Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries; in fact it is the language not only of mysticism and philosophy but of all Nature, for every law and power active in universal procedure is manifested to the limited sense perceptions of man through the medium of symbol. Every form existing in the diversified sphere of being is symbolic of the divine activity by which it is produced. By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language.
Rejecting man-conceived dialects as inadequate and unworthy to perpetuate divine ideas, the Mysteries thus chose symbolism as a more ingenious and ideal method of preserving their transcendental knowledge.
In a single figure a symbol may both reveal and conceal, for to the wise the subject of the symbol is obvious, while to the ignorant the figure remains inscrutable.
Hence, he who seeks to unveil the secret doctrine of antiquity must search for that doctrine not upon the open pages of books which might fall into the hands of the unworthy but in the place where it was originally concealed.
-Manly P. Hall The Secret Teachings of All Ages
This is a beautiful piece of work by Mr. Hall. And one would do well to take a little pause to try and understand what is being said here. Though the concepts have been given to us again and again throughout history, there are many who have lost access to this wisdom. Not to say it is out of reach or inaccessible. Only that it is time that the awakened spirit incorporated this knowledge.
From my perspective what Mr. Hall is saying is that you can give a fool all the knowledge in the world but they are still only going to understand it based on their own comprehension. Using symbols is a way to evoke more than just an idea. Moreover there is a story that accompanies it, a set of feelings and circumstances that cause emotion and desire, and thus a more poignant form of communication.
Experience can be understood by each one of us in our unique way through symbolism and metaphor. Stories have been accessed for thousands of years on our planet, yet not all stories can be translated through our quantum experience; not all things make sense in all dimensions. Yet any truthful energetic expression will have a resonant metaphorical match so that the story may continue to unfold in an individual’s particular existence.
As above so below. Any truth will have a metaphoric match, either in story, text, or tale, that can be invoked and learned from by any individual and/or collective. There are plenty of examples of this in religious texts, whereby a story is told in order to bring about epiphany, acceleration in consciousness, or a simple guidepost to send you on your way. Whether the story be factual, accurate, or distorted partially or in whole, it is meant to invoke something within you about the truth that lies underneath.
This is why there is no absolute meaning of a given symbol or metaphor. As Mr. Hall has pointed out, our awareness up to now has been extremely limited, in turn leaving interpretation very limited. Thus the divine will find a more ingenious and ideal method of preserving transcendental knowledge by using symbolism and metaphor.
From the dream world, which is really the universe at large, we find ourselves beyond waking, with a slew of metaphors and symbols that we have forgotten how to read. We have no idea what to make of ships, water, or beings that are not human, even our cell phone can appear in very unlikely places in our memory of dreams. It is your responsibility to read the images, take apart the metaphors as best you can. Look for deeper meanings to find resonance for you are the vehicle of consciousness.