A+ R A-

Symbols' Origin in African Tradition

E-mail Print PDF

Share this article with a friend

Whereas Primitive Africans had engaged in Symbolic (a 15th century English word meaning 'something thrown together') practices, two advancements by Very Ancient Africans crystallized the concept. First was the interior African invention of agriculture with its plow (c20,000 BC); second, the Egyptian invention of Yoga practices (c10,000 BC). In combining the two, the "yoking" concept of Yoga came from how a pair of plow oxen were fastened by a wooden frame (i.e. “yoked”) for the purpose of working together as a unit. Now, if one ox was absent (the mystery), people could infer the absent ox resembled the ox they could see (the symbol). In other words, the yoked ox they could see: (1) was definitely present; (2) inferred that the absent yoke space should have another ox in it instead of some other type of animal; (3) was a simulated “stand-in” near twin for the missing ox--a rough description of the mystery ox which imparted additional wholistic information to complete the idea; and (4) the absent ox, as part of the same unit represented by the present ox, meant both worked together. Note the Cause (the visible ox "standing for" the mystery ox) giving rise to an Effect (a memory completing a present sensory experience) and the Effect being pregnant with the Consequence--an organized completion into a gestalt or whole idea, even though the visible ox and the mystery ox are not identical--a practical example of the Law of Correspondence.

So, a Symbol's "What it is" consists of a Thing representing something perceived as a wholistic special mental Image--an Image radiating varied meanings, each able to customize a connection with "Like-Kind" things in Receivers' minds. The Symbol's "What it does" gives ideas about mystery "Like-Kind" things + the process of Symbol completion + the degree to which one recognizes and has insight into those. The meaning found depends upon Contemplation--i.e. ones identification with the Thing + productive imagination = knowing the thing from within as it is in and of itself, not from some point of view. This is because, at its best, Symbolic Information alone is always from some point of view and merely "translates" its message into Symbols or concepts. By being analytical it breaks up the issue at hand into aspects or elements; gives only part of what the Thing is about; and characterizes each by an Abstract (or Abstraction). Hence, after the process has taken things from different aspects of the issue to form some property shared by all members of a given Class or Kind, it Abstracts that part of the issue with which it is concerned as well as the issue itself. Also, because what the Symbol represents is continually changing while the abstract concepts about it are not, means these conceptual concepts are petrified and thus falsify its reality conclusions. Furthermore, Symbolic Information cannot present the Thing it represents in its dynamic, living character and instead gives a "motionless view of a moving and dynamic reality." Like Humpty Dumpty of fairyland fame, the divided reality can never again be recovered in its wholism unity. Still, Symbolic Information can provide a way for the mind to physically present its "Seed" image, or vice versa. By contrast, Intuition sees the completed Circle of Wholism--the grasping of the original reality--concerning what is under consideration because of having looked behind the means of communications as well as shed ones perceptions, interpretations, and translations. Hence, its Circle of Wholism has reality, absolute individuality, and uniqueness--together providing Certainty and Indubitability.

Let us illustrate with the word "Religion" (re, again, back + ligare, tie). In the sense of tieing people back to their original creation, Ancient African Sages carried the literal meaning of "to Yoke” into the metaphysical realm with the idea of "to Link” the individual Consciousness of a human to its original Source — i.e. to the Universal Consciousness (Ashby, Africa p452). The Consequence of being "yoked" to God meant humans possessed Divinity in a dormant state. The Divinity presence is the Symbol and the dormant state represents an unrealized reality. In other words, most humans' personal divinity is an unrealized reality and in this sense its unmanifest state is like the absent ox. Its realization is by an organic (living) patterned intuiting process of expanding "Knowing Thyself" from the inside out. If a connection and proper fit are made that "touches ones Soul," then one will become transformed. [This series is reproduced from Bailey, Afrocentric Glossary].