Friday, 30 April 2010

The Spiral

The Spiral is one of the most ancient symbols, which appears again and again since prehistoric times in various cultures, spread all over spacetime. Those ancient people noticed the spiral pattern in the world around them,  in the form of a snail, in the spiral growth of trees, in the movement of the Sun. They intuitively knew that the spiral was the basic symbol of evolution and expansion, but also of death and doom, thus they started painting it on murals or carving it on wood and rock, in an attempt to venerate the archetypical motif that surrounded them in numerous forms. 
The Spiral of the Goddess: One of the most popular symbols of the Celts , the Spiral or the Triple Spiral (Triskelion) became the symbol of the Goddess and of the threefold nature of the Divine. It was related with femininity and with the three stages of womanhood: Maiden, Mother, Crone. Another interpretation would be that of  the three realms of the material world: Land, Sea and Sky. Numerous variations of the spiral are found in paganistic and neopaganistic representations. Today, with the revival of paganistic religions, spirals are a common theme in jewelery, clothes and paintings.
The Spiral of Time: The Spiral signifies infinity, nature's cycles, the alternation of seasons (spirals were often used as solar calendars) and of cosmic cycles in eternity. In a few words, it is a symbol of Time. Time was born along with the universe. Its dimension is inseparable from the three dimensions of space. The big bang theory suggests that the universe was born from a tiny single point with infinite energy. When that point exploded, it gradually created the reality that we see around us, which is ever-expanding, like a spiral. If this expansion lead to perfection or to chaos, nobody can tell. And since we are all made of stars, as Moby rightly noted in his song, we can understand why some symbols talk directly to us,  in a molecular level and the vibrations of their thundering meanings can reach the depths of our psyche.

The Labyrinth: In a spiral we can see the image of a labyrinth. The labyrinth is an allegory of the spiritual journey , from the outer world towards inner silence or God,  like Dante's Inferno and the Minoan Labyrinth.  A descent to the unknown aspects of the soul. As we move along the curves of the spiral and through its twist and turns, which represent various trials, what happens is that we come face to face with the same things in life, but each time from a different angle.But nobody can guarantee that the journey leads  always towards enlightment. An expanding spiral eventually ends up in chaos, like the Tower of Babel. The dead ends of the labyrinth can become discouraging, dazzling and overwhelming and many times we find ourselves back where we started or even worse, trapped, with no sense of direction. 
The Spiral and the Serpent: We can't help but notice the similarity between spirals and serpents. Serpents were widely worshipped in ancient times. The dragons and nagas in China and India, the minoan serpent Goddess in Greece, the nordic  Jormungandrthe feathered serpent  Quetzalcoatl of the Aztects , the rainbow serpent in Australia, the python cult in Africa and so many others. Among them, the famous greek - egyptian Ouroboros: the serpent that eats its own tail, symbolizing rebirth through self-death, immortality, the cycle  and the totality of existence, Jung's cosmic force. There's a very rich tradition that refers to serpent cults, sometimes seen as benevolent, other times seen as evil, like the serpent of the Bible. The serpent often guards something of  great value, a treasure or a power that must not end up in the wrong hands, like kundalini or the tree of knowledge in Eden. In alchemy the spiral symbolizes the cyclical functions of nature, the androgyne, the caduceus. Even the Yin/Yang symbol, the swastika, the greek meander, are  variations of or elaborated spirals. 

The minoan Spiral: In ancient Greece, the spiral was associated with the bull, which symbolized fertility (bull's head and horns look similar to ovaries). We often see spirals on  amphoras or murals, as it was a very common decorative pattern. The interconnected spirals often symbolized water and the sea. Another interpretation of the interconnected spiral is that of the equinoctial points. 
The hypnotic Spiral: Hypnotists use  the pattern of a spinning spiral  to induce trance states. The  repetitive image causes the noise of the conscious mind to subside and makes it more receptive. We regularly see the spiral as the most distinct symbol of hypnotism.
The spiral expresses itself in numerous forms in nature: horns, shells, plants, galaxies, even in the DNA.  
Birth, death, expansion, chaos, symmetry, eternity, infinity, renewal, the constant flux of things are some of  the notions that spirals communicate to us, as they appear in a vast array of manifestations in the microcosmic and the macrocosmic level since time immemorial.  Perhaps, the recurring pattern of the spiral holds a key to the understanding not only of the universe and but also of our soul.

1 comment:

  1. our life is the perfect spiral maker, not a spiral :} everything we do, think etc. crates a spiral that is ascending or descending and it unites with other spirals; like a mollecular universe of spirals :)