Occult Symbolism
derived from symbolism in literature and the ancient world





Greek Mythology

The Bible

John Senior

Joseph Warren Beach

Joseph Campbell











Modern society is quick to assume that few things have any connection with another unless it is negative, like a conspiracy.  The Sarah Conners' of the world are not seeing the beginning of the doom they fear just yet, but when a bully comes down the beach and kicks over your sand castle you're supposed to feel something. Terrorist want to kick over all of our Liberty symbols. Ideally the feeling is similar to the spiritual idea that if one man is chained up then none are free. The gloomy side sees only the conspicuous opulence and squandering of resources, the moral wasting of neon, nudity and narcissism. Help I've fallen for myself, I can't get up. No matter how wise a man is he is still caught up in a roulette wheel crap shoot world. The justification of someone on the bottom goes back before the preaching of Jesus. The symbols chosen by the early American nation were ancient European, based on fate, luck, and what we have labeled immoral - crap shooting. Although, one might suppose if fate and luck are virginal, how typical rather than immoral is it  to gamble with their virtues.

The morality of a neon nation is jarringly out of place against classical symbols, Justice trampling the snakes, Columbia's jeweled light, Liberty's torch. However, these symbols were not always thought to fit into Holy Roman sanctity. They were occult to begin with and gradually slipped into an upscale message for the general welfare. Artists, designers of coins and symbol statuary, tend to feel cosmically connected because their goal is positive, an innocent desire to be inventive, playful, and colorful or, to seek an illusive truth- beauty alignment. The road less traveled has its frustration, uncertainty and folly all set out before it like the path of The Fool in the Tarot deck. He could fall to his peril or be billowed up in Zen dizziness. No guarantees. The liberty to choose one's own uncertainties lies at the heart of our American symbols and that is what fuels the anger of the vengeful and the lost. The bitterness lies with the unintended consequences of a good idea. Symbols that generate wealth and prosperity are often viewed with pathological suspicion. Traditionally, the enemy always poked out the eyes of the gods of the vanquished.

America has an enormous symbol system, as complex as the ancient Greeks, Hebrews or Babylonians. Each system is as unique as a snowflake, yet similarities can be found in each. The method of symbol making is the same - an empirical analogy of life experience, fear, aversion, desire and intent. Gods and demons have their foibles and weaknesses as well as the powers of supreme-being status. We like symbols about truth, justice and the American way (democracy and fairness). The irony is that the world is not now, nor ever has been democratic or fair. We see ourselves as the torch of  hope that will turn back the ever creeping tide of darkness. The Norsemen had a similar view in that Good could only prevail as long as men fought for it, but ultimately man would lose to chaos and corruption. It's like the movie title - Hopeless But Not Serious. The only valor (the survival morality of bravery) is in striving to thrive by means of vigor and struggle. No pain, no gain. 

The competitive spirit, another pugilistic god-like quality we worship, plays a saving role for the workers, it's okay to betray loyalties and friends for a better salary. If your neighbor falls down, it's okay because in this society one assumes that everyone can get back up again. Equal opportunity, is an infant among symbols, not unlike baby new year.  He appears alien and does not have his father's eyes. He's not a cherub, does not carry a bow and quiver of arrows. He's more than an Echo. The goddess Venus would have you believe that the secret to eternal preservation is echo-location and amplification by perfect resonance - in other words, a tomb with an echo (bat cave?). Societies have often thought that one's offspring should be a reflection of the parents. To be otherwise is shameful. Ironically people are genetic composites incapable of duplicate character. But, who knew until a brilliant woman invented an improved crystallography that led to DNA?

Our symbol system has gone through many metamorphoses, each butterfly more bizarre than the previous. I venture that we are stealth nectar gathering night wings with portable intel able to communicate like humpback whales around the globe. The native American land-o-lakes corn goddess of plenty has receded back to the W. P. A. (we putter along) New Deal era, fading fast before a tungsten illumination of sharper images. Image is king. Clean is never ever having to wash. Liberty steps fresh from her bed and bath encased in body wash moving in beauty like the deb with a Greek nose-job and the overbite of an orthodontic make-over miracle. Will she stay the course or do something original, typically American. Though chaos and corruption may be inevitable it would be immoral to give up. The path itself has no morality but the primitive view is that it should have a heart. Ancient Egyptian justice weighed the heart (soul) against a feather before allowing a crossover. 

Blind Justice is a blending of the Roman blindfolded Fortuna with the Hellenistic Greek Tyche:

Fortuna was the singer / harpist who played Lyra the golden Lyre.
Odd that a seamstress making up history as she goes along would be so interested in music, especially the music of the sun and planets. It's all so theoretical, where it is not clear whether Hermes or Apollo is the actual music theorist. The Fates harmonize along as back up singers and allow each planet to ring like a tuned choral bell.

Tyche, ( I wonder if tycoon applies?) is a classical version of a lucky Wall Street character, often linked to urban prosperity and, the opposite of urban plight. Her crown often looked more like the walls of whatever city she presided over. Also her Grecian begets go from daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite to a sea sprite or Oceanid, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. She was also a good spirit which came out of Nemisis ( good oft comes from adversity). 

In the Greek legend of Arethusa, a kind of pink lady virginal water nymph similar to the legendary St. Columb of Cornwall, there was a maiden who preferred to remain chaste. During the course of her adventures, she decided to take a dip in the welcoming waters of the river Alpheus. But as soon as she entered the river, she realized that she was not alone. The god of this particular river, also named Alpheus, was roused by the sight of Arethusa and immediately fell in love with the nymph. Arethusa fled the advances of Alpheus. However, Alpheus was not so easily deterred - the god of the river assumed the form of a hunter pursuing his prey. Some versions of the story say that Arethusa was chased over the sea, all the way to Sicily. Finally, she found refuge on the Island of Ortygia  near Syracuse, where she called upon the goddess Artemis to rescue her. Artemis responded by transforming the nymph into a spring (artesian well?). And this is how the nymph Arethusa became identified with the legendary spring.

On the head of Liberty lies a radiate crown with the seven spiked rays of Helios-Apollo's sun rays, (note the medieval Tarot sun has 13 rays) like a nimbus or halo. The ancient  Colossus of  Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was also a statue of Helios with a radiate crown.
The similarities are not coincidental with a perennial symbol such as the sun god or in this instance a sun goddess. It may seem like a stretch from one to the other but symbols do grow, evolve and change over time - the point Joseph Campbell was making with his Transformations of Myth Over Time.  As I mentioned earlier this according to Samuel Taylor Coleridge is an organic symbol which tends to have a life of its own. The movie National Treasure also makes good use of these symbols. Somebody did their homework.

Our associations with these symbolic demigods and demigoddesses is nothing like the original belief in a patron religious figure, worthy of burnt offerings and prayers, and yet we hold them reverently in our vision of ourselves as a nation, whereby to profane them would be to let the terrorists win.  But let me come back to my beginning idea that
both Liberty and the The Fool in the Tarot deck have a similar insouciance, a stronger word than naivety, owing to a non-scouting, unpreparedness motto for living. Both have left their fate up to God or the gods, and likewise the USA. The new-dawn deb and The Fool are both part of the whole hollering Wheel of Fortune scheme and all of the stages of life that cerebrally we know are coming, but somehow never quite prepare for until it's too late.

Those 13 colonies gleaming in the sun like a jewel have been glorified to near sacred status overlooking the struggle of many cultures melting, blending and changing, and literally making up their culture as they went along. Being both creative, spontaneous, and by conspiring with God, the unintended consequences of history now seem destined and fated like a self-fulfilling prophesy. Symbols usually owe their embellishment to the successes of the culture that invoked them. Sports symbols have the same patron-like adaptation. Instead of prayerful and pious evocations of our patron deities we find a generous sponsor to kick off the festivities. The sport all takes place in an amphitheater with marching bands, music and half-naked virgins, well,
half-virginal looking anyway.

 Abraxas, Lord of Light and Dark