Some abstract ideas are best considered in the form of symbols.The subconscious mind is more amenable to this way of communicating. Primitive man, and apparently ancient cultures used this intuitively in their religious motifs and imagery.
Modern man has lost this faculty and finds the interpretation of symbols difficult.We owe Sigmund Jung for his work in this connection relating the symbols in dreams to the subconscious, and Joseph Cambell in his researches into the world myths.
I will present a few symbols which I think are of interest. Some are related to The Creation and are to found in the Grecian Myths hidden in allegorical tales of incest and violence.* In connection with The Creation the symbols of Pythagoras using geometric shapes are particularly apt, and are duplicated in the ancient wisdom of The Brahmins and best read in H.Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine.The Basis of All is so regarded as founded on the Triangle and the Circle seen frequently in the old frescoes and antiquities as the Unbounded and Infinite universe, giving rise to the Duality by its bisection and from thence the Triangle incorporaing the Force in the "Tension " between the Polarities. Thus, the Triangle is The Trinity pointing upwards in its primary abstract mode, and inverted as the Manifest Creation in Objectivity.You will note I hope, that such a configuration produces The Square,which is The Divine Tetraktys of Pythagoras.
Concentric circles, usually seven in number and simple labyrinthine drawings are to be found in archaeological sites, especially in the art of the Australian aborigines, and the multiple spoked wheel and the spiders web can also be cited. The Labyrinth is well known in the the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, taken to mean the convoluted multidimensional spiralof the manifest universes and hidden pathway back to The Source.The Web and the Spoked Wheel indicate the connection of all things to a Common Source, which is incidentally is an essential feature of metaphysical thought. In the Middle East somewhere, there is a mosaic floor showing a picture of the zodiacal forms, not twelve on number but Thirteen , and what should the thirteenth be but Arachnida, the Spider. The myth goes something like this, having competed and beaten the Goddess Athena at weaving, the maiden was changed into a spider in a fit of pique by the goddess. There is a book which describes the finding of 13th.sign in our local library, which must have been peculiar to a certain culture and forgotten along with it. The Theme of Blackness intrigued the ancients who associated certain black birds with the primordial state preceding manifest objectivity in which there was no light, nothing to shine on and therefore only darkness, and so the Raven in the northen regions and the Black swan in the south were so regarded as symbolic.
Other animals earned the reputation of being sacred and even worshipped in ancient Egypt, and there are thousands of mummified cats, cows and bulls which have been unearthed to prove it.The Jackal, the Crocodile, the Ibis and the Scarab beetle were all held in the greatest reverence, a Frog was was invariably left in effigy on the dead, the amphibian nature of which seemed to them as connected to the two mediums of both earth and water.The Jaguar in South America and the Leopard in Africa have been worhipped and identitified with because they convey impressions of power. The Eagle, soaring above the earth and keen of vision is, and was, suggestive of the soaring aspirations of the human soul. In the Hermetic tradition it is a symbol of Fire. How many have seen the Brass Eagle with oustretched wings supporting the heavy Bible in many churches, commonly mounted on a brass ornamented stand? There are many symbolic gestures to be found in Christianity and copied from the older systems in the ritual costumes and headgear.The Dove was sacred to Venus and is often shown on effigies and paintings of The Virgin Mary, and became symbolic of theSoul and Holy Spirit as Carrier of Peace. About theSerpent there is a wealth of literature as to its symbolic significance and frequently found coiled around a tree, a cross or pillar.The "Ouroboros " is the name given the Serpent in a circle with its tail in its mouth and easily be seen as indicating the end of things as it eats its tail and consumes Itself, or conversely the Creation issuing from its mouth. The manner in which the snake casts its skin during growth impressed the ancient people as renewal of life. In the East it is The Dragon as a friendly emblem of wisdom fiery red or golden, green or black in its negative aspect and evil, it has also been made to represent the power of Evil and the Lower Self overcome by St.George in the role of "mind". In the story of Andromeda, the SeaMonster is so foiled when she is rescued by the Warrior as the Power and Discrimination of the Mind. In Fairy Tales it has a hoard of treasure, sleeping but alert to attempts to steal it, and is a symbol of Soul-Realisation "protected" i.e. imprisoned by the constrains of the conscious mind.
Finally the the arc of the crescent moon connected to its inverted reflection is a serpentine emblem and is used in this work as the mathematical sign for vibration or wave motion.Together with the Circle and the Cross the Crescent satisfies all the reqirements for the various astrological signs. Dr.Dee of Elizabethan fame wrote a Treatise on a composite of these elements to depict the Universe and can be seen illustrated somewhere. The Cross is very special to Christianity as a result of the Crucifixion, and unfortunately is widely exhibited as such in gory detail. The Early Christians regarded the Cross with horror as a cruel form of execution. Their emblem was of course the Fish, and and coincided with the Piscean Age.The essential meaning in the most profound esoteric sense of The Cross is ,"A Symbol of Man's Resurrection Through Karmic Experience" its usage by the churches depicting the crucifixion demeans its high symbolism.