Symbology, so named in the film The Da Vinci Code, is the fictional name for the true subject of Semiotics or Semiotic studies. It is the study of the philosophy behind signs and symbols and how they are used, whether they be literal or esoteric.
Signs can be a direct substitute for words and meanings which are easy to grasp, universal and non language specific – like blue representing cold and red representing hot on a tap, symbols tend to be used more as a type of visual mnemonic, or to identify part of a deeper meaning or an analogy concealing a desired truth. The use of symbols in this way has been a practice used in many cultures for hundreds of years and usually requires the seeker to research further into a subject area and expand their own knowledge through the journey they make in that research. This journey of research takes the student through a door which can lead to a corridor with many more doors that were previously unseen before his research began.
Care must be taken to not draw the wrong meaning from the symbol or confuse them, as has so often been done. For example, even in today’s educated world, many medical companies and organisations within the medical profession, have adopted logos which attribute the wrong symbol to represent medicine; incorrectly attributing the Caduceus symbol instead of the rod of Asclepius.
1. Caduceus 2. US Army Medical Corps 3. Asclepius 4. World Health Organisation
Caduceus was used to denote the Greek God Hermes (Roman God Mercury) and the business commerce, trades and negotiation he represented. The symbol for medicine was in fact represented by the rod or staff of Asclepius, the ancient Greek God of medicine, whose daughter Hygieia gave us the root of the word for Hygiene.
We have many symbols within Martial Arts. Some are easy to discern, others, not so easy, but next time you see or are shown a symbol, especially if it’s part of what you are learning, don’t dismiss it so easily. It might be more allegorical than literal. Sometimes, it might be that what you learn on the way to understanding the symbol is actually more important than the symbol itself.
So, as for symbols, so it is with everything.
Don’t take things at face value.
Study, research and learn from them.
Continue to try to make a daily advancement in your knowledge by looking beyond surface level explanations and regarding all situations as opportunities to learn from.