In Ancient Egypt the shen ring symbolized infinity, eternity, and protection. The image is found as a hieroglyph, on stelae, in tombs, and as an amulet. It is represented as a circle of rope with ends
hidden from view in a tangential fold below, suggesting unending continuity. When the shen ring encircled the sun, it symbolized the eternity of the
The apotropaic significance of the shen ring and the extended version called the cartouche, which contained the royal name
for example, evolved from the notion of protection by encirclement.
, from the Egyptian word for encircle, go around, referring to the course of the sun around the world, was
a symbol in the form a ring,
, dating to the Old Kingdom
and stood for protection by encirclement.
is closely associated with the falcon god Horus
, with the tutelary vulture goddess
and with Isis, all three deities were closely involved with the special protection the kingship received from the gods.
Since the Old Kingdom the pharaoh's name was surrounded by a cartouche, which was an elongated shen-symbol. Apart from enjoying the protection the shen
the kings, by writing their names on the symbol's inside, which stood for the universe, laid claim to the rule over the whole creation. Another vulture goddess,
, is also shown holding a shen
-ring in her talons at times.
André Dollinger. Ancient Egyptian symbols: the shen
Hieroglyphs adapted. And see references in original.
. 'Shen rings' in his grasp.
Amulet representing a ram-headed falcon. Ancient Egypt, 1254 BC (26th year of the reign of Rameses II), found in the
tomb of an Apis bull in the Serapaeum of Memphis at Saqqara. Gold, lapis, turquoise and cornelian. Guillaume Blanchard, July 2004, Fujifilm S6900. Wikipedia.
Shen Ring Left to right: |
- Credit: Global Egyptian Museum. Click image to visit site.
- Credit: Arkysite: Archaeology & symbolism in the ancient world.
David Ian Lightbody. Click image to visit site.
The logo developed for this site is shown at right. In consonance with the ancient Egyptian connotations, the circle represents Earth encirled by Sun, wholeness, and deity. Dots at the base
of the circle replace the stylized knot and indicate infinity, as well as experience of 'self' in context of multiple inner voices, and thus, ego-Self relation and plurality in personality. Personal,
collective, and transpersonal. Rather than apotropaic, a warding off of evil, the theme goes to developmental integrity, boundary and transcendence.
Meanings here are multiplex.
In Chinese shén is a polyseme,
a word with many different but related senses of meaning, 11 of which are distinguished in the Hanyu Da Zidian, a reference work on Chinese characters.
These different meanings are thought to be diachronic, to have evolved over the course of three millennia.
In philosophic and religious contexts, shén refers to spirit, god, awareness, consciousness. Semantic variations include god
or supernatural being, the law of nature, spirit, state of mind, magic and the super-
Inlaid Diadem with Vulture and Cobra. Gold, glass, obsidian, carnelian, malachite, chalcedony, lapis lazuli. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332–1323 B.C.). Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of
Related to shen
and the protection conferred by Horus2
the vulture goddess who also carried the shen ring,
we note that the latter was always seen with Wadjet5,6,7,8
the cobra goddess on the pharaoh's double crown after the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. Both Nekhbet and Wadjet are associated with the Eye of Ra, as are Hathor and Mut, Sekhmet and Bastet powerful protective
and violent shaktis of Ra. Their unification here implies focus on wholeness, personal, collective, and trans...
natural, genius, governance, respect, circumspection, exhibition, dignity, ecstasy, and more.
The term may also refer to human life activities in a broad sense, and to one's thinking and awareness activities in a narrow sense.9
JIVA (Sanskrit: जीव, jīva, jiwa, jeev) generally refers to the immortal essence, the individual soul of a living being, relative to ATMAN, the Self, the Universal Soul. We apply
the term in a similar but somewhat different sense, in a synthesis of the following constructs:10
The word 'jīva' is derived from the root 'jīv', which means 'to continue breathing'. Other names for it include "bhoktā" [experient] and "kartā" [agent]. (#15)
According to Viśiṣṭādvaita
, individual souls are real, eternal, unborn, spiritual, have knowledge and are of the nature of knowledge. [...] an inseparable part of God and are dependent thereupon [...] souls are both agent
and enjoyer. They are a part or mode of God. Their relation is one of inseparability, with the individual soul related to and dependent upon God. (#6)
According to Jainism, the individual soul is characterized by consciousness, life, immateriality, and extension in space. Consciousness is its characteristic mark and consists in knowldge, insight, bliss, and power. [...]
there is a plurality of individuals. (#1)
According to the Yoga school, the individual soul is a changeless, eternal, omnipresent, conscious entity. [...] Liberation comes when the individual soul roots out ignorance and stills the modifications of the mind. (#14)
According to Buddhism, there is no individual (soul) apart from a cluster of factors. The individual is a mere name for a complex of changing constituents. (#2)
In the Bhagavad Gita
, the jiva is described as immutable, eternal, numberless and
It is said not to be a product
of the material world (Prakṛti
), but of a higher 'spiritual' nature.16
At the point of
physical death the jiva takes a new physical body depending on the karma and the individual desires and necessities of the particular jiva in question.
Aniruddha defines the Jiva, the empirical self, as the self determined by the body, the external sense-organs, mind, intellect, and egoism; the self which is devoid empirical cognition, merit, demerit, and other mental modes
is the transcendental Ātman
When the Jiva breaks the shackles of
it becomes the transcendental self.18
and the jivas are both empirical realities, the former is the ruler and the impeller, and the latter are the ruled
the ones who are impelled.19
Īśvara and shen bear some degree of equivalence for me with respect to experience of immanent deity, not in terms of a creator-god but an ultimate
reality. My use of the term jiva is along the lines described by Aniruddha, and informed by Buddhist thought,
Pratītyasamutpāda ('dependent origination', 'dependent arising')
and anatta ('no self', soulessness), by which 'I' am a cluster or continuity bound together
by kammic force, character-
- The Sāṃkhya System. Radhakrishnan B. Indian Philosophy. Centenary Edition. Vol.2. 1989:323.
Puruṣa is the perfect spirit, not to be confused with the particular human spirit. The puruṣa is certainly in me, this individual me, as my very core and substance; and the jiva, or the individual,
with all his irrational caprices and selfish aims, is but a distortion of puruṣa. To say that every jiva is striving to realise its puruṣa means that every jiva is potentially puruṣa, every
man is potentially divine.
The conception of jiva develops in Sāṃkhya because puruṣa and prakṛti cannot be attributed the qualities of cogniser and enjoyer, agent and experient. If we consider jiva as egoic function,
in this sense, we can appreciate its importance as an instrument of development, such that our objective is not the elimination of ego, but enlightenment, appreciation of its origin and activity. Consider
Vajrayogini in this context, as imago.
Dakini Vajrayogini, Thangka, Newari Style. Nepal. Probably commissioned around 20 years ago.
Credit: Garuda Trading, Cornwall, UK. garudashop.com
ized by recurrent uppada, arising or genesis, thiti, static or
development, and bhanga, cessation or dissolution.
I am not an 'immortal soul' or 'immortal essence' but rather, an evolving egoic function invested with agency in a gestalt of transpersonal principals, a complex of changing
constituents, in the ordinating immanent divinity, the Self (atman, Īśvara, shen).
'I' am only sensible in context of this gestalt, in, on, and of this plane of immanence.
Solar System C3 Map. Monk TS, Holladay J, et al. GLEX-2012.05.1.1x12345 - Space launch system mission flexibility assessment.
Credit: NASA. Public Domain.
Gestalt principals may present as elements in a given schema, as, e.g, ennea-types in the Enneagram, or planets in the solar system → Sun as deity (Īśvara, Shen, Self),
or Moon, Mercury, etc. Think of Atmakaraka.