The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 1

Geometrical symbols. The Circle with the Twelve Nameless Points. The value of the zodiacal symbol.

A SYMBOL is a visible object which is used to represent an invisible subject for thought. The purpose of a symbol is to cause thinking on the invisible subject of which it is the sign. Usually symbols are material things which connect thinking with abstractions or qualities made familiar by everyday life, such as scales for justice.

Geometrical symbols are not such material things. Points, the circle, straight lines, curves, horizontals, perpendiculars, opposites, angles and combinations of some of these, are geometrical symbols because they are figures which have no properties except those arising from extension and difference of situation. They are not pictorial. But they give something about which one can think easily, and which connects him with an abstract subject, such as the Triune Self, with which he is not familiar, but with which the symbols form links. They free thinking from sensuous objects. Therefore they are the best things for use in representing qualities and relations apart from objects. They can be used as typical of nature or of the Triune Self. Geometrical symbols are to be distinguished from other symbols in that they typify not only material things, but that which is beyond the corporeal. Geometrical symbols are representations of the coming of the units of nature into form and solidity and of the progress of the doer, through materiality to knowledge of Self, and into being conscious within and beyond time and space.

One of the values of a geometrical symbol, as compared with other symbols, is the greater directness, accuracy and completeness with which it represents that which cannot be expressed in words. A symbol such as a human figure, a tree, a flag or a flame, may suggest many things, yet they all relate to physical acts, objects or events. But a geometrical symbol reaches further on, to other planes of the physical world and to other worlds.

Geometrical symbols not only represent the essentials, but are more than a mere representation. They have something of the essence, the reality, of that which they symbolize, because geometrical symbols have a relation to the circle and because every being has a relation to the circle, which may be expressed by a geometrical symbol.

Geometrical symbols are mental and so above and more potent than symbols which are physical objects such as a crown, a halo or scales. They themselves are of the essence of what on the physical plane are abstractions, and so they may guide thinking up to the sources of the symbols. They derive their meaning and their value from their relation to the twelve points of the circle. The method of using geometrical symbols is to relate them to points on the circle, which then give them their meaning.

So “horizontals,” (Fig. VII-D, a), are straight lines which relate in orderly sequence certain units on the nature-side of the manifested half with each other and with corresponding units on the intelligent-side. There are four horizontals in each sphere and in each world. In the physical world the horizontals represent planes: the light, life, form and physical planes, and on the physical plane the horizontals represent the four states of matter there.

The “perpendiculars,” (Fig. VII-D, b), are straight lines which relate vertically certain points in the unmanifested with the corresponding points in the manifested. The perpendiculars are the lines which show how units become conscious, so that the units can be related by horizontals according to the degree in which they are conscious. The perpendiculars show the points in the manifested to correspond with the points in the unmanifested. There are five perpendiculars,—two on the nature-side, two on the intelligent-side and one dividing nature and the intelligent.

The “opposites,” (Fig. VII-D, c), are straight lines running through the center of the circle and connecting opposite points. There are six opposites. They relate the manifested to the unmanifested as opposites, the nature-side with the super-intelligent-side and the intelligent-side with the super-nature-side.

The circle with its twelve points on the circumference, (Fig. VII-B), is the origin, the sum and the greatest of all geometrical symbols. Man and the Universe are related to and can only be understood by their relation to the circle with the twelve points on the circumference.

The circle with the twelve points on the circumference is a figure which enables one to see at least a symbol of that which is incomprehensible to the human. This symbol is a figure, a diagram which represents relations. It illustrates visibly invisible relations, bearings and connections. It shows correlations and analogies. The circle has no physical existence, neither have these points. The circle with twelve points is not any or all of the relations, bearings or analogies which it demonstrates. It is not and it does not show a picture of the things of which it demonstrates relations. It does not represent matter, forces or beings. It is a diagram on which the twelve points can be used to distinguish, to measure and to prefigure relations, by degrees in which matter is conscious.

The figure of the circle with its twelve points reveals, explains and proves the arrangement and constitution of the Universe, and the place of everything in it. This includes the unmanifested as well as the manifested parts. It applies to every kind of matter, force and thing in the manifested Universe, from a primordial unit of the fire to the Supreme Intelligence. This symbol shows therefore the make-up and the true position of a human being in relation to everything above and below and inside and outside. It shows the human being to be the pivot, the fulcrum, the balance wheel and the microcosm of the temporal human world.

The symbol of the circle with twelve points reveals, explains and proves the ultimate purpose of the Universe. That purpose is to have Substance become Consciousness. Unmanifested Substance manifests as units of matter. A unit of matter progresses in being conscious in various degrees until it is conscious as its function as a unit in a body, such as a cell, or is conscious as a Triune Self, or as an Intelligence; and then it ceases to be matter and becomes Conscious Sameness, from which state it goes on until it becomes Consciousness. The stages of progression through which every being must pass in its travel towards the ultimate purpose indicate the purpose.

This symbol is like a clock which ticks off the progress of everything from a fire unit to an Intelligence. It gives the calendar and the history of the Universe and of the lesser universe and its changes, and it prefigures the future. As to the doer in the human, the circle with the twelve points shows its past and marks its future and its limitations and possibilities at any time. It also shows the stages through which the body, which is prepared for the housing of the doer, passes.

The symbol reveals how a mind works in its efforts to focus the Light, before a human can think. The symbol shows how it works from the center of the circle along the matter line to the circumference and then fills out standard angles until a quarter circle is filled out and a thought is so made ready for exteriorization, (Fig. IV-A). The symbol shows how nature, through the four senses, controls human thinking, how human thinking is done on the life plane of the physical world according to dimensions of matter on the physical plane, and how analogous limitations to thinking are encountered in other worlds. The symbol reveals all these things and many others because it enables a human to understand these revelations by thinking along the lines of the diagram.

The twelve points on the circle are marvelous, the most far reaching and the most powerful of symbols. They give much incidental information on various subjects. The moving power of words is on the form and the life planes of the physical world, but the lines of this symbol lead through all worlds and spheres. The symbol is stamped on everything, but the human head, being the highest thing in the physical world, expresses it visibly. The head approximates a sphere. The half above the eyes represents the unmanifested Universe, and the seven openings on four planes correspond to the seven points in the manifested Universe. The symbol is stamped also on the human body as a whole. When the doer was in its perfect body, (Fig. VI-D), the circle began at the head—which is the point—and extended along the front of the body to the crotch and back along the spine to the head. But because of the changed state of the doer, the circle is now broken at the sternum, and the three brains which once functioned in the three sections of the torso, are scattered, or transformed into organs.

Because of the importance of the circle with the twelve points as a symbol through which man can come into contact with a knowledge he has lost, the great symbol has been preserved for human beings in all ages.

The twelve points are abstract and the circle is abstract. None of them has a name. However names are needed to distinguish and characterize the twelve points. The names of the twelve signs of the zodiac, (Fig. VII-A), answer the purpose of marking the twelve points on the circumference of the circle. The signs have of course something of the meaning of the points, transferred to the physical plane.

The doer is related to the twelve points because it has in it the presences of them. Each of the twelve portions of the doer is related to one of the twelve points. Each of the twelve points is always represented on the physical plane by the re-existing portion of the doer in a human body. The millions of successively re-existing portions in their human bodies impress on the transient units passing through, the influence of the point to which that portion is related and to which the units respond. The human body, too, bears signs of its connection with the twelve points. All nature from the least unit to the macrocosm has a relation, potential or actual, to the twelve points. The symbol has always had a strong influence on the doers of men. They cannot get away from it. Their whole life is under its order.

Therefore, they have arranged star groups so as to present to the fancy twelve animals or humans in the heavens on the ecliptic, the path of the sun. Therefore, the months and the seasons of the years, the solstices and equinoxes and the festivals connected with them have been used to keep alive the great symbol. Sowing and harvesting and the works and feasts of husbandry remind man of the zodiac. It was and is connected with nearly every religion, cult and mystery. Stories of the adventures of the personified sun, in twelve or some of the twelve places on its annual path, have been woven into religious myths and dramas. The zodiac in the human body has been preserved in sculpture, architecture and pictures, from ancient records to modern almanacs. The physical basis for the names and shapes of the twelve constellations has been different with different peoples in different ages. The zodiacal stories and rites have changed accordingly, but through all variations the idea of the circle with the twelve points has been preserved.

The value of the zodiacal symbol consists not only in the knowledge which it offers eventually, but in the certainty of the information which it gives and which will lead to that knowledge. The twelve zodiacal marks are, like an alphabet, the elements of a language which surpasses in accuracy any language of science and of religion, and with which philosophical jargon cannot be compared. The twelve points for which the twelve names stand are the principles of a science as certain as mathematics. To get the information which the zodiacal figure can give, one must think about it. Nothing else will do, because the circle of twelve signs shows nothing in a pictorial way. It shows only relations between the things which are the subjects of thought. But if one begins to think about the zodiacal figure he will be compelled by that figure and the relative position of the signs to think logically and inescapably along the lines that lead to knowledge concerning the value, principle, nature, type and power of the subject of his thinking.

An approximate meaning may be assigned to the twelve abstract, nameless points. Words merely introduce; thinking about the points establishes familiarity; and this leads to an ever better understanding of the points. These points, though nameless, are for convenience sake called by the names of the twelve signs. The signs are given the meaning they have for a human, that is, at the cross-section at which the average human stands, and this meaning is rendered in English words.

However, it is to be remembered that the twelve points themselves are abstract and nameless and can be conceived only according to the degree in which the particular human who thinks of them, is conscious. The following statements about the twelve zodiacal signs are not about the twelve constellations which are only stars, that is, matter on the border between the solid-solid matter on the form plane and the radiant-solid layer of matter on the physical plane of the physical world, and visible while at certain focal positions in the earth’s atmosphere. The statements are made concerning the twelve abstract points. These points, though they may be called by the names of the zodiacal signs, are themselves abstract and nameless. The zodiacal signs are symbols for them. The zodiac here spoken of does not consist merely of the star clusters of astrology or astronomy.