Monday, October 27, 2014

Archetypes in Mythology: Norse: Building of Asgard

The Wall of Asgard (Norse)

Read the Myth at Hurstwic Norse Mythology 
This myth details the relations between the Giants and the Gods. Both indulge in treachery to obtain their goals. The Giant, who had disguised himself, is both the Shapeshifter and the Shadow. When he bargains with Odin, the All-Father, he presents himself as an ordinary mortal. However, neither he nor his horse are that. In payment for building the wall around the Gods’ city, the Giant would receive Freya, Mani, and Sunna (Sol). By tricking the Gods, he shows Them for who they really are, people who do not keep their word.

 Loki, an Outsider, is the Trickster who devises a way out of the Gods’ dilemma. He shapeshifts to trick the Giant’s horse. Depriving the Giant from finishing the wall, Loki saves the Gods and presents Odin with a gift. From the union between Him and the Giant’s stallion comes Odin’s steed, Sleipnir.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Pwyll and Arwan (The Mabinogion) Welsh

 Read this myth from "The Mabinogion" (new window)

This myth details the web of hospitality in Welsh society. In this myth, people hear what courteous behavior entails. Pwyll, the mortal, disrupts the hunting of Arawn, the God, and decides to make amends.

 Pwyll, the Lord of Dyfed, is the Everyman who encounters a God. After being chastised by Arawn, he makes his amends by killing the God’s rival and ruling in his stead. As a good guest, Pwyll does not sleep with Arawn’s wife. Pwyll, the Everyman, navigates the world of the Gods using his manners.

 Arawn, the Grey Lord, is the Shadow, because he demands retribution from Pwyll. This prompts Pwyll to go on his “Hero’s Journey” to seek amends. Meanwhile Arwan’s rival and his wife act as Threshold Guardians to test Pwyll. The first by tempting Pwyll into disregarding Arwan’s instructions, and the second by allowing Pwyll to sleep with her. Since he does neither, Pwyll earns Arawn’s friendship.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Isis and Osiris (Egypt)

This myth details how Osiris became the Ruler of the Underworld. It also features the transformation of Isis from sister-wife to a Goddess in her own right. Osiris, who is killed by his brother Set, is both the Ruler and the Innocent. As the Teacher, Osiris, gives knowledge to his people. As the Innocent, he fails to see how his brother Set could be jealous of him, so he falls for Set’s machinations.

 Set is the Shadow who challenges Isis by killing his brother. Later, he dismembers his brother’s body forcing Isis to become the Alchemist in using her magic to restore Osiris. His actions spurs the transformation of Isis. Meanwhile, the Queen of Byblos, Astarte, is Everyman. She interacts with Isis, as an ordinary person, highlighting the Goddess’ metamorphosis.

 Isis begins the myth as the Innocent and Lover. After her brother-husband’s death, she seeks to bury him so that he may enter the Afterlife, and achieve his Rulership. In her journey, Isis becomes the Hero to save her brother’s body. At Phoenicia, she becomes the Alchemist when she uses her magic to cure a Prince. Later, Isis reassembles Osiris’ body and adds the missing piece making him whole so He can now enter the Afterlife.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Native American and Mongolian: Landscapes

 Crater Lake (Native American)

Read Myth at Legends Surrounding Crater Lake (new window) 

This myth details how Crater Lake in North America was formed from a volcano. (It is a geo-myth, since it explains how a landscape was formed.) The protagonist, the Chief of the Below Word is the Earth deity, As the Lover, He is spurned by Loha, a mortal woman. Becoming the Destroyer, He lays waste to the land. Loha is the Maiden, who refused his advances. Meanwhile, the Chief of the Above World, the Sky deity, is also the Caretaker who stops the Chief of the Below World. The two medicine people of Loha’s village become the Martyrs, in hopes of stopping the destruction. Their sacrifice inspires the Chief of the Above Sky to defeat his opponent.

Fire and Flood (Mongolian)

Read "Hunter Boy" at Mongol Mythology (new window) 

This geo-myth describes the creation of a certain stone landscape in Mongolia. Halibilu, the Hero, saves his people from a great flood. But in doing so, he becomes stone. Besides being the Hero, Halibilu is also the Caretaker, who provides for his people and saves the Dragon King’s daughter. In trying to save his people, Halibilu became the Martyr, sacrificing himself. (Meanwhile, the Daughter of the Dragon King, is the Damsel in Distress, while the Dragon King is both the Dragon and Ruler.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Babylonian and Meso-American Creation

Tiamat and Marduk
Marduk and Tiamat (Assyrio-Babylonian)

Read Myth at Myth Encyclopedia (new window) 

This myth explains how the present world was created. The original “primordial” Beings, Tiamat and Apsu (both Dragons) were overthrown by the “New Gods.” Chaffing against the rule of these two Beings, the “New Gods” seek to kill both. Angered over Apsu’s death, Tiamat became the Destroyer, leading her army of monsters. Meanwhile, the Sun God, Marduk, becomes both Rebel and Hero, after agreeing to fight Her. Rebelling against Tiamat’s rule, He kills and dismembers Her, creating the present world from her body. Then, Marduk, the Creator, assumes the Rulership as well.

Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca

Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca (Meso-American)

Read Myth at Quetzalcoatl (new window) 
This myth explains how the present world was created. The Gods, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, became Dragons to kill the Earth Monster, who was the Destroyer. These two Gods could be considered Warriors since They stopped Tlaltecuhtli (Earth Monster) from creating more destruction. From her body, the other Gods created the present world.  Meanwhile, Tlaltecuhtli is the source of Creations since both halves of her body are the earth and the sky.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

KOMODO DRAGON: Fearlessness

Komodo Dragon is the largest lizard that has ever lived on land. Armed with sharp claws and a powerful tail, Komodo Dragon will challenge all with a hiss and a flick of His forked tongue. As His islands’ top predator, He has nothing to fear from anybody, not even people.

As large as Komodo Dragon is, He was only discovered on His small Indonesian islands in 1912. These islands are hilly and are covered mostly with grass and palm trees. Even on His islands, Komodo Dragon lives a solitary life.

Komodo Dragon teaches fearlessness but remember his “shadow side” – the lack of social skills. When Komodo Dragons meet, they establish rank order by pushing each other. Usually the larger one wins.

Komodo Dragon's Teachings Also Include:

“Komodo Dragon Dreaming celebrates the potency that comes with truly believing in yourself.” Copyright: “Animal Messengers” by Scott Alexander King

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Archeoastronomy: Sundials

As societies became more complex, people had to organize their timekeeping into smaller increments, especially during the daylight hours. Whether they had to establish a meeting time for a council session or a starting time for a religious ritual, people needed to devise a way to coordinate their time. Beyond “morning”, “noon,” and “evening,” they needed a finer division of time such as “hours.”

 Sundials were invented to solve this problem. Because they measure small intervals of time using cosmic activity, sundials were considered to be one of the earliest scientific instruments. The Egyptians were the first people recorded in the West to use the sundial. Their sundial consisted of the gnomon (a crossbar) and a flat base divided into six “hours.” In the morning, the gnomon faced east, and the afternoon west. The shadow cast by the gnomon on the base determined the hour.

 Using their knowledge of geometry, the Greeks refined the sun dial of the Egyptians. They invented the hemicyclium (hemispherium), which is a block of stone with a hemisphere cut into it. The gnomon was placed on top. The half-sphere created a circular arc that determined time more accurately. The hemicyclium resembled a hollowed out bowl with a stick on top.

 Sundials used in Europe were adapted from the Greeks and the Egyptians. These instruments featured twelve “hour” days and nights. However, the Norse and Saxons based theirs on the ebb and flow of tides. They marked two high and two low tides, which were further divided into halves and quarters for a total of sixteen “hours.”

One major problem with ancient sundials is that they measured “unequal” (“temporary”) “hours.” Summer, which has longer days, produces longer “hours,” than winter. Moreover, the further north (or south) from the Equator, the location of the sundial is, the more pronounced the difference between summer and winter “hours” are.

 In the 1300s, Abu’l-Hasan (Ibn al-Shatir), an Arab Muslim astronomer and religious timekeeper, invented “equal” (“equinoctial”) “hours” based on trigonometry. He reasoned that a gnomon parallel to the Earth’s axis (i.e. polar axis) would produce “equal hours.” “Equal hours” are measured from the passing of the low meridian (12 Midnight) until the next low meridian, and then divided into twenty-four hours. Once sundials were adjusted to the latitude of where they were, they kept accurate time. People, then, used sundials to set mechanical clocks.

 Sundials are divided into two groups – Altitude and Azimuth. The Altitude sundials determine time by the sun’s altitude. These Altitude sundials were either aligned with either the sun or the cardinal directions. Azimuth sundials determine the time from the “hour angle of the sun.” (Azimuth refers to direction of the sun’s angle.) These sundials are oriented by a compass.

 Example of an Altitude sundial is the pole (pillar) dial, which is a pole with a gnomon at the top. Meanwhile Azimuth sundials are often found in gardens. These are the tilted horizontal ones with the gnomon inclined at the latitude of the garden.

 As society became more complex, instruments to tract time in finer increments were invented. Though seemingly simple, sundials are actually intricate devices for keeping time. Because of their importance, people, over the centuries, worked to improve sundials. In fact, sundials were still being used in the 19th Century to set mechanical clocks.

 Works Used:
 Ling Liew Huay and Yee, Lim Siew, “The Mathematics of Sundials,” National University of Singapore, 2001,
 Marie, Niclas, “When Time Began: The History and Science of Sundials,” TimeCenter, 2014, .

 Nordoff, Helena, “Fun in the Sun: A Sundial Tutorial,” 21 August, 2003,

 “Unit 6: Sundials,” Polaris Project, Iowa State University, 2001,
 Ward, John and Margaret Folkard, “Sundials Part 2: Definitions and Basic Types,” Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, 1997,