Musing on the Sabian Symbols (with pictures)

September 3, 2011

"Dagnabit, Elsie, that image isnt esoteric enough...try harder to stroke my Ego!"

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been exploring the Sabian Symbols and their many facets and they are the most wonderful prompts for active imagineering, transforming, accessing higher information, winkling out hidden meanings and for pathworking the planetary aspects. Recently, I read Dane Rudyhar’s perspective on their origin: when Elsie and Marc sat in the park.  Dane writes:

Marc Jones has related it to the type of occult Brotherhood which apparently existed in ancient Mesopotamia (whence the name “Sabian” that he has used for the group of students he has been directing and teaching for nearly half a century).But whatever the exact manner in which the Sabian set of symbols was produced, it is not enough merely to say that “they work.” What has to be clearly understood is the nature of their validity and what is really implied in their existence and character. One may speak of inspiration from some ancient Brotherhood or the presence of an occult partner in the work, but it is obvious that the scenes and images visualized by Elsie Wheeler are entirely modern and, what is more, in many instances strictly American in character. They contain references which even a European, especially one living in 1925, would have some difficulty understanding. They belong to the collective consciousness of the average educated American.Thus we have a significant antinomy: randomness versus internal structure, and a purely American mentality (or mentalities, if we include that of Marc Jones) versus a postulated archaic occult source of inspiration. Such a dualistic situation is not unusual in occult or spiritual training, for there the extremes meet and interact to produce a total transformation of the consciousness. In this sense, the polarization of the highly intellectual and abstract mind of Marc Jones, many of whose concepts link him with the medieval scholastics, and of the mediumistic middle-class mentality of Elsie Wheeler also implies a kind of dialectical process. The occult and the commonplace are synthesized in the symbols, which is another way of saying that they should be understood at two levels: the archetypal-structural and the existential. The symbolic images or scenes are existential and relatable to the mostly ordinary experience or dream fantasy of the collective American consciousness; through the commonplace and the collective, one may reach the archetypal level at which a cyclic sequence of phases occurs, each phase meant to actualize a specific quality of being and endowed with a structural meaning because of its rank and function within the cycle-as-a-whole, the Eon. (sourced from Mindfire)

Ferris Bueller - The Time Lord - messing with your hot-to-cold-water ratio in your shower

Earlier this year, as I was reading the book, The Devil in the White City about the 1893 Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, which brought us the invention of the Ferris Wheel and so many antecedents of technologies we derive benefit from in the 21st century; I was guided to refer back to the biography of Marc Edmund Jones to follow up a hunch. 

I was not at all surprised to have my hunch confirmed; that St Louis-born Marc grew up in Chicago and as a five-year-old boy – moved through the fair. In Marc’s own words:

“I was fascinated [at the Columbian Exposition],” said Jones, “with relations in sequence and particularly in two areas: one was precious stones, which varied in color and in value. The sequence in terms of preciousness puzzled me. Why were some more precious than others? Nobody explained. I had the same experience with varnished samples of different kinds of woods. Some were more valuable than others. Here again was the same problem of sequence. So from the age of five on I had a major worry, a phenomenon that I call sequence.” 

 He also would have visited Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show that was set up next door to the World’s Fair. Buffalo Bill having been denied permission to set up his Wild West Show within the grounds of the Columbian Exposition.  A somewhat embarrassing financial decision for the Exposition’s bean-counters.  

me and my past-life unlived life

Marc’s comments inspired me take a much closer look at the Sabian Symbols, especially in light of Dane Rudhyar’s identifying the Sabian Symbols as belonging to the collective consciousness of the average educated American, and the deep impression the Heaven-on-Earth magic of the Columbian Exposition, with its striking buildings designed by the creme-de-la-creme of American architects and other visionaries, made on the average American: Could Elsie Wheeler have plucked the images for the astrological degrees from the memory piggybank of Marc’s puzzling five-year-old Self?  

In the midst of all this magical mojo in Chicago, behind the scenes a rather cunning serial killer was active, building a block-long three-story hotel in which visitors to the Columbian Exposition would stay. He preyed upon vulnerable women and others that rented rooms. This hotel was later dubbed “The Murder Castle”, and the author of The Devil in the White City, interweaves the duality of wonder-and-wickedness that coexisted during this period in a most riveting fashion. Erik Larson’s book is a must-read, especially if I have got you thinking about the Sabian Symbols. 

I’ve done my research into the nature of the exhibits and 95% of the Sabian Symbols can be attributed to things that little Marc saw, objects that were delivered from around the world. The latest inventions, futuristic drawings, pictures and the American Indian themed symbols? Remember Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show………. 

Leonard DiCaprio purchased the film rights to Larson’s nonfiction book in 2010, so I really hope a movie is in the can soon.

...say did you guys see where I left my towel?

Consider that this World’s Fair had the same effect as a Harmonic Convergence with some potent energies being seeded and along comes five-year-old Marc, the age of Innocence and with his unique destiny still veiled, and he’s thinking about things that nobody explained. Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll show you the man..St Francis Xavier. For a five-year-old like Marc the Midway and Pavilions of the World’s Fair must have been as impressive as Disneyland today and more. From the emotion of AWE, that Pearsall says is our eleventh emotion, Marc’s receptive child-like purity was perfect alchemical soil for those energies to have been planted in.  He chose Elsie Wheeler as the Medium for the Sabian Symbols because she was less worldly-wise than other candidates………and may not have been worldly-wise enough to have negotiated a percentage of the royalties from his subsequent book either. Bygones.

Elsie did not attend the 1893 World’s Fair, she was six years old, had developed juvenile rheumatoid athritis and was still living with her family. One parent had already died, and she and her four siblings would be orphaned the next year. Due to her spectacular degree of clairvoyant ability, as Rudhyar put it, I feel that she did get to go to the World’s Fair… via the snapshots taken by Marc’s five-year-old Self in a Vulcan mind-meld kinda way.  (Vulcan being the esoteric ruler of Taurus, (Venus the common) the White City was a most beautiful Venutian place).

Mind-meld: A procedure carried out by Vulcans in the fictional universe of Star Trek. It involves the temporary creation of a shared consciousness, usually through direct physical contact.

The world “Sabean” is very similar to the Latin word “Sabini” or “Sabin”  that we know as Sabine.  The Sabines were an Italic tribe that lived in the central Appennines of ancient Italy, also inhabiting Latium north of the Anio before the founding of Rome.

Consider the classical architecture of buildings constructed for The Columbian Exposition.  Also that this World’s Fair marked an American Renaissance; a coming-of-age in art and architecture that put America “on the map” in the higher echelons of those visionary circles.

Consider that the tarot is believed to have originated in Northern Italy.  La dolce vita!

How did the Sabian Symbols get their name?  This offering from the Sabian Assembly is revealing:

The students themselves picked the word Sabian, which was lucky because it afterward turned out that the Sabians were a Mohammedan group, and nobody knew just what they were. It is not a historically legitimate word for what we do, but it’s a good substitute, and it did represent people who were interested in what was then astrology. Later Jones would derive the word from the Hebrew phrase “Yahweh Sabaoth” or Lord of Hosts, referring to the Hosts as the potentialities or basis of all study in the Sabian work and calling it a convenient term for the pre-Biblical Mesopotamian mysteries “in lieu of the much abused terms Chaldean and Magian.” Significantly, the Koran entitles Sabians, Christians and Jews to toleration.

Close but no cigar!

Groucho Marx

The origins behind the Sabian Symbols is, as I have postulated, a far more simple story than the one Marc Edmund Jones and his students came up with. They were looking in the wrong place. Much has been written about the Sabian Symbols and Dane Rudyhar certainly uses some five-buck words that one should write down for use in future Scrabble games, yet simplicity is the keyword here. Think horses not zebras.

The Sabian Symbols are potent portals into the subconscious and their potentials are better activated if you step into the innocence and receptivity of your child self. Your Divine SeedChild and allow them to work through you, not wrestle them into submission via the complexities of the information you have accumulated. Each Sabian Symbol is a multifaceted precious gem, a piece from the Tree of Life with rings that can take us back and forward through time and dimension.

The One Ring

Dane Rudhyar felt that the Sabian Symbols needed to be reworked, yet I sense that he didn’t quite twig to the World’s Fair connection and was ‘blinded’ by his own considerable knowledge in all things esoteric and ancient.  His identification of the Sabian Symbol imagery being relevant to the American consciousness was the final piece that I needed to come forward with my thinkingWayoutsideofthebox theory, and post it on a blog that nobody reads. 

There is nothing “ancient” about the Sabian Symbols.  They are a modern living breathing and evolving tool ‘birthed’ at a truly magical time in the cultural history of humankind ~ a Renaissance period ~ and they hold those energies in trust for us to access at this time of a Mystical Renaissance

Consider that Caroline Myss, one of the foremost Mystical Teachers on the planet at this time, a medical intuitive who was born, raised and still lives in Chicago, and the thrust of her teachings, and you may understand the role the World’s Fair of 1893 played as a period of seeding for many things that are still waiting to be found……in your backyard, if you are an American.  Not in the sacred sites overseas, but underneath your very noses in your own heartland.

Chicago is also the resting place of America’s first saint, Mother Cabrini.

Some things cast long shadows

The Midwest….”America’s Heartland”….Chicago the “Windy City”…..the whispering winds of change. The World’s Fair served to tell the world that the city had “risen from the ashes” of the Great Chicago Fire. (The Phoenix is often referred to as a fire bird and burns itself in fire every 500-600 years. It burns itself to create a new fire bird, ready for another long life).

The 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions, which ran from September 11 to September 27, marked the first formal gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions from around the world.

Like I said, the Columbian Exposition had the energies of a Harmonic Convergence.  

I simply connect the dots.

The Parliament of Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the Art Institute of Chicago. On this day Vivekananda gave his first brief address. He represented India and Hinduism.[79] Though initially nervous, he bowed to Saraswati, the goddess of learning and began his speech with, “Sisters and brothers of America!”.

Swami Vivekanada died on 4 July 1902.  He was a huge hit at the Columbian Exposition.  

“A bride with her veil snatched away” 12 Virgo 

This symbol is illuminated 4:32 PM EDT Sept. 3 (8:32 PM GMT, Sept. 3)

 Theme: Exposure.

“My personal contribution, of course, is a once-and-for-all matter to serve as groundbreaking or foundational work on which others can build their own characteristic way in their orientation to a world that continues to change as a necessity of its existence.” ~ Dr Marc Edmund Jones

Further Reading

Visit the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 at x-roads.virginia.edu



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