Occult Symbols

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Baphomet - The Goat of Mendes

Baphomet - The Goat of Mendes
Eliphas Levi

The image of Baphomet was originally created in 1854 by occultist Eliphas Levi for his book Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie ("Dogmas and Rituals of High Magic"). It reflects a number of principles considered fundamental to occultists, and was influenced by Hermeticism, Kabbalah, and alchemy, among other sources.

For the full article, please check out Eliphas Levi's Baphomet of Mendes.
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The Rosy Cross or Rose Cross

Occult Symbols. Created by Fuzzypeg, public domain

The Rose Cross is associated with a number of different schools of thought, including that of the Golden Dawn, Thelema, the OTO, and the Rosicrucians (also known as the Order of the Rose Cross). Each group offers somewhat different interpretations of the symbol. This should not be surprising as magical, occult and esoteric symbols are frequently used to communicate ideas more complex than is possible to express in speech.

This specific version of the Rose Cross is described in The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie.

For the full article, please check out The Rose Cross.

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The Tetragrammaton - The Unpronounceable Name of God

The Tetragrammaton - The Unpronounceable Name of God
Catherine Beyer

God is called by many names in Hebrew. The tetragrammaton (Greek for "word of four letters") is the one name that observant Jews will write down but will not pronounce, considering the word to be too holy for utterance.

Early Christian transliterators pronounced it as Jehovah from at least the 17th century. In the 19th century, the word was retransliterated into Yehweh. The confusion stems from Latin sources, in which the same letter represents both J and Y, and another single letter represents both V and W.

Hebrew is read from right to left. The letters making up the tetragrammaton are (from right to left) Yod, He, Vau, and He. In English, it is commonly written out as YHWH or JHVH.

Occultists based in Judeo-Christian mythology consider the Hebrew names of God (such as Adonai and Elohim) to hold power, and none is more powerful than the tetragrammaton. In occult illustrations, God is most commonly represented by the tetragrammaton.

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Cosmology of Robert Fludd - The Soul of the World

Robert Fludd - Cosmology
Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica atque technica historia, 1617

Robert Fludd's illustrations are some of the most famous occult images from the Renaissance. His diagrams frequently attempted to communicate the relationship between levels of existence and the composition of the universe through proportions of spirit and matter.

For a full description and explanation of this image, please read Robert Fludd's Illustration of The Universe and the Soul of The World.

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Robert Fludd's Union of Spirit and Matter

Robert Fludd - Union of Spirit and Matter
Renaissance Occult Illustrations. Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica atque technica historia, 1617

Creation, for renaissance occultist Robert Fludd, springs from the union of two opposite forces: the creative power of God impressing itself upon a receptive anti-substance he called the Hyle.

The Hyle

Defining the Hyle is difficult, if not impossible. Indeed, Fludd states that "it cannot be understood in isolation, nor described by itself alone, but only by analogy." It is not created, for it is the material of which created things spring. It is also not separate from God, as such a concept would have been alien to Fludd. In many ways it is comparable to God in that it is boundless and undefinable

One might suggest that it is a part of God, the dark void existing in opposition to the creative power more commonly associated with God. Note that the Hyle is in no way evil. It is, in fact, the essence of not being anything: it is infinite non-existence. Neither half subsumes the other, as is indicated by the fact that while the Hyle circle and the triangle of God intersect, both also exist outside the boundaries of the other.

Intersection of Hyle and God

The created universe exists wholly within the union the circle and triangle. No part of creation can exist without both forces: spiritual and material, receptive and active, creative/existing and destructive/non-existing.

Within this intersection are the three realms of renaissance cosmology: physical, celestial and spiritual. While they are more commonly depicted as concentric rings, with the superior spiritual realm being the outermost and the inferior physical realm being the innermost, here they are depicted equally. This should not be taken that Fludd has changed his mind but rather the limitations of symbology. He needs to lay them out in this manner in order to display their associations with the tetragrammaton.

The Tetragrammaton

The unpronounceable name of God, known as the tetragrammaton, is comprised of four letters: yod, he, vau and he. Fludd associates each of these letters to one of the realms, with the repeated "he" letter being set in the middle, outside of any of the three realms yet at the center of God.
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Robert Fludd's Macrocosm and Microcosm

Renaissance Occult Illustrations. Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica atque technica historia, 1617


The concept of microcosm and macrocosm is both common and fundamental within the Western Occult Tradition. It is represented in the hermetic statement "As above, so below," meaning that actions in one sphere reflects changes in the other.
Read more: Robert Fludd's Macrocosm and Microcosm
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Robert Fludd's Created Universe as Reflection of God

Robert Fludd - Physical World a Reflection of God
Renaissance Occult Illustrations. Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica atque technica historia, 1617

Renaissance occultists often offer apparently contradictory views on the created universe. There is a common sense of a struggle between spirit and matter, where material things are imperfect and contrary to spiritual things, as per contemporary Christian teachings. Illustrator and occultist Robert Fludd often espouses this view. However, there is also a common school of thought extolling the creations of God, and this is the issue Fludd addresses in this particular diagram.

Symbols of God

There are two symbols employed here to represent God. The first is the tetragrammaton at the center of the upper triangle, the unutterable name of God.

The second is the use of the triangle. Because Christianity envisions God as a tripartite being of Father, Son and Holy Ghost united within a single godhead, the triangle is commonly used as a symbol for God.

The upper triangle, with the tetragrammaton centered within it, is therefore the totality of God.

The Created Universe

The lower triangle is the created universe. It too is encased within a triangle, only this one is reversed in orientation. This is the reflection of God. The created world reflects the nature of God, which is important to occultists because they commonly accept that through close examination of the universe, we can learn hidden clues regarding God's nature.

The lower triangle has three concentric circles within it, with its center being a solid mass. The solid mass is actual physical reality as we common experience it, the most material portion of creation. The circles represent the three realms: Physical, Celestial and Angelic (labeled here as the Elemental, Aether, and Emperean).

Read more: Occult Cosmology in The Renaissance: The Three Realms
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Robert Fludd's Spiral Cosmology - Intermediary Steps Between Matter and Spirit

Robert Fludd's Spiral Model of The Cosmos
Renaissance Occult Illustrations. Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica atque technica historia, 1617

Neoplatonic philosophy holds that there is a single ultimate source from which all things descend. Each stage of descent from the ultimate source contains less of the original perfection. The result is a series of graduated layers, each one more perfect than the one below and less perfect than the one above.

God: The Ultimate Source

For Christians, the ultimate source is God, represented here by the Latin term DEVS (or deus, the Romans having used the same letter for both U and V) surrounded by a shining light. God is the one thing in the universe created of pure spirit. From him all things come, shaped by the divine spirit. As creation continues to spiral downward, with forms becoming more and more complex, the results become more material and less spiritual.

Spiraling Creation

The first layer, labeled "Mens" is the divine mind, the active principle which imprints creation. The subsequent layers are commonly accepted levels of creation: a hierarchy of nine angels followed by the field of stars and the seven planets, and finally the four physical elements. Each level is associated here with one of the 22 Hebrew letters.
Read more: Occult Cosmology in The Renaissance: The Three Realms

Creation Model Versus Literal Composition of the Heavens

It is important to remember that this is a model of the descent of spirit into matter, reflecting the gradual transition from one to the other. Fludd viewed the actual universe as constructed in concentric, separate spheres. While levels did have many associations and connections with the levels above and below them, they were not literally flow from one to the next as suggested by this illustration.
Read more: Fludd's Model of the Cosmos
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Sigillum Dei Aemaeth

Sigillum Dei Aemaeth
Seal of the Truth of God. John Dee, public domain

The Sigillum Dei Aemeth, or Seal of the Truth of God, is most widely known through the writings and artifacts of John Dee, a 16th century occultist and astrologer in the court of Elizabeth I. While the sigil does appear in older texts of which Dee was probably familiar, he was not happy with them and ultimately gained guidance from angels to construct his version.

Dee's Purpose

Dee inscribed the sigil on circular wax tablets. He would commune via a medium and a "shew-stone" with the angels, and the tablets were used in preparing the ritual space for such communication. One tablet was placed upon a table, and the shew-stone upon the tablet. Four other tablets were placed beneath the legs of the table.

In Popular Culture

Versions of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth have been used several times in the show Supernatural as "demon traps." Once a demon stepped within the confines of the sigil, they became unable to leave.
Read more: Construction Elements of the Sigil Dei Aemeth
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Tree of Life

Tree of Life
Ten Sephirot of Kabbalah. Catherine Beyer

The Tree of Life, called the Etz Chaim in Hebrew, is a common visual depiction of the ten sephirot of Kabbalah. Each sephirot represents an attribute of God through which he manifests his will.

The Tree of Life does not represent a single, cleanly definable system. It can be applied to the formation and existence of both the physical world and metaphysical worlds, as well as to one's own soul, state of being, or understanding. In addition, different schools of thought such as Kabbalistic Judaism and modern Western occultism, also offer different interpretations.

Ein Soph

The divine essence from which all creation springs, known as the Ein Soph, remains outside of the Tree of Life, utterly beyond definition or comprehension. God's unfolding will then descends through the tree from left to right.
Read more: Robert Fludd's Spiral Cosmology - Intermediary Steps Between Matter and Spirit, for another occult model of the unfolding of God's will into physical creation.

Vertical Groupings

Each vertical column, or pillar, has its own associations. The left-hand column is the Pillar of Severity. It is also related to femininity and receptivity. The right-hand column is the Pillar of Mercy and is related to masculinity and activity. The central column is the Pillar of Mildness, a balance between the extremes on either side of it.

Horizontal Groupings

The top three sephirot (Keter, Chokmah, Binah) are linked to the intellect, ideas without form. Da'at might be included here, but as the invisible sephirot and reflection of Keter, it generally is not counted at all. Keter may also form its own subgroup, being the unconscious intellect and will rather than the conscious.

The next three sephirot (Hesed, Gevurah, Tiferet) are the primary emotions. They are the spark of action and are goals until themselves.

The final three (Netzah, Hod, Yesod) are the secondary emotions. They have a more tangible manifestation and are means to other ends rather than being the ends themselves.

Malkuth stands alone, the physical manifestation of the other nine sephirot.

Read more: Meanings of Each of the Sephirot
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Hieroglyphic Monad

John Dee's Monad Hieroglyph
From John Dee. Catherine Beyer

This symbol was created by John Dee and described in the Monas Hieroglyphica, or Hieroglyphic Monad, in 1564. The symbol is intended to represent the reality of the monad, a singular entity from which all material things are said to derive.

The image here includes graph lines to illustrate the specific proportions described by Dee in which writings.

Summary of the Hieroglyphic Monad

Dee summarized his description of the glyph as such: "The Sun and the Moon of this Monad desire that the Elements in which the tenth proportion will flower, shall be separated, and this is done by the application of Fire."

The symbol is constructed from four distinct symbols: the astrological signs for the moon and the sun, the cross, and the zodiacal sign of Aries the ram, represented by the two semi-circles at the bottom of the glyph.

For the full article, please check out John Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad.