I once gave a talk about interpreting ancient symbolism to the American International Women’s Club in Naples, Italy. As the talk was held on 14th February, I thought it was appropriate to tackle the theme of love. My research led me to some interesting discoveries.
Love is a very powerful emotion. The heart even has a mind of its own. Yet there is a significant lack of love in our society, towards each other, and with ourselves. Despite worldwide connectivity, mankind is becoming more distanced from one another, more judgemental, hostile and irrational.
Wars and religion aside, you only need to note how comments posted to online forums typically spiral into antagonistic and abusive insults. Society is accustomed to judging people we have never met. Communities are becoming divided and some people want to fight on a Saturday night just to add some excitement to their life.
Ancient scriptures say love is the ultimate emotion and it is difficult to agree with that. Do you know a better feeling than love? So why is so much love missing from our world? The simple truth is because the true essence of humanity is not being promoted by the authorities and into public consciousness. Love has been systematically removed from society.
Masaru Emoto Rice Experiment
Before we get into ancient symbolism, I want to demonstrate my point with science. An experiment performed by Japanese researcher and writer, Masaru Emoto determined positive and negative energy can have a resounding effect on living organisms.
Dr. Emoto put cooked rice into three separate jars. Every day he said “thank you” to one jar, “you’re an idiot” to the second, and the third jar he completely ignored. The rice in the jar that received thanks remained healthy whilst the two other jars rotted. The jar which was ignored decayed the most.
The experiment spurred blog owners and YouTube subscribers to conduct their own tests, ordinary people in their own homes. Some used love and hate or I don’t like. The results are intriguing.
The rice in the jar that receives thanks stays white, whilst the two other jars rot and decay. The jar that is ignored decays the most.
Emoto points out that the same results occur in humans. When you direct insults and other negative energies towards people or ignore them, they not only feel bad inside, their insides actually rot. After all, the body is predominantly water.
Furthermore, the brain triggers toxic chemicals which can lead to illness. Depression and anxiety, types of mental illness, are particularly prevalent in today’s society. A contributing factor is a lack of feeling accepted or loved. When a person receives positive comments they experience love-based emotions, such as pride and confidence and will typically flourish. I think we can all relate to that, right?
A Lack of Love
The heart is a symbol commonly used to represent and express love in modern times. It was no different aeons ago, but the understanding of why we need to be in control of our emotions has been kept from public knowledge!
The ancients knew the heart was the source of all emotions. They were also familiar with duality; nothing can exist without a polar opposite. The polar opposite of love is fear. Every other emotion stems from these two roots.
Therefore it is important that we learn to love, starting with the Self, because with love you have the power to flourish and make a better life yourself. And this is the key point in this talk: You, the Self. Only you can choose to love and make people feel accepted. All good things are born out of love. All negativity comes from fear.
A lack of love is what is wrong with today’s world. Politicians and the media stoke fear. Western religions inform people to look on the outside rather than the inside. Eastern religions teach people to throw away thoughts. Muslims blow themselves up in the name of Allah. People of faith all over the world believe “God” loves them and will protect them. Yet church-goers support a regime that promotes fear.
Deuteronomy 6:5-6 says: “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
The Roman Catholic Church also says the sacred heart is used as a reminder that “Jesus loved us all with a human heart.”
Of course, he did! Jesus was human and his teachings show us how to be human by discovering our true nature. The corruption and scandals in the history of the church is not the true behaviour of humans. There is a bitter irony that people of faith seem to willing to forgive and forget. Or just ignore.
In the image to the right, we see Jesus pointing to his heart as if to say, “Love is in my heart.” The church backs this up by telling followers to “feel the love of Jesus.” Does the Catholic Church also tell followers they need to love themselves, the world and everything in it?
If they do, the message is not getting across. Capitalism in western society steers us towards acts of emotional gratitude. We search for happiness on the outside rather than looking for it within.
We are being bred as consumers with a desire for material things. This is not just a problem in capitalist countries, but all over the world. And all the major corporations use ancient esoteric symbolism to manipulate your thoughts and actions.
Popular advice within the internet psychology groups is that learning to love yourself is better than relying on others to show you love. Relationships don’t always teach you how to love. But they cause you to feel pain.
Yet there is a social stigma ingrained in the masses that consider loving yourself is narcissistic.
The sacred heart is actually a reminder for us to use our hearts and be in tune with our emotions. The heart is where you feel love, it should also be where you carry love.
Emotions are developed through experiences; not only what happens to you directly, but also the stories you read in newspapers and on the TV news. Have you noticed how it is always bad news? Whilst the world moves at such a frantic pace, it is easy for people to focus on the negative rather than the positive.
Whilstever the mainstream media, governments and dogmatic institutions impress negative thoughts onto your mind, it becomes habitual for people to have negative thoughts and emotions. In turn, this can have a negative effect on things you want to manifest in your life. It affects the quality of your relationships and your overall well-being.
In tandem with your mind, your heart is the vehicle that drives your life, and your emotions are the passengers you carry in your mind and body. It’s up to you which passengers you want to carry – love-based passengers, or fear-based.
The Sacred Heart
The sacred heart of Christianity is represented in a several ways and the representation in the Santuario di San Gaetano underneath the Basilica San Paolo di Maggiore in Naples, expresses its true meaning.
Note the heart is disembodied. There is no imaginary personification the heart is attached to distract the viewer from relating the image to their heart. But it is the other symbolism in this picture that reveals the sacred hearts true meaning.
The wings are of a dove, which in Christianity represents the “Holy Spirit”. You probably already know the dove also represents peace which is relevant to its overall meaning. It also represents hope, joy and discovery which are often forgotten.
If you think of the story of Noah, it was the dove that returned with an olive branch indicating dry land was near. Whilst the dove was gone, the passengers on the Ark would have had hope in their hearts. When the dove returned with its discovery, Noah and his family experienced joy and found peace in their hearts. All these attributes are relevant to manifesting what you desire in life.
In the ancient world, the dove represented the Divine Mother. The church won’t tell you this, but this entire image represents the Mother Goddess, the Virgin Mary as she is known in Christianity. The symbol of the sacred heart has nothing to do with the love of Jesus, it is the female principle in the law of manifestation.
The cross you see in the image above is the Rosicrucian Cross which is used by the Rose and Cross Order, thought to be the oldest mystic fraternity in the world. To this society of secrets, the rose represents the unfolding of consciousness. In other words, understanding.
Emotion helps you understand you inner-self.
This depiction of the sacred heart taken in the Chiesa di Apostoli in Napoli is perhaps the most recognised version of the sacred heart – wrapped in thorns. But why thorns? The idea of thorns stabbing into your heart is painful, and when you blow the image up in your mind’es eye it is visually disturbing.
We are told of course, the thorns represent the crown thrust upon the head of Jesus before being nailed to the cross. One meaning of these thorns is that sometimes you have to make sacrifices in your life – even if it means giving up something you love – typically an addiction.
You may have had a past relationship with someone you cared for, or a secure job with a promising career, but ultimately knew it was not the future you wanted. At the time, the relationship was difficult to give up. But in doing so you moved on to better things in your life.
Sometimes these are the type of sacrifices we have to make. To bring in the new, you have to clear out the old. But there is subtle, esoteric meaning to the appearance of thorns in the sacred heart. The thorns represent the rose flower.
Roses and the Mother Goddess
The connection with love and roses was established thousands of years before Christianity. The ancient Egyptians often depicted the goddess Isis with the rose to represent love and beauty. Isis is the Mother Goddess of ancient Egypt. Roses are also associated with the Greek Goddes of love, Aphrodite. Except Aphrodite doesn’t only represent love. Her behaviour in Greek myth conveys the entire spectrum of emotion.
The Anatolian Goddess, Cybele, is also celebrated with roses. In Greek legend, Cybele is said to have created the red rose to compete with Aphrodite’s white rose when fighting over the love of Adonis.
Cybele was known as the Magna Mater, the Mother Goddess and was a precursor for the Minoan Rhea and the Greek Demeter. Essentially, they represent love and nurturing.
The western symbolism, the rose is the equivalent of the eastern lotus flower and represents a connection with higher consciousness. The shape of its petals is considered to be receptive vessels that pour divine consciousness into the soul. We evolve through expressing our heart’s desire – but only when it is guided by divine consciousness – our true nature.
The Sufi teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan say the rose, “the rose consists of many petals held together, so the person who attains to the unfoldment of the soul begins to show many different qualities. The qualities emit fragrance in the form of a spiritual personality.”
The most commonly used roses in esoteric symbolism are red and white. White roses represent purity of the heart whilst red relates to strong feelings. We can see the use of the red and white rose in tarot, an ancient practice that is rich in symbolism.
In the first card of the tarot deck, we see the Fool with a white rose. The Fool card represents the initiate embarking on a new adventure, a new cycle of life in which he needs to learn skills and knowledge. The white rose represents the purity and innocence of the heart as he sets off into the unknown. Note how he is about the walk off the edge of the cliff. The dog barks to warn him. Dog is “man’s best friend” – and an anagram of God. God is the divine consciousness that speaks to us through our heart.
The next card is the magician whom we find surrounded by red roses in an elevated position purporting to its association with the higher consciousness. This meaning of this card represents the next progressive step in the initiate’s life cycle and augurs the period whereby you learn new skills and behaviours.
The next two cards of the deck represent the female principle. The first is the High Priestess, goddess of the Underworld and represents inner understanding which we learn through our emotions – typically when we make mistakes – or as the church puts it “sin”. Note the crescent moon on her headdress. We see the crescent moon again later.
The fourth card of the tarot deck is the Empress wearing a dress adorned with roses. The Empress is the Mother Goddess, the divine female that provides love, nurturing and care. She represents Demeter from Greek mythology, the Mother Goddess. Demeter is the mother of Persephone who is represented by the High Priestess in tarot.
The female principle relates to emotion in the trinity of manifestation, The Empress being love and care, and The High Priestess representing inner-knowledge, an understanding learned through emotion.
The red roses on Demeter’s dress symbolise the balance of heart and express the promise of new beginnings. This is also why red roses have been used as symbols of death throughout history as they are associated with rebirth and resurrection.
In turn, resurrection is used as a reminder of life changes, the cycles we go through. As one ends, another starts. Given emotions have a major part to play in understanding, we need to use our hearts to move on to the next phase of life, otherwise, we continue to keep repeating the same cycles. Again we have the link between thorns and the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ.
Henry Ford, among others, said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you‘ll always get what you‘ve always got.”
The Triangle of Manifestation
Before we continue with symbolism, you need to understand how the universe works, or rather how to use energy. Hermetic principles documented in the Kybalion, an ancient manuscript, says that everything vibrates and manifests as matter. Scientists discovered the same principle in the 20th Century.
Quantum physicists now understand that matter is the manifestation of energy. Everything is energy from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the vastness of the cosmos. That means your thoughts, actions and emotions are also energy.
Psychologist and other arms of the medical profession also acknowledge that positive and negative attitudes can have significant results on personal wellbeing. They can certainly dictate whether you succeed or fail in something you do. When you are confident (from the root of love), you will perform better than when you are anxious (from the root of fear).
It would appear then that by changing your emotional and mental state you change the frequency of vibrations you receive, and that with positive energy you can achieve what you want in your life.
This principle has been theorised in popular consciousness as the laws of attraction, although it is not quite as simple or fantastical as books like The Secret want you to believe. Positive thinking alone will not get you very far. You also need to act – and that it what really brings things into manifestation.
But it is emotions that dictate the way in which you think and act?
In esoteric symbolism, this three-part principle is explained in the triangle of manifestation. This is why the three in hermetic principles is called the number of manifestation; to make something happen.
The triangle of manifestation is typified by three key elements, thoughts, emotions and actions. In esoteric symbolism, the triangle of manifestation is presented by using a trinity of Godheads such as Osiris, Isis and Horus or the Holy Trinity in Christianity – and that is where the idea becomes misleading.
To explain how the triangle of manifestation works, I will use the analogy of agriculture. You plant a seed – your thoughts – over time you nurture your crops – your desires – “you reap what you sow,” the outcome.
If you care for and nurture your crops, you will reap a good harvest. If you do not tend to them carefully or leave them to grow by themselves, your harvest will ruin! So to get anything done you have to do something and do it with care.
And this is how goals are performed. Your initial idea begins with a thought. In astrology, this is represented by Saturn at the top of the triangle. This is the onset of an idea the initiate intends to pursue. If you do not pursue it and put your thoughts into actions, nothing will come of the idea.
You have to dedicate time to put your ideas into action. If you go about this with love and care, you will put more positive energy into your actions and the results will be better.
In the astrological triangle, this is represented by Mercury as it requires intelligence gathering which includes acquiring new skills. The knowledge you need to acquire is typically life skills or physical skills you need to successfully attain your goal. We see this is the card of the Magician, who represents Hermes in Greek mythology, the source of wisdom and the “Messenger of the Gods.” Hermes is consciousness telling your body and mind how to perform.
This new skill you need to learn makes you act in a different way thus changing behavioural patterns you are ordinarily accustomed to. Thus a new cycle of life has begun.
The other element of manifestation is emotion and this is the most important element because how you feel about something dictates your thoughts and actions. In the astrological triangle, this aspect is represented by Venus, the goddess of love – and all other emotions. Venus is the equivalent of the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite.
The Catholic Church also pays lip service to the triangle of manifestation. I found this statue in the Duomo in Naples. It depicts the triangle of manifestation.
You can see in the image that one of the three women is holding a cup. In Tarot the cup relates to matters of the heart. Furthermore, the English word “cup” comes from the Latin word calyx, the name for the sepals that hold the petals of a flower.
The calyx of many flowers falls off, whereas other flowers have persistent calyx that remains even after the petals have withered and died.
One such flower is the rose and throughout history, the flower has been closely associated with cups and chalices. It is not uncommon to find patterns of open flowers on a chalice or carved into the form of a rose.
The woman at the back is holding a tool, which appears to be for agricultural purposes. Symbolically, this artistic mechanism creates the impression of the need for nurturing. In tarot, the wand represents work, a form of action and putting your energy into something you want to manifest. So the emotions and action are present in this statue.
When you look at the third woman, she is holding a small child, which as we shall see later represents the creation of the male and female principles. The woman’s left breast is bare indicating she is about to feed her baby – thus caring and nurturing from the heart (the heart is on the left side).
When you think of a mothers role from giving birth to raising a child, we see new cycles of life over and over again, and all the time the mother is learning and nurturing.
We experience similar cycles in understanding what our life is about, and we understand this more profoundly when we experience something on an emotional level.
So again we see the same female principles we find in The Empress and The High Priestess representing spiritual understanding through love and emotion. We also find another example of how the rose shares an association with love and the mother.
Male and Female Energy
I mentioned earlier that everything is energy and everything has a polar opposite. Energy has a negative and a positive which in astrology and alchemical symbolism are represented as triangles. An upright triangle in the male principle and the down-facing triangle is the female energy.
The upper-pointing triangles of Fire and Air, are male energies. Fire is associated with the sun, the vital energy of life, and in symbolism represents influence and authority. It is also the seed of life, the sperm. When we have a thought, neurons are said to “fire.” Sun symbolism, and thus fire, is used more than any other throughout ancient cultures. Without the power of the sun, there would be no life on earth.
Air relates to the mind, the ability to think analytically and logically. In psychological terms, the male elements are the left side of the brain, where ideas are born and processed.
In religions, the male godhead is often symbolised as the Sun. So too the creation which again represents the return to the beginning of a new cycle. This will become more apparent later.
The down-facing triangles represent Water and Earth. The Earth sign is related to Mother Earth, the divine female who is dependable and committed to making things grow through love and care. Nobody loves more than a mother.
Water has a relationship with our consciousness in the material world and has the ability to ebb and flow to fit into its surroundings. Water splashes and crashes, but also goes with the flow. It is the element associated with love, peace and purification.
The Crescent Moon
The qualities of the female principle are represented in ancient cultures and western philosophies by the Moon, or the crescent moon. In tarot, the card of The Moon represents the unseen forces of the subconscious, similar to the mystery of the inner-self as shown in the card of the High Priestess above – in which we find the crescent moon.
The Moon is the duality of the Sun, which is why you often find the sun and moon depicted together in ancient symbolism, the male and female opposites, both of which are important to life on Earth.
The Laws of Nature dictate that to manifest creation, you need to apply both the male and female principles. This ideology is seen throughout ancient mythology in the trinity of Godheads that create the upper-pantheon of Gods.
The earliest documented trinity comes from ancient Sumeria; Baal Ishtar, Tammuz who later became, Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz in Babylon, Osiris, Isis and Horus in Egypt, Cronos, Rhea and Zeus in Greece, Saturn, Ops and Jupiter in Roman mythology.
Note that in each of the trinities, there is a male figure, a female figure and a child, the creation, all of which take the place of their fathers. In other words, the existing idea or energy is replaced by the new idea or energy. And another cycle of life begins.
In the middle of all that we have the all-important female principle, nurturing the idea to creation. Remember, the female principle represents emotion and emotion dictates thoughts and actions. Without actions, creation does not manifest.
The Holy Trinity in Christianity
The Holy Trinity of the Catholic Church is the father (thought/idea), the son (the creation) and the Holy Ghost (?). Who is this Holy Ghost character? Surely, there should be a female principle there.
In essence, there is, but it is very convoluted.
In Christianity, the Dove represents the Holy Spirit, but as outlined above also represents virtues of the heart; peace, hope, joy and discovery. The Holy Ghost then is the High Priestess character in the tarot that represents the unseen world of the subconscious mind?
But what about the Empress, the nurturing mother goddess that enables things to grow?
If you cast your minds back to the sacred heart with the wings above, you will remember the entire symbol represented the Mother Goddess who is associated with love and nurturing that we find in the Christian rose. Together the rose and the dove relate to the heart, the seat of all emotions.
And emotion is the all-important requirement to manifest the creation. Yet the Divine Mother – the Virgin Mary – is missing from the Holy Trinity.
The bible does actually recognise St. Mary as part of the Holy Trinity. Historically, the church has not broadcast it. However, in 2014, Pope Francis acknowledged Virgin Mary has a position in the Holy Trinity, saying that without her Jesus Christ – the son, or creation – would not have been born.
The Virgin Mother is none other than the personification of the primitive substance, used by the Principle, the creator of all that is. An epithet in the Chatres Cathedral of Paris dedicated to the Mass of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin reads:
‘The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his way. I existed before he formed any creature. I existed from all eternity, before the earth was created. The abysses were not yet and already I was conceived. The fountains had not yet come out of the earth; the heavy mass of the mountains had not yet been formed; I was begotten before the hills. He had created neither the earth, nor the rivers, nor strengthened the world on its poles. When he prepared the heavens. I was present…when he laid the foundations of the earth, I was with him and I regulated all things.’
We can see this idea more succinctly when you analyse the symbolism the Virgin Mary. She is often depicted within Christian Churches with roses, either a decoration by the church or carved into an altar beneath her statue. Note how the image below has a red rose – a red rose evokes strong feelings of desire. In modern society, desire is usually materialistic.
The statue of the Virgin Mary standing atop an altar again associates her with the rose. As you can see from the image on the right, the altar is carved into a rose shape with the calyx underneath.
We also see the Virgin Mary depicted with the crescent moon.
In both images above, you can clearly see Mary standing on the crescent moon, a symbol of the divine female. In the second image, there is also a bunch of red roses.
We should appreciate by now that we are being systematically deceived by the authorities of government, corporations and religion. It is our responsibility as individuals, and as a collective conscious, to understand the messages that esoteric symbols are communicating to us.
First and foremost, we have to appreciate that our fellow man regardless of nationality or religious persuasion, is equal. We are all human beings. With love and understanding, together we can find our true nature and make the world a better place. Stop the hate and antagonism and learn to love yourself. Then you will learn to love others.
And to manifest your desires, all you need is love.
Do you want to know how ancient symbolism can help you?
Master Mind Content offers online symbolism courses. We have several in-depth guides that explain how symbolism relates to the body-mind-energy connection. Understanding symbolism can help you make important decisions, improve your quality of life and understand more about the world.