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.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tarot of the Animal Lords: Strength, The Hermit, and The Wheel of Fortune

The Tarot deck that I use is The Tarot of the Animal Lords. Although Strength is XI and Justice is
VIII in this deck, I switched them. The switch now has Justice as the middle card of the Major Arcana. Justice then becomes the “balancer” of the Major Arcana.

 Strength depicts a mongoose wrestling with a cobra. While that is happening, the earth is opening up under them and volcanoes are erupting behind them. The scene is enveloped in smoke and ash. I can almost smell the sulfur spewing out of the earth. In front of the battling pair, are two salamanders, who are facing in opposite directions. I feel the immediacy that someone has to decide quickly to flee or be killed. However, the two center characters are frozen in the moment of the chaos. Does that mean that Strength can be either the calm focus or the frozen stance? Is the downside of Strength to be locked in a struggle oblivious to what is going on?

 The Hermit presents a black bear entering a dark cave. His lamp barely pierces the blackness. This bear carries keys and scrolls with him. This made me wonder if he hoped to find a treasure chest. Behind him in broad daylight is a peaceful countryside. Right above him, dripping in honey is a beehive. I think that the Hermit is leaving the sweetness of the known life for an unknown future. This card elicits a feeling of answering a sacred call, of going deeper into the Divine.

The Wheel (of Fortune) telescopes the concept to a circular tree branch and the life cycle of the butterfly. The adult butterfly lays her eggs on a leaf that hatches into the various stages of caterpillars until finally the juvenile butterfly becomes the adult. And the cycle continues. To emphasize The Wheel’s motion, the wind blows in a circle high up in the mountains. The dominant theme of this card is a circle, going round and round. I get dizzy just looking at The Wheel. This Wheel focuses on the cycles of life that we all experience repeatedly at different points in our lives.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Griffin: Majesty and Nobility

The Griffin (Gryphon) has had a long association with humans. For example, She is a part of people’s last names and featured in their coats of arms. Since the time of Sumner, the Griffin has stood for majesty and nobility.

 Various myths depict the Griffin as the combination of the lion and the eagle. Since both of these earthy animals are monarchs of their own domains, the Griffin is considered the Ruler of Heaven and Earth. This mythic animal, with her offspring Hippogriff, are the only members of the Tribes of the Cosmos. While the Griffin protects the Tree of Life with its Golden Apples, the Hippogriff carries the worthy traveler between the worlds. Because of this, the Griffin is also the Sentinel of the Throne of Heaven and Earth.

Archeologists have uncovered representations of the Griffin from Egypt, Persia, and the Middle East. She attended the Pharaoh and guarded the Persian Emperors. From ancient times, the Griffin represented earthy and heavenly power, for She guarded the royal graves. For the Greeks, the Griffin was called “The Hound of Zeus.”

According to the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, Griffins were native to Scythia (central Eurasia). Living in the northernmost part of the known world, these mythic animals guarded their gold from humans. Later, other writers said that Griffins lived high in the mountains of India. In their aeries, these mythic animals guarded emeralds and other treasures from those who would steal from them. Flavius Philostratus said that in India, Griffins were sacred to the sun.

The dual nature of the Griffin led Medieval Christians to associate Her with Christ. The eagle reflected the divinity of Christ, while the lion, His humanity. St. Isidore noted, “Christ is Lion because He reigns and has strength; Eagle, because after the Resurrection, He rises into Heaven.” Because of this, the Griffin is often featured in cathedral windows and carvings.

 The legends say that the Griffin also guards the Holy Grail of Christ. (The Grail is carved from a single emerald.) Many Knights of the Round Table have searched for the holy artifact, but usually gave up after a futile search. Only the pure of heart was allowed to find the Grail. The Griffin killed everyone else who persisted, as She did all those who would steal from Her.

 As the Monarch of the Heavens and the Earth, the Griffin teaches nobility and majesty. This fierce and intelligent animal, subject of many legends, watches intently over her domains. Protecting the Tree of Life, She ensures that only the pure of heart can receive its blessings. With her power comes her responsibility to use it wisely. Remember that this is a part of nobility. Follow Her example in what you do as you lead others.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Tarot: Hanged Man, The Tower, and The Devil and me

My current life can be expressed in three cards. The Tower is a visual display of what happened to me. I was not hit by lightening but a wall literally fell on me. In an instance like The Tower, my life was changed completely.
 My brain injury, itself, is The Devil, since it limits me in what I can do. It inhibits me from living freely, since I have to choose and weight the consequences of doing an activity. If I go to a party, I will become overstimulated by the people, noise, and disruption to my daily routine. This means two days after the party of not leaving my house and living in darkened rooms. In response, I employ creative problem-solving to deal with each challenge as it presents itself. 

The card that reflects me now is The Hanged Man. Now upside down in my life, I have a different perspective on life. After nearly dying and then coming back to life, I live between two worlds. For me, life becomes a paradox as I navigate in a new world. For these reasons, I see my life with ebbs and flows instead of a Hero’s Journey.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Lake Monsters: Expect the Unexpected

Throughout the world, mysterious “monsters” are often sighted in deep water lakes. Known as “Lake Monsters,” these freshwater beasts both frighten and intrigue people. Nessie of Loch Ness is the most famous representative of these animals.

Worldwide, there are about 1,000 lakes where Lake Monsters are often seen. Most of these lakes lie in the Northern Hemisphere ranging from the northern boreal forests to the southern hardwood forests. In contrast, sightings in the Southern Hemisphere have only been in Argentina and Bolivia.

Cryptozoologists have classifications for Lake Monsters, which they consider to be undiscovered or unknown animals. The most prevalent species of Lake Monsters is the “water horse.” Nessie is a typical long-necked water horse. This type has a small head on a long neck, with a rounded body and two sets of flippers. The water-kelpie (Each-Uisge) who drowns people is an example of a maned water horse. Other famous water horses include Champie of Lake Champlain (US), Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan (CA) and Storsie (Storsjoodjuret) of Storsjon Lake (SD). Rarer species of Lake Monsters include the giant beaver of Utah, the giant shark seen in Alaska, the giant turtle of Vietnam, and the mystery dinosaur seen in China. No one is sure what They are but scientists keep investigating to determine whether They exist or are only a myth.

Often sighted but never found, Lake Monsters exist just beyond human science. Various theories as to what They are range from prehistoric plesiosaurs to primitive whales. These beasts could be new species, unknown species, or simply mutated animals. Nobody knows for sure.

Whatever Lake Monsters are, They inspire fear and curiosity in people. Fear because of They attack and drown people. Many are vicious monsters who attack unsuspecting victims in the water. Curiosity since people want to know more about Lake Monsters. These elusive beasts pop up when people least expect them. Before anyone can react, these mysterious animals disappear from sight. Learn to expect the unexpected teach Lake Monsters. Just remember to be on guard lest They attack you.

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.