Explanation of the Emblem of the Theosophical Society
The emblem of the Theosophical Society is composed of a number of
symbols, all of them having been used from ancient times to express
profound spiritual and philosophical concepts about humanity and the
They may be found in a variety of forms in the great religions of the world
and their universality is further shown by their appearance in widely
Each symbol, studied separately, will yield a wealth of understanding, but
none of them can be interpreted with a narrow precision. Taken together as
in the Society's emblem, they represent a unity of meaning, suggesting a
vast evolutionary scheme embracing the whole of nature, physical and
spiritual. Study and contemplation of the emblem as well as its several
component symbols will lead the serious student to an awareness of some
of the deepest mysteries of existence.
The Serpent is the timeless symbol of the highest spiritual Wisdom.
Swallowing its tail, it is a symbol of regeneration. It is the self-born,
the circle of infinite wisdom, life and immortality. The circle itself is
an ancient symbol of eternity and represents the Absolute, the
unmanifested universe containing the potentials of all form. As
representative of the infinite sphere, the 'world egg' of archaic
cosmology, this symbol is found in every world religion and philosophy.
The Interlaced Triangles
The interlaced triangles, one (lighter) pointing upwards and the other
(darker) pointing downwards, symbolize the descent of spirit into matter
and its re-emergence from the confining limits of form. They also suggest
the constant conflict between the light and dark forces in nature as well
as the inseparable unity of spirit and matter. When depicted within the
circle of the serpent, the figure represents the universe and the
manifestation of Deity in time and space. The three lines and three angles
of each of the two triangles may remind us of the triple aspects of
spirit: existence, consciousness and bliss, and the three aspects of
matter: mobility, resistance and rhythm. The glyph can also be seen as the
six-pointed star, embracing spiritual and physical consciousness and
viewed by the Pythagoreans as the symbol of creation.
In the centre of the emblem is the Ankh or Crux Ansata, an ancient
Egyptian symbol of resurrection. It is composed of the Tau or T-shaped
cross surmounted by a small circle and is seen in Egyptian statuary and in
wall and tomb paintings where it is depicted as being held in the hand.
The Tau symbolizes matter or the world of form; the small circle above it
represents spirit or life. With the circle marking the position of the
head, it represents the mystic cube unfolded to form a Latin cross, symbol
of spirit descended into matter and crucified thereon, but risen from
death resting triumphant on the arms of the conquered slayer. So it may be
said that the figure of the interlaced triangles enclosing the ankh
represents the human triumphant and the divine triumphant in the human. As
the cross of life, the ankh becomes a symbol of resurrection and
The Jaina Cross
Placed in the emblem at the head of the serpent, is one of the numerous
forms in which the symbol of the cross is found. It is a fiery cross, with
arms of whirling flame revolving clockwise to represent the tremendous
energies of nature incessantly creating and dissolving forms through which
the evolutionary process takes place.
In religions which recognise three aspects of Deity, the Jaina Cross is
associated with the Third Person of the Trinity, who is at once the
Creator and the Destroyer: Shiva in Hinduism and the Holy Ghost in
Christianity. Applied to humanity, the figure may show the human as the
link between heaven and earth, one 'hand' pointing to heaven or spirit and
the other toward earth or matter.
Above the emblem, in Sanskrit characters, is the sacred word of Hinduism,
the creative Word or Logos, the ineffable Reality, which is the source of
all existence. We are reminded of the statement: 'In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'. Om is a word
of power and should be uttered only with the greatest reverence.
There is no religion higher than truth
Around the emblem appears the MOTTO of the Theosophical Society.
Truth is the quest of every Theosophist, whatever his or her faith, and every
great religion reflects in some measure the light of the one eternal and
spiritual wisdom. Each points a way toward the realisation of Truth.
The Whole Emblem
Speaks to an inner perception, to the intuition and to the heart, calling
forth the divine in each individual who contemplates it. In its totality,
it represents a synthesis of great cosmic principles operating through
involutionary and evolutionary cycles, bringing us all, in the fullness of
time, to the realisation of our divine nature.
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