Symbols - What does heaven look like
Caves have a rather unique role to play in spiritual travel. They are a special sort of portal, being the start of most shamans’ and other spiritual explorers’ journeys, but they may also be used to show things – a sort of observation chamber of mysteries.
Porphyry – De Antro Nympharum [On the cave of Nymphs]
Thus the Persians, as mystics, initiate the ‘mystes’ [potential mystics] by teaching him the downward way of the souls and their way back and calling the place a grotto.
The caves one experiences as one goes deeper represent the deep sub-conscious – the hidden part of the soul itself.
They often hide truths which can be a shock or are less palatable, but which nevertheless need to be ‘unearthed’ because they often hold back one’s spiritual progress, or if you like, on a more prosaic level, make your life miserable without you understanding why.
Symbolically one always goes ‘down’ not up in spiritual cave travel.
The caves one sees in spiritual experience are, generally speaking your own , but there are also caves that relate to other people and things, just as there are islands that belong in other sections and also fields that belong in other sections
The Egyptians developed a complete system of travel at this level, going from mound to mound and cave to cave as the soul travelled round the egg on the way. The mounds were even numbered and colour coded.
Thus, in ancient Egyptian culture, the cave - as mentioned in the Book of the Dead - is just one of many topographical landmarks or hazards to be negotiated.
The Cave as Spiritual portal
Within your own soul, the entrance way to get into the labyrinth of caves that exist below ‘earth level’ is often – not surprisingly – a cave.
In this diagram I have shown the soul’s own soul cone and its caves – all of which occur at or below Earth level. As one can see the cave network can be hugely complex, with branched tunnels and tunnels that go across up and down. The caves can go deep into the subconscious many level downs not just to the underworld but to levels of hell – as such you need to be well prepared for what you may see here. To a large extent you are traversing your memory, but traversing much that may be buried and normally inaccessible.
Caves in spiritual experience often appear much as they do in real life. They can be lush entrances to the underworld or they can be small and dark with narrow entrances. Thus the cave in dreams, visions and hallucinations tends to mirror actual cave topography, in size, in shape, in depth and in the number of side tunnels and passages that it has.
Caves are a portal to the ‘underworld’ – a world of animal spirits. Although the spiritual traveller on the spiritual path may tend to ‘fly’ – go up and never see a cave, shamanic journeys always started with caves. The shaman in his visionary experience perceived a cave and then generally speaking he descended through a tunnel or series of tunnels into the underworld. The cave is an essential part of the experience of learning to be a shaman, as it was essential [still is] that the ‘demons’ that lie below are confronted and vanquished.
Those with considerable experience of hallucinatory or visionary travel are able to control the depth to which they can go and furthermore can travel considerable distances. They always go down and it seems the depth to which you can go is immense. I suspect a psychologist would say this reflects the depth of the sub-conscious.
Other types of ‘cave’ – vaults and chambers
Although the experience of most people is of a cave, in some cases the cave becomes a cellar, or an entryway down stone steps into underground chambers. All of these are symbolically the same thing – rooms found at lower levels and which have no windows – enclosed and often dark places with multiple tunnels and entryways
The cave as ‘viewing area’ for lessons
It is clear from most of the observations that caves are of two kinds: many are just important portals through which the spiritual traveller must pass to attain a special state. But a few are 'viewing-caverns'. As such there is something to be learnt from the ‘viewing caverns’. Many caves in people’s dreams or spiritual experiences contain deeply personal things, things which only they can fathom out.
One collection of functions that seems to be specific to these lower levels, for example, is the specific human functions of despair, grief, anger and so on – what we might call ‘negative functions’. Thus the shaman or spiritual traveller has to go down in levels to confront his ‘demons’ – which may appear symbolically in the dream or vision as demonic shapes.
Touched by Fire – Kay Redfield Jamison
The ‘dive’, or journey underground, by definition provides a remarkable intensity and range of experience for those who take it; conversely, those who have intense emotions, moods and sensitivities are probably much more likely to take the journey.
Caves as the source of energy
Symbolically caves are often associated with Water and Water is symbolically a source of spiritual energy. Thus symbolically a cave with a river system or a spring welling up inside is a potential source of internal usually kundalini energy.
A Dictionary of Symbols – J E Cirlot
In legend and folklore, the origin of life or the source of the renewal of the life forces – takes the form of caves and caverns where wondrous torrents and springs well up
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- A P Elkin - Aboriginal men of high degree - Arnhem land initiation
- Aladdin's cave
- Alice in Wonderland - Ch 01 - 2 Down the well
- Alice in Wonderland - Ch 01 - 3 The Glass Table
- Ancestors, the - Art - David Lewis-Williams from The Mind in the Cave
- Appendicitis produces an NDE
- Arnold, Matthew - To Margeurite
- Ashton R - Cave dive
- Baldrs draumar - Odin goes to Hel
- Bax, Clifford - The Meaning of Man - Dear and fair as Earth may be
- Benjamin, Walter - On Hashish - The dive
- Beowulf - The Fight with the Underground Monster
- Blake, William - Around Golgonooza lies the land of death eternal
- Blake, William - I was in a Printing house in Hell and saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted
- Blake, William - The caverns of the grave I’ve seen
- Book of Enoch-41
- Brain damage and years of regret
- Braveheart - And the lion
- Braveheart - Down the manhole
- Braveheart - Follow the yellow brick road
- Cash, Johnny – Has a rebirth experience in a cave
- Cave healing
- Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz - The Fifth Day - Commentary
- Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz - The Third Day
- Chichen Itza - Mayan - Pyramids and pools
- Clare, John - Wilt thou go with me sweet maid
- Cohen, Leonard - Ballad of the Absent Mare
- Coleridge, Samuel Taylor - Kubla Khan
- Coleridge, Samuel Taylor - Untitled
- Custance, John - Wisdom, Madness and Folly - In the Caves of the Unconscious
- Custance, John - Wisdom, Madness and Folly - Intelligence work in 1944
- Custance, John - Wisdom, Madness and Folly - On the depressive phase
- David Lewis-Williams - Caves and spiritual experience
- Dickinson, Emily - I like to see it lap the miles, And lick the valleys up
- DMT - The enormous octopus and the DMT beings
- DPT & Cannabis - Cave of fears
- Egyptian Book of the Dead - Spell 078
- Egyptian Book of the Dead - Spell 127
- Egyptian Book of the Dead - Spell 149
- Egyptian Book of the Dead - Spell 150
- Egyptian Book of the Dead - Spell 168
- Elijah - 1 Kings 18 01 - Ahab and Obadiah
- Experiencing hypnotic regression therapy
- Father Bernabe Cobo - Inca Religion and Customs - Caves
- Father Bernabe Cobo - Inca Religion and Customs - Titicaca Temple of the Sun and Moon 2
- Frost, Robert - Builder, in building the little house
- George Harrison - Any Road
- Green, Drs Elmer and Alyce – Experiments - The benefits of using EEG, biofeedback and visualisation
- Grieg - Peer Gynt Suite - Anitra's Dance
- Hagman, Larry – Takes LSD
- Hammond, Bill - Signal Box
- Harriet Brown's cave dive
- Hawker, Robert Stephen - The Signals of Levi
- Hennell, Thomas - Of finer, thinner stuff than iridescent bubbles
- Herbert, George - Peace
- Holderlin, Johann - Patmos
- Homer - The Odyssey - The nymphs
- Hopi and Zuni - Hummingbird legend
- How sweet the heavens are
- Hypnerotomachia Poliphili - Maze
- Hypnerotomachia Poliphili - Thorny Forest
- Incas - Macchu Picchu - Temple of the Moon
- James Cousins - The Quest
- Jonah - Authorized (King James) Version
- Joseph Campbell - Kung dancing
- Jung, C G - Memories, Dreams and Reflections - The crypt
- Jung, C G - The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature - On the dive
- Klimt - Danae
- Lamb, Charles - Mille Viae Mortis
- Legrand - Windmills of your mind
- Lewis, C S - The Silver Chair - Gnomes
- Lilly, John - Does the dive
- Lovecraft, H P - Letter to Frank Belknap Long December 11, 1919
- Lovecraft, H P - The Beast in the Cave
- Ludlow, Fitz Hugh - Caves
- Masters and Houston - A Medical student goes cave diving
- Masters and Houston - Exploring his own spiritual body
- Masters and Houston - The dive
- McKenna, Terence - First experiments with DMT
- Michaux, Henri - Miserable Miracle Mescaline - Down the vault
- Michaux, Henri - Report from Poddema
- Mircea Eliade - Describes Doing the dive
- Mircea Eliade - Describes Siberian shaman rebirth 003069
- Mircea Eliade - On caves
- Mircea Eliade - On caves and labyrinths
- Mircea Eliade - On caves and rebirth
- Mircea Eliade - On Sacred springs
- Mircea Eliade - On the shaman who met the reindeer women
- Mircea Eliade - Rebirth In the cave of the Reindeer woman
- Misc. source - Jaguars as naguals
- Mr Bryant on the 'worship in caverns'
- Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo - And the jackal story
- Mythology and Rites of the British druids - The gardens of the Tylwyth Teg
- Nahuatl legends - Aztlan
- Nerval, Gerard de - El Desdichado
- Nietzsche - Thus spake Zarathustra - The higher thou risest the smaller doth the eye of envy see thee
- Paul Devereux - Inca paths
- Paul Devereux - Mayan - Chichen Itza cave
- Persian caves
- Pied Piper of Hamlin
- Poe, Edgar Allen - Dream-Land
- Poe, Edgar Allen - For Annie
- Porphyry - The cave as the symbol of the perceptible cosmos
- Ripley, Sir George - Philalethes exposition of Ripley's Vision
- Salvinorin A - Caves and prickling
- Samavedas – Book 02 Chapter 02, VII Maruts
- Seven Ages of Man - 06 Dwarfs/The Neanderthals - On caves as cathedrals
- Socrates - Plato Phaedo - The Egg
- Stead, William - part 09 - Passing the pillars of light
- The Squid - Gets synaesthesia
- Theodore Roethke - In a dark time, the eye begins to see
- Vaughan, Dr Alan – A symbolic dream with precognitive content
- Vaughan, Henry - The World
- Verlaine, Paul - Un grand sommeil
- Villoldo, Dr Alberto - Cave diving and soul loss
- Villoldo, Dr Alberto - Journeying into the Chamber of Treasures
- W.Y. Evans-Wentz - The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries - Cave of Trophonius
- Xam bushmen - Num dom
- Yassawi - 04 from HIKMET 7
- Yeats, W B - The Wanderings of Oisin - Men’s hearts of old were drops of flame That from the saffron morning came
- Zohar - Bamidbar 183a - Aaron