestion. Al- 
though in medieevalism the Christian religion — ^having 
gradually adopted all the old nature ideas that have 
been interwoven and are a part of every ancient religion 
— flowered into transcendent beauty, yet after a period 
the suggestion of penance returned. We had been 
taught to fear beauty — to fear being naturally, health- 
ily happy. We continued in our cowardly, shrunken, 
fearing hearts to look upon pleasure as a sin and Nature 
as an enticing j ade unless you worked for her, when she 
became a remorseless hag. We accepted the feminine 

Conclusiion 359 

principle grudgingly yet we had to bow to form, and 
never were more beautiful forms created than in the 
JMiddle Ages during the time when the two forces were 
harmoniously united by the far seeing wisdom of the 
Mother Church. 

Nevertheless one must be dull, indeed, who does not 
detect an undercurrent of protest even when yielding, 
as if the soul once having tasted the joys of heaven was 
impatient with everything that had to do with earth. 
Having once been a runaway, it continued to be a run- 
away, ready on the slightest provocation to spurn mat- 
ter. Yet without matter it could create nothing 

A letter from Ralph Adams Cram expresses admir- 
ably the necessity for form. While looking upon 
Christianity "that is to say explicitly and definitively 
Catholic Christianity as a divine revelation," he goes on 
to deplore the passion for the "big thing." "This ap- 
proaches too closely to that imperialism which is the 
nemesis of our modern civilisation. Devotion to the 
'big thing' means the forgetting of limitations. Your 
limitations are exactly the greatest gift of God to man. 
Without them we should be amoeba or jelly-fish or in- 
determinate gases. We must work within our limita- 
tions, that is what life is for. Chess is a good example. 
It would not be a game at all but for its magnificently 
narrow, and therefore broadening limitations. We have 
got to see everything in the large, regard life as a whole, 
but we have got to work within those limitations which 
are imposed upon us. Forgetfulness of this fact is the 
nemesis of Unitarianism, New Thought, Christian 
Science, Pragmatism, all the vague and illusory re- 
ligious and philosophical delusions of modernism. The 
greatness of great art is that it works within the hide- 

36o life ^pmboljf 

bound limitations of its media. So in the case of life, 
of which art is type and an exponent." 

Except for that lovely flowering time in medieval- 
ism never has the contest between spirit and form been 
more virulent than in the Christian religion. And it is 
the petering out of the soul when permitted to splash 
on its own, that is the most startling of all of Life's 
paradoxes. If we had not been trained for centuries 
to look upon the soul as sacrosanct we would all see 

Those who have made a study of the occult declare 
that it is quite possible under certain conditions for 
the soul of an Adept to leave the body, but admit that 
it is an extremely dangerous thing to do, for if any- 
thing happens to the deserted bod}^ during its absence 
the soul must wander without a home. 

This may explain much that would otherwise be in- 
explicable. While materialism has been permitted to 
flourish, crowding out the dreaming, wandering, run- 
away soul, the soul, wearied by too much freedom, de- 
generates into revolting charlatanry in its fatigued 
efforts to present itself in some new and startling form. 
Its dominance over various nondescript religious cults 
is really a plea for the materialistic pleasures of life. 
The soul is now beseeching the kind graces of matter 
— asking matter to take it in. Yet even now it does it 
arrogantly, condescendingly, as if it knew all the tricks, 
as if material things belonged to it, were its to bestow. 
These cults have nothing to say about martjTdom or 
sacrifice or crucifixion for the right. Their promise is 
the material blessings of health and prosperity. 

The Egyptian is the oldest conception of a real life 
hereafter of which we have any record. They said 
of the dead "they depart not as those who are dead 

Conclusion 361 

but they depart as those who are living." And they 
were the first who made happiness in the future life 
dependent on character. 

Decadence set in in that oldest of known civilisations, 
in precisely the same way, broadly speaking. The High 
Priests in the Nineteenth Dynasty, corrupted by power 
and money were anything but religious. One hundred 
and fifty years later the dethronement of the Pharaohs 
was brought about by the priests. The kings no longer 
prayed for character and the blameless life but for the 
material things which they desired. Breasted in his 
History of Egypt quotes a prayer of Rameses IV to 
Osiris which might be uttered in any one of the religious 
cults of the present day. 

"And thou shalt give to me health, life long exist- 
ence and a prolonged reign; endurance to my every 
member, sight to my eyes, hearing to my ears, pleasure 
to my heart daily. And thou shalt give to me to eat 
until I am satisfied, and thou shalt give to me to drink 
until I am drunk. And thou shalt establish my issue 
as kings forever and ever. And thou shalt grant me 
contentment every day, and thou shalt hear my voice 
in every saying when I shall tell them to thee, and thou 
shalt give them to me with a loving heart. And thou 
shalt give to me high and plenteous Niles in order to 
supply thy divine offerings and to supply the divine 
offerings of all the gods and goddesses of South and 
North, in order to preserve alive the divine bulls, in 
order to preserve alive the people of all thy 
lands, their cattle and their groves which thy hand has 
made. For thou art he who has made them all and 
thou canst not forsake them to carry out other designs 
with them; for that is not right." 

We are a little less naively dogmatic — not quite so 

362 %itt ^pmtiolsJ 

dictatorial to the God to whom we say our prayers. It 
is a democratic age — but we pray for practically the 
same things, most of us. Nor has the war even scotched 
the desire for material blessings above everything 

Religion in its highest form is simply an avowal 
of faith in the supernal glory of Life — a ritual for ex- 
pressing the beauty and splendour of Life. Through- 
out history the soul in its eagerness for flight forgets 
that this is a three-cornered affair — this life — forgets 
the mind, forgets the body, forgets that if religion is 
life, spirit must enter into every phase of life, make 
strong and upright the body and give animation to the 
mind. It forgets that to inform form, fill it with life 
and energy is the purpose. And its very forgetfulness 
is death to the soul. 

Life is not a mood nor is religion static. Each new 
revelation is built on the old form but renewed as the 
race is renewed. 

The moment a religion has become definitive, be- 
lieves that it has said all — from that moment it says 
nothing. It has ceased to grow. And also, whenever it 
typifies but one side of life, it is thin (spirit), or too 
heavy (materialism). 

In this most thrilling contest between spirit and 
matter, one finds that neither paganism nor Christian- 
ity offers man the slightest support when he permits 
either force to overbalance the other. His religion is 
not a support, it is — most unfortunately at times — 
man's very self. If it is woozy, vaporous, weakly sen- 
timental, has lost the beauty, the essential quality of 
form, the man is also a sentimentalist. If it is a 
frigid intellectualism without imagination — thus then 
we have become. 

Conclusiian 363 

It seems clear enough that whether man worships 
nature or worships mammon, whether he is a profess- 
ing but insincere and perverted pagan or a professing 
but insincere and perverted Christian his collapse 
and demoralisation are equally sure. 

It is also unmistakably clear that whenever the 
decadence of a nation's ideals takes place something has 
gone wrong with the spirit. 

Along with the eternal conflict between spirit and 
matter are certain primal instincts that cut their way 
sharply across the tangled and intricate web of life. 
The survival of these, our absolute and unfailing loyal- 
ty to them and the way they can be played up to now 
as in the past is almost beyond belief. 

The way everything we think, feel, do, have been 
and are dovetails, making a patterned whole — it is that 
that ensnares thought and imagination. 

It is amazingly significant, too, how true we run to 
form — to that form assigned to us before history began. 

With these inherited instincts either to govern man 
or to be governed by him, one can see that in all his vari- 
ous religions he has been trying, not only to express his 
worship for an Unseen Force, but also to express and 
cope with himself so that he could live at peace with him- 
self. Although his religion may be dressed up in 
different forms there is always the man underneath, 
evincing in greater or lesser degree the same tendency 
to resort to magic, propitiation, sacrifice, the instinct to 
worship something higher, the instinctive reaching out 
toward perfection, the same passionate devotion to 
theories and discoveries, the same deathless desire to 
know the secrets of life, the instinct to turn to shib- 

364 life S>pmbolsi 

boleths as a panacea for human woes — and standing 
out above everything else is trust! Our worst heart- 
aches come from betrayals of trust. Trust is such a 
deeply imbedded instinct that it seems to me this in itself 
negatives Frazer's assertion that most religions were 
founded on fear. Fear was a weapon in the hands of 
unscrupulous priests, and by fear they debased life, de- 
based religion. And it is true that nations ruled by 
fear never rise above savages. It seems a little warped, 
however, to make the savage mind the touchstone, or to 
attribute to it the creation of symbolic customs. As 
far back as we can go we find wise men as well as savages 
the same as now. We don't any of us really know, do 
we? But we love to surmise about past, present and 
future. This is another inherited instinct. We love to 
surmise and sometimes — both doubtless quite wrong — 
one surmise is as good as another. A woman does not 
need to be an anthropologist in order to surmise. She 
does it naturally. 

My surmise — I say this humbly but hopefully — as to 
the ancient mind and the ancient religions is that then as 
now the mind betrayed the same bent, the same seeking, 
the same trust, the same ardent desire to know God. 
The normal man begins his life trusting in Life, with a 
love for it, belief in it and belief in his fellow man. Ana- 
tole France expresses this charmingly. Soliloquising 
over having arrived 'au milieu du chemis de la vie/ he 
speaks of tomorrow. "Demain! II fut un temps ou ce 
mot contenait pour moi la plus belle des magies. En le 
pronon^ant je voyais des figures inconnues et char- 
mantes me faire signer du doight et murmurer, 'Viensl' 
J^aimais tant la vie alors! J'avais en elle la belle con- 
fiance d'un amour eujoo . . . Je ne V accuse pas. Elle 
ne m'a pas fait les blessures qu' elle a faites a tant 

Conclusiion 365 

d'autres. Elle tiia mcme quelque fois caresse, par 
hazard, la grande indifferente! . . . Malgre tout, j'ai, 
perdue Vesperance . . . je n*ai plus confiance en mon 
ancienne amie la vie. Mais, je Vaime encore" 

We must conclude that fear is a product of human 
experience. If experience forces us to part with our 
behefs, we do so unwillingly, sadly, with a sense of be- 
ing cheated. Faith and belief in Life is so strong in 
us that failing to realise it here on earth we transfer 
it to the skies. 

We will trust and we will worship. 

The instinct to worship is also a part of our inherit- 
ance, not only to worship an Unknown God but to de- 
mand a visible image that shall embody our ideas of 
what is great and noble and fine. Before this image we 
prostrate ourselves as much as in the days of old. Now, 
however, instead of an idol of wood or stone we have 
substituted human beings. Denied the 'graven image' 
to worship we endow some man of heroic proportion 
with all the god-like qualities. He becomes our sym- 
bol of greatness. 

"Now as always the great mass of men look for the 
master-man who can form in definite shape the aspira- 
tions and the instincts that in them are formless and 
amorphous; that can lead where they are more than 
willing to follow, but themselves cannot mark the way. 
... It is perhaps not so much that men now reject 
all leadership as it is that they blindly accept the in- 
ferior type, the specious demagogue, the unscrupulous 
master of effrontery. Men follow to-day as they al- 
ways have and always will, the difference lies in the 
quality of those that are followed." ^ 

In other words we are born hero-worshippers, sheep 

^ "The Nemesis of Mediocrity," Ralph Adams Cram. 

366 ILife ^pmbote 

who must have a leader who, if not vouchsafed to us 
from on high we create for ourselves. We must wor- 
ship something near as well as remote. 

Bay ley comments upon the recondite knowledge of 
the ancients. And one must admit that whether de- 
rived from the long lessons which tradition enforces, 
or from a flash of divine inspiration carried on by tra- 
dition, the ancients showed in many ways a deeper 
understanding of life than the moderns. Here, at 
least, they seemed to have understood human nature 
when they provided images of the gods for man to wor- 

The truth is, although you yourself may remain 
loyal to your human god and spend time and strength 
in keeping him propped up on the pedestal that your 
faith and adoration has supplied, when he deliberately 
steps down and out, what are you going to do? You 
may still vociferate your belief, go out of your way to 
assure the world that your hero still occupies the high 
pedestal of greatness — if you are a true hero wor- 
shipper you will not admit even to yourself that he 
ever side stepped or slipped down from his niche, but 
the public's eyes are sharp. Elevating and worship- 
ping human gods is a hazardous and heartrending busi- 

One has only to reflect upon how torn we were in the 
United States in very recent times by our adoration 
of two ex-presidents. Men who were the exact anti- 
theses of each other, who typified opposing forces, re- 
sponded to different needs and cravings. Each brought 
disappointment and heart burnings. Each suffered, 
too, from misunderstandings and abuse. Each brought 
that human unpredicable quality that keeps worshippers 
who say "He is that!" on tenterhooks. 

Conclusiiort 367 

If he only would be "that" — your human god — 
but alas! more times than not he isn't, and at last even 
you are forced to say wistfully, apologetically "Ah, 
well! After all he's only human." But that isn't why 
you worshipped him. You wanted the superhuman. 

Having experienced the shattering of faith follow- 
ing the Great War, having seen this ineradicable human 
tendency exemplified in the worship extended to vari- 
ous pohtical leaders who have none of them stood up — 
except Mussolini who still stands and who is the one 
great leader in the world to-day — having seen and ex- 
perienced disillusion where we looked for greatness, 
I am thoroughly convinced that the ancients aimed to 
make life placid and gently amusing, and above all 
to permit us to keep our faith when they encouraged 
us to worship images of greatness. One can scarcely 
doubt that they knew quite well what they were about, 
that they had discounted everything that seems to us 
new. They knew — one may be sure of it — that wor- 
shipping a 'graven image' was a mild and innocuous 
diversion compared to worshipping a human image. 

I am not at all sure that we did well to permit the 
Jewish mind to guide us about the 'graven image' — 
not a bit sure that the graven image is an abomination, 
but I like his scapegoat. Any one who has been the 
family scapegoat will look back longingly to the an- 
cient Jewish way of rendering harmless a peculiarly 
deep-rooted instinct in the human race. 

In Judaism there was the "one great annual piacu- 
lum the Day of Atonement and the first sin offering 
in which the temple and altar are expiated. The 
second and characteristic feature of the ceremony fol- 
lows. The high priest lays his hands on the head of a 

368 life fepmbolsf 

goat and confesses over it all the sins and iniquities of 
the children of Israel and all their transgressions; the 
sins of the people in the year past having thus been laid 
upon its head, the scapegoat bearing all their iniquities 
is led away into an uninhabited region and there let 
go. In later times, at least, to make sure that the goat 
with his burden of sin did not wander back to the 
abodes of men, he was pushed over a precipice. . . . 
Such methods of ridding the community of evils by 
loading them upon man or beast and driving the beast 
out or putting him to death are found among many 
peoples." ^ 

In reading this description of an abandoned custom, 
one must agree that the ancient Jew not only showed an 
understanding of human nature, but that deeper know- 
ledge of life which involves making human nature safe 
to live with. 

In other races sometimes the burden bearer was 
one of themselves who was chosen by lot for a year as 
in the Beltane fires. 

This, too, is one of the ineradicable instincts. We 
are more casual. We do it with less form. We don't 
let a high priest choose the victim. We select him our- 
selves. Thus scapegoats like brothers have multiplied. 
We load our sins upon the handiest person — one whom 
we conceive to be weaker than ourselves, more yielding 
and unselfish, therefore a convenient burden bearer, and 
then to be sure that the poor scapegoat — usually a friend 
or relative — does not wander back into the abodes of 
men carrying our load of sin exposed on his quivering 
back, we push him over a precipice and congratulate 
ourselves that at last we are without sin. 

The ancient custom of dealing with man's desire 

* Moore's "History of Religions." 

ConclusJion 369 

to evade consequences was considerate both for him 
and ultimately for the goat, inasmuch as it made one 
goat do for a multitude, thereby lessening the number 
of scapegoats that are now sent heedlessly dashing over 

As I said before, one who has been the family scape- 
goat does not need to be told that without a scapegoat 
upon whom to cast the burden of sin we are lost, humil- 
iated, discomfited — unable to hold up our heads. The 
scapegoat found, on we go gaily. Human nature de- 
mands that some one offer himself as a sacrifice for the 
sins of others. 

Nor does one need to be told that in politics, too, 
this instinct still prevails in even more than its old time 
liveliness and vigour. Hardly any one who is now in 
politics can hope to escape being a scapegoat. Instead 
of the blind leading the blind, it is scapegoats driving 
scapegoats. At the brink of the precipice even the 
driving ones balk and the merry chase goes on back 
somehow into power. The only requirement is a vola- 
tile nature, the ability to leap from crag to crag — and 
that, of course, a political scapegoat unblindfolded has. 

There is still sacrifice, but it is useless, unfocussed, 
without direction. 

We have the scapegoat, he is everywhere, but he 
escapes consequences. 

One finds in the modern man as in the old the same 
unquenchable desire to discover the secrets of nature — 
a sort of highly developed curiosity that turns us to 
religion in one age and science in another. 

I have commented in Woman and Man's Inven- 
tions upon man's passionate invention of theories. He 
was born 750,000,000 years ago — I believe that is as 

370 mtt ^pmtolsf 

far back at present as we are able to go — loving theo- 
ries. When not trying to be something that nature 
never intended him to be, he is busying himself in in- 
venting some plausible reason or excuse for his being 
at all. His theories are almost as wasteful of human 
energy as his inventions of modern armament. 

Knowing their unaccommodating nature, that they 
refuse to grow or expand, for very love of them man 
accommodates himself to theory. He would slice off 
arms and legs — even his own — if by so doing he could 
contrive to fit into a theory. He worships them — one 
at a time. 

It is probably true, after many disconcerting, not 
to say upsetting experiences with Life that scientists 
feel more at home, so to speak, with bones and fossils 
and quite dead things. Bones and fossils are serious 
things and conversely being serious might mean being 
a fossil. Now, you may take a lot of credit to your- 
self for knowing about fossils but you will never like 
to be called a fossil even though you be one. 

Thus we are made, preferring life to fossils. 
The old religions sought to know from nature the 
secret of life. Science seeks the secret from the dead. 
The ancient studied nature seeking the supernatural. 
Science measures skulls. 

At the moment science is working in a peculiarly 
complicated and contradictory way. Not satisfied with 
its inevitable advent according to natural processes, it 
seeks to produce death on a gigantic scale. Neverthe- 
less, while constantly engaged in inventing new and 
more devastating methods for destroying life, it is 
equally busy in discovering ways for prolonging life. 
"Can Old Age be Deferred?" is the scientific quest 
of the hour. 

Conclusion 371 

Here, too, the monkey proves invaluable. Once our 
Father, now he is our Saviour. Having enthroned the 
monkey as man's progenitor, science now falls upon the 
monkey gland as man's restorer. 

One might refer the monkey glanders to the saying 
"Those that love truth die young whatever their age" — 
but one must not deprive science of its little pleasures. 

One finds, too, as you look into this curious nature 
of ours that the desire for perfection is a fire that dies 
down but never goes out. In spite of what cavillers 
and dreary pessimists are saying, I venture to affirm 
that never has it burned with such ardour, such inten- 
sity — one might say with such consuming ferocity as 

There is the same instinct, the same desire for per- 
fectioning, but, the race no longer the objective, we have 
become deeply concerned with the welfare of the world, 
perfectioning and reforming en bloc. 

In the very early days of Christianity "a kind of 
sublime selfishness excluded all subordinate considera- 

With everyone busy saving his own immortal soul 
you can see that it might become a selfish world. With 
everyone busy saving his neighbour's immortal soul, it 
becomes a world of bedlamite unrest — a world that 
sways with hasty exits. 

True, we began by being vaguely altruistic. Hav- 
ing decided that it was our duty to save humanity we 
went about it loftily, majestically — preferring causes 
and issues to individuals. Thus it came about that 
to the conscious possessor of a seerlike quality of 
mind modern life offers a continuous flow of vicis- 
situde. He has the old undying instinct to preach and 

372 Hilt ^pmbols! 

prophesy and perfection others. Democracy invites 
reformation. It also permits it. Anyone can be a 
reformer. All may prophesy freely and inconclu- 
sively. Prophecy and reformation have become the 
pre-occupations of democracy. Having abandoned 
family admonishments the modern seer feels that he 
must mount a soap box or die. Alas, everyone mounts 
the soap box, preaching has become an affair of the 
mob. Nor is talking all. The same spirit of mob 
prophecy, mob ethics has invaded literature. The same 
spirit of too much. 

In order to give new vent to our instinct, and also 
to give it a certain lawful abandon which had the sanc- 
tion of our 'holier-than-thou' instinct — another persist- 
ent one, by the way — we were obliged to invent an- 
other catchword. 

Nothing so well shows the growth of ideas, nor 
the spell of a phrase, nor incidentally, the way we can 
be mentally baited and intrigued by words. 

We had given much time and a great deal of money 
toward benefitting humanity. Philanthropy had be- 
come our hobby. Nevertheless, humanity kept oozing 
away from us into the vague and illusory. Humanity 
somehow refused to play up. 

It was necessary to visualise again, to have a defi- 
nite symbol, a form upon which we could lavish our per- 
fectioning instinct. 

We called it the Brotherhood of Man. 

Although draped pretentiously, even deceitfully, 
any one with brothers and sisters needs only a moment's 
reflection to perceive that here is a phrase of something 
more than soft linguistic possibilities — that behind the 
seeming beauty of the words there lurks the dynamic, 
not to say explosive. 

Conclusion 373 

Once brotherhood is assured an intimacy follows 
that far exceeds the wildest dreams of democracy. The 
moment you look upon your neighbour as a brother 
perfectioning becomes an urgent family affair. 

It is interesting to follow the peculiar gyrations — 
up in the air usually — of this instinct when denied its 
legitimate direction. 

To regard your neighbour with the true brotherly, 
corrective eye is, I repeat, more than democratic. If he 
resists, baffled only for a moment, the altruistic urge re- 
turns with cumulative frenzy when you reflect that this 
is the Age of the Brotherhood of Man. 

In a land where all are given equal opportunity to 
follow the pleasantest pursuits known to man, we are 
left in no manner of doubt that the most agreeable pur- 
suit yet devised, the one of all others that gives zest 
and flavour to life is the pursuit of each other. 

"What must I do to be saved?" is no longer heard. 
The cry is, and it is a full-throated one, like hounds at 
bay, "How may I pluck my brother as a brand from 
the burning?" 

We are very much concerned, very much in earnest 
about this brother of ours. The quiet, easy street of 
personal salvation — not the blatant, pushing Main 
Street of the present day — but the old delightful 
shaded street bordered by sweeping lawns, dignified 
homes, the pleasant village life, not too intimate and 
not too formal — prayers before breakfast, grace at 
meals. Church of a Sunday — all this is abandoned. 
Forgetting that where all would reform there are none 
left to be reformed, we have become such insistent pluck- 
ers of each other from more or less perilous but pleasant 
descents, that we are forced to make a mad rush to the 
intricacies of city life to lose each other. Here, not to 

374 life ^pmbols; 

be balked, we form societies and movements and leagues 
and employ secret agents for rescuing each other. We 
enact a federal amendment with the sole aim of con- 
trolling and reforming the 'other fellow.' 

"To come to cypress groves exceedingly tall and 
fair and to green meadows where we may compose our- 
selves and converse" is no longer the objective. Fear 
possesses us. All feel pursued. It becomes a part 
of crowd psychology to prefer strangers. We have 
not a famine but a plethora of prophets and perfec- 
tionists. Where all are would-be haranguers the instinct 
is to get away from those we know in the hope of find- 
ing someone whom we ourselves may safely harangue. 
We trample on each other ruthlessly, heedless of the 
maledictions of the injured in our haste to stay the man 
who is fleeing and escape from the one behind. We 
dare not pause. On we go, wave upon wave, rushing 
pell-mell, headed nowhere, seeking and repelling each 

Symonds speaking of the Renaissance says: "The 
strange caprices of the later Renaissance too often be- 
trayed a double mind disloyal alike to paganism and 
Christianity in their effort to combine divergent forces." 
Four centuries later instead of the "double mind of 
the Renaissance" we are perilously near, except at spas- 
modic intervals, to having no minds at all. This is so 
true that governments are adopting the idea of thinking 
for us on even the most trivial, not to say intimate and 
private subjects. We are too wholly absorbed in the 
thrilling complexities of baffling and controlling each 
other to consider anything else — to consider what this 

One notes the paradox, too. The more we concern 
ourselves with each other the less we love each other. 

Conclufl(ion 375 

Interest intensifies and love diminishes. As the pace 
quickens there comes over us a curious combination of. 
the sullenly inimical and the apathetically hostile and 
indifferent. We cling to nothing but our ideas. We 
are beginning to hate the object of our chase. The 
truth is, we are getting tired. Perfectioning our brother 
is a serious matter. We would like to slacken speed, 
to pause, to rest. We dare not do so. Greater than 
our desire for rest is our fear and loathing of the man 
— our brother also — who is sweeping on to dispense his 
wisdom to us from behind. 

Our dissatisfaction with life grows. Many of us 
have retired to our study, not for the sake of peace, of 
a tranquil withdrawal from the busy hum of modern 
life. Not at all. We make the study a vantage point 
from which we continue the combat. We pelt our 
brother with books. We pour out our vitriolic and our 
sentimental views in books. The Younger Generation 
have adopted books as a means to shock as well as at- 

The colleges foster this. Each year they turn out 
droves of young things perfectly trained in the technic 
of writing — having every equipment except possibly 
that of having something to say. Their writings must 
necessarily be autobiographical — autobiographical be- 
fore life has begun, or prophetic — dealing solely with 
the future. One bars out from this the few who really 
have imagination. 

Prophecy without roots in the common experience 
— which ultimately interprets itself in terms of the 
universal or the accumulated wisdom of the race — de- 
generates into radicalism. 

And here again comes in the "Brotherhood of Man." 
Much that seems almost whimsically disheartening in 

376 TLiit ^pmbols! 

the present day attitude toward life may be accounted 
for by the fact that the moment you regard all men as 
brothers differentiations cease. You no longer have 
proportion. Humour passes out. 

Universal dead-level-dom is a desperately serious 
affair. Its adherents take it most seriously. 

One sees at once the complications that may ensue 
from a too close following of any idea. Trained by 
the age he lives in, it is only natural that the modern 
should come to feel himself self -begotten, self-created. 
On the other hand, fathers having also become brothers 
forget that they have sons. One can understand why 
the Younger Generation alternately abuse and plead 
Avith the Older Generation to move on. Science, too, 
has much to answer for in this topsy-tur\y condition, 
by devising ways to kill off the young and preserve the 
old. Aided by science and the dentists, the old seem 
only too willing to forget that the world revolves by 
an orderly system of displacement. Without this con- 
stant displacement there comes what we are seeing now, 
congestion, lack of proportion, a furious clash of egos. 

It helps one to understand, too, why the modern, 
discarding the past, having gone from nothing sees 
nothing ahead but himself and his o^vn personal re- 
actions to life. A book that came out a year or so ago, 
Ludwig Lewisohn's Uj) Stream is a striking example, 
of this modern tendency. 

When Chesterton undertakes to tell us What is 
Wrong with the World he does it wittily, enjoyingly. 
He convinces us that we have strayed away from the 
Eternal Verities. He does not remove the Eternal 

Lewisohn's prophetic vision sees nothing beyond 
chaos, nothing beyond the present moment, nothing be- 

Conclusiion 377 

yond self. After you have commended his exquisite 
h'terary style you are impressed by the intense personal 
egotism, and the strange binding narrowness of out- 
look. It isn't even bleak, for bleakness implies wide 
though barren spaces. He is not witty. He is not 
grateful. He is not tolerant. He does not instruct. 
He does not amuse. 

It may be that this book does not accurately repre- 
sent the modern, but is rather the result of an inbred 
racial instinct. We cannot ignore the fact, however, 
and it is very well worth noting, that it is this spirit 
that is beginning to dominate, not only in literature but 
is giving us through every available channel its own 
arid and peculiarly uninspiring interpretation of life. 

There is such a thing as brotherly hate. The spirit 
that is beginning to dominate is the perfectioning in- 
stinct that, standing aloof disdains to affiliate with any 
but those whose minds run along with its own. 

According to some of the more expert diagnos- 
ticians and psychologists the same radical tendencies 
that are so apjDarent in the social organism may be ob- 
served in the human organism. In other words, bol- 
shevism has struck in. 

You have to spend only a little time in contemplat- 
ing the working parts of your own machinery — which 
you have believed up to now that you dominate — to 
ask yourself if you do dominate. Is not your throne 
trembling, too? You begin to be conscious that here, 
too, the head is despised. The labouring classes are up 
in arms striking for higher pay and shorter hours and 
all clamouring for self-expression. You understand 
why the human race is becoming stunted. The way 
modern doctors and specialists treat disease invites the 
belief that lungs, heart, liver, kidneys — all the various 

378 TLxit ^pmbolsJ 

organs of your body are bent on growing little legs 
of their own so that they, too, may go off on a wild, 
howling, independent prance of uproarious, social 
equality freedom. The heart rebels at pumping blood 
through the lungs. It would like to live for its own 
heart throbs. The lungs have a wild longing to breathe 
something besides air. They remind you constantly 
and pettishly that they are sick of work. Each organ 
magnifies itself into a separate unit jealously resentful 
of the ignominy of working with or for any other part. 
Forced by the inscrutable law of being to jog along to- 
gether in the narrow confines of the body they wreak 
their spite on each other. The true spirit of perfection- 
ing, of Calvinistic reformation has entered in. The 
tonsils attack the knees. The teeth menace the whole 
body. The former master of his own domain is grow- 
ing tired, too. Mind, the king is weakening. The 
parts are greater than the whole. Aided by the counsels 
of mental healers who have sprung up mushroom-wise 
to assist in the restoration of the old dominance of the 
mind, we are trying to think ourselves into states of con- 
sciousness comparable to that idyllic state when the or- 
ganism was composed of silent, willing, obedient mem- 
bers. The very effort defeats itself. We are doing 
consciously the things that can only be well done un- 

There is an amusing side to all this. When our 
breath wheezes and our heart jumps and neuritis sets 
into our arms and sciatica into our legs and we have 
indigestion most vilely — we used to say that we had 
lost our health. Now, we are assured by Freud — and 
rather gravely, too, — one finds no suggestion of irony 
— that what ails us is suppressed desires. Whatever 
it is that afflicts us, this modern attitude towards the 

Conclus;ion 379 

parts of the human body furnishes a not inapt 
illustration of our attitude as individuals toward 

Such is the marvellous potency of a phrase, however, 
and its soothing, soporific effect upon the mind, that the 
advocates of the theory of Brotherhood and Interna- 
tionalism carried over from pre-war days will tell you 
even now with a seraphic smile that we are all brothers. 
After listening to them talk, however, you find that they 
are demanding your sympathy for the criminal, nor do 
they hesitate to pour out splenetic fault-findings with 
the victims of the criminal who surely are brothers, too. 

Thus do we spend ourselves in our eager love of 
perfectioning — thus do we still make fetiches as in the 
days of old — slaves to our ideas. 

Even in modernism there are the same persistent 
instincts but turned in, not out. There is the same quest 
— productivity, but production of the unimporant, 
production that creates artificial desires. The striving 
for unity displays itself in the effort to build up a huge 
industrial machine. There is sacrifice, too, but it is the 
sacrifice of all joy or interest in work. Massed produc- 
tion necessarily robs the workman of the joy of crea- 
tion, of viewing the finished product as something that 
he has carried through from the beginning to its com- 
pletion. Naturally no amount of wages can compen- 
sate for having driven the creative spirit out of labour, 
for making machines of men. Yet one must believe 
that this was done without intention, in blindest ignor- 
ance of what would be the result. Man was simply in 
the grip of one of his ideas. His soul having gone off 
on one of its long flights, he sees nothing in life but 
amusement and material gain. In his industrial mad- 

38o TLift ^pmbols; 

ness, man uses up womanhood as remorselessly as he 
makes machines of men. 

No religious cult of the most savage tribes could 
have demanded a greater sacrifice, or a greater number 
of victims. This is a sacrifice not to a God but to the 
"big idea" — the sacrifice of manhood and woman- 
hood, of the joy of life for the material things of life. 

The primal, energising force called man hasn't a 
notion of this. Having lost his reverence for life, he 
has lost his sense of direction and the power to think 
except in the groove defined by his one idea. In his 
business life as in his religious and social life it is the 
spirit that has weakened, that becomes remiss or va- 
grant, that wanders away or sinks into sluggishness and 
inertia, preferring listlessness and stupefaction to life. 
This goes on in this three in one creature called man 
until mind usurps the place formerly dominated by 
the soul. And mind uninformed by the spirit gives us 
a crude, hard capitalism on the one side and a crude, 
striving, getting proletariat on the other. Gentleness, 
grace, beauty, repose ooze out of existence and in their 
place we have the antics and the grimaces of the arch 
exponent of materialism — the Jew. Remaining in the 
ghetto so long as society is strong, upright, inspired, 
harmonious — only to come forth again with vigour un- 
abated, climbing into power as society weakens and the 
materialistic spirit prevails, espousing every idea that 
subverts or breaks with the traditions of the past, push- 
ing his way in where beauty is and by his presence he 
crowds out beauty — and then vilifies the ruin of all 
loveliness that his entrance makes — he is more than 
materialistic — he is the vulture that picks the bones of 
every dying civilisation. He is pathetic, too, for he had 
hoped to pick it alive. 

Conclusiion 381 

He always appears when choas threatens. That is 
his role, the part he plays in this world drama. More 
than all else, perhaps, it is the impotent and arid striv- 
ing of the mind, that throughout history has been so 
strikingly exemplified by the Jew — that brilliantly in- 
tellectual race that is the same yesterday, to-day and 
to-morrow, that knows not the blending and growing 
processes of nature, that demands entrance, speaks of 
the melting pot, loves the phrase, then stands outside 
the melting pot, throws stones at it, and jeers and 
curses all that it has produced. A sad, dissatisfied 
race, that like the mind alone uninformed by the spirit, 
throws do^vn and destroys wherever it goes. 

And along with modernism as with religion there is 
the pathetic picture of the wandering, homeless soul 
trjHing to break through and create some form for itself 
in socialism, or various welfare cults organised for so- 
ciety's good. Step by step with modernism go these 
ineffectual and sublimely sentimental organisations that 
the errant soul creates. 

And step by step, encroaching somewhat, gaining 
ominously in strength comes feminism, and this brings 
us to Sex. 

If, as I suspect, religion is life, then it comes back 
to the interplay of the two forces that create life — 
and here we have the problem of sex — the old problem 
of Man and Woman — the forces that create religions, 
civilisations, life. 

The ancients, who faced nature and themselves un- 
abashed, seemed thoroughly aware of this and of the 
enormous importance, the dangerous importance of 
sex. Their religious symbolism was built upon it. If 
we look at life cosmically instead of in detached frag- 
ments we find that the Divine principle of life diff eren- 

382 %iit ^i^mbote 

tiates more and more the higher the evolution. The 
ancients never lost sight of this. As we have seen on 
the foregoing pages everything sinuous, curving was 
a symbol of woman. Whatever was pointed, direct 
was a symbol of man. Their entire history has been 
one of conflict, of union and disunion, the marriage of 
forces that refuse to stay married — that keep up a 
state of continual oscillation, unless they follow the law 
that nature has mercifully provided and lose themselves 
in the race. 

Without this thought of a future in which duality 
merges into unity, without the culmination which re- 
sults in the child, religions vibrate between recognising 
sex as all, or denying it in toto as a shameful thing. 
And by religion here, of course, one means our concep- 
tion, our ritual, our manual of life. 

The problem is not new. Each civilisation has been 
confronted with it. Whenever these forces cease to 
co-operate, they attempt to supplant or duplicate each 
other, become inimical or too fond — until the question 
arises — and it is a very serious one — are we to do with- 
out curves or are we to be all curves with nothing 
straight or direct about us — or can we really be a curve 
and a straight line at one and the same time? 

In this connection one must bear in mind that 
throughout the ancient religions it is the masculine and 
feminine principles and not man and woman as indi- 
viduals that are symbolised. There are all sorts of men 
and women — all sorts of days, dull, grey, dark, gloomy 
days, but the principles day and night, light and dark- 
ness, active and passive, masculine and feminine never 

The Egyptians saw eternal conflict between Light 
and Darkness. They made it dramatic, poetic, inspir- 

Conclusijon 383 

ing. The sun rose victorious after a night spent in 
battling with darkness. Light prevailed. Good had 
conquered evil. The issue was a square one. It was a 
splendid, heartening contest. 

The conflict between man and woman is wholly 
tragic, for love, attraction, repulsion, disillusionment, 
disappointment enter in. Both are good and both are 
evil. Neither can conquer the other without disaster. 
In these sporadic attempts to break down the eternal 
order of things, there is battle but the issue is not clear. 
The forces are not so much opposites as they are oppos- 
ing — something of the Kilkenny cat variety. The soul, 
too, is again away from it all on one of its protracted 

I can hardly hope to be agreed with, nevertheless, in 
spite of the painful efforts of those well meaning but 
deeply harassed early Christians to convince themselves 
and others that woman was an ally of Satan — backed up 
by symbolism I am ready to maintain that man as the 
active agent — although he has a marvellously ingenious 
mind for making excuses for himself, can never honestly 
squirm out of his responsibility for decadence in the 
past, modernism in the present — and shall it be deca- 
dence or a re-birth into a higher and finer civilisation in 
the future ? His will be all the credit in either case. 

There was a time when I dreamed that woman was 
the spiritual leader. Before and even during the war I 
used to hold her to blame as man is so fond of doing. I 
no longer do so. It seems more nearly true that she 
takes her entire cue from man. It may be that she out 
Herod's Herod, but that is her nature. In this respect 
she resembles the Jew. She carries everything to an 
extreme. She is diffuse, expansive, negative. She is 
water, earth, sky. 

384 mtt ^pmbolsi 

In the legend of Isis and Osiris, it is worth recalUng 
that it was Osiris, not Isis whom Set the spirit of evil 
persuades to lay himself down in the box which Set 
has prepared for him. Nor does Isis go up and down 
the earth searching for Osiris until after he has been 
overcome by evil. 

The significance of this applies equally well to con- 
ditions of the present day. As I have suggested, it is 
more than probable that man is the one who first leaves 
the "Eternal circle from Goodness through Goodness to 
Goodness" — the circle which encloses and bomids him 
and which is woman, and equally probable that woman 
would always remain quiescent and passive if man him- 
self kept within proper bounds. 

Throughout the ages when man works with nature 
— with the earth, woman is important. There is some 
indissoluble, mystical connection here. Whenever he 
leaves nature and creates an artificial life woman be- 
comes negligible. He either makes a toy of her, or tries 
to fit her into the artificial conditions with which he has 
surrounded himself. In either case life, the race, is the 

He is an interesting study — this man. Activity is 
his essence. He tires of the circle, tires even of woman. 
Yet having broken through he reflects upon her eternal 
usefulness. Here, one cannot be quite sure. It may be 
a stab of conscience or a gracious act of condescension, 
or possibly he feels the need of a companion in iniquity 
and invites woman to abandon the circle, too — or, per- 
haps he refrains from all gesture knowing that the bar- 
riers broken she will inevitably follow. 

In any case, obediently out she comes, leaves the 
circle, and tries to make herself into a straight line. She 
becomes an office assistant, a factory hand. She enters 

Conclusiion 385 

man's business life to become a thing apart — the most 
atrocious punishment a woman can have. Or she goes 
alone and embarks on a career. In all these activities 
she is outside a centre — but there is probably a mean- 
ing for this. Frequently she combines marriage and a 
career — attempts to be a curve and a straight line. 

The change in the relationship of these forces comes 
about gradually, insidiously. The effect is cumulative, 

The active force called man rather flatters himself 
that he is giving woman greater freedom. And so he is. 
He would give her anything if she would let him alone, 
except to work for him on the lines he has chosen to 
exploit in the pursuit of his "big idea" — and to amuse 
him when he needs relaxation. 

Plutarch describes Isis as the "power in matter 
which becomes everything and receives everything as 
light and darkness, fire and water, day and night, life 
and death, beginning and end . . . therefore called by 
Plato the nurse and all receiver, but by the common 
people the many sided, the goddess with ten thousand 
names — because under the influence of reason she re- 
ceives all forms. And she has an inborn affection for 
the first principle of all things — which is the same as 
good — and she longs for it and pursues it. On the other 
hand she flees the evil principle and thrusts it away, 
although she is space and matter for both. However, 
she always inclines to the better and freely offers her- 
self to it . . . for the reproduction of its likenesses in 
which she rejoices." 

If in spite of her new freedom, and much vaunted 
power to vote — to be the equal of man, she is a bit cyni- 
cal, a bit heavy hearted — no longer worshipping man or 
anything else, for that matter; if one finds her a 'bit 

386 TLiit ^pmbolsi 

dullish' or too terrifyingly brilliant, it is due to disillu- 
sion, perhaps. She is torn by her desire to follow him, 
her desire to guard, protect, care for — and her resent- 
ment over his indifference, his casualness, his absorp- 
tion with occupations that once were hers — doing every- 
thing that she once did, too much, too well — and para- 
doxically not so well. 

Although her power is in many ways almost unlimit- 
ed, although it is again making its ominously historic 
mark, she really does not like a feminised world — a 
feminised world is an effeminate world, a corrupt world. 
Nor does she like to be loved as man loves her now. She 
is wearied with sex. 

When man chooses evil he denies himself. He is 
untrue to himself. 

Woman is without choice, she is the acted upon — 
with strange, inexplicable periods of violence, of terrific 
resentments. When she finally emerges from the eso- 
teric and manifests herself in the open it is as devastating 
to civilisation and the orderly scheme of things as a flood 
or an earthquake. She is nature first, last and all the 

There is no doubt that woman has broken through 
the circle. The truth is, they are both outside the 
eternal circle as much as Adam and Eve ever were. 

By the most strenuous and emphatic exertions of the 
male they have both managed to get outside their 'hide 
bound limitations.' The advocates of the New Freedom 
have written tomes on the subject. Much eloquence 
has been expended upon the joys that waited upon this 
perfect freedom and equality for both sexes. Yet even 
they could hardly describe their convulsive flops and 
gaspings as convulsions of ecstatic joy. Society was 
built up on the ideal of noblesse oblige. In the New 

Conclus^ion 387 

Freedom it is the trampling of a stampeding herd that 
is the ideal. Even the most hardened war profiteer who 
breaks his way, like the famous bull, into society, finds it 
much like the strata he had hoped to leave behind. 
Without form there are no social stratas. 

All sorts of things can happen when you abandon 
form. The advocates of freedom and perfect social 
equality object to many if not most of nature's laws. 
They find nature tiresome not to say irksome. Take 
the feet for instance. It is quite wrong that the feet 
should support the body, thus putting the head neces- 
sarily on a higher altitude. (We have referred before 
to the ignominy attached to having any head. ) Having 
decided that the position of the body politic must be 
altered for a change, feet are now waving frantically in 
the air — mostly masculine, it must be admitted, largely 
encouraged by the feminine principle. As for the 
head — the masculine head — ^you can't see it. It is buried 
like the ostrich. There is a far fetched reasonableness 
about this, too. It is the head unguided by the spirit 
that has got us into this mess. The feet, however, are 
wildly evident aimlessly kicking the air. Every move- 
ment is a protest. You can't believe that they are en- 
joying themselves, that they wouldn't prefer resting 
upon the solid earth. However, the head is being pun- 
ished and there is something in that. It is difficult to 
say whether the Jew or woman is the more responsible 
for the absurd situation. To the modernist — either the 
capitalist who asks only to be left alone, or the reformer 
who believes that topsy-turvey-dom creates a New 
Heaven and a New Earth — the picture is not a happy 

One cannot deny that the feminine principle has 
been doing everything possible to bring this condition 

388 TLiU g)j>mbol2; 

about. It has been intent on power. Once outside the 
circle the two forces left form and co-operation behind. 
They have lost creative desire, sex is all and the struggle 
for sex supremacy is a bitter one. 

Once more, in spite of the early Christian effort to 
put down and trample upon the feminine principle, 
"The gods die but the goddess is undecaying." The 
feminine principle dominates modern society in a so- 
called Christian civilisation as ruthlessly, as sans gene 
as in the dying days of a corrupt paganism. 

The Jew and the feminine principle are apparently 
working together. Yet it is the feminine principle that 
ultimately defeats the Jew. He is intent on subvert- 
ing, on changing, on getting everything in his own 
hands. She is slowly, consistently, implacably bent 
on breaking down. He is bent on destroying truth, 
honour, patriotism — everything that stands in the way 
of a purely materialistic conception of life. She is bent 
on destroying materialism, destroying a civilisation that 
no longer represents beauty, love, livingness. Life. 

It is dangerous in a man made world to teach woman 
to think. In a divinely ordered world she does not 
need to think. 

In the grip of multiplicity, of a multitude of ideas 
and enterprises that ramified to the uttermost parts of 
the earth, enterprises of such magnitude, requiring such 
intense pre-occupation that religion had almost ceased 
to be even a Sunday affair, nothing but a smash could 
stop this soaring, vaulting masculine principle. 

It is not too fantastic to regard the Great War 
as a crash head on between these antagonistic forces — 
we called them in the beginning autocracy and democ- 
racy — the final and awful conflict between the active 
and passive principles, the culmination of a long and 

Conclusiion 389 

bitter sex warfare, each having reached the nth degree 
of perversion, each representing the chmax of wilful, 
unloving selfishness. And again it is the race that 
suffers. It is the young that make the magnificent 

Although democracy won the war, the analogy holds 
good in the chaos that follows the triumph of the fem- 
inine or negative principle. There is nothing more 
extraordinary in the legend of Isis and Osiris than 
when with evil conquered and given to her to guard, 
Isis lets it go. Nothing more clearly indicates the 
feminisation of the force opposed to the Germans than 
its hesitations, its indecisions, its willingness to let evil 
escape its just punishment, its lack of vision, its ab- 
solute inability* to deal with the situation. 

It has been said that the great masters in any 
field whether of art or finance or government make 
use of precisely three forces — investigation, elimina- 
tion, concentration. Democracy investigates, rarely 
eliminates, never concentrates. It is expansive, diffuse, 

If there is chaos again, one cannot blame woman 
too much. She is used to being held responsible for 
things she has never done. Absolutely pliant to a cer- 
tain point, history shows that there comes a time when 
she balks. And whenever she does this, that particular 
apple cart of a civilisation is upset. 

These forces repay our interest in them. It may 
be that the Chinese philosophy has the true conception 
when it calls them the two Regulating Powers wliich 
balance, counteract and discipline each other. The 
Two Regulating Powers Yang and Yin create by their 
co-operation all that takes place in nature. "These 
two Regulators who, mutually extinguishing and giv- 

390 TLiit ^pmtolsi 

ing way to each other, keep at work a ceaseless process 
of revolution which produces all the phenomena of 
existence. . . . The struggle between and different 
admixtures of these two contrasting, elementary forces 
make all the conditions that prevail." 

Once upon a time, this was also in the Christian era, 
I believe, the masculine intellect proved conclusively 
that women have no souls. 

This may or may not be so. There is no doubt, 
however, about the feminine mind — that it moves cir- 
cuitously. It swoops around logic in one glorious 
circle and arrives unerringly at the starting point. The 
feminine principle describes a circle — but if that circle 
invariably leads back to truth ? — 

The war showed the magnificence of man. If re- 
turning youth sulks, it is only because it believes that it 
has failed to release beauty and honour and unselfish- 
ness, because science is still trying to interfere with 
orderly progression, because darkness and chaos still 
control. On the other hand, there is little doubt that 
chaos is the result of the feminine principle's hatred of 
substitutes and semblances and imitations — the thou- 
sand and one useless things that man has created on his 
own initiative. The corsetless girls, the short, tight 
skirts are a drive back to nature which shows itself in 
the final analysis through sex. All this that the pious 
or censorous regard as depravity is the surging rebel- 
lion of the young pushed to the last extreme by modern 
futilities and artificialities. The war, betraying the 
impotence of the older generation, has given them the 
right, they think, to give the final kick to a craven, 
irresolute, pusillanimous, rotten state of affairs. They 
are not responsible for the wretched upheaval. They 
detest the falsity, the insincerities, the opportunism, the 

Conclusiion 391 

hatreds that brought it about. It is the natural revul- 

Life — this alluring, tingling, bracing thing called 
life is again back to the older, the finer struggle, the 
primeval struggle between Light and Darkness. As 
much as the Egyptians of old we are anxious spectators 
looking on at the solar drama. There is no doubt of 
our longing to see day triumph over night. We are 
sun worshippers all, we adore the masculine principle. 
Even the feminine principle, that strange, smouldering, 
unfathomable compound of brooding tenderness, un- 
reasoning jealousies, cloud burst tendencies — that en- 
compassing, enfolding, loving, gently nurturing fem- 
inine principle that is earth, water, sky — is never satis- 
fied until the sun is restored to power. 

At the moment all eyes are on Mussolini. He 
stands out, not so much as a man but as a world force, 
the recrudescence of the masculine principle at its best. 
He represents purpose, concentration, unity. He is 
direct, awe inspiring, convincing. He says to the feet, 
that were waving even more frantically in the air in 
Italy than elsewhere, "To the ground!" 

To the ground the feet go joyfully — and very much 
relieved, if the truth were known, to feel the solid earth 
under them. It was all the fault of the idiotic reform- 
ers anyway. Mussolini says "Talking is imbecile." 
How well we know the futility of words. Have 
we had anji:hing else for five weary years? Even 
though man becomes secretive again — if only he will be 

He tells Italy that the one thing that carries a race 
forward in the struggle for existence is " Lavorare e 
Ohhedire." The very sound of the old half-forgotten 
words evokes boundless enthusiasm. The feet are in- 

392 ILife ^pmtiols; 

deed travelling on sure ground. The response is in- 
stantaneous. The Italians are working and obeying 
as never before. He offers his followers, what? Sac- 
rifice — sacrifice of self and they accept the terms joy- 
ously. And all the world watches and rejoices. 
There is no doubt about it. The masculine principle 
is tremendously popular. Even the feminine principle 
bows in admiration before the masculine principle when 
it shows itself. Is it not the Sun, Heaven, Light, 

In Italy one begins to see the mystery and glory of 
light emerging from darkness. The eternal process 
from chaos to order repeating itself from the first myths 
to the chaotic present — which must in turn give way to 
order. Mussolini as a leader is appealing to the beau- 
tiful, the soul inspiring thing that is in the nature of 
man — his love of order, of obedience, of work, of sacri- 
fice for the carrying out of an ideal. 

He appeals to youth. He comimands obedience.^ 

Even as I write of the symbols of these marvellous 
creative forces that have played such a part in religion 
— those Two Regulating Powers that "create by their 
co-operation everything that takes place in nature," of 
the cross, creative energy; the circle, perfection; the 

' The sinister murder of Matteotti has occurred since writing the above. 
In New York at the time and struck by the attitude of the newspapers 
there toward Mussolini, all seeming consciously or unconsciously to reflect 
the attitude of Moscow, I sent one to a friend in Italy. He replied 
July 10, 1924. "The N. Y. newspaper you sent me with articles on the 
Italian situation makes statements of which there are absolutely no proof 
whatever. It would be literally quite as justifiable to say that the Com- 
munists slew Matteotti in order to put the blame on Mussolini and 
Fascismo and so divert public opionion from the imminent trial of the 
Communistic people accused of the murders at Empoli. There is no proof 
an yet available either for the one or the other and it is an iniquity to 
declare either presumption to be true. Everything else is merest surmise." 

Conclusiion 393 

serpent the means of combining creative energy and 
perfection; the triangle, the result, the ultimate realisa- 
tion of multiplicity in unity, of three in one — and all 
the other life symbols, the poetic and imaginative inter- 
pretations of this mysterious Life Force by those 
wise and understanding ancients — and of the trouble 
the soul makes, and the mind makes, until finally the 
exasperated feminine principle makes trouble all 

around even as I write — as if there were not enough 

to bother us, word comes that the mind is trying to stir 
up things again. 

You would hardly believe it possible, but that is the 
extraordinary thing about life that it is the same battle 
again and again between the two forces, masculine and 
feminine, then comes the recalcitrant soul, the usurping 
mind, the body spurned or made use of — always made 
to pay the price — then sex — an orgy of it — and then 
the avenging Great Mother — the great nature goddess. 

And then Life — living that is true again. 

While I am writing of these things word comes 
that the clash between the fundamentalists and 
modernists in the Episcopal Church is approaching 
a crisis. Not long ago the rector of one of the 
most fashionable churches in New York City doffed 
his priestly vestments, donned the gown of a doctor of 
theology, entered the pulpit and denied the doctrine of 
the Virgin Birth, questioned the Holy Resurrection 
and defied his bishop to try him for heresy. On the 
same Sunday another rector in another Episcopal 
Church in New York who had been called to account 
by the bishop for introducing classical dancing in his 
church was preaching a sermon on the "Necessity of 
Paganism" in religion. 

Guthrie's symbolic dancing is not so much a question 

394 ^if^ ^pmbolsi 

of taste, but of whether you can force yourself and 
others arbitrarily back into the necessary state of mind 
to make such exhibitions real. Julian the Apostate 
tried it, but even then the austerities of the early Christ- 
ian had made an indelible impress upon the hearts and 
souls of men — or, perhaps more truthfully, pure joy 
had gone out of the sophisticated pagan before Christ- 
ianity came in. The mistake, if mistake it be, in going 
back to the pagan festivities is in believing that in a 
decadent, soul-less age we can recapture the early 
pagan child-like joyousness, the spirit of innocent aban- 
don and faith that made them such a lovely expression 
of life. 

This same entertaining clergyman — and very en- 
tertaining he is — also experimented, I believe, or per- 
mitted the experiment to be tried — of superinducing 
emotion by an arrangement of different coloured lights 
streaming in on his Church audience. I don't recall the 
combination, but under a blue light say — you were sup- 
posed to respond by feeling religious — if anyone knows 
what that means. Apparently, in his eagerness to 
share with others his own abounding joy in life, poetry, 
art, he momentarily lost sight of the fact that the old 
colourists who produced the marvels of stained glass 
were not working to superinduce emotion in others, but 
to express emotion — express themselves. A subtle but 
powerful difference that distinguishes the one who 
creates because he must express his own soul, his own 
consciousness of life, beauty, art — from the charlatan 
who would play upon the soul of others. 

The heart of a child which made these old nature 
festivities lovely cannot be dealt out to us by some bene- 
ficent being who would like to make everyone happy. 
To recapture it in a world that man has made unspeak- 

Conclusiion 395 

ably stereotyped and ugly requires more than coloured 
lights or effectively staged dances. 

When the great question religion is forever pro- 
pounding is Life — how to live well — the soul winces 
over the pifHingness of these modern devices — of these 
far-fetched doubts. 

The modernist who believes that the Bible should 
be interpreted in the light of modern science may in- 
terpret it — but he will never change it. 

I sometimes think that religion is to the mind what a 
bull dog is to a collie. The bull dog seems small and 
the collie large. The collie can never resist the attack 
even though he comes home limping — as he always 

The modernist attitude is simply the old story of 
the difficulties the mind finds and makes when con- 
fronted by feeling. 

"Le coeur a des raisons que la raison ne connait 

One wonders which is happier in this mystical world 
of mystery, the one who beats his intellectual brains out 
trying to explain literally the eternal processes of na- 
ture, life, religion — or the one who accepts Life as the 
divine mystery that always eludes the intellect. The 
one who opposes nature or the one who sees nature as 
the "living garment of God. . . ." 

Steeped in early symbolism, with your head full of 
the beauty of nature, feeling yourself a part of the 
"eternal stream of life and power and action which is- 
sues from the original source of all life," you feel like 
saying "How very unimportant this all is — what does 
it matter really, poor dear old mind! How you do 
bother yourself — and others — about things that do not 
concern you, that you were never intended to under- 

396 TLiit ^j>ml)ol2{ 

stand. How little the mind knows, how inane, how 
stupid it is when it approaches Life!" 

The mind which decries the simple lovely things 
that satisfy imagination and heart, that after making 
religion a profession — denies — does a futile, a hope- 
lessly irrelevant and unconvincing thing. No one can 
quite tell how or why, but only the mind suffers de- 
feat. And whatever twists and contortions and eluci- 
dations and interpretations priests and theologians have 
given to religion, whenever these have opposed them- 
selves to nature, life, feeling, they drive religion out of 
the church doors, it is true, and have nothing but an 
empty meaningless formalism on their hands. But the 
amusing thing is, that while the theologian develops a 
decided limp and the priest's voice has a hollow sound, 
Life and nature and feeling have a way of appearing 
around the corner as if quite unaware that the mind 
had reduced them to a doctrine. 

The truth is, you may not believe in the Virgin 
Birth or the Resurrection — and you may pin your faith 
on the ape as father — and you may be right, but the 
fatal thing is, you no longer interest. A religion with- 
out imagination is very dull. Life itself offers the 
strongest protest. 

These ancient symbols and customs, these gracious 
beliefs founded on who knows what inner truth or 
revelation — the Virgin Birth, the Eucharist, the Resur- 
rection, the Blessed Sacraments — the whole ritual that 
stretches back so far, opens such wide horizons of 
thought, gives us such an assurance of continuity — 
these are the noli me tangere of religions. He hazards 
his own soul who opposes or who attempts to abolish 

If a Catholic can believe that he literally partakes 

ConcIusJion 397 

of the body and blood of Christ, don't flout it. His is 
a superb conviction of one of nature's eternal truths. 

Belief in the Virgin Birth is a part of the whole 
iny±h of existence, going back to the beginning of all 
things. Having survived every assault of the mind 
will it not continue to survive? 

The Virgin Birth is, perhaps, only the symbol of 
Oneness that the heart demands. Man creates diver- 
sity, plunges into multiplicity, gets bewildered, lost — 
and back he comes to unity again. Literally the Vir- 
gin Birth may or may not have been — mystically, who 
can doubt? 

WHien you see how important a part the Virgin 
Birth has played in every myth and every religion who 
could have the heart to cast it out? Personally I love 
it, symbolising as it does a conception that is born of 
love and not of passion. 

And so, too, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
We know intellectually that there were many other 
twice-born gods that were born on December 25th, 
and that Easter was a pagan festival in celebration of 
the awakening of nature to re-newed life in the spring. 
Freely admitting this, yet we know, too, in some inner, 
soul-satisfying way that it was inevitably true that 
Christ should become a part also of the whole system 
of awakening life; that He would have been out of it, 
an abstraction if He, too, had not been given to us on 
the day that had been celebrated with such joy since 
time immemorial — if the birth into our consciousness 
of His divine purpose and mission had not been cele- 
brated on December 25th. The Church when it adopted 
this knew in some mystical way that the more deeply 
He was associated with the marvellous processes of 
nature the more reality Christ would have for us. 

398 TLitt S^vmholsi 

For some Christ may never have existed. To others 
He was but a man and not divine. Yet the Life of 
Christ is eternally true. 

Perhaps all of life is myth and fable and Death 
the only reality — but those who love life think other- 
wise. The great adventure is life, and death but the 
thrill of awakening to a new and illimitable Life. 

The undying strength of the Catholic Church rests 
upon two things, the Voice of Authority and these 
jealously guarded traditions of the race. In spite of 
its glaring faults, its sins and omissions, its foundations 
are solidly built on the eternal truths of life. "Catholic 
dogma is merely the witness, under a special symbolism 
of the enduring facts of human nature and the uni- 
verse; it is merely the voice which tells us that man is 
not the creature of the drawing room and the stock ex- 
change, but a lonely, awful soul confronted by the 
Source of all Souls." 

When we can no longer find the truth in the myths, 
rituals and symbols so preciously held and guarded, 
for all generations to puzzle over until finally they come 
to them as a little child, we are indeed turned to stone 
and must be broken up to pave the road for others, who 
pass through the portals of Life, making the quest more 
gladly and joyously than we who would live in the 
mind alone. 

These, that I have gathered for you here beseech 
your interest, your tender love and faith. Perhaps 
they are only myths, only symbols of a forgotten past 
— but how beautiful, how heartening they are — and 
how truly they proclaim the long, long contest between 
light and darkness, good and evil, order and disorder 
and that light follows darkness as day follows night. 

Conclusion 399 

Here they are, a nosegay for you — all these imper- 
ishable records and imaginings that the mind unin- 
formed by the spirit seeks to destroy. 

Are they not lovely — worthy of our love? 

And don't they make you feel that at the very 
heart of us man and woman are the nicest things that 
ever happened — the most important and beautiful 
things that ever happened — except the child? 

And still Life goes on — pulsating, vitalising life — 
the same life that revealed itself to the eager, specula- 
tive eyes of the ancient seers in trees, flowers, animals, 
sun, moon, stars and most of all in man himself — the 
same great, unfathomed mystery. 

Perhaps that is the true function of the life symbols, 
the reason why they endure though civilisations crumble, 
to take us back to the glorious days of wonder, to pull 
us out of apathy and despair — to make us once more 
tremendously, vitally, wholly alive. 




Acacia. A mystical symbol remarkable for its reproductive 
powers and used by the Egyptians in their capitals and 
thence borrowed by the Greeks. 

Active and Passive, Spirit and Matter. "Between these two 
poles all things perpetually alternate. What lives is slipping 
towards death; what is dead is creeping towards life." * 

Adonis. The mother of Adonis was fabled to have been changed 
into a tree which at the end of nine months burst and Adonis 
was born. The story of his being found as an infant by 
Aphrodite and concealed in a chest which the goddess gave 
to Persephone who refused to give him up until Zeus, 
appealed to by Aphrodite commanded that Adonis spend 
six months with each, is simply a variant of the Babylonian 
myth of Ishtar and Tammuz. Adonis grows up into a 
beautiful youth, is the beloved of Aphrodite who shares 
with him the pleasures of the chase. One legend relates 
that Ares (Mars) jealous of Aphrodite's love for him trans- 
formed himself into a wild boar and killed him. Others 
represent Adonis as being carried off by Dionysos. Another 
tells of Aphrodite rushing to the spot where her lover was 
wounded and sprinkling his blood with nectar from which 
flowers sprang up. In one myth Aphrodite changes him 
into a flower. Scarlet anemones were said to have sprung 
from the blood of Adonis. One of the loveliest myths is 
that the red rose owes its hue to the death of Adonis. Aphro- 
dite hastening to her wounded lover trod on a bush of white 
roses. The thorns tore her tender flesh and stained the 
roses forever red. Worship of Adonis is thought to have 
originated in Phoenicia spreading from there to Assyria, 
Egypt, Greece and Italy. In the Asiatic cults Aphrodite is 
the fructifying principle in nature and Adonis the twice- 
born god who dies in winter and is revived in the spring. 
The festivals of Adonis were celebrated in Athens, Alexan- 
dria, Byblus and many other places. 
'"An Introduction to the Study of Chinese Painting," Arthur Waley. 


404 (glosisiarp 

Aegis. The shield of Zeus or Athene with the Gorgon's head 
in the centre. Later it came to mean the breast plate worn 
by emperors and others. 

Agni, (ignis). The god of the moving flame at times beneficent 
and again destructive. 

Almond. A symbol of virginity and self-production, also fruit- 
fulness. The mystical Vesica Piscis surrounding the Virgin 
Mary in some representations in art is derived from the 
mandorla, almond — and is used to convey the same sym- 
bolic idea. Candied almonds with a white coating and 
distributed in boxes to each guest is a part of the ritual of 
Italian weddings. The almond is also identified with the 
yoni of phallicism. "In Phrygian cosmogony an almond 
figured as the father of all things perhaps because its delicate 
lilac blossom is one of the first heralds of spring." (Frazer.) 

Ambrosia Vase. In Chinese art this was originally a dish held 
in the hand of a god to catch the dew of heaven. In the 
hands of Kwan-yin it is long-necked and used to sprinkle the 
water of life on worshippers. Sometimes the vase rests on 
a stand beside the goddess who holds in her hand the willow 

Amentet. It was during the journey of the deceased through 
Amentet, the Hidden Place that he came in contact with the 
gods and "invoked the powers of the amulets with which 
thej' were so closely connected." 

Ammon or Amen the Hidden One. A sun-god of Thebes whose 
worship extended until as Amen-Ra he became the national 
deity of Egypt. He is represented as a man wearing the 
lofty double plumes and holds the sceptre, the cnix ansata 
and sometimes the Khepesh or war knife; sometimes he has 
the head of a hawk with the solar disk and urseus, and before 
him the crux ansata or ankh which has been given arms and 
legs and is offering him lotus flowers; or again he has the 
head of a ram, crocodile or lion with the disk, plumes and 
uraei. He has even been represented in the form of the 
solar goose. He was usually depicted, however, with a 
ram's head, symbol of creative energy, and was known as 
the ram-headed god of the sun. 

Amorini. A name given to the small Cupids or little love-gods 
that are frequently found in the decorative art of all ages. 

Amphora. A two-handled Greek vase, usually of large size and 
intended to hold liquids. Some were mounted on a foot, 
others not. The prize to the victors in the Panathenaic 
games was an amphora. 

Amulet. A word derived from the East and applied to various 
objects or "charms" which, when worn, were supposed to 
ward off illnesses and evil influences and bring good luck to 
the wearer. 

Anchor. Symbol of hope. In Jai)an an emblem of good luck. 

Animal SymboUsm in Chinese Art. In the art of no other people 
does the animal occupy so important a place. China has 
symbolised by animals all the cosmological beliefs that for 
countless ages have influenced her intellectual, moral and 
social life. Her art is "symbolical narration." This primi- 
tive symbolism based largely upon the zodiacal juxtaposition 
of certain animals is used again and again to express certain 
ideas. The twelve animals of the Duodenary Cycle were 
the dragon, hare, tiger, ox, rat, pig, dog, cock, monkey, 
goat, horse, serpent. "This zodiac corresponds to the 
'Twelve Earthly Branches' which together with the 'Ten 
Heavenly Stems' form a series of sixty combinations used 
for naming the year, month, day and hour. . , . Every 
Chinese knows well under which animal he was born. It is 
essential that he should do so, for no important step through- 
out life is undertaken unless under the auspices of his par- 
ticular animal."^ ... As seems to be inevitable with the 
Chinese the symbolism as it is finally developed resolves 
itself back tout simplement to the yang and yin. Yang is the 
luminous principle, yin is that which is cold, obscure, dark. 
Yin is represented by the north and midnight, yang is south 
and noon day. The morning corresponds to spring, the 
evening to autumn. The animals belong either to yin or 
yang. The yin animals are of cold nature, patient, slow, 
often burrowing into the earth. The yang are hot-blooded 
loving warmth and light. The dragon and tiger represented 
the two constellations, Scorpio and Orion, The bird and 
tortoise, emblems respectively of yang summer and yin 
winter, only appear after them. The symbolism of the 
Dragon and Tiger is very old preceding that of yang and yin. 
Again one represents spring, the other autumn. The dragon 
symbolises heaven, the sky, spring, fertility, the tiger, chief 
of all land animals the earth. The two express the happiness 
attained when heaven and earth are in accord. Representa- 
tions of the Cock and Dog also typify the union of the two 
forces. The cock who announces the rising sun is the sym- 
bol of the east and yang. The dog who watches over the 
night symbolises yin. These and many other combinations 
of these fabulous animals are constantly recurring in Chinese 
art as typifying happiness, prosperity, longevity. Many are 
in the form of a rebus or homophone. 

Anubis or Anpu. The jackal or dog-headed god Anubis is the 
Egyptian Hermes. He is called the Opener of the Ways. 
He is the messenger, custodian and servant of the gods, and 
the conductor of souls to the promised land. Anubis was 
said to be the son of Osiris and performs the service of watch- 
' "Symbolism in Chinese Art," W. Percival Yegg. 

4o6 (glosisiarp 

ing over Isis and Osiris. In the temples he is represented as 
the guard and protector of the other gods. The place in 
front of the temple was sacred to Anubis. Again the horizon 
was called Anubis and depicted in the form of a dog because 
the dog sees both by day and night. The early Greek writers 
all testify to the worship of the dog in Egypt and the myth 
of the dog as companion and assistant to the gods which is 
found among the Persians and Hindus probably goes back 
to the worship of Anubis in Egypt. Traces of it are also 
found in Greece where the "mythical Rhadamanthys of 
Crete commanded that men should not swear by the gods 
but by a goose, a dog and a ram." It was said that Socrates 
swore by the dog as well as the goose. The jackal, a species 
of wild dog was reputed to hunt up the lion's prey for him. 
Thus Anubis originally the jackal type is later represented 
with the dog as emblem. The confusion in term may be 
attributed to the growth or domestication of an idea. Jackal 
in Egypt denoted judge and it was probably the jackal god 
who ministered to Osiris and acted as guide to the nether 

Anvil. Symbol of the "Primal Furnace," the Force which helped 
to hammer out the Universe. 

Aphrodite, (Venus) . The goddess of love and beauty and said by 
some to have sprung from the foam of the sea. A personi- 
fication of the generative powers of nature she was called 
the mother of all living beings. Wife of Hephaestus she 
does not scruple to have amours with Ares, Poseidon, Diony- 
sos and Hermes among the gods, and inspired by Zeus she 
also conceived an invincible passion for Anchises a mortal. 
Her love for Adonis has been interpreted as the myth of the 
changing seasons. She was reputed to be the mother of 
Priapus by Dionysos and of Hermaphroditus by Hermes. 
Aphrodite has a magic girdle which cannot fail to inspire 
love for those who wear it. The sparrow, swan, swallow, 
dove, dolphin, hare, tortoise and ram were sacred to her. 
She was given also the apple, poppy, myrtle and rose. She 
is associated with the planet Venus and the month of April 
and the numbers three, four and seven are sacred to her. 
Sacrifices offered to her were mostly garlands of flowers and 
incense. The worship of Aphrodite was derived from the 
East where she is identified with Astarte and the biblical 
Ashtoreth. As the victorious goddess she has the helmet, 
shield and sword and sometimes an arrow. She is some- 
times draped but in the later period she is nude. 

Apis bull. Worshipped by the Egyptians as an incarnation of 
Osiris. At Memphis it was looked upon as a form of Ptah 
or the "second life of Ptah," also as the son of Osiris. The 
bull of Memphis has been called the greatest of gods. The 

(glosisiarp 407 

signs by which the newly born bull was recognised as the 
god Apis have been variously described. As the bull was 
looked upon by some as sacred to the moon and by others 
as sacred to the sun or Osiris in whom the sun was wor- 
shipped, this may account for the divergent views as to its 
markings. According to Herodotus the bull was black with 
a square mark of white on the forehead, the figure of an 
eagle on the back and a lump like a beetle under the tongue. 
Pliny described it as having a conspicuous spot of white on 
the right side shaped like a crescent. Other authorities 
speak of the mark on the forehead as triangular. It seems 
reasonable to suppose that, as the triangle was a symbol of 
divinity, whereas the square denoted the earth, the Egyp- 
tians would search for an animal bearing the div'ine rather 
than the earthly symbol, "As the birth of Apis filled all 
Egypt with joy and festivities, so his death threw the whole 
country into mourning." The bull came to be regarded as 
a symbol of the astronomical and physical systems of the 
priests. Under this development there were twenty-nine 
marks on its body which were known to the priests. The 
cult of Apis is a very old one and the connection of the bull 
with Osiris a very obvious one. "Osiris as a water god 
poured the Nile over the land"; the bull god as the personi- 
fication of virility and might provided the strength which 
enabled the Egyptians to plough it up. 

Apollo. A Greek god who was identified with Helios or the sun 
and also with the Egyptian Horus. He is the god of light 
who at his birth destroys Python, the serpent of darkness. 
He typified also mental light and presided over knowledge, 
music, poetry and eloquence. Apollo was the national 
divinity of the Greeks "reflecting the brightest side of the 
Greek mind." He is the protector of flocks and herds, the 
god of the bow and arrows, who punishes and destroys the 
wicked and wards off evil, he is the god of prophecy and his 
most famous oracles were at Delos, Delphi, Branchidae, 
Claros and Patara. The finest temple to Apollo was at 
Delphi. In art he is represented as the "perfect ideal of youth- 
ful manliness." As god of music he holds the lyre and is 
depicted draped or with long, flowing locks. Again he holds 
the bow and arrow. His symbols are the wolf, raven, swan, 
lyre and laurel, etc. The number seven was sacred to him. 

Archer. The Assyrian deity Ashur is represented as an archer 
shooting a three-headed arrow at the enemies of Assyria. 
Sagittarius is the archer of the zodiac. 

Ares, (Mars). Whereas Athene represented wisdom and fore- 
sight in the conduct of war. Ares is the god of force who 
typifies the horrors, tumult, confusion of war. He was one 
of the lovers of Aphrodite and when she transferred her 

4o8 (Slosisiarp 

affections to Adonis, Ares waylaid him in the form of a wild 
boar and killed him. The wolf, cock and woodpecker are 
sacred to Ares. 

Ariadne. A daughter of Minos, King of Crete. Falling in love 
with Theseus who had been sent from Athens to Crete to be 
devoured by the Minotaur, she gave him the string by 
which he found his way out of the labyrinth. Her legends 
vary. In one she marries and goes away with Theseus who 
deserts her, whereupon she takes her own life. In another 
she is killed by Artemis. In others Dionysos enamoured of 
her beauty raised her to the rank of the immortals and gave 
her a crown of seven stars. Ariadne was called a serpent 
goddess and is frequently represented in art and on ancient 
coins and gems usually with serpents. Theseus and the 
labyrinth are interpreted as solar. 

Ark. One of the oldest symbols of the feminine principle. 

Arrow. A symbol of lightning, rain and fertility as well as war, 
famine, disease, death. It is associated with the sun, moon 
and atmospheric gods. 

Artemis, (Diana). One of the great divinities of the Greeks 
known under many aspects. Called by some a daughter of 
Zeus by Leto and sister ol Apollo, others call her the daugh- 
ter of Demeter. An Egyptian account makes her the daugh- 
ter of Dionysos and Isis. As sister of Apollo who was iden- 
tified with the sun or Helios she becomes a moon goddess 
and like Apollo is armed with a bow, quiver and arrows and 
has the power to send plagues and death to men and animals. 
Like Apollo, too, she is unmarried. She is the 'chaste 
Diana', the maiden unconquered by love. She is the pro- 
tector of the young, of flocks and herds and the chase. 
"She is the huntress among the immortals." As the Arca- 
dian Artemis she is goddess of the nymphs. Hephaestus 
makes her bow and arrows, and Pan pro\^ides her with dogs. 
Four stags with golden antlers draw her chariot. As a 
nymph, fish were sacred to her and Artemis and Apollo both 
have the laurel. Among the symbolic animals of the Greek 
Artemis were dogs, stags and the boar. In Greek art when 
depicted as huntress she has the bow and arrows or spear, 
dogs and stags. As the moon goddess she wears a long 
robe and has the moon crescent above her head. Some- 
times she carries a torch. The Tauri, a people of European 
Sarmatia, sacrificed all strangers to Artemis. The worship 
of the goddess was orgiastic and it is believed that this was 
originally an Asiatic moon goddess whom the Greeks con- 
fused with their own Artemis. Aricia was the seat of her 
worship in Italy where she was known as Diana and also 
called Trivia when worshipped at cross- ways where her 
statues were usually placed. The Ephesian Artemis is an 

Asiatic goddess of nature whom the Greeks found in Ionia 
and to whom they gave the name of Artemis, As goddess 
of fertility she is many breasted, wears a mural crown with 
disk as emblem of the full moon, her legs are swathed like 
a mummy, the lower part of her body ending in a point like 
a pyramid upside down and covered with mystical figures 
of bees, flowers, bulls and stags. The pine cone was sacred 
to Artemis, [see pine cone,] also the cypress or fir tree. The 
symbol of the Ephesian Artemis was a bee. 

Asp. A small, venomous, hooded serpent of Egypt and Libya 
and an Egyptian symbol of dominion. 

Ass. In Egypt a form of the sun-god. According to Plutarch 
the ass, because of its reddish colour, was also given to Set 
and was looked upon with loathing by the Egyptians. 

Athene, (Minerva). One of the great divinities of the Greeks 
and said to have sprung in full armour from the head of Zeus. 
She is a goddess in whom "power and wisdom are har- 
moniously blended" and typified the ethical rather than 
some physical aspect of nature, thus differing from the great 
mother goddesses of earth and sky. She is a virgin goddess 
removed from the passions of love and hate. She is the 
goddess of wisdom, war and all the liberal arts. She could 
hurl the thunderbolt, prolong the life of men and bestow the 
gift of prophecy. As goddess of war and protector of heroes 
she is usually represented in armour with the aegis and a 
golden staff. In ancient art she is frequently given a helmet 
ornamented with ram's heads, griffins, sphinxes and horses, 
or again with the aegis and sometimes a shield which has in 
its centre the head of Medusa. The owl, serpent, cock, 
lance and olive branch are her symbols. The olive in allu- 
sion to the fact that she was said to have created the olive 
tree in her contest with Poseidon for the possession of Attica. 
She was the Roman Minerva and was also called Pallas and 

Axe. A solar symbol of great antiquity. Its use in Egypt for 
religious or magical purposes "goes back to the neolithic and 
perhaps palaeolithic age." The earliest form was the double 
axe. The axe w^as a sacred emblem in Egypt, Scandinavia, 
Germany, Mexico and Central America. In Egypt the 
Double Axe typified double power. The sacred Double 
Axe as a religious symbol of the sun is particularly associated 
with the island of Crete. Churchward attributes the origin 
of the Masonic gavel and double-headed gavel to this source. 

Ba. The Egyptians represented the ha or soul by a bird, some- 
times with a human head. There was also the luminous one 
or Khou which hid itself in the darkest corner of the vault. 

Baboon. The cynocephalus or dog-headed ape plays an im- 
portant part in Egyptian mythology. In the judgment 

410 (glosJsarp 

scene the baboon sits upon the standard of the scales and 
warns Thoth when the pointer reaches the middle of the 
beam. It's habit of chattering the moment the sun ap- 
peared gave it the name of 'Hailer of the Dawn.' The 
baboon with uplifted paws symbolised wisdom saluting the 
rising sun. A companion of the moon-god Thoth it is also 
associated with the sun. 

Bacchus. Called by the Greeks Lord of the Palm Tree. [See 

Ball or Tama. A symbol among the Buddhists of the sacred 
emanations of the gods. It is sometimes surmounted by 
flames and is called the 'flaming jewel' or 'flaming pearl.' 
It is the third eye of Buddha, the symbol of transcendent 

Bamboo. The symbol of gracefulness, constancy, yielding but 
enduring strength, of high breeding, fastidious taste as 
opposed to vulgarity. The bamboo is constantly depicted 
in Chinese and Japanese art with birds and animals, as well 
as alone or with the plum and pine tree. 

Basilisk. A fabulous creature with the body and wings of a 
dragon, head of a serpent and tail ending in a serpent's head. 
The glance of its eye would kill. It could only be destroyed 
by holding a mirror up so that it must see itself, when it 
would burst asunder with horror of its own appearance. 
We have here the same thought of the Taoists about evil 
being made to recognise itself. In sacred art the basilisk 
was used to symbolise the spirit of evil. 

Bast. The goddess is usually depicted in the form of a woman 
with the head of a cat. Occasionally she is given the head 
of a lioness surmounted by a snake, in her right hand she 
has the sistrum and in her left an aegis with the head of a 
lioness or cat in the centre. Bast is a personification of the 
power of the sun in its milder aspect. Like Sekhebet she is 
also a goddess of fire. When given the cat's head she is also 
identified with the moon. The changing of the cat's eye is 
likened to the moon. The cat like the lioness and vulture 
was an Egyptian symbol of maternity. 

Bat. Frequently depicted in Chinese art as a symbol of happi- 
ness. Five bats no matter how grouped represented the 
'five happinesses,' peace, riches, love of virtue, long life and 
a happy death. 

Battle Axe, A symbol similar to the sword, hammer or cross. 
It frequently had two edges and in this form was the weapon 
of the Amazons. [See Axe.) 

Bau. A Sumerian goddess whose symbol was a falcon on a pole. 

Bee. Vishnu when depicted in the form of Krishna was given 
a blue bee hovering over his head as a symbol of the ether. 
Carved on ancient tombs the bee symbolised immortality. 

The bee was a prominent feature of the Mithra cult. On 
an altar dedicated to the Persian sun-god was found a gilded 
bull's head and three hundred golden bees. Napoleon I 
adopted the bee as an emblem of sovereignty. The sanctity 
of the bee may be derived from the ancient custom of smear- 
ing the bodies of the dead with honey to prevent decomposi- 

Beetle or Scarabaeus. A symbol of self-existent being and 
worshipped by the Egyptians as a pre-eminently sacred 
emblem of the rising sun and eternal life. 

Bell. An ancient Eastern symbol used by the priests to sum- 
mon the Supreme Spirit. Bells were believed to have the 
power of subduing storms and driving away plagues and 
demons. Hence the bell is one of the symbols of St. An- 
thony. The bull Nandi the nahan of Siva was always 
depicted with a bell hanging by a cord or chain around the 
neck. The ancients often decorated the handle with a 
flaring three-fold top either three circles, the trefoil or the 
fleur-de-lis. Sometimes the handle was the vajra or thunder- 
bolt. The Buddhists attached a similar meaning to the 
rajra and the bell to that of the linga and yoni of the Hindus. 
The vajra represented Buddha, the creative principle, the 
linga, and the bell Dharma, matter, the feminine principle, 
the yoni. The bell was an old symbol of virginity. The bell 
was looked upon by the early Christians not only as the 
"call of Christ but as a sign of Christ Himself." The cus- 
tom of tolling a bell to announce a death, the number of 
strokes representing the age of the deceased persisted for 
ages, Durandus in the Symbolism of Churches says, "More- 
over the bells ought to be rung when anyone is dying that 
the people hearing this may pray for him. For a woman 
indeed they ring twice, because she first caused the bitterness 
of death; for she first alienated mankind from God, where- 
fore the second day had no benediction. But for a man 
they ring three times, because the Trinity was first shown 
in man." Durandus was born about the year 1220 a.d. 
when the feminine principle was still somewhat in disrepute. 

Bennu. A sort of heron exalted by the Egyptians as a symbol 
of re-generation typifying the rising of the sun and the 
return of Osiris. It was said to have sprung from the heart 
of Osiris. It is also identified with the phoenix. 

Bes. One of the oldest Egyptian gods and called by Church- 
ward a primary form of Horus I. Other authorities identify 
Bes with Set or Typhon. Budge says, "The figure of this 
god suggests that his home was a place where the dwarf and 
pigmy were held in high esteem. . . . The knowledge of 
the god and perhaps figures of him were brought from this 
region which the Egyptians called the 'Land of the Spirits.' " 

412 (glosisiarj) 

According to another legend Bes was a foreigner introduced 
into Egypt from the land of Punt (the spice land of Arabia) . 
In some aspects he resembles Bacchus and presides over 
gaiety, music, dancing. As a war god he carries a sword. 
Representations of him are hideous and grotesque. He is 
depicted as a squat, crooked dwarf sometimes wearing an 
animal's skin with the tail hanging down behind. His 
tongue is frequently extended and often he has a crown of 
feathers. His sacred animal was the sow. There is a small 
temple to Bes at Denderah. On one of the royal chariots 
found in the tomb of Tut-ankli-amen the straps of the har- 
ness saddle of the breast harness pass through the mouth 
of the god Bes. 

Bird. Birds symbolised the spirit of the air, the spirit of life. 
Among the Egyptians the bird symbolised the soul of man. 
In Christian art the bird was also used to typify the soul. 

Bird upon a pedestal or pillar. Placed there to give life to the 
pillar signifying the union of spirit and matter. 

Bird's Wings with Globe. A circle or globe with the extended 
wings of a bird on either side was the Egyptian symbol of 
the deity. It was also used in the same way by the Babylon- 
ians and Assyrians. 

Black. In China and Japan black was associated with the north, 
yin and water. Black horses were the principal sacrifice to 
the rain god in Japan. 

Blue. The Egyptians also Swedenborg made blue the symbol 
of Truth. Blue is the symbol of the feminine principle, 
signifying also heaven, fidelity, constancy. In Christian 
art Christ and the Divine Mother wear the blue mantle 
typifying heavenly love and heavenly truth. St. John the 
Evangelist was given the blue tunic and the red mantle. 

Bo-tree or bodhi-tree. Each Buddha is believed to have a special 
tree under which he is born, does penance, preaches and dies. 
The fig tree is supposed to be the one under which Gautama 
Buddha attained knowledge, others represent it as the 
banyan tree, 

Buddha. He is said to have been born eleven times as a deer 
and to have preached his first sermon in a deer park. Thus 
a gilded wheel between two gazelles or deer found in Bud- 
dhist temples symbolises the preaching of Buddha. Other 
symbols are the circle, swastika, lotus, lirna — the precious 
gem usually a moon stone or flaming pearl worn on the fore- 
head between the eyes. [See Urna.] Statues of Buddha 
represent him in many postures, standing, seated with legs 
crossed, or recumbent. 

Buddha's Eight Familiar Symbols. Also called the "eight lucky 
emblems." The conch, umbrella, canopy, knot, fish, lotus, 
jar and wheel of the law. 

(glosisiarp 413 

Buddhist Symbols. Rope, axe, goad or spear, scroll of texts, 
begging bowl, sacrificial cup, fan, bow and arrow, wheel, 
incense burner, rosary, lotus, fly brush, hare and moon, cock 
and the sun, the vase for shrine use, musical instruments and 
calabash or medicine bottle. 

Builder's Square. Used symbolically in the Egyptian Ritual 
also represented in temples and the Great Pyramid as seats 
for Osiris and Maat, the goddess of Truth. In the judgment 
hall Osiris is seated on the Square. This is also a Masonic 

Bull. In ancient religions the bull symbolised the power residing 
in the sun. It also typified the humid power of nature and 
was thus given to Osiris. Sacred bulls were worshipped 
above all other animals because they had "helped the dis- 
coverers of corn in sowing the seed and procuring the uni- 
versal benefits of agriculture." Mithra is depicted in Per- 
sian bas-reliefs as a youth with a conical cap "slaying the 
sacred bull whose sacrifice was supposed to be the origin of 
terrestrial life." 

Bull-roarer. One of the most ancient and wide spread religious 
symbols in the world resembling the rhombus which figured 
in the ancient mysteries of Greece. It consists of a slab of 
wood tied to a piece of string which upon being whirled 
rapidly round gives forth an unearthly, roaring sound. It 
was used, it is presumed, as a sacred instrument to evoke 
the Supreme Spirit who manifested himself in the blasts of 
the mighty wind. It is still used by the Australians and 
New Zealanders and is also employed in their religious cere- 
monies by the natives of Africa, Ceylon and the Malay 

Caducous. The staff of Hermes (Mercury) with which he con- 
ducts the souls of the dead is a rod encircled by two serpents 
surmounted by wings. In its original form the caduceus 
was a staff — perhaps the sacred tau — terminating in a circle 
upon which rests a crescent. The name is also given to the 
staff covered with velvet and topped by the fleur-de-lis 
which was carried in grand ceremonials by the herald or 
king of arms. It is applied also to a herald's wand, a rod of 
olive wood covered with garlands. The caduceus of Hermes 
is described in Homeric hymns by Apollo: "Thereafter will 
I give thee a lovely wand of wreath and riches, a golden wand 
with three leaves which shall keep thee ever unharmed." 

Canopic Jars. A name given to the vases used by the Egyptians 
for the viscera which were removed from the body in the 
process of mummification and treated separately. The 
jars, four in number were placed near the sarcophagus and 
were under the special protection of the four gods of the 
dead, the sons of Horus Hapi, Amset, Duamutef and Kebeh- 

414 <glos(s(ar|> 

senuf who were represented respectively with the head of a 
baboon, man, jackal and hawk. After the xviii dynasty 
it was customary to put the symbolic heads of these gods on 
the covers of the jars. 

Canopy. A symbol of sovereignty and carried over the heads of 
Eastern rulers and emperors on state occasions. When 
placed over the head of Buddha its shelter typified the 
sacred tree under which he received enlightenment. 

Cantharus. A two-handled Greek vase or cup sacred to Dionysos 
who is frequently represented holding it in his hand. 

Cap with Up-turned Horns. A symbol among the Babylonians 
of divine power. A cap or turban on a seat or altar may 
have been used to typify the 'world mountain,' the symbol 
of the chief Babylonian triad Anu, Enlil and Ea. 

Cartouche. A name usually given to the oval in which the name 
of a royal person is inscribed. These ovals bearing hiero- 
glyphic instructions were also placed in the tombs of Egyp- 
tian kings. In its oldest form the cartouche was circular, 
the circle symbolising the course of the sun around the uni- 
verse. The king's name written inside indicated therefore 
that he was the representative on earth of the sun-god, that 
his rule extended over the course of the sun and his name 
like the sun would endure forever. The cartouche was 
developed later in the form of scrolls ornamented with foliage 
or garlands of flowers. In the Gothic period the cartouche 
was shaped like a bannerolle with the ends rolled up. Those 
of the Renaissance are considered the most beautiful. 

Castor and Pollux. [See Dioscuri.] 

Cat. Worshipped in Egypt as a form of the sun-god. When a 
cat died it was taken to the embalmers, its body treated with 
drugs and spices and then put to rest in a case carefully pre- 
pared for it. Whoever wittingly or unwittingly killed a cat 
was sentenced to die. According to Plutarch because of its 
nocturnal habits and the contraction of the pupils of its eyes 
with the waning of the moon the cat also denoted the moon. 

Ceres. [See Demeter.j 

Chains. "That excellent and Divine fable of the Golden Chain, 
namely, that Men were not able to draw Jupiter down to 
earth ; but contrariwise Jupiter was able to draw them up to 
Heaven." [Bacon.] 

Cherub. The head of an angel emerging from two wings and 
used as an ornament in sculpture and painting. 

Cherubim. A term derived from the Assyrian and now used to 
signify angels or those of the second degree of the nine-fold 
celestial hierarchy who have the gift of knowledge as the 
first (the seraphim) have the gift of love. The cherubim in 
the temple of Jerusalem and Solomon's Palace have been 
identified with the winged bull of Assyria; from these also 

<6los(siarp 415 

came the winged figures that modern art received at the 
hands of the Greeks. The bird power, associated with the 
deity by the Egyptians and Assyrians, was humanised by 
the Greeks in their flying angels of victory. 

Chimera. A fabulous, fire-breathing monster with three heads, 
that of a dragon, a goat and a lion. Homer described it as 
having the head of a lion, body of a goat and tail of a dragon. 
It was Bellerophon who, mounted on his v/inged horse 
Pegasus succeeded in destroying it. The chimera is fre- 
quently represented on ancient Greek coins and various 
combinations of fantastic animals called chimerae were used 
in the Middle Ages as caryatids or supports in pieces of fur- 
niture. The term chimerical applied to anything without 
semblance of truth or reality is derived from the chimera. 

Cinquecento. An abbreviation for mille cinquecento and applied 
to the art of Italy in the 16th century. 

Cista. The mystic cist or chest in which were kept the articles 
that pertained to the worship of Demeter and Dionysos and 
belonging to the same class of images as the ark of the 
Egyptians and the Jews. 

Clover Leaf, (St. Patrick's Shamrock). An emblem of the Deity 
more ancient than Christianity. As the gods were wor- 
shipped in triads and the three-fold aspect of life recognised 
in all its significance the trefoil became a natural emblem of 
high importance and a widely accepted symbol of the Trinity. 

Conch-shell. A symbol of the voice of Buddha or the preaching 
of Buddha. It is one of the eight familiar symbols of 
Buddha and also typifies the yoni or feminine principle. 

Cock. A solar symbol, and in ancient days placed on the sum- 
mit of churches as an emblem of watchfulness. Frequently 
the "bird of vigilance" on the top of a church spire becomes 
a weathercock, a vane or pirouette in the form of a cock which 
turned with the wind. 

Cornucopia. In classical art the cornucopia is associated with 
the gods who preside over the natural world. It is shaped 
like a horn and filled with fruit and flowers, sometimes the 
pine cone appears in the centre. It is a symbol of peace, 
prosperity, plenty. 

Cow. Sacred in Egypt to Hathor, Nut, Isis and Nephthys, as 
well as other nature goddesses and typifying fertility. 

Crane. A Chinese symbol of longevity, hence of life. A stork 
or crane standing on the back of a tortoise forming a candle- 
stick typifies light and life, expressing the Chinese saying 
"May your days be as long as the tortoise and stork." 
Cranes and herons when depicted standing in the water 
symbolised the dawn. 

Criophorus. A Greek word which means literally "one who 
carries a ram." It was a name bestowed upon Hermes by 

4i6 (Slosisiarp 

the people of Tanagra because he had saved them from a 
plague by carrying a ram (thrice?) around the walls of the 
town, Hermes is frequently represented thus in Greek art. 

Crosier. A staff with a crook carried by bishops and abbots as 
a sign of office. Originally in form like the sacred tau 
it was not until the seventeenth century that it was given 
the bent appearance which it has since retained. 

Cross. One of the oldest and most wide spread symbols of 
creative power and life to come. 

Cupid. [See Eros.] 

Cypress. The ancients worshipped the divine Creator in the 
form of a pyramid cone, or obelisk. Thus the cypress 
reaching toward heaven like a pointed flame became a living 
and arresting symbolic figure. It was an androgynous sym- 
bol. Always green it was a symbol of life and was associated 
with the sun and moon, with Venus and all the other nature 
goddesses, and with Zeus, Apollo, Hermes and various other 
gods. There was the cypress of the sun and the cypress of 
the moon. Two pyramidal cypresses surmounted the one 
by the sun, the other by the crescent moon are found on 
Asiatic monuments. It was also a mortuary emblem of 
high significance. 

"Dark Warriors." These are the serpent and the tortoise who 
together form the Chinese symbol of the North. 

Demeter, (Ceres). The Greek goddess of the earth, daughter of 
Kjonos and Rhea and mother of Persephone and Dionysos 
by Zeus. Aided by Zeus, Pluto carries off Persephone to 
the lower world. The rape of Persephone and the anger of 
the goddess mother which results in a famine on earth when 
nothing is permitted to grow is simply another embodiment 
of the old nature myth of the winter season when the pro- 
ductive powers of nature or the earth rest or lie concealed. 
Zeus yielding to her entreaties permits Persephone to spend 
half the year with her mother and Persephone in whose 
charge the seed is committed to the earth typified the 
"fructified flower that returns in the spring" dwelling in the 
light a portion of the year. Worship of Demeter has been 
connected with belief in a future life and the Eleusinian 
mysteries celebrated in her honour were said to have had an 
ennobling effect. Demeter not only was goddess of the 
fertility of the earth but of fertility in general and thus was 
the goddess of marriage. She was worshipped in Attica, 
Crete, Delos, Sicily and the west coast of Asia. She is the 
goddess of agriculture, of corn and harvests. Pigs, symbols 
of fertility were sacrificed to her, also cows, bulls, honey 
cakes and fruits. In art the goddess is represented draped 
and with a v^eil. She frequently wears a garland of ears of 
corn, in her hand she holds a sceptre, an ear of corn or a 

poppy and sometimes a torch and the mystic basket. Her 
expression is one of great dignity. 

Diana. [See Artemis.] 

Dionysos, (Bacchus). The god of the vintage and the cultiva- 
tion of the earth was called both by the Greeks and the 
Romans "Bacchus, the noisy or riotous god." This was 
originally however merely a surname for Dionysos. The 
legends of this god are innumerable, his adventures endless. 
He was said to be a son of Zeus by Semele, he was also called 
the son of Zeus and Lethe, Zeus and Persephone, Zeus and 
Demeter as well as many others. The father never varies 
nor do any of the legends minimise the wrath of the jealous 
Hera. Zeus was said to have placed him in his thigh and 
given him to the nymphs of Mount Nysa who brought him up. 
He was also associated with the Muses and Hermes is 
somehow mixed up with the early life of the god who is fre- 
quently represented as a child carried by Hermes. Dionysos 
is said to have discovered the cultivation of the vine and wan- 
ders over various countries of the earth teaching its uses. One 
legend tells of his coming to a lake and one of two asses 
whom he met on the shore carried him safely across. The 
god placed both animals among the stars and henceforth the 
ass was sacred to Dionysos. His influence is both benign 
and evil. He is god of the "productive, overflowing and 
intoxicating power of nature which carries man away from 
his usual quiet and sober mode of living." As god of wine 
he is inspired as well as inspiring and thus has the power of 
prophecy. He is also a god of healing and as protector of the 
vine, he becomes protector of trees and thus comes into close 
relationship with Demeter. Like Apollo he was thought to 
possess eternal youth. In the earlier period the Graces or 
Charites were his companions. In later times he was wor- 
shipped as androgynous. Afterwards, as his worship 
changed he was accompanied by bacchantes, wild and 
dishevelled women, satyrs and centaurs inspired with 
divine fury and carrying in their hands thyrsus staffs, 
cymbals, swords and serpents. Dionysos is a twice-born 
god of vegetation, a promoter of civilisation and lover of 
peace. He is also god of the drama and protector of 
theatres. He is depicted in art as an infant with Hermes 
or being played with by satyrs. As the youthful or Theban 
Bacchus his body is masculine with firm outlines but with 
a certain softness and roundness which suggests the 
feminine. His expression is dreamy and lanquid, the head 
is crowned by a diadem or wreath of vine leaves or ivy. 
He is frequently depicted leaning on his comrades, or riding 
on an ass, lion, tiger or panther. Occasionally, on coins only, 
he is given the horns of a ram or bull. His attributes are 

4i8 (Slosisiarp 

the thyrsus, cantharus or drinking cup and sometimes the 
basket. The vine, asphodel, laurel, ivy, panther, ass, ser- 
pent, tiger and lynx were sacred to him. The ox and ram 
were sacrificed to him. Dionysos was said to have "loathed 
the sight of an owl." 

The Dioscuri, (Castor and Pollux). The twin horsemen are given 
white horses. They are also symbolised by twin circles. 

Dolphin. Was looked upon by the Greeks as the saviour of the 
shipwrecked. It is sacred to Poseidon (Neptune) and was 
supposed to bear the souls of the deceased to the Island of 
the Blessed. It was a favourite of Apollo. In the heraldry 
of France the bearing of the dolphin was reserved for the 
Dauphin or heir to the throne. 

Dorje. A small sceptre used by the lamas of Tibet composed of 
two or four tridents combined, the outer prongs touching 
the central one giving the whole something the appearance 
of a crown. 

Dove. The dove with an olive branch was a symbol of Athene 
or renewed life. The dove is also an attribute of Ishtar and 
Venus and the symbol of the Holy Ghost. Among the 
Christians it is pre-eminently the emblem of the soul. 

Dragon. Although figuring in nearly every ancient religion as 
the personification of evil, the dragon among the Chinese 
and Japanese is a most potent symbol of the blessing, the 
rain giving power of the gods of water. It is a symbol of 
power, royalty, sovereignty. The dragon is chief among 
the four supernatural creatures that play such an important 
part in Chinese imagery and art. In Japan the dragon is 
the symbol of the Mikado. In China dragon painting 
reached its zenith in the thirteenth century. 

Eagle. Among the Greeks the eagle was the symbol of supreme 
spiritual energy. 

Eight. The figure 8 typified regeneration. It is one of the sym- 
bols of the Egyptian god Thoth who "pours the waters of 
purification on the heads of the initiated." Swedenborg 
makes eight correspond to purification. 

Ennead. In later times nine gods took the place of the triad in 
Egypt. The ennead consisted of five gods and four god- 
desses or four pairs of deities and one supreme god. 

Eros, (Cupid). The god of love. Hesiod, the earliest author 
that mentions him describes him as the cosmogonic Eros. 
" First . . . there was Chaos, then came Ge, Tartarus and 
Eros, the fairest among the gods, who rules over the minds 
and councils of gods and men. . . . Eros was one of the 
fundamental causes in the formation of the world, inasmuch 
as he was the uniting power of love which brought order and 
harmony among the conflicting elements of which Chaos 
consisted." In accordance with this conception he was 

called a son of Kronos or a god who came into existence 
without parentage. It is only among the later poets that 
he is represented as a wanton boy, sometimes as the son of 
Aphrodite, sometimes the son of Hermes and Artemis, or 
again he is given a mother but not a father. In this later 
aspect he typified the love of the senses which begets dis- 
harmony rather than unity. He makes sport of gods and 
men. He twists the thunderbolts of Zeus, tames lions and 
takes away his arms from Herakles. He was given a bow 
and arrows which he carried in a golden quiver, some golden 
and others blunt and heavy as lead. He has golden wings 
and is frequently represented blindfolded. He is often 
depicted with Aphrodite also with Hermes and statues of 
Hermes and Eros usually stood in the Greek gymnasia. 
Thespise in Boeotia was the chief place of the worship of 
Eros and where in ancient days he was represented by a 
rude stone. He was also worshipped in Samos, Sparta and 
Athens. He was a favourite subject with the Greek sculp- 
tors. Praxiteles, who represented him as a full grown youth 
of great beauty being especially famed for his statues of the 
god of love. Later the fashion grew to depict him as a 
winged infant or wanton child. He is thus shown in the 
illustration of Ares in Repose. Wild beasts are sometimes 
shown tamed by the god. His attributes are the ram, hare, 
cock and rose. 

Eye. A symbol of Horus and Osiris typifying divine omniscience. 
The same meaning is also attached to it in India. According 
to St. Matthew the single eye symbolises light. "The light 
of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single thy 
whole body shall be full of light." (Matt. 6: 22.) 

Fan. An ancient Chinese emblem of power and dominion. 

Feather. An attribute of Maat the Egyptian goddess of Truth. 

Fig Tree. A sacred tree believed to combine both masculine and 
feminine attributes and held in especial veneration as an em- 
blem of life. Its tri-lobed leaf suggesting the masculine 
triad became the symbolic covering in representations of 
nude figures. 

Fire. Pyramids, obelisks and triangles with the point up sym- 
bolise fire. 

Fish. Used universally as a symbol of fecundity and life, and 
one of the eight emblems of Buddha. Among the Chinese 
the fish typified happiness. Two fish were a symbol of 
marriage. The early Christians used three fish intertwined 
to symbolise the Trinity. 

Foot-prints of Buddha. There are usually seven emblems on the 
soles of the feet, the swastika, wheel, conch-shell, fish, vajra, 
crown, vase. The idea was taken over from Vishnu, an 
earlier god. 



Frog. A symbol among the Egyptians of the watery elements or 
primordial slime which was considered as the basis of created 
matter in the Egyptian cosmogony. Each of the four 
primeval gods, Heh, Kek, Nau and Amen were represented 
with the head of a frog while their feminine counterpart or 
energy had serpents for heads. The cult of the frog is one 
of the oldest cults in Egypt. 

Ganesha. An Indian god who is invoked by the Hindus as an 
overcomer of obstacles. He is represented by an elephant 
or a man with the head of an elephant. Images of Ganesha 
are found at cross roads and architects place figures of the 
god at the foundation of buildings. 

Gazelle. An animal sacred to Mul-lil, the Akkadian god of 
storms who was originally the lord (mul) of the dust (lil), 
that is the husband of the earth, the phallic father or great 
snake. The oryx, goat, (wild goat or ibex) and the antelope 
are all the equivalents of the gazelle and are all typhonic, 
symbols of Set. Horus tramples under foot the gazelle. 
Horus holding a gazelle typifies his victory over Set. Lunar 
crescents are associated with gazelles. The association of 
deer, the ibex or wild goat, oryx, gazelle or antelope with the 
lotus is symbolic of the sun or moon or both. Deer are given 
to Diana. The Hindu moon god Chandra rides in a car 
drawn by antelopes. An antelope is given to Siva who is 
represented by a moon crescent. 

Girdle Tie in Red Carnelian. An Egyptian amulet typifying 
the blood of Isis and which had the power to wash away 
the sins of its possessor. 

Goose. A solar bird associated with the sun-gods of Egypt, 
India, Greece and Britain. It was given to Isis and Hera, 
also to Apollo, Dionysos, Hermes and Eros. It was the 
emblem of love. In China it was called the Bird of Heaven 
and looked upon as distinctively a bird of yang or the prin- 
ciple of light and masculinity. 

Gorgons, The. There were three gorgons with "curls of hissing 
snakes" instead of hair and whoever gazed upon them was 
turned to stone. All were immortal except Medusa, whom 
Perseus encouraged by Athene succeeds in killing and her 
head was worn henceforth upon the aegis of Athene. Me- 
dusa was frequently represented in Greek art. The head 
seen full face with serpents coiled about it, the face one of 
horror with parted lips was much used for decorative pur- 
poses. Small images of the head of Medusa were also used 
as charms. 

Green Stones. The Egyptians put green stone amulets in their 
tombs to symbolise youth and immortality. Horus, the 
young morning sun who typified eternal youth was called 
'Prince of the Emerald Stone.' 

(glos^fiiarp 421 

Griffin, Grififon, Gryphon. Fabulous creatures half-lion, half- 
eagle symbolising eternal vigilance and wardenship. They 
were the protectors of the treasured gold of the North from 
the thieving, one-eyed Ariniaspians and are also mentioned 
as guarding the gold of India. 

Grove. Often a mis-translation for the wooden image of Ash- 
toreth or Astarte the chief goddess of Baalism. 

Hathor. The Egyptian goddess of the feminine principle in 
nature. As goddess of maternity she is given the head of a 
vulture surmounted by the moon crescent or horns and the 
solar disk. Again she is represented as the World Cow 
typifying fertility. "The heads of Hathor were lucky 
charms. Hathor represented fate, and he who wore her 
head earned her favour and a happy destiny for himself." 
She is a cosmic goddess, the mother of light and sometimes 
represented as a sphinx. 

Hawk or Falcon. A solar bird particularly venerated in Egypt 
and given to all the sun-gods. Horus is the falcon god. 
The hawk of Horus typified the spirit of the sun. Having 
the swiftest flight of any bird the hawk was the emblem of 
divine intelligence and wisdom. 

Hekt or Heqet. The Egyptian frog goddess and identified with 
Hathor. She was the protector of mothers and new born 
infants and the frog typified re-newed birth. 

Hephaestus, (Vulcan). In early Greek art the god of fire is 
depicted as a dwarfish figure in allusion to his lameness. In 
the finest period of Greek art he is represented as a full- 
bearded man of powerful frame. He wears an oval cap and 
the chiton leaving the right arm and shoulder bare. His 
symbol is the hammer and sometimes he is given the 

Hera, (Juno). The "only really married goddess among the 
Olympians" and one of the few divinities who are purely 
Greek. Unlike the other great nature goddesses Hera was 
not the "Queen of gods and men" but the wife of the Su- 
preme god Zeus and equally reverenced by the other gods. 
Zeus listens to her counsels and she feels free to censure him 
when occasion offers. Nevertheless, she is his inferior in 
power and obliged to obey him. She is represented as ob- 
stinate, jealous, quarrelsome and quite ready to resort to 
cunning and intrigue to compass her ends. Hera personifies 
the atmosphere, she is "Queen of the Air," the great goddess 
of nature and is identified with the Roman Juno. Her most 
celebrated temple was at Mt. Emboea. A colossal sitting 
statue of Hera of gold and ivory made for her sanctuary was 
the work of Polycletus. She was often depicted wearing a 
crown adorned with the Charites and Horae and holding in 
one hand a pomegranate and in the other a sceptre sur- 

422 (glosisiarp 

mounted by a cuckoo. She was frequently represented 
veiled. In the earliest form of her worship the goddess was 
represented by a pillar or possibly the "aniconic image" 
that was associated with most of the great nature god- 
desses. The peacock and cuckoo were sacred to her, 
Herakles. The most celebrated hero of antiquity and a son of 
Zeus by Alcmene of Thebes, wife of Amphitryon. His birth 
arouses the jealous wrath of Hera who sends two snakes 
to devour him before he was eight months old. The infant 
Herakles seizes them and crushes them in both his hands. 
His first great victory was his fight with the lion of Cythse- 
ron. Henceforth Herakles wore the lion's skin as his ordin- 
ary garment with its head for a helmet. Some accounts 
give him the lion's skin as an attribute of his victory over the 
Nemean lion. The subservience of Herakles to Eurystheus 
was brought about by the strategy of Hera. Zeus having 
decreed that the one who came into the world last must 
obey the other has to stand by his word. He makes Hera 
promise, however, that if Herakles performs twelve great 
works in the service of Eurystheus he shall become immor- 
tal. The latter imposes upon him many and bitter tasks. 
The Twelve Labours of Herakles are: (1) The fight with the 
lion of Nemea which Herakles strangled with his own hands, 
(2) To destroy the Lernean hydra, a monster with nine 
heads, the middle one immortal, (3) To bring alive and 
unhurt to Eurystheus, the stag of Ceryneia in Arcadia fa- 
mous for its incredible swiftness, its golden horns and brazen 
feet and sacred to Artemis. (4) To bring alive to Eurys- 
theus the wild boar which ravaged the Erymanthian neigh- 
bourhood. On this adventure he destroyed the centaurs. 
(5) The fifth labour was to clean the Augean stables where 
3000 oxen had been kept for many years. (6) To kill the 
Stymphalian birds which infested a lake in Arcadia and fed 
on human flesh. (7) To bring alive into Peloponnesus the 
Cretan wild bull. (8) To capture the mares of the Thracian 
Diomedes that tore and devoured human flesh. (9) To 
obtain the girdle of the queen of the Amazons. (10) To 
destroy the monster Geryones and bring his oxen alive to 
Argos. It was upon this expedition that Herakles erected 
the two pillars (Calpe and Abyla) on the two sides of the 
straits of Gibraltar which were thereafter called the Pillars 
of Herakles. On this journey, too, Herakles, enraged by 
the heat of the sun shot at Helios who, admiring his boldness, 
presented him with a golden boat in which he sailed across 
the ocean to Erytheia, (11) The eleventh labour was to 
obtain the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides. 
It was upon this adventure that Herakles killed the vulture 
that was consuming the liver of Prometheus and thus saved 

the Titan, who in return advised him not to go to the garden 
of the Hesperides but to send Atlas and in the meantime to 
bear the weight of heaven for Atlas on his own shoulders. 
Atlas having brought the apples refused to take upon him- 
self again the burden of heaven and declared his intention of 
carrying the apples to Eurystheus. In this case Herakles 
employed strategy to obtain the apples and accomplish his 
mission. (12) The last and most dangerous of his labours 
was to bring upon earth from the lower world the three- 
headed dog Cerberus. Having successfully performed these 
twelve feats of heroism, his life is still one of vicissitude. In 
the end having been unwittingly poisoned by his wife, leaving 
him with an incurable distemper Herakles climbs Mount 
ffita and imploring the protection of Zeus he raises a pile of 
wood which he mounts and orders to be set on fire. None 
of his followers would obey him. Finally a shepherd passing 
by complies and while the pyre is burning a cloud comes 
down from heaven and amid peals of thunder Zeus bears the 
hero to Olympus where he becomes one of the immortals. 
After the apotheosis of Herakles, sacrifices were offered to 
him as a hero. Later on he was worshipped throughout 
Greece as a divinity. Herakles, Pan and Dionysos were 
called the youngest gods. The worship of Herakles spread 
to Rome and Italy and from there into Gaul, Spain and 
Germany. The Roman Hercules was looked upon as the 
giver of health. Representations of Herakles in art cover 
every phase of his life. Whether depicted as youth, hero or 
immortal he is always the type of unconquerable strength, 
energy and resourcefulness. His labours are undertaken 
for the good of others, never for himself. He is also called 
a solar god and his twelve labours represent the twelve signs 
of the zodiac. He is usually depicted wearing the lion's 
skin or with it over one arm. The animals sacrificed to him 
were the bull, ram, lamb and boar. 
Hermes, (Mercury). He is the god of prudence, commerce, 
eloquence, skill, of cunning and strategy; he is a thieving 
god, one who would steal or commit fraud or perjury without 
a qualm, accomplishing his ends with invincible dexterity 
and gracefulness. He was the herald and messenger of the 
gods. In his ministry to Zeus not only was he a herald but 
also the charioteer and cup bearer. He was said to have 
been the inventor of the alphabet, numbers, astronomy, 
gymnastics, the art of warfare and the cultivation of the 
olive tree. It was Hermes who invented the lyre which he 
bestowed upon Apollo receiving in exchange the caduceus. 
As dreams are sent by Zeus, Hermes conducts them to man 
and thus he has the power of giving or taking away sleep. 
He was god of the roads and the protector of travellers. 

424 (glosisarp 

He was the giver of wealth and good luck and thus was the 
god of gamblers. As the protector of animals he was es- 
pecially worshipped by shepherds. In the Arcadian re- 
ligion Hermes was the fertilising god of the earth. One of 
his most important functions was that of conducting the 
souls of the dead from the upper to the lower regions. As 
conductor of the dead he always carries the caduceus with 
the two emblematic serpents, symbols of life. In the earlier 
works of art Hermes was depicted with a ram over his should- 
er. He was then called Hermes Criophorus. [See Crio- 
phorus.j In this aspect he becomes the prototype of Christ 
as the Shepherd. His usual attributes are the petasos — a 
low wide-rimmed hat sometimes adorned with little wings — 
winged sandals to denote the swiftness with which he could 
girdle the universe, the magic staff later developed into the 
caduceus, and sometimes as god of wealth he holds a purse 
in his hand. The palm, tortoise, cock, ram, goat, various 
kinds of fish and the number four were sacred to him. In- 
cense, cakes and honey, lambs, young goats and pigs were 
sacrificial offerings. 

Herms or Hermae. Statues of Hermes, the god of ways, were 
placed at street corners, cross roads and boundaries. Those 
placed at three road junctions were called Trivia. The name 
Hermae is given to a peculiar kind of statue consisting of a 
carefully modelled head or bust set upon a quadrangular 
pillar tapering toward the base. Sometimes there is a single 
head or again a double head is set on the pillar. This form 
of statue is of great antiquity and was highly honoured. To 
deface the Hermae was looked upon as a serious crime. The 
Romans used the Hermae in the decoration of gardens or as 
pillars set at intervals in balustrades or walls. Later, 
terminal figures of bearded gods or even philosophers were 
also called Hermae. 

Honeysuckle, (Anthemion). An ornament in architecture de- 
rived from the young petals of the lotus before they have 

Horns. From time immemorial a symbol of divine power, their 
use going back to the moon cult. Horns were used as pro- 
tective amulets against evil forces. Among the mystics 
the horn typified the call of the spirit. 

Horse. "And he took away the horses that the Kings of Judah 
had given to the sun , . . and burned the chariots of the 
sun with fire," (II. Kings, 23: 11.) The horse is sacred to 
the sun. It symbolised the intellect. Bayley suggests 
that the one-eyed Arimaspians who rode on horses in their 
attempt to steal the gold guarded by the watchful griffins 
implied that they were men of intellect only, lacking the eye 
of Love. Four horses denoted equity, justice. In ancient 

(glosisiarp 425 

art the sun was depicted as a charioteer driving a team of 
four horses across the heavens. 

Horus. Prince of Eternity. "I am yesterday, today and to- 
morrow." Horus is the morning sun, the type of eternal 
youth. He is given the hawk, sometimes represented as a 
falcon or hawk. He wears a double diadem as ruler over the 
North and South. Originally one of the oldest gods of 
Egypt, he returns as the son of Osiris and Isis. 

Ibis. "A bird of deep black colour with legs like a crane, its 
beak strongly hooked and its size about that of a land rail." 
It was associated with the moon and Thoth and was deeply 
venerated in Egypt. Plutarch asserts that the fact that the 
ibis was wont to stand with straddled legs forming a triangle 
added greatly to its sacredness. It typified aspiration and 
perseverance, was a symbol of morning and was reverenced 
by the Egyptians as a destroyer of serpents. 

Incense. Priests burned incense in Egypt to smoke out demons 
and drive out evil spirits. It was believed also to aid the 
soul in its last flight. Inspiration was derived from it. The 
gods were invoked and propitiated by it. In the flood 
legend the Babylonian Noah burned incense. It is used 
wherever there is Buddhism as in the Catholic religion of 

Incense Burners. When made in the form of lions indicate the 
association of the lion with fire and sun worship. The lion 
is thus the god and producer of smoke. 

Indra. The Hindu god who makes rain. Indra is called the 
god of 10,000 eyes, or Lord and Watcher of the Stars. His 
symbol is the vajra or thunderbolt. 

Isis. The wife of Osiris and mother of Horus has many forms. 
She symbolises birth, growth, vigour, development; she is a 
moon goddess, an earth goddess, the "lady of words of pow- 
er," the greatest goddess of Egypt. She is generally de- 
picted in the form of a woman with the vulture head-dress 
and in her hand the papyrus sceptre. Above her head is 
usually the sun disk between a pair of horns, sometimes she 
wears the double crown of South and North with the feather 
of Maat attached to the back or, with the horns and disk she 
will have two plumes. She has the urseus on her forehead 
and sometimes the ram's horns are given her instead of the 
horns of Hathor. 

Ivy. Denoted eternal life hence placed upon the brow of 

Jade. In China it symbolises "all that is supremely excellent," 
the highest form of human virtue, the " most perfect devel- 
opment of the masculine principle in nature." 

Janus. A god who rivalled Jupiter himself among the Romans. 
Janus releases the dawn, he was also the god of the beginning 

426 <6Io52!arj> 

and end of undertakings. He is represented in art as two- 
faced and is given the key as a symbol of his power to open 
and close. In time of war his temple in Rome was open, 
and closed in times of peace. 

'Jewel in the Lotus,' The. At the beginning of the world Adi- 
Buddha manifested himself as a flame rising from a lotus 
flower. Sometimes the stalk of the lotus springs from a 
triangle lying on the seed vessel of an eight leaved lotus, 
but it is more generally depicted rising from the water. The 
'jewel in the lotus' symbolises the union of the two forces 
fire and water or masculine and feminine. 

Jug. One of the eight familiar symbols of Buddha. It gives 
forth no sound when full, typifying a man full of knowledge. 

Juno. [See Hera.] 

Jupiter. [See Zeus.] 

Ka. This is man's double, a replica of the body but formed of a 
substance less dense — "an etherealised projection of the in- 
dividual." The Egyptians pictured the Ka as the vital 
force which came into the world with the body, passed 
through life in its company and went with it into the next 
world. Everything in Egypt was supposed to have a double. 

Kalasa. The Vase which holds the Water of Life. A symbol 
of the Chinese goddess Kwan-yin. 

Keys. Symbol of Janus who flings wide open the portals of the 
sky and releases the Dawn. Also given to Mithra, the Persian 
Sun-god, and to St. Peter, prince of the apostles and founder 
of the Church of Rome. 

Khensu. The "wanderer," a moon god and said to be the son of 
Amen-Ra and Mut and the third of the great Theban triad. 
He was called a form of Thoth. He is the messenger of the 
gods, and is usually represented with the head of a hawk or 
man, has the lunar disk in a crescent, or the sun disk and 
urseus, and in his hands the usual symbols of life and power. 
Some times he is given two hawk's heads, four wings and 
stands upon two crocodiles symbolising the sun-rise and the 
new moon, and the crocodiles are the two great powers of 
darkness over which he has conquered. 

Khnemu. One of the oldest gods in the Egyptian religion. He 
was a river god originally known as Qebh and figures as a 
ram-headed god. He appropriates the attributes of Ra, 
Osiris, Shu and Seb and is sometimes shown as a man with 
four ram's heads symbolising fire, air, water, earth. He 
was called the 'Moulder,' the maker of mankind and when 
depicted with the four heads he is the type of the "great 
primeval creative force." He is usually represented as a 
ram-headed man wearing the White Crown, to which are 
often attached the disk, plumes and uraei, and holding the 
sceptre and symbol of life. 

(glosfsiarp 427 

Elnot. Without beginning or end the mystic sign of Vishnu, 
typifying the continuity of life and adopted by the Buddhists 
as one of the eight glorious emblems of Buddha. 

Ladder. A favourite symbol of the ascent to the gods. The 
ladder of Jacob was probably derived from the Egyptian 
belief that you could mount to heaven on a ladder. Small 
ladders as amulets were placed in the tombs of Egyptian 

Lightning. Symbolised in all nations by a weapon. Thunder and 
storm gods were given the axe, hammer, pitchfork, trident, 
the vajra or thunderbolt. Sometimes a trident with zigzag 
branches was used to typify forked lightning. 

Lion. Invariably associated with the sun, the lion symbolises 
the heat of the sun. As the power to modify solar heat is 
attributed to the sun-god, so he is represented as in the 
Samson myth as slayer of the lion. 

Lioness. In Egypt the lioness, like the vulture and cat, sym- 
bolised maternity and was given to the primitive mother 
goddesses who gave birth to all that exists. 

Lituus. A twisted wand something like a bishop's crosier and 
used by augurs for purposes of divination. When depicted 
in art it usually takes the form of a spiral. 

Lizard. A giant lizard was a symbol of Ahrimanes, the Persian 
god of evil. A lizard is occasionally depicted upon the breast 
of Athene. It was thought to conceive through the ear and 
bring forth through the mouth and was worshipped in Mex- 
ico and by the Slav nations as late as the sixteenth century. 

Lotus. "I am the pure lotus which springeth up from the divine 
splendour that belongeth to the nostrils of Ra." From 
earliest times a symbol of creation, life, immortality, resur- 
rection, fecundity, the feminine principle, re-birth, self- 
creation. As every Buddha and Bodhisattva was believed 
to be self -existent he was given the lotus flower support to 
denote his divine birth. Among the Buddhists the lotus is 
also the symbol of Nirvana, 

Love. Compared to a fire giving warmth; intelligence to a 
light-giving flame. 

Maat. The Egyptian goddess of Truth whose symbol is a 
feather. Maat is the inseparable companion of Thoth. 

Mars. [See Ares.] 

Medusa. [See Gorgons]. 

Meh-urt or Meh-urit. A cow goddess Identified with Hathor, 
Isis and also as a form of Nut, and sometimes depicted as 
the great cow of the sky. She was the personification of 
the primeval, feminine creative principle and usually appears 
as a cow-headed woman with a lotus-entwined sceptre, 
thus typifying the "great world lotus flower out of which 
rose the sun for the first time at the Creation." 

428 (glos^siarp 

Menat, or Whip Amulet. Symbolic of strength and supposed to 
drive away care. The menat is the handle of the whip which 
was used to keep off evil spirits and as an amulet was fre- 
quently surmounted by the head of a goddess. It is also a 
symbol of pleasure and happiness. 

Mercury. [See Hermes.] 

Minerva. [See Athene.] 

Mirror. One of the symbols of truth. The mirror of self- 
realisation, the shield which evil dare not face. Concave 
bronze mirrors are conspicuous among the Taoist symbols, 
the belief being that "when evil recognises itself it de- 
stroys itself." Mirrors were also thought to ward off evil 

Moon. In the moon cult which preceded sun worship the moon 
was masculine. The Assyrian moon-god was the god of 
wisdom. In Egypt the moon was identified with Thoth. 
In the sun cult the moon was associated with the feminine 
principle. The crescent moon symbolised virginity. Among 
the Chinese the moon represented the concrete essence of 
the feminine principle in nature and thus directed every- 
thing that belonged to the yin principle such as darkness, 
earth, water, etc. "The Vital essence of the Moon governs 
Water; and hence when the Moon is at its brightest the tides 
are high." Chinese and Indian legends agree in making the 
hare, frog and toad inhabitants of the moon. Eight trees 
also were said to flourish in the moon. One, the cassia tree 
Wii Kang, the Man in the Moon was condemned to hew 
down. The trunk of the tree closed after each blow of the 
axe. The leaves of the cassia conferred immortality upon 
those who ate of them. 

Moon and Hare. The moon with a hare in it pounding the drug 
of immortality is frequently represented in Chinese art and 
is one of the twelve symbols of power. The association of 
the hare with the moon is very old and has been attributed 
to the mysterious effect of the moon upon the hare which the 
primitives could not fail to notice. On clear moonlight 
nights the hare were wont to gather together in bands and 
indulge in weird play, silent and bizarre, as if under the in- 
fluence of some subtle and transforming elixir of life. 

Mouse. Sacred to Apollo. "Cinderella's coach was drawn by 
mice which turned magically into white horses, i. e., the 
golden footed steeds of the Morning." (Bayley.) 

Mut. The feminine counterpart of Amen-Ra, the great "world 
Mother." She is represented as a woman wearing the united 
crowns of North and South and holding in one hand the 
ankh cross and in the other the papyrus sceptre. Sometimes 
she has large wings and at her feet is the feather symbol of 
Maat. Again from each shoulder there projects the head of 

(gloflfsiarp 429 

a vulture. Sometimes she has the head of a man or a woman 
or a vulture or lioness. When given the phallus and the 
head of a man it denoted the belief that the goddess was 
androgynous, or self-produced. 

Nazit. A winged serpent goddess in the Delta. The Greeks 
called her Buto and identified her with their Leto. 

Neith, Net or Neit. One of the oldest Egyptian goddesses repre- 
sented in the form of a woman wearing the crown of the 
North, with a sceptre in one hand and the crux ansata in the 
other, or a bow and two arrows, her characteristic symbols. 
She was to goddesses what Ra was to gods. The Egyptians 
declared she was eternal and self -produced. In other words 
she was the personification of the eternal feminine principle 
of life, and is made to say, "I am what has been, what is, and 
what shall be." She was called the "mighty mother who 
gave birth to Ra." 

Nekhebet. An Egyptian goddess of the South, while Uatchet 
was goddess of the North. In pre-dynastic times sovereign- 
ty of the South and North was represented by the Vulture 
and Serpent signs. Nekhebet was a vulture goddess and 
Uatchet a serpent goddess. 

Nephthys. Sister of Isis and wife of Set typified death, corrup- 
tion, diminution, sterility. Although goddess of death she 
symbolised the coming into existence of the life which springs 
from death. She is represented as a woman with a pair of 
horns and the disk. 

Neptune. [See Poseidon.] 

Nine. In Hebrew the equivalent of Truth because when multi- 
plied it reproduces itself. 

Nu. One of the earlier Egyptian gods who personified the wa- 
tery mass out of which had sprung the germs of life. He is 
sometimes represented as a man holding a sceptre, again he 
is given the head of a frog surmounted by a beetle or the 
head of a serpent. 

Nut. The Egyptian sky goddess. She is the feminine counter- 
part of Nu and looked upon as the primeval mother and 
later was identified with Neith, Mut and Hathor who are 
given her attributes. She is represented as a woman some- 
times with the head of the urseus surmounted by the solar 
disk, or again with the head of a cat. Sometimes she is the 
great cow goddess. As the wife of Seb she is for all practical 
purposes the same goddess bearing the same titles, and is 
the type of the great mother. The sycamore tree was her 
peculiar emblem. "Since the mythological tree of Nut 
stood at Heliopolis and was a sycamore it may well have 
served as the archetype of the sycamore tree under which 
tradition asserts that the Virgin Mary sat and rested during 
her flight to Egypt." (Budge.) 

430 (^los^siarp 

Obelisk. An ancient symbol of the masculine principle. A 
pair of obelisks and colossal statues in front of the temples 
of Egypt with backs to the pylon and facing the city (led 
up to frequently by long avenues of sphinxes or rams) , were 
to protect the god against evil influences. The obelisk has 
been called the symbol of Amon-Generator, a ray of light or 
the finger of the god. Obelisks placed in pairs before 
Theban temples expressed among other ideas "concepts of 
generative power and fertility which had belonged to the 
raised stone from which they partly emanated." (Maspero.) 

Orpheus. He is said by some to be a son of Apollo and has been 
called the inventor of letters and everything that pertains 
to civilisation. Receiving a lyre from Apollo he charmed 
the beasts and birds by the magic of his music. Rivers 
ceased to flow in order to hear him and mountains moved 
nearer to listen to his song. His love for Eurydice is founded 
on the old nature myth of death and restoration to life. 
Upon the death of Eurydice, Orpheus descends to the nether 
regions searching for her and gains the consent of Pluto that 
she shall be restored to life and free to accompany him back 
to earth, if he will refrain from looking at her until after they 
are beyond the precincts of hell. When in sight of the upper 
region of light Orpheus turned to gaze upon her and Eurydice 
melted from his sight. Mourning for his lost love he with- 
drew into himself. The Thracian women angered by his 
coldness tore him limb from limb and threw his head in the 
Hebrus. Orpheus was called the first poet of the Heroic 
Age. The Orphics were a mystic order founded upon the 
doctrines and teachings of Orpheus. In early Christian art 
Christ was depicted as Orpheus surrounded by beasts and 
birds whom He charmed by His music. 

Osiris. A water-god, man-god, solar-god — the god of the sun of 
yesterday — the great god and judge of the dead — "from 
first to last Osiris was to the Egyptians the god-man who 
suffered, and died, and rose again, and reigned eternally in 
heaven." Osiris is usually depicted in mummy form wearing 
the White Crown and a menat hanging from the back of his 
neck and holding the crook, sceptre and flail. Sometimes 
he wears the Atef, the white crown with plumes, sometimes 
he appears in the form of the tet (tat) pillar. 

Osiris, his Amulets. The amulets used in producing the recon- 
stitution of the body of Osiris, torn asunder by Set, were: 
the four figures of the children of Horus, two bulls, a figure 
of Horus, four lapis-lazuli tat pillars, two carnelian tat 
pillars, a figure of Thoth, and two lapis-lazuli iizats. 

Owl. Sacred to Athene, goddess of wisdom. Owl-headed vases 
with breasts and the vulva represented by a large circle, the 
circle sometimes ornamented by an incised cross, were un- 

(glosiSJarp 431 

earthed by Schliemann. These sacred vases were asso- 
ciated with the archaic Greek worship of Athene. Some 
were found with wings showing their sacred character. 

Ox. Symbol of patient renunciation and toil. Eating of an ox 
was a part of the cult of Dionysos. 

Palm. The Greek word for date palm and the phoenix is the same. 
Thus the tree was fabled to die and then spring up anew 
like the phoenix. It is one of the most ancient symbols of 
creative force and the date palm was the symbolic Tree of 
Life in Chaldea, Assyria and Babylonia. Among the 
Egyptians the palm tree typified the year because it produces 
a branch every month. The palm was sacred to Astarte 
and was also given to Apollo in Delos and Delphi. Among 
the Christians the palm is a symbol of martyrdom. 

Pan. The great god of shepherds, flocks, pastures and forests. 
He was called a son of Hermes and grandson or great grand- 
son of Kronos (Saturn). He lived in grottoes, wandering 
about the mountains and valleys and slumbering during the 
mid-day heat of summer. He was also a hunter and led the 
dances of the nymphs. As god of the pastoral life he was 
fond of music and invented the syrinx or shepherd's flute. 
He exulted in noise and riot and was looked upon as a com- 
panion of Cybele and Dionysos. He is represented in art 
as a short bearded man with the horns, ears and legs of a 
goat. His attributes are a pipe, crook and the fir tree. 
Rams, lambs, milk and honey were sacrificed to him. His 
principal place of worship was Arcadia, thence it spread to 
other parts of Greece. In Rome he was identified with 
Faunus and Lupercus. In Egypt the god Pan and a goat 
were worshipped at Hermopolis, Lycopolis and Mendes. 
Pan and the goat were both called Mendes and worshipped 
as gods of fecundity. This is the famous Ram of Mendes 
whose cult was established in the second dynasty. The ram 
was distinguished by certain symbolic markings and, like the 
Apis bull, was searched for diligently and when found led to 
the city followed by a procession of notables and priests. 
The cult lasted till the decay of the city. 

Panther or Leopard. Because of the eye-like spots on its skin it 
symbolised the Great Watcher. The Egyptians frequently 
depicted Osiris as a crouching leopard with above him the 
open eye symbol. Images of Osiris had suspended near 
them the spotted skin of the leopard. The panther is also 
the symbolic animal of the Greek Dionysos. It may have 
been given to the god of wine and vegetation because of an 
old superstition that the panther was able to allure men, 
beasts and cattle by the fragrance of its breath. 

Peach Tree. Among the Chinese an emblem of marriage and 
symbol of longevity. 

432 (glosisfarp 

Peacock. Sacred to Hera (Juno). In early Christian art a 
symbol of the resurrection. 

Phoenix. This fabulous bird is second among the supernatural 
creatures of the Chinese and like the unicorn was supposed 
to unite both the masculine and feminine principles. It 
was looked upon as the essence of fire, is the bird of the sun 
that burns itself and rises from its own ashes immortally 
young. It has symbolised life and immortality from re- 
motest times and was taken over by the Christians to ex- 
press the same symbolic idea. The phoenix was a common 
device in heraldry for those who would convey the impres- 
sion of survival. Queen Elizabeth had the phoenix stamped 
upon her medals and coins, frequently with the motto 
Sola phoenix omnis mundi. "The only phoenix in the 

Pillar. One of the oldest symbols of creative energy. Two 
Pillars symbolised the "pair of opposites," or the "twin 
horsemen" which in early India "seem to have represented 
father and mother and afterwards day and night." In 
Egypt two pillars typified the Gateway of Life. The 
Egyptians symbolised their first Trinity by Three Pillars 
denoting Wisdom, Strength, Beauty. Three pillars were 
used by the Mayas, Incas, Hindus and Druids as a symbol 
of their triune gods. Among the Mayas the vault of 
heaven was sustained by Four Pillars one on each cardinal 
point. The Egyptians also had four pillars supporting 
the sky, each pillar under the care of a god. The pillars 
were termed the "Four sceptres of the gods." 

Pine Cone. A symbol of life among all the Semitic races. The 
"sacred cone" typified an existence united yet distinct and 
conveyed precisely the same meaning as the crux ansata of 
the Egyptians. It is also a symbol of Venus and Artemis. 
D'Alviella traces the cone sacre to the human silhouette 
comparing this also to the crux ansata which shaped the 
figures of the early nature goddesses such as Diana of the 
Ephesians. The combination of the sacred cone and the 
crux ansata penetrated to India where the disk was replaced 
by an inverted triangle above the tau. The symbol in this 
form is seen on the foot prints of Buddha. 

Pine Tree. Among the Chinese and Japanese a symbol of life 
and immortality. The god of longevity is usually depicted 
standing at the foot of a pine while a crane perches on a 
branch above. Sometimes the bamboo is grouped with the 
pine and the plum tree. These are all longevity symbols 
and when grouped together typify good fortune, happiness. 
The white stag is associated with the god of longevity. 
Sometimes a stag and stork are shown with the pine each 
plucking a branch from the tree. 

iglofi^siarp 433 

Pomegranate. Used by all Semitic nations as a symbol of life 
and fecundity. 

Poseidon, (Neptune). The god of the waters and the force 
and flow of life. Among the Greeks the horse which was 
likened to a crested sea wave, animated and bridled was 
sacred to Poseidon. This may refer to the myth of the 
contest between Athene and Poseidon for supremacy. 
Preference was to be given by the assembled gods to the one 
who gave the most useful present to man. Poseidon struck 
the earth with his trident and a horse sprang forth. Athene 
produced the olive and was acclaimed the victor. In art 
Poseidon is generally represented standing on a dolphin or 
seated in a chariot formed like a shell and drawn by dolphins 
or sea horses and holding a trident in his hand. 

Priapus. The personification of attraction. Knight identifies 
the Greek Bacchus with the First Begotten Love of Orpheus 
and Hesiod. "In the Orphic Fragments this Deity or First- 
Begotten Love is said to have been produced together with 
Ether by Time (Kronos) or Eternity, and Necessity operat- 
ing upon inert matter. He is described as eternally beget- 
ting, the Father of Night, called in later times the lucid or 
splendid because he first appeared as splendour; of a double 
nature as possessing the general power of creation and gen- 
eration, both active and passive, both male and female. 
Light is his necessary and primary attribute, co-eternal with 
himself, and with him brought forth from inert matter by 
Necessity. Hence the purity and sanctity always attributed 
to light by the Greeks. . . . He is said to pervade the world 
with the motion of his wings bringing pure light; and thence 
to be called the splendid, the ruling Priapus, and self- 
illumined. . . . The self-created mind of the Eternal Father 
is said to have spread the heavy bond of love through all 
things in order that they might endure forever." ^ Geese 
are sacred to Priapus. He is represented as carrying fruit 
and either a cornucopia or sickle in his hand. The Italians 
confounded him with various personifications of the fructify- 
ing powers of nature and in Greek legends Priapus is asso- 
ciated with beings who are sensual and licentious. He was 
the god of gardens and the first fruits of gardens, fields and 
vineyards were sacrificed to him. 

Psyche, (breath or soul). Psyche is called the "mythical em- 
bodiment of the human soul." The myth shows the help- 
lessness, the unreliability, the tragic suffering of the soul as 
it passes through the world of experience. Quite without 
consciousness of anything but beauty and sweetness in life. 
Psyche excites the jealous wrath of Aphrodite by the elusive, 
intangible, exquisite quality of her beauty. The myth 
* "Worship of Priapus," R. P. Knight. 

434 (glosisiarp 

resembles the story of Cinderella, Psyche is beset by the 
same forces — the jealous goddess or cruel stepmother, the 
twin sisters of pride and envy and Eros the god of love who, 
sent by Aphrodite to enchant her with some monster takes 
her unto himself and thus becomes the Prince Charming of 
the fairy tale. Eros visits her at night and exacts but one 
pledge — that she shall never attempt to see him. Psyche, 
played upon by her envious sisters forgets her promise and 
"investigates" love, and love, wounded by her distrust, 
flees from her and comes no more. The rest of the myth 
shows the soul paying the price for its wavering doubts. 
Psyche wanders from place to place searching for her lover. 
Finally she comes to the palace of Aphrodite who recognising 
and still hating her makes her a slave. Eros finding her 
there secretly comforts and aids her by his invisible presence. 
Her humility and patience win at last even the goddess of 
beauty, and Psyche becomes one of the immortals united 
forever with Eros. Psyche and Eros are frequently repre- 
sented together in art. Psyche is often given the wings of 
a butterfly. 

Ptah. The Egyptian Vulcan, the god of fire, Ptah was also 
regarded as a form of the sun-god and was identified with 
one of the great primeval gods and called the "father of 
beginnings and creator of the egg of the sun and moon." 
As creator Ptah was the embodiment of mind from which all 
things emerge. "Ptah was the architect and builder of the 
material world." While Klmemu was fashioning men and 
animals Ptah was constructing the heavens and the earth. 
He was represented shaping the egg of the world on a potter's 
wheel which he worked with his foot. He is usually depicted 
as a bearded man with a bald head holding the sceptre of 
power, the crux ansata and the tat, symbol of stability. 

Ptah-Seker. A personification among the Egyptians of the 
"union of primeval creative power with a form of the inert 
powers of darkness or, in other words Ptah-Seker is a form 
of Osiris, that is to say, of the night sun or dead sun-god." 

Ra. The great sun-god of the Egyptians. He is generally 
depicted with the head of a hawk or again as a hawk. He 
has the usual emblems of life and power, the solar disk and 
uraeus, the crux ansata and sceptre. He is also identified 
with the ass, cat, bull, ram and crocodile. 

Ram of Mendes. [See Pan.] 

Rhea. "The name as well as the nature of this ancient divinity 
is one of the most difficult points in ancient mythology." 
It is assumed, however, that like Demeter, Rhea is goddess 
of the earth. Kjonos was said to have devoured all his 
children by Rhea except Zeus whom she concealed giving 

Kronos a stone wrapped up as an infant whom the god 
swallowed. Crete was probably the earliest seat of the 
worship of Rhea. She was identified with Cybele in Phrygia, 
was worshipped by the Thracians, under different names she 
was the great goddess of the Eastern world and was known 
as the Great Mother, the mother of all the gods. Her priests 
were the Corybantes who dressed in full armour, with cym- 
bals, horns and drums performed their orgiastic dances on 
the mountains or in the depths of the forests of Phrygia. 
Many of the attributes of Rhea were given to her daughter 
Demeter. The lion was the symbolic animal of the earth 
goddess because of all the animals known it was the strongest 
and most important. In works of art she was rarely de- 
picted standing. She is usually represented seated on a 
throne, wearing a mural crown from which hangs down a 
veil. Lions crouch on either side of her throne or some- 
times she is shown in a chariot drawn by lions. In Greece 
the oak tree was sacred to Rhea. 

Rosaries. Used in ancient days to reckon time. The circle, 
a line without termination, symbolised perpetual continuity 
hence circlets of beads. The rosary was used in the religions 
of the east as an aid in repeating mystical sentences. Dif- 
ferent materials were employed by the Buddhists, ivory, 
jade and crystal beads, also those made from the wood of 
plum or cherry trees. Originally the beads numbered 108 
"corresponding with the number of sins of the flesh." 

Sail. The sail springing into movement under the influence of 
the wind was an Egyptian symbol of the spirit — spiritus 
meaning breath or wind. 

Salt. Owing to its incorruptible nature salt was a symbol of 
immortality. Homer called it divine. Wisdom is personi- 
fied holding a salt cellar. "The bestowal of Sal SapientioB, 
the Salt of Wisdom, is still a formality in the Latin Church." 
The victims for sacrifice among the ancient Romans were 
led to death with salt upon their heads. It was considered 
the worst possible omen should they shake it off. Hence the 
superstition about spilling salt. Da Vinci uses this same 
symbolism in the overturned salt cellar by the side of Judas 
in his "Last Supper." 

Sangrael. The Cup of the Holy Grail which according to tradi- 
tion was used at the Last Supper. 

Scarab. An Egyptian amulet that protected against annihila- 

Scarabaeus. [See Beetle.] 

Sceptre. Derived from the divided pillar and typifying the 
union of the two forces that create life, and thus from the 
most ancient days, a symbol of highest power given only to 
rulers and the gods and goddesses of life. The Buddhists 

436 <g(o2(s;arj> 

sometimes have a lotus carved on the handle, or it is a short, 
slightly curving wand of jade or exquisitely carved wood. 

Scorpions. Symbol of Selk, the Egyptian goddess of writing 
and also reverenced by the Babylonians and Assyrians as 
guardians of the gateway of the sun. Seven scorpions were 
said to have accompanied Isis when she searched for the 
remains of Osiris scattered by Set. 

Seb. The Egyptian earth god, the son of Shu and Tefnut, 
brother and husband of Nut and the father of Osiris and 
Isis, Set and Nephthys. He is represented in human form 
wearing the crown of the North to which is added the Atef 
crown or a goose. Seb was believed to have made his way 
through the air in the form of a goose. It was Seb and Nut 
who produced the great egg of the world out of which sprang 
the sun-god in the form of a phoenix. 

Sebek. An Egj^jtian god depicted as a crocodile-headed man. 

Sekhebet, Sekhmet or Sekhet. An Egyptian goddess repre- 
senting the power of the sun. She is the second person of 
the Memphis triad and worshipped as the consort of Ptah. 
She is depicted with the head of a lioness or a cat, with the 
solar disk and urseus. She is also called a vulture goddess. 
Later Sekhet and Bast were identified with Hathor and 
called goddesses of the West and East. Each had the head 
of a lioness but Sekhet wears a red garment and Bast is 
given a green. Sekhet typified the scorching heat of the 

Serapeum. The famous tomb of the Apis bulls at Sakkara. 
Above stood the great temple of the Serapeum. 

Serapis. The Egyptians believed that the soul of Apis united 
itself with Osiris after death and thus became the dual god 
Asar-Hapi or Osiris-Apis. The Greeks attributed to Asar- 
Hapi the same qualities of their god Hades and gave it the 
name of Serapis. Serapis was accepted both by the Greeks 
and the Egyptians as their principal object of worship and 
after 250 B.C. it seems to have been looked upon as the male 
counterpart of Isis. Bronze figures of Apis have a triangular 
piece of silver in the forehead, a disk and the urseus serpent 
between the horns, and on the sides of the body the outlined 
figures of vultures with outstretched wings. 

Serpent. The Great Serpent is depicted by the Egyptians and 
Mayas as blue with yellow scales. Used as a symbol to 
figure the heavens or the principle of motion the serpent was 
depicted of an azure colour, studded with stars and devouring 
his tail, that is, re-entering into himself by continuous wind- 
ings like the revolutions of the spheres. Three kinds of 
serpents are represented in the Egyptian monuments: the 
cobra di capello (the urseus of the ancient Egyptians and the 
"basilisk" of the Greeks), which was the symbol of royal 

(glosisiarp 437 

and divine authority and appears on the heads of gods and 
kings, the asp or cerastes, and the great coluber, the serpent 
Apep, the symbol of Set or Typhon. 

Set or Typhon. In the primitive Egyptian rehgions Set was not 
the god of evil but the personification of natural darkness. 
He was said to be the son of Nut (the sky) and Seb (the 
earth) and brother of Osiris and Isis. He married his sister 
Nephthys. In an earlier form he is opposed to Horus the 
elder. In the second form the combat is between Ra and 
Set and Set assumes the form of a huge serpent. The third 
form is Osiris and Set and the fourth is the battle between 
Horus, son of Osiris and Set. Besides the serpent Apep 
Set was given the crocodile, pig, turtle, ass and hippopota- 
mus, and animals with reddish brown skins or even red- 
haired men were supposed to be under his influence and 
were held in especial aversion. Antelopes and black pigs 
were sacrificed to him. 

Seven Buddhist Jewels, The The golden wheel or disk. Lovely 
female consorts. Horses. Elephants. Divine guardians of 
the treasury. Ministers in command of armies. The 
wonder working pearl. These are the seven gems of a 
Chakravarti or universal monarch. Seven precious jewels 
also belonged to Brahmanism and are referred to in the 

Seven Precious Things. In China and Japan gold, silver, rubies, 
emeralds, crystal, amber (or coral or the diamond) and agate. 

Seven Wise Ones, The These came forth from the eye of Ra 
and taking the form of seven hawks flew upwards and to- 
gether with Asten, a form of Thoth, presided over learning. 
Ptah as master architect carried out the designs of Thoth 
and his Seven Wise Ones. 

Shu and Tefnut. The twin lion-gods of Egypt "who made their 
own bodies." Shu is represented in human form wearing 
on his head one, two or four feathers. As god of space he 
is sometimes depicted holding up the sky with both hands. 
The goddess Tefnut often appears with the head of a lioness 
or in the form of a lioness. The four pillars which held up 
the sky at the four cardinal points were called the "pillars 
of Shu." 

Sin. The Assyrian moon-god was called the "mighty Steer 
whose horns are strong, whose limbs are perfect." 

Solomon's Seal. Two equilateral triangles forming a six pointed 
star. This figure also embodied the ancient androgynous 
notion of the deity, the pyramid with apex upward typifying 
the masculine, and with apex downward the feminine prin- 
ciple. Here the analogy is perfect for two triangles thus 
arranged also symbolised fire which mounts upwards and 
water which flows down. In Rome it was a part of the 

438 (glosisiarp 

marriage ceremony for the bride to touch fire and water, the 
two forces of creation and productivity. 
Sphinx. Among the Egyptians a symbol of royal dignity, of the 
power of the Pharaohs. Believing that the gates of morning 
and evening were guarded by lion-gods they sometimes gave 
heads of men and women to these lion guardians which then 
typified the union of strength and intellect. It was the 
Greeks who gave the name of "sphinxes" to these figures. 
The oldest is the famous sphinx at Gizeh. Its age is un- 
known, but it existed in the time of Khephren who built 
the Second Pyramid (c. 4000 B.C.) and was probably very 
old even then. It is supposed to be a symbol of the sun-god 
Ra-Temu-Khepera-Herukhuti, and the guardian and pro- 
tector of the tombs about it. In building it the Egyptians 
were providing a "colossal abode for the spirit of the sun-god 
which they expected to dwell therein and protect their dead ; 
it faced the rising sun of which it was a mighty symbol." 
The lion statue with a human head was called the andro- 
sphinx, with a ram's head the crio-sphinx. With the Greeks 
the sphinx was only represented in feminine form with wings 
and typified the pestilential heat of summer. 

Stag. Owing to its antipathy to the serpent which it invariably 
attacks and destroys the stag typified the victory of the 
spirit. A white Stag was an attribute of the Chinese and 
Japanese gods of longevity. 

Stele. A term used to denote ancient monoliths or monuments 
placed vertically upon which were inscribed historic events 
or tributes to the memory of the dead. Steloe upon which 
are sculptured the likeness of a departed hero or king form 
some of the most interesting examples of early Greek and 
Roman art. In Egypt the stelae were originally identical with 
the "false doors" of the mastabasand represented the entrance 
into the nether world. They indicated also the place to which 
the friends were to turn when they brought their offerings. 

Stones. The Egyptians called precious stones "hard stones of 
truth." Swedenborg made precious stones the symbol of 
spiritual truths. "All knowledge and all truth are absolute 
and infinite waiting not to be created but to be found." 
Primitive temples consisted of circles of stones in the centre 
of which was kindled the sacred fire. This circular area 
was sometimes enclosed in a square one. A square stone 
was a primitive symbol of Venus among Arabians and 
Greeks. It has been assumed that the twelve stones carried 
by the Children of Israel from the river Jordon to "a spot 
called Gilgal" were placed in the form of a circle. 

Stupa, *(/?7. "precious tower"). A diagram symbolising the ele- 
ments used in the East by the Buddhists and by the mediae- 
val alchemists of Europe. 

(SlOSiJBlarp 439 

Sumeni or Mt. Meru. The highest peak of the Himalayas and 
supposed to be the centre of the universe. This is the sacred 
mountain where dwelt the Hindu Triad Brahma, Vishnu 
and Siva. Mounts or Holy Hills were usually three in num- 
ber. Mt. Meru had three peaks of gold, silver and 

Sun. To the Chinese it represented the concrete essence of the 
masculine principle in nature and was the source of all 
brightness, from it emanate the five colours. The sun was 
worshipped by the ancients as the material symbol of God, 
or the abode of the Supreme Spirit. 

Sun disk with outspread wings of a hawk. The Egyptian sym- 
bol of the Deity, and constantly depicted in Egyptian art. 

Sun with a three-legged raven in it. Frequently depicted in 
Chinese art and one of the twelve symbols of power. Ac- 
cording to Chinese tradition a three-legged raven lives in 
the sun and the raven or crow is often painted with the sun 
as back ground. It is a favourite bird in Japan. In Egypt 
the raven is a symbol of destruction. 

Surya-mani. A sun disk surmounted by a trident is called 
surya-mani or sun jewel. Issuing from the lotus it repre- 
sents Adi-Buddha at the creation of the world. 

Swastika or Fylfot Cross. One of the most widespread of all the 
mystic emblems of the sun and supposed among the many 
meanings attributed to it to typify solar energy, motion. 

Tai-Kih or Ta-Ki. The Great Ultimate Principle of the Chinese 
is symbolised by a third line from above added to the Chinese 
monad of opposites. "The yin or feminine principle was 
generated by the 'Rest' of the Ta-Ki or Great All. The 
other, the yang or masculine principle was generated by 
the 'Motion' of the Great All." 

Tat, Tet or Zad. An Egyptian amulet that has been variously 
interpreted as symbolising the pole that measured the Nile, 
as the tree trunk which enclosed the body of Osiris, or as 
the back bone of Osiris, and the setting up of the tat was 
an important religious feature in connection with the worship 
of the god. The tat pole has been called an Egyptian type 
of the "pole or pillar that sustained the universe." The tat 
like the Buckle amulet of Isis had to be dipped in water in 
which ankham flowers had lain and was hung around the 
mummy's neck for its protection. The word denotes sta- 
bility, firmness, preservation. 

Ta-urt, (The Greek Theuris). The consort of Set and goddess 
of childbirth. Ta-urt is depicted with the head of a hippo- 
potamus and is sometimes shown leaning on the girdle tie 
symbolising the blood of Isis. The cult of Ta-urt was 
probably co-eval with Egyptian civilisation. As the femin- 
ine counterpart of Set she was the mother of the sun-god. 

440 #lo2!s(arp 

She also figures with the god Bes in a royal birth scene in a 
relief in the famous temple of Hatshepset, and later appears 
with Horus holding a crocodile which Horus is about to 
spear. Although at an early period looked upon with aver- 
sion as a creature of malignant power, Ta-urt was venerated 
in the later religions as a beneficent goddess. 

Tefnut. The female counterpart of Shu. [See Shu and Tefnut.] 

Thet or Buckle amulet of Isis. This represents a girdle made of 
carnelian, red jasper or red glass and is also called the 
"carnelian girdle tie of Isis." It brought to the deceased 
the protection of Isis giving him access, moreover, to every 
place in the world of shades. 

Thor's Hammer. This symbol has been likened to the Fylfot 
Cross, the crux ansata and the Chinese Y. In Scandinavian 
mythology the tau cross was known as Thor's hammer. 
Like the thunderbolt in the hands of the Assyrian storm 
gods it was a weapon of divine power. 

Thoth, Thot, Thaut or Tehuti. The Egyptian god of learning, 
the scribe, the "pathfinder and awakener of sleeping minds." 
He is a moon-god and his symbol the ibis. He is frequently 
depicted with the head of an ibis. The baboon was also 
sacred to Thoth. 

Thrones. Three thrones surmounted by royal caps symbolised 
the great Babylonian triad Anu, Enlil and Ea. Thrones 
who support the seat of the Most High belong to the nine- 
fold celestial hierarchy of the early Christians. These were 
symbolised as fiery wheels surrounded by wings and the 
wings filled with eyes. 

Thyrsus. A staff entwined with ivy or vine branches or some- 
times with a knot of ribbon and surmounted by a pine cone 
the symbol of life. Bacchus and his followers carry the 
thyrsus. It was also used in their religious ceremonies by 
the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Jews. 

Tiger. A mount for the gods, immortals and exorcists. An 
animal symbolising for the Chinese superhuman powers. 
The Taoist god of wealth rides on a tiger who watches over 
the magic money chest. The tiger was honoured by gam- 
blers who burned incense before images of it holding money 
in its forepaws. It is frequently depicted with the dragon 
as a symbol of power. When the tiger and bamboo are 
depicted together it symbolises the bamboo jungle which 
protects the tiger from the elephant. 

Torii. The temple gateway in Japan consisting of two upright 
and two horizontal beams of bronze, copper or stone, sym- 
bolising peace and rest or the Gateway of Life. It is said 
in Japan that the sun-goddess frequently descends to earth 
in the form of the "heavenly phoenix" making the torii her 

(Slosisiarp 441 

Tortoise. One of the four supernatural creatures of the Chinese 
and a favourite symbol of longevity and supposed to live a 
thousand years. Sometimes it is represented in art with a 
long bushy tail which it is said to have acquired at the age 
of ten thousand years. The tortoise was used in divination 
and w^as believed to hold the secrets of life and death. It 
is also a symbol of fecundity. In Greek art Aphrodite is 
sometimes depicted standing on a tortoise. 

Triangle. The equilateral triangle is one of the oldest symbols 
of the Trinity or the tri-une conception; it is also the emblem 
of fire. In Egypt the form that signified the feminine prin- 
ciple or maternity was the hieroglyph of the moon, and is 
often depicted with the sacred baboon. Sometimes the 
triangle surmounts a pillar with the baboon before it in an 
attitude of worship. 

Three double triangles surrounded by concentric circles. An 
Egyptian hieroglyphic for the Khui land or Land of the 

Triangle enclosed by a circle. "The area within this triangle is 
the common hearth of them all and is named the 'Plain of 
Truth' in which the Reason, the forms and the patterns of 
all things that have been, and that shall be, are stored up not 
to be disturbed; and as Eternity dwells around them, from 
thence time like a stream from a fountain flows down upon 
the worlds." (Plutarch's On the Cessation of Oracles.) 

Trilobe or Trefoil. A form much used in mullions and arcades 
of the Gothic architecture and derived from the cloverleaf 
or the outer rim of three circles, one above two, both of 
which were ancient symbols of the Trinity. 

*Trimurti." The Hindu triad, Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the 
Preserver and Siva the Destroyer or Apathy. 

Triquetra. A mystical three-pointed ornament derived from 
three elongated circles without beginning or end and forming 
a symbolical motif in architectural decoration. 

Tri-ratna. The "three precious jewels," Buddha, Dharma and 
Sangha whose symbols are the trisula, the syllable a.u.m. 
and the triangle. 

Trisula. A three-forked flame resembling a trident. A buddhistic 
emblem and called "the invocation of the 'highest.' " 

Uatchet. [See Nekhebet.] 

Umbrella or Parasol. An emblem of royalty universally adopted 
by Eastern nations and carried over the head of a king in 
times of peace and sometimes in war. Like the halo it is 
derived from the solar wheel and is placed over the head of 
Buddha as a symbol of power. 

Unicorn. In all countries from pre-historic days the unicorn 
has been the symbol of purity, strength of body and virtue 
of mind — "the emblem of perfect good." It is one of the 

442 (gIo£(2(arp 

four supernatural divinely constituted beasts of Che Chinese 
and was supposed to combine both the masculine and 
feminine principles. It appears in the earliest examples in 
Chinese art where it closely resembles the dragon-horse. It 
seems to be a popular Chinese idea that the unicorn is the 
size of a goat with a horn in the centre of its forehead. The 
unicorn is sometimes depicted with a parrot on its back, the 
unicorn typifying dumb justice and the parrot the vociferous 
advocate of truth. The early Christians adopted the uni- 
corn as a symbol of chastity and it was thus given to St. 
Justina. Chemists also used the unicorn as a trademark to 
indicate the purity of their goods. In the Renaissance, 
when the imagination broke away from the rigid control of 
the Church, it seems to have been a matter of instinct with 
the artists to make use of all the typical figures that belonged 
to the rich florescence of the mythic past. Thus we see the 
lion and the unicorn in the famous tapestries in the Musee 
Cluny, where the unicorn is the symbol of incorruptibility or 
the nobility of the robe, and the lion is the symbol of force 
or the nobility of the sword. 

Unicorn's Horn. The belief that the unicorn typified purity 
and virtue led to the further belief that the horn of the 
animal had the power of revealing treasons and was an 
antidote against poisons. In the Middle Ages the smallest 
piece of anything that purported to be this rare horn com- 
manded a price ten times more than its weight in gold. The 
unicorn's horn now in the Musee Cluny, Paris (in reality 
a narwhal's tusk) was presented to Charlemagne by the 
Sultan Haroun-al-Raschid in 807, deposited by the emperor 
in the imperial treasury at Aix-la-Chapelle, and afterwards 
placed by his grandson Charles the Bald in the treasury of 
the abbey church of St. Denis where it was jealously guarded 
for 950 years as a potent means of protecting the French 
kings against poisoning. It bears the scars of various 

Uraeus Serpent. The urseus was an Egyptian symbol of royalty 
and power and worn on the king's crown was supposed to 
spit venom on the king's enemies. 

Urna. The shining spot in Buddha's forehead, the sign of 
spiritual consciousness, symbol of the "eye divine" and later 
developed as the third eye of Siva. 

Uzat. The mystic eye. An Egyptian amulet which, when worn 
by a cord around the neck, was a protection against malice, 
envy, evil. The Uzat or Eye of Horus was also a charm 
against the evil eye, which was as greatly feared in Egypt as 
in Italy. [See Eye.} 

Vajra or Thunderbolt. The Chaldeans figured the thunderbolt 
by a trident. In Nimroud it is held in the left hand of a 

god who holds an axe In the right. As the axe symbolised 
the sun, and the trident is given to the gods of storm and 
water, we have here again the powerful union of fire and 
water. The Vajra appears in Mesopotamia as a double 
trident. Marduk holds the double trident in each hand in 
fighting with the monster Tiamat. A trident with zigzag 
branches representing lightning is frequently shown in the 
hands of Assyrian gods. 

Venus. [See Aphrodite. 1 

Vishnu. His Three Strides are his position at dawn, at noon 
and in the evening. The garuda bird half-giant, half-eagle 
was his vehicle and his symbol, the discus, is identified with 
the Wheel of the Law. 

Vulcan. [See Hephaestus.] 

Vultiu-e. An Egyptian symbol of purification, also of maternity 
owing to its devotion to its young. Mut, Neith, Nekhebet 
and various other mother goddesses were given the vulture. 

Wheel. One of the oldest symbols of the occult power of the 
sun. It is given to all the sun-gods as a symbol of universal 
dominion. Among the Hindus and Buddhists the turning 
of the wheel represented re-birth. The spokes in the Bud- 
dhist wheels were generally multiples of four. The connec- 
tion between the wheel and thunderbolt is a very curious 
one. The Buddhist praying wheels turn in the direction in 
which the sun moves and, while the wheel is turned in the 
right hand, the dorje or thunderbolt is held in the left. 
The discus of Vishnu is identified with the wheel of the law. 
The rays of the wheel uniting in a common centre sym- 
bolised divine unity. 

Willow Branch. With it Kwan-yin the Chinese goddess of 
mercy sprinkles about her the divine nectar of life. The 
willow branch is sometimes depicted in a vase. 

Wood. Swedenborg makes wood a symbol of "celestial goodness 
in its lowest corporeal plane." 

Zen. The absolute is immanent in every man's heart. There 
is no use seeking Buddha outside your own nature — no 
Buddha but your own thoughts. Zen means "for a I man 
to behold his own fundamental nature." Buddha is 

Zeus, (Jupiter). In Greek art Zeus is always represented as a 
bearded man of noble and majestic mien. His attributes 
are the eagle, the sceptre and the thunderbolt. The thun- 
derbolt in his hand typifies that he is the origin, beginning, 
middle and end of all things. He is heaven, earth, fire, 
water, day and night. His eyes are the sun and moon. He 
is space and eternity, the essence and life of all beings. He 
is sometimes represented in sitting posture in allusion to his 
immutable essence, the upper part of his body uncovered, 

444 (glosfsJarp 

typifying the upper regions of the universe, and covered from 
the waist down because in terrestrial things he is more secret 
and concealed. He holds the sceptre in the left hand be- 
cause the heart is on the left side and the heart is the seat 
of understanding. 


Aaron's rod, 71 

Active and passive principles, 16, 31, 
34, 48, 64, 76, 87, 89, 90, 382 

Symbols of, in ark of Egyptians, 
281, 282 
Agwins, 83 
Adam. 56, 102 

Adam and Eve, 77, 96, 146, 386 
Adi-Buddha, 14, 24, 25 

As beginning deity, 14 
Adonis, 114, 128 

As twice-born god, 184 

Likened to Ishtar and Tammuz, 

Greek legend of, 300-301 

Myth of, see Glossary 
iEsculapius, 143 
Agni, 109, 126, 187, 208 

As god of the fire stick, 232 

God of fire and masculine principle, 

Worshipped as, 330 
Ahrimanes, 15 

Lizard, symbol of, 15, 182 
Ahura-Mazda, 15, 182 
Altar, 78, 80, 188, 332 

Modified form of pillar, 80 

As mound of earth, symbol of earth 
mother, 80 

As slab for votive offerings, 80 

Takes place of sacred tree, 102 

Of the Palmyrene, 113 
Amber, 200 
Amen-Ra, 11, 170, 173 

Hymn to, 142 

Symbols of, 172 

See Glossary 
Amitabha, 25 

Androgynous symbols, 24, 112 
Ank or Sacred Mirror, 182 
Ankh, Egyptian symbol of life, 37, 53 
Animal symbolism in Chinese art, 

see Glossary 
Anu, 129, 175, 176, 178 

Symbol of, 59 
Anubis, 122, see Glossary 

Apep, 138, 

Night demon, 151 

As Set, 174 

With back full of knives, 197 
Aphrodite — 

Identified with Astarte, 284 

Seat of worship, 286 

Cone, symbol of, 286 

Great Mother as, 289 

Union with Hermes, 292 

Bearded, 292 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Apis bull, 202, 203, 204, 252, see 

Apollo, 130, 144 

Goose sacred to, 130 

With python, 138 

Cock as announcer of, 205 

Chariot of, 208 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Aquarius, zodiacal sign of, 17, 149 
Architecture, phallic origin of, 76 
Ares, see Glossary 
Ariadne, 284, see Glossary 
Aries, see Zodiac 
Ark, 86, 281 

Of ^Egyptians, 281, 282 
Arks of Old Testament, 282-283 
Arrow, 34, 76 

Solar arrow symbol of, 180 
Artemis — 

Of Ephesus, 284 

Cone emblem of, 286 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Asherah, 71, 271 

Cult of, 79 
Ashtoreth, 71, 284, 287, 289 
Ashur, 126, 178-181 

As god of fertility, symbolised by, 

As "world soul," 179 

As bull of heaven, 179 

As lion and eagle, 179 

As warrior, 179, 180 

As archer, 180 

As god within solar wheel, 214 




Asp, 204 
Ass — 

Christ rode on, 211 

Sacred to Dionysos, 211 

Mass in honour of, 211-212 

Worshipped by Jews, 211 
Astarte, 71, 113, 127, 284 

Associated with Ashtoreth, 71, 
287, 289 

Cone emblem of, 286 

"Goddess of evil repute," 287 
Atargatis, 284, 292, 293, 294 
Athene — 

Dove with olive branch, sacred to, 

Serpents given to, 143 

Owl, see Glossary 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Attis (Atys), 114, 185, 286 

Imprisoned in pine tree, 114 

Death of, 114 

As twice-born god, 184 

Associated with, 285 

As tree spirit, 286 

As solar god, 287 
Aum, 14, 24 

Meaning of, 14 

Drawn by seven green horses, 

Symbol of, 332 

Sacred double axe, 78, 217, 218, 

As solar emblem, 217-218 
Symbol of, 265 
Axis, 33, 67 

Associated with tower of Kronos, 


Baal, 71, 183 

Tamar, 113 
Bacchus, 80, 114, 127. 186 

Shovel-shaped basket of 80, 101 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Basket and Sacred Cone, symbol of, 

Bast — 

As feline goddess, 197, 284, 285 
Beltane feast, 189, 190 

see Glossary 
Bell, see Glossary 
Bes, see Glossary 
Birds, Sacred. 119-133 

As "fates," 131 

On fork of Sacred Tree, 98 

Guarding tree, 98 

Spirit, in form of, 98 

Bennu, see Glossary 

Crane, 131 

Crow, 131 

Crows in pairs, 131 

Dove. 104, 127, 128, 129 
Symbolism of, 121 

Eagle, 126 

Double-headed. 126, 127 

Symbol of St. John. 127 

Falcon or hawk, 23, 124 

Garuda, 126, 141. 160. 213 

Goose, chaos, 11 
Of fairy tale, 12 

Sacred to. 130 

Associated with sun. 131 

Ibis, see Glossary 

Mandarin duck. 131 

Owl. see Glossary 

Peacock, 102, 104 

Phoenix, 13, 124, 125 

Symbolism of in China. 160-162 
Associated with ho-o. garuda, 

etc., 160 
Chinese name, 161 

Raven. 128 

Magic roe. 127 

Screech owl, 131 

Stork, 131 

Vulture. 124 

Zu bird, identified with eagle, 126 
Brahma. 14, 21. 25, 126 

Riding on goose, 129 
Buddha. 15. 19, 24. 26. Ill 

And white horse. 209 

Wheel of. 212, 213 

Emblems of. 200, 213 

Foot print of, 228 
In "swastika posture." 228 
Buddha, Gautama, 111, 140, 141 

/See Glossary 

Assyrian. 86. 100 

Kneeling before Sacred Tree, 100. 
101, 202 

Winged, symbol of, 179 

Symbolism of, 252-253 

Caduceus, 69, 143, 271, see Glossary 

Caitya or stupa, 5, 6 

Calabash. 267 

Cartouche. 198 

Castor and Pollux, see Dioscuri 

Cat — 

Worshipped in Egypt as splendour 
of light, 197 

Associated with moon, see Glos- 
Cerberus, 83. 351 
Ceres. 185, 228 
Chaos, 13, 16 

Demon, 9 

Gander, 11 

Goose, 11 

Giant, 14 
Cherubim, 86, 96, 123, 127 



Chinese Trigrams, 41-50, 87 

Symbolism of, 42-48 
Crucifixion of. 299 

Life of. 397 

Nativity of, 221, 397 

Resurrection of, 299, 393, 397 

Rode on ass, 211 

Second coming on white horse, 
Church spires, 68, 77 
Circle, 5, 36, 65, 67, 69 

As symbol of water, 5, 72 

Symbol of feminine principle, 17, 

Of eternity, 17, 72 

Divided by two arcs, 36 

By three lines, 36, 74 

Eternal, 65 

As entering into mystery of num- 
bers, 72 

Twin circles in figure 8, 72 

Three circles, 72 

Three forming triangle, 73 

Four circles, 73 

Five circles, 73 

As used by Druids, 73 

Denoting perfection, 74 

Upright and circle, 74, 75, 76 

The decade 10, 74 

As regulator, 75 

"Dot within the circle," 171 

Symbolising course of sun, 171 
Cock, Chinese symbol of sun, 205, 

Colonnade, 28 
Column, 28, 29, 33, 68, 70 

Marduk symbolised by, 70 

Symbol of Ea as "world spine," 

Given to Nergal, 70 

Natural, 78 

Meaning of, 89 
Cone, pine or fir, see Sacred Cone 
Confucius, 37, 41 
Cornucopia, 265 
Cow — 

Sacred to Great Mother, 253 

Symbol of productivity, 253 
Creation Myths, 7-17 
"Creative Tears," 94, 204 
Creatures, Four Supernatural of 

Chinese, 151-167 
Crescent moon, 5, 6, see Moon 
Crocodile — 

Symbol of, 197 
Crosier, 69 
Cross, 51, 53-64 

Meaning of life, 54 

As cosmic symbol, 54 

As crossed fire sticks 54, 59 

As bird with outstretched wings, 

Symbol of four elements, 57 

Of four cardinal points, 57 

Of winds, 58 

With wheel in centre, 59 

Fiery, 59 

Inscribed in square, 59 

As two-headed Mallet, 60 

Celtic, 60 

Maltese, 60 

Latin, 60 

"Sacred Tau," 53, 55, 64, 69 

Phallic meaning attributed to, 56 

Three Taus, 56 

Four Taus, 57 

As Symbol of man, 63, 64 

With circle above it {Crux ansata) , 
Crown, 200 
Crux ansata, 37, 53, 54, 64 

As symbol of "Life to Come," 54 

Same as pole and circle, 89 
Cube, 6 
Cybele, 114, 285 

Worshipped in Rome as Great 
Mother, 287, 288 
Cypress, see Tree of Life 

Name given to Venus, 113 

See Glossary 

Dancing, origin of, 185 
Demeter, see Glossary 
Dharma, 15 

Wheel symbol of. 111 
Diana, see Artemis 
Dionysos, 109 

As twice-born god, 184 

Symbolic animal, 184 

Cult of, 203 

Ox sacrificed to, 203 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Dioscuri, 84, 105 
Dogs — 

With four eyes, 83 

Sirius, 251 

Worship of, see Anubis 
Dolphin, 207, 209. 251 
Doorways and portals, 110 
Dorje, 274 
Dragon, 151-159 

As symbol of chaos, 9, 10 

Of feminine principle as Great 
Mother, 9, 10 

As symbol of evil, 151, 152 

Chinese conception as source of 
good, 152 

Symbol of power, 153 

Of change, 149, 153 

One of yang trigrams, 153 

Blue dragon, 154 



Dragon — Continued 

Yellow dragon, 154 

As god of thunder, 155 

As devourer of moon, 155 

With ball, 155 

Ball as "precious pearl," 155 

With three, four or five claws, 158 
Dragon and Tiger, 158 
Drinking Ceremonies — 

Of blood, 129, 261 

Of fermented liquors, 261 
Druids, 73, 74, 78, 106, 107, 189, 
231, 248 

Three feathers of, 122 

Oak sacred to, 105 

Cutting of mistletoe, 106 

Trees in form of fylfot cross, 231 
Dual Principles, 33-37 
Duality, 33, 65 

Conveyed by bird and serpent, 

By divided pillar, 100 

Ea, Assyrian god of water, 70, 101, 
177, 178 

Symbolised by, 17% 251 

Worshippers of, 261 
Eagle, see Birds 
Earth, 3, 4, 5, 6 

Symbolised by square, 5 

As Mother, 14, 138, 144, 232, 233, 
279, 326 

Symbolised by cross in circle, 57 

Chinese symbol of, 59 
Eau de vie, 95 
Eden, Garden of, 95, 146 
Egg- , 

Cosmic, 11, 12 

Brahma born of, 14 

As vault of heaven, 16 
Egg and dart, 27, 76 
Elements, 3-6 

Diagram of, 5 

As eternal, 3 

Soul composed of, 3 

Taoist conception of, 3 
Elephant, 21, 111, 164 
Enlil, 175, 176, 177, 178 
Eros, 67 

Riding on goose, 130 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Eucharist, 129, 186, 261, 396 
Eve, 75, see Adam 

Fairy Stories — 

As solar myths, 194 

Cinderella, 194, 195 

Little Red Riding Hood, 19 

Prince Charming, 194 

Sleeping Princess, 194 
Falcon, see Sacred Birds 

Father Gods and Mother Goddesses, 

The Great Snake Father, 138, 

As phallic god, 232 

As universal father, 233 

Father gods as Baal, Rammon, 
Indra, Thor, Jupiter, etc., 280 

As primeval deities, 281 

Supreme deities Great Father and 
Great Mother merged in Egypt, 

Swing between two cults, 289 

See Great Mother 
Feather, symbol of, 122 
Feminine principle, 17, 36, 87 

Symbols of, 34 

Associated with earth, water, 17 
Fire, 3, 4, 5, 6, 49, 50 

Symbolised by triangle, 5 

By pyramid, 5, 6, 188, 332 

Kindled by lightning, 106 

Kindling sacred fire, 107 

Pearl as charm against, 155 

As secondary principle, 187 

Worship, 187 

Festivals, 187-192 

As symbol of renewal, youth, 193 
Fire sticks, two crossed, 54, 59, 188 
Fire and water, union of, 16, 21, 22, 
34, 89, 101, 262, 292 

Symbolised by basket and sacred 
cone, 101 
Symbol of sun, 206 

Of Buddha, 206 

Of Ea, 206 

As phallic emblem, 207 

Given to Venus, Isis, Kwan-non 
and Virgin Mary, 207 

Christ symbolised by two, 207 

Trinity by three, 207 
"Five blessings" in China, 162- 

Fleur de lis, 29, 69, 271, 276 
Flood legends, 128, 138, 139, 178 
Four Ages, 230, 245 
Four cardinal points, 57, 154 
Four primeval rivers, 58 
Four rivers of paradise, 57, 97 

Symbolised by crossed cakes, 186 
Four Supernatural Creatures of the 
Chinese (Unicorn, phoenix, drag- 
on, tortoise), 149-165 
Francis, St., of Assisi, 133, 357 
Free Masonry, 56 
Freya, 285 
Fylfot, see Swastika 

Gander, chaos, 11 
Gilgamesh, 254, 298 



Globe 6, 51 
Goat — 

In heraldic grouping, 201 

With sacred tree, 100, 202 

Symbol of sun, 203 

Symbol of Marduk, Tammuz, Agni, 

Varuna, Thor, Pan, 204 
In Zodiac, 251 
Goose, 11, 12, see Sacred Birds 
Gorgon, 144, see Glossary 
"Graven image," 365, 366, 367 
Great Monad — 

Chinese symbol of opposites, 36 
Great Mother — 
As Sea, 9 

As choas demon, 9 
As serpent or leviathon, 9 
Self-created, 10 
Known as "ma,""mama,""mami," 

9, 10, 284 
As Virgin goddess, 10, 279 
Mother of gods, 10 
Mother goddesses associated with 

sun cult, 279 
Two principles of sun and moon, 

fire and water personified by 

Great Father and Great Mother, 

Worship of Great Earth Mother, 

279, 280 
Typical Great Mother, 10, 281 
As Virgin goddess with fatherless 

son, 10, 11, 281 
Associated with earth, water, sky, 

281, 383 
Ark as symbol, 86, 281-283 
Worshipped under many names, 

Symbolised by circle, 17, 72, 74-76, 

384, 386, 390 
Associated with vulture, 284 
With lioness, 284 
Worship of in cities, 288 
As Astarte, Ashtoreth, Venus, 289 
Griffins, 103, 105 

Hathor, 24, 114. 263 

As Lady of the Sycamore, 124, 

Symbols of, 263, 283 

See Glossary 
Hawk, see Birds 

Hephsestus, 187, 273, see Glossary 
Hera, 129, 284, 285 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Herakles, 143, 201 

As solar hero, 255 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Hermes — 

Caduceus given to, 69, 143 

Goose sacred to, 130 

Wednesday day of, 245 

Blue colour of, 246 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Herms or Hermte, see Glossary 
Hippocrates, 143 
Hittites, 81, 126, 281 
Holy Rood, 104, 109 
Ho-o, 160 
Horn, 78 

Of salvation, 78 

Bull's, 97, 264 
" Horn's of consecration," 78, 264 
Horns and the Crescent Moon, 

See Moon 

Of Pan, 263, 264 

Of Moses, 263 

As typifying light, 263 

As symbol of divinity, 263 

Cap with upturned horns, 263 

Given to moon gods and Egyptian 
Hathor, 263 

Of animals, 264, 265 

As derived from lunar cult, 265 

As symbol of luck, 266 

Of Diana, 266 
Horse, 143 

As symbol of sun, 208 

Horses and chariot of Elijah, 208 

Four horses symbolise, 208 

Seven horses, 208 

White, 159, 209 

White horse of Shrivenham, 210 

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 

Pegasus the winged horse, 145, 

See Glossary 
Horseshoe, 143 
Horus — 

Myth of, as new born sun, 22 

Typifying Light, 167, 171 

"Horus of Two Horizons," 171 

As son of Osiris and Isis, 171 

As morning sun, 173 

As falcon god, 123, 172 

See Legend of Isis and Osiris, also 
Hygeia, 143 

Ida, 14 

As Universal Mother, 290 

Idah, the, 290 
Incense, see Glossary 
Indra, 83, 126, 199, 208, 326 

Destroying the snake worshippers, 

As storm god, 177 

Thunderbolt weapon of, 273 

Wrested from by Buddha, 274 



Ishtar, 101, 113, 127, 326 

Ruler of zodiac, 248 

Great Nature goddess, 284 

Legend of Ishtar and Tammuz, 

All powerful and potent, 297 

Goddess of human instinct, 297 

Abandons lovers, 298 

Great Jiarth Mother, 298 

Myth of Adonis and Aphrodite 
traced back to, 299 
Isis, 11, 124 

Goose sacred to, 130 

Lotus given to, 26 

As serpent goddess, 142 

As Great Mother, 284 

Legend of Isis and Osiris, 305-315 

As the Eternal Feminine, 314-315, 
385, see Glossary 
Ivy, 114 

Jade, 35, 36 

"Jewel in the lotus," 5, 25, 26, 87, 293 

John, St., the Divine, 127, 216 

Julian the Apostate, 221 

Juno, see Ceres 

Jupiter, 105, 176, 187 

Khensu, 263, see Glossary 
Khepera, 204 
Khnemu, 12, see Glossary 
Kneph, 11-12 
Knossos, 217 
Kronos, 68, 246, 247 
Kwan-non, see Kwan-yin 
Kwan-yin, 291 
Symbols of, 292 

Labarum of Constantine, 61, 220 
Ladder, 198, 199 
Lao-tse, 37, 153 
Leaf, 116 
Lightning — 

Voice of God, 106 

Celestial fire, 106-107 
Lion, 124, 127, 128 

Egyptian lion gods " Yesterday and 
Today," 84 

As symbol of St. Mark, 127, 

With wings of an eagle, 127 

As symbol of Marduk, 177 

Of Ashur, 179 

Assyrian winged lions, 179 

Symbol of solar heat, 201 

As Dog of Foo, 201 

In pairs, 201 

As supporters of sun, 202 

With human head, 202 

As sign of Leo, 253 

At entrance to temples, 254 
Lizard, 15, 182 
Lotus, 19, 21-29 

As dual symbol of spirit and matter, 

As solar matrix, 22 

Symbolism of, 22-23 

As pedestal to gods, 25 

As emblem of Nirvana, 25 

Jewel in the, see Jewel 

Phallic significance of, 26 

Use as decorative motif, 27 

Capitals, 28 

Rosette derived from, 28, 217 

Associated with circle, 74 

See Glossary 

Maat, 54 

Feather, symbol of, 122, see 
Mallet, two headed, 60, 273 
Man as microcosm, 61 
Mono cornuta, 266 

Man and Woman, 16, 34, 64, 75, 76, 
87, 88, 89, 147-148, 289, 290- 
294, 314-315, 340, 342, 354- 
355, 381-390, 398 
Manu, 14, 138 
Marduk, 70, 176, 182, 187 

As son of Ea, 176 

As victor over Tiamat, 176 

As One and Only God, 177 
Mars, see Ares 
Masculine principle — 

Symbols of, 34 

Elevation of, 148 

Goat as symbol of, 203 

More important than feminine in 
China and Japan, 290 
Masks, origin of, 185 
Maypole, symbolism of, 75 
Medusa, 144, 145, see Glossary 
Mercury, see Hermes 
Minerva, see Athene 
Minos, King, 217 
Minotaur, 217, 218 
Mirror, 182, see Glossary 
Mistletoe, 105-107 
Mitra and Varuna, 14, 208 
Mithra, 15, 182 

Born of rock, 79 

Associated with twice-born gods, 

Mysteries of, 185, 199, 248, 253 

Cock sacred to, 205 

Cult of, 220 

Birthday of, 221 

Sunday sacred to, 245 
Mithraism,Tau as mark of admission, 



Moon — 

Moon and stone worship, 81, 82 
Moon spirit in Innar stone, 81 
Moon worship linked with earth 

worship and water worship, 81, 

Between two dragons, 155 
As Wisdom, 194 
As masculine, 246 
Cult of, 259 
As summer, 260 
As awakener of stars, 262 
Crescent, 5, 26, as symbol of vir- 
ginity, 260 
Ravs of sun and crescent moon, 

Crescent given to Diana, Isis, 

Ishtar and Virgin Mary, 263 
Crescent called horned moon, 264 
See Horns and Trisula, also 

Mount Sumeru, 25, 26 
Mut, 124, 283, see Glossary 
Mysteries — 

As vernal festivals, 184, 185, 

Offerings of eggs and buns, 185 
Survival in our Easter, 185 
Eleusinian, 186 
Mylitta, 113, 285 

Nature goddesses, see Great 

Nature subjects alluded to in Old 

Testament as symbolic of life, 

115, 116, 117 
Nazit, as serpent goddess, 142, 284, 

see Glossary 
Nebo, 176 

Neith, 11, 124, 283, see Glossary 
Nekhebet, 124, see Glossary 
Nephthys, 142, 307, see Glossary 
Neptune, see Poseidon 
Nergal, 176, 177, 178 
Ninib, 176, 178 
Nirvana, 25, 37 
Nu, 11, 139, see Glossary 
Nu Kua, 13 
Numbers, 45, 46, 245 
Symbolism of, 47 
Sacred but never deified, 247 
Nusku, 187 
Nut, 11, 121, 124, 283, see Glossary 

Obelisks, 68, see Glossary 

Ormuzd, see Ahura- Mazda 

Orpheus, see Glossary 

Osiris, 11, 23, 69, 114 
As judge of dead, 122 
As son of Ra, 170 
Mutilated by Set, 170, 174 

Father of Horus, 171 

Death of, typified by sun going 
down, 173 

Solar myth of Osiris and Isis, 174 

As twice-born god, 184 

As Apis bull, 203 

Legend of, 305-315 

See Glossary 
Owl, 83, 131, see Glossary 
Ox, 129,203 

Oxen twelve, 86 

Heraldic grouping, 201 

Sacrificed to Dionysos, 203 

Given to St. Luke, 216 

Symbol of, 253 

Spirit of agriculture, 253 

Pah-Kwa, 48 

"Pair of opposites," 34 

As two pillars, twin horsemen, the 
"primeval twins," 82 

Twin deities Mitra and Varuna, 

Yama and Yami, 83 

The Agwins, 83 

" Celestial twins," Yima and Yimah, 

Dioscuri, 83, 84 

"Twin Brother idea," 84 

As unchangeable forces, 353-355 

See Yang and Yin. 
Pan, 91, 112, 204, 263 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Panache, 122 
Pan Ku, 12-13 
Panther, 105, see Glossary 
Parasol, 217 
Peacock, see Birds 
Pearl, 67, 102 

As symbol of woman, 34 

As charm against fire, 155 

Connection of pearl with dragons, 
155, 156 

Symbolism of pearl or "tama," 
Pegasus, 145, 209 
Pentacle, 335 
Phallicism, cult of, 88, 89, 147 

Phallic symbols, 68, 69 

Modern phallicist, 293-294 
Pigeon, 83, 128 
Pillar, 33, 65, 67, 73 

Universal, 65 

Symbol of Creator, 68 

As Staff of Life, 71 

As symbol of Ashur, Tammuz, 
Osiris, 71 

Associated with sacred trees, 78, 
93, 99 

Two, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87 

Meaning of, 89 



Pillar — Continued 

Cult of, 99 

Divided, 100, 276 

See Glossary 
Pine Cone, see Sacred Cone and 

Pine tree, see Tree of Life and Glos- 
Playing cards, symbolism of, 116 
Pole or Axis, 67-68 

Symbols of, 67 

Sacred Tat pole of Egyptians, 69 

Sacred pole or Asherah, 71 

Asherah as attribute of Ashtoreth, 

Aaron's rod, 71 

Rod or Stem of Jesse, 72, 74, 109, 

Pole and circle, 75 

Symbolism of, 89 
Pomegranate, 86, 100, 115, 116 
Poseidon, 145, 209, 272, see Glossary 
Prayer of Rameses IV, 361 
Priapus, 68 

Goose sacred to, 130 

Myth of, see Glossary 
Psyche, see Glossary 
Ptah, 12, 187, 203, see Glossary 
Purusha, 14 
Pyramids, 6, 188, see Triangle 

Ra, 11, 139, 142, 151 

As Great Father, 11, 152 

Eye of, 11, 171 

As falcon, 123, 172 

Fighting Apep, 138 

As father of Osiris, 170 

As sun egg, 171 

Hieroglyph of, 171 

Worship of, 171-172 

As noon day sun, 173 

Symbols of, 172 ^^ 

"Creative Tears" of, 204 
Ram, celestial, see Zodiac 
Ram of Mendes, see Pan 
Raven, 130 

Rhea, 284, Myth of, see Glossary 
Rock, 65 

As symbol of Creator, 77 

The Lord is my, 78 

Mithra born of a, 79 

Associated with Great Fire, 79 
Rod or Stem of Jesse. See Pole 
Round Table of King Arthur, 194, 

Sacred Cone, 70, 78, 100, 101, 103, 
As phallic emblem, 110 
On gateways, 110 
On burial urns. 111, see Glossary 

Sakya-muni, 37, 111 

Cutting of hair, 196 

Descent from heaven by ladder, 
Sangha, 15 

Tree symbol of. 111 
Saturn, 4, 329 

Scapegoat, Jewish, 204, 367-369 
Scarabseus, 69, 112, 204, 205 
Sceptre, 272, 273-276 

Four sceptres, 57 
Scorpions, see Glossary 
Seb, 11, 121, 129, see Glossary 
Sekhebet, see Glossary 
Semiramis, 128 
Serapeum, see Glossary 
Serapis, see Glossary 
Serpent, 135-148 

Associated with tree worship, 98, 

Symbolism of 137-138 

Sloughing of skin, 137 

As androgynous, 137 

As Great Snake Father, 138, 146 

Naga snake gods, 102, 140, 141 

Serpent goddesses, 142 

Nak (Apep), 142 

As defenders of households, 143 

As oharms, 143 

Symbol of Athene, 143 

Coiled about egg of world, 145 

Entwined about cross, 145 

Marriage of woman to, 145 

Symbol of sexual passion, 145, 

Interpreted by Troward, 146-147 

Serpent of Moses, 147 

Brazen serpent, 148 

See Glossary 
Set (Darkness), 167, 170 

As Apep, 174, 197 

As red-haired god, 197 

White horse and, 209 

See Glossary 
Sex, 147, 293, 343. 381 
"Sex urge," 147 
Shamash, 176, 177, 326 

As mighty judge, 178 

Symbol of, 178 

With sun wheel, 214 

As ruler of Zodiac, 248 
Shepherd's Crook, 69 
Ships — 

Connection with Mother wor- 
shippers, 282 
Shu, 11, 121 

Symbol of, 122, see Glossary 
Sin 'the moon god, 176, 326 

More powerful than Shamash, 246 

Ruler of Zodiac, 248 

God of wisdom, 260 



Sin the moon god — Continued 

Associated with astrology, 260 

Depicted as, 2(53 

In centre of moon crescent, 276 

Man in the moon, 276 
Sec Glossary 
Sistrum of Isis, 319 
Siva, U, 326 
Si Wang Mu, 96 
Square, 5, 6 
Solomon — 

Songs of, as solar myth, 194 
Solomon's Seal, 334, see Glossary 
Solomon's Temple, 56, 85, 86, 202 
Sphinx, 200, 201, see Glossary 
Spiral, 72, 73, 155 
Stones, 77 

Spirit of, 77 

Luck or ill luck of precious stones, 

As pillar or menhir, 78 

Twelve stones at Gilgal, 78 
Stone circles symbols of sun, 79 

Shaped like pillar, cone or obelisk, 

Pouring oil on, 79 

As monuments, 79 

Moon and stone worship, 81 

See Glossary 
Stonehenge, 79 
Stupa, 5, 6, 26, 73, 273, 332 
Sun, 169-221 

As Supreme Creator, 169 

Material symbol of God, 170 

Solar gods of Egvpt, 169-175 

Of Babylonia, 175-178 

Of Assyria, 178-181 

Of Persia, 181-182 

Of Japan, 182 

Sun gods as "father and son," 183, 

As dragon slayer, 195 

Solar myths, 194-196 

Rays of sun as hair of sun god, 195- 

Hair as source of strength, 196 

Samson and Delilah as solar myth, 

Pictured by Egyptians as, 197 

Animals associated with, 200-212 

As " Master of Double Strength," 
Sun disk with rays, 69 
Sun disk with outstretched wings of 

hawk, symbol of deity, 172 
Surya, 208, 274 
Surya-mani (sun jewel), 274 
Swastika, 55, 64, 225-239 

As charm, 225 

Word derived from, 225 

Where found, 226 

Called fylfot in Great Britain, 227 
Identified with cross, circle and 

Chinese Y, 227 
Given to various gods, 228 
Phallic emblem, 228 
Typifying feminine principle, 228 
Prehistoric, 229 

Symbol of Buddha's heart, 228 
Symbol of sun's motion or solar 

energy, 229-230, 234, 235 
Various forms of, 236-238 
As decorative motif, 238, 239 
Kipling's definition of, 239 

Tai-Kih, 36, 230, 237, 238, see 

Tama, 60, 155 
Tammuz, 114, 178, 184, 285 

Legend of, 295-301 
Tat, see Glossary 
Ta-urt, see Glossary 
Temples, Egyptian, 33 
Thor, 105, 177 

Hammer of, 55, 227 

Double hammer of, 273 

See Glossary 
Thoth, 263, see Glossary 
"Three Vinegar Tasters," 37 
Tiamat, 9, 151, 176 

As Chaos dragon, 9, 151 

As Great Mother, 9, 151 
Tiger, 49, 50, 157 

White, 154 

Dragon and, 158 

See Glossary 
Tortoise, 13, 21, 97, 149, 157, 158 

Symbolism of, in China, 162-164 

As symbol of fecundity, 163 

Venus standing on, 163 

Hindu legend of, 97, 164 

Indian legends of, 97, 164 

As support, 164 

In Bhagavad-Gita, 165 

See Glossary 
Tower, 68, 77 
Tree of Jesse, 72, 115 
Tree of Life, 91-117, 123 

Trees as depositories of divine life, 

Wisdom as a, 91 

Cypress, fir, pine, palm as life 
symbols, 93 

Haoma, 95 

Chinese, 96 

Buddhist, 96 

Ashwattha, 97 

World Tree of American Indians, 
97, 98 

Bird on fork of, 98 

Bird and serpent symbolism in 
connection with, 97, 98, 100 



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