Ariadne's Clue: A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind

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Overview

For centuries people have expressed their preoccupations and concerns through symbolism in the form of myths, stories, religions, and dreams. The meaning of symbols has long been debated among philosophers, antiquarians, theologians, and, recently, anthropologists and psychologists. In Ariadne's Clue, distinguished analyst and psychiatrist Anthony Stevens explores the nature of symbols and explains how and why we create the symbols we do.
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Editorial Reviews

Discovery Channel
What sets this book apart from many others . . . is Stevens's viewpoint. He approaches symbols as an evolutionary psychologist . . . one who seeks to understand the biological reasons underlying our symbols. . . . [This] would be of interest to anyone who tries to understand themselves, whether they do it by biology, psychology, astrology, or tarot. The symbols are always there.
— David Smillie
The Times Higher Education Supplement
This is a fascinating book, packed with ideas and out-of-the-way information. . . . a thesaurus of symbols. [Stevens] aim[s] to provide clues to the origin, meaning, and development of some of the most common symbols and, like Ariadne's thread, to trace connections between different parts of what seems like an impenetrable maze.
— John Habgood
The Times Higher Education Supplement - John Habgood
This is a fascinating book, packed with ideas and out-of-the-way information. . . . a thesaurus of symbols. [Stevens] aim[s] to provide clues to the origin, meaning, and development of some of the most common symbols and, like Ariadne's thread, to trace connections between different parts of what seems like an impenetrable maze.
Discovery Channel - David Smillie
What sets this book apart from many others . . . is Stevens's viewpoint. He approaches symbols as an evolutionary psychologist . . . one who seeks to understand the biological reasons underlying our symbols. . . . [This] would be of interest to anyone who tries to understand themselves, whether they do it by biology, psychology, astrology, or tarot. The symbols are always there.
John Habgood
This is a fascinating book, packed with ideas and out-of-the-way information. . . . a thesaurus of symbols. Stevens aims to provide clues to the origin, meaning, and development of some of the most common symbols and, like Ariadne's thread, to trace connections between different parts of what seems like an impenetrable maze
The Times Higher Education Supplement
Library Journal
One need not be a Jungian to appreciate this fine book both as a reference and a contemporary introduction to symbolism. A brilliant integration of psychological archetypes with Darwinian theory. . . . Stevens presents vast learning easily and precisely in prose that is at once calm and exciting. . . . A standard--if not the standard--in the field; essential for most libraries.
David Smillie
What sets this book apart from many others . . . is Stevens's viewpoint. He approaches symbols as an evolutionary psychologist . . . one who seeks to understand the biological reasons underlying our symbols. . . . This would be of interest to anyone who tries to understand themselves, whether they do it by biology, psychology, astrology, or tarot. The symbols are always there.
Discovery Channel
Library Journal
One need not be a Jungian to appreciate this fine book as both a reference and a contemporary introduction to symbolism. Psychiatrist Stevens (Private Myths: Dreams and Dreaming, LJ 3/15/96) treats the specialist or lay reader to a brilliant integration of psychological archetypes with Darwinian theory. Symbols, a "natural Esperanto," transcend ethnic and linguistic boundaries while absorbing and reflecting cultural (as well as biological) influences. Stevens draws heavily on Jung but goes beyond him, making effective use of philosophy, semiotics, biology, and dream research. His "Thesaurus" (over 300 pages) is divided into four parts: Physical Environment; Culture and Psyche; People, Animals, and Plants; and The Body. Stevens presents vast learning easily and precisely in prose that is at once calm and exciting. A bibliography rich with recent references, a glossary, and a separate symbol index combine to make this a standard--if not the standard--in the field; essential for most libraries.--E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC
Booknews
Considering symbols "living entities with a life-cycle of their own" (that is, their meanings evolve rather than remain fixed), Stevens (a Jungian analyst and psychiatrist) begins this reference by exploring the origins, psychology, and use of symbols. The thesaurus that follows is arranged thematically, and individual symbols are examined in detail; but the author offers the caveat that individuals should examine their own personal meanings for a particular symbol before reading what he has to say about it. Small pen & ink illustrations enhance the presentation. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
From the Publisher
"This is a fascinating book, packed with ideas and out-of-the-way information. . . . a thesaurus of symbols. [Stevens] aim[s] to provide clues to the origin, meaning, and development of some of the most common symbols and, like Ariadne's thread, to trace connections between different parts of what seems like an impenetrable maze."—John Habgood, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"What sets this book apart from many others . . . is Stevens's viewpoint. He approaches symbols as an evolutionary psychologist . . . one who seeks to understand the biological reasons underlying our symbols. . . . [This] would be of interest to anyone who tries to understand themselves, whether they do it by biology, psychology, astrology, or tarot. The symbols are always there."—David Smillie, Discovery Channel

"One need not be a Jungian to appreciate this fine book both as a reference and a contemporary introduction to symbolism. A brilliant integration of psychological archetypes with Darwinian theory. . . . Stevens presents vast learning easily and precisely in prose that is at once calm and exciting. . . . [A] standard—if not the standard—in the field; essential for most libraries."Library Journal (starred review)

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements                               vii
About the Book ix
PART I: SYMBOLISM, EVOLUTION, AND PSYCHOLOGY
1. Ariadne's Clue 3
2. What is a Symbol? 12
3. The Evolution of Meaning 22
4. How do Symbols Work? 36
5. Basic Symbols Themes 45
6. The Conjunction of Heaven and Earth 62
7. Living the Symbolic Life 77
PART II: THE EXPLNATORY THESAURUS
The Physical Environment 97
Landscape 99
The Psychic Compass 116
The Four Elements 123
Alchemy 132
Celestial Bodies 134
Colours 146
Buildings 150
Migration 154
Culture and Psyche 161
Religion and the Sacred 170
Gods, Goddesses, and Demons 173
Creation Myths 195
Paradise and the Fall 200
Heroes and Heroines 208
Initiation, Male and Female 216
Eros and Psyche 220
Individuation and Transcendence 235
Death and Rebirth 256
Morality 262
Sickness and Healing 274
Tools, Weapons, Utensils, and Musical Instruments 280
Transport 291
Performance and Ritual 298
People, Animals, and Plants 305
Sex, Gender, Bonding and Childrearing 306
Power: Dominance and Submission 323
Animals 332
Monsters and Fabulous Beasts 367
Plants, Fruits, and Trees 379
The Body 395
Adorment, Clothes, and Nudity 396
Parts of the Body 401
Physical Activities 415
Bibliography 423
Glossary 433
General Index 439
Symbol Index
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