Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ancient Roots of Tarot Images

The Hermit
Michelle Snyder
The symbol system of the Tarot can elicit curiosity, wonder, fear, intrigue, and superstition, among other responses. Attitudes about these images range from reverence to hatred. Sometimes referred to as the Devil’s Picture-book, common opinions are that the images carry esoteric knowledge, forbidden or suppressed information, or hidden history. Other names for the Tarot were the Bible of the Gypsies, the Encyclopedia of the Dead, and the Perpetual Almanac, names that imply information. The belief that there is a connection between the Tarot and witchcraft has lingered.
Page of Cups
Michelle Snyder
Attitudes like these have followed the Tarot through the centuries. The first reference to the trumps of the Tarot was in a sermon by a Franciscan Friar in the 1400’s, who contended that the trumps were invented and named by the Devil. Cards in general are considered a vice. In The Devil’s Picturebook, Paul Huson writes, “In medieval Europe everyone knew that cards, apart from simple gambling, were used for telling fortunes, a dangerous activity. Worse still, lurking within the cards are devils disguised as kings and heroes.” Some hold to this attitude even today. The Tarot seems to hold a special place among those who deem cards sinful. Fish are symbols of wisdom; the Page of Cups sits ready to learn the wisdom of the ages

Alluring and colorful, the images on Tarot cards have been carefully crafted. What is written about their history varies, and there is little consensus about their origin. The mystery surrounding Tarot cards adds to the belief by some that they are evil, magic, and dangerous. For others, this veil of obscurity is a result of secret powerful knowledge which can be accessed only by initiates. The images of the Tarot are said to contain surviving lore of the Order of the Knights Templar. Troubadours of the Middle Ages carried Tarot cards and used them as part of their entertainment, to preserve and pass on “heretical” philosophies of the Grail. Many believe the pictures on these cards contain information and secrets protected from the Roman Catholic Church, preserved in a series of symbolic images.

This prompts another query. Perhaps the history of the cards is absent because it was suppressed or destroyed? This would be in line with the fate of much knowledge in our recent past.  

The mysterious history of the Tarot is connected with The Book of Thoth, ca. 3000 BC, a book credited to Hermes Trismegistus. Hermes is another name for Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom, learning, and literature. 

Duncan-Enzmann contends that this esoteric tome was developed from knowledge recorded by the megalith navigators working at Lixus, Nabata (Sudan), and Byblos around 4200 BC – knowledge that dates back at least 8000 years during warm Atlantic centuries. The Merovingian Vanir women recorded their astronomical observations, as well as the math and geometry needed to calculate longitude, on stone, bone, and ivory. This knowledge was passed on through oral tradition and symbols.

Rider Waite Tarot
Many of these long-ago images have survived suppression as well as natural deterioration. Sadly, the underground stream of oral tradition was shattered along with the burning of libraries like Alexandria, when teachers, scholars, and authors of scrolls were murdered. We must reconstruct the key to these images in order to piece together the history of the Tarot. To do this we will study the symbols, comparing them to others used throughout history. Comparative symbology is an effective way to decode images and discover their origin. 

One comparison is of the card Strength. Imaged correctly as a female and a lion, this card carries the same information as the Sphinx: that of the Great Year at equinox. Many images on the Tarot cards are of the sun, moon, and stars. Many more also have astronomical significance but are not as readily recognizable. The sun is the oldest image known. The blonde child on this card represents the Sun Child of the Vanir from ca. 12,500 BC, later known as the goddess Helen. The Moon card depicts two pillars, a symbol which dates back tens of thousands of years to the tools used for measuring movement of planets, sun, moon, and stars. The star in the Star card is eight-pointed, a symbol of the Venus clock indicating her eight-year cycle. The seven smaller stars represent the days of the week, a division of time.

Rider Waite Tarot
Another symbol that is part of many cards is the “infinity” symbol, which derives from and represents the analemma, a symbol relating to the position of the sun and the equation of time, which appears above the female’s head on Strength, above the magician’s head on The Magician, and on other cards. The Magician wears an ouroborus belt, symbolizing eternal cycling of substance and inanimate matter. The Rider-Waite Two of Pentacles (shown) decodes as a solar, lunar, and stellar year. The pentacle represents time, the Venus clock of the Vanir navigators by which we set our modern clocks until the 1970s.
Tarot cards connect strongly with astrology and astronomy, which encompass a wealth of information both as exact science and art. Transmitting mathematical precision and interesting descriptions of the fascinating events in the sky demands accurate recording. How was this done, then, before written records? Even with them we have a hard time maintaining accuracy and consistency.

Let us consider how astronomy was taught once upon a time, long, long before written language. In these long-ago classrooms, 14,500 years ago, most teachers were women and most students were girls. Lessons were likely recited, perhaps as rhymes chanted and sung.

Imagine how these songs would be elaborated upon as they were repeated over the centuries. Visual aids were used: pictures and symbols, dots and lines, signs and patterns. All on stone, bone, ivory, ceramics, and bast; small and easily handled, like flash cards or playing cards. For thousands of years these lessons were taught by oral tradition, handed down using stories, songs, and pictures. The grand stories of the zodiac were repeated, pictures created, and astronomy developed.

The ancient mariners of the Atlantic had skilled female navigators. They were masters of astronomy, wind, and current. Knowing time to the second is necessary on the high seas – the Ace of Pentacles symbolizes the ability to do this using the Venus clock. The association of wealth to pentacles is logical, considering that being able to calculate longitude - time and location - with Venus allowed trade and defense at sea, both necessary for successful commerce and defense. Hermes’ Emerald Tablet is known for the phrase “as above, so below.” Many interpretations are in the spiritual and metaphysical realm; perhaps here I can offer a more pragmatic translation: If you know the stars above, you will know exactly where you are on Earth below.

Over thousands of years megalithic observatories were constructed; a great continental utility built to support care for women and children, facilitating agriculture and navigation. Today we have continental utilities like electric power plants. The construction of these observatories required that measurement be standardized and transmitted over great distances with accuracy, and a method of teaching how to measure the heavens and divide circles was needed. We can see some of these lessons in the symbolism of the Tarot.

Rider Waite Tarot
The suit of wands or scepters represents obelisks, menhirs, and ashera rods, tools used to site and measure the movement of the stars to divide time, and to survey the ground for construction of an observatory. The Three of Wands represents the triple tau. Tau is a symbol indicating perfect horizontal and vertical necessary to measure a star’s height from the horizon: the T of the Tau is made of a horizontal line and a vertical line. The Five of Wands depicts dividing an angle by five, a function of the Venusion clock.

Solar Vee Winter Solstice, Blombos, S. Africa, ca. 77,000 BC
Duncan-Enzmann translation; Rider-Waite Tarot
One card with ancient roots is the Two of Swords, a symbol for the solar azimuth Vee – an image found in Blombos, South Africa from 77,000 BC, representing sunrise and sunset of winter solstice.

Passing knowledge on to future generations has been a human challenge and activity for millennia. Tens of thousands of years ago our ancestors watched the sky and observed the repeating patterns of the stars and the movements of the planets. Star-patterns were connected to events on earth and recorded, allowing the development of seasonal agricultural calendrics which greatly improved the quality of life.

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle did her post-graduate research decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, and mythology, folklore, and fairy tales, at the University of Wales. She is an author, publisher, speaker, artist, and teacher who has been teaching art and visual language skills for 40 years. 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.
Michelle Snyder
Non-Fiction - Symbology:
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: My Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: ReVision
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Michelle Paula Snyder
Fiction – Fantasy Wonder Tales:
The Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time Lessons, First Book
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book one: The Lost Unicorn
 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book two The Lost Mermaid

 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book three The Lost Dragon

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Meridians: The Path of the Chi

The human body has been cared for by health practitioners for tens of thousands of years. Paleolithic communities had medicine ladies who knew how to extract aspirin from Willow twigs and digitalis from Foxglove, and made antiseptic poultices. Stories of their medicines and patients have been translated by Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann from prehistoric inscriptions dating to 12,500 BC. Much of the knowledge of these prehistoric caretakers is lost, but some survived and is still in use today. 

Acupuncture was used in China as early as the late Stone Age. Throughout Chinese history both acupuncture theory and practice have steadily evolved, eventually offering treatments for virtually every form of medical condition. The art of acupuncture depends on a thorough understanding of the meridians. The meridian system is a traditional Chinese medicine belief about a path through which the life-energy of Qi flows. Qi is the life-giving force that flows throughout our bodies. In acupuncture treatment a point on the skin is stimulated through pressure, suction, heat, or needle insertion, affecting the circulation of Qi or Chi, which in turn affects related internal organs and systems.

Herbs, sound, minerals, and light have all been explored for their effect on the human body. The energy we feel, or don’t feel, is critical to our health. The Eastern practice of Qigong is based on affecting this life-giving energy as it flows through twelve pathways in our bodies called meridians*. This vast network of interconnected channels links the upper and lower body together, and connects the interior with the surface. Every atom of our body is connected. Every organ connected to every other organ. Everything conscious or unconscious is affected by the energy flowing through these pathways. Each meridian corresponds to an internal organ.

Qigong Grand Master Xi-Hua Xu explains that “Meridians form invisible energy pathways that provide coherence to the human body and allow its structures to communicate among themselves and with the external universe.”

By connecting different parts of our bodies, meridians provide distribution of blood, body fluids, and Qi. The flow of Qi through the meridian system concentrates at very small points on the skin’s surface, known as acupuncture points. There are 365 such points (an interesting link to the universe), and they affect the internal functions of our body.  Meridians also send signals to raise or lower body temperature, indicate that your body needs to release water, signal it to regulate emotion, and affect many other functions. They are fundamental to the homeostatic functions of the body, and help to keep it balanced.

When Qi flows freely through your meridians and your organs work in harmony, your body can remain healthy. When your meridian system functions well, you are well. But they can become clogged or even blocked from many things such as stress, injury, diet, or inactivity. When one or more pathways are blocked it affects the function of the corresponding organ.

Meridians can carry healing energy throughout your entire being. It is this special quality that allows treatments to work using food, herbs, Qigong, acupuncture, acupressure, and most importantly Tai Chi. Martial training develops control of Qi flowing through the body. Proper breathing and balanced movement encourage circulation of both blood and Qi, supporting organ function and developing strength. Over time this benefits well-being, longevity, and ability to work. When done properly, these techniques can stimulate the flow of energy in the meridians, restoring balance and health.

Simply put, a meridian is an ‘energy highway’ in the human body. Conventional anatomy cannot identify these pathways in a physical sense in the way that blood vessels can be seen. There are twelve main meridians (another universal connection), or invisible channels, throughout the body with Qi or energy flows. Each limb is traversed by six channels, three Yin channels on the inside, and three Yang channels on the outside. The meridian system of the human body is a delicate, yet intricate web of interconnecting energy lines. If a person masters an understanding of this meridian system they will know the secrets of the flow of Qi energy in the body. 

* "Meridian" was originally used by French researchers and is the most common translation of the Chinese ching-lo (jingluo), but it is a very imperfect translation. ‘Ching’ means ‘to pass through’, and ‘lo’ means ‘a net’ or ‘to connect.’ 

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle is a professor of mythology and symbolism, an author, blogger, artist, and geek. She earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images and folklore, tracing them to their roots. Her artwork has appeared in galleries from MA to CA. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:


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 

 Fairy Tales: 
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of  Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn
A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid
The Fairy Tales: Once-Upon-A-Time Lessons First Book

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Once Upon a Time to be: Ancient Secrets

Article by Jay R. Snyder, MM

1. Ancient Secrets

Recent discoveries have uncovered evidence of lost Homo Sapiens-Sapiens civilizations that were kept secret for centuries. Thousands of archaeological finds have been pieced together revealing the use of intricate geometry and advanced sciences by people previously described as merely hunter-gatherers. Ice-age languages pre-dating Sumerian cuneiform by thousands of years trace a steady progress of astronomical knowledge and applications. Ancient scientific symbols exhibit understanding of physics, geology, chemistry, geography, mathematics and geometry pre-dating the Greek masters, and prove we have been highly-developed, introspective problem solvers for longer than we imagined. A vast network of public utilities for surviving the ice-ages was improved by later cultures thriving in warmer climates, indicating a never-ending worldwide human interest in, and constant evaluation of, the heavens. Navigational cartography and symbol migrations indicate world ocean voyages in distant ages past. Cyclopean masonry and building skills existing tens of thousands of years ago (at places such as Baalbek, Lebanon) cannot be replicated by today’s engineers or machinery. The world wonders at how ancient surveyors measured their architecture and observatories, calculated longitudes of the Earth (time), and mapped the celestial sphere. Yet, as by example, the very same sun, moon, planets, and stars remain a consistent benchmark.

2. Building upon the Foundations

Sufficient are the worries of the day, but our understanding of today relies upon our knowledge of what has come before. Symbols and languages in use today are built on ancient common ancestry. The more we learn from our own history, the more we avoid repeating disasters from our past, and the better we are able to build our future upon past discoveries. As men and women like us prepare the world for the next generation, we realize we have been improving our utilities over the course of a Great Year (one complete procession of equinoxes, or 26,000 solar years). For these very reasons, we recorded the migrations of tetra-fauna onto cave walls, how to make medicines for healing onto stone, bone, and ivory, and seasons of life into the ecliptic. Great surveyors and masons of history used the stars and planets to measure time and place. Their discoveries are the foundation for the unlimited frontiers of human development.

3. Heritage of Providence

If necessity is the mother of invention, providence must therefore be its father. The ethics of ‘women and children first’ have been our companion all the way; there is no doubt that love has also. Childbirth and childcare remain constants as we continue around the Sun. Industries such as textiles, healthcare, education, architecture, and trade have always been necessary. Daily food, shelter, and clothing perpetually charge us with temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice. The needs of newborns motivate vast improvements in utilities for life on Earth, and these acts of charity require hard labor. Earliest records tell the stories of survival: how women provide language and textiles for their charges as men battle the elements for their clan’s survival. Our human race survives ice ages, comet strikes, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and droughts, in any climate nature dishes out. These are the foundations of existence that give meaning and purpose to the craft of building our world.

4. Constructive Achievement

However, in addition to the rages of natural disasters, wars kill millions of our human race. New technologies have created machines of mutually-assured destruction, and our fear of their power deters us from repeating their use. The last World War ended when we shocked ourselves by using atomic power as a weapon. Japan has equated the power and fear of their latest natural disaster with that of what they remember from August 9, 1945. Have we finally ensured our demise after a Great Year of scientific achievement, or do we care enough to hope for an alternative ending? Atomic power should be feared as a weapon of mass destruction, but like a stone hammer, its power can and should be channeled and used for constructive achievement. Electricity and fossil fuel powered our engines last century, but what will power us further in this next procession of the equinoxes?

5. Human Advantage

We stand in awesome wonder on the shore, and stare into the greatest ocean we have ever seen. Ancient symbols illustrate our history of observing it, we have built our temples as allegories to it, we have measured our time and world by it, and we have planned our survival around it. We have the maps and the formulas to explore its heights, its widths, and its depths. We have an inherent ability to choose a direction, chart our course, and accomplish our goal. Yes, we now have the engineering and technology to build the ultimate machine, to build and operate the ultimate engine, powered by an unlimited fuel supply, to survey this ocean. Acceleration and deceleration is all we need to traverse any light-years distance we want, and that formula was provided to us several generations ago (if V=C, then t=0, Lorentz). Pioneers are watching their lives pass, before seeing the advantage they have provided realized. Therefore, our generations stand at the threshold of the next “small step for Man” enabled for our next “giant leap for Mankind”- the ultimate human endeavor. So here is my question, will we take the advantage? With knowledge of our past comes the responsibility for our future, to build on that which we have been given, to follow the example of our heritage of providence for constructive achievement, and to strive to perfect our own once-upon-a-time-to-be.

Jay R Snyder: WM at Meridian Lodge, Natick, MA
Editor of Ice Age Language: Translations, Grammar, Vocabulary - available at Amazon

Owner of White Knight Studio - Publishers of Symbologist Michelle Snyder

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle is a professor of mythology and symbolism, an author, blogger, artist, and geek. She earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images and folklore, tracing them to their roots. Her artwork has appeared in galleries from MA to CA. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:


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 

 Fairy Tales: 
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of  Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn
A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid
The Fairy Tales: Once-Upon-A-Time Lessons First Book

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fascinating Fairies, by Skye Alexander

What image comes to mind when you think about fairies? Dainty female figures with gossamer wings, long flowing hair, and gauzy dresses? Maybe waving magic wands or flinging sparkly pixie dust around? Most likely they’re tiny enough to perch on flower petals, but regardless of size these magical creatures are always dazzlingly gorgeous––and sometimes sexy, in an ephemeral sort of way. Of course, they’re also sweet, fun-loving beings, just the sort of playmates you’d like your kids to hang out with.

Nice, but not true––unless you’re in Disneyland, that is.

Until the last century or so, fairies came in a wide assortment of sizes, shapes, and colors––with a variety of temperaments to match. Yes indeed, some were exquisitely beautiful, but others could star in your worst nightmare. And when it came to their behavior, parental guidance was definitely advised.

Fairies, Fairies Everywhere
Wherever you go on this planet you’ll hear fairy tales of magical and mysterious beings, some no bigger than your hand and some taller than the redwoods. They fly through the air, tunnel deep into the earth, splash about in the seas, even flicker in candle flames. These awesome creatures have played a prominent role in the lives and legends of mortals since the beginning of time, and they still do.

Although flying fairies dominate the scene today, they didn’t really become popular until the Victorian era. Instead, early legends in Europe, Britain, and Ireland tended to focus on these fairy folk: pixies, elves, dwarfs, trolls, hags, leprechauns, goblins, and the sidhe. Other cultures had their fairies too. The ancient Greeks, for instance, believed in all sorts of nymphs who occupied the waterways. The Persians had their beautiful peris. Deep in Russia’s immense forests woodland fairies called leshiye ruled supreme; they could shapeshift to appear as tall as trees or as tiny as mice.

Many folklorists say fairies descended from ancient gods and goddesses. For thousands of years, these deities had dominion over the earth, the heavens, and all the inhabitants therein. They governed day and night, land and water, the seasons, the growth of plants, wild and domestic animals—just about everything. Basically, fairies can be grouped into two categories: those who guard and guide the natural world, and those who deal with destiny and the fate of humankind.

Usually, fairies stay out of sight of humans, going about their business without fanfare. But if you detour off the beaten track and into the peaceful, unspoiled places on our planet, you may get lucky and enjoy a close encounter with these nature spirits. Just be careful not to get too close or to fall for their ruses—you might never come back from the fairy realm!

Fairy Power
Myths and legends tell us that fairies have an arsenal of supernatural powers that they can use for good or ill—and mere mortals are no match for them. Throughout history, friendly fairies have helped humans by protecting crops and livestock, healing the sick and delivering babies, granting wishes and bringing good luck. Angry spirits, on the other hand, reportedly stir up storms, wither crops, conjure plagues, cast curses that last for eternity, and turn humans into toads, stones, or worse. So obviously, you want to stay in the fairies’ good graces.

Here are some characteristics fairies possess:
·                        Fairies live practically forever––at least ten times as long as humans, maybe more.
·                  Fairies are stronger than they look––Hawaiian mythology tells of small spirits called the menehuene who supposedly created amazing stone dams and walls on the island of           Kauai, and Arabic myths say fairies known as the jinn built the pyramids.
·                       Fairies can foretell the future––“The Sight” (clairvoyance) is natural to them.
·                      Fairies can make themselves invisible––you’ll only see a fairy if she wants you to.

Friend or Foe?
Fairies don’t feel emotions the way humans do, nor do they share our sense of ethics—although they have their own codes, which can be quite rigid. At best, fairies could be considered amoral. Our ancestors sought to understand the ways of the fey, in order to win the fairies’ favor and avoid incurring their wrath. You might want to do the same, because although modern media depict these spirits as pretty innocuous, they have a long tradition of being anything but.

Friendly Fairies:
·                    Scottish brownies assist people with domestic chores, cleaning the house, or plowing   the fields after everyone else has gone to bed.
·                     Native American spirit animals guard and guide humans.
·                     The Incan huacas protect crops and livestock.
·                     Irish merrows are known for their gentle and cheerful natures.

Scary Fairies:
·                       Goblins roam in packs, terrorizing humans and ruining property.
·                       In Hindu mythology, cannibalistic rakshasas eat holy men and cause leprosy.
·                      England’s spriggans steal children, rob homes, and damage crops.
·                India’s trouble-making mumiai torment people of the lower castes by attacking them and destroying their belongings and gardens.
·                     The Russian rusalki charm human men, then drown them.
·                     Japanese tengu herald death and war.

Many legends describe fairies as tricksters who like to tease and torment humans. Irish leprechauns are notorious for playing tricks on people, especially those who want to grab the fairies’ gold. Pixies confuse travelers, causing them to veer off track and get lost. Britain’s bogles sneak into people’s houses and mess things up, make strange noises, and generally annoy the occupants.

Some fairies are known to steal humans’ belongings. It seems they do this either for their own amusement or to get our attention, because if you ask politely they usually give the objects back. So the next time you lose your keys or glasses, ask the fairies to please return them.

How to Win a Fairy’s Favor or Avoid a Fairy’s Curse
Want to attract friendly fairies? Put out food and drink for them. Many of them like milk, honey, wine, fruit, and bread. Gifts of clothing, coins, and shiny trinkets also appeal to some fairies. In return, they might offer you treasure or healing benefits. In the Brothers Grimm’s story “The Three Little Men in the Wood,” fairies give a little girl gold in exchange for a bit of bread. You might try these things to win their favor too:

·                     Build a fairy house for them to live in.
·                     Sing and dance, and invite the fairies to join you.
·                     Play a flute or ring wind chimes.
·                     Respect nature and animals.
·                     Support causes that protect nature and wildlife.
·                     Plant a garden (no pesticides, please).

Not everyone wants fairies hanging around, however. If you’d rather these unpredictable spirits kept their distance, you could try the tactics our ancestors used:

·                     Display iron objects.
·                     Sprinkle salt around.
·                     Hang up garlic.
·                     Hang a rowan branch above your door.
·                     Make loud noises.
·                     Ring church bells.

Probably the best advice for dealing with fairies is to err on the side of caution. Let them make the first move. Be courteous, but not solicitous. Don’t invite them into your life or try to insert yourself into theirs. If you meet a fairy or if one gives you a gift, keep that secret between you and the fairy. If fairies want to stop by at midnight and wash your dishes or muck out the stables, fine. But if they invite you to dinner or offer to babysit your kids, beware.

Adapted from Skye Alexander’s book Fairies: The Myths, Legends, and Lore
Available at Amazon. 

Skye's website: Here