Posts Tagged ‘spiritual traditions’

Symbols for Body, Mind and Spirit

15 April 2017

body-mind-spirit sketch

I was going through all the files accumulating on my desktop today to sort them into where they are supposed to go in my file system, and I ran across a few that I had pulled together to make a post that I never got around to making.

I didn’t write it at the time because the idea I had didn’t lead anywhere. But I will proceed to write about the general idea anyway.

Did you know that there are sites you can go to on the internet that allow you to make a drawing and then save it? I hate computer drawing programs because they are almost all mouse-based and a mouse is really not a very fun thing to draw with. I’ve preferred a pen, preferably black ink, for many years now. And though sometimes brushes and colors are nice, too, the real appeal of digital drawing is that you don’t have to scan it in from paper after you draw it. The above sketch is pretty pathetic, don’t you think? But it illustrates the idea I had. Is a point radiating some lines a symbol for a body, and is a big circle a symbol for the mind or the spirit?

I couldn’t get a good answer to my question. We all know that the traditional “stick figure” has been used to represent a human being since cave man times. But the information I found did not suggest that any consistent symbology has ever been used for non-material concepts like “mind” or “spirit.” And lookups are filled with modern artistic renditions that have little relation to ancient history.

oriental circle character

The simple unclosed circle was developed in Japan to convey several overlapping Zen ideas concerning human consciousness, or the human essence. Though a certain cyclic meaning is conveyed, the fact that the circle is open suggests that these cycles could be escaped from.

sketch of traditional depiction of buddha

However, as this modern sketch of a traditional depiction of the Buddha indicates, a circle placed behind the head in paintings or statuary has a special significance that is shared widely across the planet. This symbol is used both in the West and in the East to indicate a “holy” being.

It is of esoteric significance, perhaps, that if circles or balls of energy are perceived that seem to be alive, this would be a mental manifestation of the being creating it, as the being itself is entirely immaterial. Thus, the circle or sphere of light, according to esoteric findings as well as actual reported observations, is a very valid symbol for the being and its mind together, body absent or elsewhere, as this is how they actually tend to appear.

The symbol of rays radiating from a center has no similar homogeneous meaning that I could find. As a cross or “X” it is a letter and/or number in several languages and symbol systems. To include a head and four appendages you have to go to the five-pointed star or pentagram, which is rare or missing as a normal writing symbol but otherwise used abundantly in heraldry and design. The pentagram is so easy to draw, so regular, and there are so many things in life that come in fives, that it has been known to symbolize all sorts of things, including the body, or the body as a manifestation of a divine intention.

sketch representaing a turtle or body

I will end with another of my sketches, as it is more colorful than the more carefully-drawn symbols I could find. It was meant to imitate a Native American symbol I found of a turtle, so it has a little tail. However, unlike the stylized turtle I found, it has all five digits drawn in, indicating the fractal or repetitive nature of so many biological designs.

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Isis is an Egyptian goddess

22 June 2016

All the illustrations here are listed as Public Domain except perhaps the last one.

Isis nursing Horus sketch

Sketch of a statue portraying Isis nursing Horus.

In lecture 49 of the Philadelphia Doctorate Course (15 Dec 1952) LRH mentions that the Madonna and Child Christian icon was lifted from the earlier Egyptian icon of Isis and Horus.

The observation seemed pertinent, as the “other Isis” has been getting a lot of attention recently.

Indeed, in ancient times Egypt and Rome became closely linked, and so a cultural exchange took place between Africa and Europe which lives on in disguised forms to this day.

According to Egyptologists, Isis was a wife of Osiris, who resurrected him after he was killed by a rival in order to have sex with him which produced the baby Horus.

madonna nursing

Amazing old painting by an unknown artist. Note all the symbolic energy radiating off the pair.

All these personages were quite well-known in their contemporary cultures.

Horus Osiris, Isis

Horus with his avian head, Osiris and Isis.


The Africa-Persia-India-Europe connection deserves more attention (by someone anyway), but this little post is only to note its existence.

Most ancient traditions involve a “pantheon” of “gods.” It is not clear that the original tellers of these stories considered all these personalities gods the way we think of them today. But certainly this collection of personalities served as the basis for numerous stories in which the tellers and the listeners could see aspects of themselves.

And so the Yoruba of Nigeria (so many of them taken as slaves to the Americas) had their own group of personalities of which stories were told. And many students of “comparative religion” have noted similarities among these pantheons, both in terms of names and relationships, and in terms of their stories.

yoruba river godess Oshun

Oshun as depicted on a mask.


As Osiris was a major personality in Egyptian stories, so Oshun was a major figure in Yoruba stories, except Oshun was a woman.

The Yoruba beliefs, practices and stories came to Brazil, where they merged with those of other African cultures, as well as Catholic Christianity, to produce what most now call Candomblé, a Brazilian mixture of religious and spiritual traditions.

In this last illustration, a little girl gets the great honor of playing Oshun in a ceremony, wearing the traditional yellow dress, and holding a fan or mirror. The beads over her face are probably there to emphasize that she is playing a part in a story about someone else.

girl playing Oshun

Girl playing Oshun in Candomblé ceremony.