The use of symbols to convey knowledge to the initiated and to conceal it from the unitiated is as old as civilization.
The arcana of the ancient Mysteries were never revealed to the profane except through the media of symbols. Symbolism fulfilled the dual office of concealing the sacred truths from the uninitiated and revealing them to those qualified to understand the symbols.
The black magician cannot use the symbols of white magic without bringing down upon himself the forces of white magic, which would be fatal to his schemes. He must therefore distort the hierograms so that they typify the occult fact that he himself is distorting the principles for which the symbols stand. Black magic is not a fundamental art; it is the misuse of an art. Therefore it has no symbols of its own. It merely takes the emblematic figures of white magic, and by inverting and reversing them signifies that it is left-handed.
In symbolism, an inverted figure always signifies a perverted power.
Though regarded by many writers of the Middle Ages as actual living creatures, none of these [unicorns, phoenix, etc]--the pelican excepted--ever existed outside the symbolism of the Mysteries. Possibly they originated in rumors of animals then little known. In the temple, however, they became a reality, for there they signified the manifold characteristics of man's nature. The mantichora had certain points in common with the hyena; the unicorn may have been the single-horned rhinoceros. To the student of the secret wisdom these composite animals. and birds simply represent various forces working in the invisible worlds. This is a point which nearly all writers on the subject of mediæval monsters seem to have overlooked. (See Vlyssis Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia, 1642, and Physica Curiosa, by P. Gaspare Schotto, 1697.)
The highest ranking members of Europe's nobility, as well as senior members of the Catholic and Protestant churches, know the truth of what we reveal here. Naturally, such men are sworn to keep these facts from the masses of the world and normally they do not admit the truth in words. However, the truth has been conveyed via the symbolism often employed by the hierarchs and their lieutenants down through the long ages to the present.