Here is a really extraordinary collection of art from less conventional religious/spiritual/philosophical practices. The
images are fascinating. On the back cover, it states that they are drawn from manuscripts from a number of traditions. I will list some and provide a brief statement of explanation. I have
to admit, I am not familiar with most of these. Though I recognize the names, I really know little about the practice. The one thing that I find very
annoying about this collection is that nothing is labeled. I realize that the CD-ROM collections from Dover that are art collections are always labeled, and
the image and clip art collections never are, (and that is the category in which this one falls), but an exception should have been made here, and some
sort of guide made available. I have researched many of these images, and many are also included in the collection
120 Visions of Heaven & Hell CD-ROM and Book,
which is art work, therefore labeled. I have also included some on the
Religion Index page. In any case, I will do my best to identify these to the best of my ability and give a
very brief description. Please note that there is a crossover between many of these traditions, so some of these symbols are appropriate for more than one.
I cannot believe how much I learned in doing the research for this book. Before reviewing this book I thought I knew more about various
spiritual/philosophical beliefs, but there is so much I still don't know. I am now inspired to explore these traditions further. I hope you will be, too.
One further comment: Many people are under the mistaken impression that "occult" means something evil, but in fact,
the word simply refers to secret or hidden except to those with special knowledge, or can mean
mystical, magical or supernatural. Most traditional religions have esoteric or mystical aspects or branches, including Christianity and Judaism.
Here are some of the traditions included:
Hermetic: There are numerous variations of this one, ranging from "A magical and religious movement stemming from the teachings
of Hermes Trismegistus" to "A modern Occult Society" according to
Wikipedia. Another online
dictionary definition describes it as an ancient occult tradition encompassing alchemy, astrology, and theosophy.
1) Hermetic Androgyne #129, page 77: "The
neither masculine nor feminine, it is neuter. It is at once the symbol of the not yet manifested being whose polarities are still merged within the Unity and
the manifested being who has realized their integration within the primeval
Gnostic: This one is too complicated to define in a few words, but in short, Gnosis means individual direct knowledge of the
divine, gained by intuition. And while many religious beliefs blame the imperfections of the world on humanity, Gnostics place the blame on the
creator. Here is a brief summary of Gnosticism by
Stephan A. Hoeller.
#114, page 71. Two serpents devouring each other. The top one represents the Universal World Spirit and the bottom, Matter.
Qabalistic: Having a secret or hidden meaning.
3) Sephiroth #157, page 99: The ten attributes/emanations in Kabbalah, through which Ein Sof (The Infinite) reveals
himself and continually creates both the physical realm and the chain of higher metaphysical realms.
has an in-depth article.
Alchemical: Alchemy, dating from medieval times was supposedly a chemical process enabling one to change base metals to gold. From
a more philosophical standpoint, it claimed to be the precursor of profound powers, according to
4) Here are some Alchemical Symbols #179-187, page 115. There are many, many of these symbols. If you own the
paperback copy of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, you can see them very lightly printed on the cover.
Arthurian Tradition, of course, is based on the characters of the Legend of King Arthur, but it may also refer to
British Tradition Wicca.
5) Newell Convers Wyeth: Arthur and Excalibur #053 page 43.
Rosicrucian: According to
Wikipedia, is a
philosophical secret society said to have been founded in late medieval Germany by Christian Rosenkreuz. It holds a doctrine or theology "built on esoteric
truths of the ancient past," which, "concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm." It is
symbolized by the Rosy Cross.
6) J. Augustus Knapp: A Rosicrucian Crucifixion, 1928 #008 page 11.
Please note: Knapp was known for his esoteric artwork. Many more of his works may be found in
120 Visions of Heaven & Hell CD-ROM
Masonic, or Freemasonry dates from the fourteenth century stonemasons. It describes itself as a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by
has a lengthy article for more information. Perhaps the best known Masonic symbol is the one appearing on the United States dollar bill—the pyramid and
7) Here are some other Masonic Symbols #005 page 8.
This is just a smattering of what's available in this collection. I wish I knew more about these images, but I'm
certain that some new doors of knowledge and curiosity have been opened as a result of creating this page. Enjoy all this interesting material, and be sure
to visit the many links provided.
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