Words to Live by: Symbolic Aphorisms of Pythagoras

As I continue to prepare for a new phase of numerological meanings on my Tarot site, I find myself turning again and again to the wisdom of Pythagoras. 

The following ten (originally 39 in total) sayings of Pythagoras are highly symbolic and noteworthy.  I keep these tacked to my philosophical cork board – they’re phenomenal keystones – central supporting themes which provide remarkable foundational support in life. 

Symbolic aphorisms of Pythagoras (with explanations for each in my own words) are as follows:

  1. Decline from public ways, walk in unfrequented paths:
    Wisdom comes from solitude. The evolution of ingenuity is not found on the path of conformity or commonplace.
  2. Govern your tongue before all other things, following the gods:
    Be mindful of the words you speak (or write, for that matter).  They cannot be retracted.  When in doubt, be silent.
  3. The wind blowing, adore the sound:
    Nature’s symbolic language is the back of all wisdom, ergo wisdom is everywhere – if only you opt to hear it.
  4. Assist a man in raising a burden, but do not assist him in laying it down:
    Help in a manner that prolongs the gift of assistance. Do not help in a fashion that makes others dependent wholly upon you.  Help others to help themselves.
  5. Speak not about Pythagoric concerns without light:
    Knowledge (both having and sharing) is a deep responsibility. Spiritual and intellectual clarity are essential prior to speaking about the mysteries of the universe. 
  6. Having departed from your house, turn not back for the furies will be your attendants:
    Once you start on the path of spiritual unfolding, turning back to unconsciousness is not an option.  Regression is the path to pain and sorrow is its final destination.
  7. Nourish a cock but sacrifice it not, for it is sacred to the sun and moon:
    To take life is to admonish the divine in all things including yourself. Rather, embrace the holiness found in all life, and you embrace the holiness within yourself.
  8. Receive not a swallow in your house:
    Still the mind and the body.  Do not chase after random beliefs, idle thoughts, or flippant fads.
  9. Offer not your right hand easily to anyone:
    Cramming the truth down the throat only leads to choking. Live in truth and it will be available to all without your having to offer it. 
  10. When rising from your bedclothes, roll them together and obliterate the impression of your body:
    Live in the now. Once awakened, remain so by staying present in each moment.

A few symbolic interpretations of Pythagoras’ aphorisms :

  1. “Public ways,” and “paths” may represent the way of wisdom – essentially, beliefs, spirituality, and thought itself.
  2. “Tongue” is akin to speech.
  3. “Wind” is symbolic of God or, if you like, energy – better yet – the divine harmony in back of all existence.
  4. “Burden” here refers to demons of thought rather than physical burdens.
  5. “Pythagoric concerns” indicate cosmic, esoteric matters – mysteries of life & universe.
  6. “House” is symbolic of mental/spiritual foundation – that which is grounded.  “Furies” is a symbolic form of torment, discomfort.
  7. “Cock” is symbolic of the human body.  “Sun” and “Moon” are known alchemical symbols for God and Nature (respectively).
  8. “Swallow” is symbolic of drifting thoughts, passing fancies.  “House” represents the mind, body, and foundational beliefs.
  9. “Right hand” was a common symbol for truth or sacred wisdom in Pythagoras’ day.
  10. “Rising from bedclothes” may be translated to mean “awaken from sleep” and this is symbolic of awake from unconsciousness into enlightenment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these interpretations of the symbolic aphorisms of Pythagoras.  Perhaps his keynotes might serve as inspiration and guidance on your path as they do for me.

One Comment on “Words to Live by: Symbolic Aphorisms of Pythagoras”

  1. This is fantastic!

    Oldies but goodies rock!

    I like your symbolic interpretation of these aphorisms too.

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