Element Encyclopedia Of Secret Signs And Symbols Hardcover – Jun 2 2008
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About the Author
Adele Nozedar has long been fascinated by the power of symbols and visual signs, which led her to the formal study of alchemy. Her interest in psychology and how the unconscious mind works led her to the study of ancient myths, art, film and the esoteric in all forms. (She was also born into a long line of psychics.) Adele's other passion is music - she is founder and owner of a music studio in the Brecon Beacons, Twin Peaks, and formerly was one of the few women in the music industry to run a record label.
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Top Customer Reviews
I use this book for my Hunter: The Vigil campaigns and it has been indispensable.
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I think the organization of the book could be better. I'd like to see a strict division between two-dimensional and three-dimensional symbols, since there is already a division between the visual, the auditory, and the conceptual.
The author presumes that all cultures believe in a triple goddess, not to mention *the* goddess; a world tree; and a world axis that inexplicable points up instead of toward Polaris (or the south celestial pole).
Several things listed as symbols are not: aaskouandy, almadel, altar, amulet, aphrodisiac (though it may be a placebo), apotrope, ark, bull roarer, cha cha, dreamcatcher, evil eye, fetish, five pillars of wisdom (just a metaphor), Gungnir, hand of glory, holy grail, horseshoe, kabbalah (though the inclusion of its symbols is warranted), kapala, manikin, Mesopotamian tree of life, Mjolnir, Navajo sand painting, omamori, onniant, palad khik, philosopher's stone, phurba, quintessence, shofar, spear of destiny, talisman, Torah, urim and thummim, world axis (a thing being represented, rather than vice versa). Some of these may be depicted in artwork to represent their own functions, but that doesn't make the physical objects symbols. A book about supposedly magical devices would not be a bad idea, but mixing them into a book of symbols clutters it up. There is some overlap with things such as tarot cards, functioning as both symbols and magical items.
I expect any book to have some facts wrong, but they shouldn't be this obvious: Abraxas cannot be an acronym of the Greek names of the planets, because none of them start with beta, rho or xi; white is not the absence of all color, unless you work in printing, in which case black is not also the absence of all color; not being a wavelength of light doesn't keep black from being a color, as white, grey, brown and magenta are also not wavelengths of light; the lowest chakra could not have been assigned red due to that color's low frequency, since light was not believed to be a wave until a few hundred years ago; the author seems ignorant that the Oriental set of elements consists of earth, fire, water, metal and wood, and instead says it's the same as the Greek set of four plus quintessence; she misunderstands the term "squaring the circle"--it's actually an impossible task in Euclidean geometry; the exclamation of "Eureka" is said to come from Pythagoras discovering his eponymous theorem, when it's actually from Archimedes discovering how to measure volume by displacement of liquid; Essenes are described as part of a Greek cult, whereas they were actually a sect of Judaism; no time of night is given for when Cancer looms over the (east or west?) horizon on the summer solstice; it says that "in some parts of the world" a hare shape can be seen in the moon, but the moon actually looks the same from everywhere on Earth, given that you can tilt your head; it says that if an animal is never eaten, that's a sure sign that it's sacred, but in real life people might just think it's disgusting; yet another part claims that salmon *is* eaten because it's sacred; the common misconception is repeated that moths die in flames because they crave light, when it's actually that they evolved to navigate using moonlight, and fires fool them; rats are said to symbolize dishonesty, but I think the problem with human "rats" is that they're too honest (think about it); the book claims that baby scorpions typically kill their mothers by eating their way out of her, this can't be true since the babies are highly dependent on their mother after birth (they ride on her back until the first molting); wolves are said to be notorious loners, but wolves actually travel in packs, the lone wolf is a romanticized exception; the book equates Leo with the dragon of the Chinese zodiac because they're both fifth out of twelve, but I'm not sure how that could matter since those zodiacs cover different spans of time; boabab trees are said to be of great age (are there no baobab saplings in the world?); elms are said to be easy to hide under because they are tall (huh?); the sequoia is said to be the largest single organism, but I believe there's an underground fungus that beats it, and the book was written recently enough to incorporate that information; a random rock that you find is actually extremely unlikely to be "as old as the Earth itself", since geologists have to do some work to find rocks older than a billion years; garnets are said to have some special power to cause mortal wounds, but the only example given has them being used as bullets (it makes me think of Scary Movie 3: "I found the aliens' weakness. Without their heads, they're powerless."); for a piece of magnetite to become a lodestone, it does not have to be electrically charged, it needs to be magnetized; the Green Man maze, constructed in the last century, is said to have been aligned with the solstice points on the horizon using dowsing, but dowsing (if it worked) would not be necessary, you can actually just calculate the direction using knowledge of astronomy and your latitude, or, even easier, wait until the solstices happen and look at where the sun rises and sets; I couldn't find a mention outside the book of the Pampa de Colarada, but the Nazca lines are definitely in a place called the Pampas de Jumana; the Pythagoreans are said to have believed in a great void called Maya, but no Greek word could be transliterated to "Maya", and Maia was a goddess of growth, not nothingness; in Hebrew numerals the word-final forms of letters are said to be used for the last five multiples of 100, but in fact the letter tav (400) is combined with other hundreds to indicate those numbers; Selene, as the Roman goddess Luna, is not divided into three, but is part of a set of three with Proserpina and Hecate; Quetzalcoatl is not a "snake/bird", but a feathered serpent.
Further, do not trust the author on math, geometry and astronomy: two objects with 8-fold symmetry are described as having 6-fold symmetry; a certain 7-pointed star is described as a 6-pointed star that is somehow drawn with only one line; the kabbalah tree of life is said to have 22 lines, when it actually has 24, and four of the circles on it are said to form a square, but actually form a trapezoid; Venus does not trace a pentagram in the sky, and the period of the spirograph shown on page ix does not take 4 years and a day, but slightly less than 8 years; that spirograph shows Venus having a cycle of 1.4 years instead of 1.6 (not the author's fault); she states that a G stands for Great Bear to indicate Polaris, even though that's actually in the Little Bear, Ursa Minor; she repeats the common misconception that Jesus was dead for three days, but from sunset on Friday to sunrise on Sunday is only 36 hours ("on the third day" is not the same as "three days later"); there are said to be "literally millions of irregular polyhedrons", but they are actually infinite; zero is said to be the last number recognized as such, but negatives, irrationals, imaginaries, and transfinites were all thought up later; eleven is supposed to be associated with women, because of their 11 bodily apertures, but I count 12; the eleventh card in the major arcana of the tarot deck is said to be in the middle of the sequence, but there are 11 cards below and 10 above, so the 10th card would equally deserve that designation; the natural month is not 28 days long, it is 29-1/2, and therefore there are not 13 months per year but more like 12-1/3; the idea of a hidden 13th sign of the zodiac is ridiculous, but according to modern scientific borders of constellations, Ophiuchus is a non-hidden 13th sign; Greek has seven vowels, not five; the thumb is roughly an inch wide, not an inch long; a new moon near the end of October cannot always be the closest new moon of the year (i.e. happening closer to perigee than all the other new moons).
There is a tendency to treat similar things as if they were equal or equivalent: mandorla and vesica piscis; Cronos (Saturn) and chronos (time); figure eight and the infinity symbol; Confucius is said to have been *born* by the method of a woman eating a swallow's egg, but that would be *conception*; and the sets of words listed in the next paragraph.
In addition to other reasons not to trust the author on language, all etymologies should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when comparing two modern words. Not related: Book and beech, bosom and besom, Fede and fidelity; the German words for magic and ocher (which turn out to be Zauber and Ocker, respectively); pentacle and pendant; dolphin and the Greek word for womb (metra); Lupercalia and a Latin phrase meaning to purify by goat, because it's actually after the god Lupercus; panther does come from the Greek for all beasts, but "our ancestors" didn't call it that because panthers and the Greek language have only been known of by the same people for a few hundred years; the Greek words for nymph (nymphe) and bride (nyphe); also, nymph does not mean doll; the Arabic words for bird (tayr) and fate(qadar/masir); the Greek words for bird (pouli) and omen (oionos); the Italian word for witch (strega) is derived from the Latin word for owl (strix), but it doesn't mean owl in Italian (that word is gufo); swan and sound; shamrock is not from Arabic, but from Old Irish as one would expect; vitality and vine in Latin; birch and bright; holly and holy (and a Goddess named Hole, whose very existence in myth I cannot confirm), although hollyhock is related to holy; pearl and pill (pernula and pilula, in Latin); sapphire is from Greek sappheiros, not the "biblical" (doesn't say what language) sappur; the author's derivation of "open, sesame" seems to be unfounded, since no pre-French source of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" exists to check it; hag, hex and the prefix hexa-; the word amen did not originate as an acronym; sigil (from the Latin for sign) and the Hebrew segulah (meaning object of value, characteristic, remedy); the Greek words for priest and temple aren't quite the same (hieros and hieron); Hebrew words for breast and girl are not the same; (o)estrus, egg and Easter/Eostre. However, words that are related: melissa is the Greek word for bee; rosary beads are named after the rose; a Latin word for oak (robur) and robust; bezoar is from the Arabic pad-zahr; adamant comes from a Greek word for untamable; copper and Cyprus.
Then there's an even odder tendency to differentiate things that are exactly the same: in the tarot deck, the teardrop shapes around the moon are said to be going in, but those around the sun are said to be going out; labyrinths and mazes, though I don't think this is the author's fault, and the distinction is sort of backward in that you can always solve a maze by following one wall, but you can get lost in a labyrinth because the trick is that there are deceptive loops instead of dead ends; there's a mention of "coppiced" hazel, but whether hazel is growing in a coppice or not would seem irrelevant.
Misspellings: Mix of Roman Aesculapius and Greek Asclepius into Aesclepius; the golden ratio is actually called phi, not pi; the name of the Greek letter rho is consistently misspelled as roh.
Some things are questionable, but not confirmable. It says that in the Middle Ages, prostitutes weren't allowed to wear belts or veils, but considering they probably also weren't allowed to do their jobs, I don't know why law makers would bother; the book claims that 700 hues are discernible by humans, but I think the author, or her source, just arbitrarily multiplied Isaac Newton's 7 colors (ROYGBIV) by 100; the orange blossom is claimed to be traditional for brides, but it doesn't say what culture practiced that; I cannot confirm that jaguar means "kills with one blow" in any language: I can't find any proof that willow comes from a word for pliant; Bernstein would mean bear stone, not burn stone, in German, but there's a possibility that some weird word development happened there.
Perhaps some of these have been corrected in the newer book, Signs and Symbols Sourcebook, since it seems to have the same plan, but I haven't read it.
There are additional sections which delve into: time/space/seasons/directions, animals, plants, birds, minerals/metals/gems, sacred geometry, sacred sounds, numbers and their meanings, the body as a sacred map, rites/rituals/customs/observances, and Dieties of various cultures, even various alphabets.
Don't try to practice your posture with this BIG book on your head. You'll break your neck! For reading only!