Symbols - An Experiment.

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posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 09:52 AM
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I wanted to make a thread about symbols and try to explain why they are so powerful and why they work so much better at conveying information than words.

We've all heard "A picture is worth a thousand words" and this is exactly how symbols work.

The reason for confusion and frustration when discussing symbols is that we try to figure out what a symbol "means". Symbolical meaning is different for each person.

Saying that a pentagram means "A" or a pyramid means "B" is incorrect. When you assign a literal meaning to a symbol you limit it.

So, symbols are not about what they 'mean', but rather what they 'do'. When a person undergoes a powerful personal experience that is associated at the time with a symbol, the next time they see they symbol it subconsciously arouses those initial experiences.

For a Christian who undergoes a transformative religious experience, a cross might have more meaning than the stories associated with it. However a cross might have no meaning for a non-Christian.

Here's what I mean. Take a look at this picture:





More than likely this picture doesn't stir a lot of meaning for most people. Someone could show this picture to an initiate and ascribe all sorts of 'meaning' to it, but likely the 'meaning' will not be, well, meaningful.



Now take a look at this picture:





Without even offering a word of explanation it's likely that this picture has the effect of transferring a massive amount of information and 'feeling' to a lot of us.


This is why symbols are powerful teachers. This is why they are very effective in mystery schools. If a candidate undergoes a profound spiritual experience while seeing a certain symbol then it's likely that symbol will recreate those feelings of transformation again.

In my opinion all our arguments about what this symbol means vs. what that symbol means is pointless.

The power of a symbol is not in what it means, but what it DOES.




posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 09:59 AM
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Part 2

Why do you suppose the second picture creates such a powerful impact for a lot of us? It's because those of us who watched this event happen, live or on tv, were likely experiencing a profound sense of anger, sadness, loss or other emotion.

Another symbol is a flag. Before 2001 I considered myself patriotic, but honestly from about 1976 onward I felt the red, white and blue, along with the stars and stripes, were a little gaudy. Sure I was proud but the flag was just about something that happened long ago.

Since that day 11 years ago, though, I cannot see a flag or hear the national anthem (a cheesy flowery poem set to an English drinking song) without experiencing a flood of emotion and usually tears. They stir feelings of patriotism in me (patriotism to our ideals, not necessarily our present condition), along with sadness and pride.

Symbols are passive only until the observer associates them with experience. Then they are transformative.

Music is the same way, but that's for a different post.



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:15 AM
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reply to post by emsed1
 


Great post. Although, I think you just gave all the Mason haters even more ammunition to attack our symbolism with! Now it will be brainwashing.


Anyhow, suppose you had taken that first picture with no meaning, and then told us a story about the building that was iconic? All of a sudden that mundane brick building would have been much more meaningful. In fact, when I saw it, it reminded me of some buildings in my hometown that still have bullet holes from a Bonnie and Clyde shootout, and I got those nostalgic feelings for home, and I fully expected your story to head in that direction. I've been so over-exposed to the tower footage, that I got little to no reaction from that photo. So, for me, your first photo had the hidden symbolic meaning, not the latter.

Along those same lines, What is art? A simple painting in a cheap frame sells for $2 at a yard sale, and the penciled in words of "Picasso" don't have any meaning at the time, until the FBI finds out it is an Original! Now, the same simple painting and cheap frame is worth 1 million times more than it was just a few moments ago.

Plus, in some teachings, the message cannot be spoon-fed. Maybe it has to be veiled in symbolism and allegory, because to unveil it would cheapen it. We don't want the garage sale price on our lessons, we want the Picasso price on our lessons. We want them to be appreciated and remembered because they were "discovered" not because they were delivered.



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:21 AM
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Good Topic OP

Everything that exists is a symbol of what it is - yet the meaning of what it is is open to personal interpretation

Say a humble Spring flower such as a daisy is a daisy - Yet what we understand of daisy has many aspects.

Daisy = Spring
Daisy = Woman known by that name
Daisy = The botanical knowledge of it
Daisy = Symbol of life - It starts as a seed and grows roots in the Earth and is fed and watered by nature.
Growing a stem that breaks into the dimension of air - seeking the Sun etc

So everything is a symbol of what it is

But say I form a Daisy cult that practices evil intent or good intent by stealth in the public arena.
My cults symbol is the daisy and I can teach my followers whatever I wish and twist truth and they would recognize my doctrine in the symbol of a Daisy.
So symbols can be representative of cults or groups such as Yours Op for example- It is Masonic and is interpreted in different ways.

My avatar is of Thoth the scribe yet can be interpreted in many ways and is

I find it ironic that say the symbol of Isis is seen as evil and Satanic when my interpretation is quite the opposite

edit on 16-4-2012 by artistpoet because: typo



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:38 AM
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watch the De Vinci codes!



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:40 AM
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Dont forget to include the non-visible symbols like smell, sound, and touch.

The brain uses symbols as an index to an event and can recall the event when the symbol is recognized.

How the brain actually does this is still unknown...though I wish we could decode the brain and understand it fully.

This indexing system is very powerful, and can generate intense recall of specific events which often times are suppressed until recalled.

Though, from the research that I have done on this issue, not everyone is able to recall an event based on smell, and the intensity of the recall also varies from person to person.



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:41 AM
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Originally posted by gasc54
watch the De Vinci codes!

Why?
2



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:55 AM
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look all the codes in paintings of old masters DE vinci Poussin



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:57 AM
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Originally posted by phantomjack
Dont forget to include the non-visible symbols like smell, sound, and touch.

The brain uses symbols as an index to an event and can recall the event when the symbol is recognized.

How the brain actually does this is still unknown...though I wish we could decode the brain and understand it fully.

This indexing system is very powerful, and can generate intense recall of specific events which often times are suppressed until recalled.

Though, from the research that I have done on this issue, not everyone is able to recall an event based on smell, and the intensity of the recall also varies from person to person.


The brain is claimed to make thoughts the counter claim is that it receives thought.
Science has found ways to manipulate/Interfere with the brain or observe the networking of electrical signals in the brain. Yet can not explain what creates the impulses or where they originate from.
In the same way Scientists can not explain what first caused the Universe to come into being
The Universe exists and we from our worms eye view of reality can study it but to interfere in it is to go against whatever created it
Human Beings are so curious they build ships to cross oceans of both Earth and Space
Create gods in their own image
Yet the true mystery of life eludes all - Yes we can say and believe it is the work of master architect or builder at work or master artist's creation or whatever
Yes we can say it is many things as it truly is yet what we say stems from ou thoughts and thought is the most elusive of things to study

edit on 16-4-2012 by artistpoet because: typo
edit on 16-4-2012 by artistpoet because: typo



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:57 AM
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reply to post by phantomjack
 


Good point.

To me, smell is the most powerful for recalling memories.



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 11:01 AM
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Originally posted by gasc54
look all the codes in paintings of old masters DE vinci Poussin


Have done
Da Vinci the artist and inventor was saying something yes - He knew of mystery schools and the knowledge there in he intuitively knew.



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 11:05 AM
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I'm missing the point of the thread.

What does the first picture got to do with symbolism, and how is it related to the second picture of the WTC .. what have either of them got to do with anything you describe. People feel anger or sadness or whatever when looking at the burning WTC because they re-live an event in history, not because it's a symbol.

Am I missing the Gorilla in the living room here ?



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 11:11 AM
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reply to post by H1ght3chHippie
 


The twin towers will be the most powerful symbol in American history for the next century or more.

When i see the two towers I immediately remember where I was when it happened. I immediately remember the fear and the anxiousness of watching the whole thing unfold on live tv.

All of those emotional responses are triggered by nothing more than the visual image of the two towers, on fire or not on fire. No words, smells, audible noises of any kind, no touch...... Just the sight of it.

That is the power of a symbol. That is why it can be used so efctively to communicate.

In every country that has roads and cars, red means stop, and green means go. A universal symbol.

Awesome thread emsed! I think you illustrated the power of visual imagery well with your example.
edit on 16-4-2012 by W3RLIED2 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 11:14 AM
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Originally posted by H1ght3chHippie
I'm missing the point of the thread.

What does the first picture got to do with symbolism, and how is it related to the second picture of the WTC .. what have either of them got to do with anything you describe. People feel anger or sadness or whatever when looking at the burning WTC because they re-live an event in history, not because it's a symbol.

Am I missing the Gorilla in the living room here ?


No you are not missing the point - you are adding to it by saying how the pics make you feel
Yet to another the pic of say the world trade centre would conjure different feelings
Say to one who had lost a loved one then sadness
To one of the perpetrators of this crime against humanity it could conjure guilt remorse or a sense of achievment



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 11:23 AM
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Yes everything is a symbol seen in that way

Cars are symbols of status or can be

White Rolls Royce
White Transit Van



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 11:43 AM
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reply to post by W3RLIED2
 


But looking at pictures of the towers will, in future generations that have not witnessed the event personally but only know it from movies, never create the same reaction as it does in our generation.

Look at pictures of World War I or II, for the younger generations it's just looking at a distance time without any relation to themselves, yet when these events took place they were deemed the most important events that would shape history for ever.

You overestimate humanities consciousness for the own history, things are forgotten after a couple generations again.

When you break down what a symbol actually is and what it does, you will come to understand that it is better described as an optical stimulus. You cab train animals and people alike to react to certain stimuli in a certain way e.g. reward a dog when it listens to you calling. So it's rather stimuli than symbols that cause reactions. Christs have been conditioned to associate a cross with parts of their religion, it's an optical stimulus. Gues you can call it symbol too though



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 11:48 AM
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reply to post by H1ght3chHippie
 


Your avatar naturally is a symbol. It has more meaning to you than it does to any one else. Only you understand why you picked it, yet it remains there for the rest of us, a symbol of your presence on this board.

Is it I who overestimate the capacity for human learning? Or is it you who underestimate us?



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 12:15 PM
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they're nothing more than photographs, people try to ascribe meaning to them imo...

there is symbolism in art but to me hardly a photograph... unless of course it is a picture of symbolism.


www.aero-news.net...
edit on 16-4-2012 by SisyphusRide because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 12:22 PM
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reply to post by H1ght3chHippie
 


I think you are right on the money.

So much discussion takes place in this forum about what all the symbols of Masonry or any other 'secret' society mean and I'm just trying to point out that it's not the symbol itself but what it stands for.

The fact that people have varying reactions to the two pictures is EXACTLY the effect I was going for.

The twin towers will have no inherent meaning for people who didn't live through it.

All too often we cry EVIL when talking about other symbols (primarily pictures) like pentagrams, the all-seeing eye etc.

Part of the power of esoteric tradition is that the symbols have remained the same for thousands of years. Language has changed. Society has changed. Values have changed. Religion has changed.

However an initiate into a modern esoteric tradition in the proper environment can experience the exact same effect of the symbol that an initiate in ancient Egypt felt.

The statement that different groups have 'secrets' they 'hide' is not accurate. The word 'secret' should be 'universal truths' and 'hide' should be 'unable to express'.

Which brings me to a word that is difficult to understand. Ineffable.

For centuries people have talked about ineffable words, like the Tetragrammaton, like they are powerful things that should never be spoken. The true mystery of ineffability, though, is that these things CANNOT be spoken by humans because no spoken or written human language can adequately explain them.

I think my whole point is that a picture, a symbol, a song, a smell, a taste or a sensation can have profound effects on a person to whom they are meaningful. Someone could use thousands of words to try and convey meaning to another person, but without experiential context they will fall short.

I just thought of a good example. My Grandma died in 1991. Last week at my office someone walked past with the same perfume she wore (Grandma was an Avon lady) and even though it's been 20 years I was hit with the powerful feeling of being back in her presence. That is the power of a symbol.



posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 12:27 PM
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reply to post by SisyphusRide
 


A picture is a symbol. I looked at that photo for five seconds and here is what it conveyed to me.

The word RUSH reminds me that time passes too fast. The sad people made me think of the illusion that when something beautiful is taken away (like the paintings or even a loved one) we feel emptiness.

There are three candles or sticks on the wall that remind me of the Trinity, or many other important things associated with three.

The archway reminds me that the arch is one of the most powerful physical tools to support weight, BUT only if there is a keystone at the top to lock it into place. The keystone to me in my journey is the Stone the builders rejected or Christ.

On a shallower level the arch reminds me of how I used to teach paramedic students to lift heavy patients safely by keeping their spinal column locked while moving with their legs, and using a skeleton to demonstrate how the vertebrae lock together in their natural position, but when bent over there is only weak muscle to support the load.

Yes - it is a symbol.





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