Sunday, October 26, 2014

Magical Mysterious Cats



Illustration for Puss 'n Boots


Cats are a constant source of amusement, humor, affection, comfort, fear, and suspicion. The domestic cat, Felis Catus, is found in the most comfortable location in any house, and has a passionate approach to napping. The fairy tale Puss 'n Boots was originally a story about how wonderful it was for a little girl to have a cat to take care of her. Domestication of cats is an ancient practice dating back at least 10,000 years.  



The history of cats and symbolism is shared by the owl and the snake. What do cats, snakes, and owls have in common? The answer to that is pivotal in the history and symbolism of all three, cats especially. They all eat rodents; one rat can ruin an entire cache of grain. All three animals were encouraged to frequent farms in northern Europe; milk was left by farmers for them so they would return - this became a practice of leaving "gifts" for their animal friends, then "offerings" to the animal spirits. In European legend the Corn Cat cared for corn crops; when harvested it retired to a special sheaf, set aside for it, until the next growing season.

During the Dark Ages, in an effort to subvert Pagan culture, the Church demonized all three animals and it became illegal to even own one as a pet. This effectively destroyed the agricultural commerce of those outside the Church, crushing their independence. From this slander came the modern demonic associations in symbolism to all three (Duncan-Enzmann).

Prior to their deconstruction cats, snakes, and owls held places of honor in the myths and traditions of many cultures. Cats and snakes, or serpents, are sometimes adversaries, sometimes colleagues. All three animals are sacred in various religions, but the cat holds a special place in the homes of the gods, not to mention the homes of humans. Indeed, during the first century BC it was illegal to kill a cat, and after an eclipse, the killer might be torn apart by a mob. St. Agatha was called St. Cat, and the patroness of cats is St Gertrude.

Royal and sacred cats are evident in the cultures of Egypt from 2500 BC. Egyptian temples dedicated to the sun had images of cats in them. A symbol for sun god Ra is a cat, and they are sacred to Isis. Egyptian goddess Bast, or Bastet was imaged with a cat's head; earlier depictions were with a lioness's head. Linked to protective forces, cats were known to defeat snakes and were worshiped for their ability to defeat the enemy Serpent.

Greek goddess Hecate can turn into a cat; she is a goddess of witchcraft. This perhaps was influential in the belief that witches keep cats. The furry feline is also sacred to Diana (Artemis); her brother Apollo, the sun god, is imaged with or as a lion. In Indian religious iconography, the vehicle of sage Vidali is a cat. For two hundred years the Siamese cat resided only with monarchs; Burmese and Siamese believe that cats enshrine spirits of the dead. Scandinavian goddess Freya has a chariot pulled by two cats. The goddess Virgo, who holds a sheaf of grain, or corn stalk, has a cat guardian. Indeed, the Virgin is linked to the cat; Helen, Frigga, Pasht, Artemis, Diana, Maya, and Mary, all, like Virgo the Virgin Mother, have the same attributes. They are linked to the moon, and to the cat.


When the Christian church demonized cats with monstrous conceptions to a superstitious world, every black cat became a devil, and every old woman who kept cats became a witch. Indeed, a woman was hanged in Exeter because a neighbor saw a cat jump into her cottage window one evening. No further proof was needed. Demons and sorcerers of many traditions are priests and gods of older religions cruelly misrepresented by intolerance and efforts by the church to subvert them. A common belief was that souls too corrupt to inhabit human bodies were in beasts like cats, lions, and monkeys. Since that time cats have become associated with demons, ghosts, omens, vampires, genies  corpses, and witchcraft. Demonic stinging cats are the enemy of the Celts. They are both charms and talismans.

Cats are representatives of Hecate, goddess of death, and there are many recorded instances of cats appearing right before someone died. In Egypt, cats were credited with considerable powers of clairvoyance. Cats feel beforehand and react to magnetic and meteorological changes. According to physicist Duncan-Enzmann cats, and many animals, can smell water, different types of land and vegetation, and navigate by the stars and sun. This explains their uncanny ability to travel great distances over unknown terrain and return home. Cats were watched in olden time to forecast natures varying moods. Almost universal is the belief that a cat cleaning behind its ears with wet fore-paws foretells rain. Some cats even display telepathic ability to know when their master returns.

Cats, and other felines, are prevalent in symbolism. They are the fourth sign of the Chinese zodiac, corresponding to Cancer. Cats represent the Great Hunter - they most present while seeming most absent, relentless in purpose, unerring aim, and able to see in the dark. Hercules was given a lion. Goddess Liberty is often imaged with a cat at her feet. In Heraldic iconography cats have been used companies of soldiers as they symbolize liberty. Romans often used cats on banners, most likely to symbolize the goddess Liberty. After the fall of the Republic, a cat at the feet of a Pope symbolized treason and hypocrisy.

The cat in Native American symbolism denotes cunning, ingenuity, and forethought. Unlike many other cultures, they consider cats neither friend nor servant to mankind. Cat characters are found in the fables, fairy tales, folklore, and poetry of many cultures; Puss 'n Boots, The Cat in the Hat, Lewis Carol's Cheshire Cat, and Duck Wellington's Cat are only a few. 

There are many common expressions about cats:

Playing cat and mouse is an expression derived from the association of the cat with the sun and moon, and the mouse with clouds. The sun darts in and out of the clouds playfully, before dissipating it, as a cat plays with a mouse before pouncing. In Puss 'n Boots the Cat persuades the ogre to become a mouse, then after a good chase, eats him. 

Cats are blessed with nine lives; Apollo, the god of light, was the producer of the original nine month lunar year and is surrounded by nine sister muses; these nine muses grew out of the nine month gestation period - one muse for each month. In Egypt there are three companies of nine gods, also derived from gestation trimesters, as is the trinity of trinities.  Freya, the Norse goddess whose chariot is pulled by cats is connected to the number nine, and she is, in part, a goddess of witchcraft.  

White or black cats being good or bad luck depends on where you are. In some cultures a black cat is not bad luck, as it is not associated with death, and in some places a white cat is because it is the color of ghosts. 

Cats are associated with foreknowledge, yet in Japan linked to genies and vampires. The Sephardim (Spanish Jews) believed vampire cats lived among them; Lilith (created before Eve as Adam's first wife) lives as a  black cat named elBroosha, also known as a Screech Owl or Barn Owl, associated with witchcraft.   Cats have become symbols of life and death, day and night, sun and moon, good luck and bad, deity and devil. Whatever has befallen them, today these cunning creatures are sometimes family pets, but mostly ignored, like an old toy we would be embarrassed to play with.

Just remember, when you come home to your dog, he wags his tail and you feed him and pet him, and he thinks "wow, you are a god." Your cat sees you, rubs up against your legs, you feed it and pet it, and it thinks "wow, I am a god."


About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales. She is an author, speaker, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio with her husband Jay Robert.


Other books by Michelle, available at Amazon:
       

Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight:  - history and origin of mythology, folklore, and symbolism; print and eBook formats 
Symbology: My Art and Symbols – a collection of my artwork, with brief explanation of symbols, print only 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered – identifies historic elements in fairy tales, tracing their roots, print and eBook formats 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images – presents unique information about antiquity and prehistory, print only
Symbology: World of Symbols – eBook format of most of the information in Symbology
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids – an eBook introduction to the symbols of a lost civilization
The Lost Unicorn – an original fairy tale with wizards, damsels in distress, and heroes of course, print and eBook formats

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Valkyries of True North

Valkyrie - M. Snyder


Surviving ice ages required knowledge of approximate astronomy, largely based on the location of north. At one time true north was not Polaris, but Deneb in Cygnus, the swan constellation in the Milky Way. This constellation is at the root of many bird mythologies, carried through time with oral tradition, and children’s stories and rhyme like Mother Goose. The importance of this knowledge was also preserved in images; feathered cloaks, bird goddesses, and fairies’ wings are a few symbolic remnants, shared by Valkyries, harpies, and angels.

During the Paleolithic Era, 12,500 BC, the Magdalenian culture began to symbolize the human condition. Stories about storks bringing babies, swans nurturing and comforting them and taking their young souls to heaven if they died, represented the importance of these winged animals in the life-sustaining cycles of the time. These stories connected birds with true North – with Cygnus the Swan, where heaven was located. Eider Ducks did comfort babies with warm down, and geese both comforted and protected young ones - with feathers, by providing food, and by eating poisonous snakes. By 9000 BC “mother” swans appear, anthropomorphic creatures created to symbolize the nurturing and protecting of little ones by nature and mothers together. Over time the mother-swans became swan-mothers, women with beautiful wings; these zoomorphic creatures became goddess-like in their cultural role. By 5000 BC, swan-mothers also comforted, protected, and escorted not just the souls of dead children, but also those of brave dead  young men to heaven. 

Several thousand years later, during the Hun wars of 450 AD,  these swan-ladies became Valkyries, beautiful war-like loyal women at the battlefield, fighting alongside the men, taking the souls of dead soldiers to heaven. Valkyries are associated with the bright rays of the sun - the Fire of the Valkyries. This ties them to the Sun-Child of 12,500 BC. Golden-haired women, with dazzling white arms and armor; they accompanied the brave fighters on the battlefield, riding swift horses or wolves during conflicts and wars. During more peaceful times Valkyries became family-oriented beings who married, had babies, and nurtured the good. 

"Valkyries" - W. T. Maud




These golden-haired women of the battle became legendary warriors with swords and spears, and could decide the course of a battle, escorting dead soldiers to Valhalla over the rainbow Bitfrost, where the heroes received mead (ambrosia) and were dressed in shining robes associated with clouds. Over time the Valkyries became the ones to decide who was slain. They were known as Odin’s Warriors of Asgard (at lake Azov, north of the Black Sea), and are often compared with the more recent Amazon women, although by reputation Valkyries were less cruel. 

During centuries when the Church was struggling to gain power and unite straggling, diverse religious beliefs, many symbols and mythologies of prior millennia were changed, eliminated, or adopted for Christian mythology. About 300 AD the beautiful brave Valkyries of the battlefield became the fearsome Harpies – winged, evil monsters with the bodies of birds, the heads of women, sharp claws, and a foul smell, who tormented souls with spite. The name harpie means snatcher, and they supplied the Underworld with souls of those who died before their time. Harpies - storm goddesses - were robbers and spoilers raging over battlefields, carrying off weak and wounded, and stealing children. The beautiful, winged Valkyrie goddesses became monsters – half-birds, half-females. Angels became, in Christian mythology, what the Valkyries had been for the goddess cultures. Winged and now male, angels are messengers of the gods, protectors of the innocent, escorting the souls of the righteous to heaven. In some mythologies Valkyries have maintained their ancient honor and duties. 


About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales. She is an author, columnist, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio with her husband Jay Robert.
Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:



     Non-fiction:



Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge  
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: My Art and Symbols 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images 
Symbology: World of Symbols 
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

 







Fiction: 

A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn


 








A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid












Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hot Stuff about the Sun


Sacred Marriage of  the Sun and Moon,
M. Snyder
All people are dependent on the sun; sun symbols have roots in ancient astronomical notations dating back more than 70,000 years. Our ancestors watched the heavens to learn about the cycles of the blazing star on which their lives depended. The first sun symbols were simple circles. 

Knowing when to prepare for winter, and when to plant new crops was crucial, and by 16,000 BC calendric symbols were used to record the yearly cycles of the sun. 



By 12,500 BC, during an ice age, blonde, curly-haired little girls represented the sun; their golden hair was like the sun, and both the sun and children are necessary for the continuation of life. Here we have the Sun-Child,  ancestor of the Sun-Maiden, Sun-Queen, and Sun-Goddess  Helen ­- sun symbols of the vast Vanir civilization, which, by 4000 BC, spanned from Norway to Africa.

The Great Stone Circles, the megalithic observatories, were built to aid in observing the patterns of the sun and other heavenly bodies. Those who could divide circles to symbolize the passing of time brought life-saving skills to the people. From this ability - dividing - comes the concept of the divine

Contemporary wheel symbols depict movement of heavenly bodies with the sun at the center, the spokes representing the sun’s beams. From these ancient observations grew the mythologies of the sun-kings, the dead and resurrected kings, and other legends. Astronomical associations are evident in the symbols of the sun-kings: Halos around the heads symbolize solar radiance, which has been assimilated to the radiance of enlightenment, sanctity, holiness, or divinity.

Left to right: Shamash, Tawa, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus

Few young students today understand the Analemma - the movement of the sun - or how critical this knowledge was to survival thousands of years ago. During winter solstice the sun reaches its lowest point on the horizon (at the Tropic of Capricorn). There it stays, “motionless,” for three days. When it rises again it brings with it warmth and change-of-season that allows crops to grow and life to thrive. The course of the sun through the heavens is an age-old symbol of the human life-cycle. The setting sun, its disappearance at night, and its rising again in the morning, link with the archetypal symbolism of death and rebirth. 

The sun is the provider of light, color, and warmth, and is the bringer of new life in the spring. This knowledge has been the foundation of countless symbols, myths, and legends. In Incan myths the sun was worshiped as the divine ancestor of the nation. In Norse mythology Sunna, a sun goddess, rides in a horse drawn solar chariot. Abraxas, Apollo, and Helios also drive sun-chariots pulled by four horses; the four horses are symbolic of the four seasons. Ancient Egyptians worshiped Ra, a sun god. In Persia, Mithra was the god of light and wisdom. In Christian iconography the sun rising in the east symbolizes resurrection. Contemporary uses of sun symbols represent the intellect, the universal spirit, all-seeing divinity, intuitive knowledge, enlightenment, and illumination - all based on the astronomers of prehistory who used geometry and number to calculate the passage of time based on light.  

Sunlight is symbolic of intelligence and spirit: we speak of intelligent people in terms of being bright or brilliant, and of having bright ideas. We depict enlightened beings with halos. It seems appropriate that our terms for intelligence are associated with light; light is associated with the sun and stars, the study of which is astronomy – the heavenly lights. Today, as in prehistory, those with knowledge of the heavens are regarded as intelligent. Considering this, one could connect knowledge of astronomy with enlightenment. Each year we travel once around the Sun on this rock called Earth. Have a great trip!



About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales. She is an author, columnist, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio with her husband Jay Robert.
Other books by Michelle, available at Amazon:
       

Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge - a comprehensive revision of Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight:  - history and origin of mythology, folklore, and symbolism; print and eBook formats 
Symbology: My Art and Symbols – a collection of my artwork, with brief explanation of symbols, print only 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered – identifies historic elements in fairy tales, tracing their roots, print and eBook formats 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images – presents unique information about antiquity and prehistory, print only
Symbology: World of Symbols – eBook format of most of the information in Symbology
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids – an eBook introduction to the symbols of a lost civilization



Fiction:
A Tale of Three Kingdoms - an original fairy tale with wizards, damsels in distress, and heroes of course, print and eBook formats
Book One: The Lost Unicorn / Book Two: The Lost Mermaid












Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Rod, the Staff, and the Wand


           The Longman of Wilmington                  Egyptian hieroglyph                      Magic fairy


The rod, staff, and wand have long and intertwined histories. All three evolved from tools used during ice-age astronomical observations. By 8000 BC, direction, time, and distance calculations done by a few people improved the lives of everyone, and over millennia the tools these few used gained the reputation of being divine and magical. Scripture supports this; the prophet Hosea said, “my people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them.” - Hosea 4:12. The rod as a king’s scepter indicated great power. Ezekiel 19:11 says “And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule...” Moses was a great magician – instructed in all the sciences and secrets of the Egyptians, and when he performed his miracles he had his rod. It is still so - staffs and rods accompanied the prophets, a bishop still carries the staff of life, and every magician has his wand.

Esther touching King Xerxe's scepter to gain admittance

The staff is an important part of magic and occultism. Many Bible verses have been interpreted as referring to rhabdomancy – the art of divining with sticks. Moses, as a means of knowing where the leader of his people would come from, inscribed twelve rods – each with the name of one of the tribes – and put them in the Tabernacle of Witness (Numbers 17:7). The next day Aaron’s rod had budded. Moses found water in the desert with his rod  – much like dowsing. Murals found in North Africa dating back 8,000 years show a man with a split stick, perhaps dowsing for water. 

In the sixteenth century rhabdomancy was practiced mainly in Germany where it enjoyed considerable popularity. Even now it is popular, and to some extent blessed by science. By the seventeenth century the term referred to a method of looking for metal deposits or underground springs. The process became a common and important part of any normal mining operation. By the end of that century its powers were acclaimed in France – writers and philosophers discussed the art and its mysteries.

Explanation of the Diving Rod, Abbe de Vallemont, La Physique Occulte

A great debate developed over whether or not there was demonic influence in the working of the rod. Martin Luther announced that dowsing was the “work of the devil;” from this came the term “water witching.” Scientific theories were offered to counter this idea; some suggested radioactivity or corpuscles as the reason for such odd attraction; corpuscles that would rise above springs of water, or in exhalations of minerals. Even those rising over the footsteps of fugitive criminals would cause the divining rod to turn; soon the mysterious rod was used for tracking down robbers and murderers. A century later, at the Munich Academy, the power of the rod was attributed to a phenomenon analogous to galvanism (the induction of electrical current from a chemical reaction). The action of the divining rod has now entered the domain of science, yet it is still not clearly understood. Even psychologists have investigated it. In the early 1900’s Grillot de Givery wrote in Witchcraft, Magic, and Alchemy, that he experienced this phenomenon with his own hands.

Doodlebugging is another term for the use of the dowsing rod to search for petroleum or water. During the Middle Ages country folk who wanted to dig a well would call a sorcerer – they were numerous, and rather than calling an engineer, these folk preferred the services of a good wizard and his rod, to assure success at the least possible cost. 

Rider-Waite Tarot
Today we know these magic wands as dowsing rods, witching rods, or divining rods and they are commonly used by those who search for ley lines. How these wondrous tools work is a mystery, even to those very experienced in their use. Einstein was convinced they work, saying that the rods show a reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown. Most people relate magic wands to fairy tales. They are a major element in stories like Cinderella, Donkey Skin, Harry Potter, and even Shakespeare’s Tempest. Wands are one of four suits in Tarot cards (sometimes referred to as staves, batons, or rods) and most magic traditions use a wand as one of their ceremonial tools. Stage magicians, or illusionists, often use a “wand” to perform their magic, as part of their misdirection technique. If a magician is deprived of his wand he may be deemed powerless; yet magic wands can change, move, disappear, display their own will, or behave magically, without the magician. The status of being a magician grew from those in antiquity reputed to be wizards: those who knew how to use the magic rods for divining heavenly events by the stars.   

Duncan-Enzmann’s history of astronomy traces these devices back to ancient astronomers who used a stick’s shadow to create the first sundials and to determine north, thus designating direction. Ashera poles were used to measure the movement of the stars and planets, and by 5000 BC the Vanir mariners divided time and calculated longitude using the rod and cord. Several scriptures in Ezekiel tell us the rod was used for measuring and to determine distances. (Ezek. 40:3, 42:16, 45:1, 47:3, & Rev. 11:1) The rod has a long and prestigious history of working magic for those who knew how to use it.

8,000 years ago an astronomer planted a staff in the ground and proceeded to use it to predict the movement of the heavens, to calculate the time, and to lay out the geometry needed for a great stone observatory. Those watching must have thought this a most magical process. Scientists still perform magic, and continue to investigate that which we do not understand. So whether you are a believer or skeptic, the magic rod has an ancient and prominent history.  


About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales. She is an author, speaker, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio with her husband Jay Robert.
Books by Michelle Snyder      


   Mythology, Folklore, and Symbolism: 

Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge - decoding mysterious and not so mysterious symbols and images, with color illustrations, timelines, maps, bibliography, and glossary; print only

Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight:  - history and origin of mythology, folklore, and symbolism; print and eBook
Symbology: My Art and Symbols – a collection of my artwork, with brief explanation of symbols; print only 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered – identifies historic elements in fairy tales, tracing their roots; print and eBook 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images – presents unique information about intelligent cultures in antiquity and prehistory; print only
Symbology: World of Symbols – Symbology and the decoding of images that indicate an ancient intelligent civilization in the ice age; ebook only
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids – a free eBook introduction to the symbols and secrets that point to an intelligent lost civilization.

Fiction:
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, Book 1: The Lost Unicorn – an original fairy tale with wizards, damsels in distress, and heroes of course, print and eBook 

  Now Out!!! A Tale of Three Kingdoms, Book 2: The Lost Mermaid