By Mary Lynn Kittelson
Original published in the September 2016 issue of 1666 Coffman Newsletter
The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images is a big beautiful book, more than half of which is colorful, lovely pictures. Its 792 pages contain five major sections: Creation and Cosmos, Plant World, Animal World, and the two largest, the Human World and Spirit World.
“Archetypal,” of course, indicates that an image or symbol is meaningful to the heart and mind in all cultures and deeply into our past. It is the language of the human experience of the world through the psyche.
The guiding principle of this book is stated in Meister Eckhart’s words: “When the soul wants to experience something, she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.” The editorial staff describes in detail how they decided to present an archetypal image.
Together, the pictures and words (including fascinating poetry and quotations) create “the numinous particular” (p.6), so that the invisible manifests and another world shines through. Each entry hopes to “open up” perception of the symbol and not to confine its vitality for it has mystery and unites opposites.
You do indeed have the chance to get a deep and inspiring sense of the 700 images that the book includes. Take a look. It’s on the upper level of our library in the anthropology section.
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