The Dove: a symbol of peace or paganism?

The dove in Christianity is often thought to symbolise hope and peace.

‘And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluck off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.’ Genesis 8:11

As in Genesis, when Noah sends a dove to search for land, when it returns with an olive leaf it has a deep symbolic meaning attached to it. The dove is believed to symbolise a hope of a promised land, but it could easily symbolise catastrophe and death by the flood. That in essence baptises the world, riding it of its sins. The olive leaf in the doves beak is symbolic of the riches of ancient civilisation. Today we don’t think much of olives as a sign of divine prosperity but to the Ancient Greeks it was ambrosia, the food of the gods. With it one could extract olive oil to light lamps, to cook with, and importantly to eat. It also has numerous medical benefits. At one time if someone cut down a olive tree in ancient Greece they would be sentenced to death, hence the valuable importance of this amazing plant. They named the home of their gods Mount Olympus, which means mountain of olives. And their Olympic games were the champion athletes would be crowned with laurel from an olive branch.

Athlete being awarded olive laurels as a reward

The dove brings back a sign of divine prosperity to Noah, but  they also represent the holy spirit. As in so many passages in the bible of doves descending. Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32 and Mathew 3:16. The dove is symbolic of the descent of the holy spirit and has close connections with mother goddesses throughout ancient mythology.

Ishtar – Goddess of war, death and love

Ishtar the Mesopotamian goddess of war, death and love was constantly followed by a set of doves. Ishtar in essence became a template for other mother goddesses, such as Venus, Aphrodite and Fortuna, who were all often depicted with a dove. The Mother Mary is no exception to this, as the holy spirit, is Christianity’s way of personifying the mother earth goddess without being explicit. Hence why doves can be seen with Mary, especially during the Annunciation, were Mary is being told about her pregnancy.  As a result turtle doves, the white feathers symbolise purity as white was considered to be a divine colour of unobtainable perfection.

The Annunciation

The Bible not only contains passages of descending doves and olive leafs, it contains bloody sacrifices. Leviticus 1:14, 14:30 and Luke 2:24. The sacrifice has to be a burnt offering, and it must be aflame upon the alter. Who says the Bible isn’t pagan? The importance of these passages is that the burnt offering must be set alight. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off its head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be drained out on the side of the altar.

This is why a dove is depicted with flames or with a burning light. Fire represents the holy spirit, much like the burning bush. For more interesting on the ritual go here http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/D/DOVE/. For a Christian website its surprising informed.

The dove being also a common symbol used to depict freedom, and a caged dove imprisonment. This is a common theme in films and can be seen in Burton’s Sleepy hollow. The caged bird represents determinism, while the free bird represents free will, the two diametrically opposed philosophies. Fate verses free will. Interestingly enough doves were considered wild birds and were only caged as pets and more commonly caged for sacrificial use. The dove being symbolic of the spirit.

The fiery spirit of the dove may have allusions to the phoenix, a bird born out of flames once it has perished to ash, symbolising rebirth and the immortality of spirit.

T. S. Elliot depicts the doves dynamic symbolism in this short poem. Here I will leave you to ponder what the dove means to you.

“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”

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.

 

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