Monday, May 9, 2016

An Ancient Star

Knowledge of the heavens is a decisive factor in survival, and for millennia humans have studied and recorded astronomical cycles. Lunar, solar, and stellar calendrics were inscribed and painted on stone, bone, and ivory through the ice ages. One particularly stunning example is the six pointed star composed of two opposite, overlapped, equilateral triangles. This star has a long and telling history.

According to Duncan-Enzmann, the beginnings of this beautiful star are seen as far back as 77,000 BC in South Africa, where the yearly southern extreme of the sun’s position was recorded using an upward pointing triangle for winter solstice sunrise and sunset. A downward pointing triangle later recorded the summer solstice event. To “read” this symbol place yourself at the point, looking toward the wide end where the sun rises and sets, northward for summer solstice, southward for winter.

1)  Blombos, 77,000 BC       2 & 3) Lascaux, 14,500 BC
By 60,000 BC sundial shadows were being used to measure the daily movement of the sun. The shadow made by the sun and the center pole, or gnomon (Greek for the one that knows), traces the movement of the sun across the sky, creating a V shape; divisions of the circle indicated time of day. Later the gnomon was tilted for greater accuracy. In beautiful renderings during the Lascaux period, ca. 14,500 BC, summer and winter solstices were represented by overlapping the triangles creating a hexagram, or six pointed star. The horizontal center line created by the intersecting triangles denotes the equinoxes. 

Winter solstice, Spring equinox, Summer solstice, Autumnal equinox, Winter solstice

This sequence shows the position of the sun at sunrise and sunset during
summer and winter solstices, and at the equinoxes.
This series of images would be easy even for small children to understand and remember. Our ancestors taught the very young how to tell time and season astronomically.
Megalithic observatories emerged from the tradition of sundials, and records of the movement of the moon and sun were improved by the accuracy of stellar observation. Astronomical patterns were recorded using symbols like the six-pointed star. Calendric notations from sundials, the six pointed star, and stellar observations combined to create the seasonal wheel symbol: a hexagram surrounded by a circle, around which animals are arranged. This and other calendrics recorded the seasons of animal migrations - what could be hunted when, and where. The megalith observatories became a continental utility; symbols for when to plant, reap, gather, weave, build, and hunt were inscribed on the observatories, placed according to season.

Oral tradition, mythologies, and images like the hexagram were used to pass on knowledge of the heavens for thousands of years. Out of these “picture stories” grew a world of traditions, some centering the hexagram, such as the story of Solomon ’s Seal. Hindus know the star as a Yantra (mystical or astronomical diagram), to Buddhists it is a symbol of the Sacred Marriage, in China it represents Yin and Yang, and it is found among the symbols of Pre-Columbian and Central America. In spite of its astronomical origins, in the 18th century the hexagram was commonly used as superstitious protection against evil (the “hex” also comes from this tradition). Alchemists used it to symbolize the union of opposites, and it is considered by some to be the symbolic epitome of “as above, so below”. Known as the Star of David, or the Magen David, and commonly associated with Judaism today, the six pointed star is actually a relatively new symbol of the Jewish faith. One of the most fundamental and attractively scientific symbols, it was well chosen in 1948 for the flag of Israel. This ancient star also has contemporary meanings including male and female, fire and water, the personal and impersonal, and the perfect balance of opposites: the hermaphrodite.

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: 

NEW!!! 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

Friday, May 6, 2016


Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, 1755-1842
Mothers are worshiped and feared, loved and resented, emulated and ignored.  

Yet where would we be without mothers? Truth is, we wouldn't be. Mothers have been around since life began. Children are the hope of the future, and mothers give children life. A female’s ability to produce new life was worshiped as sacred in the oldest civilizations. The future of the human race depended upon this blessing.

Have you ever seen “cookie cutter” kids? You know, a mother with kids in tow, and they all look like mini versions of her? What an amazing sight. Our hair, skin, and eye color all come from our inherited genetics. Likewise, centuries of cultural tradition and millennia of human behavior deposit genetic memories - images, or symbols, called archetypes – which carry ghosts of culture and tradition. The oldest and perhaps most powerful of these symbols is the mother, a vision seen since life began. A mother’s love is said to be the most prevailing and powerful emotion.  

Inscriptions from 14,500 years ago, translated by Duncan-Enzmann, tell of mothers caring for children. Daughters were precious because they could produce life, assuring another generation and thus hope, and survival of the human race. Celebrations of Mother are found in ancient Greek and Roman festivals dedicated to the goddess Cybele. These festivals were in honor of motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” That is quite a responsibility. Today much of it lay with daycare mothers.

Scripture admonishes us to honor our mothers. An old holiday called Mothering Sunday was celebrated in Britain, a day the Church set aside during lent in which children returned to their home church, usually taking their mothers with them. In 1913, Miss Anna Jarvis instituted a day to be set aside in honor of motherhood, and since then Mothers’ Day has been celebrated both here and in Britain, eventually replacing Mothering Sunday. Mother-in-law day did not have the same success.

Today, Mothers’ Day honors love for and of mothers around the world. Husbands and children express appreciation for the endless flow of motherly love with symbols of affection: phone calls, cards, chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and framed pictures of the kids are among the most popular in the West. Taking Mom out to eat is traditional, relieving her of both cooking and cleaning up. Some children present Mom with handmade gifts or write poems for mom in cards they make. This Mother’s Day why not start a family tradition of your own, make a phone call, make a card, make a cake, but make it special. 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. 

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: 

NEW!!! 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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Why We Love Unicorns - Skye Alexander

Skye Alexander

“Of all the legendary animals of art, folklore and literature, the Unicorn is the one with the greatest hold on our imaginations.” –– Nancy Hathaway, The Unicorn

Strong yet gentle, innocent yet wise, beautiful beyond imagination, unicorns have fascinated us since the dawn of time. Prehistoric artists painted them on cave walls 15,000 years ago. Alexander the Great claimed to have ridden one. England’s Queen Elizabeth I owned two of their horns, worth about $20 million in today’s money. What is it about these mysterious and magical creatures that continues to captivate people around the world, even after all these years?

 The Unicorn’s Mystique

We’ve always admired unicorns’ power and majesty. These awe-inspiring creatures might lay their heads in the laps of young ladies and allow children to pat them, yet they retain their properties of strength, intelligence, intuition, and independence. No human can trap a unicorn unless the beast allows it to happen. Its wildness and freedom are part of what entices us; we may be just a bit envious of the unicorn’s ability to exist beyond the limitations of our humdrum, everyday world.

Unicorns represent peace and harmony and a compassionate way of living. They teach us that those who possess true power, self-confidence, and wisdom tread gently in the world and care for the innocent and vulnerable. If necessary, unicorns will defend themselves and their kind––but they never do so unless they’re attacked first.

Nor do unicorns stoop to lies, chicanery, or stupidity. Instead, they possess the traits of all great heroes: honesty, devotion, respect, inner strength, wisdom, and courage. They can’t be bought or manipulated. What’s more, they go about their business with genuine modesty, even though they know that they are the most exquisite creatures ever to set foot on Planet Earth.

In short, they give us hope. If we let them, they’ll guide us toward a more enlightened existence. What’s not to love?

The Genesis of the Unicorn

One creation tale, recounted in De Historia et Veritate Unicornis, says that the unicorn descended to earth on a cloud. The first-born creature, he was called Asallam. His role was that of the light-bearer and guide, the one who would drive away darkness from the face of the earth, for his horn itself was a beacon formed of spiraling light. With that laser-like horn he speared a rock and brought forth life-giving water to produce the most magnificent garden ever known.

Soon after, the Holy One breathed man into the garden. The unicorn was the first animal the man beheld. At first sight, the unicorn loved the man and knelt before him––and from that day forth, Fate has bound the two beings together for eternity.

The Unicorn’s Magical Horn

Undoubtedly its most distinctive feature, the unicorn’s horn is also its most magical. The spiral shape symbolizes the spiraling pattern of life energy, what yogis refer to as the kundalini. Spiritually, the spiral signifies movement from the secret depths of your center outward into the world at large and back again. It also suggests the soul’s movement from earthly existence upward toward the higher levels of consciousness. We see the symbol echoed in Native American petroglyphs, Celtic art, and Zen gardens.

The unicorn can plunge his long spiraled horn into poisoned waters and cleanse them, so that all earth’s creatures can drink safely and be nourished. His purity is so profound that it affects whatever he touches––no taint or corruption or illness or evil can stand up to the unicorn’s righteousness. Like the Christ (with whom Christian mythology links the unicorn), the unicorn’s purity neutralizes the poisons that afflict the world.

During the medieval period in Europe, as the unicorn myth was gaining popularity among the aristocracy, so was poisoning as a way to rid oneself of one’s enemies. In reaction to the widespread intrigue and murderousness of the times, the unicorn’s horn became recognized as an antidote to evil. The royal classes––and anyone else who could afford to do so––purchased cups supposedly made of unicorn horn, which they believed would safeguard them against the omnipresent threat of poisoning. Most of the “unicorn” horns, however, were actually the spiral-shaped tusks of small Arctic whales known as narwhals.

The noted seventeenth-century English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, in his Complete Herbal, recommended using unicorn horn in cordials to promote health and healing. As late as 1741, London’s apothecaries sold a powdered form of the horn to sprinkle in your drink for medicinal purposes.

The Lady and the Unicorn

According to mythology, only a virgin can enchant the unicorn. Medieval troubadours, Renaissance painters, and modern-day novelists incorporated this theme into art and literature. Christianity even chose the unicorn as a symbol for Christ and the virgin as his mother, Mary.

Around the end of the eleventh century or so, the unicorn became linked with the concept of Amour courtois or courtly love. This highly structured, formalized code of behavior stated that a male suitor must worship and serve his lady––a woman who, by the way, was usually not his wife. At the time, marriages among the royalty and nobility were arranged for political reasons, and love rarely factored into these matches. Therefore, a man’s passion and erotic love were diverted to another source: a lady of the court whom he promised to honor, obey, and pledge himself. Such idealized romances, however, weren’t supposed to be consummated, as the church considered infidelity a mortal sin. Poets, musicians, and artists began linking the courtly lover with the unicorn and his lady with the virgin to whom the beast is drawn.

A series of tapestries known as “The Unicorn Tapestries” provide the most famous depictions of the myth. Believed to have been woven in Bruges, Belgium between 1495 and 1505, they now hang in the Cloisters of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art––a gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1937. Some sources suggest that the tapestries were originally commissioned to mark the wedding of Anne of Brittany to Louis XII, the king of France. The seven ornate panels––twelve feet wide and up to fourteen feet high––depict men hunting the unicorn, much as European aristocrats might have hunted deer in real life, and contain allegorical imagery from both pagan and Christian mythology.

Denaturing the Unicorn

Today, however, the unicorn has been stripped of its wild, independent, and sometimes fierce nature. Its form has become cutsified, so that it looks like a darling little horse with big eyes and a colorful horn that couldn’t pierce butter. Its animalistic nature has disappeared, along with the lion’s tail and goatish beard it sported in earlier times. Although the unicorns of yesteryear were usually male, females seem to have cornered today’s toy market (even though folklore tells us female unicorns don’t have horns). In short, the unicorn has been tamed––not by legendary virgins, but by the likes of Hasbro and Disney.

The 1940 landmark animated film Fantasia gave us the model for modern-day unicorns. Disney’s adorable creatures frolic across the screen, decked out in bright yellow horns and coats of pink, blue, and lavender. The toy manufacturer Hasbro helped create a huge market for darling little unicorns via its My Little Pony series, plush toys, games, play stations, TV shows, and more.

Yet the mystical unicorn continues to be a most enchanting and beloved entity in the minds of young and old alike. We still love unicorns, and even though they no longer represent power and independence, we value their purity, beauty, and gentleness. Little girls who may know nothing of the old story of the virgin winning over the wild, freedom-loving beast are still drawn to the unicorn, perhaps because, as Nina Shen Rastogi proposed in an article for National Public Radio’s website, “I think for many young girls, there’s a fantasy that someday you will be recognized as the secretly beautiful, magical thing that you are. The unicorn will be attracted to something ineffable about you, secret from the rest of the world.” And as Terry Brooks points out in The Black Unicorn, “After all there has to be some belief in magic––however small––for any world to survive.”

 Unicorns: Myth, Legend, Lore
Unicorns: Myths, Legends, Lore
Adapted from Skye Alexander’s book Unicorns: The Myths, Legends, & Lore. Skye is the author of more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books, many on metaphysical subjects. Visit her website

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Life Jacket, a true story

Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann is a veteran, and a hero.

Guided by an ancient ethic embraced by knights of old, he served his country and miraculously escaped death many times. He risked his life protecting many who were charged to his care. This is only one story of this hero's journey. It is not fiction, it is harsh reality. In this story he survives a torpedo attack. Yet stories like this are just a part of the life of Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann, who brought to the world a number of scientific and technical ideas which changed all of our lives for the better. 

As told to Roberta Duncan by I R A Sailor
We are assigned to a modern American cruiser just off the ways (‘way’ is the slot a new ship slides down from the shipyard into the world ocean). It is sleek, well-manned, and excellently armed; a greyhound of the sea. We feel sort of invincible, sailing toward where we will be stationed in the south west Pacific.


This is war. I have been sleeping far aft, port side. The first torpedo wakes me with a thump and heavy bump. It hit the starboard side bow. I’m on my feet when the second torpedo takes us starboard side, betwixt bow and mid-ship. A terrible jerk takes me off my feet. Then our ship shudders, shudders, and lists starboard.

How strange are the things one does in an ultimate emergency. We are going down, and it will be fast. I have to get out and quickly, but I take a moment, much less than a minute, to drink lots of water. Then I go up on deck and find, with sheer luck, a really modern life jacket and strap it on.

God! A third torpedo takes us amid-ship, just moments after one of our two destroyed escorts it hit explodes. The mid-ship torpedo must have hit a magazine. Lady luck again, my knees are bent just right so that I am tossed up and over the side.

I am well abow (in front of) my ship which is now listing some 200 and plunging sternward. Many seamen, though not a majority in life jackets, swim desperately. The ones in life jackets do most of the screaming, as most of the ones near the ship are sucked down and die.
Even I, well abow, am sucked toward the death peal, but the plunge is over just before I arrive, and is now just a shallow whirlpool.

The ship is gone. The sharks arrive. Regular waves of the southern trade winds are running, I recon, about three feet high. Sharks some way off get a couple of sailors. I wish the submarine that got us would take some prisoners, it doesn’t surface at all. A guy swims past me, says lots of us are getting together to make noise and keep the sharks away. You should come to safety. I don’t believe him. I’m right.  

I float like a buoy. Ha, ha! Too much ass. Such awful screams and curses, and prayers to be saved. I even see the bloody mess as the sharks feast. The guys, some of em, fight with knives and poles, but it’s useless. I hang in the water, glad I am upwind and updrift from them. A shark comes near me so I release packets of dye. The shark dislikes the smell and veers off to the big feast.

Wave trains go one way, wind currents another way, a current just below the surface goes in a third direction. Before the sharks go away, some of them rip each other apart. I’m guessing it’s the sharks the seamen stabbed and cut with their knives. Pieces of life jackets float by. I get many packets of dye and keep them, but find only one little bottle of water.

If I make it I’m going to invent a really good life jacket. It will have a helmet you can pull up over your head, so as not to fall asleep and have your face fall forward, and after a few times, drown.

Night falls, then after a long starry night, day break and dawn. I shit diarrhea that costs water. Slowly I wash myself clean so as not to get sores. And then there’s another sailor in a really good jacket like mine. He says only a few things. “Hi, lucky day, big eel I’ll catch and knife him. Damn! It bit me. I tingle all over, dizzy….”

I have read about them, but have never seen one before. They are sea snakes, poisonous as cobras – cobras that went to live in the warm tropical oceans. The guy trembles, shivers, can’t talk and as I hold on to him, is soon dead. The snake he thought was an eel has gone away. I search his pockets and jacket, finding a little bottle of water where they are often put in life jacket pockets, and a wallet. It is all right to do this, and I do it right. I take his life jacket, but leave his crucifix. God will like my saying a prayer for him best as I can by adding to Now I lay me down to sleep. God will know I did my best.

I used to think that people drifting to the bottom of the sea were buried in mud and became fossils. That is nice to think, but it doesn’t happen. Things down there the size of germs eat everything, even bones. But his clothes and crucifix will remain.

After I get his dye packets and the water, with a huge effort I tie the extra life jacket behind my head. It is a big help holding my head up. My fingers are wrinkled. My sisters, doing laundry, used to call that ‘witches fingers’, saying that the soap drew the water out. It’s not that way. The water is going into my skin, so that is good. If I drink salt water I will soon die. 

Then on the evening of the second day, about sunset time, a great tree trunk with branches and knobs sticking out drifts near me. Its really white, no bark, and covered with small barnacles, so its drifted a long time. I really test it, work hard testing it to see if it will roll. It won’t roll and pull me under. My good luck; one side, and its few branches, insist on being on the side that is up and out of the water.

I thank God. I can rest my head on a V in the white  branches and really sleep. Then rested I wiggle up amidst the branches to where I can be mostly out of the water, but always cool. I will die if I sweat. I caught a minnow then ate it with a bit of candy, and drank some of the precious water. Thank goodness I have a hat. For a time I am feeling better.

It’s delicious, lucid dreaming. I do lots of that. I see many beautiful things. I do lots of thinking about thinking. I worked it all out. No one has done that before, but I have worked it out, and often stop to have a lucid dream, then work out more and more about thinking about thinking. There is music thinking – remembering music. Things said come back over and over between lucid dreams, like hurry up or we will be late. Worries come, but I keep from doing that. Dressing up in military dress jumper, eating and drinking. Lots of that. Lots more, but I am losing – have lost track – of time, so I drink the last of the water, have the last wax paper wrapped piece of candy.

I have drifted onto a beach, some sailors say that I was caught in the branches still alive. I hear ‘give him some water.’ I sip, again and again from water the sailors give me. That’s good, but I want to go back to dreaming, so I do. A truck comes and soon I’m in a hospital, so I fall out of the beautiful dream into real sleep. I woke up to hear a Navy Nurse saying to me, ‘Hi. Glad you have come back.’ In a few days I am talking again, but only remember a little about the different ways of thinking I worked out so well when drifting. And the lucid dreaming that was so comfortingly beautiful as I drifted – I can’t’ do any more. It guess really sleeping stops it. 

Then I have one more thought. Being picked up by the Japanese would have been death, either real soon, dumped off the sub with a weight tied to my feet, or months later as a slave worker.

Coming by Roberta Duncan: 
             as told by I R A Sailor
             as told by I.R.A.Sailor

              as told by I.R.A.Sailor