Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Forests of symbols in Cryer and Tomberg

In my November 18 post "Generalizing and Genesis," I noted a synchronicity that resulted from reading Valetin Tomberg's Lazarus, Come Forth! at the same time as Frederick H. Cryer's Divination in Ancient Israel., and I ended by saying it was time for me to "move on from the 'botanical' stage of simply cataloguing individual syncs" -- but here I am still botanizing, thanks to the same two books! These little syncs keep turning up, and I guess I feel a sort of duty to note them all. I had just read this in Cryer's book:

[French sociologists Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert] sense that the individual engaged in magic either does not reason or is unconscious of his reasoning, that is of the processes by which he apprehends magical symbolism. [. . .] One wonders, of course, whether this is not simple a quality inherent in all symbolism, i.e., that symbols are supercharged with meaning.

At the end of the last sentence quoted above was a footnote, which I read:

Cf. e.g. Turner, The Forest of Symbols, pp. 27-30.

Although the note was nothing but the rather opaque name of a book, and although the sentence it was annotating was a rather vague one, the title nevertheless caught my fancy, and I made a mental note to look up Turner's Forest of Symbols in case it should turn out to be worth reading.

I then put down Cryer and picked up Tomberg. There I read this:

So there is in Anthroposophy a magnificent achievement of thought and will -- which is, however, unmystical and unmagical, i.e., in want of Life. [. . .] The search for the Grail, now become legend -- together with Rosicrucianism, which is surrounded by a forest of symbolism -- both testify that there has always existed a striving for a conscious participation in the logic of the Logos, a quest for a Christian initiation.

Just after taking note of The Forest of Symbols -- juxtaposed with the word magical and the idea of being unconscious of one's reasoning -- I encounter the nearly identical expression forest of symbolism -- this time juxtaposed with the word unmagical and the idea of conscious participation in logic.


Ra1119bee said...


I've stated this before, and I absolutely do not want to overstay my welcome
here on your blog ( by commenting too much!! :-( however, if you recall, I've
made reference as to what I perceive is the upmost objective in our quest for finding
the truth.
And that is this : to always be able to see the forest and beyond.... and not just the trees.

IMO Symbols are a Universal Language and are the tools of synchronicities and dreams which syncs and dreams serve as puzzle pieces which our Soul puts in our paths for a reason.

Those puzzle pieces when understood, becomes knowledge.

I believe that our Soul's objective is for us to solve the puzzle, which I believe by solving the puzzle we see the Big Picture which in turn we find the TRUTH.

Comparing the analogy of the forest and the trees, IMO the trees would be the puzzle pieces.
If we don't see beyond the forest, and instead concentrate too much on each tree, we'll never get out of the forest, which causes chaos, and/or obsession.

However, and IMO, maybe your gift this lifetime is being like a deep well or ocean in the forest for others to dip into to find their truth. You've given me many puzzle pieces to connect with the ones I've been gathering for a lifetime.

I actually 'found' you at a significant time in my life when I needed to know that I wasn't alone and that my Esoteric path was indeed leading somewhere as all paths must do.

As I've commented before, I believe that the state of chaos is much like a box of jumbled puzzle pieces.
Knowledge becomes Wisdom i.e. truth when we are able to connect the puzzle pieces so as to see the Big Picture.

Maybe your purpose this incarnation William, is to serve as a well for other's thirst as they continue through the forest.

All IMHO,of course.

Anonymous said...

The phrase "forest of symbols" occurs in "The Philosophy of Saint Bonaventure" by Etienne Gilson, Catholic philosopher and historian, in a passage about St. Francis. "In each one of the works of the Lord he recognised the hand of the workman...St. Francis, then, lived continuously in the midst of a forest of symbols". The Gilson passage was quoted and popularized in E.I.Watkins' "Catholic Art and Culture" and became well known amongst Catholic intellectuals. Since both Turner and Tomberg were Catholic (convert) intellectuals, it seems likely they got the phrase from Gilson. So perhaps not so much synchronicity as a common source.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...


Thank you. Some helpful concepts there.


Thanks for the background information. It’s still a sync, though, because of the timing (running into the same phrase twice, in two unrelated books, in a matter of minutes) and because of the juxtaposition with (un)magicality and (un)consciousness of logic.

Persona Non Grata said...

Yesterday, I was writing a Breadth-First Search function on trees of symbols, using the variables FOREST and TREE.

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