The spiral: the eternal sign of the creative and organising principle at work in the universe
The spiral is the age-old intuitive symbol of spiritual development and our identity with the universe. It is found in cultures the world over and reflected in shamanism, serpent cults, dragon lore, geomancy, magic, mysticism and ritual art and dance throughout history.
As ‘re-volution’ or ‘re-evolution’, the spiral progression is symbolic of the transpersonal route to that higher level of consciousness which is sought by all esoteric and occult systems. Paralleling these inner movements of the psyche which indicate the transformative and the integrative are movements in physical space: the vortex, or involution, representing an opening or re-awakening; the circumambulatory, as utilised in mazes and labyrinths; and oscillation, the movement back and forth between dualities. The circumambulatory and oscillative suggest the mandala, a symbol of wholeness, while the spiral and the vortex point to dynamic growth and metamorphosis.
Indeed, the spiral vortex, as found in whirlpools in water and in the double helix structure of the DNA molecule — just two of myriad examples — is nature’s favoured form for the transmission of its energy, both economically and efficaciously, radiating out and drawing in simultaneously, infinitely and eternally.
The archetypal image of the spiral came to render itself in the idea of a path that could be climbed in stages to reach God, a notion fundamental to both the Kabbalah and exponents of magic down the centuries, and made concrete in the three- and two-dimensional initiatory mazes which existed in antiquity.
It is believed that such mazes, or processional pathways, existed, for example, in England at Glastonbury Tor in Somerset and Godshill on the Isle of Wight. The one at the Tor may have been constructed as long as 5,000 years ago, according to certain estimates. Pilgrims would have entered the maze part way up the side of the hill and travelled first in a clockwise, then in an anti-clockwise, direction making their way to the holy summit, possibly by means of seven full circuits, absorbing the energy of the natural ‘power station’ as they went.
Similarly, the final phase of the construction of the 4,500-year-old Silbury Hill in…