Friday, September 30, 2016

Mythic Animals: Magic

What is a mythic animal? Traditionally considered a product of people’s imaginations, they are animals that do not exist on the physical plane. In fact, many mythical animals are a combination of several real animals. (They usually have the characteristics of both animals.) But mythic animals are real to those who dream.

Mythic animals live on the edges of our minds. Moreover, they live in our world, in places where everything is a little wild and primitive. Furthermore, we may encounter them, when we least expect it. For example, on a foggy day or a moonlit night, you may glimpse one. I have seen dragons sunning themselves on mountains as I traveled a busy highway. Dragons have also appeared briefly in raging snowstorms in my local area.

The edges of cultivated areas and wild areas are the best places to encounter mythic animals. Since they are “between places,” these border areas have great power and mystery. At marshes and beaches, encounters with water beasties will often occur. Also, you can come upon mythic animals in deserts or deep in the forests, where things are lonely and wild.

Mythic animals come from many places. To ancient peoples, they were the forces of nature, in all her aspects. For example, thunderbirds governed the weather. Later travelers returning from faraway places told of the exotic creatures they saw. Romans reported on dragons that lived in Joppa in the Middle East. In the Middle Ages, people reported on their encounters with local dragons and other animals. They listed them in their bestiaries, describing each animal.

When people started measuring and examining the natural world, they lost their ability to see any mythic animals. At the same time, all the mythic animals seemingly disappeared. In modern times, people usually seek rational explanations for every phenomenon that they witness.

However, the mythical beasts never really went away. Some people believed that they could still see them. The mythic imaginations of these folks led scholars to continue collecting tales of griffins and others. Today, more people have been able to see more of the mythic animals.

In her book, The Great Work, Tiffany Lazic writes that “mythical beasts guide us in our quest to find the synthesis between our inner and outer worlds.” She sees their uses in heraldry, such as the griffin, connects people to the past and to the future. Because mythic animals are both products of the human imagination and composite of actual animals, Lazic believes they are excellent helpers for integration work.

How do we begin the search for the Mythic Ones? What do the mythic stories, from around the world, have in common? What is the true treasure that the Mythic Ones hold? Does it differ from mythic animal to mythic animal? How can we deepen our relations with the ones, who are friendly to humans? Are there any that we should avoid? Study the myths of the world for the answers.

One example would be the griffin (half-lion and half-eagle). Often used as a last name, this mythic animal is also featured on people’s coats of arms. Lions and eagles both represent royalty. Moreover, the eagle is the Ruler of the Skies, and the lion, Ruler of the Land. Mythology has the griffin protecting and governing both realms. Given the griffin’s exalted status, only the most noble and courageous of people could approach him.

Once we know who are friendly to humans, such as fu dogs, we can begin to approach them. When we do that, we widen our realm of possibilities and develop a new sense of worth. Our relations with them will nurture our hopes and dreams, as well as, give us a greater reverence for all life. When we embrace their energy, we become conscious of the mystical in our lives. Finally, we align ourselves with the mythical world. We bring magic back into our lives.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tarot: Who Am I in the Cards

I took one of those quizzes about "who are you in the cards?" I took the quiz to find what member of the Tarot Court that I am. The quiz itself is based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is said to show how people perceive the world and operate in it. Personally, I have problems with the MBTI because it divides people into four groups of four. As someone who is familiar with statistics, I find the MBTI methodology suspect. I regard MBTI as something that either you believe in the results or you do not.
 
 The questions that this quiz asked assumes that the person who takes it is neuro-typical with a fully functioning brain. They also have a normal perception of life and not a distorted one. These people can choose whatever they will whenever they want. Since everything I do costs brain function, I have to choose what favorite activity that I can do. Also, since my visual perception has been damaged from my injury, I see the world literally differently from most people.

 The quiz came up with two cards for me – the Queen of Pentacles and the Knight of Pentacles. I think that this reflects the divide between my injury and my desires. The Knight is reliable and trustworthy but prosaic, while The Queen is creative and mature. This reflects both my unpredictable brain and my creative problem solving.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Animal Relationships: Introduction

To know their animal teachers more fully, people should study how these animals relate to other animals. All animals live in ecological systems where they have a role. Some are keystone species such as the alligator, who makes “gator holes” that provides food and homes for the other animals. Other animals contribute positively to the places that they live in. Stag beetles eat dead trees to make soil. “Negative” animals such as leeches have a role, too. They kill their host and help to keep the animal population in balance.

Some animals ignore each other, while others compete for the same food. More importantly, many animals form special relationships. Some are allies, and still others are in predator-prey relationships. The wolf and coyote compete for beaver, while the ratel (honey badger) and honeyguide look for bees together. The plover picks off leeches from a crocodile’s gums. (The plover gets a meal, and the crocodile gets her gums cleaned.) The great white shark pursues the elephant seal but is prey to the orca. Animal relationships are indeed complex and varied.

Read more at Witches and Pagans: animal wisdom: animal relationships: introduction

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tarot of the Animal Lords: Hero's Journey (2)

Laying out The Tarot of the Animal Lords to follow the Hero’s Journey requires a deeper knowledge of animals. Each card in this deck reflects either the natural history or the folkloric history of various animals. Some animals are an obvious selection for their card such as the fox for The Magician, the lion for The Emperor, the raven for Death, and the male goat for The Devil. 

However to understand the other animals which are representing themes in the Major Arcana requires knowledge of their natural history. For example, The Fool is an European Badger setting out on his own. European badgers live in societies of setts, which are towns constructed of burrows. Some setts are over three hundred years old, with generations of European badgers inhabiting them. A lone European badger going out on his own would be a fool. (In contrast, American badgers, a separate species, usually live by themselves.) 

Featuring a flamingo for Temperance is another example. These birds live in the hot salt flats of Africa and eat brine shrimp. This gives them their bright pink color. If they are too pink or too white, this means that the flamingo is nutritionally out of balance, and will need to change their diet.

 To understand other animals featured in this deck’s cards for the Major Arcana requires knowledge of their folklore. For example, The Moon features an owl and a cat, reminding the reader of the children’s poem, The Owl and the Pussycat, by Edward Lear. In that poem, these two animals go out to gaze at the moon and the stars in wonder. Meanwhile, The Lovers depict two mandarin ducks. In China, these ducks are believed to be lifelong mates. They use mandarin ducks in their wedding decorations to symbolize fidelity.

 Each animal that is chosen for their particular card enhances the meaning of the Hero’s Journey for me. At first glance, each selection may seem a bit opaque but within each card are clues to explore further. The reader can ponder each card’s meaning further through that particular animal.
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Thursday, September 01, 2016

BLACK BASS FAMILY: Passion

The Black Bass Family, a family of freshwater fish in the Sunfish Family, is well known in sport fishing for being strong explosive fighters. This Fish Family of North America are called the Micropterus (incertae sedis) to differentiate this Family from other fish called “Bass.” Fish in Black Bass Family include Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, who are popular with anglers. Since They come in various shades of green, grey and black, most people identify the different Members in this Family by their jaws.

Preferring clear, clean waters, Black Bass Male usually nests in gravelly bottoms. He builds a small round “bed” and then chases after Female Black Bass, when She enters his territory. After an intense mating dance, She lays her eggs and leaves. A diligent Father, Black Bass keeps his Fry (Baby Fish) safe until They are ready to leave the nest. He constantly patrols the area guarding against anyone who would attempt eat his Fry.

Black Bass use their keen senses to hunt their prey. Their inner ears can pick up the click of the claws of a crayfish walking on pebbles. With their lateral line (a row of sensory pores that extend from their gills to their tail), Black Bass can sense vibrations in the water. Added to that is their excellent eyesight which includes seeing colors.

As an apex predator, Black Bass will eat small alligators, birds, and mammals. This wily Fish will seek out the deepest parts of a pond. Waiting patiently, He will suddenly explode into action gobbling up the unwary Duckling paddling by. Highly adaptable, Black Bass can adjust his feeding habits to wherever He lives. His popularity in sport fishing has made Black Bass a sought after fish. Because of this, He has been introduced to many places outside of North America such as Fiji and South Africa. But his voracious appetite has decimated native populations of Fish. Japan, for example, considers Black Bass to be an invasive Fish.

Black Bass are some of the scrappiest Fish that swim. Catch one, and He will fight you with wild airborne leaps and jolting strikes. “Inch for inch and pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims,” 19th Century sportsmen entered in their journals. Even today anglers feel passionate about Black Bass. Because of their high stamina and great speed, these Fish can break fishing lines and snap poles. Leaping into the air, Black Bass will throw off the lure. In cunning and skill, Black Bass will match anything that an angler can think up to try to catch Him. (Black Bass are the original Pokemon.)

Passion is what Black Bass teaches people. Exuberance for life is why these Fish are top predators. Passion is how They mate and protect their Fry. Devotion is why anglers seek to match wits with Black Bass. However, Black Bass can also warn of prolonged volatility in your life, swinging between nothingness and frenzy. Remember moderation in what you do.

Note:
Many fish are called “Bass.” The temperate bass belong to the family Moronidae and the Asian sea bass to the family Lateolabracidae. Black sea bass are members of the sea grouper family (Serranidae). The giant sea bass belongs to the wreckfish family (Polyprionidae).

Friday, August 26, 2016

Tarot: Patterns of the Major Arcana, "The Hero's Journey," and Others


 The patterns in the Major Arcana set up by Teresa Michelsen in The Complete Tarot Reader and that of Arlene Tognetti and Lisa Lenard in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tarot and Fortunetelling are variations on the traditional Fool’s Journey of the Tarot. What each author did was to split their cards into groups to make this journey more understandable for themselves. Each group embraces a particular concept which is helpful to these Tarot authors. Each of the two patterns start with a young person meeting significant people and facing challenge. After wrestling with problems, young person matures and emerges in the world spiritually enlightened. The various groupings help the reader to understand The Fool’s Journey in depth by placing focus on particular parts of it from varying points of view.
 
 Meanwhile, Robert Place in The Tarot History, Symbolism, and Divination sees the Major Arcana differently. For him, it is not a journey, but a focus on particular aspects of the person. In his patterns, Place sets up Plato’s Three Parts of the Soul. Appetite, the first part of the soul, is represented by The Magician through The Chariot. These cards depict the desires a person has such as seeking power or love. The next group, which is Strength to Temperance, represents the Will (Spirit), the second part of the soul. These cards focus on the emotions such as seeking solitude or justice. The final group – The Devil to The World – represent Reason, the third part of the Soul. These cards highlight the mind, which Plato placed as the highest part of the soul.  

 Two patterns that I developed could probably be considered variations on The Fool’s Journey. The first is based on the therapeutic model of moving from illness to wellness. The Magician to The Hierophant are the various perceptions of reality, ranging from “mind over matter” to “strict rules of life.” The next group, The Lovers to Justice, are the issues of life that everyone has to cope with from changing homes to bad luck. The Hanged Man to The Tower are the struggles for people to overcome their distorted thinking and misperceptions. From The Star to The World are the rewards of healthy thinking and wellness, which only happens when the person implements these changes in their life.

 The other pattern was inspired by Journey to the Dark Goddess by Jane Meredith. This Journey is to the Underworld to meet the Dark Goddess. There, the person reclaims the lost and dark parts of themselves. Meredith says that we cannot go to the Dark Goddess while we are still in our place in the world. First, we have to be stripped of everything that we value. Once in the Underworld, we meet the Dark Goddess, who holds these remnants of our selves. Whilst in the Underworld, we are dead until a turning point occurs to restore us to life. This propels us upward. Afterwards, we become whole and emerge back into the Upper World reborn. 

 This particular Journey has four parts. The first is “Preparing for Descent.” The Magician through The Lovers are who we are in the Upper World. We have to give up all of this to undertake the second part, which is “The Descent to the Underworld.” The Chariot to Justice denotes our removal of our status and our acceptance of our fate. The third part is “Dwelling in the Underworld.” Like the Hanged Man, we are limbo as we die. Death to The Devil explains our time in the Underworld. The turning point for “The Ascent,” the fourth part, is The Tower. When we return to the Upper World we gain The Star through Judgement. Now as The World, we are reborn.

 Arranging the cards into patterns helped me to see how various processes occur in the Tarot. Each pattern highlights a different aspect of the Major Arcana. Within each pattern, I can understand how each card relates to the others such as why is Temperance between Death and The Devil. When a number of them from a group appear in a reading, the reader can figure out where the questioner is in the process. 

Works Used:
Lorenz, Hendrick, “Ancient Theories of the Soul.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 22 April 2009. Web. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ancient-soul/ .
Meredith, Janet, Journey to The Dark Goddess. Moon Books: Winchester (UK). 2012. Print.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sturgeon: Be Responsible

Sturgeon are ancient fish who swam in the waters when the dinosaurs first emerged on the earth. Today, these living fossils are considered to be the most primitive of the bony fish. Sturgeon belongs to the Acipenseridae family which has twenty-seven species. Native to the lakes, rivers, and coastlines of Eurasia and North America, these giant fish resemble armored torpedoes. Their distinctive bony plates (hard scutes) stud their back and sides.

One thing that Sturgeons are well-known for are their dramatic leaping out of the water. In his poem, The Song of Hiawatha, Longfellow described this – “saw the sturgeon, Nahma leaping, scattering drops like beads of wampum.” As the largest fish in freshwater, a massive Sturgeon can kill or break the bones of unwary boaters. As to why They leap, nobody knows. Theories range from communicating in their group to Sturgeon simply enjoying doing it.

Sturgeon have been highly regarded in many cultures. In India, Sturgeons represented royalty. Among the Natives Peoples of North America, Sturgeon provided both wisdom and food. Ancient Greeks regarded sturgeon eggs (caviar) as a gift from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. In Europe, Sturgeon migrating up the Danube would feed entire villages by allowing Themselves to be caught. When people became too greedy, these Fish stopped coming.

In Europe and North America, Sturgeon were once plentiful. However, the demand for caviar has halved their life expectancy from over 100 years to about 50 years. In the Great Lakes, overfishing and pollution has decimated those populations. The story of Sturgeon is a sad one of people ceasing to respect Them. Now this remarkable Fish is going extinct because of human folly.

Governments in Europe and North America have made concentrated efforts to save the remaining Sturgeon. Because of this, populations for some species of Sturgeon have stabilized on the Danube, Ural, and Volga Rivers. These Fish are making a small comeback in the Great Lakes Regions as people rehabilitate the environment to be more receptive to the well-being of the Sturgeon.

Alarmed by the pending extinction of Gulf Sturgeon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Air Force, state wildlife agencies and local universities combined their efforts to save this Fish. The result is that these populations of Sturgeon are thriving in Florida, and are expanding to other regional rivers. Meanwhile, Native Peoples of North America have joined with various governments and commercial fisheries to keep the Sturgeon in their regions from becoming extinct. In 1977, the citizens living around Lake Winnebago (Wisconsin) watershed formed “Sturgeon for Tomorrow.” Their efforts were rewarded with a “stunning recovery in that watershed” for Sturgeon today.

Sturgeon teaches responsibility. Because of human carelessness and deliberate action, Sturgeon, worldwide, are close to extinction. Today, people are trying to repair the damage that has been done. It is an uncertain future for Sturgeon but They are amazingly resilient fish. Willing to work with people, Sturgeon have been consuming the invasive zebra mussels and gobies in the Great Lakes. In return, people are taking responsibility for the well-being of this ancient Fish.
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The sturgeon of Sturgeon Moon are the sturgeon of the Great Lakes.