THEOSOPHICAL SYMBOLS

The symbols of the Society are contained in its seal, which may be described first. It consists of a serpent formed into a circle and biting or swallowing its tail. Placed within this circle are two interlaced triangles that make what is called the “Seal of Solomon”, one of the triangles pointing apex up and the other apex down. That one which points up is white in colour or any shade that is equivalent to that when compared with the other triangle, which is dark, as it should always be so represented. On the serpent and near its head so as to be in the centre line of the circle is a small circle within which is inscribed the Swastica, a simple cross with its four ends turned backward. Inside the central space enclosed by the two interlaced triangles is placed the famous cross of the Egyptians called ansata, and which is many times older than the Christian symbol. It is a cross without a top arm, which is replaced by an oval the narrow end of which rests on the top of the cross, thus forming its top arm. It should be of a white colour. Around the whole is written the motto of the Society, reading, “There is no religion higher than Truth”, the family motto of the Maharajahs, or great kings, of Benares, the sacred city of India. Sometimes over the top of the seal is written “OM”, the sacred word of the Hindus and the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet.

It will be of interest to all members of the Society to know that, although some people have claimed to be the inventors of this seal as just described and that they made it for the Society in its initial stages in 1875, Madame Blavatsky long before then and before these claimants heard of Theosophy used substantially the same thing on her private note paper, some samples of which are in my desk, as also the original block from which she had her paper printed. Her seal had the coronet of countess over the top, and her monogram in the middle in place of the Egyptian cross. Some years after the adoption of the seal by the Society a person by the name of Bothell of Bath, England, made a hybrid imitation of it by splitting the serpent into three as if to show that evolution had divided itself up into heterogeneous elements, and he was then imitated by a person in America who sold amulets and love philters, meanwhile cribbing wholesale from all the Theosophical books and periodicals in order to make a saleable book on the darkness of Egypt. These childish imitations sufficiently expose themselves to anyone who knows something of symbology.

Our seal points the mind to the regenerated man who, symbolized by the cross, stands in the centre enclosed by the light and the dark triangle, and encircled by the great serpent or dragon of evolution and matter. But an analysis of the different parts of the whole will aid us in understanding and grasping all its meanings. For in symbology the symbol is only right when it fitly represents all the ideas meant to be conveyed, and in all its parts is consistent with the whole, as well as being also in conformity to tradition and the rules of the ancients. It should also when understood be of such a character that when it is looked at or thought of, with the image of it in the mind, all the ideas and doctrines it represents recur to the thinker. This is why confused symbols are useless and right ones of the greatest use. Indeed, the same rule holds with clairvoyance—a very different subject—for there the symbol which is the image of the person or thing desired to be seen clairvoyantly may confuse the seer, or the opposite, just as it is or is not consistent. Symbols are also valuable for the older reason that, while the books, the writings, and the other works of men fade away and are no more for subsequent ages, the great symbols do not disappear. Our Zodiac is one mass of these, and though its age is a mystery it still lingers in our almanacs and figures in the sacred books or monuments of all times and peoples. And even to-day the most materialistic of our people are wondering if it may not be possible to communicate with the inhabitants of other planets by the use of symbols, in some such way as the savage may be dealt with by the use of sign language….

From: The Path, Vol. VII, p. 8, April 1892.

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