A Dictionary of Symbols by J. E. Cirlot

By J. E. Cirlot

At each level of civilization, humans have depended on symbolic expression, and advances in technology and know-how have in basic terms 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 examine of the subconscious. certainly, symbolic language is taken into account a technological know-how, and this informative quantity deals an necessary software within the research of symbology. Its alphabetical entries--drawn from a various variety of resources, together with all the significant global religions, astrology, alchemy, numerology, heraldry, and prehistoric art--clarify the fundamental and unvarying meanings of every image. even if used as a reference or browsed for excitement, this informative quantity deals a invaluable key to elucidating the symbolic worlds encountered in either the humanities and the historical past of principles. 32 b/w illustrations.

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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). One more analogy: the process of creation—which oriental theogonies explain as both progressive multiplication and as division, since all things derive from unity—has its analogous counterpart in the related myths of the carving up of the body of Osiris in Egypt, of Prajapati in India and of Dionysos in Greece (40).

A confrontation with symbolist tradition therefore becomes necessary, a tradition with secular associations and interpretations of undoubted value and universality; it is, then, essential to apply the comparative method whenever possible. xlix LEVELS OF MEANING LEVELS OF MEANING Corresponding to the multiplicity of symbolic objects linked by a ‘common rhythm’ is the multivalency of their meanings, each one distributed analogously on a separate level of reality. This power of the symbol to evince a meaning not only on one level but at all levels is borne out by all those who have written about symbology, notwithstanding their scientific outlook.

Catastrophes, which in traditional symbolism have the ambivalent meaning of both destruction and of fecundation and regeneration, are here limited to negative and destructive functions. One can understand that symbology built upon interpretation at this level can lay no claim to objectivity: it is no longer metaphysical but psychological. On the other hand, to limit symbolic interpretation to the analysis of meaning, or to enumerating the qualities of the thing and its spiritual counterparts, is not enough.

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