At the heart of symbolism

The Canadian flag

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Canadian flag

The colours of the flag

It is not by chance that the colours of the flags of several countries or international organizations are red and white (Austria, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malta, Monaco, Peru, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Red Cross and Red Crescent).

White and red are the most common colours in any tradition. In fact, white contains the entire visible light spectrum covering all rainbow colours where red is the “upper arch”. Therefore, white symbolizes the Unity, the Principle at the source of the manifestation of colours in particular and everything in general. It depicts also the representatives of the Principle on Earth, the holders of the spiritual authority: white is the colour of druids of the Celtic tradition and Brahmins of Hindu tradition. White symbolizes the spiritual or sacerdotal authority possessing the Knowledge of the principles, which has authority over the temporal or royal power in charge of their application and associated with red.

In the denomination of the flag colours, red usually comes first because the flag emphasizes the cosmologic point of view or ascending way, from the (colourful) manifestation to its (white) Principle, rather than the metaphysical point of view or descending way, from the (white) Principle to its (colourful) manifestation.

The maple leaf

The maple leaf transforms the solar energy into crude sap, which is collected and manufactured as maple syrup. According to the Chinese tradition, this transformation is the result of an association of celestial and terrestrial influences, of Heaven and Earth.

The distinction between Heaven and Earth reflects the fundamental polarization of the Unity, of the Principle at the source of the manifestation of everything. The association of the Unity (1) with its polarization (2) depicts the whole game between the descent towards the manifestation of the Principle (1+2=3) and the ascent from the manifested to the Unity (3=2+1).

The maple leaf on the Canadian flagThe maple leaf perfectly illustrates the top-down and bottom-up movements between the Unity and its manifestation. They are depicted by the three palm leaves where the central palm depicts the Unity and the two others its polarization into two complementary poles. Moreover, they are also portrayed within each palm through its three points. Indeed, the central palm, figuring Unity, potentially contains its polarization; the two lateral palms, representing complementary facets of the Unity, have no reality outside It.

Three and eleven

As mentioned above, the fundamental polarization of the Unity manifests itself through two complementary poles, Heaven and Earth.

Heaven is usually represented by a circle as its influence is equally spreading from the centre in all directions whereas Earth is depicted by a square in connection with the four cardinal points.

The figures associated with Heaven and EarthNow, the circle measurement is based on number 12 and its multiples and the square measurement on the multiples of 10. It follows that numbers 12 and 10 are respectively associated with Heaven and Earth.

Between these two numbers 10 and 12 and their multiples fits the middle term 11 and its multiples. Number 11 symbolizes the union of Heaven and Earth, of the spiritual and temporal worlds. Indeed, the first multiple of 11, i.e. 22, represents the sum of 12 and 10.

Consequently, if the number 3 symbolizes the Unity (1) and its polarization (2) on the descending way from Heaven to Earth, the number 11 characterizes the union of Heaven (6) and Earth (5) 1 on the ascending way towards Unity. The numbers 3 and 11 are respectively pictured by the maple leaf palms and points.

The Canadian flag clearly portrays the interdependence between both descending and ascending ways. The descent generates the citizen's diversity from the Unity; the ascent brings the citizens back towards the union of Heaven and Earth, towards Unity.


  • René Guénon:
  • “The Great Triad”, South Asia Books Publisher;
  • Mostly, chapter 8 on “celestial and terrestrial numbers”.

1 back In the Chinese tradition, 6 and 5 are respectively representing Heaven and Earth measurement basis.