By J. E. Cirlot

At each degree of civilization, humans have trusted symbolic expression, and advances in technology and know-how have basically elevated our dependence on symbols. a necessary a part of the traditional arts of the Orient and Western medieval traditions, symbolism underwent a twentieth-century revival with the research of the subconscious. certainly, symbolic language is taken into account a technological know-how, and this informative quantity deals an vital software within the examine of symbology. Its alphabetical entries--drawn from a various variety of assets, together with the entire significant international religions, astrology, alchemy, numerology, heraldry, and prehistoric art--clarify the basic and unvarying meanings of every image. no matter if used as a reference or browsed for excitement, this informative quantity deals a precious key to elucidating the symbolic worlds encountered in either the humanities and the background of rules. 32 b/w illustrations.

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The Pigmies of Equatorial Africa believe that, in the rainbow, God expresses His desire to communicate with them. This is why, as soon as the rainbow appears, they take up their bows and shoot at it. . (17). The incomparable beauty of this striking image tells us more about analogy than any analysis can. Other aspects of the same kind of thing may be seen in certain superstitions, such as the belief of many races that by undoing the bolts, locks and latches of the SYMBOLIC ANALOGY xl home during the birth of an infant, they can facilitate its coming into the world (21).

To say that Athena was the nocturnal owl, the Magna Mater a lioness or Artemis a she-bear, is to say nothing about the meaning of the gods nor about their respective animal-symbols. The analysis of meaning is the only thing which can lead to the reconstruction of the inner structure of each symbol. Similarly, realism, which sees in a fable merely a different version of the original event or an amalgam of varied elements, offers only a secondary explanation of the problem of ‘origins’ without attempting to go deeply into the raison d’être of the entity.

The symbol, then, like water, finds its own level, which is the level of the interpreting mind. The difficulties of interpretation are therefore enormous, whereas the difficulties in the way of appreciating the symbol are almost elementary. Much scepticism about symbolism—especially among psychologists—arises because of the confusion of two quite different aspects of the function of symbolism: (i) the manifestation of the true meaning of the symbolic object, and (ii) the manifestation of a distorted meaning superimposed by an individual mind prejudiced by circumstantial or psychological factors.

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