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. 

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.  

The Ride of the Valkeries - Richard Wagner


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: The Lost Unicorn 
The Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder 











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
The Lost Unicorn – an original fairy tale with wizards, damsels in distress, and heroes of course, print and eBook formats
The Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder - four short original classic style fairy tales.












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.

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.

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

Fantasy and Fairy Tales:

The Call of the Dragon and Other Wonder Tales - four original tales of wonder in classic style
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 

Coming this summer! A Tale of Three Kingdoms, Book 2:  The Mermaid and the Fairy Prince





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Excerpt Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge

Centuries of seekers created the body of knowledge from which we draw. A great fountain of history and wisdom is there if we care to drink from it. Then, we can return the blessing and add water to the fount, assuring plentiful supply for future generations.


From Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge - Introduction

The eyes are a sensory organ; the information supplied by our vision is recorded in our memory, and builds a library of images and meanings. All language starts with nouns. From birth we learn about things and our comprehension of them lays the foundation of our internal dictionary of cardinal images, or nouns. This visual language is then expressed with images and symbols; abstracts of concepts like life, death, and love are communicated more easily with shape and color than with verbal language. And so it has been since the beginning.

Images are an important part of oral tradition, accompanying the stories and legends that are told from old to young through numberless generations. They become part of every culture, fundamental to its traditions and its history. Symbolism as a nonverbal, nonliterary, visual language contains records of knowledge, historical information, information about cultural traditions, religions, customs, affirmation of principles, and moral concepts; images that reflect, as well as influence cultural development. So it is that pictures and images surround us every day, competing for our attention. They tell us about things we could have, do, and avoid. From road signs to computer icons, they tell us what we need to know. Logos for businesses convey more than just the image - we understand the type of product or service offered, just from the image. Shapes are to a symbol what letters are to a word. Words are made of alphabet symbols which, when placed in a certain order, convey information. Pictorial symbols are constructed of shapes and colors which, when placed in certain formations, likewise pass on information. Unlike letters, however, shapes also carry significant individual associations.

At the most basic level, a symbol is an abstraction of a concept or thing. Symbolism is the art of thinking in pictures, in cardinals, and creating images which convey meaning. For example, the use of a bird within a symbol can represent the connection between the Earthly and the Heavenly. Before phonetic writing was invented, ancient civilizations passed on information orally in mythologies, accompanied by visual symbols.

In The Language of Pictures, David Bell speaks of the art of painting as language - a means by which human may communicate with human. He says that the urge to express is really the urge to share experience, and it is an almost universal urge; art is one way of accomplishing this expression. Paintings, like letters, are capable of an infinite number of combinations and variations; we can regard the parts of a painting to be like parts of speech. Aristotle said, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” 




Symbols are not assembled randomly, they can have underlying, specific geometric matrices. For example, in alchemical symbols, images placed on a vertical plane carry an association with macrocosm and microcosm, or heaven and earth. Some of the information or meaning of a symbolic image is not readily visible. Symbols and artwork have design elements – geometric patterns – underlying the surface images.

Art is symbolic; it is abstraction of thought. Much symbolism used by fine art Masters contrasts the religious icons of the Church, in that one is esoteric (with hidden meaning), the other exoteric (easily understood by all). Popes, princes, and kings commissioned Masters to create artwork. Many of these artists incorporated pagan symbolism into their masterpieces; some works were created as protective amulets, some depicted heretical spiritual beliefs such as Gnosticism. The Masters esoterically preserved these suppressed philosophies in great works of art. This visual cryptography was taught to apprentices and passed on to followers by the “underground stream.” Initiates understood the messages underlying the beautiful imagery. Commissioned portraits also depict symbolism, denoting genealogies, position, nationality, and social status.

Knowledge of the secret meaning of symbols could, in times past, be truly perilous. Oscar Wilde wrote: “Art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril…” The visual codes that make up the vocabulary of esoteric languages arose partly from the necessity to communicate heretical ideas covertly. The fine art arena was a perfect vehicle to depict ideas that were otherwise censored – a form of cryptography. Out of that code grew a symbolist movement that continues today in the fine arts arena. Understanding the symbolic code used by the Masters during the Renaissance helps bring deeper meaning to their work, and reveals much to us of their history. 

Available now at Amazon -  from Michelle Snyder, her tenth book is a major revision of her first book -  Symbology: Decoding Classic Images -  and is complete with larger color illustrations, additional material, glossary, bibliography, maps and timelines - a valuable reference for the serious seeker and builder.


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: 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

Fantasy and Fairy Tales:

The Call of the Dragon and Other Wonder Tales - four original tales of wonder in classic style
The Lost Unicorn – an original fairy tale with wizards, damsels in distress, and heroes of course, print and eBook formats