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Animal Life in Nature, Myth and Dreams


Elizabeth Caspari

350 pp.  
6 3/4" x 10"
Illustrations: Fully illustrated in color.

Chiron Publications

Hardcover

$34.95
Published:  June 2003

978-1-888602-22-7


In Animal Life in Nature, Myth and Dreams, Elizabeth Caspari connects the world of real, living animals with the symbolic world of animal images in human thought, both conscious and unconscious. She gives the reader an opportunity to make this connection on his or her own personal journey of discovery.

This book is a study of animals—their natural history, mythology, folklore, and religious significance around the world as well as their role in our lives, dreams, and everyday language. It examines the symbolic impact animals have on our collective culture, particularly on our own personal and interior lives.

From Albatross to Zebra, each animal is pictured in color and factual context is given about its behavior in the natural world. Information is included about habitat, distribution, weight, size, longevity, and classification. By drawing on a process of amplification developed by C. G. Jung, in which an image is related to a previous historical, mythological, religious, or ethnological context, Elizabeth Caspari discusses the meaning of the animal in a dream, amplifying the reader’s understanding of that animal. Intended for anyone interested in the actual behavior and nature of animals and the world we live in, Animal Life presents a good deal of ethological and mythological material. By contemplating the significance of our fellow creatures, and how everything in our universe is connected, Animal Life offers a more whole, and more healing, view of the world.

Reviews & Endorsements:

Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

We live in this world with animals; they are our companions and have much to teach us. Elizabeth Caspari has worked in art therapy but for the last 20 years, her major professional interest has been the mythology and natural life of animals. This erudite work is the result of years of research and travels to Kenya and Tanzania. She presents the physical and behavioral characteristics of 101 animals along with their role in mythology, fairy tales, and possible symbolic meanings in dreams. From Albatross to Zebra, the wonderful variety and beauty of animals is conveyed through color photographs. Data is also given on the habitat, distribution, weight, size, longevity, and classification of each animal.

What do they have to do with dreams? Caspari states: "Discovering an animal image in a dream is a gift, an opportunity, a window through which, with careful consideration, we can glimpse the inner workings of our unconscious selves. Like poets and writers who use metaphor to get at hidden truths, we can use animal symbolism to unlock the conundrum of a thought, a feeling, an impulse, or a deep-seated unconscious fear; that is, to bridge our conscious and unconscious lives and move us closer to the instinctive core of our beings." Each animal has special qualities to stimulate our imaginations — the wolf and its ferocity, the lion and its power, the dolphin and its playfulness.

Caspari unfolds very interesting information in her piece on ants. Naturally, she notes the tireless laboring of these creatures along with the communal nature of their lives. Ants symbolize many different things in various cultures: in Africa, they stand for fertility; in China, they represent all the values of good citizenship; and in Native American culture, they are considered a model of patience. In dreams, Caspari sees them as representing "the positive and creative qualities of the dreamer's inner growth, which can be achieved through purposeful collaboration, patience, diligence, perseverance, and a selfless surrender to what is felt to be life's purpose." This excellent interdisciplinary work brings us closer to animals and amplifies our respect for them as unique beings and spiritual teachers.
We live in this world with animals; they are our companions and have much to teach us. Elizabeth Caspari has worked in art therapy but for the last 20 years, her major professional interest has been the mythology and natural life of animals. This erudite work is the result of years of research and travels to Kenya and Tanzania. She presents the physical and behavioral characteristics of 101 animals along with their role in mythology, fairy tales, and possible symbolic meanings in dreams. From Albatross to Zebra, the wonderful variety and beauty of animals is conveyed through color photographs. Data is also given on the habitat, distribution, weight, size, longevity, and classification of each animal.

What do they have to do with dreams? Caspari states: "Discovering an animal image in a dream is a gift, an opportunity, a window through which, with careful consideration, we can glimpse the inner workings of our unconscious selves. Like poets and writers who use metaphor to get at hidden truths, we can use animal symbolism to unlock the conundrum of a thought, a feeling, an impulse, or a deep-seated unconscious fear; that is, to bridge our conscious and unconscious lives and move us closer to the instinctive core of our beings." Each animal has special qualities to stimulate our imaginations—the wolf and its ferocity, the lion and its power, the dolphin and its playfulness.

Caspari unfolds very interesting information in her piece on ants. Naturally, she notes the tireless laboring of these creatures along with the communal nature of their lives. Ants symbolize many different things in various cultures: in Africa, they stand for fertility; in China, they represent all the values of good citizenship; and in Native American culture, they are considered a model of patience. In dreams, Caspari sees them as representing "the positive and creative qualities of the dreamer's inner growth, which can be achieved through purposeful collaboration, patience, diligence, perseverance, and a selfless surrender to what is felt to be life's purpose." This excellent interdisciplinary work brings us closer to animals and amplifies our respect for them as unique beings and spiritual teachers.

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