“A symbol is the best possible formulation of a relatively unknown psychic content”, so says Jung
The dictionary says:
- a mark or character used as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process, e.g. the letter or letters standing for a chemical element or a character in musical notation.
- a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract
I have a cousin who lives in Australia. Once a year I travel from the UK to see her. It’s symbolic. Symbolic of what?
My cousin recently bought me a beanie headband in the same design but in a different colour to the one she bought at the same time for herself. It’s symbolic. Symbolic of what?
Symbols have their own meaning for each of us as individuals. I know that my feelings / interpretations about these two symbolic gestures and my cousin’s interpretations will be different.
Any symbol (for example in a tarot reading) where there may be a generic answer is not likely to apply, feel aligned or be right for you.
Symbols are a means of complex communication that can often have multiple levels of meaning. This differentiates signs from symbols, as signs only have one meaning. Human beings use symbols to express themselves and the social structure / culture to which they belong. Symbols facilitate an understanding of the world we inhabit and who we inhabit it with and are one of the bases on which we make judgements. We use symbols to make sense of the world and to identify ourselves living within it.
Now to the writing.
The use of symbols and symbolism is a literary device. I am learning to develop my own work by utilising forms of writing like metaphors and similes. This gives me freedom to add levels of meanings; literal ones that are self-evident and symbolic meanings which are far more profound. Using symbolism I hope to evoke an interest in readers far beyond the literal.
Using symbolism, I am mindful of the need to be subtle in my employment of the technique. The joy for me is in the intention of using symbolism. I may not get it right, the reader may not pick up on the symbolism, but for me this doesn’t matter. If they do, it is a bonus.
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