Symbols are central to literature, religion and national identity, but they are also at the heart of our inner dreamworlds, a potent source of insight into our unconscious minds. This remarkable dictionary explores the huge variety of interpretations - sexual and spiritual, official and subversive, analytical and emotional - different cultures have given to the fundamental symbols of humankind. Compiled by an international team of fifteen experts, bringing together the insights of theologians and travel writers, philosophers and psychotherapists, classicists, astrologers and art critics. The meanings which have become attached all over the worl to colours, instruments, numbers, precious stones and parts of the body. Essay length entries on seminal symbols such as the Cavern, the Cross and the Crossroads, the Serpent, the Soul, and the Sphere. Central figures from the Bible, antiquity, and the mythologies of East and West.
This remarkable and wide-ranging book is an inventory of symbols and the symbolic imagination. The editors and their fifteen contributors are drawn from a variety of scholarly backgrounds—including anthropology, ethnology, psychotherapy and art history. This diversity of approach is responsible for the book's unique character, a reflection of the multiplicity of symbols and signs and the phenomenal range of possible interpretations they offer. This book draws together folklore, literary and artistic sources, and focuses on the symbolic dimension of every colour, number, sound, gesture, expression or character trait that has benefitted from symbolic interpretation. The conscious and unconscious minds are explored, desire and dreams are treated alongside the known and the chronicled. Extraordinary in its range and eclecticism, this dictionary was originally published in French as the Dictionnaire des Symboles, and it is regarded as the standard work on the subject.