Symbolism vs. Superstition, what’s the difference between the two? This question came from an email sent by an avid fan of whats-your-sign.com (thanks Annabel). It’s an uber-valid inquiry, so I thought I’d devote a little time to the debate on this blog post.
First, a word from your pal and mine, Mr. Webster (Webster’s Dictionary):
Superstition: An irrational belief in or notion of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, or occurrence.
Symbolism: The practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character.
Big difference, eh?
The key phrase here, I think, is “irrational belief.”
Interpreting symbolism runs counter to irrational belief. In fact, the realm of symbolism is highly appealing because it requires a logical approach.
|Relies heavily on logic||Feeds on ignorance|
|Encourages independent and critical thinking||Encourages no thought, blind acceptance|
|Encourages anthropological/cultural research for greater understanding||Requires no understanding or research, concepts taken at face-value|
|Requires interpretation and exploration from the observer||Must be accepted as truth or fact without substantiation|
|Offers insight according to the observer’s needs||Keeps banal value, with the gist of meaning left unchanged|
|Lends itself to improvement of the human condition||Keeps humankind stuffed in a dark hole of ignorance|
Symbolism is an interactive practice, requiring the discernment of humankind to flesh out meanings according to his/her own perspective at the time of interpretation. Superstition asks no such thing of us, and that’s my main gripe.
If you want answers in your life about synchronicities, oracles, signs and other meaningful phenomenon it seems to me you have a choice. You can go the quick-and-easy route, the route requiring little to no effort on your part – a pat answer typically based upon fear-driven concepts, by all means, let superstition be your guide.
If, however, you find yourself to be more refined, more evolved, and so require a sophisticated approach to interpreting uncommon events in your life – an approach that encourages expanded perception, open-mindedness and soulful sensitivity – then symbolism might be your bag baby.