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Symbols - What does heaven look like

Landscape

No landscape seen in a spiritual experience is of the physical.  All landscapes are spiritual and as such will not look the same as the physical level even if you happen to be out of body and traversing the mirror of the physical.

Some landscapes in visions or dreams, for example, are entirely manufactured by the composer and symbolic as a consequence.   

The landscape can be a construction which bears a huge resemblance to familiar landscapes or one which is utterly surreal. 

Symbolic landscapes are, fairly obviously virtual landscapes, meticulously constructed to feel and appear real.  The illusion may be complete in that the person really does feel they are flying over a landscape or walking about in a landscape.  But as the body of the person remains on their bed or wherever they happen to be, they are clearly not there physically.

In exceptionally vivid visions, the experience is not dissimilar to being in an IMAX cinema, with or without sound, and with or without effects, but with the added bonus of 3D vision.

In all but out of body experiences the symbolic landscape is of your body.  In effect you are ‘seeing’ symbolic aspects of you – your state of health, your state of mind, the state of your subconscious and so on.

This is absolutely key to understanding.  In visions,dreams, lucid dreams and to a lesser extent hallucinations [eyes open experiences] , our composer is trying to help us by giving us lessons.  The lessons will thus incorporate any features that are needed to get the lesson home to the person.  For example Castles  represetn the body as a whole, as such if you see a dilapidated run down, crumbling mansion - you may have something to worry about!!

The symbolism can be, as we shall see all through this part of the website, universal, culture specific or purely personal.  I have only been able to explain the universal symbolism, and where there are obvious cultural similarities and synonyms explain the similarities.  Any personal landscape features can only be interpreted by the person themselves.  The links to all the symbolic features are shown in the table.

Abyss

Altars

Banner pennant or standard

Barriers and boundaries

Barrows

Beacons

Bridges

Castle

Causeway

Cave

Cities

Clearing - in a wood

Cliffs

Column

Crack or crevice

Cross

Crossroads

Desert

Door

Enclosures, camps and courtyards

Escalators

Fence

Fields and meadows

Forest

Fountain

Garden

Gate

Greek columns

Hedge

Hill

Hollow mountain

Iceberg

Island

Isthmus

Labyrinth

Lake

Lighthouse

Marsh

Mast

Maypole

Maze

Maze and tunnel

Meadows and fields

Mine

Mound

Mountain

Oasis

Obelisk

Ocean and sea

Palace

Path or road

Pillar

Pole

Pond

Pool

Portal

Portico

Pyramid

Rivers and streams

Room

Sacred grove

Shore [sea]

Springs

Stairs

Stone circles

Stupa

Temples with columns

Tornado

Tower and Ivory tower

Tree

Tree trunk

Tunnel

Valley

Volcano

Wall

Waterfall

Water spout

Well

Whirlpool

Whirlwind

Window

Windmill

Wood

Woodhenges

Ziggurat

 

Note that the symbol section provides more symbols and their meaning, this is just a representative list.

  It may be interesting to glance at the section on Sacred geography,  a sacred landscape is a physical one and  maps spiritual features and symbols onto the physical landscape using a mix of naturally occurring features and sites which have spiritual 'power'. 

The objective of all physical sacred landscapes was to recreate the sort of landscape I have described here, to recreate heaven on earth - to recreate the symbols and features seen in spiritual experience using the physical landscape, thus reminding people of both spiritual truths but also guiding them to places where such experience could be obtained.

Cirlot provides a useful summary of the symbolism of  landscape and what to look for whatever the type – universal, cultural or personal.

A Dictionary of symbols – J E Cirlot
Now in order to grasp the symbolic sense of a landscape it is necessary to distinguish between the predominant elements and the merely incidental, and between the character of the whole and the character of the components elements.

When the predominant element is a cosmic one, its effect is to bind all the other components together, and it is this cosmic ingredient, which makes its influence felt over and above that of the individual features of the landscape.  Instances of such cosmic features are the sea, the desert, the icy wastes, the mountain peak, clouds and sky.   It is when the ingredients of landscape symbolism are varied and evenly balanced that symbolic interpretation is most needed.  The interpreter must then look for the following:

-         a spatial pattern organised within particular limits which endow it with a structure after the manner of a building or a work of art.  By spatial symbolism we mean, in the first place the symbolism of level...[and ] secondly the symbolism of orientation [N,S, E, W]

 -         the form, the pattern or the shape of the terrain, whether it is undulating or broken, steeply sloped or flat, soft or hard

 -         the positional relationship of the particular area chosen to the region as a whole or to the zone surrounding it – whether it is lower of higher, more open or more enclosed

 -         the natural and artificial elements which make up the organised pattern: trees, shrubs, plants, lakes, springs, wells rocks, sandy shores, houses steps benches, grottoes, gardens,  fences, doors and gates.

Also important is the predominating colour, or the clash of colours, or the general feeling of fecundity or barrenness, if brightness or gloom, of order or disorder.  Roads and cross roads are of great significance, and so are streams. 

 

Observations

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