By J. E. Cirlot

At each degree of civilization, humans have trusted symbolic expression, and advances in technological know-how and expertise have basically elevated our dependence on symbols. an important 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 bargains an crucial software within the examine of symbology. Its alphabetical entries--drawn from a various diversity of resources, together with all the significant international religions, astrology, alchemy, numerology, heraldry, and prehistoric art--clarify the basic and unvarying meanings of every image. even if used as a reference or browsed for excitement, this informative quantity bargains a worthwhile key to elucidating the symbolic worlds encountered in either the humanities and the background of principles. 32 b/w illustrations.

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We have not done so because our sources have been very varied and we have preferred to reproduce their content with a minimum of editorial comment. Another reason for not stating clear-cut conclusions is that in our opinion it is not always possible to accept the particular views of some writers, however estimable they may be as compilers or even as interpreters of symbols. For example, Loeffler says that in oriental and Nordic mythology, each symbol, myth or legend contains ‘four superimposed moral lessons: (i) an historical lesson, that is, an epic narration dealing with real facts and people and serving as a kind of “material backing” for the symbolic teaching involved; (ii) a psychological lesson, depicting the struggle between spirit and matter on the human plane; (iii) a lesson bearing upon life on our planet; and (iv) a lesson upon the constitution of matter and cosmic order’ (38).

The connexion between created and Creator is also apparent in the symbol. ’ Landrit insists that ‘symbolism is the science of the relations which unite the created world with God, the material world with the supernatural; the science of the harmonies existing between the diverse parts of the universe (correspondences and analogies)’, operating within the process of involution, that is, of the materiality of all things. Here we must interpose a distinction and a clarification. Erich Fromm (23), steering his course along the normal channels of symbolic knowledge, lays down three kinds of symbol which are different in degree: (a) the conventional, (b) the accidental, (c) the universal.

In fact, symbological analyses often seem to offset a certain narrowing of scope by an added richness in depth, for the few basic situations that do exist appear under varying, though secondary, guises. Similarly, the only ‘original’ numbers are the first decade of the Greek system or the numbers up to twelve in the oriental system. The rest come under the rule of ‘multiplicity’, which is merely a reordering of the basic series. Besides, the place of symbolism is within the archetypal pattern of each being, each form, each rhythm.

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