Preface to the 2016 Edition

This book was finished in 1988. I printed paper copies and distributed some of them, but it was never published. I set it aside for twenty seven years but have recently taken it up and reread it and find that I think it has value. I have decided to bring it out in eBook form. One of the main changes in this version is that I have added photos.

In converting the book into the new format, I have found many details that needed changing (including formatting and spelling errors). I have made these changes without noting them.

However, and more significantly, almost thirty years after writing this book, I have a slightly different perspective on some of the main points. It is not so much that I disagree with them. It is more that I would now put the emphasis in different places than I did in 1988. Changing the text in the body of the book to accommodate this newer perspective would be cumbersome and confusing. Instead I have added comments on the original passages.

{Comments I have added in 2015-2016 while preparing this eBook edition appear in the text in this green color within curly brackets (braces — {…}). Because of the liberal sprinkling of these comments throughout the book, the book, in places, has developed a rather rough and choppy texture. I have done my best to smooth this out with only modest success.}

Mountain names appear in bold and in this blue color and are never italicized (except in image captions).

The names of gods and minor deities and otherworldly demons and forces appear in bold and in this purple color.

The names of altars, shrines, churches, temples, mountain priests, mountain ceremonies (such as pilgrimages), and the like appear in bold and in this color brown.

Foreign words with religious meaning but without mountain connotations are highlighted by using this olive color.

Words and concepts I think are important are emphasized by bolding them. 

Names of important religious figures (and sometimes famous political figures) I bold and italicize.

When a word or concept is mentioned instead of used, I use italics. For example, “The word archetype will be defined in the Introduction.”

Words that are foreign to English users and some words (and names) that are generally unfamiliar are also italicized.

Book titles are italicized.

Image captions are italicized if they are the original titles of the photographer or if the words are foreign to English or unusual or in book titles.

[If I add a comment in a caption or quotation I put it in square brackets].

This is not a perfect system. For example if a mountain is seen as a god, should the name appear like this or like this? Should Jesus be Jesus or Jesus? And the word Buddha is used to refer to the man, Siddhārtha Gautama (who probably lived somewhere between 500 BCE and 300 BCE and whose ideas became the basis of Buddhism), but it is also used to refer to a part of ourselves, our Buddha nature, as it were, or even to a god called Buddha. I leave it to the reader to sort through these and other ambiguities and my attempts to handle them.


  1. I would like to state that I am not a scholar of mountains. I am not an expert. I have gotten my information from books and articles (many of them scholarly), and I have trusted their accuracy. The reader will take this into consideration to help keep the material in this book in perspective.
  2. As you will see if you go on with your reading, I have had what I am calling an archetypal experience on a mountain. Many other people — maybe most people — have had archetypal experiences of or on mountains (or in relation to any number of other things). Throughout this book I use the phrase ordinary people to refer to almost all of us, whether or not we have had such experiences. I call someone important, and not just ordinary, only if their experience had an effect on their whole culture and not just on them personally. — To put this another way, when a person has an archetypal experience it often happens that he or she begins to feel special and even important, however this is, almost always, an illusion, sometimes a dangerous one. Many, perhaps most, people have had archetypal experiences, so it is quite ordinary to have them no matter how “big” and important they make us feel. So, again, to have an archetypal experience is not, in itself, to be transposed into the land of the greats.
  3. Photos have been added for this eBook publication. The full citations for the photos are in the four chapters at the end of the book.
  4. If you click on an image it will become larger. Viewing in landscape mode also makes the pictures larger.


The Mountain Archetype Copyright © 1988 by Thomas R. Hersh. All Rights Reserved.

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