Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DIMETRODON: Recognition

Often thought to be a Dinosaur, Dimetrodon, a Pelycosaur (“sail reptile”), is actually more closely related to Mammals.  Moreover, this sail-backed Reptile lived thirty millions years before the Dinosaurs.  In fact, She was the first apex predator of the land (arising during the Permian Period (about 280 to 260 million years ago)).  Not only that, Dimetrodon gave the first evidence of ecosystems forming on the land. 
Dimetrodon first became confused with dinosaurs when the noted Dinosaur “hunter” Edward Drinker Cope identified Her in 1878.  Moreover, Spinosauraus of the Cretaceous Period, who was a Dinosaur, also had a sail as well.  The major difference between Dimetrodon and Dinosaurs is the placement of the legs.  Dinosaurs have legs which are upright underneath Them, whilst Dimetrodon had legs at her sides, much like a Crocodile.  (However, Dimetrodon was the fastest land Animal of her day.)
            Found in North America and Europe, Dimetrodon was the top predator of her time.  Moreover, She was named for her remarkable teeth of that time (“dimetrodon” means “two-sized teeth).  Dimetrodon had canine fangs for stabbing and biting, and shearing teeth for cutting and grinding muscle.  For food, She feasted on Amphibians, Sharks, and other Reptiles. 
            What Dimetrodon is well-known for is her distinctive sail.  Covering the tall spines rising from her backbone, this skin sail had blood vessels.  In the morning, the sail would warm Her as She sat in the sun, and then at night, it would cool Her off.  Many scientists think that her sail was for temperature control, which gave Dimetrodon an advantage over other animals, who had to spend a longer time in the sun.  (Some scientists also think that the sail was used for sex selection.  The bigger the sail, the more desirable was the mate.)
            However as the continents merged into one supercontinent, the climate on the earth became hotter and drier.  Her relative, Casea, who came after Dimetrodon, had no sail.  By this time, having a sail was a liability.  Moreover, since the swampy places were drying up, Dimetrodon had no place to live and became extinct.
            Often a victim of mistaken identity and usually confused with Dinosaurs, Dimetrodon does not get the recognition that She deserves.  Dimetrodon had “advanced teeth”, an ability to control her body temperature, and was a distant Ancestor of Mammals.  This Pelycosaur should be recognized for the unique being that She is: the world’s first apex predator of the land.
            What we can learn from Dimetrodon is that sometimes we become overlooked or mistaken for something else.  We need to speak up for ourselves and correct the mistake.  Furthermore, we can also speak up for those like Dimetrodon who have no voice.  When you feel overlooked, ask Dimetrodon for counsel. She can show you how to be recognized for your own deeds.  After all She was the early ruler of the Permian period.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tarot and Dragons: The Dragons Tarot Cards (2 of 2)

The other two cards that we felt a kinship with were the “Six of Cups” of the Minor Arcana and “The Star (XVII)” of the Major Arcana.  We regarded these two cards to be the bookends to the “Knight of Coins”.  Together, the three cards represent the whole of us and the nature of our relationship. 

The “Six of Cups” features several dragon boats (steered by humans) which are being led by dolphins.  In the moonlight, these boats are coming into an inlet.  This card evokes a sense of mutual assistance between humans and the others.  Since the humans have reached a major milestone on their trek, this card also exudes a sense of accomplishment.  I view this card as me on my voyage with my Guide leading me.  (I accept Peesey’s help in my life.)  Donaldson writes that the meaning of this card is “Lessons about sharing, giving, and receiving to be learned.”  He further indicates that the dolphins are only playing.  However in traditional lore, dolphins do lead sailors to safe harbor.  Therefore the meaning of the card that my Guide and I understood was “mutual assistance”. 

Meanwhile, “The Star (XVII)” reflects my Guide’s aspirations.  While watching a shooting star, an adult dragon spills water out into a pool formed by waterfalls.  Surrounding the pool are quartz crystals, (which for other cards, the author indicates that the crystals are “potent magic”).  Meanwhile, this dragon makes a wish on the star.  This is the card of my Guide’s future hopes since He aspires to be the best dragon he can be.  Peesey cannot do this alone, but needs my help to achieve his goal.  The author’s meaning for this card is “realization, hope, inspiration.”  Our sense of the card is the realization of our hopes and the inspiration to go further.

Since the Minor Arcana suit of Coins in “The Dragon Tarot” depicted forest scenes, my Guide related the best to them.  In contrast, He had problems with Wands, which was the element of Fire.  Meanwhile, I had problems with Swords (Air) but my Guide helped me with their meanings.  With “The Dragon Tarot”, most of our meditations resulted in being a little off in the cards’ meanings from what Donaldson intended them to be.  However, we felt that we understood what the dragons wanted us to know.

Works Used:
Caney, Mark, “The Dolphin Way Blog”, The Dolphin Way, http://www.dolphin-way.com/the-dolphin-way-blog/, 2012, .
----, “Dolphin Facts and Information”, Dolphins World, Bio-Expedition Publishing, 2011, http://www.dolphins-world.com/, .
Donaldson, Terry and Peter Pracownik, “The Dragon Tarot”, U.S. Games: Stamford (CT), 1996.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tarot and Dragons: The Dragon Tarot Cards (1 of 2)

My Dragon Guide (Peesey) and I decided that we would meditate on “The Dragon Tarot” by Terry Donaldson and Peter Pracownik.  We both had bonded with this deck, which my Guide thought depicted the many aspects of his home.  Together, we meditated with the cards and began to understand what the various dragons were teaching us.

Our favorite card of this deck was the “Knight of Coins” of the Minor Arcana.  The dragon of this card stands at attention, holding his shield and lance, to guard against intruders to the forest.  My Guide saw this dragon as someone to aspire to become someday.  In this card, the sun rises over the leafless trees of the forest, indicating the need to remain alert for possible danger.  Meanwhile the mushrooms scattered about the dragon’s feet invites more maturity and wisdom.  (According to Donaldson, mushrooms indicate “needed discrimination”.)  Examining the card further, I found a small dragon sitting on the Knight’s back.  (I regarded this dragon to be me, in the role of Peesey’s friend and guide.)  Thus the “Knight of Coins” represents our partnership.

For the “Knight of Coins”, Donaldson in the guidebook writes, “a young Knight stands on duty”.  Then he adds, “A male who wishes to develop the work side of his life.”  This is what my Guide and I thought that the meaning was.  Peesey wants me to guide Him as He matures, while under his guidance, I learn how to protect myself.

In searching for what the small dragon symbolizes, I had to guess at the author’s intent.  Donaldson does not present a large and small dragon as equals.  The smaller dragons are usually younger ones, who are under the direction of the older and larger ones.  This does not seem to be the case in the “Knight of Coins” for the smaller dragon.  I decided the smaller dragon, in this case, was an equal partner of the larger one.  I see Peesey as the larger dragon who protects me, while I give Him guidance as the smaller one. 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

SHORT-FACED BEAR SUB-FAMILY (Arctodus): Interconnectedness of Life

The Family of Bears (Ursidae) is usually divided into three Sub-families – Giant Panda (Ailuropodinae), True Bears (Ursinae), and Short-faced Bears (Tremarctinae).  Today only Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) of South America represents the Short-faced Bear Sub-family.  Extinct members of the Tremarctinae included Arctodus pristinus (Lesser Short-Faced Bear), Arctodus simus (Giant Short-faced Bear), and Florida Cave Bear (Tremarctos floridanus).
            Although He had a similar lifestyle to European Cave Bear (Ursus spelaeus), Florida Cave Bear was not related to Her, since European Cave Bear was a True Bear.  Though large and muscular, He was a vegetarian who preferred to eat berries instead of meat.  As well as dwelling in caves, Florida Cave Bear also roamed the swamps and valleys of the Southeastern United States.
            Meanwhile Arctodus simus and Arctodus pristinus split off from an earlier Bear Ancestor – Plionarctos, who lived in North America about 10 million years ago.  A. simus evolved to be the largest carnivore on earth since the Age of the Dinosaurs.  Smaller than A. simus, A. pristinus was still larger than the other Carnivores.  Because their snouts were short in proportion to their heads, these Bears became known as the Short-faced Bears or Bull-dog Bears.  However, these ancient Bears had the same skull proportions as modern Bears.
            When the bones of A. simus were first discovered, her huge size led many paleontologists to believe that She was the ultimate carnivore. They reasoned that both A. simus and A. pristinus needed a lot of meat to survive, and therefore ate it in huge amounts.  However, upon further investigation, various scientists had to revise their ideas to include the theory that these Bears were probably specialized scavengers.
            When various paleontologists examined the leg bones of these two Short-faced Bears, they realized that these bones were too long for their large bodies if the Bears were to be active hunters.  Moreover, these Bears’ legs were not those of a carnivore, since these limbs could not withstand the quick turns and long periods of running after prey.  Thus, the physical makeup of the Bears’ legs points towards these animals being scavengers.
            Other signs that A. simus and A. pristinus were probably scavengers were the construction of their nasal cavities, jaws and teeth.  To be a scavenger, an animal needs a keen sense of smell to detect rotting corpses from long distances.  The large nasal cavities of these Bears provided Them with an acute sense of smell.  Meanwhile, the jaws and teeth of these Bears were designed to crack open bones to get to the nourishing marrow inside.
            Short-faced Bears went extinct when the mega-fauna (Mammoths and others) of the Americas and their predators died off.  Though They were impressive in their size and scope, Short-faced Bears were specialized scavengers.  With the loss of large carcasses, They had nothing to eat and could not sustain Themselves. 
            Short-faced Bears demonstrate the interconnectedness of life.  As scavengers, They ate the leftovers from the kills of the super-predators such as Saber-toothed Cats. When the large prey animals such as Mammoths died off, the predators and the specialized scavengers had little to eat. (Only generalists such as Grizzlies, who could live off on Insects and berries, would survive.)  In this ancient world of mega-fauna, life seemed abundant, but something happened to cause this particular thread of life to snap.  When that web of life broke, these large animals became doomed.   
When we recognize our interdependence with others in our lives, we can keep these webs strong.  Because we need many others in our lives, we must keep these threads alive.  For our own survival, we must preserve the diverse richness of life in our own environments.  When all of us act as one, the web of life becomes strengthened.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Ray Family: Grace

an eagle ray
Rays are peculiar looking creatures with flat bodies and strange eyes. What looks like blinking eyes on the Rays' bodies are spiracles, which serve to attract Fish among other things. The real eyes, on the back, never blink and are always looking up. Rays' tails are armed with one or more lethal points (spines).

Seen on sea bottoms, Rays often appear to be a part of the seabed. While Rays are hovering, They are looking for food. Finding what They seek, a Ray will suddenly sweep up from the bottom and glide through the darkening sea. Shaped like a kite with a tail, a Ray will flap his pectoral fins, while speeding toward the prey. Watching a Ray move is watching grace in motion.
Ray's Wisdom Includes:
Fluid Movement
Piercing the Veil of Darkness