ARAS: Archetypal Symbolism and Images

Unique Features of ARAS Online:

ARAS contains information that is designed to be used by people from all walks of life, who are interested in art, symbolism and mythology: painters, sculptors, filmmakers, theatre set designers, book cover designers, book and magazine illustrators, students from art or design schools or from university departments of psychology, classics, humanities, philosophy, history, art history, anthropology or literature, writers, lecturers, analytical psychologists and psychotherapists and people interested in symbolism and mythology in general.
Where for many years the archive was accessible only by personal visit to one of the three locations: New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the digitization of the archive has made it accessible to anyone with a computer connected through a web browser to the Internet. ARAS online is built over a powerful search engine accessible through an intuitive user interface, and aided by reference features such as the ARAS cultural timeline. This timeline shows the selected images placed in historical time, and a click on the "live" marker for a particular image opens that image and its descriptive content.
ARAS is one of several online annotated art image databases such as ARTstor Charter Collection with nearly 500,000 images;48 Grove Art Online with 130,000 images,49 including 100,000 images from the Bridgeman Art Library50 (also distributed by Getty Images51); and the Index of Christian Art at Princeton University, with over 60,000 images.52 Google Images while free to all contains well over 2 billion images,53 but it lacks organization, documentation and quality assurance-features that justify the costs of subscription-based resources. In addition, ARAS, unlike other subscription or gratis databases, provides focused selection and classification according to archetypal content and psychological meaning on a given subject.
This does not mean, however, that an ARAS user should not be interested in other image databases. A Google Image Search results in 1,750,000 images of dragons54 and 17,400 images of black horses,55 where the similar number for ARAS is 529 and 10, respectively. None of the Google hits are filtered, however, so a search on dragons or horses includes anything where that word is connected to the image name or description regardless of the representation. Nevertheless, the researcher interested in a wide selection of images for graphic illustration of an archetypal symbol may well combine a Google Image search or search of other image archive with an ARAS search once the archetypal content or psychological meaning has been discovered in ARAS.
Sometimes, a particular image has such rich detail that a user will want to see more visual detail. ARAS includes a zoom-in feature and also allows the user to print out images, copy them into presentation software such as PowerPoint and order 35mm slides (all subject to copyright law regulations for non-commercial personal or educational use).
In 1995 the then-Director of the Index of Christian Art at Princeton University, Brendan Cassidy, commented in this journal on the College Art Association's Art Information Task Force (AITF) project of establishing standards for describing objects and images in art databases. Stating that the AITF Categories for the Description of Works of Art will prove an invaluable guide for those whose responsibility it is to systematize information about works of art, he also warned that each institution, each project will need to decide what it is it wants to achieve with its database and the kinds of query to which it is likely to be called upon to respond. He stated that if the database is to comprise an iconographic component and if it is to include descriptions of works of art and the varying interpretations they have attracted, the problems of controlled language and nomenclature [italics added] are likely to prove particularly intractable.56
The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism has been fortunate in having had a foundation for a controlled language and nomenclature created by some of the best thinkers in symbolic meaning and myth, their work embracing all epochs, cultures and civilizations, across the diverse disciplines of history of religions, history of art, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and archaeology. This is a most gratifying result from the unusual initiative of Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, a visionary woman who more than eighty years ago by her inner spirit and perseverance provided the opportunity for outstanding scholars to share ideas "on the edge" each year at the Eranos conferences and to expand our collective understanding of mind, myths and symbols.



The authors wish to thank the following persons and organizations for their contributions to the information and images for this article: Curator Ami Ronnberg and Karen Arm of ARAS, New York; Jeff Levinsky and Allison Langerak of the ARAS Online Project; Analytical Psychologist Thomas B. Kirsch, MD, Palo Alto, CA; Curator Emeritus Michael Flanagin of ARAS, San Francisco, CA; Eranos Foundation, Ascona, Switzerland; Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC; Archeological Museum Herakleion, Crete, Greece.



  1. William McGuire, Bollingen: An Adventure in Collecting the Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982), 21.
  2. Tilo Schabert, "The Eranos Experience," in Elisabetta Barone, Matthias Riedl, Alexandra Tischel, Pioniere, Poeten, Professoren. Eranos und der Monte Verità in der Zivilisationsgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, Eranos neue Folge, Vol. 11, eds. (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2004), 9-19.
  3. David L. Miller describes his experience from an Eranos conference: "I first attended the Eranos Conferences in 1969. Along with Gilles Quispel and James Hillman, the speakers were Helmuth Jacobsohn, Gilbert Durand, Toshihiko Izutsu, Schmuel Sambursky, Henry Corbin, Ernst Benz, Gershom Scholem and Adolf Portmann. The seats for the auditors at Casa Eranos were reserved, and I was assigned a seat in the fourth row. The aisle and Lago Maggiore were on my right and an elderly British woman was on my left. In the intermission of the initial lecture by Scholem, I turned to my seatmate and, in an attempt to make conversation, I asked her whether there would be a question-and-answer time following the lecture. She said to me: 'You must be an American.' I confessed that I was, whereupon she educated me about the spirit of Eranos. 'You see,' she said, 'the presenters are invited to speak at the very edge of their disciplines. If they manage this edge, they are in no better position than the audience to answer questions. It would be premature. On the other hand,' she concluded decisively, 'if they do not manage to speak at the edge, then they are not worth questioning in the first place!' (excerpt from David L. Miller, "At the Edges of the Round Table: Jung, Religion and Eranos." Paper presented to the 16th Congress of the International Association for Analytical Psychology in Barcelona, Spain, 1 September 2004.
  4. The Eranos Foundation's website contains a complete list of the conference and yearbooktitles for the entire period 1933-1999: Daimon Publisher's website has a downloadable list of all lectures presented at the Eranos conferences 1933-1988:
  5. Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, ed. Joseph Campbell, trans. Ralph Manheim and R. F. C. Hull. Vol 1: Spirit and Nature; Vol. 2: The Mysteries; Vol. 3: Man and Time; Vol. 4: Spiritual Disciplines; Vol. 5: Man and Transformation; Vol. 6: The Mystic Vision. Bollingen Series XXX (New York: Pantheon Books, 1954-1968).
  6. The titles of these lectures held in German are: Heinrich Zimmer, "On the Meaning of the Indian Tantra-Yoga"; G. R. Heyer, "Sense and Meaning of Eastern Wisdom for Western Spiritual Guidance"; Caroline Rhys Davids, "Religious Exercises in India and the Religious Human"; Erwin Rousselle, "Spiritual Guidance in Contemporary Taoism"; Carl Gustav Jung, "On the Empiricism of the Individuation Process" (Eranos-Jahrbuch 1933: Yoga und Meditation im Osten und im Westen [Zürich: Rhein-Verlag, 1934]).
  7. Joseph L. Henderson, "On ARAS," a summary of Joseph L. Henderson's 22 November 1998 videotape presentation and live discussion about the history of ARAS before the San Francisco Friends of ARAS, included in Daniel Benveniste, Thinking in Metaphor: Summaries of Joseph L. Henderson's ARAS Lectures, 1985-1998 (San Francisco, CA: ARAS, 2000).
  8. Description of Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn and the history of Eranos at the Eranos Foundation's website:
  9. Among important early works of these scholars are the following: Heinrich Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, ed. J. Campbell. Bollingen Series VI (New York: Pantheon, 1946); Károly Kerényi and C.G. Jung, Essays on a Science of Mythology: The Myths of the Divine Child and the Mysteries of Eleusis. Bollingen Series XXII (New York: Pantheon, 1949); Mircea Eliade, Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return. Bollingen Series XLVI (New York: Pantheon, 1954); Carl Gustav Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, in Collected Works, Vol. 9, Part 1, 1934-1955. Bollingen Series XX (New York: Pantheon, 1959); Erich Neumann, The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. Bollingen Series XLVII (New York: Pantheon, 1955); Gilles Quispel, Tatian and the Gospel of Thomas: Studies in the History of the Western Diatessaron (Leiden: Brill, 1975); Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (Jerusalem: Schocken, 1941); Henry Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi. Bollingen Series XCI (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969); Adolf Portmann, The Animal as Social Being (New York: Viking Press, 1961 [1956]); Herbert Read, Philosophy of Anarchism (London: Freedom Press, 1940); Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Bollingen Series XVII (New York:Pantheon, 1949). (The Bollingen Series was published by Pantheon Books, Inc. of New York during the years 1943-1960, succeeded by the Bollingen Foundation 1960-1969; Princeton University Press of Princeton, NJ, has been the publisher since 1969.)
  10. Joseph L. Henderson, "An Introduction to ARAS," available online on the ARAS website: See also for a complete list of the annual lecture titles, 1933-1999.
  11. McGuire, Bollingen, 29.
  12. Hildegard Nagel, Papers of the Analytical Psychology Club of New York City: The Eranos Conference 1938 (New York: Analytical Psychology Club of New York City, 1939).
  13. The Bollingen Foundation, named for the small village in Switzerland where Jung had a private rural retreat, was established in 1942 to assure a wider audience in the English speaking world for Jung's scientific works, but extends well beyond this scope. The Bollingen Series includes original contributions, translations of works previously unavailable in English, and new editions of classics in the fields of mythology, psychology, religion, philosophy, art and poetry, including the collected works of Jung, Paul Valéry and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts. It consists of 100 Archetypal Symbolism and Images 265 numbered publications constituting more than 250 separate volumes. The Foundation became inactive in 1969, and its publication activity was transferred to Princeton University Press. The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS) was transferred to the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology in New York the same year.
  14. Cod. Urb. Lat. 365.
  15. McGuire, Bollingen, 30.
  16. McGuire, Bollingen, 144.
  17. Jessie E. Fraser, "Report on the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism," Quadrant 6 (Winter 1970): 21-24.
  18. Joseph L. Henderson, "Ancient Myths and Modern Man," in Man and His Symbols, ed. C. G. Jung (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964).
  19. Jessie E. Fraser, "Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism of the C. G. Jung Foundation (ARAS)," International Encyclopedia of Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Neurology, Vol. 2 (Indiana, PA: Aesculapius, 1977), 114.
  20. Beverly Moon, An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1991); George Elder, An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism: The Body (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1996).
  21. Henderson, "An Introduction to ARAS."
  22. Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971).
  23. C. G. Jung, The Collected Works, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969). All references to Jung's Collected Works are shown as "CW" with volume number and paragraph in parenthesis.
  24. Anthony Stevens, Archetype: A Natural History of the Self (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 39.
  25. Ibid., 45-46.
  26. Ibid., 40.
  27. Ibid., 39.
  28. Harry W. Prochaska, Amplifications of Symbols (Redwood City, CA: Purveyors of Fine Prints & Fine Music, 1998), 78-79.
  29. Ibid., 79, referring to Mircea Eliade, The Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1958), 160.
  30. Richard Wilhelm, The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life (London: Arkana Penguin Books, 1984).
  31. Ernst Peter Fischer, "Going Bravely into the Unexplored," Max Planck Research 1/2006 (2006): 18.
  32. Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, "How to Use the Archive," ARAS, available online at:
  33. Ibid.
  36. Torben Gronning, "An Interview with ARAS Curator Ami Ronnberg," ARAS Newsletter, Issue 1 (2006), available online at:
  37. Dorothy Norman, The Heroic Encounter: A Volume based on an Exhibition of Symbolical Art with Related Text (New York: American Federation of Arts, 1958). Introduced at the Willard Gallery, 4 February-1 March 1958, circulated by the American Federation of Arts, 1958- 1959.
  38. Fraser, "Report on the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism," 21-24.
  39. Jessie E. Fraser, "ARAS: Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism," Spring (1964): 61.
  40. Diana Lee James, "The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism," Visual Resources 1, no. 1 (1980): 10-11.
  41. Moon, An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism; Elder, An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism: The Body.
  42. Erwin Panofsky, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).
  43. To see the tool in action, go to:
  44. Gronning, "An Interview with ARAS Curator Ami Ronnberg."
  47. Gushtasp Slays the Rhino-Wolf: From the Gutman Shahnama (Book of Kings), c. 1330- 1340. Iran (probably Isfahan). Ink, colors and gold on paper, 8.0665.31 in. (20.5613.5 cm). Bequest of Monroe C. Gutman, 1974 (1974.290.23v).
  56. Brendan Cassidy, "Iconography in Theory and Practice," Visual Resources 11, no. 3-4 (1996): 346.