Friday, February 17, 2017

Animal Relationships: Partnerships

My latest posting up at Witches and Pagans. Animal Relationships: Partnerships

Another aspect of working with your animal teachers is to study the partnerships that they form. Many animals work with others to achieve their goals. In that case, the relationship with the other animal should also be studied. How they work together can aid in your understanding of how you can partner with others.

Various types of animal relationships have lessons to impart. For example, zebras drink at a water hole with wildebeests and ostriches. While the others see danger, the zebras smell danger. Together, the animals provide safety for each other at the communal water hole. This is an example of a community forming from diverse entities for a short duration. This could be something that festival organizers could benefit learning from.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Teachings of the Phoenix

Copyright: Maryann Sterling
The only one of her kind, Phoenix lives in isolation. Greeting the dawn, She spreads her shimmering wings, and sings beautiful songs in praise of the Sun. When her feathers become drab, Phoenix gathers up herbs, and flies to a wild desert place. There She builds her pyre, and waits for the Sun to ignite it. Once engulfed with flames, Phoenix dies only to be reborn, three days later.

“Ancient Phoenix, renewed by fire,
Beloved of the Sun sing sweetly to me.
Grant to me, your gift of a New Beginning.”

To contact the Phoenix, who lives beyond, first ask the Golden Eagle to help you.

Voice of Golden Eagle:
“Come with me to the Sun. As we fly higher and higher, feel the fire in your body. Touch the searing flames without harm. Smell the sweet herbs – sandalwood mixed with frankincense. Hear the mystical song without words. Watch the Phoenix greeting the Sun from the tallest tree of the highest mountain in the Land of the Dawn.”

“Dear Phoenix, we are here to accompany you into the Dark Night.”

The Phoenix sings to you.
“Come, greet the Dawn with me. Bathe in the Spring of Life. Drink the Dew of Generosity. Eat the Dates of Sweetness. Share this glorious day with me!”

“Come Dusk, I will build my funeral pyre. As the setting sun strikes my tree, the flames will rise up to consume us both. Ashes we will be, dead, waiting to be reborn.”

Comes the Night -- the unending darkness, the infinite blackness, the unrelenting bleakness. Nothingness are we, waiting, waiting. Oh, how we long for Daybreak.”

“Look the Bright Sun comes! Behold the Glorious Light bathing all with its golden hues! Embrace the Light! Let the Cycle of the Cosmos renew itself in you. Become life, death, and rebirth.
“Be reborn! Sing songs of gratitude to the New Dawn! Embrace the Rainbow! Become the Prism of the Universe. ”

“Now reborn, it is time for you to return home. Golden Eagle will take you back to the Spiral Tree. When you are again facing the long, cold night, call upon Golden Eagle. She will bring you back to the Land of the Dawn. Back to me -- back to our cycle of renewal.”

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Finding a Significator Card in Tarot

One aspect of the Tarot that a reader needs to be familiar with is numerology. The numbers assigned to the cards of the Minor and Major Arcana are based on occult concepts of numerology. The German poet, Goethe once said, “Numbers do not rule the world, but tell how the world is ruled.” Moreover Pythagorean philosophy claim that “All is Number.” This philosophy sees the universe to be based on “blue prints” which are governed by numbers.

 In the Tarot readings, it is often useful to have a card denoting the questioner (querent). This card is the Significator. One way to find this card is to take the birth date and birth year of the querent, and add up the numbers. The resulting number is the Major Arcana card that represents the querent. The Significator aids greatly in the interpretation of the spread.

For the reader, this method of finding a Significator for themselves is another way to learn more about themselves. People find value in astrology, Myer-Briggs, and other systems that classify humans into discrete groups. Having a Major Arcana card assigned to them helps people to gain insight into their personalities. I do not subscribe to this but that is my personal view.

Using this method, I found my Significator and number which is nine and The Hermit. In general numerology, people who are nines are considered visionaries and sages. In the Pythagorean system, nine is the first square of an odd number, which is known as the Ennead. Since nine is one short of ten, the perfect number, it is considered a failure. However, since only the infinite ten is after nine, the number nine can be considered limitless. Nine then becomes a complex and rich number.

The card that is numbered “Nine” in the Major Arcana is The Hermit. This card is associated with solitude, the search for knowledge and mysticism. The Hermit could be considered the sage. However, The Hermit could also be considered someone who is devoted to only seeking knowledge and not using it. This connotes both failure and limitlessness in one card. Therefore, The Hermit encompasses both the Ennead and traditional numerology.

Does this card tell me anything important? Not really, since it is another arbitrary method of assigning personal characteristics to a person. However, when I do personal readings and this card appears, I need to pay attention to the reading. Also, if I want a more direct reading, I could use this card as a part of the spread.

 Combining the Major Arcana with my birthdate is a useful method to personalize my readings. When reading for others, it can be a stand-in for the querent. Since the Tarot has elements of numerology, I that that this method is one way of tying the two together in a meaningful way.

 Works Used:

Bartlett, Sarah, “The Tarot Bible.” New York: Sterling. 2006.
Drury, Neville, “The Tarot Workbook.” San Diego: Thunder Bay Press. 2004.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.” Franklin Lakes (NJ): New Page Books. 2004.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Dragon Quest

Going on a quest to find a dragon partner requires intense preparation. Dragons, by nature, have little tolerance for silly people. Moreover, some dragons wish to do humans serious harm. In doing the quest, a person needs to be courageous and wary. Only by intently studying dragons beforehand, can a person find those who are friendly to people.

Be patient, since dragons take their time deciding when to make first contact. Dragons choose mature well-disciplined people to work with. Respect those dragons who simply do not wish to speak to anybody. Be self-controlled, since many dragons are reluctant to mingle with people. Dragons have sensitive temperaments, and will remember any disrespect.

Formal in their conduct with others, dragons prefer only associating with persons who know their manners. If a human shows deference and civility, a dragon may acknowledge her. Most dragons prefer that a seeker take his time and not rush into things. Above all, dragons will remember promises that people make to them but cannot keep.

When dealing with dragons, always prepare for your meeting. As spiritual beings, dragons respond best to ceremony and ritual. Therefore, seek them through that discipline. Always ground beforehand, since dragon energy is quite potent. Work within a ritual because it provides a meeting place with boundaries. Do the ritual according to your tradition, and the dragons will appreciate your work. They dislike an ad hoc, messy ritual, and will show their displeasure. The best times to hold a rite for meeting dragons are at dawn and dusk, on cloudy moonlit nights, and foggy days.

Since dragons are reserved, they act in a courtly manner towards others. Remember to do the ritual as simply and as correctly as possible. Think of it as having “high tea” with the Queen. Focus on the awareness of the dragon, and wait for them to speak. Converse with them, and quietly listen to their wisdom. When the dragon is finished, thank them for their time, and ask permission to end the rite.

Remember the following when involved with dragons. Use self-control and self-discipline. Work within the set of magickal laws of your tradition. Be aware of the energies surrounding the dragon. Cultivate cooperation and companionship with the dragon within the ritual setting. Remember your manners.

Only after formal introductions, can a human ask if the dragon will protect her. If the dragon accepts, the person will feel the dragon touching her. Afterwards, the two will move in harmony with each other. The dragon’s energy and essence will come alive in in the person. To align with the dragon’s energy takes restraint and composure. Only after the human and dragon form a long lasting friendship, can she be one with the Dragon.

Do not go on a dragon quest, if you are not serious. This takes intense work and energy. Moreover if your reasons for the quest are less than honorable, the dragon will know. An angry dragon is something that no human wants to deal with.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Observations on American Indian Beliefs

Lakota hide count
Although American Indian cultures are often presented as homogeneous, they are not. For example, Coyote is usually presented as The Trickster who teaches harsh lessons to people. However, different cultures have other Tricksters who serve various purposes.

 For the Lakota, the Heyoka is their Sacred Trickster. If a person dreamed of the Thunder Beings, then it was thought that they were chosen by the Wakan Tanka (Great Mystery) to be the sacred clowns of the people. The Heyoka possesses such sacred energy that they can turn things upside down and backwards. The duty of the Heyoka is to speak the truth and shake up people’s perceptions through laughter. 

Meanwhile for the Chinook of the Northwest, Blue Jay is the Trickster. He is helpful but foolish at the same time. For the Mi’kmaq of New England, Rabbit and Otter are light-hearted beings who entertain people. 

Beside Tricksters, Culture Heroes are also included in several belief systems of various tribes. Glooscap of the Wabenaki (New England) is their Transformer. One thing He did was to change the landscape to be kind to the people. When the White People came, Glooscap left but promised to return when the Wabenaki needed Him. In contrast, Shikla of Northwest Coast is more focused on bringing balance to the world. He is less involved with the affairs of humans.

 Some Nations had prophets similar to the Abrahamic religions. One was Handsome Lake of the Seneca, who received visions in 1799.  His teachings became the Longhouse Religion of the Iroquois, which is also known as Gaihwi:io – God’s Message, or the Code of Handsome Lake. This Code was in response to the on-going wars and pressures by the British and Americans on his people in the 1700s. Some of the tenets of the Longhouse Religion have elements of the Abrahamic faiths such as the focus on sins. For example, whiskey, witchcraft, love magic, and abortion are considered evil. During the Midwinter Thanksgiving Ceremony, a white dog (or a non-living stand-in) is sacrificed to convey the sins of the people to the sky. Afterwards, tobacco is offered to the Creator to sustain the order of the world.

Discovering these differences in the beliefs of the various Nations demonstrates to me that there is no monolithic faith of American Indians. Many people have the tendency to distill various elements of the differing faiths into a “universal religion” consisting of the Great Spirit, Medicine Wheels, Totems, etc. As a Roman Polytheist, I have experienced this impulse of outsiders to the religion. Roman Gods are not Greek Gods with Latin names. Understanding how outsiders can lump things together helps me tolerate mistakes people make about Roman Gods. It helps me to teach people in a kind manner what the differences are and why they matter. Faith is rooted in the people who practice it, and in their perceptions.

 Works Used:

Favell, Ian, “The Code of Handsome Lake,” Overview of World’s Religions. Web.
 Native American Spirituality, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Web.
 Native Languages of the Americas: Native Cultures. Web. 2015.
 North American Religions, Overview of World’s Religions. Web.
 Wambli Sina Win, “The Thunderbird’s Echo,” Native American Times. Web. 21, June 2011.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Orca (Killer Whale): Unbroken Traditions

In January 2017, two notable orcas died – Granny (also known as J2) and Tilikum. Both lived tragic lives in different ways. Granny, captured and released because of her age, saw the gradual extinction of her pod due to pollution and overfishing. Tilikum, captured as a calf, killed three people arising from his torment at being a performing killer whale. Both animals were the impetus for humans to reconsider the ethics of using animals for entertainment. The result was an ending of orca shows at major marine parks.

Called Orca (“Sea Devil”) by the Romans, Killer Whale is the only member of the Whale Family (Cetacea) to hunt other Mammals. The largest Dolphin of the sea, Killer Whales uses stealth and trickery in hunting. Her original scientific name, Dephinus orca, meant “demon dolphin.” In recognition of her size and complex social life, Killer Whale’s current scientific name is Orcinus Orca, after the Ancient Roman God of the Netherworld.

Ruled by an old Matriarch, Killer Whale’s Pod travels throughout the oceans in search of food. (Some pods may reside in one area, while others travel about.) Like Wolves on land, She hunts with her “wolf pack”. Because of this, Killer Whale is called the “Wolf of the Seas”. Her tightly knit pod hunts and drives Blue Whale into areas where He cannot escape. Killer Whale works with her Pod Mates biting and harassing Blue While until He dies. Then They share in their meal.

In Killer Whale’s Pod, They assist each other in raising Calves. Killer Whale and her mates learn their dialect of Orca language from their Mothers. In addition, Mother Killer Whale also teaches her Calf proper pod behavior. Meanwhile, the ancient Matriarch ensures that All learn their pod’s history and culture.

When She is not busy learning or hunting, Killer Whale likes to play. She pops out of the water (spy hopping) or spouts loudly to surprise her Friends. She likes to ride the wakes formed by boats and whales. Sometimes, Killer Whale forcefully slaps her flukes against the water while remaining partly underwater (lob tailing). She plays for the sheer joy of it.

Even in her flamboyant black and white colors, Killer Whale blends into the ocean. Every pod member has a different pattern on their bodies to identify each other and stranger Killer Whales. Her Mate has a high dorsal fin to tell Him apart from Female Killer Whale. Together in the pod, They roam the seas in search of adventure.

Killer Whale raises her Calf to know their language and culture. She passes on their pod’s history to Him. Because Killer Whale lives a long life, the pod reflects the culture and traditions of many generations. Pay attention to your cultural traditions says Killer Whale.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Tarot of the Animal Lords: Judgement and the World

 Judgement: This card is set in a mangrove swamp. The swamp is a liminal place, with the day being the noontime. Sitting on a mangrove tree root is a crocodile holding a staff. Perched in his open mouth is a red plover. Crocodiles and plovers live in a partnership, instead of being predator and prey. The plover gets a meal picking leeches off the reptile’s gums, and the crocodile gets his gums cleaned. The card gives the sense of balance and discernment. The scene captures a moment standing in time which I see as Judgement. 

 The World: A dolphin couple dance under the trees on a beautiful summer day. They are dancing on the world, itself. Surrounded by the signs of each suit, the pair seem happy and contented. They have reached the end of their arduous journey. Eventually, The World will open up more journeys for them to go on. In the meantime, the two are happy that they have come to the end of this particular one.

Previous Cards:
Star, Moon, and Sun