Thursday, 28 April 2011

Infinite X - or, 'Within/Without'

"The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.  Here, the intersection of the timeless moment..."
            T.S. Elliot, 'Little Gidding'

We live in a realm of symbols.  Indeed, all forms of language and communication are inherently symbolic.  This essay aims to posit the idea that the ancient symbol of the ‘X’ is a kind of trans-temporal gateway or signifier that connects the realms of physics, mysticism, psychology and art in some interdependent, mysterious way.

It is my suspicion that the image of the X is at least as old as human culture, and perhaps even older.

The most common meaning attributed to the X is probably ‘the unknown’ – an unknown unit of information, an unknown experience or variable.  This common perception has been popularised in modern culture by the science fiction TV show The X Files, discussed in an earlier post.

But the symbol of the X has other meanings and denotations as well; one of the most famous being the Cross of Calvary, or the popular Christian Cross.  This famous symbol supposedly denotes the crucifix upon which Jesus was sacrificed for the sins of Mankind.  In this sense the tilted X, figured as the Christian Cross, is a symbol of torture – as well as a symbol of the ‘passion’ and Christ’s redeeming of Mankind (The X is also evoked in the Chi Rho of Christianity).

The Son of Man

But there are other researchers who perceive more alchemical, metaphysical and astrological resonances within the symbol of X.  For instance, there are those who connect the story of Christ to the depictions of Osiris, Tammuz, Krishna and various ancient solar deities – and these researchers point out that Jesus on the Cross is suggestive of alchemical symbols of the zodiac, or the sun being quartered by the four elements; earth, air, fire and water.

In some alchemical traditions the immanent substance of spirit was considered to be the ‘Prima Materia’ from which the four elements were generated and maintained in a relationship of harmonious interdependency.  Is there significance to be gleaned here?  Is the fulcrum of the X symbol, where both lines intersect, a depiction of the Source, Godhood, Christos and the Sun?

I have my own personal associations for the image of the X that contains elements of all the above interpretations.  For me the X symbolises the interplay and contrast of subject/object, wave/particle, within/without – boundaries and thresholds upon which human self-awareness is negotiated.  If this personal interpretation has some significance, is it then going too far to suggest that the X symbol contains some ancient knowledge of what we today would call quantum entanglement?

Entangled photons 

We need a context of contrasts in order to perceive anything.  To exist as discreet individualities, things in our perceptual field must intersect, interact and contrast.  Perhaps this is why it appears so evident to the thinking mind that we are living within a polarity system (and yet a system that transcends polarity in some mysterious way).  With this in mind, perhaps the pop-culture interpretation of X being a signifier of the unknown holds more import than we realise.

If the spiritual, meta-textual source of life and creation is somehow trans-temporal – beyond the remit of space-time, and is in fact the context that allows the existence of any phenomena – then perhaps the resonances to suns, alchemy and messiahs connected to the X can be seen more clearly. 

An X Class solar flare

Is the X somehow connected to the concept of the fractal – a mathematical pattern that self-replicates infinitely?  Maybe there is some significance to this idea, especially considering that the symbol of the X seems to be connected to boundaries, thresholds and unknowns – things that always seem to contain more than they do at first glance and often fold us back on our own thinking processes.

We have already noted the X symbol’s possible connections to the sun, alchemy and Christos figures.  Perhaps we might now briefly discuss an area more in keeping with conspiracies and alternative research.

What of the X as a symbol of an unknown future or an unknown event?  Anyone familiar with the field of alternative research will have some working knowledge of the myths and predictions surrounding the year 2012.  The subject has various permutations – the idea that Mankind may be about to experience its apotheosis, or perhaps its material destruction.  Many researchers have questioned if 2012 is the end of the world, or merely the end of the world as we have previously understood it.  Will humanity be destroyed, transfigured, or neither?  Perhaps such speculations are empty prophecies like so many before them.  In this sense these associations have turned 2012 into an X event; an unknown variable with an unknown outcome. 

I myself would be extremely hesitant to put any faith in such 2012 speculations, and yet I am also able to discern much resonance and significance to the complex body of information that constitutes the 2012 mythology within the field of alternative research. 


I suspect that humanity is indeed on the cusp of some great change, that an awakening or revealing is taking place; more intensely now than at any other period of human history – but to link a specific year to such an intuition seems to be missing the point entirely.  For the ancient Maya, it seems the period approximating 2012 in our modern calendar was the ending of a cycle of time and the beginning of another.  Perhaps the modern mystical and spiritual connotations attached to 2012 have been taken far too literally (4th dimensional shifts, Ascensions, Raptures or Doomsday, etc). 

For me personally, I see the numinous, energetic realm of psyche as underpinning all manifest phenomena.  With such an understanding as my primary interpretative strategy, I suspect that our various theories concerning the X event of 2012 is a kind of living internal mythology.  Mankind is peering into the deepest realms of its own dreamscape and reducing such potency into physically comprehensible speculations. In this sense, perhaps we are not reading our dreams with enough subtlety, sophistication and dexterity. 

The Truth Within

Now, if the ancient symbol of the X is perceived by many as having connections to the external sun, perhaps then it also has similar resonance with the internal sun – the energetic star of human consciousness.  If this is the case then perhaps it is the pursuit of self-knowledge that will constitute some form of humanity’s apotheosis, ascension or transfiguration – in an internal, imaginative sense.

Maybe this is what lies at the heart of the X symbol – everything strange, numinous and incredible about humanity and our realm that we do not currently comprehend.      Seeker, know thyself”.  Is this where the X is trying to lead us; not towards an external revelation, but towards an internal one? Perhaps such a deeper understanding is closer to the source of true alchemy.

the intersection of the timeless moment...

For any seeker in the pursuit of Gnosis, spiritual comprehension is tantamount to spiritual freedom.  Might the subtle hidden resonances of the X somehow help the initiate to throw off the shackles of spiritual enslavement?  Such a possibility remains to be seen, much like the unknown variable of the X itself.  I for one find hope and potential in that.