Vesica Piscis

Vesica Piscis

The shape of this symbol will be most familiar to most Christians, as it will encapsulate either Jesus or the virgin Mary inside. In Christian Iconography it is termed as a Aureole or Mandorla, when the aura or halo covers an entire figure. An explanation for this is ‘the mandorla tends to be used for particular manifestations of God’s power, such as the Transfiguaration, Ascension, or Second Coming’. Richard Taylor explains in his Book ‘How to Read a Church’. This does not help us in understanding why it is shaped as it is or for that matter its actual pagan history as a sacred sign. Books like Taylor’s are heavily biased in presenting only favourable Christian symbols and deliberately leaving out the pagan origins. I have a lot of beef with How to Read a Church, mainly because it doesn’t do its job properly. Its audience will be largely Christian, but that should not stop the book resulting in wish-washy portrayal of some of the most fascinating symbols that Christianity endorses. It’s almost as bad as Raymond Buckland’s Signs and Symbols. Its one of the worst books you could ever get on symbolism. It explains nothing, nothing!

Vesica piscis is Latin for ‘fish bladder’, or the ‘passage of the fish’. AS part of its shape makes the Christian symbol of the fish. Fish in Greek translates as ‘ichthys’ which is an acronym for Jesus Christ.

Ichthys, the initials for Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savoir

The shape of the two overlapping circles to create the almond shape. Taylor explains this as ‘Almonds are also associated with the Virgin Mary, because of their symbolism of divine flavour, the pure white of their blossom, and the womb-like shape of the almond’s nut’. And that ladies and gentlemen is as far as Taylor will go in explaining the pagan and sexual symbolism of this shape. The almond shape represents the vulva, it is a yonic symbol. (yoni is the female equivalent for phallus). The vesica piscis represents the birth passage of Mary and the divine feminine. It is associated with the waxing and the waning moon phases, the moon being a strong feminine element. Its link to the almond is its white blossom is the purity and holiness of this colour.

Virgin Mary in Vesica Piscis

Sacred geometry plays a significant feature here as well. The two circles overlapping can be used to create a hexagram and several equilateral triangles. The triangles have a divine aspect to them already, as they represent the perfection of God, the hexagram also has that sacred element to it, as the seventh space is located within the hexagon of the hexagram. Seven is a divine number. There are many other geometric anomalies that the vesica piscis has that I don’t have space for here.

Hexagram in Vesica Piscis

The link between the Virgin Mary and fish is an interesting one, besides the link between Jesus as a fish. Catholics have been known to eat fish on a Friday, ‘Friday’ comes from Freya/Frigg’s day from Norse mythology. It was common custom to eat fish on Fridays in honour of Freya, who was a Norse goddess of love. Fish are symbolic of the sea, and water is a feminine element. Think of the goddess Venus, who is depicted naked coming out of giant shellfish. Water-nymphs, selkies, mermaids and sirens are all commonly depicted as female water creatures. That have a strong female element to them, particularly a sexual one. They are half-fish and half-human.

The divine female passage that gives birth to life itself is flooded with light, a halo. This light represents the divine female wisdom, and gives the vulva a sense of sacredness and purity. It is also a fountain of youth in a sense, as this is were “water” is deposited (sperm) and comes forth a baby through the fountain, before the child passages through the “fish” the waters must break. Also urine passes out of the vulva, hence why it is a fountain and also a ‘fish bladder’. The ‘fons vitae’ is the fountain of life, or the fountain of youth. often linked to ‘aqua vitiae’, the water of life.

Fons Vitae – Fountain of life

The sexual symbolism behind this reveals that the two come together to produce life, the mystical journey in search of the fountain of youth is often carried out by knights or hero’s in search of its life giving properties. Now we can understand it in a completely different light. The vesica piscis is the passage for youth, and holy waters. I can give two interpretations of the meaning behind what the water is. Either the water is sperm to pregnant the female/fountain, or urine. Urine was a common medical cure among monastic monks during the middle ages. It is still being hailed as a medical cure today.

Medieval Urine Chart

A fascinating link between Christianity, urine therapy and the Vesica Piscis is when Jesus says in Proverbs 5:15, ‘Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well‘. I simply love the next few lines in Proverbs, 5:16-19, when he mentions ‘thy fountain’. I will leave you to ponder the meaning of Proverbs 5:18-19.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

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X Marks the Spot

It is often reported that ‘e’ is the most commonly used letter in the English alphabet. This is true when used for writing, but it is far from being popular as a symbol. ‘X’ or the ‘X mark’ is by far the most used letter in our language, and with it comes several different meanings. To refresh your mind let us consider when it is used. As a child your work would have been ‘marked’ by a teacher sometimes with an x when you got an answer wrong. Large clothes have the sign XL, XXL for the larger person. Pornography uses the letters X in their titles to symbolise that their films are ‘X rated’. In times gone by when illiteracy was common, people who couldn’t write would sign X on a document. According to popular lore, pirates would mark their treasure with an X, hence X marks the spot. In recent time, pop culture has delivered us such terms as Xmas, eX, with eXits. We have the X-men, with X-rays. x means multiplication, a rotated cross, a kiss in a text message. Death or danger is marked with an X. WE have been marked by generation -x. In the past alcohol was marked by its strength by X’s, XXX being the most strongest of beverages. In algebra it means unknown quantity. In Roman numerals it means ten. X has also meant something unknown, a missing person for example. We have eXtraterrestrials,  XX chromosomes for females, XY for males. We have eXopolitics, eXorcisms and exodus.

I think I have made my point, we live in an Xtra-ordinary world. Let us look at some of the numerical uses of the mark X. In Hebrew it is the alphabet, having a numerical value of 1. It is lily the Romans used this to signify 10. Our pronunciation of X -‘ex’. Is linked with the Greek ‘hex’ or ‘hexa’. this means six, in Greek the letters had a numerical value, X (chi) is 600.  X was also written as ‘xi’. Which in Roman numerals means six.

In Latin ‘ex’ is used to mean in or of something. In English the prefix – ex, means the former, out of or from. In my previous blogs I have linked the number six with the word sex, through the use of triangles. If we look at two chevrons, incomplete triangles, one V with an inverted V on the bottom, with both their points touching each other we get a whole new meaning to X. X can mean the female (V) meeting the male (inverted V). The meeting of two humans, face to face. They meet at the X-spot. This is even more symbolic if have a circle with an X inside. X or the cross has been used to denote matter, (masculinity) while the circle means spirit (femininity). X can also be used to interpret the four elements, which are often depicted as triangles. They have combined together, and in the centre we have the spot. The exact point which has the most power. This point would be a place where the fifth element would be located, in-between the four other elements. The quinta essentia, is the element that hermetic philosophers and alchemists would search for, and was often hinted at in symbols throughout alchemical texts. 

In the tarot the tenth card (X) is the wheel of fortune, rota  fortuna. Deals with the changing rhythm of fortune. Often depicted as lady luck, it can also symbolise the wheel of karma, or the solar cross of Norse mythology.

Perhaps this is the best way to described at present what X means, 10 can be read to symbolise 1 (matter, phallus) and 0 (absence/spirit, vulva). The duality of the two combined to create a divine number. The meeting of the male and the female.

The interpretations I have offer here are only scratching the surface of the meaning of X. Its use in culture has increased in recent times, one of the few methods we have to understand its prevalence is to look at its origins and its transformative use throughout time.

 

Three is an important number in the tarot, and it signifies something important within the major arcana of the Rider-Waite pack of cards. There is a reason why the cards have certain symbols in a certain order. But before we can analyse the meaning of several of these cards we need to look at the importance of the number 3.

3 is a magic number, like the song by Bob Dorough. It really is a magic number in a mathematical sense as mathematics and magic correspond together for the ancients  The start of which was seen by Pythagoras  who saw the number 3 as a perfect number expressing the beginning, the middle and the end. He used it in music as with 1,2 & 4 to discover a principle of harmony. Over time we see three incorporated into children’s tales, goldilocks and the 3 bears, the 3 little pigs and the genii with 3 magic wishes. The trinity also features heavily in our culture, not to mention Christianity’s obsession with it. Freud’s  Id, ego and superego. Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory and paradise make up his divine comedy. The 3 primary colours, red, yellow and blue. Newtons three laws of motion. The 3 wise men and the 3 wise monkeys. The list goes on and on.

The significance of three in the tarot has been used to signify in a certain way three levels of reality. The underworld, the earth we inhabit at present and heaven. As we need 3 points to make a triangle, triangles can be used and have been used to signify male and female, that of mother earth(underworld) and father sky(heaven). The empress is the third card of the Major Arcana  she represents mother earth and she has been rightly been given the number of 3 to signify her. This will make sense once we consider the next two cards.

Mother earth

Mother earth

As seen in the card above, the symbols of fertility, the earth by water and dense vegetation  not to mention the Venus symbol, with spirit the circle on top of the cross, matter. The empress is mother earth. Now if we multiple 3 x 3 we get 9. And 9 is the antithesis of 3.

The 9th card is the hermit.

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Father sky

The youth of the empress can be contrasted with the old age of the hermit. He has a long white beard, holding a staff with a hexagram light in his lamp. As discussed in an earlier blog, there are plenty of 6 symbolism within the hexagram which is the next number we shall address. The hermit is on the highest peak, looking down at humanity, much like Nietzsche’s Zarathrusta. The height of the mountains symbolising divine wisdom or knowledge. He can be seen to be like Diogenes of Sinope, with his lantern  Going through the streets of Athens in the middle of the day with a lantern asking ‘have you seen an honest man?’ Diogenes represents wisdom here with the lantern and with it he is bringing light to the world. Illumination  by throwing light for others to see. Light has been used in the past to symbolise knowledge, as without it we would be left in the dark. The hermit is father sky, as he towers above the world, pouring forth understanding and knowledge through his lantern. He is the end as he is an old man, while the empress is the beginning, as she represents fertility and birth. The hermit represents old age and the end of life.

Between 3 and 9 is 6. Which is the lovers in the major arcana.

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The union between mother earth and father sky

The lovers represents perfectly the union between mother earth and father sky. She is positioned on the left, representing in liner time the past, the birth, the beginning, and the number before 6. Father sky is positioned to the right representing the future, old age and the end. The trees behind them represent the tree of life, the kabbalah. with the serpent round the tree of knowledge for the woman. who also represents eve. The flames behind the man, representing Adam are 12 flames of passion. Interestingly 12 (flames) divided by 4 (red apples  = 3. and 4 divided by 12 = 0.333. The angle above gives form to the trinity. With the light above them symbolised by the sun they are being illuminated  They are becoming enlightened. With the angle above and the male to the bottom right and the female to the bottom left, they symbolise a trinity, of several forces coming together.

There is a reason why the lovers are represented by the number 6. Have you ever noticed the similarities between the word six and the word sex. In Latin ‘six’ was spelt as ‘sex’, and ‘sexus’ (sex) was seen as the ‘state of being either male or female, gender’ (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=sex&searchmode=none)

This is deliberate, sex and six are the lovers. This is the ultimate act of creation, to become like the gods to have sex and take part in creation. But the number six is a number that unites 9 and 3. And it unites them in such a way that the gut and lusty feelings of mother earth are combined with the intellect and wisdom of father sky by the heart, the lovers.

Love unities the mind and the body. We can see this in an illustration by Robert Fludd.

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Robert Fludd – Man’s Fundamental Duality

This picture is a symbolic representation of the three main faculties of the human being.

Man’s Fundamental Duality
‘A simple diagram shows how in man the divine fire diminishes as it proceeds downwards, while the intoxicating vapours of sensuality prevail. Man’s loftiest faculty, the higher mind (Mens) receives the direct rays from God. Below are the regions of intellect, the point of balance at the heart, and the elemental realm of the appetites whose base and nadir, for Fludd, is sexuality.’ (Joscelyn Godwin – Robert Fludd).

We can find Plato’s tripartite theory of the soul in this diagram and the symbolic meanings of the empress, the lovers and the hermit in Fludd’s diagram as well.

Plato’s theory of the soul has three parts.

eros

thumus

logos

The base and heavy feelings that we have, like hunger, pain, and lust is eros. This is represented by mother earth. Thumus is love, the feeling that is shared between two individuals  that in essence binds the universe together, it is the emotive feelings from the heart that unite the dualities of eros and logos. Logos being the wisdom, and the intellect.

If we give a location to these faculties we find that Logos belongs to the head, like the number 9 it is close to the divine number 10 but is a digit short. Thumus is the spirit the heart of the matter. It is located were the heart is. Below the heart we find the genitals and the stomach. This is where we find eros, the gut feelings of lust and hunger. It is where all our animal instincts are founded upon and acted from.

Three is a Magic Number

Peace symbol

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Peace symbol

There is a great irony behind the peace symbol. Its history is one of conflict and bloodshed. The modern use of this symbol was used by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. It was commissioned by Bertrand Russell and designed by Gerald Holtom. According to Wikipedia ( or inaccuratedia ) It consisted of the semaphore sign for ‘N’ and ‘D’. Its popularity caught on in the 1960s with the hippie movement and has remained popular ever since.

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Semaphore ‘N’ and ‘D’

The cross as we know it today is at least 2000 years old. It’s numerous names are the Teutonic cross, Nero’s cross and St Peters cross (the latter has been used to symbolise Satanism in recent years). The peace symbol is based on the broken arms of a crucifix. when a fire destroyed Rome in 64 AD, (the official account of this can be found in Tacitus’s The Annals of Imperial Rome). At the time there was speculation that Nero caused the fire, which lead Nero to blame the Christians as the scapegoat for the fire. Nero used the peace symbol on his coins, with a eagle. The result of this persecution lead to many Christians being tortured, I suspect mainly with crucifixion.

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Nero’s cross on his coin

It is interesting to note that the Pythagorean’s used the reverse of this symbol as a sign of life. It has also been used as a Teutonic rune to mean death. The death rune can be seen to mirror that of the life rune. The life rune looking like that of a tree branching out. While the death rune is like the roots of a tree with no branches. This could be interpreted as the dualities between life and death, death the underworld where the roots of the tree of life (kabbalha) are kept.

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Kabbalah tree of life

Perhaps this is a combination of heaven (father sky) and the underworld (mother earth). And perhaps humanity is the bridge between these two worlds, as this is also often protrayed in symbolic forms of the kabbalah.

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Humanity – the bridge between heaven and the underworld

The teutonic runes of life and death make sense as a symbol of a tree when we take into account Yggdrasil, the world tree in Norse mythology. ‘This ash tree’s trunk reached up to the heavens, and its boughs spread out over all the countries of the Earth. Its roots reached down into the Underworld’ (http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/ash.html).

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Yggdrasil – the branches of heaven, the roots of the underworld

In this light we are able to understand the symbolic significance of trees used to depict life and death in runes, but more importantly we can understand why the Peace symbol is one that has a history linked with death.

Triangle symbolism – an interpretation

The triangle is a particularly interesting symbol, not only does it play an important role in occult symbolism it has several layers of meaning that are hidden within it.

The equilateral triangle has been used to symbolise the four elements and in another sense the four suits in the tarot. The triangles with their points facing up are masculine and the triangles with the points facing down are feminine.

the four elements

In the above picture we see that air and fire are pointing up while earth and water and pointing down. The reason for this is that earth and water are earthbound. While fire and air are above the surface of the earth. The triangles for air and fire point to the sky, father sky, while earth and water triangles are pointing to the ground, mother earth. In John Marco Allegro’s The end of the road, he describes why we have father sky and mother earth and not mother sky and father earth. The reason being that the ancients saw the spermatozoa (sperm) in the form of rain that impregnated the earth who would bear the fruits that had been seeded from the sky. From this perspective we can understand why the triangles point as they do.

An incomplete triangle has only three sides, we get the equation of 2 divided by 3 = 0.666…

This is also called a chevron.

chevron

This could symbolise an incomplete initiation to a certain order, or most likely a mortal. As the  trinity of the three sided equilateral triangle symbolises perfection, as it is believed to be the first geometrical shape created by God. It is also a powerful number as it can be used in rhetoric  three examples are given, three has been widely thought to be a magical number.

Now let us apply this knowledge to the set square and compass symbol of freemasonry.

set square and compass

To analyse symbols within logos and architecture one must look for the simple shapes and lines that are within a symbol. If we look above we see two chevrons over each other. One masculine and one feminine  There is a G placed in between them. There is funnily enough three main reasons what the G stands for, For the layman – Geometry, for the initiated – God, and for the select few – Generative. Simply put sex, as this is the ultimate act of creation, the male and female overlapping is a symbol of sex. Interestingly enough we can apply this knowledge of triangle symbolism to gain a hidden understanding of what is meant.

female on top of female

Once you begin to see logos in this light it makes things very interesting. For example the Scientology logo.

male in male

This appears to have some homosexual implications. Perhaps I overstepped my boundaries in interpreting these logos, but I can’t understand why they would use these triangles in the way they do.

The star of David is another interesting symbol.

Star of David, Hexagram, seal of solomon

It has 6 triangles around a hexagon. Each triangle has 3 angles each of 60 degrees.

An equatorial triangle has three angles,

triangle equilateral

triangle equilateral

60, 60, and 60.

The angles within the hexagon are 120, if you fold each triangle into the hexagon you will find they fit perfectly.

hexagon with six angles, each 120 degrees

each triangle of the hexagram fits in perfectly into the hexagon

The sacred space inside the 6 triangles  is the seventh space. This is highly significant as 7 means divinity. Seven is seen throughout the bible as a number of completeness  which humans are short of divinity by a single digit. Notice that the hexagram has three triangles pointing up with three pointing down. I can only speculate but I imagine this has something to do with a ritual of some kind  that is only symbolised through the use of the hexagram. Which is made of two larger triangles  male and female in the act of creation, that creation being the seventh space. The hexagon which as it is at the centre of all of the space means that during the act of sex we take part in the act of creation, we become like gods.

References

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread208687/pg1

Medieval Number Symbolism by Vincent Foster Hopper

The End of the Road by John M. Allegro

Recomended sites

http://www.whale.to/b/symbols_h.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqNSpstBA3I

http://thefreemanperspective.blogspot.co.uk/2008/11/freeman-perspective.html

How to Make a Poor Man’s Stove

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poor man’s stove

As this is my first time making this kind of stove, the steps I provide for building one are only a ruff and ready guide. with practice you will find short-cuts and additional knowledge that will improve your stoves, this is just a quick guide to show you how easy and cheap it is to do.

You will need:

1 small can (a tuna can will work fine)

a volume of wax that will fill the small can (left overs from used candles are perfect)

a few strips of corrugated cardboard

an old bowl and a pan

a stove

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wax, corrugated cardboard and a small can

1. Clean the small can and remove the lid, next cut some slices of cardboard that will be able to fit inside the can. The height of the can can be measured against the cardboard and then cut out a strip of that width of cardboard.

2. Next roll up the strips of cardboard into a spiral, and pack them densely into your can.

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tightly packed cardboard in a small can

3. After packing the can as tightly as possible, break up your wax into small pieces and remove any candle wicks.

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break up your wax

4. place your wax in a small bowl, this bowl is going to get messy so make sure its one that your not to fond of. Boil a cup of water in a pan, keep the water on a low simmer and place your bowl of wax in the water, so that it is floating on top of the water, not in it! Paraffin is flammable, so do not microwave it!

5. Once all your wax has melted, carefully, and I mean carefully lift with bowl out of the pan of water and pour it into the can. Wear thick gloves or use a towel to do this, you do not want to get wax on you as it will burn. Have the tin nearby by so you have as little distance to spill it as possible. Then leave the wax to set.

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poor man’s stove

Now you have your very own poor man’s stove. What is brilliant about this stove is that it can be made entirely out of waste products, and works well. This would make a great substitute for a gas stove for camping.

How to make Dandelion root coffee

Taraxacum Officiale, The Common Dandelion

 

You would be surprised to find out how delicious some of your garden weeds taste, dandelion root coffee is no exception. It is full of Vitamin A, B, C and D, not to mention it has rich amounts of zinc, iron and potassium.

Ingredient: A large handful of dandelion roots

equipment needed:

chopping board

sharp knife

pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius

optional – food processor and pestle and mortar

1. First dig up 20 or so large dandelion plants, if you are wanting to make a jar full you will need to pick 40 + roots. This may seem like a lot of bother, but if you have a garden you can do your weeding by collecting the dandelion roots.

2. Wash the roots thoroughly, don’t worry if you can’t get off all the dirt, as long as you have got the majority of it off so it wont taste like muck.

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washed dandelion root

3. Chop the root into small chunks.

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chopping dandelion roots

4. Put the roots in a food processor until it is is finely chopped, alternatively you can chop it up finely yourself, this would take longer.

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finely chopped dandelion root

5. Scoop out the chopped roots and scatter as best you can on a tray. And place in a pre heated oven set at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes  after 15 minutes shake tray to make sure all parts of the roots are evenly being roasted.

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dandelion root scattered on baking tray

6. After the roots have been roasted you can either place them in a jar and use them as they are, or ground them up using a pestle and mortar.