Patterns & Metaphors

Forces, energies and processes

Other Names:
This class of symbols represents the dynamics of the perceived world; the powers and laws that guide everything, as well as the most archetypal processes that they are reflected in. Some may appear both as symbols and as the meaning of symbols. As elements, for example, they include: spark, flame, fire, light, radiance, effulgence, colour, heat, energy, motion, power, sound, noise, vibration, wave, electricity, magnetism, atoms, conservation of energy, relativity, inertia, entropy, time, maya, yang-yin, sephiroth, and other physical and theoretical ingredients of the cosmos at its primal levels. As processes they are reflected in: chaos, creation, cosmogony, theogony, anthropogony, origins, evolution, destruction, disintegration, devolution, catastrophe, metamorphosis, change, cycles, ages, growth, nature, the macrocosm, and all physical phenomena. In addition, they characterize some processes qualitatively as the union of opposites, synchronous events, complementarities and causalities. The symbolic iconography of the gods of time sometimes refers to time, energy and universal dynamics in an integrated way. These gods are the Hindu Kala, the Greek Chronos, the Zoroastrian Zurran and the syncretistic Alexandrian god, Aion, a human figure standing on a globe, with a lion's head and a body enclosed by seven coils of a serpent.
Concrete expressions of these forces and processes are in man's symbolic orientation to time via the months or seasons, and in his symbolic orientation to space via compass points or directions. Time and space are symbolically divided. In some systems it is by the number three, and three times three; in others, by the number four, and four times four. Also encountered are the divisions of three plus four and three times four, and three plus two and three times two. The factorial numbers, two, three, four, are the archetypal structuring projected into the ontological and experiential dynamics of the universe. Much of traditional symbolism concerning primal laws and energies as an extrapolation of a still more fundamental arithmological symbolism. This is seen in the symbolic system of Pythagoras who accounted for the universe by assigning it the number 10 and showing that it was a product of the Holy Tetraktys, the first four numbers. In terms of human development, wholeness (number 10) may be symbolized as the outcome of four forces (dynamisms or movements) working to produce four states in each of four functions and or 'bodies', for example, the force of 'fire' working to produce the fourth state of consciousness in the 'mental body'. Any number of symbols of space, time and energy may appear in imagery to reflect this work, such as the directions, east, west, north, south, or the times of the seasons, as seen for example in the I Ching symbology (which is based on 2 x 3, and 2 to the 6th power).<