Symbols: An Ancient Form of Communication
"Symbology - The language of the soul"
Ancient peoples such as the Mayans and Hopi Indians, recognized the importance of symbols as a form of communicating and enriching meaning in their lives. For our ancient ancestors 'symbology' and metaphors became the language of the soul. As students of nature and the stars above, the ancients observed external symbols, often using them as guidance and a means of increasing awareness of life's deeper meaning. Their observations became a part of their stories and traditions passed on to further generations. Sacred symbols derived from nature became an integral part of their day to day existence and their cultural heritage.
The ancient ones, like the Egyptians, recognized the rich and complex meanings contained within symbols. By exploring the unspoken meaning of each symbol the ancient ones came to know that the symbols had the power to evoke a truth, a pureness of intent which bypassed any misconceptions and prejudices of surface interpretations.
Unfortunately, those of us who live in modern times have lost some of the connection to and knowledge of symbolism. Ray Grasse (1996) wrote The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives, describing this modern affliction. He considers "life as a sacred book of symbols" that can be unraveled to access life themes, patterns and hidden meanings. These meanings may illuminate deeper knowledge which, Grasse states, may be overlooked "by contemporary preoccupation with literal meanings and surface interpretations." Fortunately, the human ability to understand symbolic communication is experiencing renewed interest in mainstream culture, as seen in movies such as The Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass and The Last Mimzy, and yet remains one of the essential mysteries of life.
If symbols are the unspoken language of the soul, and if life is a sacred book of symbols, then the everpresent symbols inspired by nature and the greater cosmos have only to be noticed. This simple act of noticing brings one closer to and in deeper resonance with the sacred and natural order of life. Increasing awareness of symbols and symbolic language fosters our connection to nature, the cosmos and, brings a deeper sense of meaning to the individual experience of life.
In pondering strengthened connections through symbolism within both the individual and great dance of life, it is interesting that the symbol for the 2010 Olympics is the Innuit Inuksuk, a beautiful symbol created in the image of man as a beacon to guide travelers ensuring safe passage.
Universality of Symbols
Some also believe that symbols are a universal language of communication across individual and cultural boundaries. Visionaries such as Carl Jung, believed that some symbols occur with the same meaning and that these universal symbols are often called archetypes.