What is that?
January 28, 2008 11:00 AM   Subscribe

This symbol appeared very clearly to me near the end of an otherwise uneventful meditation session. This sort of thing has never really happened to me, and it was quite clear, so I'm wondering if it has significance. Maybe I've seen it before; if so, I wonder where. If not, I wonder if it's an archetype.

It does look familiar... I've already noticed its similarity to the Aleph, but it is also clearly different. Ideas?
posted by Slam I Am to Religion & Philosophy (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Kinda reminds me of the Eye of Rah, but not exactly.
posted by CAnneDC at 11:04 AM on January 28, 2008

symbols.com is good for this.
posted by Brian James at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2008

Yeah... I thought of the eye of Rah too.
posted by Jahaza at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2008

It reminds me of the Poggendorf illusion, even though it clearly isn't an actual example of said illusion.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2008

This is one of those types of questions that really needs context in order to get a good answer. Where did you see this symbol? In a game? In a book? Was it a book about the middle east, or was it about electronics?

It looks very much like the kind of Egyptian hieroglyph that would be written on papyrus.
posted by samsara at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2008

Um. So, this is something you've come up with, and you're wondering whether it has parallels that resonate with us? It's the invitation to free-associate that's making me go "hmm." But yeah, there's a squinky eye-of-Horus thing going on.
posted by mumkin at 11:57 AM on January 28, 2008

Mod note: worked with the OP to anti-chatfilter the question, please continue
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:44 PM on January 28, 2008

The Eye of Ra is also known as the Eye of Horus. It's an ancient Egyptian symbol of power.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:02 PM on January 28, 2008

I often have very clear, very precise visualizations of really awesome-looking turkey sandwiches during meditation, but I don't think that has any significance beyond my love of a good turkey sandwich. Meditation is kind of like taking a broom to the corners of a room- you're going to stir up all kinds of shit, but it's mostly just dust (although sometimes you find a shiny nickel!) So I guess your question is, is this a nickel, or just dust?

Given that it didn't have any strong emotion or other thoughts associated with it, I'd chalk this up as "random shit my brain did".
posted by bobot at 1:12 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

It looks like a map symbol to me - sort of a Narrow Crossing sign.
posted by vacapinta at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2008

I wonder if it's an archetype.

It looks somewhat runic to me. Let's flail for meaning, shall we?

If you turn the image 90 degrees, it resembles two juxtaposed "Kenaz" runes. Kenaz (means "torch;" Wikipedia prefers both a different rendering and the term Kaunan, meaning "ulcer") corresponds to our modern "K."

According to a site of uncertain reliability, Kenaz denotes "rot and putrescence (and not only of fire), but also of our internal fire, symbolizing the life force. It is the symbol of the narrow relationship between life and death. The internal fire is that of Life, as the heat of the boil is that of infection."

Assuming your shadow mind is aware of both the runic letter and all its implications, what could it intend by doubling the sign and laying it on its side? If one "kenaz" is the thread between life and death, then two juxtaposed could mean a tension between life and death; a flame pausing halfway down the wick, uncertain of whether to burn further.

/pseudo-intellectual flailing
posted by Iridic at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2008

The best interpretation to you is probably the one you pick out first. It's like dreams - two people can have the same dream with a cat, but one is violently allergic and hates them and one is someone who has a loved kitten, and I know the best interpretation wouldn't be the same for them. Browse symbols.com (which is fantastic) but I'd say draw it out a few times and try to figure out where you've seen it before, what associations you have with it.

Looks like an open or broken switch to me, after all, but that's because I've been playing with circuitry lately..
posted by cobaltnine at 3:18 PM on January 28, 2008

Symbols are what they mean to you, similar to what cobaltine said.

I see a river or a road that breaks through a path, or maybe has little paths off it. It could also be a level of existence with the curly lines connecting that existence to the earth and to the heavens...nice image for meditation.
posted by kenzi23 at 4:03 PM on January 28, 2008

It almost reminds me of geology symbols that show what's going on below the earth's surface -- the way the layers of rock bend or fold or are moving in relation to one another. One image I found similar was the image of strike slip faults from Wikipedia. Actually, more similar might be the way an anticline is symbolized on a map from above -- in this PDF, see how there are two lines that parallel the soil layers with little lines coming out, pointing to show which way the folds go down? There are lots of cool pictures of this sort of thing here, in this series, and here. For a symbol with the totally opposite meaning, it also almost reminds me of the symbol for bridge.

Are you having earthquakes as two parts of yourself move in opposite directions? Is one part of you ascending while the other layer descends? Are you being squeezed and compressed from both ends, causing your formerly-flat layers to warp upward into mountains? Are you bridging two halves of yourself?
posted by salvia at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2008

A capacitor from an electrical schematic?

Koru designs along a band? Like this one, but with the korus arranged symetrically instead of into an arrow-head

(Another example of koru designs on straight lines)
posted by -harlequin- at 9:39 PM on January 28, 2008

Reminds me of the astrological symbol for Pisces with a couple of parts missing.
posted by euphotic at 10:44 PM on January 28, 2008

Ohh my turn...
it makes me think of bugs. Symmetrical and intently purposeful bugs.
But if I were to offer something more meaningful...
Choices maybe? The same answer, yet somehow different?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 12:15 AM on January 29, 2008

The fact that you first associated to an Aleph is interesting to me, since it doesn't really remind me of an Aleph at all. But following through with that association... I can make a sort of leap, if you're interested.

I've read (I have no idea where) that one significance of the orthography of the aleph is that it has one "hand" reaching Heavenwards and one reaching Earthwards. The Aleph represents, therefore, the duality of the human condition -- constantly striving to escape its corporeality while simultaneously anchored -seduced, even- by it.

Your grapheme perhaps allows for similar interpretation.

Judaism has a lot to say about the aleph. Some of it can be read here.
posted by prophetsearcher at 5:29 AM on January 29, 2008

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