ARASThe Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism

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News from ARAS
• 2006 • Issue 1 •

ARAS and Amplification
By Harry Prochaska, former curator of ARAS San Francisco.  This classic article originally appeared in Journal of Analytical Psychology 1984, Vol. 29, Pages 101-111 and is reproduced with permission.
The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS) is a collection of 14,000 photographs of works of art and other human artifacts collected for the archetypal references within the symbolic content of the images. The photograph is accompanied by a text describing the visual detail of the item, its origin and historical context and possible interpretations of the symbol where that is possible and appropriate. In most instances, the Archive also has a slide of the item, many in colour. Each item is also cross-indexed by the various visual components which constitute the image, hence an alchemical couple will appear in the subject index as King and Queen, Sol and Luna, Sun, Moon, gold, silver, union.
While the informing point of view of ARAS is that of analytical psychology, the objective data presented in the descriptions open the archive to users other than therapists and their patients. These two groups find abundant material for the interpretation of symbols in dreams, active imagination, and other facets of analytical work. The Archive has also been used by a theatre director looking for ideas for sets and costumes, by an artist developing a survey of masks throughout world history, by a theologian looking for an androgynous figure of Christ, and by an analyst using slides for a lecture on feminine images. These examples illustrate the variety of interests which lead people to use ARAS.
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ARAS Hint: Using High-Quality Images
The pictures that you normally see on ARAS Online are sized to be sent quickly to your computer.  You can also obtain sharper images for printouts and PowerPoint slide shows.  Here's how:


1. Within ARAS Online, go to the record page of the image that you wish to use.  That's the page where the image is on the left and the commentary on the right.
2. From the Print menu on the right side, select Image.  If the record has more than one image,  select the one you like, such as Image b.
3. The high-quality image will appear on your screen, as will the print dialog.  If you wish to print, press OK.
4. If you instead want to save the high-quality image or paste it into a slide show or other program, cancel out of the pop-up print dialog.  On Windows, right-click over the high-quality image and select Save Picture As or Copy  as appropriate.  On a Mac, hold the Control key down as you click on the image and then select Save Image As or Copy Image to Clipboard.

Send Us Your Questions
If you have questions about specific images, searching, how to use ARAS, or archetypal symbolism in general, please email them to us at
Welcome to the ARAS Newsletter
By Tom Singer, M.D., Co-chair of the ARAS Online Committee
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the first ARAS Online Newsletter.  In thinking about how to best introduce you to this inaugural edition of our newsletter, I was reminded of the mystery of being itself.  That such a site has come into being at all and that it will hopefully be sustained by the energy of all who use it is truly a mystery.  So, I went to ARAS in search of an image that would speak to the mystery of being and to the desire in this first newsletter to celebrate the very existence of ARAS Online.  I typed "Being" into the "Search the Archive" space and here is the first image I found which is from the Ice Age Cultures of 20,000-15,000 BP:

Here is what the summary of record 1Ca.015 tells us about this hand from The Panel of the Dotted Horses: "The actual handprint of a prehistoric human being reaches out across twenty thousand years to announce its anatomical likeness to our own hands. It announces as well an age-old psychological kinship in the desire to make images."  I would like to appropriate this image for just an instant in time and say that it is reaching across millennia to welcome the ARAS Online newsletter and its readers to the mystery of being.  Here we are!!!
The first thing we ask of those using ARAS Online is to delight in its existence.  The best use of this archive is to play, to explore, to get lost.  In time, it will reveal its many possible uses to you in your research, in your efforts to understand meaning in images, and in your wish to see how the images and beliefs of one time and culture may have unexpected links to those of other cultures and eras.
We plan to publish ARAS Online Newsletter on a quarterly basis.  It will include articles that show how the archive can best be used and will give examples of ways in which scholars, artists, analysts and others have incorporated images from the Archive in their work. New ARAS records will be introduced as they are developed.  There will be interviews with those most familiar with ARAS to share their insights about its value and use. And we plan to introduce other new topics as they occur to us — or to you sharing your ideas with us.  Over time, we will develop a column for users to share their experiences, questions, and ideas.  It is our goal to help the archive grow and become a resource for people around the world to explore both our commonalities and our differences.  It is our belief that ARAS Online should encourage global scholarship that will allow us to receive new material as well as present new material.  We have an unparalleled opportunity to use the magnificent tool of the Internet to share this extraordinary treasure and to see it increase in value.  So, we welcome you to ARAS Online and hope that you will contribute to its growth as well as be nourished by its amazing resources.  Please let us know what you think about the site, about how we might grow it and make it even better and more useful.

An Interview with ARAS Curator Ami Ronnberg
By Torben Gronning
Online access to the ARAS archive has made the unique collection of symbolic images available to a much wider audience than ever before. As someone with a curiosity about symbolic images I set out to learn more about online ARAS. In New York City ARAS is located at E. 39th Street in the beautiful brownstone building that houses the New York C.G. Jung Center.  Here, I met with Ami Ronnberg, who has been the curator at ARAS New York since 1985 and currently heads a staff of five specialists in art, art history, depth psychology and archetypal symbolism.  Ami is one of the most experienced users and teachers of the archive.
Torben:  Ami, who uses ARAS?
Ami:  The users come from several groups. There are candidates training to become Jungian analysts. They may be doing research for papers, theses, or presentations, or they may be exploring the iconographic background to images in their clients' dreams or their own dreams. A second category is artists: painters, sculptors, theater set designers, filmmakers, book cover designers, and book and magazine illustrators. The Academy Award-winning film maker Faith Hubley was inspired by ARAS in the creation of several of her famous animated films.  We once even had a tattoo artist who always researched the symbol the client requested before doing the tattoo! A third category is students from art schools, design schools, or from university departments of psychology, philosophy, or literature. We also meet writers and lecturers, and people interested in symbolism and mythology in general.  And finally we have, of course, practicing therapists, analysts, art therapists - and anyone who dreams.
Torben:  What do you tell an ARAS user?
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This newsletter comes to you from ARAS, a non-profit organization.   Visit our web site.  Become a member by joining online.  If you do not wish to receive these e-mail newsletters in the future, please reply with the words "Remove Me" in the subject line.  Copyright © 2006 ARAS.  All Rights Reserved.
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