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The Law of Correspondences

Central to every esoteric cosmology is the Principle of Correspondence.  This is embodied in the Hermetic axiom as above, so below - the same design is repeated on every level, both physical and metaphysical, and it is possible to equate the units in one series with the units of another series.


The four Elements - Correspondences

To give a trivial example (which is nevertheless central to modern astrology), the four elements of the Greeks - Earth, Air, Fire and Water, can be equated with the four ego-functions (faculties of consciousness) of the Jungian typology (sensation, thinking, feeling, intuition), and the four magical instruments of modern Hermeticism (and Tarot suites), as follows:


Element Magickal Instrument Psychological faculty
Spirit Magician Ego
Fire Wand Intuition (or Will)
Water Cup (Chalice) Feeling
Air Dagger Thinking (Intellect)
Earth Pentacle Sensation

This is just a simple and basic illustration, given by way of example, but it can be seen that thi is a principle taht is important even today in the Hermetic tradition.


Astrological Correspondences

The same principle was applied also in astrology, and remained part of the "perennial philosophy' until the age of enlightenment and the rise of the secular west, such as the following from Elizabethan England. (this example is from the excellent external link Shakespeare's Life and Times website)

The Sun
The angelsGod
The universeSun
SocietyKing
The familyHusband
The human bodyThe head
AnimalsLion
PlantsOak
MineralsGold

The Ubiquity of Correspondence Theory

In fact one can formulate any number of correspondences and equivalences, and hence derive any number of Unified Diagrams of Reality The fact that these different systems will often differ among themselves, as do, for example, the attributions of colour, direction, elements etc among the Western, Indian, Chinese, Mesoamerican etc systems, shows how easy it is for the human mind to develop particular structures and then empose those structures on Reality out there (if indeed there is a Reality out there, and if indeed assuming there is one it has a structure, and if that structure can be described (my answer, for what it is worth, is yes there is yes it has, no it probably cannot ;-)



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content by M.Alan Kazlev,
Sun Table of Correspondences from Shakespeare's Life and Times website - original page
page uploaded 28 May 1998, last modified 3 July 2004