The New Secret Language of Symbols takes a fresh look at the subject, satisfying today’s appetite for interpreting the layers of meaning that exist below the surface of many works of art or architecture.
The introduction looks at the cultural and psychological explanations of symbols, including the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious. The heart of the book is ‘The World of Symbols’, in which hundreds of symbols are presented and explained, theme by theme. We learn, for example, about the various forms of dragon in myth, the symbolism of sacred geometry, the attributes of different gods, angels and mythic heroes, and the array of meanings ascribed to human body parts. Collective subjects such as Fruits, Weapons and Insects are supplemented by mini-directory listings. The last major section, ‘Symbols in Context’, gives an overview of the most symbol-rich cultures, religions, esoteric groups or symbol systems, ranging from ancient Egypt and Hinduism to the Freemasons and the Tarot, with each topic structured around a multi-layered artefact or image that is analysed and decoded to highlight the important meanings embodied within it.
David Fontana unpeels layers of profound historical and psychological significance, probes the ancient roots of a vast range of symbols, and in the process – like a gifted archaeologist who knows exactly where to look and how to interpret what he finds – he unearths boundless treasures.