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Books & Articles

George R. Elder. The Body: An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism. Boston. For the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism. Vol. 2. Boston: Shambhala, 1996.

This is my first authored book. The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism—an archive of 18,000 photographic images in New York City—asked me to edit a second volume of their Encyclopedia project (the first one edited by Beverly Moon). It soon became clear to me that I preferred to write the essays myself rather than edit. And ARAS provided all the technical support along with scholarly input from experts in various fields. I chose an archetype, the “Body”—with “one body part” per chapter—and set about composing 100 essays. The reader will find a template at work: an image (especially a religious image), an art historical appreciation of the image, its cultural context, its place in the broader patterns of culture, and a brief psychological commentary. This commentary is meant to be a thought “starter,” prompting the reader to ask: So what does the “hand” mean to me? If I dream of a “nose,” why? Etc.

From a Review: “I can think of no one but this author who so authoritatively combines art history, comparative religion, and depth psychology . . . a model for future essays on archetypal symbolism.”

From a Review: “Many of the author’s insights seemed to slip into me like velvet, while others were more physically startling.”

The Body: An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism

George R. Elder. The Snake and the Rope: A Jungian View of Hinduism. Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing, 2012.


Second edition forthcoming.

Trained academically in the religions of ancient India, I have long felt obliged to share what I know from a Jungian point of view. One reason to do so is that C. G. Jung wrote much on Hinduism but was forced, having no technical knowledge of the field, to rely upon others. Another reason is that increasingly modern Western culture is bereft of a religious point of view (almost gleefully so) and is reaping the results. But what is a “religious point of view”? Examining a different religion from a different part of the world provides perspective and, quite possibly, a convincing answer. At the very least, this book—with fifty images!—demonstrates that religion is a very serious matter. So is depth psychology. It is the first volume, to my knowledge, that traces a religious tradition historically (from its beginnings to its classical expression) from a Jungian perspective.

From a Review: “I have long awaited a work that extends the psychological insights contained in Zimmer’s work on Hinduism . . . . By adding his own insights and applying them to an Eastern tradition, Elder provides the most comprehensive Jungian work on Hinduism published to date.”

The Snake and the Rope: A Jungian View of Hinduism.

George R. Elder, The Self and the Lotus: A Jungian View of Indian Buddhism, 2 vols.
BookLocker, 2023.

This is a companion to my book on Hinduism. It explores Indian Buddhism from its origins in
sixth century BCE to its disappearance from India around 1200 CE. While the religion survived,
and thrived, elsewhere—China, Japan, South East Asia, and Tibet—these are its formative
centuries marked by a distinctive Indian sensibility. By examining them, we gain another
perspective on the religious life. We also provide ourselves with cultural “dream” material from
which we can—as Jung puts it—“dream the myth onwards” and regain our own sense of why we
are here, for what meaningful purpose.

While I focus upon India, my area of expertise, I nod to Buddhism’s appearance elsewhere,
including its recent “modern” revision in the United States. Is Buddhism as “psychological” as
everybody says it is?

The Self and the Lotus: A Jungian View of Indian Buddhism
An American Jungian: In Honor of Edward F. Edinger

George R. Elder and Dianne D. Cordic, editors. An American Jungian: In Honor of Edward F. Edinger. Toronto: Inner City Books, 2009.

To honor the life and work of the Jungian analyst Edward Edinger, his partner, Dianne Cordic (also a Jungian analyst) and I compiled more than a dozen essays, book reviews, and interviews that had been published but only in specialist journals. This book makes them more readily available so that one no longer has to search for what Dr. Edinger thought of Paracelsus, of Emerson, or of his colleague Marie-Louise von Franz—that other close follower of Jung’s “breakthrough” into the new meaning of being human. We included, as well, tributes at the Memorial Service and from outside the United States. Dianne’s own piece, “A Man Full of Grace,” captures what he means to all of us.

Archetype of the Apocalypse: A Jungian Study of the Book of Revelation.
Buddhist Insight: Essays by Alex Wayman

Edward F. Edinger. Archetype of the Apocalypse: A Jungian Study of the Book of Revelation. Edited, with an introduction and Appendix 2, by George R. Elder. Chicago: Open Court, 1999.

In the year before his death, Edward Edinger, my psychological mentor, asked me to edit his lectures on the biblical Book of Revelation. Although I had a Christian seminary education, I had avoided studying this religious document since it was, well, obscure. Now I was stuck. But Dr. Edinger’s point in this stunning—and advanced—psychological analysis of the “Apocalypse” is that we are all stuck with the uprush of energy from this archetype. It has been stirred to “life” once again in our culture—making some people mad, others merely anxious without knowing why. In analysis, people dream of the “Apocalypse” quite regularly. If their feeling is available, they are usually shocked at how impersonal the imagery is, and somewhat deflated by how petty their own personal struggles seem in comparison. Western culture is currently in an “Apocalyptic” transformation. This book explains that; but it is only for the serious.

From a Review: “This book is Jungian psychology at its best.”

From a Review: “heart-pounding in its brilliance and arresting in its challenges.”

Alex Wayman. Edited and introduced by George R. Elder. Buddhist Insight: Essays by Alex Wayman. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1984.

These twenty-four essays on ancient Buddhism by my academic mentor, Alex Wayman—Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit, Columbia University—were submitted by me as part of my tenure review by Hunter College (CUNY). The essays are technical, but I have found them very useful—to my surprise—while writing my book on Indian Buddhism from a psychological perspective. That is because it is essential to have accurate material if one is to interpret persuasively, from any perspective. And Dr. Wayman was a “scholar’s scholar” for precision. I once criticized him naively for a writing an “obscure” essay. His response: “The materials were obscure.” I can think of no better response to other young scholars. Or to psychologists who wish to interpret a dream with any accuracy.


“Problems of Language in Buddhist Tantra.”  History of Religions 15/3, (1976).

Reprinted in Paul Williams, ed., Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. London: Routledge, 2005.

This is my first publication. I demonstrate that the “secret code” of Tantra is not very secret


“Psychological Observations on the Life of Gautama Buddha.” Buddhist and Western

Psychology, ed. Nathan Katz. Boulder:

Great Eastern Book Company, 1983;


Reprinted Psychological Perspectives 35, Spring, 1997.

Reprinted The Couch and the Tree, ed. Anthony Molino. New York:  North

Point Press, 1998.

This is an early but still rare attempt to interpret the symbolic “Life” of the Buddha psychologically. I expand on it in my new book, The Self and the Lotus, forthcoming



“Grace in Martin Luther and Tantric Buddhism.” The Cross and the Lotus, ed. Gary Houston. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1985.

Luther is a fascinating religious figure since he moves away from Medieval Christianity and, thus, anticipates modern psychology. My comparison with Buddhist Tantra is only tentative.


“Crossroads,” “Phallus,” “Quaternity.” Entries in The Encyclopedia of Religion.

New York: Macmillan, 1987.

These essays are as psychological as the project would allow, so the reader has to interpret between the lines. Still, they touch upon important archetypal motifs.


“Dependent Origination in Buddhist Tantra.” Researches in Indian and Buddhist Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Professor Alex Wayman, ed. Ram Karan

Sharma. Delhi:  Motilal Banarsidass, 1993.


Given the occasion, this essay is strictly scholarly. Nevertheless, it provides “dream” material for the comparativist.


 “The Transformed Body: Afterlife Images of Individuation.” 

Psychological Perspectives 37, Summer, 1998.


The essay appears differently in The Body: An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism.


“Eulogy: Upon the Death of Edward F. Edinger, July, 1998.”

Quadrant 29/1, Winter,1999; and Psychological Perspectives 39, Summer, 1999.

This eulogy appears in the “Memorial” section of An American Jungian: In Honor of Edward F. Edinger.

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