|VR Publish Date:
|Aug 04 2013
"The whole universe is but a storehouse of images and signs, to which the imagination will give a relative place and value; it is a sort of pasture which the imagination must digest and transform, " said the French poet, Charles Baudelair.
What makes up a Symbol? What about it that so appeals to our senses that sometimes we can do away with words to understand its meaning. Words may be initially needed to get a good grasp of understanding of what the picture is trying to mean, but once we get past the need for words, all we need is just the picture, the Symbol to know what it stands for.
What makes up a Symbol? Usually a Symbol is made up of sharp lines and/or circles. Do we have to read so much into these Symbols? you may ask. There is no fixed answer to this question. Sometimes, a Symbol may speak to someone deeper than what it could mean to another person. It is very subjective.
A sharp line like a '/', would indicate a severation, a division. A circle, 'O', would indicate wholeness, unity, project a sense of togetherness, or a sense of belonging.
A common Symbol that illustrates a division as well as a unity would be the Pentagram.
Each side of the star represents an element. To bring all the elements together (unity), a circle is drawn outside the star, touching all the points of the star, showing a sense of togetherness.
An inverted Pentagram would indicate another thing altogether. An inversion. A complete opposite of whatever the original Symbol represents. The anti-thesis. How did this thought develop in our minds, or rather our Psyche? Our Psyche is a powerful repository of images, signs and symbols. To represent a division of thought we simply turn an image upside down, indication a reversal of principles. This is how the inverted Pentagram came about to its followers.
Another Common symbol would be the Cross.
It is used to represent the Trinitarian formula, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". This is used as an invocation of the Powers That Be. These elements are divided initially, thus the lines. Then they are joined at the center, where a circle can be drawn to indicate a unity.
Why do we associate such words with Symbols? John B.S Haldane gave a succinct explanation when he said, "In fact, words are well-adapted for descriptions and the arousing of emotion, but for many kinds of precise thought other symbols are much better."
A picture speaks a thousand words. It would breed recognition and familiarisation in the viewers. After a time of viewing that image repeatedly, our Psyche would attempt to create a link between that image and its relevant wordings. This process aids in raising our level of Imagination. we are no longer just faced with words, but now, a picture would sum up a whole sentence or a phrase, like the Cross. People would now use the words and teh Symbol to invoke spirits, luck, security and protection in their prayers.
Are Symbols only to be used for religious purposes? That is the best things thing about using Symbols. They hold a versatile quality to them. They are not just restricted to using in religious purposes. In the olden days of royalty, and even now, Symbols are used to show and individual's status in society.
Jewellery and pins have been worn throughout history as Symbols of power, sensing messages to the masses. The surprising thing is that it was not the women who would adorn these jewellery, but the men! Obviously, crowns were part of signals that were being sent throughout history by people of rank. In the army, a rank is presented by lines and colours. The more lines and colours a person has, the higher his rank is. No other female would be ever decorated in such a way! All is vanity, they say. Cars are a symbol of wealth, to some people. There was a time when this Symbol was what all wealthy men were after.
Now it is a horse!
Sometimes language may not be sufficient. There is a limit as to what language can tell. It may not be sending a strong message as what was intended. "When language was not transcendental enough to complete the meaning of a revelation, symbols were relied upon for heavenly teaching, and familiar images, chosen from the known, were made to mirror the unknown spiritual truth, " said William H. Hunt. Therefore it can be said that people behind the screen called Government in a country started utilising pictures to convery their messages.
Soon enough the people start to mirror its Government. The people as a whole would be a Symbol of its Government! "In the long-run every Government is the exact symbol of its People, with their wison and unwisdom; we have to say, like People, like Government!" Thomas Carlyle once was noted to have said. In a country where ther Freedoms are held at high esteem, the people could be seen dressing and speaking liberally. In a country ruled by Dictatorship, its people would be staunch conservatives or perhaps have even more rebels that that of a Free state! This way, this can be seen that a people, the whole lot of them, sharing the same ideaologies, could be held to be a Symbol.
Symbols are crucial to the growth of our Psyche. Through familiarity, an ordinary picture or a painting could become a Symbol, signifying other higher thoughts and ideals. "In the final analysis, a drawing is no longer a drawing, no matter how self-sufficient its execution may be. It is aa symbol, and the more profoundly the imaginary lines of projection meet higher dimensions, the better, " observed Paul Klee.
No other culture's symbols have captured our attention than the ones that the Egyptians had used.
An Ankh represents Life. The Eye of Ra is used to ward off evil. We use Symbols in many academic fields such as Mathematics, Physics and even Chmistry. Chemical symbols are in the form of words, for examply H2O represents Water. When someone says that they need H2O, they are saying that they need water. How convenient is that?
Therefore, a Symbol has far-reaching purposes and powers. It appeals to our higher Intellect and Imagination; and ultimately to our Psyche.
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