Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Families of Dragons

To understand dragons better, people have commonly divided them into various families. As with scientific classification, organizing dragons into groups gives folks a framework to learn about them. By studying dragons in families, you can discern who are friendly and who are dangerous. Since each family has their own unique talents, they can also offer their matchless wisdom to seekers.

In Western Tradition, dragons are usually grouped into families by the elements. I have used that system to construct my classifications of dragons. Living in the East, the Dragons of the Air ride the winds. Meanwhile, the Dragons of Fire reside in fire, and are of the South. In the West, the Dragons of the Waters frolic in the waters. With the Air Dragons and Ice Dragons, Water Dragons rule the weather, as well. Ruling the Earth and guarding its treasures are the Dragons of the Earth, who reside in the North. Because each dragon family governs a cardinal direction, therefore in rituals a seeker can avoid the hostile ones and ensure her safety.

In the World of the Dragons, there are three more families. These groupings are from my own understanding of these Magnificent Beings. World myths feature dragons who created and destroyed worlds. Since these dragons have such a profound effect on the fabric of the Universe, I refer to them as the Dragons of the Cosmos, who live in the Center.

Like many people, I was entranced by the “fire-lizards” in “The Dragonriders of Pern” books by Anne McCaffrey. These small dragons liked to sing and sit on people’s shoulders. Later, when reading D.J. Conway’s books on dragons, I realized that the guardian dragons that she talks about are the same as the “fire-lizards” of Pern. Moreover, I have encountered these dragons whenever I go on wildflower walks, especially in open meadows. I call them, the Dragons of the Fields. These small playful dragons move along the East-West axis, and prefer going from sunrise to sunset.

The last family of dragons, I encountered in ice storms and blizzards. When I grew up in New England (US), I saw silver dragons roaring about in the snow and ice. Since that time, I have noticed these dragons flying about in massive blizzards. I call them, the Dragons of the Ice. They prefer the colder darker areas of the world. Ice Dragons traverse the North-South Axis, going from Pole to Pole.

Fire and Chaos Dragons are dangerous for different reasons. Traditionally hostile to humans, Fire Dragons must be approached with great care. Meanwhile, Chaos Dragons, who are a part of the universe’s fabric, have intense unbounded energy. They can annihilate a careless person.

Fortunately for us, the other dragon families are less formidable. Ruling the weather together, Water and Air Dragons are both benign and destructive. But they can be approached for soft breezes and gentle rains. Guarding the Earth’s treasures, Earth Dragons kill first and ask questions later. Nonetheless, their greatest treasure is their profound wisdom. Rarely encountered by humans, Ice Dragons prefer the silence and stillness of the Polar Regions. Their intense life force can warm the coldest heart. On the other hand, the noisy Field Dragons love being guardian dragons of humans.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tarot: Major Arcana: Astrology (2 of 2)

Mars is force and energy that breaks through similar to The Tower. Jupiter, as the planet of expansion and luck, is appropriate for The Wheel of Fortune. Meanwhile, the principle energy of Uranus is liberation which matches The Fool. Judgment and Pluto both focus on transformation.
 
 What puzzled me the most was the connections of Cancer, the Crab to The Chariot, Sagittarius, the Archer to Temperance, Neptune to The Hanged Man, and Saturn to The World. As a reader, I need to know the reasons for these particular couplings. Is there a hidden aspect to each card that these astrological concepts focus on? Am I missing something? If so, what?

 Cancer knows where they are going and how to get there, which is appropriate for The Chariot. However, Cancer changes moods like the wind. This points to any conflict that needs to be examined while reading The Chariot. Also Cancer stabilizes The Chariot since this Sign is selective in what it does.

 Sagittarius is restless and high spirited, lending movement to Temperance. The subtle message is that Temperance should not be stagnant, but instead keep flowing. Sagittarius gives the warning to the reader of the tendency of Temperance to remain static.

 Saturn is the planet of limitation and fate. Paired with The World, it cautions the reader to beware of wishful thinking. Saturn grounds The World from flights of fancy. The World is to be earned, not handed to someone is something that the reader should know.

 This leaves Neptune and The Hanged Man, both difficult to understand. Neptune is the mystic, whose principle energy is transcendence. The Hanged Man is in limbo, perhaps in a chrysalis much like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. The two are mystics, detached from the world. Therefore, Neptune reinforce the otherworldliness of The Hanged Man.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tarot: Major Arcana: Astrology (1 of 2)


Astrology and I have been at odds with each other for a very long time. I only study it to gain a deeper understanding of the various magical systems that incorporate astrology. Since the Tarot used today is based on concepts from the Golden Dawn, I need to know astrology for the deeper meanings.

Some of the connections between the Zodiac Signs and the cards of the Major Arcana make sense. Also, some planets do intuitively match certain cards. However in other cases, I was baffled as to why the pairing. My knowledge of the more arcane aspects of the Tarot is not as deep as I would want. 

Aries, the Ram matches well with The Emperor. They are both leaders with strong masculine energies. Aries’ fire strengthens The Emperor’s authority. Meanwhile, the fixed energy of Taurus, the Bull centers The Hierophant. Stubborn Taurus reinforces traditionally-orientated Hierophant.
 Virgo, the Virgin reveals the introvert tendencies of The Hermit. Both reflect the need for solitude for questioning minds. Meanwhile, Libra, the Scales seeks balance as does Justice. Both stress tact and objective thinking. 

Some Signs associated with the Major Arcana are linked by animal symbolism. Since the venomous scorpion kills, Scorpio, the Scorpion is coupled with Death. Other Signs which represent animals associated with the Major Arcana are Capricorn, the Goat and Leo, the Lion. Capricorn is paired with The Devil while Leo with Strength. Goats are reputed to be stubborn reflecting the bondage aspect of The Devil. Meanwhile, the lion is well-regarded for his strength. 

In regards to the planets, having the sun coupled with The Sun makes obvious sense. Venus, the planet of harmony and love, matches the essence of The Empress. Quicksilver Mercury embodies The Magician, who is an alchemist.

 The remaining parings required further investigation on my part. Because The Lovers focus on two people and their choices, Gemini, the Twins seems to be the logical choice. Reflecting The Lovers’ dilemma, Gemini are opposing twins. This Sign indicates the pull on The Lovers to go into different directions as individuals. 

In seeking future goals, Aquarius, the Water Bearer is guided by the stars. The Star has elements of Aquarius in its essence. Meanwhile, Pisces, the Fish are dreamers governed by the ebb and flow of life. The Moon, the card of dreams, governs the tides, therefore the combination of Pisces and The Moon make sense.

 I did wonder why the moon was not paired with The Moon, and was instead paired with The High Priestess. The clues for me is that both are feminine, receptive, and imaginative. But neither dwells in illusions like Pisces and The Moon. The moon of The High Priestess underlies her intuition.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Animal Relationships: Predator and Prey

Among the animal relationships, the one that bothers people is predator and prey. In understanding that all animals must eat to survive, people can accept the dynamic between predators and their prey. One aspect of this relationship is that they keep each other in check. For example, prairie dogs would breed uncontrollably unless black-footed ferrets hunted them. Crudely speaking, the number of prairie dogs determine the number of ferrets. The predator and prey relationship is the “ying and yang” of nature.

Read the rest at my blog at Witches and Pagans: Animal Wisdom.
Predator and Prey.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Tarot of the Animal Lords: Mythic Images

The deck that I use is The Tarot of the Animal Lords. On the surface, the deck seems only to be animals dressed up as various Tarot characters. Looking deeper however, the reader will see that each animal is connected to various myths. The associations are subtle and do require a knowledge of animal lore.

 For example, The Emperor features a lion with a golden eagle. The eagle, itself, is associated with the Roman emperors, who were the representatives of Jupiter, the Ruler of the Heavens. In Roman bird augury, the golden eagle represents the will of Jupiter. Using this train of logic, I associate The Emperor with Jupiter.

 The Hierophant depicts the red deer as a priest. In Europe, this animal has religious associations. Cernunnos, God of the Celts, connected to the stage in rut, is the God of the Forest. Moreover, this Horned God is depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron, itself a sacred artifact. The mythic association for The Hierophant then becomes Cernunnos.

 The Hanged Man is a bat hanging upside down. Although he is not strictly a mythological character, I associate this card with The Batman. This character is suspended between being ordinary Bruce Wayne and the obsessed Batman. He can never completely be one being or the other, but neither is he both. The Batman is my mythological connection for The Hanged Man in this deck.

 Death is represented by the raven. This corvid is associated with The Morrigan, the Dark Goddess of the Celts. She knows who will die in battle, and will tell them beforehand. Since The Morrigan is also the Goddess of Sovereignty, Her decision is always final. The sovereignty of Death leads me to The Morrigan.

 The Devil is represented by the billy goat. I associate this animal with Inuus, Who is one of the aspects of Faunus, the Roman God of Fertility. Inuus is venerated at the Lupercalia in February. Young men would run through town whipping women, with straps made from goatskin. (This was to make women fertile.)

 The Sun features two hares dancing in the sun. Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, often had hares as her companions. A symbol of the reborn sun, the hare is the mythical association that I have with this card. Therefore the Goddess Ostara is The Sun in this deck.

 The Tarot of the Animal Lords also have animals with mythic symbolism. The fox of The Magician does his magic on a toadstool, a traditional symbol of the fairy worlds. The Empress sits on a turtle shell throne, which symbolizes fertility. The Hierophant is accompanied by a stork, the Roman symbol of fidelity and piety.

 Meanwhile, the mandarin ducks of The Lovers are the Chinese symbol for married love. In Death, the chameleon represents bad luck and misfortune as told in African myths. Moreover, the toad in The Devil is considered to be a familiar of wizards, and represents dark magic.

 Further study of the folklore of animals will reveal more mythic symbols in this deck. I have only touched the surface of mythic associations for this particular Tarot deck. I have worked with The Tarot of the Animal Lords for ten years, and still find new mythic connections.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Each-Uisge (Water-Horse): Be Cautious, Be Aware

Throughout the lands surrounding the North Sea, stories abound of dreaded lake monsters who lurk below the surface. These tales describe many of the monsters as “water-horses.” This beast resembles a seal with two sets of flippers, a long neck and a small head. People usually divide “water-horses” into two types – the long-necked Nessie and the maned Each-Uisge. While Nessie of Loch Ness is more benign, the Each-Uisge, also of Scotland, is more sinister. Haunting lakes and lochs, this shapeshifter kills and eats unwary humans (leaving only the liver). The Each-Uisge usually lures people by pretending to be a docile horse.

 From ancient times, the Each-Uisge has filled people with dread and fear. The Picts depicted Him in all his ferocity their pictographs. The Romans recorded deadly sightings of this beast during their time in Britain. Described as a glistening black horse with a greenish patina, the Each-Uisge would appear on the roadside as a tame horse. Seeing relief, the weary traveler would mount Him, only to find themselves firmly affixed to the beast’s back. After that, the “horse” would quickly trot off. When the Each-Uisge smelled water nearby, He would race into the lake drowning the unfortunate victim.

One blood-curdling account tells the killing of several children by the Each-Uisge. This creature had appeared to several children as a pretty pony. As each child sat on his back, the “pony” would lengthen it to fit more children. When commanded by the Each-Uisge mount, a frightened boy ran away. As the boy escaped, he heard his friends scream as they were drowned in the lake. The next day, the sorrowful villagers only found the children’s livers floating in the water.

The Each-Uisge is called by many names throughout the North Sea region. In Norway, this beast is Backahasten or Nokken, the “brook-horse.” In The Faroes, He is known as Nukur, and Nuggle in the Orkeys. The Irish call Him, the Capall-uisce, and the Manx, the Cabbyl-Ushtey.

In Wales, the Each-Uisge is known as the Ceffyl Dwr. This small beautiful “horse” lived in mountain pools. Once someone mounted Him, the Ceffyl Dwr would fly over the water and, then melt into a mist. After the victim drops into the water, He would reform and eat the body. At other times, this beast would transform into a frog and leap on the victim’s back.

No one is quite sure what the Each-Uisge is. Is this creature, an undiscovered mammal such as a new species of otter or seal? Or are the stories too fantastic for an ordinary animal? Whatever the Each-Uisge is, everyone will agree that He is deadly and vicious.

The Each-Uisge is real to those who believe the old myths. Something lives in those lakes, pools, and lochs; Something that will kill and eat you. Ignore the myths at your own peril. Be cautious and aware that not everything you encounter is benign.
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Note: The Kelpie is similar to the Each-Uisge, except that She dwells in rivers and waterfalls.

Drawing Copyrighted by Liza Phoenix (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, October 21, 2016

Tarot of the Animal Lords: Major Arcana: Justice, The Hanged Man, and Death

Justice is a barn owl who stands on the edge of a mountain cliff. She holds the scales and sword of Justice. However, this owl cannot go backwards because of the massive tree behind her. One misstep forward, she falls to her doom. High in the mountains, the owl stands keeping her balance. Like Justice, she has to weigh both sides carefully or risk disaster. (Barn owls are traditionally found in church and grave yards. This explains the artist’s choice for Justice, for me.)

 The Hanged Man presents a bat hanging between two trees under a full moon. Underneath him is a small pool of water that mirrors his face. Around the pool are night lilies, and two rats with their paws on skulls. Since bats sleep upside down and during the day, this bat is perfectly content to wait patiently. However, the rats seem to indicate a sense of impending death. I wonder if the scene is depicting the feeling of peace just before dying. This card is both disturbing and serene at the same time for me.

 This leads to the next card, which is Death. At the front of a cave littered with bones and weapons stands a raven with a scythe. He has his hand on a crowned skeleton. Behind him is a misty swamp. The only way out is to cross the river in front. Meanwhile, a chameleon stands in from of the raven. In African legend, this lizard is a sign of death and misfortune. The two animals together give a sense of doom. There seems a sense of finality to the card.










Other entries in this series: