THE SEAL OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
The Theosophical Society uses a swastika as part of its seal, along with an Aum, a hexagram, a star of David, an Ankh and an Ouroboros. Unlike the much more recent Raëlian movement, the Theosophical Society symbol has been free from controversy, and the seal is still used. The current seal also includes the text "There is no religion higher than truth."
The Emblem of the Theosophical Society is composed of a number of symbols, all of which have been used from very ancient times to express profound spiritual and philosophical concepts about the human being and the universe. They are found in a variety of forms in the great religions of the world and their universality is further shown by their appearance in widely separated cultures. Each symbol studied separately will yield a wealth of understanding. Taken together, as in this emblem, they suggest a vast evolutionary process embracing the whole of nature, physical and spiritual, and their study may lead the serious inquirer to contemplate some of the deepest mysteries of existence.
Partly because of their antiquity and partly because of the difficulty of establishing their origin, the symbols cannot be interpreted with a narrow precision. The interpretation here offered is to be taken as suggestive of the truths they seek to convey rather than as an exact statement of their meaning.
The Ankh: In the centre of the two interlaced Triangles is what is known as the Ankh (or the Crux Ansata). This comprises a circle surmounting the Tau Cross (the type of cross which follows the shape of the letter 'T'). The Ankh is an Egyptian symbol of great antiquity and it portrays the resurrection of the spirit out of its encasement of matter, otherwise expressed as the triumph of life over death, of spirit over matter, of good over evil. This concept of the 'Resurrection' is found in all the great religions.
The ankh also known as key of life, the key of the Nile or crux ansata, was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read "eternal life", a triliteral sign for the consonants ʻ-n-ḫ. Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying it by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest.
The origin of the symbol remains a mystery to Egyptologists, and no single hypothesis has been widely accepted.
The ankh appears frequently in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art, often at the fingertips of a god or goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person's mummy; this is thought to symbolize the act of conception. Additionally, an ankh was often carried by Egyptians as an amulet, either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean "strength" and "health".
The ankh was almost never drawn in silver; as a sun-symbol, the Egyptians almost always crafted important examples of it (for tombs or other purposes) from the metal they most associated with the sun, gold. A similar metal such as copper, burnished to a high sheen, was also sometimes used.
The ankh also appeared frequently in coins from ancient Cyprus and Asia Minor (particularly the city of Mallus in Cilicia). In some cases, especially with the early coinage of King Euelthon of Salamis, the letter ku, from the Cypriot syllabary, appeared within the circle ankh, representing Ku(prion) (Cypriots). To this day, the ankh is also used to represent the planet Venus (the namesake of which, the goddess Venus or Aphrodite, was chiefly worshipped on the island) and the metal copper (the heavy mining of which gave Cyprus its name).
This symbol is one of the most known symbols of ancient Egypt and it is often used as the graphic synonym for this ancient culture. Due to this context, as well as due to the fact that many pictures of Egyptian gods and goddesses contained the symbol ankh in their hands, this symbol was adopted as a symbol of modern religion called Kemetism (although different Gnostic sects have been using this symbol since before Coptic times, and it is still in use by them today), which is reconstructing the ancient Egyptian religion at the present.
The hieroglyph is sometimes called the key of the Nile. The symbol is associated with Imkotep (living aroung 3000 B.C.), physician for the pharaoh's family. Long after his death Imkotep was made the god of medicine of healing in Egypt. That is why this symbol is used as the logotype for a multinational pharmaceutical manufacturer.
The same sign structure, but with the closed element filled in, , has been found in Peru used by the Mochica culture around the seventh century.
The above entry sign was adopted by Christian symbolism and given the name crux ansata or Coptic cross. The crux ansata, or handlebar cross, was also drawn .
Compare with and also with .
This sign has been used to represent copper during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries instead of the more common .
Dictionary of Symbols, Carl G. Liungman, 1991
Champdor gives a more traditional interpretation as:
the symbol of the millions of years of the life to come. The loop is the perfect symbol of what has neither beginning nor end and stands for the soul which is eternal because it has sprung from the spiritual essence of the Gods.
Gods, kings and Isis (almost invariably) are depicted holding the ankh to show that they “command” the powers of life and death and that they are immortal. The dead also carry it at the time their souls are weighed or when they are aboard the Boat of the Sun God, as a sign that they seek this same immortality from the Gods. Furthermore the ankh symbolized the spring from which flowed divine virtues and the elixir of immortality. Therefore to hold the ankh was to drink from that well. It was sometimes held upside down by the loop - especially in funeral rites when it suggested the shape of a key and in reality was the key which opened the gateway of the tomb into the Fields of Aalu, the realm of eternity. Sometimes the ankh is placed on the forehead, between the eyes, and then it symbolizes the duty of the adept to keep secret the mystery into which he has been initiated - it is the key which locks these secrets away from the uninitiated. Blessed by the supreme vision, endowed with clairvoyance to pierce the veil of the beyond, he cannot attempt to reveal the mystery without losing it for ever.
The ankh is often set in the same category as the Girdle of Isis, as a symbol of eternity. This is not because its straight lines may be lengthened in the imagination to infinity, but because they converge upon and meet in a closed loop. This loop symbolizes the inexhaustible essence of the life force identified with Isis, from whom life flows in all its forms. It is therefore carried by all those who wish to share her life. Hence the ankh may be identified with the Tree of Life, with its trunk and foliage.
The significance of the Girdle of Isis is far more complex. Like ropework or plaited hair round the arms and the loop of the cross, it infuses the concept of life and of immortality with the concept of the knots which tie down mortal life on Earth and which must be unraveled to enjoy immortality. `Free your bonds,' says The Egyptian Book of the Dead, `untie the knots of Nephthys.' And again: `Shining are those who carry the girdle. Oh! Bearers of the Girdle.' The same meaning is conveyed by the Tibetan Buddhist book called The Book of the Untying of the Knots. While the plain looped cross symbolizes divine immortality, sought or attained, the Girdle of Isis makes clear the conditions under which that immortality is obtained - by the untying of knots - dénouement in the true sense of the word.
A Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, translated from the French by John Buchan-Brown, Blackwell, 1994 (the French edition was originally published by Editions Robert Laffon SA in 1969, 2nd ed. 1982).
According to occult wisdom, when we contemplate death we look deeply within ourselves. By “reflecting” in this manner we find a hidden treasure within us in the form of eternal life, which ancient civilizations like the Egyptians celebrated using a cross symbol, ankh, associated with eternal life and life after death.
“The camel gets down on his knees and says, ‘Put a load on me’…But when the camel is well loaded, it struggles to its feet and runs out into the desert, where it is transformed into a lion — the heavier the load that had been carried, the stronger the lion will be.”
– Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth (1904 – 1987)
“You don’t HAVE a soul, you ARE a soul. You HAVE a body.”
— C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)
Furthermore, one learns that this soul—which is our true eternal nature—is really a “god” who has temporarily fallen down into the present world (the physical plane); fallen down into believing that we are actually the temporary mortal creature. We have manifested (we are manifesting) this temporary life on earth, as if it were a dream.
It corresponds to the Venus goddess Inanna, Ischtar, Astarte, and Aphrodite.
Planets and metals
Traditionally, each of the seven "planets" in the solar system as known to the ancients was associated with, held dominion over, and "ruled" a certain metal (see also astrology and the classical elements).
The list of rulership is as follows:
One interpretation of the alchemic planetary symbols considers the nature of spirit, mind and material in order of precedence. The circle in each symbol represents spirit, the semicircle or crescent represents mind and the cross or arrow represents the physical, material nature. Therefore Venus is spirit above matter, just as the goddess Venus represents beauty and aesthetic over utilitarian means. Whereas Mars is matter above spirit, as martial function and necessity precedes tranquility. Jupiter is mind controlling material, as the king of the gods over the earth, and Saturn is material controlling mind, the encroachment of time over the works of men. Mercury is mind above spirit over material; the intellectual inter-actions and conveyances of abstractions and ideals over the objects of being. The sun is pure spirit and the moon is pure mind. Earth is material.
The horizontal line of the cross represents our ephemeral, material world, the time and the space. The vertical line is the line of the eternal Being, a moment of Eternity introduced into ephemerality. A circle above the cross represents the presence of the pure spirit and its superiority above the matter. Ankh is carried by Gods as to explain their own nature - to give Life.
Venus is the only planet whose sigil embraces the entire Tree of Life. Its is also another form of the Rose Cross and the "Key of Life." Venus is the main planetary deity of Mexico and Egypt. Their calendars were based on the cycles of Venus. Venus is the feminine spirit and shows harmony, love, and affection. It's linked with art, poetry, dance, music, and painting.
The vertical line, here is represented by Djed, a pillar of stability with 4 transversal lines that represent 4 dimensions of our material world: the matter, the vital energie, the emotions and the mental world, all dominated by the spirit._
but also a zodiacal cross._
The 4 cardinal points are represented by Sphynx that had the breast and paws of a lion, the hindquarters of a bull, the wings of an eagle, and the head of a human. We can find the same symbolism in the Christianity where the 4 Evangelists represent the same cross and Christ is the Spirit, the central Sun.
In the Mayan culture the Cardinal points are also assigned colors, basically the primary colors (see figure 2.1); east is lakin red is chac, the east, which is the primary direction because this is where the sun rises, white is zac in the tree of the north which is xaman, yellow is nohol kan in the tree of the south, and west is black as chilkin ek . Because the sky moves from east to west, sacred writings and delineations of astrological indices were called the "red and black." The Middleworld human in the center (the quincunx) then divines the world by his position in it as the Shaman reads the messages from the other-worlds (8) and ancestors. This is then developed in the Mayan world with a complex calendric system of divination.
THE SIX POINTED STAR
The Interlaced Triangles: These are often called the Double Triangle, viewed by the Jewish Kabalists as the Seal of Solomon, and also known as Sri Yantra and Satkona Chakram in the Indian tradition. They are surrounded by a serpent. This combination of the triangle and the surrounding serpent symbolizes the created universe, through which creation is limited in time and space.
The Triangles, looked at separately, symbolize the three facets of the manifestation which is known as the Trinity in various religions, and personified in Christianity as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and in Hinduism as Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. The darker of the two triangles, which is downward-pointing, and the lighter triangle, which is upward-pointing, symbolize respectively the descent of the life of Spirit into matter and the ascent of that life out of matter into Spirit, the perpetual opposition between the light and dark forces in nature and in man.
The Star of David – Dr. Asher Eder
“In the culture of India, where it must have been known since ancient times, the six-pointed star still plays a role. It is found there in Hindu temples and shrines, and also on the flag of Indian ships, while in Nepal it is embroidered on the front of the king’s headgear.
There, it is considered a symbol of harmony between spirit and matter. In Yoga schools, this idea is well expressed by graphic representations of the human chakras with the star marking the heart chakra as the central and connecting link between the three lower “carnal” chakras and the three upper “spiritual” chakras. While the lower and upper chakras are all represented by Sanskrit letters, it is noteworthy that only the heart chakra is depicted by an abstract sign, the six-pointed star.
In Tibetan Buddhism, this centre is extremely important, as being the home of the indestructible red/white drop, which carries our consciousness to our next lives.
Some Indian tribes of North America have used it “since ancient times as a symbol expressing the wisdom of ‘as it is above, so it is below’, as well as the union of spirit and matter, heaven and earth.“
Secret Teachings of All Ages pg 143
“What the sun is to the solar system, the spirit is to the bodies of man; for his natures, organs, and functions are as planets surrounding the central life (or sun) and living upon its emanations. The solar power in man is divided into three parts, which are termed the threefold human spirit of man. All three of these spiritual natures are said to be radiant and transcendent; united, they form the Divinity in man. Man’s threefold lower nature- consisting of his physical organism, his emotional nature, and his mental faculties-reflects the light of his three fold Divinity and bears witness of It in the physical world. Man’s three bodies are symbolized by an upright triangle, when united in the form of a six-pointed star, were called by the Jews ‘the Star of David,’ ‘the Signet of Solomon,’ and are more commonly known today as the ‘Star of Zion.’ These triangles symbolize the spiritual and material universes linked together in the constitution of the human creature, who partakes of both Nature and Divinity. Man’s animal nature partakes of the earth; his divine nature of the heavens; his human nature of the mediator.”
The basic premise of alchemy is embodied in the saying: “As above, so below.” In other words humankind and the natural world are reflections of a pattern in the Divine world-”God made man in his own image.” Humans, it is held, belong to the material and the Divine world since they contain a spark of the universal spirit which at the original fall become imprisoned in matter. They also have an individual soul and a material body. In alchemical terms, the body, souls and spirit correspond to salt, sulphur, and mercury, which also represent three universal forces, the Trinity of Christian terminology and the three “Gunas” of the Hindus. By freeing their spirits from the bonds of matter, humans can once glimps again their lost divine perfection.
In this belief, the alchemists belonged to an ancient Gnostic tradition, which was surpressed by the early Christian church but survived in the Hermetic currents which ran underground through European thought and occasionally, as in the Renaissance, flourished more openly.
MICROCOSM - MACROCOSM
These words circulate throughout occult and magical circles, and they come from Hermetic texts. The concept was first laid out in The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, in the words "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing".
In accordance with the various levels of reality: physical, emotional, and mental, this relates that what happens on any level happens on every other. This is however more often used in the sense of the microcosm and the macrocosm. The microcosm is oneself, and the macrocosm is the universe. The macrocosm is as the microcosm, and vice versa; within each lies the other, and through understanding one (usually the microcosm) you can understand the other.
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.....
So people were always trying to capture a bit of Eternity in our material world.
In France we can find the gothic cathedrals disposed to reflect the constelation of Virgo
The 3 egyptian pyramids reflect the constelation of Orion
Cathars made a fortress of Monsegur as a copy of a constelation of a Herdsman wich is a part of another constelation: The Diamond of Virgo.
and Monsegure is on a top of a hill at an altitude of 1207 meters._
looks like our solar system
and brain and Universe work with equal circuits.
(ouroboros that links the above with the below)
The Ouroboros (or Uroborus) is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. The name originates from within Greek language; οὐρά (oura) meaning "tail" and βόρος (boros) meaning "eating", thus "he who eats the tail".
It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting before any beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished. The ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, where it symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist's opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism.
Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego "dawn state", depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.
Dame Heroub, Egypt, 21st dynasty
REPRESENTATION OF THE OUROBOROS AS THE FRONTIER OF THE UNIVERS. ROUTI - THE RESUSCITATION REPRESENTED BY TWO LIONS: THE PAST AND THE FUTURE. THEY CARRY THE NEWBORN GOD - THE SUN
Uraeus, the royal cobra as a sign of awaken consciousness, here represents the sun, Amon.
The Serpent: Apart from the significance of its surrounding the triangles as mentioned above, the serpent itself has always been a symbol of Wisdom. The Hindus call their wise men 'Nagas' (a word meaning serpent). Christ adjured His disciples to be as 'wise as serpents.' What is known as the Uraeus (or sacred Cobra) seen on the forehead of a Pharaoh of Egypt denoted his initiation into the sacred rites where knowledge was gained of the hidden Wisdom. The serpent swallowing its tail represents the 'circle of the universe', the endlessness of the cyclic process of manifestation.
In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the self-begetting sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning, and the deceased wishes to turn into the shape of the snake Sato ("son of the earth"), the embodiment of Atum.
Plato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe—an immortal, mythologically constructed beast.
The living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.
The physical laws go from smallest to largest and are interrelated (the worm Ouroboros) from quarks to the whole universel_
In Gnosticism, this serpent symbolized eternity and the soul of the world.
(FROM THE BOOK: KING - "THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS"
Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe Kundalini energy. According to the 2nd century Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, "The divine power, Kundalini, shines like the stem of a young lotus; like a snake, coiled round upon herself she holds her tail in her mouth and lies resting half asleep as the base of the body" (1.82). Another interpretation is that Kundalini equates to the entwined serpents of the Caduceus, the entwined serpents representing commerce in the west or, esoterically, human DNA.
The god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes portrayed biting its tail on Aztec and Toltec ruins. A looping Quetzalcoatl is carved into the base of the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, at Xochicalco, Mexico, 700-900 AD.
OUROBOROS DIVIDED ON 7 PAR PARTS
Engraving by Lucas Jennis, in an alchemical tract entitled De Lapide Philosophico.
The Ouroboros symbol appears in both 14th- and 15th-century Albigensian-printing watermarks and is also worked into the pip cards of many early (14th-15th century) playing cards and tarot cards. Watermarks similar to those used by the Albigensians appear in early printed playing cards, suggesting that the Albigenses might have had contact with the early authors of tarot decks. A commonly used early symbol—an ace of cups circled by an ouroboros—frequently appears among Albigensian watermarks. It is conceivable that this is the source of some of the urban legends associating this symbol with secret societies, because the Albigenses were closely associated with the humanist movement and the inquisition it sparked. Because the Albigenses came from Armenia, where Zoroastrianism and Mithra worship were common, it may be that the symbol entered their iconography via the Zoroastrian Faravahar symbol, which in some versions clearly features an ouroboros at the waist instead of a vague disc-shape. In Mithran mystery cults the figure of Mithra being reborn (one of the things he is famous for) is sometimes seen wrapped with an ouroboros, indicating his eternal and cyclic nature, and even references which do not mention the ouroboros refer to this circular shape as symbolizing the immortality of the soul or the cyclic nature of Karma, suggesting that the circle retains its meaning even when the details of the image are obscured.
GRIPSHOLM AND BAELLSTA
In Norse mythology, it appears as the serpent Jörmungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, who grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, such as Ragnarssona þáttr, the Geatish king Herraud gives a small lindworm as a gift to his daughter Þóra Town-Hart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl's bower and bites itself in the tail. The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Þóra. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kráka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye. This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.
The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness. In the age-old image of the Ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This 'feed-back' process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which [...] unquestionably stems from man's unconscious.
Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra (The alchemist)
The famous Ouroboros drawing from the early alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra dating to 2nd century Alexandria encloses the words hen to pan, "one is the all". Its black and white halves represent the Gnostic duality of existence. As such, the Ouroboros could be interpreted as the Western equivalent of the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol.
As a symbol of the eternal unity of all things, the cycle of birth and death from which the alchemist sought release and liberation, it was familiar to the alchemist/physician Sir Thomas Browne. In his A letter to a friend, a medical treatise full of case-histories and witty speculations upon the human condition, he wrote of it:
[...] that the first day should make the last, that the Tail of the Snake should return into its Mouth precisely at that time, and they should wind up upon the day of their Nativity, is indeed a remarkable Coincidence,
It is also alluded to at the conclusion of Browne's The Garden of Cyrus (1658) as a symbol of the circular nature and Unity of the two Discourses:
All things began in order so shall they end, so shall they begin again according to the Ordainer of Order and the mystical mathematicks of the City of Heaven
Allegoria della vita umana, by Guido Cagnacci (1601-63). The Ouroboros forms a halo in the upper left. One hand is lifted up and another points to the ground: As above so below, to show that the spiritual and material world are connected. The hour-glass and the skull indicate the shortness of life, memento mori. The woman is naked as to remember that we have come naked on this world and naked we will leave it, no material goods can we take with us, so it is useless to amass them. The flowers are our good deeds that we can have only if we serve the spiritual world. This is the law of the whole universe and humans are obliged to respect it as they are a part of this universe. Ouroboros is eternity, eternity of the law, eternity of the universe.
The Ouroboros is featured in the seal of Theosophy, along with other traditional symbols.
Emblem of the Theosophical Society (Adyar)
Snakes are sacred in many West African religions. The demi-god Aidophedo uses the image of a serpent biting its own tail. The Ouroboros is also seen in Fon or Dahomean iconography as well as in Yoruba imagery as Oshunmare.
It is a common belief among indigenous people of the tropical lowlands of South America that waters at the edge of the world-disc are encircled by a snake, often an anaconda, biting its own tail. The Kirtimukha myth of Hindu tradition has been compared by some authors to Ouroboros.
This symbol appears principally among the Gnostics and is depicted as a dragon, snake or serpent biting its own tail. It is symbolic of time and of the continuity of life. In some versions of the Ouroboros, the body is half light & half dark, alluding to the successive counterbalancing of opposing principles in the Chinese Yang-Yin symbol. Evola says that it represents the dissolution of the body, or the universal serpent which "passes through all things." The ouroboros biting its own tail is symbolic of self-fecundation, or the primitive idea of a self-sufficient Nature— a Nature, that is, its own beginning. There is a Venetian manuscript on alchemy which depicts the Ouroboros with its body half-black (symbolizing earth & night) and half-white (denoting heaven & light).
— J. E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols (1962), p. 235
Depicted as a serpent or dragon biting its own tail. "My end is my beginning." It symbolizes the undifferentiated; the Totality; primordial unity; self-sufficiency. It begets, weds, impregnates, and slays itself. It is the cycle of disintegration and reintegration, power that eternally consumes and renews itself; the eternal cycle; cyclic time; spatial infinity; truth and cognition in one; the united primordial parents; the Androgyne; the primaeval waters; darkness before creation; the restriction of the universe in the chaos of the waters before the coming of light; the potential before actualization. In funerary art, Ouroboros represents immortality, eternity and wisdom. In Orphic cosmology it encircles the Cosmic Egg. The Alpha and Omega are often depicted with the Ouroboros. Alchemy: The latent power of nature; unformed materia; the opus circulare of chemical substances in the hermetic vessel. Buddhist: Wheel of samsara. Egyptian: The circle of the universe; the path of the sun god. Greek: "All is one". "The All was from the beginning like an egg, with the serpent as the tight band or circle round it" (Epicurus). Hindu: Wheel of samsara. As latent energy Ouroboros shares the symbolism of kundalini. Sumero-Semitic: The All One.
— J. C. Cooper, Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1978), pp. 123-124
Coptic ouroboros: the Sun, the Moon and 4 cardinal points inside
"The Swastika: This is another of the numerous forms in which the cross is found. It is the Fiery Cross, with arms of whirling flame revolving (clockwise) to represent the tremendous energies of nature incessantly creating and dissolving the forms through which the evolutionary process takes place.
In religions which recognize three aspects of Deity, the Swastika is associated with the third aspect, the Third Person of the Trinity, who is the Creator: Brahma in Hinduism and the Holy Ghost in Christianity."
The swastika of the TS is a clock motion swastika that represents life and evolution.
Nazi swastika is counter clok motion swastika and represents death, chaos and destruction.
So, as the symbols are not the same, the results cannot be the same and nobody can blame Blavatsky for the Hitler's ratial theories and 50 millions of dead people. Hiltler was a sastanist, some kind of a black magician and a drug addict. Blavatsky worked for the universal fraternity and her life was in accordance with the traditional oriental teaching that preaches self sacrifice and service to humanity.
The Aum: Surmounting the emblem is the sacred word Omof Hinduism in Sanskrit characters, the three letters representing the Trinity. There is also the idea of the creative Word or Logos sounding throughout, and sustaining, the universe. In the Prologue of the Gospel according to John, in the Holy Bible, we read: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' The emblem as a whole symbolizes the Absolute, God, both transcendent and immanent. God transcendent - that is, in and beyond creation - (the sacred word AUM) overshadows the cycle of manifestation (serpent), energized by divine activity (Swastika); and within this field of manifestation the linked triangles of spirit and matter enshrine the symbol of immortality (the Ankh), God immanent - that is, indwelling in all created forms.
We have given here only a slight indication of the great range and depth of meaning contained in the emblem of the Society. The study of its symbolism is almost inexhaustible. Those who wish to pursue this study in greater detail are referred to The Theosophical Seal by Arthur M. Coon or to The Secret Doctrine, by H.P. Blavatsky. The Hastings Dictionary of Religion and Ethics and some general encyclopedias also contain useful articles on symbolism in general and on particular symbols.
The goal which all the Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which men desire when they lead the life of continence … is Om. This syllable Om is indeed Brahman. Whosoever knows this syllable obtains all that he desires. This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahma."
~ Katha Upanishad I
Om or Aum is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol (as seen in the image on the right) is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the Unknowable. Om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. That is why it is called pranava, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.
Om in Daily Life
Although Om symbolizes the most profound concepts of Hindu belief, it is in use daily. The Hindus begin their day or any work or a journey by uttering Om. The sacred symbol is often found at the head of letters, at the beginning of examination papers and so on. Many Hindus, as an expression of spiritual perfection, wear the sign of Om as a pendant. This symbol is enshrined in every Hindu temple premise or in some form or another on family shrines.
It is interesting to note that a newly born child is ushered into the world with this holy sign. After birth, the child is ritually cleansed and the sacred syllable Om is written on its tongue with honey. Thus right at the time of birth the syllable Om is initiated into the life of a Hindu and ever remains with him as the symbol of piety. Om is also a popular symbol used in contemporary body art and tattoos.
The Eternal Syllable
According to the Mandukya Upanishad, "Om is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it".
The Music of Om
Om is not a word but rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om. It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds. It is a mantra or prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one's being, the atman or soul.
There is harmony, peace and bliss in this simple but deeply philosophical sound. By vibrating the sacred syllable Om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Ultimate Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the highest state of "stateless" eternity, states theBhagavad Gita.
The Vision of Om
Om provides a dualistic viewpoint. On one hand, it projects the mind beyond the immediate to what is abstract and inexpressible. On the other hand, it makes the absolute more tangible and comprehensive. It encompasses all potentialities and possibilities; it is everything that was, is, or can yet be. It is omnipotent and likewise remains undefined.
The Power of Om
During meditation, when we chant Om, we create within ourselves a vibration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vibration and we start thinking universally. The momentary silence between each chant becomes palpable. Mind moves between the opposites of sound and silence until, at last, it ceases the sound. In the silence, the single thought—Om—is quenched; there is no thought. This is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the Infinite Self in the pious moment of realization. It is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. Such is the immeasurable power of Om.
The current seal also includes the text:
"THERE IS NO RELIGION HIGHER THAN TRUTH".
In a well known Upanishadic phrase, it is said that mind is dual in nature. One part of it is impure for it tends to live in illusion; another part, called the 'pure mind', seeks what is real and true. Because of the pressure exerted by the latter, man has ever been in quest of truth and has pursued it through the three avenues of philosophy, science and religion.
It cannot always be taken for granted that what is seen is reality. He who is observant and thoughtful soon discovers that what appears as fact to some is unreal to others. Even the process of ordinary perception contains many pitfalls and limitations. In Intelligence Came First, it is pointed out that there are several stages in consciousness between the perception of an object and the formulation of a concept concerning it. No one sees even an ordinary physical object as it actually is, for only certain of its aspects, colours and characteristics can be grasped by the senses. In the sense organ itself there is a process of selection and interpretation. Thus when the eye looks at something it selects only particular features before a message is conveyed to the related part of the brain, where further interpretation takes place before the perceiver acquires an impression of the object which he sees. No more than a notional approximation, therefore, can be obtained of any object. This simple fact makes it clear that no one can take for granted that he knows the truth even about physical things. Therefore, those who through the ages have earnestly sought Truth have realized its elusiveness.
The quest for truth is one aspect of man's nature, another is the escape into illusion. Illusion can take a number of forms. One of them is the illusion of matter. Men and women are born and die without knowing why they are born, where they are going, or what is the purpose of their little interlude upon a world that is a minute speck in the vast ocean of universes. To most people their fleeting life upon earth is the only reality, for they do not know anything else. This ignorance arises from the illusion that only what they see and know is real; that only through this physical frame in the brief years which are given to us, can reality be experienced. Every moment of pleasure is seized upon, and a highly consumerist, pleasure-oriented society is created. Gross materialism leads to cruelty, not only to fellow human beings, but to animals, for the lives of others are not important in the relentless struggle for life. The materialist worships success. In order to rise, others have to be trodden down, or he himself breaks down if he cannot obtain recognition, fame and position.
The hedonistic point of view is not new; it was held in Greece and in many other countries. But since the modern world can produce an unprecedented variety of enjoyments to titillate the senses, hedonism is more widespread than ever before. The counterpart of pleasure is frustration and fear— fear that within one's allotted span one may not make the best of life. And fear and frustration lead to violence as is evidenced all over the world today.
A second form of illusion takes its rise in belief. The materialist does not believe in what cannot be known through the senses. Nothing exists for him except what is within the field of his own experience. But there are others who are ready to imagine the existence of many things which they cannot see. Religion is often the product of man’s fears and hopes, a structure of illusion based on belief. When there is discontent with one's petty lot, when relationships are not satisfactory, when there is the fear of death and loneliness and the inability to push ahead in life, frustration is assuaged by hope of another world which will offer more lasting satisfaction. It is comforting to imagine that a superhuman power can save one from suffering and toil, and from the disappointments which are part of everyday life.
So man imagines a God or Gods answering to his particular needs, and clothes him in many kinds of apparel. As Voltaire said, God is created by man in his own image; the scriptures and mythologies of the different religions bear ample testimony to this. The struggle for life makes man tyrannical, and so his fancy has built up the image of a superhuman despot who can be called upon to remove obstacles and enemies from one's pathway. Since man is petty, his God is also petty; his favourites go to paradise and his enemies are sent to perdition according to his whims and fancies.
In the early literature of the Theosophical Society, reference is made to the evil that has arisen out of the imaginings and illusions of man which go by the name of religion.
The chief cause of nearly two-thirds of the evils that pursue humanity. . . is religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created God and cunning took advantage of the opportunity. It is priestly imposture that rendered these gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them. Is not man ever ready to commit any kind of evil if told that his god or gods demand the crime? . . . For two thousand years India groaned under the weight of caste, Brahmins alone feeding on the fat of the land, and today the followers of Christ and those of Muhammad are cutting each other’s throats in the name of and for the greater glory of their respective myths. Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished until the day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality and universal charity, the altars of their false gods.
(Mahatma Letters, p. 57)
These are strong words, but alas, they are still true. There is antagonism today between Hindus and Muslims, between Muslims and Jews, and conflicts of many other kinds are arising out of religious fanaticism. Millions of poor, ignorant people enslave themselves to the will of priests who take upon themselves the role of law-giving intermediaries and encourage crime in the name of religion. The system of outcastes, ‘holy’ wars, cruelty, social ostracism have all been part of so- called religion.
There is a third kind of illusion, produced by the intellect. In trying to understand the nature and the law of the vast complicated and subtle universe, theories of many kinds have been postulated. The theories become conflicting philosophical systems and schools of thought, breeding fanaticism and bigotry. Each one believes that his system is superior. Each is under the illusion that he knows the truth better than others.
The clash of opinions and ideologies,whether philosophical, political or religious, produces hatred, fanaticism and ill will and divides people. But if man were truly concerned with finding the truth, the entire world would be different. If religion encouraged men to seek the truth instead of telling them what to believe, the world would be a more peaceful place, for tolerance accompanies the desire to find out what is true.
Today, science makes clear that even our perception of physical objects does not correspond to things as they are. But existence does not consist of physical objects alone. Matter is only a play of forces which originates in the unknown, out of which arise the appearances which we think are reality. Man’s concepts cannot correspond exactly to things as they are because before he forms the concept he has already interpreted what he perceives according to his own prejudices and conditioning. Therefore, the wise man does not come to any conclusion about the truth of things. Like the scientist, he has, for the time being, a postulate with which he works. When a hypothesis is formed by the scientist, it is continually tested experimentally, and as new facts become known, new postulates are put forward. Hence there is continual progress in the field of science. What is true as regards science is also true in the area of the non-material, for the material and the non-material are part of one existence. ‘As above, so below.’ Only one who keeps a continually open mind can find the Truth.
When there is a scientific approach, there can be no intolerance because one knows that one’s concept of truth is likely to be limited, even erroneous, and one accords to other seekers for truth the tolerance which one expects them to give. If humanity were concerned with truth and were prepared to let go its illusions, there would be a peaceful world, where cooperation reigns because it is accepted that there are many paths to Truth. There are the paths of the scientist, the mystic, the artist, the sage — all leading to that central point which is Truth. Further, when it is recognized that error is possible and that knowledge has its limitations, there is no dependence upon authority. Authority arises when there is belief in a privileged class that is presumed to have access to truth which others do not possess. But however learned or wise a man may be, he cannot make another one see. Each person can see only what his eyes are capable of seeing. Not even the greatest mathematician or scientist can make those who have not learned elementary arithmetic understand the deeper laws of the universe. Every person has to prepare himself for further knowledge; there is no short cut. There are conditions at every level which must be fulfilled before the student is in a position to know.
We all know that at the level of the outer senses, certain conditions are necessary for accurate perception. The eyes must be healthy and free from distortion. Even the healthy eye must be trained to observe. The artist sees very much more in an object than the average person, because he has trained his eye to observe details — shades of colour and so forth. Similarly, at the mental level good health and training are necessary. A mind which is not cultivated, which has not learned to be sharp and alert, will fail to grasp subtle ideas or profound truths. Right education should be concerned with the preparation of the mind and of the faculties to receive knowledge. There should be training in clarity of thinking, in logic, in the grasping of details and of relationship, in seeing subtleties. Until the mind is able to function in this manner, it will be unable to grasp higher teachings. This holds good, too, in those fields of knowledge which exist beyond the mind. The profound experiences of life, of which many mystics and sages have given evidence, cannot be grasped by the mind. As declared by the Upanishad-s, Reality cannot be reached either by concepts or by words. To know that which is beyond the mind, rigorous conditions have to be fulfilled. Truth lies at many levels, physical, mental and beyond. It can be discovered only by one who is willing to make himself worthy. It cannot be obtained either by force or by persuasion. The true role of religion is to guide men and women to find out what those conditions are and help them to fulfil them.
The first and primary condition for one who would follow the religion of Truth is a profound and persistent interest in finding it. This implies not having prejudgements or a conviction that one knows already. Truth cannot be discovered by a mind which has fixations, prejudices or biases of any kind.
In the Bhagavadgitâ, as well as in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali it is said that abhyâsa is necessary in order to make spiritual progress. Abhyâsa, unfortunately, is often translated as practice. Practice is the repetition of a formula which a person has learned. But abhyâsa is in fact the constant exercise of the discriminatory power. This means that there must be a steady and earnest interest in finding out what the Truth is. There can be no point on the way up to the mountain top where the traveller can rest satisfied. The seeker must continually be engaged in investigating, in probing deeper. J. Krishnamurti speaks of learning as a quality of the truly religious mind. He says:
A religious mind is a young mind, which is a mind that is learning and therefore beyond time. Only such a mind is a religious mind, not the mind that goes to temples. That is not a religious mind. Not the mind that reads books and quotes everlastingly, moralizing. That is not a religious mind. The mind that says prayers, that repeats, is frightened at heart and blind with knowledge. Therefore it is not a religious mind. The religious mind is the mind that is learning and therefore a mind that is never in conflict at any time and therefore a young mind, an innocent mind.
Another condition for the successful search for Truth is undisturbed serenity. It is only on an unruffled mind that the truth of the invisible worlds can find its reflection. Many factors cause the mind to lose its serenity and keep it in a state of agitation. Fear is one of them. The frightened mind sees according to what exists within itself. The man who is afraid sees reflections of his own fear everywhere in the universe. Fear sees with suspicion; it mistakes every shadow for an enemy. The same is true of all passions which agitate the mind, whether they are jealousy or envy, love or hatred. Opinions, too, distort the ability of the mind to see facts as they are. It sees only in terms of nationality, religion, caste, social position and other classifications. By classification of human beings into Muslims, Hindus, Russians or Americans, the mind is led into conflict. Therefore, Mme Blavatsky repeatedly said that he who would know the Truth must remove every preconception from his mind and everything that he has learnt through his education, his parents, scriptures, environment; only then can he ‘learn a new alphabet on the lap of Mother Nature’.
So the mind must become pure and unruffled, free from opinions, biases and self-centred emotions, for only in this state can there be an awareness of Truth. Those who are earnestly in search of truth are already creating a better world, for the precondition for its attainment is purity and an awakening discrimination. Where there is such discrimination and selflessness, the environment begins to change, because it is selfishness which creates a chaotic and cruel world. So the search for Truth is by no means irrelevant to the establishment of a peaceful world. If humanity were to adopt for its motto Satyân nâsti paro dharmah, ‘There is no Religion Higher than Truth’, a just and beautiful world would be ensured for all.