Egg (symbol)

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The Egg is a universal symbol representing the primordial source from which the Deity and the materials for the creation of the cosmos come into existence. It is an image frequently found in the cosmogonies of many cultures and civilizations, including the Hindu, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Syrian, Persian, and Finnish.[1]

In Theosophical literature it represents the primordial substance and the germ of consciousness (Logos) in it, in their various stages of development, from the unmanifested and undifferentiatied to the fully manifested. To distinguish among the different stages, the egg is qualified with adjectives such as "eternal", "virgin", "mundane", etc.

General description

H. P. Blavatsky explained that the egg represents the undifferentiated substance made of ultimate atoms on the highest plane. In this sense, she is not using the word "atom" as modern science does, but in its original meaning of that which is "non-divisible":

The egg means the ever-eternal, existing, undifferentiated matter, which is not strictly matter as we ordinarily use the term, but which, as we say, is the atoms. The atoms are indestructible; and matter is destructible in form, but the atoms are absolutely indestructible.[2]

In reference to this universal symbol, Blavatsky wrote:

The Egg was incorporated as a sacred sign in the cosmogony of every people on the Earth, and was revered both on account of its form and its inner mystery. From the earliest mental conceptions of man, it was known as that which represented most successfully the origin and secret of being. The gradual development of the imperceptible germ within the closed shell; the inward working, without any apparent outward interference of force, which from a latent nothing produced an active something, needing nought save heat; and which, having gradually evolved into a concrete, living creature, broke its shell, appearing to the outward senses of all a self-generated, and self-created being—must have been a standing miracle from the beginning. . . . The second reason for its having been chosen as the symbolical representation of the Universe, and of our earth, was its form. It was a Circle and a Sphere; and the ovi-form shape of our globe must have been known from the beginning of symbology, since it was so universally adopted.[3]

There are several "eggs" responding to the different stages the primordial substance and the germ of consciousness go through during the awakening of the cosmos. There are also different "eggs" according to the plane they belong to. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

You must remember that there are both the Universal and Solar Eggs (as well as others), and that it is necessary to qualify any statement made concerning them.[4]
Thus the Egg, on whatever plane you speak of, means the ever-existing undifferentiated matter which strictly is not matter at all, but, as we call it, the Atoms. Matter is destructible in form while the Atoms are absolutely indestructible, being the quintessence of Substances. And here, I mean by “atoms” the primordial divine Units, not the “atoms” of modern Science.[5]

Eternal egg

The “eternal egg” is the pre-cosmic or undifferentiated matter, before the ray from the Logos fecundated it:

The eternal egg is a pre-differentiation in a laya or zero condition; thus, before differentiation it can have neither attributes nor qualities.[6]
The egg means the ever-eternal, existing, undifferentiated matter, which is not strictly matter as we ordinarily use the term, but which, as we say, is the [ultimate] atoms.[7]

In Stanza II.3 the word "mātripadma" (from mātṛ, "mother" and padma, "lotus") is used. According to Blavatsky this refers to the eternal egg:

Q. Is the Matri-Padma the eternal or the periodical Egg?
A. The eternal Egg; it will become periodical only when the ray from the first Logos shall have flashed from the latent Germ in the Matri-Padma which is the Egg, the Womb of the Universe which is to be.[8]

Virgin egg

Once the ray from the Logos is radiated and "penetrates" in the eternal egg, the latter begins to differentiate and becomes the "virgin egg".[9] This Egg corresponds, at the level of the solar system, with what at a universal level is called chaos:

The "Virgin Egg" is the microcosmic symbol of the macrocosmic prototype—the "Virgin Mother"—Chaos or the Primeval Deep.[10]

After the Virgin Egg is fecundated, it is "dropped" to the plane of manifestation, where it becomes the "Mundane Egg":

The Virgin-egg being in one sense abstract Egg-ness, or the power of becoming developed through fecundation, is eternal and for ever the same. And just as the fecundation of an egg takes place before it is dropped; so the non-eternal periodical germ which becomes later in symbolism the mundane egg, contains in itself, when it emerges from the said symbol, “the promise and potency” of all the Universe.[11]

Mundane egg

Stanza III.3 of Cosmogenesis states:

“Darkness” radiates light, and light drops one solitary ray into the waters, into the mother deep. The ray shoots through the virgin-egg; the ray causes the eternal egg to thrill, and drop the non-eternal (periodical) germ, which condenses into the world egg.[12]

Also known as the "World" or "Mundane" Egg is the stage where manifestation begins:

Cosmic egg.jpg
The Mundane Egg is on the plane of differentiation [manifestation], the first stage if you like; but from the plane of non-differentiation it is the third, as I just told you. The Egg represents the just differentiated cosmic matter in which the vital creative Germ receives its first spiritual impulse, and potentiality becomes potency.[13]

The "germ" awakened by the ray is sometimes referred to as "the point in the mundane egg."[14] This point is the Second Logos, which is seen as an abstract triangle. A period of incubation takes place after the fecundation, which ends with the birth of the Third Logos, the manifested creator, symbolized by the concrete triangle:

Having flashed out from this central point and thrilled through the Germ, the Ray is withdrawn again within this point and the Germ develops into the Second Logos, the triangle within the Mundane Egg.[15]
It is this ideal or abstract triangle which is the Point in the Mundane Egg, which, after gestation, and in the third remove, will start from the Egg to form the Triangle.[16]
(Then) the three (triangle) fall into the four (quaternary). The radiant essence becomes seven inside, seven outside. The luminous egg (hiranyagarbha), which in itself is three (the triple hypostases of Brahmâ, or Vishnu, the three “Avasthas”), curdles and spreads in milk-white curds throughout the depths of mother, the root that grows in the ocean of life.[17]

The Mundane Egg with its point in the center is a reflection on the manifested plane of the circle with the point (First Logos) in the pre-cosmic world:

While in the metaphysical world, the circle with the one central Point in it has no number, and is called Anupadaka (parentless and numberless)—viz., it can fall under no calculation,—in the manifested world the mundane Egg or Circle is circumscribed within the groups called the Line, the Triangle, the Pentacle, the second Line and the Cube (or 13514).[18]

In fact, all these "eggs" are not really different "entities" but different aspects of a same reality. Talking about "the esoteric significance of the 'Mundane Egg' symbolism" Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

Occult philosophy, viewing the manifested and the unmanifested Kosmos as a UNITY, symbolizes the ideal conception of the former by that “Golden Egg” with two poles in it. It is the positive pole that acts in the manifested world of matter, while the negative is lost in the unknowable absoluteness of SAT—“Be-ness.”[19]

In Hindu philosophy the mundane egg is called Hiraṇyagarbha, meaning "golden womb" or "golden egg":

The germ

Related to the idea of the Egg is that of the "Germ":

In the ancient primitive trinity of India, that which may be certainly considered as pre-Vedic, the germ which fecundates the mother-principle, the mundane egg, or the universal womb, is called Nara, the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, which emanates from the primordial essence.[20]
Appearing with every Manvantara as Narâyan, or Swayambhuva (the Self-Existent), and penetrating into the Mundane Egg, it emerges from it at the end of the divine incubation as Brahmâ or Prajâpati, a progenitor of the future Universe into which he expands.[21]

The germ is sometimes seen as a male aspect eternally present in the undifferentiated substance:

The “Germ” is a figurative expression; the germ is everywhere, even as the circle whose circumference is nowhere and whose centre is everywhere. It therefore means all germs, that is to say, unmanifested nature.[22]
The Germ is eternal, the undifferentiated atoms of future matter—is one with space, as infinite as it is indestructible, and as eternal as space itself.[23]
The “Germ”—the point in the Mundane Egg, represented by matter in its abstract sense. But the term “Point” must not be understood as applying to any particular point in Space, for a germ exists in the centre of every atom, and these collectively form “the Germ;” or rather, as no atom can be made visible to our physical eye, the collectivity of these (if the term can be applied to something which is boundless and infinite) forms the noumenon of eternal and indestructible matter.[24]

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 359.
  2. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 137.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 359.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 352.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 353.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 367.
  7. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 136-137.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 353.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 367.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 65.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 64-65.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 64.
  13. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 138.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1964), 351.
  15. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 351.
  16. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 351.
  17. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 66.
  18. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 91.
  19. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 556.
  20. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 214.
  21. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 80-81.
  22. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 353.
  23. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 367.
  24. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 57.