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