Monday, January 14, 2008

The Zia Sun Symbol

New Mexico's distinctive insignia is the Zia Sun Symbol, which originated with the Indians of Zia Pueblo in ancient times. Its design reflects their tribal philosophy, with its wealth of pantheistic spiritualism teaching the basic harmony of all things in the universe.

Four is the sacred number of Zia, and the figure is composed of a circle from which four points radiate. These points made up of four straight lines of varying length personify the number most often used by the Giver of all good gifts.

To the Zia Indian, the sacred number is embodied in the earth, with its four directions; in the year, with its four seasons; in the day, with the sunrise, noon, evening, and night; in life, with its four divisions--childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. Everything is bound together in a circle of life and love, without beginning, without end.

The Zia believe, too, that in this great brotherhood of all things, man has four sacred
obligations: he must develop a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the welfare of his people.

Guided by this historic background, the flag of New Mexico was wisely chosen, with the ancient Zia Sun Symbol in red on a field of Spanish yellow. The symbol's proportions are fixed by legislative act, with the four groups of rays set at right angles , the two inner rays one-fifth longer than the outer rays. The diameter of the circle in the center is one-third the width of the symbol.

1 comment:

ericswan said...

Sun symbols...

From the complete figure it is easy to arrive, by omitting various parts and reorienting the remainder, at the six signs of the five planets (Mercury has two signs, while those of the sun and moon were original constituents); a process Dee sets out in tabular forms (XII). (His reasoning seems to be that since the planetary signs can be derived from a single sign compounded of a few primitive ones of known meanning, the nature and influence of the planets can be determined from this basis.) Thus Mars is composed of the Sun and Aries, with the magistery of the elements partly intervening; Venus of the sun and elements, which shows how they are concerned in the work of "revivification." Mercury has always a double nature and Dee exclaims in a phrase redolent with Cabalistic, Alchemical and Christian neo-Platonist associations, on the mysteries of its principle signs "Et (NUTU DEI) iste est Philosophorum MERCURIUS, ille Celeberrimus, MICROCOSMVS & ADAM" (XIII)(111). Dee emphasises the alchemical import by adding that the whole magistery depends therefore on sun and moon, for Hermes Trismegistus has declared these to be his Father and Mother, and it is known that Terra Lemnia (perhaps Mercury calx, sometimes called Red Earth) is singularly affected by their rays (XIV). The principles of the "Inferior Astronomy" - i.e., the family relationships of the metals (an alchemical treastise of Kelly's for instance has the title The Theatre of Terrestrial Astronomy) as they are revealed "in the anatomy of our Monad" are set out in a table, and various astrological consequences on the nature of the planets deduced from the whole figure (XV).

Dee proceeds to a further analysis of the cross (112) (XVI and XVII); his earlier remarks on it having largely been limited to what would justify its inclusion in his figure. Though it is a quaternary when upright, turned through forty-five degrees it represents 10, its upper part alone is five, i.e., V, and includes the decadal virtues within it for, turned through a further forty-five degrees this is seen to be multiplied tenfold as L, and profound mysteries of God are revealed, since the name of thihs letter is EL - the Hebrew name of God (113), and L is the tenth letter of the alphabet (omitting J and K) and the tenth from V (if U is overlooked); moreover the Mecubales (114) employed X to represent 21, this confirming the position it holds in the Latin Alphabet. Combining these results (4 x 5 + 4 x 50 + 10 + 21 + 1) the "significant" total of 252 is attained. The virtues of the Cross examined in this way are further proved, Dee declares, since from it the word LVX is directly obtainable (115).

Since he has shown how physical astronomy is guided by the intelligible astronomy of the monad, Dee now turns to showing how the parts of the latter may be arranged in the figure of the egg (i.e., alchemically) from which the misguided alchemists can truly learn what it is they ought to refer to when they use the terms "calcined eggshells," "the White," and "the Yoke"; he tells the fable of the Scarab and the eagle's eggs, affirming it is not Aesop but Oedipus (who first revealed the deepest mysteries of nature under disguise of symbols) who promptgs him (116). From the second example he concludes that it is clear that nothing can be said to exist except by the virtue of the Hieroglyph of the Monad (XVIII). He reaffirms - with special reference to alchemy - the doctrine of the emanations from sun and moon which control all generation and corruption, though the moon's "aqueous" humour is of less importance than the fiery liquor of the sun "quibus rerum mortalium sustenatur corpulentia terrestris."(XIX) This is an echo of the doctrines he had set out in the Aphorisms; they are quite usual (117), but it is of interest to observe the conformity of his expression in the Monas, and his additional use of the five planets, to Diodorus Siculus' interpretation of the Egyptian theology, of which Dee was probably well aware (118).

From the cross, symbol of the natural world, he proceeds to demonstrate the insufficiency of the binary, i.e., its inability to exist by itself here (a reminischence of the ancient numerologists on the indeterminate dyad) - for the point at which the two lines intersect, though without dimensions, is nevertheless an integral part of thse, indeed represents the secret conjuntion of the elements, and thus converts the figure into a Ternary; whilke if it be removed a quaternary - four separate lines - is immediately apparent (119). He proceeds darkly to explore the consequence of this, but breaks off fearful lest he has expressed himself too plainly; "Tu mi, Deus mihi ignoscas obsecro, Si ergo tuam Peccauerim Majestatem, tatum in Publicis Scriptis Reuelans, Mysterium." Nevertheless he hopes this secret will bring Maximilian and the house of Austria to supreme power on earth, who will then restore the Glory of Christ's name, and remove the abominable darkness which at present, declares Dee, covers the earth (XX). These follow sections on the virtues of the hieroglyph reversed (XXI), and on how secret letters may be extracted from it, and on the true shapes of all chemical vessels and types of apparatus - one of the most important is that formed of two hemispheres, or omega (" notatum videtis Vasculum est, Mysteriorum Plenissimum") - and relations between these and letters of the alphabet are pointed out, the figure is said to reveal the pestle and mortar in which "Margaritas Artificiales non perforatas, Laminas chrystallinas, Beryllinasq; Chrysolitos, Rubinos deinde prestiosos Carbunculos et alios Rarissimos Lapides Artificiales in Pulueres subtillissimos Conteramus" (120) - which if taken literally appears a very costly recipe, but the figure also apparently offers a way of obtaining the ingredients artificially (XXII).

A number of tabulated parallels between the parts of the hieroglyph, the life of Christ, and the stages of alchemical transmutation are set out (XXII). A claim is made of direct inspiration by christ "cujus Spiritus celeriter haec per me Scribentis, Calamum tantum esse Me & Opto & Spero," (121) and a detailed examination of the numerical proportions of the figure is made, for those who wish to engrave it on their seals or rings, or otherwise employ it, in which Dee warns strictly against any infringement however small of its mystical symmetry. He explains to Maximilian the method of working out permutations by continuous multiplication, which he hopes he will find "tum in omni Naturae examinatione, tum in aliis Reipubl. Negotijs utilissimo, remarking that he himself uses this calculation with the greatest joy in the Themurah of the Hebrews. Numerical tables of alchemical combinations are derived in this manner, with the note "Numeri nostri hanc habet Dignitatem; ut illoru violare Leges, Peccatum sit contra Natura Sapientia: quae eisdem nos docere velit (in Mysterijs suis maximis examinandes) quibus certis limitibus. Statisque Illi deuincieatur," (122) these last being Virtus, Pondera and Tempora. Under the table of combinations is written "Sic Factus est Mundus," and the number of the Philosophers' Stone declared to be 252 (XXIII). This long and crowded penultimate theorem is perhaps indicative of Dee's difficulties in forcing all he has to say into the limits of the twenty-four which he has prescribed to himself for the reasons set out in the final one - i.e., the use of this number in the Apocalypse. This twenty-fourth theorem also gives praise to God in conclusion, and is signed with a triangle, denoting Dee himself, for he is, he says, "the fourth letter." After the date, a diagram is given of a circle, with the inscription "Intellectus Judicat Veritatem," and a tangent, with the subscribed words "Contactus and Punctum" (123) and a concluding, far from unjustified, comment "Vulgaris hic Oculis Caligabit Diffidetque plurimum." On the last leaf is an emblematic version of the imperial coat of arms; the shield is here ovoid, containing the Hieroglyph of the Monad, the crowned helmet from which plumes emerge in the coat of arms, here becomes a sphere with the Hebrew name of God inscribed on it, small human figures (?) cluster round it and tongues of flame issue from it; overall, in place of the imperial eagle, is a seated female figure, as it were enthroned, or upona cherub, holding a plam branch in the left hand, and, aloft, a seven-pointed star in the right. This would seem to represent the soul, and it is perhaps not too improbable that a reference to the Timaeus is intended - as appropriate to the book - for the demiurge originally implanted knowledge in the souls of men, when, "mounting them as it were in chariots, he showed them the nature of the universe and declared to them the laws of destiny," and the righteous soul after death returns to live in glory "with its consort star."(124)