Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Tale of Two Symmetries: A Lover's Pentacle, A Lover's Cross (updated 11/17/16)


llustration from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - 1907, Arthur Rackham
(All images in this post can be clicked on for larger views.)

Alice Takes Another Leap

"What IS a Caucus-race?’ said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.
`Why,’ said the Dodo, `the best way to explain it is to do it.’ (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)

First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over."
Excerpt from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Chapter 3) found here.

"The Dodo is a fictional character appearing in Chapters 2 and 3 of the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). The Dodo is a caricature of the author."
From the Wiki entry for the Dodo in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. (Note: the now-extinct dodo was the first example of humanity's ability to wipe out an entire species.)

***

Earlier this year, when I was first inspired to write a series of posts on the topic of Love, I was at loss for a central focus. The topic of Love is vast; where to begin... and how? As a visual artist, it's almost as if I needed a metaphorical image, a symbolic embodiment of the myriad ideas and images that began to flood my mind. Had I no muse, no intuition, no relationship with my unconscious mind (and no respect for spontaneous inspirations), the entire project would've floundered from day one. But, this is not the case. I love leaping down rabbit holes! I am the Alice of all Alices, when it comes to pursuing mysterious prompts from the unconscious realm.

As it happened, my first clue arrived in the form of a sudden attraction to an old graphic of mine: a three-headed "sacred" bird I created several years ago as an experiment in creating faux elements; in this case, transforming a plaster carving into a wooden one. (see inset, left). I found myself playing with this image - and, when you come right down to it, unpremeditated play is probably the best way to initiate a dialogue with the unconscious - flipping and juxtaposing copies of the image side by side. I noticed that when the birds faced each other, their necks and their backs formed the shape of heart. I cropped their legs off and this became the first image. But, I also felt the full body mirrored images were intriguing as well and realized I could use all three designs if I created a box in three dimensions.  The idea of making it a music box was the true epiphany - the eureka moment - when the concepts of the language of the birds and the power of Love were united. In other words, I found my metaphor; the Music Box was born...


At the same time, when analyzing what I'd done, it occurred to me that, while the original design of the single bird could stand alone and still convey meaning, it had been, all along, a broken symmetry: one half of a whole, and a wholly more complex design. And, yet, once its reflective symmetry was "restored." an entirely new set of dynamics - a new synergy - was revealed. It's as if I'd uncovered a secret; a secret that was all the while embedded in the original design as a kind of hidden potential... similar to potential I discovered in the glyph investigated in The Restoration of Symmetry: The Philosopher's Stone. But, what was the underlying code of these new dynamics?

Once again, enter the geometrid...


For a physicist, the act of "restoring" a "broken" symmetry is a complex undertaking - involving heat, atoms, and a number of equations - which refers to physical systems in nature. Nature, after all, utilizes symmetry breaking when creating new systems, but, it is by restoring the original symmetry that the evolution of nature's systems can be explored and, hopefully, understood. But, needless to say, this is all Greek to most people, up to and including myself. As and artist - and geometer moth - restoring and exploring a symmetrical image is no major scientific undertaking; it's simply a matter of connecting the dots!

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A Lover's Sigil


Connecting the dots on the Music Box lid - 2016, DS

As it was, long before I'd even considered a geometrical analysis, I decided to add a few embellishments to the box lid in the form of semi-precious stones: labradoritefire opal* and pearls, along with several silver beads. My motivation was to create an aesthetically pleasing design; I had, as of yet, no clue as to what effect these additions would have on the geometry. Once I began to connect the dots, however, drawing lines between its key features: the bird's eyes, the tips of the beaks, and the various points made by the pearls, beads and cabochons, a strange configuration emerged, similar to the sigils (inset left & found here) used in geomancy and on talismanic seals by the Renaissance magicians.



Shown above are two talismanic seals (or "pentacles") for the planet Venus found in one of the most famous medieval grimoires of all: Clavicula Salomonis - The Key Of Solomon. (The full 1203 text - in French and English - can be found here.) As you might expect from anything related to the planet Venus, they're both love talismans. The first (left) is the "second pentacle of Venus," and brings all manner of Venus's bounty - specifically in matters of love - to the bearer. The script around the circumference reads: "Place me as a signet upon thine heart, as a signet upon thine arm, for love is strong as death." The pentacle on the right is the "third pentacle of Venus" and is used to attract love. The verse around the circumference reads: "And the Elohim blessed them, and the Elohim said unto them, Be ye fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it."

Various magical scripts. The "Celestial" (and possibly the "Malachim") were related to the positions of stars. Their origins can be found in Book III of Cornelius Agrippa's Of Occult Philosophy,1509.

Although talismanic seals are often attributed to the conjuring of "demons," this isn't, and wasn't, necessarily the case.** The ruling spirits invoked or aligned with the talisman could be angels, elementary forces, nature spirits, or planetary forces. And, depending on the talisman's purpose - love magic, success, protection, exorcism - and the forces invoked, a number of different sigils, symbols, images and text could be utilized. These, in turn, could be borrowed from a number of different sources: alchemicalKabbalistic (or, it's Hermetic counterpart, the Qabalah), geomantic figures, geometric figures, planetary seals, astrological figures, various magical scripts (like those shown above), numbers, etc., provided the glyphs were holistic and assisted in creating the synergy required.

In other words, it was an exact science, and not to be taken lightly. Moreover, the rituals and procedures for creating a talisman were immensely complex. For instance, to procure a talisman of Venus, Golden Dawn occultist, A. E. Waite advised:

"The Talisman of Venus must be formed of a circular plate of purified and well-polished copper. .. (and) must be composed on a Friday, during the passage of the moon through the first ten degrees of Taurus or Virgo... Its consecration consists in its exposure to the smoke of a perfume composed of violets and roses, burnt with olive wood in a new earthen chafing-dish, which must be ground into powder at the end of the operation and buried in a solitary spot." (from Waite's The Occult Sciences)

Smaller lozenges (2+1) - 2016, DS

That being said, the geometric pattern I discovered on the lid of the Music Box shouldn't necessarily be confused with the signs and seals of authentic ceremonial magic. Ultimately, from my point of view, the true "magic" lies in an individual's spontaneous and unconscious ability to interface with the larger, collective "library" of consciousness sans ritual or ceremony.  I say this because, in the case of the the Lover's Sigil (without consciously intending it) several interesting configurations emerged after I "connected the dots." Two of these are indicated above and below.

Larger lozenges (2+1) - 2016, DS

But, what exactly do we see at the center of the diagrams?

Well, once again, returning to the Philosopher's Stone post we should be able to identify the figures by now.  Although we initially see a series of triangles, if we inspect them more closely the triangles are inevitably forming lozenges; and, as we also we also learned, symbolically the lozenge represents the heiro gamos: a sacred bond or chemical wedding. It also represents the Diamond Soul or Diamond of Perfection, descriptive terms for the Philosopher's Stone itself, which - in a mystical sense - is, ultimately, the force of Love. Moreover, the lozenges are intercepting and there are two sets of them. We might even go so far to say the relationship between the lozenges is a transdimensional one, in that, along with the four intercepted diamonds, two more diamonds are inevitably created. This basic motif - the interception of upright and inverted triangles forming diamonds -  can also be found in the ancient Hindu symbol of Sri Yantra (or Sacred Chakra), composed of nine intercepting triangles and so described:

"It represents the goddess in her form of Shri Lalita or Tripura Sundari, "the beauty of the three worlds"... The worship of the Sri Chakra is central to the Shri Vidya system of Hindu worship. Four isosceles triangles with the apices upwards, representing Shiva or the Masculine. Five isosceles triangles with the apices downward, symbolizing female embodiment Shakti. Thus the Sri Yantra also represents the union of Masculine and Feminine Divine."***

So, in the end, the muse was vindicated. The odd juxtaposition of birds on the box lid wasn't merely an arbitrary design choice; embedded in its geometry was a message in the form of a sigil which might very well symbolize the alchemical quality of love between two individuals. But, there's more to the Lover's Sigil than what I've just described...

Enter the pentagram....


The fire opal turns out, symbolically, to be a good call on my part. At least, according to this page, the fire opal symbolizes the heart. Appropriately, it's located in the center of the diagram.

** And, then again, sometimes it's difficult to tell, as in the case of The Black Pullet (La poule noire), a grimoire believed to written by an anonymous French soldier in the days of Napoleon. The enigmatic little book instructs the user on the making of talismans, but also in the art of necromancy. It also features infernal beings, but these, according to A.E. Waite in his Book of Ceremonial Magic are "not on the surface devils but Salamanders - that is to say, elementary Spirits of Fire." Inset (right) is a love talisman from the book  - note the lozenge shapes amid a wide variety of symbols - which one is advised to embroider on black silk.

 *** In comparison to the Sri Yantra symbol, we have this from Manley Hall's The Theory and Practice of Alchemy:

"Alchemy is a threefold art, its mystery well symbolized by a triangle. Its symbol is 3 times 3 - three elements or processes in three worlds or spheres. The 3 times 3 is part of the mystery of the 33rd degree of Freemasonry, for 33 is 3 times 3, which is 9, the number of esoteric man and the number of emanations from the root of the Divine Tree. It is the number of worlds nourished by the four rivers that pour out of the Divine Mouth as the verbum fiat."

Note on inset painting: "Magic of Love"  (Liebeszauber), by an unknown artist, Netherlands, 1470. The woman in the painting is casting a love spell on a young man who is about to enter the room. This represents the stereotypical view of women-as-witches whose singular goal is to ensnare an unwitting male. But, from the Wiki entry on love magic we have this:

"While within literature, females dominate the witch world, some scholars believe that reality was much different. Matthew W. Dickie, a prominent magic scholar, argues that men were the main casters of love magic. Demographically, they suggest that the largest age group that practiced love magic were younger men targeting young, unobtainable women."

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Update, 11/17/16



Another correlation has been found in the geometric designs (or sona) of the Tchokwe people of Central and Southern Africa... specifically in their symbol for friendship and love (shown above as the bottom two symbols). Note the lozenge, 2 hearts, and the addition of the bird's head! (Images found here and here.) For more info try here.

(A special thanks to newest Trans-D friend, Jorge!)


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The Pentagram

Sir Gawain's Glyph Necklace - a pendant created in reference to the Arthurian legend:
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Sir Gawain's shield allegedly displayed the emblem of a pentagram. The Latin inscription reads: aura, caminus, aqua, humus, and spiritus (air, fire, water, earth, and spirit).  

"According to the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, five was the number of man, because of the fivefold division of the body, and the ancient Greek division of the soul. According to Pythagoras, the five points of the pentagram each represent one of the five elements that make up man: fire, water, air, earth, and psyche. (energy, fluid, breath, matter, and mind; also liquid, gas, solid, plasma, and aethyr, or spirit) The Pythagoreans held the pentacle sacred to Hygeia, the Goddess of healing, whose name (HGIEiA) was an anagram in Greek for the elements water, earth, spirit, fire, and air.

...There are many connections between the pentagram and Christianity. Before the cross, it was a preferred emblem to adorn the jewelry and amulets of early Christians... The pentagram was associated with the five wounds of Christ, and because it could be drawn in one continuous movement of the pen, the Alpha and the Omega as one. It was also an expression of a secret Gnostic heresy, found hidden here and there throughout Christian history- a symbol of Isis/Venus as the secret goddess, the female principle. The most notable instance of this symbolism is in the Arthurian Grail romances, which are Gnostic and kabbalistic teachings disguised as tales of knightly quests."
- Two quotes from the Symbolic Dictionary regarding the pentagram. Inset images (above, left): from De Occulta Philosophia libri III by the German occultist, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa... possibly pre-figured by Da Vinci's famous Vitruvian Man; (above, right) Inverted pentagram on the north facade of the Amiens Cathedral, France.

"The Pythagorean mystics worshipped the pentacle or pentagram, a pentacle which is written or drawn, because it was based on the symbol of the Goddess Kore, frequently thought represented by the apple core. The mystics called this symbol Pentalpha, the birth-letter interlaced five times. The symbol meant "life" or "health." The five-point star has also been known as the star of Isis, or of Isis' underground twin Nephthys. To the Egyptians the star represented the underground womb."
- From an in-depth article found on this Freemason page.

"The significance of the pentagram in occult practice is closely related to its importance in sacred geometry. Luca de Pacioli, Leonardo da Vinci’s mathematics teacher, called it the complete embodiment of the golden ratio. Approximately 1.6180339887, the golden ratio in mathematics is a numerical wonder, with immense mystical properties central to architectural, artistic, musical and esoteric teachings alike. For example, the Pyramid of Giza, Michelangelo’s David, the music of Erik Satie and the United Nations Headquarters all exhibit the golden ratio in their iconography.


More than anything else, the five-pointed star has always been a symbol of the planet Venus. A Venus cycle is 1.6% of a Sun cycle; hence, the relationship between the two is that of the golden ratio. Consequently, the pattern that Venus traces around the ecliptic (the path along which the Sun appears to move as viewed from the Earth) in its eight-year cycle forms a five-pointed figure in the sky... this celestial relationship is what is symbolized by the ubiquitous five-pointed star imagery, worldwide, and by the Rosicrucian Brotherhood as a five-petaled flower - the rose."
- Excerpt from Venus: Star of heaven, Isha Lerner, 2012. Inset images: the pentagram and the Golden ratio (above, right); diagram of the Venus cycle (below, left) found in this excellent esoteric article about Venus.

"During this time, we also see the first modern association of the pentagram with 'evil'. Eliphaz Levi Zahed (Alphonse Louis Constant, a defrocked French Catholic abbé) who illustrated the upright pentagram beside an inverted pentagram with the goat's head of Baphomet. It is this illustration and opposite positions that has led to the concept of different orientations of the pentagram being 'good' and 'evil'. Which gave ammunition to the fundamentalists for relating these Victorian mystic practices and the emerging modern rebirth of Witchcraft as evil and relating to the devil."
- From the Pagan's Path wonderfully comprehensive pentacle page.

***

Now, the pentagram is another ancient geometrical figure with a rich esoteric history, holding a fundamental place in all of the various Mystery disciplines - alchemy, Gnosticism, the Kabbalah (or Qabalah), Hermeticism, Freemasonry, and Rosicrucianism. For the ancient Greek sacred geometer, Pythagorus,* and his followers, the pentagram was the geometric figure by which they secretly "knew each other." This seems to be likewise true for the Order of the Knights Templar. The pentagram was a prominent feature on many of their strongholds, churches and even (allegedly) their gravestones. Inset (right) is a distressed pentagram inscribed inside a rose found above the doorway of a Templar church - Santa Maria do Olival - in Tomar, Portugal.

Esoterically the pentagram is a symbol for the ideal, evolved human entity and it's integration within the cosmos... and/or its interception with a Divine higher consciousness, but, as is evident in the quotes above - and, as we've seen in the symbolism of both the lozenge and the vesica piscis - the Sacred Feminine is also implied by the various goddess figures cited, specifically: Venus, Isis, Nephthys, Kore (Persephone), and Hygieia.**

The Persephone connection seems to originate from the 5-fold aspect of the cross-section of the pomegranate (sometimes referred to as an apple), a fruit which features prominently in her myth. But, the most interesting relationship between three of the goddesses mentioned - Isis, Nephthys and Persephone - is that all three were Queens of both the dead and the underworld. Persephone herself, was aligned with Hades (Pluto), and her rape and subsequent marriage were part of the theme of the ancient Greek Eleusinian Mysteries, of which little is known or understood. It's speculated, however, that - apart from the use of psychoactive drugs - a sacred marriage was enacted at some point in the annual rites.***

Two (irregular) pentagrams found in the Lover's sigil - 2016, DS

Interestingly, there seems to be a strange relationship between the two pentagrams in the Lover's Sigil (above), apart from their mutual irregularity in proportion, and disparity in size. The apex (the "head") of the larger one seems to penetrate the "nether" region of the smaller, inverted pentagram above it, while the apex of the smaller seems to penetrate the larger one's center (the heart). But, I would hesitate to interpret the pentagrams in this configuration as symbolizing two lovers, as much as possibly representing the dynamics - the spiritual and physical aspects (and/or alchemy) - of love itself.

There is one more geometrical operation to be made on the Music Box lid, however, before we're done. So, let's move on!


Pythagorus was, for his time (6th century BC), possibly one of the first male feminists. Not only were women prominent amongst the members of his flock, but his wife and first disciple, Theano, continued his school after his death. Although women, as we know, were barely more than footnotes in man's His-story before the 20th century, from what little is known about Theano and what few fragments remain of her writings, she allegedly included the doctrine for the Golden Ratio (see quotes for this section) in her On Piety. Another student of Pythagorus (and possibly his daughter), Arignote, allegedly wrote four philosophical treatises: Bacchica ("Of Bacchus"),The Mysteries of Demetra (The goddess Demeter, mother of Persephone), A Sacred Discourse, and, lastly, Mysteries of Dionysus. Unfortunately, none of them survived. This quote is attributed to her: "The eternal essence of number is the most providential cause of the whole heaven, earth and the region in between. Likewise it is the root of the continued existence of the gods and daimones, as well as that of divine men."


** One factor that might facilitate the tie between Venus and the Egyptian goddesses is the Egyptian ankh symbol (or, crux ansata) - which symbolized life and was often featured in depictions of Isis and Nephthys - and its similarity to the symbol for the planet Venus (and the symbol for the feminine in general) (right).

Also, compare the Venus and female gender symbol with the orb & cross symbol (globus cruciger) which generally designates royalty, but, in Chrisitian terms represents the domination of Christ over the world. Note that it is an inverted Venus symbol. (see image below)

Globus Cruciger (found here).

*** "...the clearest passage in support of the sacred marriage idea is found in the writings of Asterius, a fourth-century Christian bishop. With unpleasant insinuation, he speaks of "the underground chamber and the solemn meeting of the hierophant and the priestess, each with the other alone, when the torches are extinguished, and the vast crowd believes that its salvation depends on what goes on there."
- Excerpt from The Eleusinian Mysteries found in Pagan Regeneration by Harold R. Willoughby, 1929.

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The Vesica Piscis, the Chakras, and Kundalini


Locating the Vesica Piscis - 2016, DS


In my next to last geometrical operation on the Lover's sigil, my goal was to discover the presence of the vesica piscis. Why did I know it was there? It's simple. In all geometric operations which involve the equilateral triangle and, finally, the lozenge, the vesica piscis is the hidden generatrix.* She both creates the lozenge, and is present in its interior. (see inset, right) I concentrated on the larger lozenges for this operation, and (above) is the first vesica relationship I found, more or less connecting the head-stone (labradorite) and heart stone (fire opal) in the diagram.


A third circle was added to address the second interpenetrating lozenge, and, once this was accomplished it became obvious that the circles - in a vesica arrangement - lined up down the entire center of the diagram, each circle (except one) having at its center a coordinate point (i.e., a "dot") (see below).


7 circles and 6 vesicas - 2016, DS 



As it worked out, all together there were seven circles and six vesicas in the central column, with the fourth circle (shaded red) located dead center, almost exactly over the fire opal. And, what does this arrangement of seven centers bring to mind? Well, actually, we've found another philosophical reference originating from the East: the chakra system.


The Seven Chakras
(from top to bottom, highest to lowest):

7. The crown chakra, or Sahasrara.
6. The third eye center. or Ajna.
5. The throat chakra, or Vishuddha.
4. The heart chakra, Anahata.
3. The solar plexus/navel chakra, or Manipura.
2. The sacral chakra, or Svadhishthana.
1. The root chakra, or Muladhara.

Now, the presence of the chakra system in the Lover's Sigil might seem a little odd at first. After all, what could the Hindu subtle energy centers possibly have to do with my overall love theme? What's more, what could the position of the energy centers on the human body (see inset, left) have to do with the image of two 3-headed birds?


Well, in the Lover's Sigil, the third eye chakra does fall between one set of bird's eyes, and the throat chakra does lie over one set of bird necks. The heart chakra is dead center over the fire opal, and, lastly, the root chakra falls appropriately over the birds' tails. But, a more clearer chakra/love connection emerges when we fully explore the Tantric side of the story, specifically in the philosophy of Shaktism which is the Hindu worship of Shakti (the Devi, Divine Mother, or Universal Godhead), in her aspect as Parvati (see inset, below left), and her role in Kundalini.



"In human beings, Shakti, the feminine aspect is called Kundalini. This potential energy is said to rest at the base of the spinal cord. The object of the Tantric practice of Kundalini-yoga is to awaken this cosmic energy and make it ascend through the psychic centers, the chakras, that lie along the axis of the spine as consciousness potentials. She will then unite above the crown of the head with Shiva the pure consciousness."

- Via this Tantra - Kundalini page.

"When you are sexually aroused, the Kundalini energy is activated. It rises up the spine, and as it approaches the brain, the sexual feelings become stronger and stronger. At this point, in most people, the energy reverses and takes a downward course seeking release though the genitals.

Gopi Krishna believes that the human brain is still in an organic state of evolution toward higher levels of consciousness. The driving force of that evolution, he claims, is the Kundalini energy."
- Via the New Brain = New World article: Kundalini and Sex.


The Kundalini is generally visualized as a serpent, coiled up in the Muladhara (the lowest) chakra, but, during certain yogic practices - and sexual practices - is made to slowly wind it's way up the chakra wheels until it finally reaches the the crown chakra, or higher consciousness. (Now, there's a "religious experience"!)

And, that, I'm afraid, is the extent of our crash course in Kundalini. But, not to worry, Shakti and her consort Shiva will appear again in my next post (and last entry) in the Restoration of Symmetry section. (Inset, left: the Caduceus superimposed over the Tree of Life symbol.)


* In reality, the vesica piscus is the generatrix of of all the symbols and geometric figures found in this post, up to and including the pentagram (see here).

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A Lover's Pentacle & the Presence of Da'at



A Lover's Pentacle - 2016, DS



"The tree, visually or conceptually, represents as a series of divine emanations God's creation itself ex nihilo, the nature of revealed divinity, the human soul, and the spiritual path of ascent by man. In this way, Kabbalists developed the symbol into a full model of reality, using the tree to depict a map of Creation.



...But the Tree of Life does not only speak of the origins of the physical Universe out of the unimaginable, but also of Man's place in the Universe. Since Man is invested with Mind, consciousness in the Kabbalah is thought of as the fruit of the physical world, through whom the original infinite energy can experience and express itself as a finite entity. After the energy of Creation has condensed into matter, it is thought to reverse its course back up the Tree until it is once again united with its true nature. Thus, the kabbalist seeks to know himself and the Universe as an expression of God, and to make the journey of Return by stages charted by the Sephiroth, until he has come to the realisation he sought."

- Via the Wiki entry for the Tree of Life (Kabbalah).

"Two metaphors are used to describe the sephirot, their theocentric manifestation as the Trees of Life and Knowledge, and their anthropocentric correspondence in man... This dual-directional perspective embodies the cyclical, inclusive nature of the divine flow, where alternative divine and human perspectives have validity. The central metaphor of man allows human understanding of the sephirot, as they correspond to the psychological faculties of the soul, and incorporate masculine and feminine aspects... Corresponding to the last sefirah in Creation is the indwelling shekhinah (Feminine Divine Presence). Downward flow of divine Light in Creation forms the supernal Four Worlds; Atziluth, Beri'ah, Yetzirah and Assiah manifesting the dominance of successive sephirot towards action in this world. The acts of man unite or divide the Heavenly masculine and feminine aspects of the sephirot, their anthropomorphic harmony completing Creation..." 
- Via "Sephirot and the Divine Feminine" found in the Wiki entry for Kabbalah.

***

Above is the Lover's Sigil as it might appear on a pentacle. The placement of the lines are identical to ones that appear in the original diagram, but the placement of the "dots" differs slightly. In the original diagram there were 19 of them, but in the finished sigil there are only 15; five dots were removed and one added. This was a design choice. But, all the geometry and symbolism is still there.

At the same time, the one odd design element I didn't change is that weird gap in the central line of dots, which corresponds to the third-eye chakra in the vesica diagram (seen in the previous section). A line and a coordinate could appear there, but, for whatever reason, I never included it, but, with the sigil reduced to a simple back and white glyph, this design element suddenly seemed significant.

Meanwhile, while researching this post, I kept stumbling across images of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (see inset, right).

The Tree of Life is an intriguing symbol, but its Kabbalistic meaning is extremely complex, made more so by the stream of traditional and New Age occultists who've attempted to incorporate it into numerous other paradigms over the years. I hesitate to do so here, but, on the other hand, there's one element on the Tree-of-Life that seems to correspond with my design, so, I'll address it.

Because, sure enough, when I located the Tree of Life in the Lover's Sigil (below), that mysterious blank area where a dot should be (but isn't) corresponds to the eleventh, hidden Sephiroth of Da'at (or Daath).

The Tree of Life in the Lover's Sigil. 2016, DS

Attempts are often made to draw parallels between various esoteric disciplines and philosophies - you're witnessing my own attempts at syncretism in this post - and trying to align the Tree of Life with the chakra system would be a no-brainer... except for the fact that it really doesn't fit. The only sephiroth/chakra combinations that do seem to correspond is the first, the second, and (tentatively) the 10th, or last. Kether, the "crown" sephiroth surely corresponds to the 7th crown chakra, Sahasara, and the last sephiroth - Malkuth (as the feminine aspect of Shekinah) - loosely corresponds to Muladhara, the first chakra where the goddess Shakti (as Kundalini) is coiled. The second chakra, Ajna - the third eye - however, shares a great deal more with the the second, mysterious sephiroth, Da'at. They both indicate wisdom, for one, but the esoteric meaning of Da'at actually enhances what we know about the third eye. Da'at is often referred to as the "Abyss", but it is also the sephiroth of creation. In some versions of the Tree of Life this sephiroth doesn't appear at all... it is the hidden aspect in which all the sephiroth are secretly generated. But, it is also the transdimensional aspect of the Tree: “a gateway to other dimensions, a meeting place, a crossroads.” (See here.}

As far is its silent presence in the Lover's Sigil, I would have to say that it represents the hidden, mysterious aspect of love and/or the lovers... perhaps a bond which reaches across space and time, but, at the same time, defies all attempts at understanding it. I think we sense a Da'at aspect in many of our dearest relationships; people who we've met - seemingly for the first time - but, who we in some odd respect, recognize. Often the bonds we create with these individuals feel as if they originated before we even corporeally met, and, at the same time, last a lifetime. It is, in fact, through the presence of the Da'at metaphor that we question if a "lifetime" is truly singular and finite - in both scope and concept - or somehow beyond all the limitations and restrictions the word "lifetime" implies.

Da'at then is the shadow sephiroth, the hidden potential, and the presence of fate... it leads the lonely travelers to the inevitable "other", guiding them through all the darkened portals of time and space in pursuit of their individual truths.

Lastly, I'd like to point out one last transdimensional aspect of the Lover's Sigil, and this lies in the uppermost central dot above the "crown." In chakra terms, this would correspond to the "transpersonal point"... an additional chakra (supplementing the original seven) which lies approximately 18 inches above the head (and more fully discussed in a .pdf found in this post). The most I will hypothesize here is that, through its interaction with the third eye (Da'at), it might act as an invisible sense organ or receiver whereby the subliminal side of our encounters with kindred spirits are initially processed and perceived. That is, by and through both the transpersonal chakra and the third eye (if working properly) we "know" each other.


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A Lover's Cross

A Lover's Cross symbol - 2016, Dia Sobin


"The cross-shaped sign, represented in its simplest form by a crossing of two lines at right angles, greatly predates, in both East and West, the introduction of Christianity. It goes back to a very remote period of human civilization. It is supposed to have been used not just for its ornamental value, but also with religious significance. It may have represented the apparatus used in kindling fire, and thus as the symbol of sacred fire or as a symbol of the sun, denoting its daily rotation. It has also been interpreted as the mystic representation of lightning or of the god of the tempest...

Another associated symbol is the ansated cross (ankh or crux ansata) of the ancient Egyptians, often depicted in the hands of the goddess Sekhet, and as a hieroglyphic sign of life or of the living. Egyptian Christians (Copts) adopted it as the emblem of the cross. In his book, The Worship of the Dead, Colonel J. Garnier wrote: "The cross in the form of the 'Crux Ansata' ... was carried in the hands of the Egyptian priests and Pontiff kings as the symbol of their authority as priests of the Sun god and was called 'the Sign of Life'."
- Excerpt of the Wike entry for Christian cross.

"The Cross of Lorraine consists of one vertical and two evenly spaced horizontal bars. It is a heraldic cross, used by the Dukes of Lorraine (previously known as the Dukes of Anjou). This cross is related to the Crusader’s cross, the standard of Joan of Arc, and the six globes of the Medici family. The Lorraine cross was carried to the Crusades by the original Knights Templar, granted to them for their use by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Hermetic alchemists of the Renaissance used the emblem as a symbol of earth and spirit by combining the square earth cross with the cross of Christ.

When drawn symmetrically, it symbolized the hermetic maxim, “As above, so below.” The Lorraine Cross is used in Freemasonry as a degree symbol." *
- Via the Symbol Dictionary.

***

Well, so, while I was at it, I decided to try my hand at restoring another variety of symmetry - that is, the potential rotational symmetries of the Lover's Sigil itself. And, as it worked out, the first symmetries to emerge (i.e., easiest to find) were four-fold symmetries, which express themselves in the figure of a cross. So, by repurposing the Lover's Sigil, we have now generated two possibilities for a Lover's Cross (directly above and inset, left)... blood red because, well, it seemed fitting.

Although I was never a huge fan of crosses - especially with the grisly image of a crucified man nailed to them - I find I rather like the Lover's Crosses. My guess is that symbolically they would serve to strengthen love, or protect the Lover's relationship. As it stands, because they're red, they remind me of those belonging to the mysterious Knights Templar, who, not only had a legacy of love, but also a rather unfortunate demise at the hands of the Christian Church authorities... like so many "heretics" before and after them.**

But then, and as we'll shortly see in the next section, the confusion and/or corruption of symbols - and ideologies - was, in fact, a very Church-like thing to do!


* I include the Cross-of Lorraine quote here, not so much in support of this section, but in reference to "the mysterious emblem" on this blog's sidebar (and inset, right). I believe it originally belonged to my grandfather - at least it was found in some items of his bequeathed to my dad -  but, as to the meaning of its "cross & oak" symbolism, I'll probably never know.

(Update): I have since located some (conflicting) information about the mystery emblem. The most I can say is that it is a U.S. Army military insignia in honor of troops (91st division) stationed in France during WWI. The oak branch symbolizes Argonne, and the cross symbolizes Lorraine. There is also some confusion regarding the Cross of Lorraine, which is often depicted as the Patriarchal Cross (as shown in the Wiki entry), contrasted with the cross found on the flag of Sarreguemines (located in Lorraine), which is defined as consisting of one vertical and two evenly spaced horizontal bars, the lower longer than the upper; and generally the lower bar is as close to the bottom of the vertical as the upper bar is to the top. This, incidentally, was the version used by the masonic Knights Templar 18th degree.

** Amusingly, for many present day Christians, specifically the Jehovah's Witnesses, the cross, too, has become a Satanic logo.

Note: The Native Americans also had a deep respect for the cross symbol. For them, in a similar way to the ancient Egyptians, it was at the center of a solar disk, or, in other instances "represented the Four Great Primary Forces and their interaction with the sun".

Crusader Dali in the Fourth Dimension.

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The Seal of Astaroth

The seal of Astaroth, one of the seals contained in the Lesser Key of Solomon, found here.

"The name Astaroth was ultimately derived from that of 2nd millennium BC Phoenician goddess Astarte, an equivalent of the Babylonian Ishtar, and the earlier Sumerian Inanna. She is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the forms Ashtoreth (singular) and Ashtaroth (plural, in reference to multiple statues of her). This latter form was directly transliterated in the early Greek and Latin versions of the Bible, where it was less apparent that it had been a plural feminine in Hebrew.The pseudepigraphal work Testament of Solomon, attributed to King Solomon of Israel, but thought to date to the early centuries AD, mentions "Asteraoth" (in Greek) as an angel, who is opposed to the demon of power."
- From the Wiki entry for Astaroth.

The Phoenicians portrayed Astarte with cow horns, representing fertility. The Assyrians and Babylonians pictured her caressing a child. She was associated with the moon and called the Mother of the Universe, giver of all live on Earth. She ruled all spirits of the dead residing in heaven, visible from earth as stars; hence came her name Astroarche, "Queen of the Stars." She was called the mother of souls in heaven, the Moon surrounded by her star-children, to whom she gave their "astral" (starry) bodies. Occultists still refer to the astral body as the invisible double, without remembering the term's original connotation of starlight.
- Via The Mystica's article on Astarte.

"Long before the Yahweh cult emerged among the Hebrews in the Ancient Near East the Goddess Astarte was worshipped by them. Her oldest temple at Byblos dates back to the Neolithic and she flourished in the Bronze Age where she was also known as Demeter in Greece and Ishtar in Babylonia. King Solomon worshipped Astarte when the Israelites had not yet fully committed to a monotheism with theYahweh cult.

...Astarte will return during Hellenistic Judaism in the apocalyptic and wisdom literature. Wisdom (Sophia) becomes personified in 3d-century BCE Judaism as a strong female principle of Yahweh. We learn from Proverbs that she calls to "the sons of men" crying aloud at the portals of towns. She signals her approval of the Christ by appearing to Jesus as an epiphany in dove form at Jesus's baptism. But with the destruction of Jerusalem (and so the normative Judaism of the Second Temple Period) this feminine principle of Yahweh will disappear forever from Judaism. Martin argues that Astarte's decline resulted from a radical shift toward masculinity in religion.

Despite her disappearance from Judaism, Astarte will still live through the mystery religions of the Hellenistic period. The Egyptians and Syrians reenacted the ancient sacred drama of the rebirth of the sun through the virgin Astarte on December 25 - at the winter solstice when the sun is at the lowest point in the sky and so requires a "rebirth" to begin its northward journey again. This drama will find its way into the early Christian mystery as the Virgin Mary. The newborn savior-god Jesus who is born on the winter solstice will behave similarly to Astarte's newborn and become a sacrifice for the benefit and immortality of the Goddess's followers. Christian iconography will preserve her in her dove form with "seven rays emanating from the dove of the Holy Ghost: an image that went back to some of the most primitive manifestations of the Goddess."
 - Excerpt from an excellent article about Astarte, via Infidel.org.

***


In the early days of this series, after developing the Love sigil, I became curious to discover if it vaguely resembled any of the more antiquated seals created by the Renaissance occultists. My web search initially led me to the Lesser Key of Solomon (written in the 17th century) which, pretty much has nothing to do with Solomon or the Key of Solomon at all. It also happens to be a grimoire of demonology. Frankly, I would have been much happier had it been a book about daemonology, and/or daimonology. Unfortunately, the transformation of the word "daemon" (or "daimon") - which, for the ancient classical Greeks, originally meant ones inner genius, soul, or presiding muse-like force or, merely the spirits of nature - into devils or "demons", those primarily evil entities which prey on humankind, was a distortion which occurred during the time of Plato, and then enthusiastically corrupted by the Christian theologists who followed. But, keep in mind, the goal of Church authorities was to either incorporate pagan mythology or destroy it. Had there been no major pagan female deities or had the female deities been asexual, docile and/or subservient enough to incorporate into the Virgin Mary figure, the Church might not have felt as threatened. As it was, across the entire spectrum of patriarchal religion - specifically the triumvirate: Christian-Judaic-Islamic -  with the possible exception of the mystical sects (the Christian Gnostics, the Judaic Kabbalists, and possibly the Islamic Sufis), the mere mention of a Divine Feminine counterpart to the masculine creator-God was strictly verboten, and punishable by excommunication or death.

And, nowhere is this corruption of both symbol and context more evident than in the unfortunate case of the "seal of Astaroth". As it happened, it was the only seal I found that had features vaguely in common with my own. So, imagine my dismay when I consulted Wiki's entry for Astaroth, expecting a representation of the goddess Astarte, or her Babylonian counterpart, Ishtar (above, left) - when (instead) what I found was the demonic buffoon pictured to your right. Apparently, he hails from the Dictionnaire Infernal, originally conceived (and/or contrived) by Jacques Collin de Plancy in 1818, but heavily revised in 1863. The 1863 edition - and the one in which the "demon" Ashteroth first appears - is one in which de Plancy collaborated with a Roman Catholic priest to conform his text with Church theology... and, well, there you have it.


In the real world, if one consults the text of what is presumed to be the actual Testament of Solomon - although written 1000 years after his death (?) -  the only mention of Astaroth was this: "Likewise also the fifth said: 'I am Power. By power I raise up tyrants and tear down kings. To all rebels I furnish power. I have an angel that frustrates me, Asteraôth.'"

Note: The goddess Astarte/Astaroth/Ishtar is often represented as a bird-like figure. In the oldest surviving figurines, she is actually given the head of a bird. See here and here.


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Restoring the Symmetry

22-fold "star" on the front Music Box panel - 2016, DS

"Kepler began by dividing the polygons into levels of "knowability." The triangle, square, pentagram, hexagon, and octagon could all be constructed with ruler and compass, the classical Euclidean tools. Kepler dubbed them "knowable" Since the heptagon (seven-sided) couldn't be constructed with ruler and compass, he dubbed it "unknowable," Likewise nine and eleven-sided polygons.

It seemed logical to Kepler that the numbers of sides in the unknowable polygons would have been avoided by God when designing the universe."


"Could this be the reason for the “fundamental symmetries” that we observe in nature? Could they be dynamical consequences of an asymmetric physics? I believe not. The lesson of the history of physics in this century points to the opposite conclusion. As we explore physics at higher and higher energy, revealing its structure at shorter and shorter distances, we discover more and more symmetry. This symmetry is usually broken or hidden at low energy. I like to think of the first paradigm as Garbage in—Beauty out, and the second as Beauty in—Garbage out. At the fundamental level nature, for whatever reason, prefers beauty and is marvelously inventive in inventing new forms of beauty. If this is the case then it provides us with an important tool for the exploration of nature. When searching for new and more fundamental laws of nature we should search for new symmetries."
- An excerpt from David J. Gross's The role of symmetry in fundamental physics, 1996. The inset image is a re-imaged example of the mathematical symmetry known as the Lie Group, found here.

***

Well, we've looked at a number of symbols in the symmetry posts: the hexagram, the mandala, the lozenge, the vesica piscis, the pentagram, the cross, the tree of life and, inadvertently, the flower of life.* But, as you may have noticed, at the root of every one of them is the geometrical figure we know as the circle. You might say that by fully understanding the geometry of the circle one has the key, and the ability to decode all the "secret" ciphers that ever existed in this world.

Case in point: I was once approached by a filmmaker who wanted my artistic input in the making of an esoteric film. At first I was delighted. That is, until he informed me that the premise of the film was to illustrate how it was (in fact) the geometry of the square which somehow symbolized the workings of the universe. At which point I had to decline the offer. In reality, he may have been referring to the mathematical Diamond Theory, something I stumbled across recently. But, no matter; because, regardless of how you slice it, the square is a meaningless collection of lines without the geometry of the circle. Mankind may rely on the square... the computer may rely on the square... Life (and Love) rely on the circle.

That being said, you're probably wondering just exactly what my point was in drawing all these lines across the birds on the Music box panels, so, I'll tell you. Once again, I was just connecting the dots between the prominent corresponding locations on the overall design. In the end I was presented with a series of four stars - that is, four rotational symmetries: 22-fold, 26-fold, 36-fold, and 48-fold. The most I can say about these numbers is that, in numerology, 22 is a "master" number while the restored symmetry of a 26 fold star (inset) would be a 52-fold star. In mathematical terms, stars and polygons with 22 or 26 points or sides would be theoretically impossible to draw by use of a compass and straight-edge alone, and neither figure would be found in a circle whose designated circumference equaled 360 degrees. But, whenever science tells us that something is impossible, we should immediately suspect the opposite. Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) made his erroneous theories concerning the "unknowable" (i.e., not constructible by compass and straight-edge) polygons, and then had the audacity to assume they reflected the mind of "God."

As it so happens, all of those "unknowable" geometrical figures (i.e., 7, 9, 11,13, etc.) can most certainly be drawn - using the circle alone - and, for that matter, so can every other symmetry under the sun; a discovery and a conclusion I came to during my cyclohedra days. Below is my diagram for a hendecagon... that is, Kepler's 11- sided figure which is "unknowable" and disregarded by the mind of "God." Next to it is an example of one way to create a 22-sided figure, by restoring the reflectional symmetry of the hendecagon.


             


The moral of this story is this: all symmetries exist and no symmetry is impossible... nor is it impossible to discover or illuminate a symmetry. One simply has to disregard the established doctrines, or go beyond them. And, how might this all address our general theme: the restoration of symmetry, especially in relation to Love?

Well, I've shown you some geometry and I've shown you some symbols... and ways in which they relate to the Music Box - the metaphor for the entire "Love" series. But, in ways, this and the Philosopher's Stone post were metaphors within metaphors, leading to a conclusion which will be more fully explored in the post which follows this one: The Restoration of Symmetry & The Third Gender.

Suffice to say, there are a number of broken symmetries in the world today which have, in a sense, crippled us and our ability to relate to one another; and the greatest of these are the broken symmetries between gender, both in reference to gender stereotypes and to the larger belief systems and sociological patterns which have served to establish them. I believe that if the force of Love is to survive in the future - or even within the barren, technological wastelands  of today - then somehow we have to come to terms with these broken symmetries; either by restoration, or by the creation of symmetries not seen before.


* The Flower of Life is a reference to what, in geometric terms, is a triangular or hexagonal lattice, generated by the Vesica Piscus, and, ultimately, the geometric prima materia of many (if not all) aspects of the physical, visual world, and (consequently) many (if not all) of the symbols we use to describe it.

Note: the Inset image in the quote section of this post - an example of mathematical symmetry from the Lie Group - was found (and re-imaged) from this source.


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A symmetry of geometer moths. This photo, along with those in the Philosopher Stone post, and a wealth of other geometrid photos can be found here and here.



5 comments:

  1. My god....it's a thesis! And you write FAR better than Robert Anton Wilson.

    These symmetries, obtuse geometries and esoteric symbologies all serve to fascinate, to peer beneath the placid surface of personal reality and see a glimpse of something far more universal.

    Superb.

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    1. Thanks so much, BG! (Actually, thanks again, as I've just trashed my last reply.) High praise, really... but, after finally reading the post over, probably not deserved. More textbook than thesis, I think... but, hopefully by the next post I'll hit my (proverbial) stride. ;-)

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    2. Maybe it's old news for you but the símbol for love and friendship in the Tchokwe art from east Angola is also two interceding triangles ( shaped like hearts ). In case you haven't heard.. check it online.. lots of mathematical content, art and storytelling. Your kind of thing I imagine.

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    3. Thanks for the heads-up, Jorge; I wasn't aware of Tchockwe art. The neat thing about the symbol you mentioned is that it's sometimes shown as the body of a bird!!!

      http://www.africafederation.net/Tchokwe_Art.htm

      In fact, I just may add it to this post... :-)

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  2. That was fast! Glad you liked it!

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