Saturday, February 20, 2016

YETI (ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN): Reflections on the Sacred

Mention “Abominable Snowman,” and people will conjure up a picture of a huge apeman with a cone-shaped head and snow white hair. This particular man-like creature has captured the public imagination with stories, toys, and TV shows. Now, people entertain notions of unknown humans and their hidden lives in the inaccessible places of the Himalayas.

Stories of Yeti (“Abominable Snowman”) reach far back in history. Pliny the Elder, of Rome, wrote about Yeti in the First Century C.E. In his writings on the natural world, Pliny described a man-like creature, who walked on two legs, living in the mountains of India. Meanwhile ancient writings of Tibetans told of a man-beast who roamed the high passes. Also the peoples of the Himalayas regarded Yeti to be the God of Hunting.

Modern reports of Yeti began in 1921, with a newspaper article in a Calcutta newspaper, Lieutenant Colonel C.K. Howard-Bury had sighted a mountain “man” with long hair on his head and shoulders. Then in his epic climb up Mt. Everest in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary reported seeing giant footprints, thereby setting off the Yeti craze. By 1959, Disneyland in California featured audio-animatronic Yeti in its rides.

The Sherpas of Nepal have many ways to denote the different kinds of Yeti. “Yet-teh,” which became “Yeti” in English, means “that there thing.” The Sherpas with Howard-Bury said they saw “met-teh kang-mi,” which translates into “foul-smelling snow creature.” “Teh-lma” means “that there little thing,” which refers to a small Yeti. “Dzu-teh,” meaning “big thing,” is a huge hulking animal, that stands on two legs.

Cryptozoologists, who study unknown primates, have determined that there are three species of Ape-like Yeti. (Dzu-teh is probably an unknown species of bear.) Big Yeti (“Gin-sung” in Chinese) is eight feet tall (nearly two meters), and walks on two legs. Possessing a square-like head, Big Yeti also has rusty brown hair. Little Yeti (Teh-lma), under five feet tall (a meter and a half), has a pointed head and thick-reddish grey hair. Teh-lma lives in the more tropical valleys of Nepal, and has been seen hunting frogs. Little and Big Yeti are considered relatives of humans. Meanwhile, Classic Yeti of the cone-head and greyish-white hair is believed to be a rock climbing ape.

One of the leading authorities on Yeti was the Russian scientist, Maya Bykova. She theorized that Yeti are genetic companions to modern humans. Bykova explained that the paralyzing fear that people have when they encounter a Yeti is from ancestral memories of similar prehistoric meetings. She based her conclusions on the large amount of data that she had gathered before her death in 1996.
Many Buddhist monasteries have established “sacred lands” for Yeti, whom they consider to be holy. Knowing Yeti to be fiercely territorial, few Nepalese will enter these lands. Furthermore, various monasteries possess scalps and hands of Yeti as sacred relics. Meanwhile, Bhutan has become the only country with a national park for Yeti: Thrumshingla National Park, where He can roam freely and unnoticed.

How we approach Yeti reflects how we relate to the Sacred. For many, the Sacred is cloaked in mystery and beyond comprehension. Philosopher Umberto Eco said, “The unknown is often seen in terms of the known.” Yeti is often compared to modern humans as to what “it” could be. Perhaps Yeti stands for things we were not meant to know. Or maybe Yeti is simply an unknown ape that lives in remote mountains. How do we approach the Yeti? Do we let “it” continue to be unknown or do we insist on pulling back the mystery? The choice is ours to make. Our feelings about Yeti reflects our attitudes towards the Sacred. If we allow Yeti be an enigma, then we allow Him to be numinous, one of the Sacred.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

GIRAFFE: Quiet Strength

From prehistory, Giraffe has commanded people’s attention. Early writers described Giraffe as “magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive in character.” Pictures of Giraffes grace the cave walls in North Africa, drawn over 10,000 years ago. In Ancient Egypt, Queen Hatshepat brought Giraffe from the headwaters of the Nile, down to her zoo. The Kingdom of Malindi, in Africa, in 1414 presented China, Giraffe as a diplomatic gift (the first ever). In Paris, when Giraffe was first seen in 1826, the City went “Giraffe crazy” for a year.

Since the beginning of time, people have tried to explain why Giraffe looks the way He does. In Africa, after the Creator Gods finished with Camel and Leopard, some parts were left over. So They made an animal large like Camel with Leopard spots. Ancient Greeks and Romans called Giraffe “Camel-Leopard”, which now is the scientific name (Camelopardalis) for Giraffe.
Tallest of all land mammals, Giraffe is noted for his exceptionally long neck and legs. Giraffe uses his tallness to his advantage. From his elevated view, He can watch for predators, as well as eat leaves from the tops of trees. Because of his great height, Giraffe and His Friends are called a “tower”.

However, Giraffe has many other notable features as well. Like Camel, He can go for days without drinking, and can eat from thorny plants. With his flexible neck, He can eat from the tops of trees. With his horns, Giraffe can swing his head and ably defend himself. A blow from Giraffe’s head can prove deadly to a predator.

This peaceful quiet Animal is one of the most successful vegetarians of the African Savannah. He may seem fragile but Giraffe can ably defend himself. Quiet and unassuming, Giraffe always looks out for his friends. They return the favor when He is the most vulnerable – sprawled at the water hole drinking. Be a friend like Giraffe, and learn quiet strength from Him.

Giraffe’s Teachings Also Include:

“The giraffe represents the capacity to extend beyond the limitations of the physical plane. Its ability to obtain sustenance flourishing on a seemingly unattainable perch symbolizes the necessity to overcome limitations and to allow innovative ideas to flourish.” Copyright: “Animals Divine Companion”, Lisa Hunt.

“The giraffe’s vulnerability when it lowers its head to drink reminds us that if we lose sight of our greater vision and consciousness and sink into a mundane way of life, we risk losing our spiritual connection.” Copyright: Beyond the Rainbow (Constance Barrett Sohodski).

Giraffe head
Giraffe’s Wisdom Includes:
Seeing From the Heart

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Apemean (Hairy Hominoids): Shadow of Humanity

All over the world, myths and sightings about mysterious Apemen abound. The most famous of these hairy hominoids are Yeti (the Abominable Snowman) of Asia and Bigfoot (Sasquatch) of North America, both of whom have captured the public imagination. Meanwhile, Australia has Yowie, Europe Wudewasa (Woodwose), Southeast Asia Orang-Pendek, South America Mapinguary, and Africa Ngoko. Many stories about these various Apemen speak of their wild nature, hairiness, and strength. Today, sightings of these hairy hominoids come from the world’s wild places – the jungles, swamps, forests, and mountains. However, people still see these wild “men” even in settled areas from time to time.

What makes Apemen different from other myths about fantastic animals is that They are believed to exist. In fact, Apemen dwell on the knife’s edge between myth and reality. Throughout the centuries, ordinary people have reported their encounters with these hominoids. Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame reported seeing giant foot prints of a Yeti in Nepal in the 1950s. In 2004, an elderly woman in Florida encountered a Skunk Ape in her backyard. Meanwhile, The Cryptozoic and Rare Animal Research Center of Vietnam is searching for Nguoi Rung. However Apemen continue to remain elusive as to what or who they are.

Although stories about hairy hominoids have been told for thousands of years, They only recently came into the consciousness of modern Western people. “Abominable Snowman” which referred to Yeti, was coined by Henry Newman writing in a Calcutta newspaper in 1921. He was reporting on several sightings by British officers in Tibet. His article about what their Sherpas had described, prompted the Abominable Snowman craze. More Europeans wanted to travel to Asia to see this mysterious inhabitant of the mountains.

Meanwhile, Bigfoot (Sasquatch) came into public consciousness in the 1950s with articles in men’s adventure magazines. Added to these reports were the films of Roger Patterson in 1960s depicting a walking hairy “man.” That spurred the public to think that Apemen lived amongst them, and perhaps had observed their comings and goings. Afterwards reports flooded in about people’s encounters with various man-like mammals.

Since that time, many people have speculated as to what Apemen are. Are they humans, apes, or something else altogether. Theories have ranged from small apes to surviving Gigantopithecus, a prehistoric primate. Could these Apemen be relic populations of other human species such as the Neanderthals?

Cryptozoologists (scientists who study unknown animals) have grouped Apemen into several species ranging from relatives of humans to unknown apes. “Neo-giants” such as Bigfoot (Sasquatch) are considered human. “True Giants” such as Grendel (of “Beowulf”) are believed to be relatives of Gigantopithecus. “Marked Hominids,” who have two-toned hair and other markings, are thought to be Homo heidelbergensis, predecessors of modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. Enkidu (of “Gilgamesh Epic”) is considered a Neanderthaloid, from a relic population of Neanderthals. Almas and Yeren of Asia are believed to be Erectus Hominids, descendants of Homo erectus of the Pleistocene. “Proto-pygmies” are considered human with the discovery in Indonesia of Homo floresiensis, “the Hobbit.” Meanwhile, “Undiscovered Primates” such as Skunk Ape, Ngoloko, and Mapinguary are considered to be unknown apes.

Other scientists have expressed opinions about Apemen as well. Noted primatologist Jane Goodall keeps an open mind saying that “there is a lot more evidence that they do exist than not.” Furthermore, she surmises that they could possibly be a link between humans and gorillas. Meanwhile, zoologist Morris Goodman notes that “genetically humans are only slightly remodeled apes.” Perhaps the hairy hominoids do fill the breach between apes and humans.

Cloaked in mystery, Apemen exist just outside sensible human perceptions. As “wildmen,” They are beyond the fringes of ordinary life. In European folklore, They were the people who left the towns to wander in the wilderness, becoming less human each day. In their efforts to shed their worldliness and become closer to God, desert saints became hairy anchorites, a type of Apemen.

Noted cryptozoologist Loren Coleman said that seeking Bigfoot (and other Apemen) is important, and when They are found, “we shall never look at humans in the same way again.” Understanding Bigfoot will govern how humans think of themselves. Apemen therefore are the Shadow for humankind. Apemen are the “other,” that we are both fearful of and curious about. Perhaps They are our cousins, reminding us that we too are a part of nature. Hairy hominoids urge people to come to a new understanding of their place on the Earth.
Science Notes:

1. The founder of the science of cryptozoology, Bernard Heulvelmans defined a cryptid as “a hidden animal which by definition is very incompletely known.” Nessie of Loch Ness is considered a cryptid, whereas the Tengu of Japan is a mythological animal.

2. Hominid refers to the family of humans, the Hominidae. Bigfoot and Yeti are considered hominids. Hominoids include apes and humans. Orang-Pendek and Skunk Ape are hominoids.

3. Bigfoot and Sasquatch refer to the same hominid. The American name is Bigfoot, and the Canadian, Sasquatch.