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Cirlot on the levels and layers



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

A Dictionary of Symbols – J E Cirlot

To leave the circumference for the centre is equivalent to moving from the exterior to the interior, from form to contemplation, from multiplicity to unity, from space to spacelessness, from time to timelessness.

In all symbols expressive of the mystic centre, the intention is to reveal to  Man the meaning of the primordial 'paradisal state' and to teach him to identify himself with the supreme principle of the universe.

This centre is in effect Aristotle's 'unmoved mover' and Dante's 'L'Amore che muove il sole a l'altre stelle'.

Similarly, Hindu doctrine declares that God resides in the centre, at that point where the radii of a wheel meet its axis.  In diagrams of the cosmos, the central space is always reserved for the Creator/God, so that [he/she] appears as if surrounded by a circular or almond shaped halo …..., surrounded by concentric circles spreading outwards, and by the wheel of the zodiac, ….

Among the Chinese, the infinite being is frequently symbolised as a point of light with concentric circles spreading outwards from it.  In some Hindi mandalas, such as the Shri-Yantra, the centre itself is not actually portrayed, but has to be supplied mentally by the contemplator; the Shri-Yantra is a form of expansion – and a symbol therefore of the creation -composed of nine intersecting triangles circumscribed by a lotus flower and a square
The centre itself is located at the point of intersection of the two arms of the superficial or two dimensional cross, or of the three arms of the essential, three dimensional cross. .........

Worship of perforated stones in one form or another is very common all over the world.  Eliade notes that, in the region of Amance, there is just such a stone in front of which women kneel to pray for the health of their children.

Primitive Indian peoples,.... had an intuitive awareness of the fact that holes could stand for the gateway of the world, which the soul has to cross in order to be released from the cycle of karma..

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad it is said that when a human being leave this world, he makes his way through the air, and the air opens up for him as wide as a cartwheel.

The artistic expression of this symbol is found in the Chinese Pi – that is the representation of heaven.  It is a jade disc with ahile in the middle; measurements vary from case to case, but according to the Chinese Dictionary Erh Ya, the relation between the outside ring and the central hole remains constant.

This hole is the Hindu gateway and the Aristotlean 'unvarying mean' or 'unmoved mover'.  The origins of the Pi are exceedingly remote and carved and decorated pi have also been found.............

The Omphalos is one of the  many symbols of the cosmic centre where intercommunication between the three realms of man, of the dead and of the  gods is effected.  W H Roscher … collected a number of documents in a work entitled Omphalos which prove that this symbol was in existence among the most diverse of races

The source of the experience

Cirlot, J E

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image