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Updated 30 July 2003

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Symbolism is the Language of pictures, and thereby conveys information enormously more efficiently (in terms of sheer quantities) and also more selectively.  The latter point deserves some thought.  

A symbol conjures in the mind a picture, complete with multiple meanings. 

The infinity sign, for example, is alternatively written as either OO or ¥.  The first version signifies completeness, being composed of a male, solar, right-handed, clockwise circle matched with a female, lunar, left-handed, counterclockwise circle.  The figure eight on its side used to mean sexual union and the sense of perfection (two becoming one).  “Since neither circle lies above the other as in the figure eight, the infinity sign implies equality between male and female powers, leading to intimate knowledge of ‘the infinite’.” [1]

This same sign can then be modified ever so slightly by joining and overlapping the circles to form the Vesica Pisces -- a female yoni or vulva; the feminine creative force or the Mother-spirit that gave birth to the world and the gods.  Known also as the “vessel of the fish” (based on women’s sexual secretions smelling like fish), it became the symbol of Jesus Christ (the birth of a son of the god).  “In pre-patriarchal philosophy the general explanation for sexual activity was that spiritual nourishment for males was inherent in the act of ‘plugging in’ to this female power, resulting not only in a moment or two of godlike bliss, but also in an essential contact with the mysterious magic inside a woman’s body that could actually produce new life.” [1]

All of the above two paragraphs -- and a great deal more -- can be gleamed from the sign of two circles horizontally joined.  This includes the indefinable nature of the infinity sign in Sacred Mathematics and Connective Physics.  What is fascinating is the fact that so much can be conveyed -- albeit with variations in interpretation -- with such simplicity.

This simplicity -- and its variations -- have been taken somewhat to the extreme by the appearance of the Vesica Pisces on bumper stickers.  Initially, this symbol of Christian belief began appearing on cars in the 1980s.  But then by the end of that decade, entrepreneurs began adding legs along with the word, "Darwin" on the interior of the two circle arcs.  This quickly conjured up something quite different from the original use (in bumper stickers) as an indicator of any Christian leanings on the part of the driver.  By adding a third leg, and inserting "evolve" in lieu of "Darwin", several owners went one step further.  A few even added a wrench, suggesting the fish as a tool wielder.  Or an udder for a Hindu fish. There are even sharks with "lawyer" written inside -- the latter an example of obvious redundancy.

These witnesses for evolution were promptly countered by the original purveyors of the fish bumper sticker craze by their inserting the word "Jesus" or his Greek equivalent in the place of "Darwin" or any of the other possibilities (which included everything from "lutefish" to "sushi" to "n' chips").  Then there evolved (pardon the pun) the "truth" glyph consuming a smaller "Darwin" glyph -- a more assertive pronouncement in the Vesica Pisces Bumper Sticker Wars.  Or more aggressively, a Darwin fish upside down, and to all extents dead as a mackerel.  On yet another tangent, we can start all over with just a small blip on top of the symbol (making the symbol look faintly like a UFO) -- with Alien written in the interior. 

Such personal expressions by vehicle owners should not be quickly dismissed as trivial.  Automobiles are often considered to be the Life Vehicles of an individual, essentially their vehicle through life.  Making statements in the form of bumper stickers -- or more to the point here -- of placing significant symbolism on the exterior of their vehicles, is not something to be ignored.  Automobile manufacturers have in fact taken enormous pains (i.e. they spent lots of money in research) in selecting just the right symbolism for their automobiles.  They've even modified them later on (again, at considerable expense) in order to more aggressively promote their enlightenment.  Notice, for example, the use of a horizontally situated oval as part and parcel of many automobiles symbols.  There are also such unique items as a leaping Jaguar (until the manufacturer received one too many complaints about the hood ornament being ripped off the car -- owners of Dodge Ram Trucks don't seem to have this problem.)

Of perhaps even more significance is the fact that so many people have gotten into the act.  According to Carol Kaesuk Yoon of the New York Times, the menagerie of Darwin fish alone reproduces at a rate of 75,000 new fish a year, with an income stream of about half a million dollars.  In effect, the evolution of bumper stickers has taken unpredictable leaps which apparently have nothing to do with natural selection, and a great deal more with ideological one-upsmanship, market forces, and/or "irrepressible silliness."

Yoon went on to consult a symbology expert, Tom Lessl, a professor in the speech department at the University of Georgia.  From a walking survey, Lessl discovered that the Darwin fish advocates fell into two groups.  The first was openly hostile to traditional religious beliefs, while the second "displayed the Darwin fish as a symbol of the harmonious coexistence of Darwinism ideas and religion."  The relevant point which should not be glossed over is that the simple symbol of two curved lines with only slight modifications was a profound philosophical statement by the automobile owner.  And in all cases, these slightest of symbols produced an enormous diversity of emotional reactions.

In terms of emotional recognition, however, nothing quite compares to the Swastika of Nazi Germany.  Which is exceedingly unfortunate in one respect in that the Swastika had been a religious emblem of worldwide occurrence since at least 10,000 B.C.E.  It can mean “so be it” or “amen”, and has “appeared on the oldest coins in India, on images of Buddha in Japan, and on Greek and Roman figures of The Great Goddess.” [1]  With the arms pointing in a clockwise fashion, the symbol was solar in nature; while in the opposite direction, a lunar symbol.  Adopted by Hitler’s Third Reich, it took on a highly negative connotation, even when a host of other similar symbolisms were profoundly philosophical.

Gammadion   Lunar   Rattlesnake   Roman  
(52)    (55)    (59)    (59) 

 from a Cretan coin


 from Indian burial mound

Runic   Solar   Sunbird   Tetrascele
    (60)   (60)   (61)   (62)

from a Swedish rune stone


 from a Mississipppian Indian mound, Oklahoma


As an aside, it might seem a bit stranger still to realize that "the searchlights that for a time stood in the Twin Towers [those destroyed by the events of 9-11-2001] were a limp steal from Albert Speer's light-cathedral at the old Nazi rallies, an unhappy bit of involuntary symbolism if ever there was one." [3]  The fact that the Nazis used symbolism for all it was worth -- it must be emphasized -- should in no way convey a sense of negativity to the wonderful, positive attributes of symbols.

One of the more threatening of symbolisms has traditionally been the Greek Gorgons -- most notably the Medusa and her head of snakes, whereupon anyone looking directly at her turned to stone.  And yet, Benvenuto Cellini's Head of Medusa, circa 1548-1549, has taken one of the most (literally) bloodcurdling images in all Renaissance art and transformed it into a singularly melancholy work of beauty.  There is even the suggestion of an inward, contemplative, emotional respite inherent in the work. [3]

On a decidedly lighter note, for example, there is also the delight of slight variations in traditional symbology.  A particular case in point is in taking a classic Egyptian motif (a view of an actual, historical inscription), and adding ever so slightly to the picture.  This is done to perfection at <http://www.vibrani.com/policy.htm>.  Your mission -- should you choose to accept it -- is to determine what was added. 

Additional homework can be had at <symbala.com/eso/framfor/backfr.htm>.

From the viewpoint of Sacred Mathematics -- more specifically Sacred Geometry -- the Pentacle or five pointed star is preeminent.  It is the basis of Phi-lo-Sophia (Philosophy), and is one of the more common, simple motifs in the modern world -- ranging from star(s) on a national flag to Corporate logos (e.g. Texaco) to the designation of many Hollywood celebrities.  But the possible variations on the theme are also noteworthy, including:

 Penelope’s Pentacle     Flower     Ringed Pentacle Star               Star of the Muses  

Then there’s the:                                                                     



Labyrinth Sri Yantra  Phoenix
(82)    (85)          (95)      (106)        (407)  

Also well known is the Flower of Aphrodite and 666.  The Flower is composed of six Vesica Pisces, the number six being the sexual number especially sacred to the Goddess Aphrodite.  Pythagoreans called six the perfect number, while the feminine and sexual connotations encouraged the Catholic Church to call six “the number of sin”.  666 is six tripled, or the whole trinity of sin.  Thus was it the Number of the Beast, and in 1 Kings 10:14, the number of golden talents in Solomon’s domain.  What is especially curious is that the Labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral (France) with Aphrodite’s six-lobed symbol in its center, was, according to some scholars, planned with a path which is precisely 666 feet long!  Hmmmmm.

Flower of Aphrodite and 666.

We can elaborate on a given symbol, such as the Ankh shown at right, with one which contains much more symbolism.  This particular wondrous symbol was taken from a children’s book entitled, Ancient Egypt Revealed. [4]  There is far more than meets the eye in this one.  Some of this is discussed by Laurence Gardner  in his new book, Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark. [5]  The key is to strive to discover the underlying, esoteric meaning of these symbols and what they portend.  One can expect that a full realization might be as important as anything one might ever learn. 

That says a great deal, but it just might be wondrously accurate.  So check it out!  And don’t forget to write.

Finally, the power of symbolism over language has recently been noted in the work of Jancy Chang, a talented artist and teacher whose language skills begin to deteriorate with the onset of dementia while Ms. Chang was only in her forties.  Suffering from a rare form of progressive aphasia, she was forced to retire from teaching at the age of 52.  "But even as she was losing the ability to make lesson plans, grade homework or remember the names of her students, her artistic vision seemed to be expanding.  'Her painting became wilder and freer and more original as her language declined,' says Dr. Bruce Miller, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco, who is the lead author of a report on Chang's case in the current issue of Neurology." [6]

"Although the mechanism is not clear, it appears that in this type of dementia, language is not required for -- and may even inhibit -- certain types of visual creativity. 'We typcially don't think that something could be getting better,' says Miller.  Chang's experience underscores the fact that dementia is rarely a simple, one-dimensional disease.  It also reminds us to treasure what is spared." [6]  Ms. Chang's art is clearly worth the time to investigate.

But on a more intriguing level is the fact that symbolism clearly triumphs over language in this case.  And considering the reality of one in five children being diagnosed with dyslexia [7], perhaps the advent of Indigo Children and the like may be leading us to a world where language is a throwback, instead of the keys to what has thus far been considered progress.  The ability to symbolism to contain vastly greater information (mental, spiritual, and emotional) than language is the obvious case in point.  But it may be even more relevant than this.  One is reminded, for example, of an episode of Star Trek; The Next Generation, where simple language -- in the form of subject and verb -- was insufficient, and the hero (in that episode, Jean Luc Picard) was forced to describe information in a totally different manner.  Perhaps it is time for all of us to begin to think and communicate in a vastly more intriguing and enlightening manner.  The Inter Net may be nothing more than a pit stop along the route of our evolution.


Education         Language         The Art of Writing         Etymology

Or forward to:

Dyslexia         Indigo Children         The Public School Nightmare



[1]  Barbara G. Walker, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, Harper San Francisco, 1988.

[2]  Carol Kaesuk Yoon, "Darwin on Your Bumper", The New York Times, quoted from the Denver Post, February 14, 2003.

[3]  Robert Hughes, "Mighty Medici", Time Magazine, December 9, 2002.

[4]  Peter Chrisp, Ancient Egypt Revealed, DK Publishing, New York, 2002.

[5]  Laurence Gardner, Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark; Amazing Revelations of the Incredible Power of Gold, Element, HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2003.

[6]  David Bjerklie, "The Art of Dementia", Time Magazine, June, 2003.

[7] Christine Gorman, "The New Science of Dyslexia", Time Magazine, July 28, 2003.


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