The Legend Of The Tarasque
of reading - words
In the popular treasure of legends and allegorical fables that generations pass on to generations, there is often the story of a hero who fights and defeats a devouring dragon. This myth seems to be a universal symbol, because it is found in various peoples and its particular adaptations are numerous. Sometimes, as happens with all oral tradition stories, its original design is so overloaded with adventitious details and parasitic embellishments that it becomes unrecognizable. However, it is usually sufficient to compare several shapes of the legend to distinguish the relief from the essential parts with a symbolic meaning from the embroideries due to the imagination of the narrators.
The form of this most popular myth in Europe is the fight of Saint George against the dragon. The personality of the hero does not matter, because it changes in some stories, especially in the one popularized by Schiller's ballad, Der Kampf mit dem Drachen (1), but his status as a Christian knight persists; we are in the presence of a Christian adaptation of the legend. Long before that, Greek-Roman paganism had dressed the same symbol with somewhat heavy and confused mythological draperies, such as the struggle of Apollo against the serpent Python, Theseus against the Minotaur, Hercules against the serpents sent to devour it in the cradle, against the Hydra of Lerne and the Lion of Nemea. The Scandinavian tradition gives the myth a very pure and complete form: Siurd's fight against Fafnir, which the Eddas recount, is distinguished by symbolic details that Wagner brilliantly brought to light in the Ring of the Niebelungen. Siegfried where Sjurd kills the dragon with a sword of divine origin, which was broken and which he reforged himself, which is called Distress; he drinks the blood of the monster and suddenly understands the language of birds whose advice allows him to cross the Ocean of Fire to go and wake up the divine Virgin who will become his wife. At the other end of the world, in ancient China, the stories of the dragon occupy a considerable place, as everyone knows, in popular literature and iconography (2).
What is the meaning of these allegories? There are probably several and very deep ones. It is commonly seen as a symbol of the struggle of good against evil, light against darkness, spirit against matter; the victory of the knight over the dragon has the same meaning as the victory of Michael over Satan or of Hormuz over Arhiman. This is the most exoteric interpretation of the draconian myth. It presents to the popular imagination in the guise of Saint George or Siegfried, the accomplished type of the hero, the regenerated man, lieutenant of God on earth, using his purity and strength to deliver his unfortunate brothers from the cruel bites of Fate. The Christian knight embodies the ideal of moral valour that straightens all wrongs, overcomes all hatred and overcomes all slander. But this explanation is only a bark behind which the inner or esoteric meanings of the legend are hidden. The very phases of initiation, with the battles and the work that the soul must accomplish as it progresses along the middle path, are traced by the work of Hercules and Sjurd. The struggle of the knight and the dragon sums up the cosmic drama to which our Universe owes its origin. It reminds Hermetists of the way to fix the volatile in the three planes of creation. It brings precious teachings to the magician and mystic who know from experience what it is that the Dragon is and who can grasp the analogy of this fable, either with the Judaic symbol of the bronze serpent drawn on the Thau, or with the diagram of the seal of Cagliostro representing a serpent pierced by an arrow.
A characteristic detail of the tradition we are examining is that the dragon perishes, after a rapid battle, under a man's spear or sword, symbol of the male and positive principle of the Universe, - of Anger or Rigour, in the metaphysical order, - of Will, in the psychological order, - of Fire, in the elementary order. The victory of St. George can mean the victory of the dominant will enlightened by intelligence and based on the laws of divine wisdom. This glorification of the will is a feature of the old law rather than the new. We therefore suspect Saint George, despite the Christian character of which he was clothed, to be a very pagan of origin and first brother of Sjurd. Didn't Christ forbid Peter to fight evil with the sword? Did he not teach that the only weapon to fight the eternal dragon should be the feminine power of Love symbolized by the water of mercy? Didn't the ancient law, which maintained the power of evil within its borders by the balance of Michael and Satan, replace the law of charity which blooms flowers of light on a root, even a dark root?
Despite all its splendour, the symbol of the pure knight with an invincible sword does not seem to be a strictly accurate expression of the Christian idea. Another, more refined and spiritual, can be conceived, which better affirms the supreme power of gentleness over violence, love over hatred, charity over selfishness, which teaches that one should not strike the dragon to death, but enchant him and subdue him. This symbol, the graceful genius of the people of Provence knew how to enshrine it in the legend of Saint Martha and Tarasque.
Provençal tradition reports that a boat miraculously guided through the storm came one day not far from the mouth of the Rhône, on the shore where the village and the church of Saintes Maries de la Mer rise today (3). It contained Lazarus the Risen One, his sister Martha, Mary Magdalene and other companions or friends of Christ whom the Pharisees had wanted to destroy, after the Master's Ascension, by exposing them on the waves in a nave without veil or rudder (4). As soon as they had escaped death, the holy characters dispersed to proclaim the Gospel to all the populations of Provence; the path of Saint Martha was along the Rhone which she went up, preaching the word of life and multiplying the miracles around her.
The populations living along the banks of the river downstream from Avignon were then experiencing the wrath of a monster that desolated the countryside and devoured men and cattle. It was a long-tailed dragon, whose mouth resembled that of the lion and whose back was protected by a strong turtle shell that made it invulnerable (5). It was called Tarasque (6) and was believed to have come out of the marine abysses, perhaps from the waters of the Rhône (7). The inhabitants of the country, terrified, no longer dared to approach the Tarasque's lair and even worshipped the monster in superstition when the sound of the miracles performed by Saint Martha came to their ears. Immediately they begged the saint. She agreed to deliver them, walked towards the monster, commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to come to her, untied his belt to pass it around the neck of the terrible Tarasque, which had suddenly become docile, and entered the nearby village by driving the dragon as she could have done with a familiar dog. In memory of this miraculous deliverance, the city was named Tarascon and the inhabitants instituted a commemorative festival, the ceremony of which was regulated in the 15th century by King René (8) and which is still celebrated today every year. Tarasque became the symbol of Tarascon; its image appears on the city's arms; it is carved on the façade of its town hall, engraved on its seals and ancient coins (9).
This is, in short, the legend. It could not fail to arouse the curiosity of scholars and encourage varied interpretations. Some accept the letter and consider it as historical truth. Others see it as a pious allegory that St. Martha's arrival in Tarascon marked the triumph of Christianity over paganism. Some wonder whether this is not an ancient tradition that preserves among men the memory of the antediluvian era and whether Tarasque is not a dragon of the Leviathan race. Finally, positivists seek, with more or less plausibility, the origin of this narrative in the distortion of historical events(10). Without entering into controversy, we will only notice that the reality of the struggle of Saint Martha and Tarasque seems very implausible (11), and, above all, that similar legends, differing only by the historical context, the names of the heroes or the circumstances of the struggle, are found throughout Provence and even in other regions (12).
Obviously, we are in the presence of multiple forms of a myth similar to that of Saint George or Siegfried. The popular imagination attributes to all heroes and saints the same victory over the dragon and this power to dominate monsters becomes a normal attribute of heroism or holiness. It should be seen as an allegory or symbol without taking the wonderful details of the legend literally. We do not mean by this that these stories are pure fictions and tales that are good for putting little children to sleep. A symbol is the physical expression of a metaphysical reality, just as geometric figures are the sensitive expression of abstract ideas. Every material sign is the reflection or correspondence of an immaterial entity and the language of symbols is the only one that can be spoken by men who know the invisible worlds to those whose perceptions are still limited by material forms. There are no flesh and bone dragons on earth, but there are, in the more subtle planes of the Universe, certain powers whose image of the dragon symbolizes exactly the modes of action. All those who want to advance God's kingdom on earth have fought these monsters in their cave, that is, in the world in which they live, and only those who have won deserve the name of heroes and saints.
The tale of St. Martha and Tarascus would therefore only be a particular adaptation of what we call the draconic myth; however, the happy symbolism of which it is endowed deserves a moment's attention and study. This symbolism is better preserved by iconography than by legend, as stone sculptures are less easily altered than the lines of an oral tradition. On a pillar of the cloister of Saint-Trophime, in Arles, an 11th century bas-relief depicts the saint, a veil on her head, a torch lit in her right hand, a container suspended by the handle on her left arm. In front of her stands the Tarasque devouring the legs of a child: her mouth is like a lion, her tail like a dragon, her heavy mammoth body like a mammoth is covered with a shell (13).
This allegory can be summed up in one word by saying that it expresses the triumph of love over fatality. Saint Martha, the veiled virgin who was the hostess of the eternal Word (14), represents in the cosmic order the universal, feminine and loving passive principle; in the microcosm, she designates more especially the human soul, the reflection of man in the eternal Virgin, the Eve of Genesis (15).
The veil covering his head expresses initiation, separation from the world, like the cloak of the Tarot Hermit; the torch symbolizes the light of wisdom; the vessel of water, mercy and love (16); the belt, spiritual purity.
As for the monster, its dragon tail and devouring lion's mouth indicate its igneous principle and mode of action (17); its armour means that it cannot be damaged by human weapons or the forces of the physical world. Occultist philosophers will recognize in him the astral fire, the great Serpent whose rings surround the sublunar world; the one who constantly devours all created forms, destroys bodies, tents and diverts souls; the power, blind, who moves all the springs of the physical world, either towards good or evil; who responds as a docile instrument to the command of wisdom and love, who stands as an evil adversary before the selfish and tenebrous soul. As an instrument of destiny, the dragon obeys the law of balance and the events it brings to each man's head are the right reaction to the spiritual impulses he has given to the world. That is why he punishes each mistake mercilessly and would devour all the weak and sinful humanity if the devotion of holy souls did not follow in his footsteps. The dragon, invulnerable to human weapons, is only charmed by the heavenly power of love; he can only be bound by the frail belt of a virgin.
The Christian idea of redemption through love is the essence of the myth of Saint Martha as it is of countless other graphic or poetic symbols. One cannot contemplate the naive sculpture of Saint Trophime without evoking the universal image of the Virgin, standing on a crescent moon, crushing under her foot the head of the serpent in fulfilment of the biblical promise (18). Both schemes also glorify the Eternal Feminine God whom so many poets and philosophers have sung. It is the force of gentleness, which Epimenides said it triumphs without a fight. It is Beatrice, opening to Dante the door to the divine worlds. It was Elizabeth, whose prayer obtained Tannhauser's redemption, despite the fact that the enormity of her crime had caused the definitive anathema to fall on him. It is Goethe's Mater Gloriosa tearing the sinful soul of Faust from the devil's claws, this symbol of humanity (19).
It should not be forgotten, however, that the Active and Passive, the Positive and the Negative, the Male and the Female balance each other, complement each other and are, in the Cosmos, indissolubly united (20). Thus the two symmetrical forms of the draconic myth, that of Saint George and that of Saint Martha, appear complementary and likely to express new truths when they are brought closer together. Each thinker can push this parallel as far as he wishes in the field of general philosophy, practical occultism, religious esotericism or sociology.
Let us try to sketch out two aspects, one moral and the other initiatory.
The exoteric meaning of the myth is the fight against evil. However, two means of struggle are available to mankind's choice. He can oppose evil to himself to stop it in its development (to destroy the dragon under the spear or sword of a hero), or he can oppose to evil the good that absorbs it and converts its nature (to charm the dragon by fire and water, to bind it with the belt to a virgin).
The struggle by the sword belongs to the natural order; it manifests the law of balance that dominates the created Universe and always makes the reaction equal to the action. The armour thus fights against the momentum of the ball and chain that it pushes back and heats up; man exterminates the animals that threaten his health, life or work; the judge protects the oppressed by hitting the oppressor; the nations stand up in arms against each other; the ancient law of retaliation requires an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. As long as the human spirit does not rise beyond the bounds of the natural sphere, its moral norm is called justice and its ideal heroism. The righteous is the one who does no harm to anyone and whose action never exceeds the limits imposed by the universal balance. The hero is the one who restores, through a timely reaction, the disturbed balance, rectifies iniquity and avenges the victim by punishing the criminal.
Charm through love belongs to the spiritual order, so it appears to the "men of the river" as a supernatural means of action. He is the great arcane of this celestial alchemy that the Word of the Gospel reveals to those who have been born again, indicating to them, as an ideal, personal sacrifice. Just as the momentum of a projectile dies without ricocheting on a bastion of non-resistant straw, the evil falling on an innocent victim who accepts it and devotes himself entirely, stops pursuing his fatal cycle throughout the world. He no longer exists as evil and the beam of energies he directed towards darkness is directed towards heaven by the virtue of sacrifice. A profound mystery is hidden under the symbol of the scapegoat for Israel's sins; his living reality acts every minute of the day even in the most material parts of our being to destroy the germs of death that would overwhelm us, without it, in an instant. To push back, evil by evil can only keep the world in balance: from the blood of the dead dragon another dragon will be born. Lead must be transmuted into gold and monsters converted into faithful servants to deliver the Universe and to bring down the new Jerusalem from heaven (21).
Esoterically, the draconic myth means the insider's struggle against the threshold dragon. Its two forms correspond to the two initiatory methods that are usually called the magical way and the mystical way and that we prefer to call the active method and the passive method. The words of magic and mysticism have deviated too far from their broad and true meaning, they have received too many particular, often pejorative, meanings to be used without disadvantage. Their very opposition can lead us to believe in the irreducible antagonism of two processes that are often called to succeed and complement each other during the long pilgrimage of the human soul to the steep peaks of the Spirit. If the active method consists essentially, for the initiate, in concentrating and harmonizing the forces he finds in him, in separating the volatile from the fixed, then in leading the fight of the powers of the spirit against the inertia of matter, the passive method, on the contrary, obliges him to strip all initiative, to make himself like an empty vessel to call in him the celestial dew, to become the docile instrument of the divine forces which will perform miracles by his hands. One is based on science and will; the other on desire and humility of mind. The two methods, close together, regulate the breath and exhale it from the human soul that attracts the spiritual forces of the heavens to spread them throughout the world, that marries the King and Queen, the Sun and the Moon, in the eternal athanor. Desire is the root of Will, but Will gives birth to or prevents the birth of Desire, just as Anger and Love revolve eternally in each other, because the omega touches the alpha and two snakes embrace each other around the caduceus of Hermes.
Each of the two symbols we are examining retraces, in detail, one of the initiatory paths. However, and this is worthy of our admiration, he does not do so exclusively, but by discreetly indicating that the active and passive methods complement each other and that the columns of the temple must not be separated.
Sjurd or Siegfried, the hero who knew neither father nor mother, who forged his sword and who ignored fear, represents the active initiate, son of his works, acting according to the impulses of his own will. After he has struck the guardian of the sword's threshold, the stages of his spiritual career take place, symbolically indicated by the bird's song, the crossing of the fire, the awakening of the virgin. But beware: Siegfried believes he is acting on his own as he unknowingly implements divine forces that will ensure his triumph. His sword is a gift from Wotan; he simply forged the debris after Fate had broken it, and this heavenly weapon reminds us of the spear made of four metals that Claude de Saint-Martin placed in Adam's hand (22): All the hero's own will is driven by an unconscious desire of the divine and the end of his career is in the arms of Brünnhilde, daughter of the supreme god. Certainly, this fable does not express the drying doctrine of the superman (23).
Conversely, Saint Martha personifies the mystical action. She goes where God sends her, without her own will, detached from the fruits of her act, careless to perform a miracle or to be torn apart by the dragon. There is no miracle in her eyes, for the power of the signs of wisdom and love she bears is universal and irresistible. It soothes the dragon, not by magic art, but by invoking the universal Word, and its soul ignores the proud desire, which swells the hero's heart, to triumph by its own spiritual forces over the most terrible power of Nature. As soon as the charm is accomplished, however, the Saint descends from the spiritual peaks to the earth, materializes her action, actively uses the divine grace she has just obtained in favor of her brothers and sisters. It binds the Tarasque and brings her back, tamed, among the people, giving by this gesture a silent teaching to souls lost in the mists of imaginative mysticism, who expect from their spiritual ascension only a long succession of enchantments and selfish delights, in a radiant dwelling far from the miseries, works and fights of the earth.
Legend has it that the people rushed to Tarasque, now incapable of harming, and to pieces. The conclusion of a sad but true psychology: this is the ordinary way in which the crowd receives the wonderful benefits of the followers. It does not matter. Tarasque is charmed forever and will no longer devour anyone. The passage she kept fiercely guarded becomes free to any man of good will. The dew of blessings projected by the sprinkling of the Saint will never cease to flow over the world. Heaven and Earth have taken a step towards each other. This glorious result, the mockery and laughter of men cannot change it, any more than the singing of crickets in the grass. And the Tarasque, torn apart the day she became innocent, will share the halo of the Saint at whose feet painters trace her.
- 1) SCHILLER is said to have taken the subject of his ballad in the History of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem of VERTOT, which attributes the heroic feat to a French knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, named Deodate of Gozon, and which attributes the date of 1345 to him.
- 2) See in particular Dr REGNAULT, Les Dragons dans l'Art de Extrême-Orient; La Voie, July 1906, P. 38.
- 3) In Provençal Li Santo. The Basilica of the Saints, built in the 15th century, is a famous place of pilgrimage attracting crowds with wonders attributed to the water from a miraculous well and the shrines of the Holy Marys. Wouldn't it rise up on the site of an older and more mysterious place of worship? There are indications that this may be the case, including the strange pilgrimage of the Bohemians there every year in May. They gather from all over Europe to hold a mysterious assembly in the church itself over an entire night, performing ritual ceremonies and electing a king. The laymen are mercilessly excluded from this meeting. The Bohemians only admit the presence of a priest who must limit himself to the role of supervisor.
- 4) The number of disciples exposed in the boat varies according to the stories. We usually mention: Lazarus, Martha, Mary Salome, Mary Jacobé, Mary Magdalene, Marcelle next to Martha and Maximin, one of the seventy-two disciples. An old hymn also lists: Cleon, Trophimus, Saturnin, Eutrope, Martial, Sidony, Joseph of Arimathea and Sara the Egyptian whose remains, preserved in the Church of the Saints, would be the object of the Bohemians' annual devotions.
- 5) The beast has the tail of a dragon, redder than cinnabar eyes, on the back of the scales and stings that are scary! From a large lion she carries the muzzle; she has six human feet to run better. (MISTRAL, Mireille, song XI). - Compare the description of the dragon in Schiller's ballad: on short legs is piled up the mass of a long body whose back is firmly protected by the shell of scales that surrounds it. The neck lengthens in the distance. The mouth opens, like a door of hell when it greedily reaches out to a prey and in this dark abyss shines the menacing circle of sharp teeth. The tongue seems to be the tip of a sword,
- the little eyes flash with lightning. Finally, the back, which is disproportionately long, ends in a snake tail that wraps itself around men and horses in a terrible way. (Der Kampf mit dem Drachen).
- 6) Probably from the Greek Tarasso, to frighten.
- 7) This last detail could well be the result of a confusion between the legend of Tarasque and the legend of the genius of the Rhône or Drac that Mistral tells in his Poème du Rhône.
- 8) René le Bon, Duke of Anjou and Lorraine, Count of Provence, King of Naples (1409-1480).
- 9) On the legend of Tarasque see in particular: PORTE, Historical research on the festivals of Tarasque, Memoirs of the Academy of Aix, t. IV, 1840. - ANONYME, Les Monuments de l'Eglise Sainte-Marthe à Tarascon; br. in-8, Tarascon, Aubanel, 1835. - R. P. VALÉRY, Sainte Marie Madeleine and the other friends of the Savior Apostles of Provence; vol. in-8, Lyon, Jaillet, 1867. - TO ESCUDIATE, The Early Evangelization of Provence; Paris, 1914.
- 10) According to Mr. PORTE, Martha, sister of Lazarus, was confused with a Syrian prophetess named Martha, who accompanied the Rornain general Marius when he defeated the Cimbers and the Teutons near Aix, and made him know the will of the gods. The victory of Saint Martha over Tarasque would be the victory of the Romans over the Barbarians, ensured by Martha's inspiration.
- 11) The supposed existence of dragons and monsters living in Europe in historical times obviously shocks our scientific knowledge. The passage of Saint Martha through Provence is neither proven nor historically proven. The tradition of the Saintes' boat seems to have been invented from scratch in the 10th century. The relics of Saint Martha were discovered and locked in a tomb in Tarascon in 1187 after the Archbishop of Arles, Imbert d'Aiguières, had affirmed their authenticity. However, it is certain that the name of Tarascon cannot be traced back to the event traced by the legend. The geographer Ptolemy (2nd century AD) named this city Tauruscus and Strabon, who was a contemporary of Christ, mentioned it in Book IV of his Itinerary under the name Tarasco. If we want to admit that Tarascon owes its name to Tarasque, we must go back to the heroic ages to the existence of this dragon; some scholars identify it with the Tauruscus monster that Hercules would have defeated in these lands, but they are thus only transposing the legend into another setting. In this sense, H. BOUCHE, La chorographie ou description de la Provence et l'histoire chronologique du même pays, t. I, p. 364 et t. II, p. 678.
- 12) In Marseille, it was believed that a dreadful dragon had established his pensioner on the site where the abbey of Saint Victor was built and that this saint, armed with all his parts, exterminated him. In Arles was another dragon, out of the sea, covered with scales that guaranteed him against the most soaked weapons, which a resident managed to kill by sticking a spear down his throat, after confessing and taking communion. - In Aix, St. Andrew's prayers delivered the city from a dragon. Sometimes, at Rogations processions, a cardboard dragon was carried in memory of this event. - In Cavaillon, the same legend is repeated; but it is the prayers of Saint Véran that perform the miracle. - Saint Honorat and Saint Armentaire killed two gigantic snakes with a stinking breath; undoubtedly the dragon was split here so that each of the two saints worshipped in the city could have an equal share of merit. - Finally, the same thaumaturgical virtues of prayer to destroy the monstrous snakes are affirmed in Draguignan by the legend of Saint Armentaire, in Sisteron by that of Saint Donnat and in Avignon by that of Saint Agricol. - These various draconian legends of Provence are summarized in the work of Mr. PORTE who cites the sources. Let us add that we know in Provence several very old sculptures, representing chimeric monsters of which some devour human limbs. We can mention a sculpture found in the village of Les Baux and preserved at the Arlatan Museum, another one found in Noves, near Tarascon, preserved at the Avignon Museum, a third one preserved at the Rognonas Presbytery. The legend even seems not to be special to Provence because we used to walk in Poitiers, in religious processions, the image of a kind of winged dragon called the great Ghoul. An engraving, kept in Arles at the Arlatan Museum, among the iconographic documents dedicated to Tarasque, is proof of this.
- 13) This sculpture of Saint Trophime is the oldest iconographic document we can mention; in subsequent documents the symbol sometimes changes. The lit torch becomes, on some figures, a radiant cross or a simple cross. The Tarasque's turtle shell turns, on others, into a pair of membranous and gigantic wings that envelop the entire body of the animal. The water container, sometimes accompanied by a sprinkler, almost always exists at the saint's arm or feet. However, there is a figure representing Saint Martha in prayer, hands joined and bareheaded, without any other emblem, in the Church of Saint Savior in Aix. - In Tarascon's popular festivals, the cardboard monster wears a spiky armour and spits fire through his nostrils. A young girl, veiled in pink and dressed in blue, calms him down by spraying him with holy water and ties him with a silk belt.
- Here are the main iconographic documents that we can quote: Capital of Saint Trophime (11th century really). - Ancient tomb of Saint Martha in Tarascon (12th century). - Sculpture of the University Chapel in Saint-Sauveur d'Aix (15th century). - Painting by Van Loo in the church of Sainte-Marthe in Tarascon (1730). - Painting in the cathedral of Fréjus, near the choir (unknown author). - Front of the Tarascon Town Hall (17th century). - Ancient Tarascon seals and coins (15th century). - Collection of statues, enamel and terracotta plates, engravings, etc., at the Arlatan Museum in Arles. - One of Saint Martha's engravings is popularized by an image of piety. (Published at Schulgen, rue Saint-Sulpice, 25, Paris), and by a postcard sold in Tarascon.
- 14) The inscriptions of the tomb of Saint Martha give it this title Beata Martha hospita Christi.
- 15) It is curious to note that the three attributes of Saint Martha, the water cup, the torch (or cross) and the belt, correspond hieroglyphically to three of the letters of the sacred tetragram of the Kabbalists: Hey, Vav, hey, symbol of the eternal female principle. The spear of St. George, on the other hand, corresponds to the initial Iod of the tetragram, symbol of the male principle. We do not mean by this that the legend of Saint Martha is of Kabbalistic origin: it would be a very bold and probably inaccurate assertion. This only proves that a right symbol unfolds an infinity of exact correspondences in all fields and planes of creation, even when it has been forged to express only truths related to some of them.
- 16) This essentially feminine attribute, similar to the crescent moon that Christian iconography places under the feet of the Virgin Mary, almost always appears at the saint's arm or feet, while the torch or cross is quite often forgotten.
- 17) Astrologically Leo is a sign of fire.
- 18) This symbol even exists in the sanctuaries of China. "We find," writes Dr. REUGNAULT, "the dragon represented at the feet of a very curious and interesting divinity, the Bodhisatva Kouan-Yu, which is nothing other than the Chinese adaptation of the divinity named in India Avalokalecsvara and considered as the goddess of charity. She is depicted with a child on her left arm and a dragon under her feet; there, the positive principle seems to be dominated by the negative principle. There would be curious similarities to be made between the dragon, the Genesis serpent, the Minerva serpent and the Great Astral Serpent of the occultists... " (Les dragons dans l'art de l'Extrême-Orient, La Voie, July 1906, P. 38). Comp. an article by the same author on climatology in the Far East (Hydrologica, 25 April 1914), in which he uses the description of the Kouan-Yu and indicates that it holds a crescent moon, a female symbol obviously similar to the vase filled with water from Saint Martha.
- 19) Das Unbeschreibliche
- Yesterday ist's gethan:
- Das Ewig-Weibliche
- Zieht uns hinan.
- (The Unprinounceable is realized here; the Eternal Feminine attracts us to Heaven.) (Faust, Chorus Mysticus).
- 20) This idea is expressed by the Western symbol of the cross and by the Eastern symbol of the Yang-yn. (The two intertwined commas, the black and the white).
- 21) To put an end to the attacks of evil and suffering, says the Imitation, there is no other way but to endure them. (II, XII, 10).
- 22) Errors and Truth, Edinburgh, 1782.
- 23) In the same vein, let us note that, on the medals of Saint George that are widely distributed in commerce, the magic symbol of the obverse (the dragon pierced by the spear) is accompanied on the reverse by a mystical symbol (a nave floating on the sea, agitated, with the inscription In tempestate securitas).