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A Short Guide to Occult Symbols:

Strange AnimalsThe Unicorn and the Uroboros
By Carl Teichrib
Mysticism and occultism abound with symbols that often point to a transcendental reality
beyond conscious understanding.Nevill Drury, Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult, p.
Remember that when we talk and think in symbols, we are placing something between
ourselves and realitysomething protective, interpretive and significant, but something
nevertheless veiling and hiding. Alice A. Bailey, The Rays and The Initiation, p. 178.
Symbolical instruction is recommended by the constant and uniform usage of antiquity;
and it has retained its influence throughout all ages, as a system of mysterious
communication. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 372.
This article marks the seventeenth in an ongoing series on occult symbols.
We see symbols every day. They act as an intangible yet authentic language system to
those who understand its speech. Of coarse, we are talking of something more allusive
than just the common road marker or traffic signthe symbols in our discussion contain
spiritual dimensions, wrapped in centuries of mysticism and occultism. However, this traffic
sign allegory is an appropriate metaphor; the symbols we have been studying in our series
have been types of road markers which point the way to an alternative doctrine all
grounded in ancient pagan and mystical belief structures which have been resurrected
during the last number of decades.
In the world of the occult, those who are trained to interpret and understand these ever-
present yet allusive symbols, recognize that certain forces are at work in the worldforces
which are spiritual in nature. These symbols hold the keys to esoteric learning, unlocking
the occult mysteries and teachings of the ages.
Steeped in the philosophies of pagan mystery religions and secret societies, this previ-
ously underground religious foundation forms a spiritual alternative to the Biblical
worldview; fully equipped with alternative histories, alternative ways of salvation, alternative
gods, and alternative realities.
Understanding this greatly amplifies the words of Proverbs 14:12, There is a way that
seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Manly P. Hall, one of the most influential occultists of the last century, wrote this of sym-
bols, They are centers of a mighty force, figures pregnant with an awful power (Lec-
tures on Ancient Philosophy, p. 356).
The Mighty Unicorn:
Long considered the stuff of legends and fairytales, the unicornas a symbolholds a
special place in the world of mystical Christianity and other esoteric teachings. Manly P. Hall,
in his monumental work The Secret Teachings of All Ages, said this concerning the unicorn,
Mediaeval Christian mystics employed the unicorn as an emblem of Christ, and this
creature must therefore signify the spiritual life in man. The single horn of the unicorn may
represent the pineal gland, or third eye, which is the spiritual cognition center in the brain.
The unicorn was adopted by the mysteries as a symbol of
the illumined spiritual nature of the initiate, the horn with
which it defends itself being the flaming sword of the
spiritual doctrine against which nothing can prevail.
The Penguin Dictionary of Symbolism also connects the
unicorn to mystical Christian symbolism, and takes a defini-
tive sexual view of the one-horned beast,
With its single horn set in the middle of its forehead,
the unicorn also symbolizes a spiritual arrow, a sun-ray,
the sword of God, divine revelation or the godhead penetrating its creation. In Christian
iconography, it stands for the Virgin who has conceived by the Holy Spirit. The single horn
may also symbolize a stage upon the way of differentiation, from biological procreation
(sexuality) to psychic evolution (a sexual oneness) and to sexual sublimation. This single
horn has also been compared with a frontal penis or phallus of the psyche, the symbol of
spiritual fecundity. Yet, at the same time, the unicorn is the symbol of physical virginity.
Alchemists regarded it as an image of the hermaphrodite, but this would seen to be a
misunderstandinginstead of possessing a twofold sexuality the unicorn transcends
sexuality itself. In the Middle Ages the unicorn become the symbol of the Word of God made
flesh within the womb of the Virgin Mary.
This sexual overtone is also encountered in the wearing
of unicorn amulets and charms. Migene Gonzalez-Wippler,
the author of The Complete Book of Amulets and Talismans,
explains that the unicorn amulet is a traditional symbol of
fertility and sexuality, the unicorn is worn by those who
desire to increase their sexual magnetism.
All of this unicorn symbolism takes on even stranger
significance when one advances through the Practicus
Ritual of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawna secre-
tive occult society that helped lay the foundation for todays
occult revival. At the end of the ritual, the initiate is given the
mystic title of Monocris de Astris, which means the Uni-
corn from the Stars.
While theres little in the way of substantial evidence that the Golden Dawn had officially
been involved in sex-magic (see Regardies What You Should Know About the Golden
Dawn, which denies the Orders involvement in ritualistic sex-magic), some of those initi-
ated into the Ordersuch as the infamous Aleister Crowleywere directly responsible for
introducing sex magic (Tantric Yoga) to the West.
Richard Majka, writing in the Rosicrucian Digest (May 1977) on the history of the uni-
corn, summarized thus concerning the unicorns place in spiritual symbolism,
It may be asked, why should we trouble about a creature that never lived? The only
fitting answer is that certain mental constructssuch as symbolsdo not need much or
any connection with physical reality to be worthy. The unicorn may have been killed as an
earthbound entity some centuries ago, but the image of the beast as the embodiment of
spiritualized force is still valid.
What does all this mean for the child who has unicorn toys, unicorns on their bed-sheets
and curtains, unicorn posters, and other such items? Should these all be destroyed in an
act of housecleaning? First off, you need to keep in mind that to a child these items are
understood simplya horse with a horn. To them, there isnt anything esoteric about
them; the child wont even know what this means. It is almost guaranteed, however, that by
radically housecleaning you may trigger more questions and problems than if you ap-
proached the issue with tact and long-term training in mind.
As Ive stated in other articles in this series, CONTEXT IS CRUCIAL. Moreover, the
reason why Im publishing this information is so that youthrough the discernment of the
Holy Spirit and Gods Wordcan make informed decisions in this age of deception and
spiritual chaos.
The Mysterious Uroboros:
The question immediately comes to mind; what is the
Uroboros? Odds are, this creature will not have made it onto
your childs bed-sheets, curtains, or posters. The Uroboros
(also spelled Ouroboros) is an ancient serpent symbolits
a snake, or a similar creature, eating its own tail.
To the ancient Gnostics, the uroboros represented the
self-sustaining ability of nature and a unity in duality. More-
over, the Gnostic uroboros was an image of the cosmic
serpent which moved through the universe as an ever-
present life-force. Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, in writing of the
uroboros, explains, Herein we see that Spirit and Matter are
but different densifications or rates of vibration of the one all-pervading Energy, which to us
is the Absolute, God, Brahman (The Gnostic Circle, p. 110).
Richard Majka, an initiated Rosicrucian, writing in the Rosicrucian Digest (#1, 1995),
offers this revealing interpretation of the uroboros,
In the form of a great circle, this serpent is shown biting its own tail. Its body is depicted
in two colors, reflecting light and dark, signifying to the mystic that the material world is good
and bad, perfection and imperfection, but all bound together as one. This thought is
emphasized by the words that the serpents body encircles: One is all.
Among the Gnostics the Ouroboros was the serpent of paradise which planted within
humanity a yearning for knowledge. Thus it was thought to be good since it rightly directed
humans to knowledge despite all obstacles. For us, today, this mighty serpent remains a
vital symbol of the life that we each need to follow. For in learning about the truths of
existence on all levelsfrom the seemingly most trivial to the most universalwe must free
ourselves from all shackles to allow our consciousness to spiral upward into higher, more
cosmic realms.
Think about what Majka has admitted. The Uroboros is the cosmic unification of good and
evil, light and darkness, matter and spirithe is the representation of All. Moreover, uroboros is
the serpent of the Garden of Eden (serpent of paradise) which gave man the freedom to use
his intellect and knowledge, despite all obstacles God included. Majka also describes him
as good and rightly directed humans. The serpent of Genesiswhich tempted Eve and
facilitated the Fall of Manis now an acclaimed champion of humanity!
Of course, the final line of reasoning in Majkas Rosicrucian Digest article is that we
must free ourselves from all shackles in order to attain a great cosmic positioneat of the
fruit your eyes will be opened you will be as God (paraphrase of Genesis 3:4,5). Its
simply the old lie of the Garden rephrased.
Not surprisingly, the uroboros symbol can be found
within the framework of Freemasonry. The adjacent
picture is part of a Masonic apron which contains nu-
merous symbolsincluding an uroboros encircling the
Masonic square and compass, the skull and
crossbones, and other symbolic items.
The Theosophical Society also uses the uroboros in
their material. In fact, the uroboros holds a special
place within the official Theosophical sealit encircles
the Ankh/Tao-cross combination and the hexagram,
also known as the Seal of Solomon or Star of David.
Theosophy, and most of the other esoteric societies,
teach that the uroboros is a symbol of wisdom, knowl-
edge, and intellectall based on the so-called free-
dom offered by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
Uroboros in a
Masons Apron.
Seal of the
Biblically speaking, we know that mans wisdom is utter
foolishness in the sight of Godand that the serpents wisdom
was and is the pathway to sin and destruction (see Genesis 3).
Knowing this, what then does the uroboros really represent?
There is another meaning, an interpretation that is similar yet
antithetical to the Gnostic/Rosicrucian/Masonic/Theosophical
version. The following interpretation isnt found in occult litera-
ture, but is taken from a logical observation of the symbol itself,
and from an understanding of the early chapters of Genesis.
No one in esoteric circles ever mentions the fact that a crea-
ture eating its own tail is not nutritious. Rather than granting
itself life and freedom, the creature will inevitably choke itself
and die. Yes, the uroboros represents Lucifer (see the previous
Rosicrucian explanation) the serpent of Genesis. But viewed
through a Biblical lens, the uroboros image is analogous to the perpetuated lie of Genesis
3; eat and you will be as God with, of course, all of its destructive consequences; eat,
and you will perish.
A sobering reminder of the simplicity and truth of Proverbs 14:12; There is a way that
seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
(Carl Teichrib is a freelance researcher and investigative writer. He can be reached by