I strongly admire the effort, I really do. But the fact that I learned so much from these concise chapters about every world religion and symbol system says more about me than it does, possibly, about the book. I really thought I'd hit the jackpot when the book offered a single explanation for the symbolism of the triple spirals at Newgrange. Those spirals are everywhere in Europe and they always have a different explanation. The exhibit at Newgrange suggested that their interpretation is very much up for debate, but this book and its primary author with an Irish surname, gives just the single answer: the Celtic triple goddess: a woman in the three primary stages of life.
At some point I began to wonder just who would go to the effort of synthesizing every symbol system of mankind, without apparently editorializing. The answer, it appears, is in the author's profession as a process-orientated psychologist. To be honest, his chapter devoted to that psychology is the most muddled of the bunch, but it seems to be a process of customizing your symbolic life to symbols as you yourself see them, probably with the help of someone like the writer who has many of the better known ones at hand. Men who stand up straighter to be more like the black knight in their own lives, and other hoary descriptions.
This was my first clue that "Hey, I'm reading a book for dummies! And I'm enjoying it." Then we came to Jung, who is described as hearing the voice of a wise inner figure called Philemon and "in his latter years spent a great deal of time....playing in the sand." Even if I get hints that the primary writer is not a Jungian, it sounds as if all of Jung's eggs cracked in the same bag.
And it appears the author borrowed that bag, taking Jung's idea of synchronicity and turning into a fairy all-connected world, increasingly demonstrated by "quantum physics and process-oriented psychological developments." If you're wary to let all those birds into your brain at once, the chapter ends with a photo of a single leaf, falling, catching the light, flirting for your attention, in some synchronicity definition of "flirt."
The catalog of symbols at the end is fascinating. Who knew there were so many versions of the swastika? Who knew that a banana is Freud's penis and nothing more?