There is much illuminating esoteric symbolism contained in what has become known as the “Theosophical Logo” – the emblem used by all the different branches of the Theosophical Movement. In fact, it could even justifiably be said that the whole mystery and meaning of life and the universe is contained and expressed within that perfect amalgamation of archaic symbols.
There are six distinct aspects to this logo or seal. They are…
1. The serpent formed into a circle and swallowing its own tail, also known as the Ouroboros.
2. The double triangle with the white pointing upwards and the black pointing downwards, which is in effect the six-pointed star, also known as the Seal of Solomon and Star of David.
3. The swastika.
4. The ancient Egyptian cross, known as the Ankh or crux ansata (ansated cross).
5. The motto: “There is no religion higher than Truth.”
6. The OM symbol.
Let us briefly examine these six components of the logo and see what they have always symbolised and represented throughout history.
* First, the serpent which forms the great surrounding or all-encompassing circle.
This symbolises and represents:
(2) The never-ending cycle of evolution within the Eternity.
(3) The “circle of necessity” of the Egyptians or the numerous reincarnations of the soul throughout its cyclic evolutionary journey, periodically casting off its temporary body just as the serpent periodically casts off its skin.
(4) Wisdom, the serpent having always been the chief symbol of wisdom in all nations throughout history and revered as such in all the religions and philosophies of the world except theological Christianity. Yet Christ himself is recorded as using the ancient symbolism, which was perfectly known throughout the Middle East, when saying “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” In Sanskrit the word “naga,” meaning serpent, is also a synonym for “initiate,” one who has been initiated into the Mysteries of the Esoteric Wisdom.
(5) The circle is also the ancient symbol of perfection.
* Second, the two interlaced triangles.
This symbol is known to many in the West as the Seal of Solomon, having acquired this name because it was commonly supposed that Solomon had used this symbol when dealing with the spirits or “genies” who did his bidding. Its real origin is Indian and to many Hindus it is the sign of Vishnu. It is also known as the hexagram, the Star of David, and the six pointed star. It forms the basis of the Sri Chakra – also known as Sri Yantra – of Hindu mysticism. It symbolises and represents:
(1) The sevenfold constitution of man and all things, i.e. the Seven Principles of the microcosm and the macrocosm, the latter sometimes being referred to as the Seven Planes. If you look carefully you will see that it is actually six small triangles surrounding and emanating from a CENTRAL SPACE – the Seventh Principle. The seventh touches all things from six sides by means of the six triangles or Principles. All the six points touch the side of the serpent – the great encircling wheel of cyclic evolution.
Theosophy teaches that the human being is comprised of Seven Principles or seven parts, namely the divine part (Atman), the spiritual part (Buddhi), the intellectual part (Manas), the passional part (Kama), the vital part (Prana), the astral part (Linga Sharira), and the physical part (Sthula Sharira). The Atman is our Higher Self and the One Eternal Divine Principle. But it puts forth from itself six lesser Principles for purposes of manifestation and evolution. It is the source, the seed, and the synthesis of the six.
(2) The conjunction of Spirit and Matter (Purusha and Prakriti in Sanskrit) in the manifested universe. The upper triangle is the white, representing Spirit and the lower is the dark, representing Matter. The Double Triangle in this form is a symbol of White Magic, showing the supremacy of Spirit over Matter, but if the black triangle were to be pointing upwards and the white downwards it would be a symbol of Black Magic. All the great opposites and dualities which are required for the existence of the manifested universe are represented in these two triangles connected together.
(3) The ultimate primordial Oneness in eternity of Spirit and Matter, as the Parabrahm/Mulaprakriti which Theosophy speaks so much about.
The Master K.H. has said: “The double triangle viewed by the Jewish Kabalists as Solomon’s Seal, is, as many of you doubtless know the Sri-antara of the archaic Aryan Temple, the “mystery of Mysteries,” a geometrical synthesis of the whole occult doctrine. The two interlaced triangles are the Buddhangums of Creation. They contain the “squaring of the circle,” the “philosophical stone,” the great problems of Life and Death, and – the Mystery of Evil. The chela who can explain this sign from every one of its aspects – is virtually an adept. … In all the old Sanskrit works – Vedic and Tantrik – you find the number 6 mentioned more often than the 7 – this last figure, the central point being implied, for it is the germ of the six and their matrix.”
* Third, the swastika.
As rightly said by H.P. Blavatsky, the swastika or svastika is “the most sacred and mystic symbol in India.” It is a pure spiritual symbol which can be found on the historical remains and records of almost every nation, originating initially in India, the ancient Mother of our modern civilisation. It was also an important and much cherished symbol of the early Christians, who called it the “crux dissimulata” and often accompanied it with the inscription “Vitalis Vitalia” – “Life of Life.” They used the swastika for centuries, long before the crucifix form of the Cross was ever invented.
It must be repeatedly emphasised that the swastika was never thought of in any way by anyone as being an evil or “dark” symbol until Hitler misappropriated it as the symbol of Nazism. Tragically the image of the swastika continues to strike fear and horror into the hearts of many, due to their not knowing its true spiritual origins and meaning. Despite its modern negative connotations, Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists all over the world retain their right to the use of the swastika as a spiritual symbol.
Hitler also misappropriated and misrepresented the word “Aryan” – using it to mean a so-called “perfect race” of blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skinned people – whereas in its actual and historical sense, which is the sense in which the term is used in Theosophy, the word “Aryan” means “Indian.” Ancient India was called Aryavarta and the Aryans were the inhabitants of this land. The swastika symbolises and represents:
(1) Auspiciousness, since the true and literal meaning of the Sanskrit word “Swastika” is “All is well.”
(2) The continual motion and revolution of the invisible forces of the universe and the cycles of time, represented by the four arms of the cross being bent at right angles to signify motion and rotation.
(3) The Seal of the Heart or Heart’s Seal of Buddhism. It can be seen engraved on the chest of Buddha in many statues of him around the world.
(4) Fohat, cosmic electricity.
“Applied to the Microcosm, Man, it shows him to be a link between heaven and Earth: the right hand being raised at the end of a horizontal arm, the left pointing to the Earth. … It is at one and the same time an Alchemical, Cosmogonical, Anthropological, and Magical sign, with seven keys to its inner meaning. It is not too much to say that the compound symbolism of this universal and most suggestive of signs contains the key to the seven great mysteries of Kosmos. … It is the Alpha and the Omega of universal creative Force, evolving from pure Spirit and ending in gross Matter. It is also the key to the cycle of Science, divine and human; and he who comprehends its full meaning is for ever liberated from the toils of Mahamaya, the great Illusion and Deceiver. … So ancient is the symbol and so sacred, that there is hardly an excavation made on the sites of old cities without its being found.” – H.P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2
* Fourth, the Ankh.
(1) LIFE, since in Egyptian hieroglyphics this symbol literally means “life.” Some people interpret it as actually being the Key of Life.
(2) The spiritually regenerated human being, the head and arms being apparent in the top loop and horizontal line of the symbol. In the Theosophical logo this appears in the very centre of the Double Triangle or six points of the star, the meaning of which we have already explored above.
(3) The planetary sign of Venus; the crux ansata and the Venus symbol being virtually identical. In Theosophical teachings, Venus corresponds esoterically to Manas, the Mind Principle within the human being. It is also said that Venus is the “spiritual prototype” of Earth, “the Guardian Spirit of the Earth and Men,” “the Light-Bearer of our Earth, in both its physical and mystic sense,” and that it is “the most occult, powerful, and mysterious of all the planets; the one whose influence upon, and relation to the Earth is most prominent.” This has to remain largely a mystery but it is explained and hinted at to some extent in “The Secret Doctrine.”
* Fifth and sixth, the motto and the OM.
Originally the Theosophical seal didn’t include the motto or the OM symbol. These were added after Madame Blavatsky relocated to India in 1879. The motto is a translation in English of the family motto of the Maharajahs of Benares – “Satyat nasti paro Dharmah” – “There is no religion higher than Truth.”
Since Theosophy states that spiritual Truth is universal, it asserts that it transcends and predates all manmade religions. Religions have a part to play but no religion contains the whole Truth, although all of them contain some of it, however distorted and garbled it may have become under their representation. To point out and reveal the one esoteric Truth, the one esoteric Teaching, which underlies all the world’s religions…this is one of the major aims of the Theosophical Movement. Thus this motto was adopted as being truly fitting and illustrative.
OM, which is sometimes written as AUM, is both a visual symbol and a sacred sound or mantra. It is the sacred word and sacred symbol of Hinduism and has also been adopted by the other three main religions of India, i.e. Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The Hindu scriptures teach that OM is the symbol of Brahman.
Brahman (synonymous with Parabrahman and Parabrahm) is a term for the Supreme Self, the Infinite, the Absolute, the Divine Allness, the Ultimate Reality. Brahman is all and in all. There is nothing but Brahman. The Upanishads declare that Brahman is “ONE without a second” and that It is not a Being but “the divine Principle of Existence.” It is the ONE LIFE, the Supreme Pure Divine Consciousness. HPB writes in “The Key to Theosophy” that “The Parabrahm of the Vedantins is the Deity we accept and believe in.”
It is therefore only right that the OM symbol should be placed right at the very top of the logo of the Theosophical Movement. The Divine OM is all there is. Everything comes forth from That, exists in That, and is reabsorbed into That at the end of the universal life cycle. Advaita – Non-Duality or Universal Oneness – is the essence of Theosophy.