How do they speak to us?

How do they speak to us?

Symbols HOW DO THEY SPEAK TO US? Next THREE TYPES OF SYMBOLS Universal symbols Iconic symbols Metaphoric symbols All symbols speak to human beings on a level beyond words. When we encounter a symbol, we understand the meaning. And, once we understand some mechanics of symbols, we can gain a deeper understanding of how they Next impact us.

UNIVERSAL SYMBOLS Universal symbols are symbols that have the same meaning to all people in the world, in all times, even the past. These are symbols that are understood by humans on a conscious, or subconscious, level due to their inherent relativity to the human experience of life. What do you think is the meaning of this universal symbol, the mountain? Next Photo credit: MOUNTAINWHAT CAN IT MEAN? CLICK THE APPROPRIATE BOX. Struggle? Accomplishing a goal? Getting closer to the Sacred?

All of the above? credit: YES! YOU ROCK!...GET IT? A mountain can represent several different aspects relating to humanity. The important idea to keep in mind is that this is true for all people of all times and all ages. A mountain is a universal symbol of struggle, as it is difficult work climbing a mountain. It also serves as a symbol of accomplishing a goal as reaching the top of a mountain is quite an accomplishment. Also, a mountain serves as a symbol of a sacred place as we as humans associate the mountain as a place closer to God, the Divine, or the Sacred World. In Greek mythology, the gods even lived on Mt. Olympus. When a mountain appears in a myth, painting or as part of a metaphor in a piece of literature, you can think of how the mountain contributes to the communication of one of these circumstances and how it relates to what the author is attempting to convey to the audience.

Writings, myths and visual images incorporating mountains appeal to the deeper levels of human consciousness, whether a person was born in 6,000 B.C.E, or 1995 C.E. All people will interpret this symbol in the same manner. Photo credit: Next WATER IS ANOTHER UNIVERSAL SYMBOL Think about water. It is essential for life. Humanity could not survive without it. We are water, and we cannot remain in our current form if we dont continually take in water. How do we use water, symbolically? To clean our souls? To clean our bodies? To flood the world? When you have visited all the links,

learn about iconic symbols. YESWE LIKE CLEAN SOULS! We use water in religious ceremonies in hopes of cleaning the dirt, sin or impurities from the spiritual part of ourselves. All people use water to clean themselves, or other objects, so we know that water serves as a mechanism to cleanse. Removing soil restores our bodies, or an object, to their natural, untainted glory. What wonders a hot shower can do for the mind, not just the body. Therefore, we use water in religious ceremonies to clean our souls. When we perform an act in the physical sense, we can then transform that act to the less tangible parts of us, like our spirit, removing the impurities there as well. The water ceremonies are an outward action taken to cleanse our inward selves.

Again, keep in mind that water used in this way is symbolic, universally, meaning this symbol can be understood by any person in the past, present and futureat any place on the planet. Back to links Photo credit: WELL, YES, BUT. We do use water to clean our bodies, Im glad to say, because refraining from doing so would be less than pleasant, especially in a crowded venue. However, having a shower in the morning doesnt really involve any symbolism, generally. In religious ceremonies, such as Christian baptism, water is used symbolically to clean deeper than the skin. These ceremonial acts attempt to cleanse souls; restoring them to the pure state of sinlessness. Back to links HUMANITY DIDNT, BUT GOD DID People didnt flood the world, but there are many religious myths that relate that God, or the Divine, did flood the world

because humanity was not living up to its potential. God cleansed the world of its impurities. You may be familiar with the myth of Noah and the Ark , present in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in which God wiped out all of creation, with the exception of Noah and his family, and the animals, of course, because creation became impure. God cleaned the planet of the impurities, using water, in order to start fresh. A myth you may not be familiar with is a Babylonian myth of Gilgamesh in which the hero of the story, Gilgamesh, encounters the only man to survive the great flood, whose name is Utnapishtim. In this myth, you can read a very similar story to that of Noah and the Ark. The gods produced rain that fell to the planet creating a great flood that cleansed the Earth of the impure human race. Back to links Image credit: ICONIC SYMBOLS Iconic symbols are those which provide information in a picture, or icon, in order to convey a complex message to the audience, in a single glance. Universal symbols are often incorporated into iconic symbols as this is a way to communicate consciously, or subconsciously, on a human to human level.

What are the names of the iconic religious symbols below? From what religions did they originate? Click the image to reveal if you are correct. When finished viewing all the links, /03/stellaris_yin_yang.jpg _Im1Ni8c/TRh9Sf1vbNI/ AAAAAAAACWU/6Rh2UOm KXaY/s1600/Christian-CrossBackground-Wallpaper.jpg Qpuv5A/TIQLm22jY_I/ AAAAAAAAAKw/liefn-T4Jp0/s 400/6a00d83451cfe0 69e200e551743d8b8833-800wi.jpg learn about

metaphoric symbols. /05aug/00157/images/hinduswastika.jpg YIN & YANG Balance & Harmony The yinyang is a symbol of the universe as a single, whole entity. The universe consists of two opposites: yin and yang. The dark half of the symbol is yin while the light half is yang. Yin = dark, cold, female, wet and night. Yin is also the sole aspect of the Earth and moon. The Earth and moon contain no yang. Yang = light, heat, male, dry and day. Heaven and the sun are entities which possess only yang without yin.

With the exception of the Earth, moon, Heaven and the sun, all objects in the universe are comprised of both yin and yang. This is indicated in the symbol with the use of the dots. There is a dot of yin in the yang and a dot of yang in the yin, meaning that even yin contains yang and yang contains yin. In terms of the whole universe, these dots symbolize that each object in the universe (which is whole) contains both yin and yang. Yin and yang are not competitive. Yin and yang together constitute balance and harmony. Together they complete the whole, which is the universe. An example of this follows: without the concept of light, there would be no concept of darkness and without darkness, there would be no concept of light. If only one existed, it wouldn't be labeled and its existence would probably go unnoticed as there would be nothing to which it could be compared. In contrast, if only darkness existed, something other than darkness would go unnoticed because the human mind could not even fathom its opposite. Therefore, the complete opposite concepts need one another to exist at all. This is called interdependence. Everything in the universe is interdependent. A portion of this material is taken from: Chinese Religions, by Christian Jochim: Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; 1986. Back to icon links

CHRISTIAN CROSS The cross is actually a pre-Christian symbol that was well known well before the birth of Christianity. The cross is representative of the intersection of two lines. The horizontal line represents humanity, while the vertical line represents God. The most significant area of the cross symbol is the area where the intersection of the two lines occurs. Thusly, the cross is a powerful symbol illustrating the coming together of God and humanity. Isnt that the point of all religion? Prior to Christianity, the cross was used to convey the idea that the quest of humanity in religion is to find the point at which a person can intersect with God. Back to icon links EVIL EYE The evil eye is a stare that is thought to have the power to cause misfortune, illness and even death. Many religions of the world have an amulet to protect a person against such a stare. This is the case with Islam, which has the Hand of Fatimah. We see similar amulets in Judaism and Buddhism.

The five fingers of the Hand of Fatimah are thought to represent the five pillars of Islam, the five important leaders of Islam after Prophet Muhammad, and the five daily prayers. The color blue is thought to have special properties for warding off evil. The eye in the middle of the hand can block the stare from a person sending the evil eye Back to icon links to another, keeping the owner of the hand safe and free of misfortune. Image credit: TpicKKf8FEI/AAAAAAAAAds/TkkzK4Pwz0s/s1600/ FATIMA-HAMSA_for-FB.jpg SWASTIKA The swastika is a symbol that has been used for centuries before it was adopted by the Nazis, who in a very short time, ruined its good name. The swastika has been used, arguably, for more than 10,000 years. The absolute origin of the symbol is not known, but it is a prominent symbol used in Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as traditional Native American religions. The symbol is a cross with 90 degree angled arms. It is thought to represent the universe and the turning of the universe.

The word, swastika, carries a connotation of goodness and good luck. It is often used as a charm to bring good fortune and keep away Back to icon links misfortune. It is theorized that the arms of the cross represent the seasons, or good health. Please view this video about Image credit: the swastika. I realize that near the end of the video, it is a little opinionated, but nothing that is really offensive. I found the video to be a nice general introduction as to how the swastika is used in religion, which is why I think it is valuable to view. Photo credit: /02038/swastika_2038895i.jpg METAPHORIC SYMBOLS Image credit: huwf.png You are a rock star! Life is a journey. The United States is a melting pot. That dude is a pig. Dont date a snake like that! My mother is a saint. These are metaphors. A metaphor is a statement that uses an object to help describe something beyond the object itself. Often the most significant aspects of life are difficult to explain using words, therefore, we need to create pictures with words that will help to make a point more poignantly. I bet you use metaphors often when you are speaking about all kinds of people, events, feelings and the like. What are your favorites? Lets look at some metaphors in the well-known myth of Adam and Eve. Well use the example from the Jewish text, Genesis 3, as our reference point. Please watch, Genesis 3 - The Twisted Story, which is an interesting You Tube video that retells the myth in a modern mannerjust to get you in the mood for metaphors. Next IS THAT TREE REALLY A TREEOR IS IT A METAPHOR? The Tree of Knowledge, as it is labeled in the book of Genesis, obviously, isnt an ordinary tree, right? It is a Tree of Knowledge. Already that is extraordinary. What kind of knowledge?...the

knowledge of good and evil. Hmmmmmm. Have you ever seen a tree stand as a symbol before, say, oh, I dont knowmaybe at an institution of higher learning, likeHFCC? The tree that serves as a symbol of our College is located on our campus. Many of you sit under it on the deck outside the Student Center. How can a tree serve as a metaphor of knowledge? How do the parts of a tree stand for something beyond themselves? Consider this and then click the tree parts below to compare your Fruit your understanding will be more refined conclusions to mine. Maybe than mine. Branche Once you have vie Roots s wed all the links, c lick here. Photo credit: The roots of a tree are what keeps it standing firm. Without the roots, a tree couldnt live because the roots collect nutrients and water from the

Earth to nourish the tree. How can this be translated in a Tree of Knowledge? What do the roots of the Tree of Knowledge collect? How do the substances that the roots collect help nourish a Tree of Knowledge? ROOTED IN LIFE Back to tree links The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil has roots that dig deep into the Earth and supply the tree with that which can be learned. The world consists of opposites: hot/cold; night/day; in/out; God/humanity; Heaven/Hell, and good/evil. In the case of the Genesis tree, we can say

that the roots supply the tree with knowledge about goodness and evil, and all the opposing forces, in the world. Image credit: Why does a tree need branches? The branches serve to expand the width of the tree. When the tree attains enough nutrients, it can grow long arms that reach out into the world. How can this be translated symbolically to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? BRANCH OUT! Back to tree links When the tree absorbs the

knowledge of the opposing forces within the world, because it is rooted in the Earth, it becomes bigger as the tree drinks in the essence of the planet. Once it consumes these forces or elements of the world, it grows bigger and bigger. The more of the Earth that it ingests, the more it can extend itself into the world by branching out. The branches then provide a space for the leaves, which can gather more nutrients from the Earth, feeding the tree more worldly nutrients. e credit: And they lived happily ever af ter IS AN APPLE REALLY AN APPLE? What can the fruit from the Tree

of Knowledge represent, other than fruit itself? What meaning can the fruit attribute to the story? The fruit is the produce from the tree. It is the product the tree produces as a result of its maturity and growth. Because the tree took in enough nutrients, it can produce something unique that can provide nutrients to those that consume it. In the case of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the fruit can be a symbol of something other than itself. The fruit can represent knowledge that can be understood by those that eat the fruit. Eating of an object in a story can be a symbol of internalizing it, or making it a part of ones general knowledge, as it is then digested by a person, or known. Photo credit:

p/LRG/24/2457/SSHKD00Z/art-print/gavin-hellierstained-glass-window-depicting-adam-and-eve-inthe-garden-of-eden-addis-ababa-ethiopia.jpg Before Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they didnt know about the opposite nature of the universe, but after eating it, they became like God and knew about the dual nature of the universe; that it contains good and evil, Heaven and Hell, nakedness and being clothed, etc. Prior to the eating of the fruit, they had no knowledge of such duality in the Back to tree links worldthey only knew Paradise. HOW DO SYMBOLS PROVIDE MEANING TO YOU? The End Om Image credit:

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