Sacred Signs and Symbols by Sherrie Dillard (2017)

, 5 Apr 2018

I usually love Dillard's approach to intuition, psyching abilities and the magic in our real life. I have read three of her books and found them not only a great read, but very good to explain themes that aren't straightforward in a very knowledgeable, sensitive and understandable way. Unfortunately, this book has been  a disappointment as I find it rushed, unnecessary long, and messy at times.

The first part is an introduction to symbolism, the importance and significance of symbols in different cultures, and the sort of symbols you can find and 'who' sends them. It is a very basic good introduction for people who know nothing about symbols and want a bit of contextualisation. This section is also a bit simplistic, so if you are really interested in symbols and symbolism start by reading anything by Joseph Campbell and Jung's Man and His Symbols.

The second part is the core and the best of the book. It is devoted to what Dillard calls "The Living Oracle", an intuitive system to gather information so that you can reply to personal queries which help you navigate life, especially when you are at a crossroads in life. The Oracle relies on the interconnectivity of the whole Universe, of which we are all part, and that nothing is separated from us, the ripple effect works at all levels; the Universe as a whole is all connected and living in a time-space continuum in which present and future are all accessible and, in a way, coexisting. This interconnection makes possible to tap into it to get answers to your queries.

Dillard presents us with different techniques to gather information, turn it into symbols and interpret them in different 'spreads'. All what she says about gathering intuitive symbols, how to make queries, the sort of queries you make, are valid, and I have experienced them to be right on point myself. One of the most important items of advice she gives is that

" To become aware of the guidance that you are seeking , it is necessary to let go of the way that you want the answer to come to you and be open and receptive to the many ways spirit communicates". (loc. 102)

The Living Oracle, is like a tarot card spread made out of symbols you gather outside in real life, your neighbourhood, for example. You make a query, say, should I take this job? Go out for a stroll, and see what things, odd, unexpected, repeatedly, are you drawn to or pop up from nowhere. Then you put them together as if they were puzzle pieces, and interpret them as a cluster. Your answer will be there, it will resonate with you clearly, and you might get an aha! moment. Even if you don't trust the results, you will be able, later further down in time, to see if the answer was spot on or not. 

A good part of the Oracle is synchronicity. I have experience the magic of it in my life many times, but I found that some of the examples used in the book trivialise synchronicity. I believe that other examples would have been more revealing for those people who don't know anything about or haven't experienced the magic of it.

The third part, which covers most of the book, is the dictionary of symbols, mostly common urban symbols. Each entry is short and sweet, but I found that none of them resonated with me. I felt this was a stir-fry of Dillard's personal symbolic associations and information you find in generic dream or animal dictionaries. Nothing wrong with that, if the dictionary was for herself. There are universal and personal symbols, but even the former can be tinted by our personal attachment, or lack of, to them. For example, green might be a beautiful positive colour for some people as it reminds them of new beginnings, spring, and the heart Chakra, while it might be a negative colour to others because they associate it with toxic waste, supermarket discount adds, and their nasty father's fav jumper. Dillard, of course, knows that, and, in fact, she explicitly says:

"You may need some help to further interpret it. If this is true for you, consult the glossary for additional insight. If the glossary interpretation does not seem to make sense, interpret your concern, question, and current situation symbolically and look at how the meaning of the sign describes or connects to it." (loc. 1398)

So one wonders why, then, the need to present a book with half of it devoted to a symbol dictionary that might not resonate with many people, me for example. 

The further reading area is useful, some classics were there, but others like Campbell or Johnson were not, but good enough for the general public.

The book is beautifully edited for Kindle, with links to the contents index at the end of each chapter (so handy!), and no typo on view, all things that I truly enjoy and don't take for granted. And what a gorgeous book cover! 

 Dillard is a deeply spiritual and religious person and, therefore, her work relies on Spirit. She's not dogmatic or preachy about anything, but if you aren't into angels, ascender masters and the like and don't believe in the afterlife, and still want to develop your intuition, you might want to go other authors that have no spiritual varnish but offer similar ways of gathering intuitive information: Laura Day, Lisa K, Marcia Emery for example. If you are really spiritual and religious, this book will especially resonate with you. You might also want to check Robert Moss's work, who has been presenting similar exercises for decades, lately in his book the Sidewalk Oracle, and has a more shamanistic playful approach to it.

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