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Animal Life in Nature, Myth and Dreams
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About the Author

Elizabeth Caspari taught seminars on "Art, Dreams, and Creativity" and produced art works in diverse media. She studied painting at the Art Students League in New York and worked in psychology with Aniela Jaffe, James Hillman, Nathan Schwartz-Salant, and Montague Ullman. She was a member of the faculty of the New School for Social Research and gave workshops in animal mask making at the University of Albuquerque. Her combined interests in art and Jungian psychology led to her work in art therapy. For the last twenty years of her life, her major professional interest was the mythology and natural life of animals. Elizabeth Caspari died in July 2005.

Reviews

We live in this world with animals; they are our companions and have much to teach us. Elizabeth Caspari has worked in art therapy but for the last 20 years, her major professional interest has been the mythology and natural life of animals. This erudite work is the result of years of research and travels to Kenya and Tanzania. She presents the physical and behavioral characteristics of 101 animals along with their role in mythology, fairy tales, and possible symbolic meanings in dreams. From Albatross to Zebra, the wonderful variety and beauty of animals is conveyed through color photographs. Data is also given on the habitat, distribution, weight, size, longevity, and classification of each animal.

What do they have to do with dreams? Caspari states: "Discovering an animal image in a dream is a gift, an opportunity, a window through which, with careful consideration, we can glimpse the inner workings of our unconscious selves. Like poets and writers who use metaphor to get at hidden truths, we can use animal symbolism to unlock the conundrum of a thought, a feeling, an impulse, or a deep-seated unconscious fear; that is, to bridge our conscious and unconscious lives and move us closer to the instinctive core of our beings." Each animal has special qualities to stimulate our imaginations--the wolf and its ferocity, the lion and its power, the dolphin and its playfulness. Caspari unfolds very interesting information in her piece on ants. Naturally, she notes the tireless laboring of these creatures along with the communal nature of their lives. Ants symbolize many different things in various cultures: in Africa, they stand for fertility; in China, they represent all the values of good citizenship; and in Native American culture, they are considered a model of patience. In dreams, Caspari sees them as representing "the positive and creative qualities of the dreamer's inner growth, which can be achieved through purposeful collaboration, patience, diligence, perseverance, and a selfless surrender to what is felt to be life's purpose." This excellent interdisciplinary work brings us closer to animals and amplifies our respect for them as unique beings and spiritual teachers.-- (09/02/2005)


Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

We live in this world with animals; they are our companions and have much to teach us. Elizabeth Caspari has worked in art therapy but for the last 20 years, her major professional interest has been the mythology and natural life of animals. This erudite work is the result of years of research and travels to Kenya and Tanzania. She presents the physical and behavioral characteristics of 101 animals along with their role in mythology, fairy tales, and possible symbolic meanings in dreams. From Albatross to Zebra, the wonderful variety and beauty of animals is conveyed through color photographs. Data is also given on the habitat, distribution, weight, size, longevity, and classification of each animal. What do they have to do with dreams? Caspari states: "Discovering an animal image in a dream is a gift, an opportunity, a window through which, with careful consideration, we can glimpse the inner workings of our unconscious selves. Like poets and writers who use metaphor to get at hidden truths, we can use animal symbolism to unlock the conundrum of a thought, a feeling, an impulse, or a deep-seated unconscious fear; that is, to bridge our conscious and unconscious lives and move us closer to the instinctive core of our beings." Each animal has special qualities to stimulate our imaginations -- the wolf and its ferocity, the lion and its power, the dolphin and its playfulness. Caspari unfolds very interesting information in her piece on ants. Naturally, she notes the tireless laboring of these creatures along with the communal nature of their lives. Ants symbolize many different things in various cultures: in Africa, they stand for fertility; in China, they represent all the values of good citizenship; and in Native American culture, they are considered a model of patience. In dreams, Caspari sees them as representing "the positive and creative qualities of the dreamer's inner growth, which can be achieved through purposeful collaboration, patience, diligence, perseverance, and a selfless surrender to what is felt to be life's purpose." This excellent interdisciplinary work brings us closer to animals and amplifies our respect for them as unique beings and spiritual teachers.-- (11/07/2005)

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