By J. E. Cirlot

At each level of civilization, humans have trusted symbolic expression, and advances in technological know-how and expertise have in simple 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 research of the subconscious. certainly, symbolic language is taken into account a technological know-how, and this informative quantity bargains an imperative software within the learn of symbology. Its alphabetical entries--drawn from a various diversity of resources, together with the entire significant international 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 bargains a beneficial key to elucidating the symbolic worlds encountered in either the humanities and the heritage of rules. 32 b/w illustrations.

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Water and fire present only their negative and destructive connotations, not the positive ones of purification and regeneration. By associations, only the tragic and mournful connotations are investigated: such is the construction put upon flowers and animals, for example. In the same way, this kind of interpretation overruns the object, altering it wherever necessary to fit abnormal symbols. Houses lose their doors and windows (symbols of openings, outlets, hopes of salvation); trees lose their leaves and never bear fruit.

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.

Even if, within these limitations, ‘an object transmuted into a symbol—as a result of its being possessed by the symbolic function—tends to unite with the All . . this union is not the same as a confusion, for the symbol does not restrict movement or circulation from one level to another, and integrates all these levels and planes (of reality), but without fusing them—that is, without destroying them’, integrating them, in short, within a system. On the other hand, Eliade believes that if the All can appear contained within a significant fragment, it is because each fragment restates the All: ‘A tree, by virtue of the power it manifests, may become a blessed THE ‘COMMON RHYTHM’ OF SCHNEIDER xxxii haven, without ceasing to be a tree; and if it becomes a cosmic tree it is because what it manifests restates, point by point, what the totality manifests’ (17).

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