Symbols are fundamental to life. On a biological level, symbols in our genetic code determine our hair color, skin color, temperament, character traits, talents, and health. They also maintain life. Let’s consider the homeostatic systems in humans (the ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes). For example, let us look at pH – the acid/alkaline level in your body. Normal pH is 7.4. Changes in the balance can be detrimental to health, so your body monitors this. To correct changes in the pH of the body all body fluids are buffered by a chemical. When your pH spikes, the body responds, bringing the pH back to normal. What a magnificent system! My questions is, how does the body know where normal is once it is off track? It must have a benchmark, a symbol, that instructs it where to go back to. There are many such symbolic directives in our bodies. Symbolizing is a biological function, fundamental to all life processes.
More amazing is the paramecium. This is a one celled creature. One cell, and yet it sees food, it recognizes the food, knows how to obtain it, and eat it. To see requires an eye. To interpret images requires a brain. This tiny thing has both in one cell, and a set of abstracted (symbolized) instructions directing its activities.
Symbolic language flows from what we are made of. Our cells store symbols. We remember in images, in symbols. There is enough memory in one cell to record hundreds of images, for example, faces and expressions. Actually, it records abstractions – symbols – of faces, to be remembered for later recall. Our brain dreams in abstracted concepts, symbolizing people, circumstances, and events in sequences of images. You always dream in symbols; even if you think you dreamed about dad, it wasn't dad. It was a dad-symbol which represented a concept.
Picture-language is of Nature herself. All living things have image-instructions to direct what they become. Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann explains that a thing is a state-space. A living thing has an information-space in the state-space, containing all the instructions necessary for it to live. A blade of grass is a state-space with an information space within, as is a sheep, a bacteria, or a human. These information-spaces are programmed with symbols – abstracts of concepts required to guide the development of life. The formula of the golden ratio resides within these symbolic orders. Abstracted instruction permeates nature: birds know how to build nests without going to carpentry class, Monarch butterflies know where the Monarch tree is and migrate there without maps. Animals also use symbols – cats scratch or spray to communicate to other cats.
Humans use symbols too. Artists and writers use symbols, or descriptions of symbols, to communicate powerful concepts. Some are universally recognized, common to human life experience. These symbols are archetypes, flowing from millennia of human behavior and life events which are recorded in our cells’ memories, and expressed in human creativity. Learning this language facilitates effective, impactive communication, whether pictorial or written, and opens our understanding of the world around us. We see our history with more clarity, appreciate our today with more zeal, and have better vision for the future.
Learning to read symbolic language opens up a broader world of knowledge and wonder, and learning to use symbolic language to communicate means we are literate in the world of images; literacy being the ability to both read and write. Becoming symbol-literate is crucially important; for millennia that is the language that was used to record both knowledge and history. Our understanding of today rests on our knowledge of the past, and our vision for the future is built on our understanding of today.
About Symbologist Michelle Snyder
Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:
Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: My Art and Symbols
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids
|A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn|
|A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid|