Saturday, May 20, 2017

Taurus, Minotaur, and Labyrinth


The Lascaux culture of 14,500 BC understood and recorded astronomical patterns - this knowledge was critical to their survival. From them come some of the oldest symbols on record, as well as prehistoric calendrics depicted in cave art. Taurus the bull was one of the earliest recorded constellations. Taurus is Latin for bull. 

One well known image is that of the bull in Lascaux Cave. This painting looks almost exactly like modern depictions of Taurus. Patterns of dots located over the shoulder of the Lascaux Bull represent the star group Pleiades, sometimes called Seven Sisters, located in the constellation Taurus. Like other zodiac symbols, myths and folklore about the Taurus constellation can be found around the globe.

Constellation Taurus; The Bull, Lascaux cave, ca. 14,500 BC

In Greek myths, Taurus represents the Minotaur kept by King Minos of Crete, whose kingdom was in the Mediterranean. As the story is told, Poseidon, the sea-king-god, was angry with Minos and seduced the wife of Minos. From this union was born a Minotaur. This powerful - and some said dangerous - creature was kept in a labyrinth, until Theseus killed it. 

It is said that the king’s daughter, Ariadne, gave Theseus a spool of thread (called a clue) with which he was able to retrace his steps through the maze and escape, after besting the Minotaur. This is not logical, as a labyrinth would not make a good prison. The geometric design of a labyrinth consists of two spirals stemming from a directional cross, and has only one opening. One could keep walking and find the entrance/exit. In later versions the labyrinth was changed to a maze - a place with many possible paths. A maze is designed with dead-ends, false paths, and most have more than one way in and out. The original use of a labyrinth in this myth is important to the meaning of the story. To decode the symbol of the Minotaur, we must look at the symbolism of the labyrinth - an archetypal image representing the center, the source, the sacred place - a secret. Some myths state the Minotaur was put in the labyrinth, imprisoned, to protect others from the dangerous monster; secrets can be dangerous.

Placing the characters of this story in context of history and climatology helps decode the symbols. The Minotaur and the labyrinth tell us of ancient sea kings (symbolized by Poseidon), and their knowledge of navigation.  

A Minotaur is part bull, indicating a connection to Taurus. Pleiades is associated with the Greek word plein, which means to sail. A labyrinth represents ½ year (spirals symbolize three months each), and so it is a symbol of two seasons. To the ancients, the appearance of Taurus and Pleiades in the sky signaled the beginning of storms during the fall and winter; not great sailing weather, and without superior navigational skills sailing would be deadly. The ability to navigate during these two seasons would have been advantageous for both trade and defense, and a skill worth keeping secret. 

According to Duncan-Enzmann, the ancient mariners knew how to calculate longitude thousands of years ago; this gave them the ability to sail in bad weather, and thus superior power on the sea. And so, deep in the labyrinth, the Minotaur protects the secrets of calculating longitude. 

The practice of symbolizing knowledge to protect it and insure its survival through generations is evident in the zodiac stories - the oldest stories in the world. Taurus is one example of a star-story that has its roots in prehistoric records of astronomical observation, navigation, and “trade secrets.”

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle Snyder is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She  did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork 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: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: 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









Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mothers

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, 1755-1842
Mothers are worshiped and feared, loved and resented, emulated and ignored. They are powerful storytellers, hard workers, and resilient human beings.  

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 bring forth children. A female’s ability to produce new life was worshiped as sacred in the oldest civilizations. The future of the human race depended - depends - 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, all copies of each other? 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, 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 for the 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 - but mothers none the less.

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. Be thankful for your mom - without her, you would not be. 



Happy Mother's Day, Mom. 

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder



Michelle Snyder is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She  did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork 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: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: 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








Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stone Soup


Stone Soup is a fairy tale told in England, Ireland, the United States, Germany, and many other countries. Contemporary versions tell of a needy person tricking the greedy into sharing food and lodging; usually it is a destitute soldier or clever beggar offering to make soup with a stone, asking only for a kettle from the unwitting scrooge. But like other legends, this folktale has deep prehistoric roots, reaching back into the bitter cold stone-age.

Once Upon a Time long, long ago a great part of the world was frozen most of the time. In this icy world, animals broke their teeth trying to chew meat from the frozen carcass of a fresh kill. Fingers and toes would suffer frostbite in only a few minutes if not covered properly – even then excursions outside were brief. The people who lived in this ice age built and heated houses, made quilted clothing, and cooked their food. Duncan-Enzmann has translated from their inscriptions blueprints for houses and instructions for venting fireplaces. Stones were abundant and were used for many things: tools, weapons, contracts, and for heating beds and cradles – not unlike bed-warmers of the early pioneers.

Stones were also inscribed with instructions to make and use fire-bows, make medicines, and even make “stone soup”. In a regular modern winter there is nothing like a nice cup of hot tea, cocoa, or chicken soup to warm up a cold body. I remember winter bird-watching with my dad on Plum Island. He always brought a thermos of hot chocolate – said it would keep me warm. During hard times when food is scarce, or on the battlefield in winter, even a cup of plain warm water helps warm up a cold body, and with a few drops of molasses or honey in the water, becomes a delicious treat.

During the ice age of ca. 12,500 BC, knowing how to warm up could mean the difference between life and death. Leather pots were made and filled with water, and a “boiling stone” (ones that did not explode) was heated on the fire. When it was good and hot it was put into the water. The stone simmered the water, and, with bits of meat, vegetables, and spices, a nutritious soup was made. The heating stone would need to be cleaned before putting it in the water. Ashes from the fire would have to be removed; brushing it with branches of dried herbs added flavor to the broth, branches of willow (from which aspirin is made) provided gentle soothing for those who enjoyed the soup.

Meat is scarce in the fairy tale, and fatty meat was scarce during ice age winters. Without some fat in the diet a person can starve to death, even with an abundance of other foods. The only place fat could be obtained in deep prehistoric winters was from the long bones of a female horse. The bones were added to the broth of the stone soup, cooking out the life giving fats, just as we cook chicken soup today.

Like most fairy tales, this one has a struggle (freezing weather and scarcity of food), a hero (the stone), and a happy ending (a steaming bowl of yummy soup).

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder



Michelle Snyder is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She  did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork 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: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: 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







Monday, April 10, 2017

Bunnies don’t lay eggs and other Easter considerations


"Of course bunnies don’t lay eggs!" the mother told her daughter. But there was no forthcoming explanation of why Easter – the day of the risen King – was surrounded by baskets of fake grass, candy, chocolate, decorated hard boiled eggs, and cute fluffy bunnies. Never mind what all that has to do with going to church and the Resurrection of Christ.

Easter is celebrated by Christians worldwide as the day Jesus rose from the dead, completing the promise of God. Easter is around the time of Spring Equinox. This date is connected with fertility rites, a practice at least 14,000 years old. 

Reproductive calandric, ca 12,500 BC
It is an ancient practice, love in spring: This is a Paleolithic calendar instructing the cycles of human reproduction: that babies should be conceived in spring, to be born around winter solstice. Winter babies during the ice age had the best chance of survival: Families stayed inside, and newborns got a maximum of attention. 

They also observed that babies who were born in spring were exposed to pollen in the air and in mother’s milk, producing more people with allergies. Summer produced a high percentage of colic babies who had to compete for parental care with hunting and building activities; the preparations for the approaching glacial weather were paramount. Fall babies risked animal worms, viruses, and bacteria, which in winter would be uncommon. Families were paramount, babies meant the continuation of the human race. Still do. 

Spring Equinox became a time of sexual activity in an effort to produce as many healthy children as possible at winter solstice (now Christmas). Over time rabbits (known for their rapid reproduction) and eggs (from where chics come) became fertility symbols. And everyone knows chocolate is food for romance. Fertility rites were celebrated in ancient Greece, then Rome. Goddesses such as Aphrodite, Demeter, Venus, Kali, Ostara, and Ishtar are connected with cult celebrations of fertility. The Teutonic goddess of the dawn known as Eastra is said to be the basis of the word Easter, eastre being a root word for spring, east being where the sun rises.

      Shown: Tawa, Kernunnos, Sol Invictus, Shamash, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus
Springtime promises new life. Fertility rites celebrate new life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrates new life. The history of crucified and resurrected kings dates back thousands of years, and evolved from the sun goddess Helen. Worship of Helen grew from the understanding that the sun always rose, and as long as it did and there were babies, life would be eternal. Babies come from women, and so girls and women were held in high esteem, along with the life-giving sun. Young blonde girls symbolized the sun, and grew into beautiful blonde queens, and then into the goddess of the sun, Helen. Ca 1200 BC the transformation of goddess Helen into a male began, and she became known as sun gods such as Apollo, Abraxas, Lugh, Ra, Shamash, Sol Invictus, Garuda, Freyr, and Mithra. Jesus is the Christian equivalent of these gods, bringing life and hope, just as the return of the sun brought renewed hope to those struggling against Mother Nature in temperatures that exceeded fifty below zero, ca 12,500 BC. 

Then, as now, life was sacred, babies were precious, and the sun gave warmth and made the food grow. People may celebrate life in different ways, but the life they celebrate is the same. We color Easter eggs and hide them for the kids to find (reminiscent, I think, of Ruth in the fields of Boaz), color pictures of bunnies and little yellow chics, go to church in our best spring clothes, and eat lots of chocolate. After Easter dinner of course.



So Happy Easter. 
May the Sun, and the Son, bless your life, 
and bring you hope, warmth, and the love of family. - Michelle


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