Some Recommended Books
Jan 08, 1995 08:56 AM
Subject---Symbols and Myths
Recommended Titles for your Theosophical Core Library
From---Daniel H. Caldwell
In her biography of HPB, Sylvia Cranston writes:
"Symbols and myths are considered of sufficient importance in
*The Secret Doctrine* to devote one-third of each of its two
volumes to their discussion. Volume One contains fifteen
chapters on the subject. . . ." (p. 515)
Even in HPB's first work ISIS UNVEILED, one will find
considerable material on symbols and myths. And in all of HPB's
other collected writings, there is even more material.
Yet very few Theosophical writers have ever written on HPB's
contributions to the understanding of myths and symbols.
I would like to recommend a number of titles on these subjects
which are written by "non-Theoophists" yet are very helpful to
students who want to study what HPB says about symbols and myths.
Almost all titles listed are in print. If anyone wants to buy a
book from this list, maybe Jerry H-E can provide a copy, or
contact your favorite local bookstore. Also check with your
local library. If your local library doesn't have these titles,
please recommend that they purchase them!
Some books on SYMBOLS:
(1) One of my favorite new books on symbols is David Fontana's
THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF SYMBOLS: A Visual Key to Symbols and Their
Meanings (Chronicle Books, 1993, 192 pp.) This book sells for
only $17.95 and would be a bargain at $30.00! This books is
beautifully illustrated with hundreds of colored illustrations,
etc. This book "traces the origins and evolution of a wide range
of symbols and symbols systems....Vivid, colorful illustrations,
created especially for this volume, as well as reproductions of
symbolic art, architecture, and artifacts from around the world
provide a stunning and accurate visual reference for each symbold
and system [discussed]...."
For example, a full page colored reproductin of a Nepalese
mandala of "Avalokiteshvara" is to be found on p. 61. Stunnng
artwork! Read what Master K.H. says about Avalokiteshvara in THE
MAHATMA LETTERS as you gaze on this work of art.
My favorite picture from this book is the one of Prometheus. See
p. 111 for this extremely beautiful reproduction. This is worth
the price of the book. One might want to consult what HPB says
about the Promethian myth in THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
Fontana's text is informative and the colored illustrations are a
real treat. Buy a copy for your Theosophical library and buy a
few extra copies to give to relatives and friends.
(2) THE WOMAN'S DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLS & SACRED OBJECTS by Barbara
G. Walker (HarperSanFrancisco, 1988, 563 pp., $22.00). Men can
appreciate this book too! There are 636 line drawings of symbols
and 753 entries explaining these symbols from around the world.
One may not always agree with some of the interpretations but
there are many wonderful insights in this book. Read what HPB
says about the circle, the circle with the point in it, etc. (
as found on pp. 4-5 of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, original edition and
facsimile editions of the original) and then turn to pp. 6-7 of
Walker's book. Also pp. 14-15, 4, and 5 for Walker's additional
commentary on these symbols.
(3) Another one of my favorite books on symbols is J.C. Cooper's
AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF SYMBOLS (first published 1978 and
reprinted 1992, 208 pp., $15.95) Contains 210 illustratins (black
and white). This is a very helpful guide as one reads and
studies HPB's ISIS and SECRET DOCTRINE. What's the various
meanings of the symbol of the TREE. Cooper spends 3 pages
explaining the meanings as found in different world religions,
mythologies, and occult systems.
(4) DICTINARY OF SYMBOLISM: Cultural Icons and the Meanings
Behind Them by Hans Biedermann. (Meridian Books, 1992, 1994, 477
pp, $17.95 in paperback) Another good source. More than a
hundred black & white illustrations are reproduced with
alphabetical entries on symbols as "darkness", "spinning",
I will limit myself to 4 titles on symbolism. These 4 titles are
helpful to students who want to read and study what HPB says on
symbolism. These titles supplement and complement each other as
well as HPB's text. The black and white and colored
illustrations bring the subjects alive!
In part 2 of bibliography, we will briefly review more than 12
titles on mythology.
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