An understanding of symbols is essential to those who work in the realms of
magick, for by its very nature, magick employs our emotional and psychic
energies at their core in our subconscious minds. Symbols are the language
of the subconscious, the place where ideas begin and habits form.
The use of symbology is an especially important tool for those on the path to spiritual and psychic awareness and development. Most ancient knowledge has been preserved in symbolic form as the Tarot, I Ching and Qabalah exemplify. Symbols know no verbal language boundaries. A person with the knowledge of the meaning of symbols can understand and utilize other previously unexperienced magickau systems by recognizing the ideas emphasized in picture form such as the Tarot, or verbal analogy such as the Qabalah. Symbology also forms the foundation for the interpretation of dreams, omens and visions.
Because a symbol generally has many layers of meaning and association ranging from the general to the personal, the study of symbology can be extremely complex. Sometimes personal association and/or cultural background associations with a symbol change that symbol's connotations for a person. One example is the Pentagram. To Pagans and Witches the Pentagram symbolizes the five elements in balance and equilibrium. To some in today's society, however, the Pentagram is a fearful symbol - denoting depravity and evil forces. Likewise the Christian cross, a symbol of divine compassion and love to the followers of that faith, can be interpreted as a symbol of persecution and intolerance to Pagans.
Symbols are used heavily in magickal ritual. The 'tools of the trade' - the Chalice, The Wand, the Athame and the Pentacle - each represent an idea, a force or an energy which we choose to work with internally and externally. They are the suits of the Tarot, the four elements of creation and the foundations of magick. We use the Pentagram as a symbol to focus and direct the magickal energies within another symbol, the magick Circle, which represents a sacred place, without beginning and without end. These symbols are designed to focus the mind on ideas or energies dealing directly with the ritual being performed, or, in an archetypal way, to enable the magickian to effectively use the energy and ideas of an archetype essential in a particular working.
In magickal ceremonies where the aim is the evocation or invocation of primordial forces, carefully selected symbols are employed to help the magickian's subconscious mind to identify those qualities within and to bring them forth for his/her use. These symbols are used by the magickian to build up the mental atmosphere conducive to the evocation from the deeper levels of his/her mind of those archaic images and powers desired. The archaic images of the 'collective unconscious' tend to group around specific centers such as Mother, Sacrificial God and Child. The motives and attributions of the archetypes are basically the same in all cultures, repeated again and again in all mythologies, fairy tales, and religious traditions.
As these images become activated, they tend to rise past the subconscious mind and emerge at the conscious level as dreams, visions and intuitions. They project special meanings not always easily verbalized onto objects and images which are associated with them. By voluntarily and purposefully 'turning in', the psychic energies are directed into the subconscious level and emerge, carrying the potent images of the collective unconscious; the energy of the archetypes used effectively in magick.
Talismans are good examples of the use of symbology in magick. When making a talisman, all the materials used in its manufacture are crafted to epitomize the intended goal. Let us say that a talisman is made to gain in psychic knowledge. The base is formed from sterling silver or purple paper either one of which can be used to symbolize the psychic processes. A symbol of psychic ability such as the sigil of the Moon is then etched or drawn onto the base and all of this is done on the day of the Moon, the planet of psychic knowledge, capturing in physical and energy form the powers that evoke psychic ability.
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