Of all the mystical symbols known to Initiates, Man (we use the term “Man” to refer to both genders) is considered as the most ancient among them. Man possessing the masculine and feminine natures, is the epitome of the Cosmos on a microcosmic scale. Within Man’s being lies all of the forces, powers, and principles of Nature; embodied within Man are the laws of the universe; mysteriously written within the sacred heart you will find the source of the sacred scriptures of the world. Mystery schools of the past and present regard that being created and considered “good” by the Archcreator as a reflection of the macrocosm; hence the term “microcosm” to refer to the totality of Man, thekolemangroupscreen and the usage of mirrors to symbolically convey the teaching of Man’s true pristine nature as exemplified in the teachings of Taoism and Dzogchen.
Paracelsus, the medieval alchemist, believed Man to be a miniature solar system. All of the creative powers utilized in the making of a solar-system are to be found inherent within this cosmic child, within Man–the god-in-becoming. Creative and spiritual powers, however, lie dormant in a latent state within Man; their unfoldment will occur as the result of evolution, the process of growing into God’s perfect image. It really takes a great deal of involvement with the study of the “Book of Man”–with internal inquiry, with introspection, with the application of principles of mysticism and the occult, and the practice thereof to discover exactly why Man is the universe on a lesser scale, on a lower octave. St. Martin, the enlightened “Theosophist,” taught that the study of the nature of Man was the most proper for humanity, especially for the “Man of Desire,” for the aspirant–the seeker of Truth. Qabalists of the Jewish mystical tradition refer to Man as the “microprosopus,” or lesser countenance,” that is, a reflected God upon the realms of formlessness and form. This belief is based on the statement in Genesis of Man being created in God’s image. In Javanese mysticism, Man is known as the “Jagad Alit,” or the “small universe.” There are parallels of this in almost every mystical tradition of the world.
While posing as a microcosmic being, Man is a macrocosmic system to the lower kingdoms in his charge. This is in accord with the principles and famed verse of Hermes; “as above, so below”–to the Law of Correspondence. By studying the microcosm, we in fact study the macrocosm. One of the Quarternary laws of Martinism propounds this particular principle of the “Thrice Greatest.” Sentient beings of the lower lifestreams look upon Man as a God–sometimes as a wrathful one. Animals, with their fine instincts developed for them by their group-spirits, their directors of evolution, perceive Man with a sense of love, and a sense of awe and fear. This ambivalent feeling and response in animals are caused by the complexity of Man’s egoistic expression, the imperfect manifestation of his innate divinity and his relationship towards life as a whole. Primitive Man, or the primitive mind responds in a similar manner towards Nature, but for a different reason–ignorance, the lack of understanding towards God and Self. The problem of apparent inharmony within Nature therefore, lies within Man himself, and only within his Self, within the microcosmic kingdom of God, will he truly find the solution to right living and right relationships. Though the ordinary mind is the slayer of the Real, it is the spiritualized mind that will nullify its miscreations. Such a principle of the mind, the function of reason of which imbued by Buddhi–intuition, love, and the higher intellect–the “intelligence of the heart” of the hierophants of ancient Egypt, would reveal to Man his “Naked Face,” his “Natural State,” his true nature, the foundation of his existence, and the unreality of phenomena–the impermanence of form and aggregates.
Initiates of the hoary past, such as to be found among the secret societies of the Compagnons, Knights Templer, Dionysiac Artificers, and the Operative Masons, designed and built their temples, cathedrals, lodges, and places of worship after the geometric design and anatomy of Man’s body. King Solomon’s Temple and the Great Pyramid are just two examples of sacred edifices constructed after the harmonic proportion embodied within Man. In one sense, Man is the source of all measures, and is himself, the measurer of all things. Within archetypal Man, lies a tome of cosmic measurements, harmonics, and balance. Ancient Greeks produced art-forms–sculptures of the human physical form that stimulated the aesthetic sense and subtly aroused and awakened in the onlooker the memory of his divinity, spiritual nature, and origin. Symmetry in an artist’s soul results in the symmetry of created forms, the harmony and beauty of which triggers in the witnessing soul through impressions impinging upon the consciousness, an alignment with the spiritual SELF. By gazing at spiritual beauty one instinctively feel the presence of the Divine.
Various symbols in the past have been used by esotericists to represent Man. Among the well-known emblems are the pentagram, the five-pointed star, numerologically the pentad; and the hexagram, the six-pointed star–the hexad. The former represents Man’s occult nature, while the latter symbolizes the unity of Man and God; or “coordinated Man”–Man with the perfect harmonization of the lower principles of his four-fold personality and his spiritual triad.
The cross, of which there are many versions, is another ancient design that portrays Man. The use of this symbol probably had its inception during the age of Man’s adoration and veneration towards the Sun. Awakening at dawn, man would face the rising sun with outstretched hands to receive the beneficent rays of life. This pose casts a shadow on the ground in the form of a cross. This was how man was symbolically equated with it. The daily ritual of sun veneration and adoration is still to be found in some cultures, in India especially. It is believed that the rite invokes an additional amount of vital force, or prana that fills the energy-structure of the microcosm. Mantras such as the beautiful Gayatri are also sometimes recited in the rite in conjunction with physical movements, making it a sacred exercise.
At a later period, in the days of the mushrooming of esoteric schools and secret societies in Spain and the rest of Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, the mystic rose was added to the cross, thus expanding and elaborating upon its symbolism. The union of cross and rose, is in a dynamic sense, the unity of Islamic and Christian mysticism unified by the Knights Templar and expressed in their doctrines. The “Rosy Cross” as it came to be called, was adopted by a certain mystical brotherhood that called itself “Rosicrucian” after the appellation “Rosy Cross,” or “Rosae Crucis,” to give its original Latinized version. So exquisite in form, and so sweet its perfume that the rose signified Man’s unfolding spiritual nature, his innate God-attributes. Qabalistically speaking, the cross has its origin in Malkuth, whereas the rose has its roots in Kether. The substance of the rose is divine, being composed of light, life and love; whereas crystallized spirit is the substance of the cross. Hindu philosophers would say that the rose is a manifestation of Purusha, or Soul; and the cross, Prakriti, or Matter. From one point of view, the rose attached to the cross represents the unfoldment of the anahata (heart) chakra. Rich with metaphysical significance, the Rosy Cross may be considered as one of the Secret Doctrine’s most profound Word made manifest in symbolical form. Meditating upon such a symbol, like the Holy Grail, puts us in touch with a vast fount of wisdom–with the egregore, the archetypal force, the group consciousness, and the psychic pool of spiritual ideas represented by the symbol.
Helena Blavatsky, the messenger of the Himalayan Masters of the 19th century, taught that Man is a being whose highest and lowest principles are linked together by the mental principle, by human intelligence. According to the Ancient Wisdom all beings that exist, have been, or will be Man at a certain phase of their spiritual evolution. It is believed by some occult students that Man lies midway between the higher and lower kingdoms in Nature. He is the link between the celestial kingdoms of be-ing and the natural kingdoms of becoming. St. Martin considered Man as an enigma, for although a divine son of God, with a “superior principle,” generally, Man believes himself to be a contemptible creature, a lowly being devoid of any divine spark and moral strength who was born a sinner and doomed to the eternal flames of Hell unless his faith in an external saviour is strong enough to save him.