Saturday, February 13, 2016

GIRAFFE: Quiet Strength

From prehistory, Giraffe has commanded people’s attention. Early writers described Giraffe as “magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive in character.” Pictures of Giraffes grace the cave walls in North Africa, drawn over 10,000 years ago. In Ancient Egypt, Queen Hatshepat brought Giraffe from the headwaters of the Nile, down to her zoo. The Kingdom of Malindi, in Africa, in 1414 presented China, Giraffe as a diplomatic gift (the first ever). In Paris, when Giraffe was first seen in 1826, the City went “Giraffe crazy” for a year.

Since the beginning of time, people have tried to explain why Giraffe looks the way He does. In Africa, after the Creator Gods finished with Camel and Leopard, some parts were left over. So They made an animal large like Camel with Leopard spots. Ancient Greeks and Romans called Giraffe “Camel-Leopard”, which now is the scientific name (Camelopardalis) for Giraffe.
 
Tallest of all land mammals, Giraffe is noted for his exceptionally long neck and legs. Giraffe uses his tallness to his advantage. From his elevated view, He can watch for predators, as well as eat leaves from the tops of trees. Because of his great height, Giraffe and His Friends are called a “tower”.

However, Giraffe has many other notable features as well. Like Camel, He can go for days without drinking, and can eat from thorny plants. With his flexible neck, He can eat from the tops of trees. With his horns, Giraffe can swing his head and ably defend himself. A blow from Giraffe’s head can prove deadly to a predator.

This peaceful quiet Animal is one of the most successful vegetarians of the African Savannah. He may seem fragile but Giraffe can ably defend himself. Quiet and unassuming, Giraffe always looks out for his friends. They return the favor when He is the most vulnerable – sprawled at the water hole drinking. Be a friend like Giraffe, and learn quiet strength from Him.

Giraffe’s Teachings Also Include:

“The giraffe represents the capacity to extend beyond the limitations of the physical plane. Its ability to obtain sustenance flourishing on a seemingly unattainable perch symbolizes the necessity to overcome limitations and to allow innovative ideas to flourish.” Copyright: “Animals Divine Companion”, Lisa Hunt.

“The giraffe’s vulnerability when it lowers its head to drink reminds us that if we lose sight of our greater vision and consciousness and sink into a mundane way of life, we risk losing our spiritual connection.” Copyright: Beyond the Rainbow (Constance Barrett Sohodski).


Giraffe head
Giraffe’s Wisdom Includes:
Farsightedness
Seeing From the Heart
Foresight
Flexibility

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Apemean (Hairy Hominoids): Shadow of Humanity

All over the world, myths and sightings about mysterious Apemen abound. The most famous of these hairy hominoids are Yeti (the Abominable Snowman) of Asia and Bigfoot (Sasquatch) of North America, both of whom have captured the public imagination. Meanwhile, Australia has Yowie, Europe Wudewasa (Woodwose), Southeast Asia Orang-Pendek, South America Mapinguary, and Africa Ngoko. Many stories about these various Apemen speak of their wild nature, hairiness, and strength. Today, sightings of these hairy hominoids come from the world’s wild places – the jungles, swamps, forests, and mountains. However, people still see these wild “men” even in settled areas from time to time.

What makes Apemen different from other myths about fantastic animals is that They are believed to exist. In fact, Apemen dwell on the knife’s edge between myth and reality. Throughout the centuries, ordinary people have reported their encounters with these hominoids. Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame reported seeing giant foot prints of a Yeti in Nepal in the 1950s. In 2004, an elderly woman in Florida encountered a Skunk Ape in her backyard. Meanwhile, The Cryptozoic and Rare Animal Research Center of Vietnam is searching for Nguoi Rung. However Apemen continue to remain elusive as to what or who they are.

Although stories about hairy hominoids have been told for thousands of years, They only recently came into the consciousness of modern Western people. “Abominable Snowman” which referred to Yeti, was coined by Henry Newman writing in a Calcutta newspaper in 1921. He was reporting on several sightings by British officers in Tibet. His article about what their Sherpas had described, prompted the Abominable Snowman craze. More Europeans wanted to travel to Asia to see this mysterious inhabitant of the mountains.

Meanwhile, Bigfoot (Sasquatch) came into public consciousness in the 1950s with articles in men’s adventure magazines. Added to these reports were the films of Roger Patterson in 1960s depicting a walking hairy “man.” That spurred the public to think that Apemen lived amongst them, and perhaps had observed their comings and goings. Afterwards reports flooded in about people’s encounters with various man-like mammals.

Since that time, many people have speculated as to what Apemen are. Are they humans, apes, or something else altogether. Theories have ranged from small apes to surviving Gigantopithecus, a prehistoric primate. Could these Apemen be relic populations of other human species such as the Neanderthals?

Cryptozoologists (scientists who study unknown animals) have grouped Apemen into several species ranging from relatives of humans to unknown apes. “Neo-giants” such as Bigfoot (Sasquatch) are considered human. “True Giants” such as Grendel (of “Beowulf”) are believed to be relatives of Gigantopithecus. “Marked Hominids,” who have two-toned hair and other markings, are thought to be Homo heidelbergensis, predecessors of modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. Enkidu (of “Gilgamesh Epic”) is considered a Neanderthaloid, from a relic population of Neanderthals. Almas and Yeren of Asia are believed to be Erectus Hominids, descendants of Homo erectus of the Pleistocene. “Proto-pygmies” are considered human with the discovery in Indonesia of Homo floresiensis, “the Hobbit.” Meanwhile, “Undiscovered Primates” such as Skunk Ape, Ngoloko, and Mapinguary are considered to be unknown apes.

Other scientists have expressed opinions about Apemen as well. Noted primatologist Jane Goodall keeps an open mind saying that “there is a lot more evidence that they do exist than not.” Furthermore, she surmises that they could possibly be a link between humans and gorillas. Meanwhile, zoologist Morris Goodman notes that “genetically humans are only slightly remodeled apes.” Perhaps the hairy hominoids do fill the breach between apes and humans.

Cloaked in mystery, Apemen exist just outside sensible human perceptions. As “wildmen,” They are beyond the fringes of ordinary life. In European folklore, They were the people who left the towns to wander in the wilderness, becoming less human each day. In their efforts to shed their worldliness and become closer to God, desert saints became hairy anchorites, a type of Apemen.

Noted cryptozoologist Loren Coleman said that seeking Bigfoot (and other Apemen) is important, and when They are found, “we shall never look at humans in the same way again.” Understanding Bigfoot will govern how humans think of themselves. Apemen therefore are the Shadow for humankind. Apemen are the “other,” that we are both fearful of and curious about. Perhaps They are our cousins, reminding us that we too are a part of nature. Hairy hominoids urge people to come to a new understanding of their place on the Earth.
---
Science Notes:

1. The founder of the science of cryptozoology, Bernard Heulvelmans defined a cryptid as “a hidden animal which by definition is very incompletely known.” Nessie of Loch Ness is considered a cryptid, whereas the Tengu of Japan is a mythological animal.

2. Hominid refers to the family of humans, the Hominidae. Bigfoot and Yeti are considered hominids. Hominoids include apes and humans. Orang-Pendek and Skunk Ape are hominoids.

3. Bigfoot and Sasquatch refer to the same hominid. The American name is Bigfoot, and the Canadian, Sasquatch.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tarot: The Tarot of the Animal Lords: focus on Death

The focus of my character sketch for “The Tarot of the Animals Lords” is XIII. Death. The card depicts a foggy day, shrouding the landscape in mist. A raven stands at the entrance of a cave. In one hand, he holds a scythe, and with the other pats the crown of a skeleton lying beside him. In front of the raven is a chameleon resting near his feet.

 In the outline of the story that I created from my character sketch, I focused on Raven and his deeds. The other four cards I used complete the story (in order) were XV. The Devil, XVI. The Tower, VII. The Chariot, and VIII. Justice, respectively. In my opinion, each of these cards reflected many of the facts of the Death card. 

 Raven gloats that he is now the Ruler of the Land. Through stealth, he has vanquished all of his rivals. As he talks to his spy, Chameleon, Raven muses on how he united with Goat to do more mischief. He ponders his next move to keep his power intact.

 The scene shifts to The Devil. In a cavern with their backs to the rising moon is a goat and a toad. The standing goat is patting the toad, which squats behind him. The rocky cavern is empty except for these two figures.

 Goat is waiting for Raven to arrive for more plotting of mischief. He muses how they pulled the key log from Beaver’s dam, and sent him to his death. As Goat wonders what Raven will do next, Toad agrees to meet with Chameleon. Since Chameleon is a double agent, he will find out if Raven is plotting against them. 
 
 As Major Arcana cards, Death and The Devil fit together, since we are all in bondage to death. The Devil shows people their limitations, fears, and beliefs that hold them back. Moreover, Death is the biggest fear and limitation of all. For me, Death reflects the positive aspects of The Devil, as a final release from our fears.
 
The next card, The Tower features a beaver being flung over the falls as his dam breaks. Flying over him is a raven. The rush of water and flying logs reflects the beaver’s doom.  In this scene of the story, Beaver screams, “Help! Raven did this! Help!”

Both The Devil and Death are reflected in The Tower card. Death in the form of the raven flying overhead is the cause of the dam breaking. (Ravens are traditional symbols of death.) In the Tarot, The Tower comes after The Devil to break The Devil’s hold on us. The dam in The Tower reflects the holding power of certain beliefs. Once Death comes, the dam breaks and everything floods out. The suddenness of the flood washes away any limitations that we may hold.
 
 Next in the story comes The Chariot. Over the mountains, a crested crane rides a mute swan. As they fly towards the plains, the sun is rising. Standing on the swan’s back, the crane is aloof as he eyes the vista below him. In the distance are migrating swans.

In my story, Crane hears Beaver’s cries, and races to help. It is unsure whether he will arrive in time or not. If he does not, he still will be a witness to what has happened to Beaver.
 
 In the Major Arcana, The Chariot is movement. For me, The Devil, The Tower, and The Chariot reflects the several states of Death, which can be both sudden and gradual. The Devil holds death to a single instance, whilst The Tower shatters death completely. Whereas The Tower is sudden change, The Chariot is steady, the mid-point between the two extremes of inertia and discrete movement. Meanwhile, both Death and The Tower push forward to overcome The Devil’s active inertia.

 The last card in the story is Justice. This card depicts a barn owl, standing on a cliff’s edge, with a sword and scales. As day dawns over the mountains, a tern flies over the owl’s head. In nature, barn owls are known as voracious ratters. Moreover, they are often found in church yards, and have become associated with death. Because of this, I connected Justice with Death.

 Owl looks down at the scene of Crane’s rescue of Beaver. She decides to send Tern to Raven to ask him, why Beaver? As Justice, Owl will go down to deal with Raven, since she is equal to him in power.
 
 One aspect of Justice is dealing with unlawful death and administering lawful death. Moreover in Justice and Death, the owl’s sword and the raven’s scythe act as the same in conducting their respective duties. Both are impartial in what they do, and do not favor anyone. 

What I learnt from doing this character sketch is how the cards flow into each other, telling a story with relative ease. Death was the focus of these other four cards, with each highlighting a facet of this Major Arcana card. Also within each card were elements that related to the others in the group. The Chariot and The Tower are both about change, whilst The Devil is contained by Justice. Together, these cards weave an intricate story of intrigue and power.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Shadow Animals: Nahualli and Heyoka

My blog at Witches and Pagans features the following:

Shadow Animals: Part Three
In my series on types of Shadow Animals, I am introducing two terms that may seem unfamiliar to many Pagans: “nahualli” and “heyoka.” People may have heard these terms as they are common to New Age beliefs. Nahualli and the more familiar “nagual,” are often discussed in New Age Toltec writings. I prefer nahualli as defined by Caelum Rainieri and Ivory Andersen in their discussions about Aztec religion. The common usage for heyoka is to denote “crazy energy.” However, this Lakota term also refers to the person, a sacred clown who is touched by Wankan Tanka (the Great Mystery). To the Lakota, the heyoka holds the sacred duality of the universe.


Read more at animal-wisdom:shadow animals nahualli and heyoka

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fairy-wren: Discover the Deeper Truth

Often seen in people’s gardens, Fairy-wren (Family: Malurus) is usually looking for a tasty Insect. Shy in nature, Fairy-wren is however tolerant of people. Popular in Australia, people regularly see Him in parks hopping about.

Despite his brilliant blue colors, Fairy-wren is difficult to see in the undergrowth. Since Male Fairy-wren is more cautious than the Female Fairy-wren (who has drabber feathers), He leaves promptly when an intruder approaches. If Fairy-wren spies a flying Insect, He hops straight up to snatch it, and then dives back to safety in the nearby bushes.

Fairy-wren’s family arrangements were confusing to many scientists. They thought He was socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous. However what they mistook for Female Fairy-wrens were the non-breeding Males. In Fairy-wren’s small group, there is one breeding pair – the dominant Female and her Partner. Because Fairy-wrens live long lives, They often form lasting family bonds. In their territories, Female Fairy-wrens will nest several times during a season. The non-breeding Males will help to raise each brood, and defend their area. When these Fairy-wrens are about four years old, They will leave their home nest.


Then, scientists uncovered another unique aspect about Fairy-wrens. Mother Fairy-wren teaches her unborn Chicks a special call. She sings to Them whilst the Chicks are still in their shells. Scientists believe that this call is the Fairy-wren’s version of a last name. A Chick that does not know this call is usually a brood-parasite such as a bronze-cuckoo. When that chick fails to answer, the Fairy-wren Family then abandons the intruder.

Fairy-wren teaches that things are not always what they seem. The boldly colored Male hides in the underbrush. When with his small family, He can be mistaken for a Female if He is not breeding. His family being ruled by a Female is unusual as well. Fairy-wren insists that you look beyond the surface to discover the deeper truths. However, He does caution that the deeper truth maybe staring you in the face, without any probing.

Teachings of Fairy-Wren Also Includes:
Having Strong Family Bonds
Being Bright and Beautiful
Dynamic Female Leadership
------------------
Science Notes:
1. Members of the wren family called the Troglodytidae. The wrens of Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand are not related and are not wrens. They belong to their own families. The New Zealand wrens are the Acanthisittidae, an ancient bird family. Meanwhile the wrens of Australia and New Guinea belong to the Maluridae Family, which includes fairy-wrens (Malurus), emu-wrens (Stipiturus) and grasswrens (Amytornis).

Photo By JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

(Revision of a 2008 blog entry.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Norse Runes: Runic Energies: Popular Culture


Fehu:       The TV Western, “Bonanza” is set in Virginia City, Nevada during one of the richest silver strikes in the U.S. The wealth of the Cartwright family is their ranch, The Ponderosa. 

Thurisaz:    “The Untouchables” (1956) with Robert Stack is riddled with Thurisaz energy. Treasury Agent Elliot Ness strives to bring justice to Prohibition Ear Chicago. Each episode depicts murder and brutality against innocent people.

Ansuz:     Yoda of “Star Wars” taught many generations of Jedi Knights from Ben Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker to Luke Skywalker. He was also the head of the Jedi Council.     
               
Raidho: The TV Western, “Rawhide” depicted the lives of drovers as they herd cattle along the Sedalia Trail (from Texas to Missouri). Each episode opened with the sight of the cowboys urging cows to move along the range.

Kennaz:    “Hell’s Kitchen” with Master Chef Gordon Ramsey is about choosing the best chef to run a new restaurant. Each week, Ramsey gives the chefs tasks to prove their skill and mastery in both cooking and running a restaurant.

Gifu: O’Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi” tells of two poor newly-weds who struggle to give the other a gift of meaning. They sell their most prized possessions to give the other their loving gift.

Wunjo: Throughout the years, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” have brought children joy in their antics. Adults are amused by the high squeaky voices of the trio, and smile at their adorableness.

Hagalaz:       Moby Dick, the White Whale, terrorized the seas by destroying whaling boats. In “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, this whale smashed the boats carrying Captain Ahab, his pursuer. Finally, Moby Dick killed Ahab and nearly all his crew by throwing his whale body on top of the craft. 

Eihwaz:         PBS “Frontline” presents controversial issues such as NSA spying for national security. The objective of the series is to have people think about these issues. They do that by presenting various points of views for their viewers to consider.

Perthro: The TV science-fiction show, “Quantum Leap” presented a protagonist trying to return to his own time and life. As he struggles to get home, he is forced to “leap” from time period to time period, and into the lives of different people. The “jumps” were completely random.

Berkana: The TV show, “Shark Tank” features investors willing to sponsor inventors. Each episode, several inventors present their ideas to the investors for consideration. A lucky few get funded for their work by the investors.

Othala: The legacy of Gene Roddenberry is the “Star Trek” franchise. Each show, movie, book, and comic presents his optimistic and hopeful view of the future. Furthermore, millions of people have responded to his vision by becoming ardent fans.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

EURASIAN WREN: Sacred Mysteries

The “Wren” of Europe, Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) is the only Wren that lives in the Old World. Known as Bran’s Sparrow to the Celts, Wren foretold the future with his songs. The Celts called their sacred Wren “Drui”, (meaning “The Druid among Birds”). Under the protection of Taranis, the Celtic God of Thunder, Wren often nested in his oaks. Killing a Wren brought the wrath of the Gods upon unwary people.

 To various peoples from Japan to Germany, Eurasian Wren is the King of the Winds. Plutarch tells the story of how the Wren became the King of the Birds. The Birds decided whoever could fly the highest to the sun would rule over Them. The Eurasian Wren secreted Himself under Golden Eagle’s down feathers. When Golden Eagle tired, Eurasian Wren flew out and ascended higher, getting singed by the sun’s rays. Returning, the other Birds proclaimed Eurasian Wren their King. Cunning and cleverness had outwitted strength.
 
During the winter, this tiny Bird lives in a communal roost with other Eurasian Wrens. To keep from freezing, They share their warmth. Just before dusk, Eurasian Wren calls to the Others. They answer and then enter their roost one by one. Many as sixty Eurasian Wrens will share an abandoned nest site.

 In British folklore (Eurasian) Wren ruled the winter and (European) Robin ruled the summer. As the representative of the Old Year, Wren was sacrificed to bring in the New Year (as represented by Robin). This ritual killing of Wren ended winter and the Old Year.

Later Christians associated Eurasian Wren with the Virgin Mary. Now the ritual killing of the Wren by the Wren Boys happened on the day after Christmas, which was St. Stephen’s Day. One theory to this ritual occurrence was that people celebrated the ending of Paganism and the coming of Christianity. Another posits that Eurasian Wren betrayed St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

The smallest and shiest of the Wrens, Eurasian Wren sings the loudest. Quivering and exposed on a branch, He trills his divine melodies. Except to end winter, His killing brings misfortune. With these examples, Eurasian Wren demonstrates the paradoxes of life. A sacred Bird, Wren sings as He unwraps the sacred mysteries of the universe. Spend time with Eurasian Wren to understand life’s prophecies.

Teachings of Eurasian Wren also Includes:
Being Small but Mighty
Singing Your Own Song
Cunning and Stealth

Science Notes:
1. Except for Eurasian Wren, the Wren Family lives only in the Western Hemisphere.
2. Eurasian Wren is actually a species complex with 27 subspecies.

(Note: Revision of Winter Wren blog of 2008.)