Monday, May 25, 2015

Narcissus and Narcissa, a story of love and grief

Waterhouse: Narcissus

Today, Narcissism is seen as an unhealthy fascination with one’s self.  This is derived from the ancient myth about a beautiful boy named Narcissus. The story as told by Ovid is about the goddess Echo who falls in love with him and does everything she can to show her love for him. Narcissus is unimpressed and rebuffs her affections; scorned, she runs into the woods. Intrigued, Narcissus went into the woods looking for the mysterious woman. After some verbal exchanges which relate to her name – Echo – Narcissus searches for water, and kneeling over a lake he sees his reflection. According to the modern myth, upon seeing his stunning features he becomes aware of all the pain he has put women through over his beauty. He kneels over the water and then dives in, drowning. The nymphs find a beautiful flower where his body should be, and name the flower after him. 


In one myth, the goddess of the forest appeared and found that the lake, which had been fresh water, was transformed into a lake of salty tears. She asked the lake why it wept. 

“I weep for Narcissus" the lake replied. 

"I am surprised that you weep for Narcissus, for I pursued him in the forest, but you could contemplate his beauty close at hand." 

"Was Narcissus beautiful?" the lake asked. 

“You do not know that?" the goddess said in wonder. "After all, it was by your banks that he knelt every day to contemplate himself !"

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it explained the it wept for Narcissus because  of his beauty, but that in the depths of his eyes it could see its own beauty reflected.

Palimpsest gathers on story, myth, and symbol as they are adapted by cultures. It would seem that this modern version has been altered to suit the culture of the day. Looking deeper into the origin of this story, extracting the events which are told in other allegory and myth, there is a more compassionate story to be told in which Narcissus and Narcissa were twins. Pausanias records the story this way, and it is a story of love, loss, and grief. This older version by Pausanias locates the spring of Narcissus at Donacon 'Reed-bed' in the territory of the Thespians. He expresses doubt that someone could not distinguish a reflection from a real person, and cites the lesser-known variant in which Narcissus had a twin sister. In his account, both dressed similarly and hunted together (as twins would) and that Narcissus fell in love with her. Anyone who is a twin, or knows twins, would agree that this is not uncommon. Indeed my own twin sisters seemed to have a world of their own, how much more would fraternal twins become exclusive? Pausanias also writes that when his twin died, Narcissus pined after her and pretended that the reflection he saw in the water was his sister. Narcissa was later changed to Echo, the mountain nymph who falls in love with an unresponsive, self absorbed Narcissus.

Some Greek tales suggest that Narcissus was sexually attracted to his sister, and when she was alive, made love to her. This also is believable, as in some cultures today and some cultures from which myths flow, family marriages were not unusual; Narcissus was born at a time when sibling marriage was common. Differences in ancient myths and their root stories are partially due to the life span of information, and partially due to human intervention; folklore is destroyed or changed by enemies, or those seeking to change the course of the future.

The story of Echo involves jealousy of another goddess – stories of jealous Hera are common in mythology and tell of punishment inflicted by the angry goddess. Medusa and Narcissa suffered this fate: deconstruction of her true story, replaced by one of questionable morality. From this version of the myth told around 1200 BC, the tale of the devastated twins was deconstructed to put their love in terms of morality and sin, Christianized around 300 AD.

The myth of the twins also connects to the symbolism of the stories of Gemini. Other aspects of the Narcissus myth relate to watery mirrors which were used before the Watchers went to Egypt (records of which are mentioned in Uriel’s machine) and to the king’s orb which reflects light. The message in this myth of love and grief is now that marrying family is bad, love of self is bad, and it conveys hatred of mirrors. Some accounts say Narcissus commits suicide, another sin.


About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. 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.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:

    Symbology series:


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: 

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, May 20, 2015

World of Dreams, Land of Clairvoyance


Our fascination with the future and persistence in seeing it have resulted in numerous mechanical processes to penetrate it, to learn of hidden things in it. These divinatory methods become of great value in this pursuit, how much more value do we place on the mysterious inexplicable state called sleep – where our ties to the physical world are loosened and stretched, and doors to a new and unexplained world are opened to the mind. The world of fantastic and unreal – sometimes surreal – beings. A world where we pass a third of our lives.

Dreams have changed human lives, destroyed, empires, and decided the fate of cultures. Dreams are of utmost importance and since the beginning of written legend, myth, and history there are stories and accounts of events which changed the course of history because of dreams. Greek, roman, Persians, and barbarians of antiquity acknowledge this world. Every emperor, soldier, or philosopher had their lives change with the interpretation of a dream, some fortunate, some unfortunate, but all exerted a decisive effect on their lives. 

Even the most practical people, ones not given to fantasy or imagination, become dreamers in spite of themselves. They receive visits from the gods, envision phantoms and ghosts – whose existence he refuses to acknowledge when awake. The dreamer penetrates secrets of the future. 

Dreams were considered to be sacred warnings, admonitions from the celestial realm. One dared not ignore or rebuke them, it would be sacrilege to do so. The oracle from the Tripod of Sibyl, poets like Homer and Virgil took advantage of the divinatory dream and its affect on human lives; they understood the tragic shudder felt when, in spite of himself, a man suddenly drew near the hereafter.

One would surmise that the Christian Faith would be opposed to such thinking, of such superstitious customs, yet they were quick to encourage it. Biblical tales sanctioned by the Church tell of prophets who saw the future by interpreting dreams. In spite of being told not imitate such things and warnings against such behavior, Christians did imitate them, and divination by dreams was more popular than other methods, as dreams are involuntary, not mechanically derived and prepared. It was understood that dreams came from God. No doubt Jacob, upon seeing the mysterious ladder, knew immediately it was from God and not from the devil. Daniel revealed the future by interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, as Joseph did twice in Egypt. And there are many more stories of wondrous interpretations. 

Some dreams tell about historic events before they happen. Mari d M├ędicis dreamed about the assignation of Henry IVth the night before it happened. Some dream of their own death, as did Louis de Bourbon, who died in battle the next day in Jarnac. 

There are records of learned men who solved problems while dreaming of reading a book from a  distant library where they had never been. Some dreams delivered in a foreign language, and warnings, that when translated, applied most perfectly to a situation which needed a solution. 

Throughout history there are recorded methods for interpreting dreams. Artemidorus, a Greek author from the first century, is one of the oldest extant writers on the subject. Today Carl Jung, a Psychiatrist, is well known for his work with dreams and the subconscious. The following is a selection of events in dreams and their meanings, from the writings of Lyons astrologer by Jean Tibault, from 1530. There are 400 such entries alphabetically arranged, some of which have become proverbial; they are the basis of modern ‘dream books’.   

Felled trees mean no harm
To dream that you are a tree means illness
To worship God means joy
To be shaved means troubles
To have a long beard means strength or profit
To have a beautiful arm means sadness
To have a withered arms is a very bad sigh
To have crucified Christ means illness
To drink clear water mans pleasure
To drink stinking water means bad illness
To grind or purloin pepper means melancholy
New shoes mean consolation 
Old shoes mean sadness
To see a lighted candle means anger or quarrels
To hear bells ring means slander
To cut bacon means the death of a person
To cut barley-bread means to be molested
To gather grapes means harm
To give a ring means harm 
To give a knife means wickedness
To see a dragon means profit
To write on paper means some accusation 
To see the moon fall from the sky means illness
To eat cheese means profit
To eat roots means agreement
To hear a raven croak means sadness
To sea donkey means malice
To see a monk means back luck

There are other works about interpreting dreams such as those by Achmet Apomazar from the ninth century, and later works from authors of the 1600’s, who’s interpretations differ considerably. A practitioner of dream divination would be wise to procure and compare as many as possible. 

Some have sought to invoke dreams artificially using herbs, leaves and branches, mixtures of powders and liquids, animal blood, and so on. It must have been astonishing in the days when every action by humans was directed by the supernatural to see someone asleep get up and walk about in a fit of somnambulism. About the seventeenth century a kind of artificial induced sleep began to be popular; it was referred to as somnific witchcraft – but was a form of hypnotism and magnetism. This phenomenon was described by Baron du Potet in 1846: 
“Taking up position a foot away from the sleeping  person whom I wish to affect, I pass my hands over the whole surface of the body in succession, discontinuing these movements, or passes, after about five or ten minutes. I then approach my finger to some part of the surface, whether naked or covered, and without contact bring about slight muscular contractions in it.”
It is known that hypnotism played a major role in the mysterious phenomena which were wondrous to mankind in antiquity. A person under hypnosis is valuable to the divinatory practitioner, and they surely would not have neglected it. Cornelius Agrippa writes about people who could hold another in a spell of fascination, as might a medium:
 “Fascination is a binding or charm which passes from the mind of the sorcerer through the eyes to the heart of the one he is bewitching, and sorcery is an instrument of the mind – namely a pure, shining subtle vapor proceeding from the purest blood engendered by the heat of the heart, which does continually send rays of a like nature through the eyes. You must know therefore that men grow bewitched when they look continuously straight into the eyes of another and that the eyes of the two then fasten themselves strongly to one another, and light of eye also to light of eye; mind thus joining to mind and carrying flashes to it and fixing them upon it.” 
We learn from this passage that the movements of the eye were very well known, whether to induce hypnosis or artificial sleep, or just to place the will of the person under enchantment or spell. Hypnosis was mostly induced by staring fixedly at an object, producing a trance of sorts, an ecstatic condition in which inner prophetic vision could be attained. This was a profitable practice for diviners using magic mirrors, or cartomancers who gaze at their Tarot cards until they enter the state of clairvoyance, increasing clarity of vision. 

Some people remember dreaming but cannot remember the events in them. Some people remember their dreams and can write them down in the moments after waking. A few can trigger their dreams, directing the events, and even invite others into them. This rare ability called lucid dreaming, or magical dreaming, occurs in a state of being not quite asleep, not quite awake. The dreamer visits the world of odd events and strange creatures, interacting with them and learning the secrets that lie in the land of sleep.  

Artwork by unknown artists, thank you. 

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. 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.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:

    Symbology series:


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: 

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Art of Inflicting Love and Death



Of all the spells cast during the Middle Ages two were widely used, and held a very important place in magic: the love spell (sometimes called the philtre) and the death spell, both of which are at the top of man’s great preoccupations and held much fascination. Love and death were fearsome sacraments of the Diabolic Church and anyone could, at anytime, be affected by them. 

Love spells show up in literature and epic plays, and in accounts of miracles. Love is a powerfully motivating force and is easily set in motion. A potion to do just that is made from wine, herbs, and other drugs to give it the ability to inspire man or woman, when they drink it, with irresistible love for a certain person. Tristan and Iseult drank a philtre intended for Iseult’s mother and were filled with passion that to them was fatal in the end. The recipe for philtres varied. One requires the heart of a dove, a drop of blood, both powdered. Another consists of powdering a root, an orange, and add a piece of paper with the word of ‘Sheva’ mixed into it. 

A picture from the mid 15th century shows a naked young witch with long blond hair standing in her den, and in her hand she holds a jar from which drops drip onto a heart which is resting in a box on a stool. The philtre works quickly –  a young man already enters the room through a door behind her, walking as if entranced. 

Those who were incapable of compounding philtres for themselves would have to hire professional witches. Ironically it was usually the oldest, and most hideous, repulsive witches who knew these recipes for love-liquors, as shown in this painting by Goya. 

Love spells were not always made as a liquor, as doubtless there were difficulties in getting the person to drink it. This process was replaced by easier more efficient secret processes. One manuscript has fifty such “secrets;” one of which says that to gain the girl or woman you must pretend to cast her horoscope, to “find” when she will be married, then you must look into her eyes and repeat the words of a particular Latin phrase. Some enchantments involve touching the person, once with juice of vervain on your hands, and once with a spoken phrase. These simple processes make hunting for and using more complicated methods quite unnecessary. 

Love is not the only powerful driving force. Death is ultimate. Now we come to a most terrible spell – that which, unseen, attacked human life and spread terror in the very courts of Europe. This is the Death Spell.  

For this devious work, one must form a waxen image of the intended victim, inflicting wounds upon it which would be exactly reproduced at a distance by occult transmission, upon a living person who would thus die mysteriously without apparent cause. A human heart could be substituted for the wax figure; long needles would be thrust into it, with the intention of piercing the heart of the one to be killed. 

Documents with symbols relating to this kind of spell are extremely rare. Still, in a picture by Frans Francken, An Assembly of Witches, there is a human skull on a table; there is a knife driven into it. This is an attempt at casting a Death Spell. This was not the usual procedure. Skulls were seldom used, wax figures were the standard tool for this evil work. 

This horrific kind of spell was popular in the 16th century court of France. The Biblioteque National has two letters from Catherine Midicis naming a man from Florence as the person who made a wax image with hostile intent against King Charles IX, in 1574. The Queen complained that he had given the wax figure blows on the head and then inquired whether the king was vomiting or bleeding yet, and had he any head pain. He was arrested the next day. One month later the king died from a mysterious consumption – he had been fatally enchanted by sorcerers that melted waxen images of him, ebbing the life of the king away each time it was done.

Another historic event involved the English Court. One morning in 1560 Dr. John Dee was summoned with great urgency. A waxen image of Queen Elizabeth with a large pin stuck into the breast had been discovered at Lincoln’s Inn Field. An astrologer was consulted immediately. It took much reassuring before the deeply superstitious Queen was relieved of her fears.

There were three instances of Death Spells which are among the oldest known in history. One, in the 10th century, involved the King of Scotland. In 1304 one was cast on Queen Blanche of Navarre. The last was in 1333 when Robert III tried to kill King Philippe VI of France. There had been a feud between them over property and hatred grew. A Death Spell was cast upon the king, the queen, and their son Jean. The secret was revealed and blunders resulted and the King of England, Edward III, was urged to take the title of King of France. This little known occult episode was a major factor in the Hundred Years War. 

Preserved wax figures, stuck through with pins used for casting Death Spells, are preserved and on display in certain museums. Few other examples of this gruesome and terrifying art of sorcery exist. That human nature can be obsessed with inflicting suffering and death on someone is evident still, the media and literary industries are quite profitable from producing fictional cases of terror and fright. Sex and violence is not a new industry.

Love and Death. The two most powerful forces in humanity.

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. 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.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:

    Symbology series:


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: 

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Gavel in Prehistory

  

 The gavel. It connotes authority, begins and ends meetings, seats people in the courthouse, and its loud raps punctuate the proceedings in Masonic Lodges. One rap, two raps, three. Sit, stand, and all rise. A symbol of power and leadership, the gavel has a long, prestigious – and practical – history. 

Information about the origin of the word “gavel” is nonexistent. It was not known and no one looked, until now. Tracing the development of the gavel was the key. Decoding the origin of the gavel as a symbol has revealed its etymological roots – it originates from the verb phrase “to go.” It is a call to action. It all began with a mallet. 

The mallet was a tool used by the Vanir megalith astronomers in the creation of a standard length of measure, so necessary in the building of an intercontinental utility of megalithic observatories. They had to be absolutely exact. It was all done with a pendulum and a star. Counting the swings of the pendulum between one siting of a star as it moved past a marker, to when it passed another marker a short distance away would prove the length of the pendulum cord; this was the standard length that eventually became known as the megalithic yard. The whack of the mallet signaled when to start, and when to stop the swing. 

A mallet was also used to pound pegs into the ground in the geometric formations necessary to divide a circle; necessary to lay out the megalith, sometimes over great distances. Knowledge of how to place the pegs and how to divide the circle was rare. Those who could do it were powerful - they had the knowledge, and they developed the tools. 

Division of a circle into five, six, and seven equal parts was of paramount importance in preparing calendars which included both solar and lunar sequences. Discovery of the Venus clock by the Merovingian Vanir ladies suddenly made it possible. Patterns were created with string, around pegs in the ground. The “Whack!” of the mallet became a signal for “get with it,” “go to work!” “stretch the cord around the pegs!” One peg in the center of a large circle became a teaching aid for memorizing geometric patterns by dancing around the circumpunct with cords, as today we do around the Maypole. When the Maypole dance is completed, the knotted ribbons express mathematical formulas that were known to the Vanir. 


These knots are told of in an old Spanish Maypole song from 4800 BC: 


Twist a knot yellow, blue, and red
Then a knot blue and yellow and red
Patience lads, happily bide your time
Dance precisely, dance correctly led
Maypole knots correctly done
Are never lost or fled


The geometry of dividing a circle became the foundation for the division of time. Below is an image of a mermaid – we are accustomed to seeing them with a “comb and mirror;” what looks like a comb is a calendric, and mirrors are usually depictions of lenses, but in this case it is a compass  dividing a circle in four parts with south on top. Next to that is a circumpunct divided by eight with south on top, and then a symbol for the eight directions, with south on top. All of these functions were and are necessary for navigation.  


 The Vanir knew: Site north in the night sky, whack a stick into the ground with a mallet, then whack in a second stick, so the line between them points north (toward true north in the sky). Then, during the day, it’s noon when the first stick’s shadow points toward the second stick – a solar noon-stick which points to true north, mother Earth’s axis mundi, inertial north. Whack! Set up a third – a moon-stick to time the months and seven day weeks. 


It is held that in 215 BC Archimedes accurately trisected angles using neusis (a marked straight edge) to find geometric means. However, the technique is millennium older. In 9500 BC a cord “neusis-marked” with knots, stretched straight, served as a ruler. Megalith astronomers knew how to accurately trisect and quinti-sect angles and how to divide a circle into three, five, and seven equal parts. The lore-like science was passed on through schools of the Vanir to megalithic voyagers, megalith salt-line (ley-line) surveyors, Tuatha de Danann, Druids, Merovingians, Templars, and then the knowledge was suppressed – yet maintained as Mason’s lore.

Whack! Hammer in a peg, attach a cord, and draw a circle. The sound resounds through the corridors of history to our ears today.

Thump! In 6000 BC, pound in a peg at Brittany. Thump! Now at Goseck, 4800 BC. By 3000 BC, the mallet sounds Clonk! on a wooden board, and Boom! a drumstick begins the Maypole dance. Whack! 2013 AD - the gavel calls and a Master Mason steps forward, carrying the Rod and Cord.
You “Whack.” It’s a verb. Do it with a gavel. How wonderfully Masons, and those who preceded them for thousands of years, kept for all humanity the traditions of history and science, kept them as a framework for truth. They are preserved on the Entered Apprentice tracing board, instructive to this day; history and tradition delightfully told. Look at the black and white checkered floor. Properly understood, it counts a day’s seconds, minutes, and hours as the shadows from three pillars fall across it. 


The same geometrics are expressed by circumambulating the star on the floor of an Eastern Star chapter room; ceremonies around a star which symbolizes the planet Venus. The pentagon in the center is a later development. Draft a triangle, a pentacle within, a pentagon within that. 



Venus moves in a series of eight year cycles making a five pointed star. Whack! the pegs into the ground, stretch the cord around them to make a star. The “star” – really a planet – is a highly accurate clock, a way of clocking that could only be approximated thousands of years before the Vanir, using stars and the shadows of sundials, obelisks, and pillars. Venus times to the split-second long term cycles: days, weeks, months, years, centuries. The tradition, science, and ethics there-from are extraordinary and timelessly valid. 

The gavel whacks three times and all rise. Whack! It calls again and we walk a ceremonial circumpunct. Thump! Begin the dance. It is a dance to the beauty of the world and to the goodness of its people.  




First published in The Working Tools Masonic Magazine

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. 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.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:

    Symbology series:


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: 

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