At the heart of symbolism

The United kingdom flag

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The two crosses and the Centre

St. George and St. Andrew crosses are symbols connected to the quaternary or number four. More precisely, the cross may be related to number five composing the four directions and their crossing point. This central point contains potentially the four (and even many more) directions, which may be manifested in any cross. From this point of view, it can be considered as a pole, from which all beams are radiating or around which all spokes are turning (compare with the swastika, a symbol spread all over Asia, America and Europe: for instance, within the Celtic tradition).

When superposing both St. George and St. Andrew crosses, we obtain a symbol recalling the eight spokes of the Celtic rowel. This picture may also be found in Eastern countries,Celtic rowel particularly, in the Middle East, in India (where the wheel is called “chakra”) as well as in Tibet.

The difference between the Celtic rowel and United Kingdom's flag consists in a circular instead of rectangular edge, a distinction which will be explained later.

The Celtic rowel is mainly a symbol of the World in movement around the motionless Centre. The World considered here has nothing to do with a place in concrete terms. It covers the totality of the manifested states of being, visible and invisible. This can be easily understood:

  • Firstly, are we not using expressions such as “wheel of fortune”, “wheel of history”, “what turns the wheel ?” And all these expressions refer to other situations, to other states of being.
  • Secondly, these states are a manifestation of a non-manifested source.

The etymology of rowel (“rota”) evokes immediately the idea of rotation depicting the continuous change of all manifested things around a Centre, which does not participate in the movement. It symbolizes the immutable Principle conducting from the inner all things of the outer, peripheral or manifested world. Moreover, the Centre is influencing the outer world in a balanced way. Being the Middle between two opposite points of the circumference, it is the place where the opposites are unified and antagonisms reabsorbed.

Manifestation and development

From a spatial or time point of view, St. George cross, inside the rowel, may represent the four compass points, the four periods of the day, the four lunar phases, the four seasons, the four ages of humanity etc. So, four is a basic number related to the manifestation of cycles associated with states of being.

Adding the St. Andrew cross consists in introducing intermediate points characterizing the middle of the four periods or phases. The associated number eight corresponds, therefore, to the development of the manifestation of cycles or states of being.

Transformation of the Celtic rowel into a squareWhen the possibilities of states of being have achieved their full development and reached their final equilibrium, the circle of the Celtic rowel (representing the expansion of the Centre) is transformed into a more stable form, a square (or a rectangle). This square symbolizes the material realization, limit of the manifestation of the Centre. This is nothing but the famous “squaring of the circle” of the Hermetic tradition. The circle stands for the beginning of a tradition and the square for its achievement in relation to a derived traditional form. In specific Christian terms, both drawings may be respectively associated with the Earthly Jerusalem or Old Testament and the Heavenly Jerusalem or New Testament.

The Centre, a starting and ending point

If the Centre is a starting point, it is also an ending point. Everything comes from it and has to return to it as all things exist only through the Principle. The links between the whole manifestation and the Principle are represented by the radius joining the Centre to different points of the circumference, which may be run along in both directions (from the Centre to the circumference and conversely). So, two complementary phases are operating, which is comparable to the pulsating heart. Blood is pumped through the organism to invigorate the tissues and comes back to the heart, purified through the lungs. The central point is not only the “Centre of the World”, but also the “Heart of the World”.