Crystals, Diamonds

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

The general symbolism of precious stones, jewels and gems, is that they signify the spirit, and spiritual truths. The treasures and the riches that they stand for symbolize moral and intellectual knowledge. Hidden gems are symbols of superior knowledge; treasures in a dark cave signify intuitive knowledge that can be found within the vast darkness of the unconscious. In myth, these treasures are often guarded by a dragon or a serpent.

Crystals. The state of transparency of crystals, is a conjunction of two opposites: it is matter that exists as though it did not exist (since one can see through it). Its transparency offers no hardness or resistance to contemplation. Pliny writes that crystal is a kind of ice, because it “is only to be found in places where the winter snow freezes with the greatest intensity”. This is why, he says, in Greek its name is derived from the word for “cold” (κρύσταλλος, from κρύος). Rain-water and pure snow are absolutely necessary for its formation, he adds (book 37, chapter 9). Pliny also describes how crystal can be used in medicine, saying that the best method of cautery for the human body is a ball of crystal, acted upon by the rays of the sun.

Diamonds. The diamond is a symbol of light and brilliance; it often signifies the mystic Centre. Cirlot says that the word diamond is derived from the Sanskrit’s dyu, which means “luminous being”. Diamond, is usually traced to the word adamantine wich is derived from the greek word adamas, meaning “unbreakable”, “unconquerable”. In Natural History by Pliny, adamas is described as the substance that possesses the greatest value of all human possessions. Pliny writes that its hardness is beyond all expression and that it also is incapable of being heated, and can block the effect of a magnet. It is because of these indomitable powers it has received the name adamas in Greek. But Pliny also says that the stone’s power might be yielded if the stone is steeped in the fresh (and warm) blood of a he-goat, and subjected to repeated blows. But even then, it might break both anvils and hammers of iron. Pliny says that adamas overcomes and neutralizes poisons, dispels delirium, and that it can cure depression and prevent suicide. (book 37, chapter 15).

Other keywords: subterranean astronomy


A Dictionary of Symbols, J.E. Cirlot

January 12, 2011 § 3 Comments

I finally own a copy of this! I first discovered it when I was writing an essay on the doppelganger motif, and borrowed the book from the library to do some research about duality and twin/mirror symbolism. That was years ago, but I’ve returned to the notes I took, when I started writing this blog – particularly for background for some of the entries in my “Encyclopedia” category. But now that I had started referencing it frequently I really had to have it, since there’s too much interesting stuff in it to miss out on. I must say that I think that Cirlot’s symbol dictionary is a real treasure for anyone interested in symbology. One thing I particularly like about the book, is that the interpretations and explanations aren’t just over-simplified standard statements about the particular “meaning” of a symbol, which often is the case with a lot of symbol dictionaries. In his texts, Cirlot draws from a lot of sources: religions, mythologies, astrology, alchemy, heraldry, art, psychology, etc. The interpretations of symbols most often differs historically and culturally, so I really appreciate the diverse references. Another thing I enjoy is the language, the way the texts are written and how the sentences have been crafted; the writing seems almost archaic (well, at least by my definition). Perhaps that has got something to do with the translation (from Spanish to English), in combination with the subject matter where, naturally, the archaic references are abundant.


December 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Both fire and water are symbols of regeneration and transformation.

Fire is a symbol of perpetual change, since it is the agent of transmutation: it transforms a substance into another substance without being a substance itself. Heraclitus claimed that fire is the primordial element: Fire is the origin of all matter; all things derive from fire and will return to fire. Heraclitus looked at everything as being in the state of permanent flux – reality being nothing else than a succession of transitory states.

J. E. Cirlot describes the difference between metamorphosis and transmutation as follows: Metamorphosis, the transformation of one being into another, is an expression for the “difference between the primigenial, undifferentiated Oneness and the world of manifestation.” (as well as being related to the general symbolism of Inversion). Everything may be transformed, substituted, for anything else. Transmutation, on the other hand, is metamorphosis in an ascending direction. Moving away from the rim of the ever turning wheel of transformation, moving instead towards the “non-spatial and timeless” Centre.


November 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Mercury is the son of heaven and light. He is the messenger of heaven, the mediator between gods and humans; it’s his task to conduct the souls of the dead to the Underworld. The alchemists equated Mercury with concepts of fluency and transmutation. The alchemists considered the archetypal structure of the planet Mercury a double nature: closely related to both characteristics of the Moon (silver) and the Sun (gold), Mercury is both chtonian and celestial at the same time. The metal mercury often represents the unconscious because of its fluid and dynamic character. Its unlimited capacity for transformation can be regarded as symbolic for the aim of the alchemist, which is to transmute matter (or spirit) from inferior to superior. Molten metal is an alchemic symbol for the conjunction of Fire and Water, coniunctio oppositorium, which is related to Mercury and Plato’s primordial androgynous being.

Other keywords: Gemini myth, hermaphrodite

Labyrinth / Maze

November 21, 2010 § 3 Comments

Labyrinths and mazes are often connected to quests, and the idea of the search for the Centre. Finding out the Answer is analogous to finding the Centre; getting to the ‘core’ or the ‘heart’ of something that might be complex, enigmatic, mystical, difficult… Compare this also to the symbolism connected to the knot.

According to some, labyrinths can be read as diagrams of Heaven; where a terrestrial maze may reproduce the celestial. On the other hand, labyrinths can also represent the inability to escape: Sometimes they are used as traps, to lure devils into it, so that they might be locked inside never to be released.

Other keywords: emblems, whirlpools, cosmic labyrinths, pilgrimage, the Underworld, infinity, traps

Butterflies & Moths

October 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

“Among the ancients, an emblem of the soul and of unconscious attraction towards the light. The purification of the soul by fire, represented in Romanesque art by the burning ember placed by the angel in the prophet’s mouth, is visually portrayed on a small Mattei urn by means of an image of love holding a butterfly close to a flame. The Angel of Death was represented by the Gnostics as a winged foot crushing a butterfly, from which we may deduce that the butterfly was equated with life rather than with the soul in the sense of the spirit or transcendent being. This also explains why psychoanalysis regards the butterfly as a symbol of rebirth. In China, it has the secondary meanings of joy and conjugal bliss.”

– J.E. Cirlot


October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Matter is equivalent to the Moon and Form is equivalent to the Sun, this according to Evola.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Juan Eduardo Cirlot at meaxylon.

%d bloggers like this: