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The seventeenth century restoration of learning gradually brought about a Universal Reformation as proclaimed in the Fama of the Rosicrucians. A careful study of the emblem books of that period reveals that most of the figures and designs were based upon Egyptian or Greek mythology, and like the alchemical symbols, perpetuated the secret teachings of esoteric fraternities. Today, those well informed in the Orphic Mysteries and the mystical speculations of the Neoplatonists can interpret the design with little difficulty. It appears that the emblem books were, in many cases, actual extensions of Pythagorean and Platonic metaphysics. Paracelsus said that the first hieroglyphic book is nature, published in folio, and the second hieroglyphic book is man, published in duodecimo.
To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books. It has always seemed to me that symbolism should be restored to the structure of world education. The young are no longer invited to seek the hidden truths, dynamic and eternal, locked within the shapes and behavior of living beings.
The present volume is itself a symbol made up of many symbols gathered from rare sources. It invites the thoughtful reader to explore the meanings of these emblems and devices with his own insight. Because spiritual growth is the goal of all human aspiration, symbols that help us to grow are precious things for they open the doors to life everlasting.
I wish to express my deep indebtedness to those faithful artists and engravers whose remarkable meditation pictures have guided my labors for so many years. This book is dedicated to the truths they served and the wonderful designs which they have bestowed as a priceless heritage upon the truth seekers of the future. It is my sincere hope that this memorial may continue to serve and inspire new generations of kindly and dedicated people.
Manly P. Hall Los Angeles, California October 1, 1975. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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