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  • Curriculum and the Dream Paradigm

    - Stephen Schafer

     The circle and the cross are the oldest symbols known to man.  Used in most cultures, they have had a variety of meanings, but generally they have served as semiotic expressions of a fundamental and comprehensive human "reality":

    "In astrology O represents the human spirit, the inner individual (as opposed to the personality, the outer individual, the individual as he or she is perceived by others).  As a symbol for the human spirit O is the opposite of matter, ┼, the physical body, and earthly life.  Both graphically and semiotically O and ┼ are almost diametrically opposed.

    In western ideography O is a general symbol for the eternal, the endless, that which is without beginning or end, all possibilities (within the confines of the system in which it is used). According to the law of the polarity of meanings of elementary graphs, it can also mean nothing...

    In pre-Columbian America the sign (┼) seems to have been associated to the four points of the compass and the weather gods.  In the earliest Chinese ideography it appears as a sign for perfection and 10, the most perfect number.  In astrological symbolism ┼ is the graphic symbol for matter, the earthly life, the plane of physical existence...The alchemists used ┼ as one of the sings for the four elements represented by the four arms.  Their point of intersection they perceived as conjunctio, quinta essentia, the fifth element, etc.

    Semiotically the stem of the cross, the vertical beam stands for the heavenly or spiritual, whereas the transverse beam represents the material plane of existence (https:/

    Why is this important?  It is important because symbols are the medium of human "conversation," the medium with which human beings navigate their psychological reality.  The circle/cross is the semiotic basis upon which maps are structured, and maps are quantifications with which the unknown can be navigated.  The symbol is the foundation for trigonometry. Therefore, the ancient age of the symbols and the comparable meanings attributed to them by diverse cultures from time immemorial suggests that humans have navigated similar worldviews.  Clearly, these ancient symbols attest to some relationship between the psychological and "material" dimensions of the human weltanschauung.  The complex astrological systems used universally in human culture can be understood as maps for the navigation of a Psych-ecology.  Though it is usually fragmented, the myth of the Twelve Labors of Hercules is the most complete example of the Journey of the Hero through the zodiac-a universe of qualitative psyche.

    We might go so far as to say that the combined symbol of the circle and the cross is the DNA of linguistic morphology.  Semiotically, it is the seed, medium, and paradigm with which humans create their metaphorical reality.  From this we might infer that the human reality (both the reality of nature and the reality of imagination) is psychological because what we call "Nature" is a construct of relative sensory perception and relative interpretation whereas what we call the reality of the image-ination is a construct based on metaphorical symbolic language.  Based on scientific fact, it becomes increasingly clear that what we understand as "reality" is much like a dream or an illusion.  Further, the pattern that humans have used to express this illusion is the symbol of the cross within the circle.   The Norse rune hagalaz, encompasses this concept:[5]

    Figure 4: Hagalaz

     "This is the sign of the primal reunion of cosmic fire and ice-the poles of the multiverse-in the energized, yeasty seed-form; the cosmic hailstone, or "hail-egg," that gives rise to Ymir [the form shaped from the union of the extremes of fire and mist in magically-charged space].


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