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Symbols - What does heaven look like

Salamander

Salamanders are either the spirit beings of the Fire level or represent a person who has had a rebirth experience.  Rather confusingly they have nothing at all to do with the little amphibians found here in the physical. 

As spirit beings, they are found only in the Fire level and layer.

 

A Dictionary of Symbols – J E Cirlot

A mythological fire spirit, a kind of lizard which was supposed to inhabit the element of fire.  In graphic symbolism and also in alchemy, the salamander signifies fire – which in fact constitutes its general significance

Associations of the salamander with Fire appear in the Talmud as well as in the writings of Aristotle, Pliny, Conrad Lycosthenes, Benvenuto Cellini, Paracelsus, Rudolf Steiner and Leonardo da Vinci plus many many others. 

Depictions

Interestingly, in visions and other spiritual experiences the spiritual salamander  is most often depicted much like a typical physical salamander in shape, with a lizard-like form.

A 16th-century image of a salamander from
The Story of Alchemy and the Beginnings of Chemistry

The reason  may be because a lizard so very closely resembles the Cross in shape.

Remembering that the symbolism is describing a spirit being from the Fire layer, however, the imagery presented can vary depending upon what other symbols the person doing the depiction wants to convey.  Occasionally a salamander is a dragon (Latin dracones or serpentes), or  basilisk (Latin basilisci), and both were often associated together, as in Conrad Lycosthenes' Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon of 1557.

Occasionally you get birds with wings of flames.  The Phoenix is a sort of salamander.

In early heraldry, the salamander was depicted as somewhat like a short-legged dog, surrounded by fire; more recently it is depicted as a lizard, but still amidst flames. In the arms of Le Clei shown as vomissant des flammes ("vomiting flames") as well. It is often tinctured vert (green) but can be of any other colour or metal thus taking on the symbolism of the metals or the colour green.

In one of the earliest surviving descriptions of a salamander, Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) noted that it is " like a lizard in shape and with a body starred all over; it never comes out except during heavy showers and disappears the moment the weather becomes clear."

Those who understand nothing of the symbolism here leap up and down and say of course what he is describing is the golden alpine salamander – all of these traits, even down to the star-like markings, are consistent with Salamandra atra aurorae .
Er no.
This is symbolic – stars, rain, water.

Wikipedia “Pliny recounts several other traits which are less credible, such as the ability to extinguish fire with the frigidity of their bodies”  More symbolism – so much cooling spiritual input that they can withstand the heat.

Salamanders and Rebirth

One of the ways in which rebirth can take place is that the person is taken to either the Fire level or even the abyss beyond and stripped spiritually clean.  One of the ways in which they can be stripped clean is by being burned or ‘boiled’ figuratively speaking.  Thus this is purification by fire, you will see several examples appear in the observations.

Thus any person who has been through this horrific spiritual experience and come out of it with new powers or understanding is again figuratively speaking a salamander – and a potential guide through the Fire layer.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) wrote the following on the salamander as a spirit guide: "This has no digestive organs, and gets no food but from the fire, in which it constantly renews its scaly skin. The salamander, which renews its scaly skin in the fire,—for virtue."

And here we have the same idea of a person reborn from Hermeticism.

From The Book of Lambspring, The Hermetic Museum

In all fables we are told that the Salamander is born in fire....  It dwells in a great mountain which is encompassed by many flames.  And as one of these is ever smaller than another — herein the Salamander bathes.  The third is greater, the fourth brighter than the rest. In all these the Salamander washes, and is purified.  Then he ties him to his cave, but on the way is caught and pierced so that it dies, and yields up its life with its blood.  But this, too, happens for its good: For from its blood it wins immortal life, and then death has no more power over it.  Its blood is the most precious Medicine upon earth, the same has not its like in the world.  For this blood drives away all disease....  From it the Sages derive their science, and through it they attain the Heavenly Gift, which is called the Philosopher’s Stone . 

This uses the symbolism of Mountain, Flame, and Blood.  Simply put, a person who has been through rebirth often becomes a healer.

The Salamander and the Smith

If you turn to the section on the Fire level you will see that a person who has great power to travel and use this level is the Smith or Blacksmith.  Put simply a shaman capable of going out of body and mastering this level of vibrational energy was called a smith or black smith.

The salamander is the traditional emblem of the smith, and even appears in a number of civic arms [presumably the Freemasons knew the symbolism implied]. It appears in the arms of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council,  for example as well as the crest of the arms of Spennymoor Town Council, the Shafto family's salamander also holds a sword which of course symbolically is the same as the cross [!].

 

 

Too many symbols, time to stop!

References

  • Conrad Lycosthenes, Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon, 1557
  • Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, J. Bostock and H.T. Riley, eds.
  • Theophrast von Hohenheim a.k.a. Paracelsus, Sämtliche Werke: Abt. 1, v. 14, sec. 7, Liber de nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis et salamandris et de caeteris spiritibus.
  • Civic Heraldry of England and Wales: West Midlands
  • Civic Heraldry of England and Wales: Worcestershire
  • Civic Heraldry of England and Wales: Durham

 

Observations

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