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Mythic Passages - the magazine of imagination

Mythic Glossary


The roots of the word syzygy come from the Late Latin, syzygia, and from the Greek word syzygos meaning "conjunction." Syzygy literally means to be "yoked together." Another example from the Turanic-Altaic languages would be the Turkish word "sezgi" that means "sense," implying that one needs more than one idea/image/process linked together before one can achieve sense. This one word has come to syzygistically take on many various yoked although differing meanings

In Psychology, C.G. Jung used the term to denote "an archetypal pairing of contrasexual opposites, which symbolized the communication of the conscious and unconscious minds, the conjunction of two organisms without the loss of identity." He used syzygy to liken the alchemical term albedo with unconscious contrasexual soul images; the anima in men and animus in women.

In Gnosticism, syzygy is a divine active-passive, male-female pair of aeons, complementary to one another rather than oppositional; they comprise the divine realm of the Pleroma (the totality of God's powers), and in themselves chracterize aspects of the unknowable Gnostic God. The term is most common in Valentianism. (Valentinus (c. 100 - c. 153) was an early Christian Gnostic theologian who founded a school in Rome. He was a candidate for bishop, (presumably of Rome) c. 143. When the election fell instead to a candidate who had been a confessor for the faith, Valentinus broke with the Catholic church and developed his Gnostic doctrine.)

In Philosophy, the Russian theologian/philosopher Vladimir Solovyov used the word "syuzygy" as either an adjective or a noun to signify "unity-friendship-community."

planets in alignmentIn Astronomy and Astrology, syzygy is a kind of unity, especially through coordination or alignment of stars and planets.

In Poetry, it is the combination of two metrical feet into a single unity, similar to elision (the omission of a vowel at the end of one word when the next word begins with a vowel, as th'orient.) Consonantal or phonetc syzygy is similar to the effect of alliteration, where one consonant is repeated throughout a passage, but not necessarily at the beginning of each word. According to Richard Hovey in "The Technique of Rhyme," syzygy employs the use of "repetitions that fall indiscriminately on accented and unaccented places in sufficient number to give unity to a passage by subtly filling the ear with the insistence of a dominant tone color." For poetic examples of syzygy, read the works of Australian poet, novelist and journal editor John Kinsella. We've also included an interesting discussion on syzygy by Arthur Szes.

So...syzygy represents a pair of connected or correlative things, a couple, or pair of opposites. And for Scrabble™ players, syzygy is the shortest English word with three ys for a total of 25 points. Yoke this word together with Bonus Squares and clean up!

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