A Selection from
Symbols and the Question of Unity
by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea)
'In the realm of symbols, one of the most ancient,
'Man's possibilities are unlimited, as unlimited as is the universe, but to comprehend this it is necessary to go beyond fragmentary concepts of time and space and to recognise the harmonious interplay between vast and small, near and distant, which are only considered such because of the limits of our own perception.
'Handed down through the ages is a design in which man is given the possibility of finding his place in the cosmic vastness; therein he can reach an understanding of what his function is in the universe, and what his spiritual destiny consists of. Not only can he view in this pattern his own spiritual fate, but this design, with all its relations of planetary interplay and energy flows, gives humanity the history of the whole evolutionary pattern, based on the unfolding in time and space of an eternal perfection; or better said, an ever perfecting consciousness is at work and this celestial harmony reveals the path humanity will follow in order that this universe be not only the inner spiritual image of God, but that ultimately all of Manifestation shall become the vivid, throbbing and pulsating divinity incarnate.'
"The more one goes on the path the more one feels the limitations not only of speech but of thought. The mind is too heavy, too coarse. It will not respond, or responds but imperfectly, to the subtle vibrations that as it were come to it from above. The highest truth must needs be presented in symbols. Fichte, the German philosopher, said that if he had to live his life again the first thing he would do would be to invent a new set of symbols, but alas, it is not too easy. Symbols are born, not made. They descend from above and cannot be artificially manufactured. In this matter you, poets, have an advantage over philosophers like myself who have tried to use what is so ludicrously mis-called "exact thought". From below one can combine allegories: real symbols are given from above. But when given one can learn far more from them than other words." KRISHNAPREM*
It is in accord with the Age that man shall be able to read his fate in the harmonies of the universe; he shall see the unfoldment in time and space of the perfection he is both instrument and witness of; he shall understand the reason for his sufferings and his joys, his delays and his precipitations, and above all, he shall know he is one with the Supreme and his blind urge for perfection, his awkward march toward completion is the ever-growing tree that lives but to give evidence to the divine seed.
There are several rhythms that weave through the web of creation, each apparently solitary, but only for the man who has not attained a unity of vision which is the right of all those who participate in the fulfillment of the Word at this present moment. Once this vision is realised man sees the harmony in what was once thought to be a discordant play of forces. Through the descent of a supreme wisdom he gathers the threads together and understands his destiny, which is one with the entire destiny of humanity. By a deeper insight he sees how he fits into the whole and therefore how his realisation is needed to continue the process of evolution, how in his completion the necessary link is forged that others may grasp it and further their progress. By understanding these harmonies he knows he is striving towards an utter fulfilment of the Ideal in order that a further step be taken on the spiral of creation.
God has no secrets. He is manifest in every particle of creation, - the leaf on the tree, the flight of the birds, the formation of the clouds in the heavens, - and above all, or easiest of all to perceive, in the harmonious movements of the celestial spheres. His totality is there, before all. He is Truth, and therefore He is light; this light is the very essence of all that is, and anyone, at any given moment can read the soul of the Lord in all the moments of His creation. This has been so from the beginning of Time, but it is man's ignorance that veils the Truth already manifest. The meaning, purpose, and goal of each atom in creation are apparent for all to know, and it is precisely man's mission to shed the veils that hide this light and come to the core of what has appeared to be the secret word.
The key to understanding all symbols lies in unity of vision, but the secret to unity of vision lies in unity of being; there is no other way and all mental efforts are futile and can lead only to a fragmented view, here and there touching upon the truth, but that which unites all the threads and gives the knot of Truth, the core and kernel, rests beyond the mind. We can say the mind formulates what is directly perceived in the heart, therefore all that which is perceived can be organised by the mind in order to arrive at a precise knowledge of the future, past and present. Mind is the instrument for organisation and communication, and it stands that the quieter the instrument, the greater will the capacity be to render into concrete and potent language that which lies beyond it. And all true methods of prophecy, vision, or knowledge require first a preparation on the part of those who are to reveal the keys to others. There is no mystery in these arts and symbols; they are evident and the secrecy which has clothed them until now only corresponds to the period of darkness humanity was traversing. It is no longer so. The sun of knowledge now illumines the horizon and is beginning its journey upward until it reaches its maximum point of illumination. We have only now entered into this age of light, having passed many centuries in shadow, to better prepare for this moment.
To see, man must eliminate that which veils his vision: his ego is the shroud that keeps the word of God hidden in his soul. He must therefore realise this no longer has a meaning in the full light of the sun of knowledge; what was necessary to secure a mature gestation has now become meaningless and obstructive. Yet he clings to his ego, for it is the very ego that creates the fear of the void he must plunge into if he is to know the truth of his origin. Once rid of ego he can view the Divine in all aspects of creation, he then realises it was his ignorance which excluded divinity from creation, calling it "illusion".
In the realm of symbols, one of the most ancient, the supreme Symbol, the master mandala, is the Zodiac. This is a sphere of 360 traced by the ecliptic of the Sun and planets; it has a root number which is 9 and all its divisions of 12 and 4 and 3 that give us the signs, the elements and the energy flows are only divisions based on this number. It is this which stands behind all manifestation, and it is therefore the numerical symbol of the Universal Mother.
The division of the circle into four parts of 90 each gives us the elements and in turn gives rise to the square, which is another basic form, perhaps the closest in perfection to the circle. Within each of these four parts of 90 there is the trinity of 30 plus 30 plus 30, and hence the energy flows of Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable come into manifestation - or the trinity of Creation, Preservation and Destruction, - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. We have then the Zodiac as the map of manifestation, or the "horoscope" of the Divine Mother, as it were. [Footnote: Note the Mother's symbol is precisely based on this division of 12 and 4 and 3.]
In the sphere of the four cardinal points are equated to Cosmic Dawn (Aries), Cosmic Midnight (Cancer), Cosmic Sunset (Libra) and Cosmic Midday (Capricorn), all of which find their physical correspondence in the fact that the Earth's orbit around the Sun is not an even circle but an ellipse. Thus, mid-point in the ellipse is Aries, Cosmic Dawn, about March 21st. From there it swings away from the Sun and at its farthest point we are in the sign Cancer, in July, Cosmic Midnight, which represents in fact the plunge into inconscience, the "fall", the movement farthest away from the Divine (Sun), the birth of the ego. The movement continues around to the sign of Yoga, Libra, the other mid-way point opposite Aries. This is Cosmic Sunset, the sign of the awakening of consciousness; it occurs at the end of September. And from here we are brought to the fullest light in Cosmic Midday (Capricorn), the beginning of January, when the Earth is at its closest physical distance from the Sun. It is, in fact, the sign of the Golden Age, the Divine Mother in her most perfect manifestation. According to scientists the ancients were ignorant because they had no scientific knowledge of the motions of the spheres. What is proven by the above is that they knew the "harmony of the spheres", and this because they were aware of the inner harmony. The plunge into the depths of the soul revealed to them its workings and hence even the workings of the physical cosmos. If this has not seemed so until now it is not because of their inaccuracies but because astrologers since then have lost the correct knowledge of the Zodiac, which in itself amply proves the supreme wisdom of those anonymous sages.
The Zodiac is an eternal symbol, for the more that is discovered - the new planets and so on - only confirms to an ever greater extent the truth of its revelation, and the apparent new growth of man, the expansion into other realms of consciousness and other possibilities even in his most physical structure, is clearly mapped out in this design: that is, the "new" possibilities are contained in the original pattern and have therein been revealed. It is powerful in that it is not a mere imaginative band but is a physical path the planets and Sun journey through, and the truth of the design is therefore based on the actual harmony of the spheres. Man is given in this unique mandala the knowledge, as within, so without. He is precisely shown that this cosmos which beyond a doubt is a perfection in its workings, is the exact same perfection that governs his being and is his being. He looks up to the heavens and sees only a mirror of himself.
The origin of this symbol is not known. We find it recalled in the Sphinx, which is a combination of man, bull, lion and eagle, all these representing the four Fixed signs and the four Elements: Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio. But even the origin of the Sphinx is unknown, lost in the night of Time. It is simply considered prehistoric. An important and significant clue to its ancestry is that in the symbol the sign Scorpio is represented by the Eagle, its highest manifestation. The Eagle is Power. Humanity at its present stage does not correspond to this aspect at all, which indicates victory over death, immortality, a life entirely evolving in the higher being, the lower nature having been completely conquered. Either this magnificent symbol, with its nine pyramids behind, is the picture of a civilisation of the past that lived in this consciousness, or it was a people who had the capacity to foresee, with remarkable skill, thousands of years to come, and predict that man would then live in the consciousness not of the Scorpion any longer but of the Eagle. This is what is now taking place. The movement of transformation (the Aquarian Age) is for this purpose: to conquer the disintegrating and decaying forces of Death. From now through to the Age of Scorpio approximately 6,480 years will transpire, but it is predicted in the Sphinx that instead of mankind knowing the blackness and death of the soul that is reflected in the image of this animal, it shall know the Eagle; the poisons of the scorpion's death sting shall be transmuted into the majestic power of an eagle. The Sphinx is a prophecy in stone, made to last through the wear of the ages, of that which is now in its beginning.
From certain revelations continuously proving themselves, it would seem the initial seed of the Zodiac was planted in India or thereabouts, or this is at least the country which most closely lives in accord with its message. That is, the structure of its society and religions to this day can be traced to the same structure that is the Zodiac. Other civilisations have touched upon it but subsequently lost it. Only in India has this knowledge been kept alive in the nation as a whole, though on the surface it may appear otherwise, and it is in India that its revelation will come to light and take concrete form.
Judgements made as to the truth of astrology all take into consideration what is known of the Art from historical times only. That is, there seems to be the idea that astrology is of the Chaldean and Babylonian period, or even if it dates to earlier times, this is presumed to have been its peak. The contrary is true, however. It was in descent during those epochs, reached its very lowest in the Dark Ages and is only now slowly coming into light once more. Astrology is older than any known religion today. It is more ancient than the most ancient scriptures. It will last long after these have passed into oblivion, when religions, philosophies, metaphysical systems, the various spiritual disciplines, will appear as myths, because its life does not depend on man, though he be divinely inspired. Its scriptures are the movements of the planets, its Truth lies in the workings of the Cosmos, in the harmonies of the Spheres, and as long as these exist, so long will astrology live. (p. 1-7)
*Letter to Dilip Kumar Roy.
Symbols and the Question of Unity
First Edition: February 1974
© Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet 1974
Published by Servire b.v. Zijdeweg 5A, Wassenaar, Holland
Printed at Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press
Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry-605002, India
Note: All the articles but two of [Symbols and the Question of Unity] appeared in Mother India, the monthly cultural review of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India, from June 1973 to January, 1974.
This selection from Symbols and the Question of Unity
has been reproduced on www.quantumyoga.org by permission of the author.