Friday, October 30, 2009
HOATZIN: Embrace Your Inner Oddness
Resembling a “punk-rock Chicken”, Hoatzin has little in common with any other living bird. Once thought of as a primitive Bird that linked today’s Birds with extinct reptilian species, Hoatzin is actually a thoroughly modern Bird. But even with the DNA that is available, scientists still argue over Hoatzin’s classification in the Order of Birds.
This baffling Bird has many extraordinary characteristics: such as Baby Hoatzins possessing true claws on their wings. Whenever a predator appears, They quickly jump out of their nest into the swamp. After the danger has passed, Baby Hoatzins will use their claws to climb back up the tree. Even though Adult Hoatzins lose their claws, They still can climb trees, using their wings. (Modern Birds cannot do this.)
Known as the “flying Cow”, Hoatzin eats leaves. Like a Cow, He has a ruminant’s digestive system. (In fact, Hoatzin is the only Bird, as well as, the smallest organism that is a ruminant.) He ferments his food in his crop, which is a pouch-like enlargement of his gullet. Because digesting his food makes Him top heavy, Hoatzin will often rest his breast against a tree branch. This makes Him seem to have an extra leg.
Unlike other Birds, Hoatzin lives in a commune. Because there is not much room for nesting in the Amazon swamps, Grown Hoatzins will often stay with their families. Forgoing their own breeding opportunities, these Birds will help with this year’s Chicks.
Hoatzin teaches you to embrace your inner oddness. Hoatzin may seem bizarre but He has a purpose in his strangeness. He is not like other Birds for a reason. Hoatzin’s odd characteristics help Him to live in the Amazon River basin, where the forests remain flooded for six months each year.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Most people know Cuckoo (Cuculus canarus) from cuckoo clocks. Famous for her two note call (cu-coo), this shy solitary Bird of the woodlands has become a timekeeping icon of clockmakers. She is named for her distinctive call in many languages: koe-koek in Dutch, cou-cou in French, kuctutin in German, and kak-ko in Japanese.
However, Cuckoo is also known for laying her eggs in other birds’ nests. (This is called “brood parasitism”.) Various members of the Cuckoo Family specialize by laying similar eggs in the nests of selected bird species. These brood parasites often crowd out the other young Birds in the nest. One mystery of these Birds is how They become Cuckoos when raised by non-Cuckoos.
However, the Cuckoo Family does include a wide variety of birds. New World Cuckoos such as Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) builds her own nest and raises her Chicks herself. Roadrunner of North America is also a Cuckoo. In addition, depending on how Cuckoos are defined, Coucals (Centropodidae) and Anis (Crotophagidae) are included in the Family.
What is noteworthy about Cuckoos is that people think well of Them. In North America, farmers call Cuckoos “rain crows” because They predict rain. Meanwhile, Australian farmers encourage Cuckoos to eat their fill of harmful Caterpillars. In Europe and elsewhere, Cuckoos are the harbingers of spring and better times.
Cuckoos demonstrate the union of opposites. They balance the whole of good and bad. These brood parasites eat harmful Caterpillars that other Birds cannot. Taken as a whole, the Cuckoo Family represents the balancing of extremes. Learn from Cuckoos how to combine both the good and bad parts of yourself into a whole.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Finding the Golden Rectangle in my life was not difficult at all. Examples abound in ordinary things, buildings, and art. For example, photos are often developed into a Golden Rectangle. In 1905, Oskar Barnack (Letz Camera of Germany) invented the 35 mm camera, a new method of taking pictures. In addition, he developed the process to reduce negatives and enlarge the photos developed from them. To that end, Barnack decided that his film (35 mm) should have the ratio of the Golden Rectangle, which is 3:2. Then in the 1920s, the noted photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson chose to display his pictures taken directly with the 35 mm camera, without cropping them first. Since then, many photos have been routinely developed using the 3:2 ratio of the Golden Rectangle.
In Richmond, Virginia, the State Capitol Building was designed by Thomas Jefferson, who also employed the Golden Rectangle. By basing his design on a Roman Temple found in Nimes France, he wanted to inspire Americans to a new sense of empire. By using the Golden Rectangle, Jefferson wanted to create a fitting style of architecture for the new country.
Many artists from Leonardo Da Vinci to Pier Mondrian have employed the Golden Rectangle in their works. However, the one painting that has stood out in my mind is “The Sacrament of the Last Supper” (1955) by Salvador Dali. (This painting hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.) In his art, Dali regarded himself as an alchemist exploring time and space. As a master of Divine Geometry, he employed those principles in his art, notably in “The Last Supper”.
Coppens, Philip, “Salvador Dali: painting the fourth dimension”, Philip Coppens: The Official Website, 2009, 20 October 2009, http://www.philipcoppens.com/dali.html
Mabini, Alex, “35mm Film and the Golden Rectangle”, Fotogenetic, 2007, 20 October 2009, http://fotogenetic.dearingfilm.com/golden_rectangle.html
_____, “Thomas Jefferson’s Capitol of Virginia”, The Capital Square Preservation Council (Virginia), 2009, 20 October 2009, http://www.capitolsquarevirginia.state.va.us/updated%20pages/History/capitol_square.htm
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Once called the “Chaparral Cock”, this tireless Predator became known as Roadrunner when He started to race with the Horses and wagons over desert roads. With his powerfully built legs, Roadrunner almost flies over the scrublands. As He runs, Roadrunner extends his neck forward to lower the air resistance of his body. In addition, He uses his long tail for breaking and changing directions.
His speed and agility makes Roadrunner an exceptional predator. Always thinking on his feet, He quickly changes directions, steering with his tail. Chasing a tough Lizard, Roadrunner swiftly grabs Her, and bashes Her against the hard ground. He will continue to do this until the dead Lizard is soft enough to eat.
Roadrunner is most famous for catching Rattlesnakes. Circling Snake, He stays just out of range of her fangs. After tiring Snake with his dancing, Roadrunner suddenly dashes in and seizes Her from behind the head. Cracking Snake like a whip, Roadrunner bashes her head against a rock. Afterwards He slurps up the dead snake. Sometimes people will see Roadrunner with half a Snake hanging out of his mouth, as He races down the road.
A superb athlete, Roadrunner moves with one mind and body. Not even hesitating as He speeds along, Roadrunner out maneuvers anyone who happens to be chasing Him. Moving as if by instinct, He will catch and kill Rattlesnake. Roadrunner understands the concept: “Thinking on your feet.” Move as one with your mind and body is his teaching.
Friday, October 16, 2009
At first glance, Drake and Griffin, the two dragons of DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING (2000, LEFLER), seemed to be typical European dragons. They were scaly, breathed fire, flew in the air, and ate meat. Moreover, people were frightened of them.
However, upon further examination, there were several major differences between the two types of dragons. Those of DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING were self-aware, and understood complex concepts such as morals, while, those of Europe were mostly unthinking beings. Moreover, physically, the movie dragons could breathe ice and fire, whereas amongst the European dragons, only icedrakes could breathe ice. (However, icedrakes could not breathe fire.)
The young dragon of the movie, Drake, had to be taught how to be a dragon. Various humans (Friar Peter, Brother Monsel, Stable Boy Geoff, and Master Kwan) instructed him in morals, how to fly, and breathe fire and ice, respectively. Unlike the dragons of European myths, Drake had an education in ethics. He knew good from evil, and often conducted himself, mindful not to harm others.
In contrast, the Lambton Wurm and Mordiford Wyvern instinctively knew how to be dragons. Although people tried to appease them, these dragons continued to terrorize the countryside. Driven by basic needs such as hunger, they viewed people as prey animals.
Meanwhile, Drake felt sorrow when his friend, Father Peter, died. He said his heart hurt. Later when Geoff was killed by falling ice, Drake felt sorrow again. However this time, he chose to give his heart to his dear friend. Drake loved Geoff enough to sacrifice himself for his human friend. Afterwards, the two became one being united in joy and love.
However Griffin, the older dragon of the movie, hated people. Because he corrupted the virtuous dragons and desired human slaves, Griffin’s heart was taken from him. His punishment was to live as a hated human. (Without his dragon heart, Griffin was a clever, ambitious person, known as Osric.)
Dragons in myths generally left people alone except as prey animals. More interested in defending their territories, they usually did not consider governing villages. However, Griffin realized that he could rule over people and make them his slaves. Unlike the seemingly mindless dragons of European legends, Griffin understood the difference between good and evil.
Governance takes a complex mind and an understanding of human culture. Only the firedrake of Beowulf understood humans. He had an agreement with them –if they did not steal his treasure, he would leave them alone. This dragon, with his sophisticated knowledge, resembled Griffin and Drake.
The back history of DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING is that dragons originally ruled the world. When people emerged, they saw the potential of goodness in the newcomers. Deciding to share their wisdom with people, these dragons watched over them. When they died, the virtuous dragons became stars to guide mankind. Because they had souls, the dragons pledged to help humans achieve their full potential as sentient beings.
This is in contrast to the usual European dragons. In many myths, they were simply entities that plagued people or for heroes to test their mettle against. European dragons acted more like intelligent animals than as instructors and governors. The usual dragon possessed neither a soul nor cared much about people’s lives. Many simply regarded humans as interlopers in their territories.
The Meta theme of DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING is that people and dragons can coexist. Moreover, they can evolve together. The goal for each species is to unite into a singular entity. People’s weaknesses would be purified by the dragons, who in return would receive joy and spontaneity. The new being would have the best of both humans and dragons.
Part Two can be read here: dragons-of-dragonheart-new-beginning: part 2
Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers Enterprises, animalteachers at gmail dot com.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The first Bird of Spring in North America is usually an American Robin. In many areas, her song of “Cheerily cheer-up cheerio” heralds the coming of spring. Hopping across people’s lawns, She cocks her head searching for spring Worms. American Robin’s morning activities provided the basis for the saying: “The early bird gets the worm”.
Usually a Bird of the woods, American Robin is often seen in towns as well. Since She can flourish among humans, American Robin is found in many places. Because of her adaptability, She has the distinction of being the only Thrush in North America.
Each year, American Robin will return to repair the same nest. Sometimes, She will share a nest with a family of Finches. Both species will feed all of the young Chicks. In addition, American Robin keeps her nest clean by eating the Chicks’ feces. When her Youngsters are ready to fledge, Father American Robin watches over them.
Vigilant in protecting their nest, Father and Mother American Robin will reject Cowbird eggs laid there. With alarm calls, the Parents will inform each other of approaching intruders. For the sake of their Eggs, Both Parents will dive bomb cats and humans.
Father and Mother American Robins are good parents. While Father watches over their Fledglings, Mother prepares for the next brood. Also, during the nesting, Father American Robin will incubate their eggs to allow Mother American Robin a break. They take turns in guarding their nest. American Robins show how to parent effectively through cooperation.
Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers Enterprises
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Determining which Bird is a Thrush (or not) is an exercise in futility. Ornithologists are constantly debating over what makes a Bird a “Thrush”. Depending on new DNA findings and interpretations, the number of members of this Family expands and contracts. For example, now considered to be a Flycatcher, European Robin was once a member of this Family. However, noted Thrushes that remain are Eurasian Blackbird, American Robin, and Nightingale.
What these small plump Birds have in common are their beautiful songs. In addition, people are very familiar with Thrushes since these Birds live in cities. They often see Thrushes hopping about in parks, looking for food. Cocking their heads, Thrushes wait for Worms to appear.
Going about their business, Thrushes care little about how They are defined. Hunting for worms and singing through the day, They go about their lives. These unassuming Birds focus on what They need to do, unconcerned about what others call Them. Thrushes do not borrow worry from others.
Friday, October 02, 2009
From his tree branch, European Robin cheerfully sings through the day. In the woods, his rich fluted warbling songs can be often heard. While singing at twilight, European Robin is often mistaken for Nightingale.
Singing loudly is how this small Bird defends his territory. European Robin warns others of his presence with his songs. If they ignore Him, then He will boldly attack anyone who comes near.
European Robin’s boldness extends to looking for food among Wild Boars. In addition, He will nest near people: in their flower pots, umbrella stands, or window ledges. His audacity makes European Robin sacred to Thor, the Norse God of Thunder.
His red breast marks European Robin as THE ROBIN. All other Birds with red breasts who were discovered later are called “Robin”. However, these other Birds are not often relatives of European Robin.
European Robin’s name has an interesting history. From a custom of adding human names to animals, “Robin” was added to Redbreast in the 15th Century. Meanwhile, in the United States, European Robin was called English Robin to differentiate Him from their American Robin. (The North American Robin is a Thrush, while European Robin is a member of the Flycatcher Family.)
Because of his red breast, European Robin is often associated with Christ. When this Bird tried to comfort Jesus on the Cross, his breast became covered with Christ’s blood. In another story, European Robin was pierced in his breast when He tried to remove the Crown of Thorns from Christ’s head.
In addition, people also associate European Robin with the dead. If He comes across an unattended body, European Robin will cover it with leaves and moss. In Purgatory, He fetches water for thirsty souls. When European Robin tried to quench the fires of Hell, his breast was burned.
Tiny European Robin possesses inner fierceness. He tried to put out the fires Hell by Himself. He walks among Wild Boars searching for earthworms. European Robin is rewarded for his inner fierceness by being a companion of Thunder Gods. However, do not become so aggressive that you are a tiny terror.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
In his “Book of the Law” (Liber AL vel Legis) Aleister Crowley presented the knowledge of the Three Aeons that he had received from the Stele of Revealing. Also, Crowley, the founder of Thelma, discussed his ideas of space and time. Later, he codified his concepts of the Triads in his Thoth Tarot.
Crowley divided space into threes, and named them. Nuit, the Goddess of the Infinite Space, is the periphery, with Hadit, the God of the Concentrated Point, living at her center. Their child, Ra-Hoor-Khut, comes into being when Nuit and Hadit occupy the same space at the same time. Nuit (outness) and Hadit (inness) lock in an infinite embrace, who is Ra-Hoor-Khut (both).
Then, Crowley divided the evolution of human consciousness into Three Aeons. Isis, the Great Goddess, governed the First Aeon. She represented the Maternal Principle of all life coming from woman. (In the First Aeon, the earth was made a Goddess of all life.) The Second Aeon was governed by Osiris, the Dying God. At that time, people became preoccupied with life and death. Within the Paternal Principle of Osiris was the Cycle of the Sun, rising, setting, and rising again. The Last Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child freed people from both the Matriarch and the Patriarch. Horus, the self-radiant every-living Sun, represented the Principle of the Child.
Meanwhile the Order of the Golden Dawn inspired Arthur Edward Waite to formulate his version of the Tarot. Reflected in his Tarot (Rider-Waite) are the Threefold aspects of humanity – the body, mind, and soul. The pregnant Empress (III) begins the creation of the body. Waiting for the birth of the soul is the Hanged Man (XII), the mind. At Journey’s end, the Fool finds wisdom in the World (XXI). First the female Empress, then the Hanged Man joins to become the World of the female surrounded by male beings of the soul.
Within the Tarot Minors, similar themes play out with the threes. The pain of the Three of Hearts is soothed by the friendship of the Three of Cups which is broken again by the Three of Hearts. Meanwhile, Three of Wands waits for his ship to come in. When it does, the Three of Pentacles celebrates his accomplishments, which leads to waiting on more ships to come in.
1. Jayaram V, “The Triple Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, Hinduwebsite, 2005, 25 Sept. 2009 http://www.hinduwebsite.com/gunas.asp
2. Pg. 56, DuQuette, Lon Milo, “Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot”, Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books, 1999.
Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins, "Dictionary of Roman Religion”, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Asborn, Kevin and Dana Burgess, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Classical Mythology”, New York: Penguin Publishing, 2004.
Crystal, Ellie, Numbers and their Meanings, Crystalinks, 2009, 26 Sept. 2009, http://www.crystalinks.com/numerology2.html
Druy, Nevil, “The Tarot Workbook”, San Diego: Thunder Bay, 2004.
DuQuette, Lon Milo, “Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot”, Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books, 1999.
Jayaram V, “The Triple Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, Hinduwebsite, 2005, 25 Sept. 2009, http://www.hinduwebsite.com/gunas.asp
-----, Thelemapedia, Scarlet Woman Lodge (O.T.O.), 2005, 23 Sept. 2009 http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Main_Page
Wild, Leon, “The Runes Workbook”, San Diego: Thunder Bay, 2004.