Symbols are thought-forms which convey, by the association of ideas, a definite meaning in regard to the mind that generates them. They depend wholly upon the laws of thought, and the correspondence that exists between the spiritual and material worlds, between the subject and the object of our consciousness.
Among the ancients symbols were the original form of record, of communicating ideas, and of writing. The hieroglyphs of the Egyptians, the word-pictures of the ab
rigines of Central America, the ideographic writing of ancient Mongolia, are all forms of symbolic writing, drawn from natural objects. The Hebrew alphabet, the names of its 22 letters, clearly indicate the nomadic and simple life of those "dwellers in tents." Thus the names of the letters include such objects as ox, tent, tent-door, tent-peg, camel, fish, fish-hook, an eye, a hand, a basket, a rope-coil, a head, an ox-goad, water, etc. From the combination of these simple forms the words are constructed. Thus the word used to signify "knowledge" is derived from three letters, Yod, Daleth, Oin, which mean a hand, a door, an eye. The hand denotes action, power, etc.; the door denotes entering, initiation, etc.; the eye denotes seeing, vision. Therefore the three ideograph; when combined, denote "opening the door to see," which is a very graphic way of conveying the idea of acquiring knowledge. One cannot help seeing the hand of the young Hebrew drawing aside the canvas door of the tent and peeping in to see what secrets may be learned!
All symbols, therefore, may be translated by reference to the known nature, quality, and uses of the objects they represent. Thus a foot signifies a journey, and also understanding; a mouth denotes speech, revelation; an ear news, information, and, if ugly and distorted, scandal or abuse. The sun, shining brightly, denotes prosperity, honours. The moon, when crescent denotes success, increase, and improvement. When gibbous, it denotes sickness, decadence, losses, and trouble. The sun eclipsed shows death or ruin of a man; the moon, similarly afflicted, denotes equal danger to a woman. These are natural interpretations.
Every symbol, however, has a threefold interpretation, and the nature of the inquiry or the purpose for which the vision is sought must determine the meaning of the symbols. If they refer to the spiritual world the interpretation must be agreeable to the nature of the spirit, and similarly if they refer to the intellectual or physical worlds. Thus a pair of scales would denote Divine Justice in the spiritual sense, judgment in the intellectual sense, and obligation in the material sense. If the scales were evenly balanced the augury would be good. But if weighed down on one side it is Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin, "Thou art weighed and found wanting"; it shows a corrupt judgment, a wrong conclusion, an unbalanced mind, failure in one's obligations, injustice, etc. And if a sword should lie across the scales or be seen overhead, then a speedy judgment will be meted out.
A ship is a symbol of intercourse, of trading, of voyaging, etc. If in full sail it shows that the communication with the spiritual world is increasing, that news from far-off lands will come to hand, that trade will increase, that a voyage will be taken. If aught is written on the sails it will be an additional source of enlightenment. If the symbol of death be written there, it shows speedy translation to a far-off country in which the subject will die. That far-off country may be the spiritual world itself in which case the death would be a natural one. But if the ship's sails are drooping, then it denotes a falling away of spiritual influx of intelligence, and of trade. Expected news will not come.
Black bread denotes a famine, and if it be spotted with yellow blotches it shows a plague. This symbol was seen, with a goat butting at it, in June, 1896. There followed a famine and plague in India, which country is said to be ruled by the zodiacal sign Capricorn! The symbol was not deciphered till the event came to throw light upon it. In the same way a leaf of shamrock, denoting the Triple Alliance, has been seen split down the centre with a black line, denoting the fracture of the treaty. It would also seem to indicate that Ireland, whose symbol is the shamrock, will be separated by an autonomous government from the existing United Kingdom.
In similar manner all symbols arising in the crystal may be interpreted by reference to their known qualities and uses, as well as the associations existing between them and other things, persons, and places, in the mind of the seer. As we have already said, however, the meanings of most of the symbols will be conveyed to the consciousness of the trained seer at the time of their appearance in the crystal. Experience will correct many errors, and a symbol, once known, will assume a constant meaning with each seer, so that after repeated occurrence it will hold a definite signification.
It should be mentioned, however, that the same symbol will have different meanings with different seers. It is difficult to say why this is the case. But it probably arises from the difference of individual temperament, and the Order to which the soul belongs in the spiritual world. These dissimilarities exist between individuals down to the lowest of our sensations. We have the same laws of thought and the same general constitution. Humanity holds us all within the bonds of a single nature. Yet, despite this fact, we have differences of opinion, of emotion, of sympathy and antipathy, of taste, and so forth, Therefore it would appear that the soul images projected by the magical power of the mind must have different significations with each of us, their interpretation being in some peculiar way in agreement with the nature of the person who sees them. Necessarily no definite rule can be laid down as to interpretation, but it is advisable that the seer or seeress should be his or her own interpreter.
Thus, although every symbol has some general signification in agreement with its natural qualities and uses, yet it obtains a particular signification in regard to each person. It is within common experience that this is the case in regard to dreams, wherein the faculty of seership is acting in its normal plane. Every person is a seer in dream-life, but few persons pay that attention to dreams that their origin and nature warrant. The crystal is but a means of bringing this normal faculty of dreaming into activity in the waking life. Yet, as stated above, the differences of import or meaning, even in the dream-world, of any particular symbol is a common experience. Thus one person will dream to be wading in water whenever there is trouble ahead. Another will dream of a naked child when similar troubles are about to occur, Butcher's meat will signify financial troubles to one person, to another a fortunate speculation. The controlling factor in this matter is probably to be found in the constitution of the mental and psychic qualities conferred by the hereditary and psychic influences converging at the conception of an individual, and expressed in the birth. Probably, too, an argument could be established in regard to the influence of the planets ruling at the nativity, and also from the dominion of the signs of the zodiac in the horoscope of birth. But this would be beyond the scope and intention of this short treatise.