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The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,394 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Reflections on symbols and symbolic imagery
The Book of Symbols combines original and incisive essays about particular symbols with representative images from all parts of the world and all eras of history. The highly readable texts and almost 800 beautiful full-color images come together in a unique way to convey hidden dimensions of meaning. Each of the c. 350 essays examines a gi/>
Hardcover, 807 pages
Published November 25th 2010 by Taschen
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Alsweider There are symbols from different religions, cultures, times, believe systems and mythologies in the book, including Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism,…moreThere are symbols from different religions, cultures, times, believe systems and mythologies in the book, including Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. I didn't see any specific atheistic symbols, but you can find secular and modern things in it like firearms, cars or a metro/underground.(less)
Alsweider Apollo is in the register 3 times: p. 274 wolf, p. 328 cock, p. 250 crow
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Bill Tucker
This isn't the kind of book you just dive into on page one, and plow through in a sequential manner. It is, though, a supurb reference book of all things Jungian, Freudian, archtypal, tantric, and post-modern. For those of you who appreciate and respect the power of the symbols that surround us in our daily lives, this is the tome for you. Drawing from a variety of traditions, it is nearly exhaustive in scope, yet oddly refreshing in its occasional irreverence towards its own chosen subject matt ...more
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So I haven't actually read the book cover to cover, but I have used it as a reference book a number of times, and have absolutely loved this book. It's a great reference for philosophy, literature, art, art history, mythology, etc.

One of my professors recommended this book. So I bought a copy. It was about $20 on Amazon, and let me tell you, after getting this book, I can't believe it was only $20. It's a beautiful, hardback book. It has tabs that make it easy to navigate through the
Yanko Tsvetkov
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that examines how our environment interacts with our psyche and how we make sense of the world. It starts with the most fundamental and ancient symbols like the Universal egg and expands further towards modernity passing through the symbolism of the plant world, the animal kingdom, and ultimately, our own artificial creations. It's a fascinating collection of illustrated essays that would be of interest to anybody. It's beautifully designed, incredibly well researched and a pleasu ...more
Nandakishore Varma
A great book to browse through at leisure, if you are interested in myth, art and literature - though you will never finish reading this!

See my whimsical blog post, inspired by this book.
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Definitely not a "reading" book. More like a "sit and peruse" book. Phenomenal reference book on the archetypal and historical symbolism of a huge variety of objects that, while seemingly mundane, reach deep into the origin myths and the deep spiritual aspects of human psychology and symbolic meaning. I originally picked this up as a christmas present for a friend and never mailed it, as I simply found it too fascinating to give up. Guess I just have to get another copy for this christmas. Just ...more
Mark Krebs
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must have for any household that regularly participates in psychedelic drugs
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read the entire book yet. It's 790 pages, and intended as a reference work. What I have read is impressive, illustrated with the quality of artwork one might find in a comprehensive art history course. This is a book on symbols, and edited from a Jungian perspective, published by the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism ( The text is revealing and yet open-ended enough to make it a remarkably valuable resource, not as a dream interpretation book, but one that offers h ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Best ever encyclopedia of animals, patterns, things, places, plants and flowers, mythological creatures, landscapes and more, with very interesting text alongside each one exploring their symbolic meanings. It covers the cosmos, the natural world, the human body and just pretty much anything you could ever hope for; it's fantastic to dip in and out of and the editing is brilliant with a really beautiful selection of images. I've found it helpful in designing tattoos and writing essays, understan ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Yes. What a fantastic book.

It covers all manner of symbols, from the highly abstract (like darkness) to the natural world (pine, big cats, fog) to human actions and inventions (subways, weaving) to the mythical and spiritual (witches, Ganesha). For each symbol there's a short essay and a few images, drawn from all manner of cultures, time periods, and sources. Symbols are explained with religion, pop culture, poetry, science, alchemy, psychoanalysis, and probably a few other sub
Étienne-Sacha Garnier
While this book is rich in images, symbols, art and their significance, it also lacks some elementary parts in the world of symbols, rendering it practically useless in some fields. Numbers, fruits, animals and holidays are lacking in their coverage, references that are often made in literature. It is a fun book to delve into and find interesting new facts about symbols, but functionally, it is more like a coffee table book, and less like an encyclopedia or dictionary that has practical use.
N Yen
Good for quick reference and inspiration, especially since it has information about different interpretation in different cultures (sometimes I just flip through when I need certain subject matters to work on). But you'll need to find more on your own if you're expecting some in-depth information.

There needs to be more books like these! Makes research life so much easier.
Ricche Khosasi
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
it is not a book to be read, dictionary-with full colour and sources of information
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been studying this book as part of my spirituality and I am amazed. I love this book it has opened my mind wide and aware.
As other reviewers note, this is an extraordinary reference-type book for the curious mind. A collection of literary, historical and social values of so very many symbols are gathered and presented in a thought-provoking way. This is an iceberg book for each symbol described - - as you read any description, you are likely to realize your associations for every entry is perhaps only a partial overlap. I anticipate your own associations based on your own slice of the pie of life will be even deepe ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely mind-blowing dictionary. Much more than a dictionary actually, a reference book, with not just definitions but also highly elaborate descriptions and illustrations of many things and concepts, often basic (water, root, fire, butterfly, snake, attic, etc.) but with always the most interesting takes and angles. If there was one book I would take to a desert island, I think it would be this one. A must read.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has great information on symbolic imagery through many different cultures and looks toward the root of the imagery. This book does not go into any religion but, tries to inform the reader of root meaning in symbolic imagery that may be used today. It could do for a little more on connecting the symbolism in the modern culture but, it really does have good historic claims on symbolic meaning and base. Not all imagery will have a specific culture or belief in the symbol descriptions.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a useful book full of interesting tidbits and knowledge that would benefit anyone looking for deeper meanings in any art. It is a heavy read, to be sure, and would not suit a solid read-through, but keeping it close at hand when you're observing art and occasionally flipping through it may lead to learning new and interesting things. I'd say it's worth picking up if that is your intention.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is super surface level, it acts as a basic introduction to symbology. I understand the rose is a symbol of love and that an egg is a symbol of creation, this book didn't go into more detail about the symbology throughout history, cultures, religion etc. Thankfully I took it out of the library instead of buying it and returned it the next day.
Magnus Gjerde
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm not gonna say there is nothing interesting in the book, but the vast majority seems very superficial. You can find most of it in a short google search or by thinking yourself for two minutes. Also, if your looking for some reflection on the triangle for example, you'll have a hard time finding it. However, you will find two pages dedicated to a bicycle! A bicycle! In a book on archetypes?!
Charlotte P.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just for the choice of illustrations, this is an phenomenal book. Not quite a dictionary though so don't get this if it's a dictionary you're looking to purchase. This is more of an essay about symbols, giving the reader a quick glimpse into various subjects. The text font is a bit small so glad I wear glasses...
Sally Schultz
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Used in my dream study group. Beautiful writing with fantastic illustrations. A reference book, but fun to browse the entries.
Rae Phoenix
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
my bible
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is a very good reference.
Ida Beyer
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book - I've used is as a 'dictionary' for symbols.
Liz Kellebrew
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great reference book for writers who are looking for inspiring subjects to write about.
Senka Mušić
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best reference books for creatives.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
So far, this book its just amazing!! (and I have not finished yet, so glad that the book it is so thick lol) ...more
Abner Rosenweig
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Objects are the props on the stage of life. It’s interesting to consider the roles they play in our own lives, as well as the timeless ideas they connote. A treasure of symbolic thinking and cultural literacy, The Book of Symbols is a world-class museum of archetypes. It’s well-researched, thoughtfully written, and beautifully assembled with imagery from nature and culture across the world.

Reading TBOS, I became more awake to the physical world. The book is a celebration of the subtl
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: pictures
I am not going to put forth the effort to soak this up. I just don't have the time. I just am not prioritizing it. This could be the book to end all books. I wish this book were written by the wisest person alive who could also communicate perfectly with me. But this is not that book. This book is written by people who sense that there is some incredible meaning to be gleaned from recurring symbols in art through the ages. I too sense this. But I also sense that they have no idea what they are t ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read this book cover-to-cover. Took about a month & a half or so reading it slowly. About have of the book are pictures or visual representations so that makes reading the book easier.

Some of the entries can be vague or lack in-depth decontruction. This book is literally a Book of Symbols moresothan a Book of SYMBOLISM. The entiries seem to deal more as metaphor or cross-cultural usages through out historie. Still a handy as a reference-book. And becuz it is published by TASCHEN,
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