Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism

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Princeton University Press, 1961 - Religion - 189 pages
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Mircea Eliade--one of the most renowned expositors of the psychology of religion, mythology, and magic--shows that myth and symbol constitute a mode of thought that not only came before that of discursive and logical reasoning, but is still an essential function of human consciousness. The author describes and analyzes some of the most powerful and ubiquitous symbols that have ruled the mythological thinking of people of the East and West in many times and at many levels of cultural development.
 

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Reading Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism explains the Rites of Purification among the Basotho of Southern Africa, their use of the Cosmic Tree with roots deep in the ancestral village called underworld by the Western symbolism, up to Molimo, the Supreme Being in Heaven, communicating one basic truth: It is God who purifies and make Mosotho novice clean. Even the rivers are the replica of the Waters of the Cosmos that transformed a chaotic Mosotho novice into an ordered and purified Mosotho. Again it brings to awareness the Basotho religious Symbol of Kholumo-lumo ( marine monster) which is spiritual heritage of the pygmies of Southern Africa, which is ritually celebrated after the night of the consecration of the pillars to be used to construct initiation lodge which is the Centre of the world. Kholumo-lumo symbolically captures the candidates, grinds them to pieces and spits them into the womb of spiritual regeneration, called the sacred cave. it is from the cave that they are born into a new creation, consecrated men. As if in the same womb burn the initiation lodge and swiftly move home, celebrate together and from there spiritual spread to the various parts of South Africa.
Mircea Eliade's contribution to the understanding of my own Initiation Ritual has reached his noble goal, which to bring this ritual to my awareness and transform me
 

Contents

SYMBOLISM OF THE CENTRE
27
History of Archetypes
33
The Images of the World
37
Symbolism of the Centre
41
Symbolism of Ascension
47
Construction of a Centre
51
INDIAN SYMBOLISM OF TIME AND ETERNITY
57
Indian Myths of Time
60
Thracians Germans Caucasians
103
Iran
105
Ethnographic Parallels
107
The Magic of Knots
110
Magic and Religion
112
The Symbolism of LimitSituations
115
Symbolism and History
119
OBSERVATIONS ON THE SYMBOLISM OF SHELLS
125

The Doctrine of the Yugas
62
Cosmic Time and History
67
The Terror of Time
71
Indian Symbolism of the Abolition of Time
73
The Broken Egg
77
The Philosophy of Time in Buddhism
79
Images and Paradoxes
82
Techniques of the Escape from Time
85
THE GOD WHO BINDS AND THE SYMBOLISM OF KNOTS
92
The Symbolism of Varuna
95
Bindings Gods in Ancient India
99
The Symbolism of Fecundity
128
The Ritual Functions of Shells
133
The Part played by Shells in Funerary Beliefs
135
The Pearl in Magic and Medicine
144
The Myth of the Pearl
148
SYMBOLISM AND HISTORY
151
Archetypal Images and Christians Symbolism
160
Symbols and Cultures
172
Remarks upon Method
175
INDEX
179
Copyright

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Page 15 - Images by their very structure are multivalent. If the mind makes use of images to grasp the ultimate reality of things, it is just because reality manifests itself in contradictory ways and therefore cannot be expressed in concepts.
Page 12 - The symbol reveals certain aspects of reality — the deepest aspects — which defy any other means of knowledge. Images, symbols and myths are not irresponsible creations of the psyche; they respond to a need and fulfill a function, that of bringing to light the most hidden modalities of being.

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About the author (1961)

Born in Bucharest, Rumania, Mircea Eliade studied at the University of Bucharest and, from 1928 to 1932, at the University of Calcutta with Surendranath Dasgupta. After taking his doctorate in 1933 with a dissertation on yoga, he taught at the University of Bucharest and, after the war, at the Sorbonne in Paris. From 1957, Eliade was a professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago. He was at the same time a writer of fiction, known and appreciated especially in Western Europe, where several of his novels and volumes of short stories appeared in French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Two Tales of the Occult "to relate some yogic techniques, and particularly yogic folklore, to a series of events narrated in the genre of a mystery story." Both Nights of Serampore and The Secret of Dr. Honigberger evoke the mythical geography and time of India. Mythology, fantasy, and autobiography are skillfully combined in Eliade's tales.

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