The Podcast reviewed here is the 18th episode of John Betts series on Jungian Analytic Psychology which is freely available here. Betts continues to work through the Moreau guidelines for analysing fairytales. He reads through the list of symbols in the fairy tale that is being analysed – the Nixie of the Millpond. He reads through a list of the symbols that he’s extracted from the tale and this list is quite extensive. This list can be quite overwhelming and would be off-putting if the reader had to go through it every time they read a story. Fortunately Betts has some tips on hand – using common sense to identify the most salient symbols and also invoking Occam’s razor. I quite liked the idea of having such a simple and clear structured approach to analysis. However I was curious in retrospect about how we could know if the outcome of this process was correct. Betts then moves through the fairy tale, symbol by symbol deciding their relevance. For the relevant symbols he then chooses to amplify them and again takes the listener through this process. The use of a symbol dictionary is discussed as an aid to the amplification process. He then works through some of the symbols taking time to examine some of the associations including the miller, the nixie, money and water. The associations are quite rich in both their variety and depth and it was interesting to see the importance of their historical context. He then weaves some of these symbol associations into the interpretation. Seeing the symbol dictionaries used in this ways, I wondered if they are recommended for use by authors of fiction. A quick search using Google led me to this very interesting webpage on western symbols and ideograms which is perhaps slightly different to a dream symbol dictionary. Using the graphical search engine, the symbols could be searched for using the following delimiters:- Open or closed, crossing lines, shape and symmetry. Leaving the default search criteria in produced a results page containing lots of curved symbols. I selected the wavy lines and unsurprisingly found that this represented water but suprisingly found that it dated back some 4000 years when it had a slightly different meaning. While there were a few dream dictionaries, it was interesting to see an alchemy site containing many symbolic references. While alchemy is an historical curiosity, the site has an abundance of symbols in the archive which Jung himself thought might be useful in the investigation of the human psyche. Returning to Betts podcast, he has provided valuable tools for the analysis of fair tales which no doubt can be extended to other areas of popular culture including films which Betts has declared an interest in (he talks about an analysis of the Matrix in earlier episodes).
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