Portal:Aleister Crowley/Selected articles/Selected article 1

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Phaistos Disk, Side A, 2nd milenium B.C. July 3, 1908 at Phaistos, Crete, by Luigi Pernier (Original)

A symbol, in its basic sense, is a representational token for a concept or quantity; i.e. an idea, object, concept, quality, etc. In more psychological and philosophical terms, all concepts are symbolic in nature and representations for these concepts are simply token artifacts that are allegorical to (but do not directly codify) a symbolic meaning.

Spoken [[Language|language, for example, consists of distinct auditory tokens for representing symbolic concepts (words),]] arranged in an order which further suggests their meaning.

Nature of symbols

A symbol can be a material object whose shape or origin is related, by nature or convention, to the thing it represents: for instance, the crucifix is the main symbol of Christianity, and the scepter is a traditional symbol of royal power.

A symbol can also be a more or less conventional image (i.e. an icon), or a detail of an image, or even a pattern or color: for example, the olive branch in heraldry represents peace, the halo is a conventional symbol of sainthood in Christian imagery, tartans are symbols of Scottish clans, and the color red is often used as a symbol for socialist movements, especially communism.

More often, a symbol is a conventional written or printed sign (specifically, a glyph), usually standing for anything other than a sound (symbols for sounds are usually called graphemes, letters, logograms, diacritics, etc.). Thus mathematical symbols such as π and + represent quantities and operations, currency symbols represent monetary units, chemical symbols represent elements, and so forth. (more...)