The symbolism of the cross is complex. Like the Tree of Life, the cross stands for the world axis. Placed in the mystic Centre of the Cosmos, it becomes the bridge for the soul to reach God. The cross affirms the primary relationship between the two worlds of the celestial and the earthly. It also stands for the conjunction of opposites. Hence its significance as a symbol for agony, struggle and martyrdom. When the cross is T-shaped, it emphasizes the near-equilibrium of the opposing principles. Continue reading Cross
Angels are invisible forces, mediators between God or the Source of Life and the World. They are purely spiritual creatures, sometimes having ethereal body, playing the role of messengers, guardians, protectors, etc. Angels form the Army of God, his Court, his House. They play an important role in the Bible. They are organised in hierarchies of seven Orders, nine Choirs and three Triades. Their hierarchy depends on their proximity to the throne. Six-winged angels are called Seraphs. They surround the throne of God. The three main Archangels are Michael (winner of the dragons), Gabriel (messenger and initiator) and Raphael (guide of the doctors and travelers). In alchemy, the angel symbolizes sublimation, the ascension of a volatile (spiritual) principle.
Apple is related to knowledge conferring immortality or distinctive knowledge causing the fall. In Alchemy, the Golden apple is a symbol of sulfur. Apple contains in its center a five-pointed star or pentagram, that’s why it was considered as a symbol of knowledge and freedom. Being spherical in shape, the apple signifies totality. It symbolizes earthly desires, the warning to Adam and Eve not to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden, came from the God, as a warning against materialistic desire. The intellect or the thirst for knowledge is an intermediate zone between earthly desire and pure spirituality. Continue reading Apple
The symbolism of the cat is very heterogeneous, balancing between positive and negative elements. This can be explained by its ability to be kind and malicious at the same time. The cat is usually attributed to witches because of its ability to see in the dark. In Egypt cats were worshipped in the form of Goddess Bastet, the divine cat. In late medieval period the terrible demons were really debased pagan gods, like the triple-headed demon Haborym. His cat head is derived from the Egyptian pagan goddess Bastet who is also associated with fire because she and her sister Bubastis killed the serpent Apep by burning him in flames. In Greece and Rome the cat was sacred to Diana, a lunar deity. Diana turned herself into a cat to escape Typhon. In Christian culture the cat belongs to both sides: the devil and darkness, on one hand, and Jesus Christ, on another hand, when compared to a hunter of souls. It is also an attribute of the Virgin Mary because according to the legend the night Christ was born, a cat bore a litter of kittens. Sometimes it represents treachery in the Scenes of the Last Supper, when pictured at the feet of Judas. For example, in Jacopo Bassano’s painting The Last Supper (1542), Giuseppe Vermiglio’s Last Supper (1622), the cat is contrasted with the dog as a symbol of conflict and enmity. It is also a symbol of liberty.
Lily of the Valley symbolizes Advent and Incarnation of Christ. It also represents purity of the Virgin Mary. That’s why sometimes it appears in Annunciation scenes. The valley signifies the World and the lily represents Christ. It is also related to the Tree of Life of Eden in the Song of Songs. It renders the pure life, promise of immortality and salvation. Every year it announces the arrival of spring. It stands for humility because of its corolla facing down.
Symbolism of the spider is closely related to its practice of weaving a web. In the Bible as well as Koran it is said that a house of a spider is very fragile. In Greek mythology it is associated with the myth of Arachne, a woman known for her weaving skills. Athena, the Goddess of the Supreme Mind, is protectress of the art of weaving. Arachne, a young mortal woman from Lydia, was also a very talented weaver and she challenged the Goddess herself. Athena transformed her into a spider.
The negative symbolism of the spider is predominant in many cultures. In Christian culture it’s an image of the tempting devil, who weaves his web and captures the souls of vicious men. It also represents deception. In other cultures, especially Western Africa, the spider is considered as the demiurge who prepared the matter for the first humans, created the Sun, the Moon, the stars.
Weaving the reality, the spider is the protector of the destiny, it also has a divinatory function. Because of the spiral shape of its web, it stands for creation and development, the wheel and its center.
In Roman mythology Jupiter himself changed into a swan to seduce Leda. Helen of Troy and her brother Pollux were born later. It is a sacred animal to Apollo, as the god of music, attribute of the muses Erato and Clio. Swan also lead Venus’s chariot. Since antiquity it has been associated with the music, it was believed that swans sang sweetly just before dying. In contrast with the crow, which symbolizes night, the swan represents the light of day. In medieval bestiaries the swan was a symbol of hypocrisy because of its black flesh in contrast of white plumage. The main meanings are love, purity, virtue, hypocrisy. In the Tarot card The day of Judgment, the closest constellation to this enigma is the Swan of Leda, the final Conjunction. In Alchemy, swan is considered as a symbol of mercury. It represents the mystical union of opposites (water-fire), the Androgyne.