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






Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Once Upon a Time to be - the Eternal Sun Child




Could it be? Eternal youth is powerfully attractive. Searches for a “fountain of youth” are legendary and continue today. It’s a grail of sorts, endlessly speculated on, and relentlessly worked on in the laboratory: the quest for longer, healthier life. The scientific quest isn’t to just work generally toward a way for all people reach a biological maximum, it’s to expand this. In the last decades there has been more than a little success. Currently, much talk is of: telomeres, stem cells, organ replacement, etc. The point is we are all dying, we just want to die as slowly as possible. 

There are many stories and legends about eternal life or eternal youth. One story of an eternal adult life is The Wandering Jew, by Eugene Sue; it is compelling, sad – even heartbreaking - but also heartwarming. The Eternal Child is a legend found in all lands, with roots reaching deep into-and-beyond the daughters of prehistoric ice ages. Various myths and fairy tales tell of one such child: Circassian Helen. These stories were shared by unknowns who are lost deep in the mists of long-ago time. It is a story with child-appeal - and the appeal of eternal childhood. It conveys inspiration, along with uninterpretable cautions and warnings. It’s the most plausible of the “long-life myths.” Helen-of-many-names dates from circa 42,000 BC; she is the ancestor of the ice age Sun Child, Sun Maiden, then Sun Goddess, Helen.  (Helen being the word for the golden mean, for perfect beauty)

This beautiful Sun Child’s story, preserved through history by oral tradition, ice age inscriptions, and later, legends, mythologies, and folklore, begins in the battle for survival. Days of death come as the terrible winter of an ice age descends.  The “Fires of Aurignacia” must be learned: one learns all about starting fires, or dies. Humankind survived near ten thousand years of terrible, terrible cold, with only a few mild pauses. Through the deepest cold month, sitting together, women sang and worked in triple walled houses. Beside warming fires (ventilated, lest they die of monoxide) they sat spinning, weaving, and making tools, with only tiny oil lamps for light. As these determined women spun, they shared stories with young children, teaching them how to survive (the origin of 'spinning a yarn). Brave men, boys, and some girls ventured out to hunt. 

These ice age parents wanted their children to be born during the most favorable time of year – this was critical for survival.  It was also love, along with planning to their best abilities, for a much-wanted child. In France there is a magnificently revealing series of inscriptions where, written in stone, is recorded the tendency for families to start children at the Spring Equinox. According to Duncan-Enzmann, these are calendrics, timing birth and early infancy for maximum probability of survival. Babies born at the Winter Solstice had close and constant care from mothers, sisters, and helpers during the winter months when few ventured outside for very long. In warmer weather there were many natural predators, viruses, bugs, etc., and there was much to be done to prepare for the next winter, leaving less time for infants. All these factors made winter babies desirable.

We owe a magnificent tribute to our Ur-Mothers, daughters, aunties, grandmothers, and friends, who, together in deepest glacial winters, battled day and night to keep children alive and provide for them, working with only the light of tiny stone lamps. All together they did their best to keep precious Winter Solstice babies alive and healthy. It’s drama. The greatest of all dramas.

Then the cold months passed, together they were winning. The sun returned. The new child was near four moons old; her hair shone like golden sunlight. Day and night, week after week, one, then another of the women held her, fed her - and she lived. Little Sun Girl, born just as the Sun is reborn. All together, women and girls, men and boys, kept her alive. And next door a little boy has survived.

Love is powerful. Generation after generation: mother to daughter, precious sunny daughter to mother. Together they study the heavens – they must, the cycles of nature hold great power and their lives are in the balance. Oral tradition and picture writing preserved accumulated knowledge. These determined women inscribed their observations on bone, stone, leather, and ivory, on megaliths and cave walls. The beautiful blonde daughter became the symbol of the sun; both were and are necessary for survival. Millennia later, Sun Goddess Helen was symbolized by Venus; a clock so accurate that only toward the middle of the twentieth century was it replaced by quartz, atomic Cs, and perhaps soon, nuclear clocks. 

This history is woven into our very genetics. Mothers and fathers together created the Sun Child, who grew in mythology to be the Goddess Helen. Many religions promise eternal life to those who follow the right path. Mythologies of eternal childhood are scattered around the globe. The Sun Child’s ancestor, Circassian Helen, flits in and out of history, her young eternal life creating myths and legends that precede the Sun Child by many thousands of years.  

The ancient story of Circassian Helen is one of chance and accident, as are many legends of life changing events. Once Upon a Time, little girl Helen, playing as children do, nearly drowned when a river, during spring flood, reached over its banks and grabbed her, dragging her to the edge and finally dumping her into the torrent. There, a spheroidal tree root - Mississippian pilots call them river spiders – gripped, tore, and lacerated her. These roots, these things in the water, were between five to twenty feet in diameter, and sort of compare with tumbleweeds on land. With her are a few animals, also gripped by the tangled and hooked roots. And then, as if by miracle, the twirling river spider, bounding to the surface, hurls her away into a bramble thicket on the shore. There she lay until her mother found her; she was lacerated, cut, bruised – and inoculated by countless viruses. Mother nursed the child and she recovered; but she was forever changed. The viruses, which inject, or perhaps subtract, changed into a genome. As a result, Helen no longer ages.

We now know that only a small percentage of cells actually cease reproducing themselves and cause aging. There are syndromes such as progeria, also anagyria, which are rarely talked about.  There are also conditions in which life, including human life, never matures. In the animal world there are genetic syndromes in which an aged creature can regress to a juvenile state. There are creatures that regenerate lost limbs, and some cut in two will become two creatures, such as the cold water Hydra of North American waters. 

Mythical Circassian Helen, gifted with all of the above, heals lost members, regularly grows new teeth, never ages, and - somewhat frighteningly - has a brain continually improving. Yet, eternally a child, she perpetually directs herself toward playing. A child’s work is to play. Most alarming of all is the myth that a pint of her blood transfused will yield the recipient an extra century of life. Imagine the tales of greed, horror, murder, mayhem, and corruption this, if true, would generate. In these legends, Circassian Helen ably defends herself - she vastens (manipulates using quantum entanglement) and can stop a heart hundreds of feet away. Scraps of recorded legendary events follow her never-ending life. She appears in Chinese myths, and is referred to in others as the “Distant Watcher”. Imagine, how being forever a playing child would, in a way, also be lonesome. In folklore, passed on from generation to generation, she still wanders by herself with a dog cart in 1000 AD. In 2000 AD she is still, and forever, alone. 

I was once asked: “If the Hand of the Grail appeared, offering you eternal life – eternally to be the age you are – would you accept?” This offer lasts only seconds. No time to hesitate. Now I ask you, would you accept?

Image: Llewellyn Tarot, Ace of Cups



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






Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love, Roses, and Cupid


Symbolism has provided a means of communicating ancient love rituals worldwide. Some familiar symbols for love are XXs, OOs, and hearts, which convey kisses, hugs, and love; these are often seen on a crumpled up private note, inside a card, or on a tree trunk. In Victorian times, the language of flowers was a popular way to communicate intimate messages. Different flowers and colors have specific meanings. Roses are a symbol of discrete or secret love, thus the phrase sub-rosa - under the rose.

Love is one of our strongest emotions, and perhaps the one most difficult to describe. We see it, feel it, even hear it, yet cannot sufficiently explain it in words. 

Songs, movies, plays, books, and great works of art have attempted to speak for our hearts. Love drives the hero knight to rescue the fair damsel, in spite of dangers to himself which usually include the possibility of death. Thousands of fairy tales tell the stories of princesses rescued by Prince Charming knights and restored to their rightful place. These stories are symbols of a culture now rare, a culture whose men lived by the ethic of women and children first. Sleeping Beauty is such a story and is at least 10,000 years old. Until the deconstruction of Prince Charming in Shrek II, he was the standard of chivalry and courtly behavior, pure of heart and strong of love. Shown: Sleeping Beauty, Walter Crane
  


I found it amusing to that Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war: thus a hopeless romantic, running around with a fistful of arrows. At first depicted as a young man, the son of the goddess of love became a chubby little baby over time (perhaps he found the fountain of youth?). This little cherub is now a famous symbol for falling in love. Cupid also symbolizes life, which is lived in the eternal present.


There is a mythological love story about Cupid and the beautiful Psyche, depicted by many masters of the fine art of painting and told of in the great art of storytelling. Cupid was commissioned by Venus, who was jealous of the beauty of Psyche, to compel Psyche to fall in love with an ugly mortal. Psyche is sleeping as Cupid approaches, but she wakes suddenly. Startled, he accidentally scratches his own leg with an arrow, thus inflicting his ‘arrow of love’ upon himself. He falls in love with her. They marry and have a child named Voluptas (Voluptas means pleasure, Cupid means Eros or desire, Psyche means soul).


The archer of love also shot his arrows into many of the characters of mythology, causing two persons to fall in love who may otherwise not have become a couple. Here he is depicted with a "sea monster," symbolizing his relationship with the great sea kings - the Vanir mariners of ca. 4000 BC. This is key, as it is the Vanir navigators who used Venus as a clock, measuring its movements in the sky; it is by Venus that ancient mariners calculated longitude, enabling them to sail the world's oceans and seas. Most of the navigators were women, and women had discovered the Venus clock. So it is that Venus became symbolized by a goddess, representing that women had used the heavenly body of Venus to establish accurate astronomical time. Now symbols of love, Venus and Cupid are the subject of artwork both classical and contemporary.
      

From the oral tradition of the Vanir grew many mythologies, the goddess of love being one of them. Her son, Cupid, is a classical symbol of unexpected passion and love, his arrows striking targets without discrimination, sometimes inflicting love on people who were not able to openly show their feelings for each other. A heart pierced by an arrow from his quiver is a symbol of romantic desire, broken hearts, or unrequited love. His arrows can inflict either attraction or repulsion – a symbolic representation of the movements of Venus and Mars as they orbit the sun.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Valentine's Day; a day when children in school who don't get valentines feel rejection, the single long for a mate, and the disenchanted remember their past love. It is the lucky ones who can take a moment to express their hearts to each other: Associated with Saint Valentine, the saint of courtly love, the medieval tradition of love between a knight and a married noblewoman. This tradition has been celebrated with pink roses, hearts, and chocolates since the Middle Ages. The saint is said to have wed lovers who were otherwise forbidden to marry. Chaucer associated February 14th with Saint Valentine's Day as a day of romantic love. 


Love is a complex reality. Powerful, motivating, uplifting, or painful and devastating, love cannot be ignored. There are those among us fortunate enough to meet their soul-mates; others go through eternity always knowing each other but never being together. This illustration (artist unknown) poignantly illustrates two soul mates who can look through the barrier, but not penetrate it.

  Love fuels compassion, hope, and charity, and heals the unseen wounds of the soul. 

Excerpt from Symbology, Hidden in Plain Sight: the secret life of symbols.

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