Of Mirrors and myth…

“The ancients attributed mystic powers to any reflective surface, solid or liquid, because the reflection was considered part of the soul.”  It was taboo to disturb waters on which a person’s reflection was present.  Shattering their image was considered damaging to the soul.  Thus, our breaking a mirror equals seven years of bad luck, a creepy notion I believed in as a child but since have put aside.

Narcissus, the fabled self-love obsessed nymph, has been misinterpreted to be a dude who could not get enough of his own reflection, and so pined away and died (or did he fall in and drown?).  Echo was the Goddess of death-by-water, who lay in wait to seize one’s reflection-soul, a belief among the Africans and Melanesians.

It is also believed that a soul can become trapped in a mirror.  The tale of Dionysus repeated by gypsy legend tells the story of how he became trapped in a mirror by a witch named Mara, the same as the Hindu death-spirit Mara.  Among the Slavic gypsies, Mara or Mora was a destroying Fate-Goddess who rode the night winds and “drank the blood of men.”

Which leads us to vampirism.  “Mirrors were connected with death in many Christian superstitions.  Demons, werewolves, vampires, and such “soulless” creatures show no reflection in a mirror.  Many people still turn mirrors to the wall after a death in the house, in the belief that mirrors trap the souls of the living or detain the souls of the dead on their journey.  Some say one who looks in a mirror in a house of death will see not his own face but the face of the deceased.  Pope John xxII had an inordinate fear of mirrors; he claimed wizards sent devils to attack him through mirrors.”

The esoteric meaning of the mirror was explained long ago by Plotinus:  “Matter serves as a mirror upon which the Universal Soul projects the images or reflections of its creations, and thus gives rise to the phenomena of the sensible universe.”

Buddist aphorism:  “All existence is like a reflection in a mirror, without substance, only a phantom of the mind. When the finite mind acts, then all kinds of things cease.”   (In other words:  the world exists for only those who live and perceive it.)

Mmmmm….does that mean that if no intelligent beings perceived it, the universe would not exist at all?

I may have to reflect on this for a while…


Text source: Book of Myths and Mystery


3 Responses to “Of Mirrors and myth…”

  1. Sarcastic Bastard Says:

    I call my cat, Marley, Narcissus. He is the prettiest long-haired cats I have ever seen. He knows it, too. He spends a half-hour at a time staring at himself in the glass of a poster on my wall. It cracks me up. Dude is in love with himself. His beautiful self. (To quote the Sex Pistols.)

    Great post. I love you tons.

    Have a terrific weekend.



  2. Baljit Singh Says:


    Your quote is incorrect. It should read:

    “all existence is like a reflection in a mirror, without substance, only a phantom of the mind. When the finite mind acts, then all kinds of things arise; when the finite mind ceases to act, then all kinds of things cease.”


    Existence is the world that we are aware of through our senses therefore we must be aware to exist.

    Our existence is the creation of our awareness and our will. One thought is that, we are not our thoughts or feelings but we are a centre of awareness.

    Here’s some info which touches on this: http://theopendimension.blogspot.com/2007/10/advaita-teaching-of-nisargadatta.html

    Thanks for the post. Keep up the good work 🙂



  3. namelessneed Says:

    Fascinating stuff/ a damn good posting.
    Thanx so.
    This proves to be ideal reading for the middle of the night.
    Keep on, friend.


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