How to Use the Archive


ARAS is a vast and rich resource of symbolic images that emerged out of a desire to visually express the many different facets that comprise symbols. One cannot know a symbol, one can only see or understand some of the facets that make up the whole, and by becoming familiar with many of those facets we can begin to glean a shape and a certain body of experience that defines the symbol. To aid in this differentiating process, ARAS includes cultural, historical, anthropological and psychological references and amplifications.

Emerging out of a Jungian tradition, the archive is especially rich for those interested in amplifying images that emerge in dreams. The process begins when one is struck by a particular image, wondering why that particular image was chosen and what it means. We do know that each image is carefully chosen by the psyche as a means of communicating specific information about the dreamer’s state of development and attitude. One could say that the image is a key with the potential to unlock a particular door leading to greater knowledge or consciousness about the dreamer. ARAS gives the dreamer a means of discerning which door the key fits. What is revealed through the study of the many visual examples of the images and their cultural, historical and psychological amplifications helps to enlarge our understanding of the symbolic image. And it is our relationship to the symbol that effects the deep change or transformation of our being.

ARAS is such a rich reserve of cultural and psychological information that there are many ways to use it. You can amplify images from dreams, visions, art or history; you can explore how certain archetypal themes broadly pervade cultures; you can research specific art pieces or artists; you can locate specific images for use in lectures or publication; or you can simply enjoy the diversity of artistic and creative richness of the collection.

To use the archive you first decide to explore an image: from a dream, as an idea to use in an artistic creation, for a cultural study, for research or simply to enjoy the richness of the archive. As you search you will come up with multiple examples that demonstrate how the same image is expressed in different times, cultures and mediums. It is the commonality that helps to distill the meaning you are after. The search may lead you off on various tangents, circling around the meaning, fleshing it out until you finally come to an understanding of what it means to you. One thing is certain about this process, though—an excitement and enthusiasm will easily grip you, carrying you along on your fascinating and enlightening journey through the world of symbolic images.

Amplification of Dream Images

  1. Type in a search word, the name of the image from a dream, for example, "cow".
  2. Up will come the timeline with a list of found images of "cows".
  3. You can narrow the search by clicking on the triangle corresponding to a specific historical or cultural time-frame or scroll through the list of found images.
  4. When you have located an image of interest, click on the image to enlarge it and to access the accompanying cultural and psychological commentary.
  5. You can enlarge the image, rotate it, or print it or the commentary.
  6. You may then want to move on to explore the next image. Simply move back or forward to the next image in the archive or return to the original list of images.
  7. When you have finished research on the image of the "cow", you may want to save the images of interest for future use and begin another search.

Cultural Studies

  1. To explore and study a specific culture, type in the name of the culture in the search box. Up will come the timeline showing the duration of that particular culture. Click on a triangle on the timeline to access any image from that culture.
  2. ARAS is organized by numbers that move sequentially through cultures. Use the next/prev buttons to visit other images in that culture.
  3. When finished, the images can be saved for future use.

Researching Art and Artists

  1. To locate a specific piece of art or artist, type in the name in the search box.
  2. Up will come the image of the art or all the images of a particular artist’s work.
  3. Click on the image of the art piece or scroll down to locate the desired image of the artist’s work and click on it to open up that record and enlarge the image and retrieve the commentary.
  4. Images can be saved, printed or you can move onto another search.

Locating Specific Images

  1. Much like finding a specific piece of art, type in the name of the image or the ARAS number.
  2. Saving ARAS numbers can save you time if you continue your search at a later time.
  3. The images can be saved or printed.

Enjoying the Archive

  1. Use all the guidelines outlined above for more specific searches and have fun!
  2. Try going to the animation and taking a trip through the archive by clicking on images that interest you.

Citing the Archive

To cite an ARAS Online record in an article, paper, or elsewhere, we recommend the following format:

"Image Name - Record number." ARAS Online [online archive]. New York: The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism; available from; accessed date.

For images without names, just put the ARAS record number itself at the beginning of the citation.  Examples:

"Penitence of David - Record 5Ck.009." ARAS Online [online archive]. New York: The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism; available from; accessed 30 March 2006.

"Record 2Bp.029." ARAS Online [online archive]. New York: The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism; available from; accessed 5 September 2009.