Tuesday, June 30, 2009


In the 19th Century, experts in language studies formulated their equivalent of Darwinism called monogenesis. According to this theory, writing progressed from the most primitive of symbols to the most evolved of letters. Chinese, which is symbolic (logographic), was considered primitive while the Latin alphabet, which is consonant and vowel based, was the most advanced. Of course, monogenesis implied that the pinnacle of civilization was Western European culture.

However, the development of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writing contradicts this theory. Developed over 3,500 years ago, Chinese writing has changed little since. It serves the spoken language well. In 1949, the Chinese government standardized the written characters. However, many Chinese still continue using the older forms.

In the 5th Century, the Japanese adopted Chinese writing, since they respected the Chinese culture. Because the Japanese language was so different from Chinese, women developed the hiragana alphabet while the men used the characters (kanji) for sounds and meaning. Later, katakana was developed to read Buddhist scriptures written with Chinese characters. Today, Japanese use all three – kanji, hiragana, and katakana as one writing system. Their writing system is logo-symbolic.

Meanwhile, the Koreans, who also used Chinese writing for their language, developed one alphabet. Like the Japanese, they used the characters for both meaning and sound until the 15th Century. At that time, King Sejong devised Hangul (Korean letters), which is a consonant and vowel alphabet. Today, many Koreans use Hangul instead of Chinese characters.

The Chinese developed symbols to write down their speech. The Koreans and Japanese then adopted the Chinese system for use in writing their respective languages. Because Chinese was different from Korean or Japanese, they used Chinese characters as a basis to devise their own systems of writing. The result was that each culture chose writing that suited their unique traditions and languages.

Works Citied:
“Ancient Scripts”, Lawrence Lo, 2008, 12 June 2009, < http://www.ancientscripts.com/index.html >

Monday, June 29, 2009

Adventures in writing

This is my attempts in Pictish: Everything is alive, everything is interconnected.
Pictish was an ancient writing system found in Scotland.

More attempts at a Sigil in Pictish.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dragons in Heraldry (3)

The Red Dragon of Wales

One of the most well-know dragons of heraldry is the Red Dragon of Wales, now the official flag of Wales. In the Fifth Century, this dragon was used by the Welsh kings of Aberffraw to assert their authority. By the Seventh Century, it became known as the Red Dragon of Cadwallander, after Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon, a famous king of Wales. In the 1500s, the Tudors, who claimed ancestry from Cadwallander, adopted it as their family coat of arms. Henry Tudor, now Henry VII, had the English Royal Navy flying the Red Dragon on a field of white and green (Tudor colors). In 1901, the Red Dragon became the official symbol of Wales.
Note: Squirrel fur was referred to as vair.

Works Citied:
____., “Circle of the Dragon”, Kylie McCormick, 2009, 6 June 2009, < http://www.blackdrago.com/index.html>.
Fradon, Dana, “Harold, the Herald”, Dutton Children’s Books, U.S., 1990.
Slater, Stephen, “The Complete Book of Heraldry”, Lorenz Books, London, 2002.
____, Somewhere in Tyme, 2009, 10 June 2009, < http://bdweb9271a.bluedomino.com/index.html>.
____, “The Welsh Flag”, BBC, 2009, 11 June 2009,
< http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/themes/flag.shtml >.


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dragons in Heraldry (2)

Beasts were common in heraldry, with dragons occurring as often as birds. Considered to be valiant, dragons symbolized “fierce protectors of the family.” Also, they often meant “the guardians of treasure”. Some other meanings for dragons were “fierce warrior” and “overcoming one’s enemies”.
Several types of dragons were used on shields. The most common in England was the wyvern. For the English, four-legged dragons were a later development, adopted in the 15 Century. Meanwhile, in the rest of Europe, people interchanged the two types of dragons, using the same meaning for both.

Amphiptere: This dragon was a winged serpent with no legs. The most common meaning for the amphiptere was “the protection of the family name”. In some cases, it also meant “swift justice”.

Amphisbaena: These dragons were winged with two legs, and a head at each end of their bodies. They struck at their enemies with swiftness and cunning. Some knights carried them on their shields to tell everyone how cunning they were.

Cockatrice: This dragon was a wyvern with a rooster’s head. Known for their deadly stare, a cockatrice could only be defeated by a weasel (ermine). This dragon was a terror to all who saw them. A cockatrice on a knight’s shield was a statement that he was a deadly killer.

Hydra: This was the many headed dragon, defeated by Hercules. Rare in heraldry, a hydra usually meant that this was a family who defeated many enemies. For an individual, it also meant “the conquest of a very powerful foe”.

Wyvern: These dragons had two legs, bat wings, scaly bodies, and a spiked tail. Wyverns were thought to have keen eyesight, and hence were keen defenders. They often represented valor and guardianship. Because of those characteristics, wyverns were popular in heraldry.


Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dragons in Heraldry (1)


Heraldry began as a way to identify armored knights. Like fingerprints, each shield design was unique to that knight. Eventually, heraldry became a symbol of family identify. Every coat of arms handed down through each generation told the story of that family’s deeds and attributes.

To that end, heraldry developed a complex language of symbols, colors, and placement to convey specific meanings. The colors were red (fortitude), blue (loyalty), black (constancy), green (joy), and purple (sovereignty). Gold and silver were the metals symbolizing generosity and peace respectively. The two decorative patterns were ermine (purity) fur and squirrel (resourcefulness). Furthermore, the shield was divided from top to bottom – chief, fess, and base; and from right to left – dexter, pale, and sinister. Placement of symbols on the shield determined the bearer’s status.

Stances of Dragons on a Shield
Depending on what the animal is doing, every position of the animal on the shield has a specific term. There are some sixty different positions depending on the animal’s attitude (posture).

Statant: standing erect, all feet on the ground.
Guardant: statant with dragon facing out.
Reguardant: statant with dragon facing away.

Passant: standing erect, one foot off the ground.
Salient: standing erect, two feet off the ground.

Rampant: standing erect, with only one foot on the ground.
Guardant: rampant with dragon facing out.
Reguardant: rampant with dragon facing away.

Combatant: rampant face to face.
Addosse: rampant back to back.
Couchant: Lying down, with head raised.
Dormant: Lying down with head down.

Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Astrology: Musings

Reading about the different kinds of astrology was illuminating. Chinese and Western astrology, the most complex, have the longest histories of use. Meanwhile, the more modern forms – Celtic Tree and Medicine Wheel – seem more fluid when compared to the older forms of astrology. However, the Medicine Wheel astrology is based on Western astrology, and Celtic Tree astrology on samples of people born at certain times of the year. All these systems are dedicated in being accurate to help people. Therefore to me, they are equally valid. Each system works towards the goal of allowing people a better understanding their current and future actions. Although each is based on a different concept of the Cosmos and its effect on people, they do attract a subset of people seeking that style of knowledge. Each system does achieve the same type of results for the people using it.

The brief horoscopes in the newspapers and elsewhere are too broad to be useful. These forecasts are fun and entertaining but they are so general that they could apply to anyone. I have always found them to be too vague to be helpful. Also, it seems to me that the same information is recycled for other Signs on different days. For me, they are entertaining bits of fiction.

Because of newspapers and periodicals, a lot of people find astrology quite accessible to them. In addition, astrology seamlessly combines the science of mathematics and astronomy with the art of divination and imagination. This provides material for many people to study and never tire of, since there is always something new to consider. Astrology gives people an orderly universe and reassures them when something happens that is beyond their control. Moreover, people find astrology comforting because it unfolds the future in an orderly way.


Copyright Virginia Carper, 2009, animalteachers gmail.com


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adventures in Astrology: Me in different systems

After reading descriptions of the various Astrological Systems in different cultures, I decided I am a Libra. My friends tell me that I am diplomatic and tactful. Since I am an enthusiastic leader, my friends also think I would make a splendid Fire Dragon of Chinese astrology. Meanwhile, in the system of Medicine Wheel Astrology, I relate mostly to Beaver, because I like these animals immensely. They build and improve their surroundings. In the Celtic Tree Astrology, I prefer Birch because I am always seeking the light. In addition, many people tell me that I am tolerant and resilient.

After studying the dates for each of the Astrology Signs that I chose, I realized that they are at different seasons of the year. Because I am in tuned with the seasons, I can transition easily from each, and look forward to the next one. For me, the beaver builds in the spring after the birch of winter seeks the light. Autumn, the great equalizer symbolized by Libra, cools the heat of summer stoked by Fire Dragon. Since I am a generalist, I am not surprised by any of this. As a rule, I have always had trouble specializing in any one subject.

Copyright: Virginia Carper, 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Adventures in astrology: Aries and Virgo

My Sun Sign is Virgo (Aug. 24 to Sept 23). According to many sources, people born under this Sign are diligent and methodical. Modest and fussy, many Virgos gravitate to careers in libraries and museums. Since they are both organized and determined, Virgos are a natural choice to have on a long-term project. Because they tend to over think, Virgos will worry to excess. As perfectionists, they will also take a long time in finishing projects.

For me, the opposite Sign of Virgo is Aries (March 21 to April 21). Hot to Virgo’s coolness, an Aries will plunge ahead in doing new things. Dynamic and adventurous, they will overwhelm Virgo’s native modesty and reserve. Like their Star Sign symbol, the Ram, Aries are stubborn and impulsive. Moreover, the stubbornness of an Aries against the tenacity of a Virgo will result in disaster for both of them. However, if they can work together, the dynamism of Aries and the analytical skills of a Virgo will create a powerful whole.

Copyright Virginia Carper, 2009, animalteachers gmail.com


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Spring Cleaning for Body and Spirit

For the spring cleaning of my spirit, I took daily nature walks around my neighborhood. As I walked, I watched the green shoots come up and bud -- first the daffodils, then periwinkle, and finally roses. Enjoying the change in color from grey to green, I delighted in discovering new flowers that were blooming daily. I enjoyed finding plants in odd places where squirrels moved the fall bulbs from the local landscaped areas. Meanwhile, the trees leafed out, with first the maple and then finally the oak. When the barn swallows returned, summer was officially here.

For magical cleansing, I treated myself to attunements of Dragon and Crystal Dragon Reiki. This energy flowed through my body, energizing it. I felt good, as I grounded and reconnected with the world of magic. I also discovered that I had a dragon companion in the mythic realm. A mother dragon enveloped me with her wings, and I felt loved.


Copyright: Virginia Carper, 2009
animalteachers at gmail.com

I offer Dragon Reiki and Crystal Dragon Reiki as well.
More about Dragon Reiki and Crystal Dragon Reiki :
from The Reiki Center of Venice