The study of symbolism is very important for intellectual knowledge, but also for any practice on the esoteric field. It is easy to see that much of the deep and useful knowledge to humankind is expressed in symbols. These symbols will be the tools we can use to verify the principles or laws with which we experiment.
Whatever your point of view, individual thought is developed from symbols. There is no other way to understand and express it. Words, numbers, and letters symbolize physical concepts in an abstract way.
The symbol is primarily a reminder: a very simple but superior and unique representation of several associations of ideas, and several meanings dependent upon each other. We can also say that this set of lines or angles constituting an emblem or writing to express an idea. A symbol cannot remain the exclusive domain of a particular person. It cannot, therefore, have meaning only for a single individual. To be effective and have a useful purpose, it should suggest to others something that has been experienced or perceived.
As symbols are widely used in the field of occult sciences, a lot of people have been told that they were invented to mystify posterity or hide the truth from those who would unveil it. . Mystics and Wises in antiquity were also philosophers. They loved Knowledge. They lived with her and for her, and for many of them the ideal life was to spread this knowledge. Therefore, making the truth difficult to find or creating ways to hide it was far from their goals. To the contrary, these Wise Men tried to synthesize their knowledge and establish a form of universal knowledge. Consequently, , symbols must have a fixed shape and a common meaning to everyone, at any time. They must have an accurate value that we can use in our daily lives.
How are symbols born and how do they act in the consciousness of the human being? This is what we have to consider.
In ancient times, the Wise Men set in stone and in picture these summaries of their knowledge, so that they would last and not be lost to future generations. This knowledge was symbolically engraved, often in Temples, or places of worship. Priests used it as training material which was shown to the adepts to increase the opening of their minds and the development of their intelligence. During their learning, the applicants discovered esoteric keys which were the deeper meaning of a particular symbol subjected to analysis. Thus, an image that appeared previously beautiful but meaningless suddenly radiated a bright energy, and an inner mystery was recognized and understood.
These same images and symbols have been used in myths and tales, to allow people's spirits to continue to be open to the wonderland of the spiritual world. These stories have a second use, still valid in our time, because they convey powerful symbols which, with the help of the unconscious, increase humanity's imagination. A kind of inner alchemy was in process as some people felt the need to deepen the mysteries hidden in these stories and texts. To do this, they asked the favor of being admitted to the Temples, to receive initiation and understanding.
We can say that symbolism constantly feeds human thought, whether on the field or on the sacred secular level, because it is a vital necessity in the process of evolution of consciousness. It should be noted that we often think we see realities around us and make contact with objective facts, but this is an illusion, because all around us is symbols. That means the manifestations of nature are only appearances: materializations of real but invisible powers. A Wise Man from the past said:
“The Spirit speaks to man through symbols, Nature speaks to man through symbols.” Unquote.
Symbols therefore have a direct relation to our lives, and we can tell that they have a great influence on all of our thoughts and actions.
Two main types of symbols exist: artificial and natural symbols.
Natural symbols are related to things existing in nature. They are not only a mental representation or idea, but they have a relationship with something that actually exists in the world separated from us. For example, we can say that smoke is a symbol of fire, because there is no smoke without fire. The constant association of the two has made one the symbol of the other. In the same way we can say that the clouds are a sign of rain, because the two are so often associated, our mind immediately links them. Natural signs, however, are very limited. They exist only in the conditions that produce them. Thus, smoke can be a natural sign when there are physical conditions producing it.
Our rituals are mainly oriented on artificial symbols, created by man through social agreement. They are much more independent than natural symbols. Thus, these are the ones commonly used in the initiation and the ones we are learning.