Tag Archives: symbolism

Eyes for an Eye…

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“You know of what I speak, Gandalf.

A great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame.”

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I recall struggling to formulate this image when first reading Tolkien’s masterpiece.

Even with the help of the cover illustrations it seemed to me then an incredibly ‘difficult’ adversary to picture.

Subsequent artists and filmakers have done a pretty decent job of making the image real and sufficiently menacing.

But what of the symbolism?

What can it mean that Sauron only ever appears as an eye?

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“I see you.

You cannot escape.”

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From a psychological perspective the Eye of Sauron can be regarded as signifying the Super Ego.

The Super Ego is a manifestation of all those ideals and authority figures that the Ego seeks to impress in order to justify its existence, and look and feel good about itself, but is ever doomed to fail to impress because those ideals are as empty and groundless as the Ego itself, being ultimately, themselves, projections of that Ego.

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“What news from Mordor, my Lord?

What does the Eye command?”

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The over-bearing demands of the Super Ego and the futile attempts of the Ego to satisfy those demands recall the sweet maid in the rhyme, ‘Soldier Soldier…’

What the Ego needs to do, instead of trying to obey the Super Ego, is to listen to, and act upon, the promptings of the Id.

The Id is the inner child of wisdom which the Ego initially develops to protect.

Once fully developed the Ego conveniently forgets the reason for its development.

Perhaps that is also why Tolkien chose Hobbits as his heroes?

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“They would only be small.

Like children to your eyes.”

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The Eyes of Horus are not the Eye of Sauron.

They recognise only the Id-entity…

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Vegetative Soul? …

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The Ancients it seems

Conceived a three-fold

Analogy which linked

Agriculture, Generation and Re-generation.

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These systems were regulated

By the sun, the earth and the moon

Which moved together in cyclical process…

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It was, perhaps, not such

A bad conception, after all.

Dance of Fire and Water: Tablet…

 

‘In truth, it is certain and without doubt,

that whatever is above tends toward that which is below…

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… And whatever is below tends toward that which is above,

for the accomplishment of the One Perfected Thing…’

The Emerald Tablet

 

Dance of Fire and Water…

Circle – Sun – Spirit

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… After satisfactorily explaining

the nature of the Earthly Realm,

The Alchemists turned their attentions to the stars…

Crescent – Moon – Soul

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To those heavenly bodies

which seemingly ‘wandered’ across the fixed backdrop of the constellations,

they gave the generic name planets,

and held them in especial reverence.

Cross – Earth – Body-Matter

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The symbolic system they developed

to designate the planetary beings

also linked them to the human psyche.

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Magical Elements: Unfurling…

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… Not content with speculations

on the nature of the physical world,

their deductions led the Alchemists to contemplations

of a metaphysical nature…

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If Magical Elements could be transmuted

each into the other

then they must ultimately be equivalent.

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They posited a fifth element

which possessed all the properties of the other four,

and called it the ‘Quintessence’…

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Magical Elements: ‘Alchemy’…

 

 

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To lessen the confusion between Fire and Water

and to accentuate the difference between

Earth and Air,  the Alchemists coloured their symbols…

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… Alchemy is one of the oldest techniques known to mankind.

The Ancient who first cast a weather eye at the heavens,

licked a finger and held it aloft in the sky,

in order to ascertain which way the wind did blow… was an ‘Alchemist’.

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One of the first things the Alchemists noticed about the elements was their mutability…

They seemed to be caught up in an endless round of transmutation,

and were forever striving to become each other.

That apart, they were incredibly stable in themselves, and also incredibly dynamic!

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Small wonder then that the equilateral triangle,

with its base-line and its point,

presented itself as such a fitting symbol of their being.

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These and other observations led the Alchemists to conceive a set of qualities

for the Magical Elements which would  explain their transmutation from one to the other.

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Earth is Cold and Dry… Water is Cold and Moist…

Air is Moist and Hot… Fire is Hot and Dry…

Make Earth Hot to get Fire. Make Earth Moist to get Water.

Earth cannot become Air without first becoming Fire or Water and vice versa.

Similarly, Fire cannot become Water without first becoming Earth or Air and vice versa.

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All of which, upon consideration, is an extremely subtle conception

to be entertained by mere ‘primitives’.

Magical Elements…

Air

Earth

Water

Fire

From such simple devices the ancients sought to traverse the stars

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Most people, if asked, would claim to be familiar with these elements largely because in the physical world they can recognise substances which, today, go by that name.

“I know what earth, air, fire and water are,” they might haughtily declare before moving on to something infinitely more befitting their lofty opinion of themselves.

But they would be wrong.

Nobody knows what the elements are.

We may be able to recognise them and in some instances we may also be able to predict what they will do, how they will operate, what results will follow from their mutual interactions, but we do not know what they are, anymore than we can ever claim to know what electricity is, except, perhaps, in very vague terms…

Electricity is a force of nature which can be harnassed…

The elements are forces of nature which can be harnassed…

So mysterious are these forces that some mystical schools refuse to call them elements at all, referring to them, instead, as principles.

For modern man this mystery is a failing, so it is not accepted and certainly not talked about…

For ancient man this mystery was a joy, embraced with open arms, and became something of a raison d’etre.

The ancients never tired of observing the kaleidoscopic interplay of these forces constantly taking place around them.

Consequently, they discovered some pretty amazing things about them.

They called this study, Alchemy…

A Wild Mother…

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Mother-Wild has not only the experience

of her forebears and the accepted rules

of the clan to guide her,

she seeks to learn also from

ants, bees, spiders and badgers.

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She studies the family life of the birds.

To her and her child the birds are real people,

who live close to the mysterium.

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The murmuring trees breathe its presence.

The falling waters chant its praise.

– Ohiyesa

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Sheer Fantasy…

golden-dawn

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Ish-na-e-cha-ge, First-Born-Being, roamed among the Animal-Nations.

He understood their ways and their languages.

They beheld him in wonder and awe and could do nothing without his knowledge.

He pitched his tent in the centre of the land and no spot was impenetrable to his gaze.

Even so he longed for companionship.

From a splinter drawn from his Big-Toe he formed Little-Boy-Man and taught him everything he knew.

Eventually the time came for their parting.

“What shall I do without you?” pleaded Little-Boy-Man.

“If you get stuck,” replied First-Born-Being, “look to the end of the road where two trees meet.”

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