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The Seal of the Theosophical Society

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  The Seal of the Theosophical Society




In the seal of the Theosophical Society fundamental esoteric doctrines are represented. There is a circle which is formed by a serpent holding its own tail in its mouth. At the top of the serpentine circle one sees, within a small circle, a svāstika (swastika). Within the serpent circle we see a seal of Solomon. Within this six-pointed star we find an crux ansata or ankh.

The circle formed by the serpent is the symbol of eternity, because it has a beginning nor an end. It represents the cyclic Law: eternally continuing evolution. Whenever one cycle comes to an end, a new one begins or overtakes the old one. In the Native American tradition the circle symbolizes brotherhood, because all points are connected and have the same distance to the central point.

One can interpret the vertical circle as consisting of a downward and an upward half, It then signifies the descend or involution of spirit into matter followed by ascend or evolution of the spirit from matter – which at the same time means that matter after being touched by the spirit is being withdrawn into its spiritual essence. The serpent is also a universal symbol of wisdom and due to its ability to throw off its skin and look anew, it symbolizes periodical re-embodiment.


The interlaced triangles are know in the western word as the seal of Solomon and in the Hindu tradition as the seal of Vishnu. They refer to the bipolarity of manifested nature: spirit and matter. The top of the white triangle represent the divine monad, the divine essence of all and every being. The downward pointing top of the black triangle represents the manifested worlds. The downward pointing triangle is the power of the lower, mortal nature within man, the upward pointing triangle represents the spiritual aspects, and the human mind when directed towards the spiritual. Together with the central point the triangles makes the number 7, the number of the manifested universe and the sevenfold constitution of man. The central point is the seventh (or first), i.e. highest principle from which the other six principles flow forth or from which they are evolved.


The svāstika is a symbols that one finds with the Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and can be found in prehistoric Indian rock inscriptions of unknown age. It is also found in China, Japan and elsewhere. In the Americas it is found with the Hopi, who relate it with their historic peregrinations over the North American continent many thousands of years ago. It is the symbol of eternal movement en refers, in the Hindu tradition, to what they “call the eternal churner of the gods,” with the soul (ātman) at its center, whereas the bent hooks direct towards the eternal cyclic movement of the wheels of life during existence. In case of the Jains, the four spaces formed by the svāstika also refer to the four realms of existence in which the soul in material bondage can manifest: human, subhuman, hellish and heavenly during its peregrinations in the universe. The Buddhists refer to the svāstika as the Wheel of the Dharma, the Law, the Good Doctrine.

 In the center of the seal we see an ansatic cross or ankh, a symbol very common on Egyptian temples and papyri. Often we see that a deity holds the ankh in front of the nose of the initiant, apparently signifying the inflow of divine life force. The symbol indicates life, renewal en descend of the spirit from the inner into the material worlds. The noose or circle above the T-form is the cosmic or spiritual germ or egg above the cross of matter which came forth from it. As a symbol of the planet Venus it symbolizes the stage of evolution in which the spirit has conquered matter – something which has not yet taken place on Earth.

Much more could be said about the meaning of these symbols. In their total significance they include the philosophy of the inner processes within man and nature. These are more explicitly taught in Theosophical literature, and it is very useful to compare this with studies concerning these symbols in India, Egypt and ancient America.

In some cases (depending on which Theosophical Society uses it) one finds the Sanskrit syllable

Zegel TS-1 (alleen aum)

(AUṀ) above the seal. The ancient Indians held that Oṁ, when considered as a single letter was the symbol of the Supreme; when written with three letters – Auṁ – it stood, among other things, for the three Vedas, the three guṇas or qualities of nature, the three divisions of the universe, and the deities of the Hindu Trimurti — Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva — concerned in the creation, preservation, and destruction/transformation of the manifested universe or the beings composing it. According to Blavatsky it is “The mystic formula, résumé of every science, contained in three mysterious letters …” (Isis Unveiled 2:31).

According to some Hindus the three letters A, U and Ṁ correspond with the triguṇa or three qualities of Nature of the universe in manifestation, respectively sattva (wisdom) rajas (passion) and tamas (inertion, quietude, resistance, darkness), and they stand also for the three worlds in which the human conscious ego resides during its cycles of being born and dying: bhur (the Earth), hhuvar (the Astral World), svar (the heavenly world – i.e. the world of sublime mental illusion – to be transcended by the jñānin, the one who knows spiritually.)

The word, when pronounced or ‘hummed’ properly, is said to have a morally spiritualizing effect if pronounced during meditation and when the mind is at peace and cleansed of all impurities. In Brahmanical literature the three lettered syllable of invocation is considered very holy: “AUṀ is the bow, the Self is the arrow, Brahman is called its aim” (Māṇḍukya Upaniṣad 2:2). The AUṀ or OṀ is placed at the beginning of scriptures considered of unusual sanctity. “Prolonging the uttering of this word, both of the O and the M, with the mouth closed, it reechoes in and arouses vibration in the skull, and affects, if the aspirations be pure, the different nervous centers of the body for great good”1. The virtue or spiritual and magical properties attributed to this word, however, arise out of the purity and devotion of the one uttering it.


सत्यान्नास्ति परो धर्मः

Satyān nāsti paro dharmaḥ

 As symbol of the Theosophical Society it is half surrounded by the Sanskrit words सत्यान्नास्ति परो धर्मः satyān nāsti paro dharmaḥ, rendered in English as There is no Religion (Dharma) higher that Truth). The word Dharma can also be translated as (inner) duty, law, ethics, right way of life, or as basis and support of all existence.


See also the core teachings of Theosophy: Jewels of Wisdom


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  1. Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy  by G. de Purucker, page 28 []