This post will detail an overview of my work so far under the thesis of symbols and their philosophical implications. I began working with symbols because I believe they hold keys to past knowledge we have lost, destroyed, or re-packaged. Symbols at their very core have the power to reveal information to those who are initiated and conceal information for those who are not.
“There are four classes of human being… The first are the Believers; strong morals, weak in intellectual faculties. The second are the Unbelievers, the worldly wise who support religion as being good for other people. The third class comprises the Open Unbelievers – deists, atheists, and skeptics – who yet do not perceive the laws of nature as relevant to man, either as an individual or in a social state. Finally, in Class Four, are the Disbelievers in all past and present religions, but believers in the eternal unchanging laws of the universe, as developed from facts derived from all past experience; and who, by careful study of these facts, deduce from them a religion of nature”. —Godwin, J. The Theosophical Enlightenment, New York, 1994, p. 59.
It’s extremely important for my work to appeal to those interested in the eternal unchanging laws of the universe: the fourth class. My goal is to establish connections through written research that in-turn connects itself to the visual language of photo/video/illustrations. I’ve moved through all these “classes of human being” in my life and while I value the importance of religion, I find theology itself to be unstable ground for our true human potential. What’s important, then, is finding common ground we can all stand on. This is something I’ve been interested in a long time and it wasn’t until I began reading Manly P. Hall’s The Secret Teachings of all Ages that my passion for this understanding truly took off.
I’ll refer to Manly P. Hall’s companion book to Secret Teachings called Lectures on Ancient Philosophy below for quotes.
Beginning with SPACE
Hall’s very first sentence in this book mentions the impossibility of defining the absolute, which he illustrates to be the blank piece of paper, also called SPACE. “To define adequately the nature of the Absolute is impossible, for it is everything in its eternal, undivided, and unconditioned state.”
Any diagram or symbol drawn upon signifies one fraction of the Absolute. “The moment the symbol is drawn upon the paper, the paper loses its perfect and unlimited blankness.” (pg. 1)
The potentialities signified by the blank paper are manifested as active potencies through the dot, and at some point, we must make a mark if we want to give our lives any meaning, or make sense in the least for that matter. Although we are unable to understand the Absolute, we gather information mentally to a focal point. The dot in reference to the concept of SPACE is “the first illusion because it is the first departure from things as they eternally are—the blank sheet of paper.” (p. 2) Think of the dot as an opinion, a belief, a stereotype, or even a worldview. It’s something we have to have to exist and function in this complicated world around us. I began with the most basic symbol, the dot.
“After the dot is placed on the paper it can be rubbed out and the white paper restored to its virgin state. Thus, the white paper represents eternity, and the dot, time; and when the dot is erased time is dissolved back into eternity, for time is dependent upon eternity.” (p. 3)
According to Hall, the keys to all knowledge can be found in the dot, the line, and the circle. These three symbols, then, represent the first trinity.
“In ancient philosophy the dot signifies Truth, Reality, in whatever form it may take. The line is the motion of the fact and the circle is the symbol of the form or figure established in the inferior or material sphere by these superphysical activities.” (p. 7)
The First Symbol, The Sun
Sun worship & astrotheology are the keys to understanding all modern-day religions. This statement is more than just my opinion, as countless authors can testify and have written about these connections. The sun was worshipped because it brought forth life, gave light, and provided heat. The absence of light is darkness, which is why we have countless opposing forces opposing the sun.
Since pre-historic times, symbols have been used as a sign of membership to a community and to communicate within that community. Symbols, however, are not black and white and can have multiple levels of meaning to different people. To get things started I figured the best place was also the simplest.
This symbol hails to the sign of the Egyptian Sun god, Ra.
The Trinity Concept
Throughout my readings, I came across again and again the trinity concept. The symbol of the pyramid could be said to be the first trinity, which probably makes you think about the Egyptians again. The Egyptians, however, did not invent this symbol. Read more if you wish below… H.G. Wells does an excellent job shedding light on this mystery.
The information below comes from The Outline of History, by H. G. Wells, on page 307. “The [Egyptian] trinity consisted of the god Serapis (=Osiris+Apis), the goddess Isis/Ishtar (= Hathor, the cow-moon goddess), and the child-god Horus (the Egyptian Tammuz). In one way or another almost every other god was identified with one or other of these three aspects of the one god, even the sun god Mithras of the Persians (whom Constantine worshipped). The origin beginning with Baal, Ishtar, Tammuz of the ancient Babylonian Religion. Many of the theories of Egyptian religion have penetrated into the theology of Christian Europe, and form, as it were, part of the woof in the web of modern religious thought. Christian theology was largely organized and nurtured in the schools of Alexandria, and Alexandria was not only the meeting place of East and West, it was also the place where the decrepit theology of Egypt was revivified by contact with the speculative philosophy of Greece. Perhaps, however, the indebtedness of Christian theological theory to ancient Egyptian dogma is nowhere more striking than in the doctrine of the Trinity. The very terms used of it by Christian theologians meet us again in the inscriptions and papyri of Egypt. Originally the trinity was a triad like those we find in Babylonian mythology. The triad consisted of a divine father, wife, and son. This triune god was later formulated into Christianity as the Christian Trinity of father, son, holy ghost.”
My initial introduction to the trinity concept came from Manly P. Hall and his understandings of the teachings of Pythagoras, who states that the foundation of all existence is triangular (this stemmed from his theory of mathematics being the language of nature). Broadly speaking about philosophy again, we have the interplay between the Causal Universe, the Intermediate Sphere, and the Inferior Universe. One of the best ways to represent this for the ancients was through fire, which I put into a series, The Flame.
“The blue (or nearly colorless) heart of the candle flame signifies the dark, hidden father; the golden radiance surrounding this area is the bright, flaming Son who bears witness before the worlds of his unknowable Father; and at the circumference is a reddish, smoky flame representative of the Demiurgis, or Lord of the World. Because of its triune nature, fire for ages has been employed as the symbol of the threefold God. Pyrolatry is one of the oldest forms of religious expression.” (Hall, p. 49)
Another way of representing the interplay of the worlds into visual language was to show higher (spiritual) and lower (material) natures interlocking with one another, as best represented in the three images below.
Macrocosm and Microcosm
This Hermetic phrase “As above, so below” comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. “‘That which is above is the same as that which is below’…Macrocosmos is the same as microcosmos.
Keeping in line with symbols, I added the Hermetic or Alchemical Star to the circular images that came from images I’ve shot in the past, to pull a wide amount of information from more than one location. The images below represent a fraction or part of a complete series coming soon. This eight-pointed star “marks early civilizations attempt to understand the order of the universe. It now also carries religious and mystical associations and its variants are found all around the world. The eight-point star is an early symbol of God, astronomy, spiritualism, eternity and the harmony of the cosmos. (Dehoy, Robert (2015-06-26). Ancient Origins: The Secret, Hidden Origins of Western Symbols, Myths & Legends and Customs & Traditions (Kindle Locations 1461-1463). RDH Media Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.)
As one final note on the macrocosm and microcosm, I’ve begun taking photographs of Geo-Crystals for the fact that they make excellent illustrations of organic formations naturally found in nature.
Ancient Illustrations Revised
Finally, I want to introduce you to what I’m working on at the moment and putting most of my thought into it. I’m getting ancient illustrations from authors who understand this more than I do and re-working them through photographs I’ve taken with digital painting techniques. Below are three examples I’ve completed so far. More information on this and possible re-workings next post.