In his poem, “Correspondences,” Charles Baudelaire invokes the great mystery, likening our earthly dream-life to the experience of walking through a forest composed of symbols.
Everything is linked by analogy to a higher realm of laws and principles, and those who hold the key tread their terrestrial path in an exalted state of serendipity and synchronicity, with nothing taken at face value. The material world is merely the realm of effects; causes come from above, from the mysterious forces, always in motion, circling with the wheel in the sky. What’s more, our experience of physical life is determined by the subtle flow of cosmic energies and whether they are blocked or flow freely.
Since the beginning, when order was formed from chaos, mankind has used symbols to express a metaphysical reality that eludes rational thought. Symbols have a universal character and appear in world civilizations isolated in time and space, suggesting they appeared in mankind’s imagination via divine transmission.
Consisting of two simple intersecting lines, the cross is perhaps the world’s oldest symbol. Its meanings are myriad: the four points can represent, for example, the four elements or cardinal directions, while the horizontal line can stand for everything that rises and falls, lives and dies in the world of Becoming, with the vertical line symbolizing the eternal present of Being in the immutable, celestial realm outside of space-time.
Those who feel the stirrings of spiritual awakening, the growing-pain tremors of something greater than their personal ego starting to rise like incense into conscious awareness, can orient themselves by visualizing one symbol said to perfectly illustrate the task that lies ahead.
Let us take those two intersecting lines forming a cross and have the vertical stand for the ordinary waking consciousness. The spiritual journey begins with a rupture, a long process of “ego death” in which the person lies down in the “earth” or “waters” symbolized by the horizontal plane.
This is the realm of the subconscious: the shadow figure with its unrealized powers, the energies of the opposite-gender polarity and the suprapersonal spark of life. It is a hero’s journey into the cave of the psyche, where past sorrow lies petrified, and where the bugbears of fear and anxiety cast their spells. But it is also the place where the Spirit is found, which lifts the hero back to their feet in a state of wholeness and illumination. The cross is now complete: vertical, fallen and resurrected.
And at the center of the intersecting lines blooms a rose, the symbol of spiritual rebirth, with petals unfolding across eternity.