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Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Rod, the Staff, and the Wand


           The Longman of Wilmington                  Egyptian hieroglyph                      Magic fairy


The rod, staff, and wand have long and intertwined histories. All three evolved from tools used during ice-age astronomical observations. By 8000 BC, direction, time, and distance calculations done by a few people improved the lives of everyone, and over millennia the tools these few used gained the reputation of being divine and magical. Scripture supports this; the prophet Hosea said, “my people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them.” - Hosea 4:12. The rod as a king’s scepter indicated great power. Ezekiel 19:11 says “And she had strong rods for the scepters of them that bare rule...” Moses was a great magician – instructed in all the sciences and secrets of the Egyptians, and when he performed his miracles he had his rod. It is still so - staffs and rods accompanied the prophets, a bishop still carries the staff of life, and every magician has his wand.

Esther touching King Xerxes' scepter to gain admittance

The staff is an important part of magic and occultism. Many Bible verses have been interpreted as referring to rhabdomancy – the art of divining with sticks. Moses, as a means of knowing where the leader of his people would come from, inscribed twelve rods – each with the name of one of the tribes – and put them in the Tabernacle of Witness (Numbers 17:7). The next day Aaron’s rod had budded. Moses found water in the desert with his rod  – much like dowsing. Murals found in North Africa dating back 8,000 years show a man with a split stick, perhaps dowsing for water. 

In the sixteenth century, rhabdomancy was practiced mainly in Germany where it enjoyed considerable popularity. Even now it is popular, and to some extent blessed by science. By the seventeenth century, the term referred to a method of looking for metal deposits or underground springs. The process became a common and important part of any normal mining operation. By the end of that century, its powers were acclaimed in France – writers and philosophers discussed the art and its mysteries.

Explanation of the Diving Rod, Abbe de Vallemont, La Physique Occulte

A great debate developed over whether or not there was demonic influence in the working of the rod. Martin Luther announced that dowsing was the “work of the devil;” from this came the term “water witching.” Scientific theories were offered to counter this idea; some suggested radioactivity or corpuscles as the reason for such odd attraction; corpuscles that would rise above springs of water, or in exhalations of minerals. Even those rising over the footsteps of fugitive criminals would cause the divining rod to turn; soon the mysterious rod was used for tracking down robbers and murderers. A century later, at the Munich Academy, the power of the rod was attributed to a phenomenon analogous to galvanism (the induction of electrical current from a chemical reaction). The action of the divining rod has now entered the domain of science, yet it is still not clearly understood. Even psychologists have investigated it. In the early 1900’s Grillot de Givery wrote in Witchcraft, Magic, and Alchemy, that he experienced this phenomenon with his own hands.

Doodlebugging is another term for the use of the dowsing rod to search for petroleum or water. During the Middle Ages country folk who wanted to dig a well would call a sorcerer – they were numerous, and rather than calling an engineer, these folk preferred the services of a good wizard and his rod, to assure success at the least possible cost. 

Rider-Waite Tarot

Today we know these magic wands as dowsing rods, witching rods, or divining rods and they are commonly used by those who search for ley lines. How these wondrous tools work is a mystery, even to those very experienced in their use. Einstein was convinced they work, saying that the rods show a reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown. Most people relate magic wands to fairy tales. They are a major element in stories like Cinderella, Donkey Skin, Harry Potter, and even Shakespeare’s Tempest. Wands are one of four suits in Tarot cards (sometimes referred to as staves, batons, or rods) and most magic traditions use a wand as one of their ceremonial tools. Stage magicians, or illusionists, often use a “wand” to perform their magic, as part of their misdirection technique. If a magician is deprived of his wand he may be deemed powerless; yet magic wands can change, move, disappear, display their own will, or behave magically, without the magician. The status of being a magician grew from those in antiquity reputed to be wizards: those who knew how to use the magic rods for divining heavenly events by the stars.   

Duncan-Enzmann’s history of astronomy traces these devices back to ancient astronomers who used a stick’s shadow to create the first sundials and to determine north, thus designating direction. Ashera poles were used to measure the movement of the stars and planets, and by 5000 BC the Vanir mariners divided time and calculated longitude using the rod and cord. Several scriptures in Ezekiel tell us the rod was used for measuring, and determining distances. (Ezek. 40:3, 42:16, 45:1, 47:3, & Rev. 11:1) The rod has a long and prestigious history of working magic for those who knew how to use it.

8,000 years ago an astronomer planted a staff in the ground and proceeded to use it to predict the movement of the heavens, to calculate the time, and to lay out the geometry needed for a great stone observatory. Those watching must have thought this a most magical process. Scientists still perform magic and continue to investigate that which we do not understand. So whether you are a believer or skeptic, the magic rod has an ancient and prominent history.  


Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder is the founder and VP of the Foundation for Research of the Enzmann Archive, Inc. She is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.


Symbologist Michelle Snyder

See more like this at www.enzmannarchive.org and find Michelle's books at their store. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Sirius Rising - Happy New Year!






A new year. 

We have orbited the sun again, and now it is time to change the numbers; 2021 becomes 2022. The past year is memorialized in blogs and posts and newscasts and photos and Instagram, portraying images and stories considered important during the past 365 days. 

Perhaps you have always practiced a turning-of-the-year tradition, perhaps you are new to New Year celebrations at midnight on January 1st. In some cultures like Egypt, the new year starts at harvest time. Why does our year change when it does? It all has to do with Sirius, a very bright star that has guided navigators for millennia; in fact, it is the brightest star in the sky. It is actually a binary (double) star that has been observed since prehistory. 

Ptolemy of Alexandria used Sirius as the location for the globe’s central meridian when he mapped the stars. Sirius is called the Dog Star, due to its position in the Canis Major (Greater Dog) constellation; many cultures associate this star with dogs. Sirius marked the coming of winter for the Polynesians, for the Egyptians it foretold flooding of the Nile, in Greece it accompanied the hot, “dog days” of summer. Its name means sparkling, or scorching. In the children’s rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle Sirius makes an appearance: The little laughing dog is Sirius in Canis Major, marking the growing season which “laughs” bountiful; the dish and spoon are so full - it is more than we can eat. 

In ancient times Sirius was called the "Star of the Sea," and was depicted as an inverted pentagram. Some early American flags connected with the Navy displayed inverted stars, like the one flown by Commodore Perry in 1854. Rare contemporary usage of the inverted pentagram symbolizing Sirius is the American Medal of Honor. 

Eight thousand years ago the Vanir astronomers worked out the geometry and trigonometry necessary to accurately measure the distance and movement of the stars and planets (Enzmann). They devised the calendar, named the days of the week, and discovered the accuracy of the Venus clock – with which we set the world’s clocks until the 1970s. They also observed the cycle of Sirius and began the year with its pinnacle. The symbol for the Venus clock - the pentagram - is sometimes used for Sirius. Knowing the time is one thing, knowing when to reset the clock is another.  

Once a year, when Sirius is opposite the sun, it rises when the sun sets. This marks a new beginning: A new year rings in at midnight, the moment it reaches its highest point in the sky on the celestial meridian. To us, it is the New Year Star, a blazing reminder that our orbit starts again. 

At this new beginning, humans like to make a new start. New Year’s resolutions abound, good intentions are had by all. We promise ourselves we will avoid the seven deadly sins, be nice to our in-laws, go to the gym three times a week, and give up that one sweet treat we always regret eating. Sometimes we keep our promises, sometimes not; but each year Sirius gives us another chance. Another new beginning. 

As long as we live the Earth will turn, the Sun will rise, and Sirius will start a new year. This year, promise to do something that will last, something that will create precious memories, new traditions, or a family legacy. That way, when we are gone and the Sun still rises, something of ourselves will continue; immortality of sorts. 


And have a Happy New Year!! 



Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder is the founder and VP of the Foundation for Research of the Enzmann Archive, Inc. She is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.


Symbologist Michelle Snyder

See more like this at www.enzmannarchive.org and find Michelle's books at their store. 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Spirit of Giving

My Bow, Michelle

It gets us all. Eventually. No matter what your tradition, or lack of, is, the Spirit of Giving is in the air in November and December. Perhaps this is a powerful genetic inheritance from the Ice Age when our ancestors had to make sure everyone survived the deepest, coldest, sub-zero winters you could imagine. Five minutes outside and you would be ice through and through. Wind chill took it to fifty below. So checking on your neighbors, giving to those who had needs, and general caring, were a matter of survival. So even in 12,500 BC, people were giving.

The return of the sun follows the shortest days of the year. The sun travels to its lowest point on the Analemma and hangs out there for three days before starting the climb back up toward the equator, warming the frozen earth. Winter Solstice is the turning point. Our ancestors knew that. They huddled in their houses - yes houses, not caves - with warming stones heated on great fires that never went out, fires in the fireplace, oil lamps lighting their homes (Duncan-Enzmann). They were spinning, weaving, and quilting, telling stories about themselves to their children (thus "spinning a yarn") to preserve their history and knowledge.

Soon after the Winter Solstice the days get longer, the ice melts, and life has survived. No wonder we celebrate. Wouldn't you? After thousands of years of social behavior, genetic memories are formed. At least, that is what I have read. So, it is in our genes to give.


The beautiful Celtic cross is a symbol of Winter Solstice, the cross symbolizing the four directions with the southern arm lengthened to designate how to see the symbol (like a North symbol on a map). The orbit of the Earth is represented by the circle (an ellipse would be more accurate), intersecting the cross at the bottom, symbolizing the sun's lowest position on our horizon at the Tropic of Capricorn, which happens at Winter Solstice. The knotted lines are part of the calendric and tell us that, in this case, it is a Winter Solstice symbol. The other intersections are the two equinoxes, and at the top, Summer Solstice. 

What a wonderful symbol to use for the resurrection of life through the eternal rising of the sun, or Son. Winter Solstice is the time when the light returns, lengthening the days and warming the cold earth, returning life to vegetation and spirit. The Festival of Lights celebrates this never-ending cycle. 

Have a wonderful holiday season! And whether you are Christian, Jewish, Pagan, or any other tradition, I wish you joy and blessings. They will come to you when you care and give.

Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder is the founder and VP of the Foundation for Research of the Enzmann Archive, Inc. She is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.


Symbologist Michelle Snyder

See more like this at www.enzmannarchive.org and find Michelle's books at their store. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Tis the Season

Noel - Michelle Snyder

Many traditions and mythologies tell of the birth of a special divine child. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ as told of in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The birth of the sun-god is an ancient event; male gods such as Shamash, Ra, Horus, Tonatiuh, Taiyang Shen, Mithras, Krishna, Surya, and Abraxas all tell the story of the mighty sun that gives us life. In prehistory until about 3000 BC, the sun was represented by a beautiful female named Helen; like the sun, females bring forth life. The Magdalenian culture of 12,500 BC symbolized the sun with the sun child - their precious blonde daughters. As millennia passed the sun child grew to become a maiden, a queen, then a goddess, Helen. 

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a child. A Paleolithic calendric for human reproduction from c. 12,500 BC instructs that babies be conceived in spring, to be born around the winter solstice. Winter babies had the best chance of survival: Families stayed inside, and newborns got a maximum of attention. Babies who were born in spring were exposed to pollen in the air and in mother’s milk, producing more people with allergies. Summer produced a high percentage of colic babies who had to compete for parental care with hunting and building activities; the preparations for the approaching glacial weather were paramount. Fall babies risked animal worms, viruses, and bacteria, which in winter would be uncommon. For them, the winter solstice was a time to celebrate the birth of babies – all babies. Every life was precious and insured the survival of the human race through the iron cold ice age. The birth of babies became associated with the return of the sun, the light of life. 

Winter Solstice Cross
Michelle Snyder
Festivals celebrating the return of the light have been traditional for millennia. Even thousands of years ago our ancestors knew what we know today: that on December 21st the sun reaches its lowest point on the horizon at the Tropic of Capricorn. The golden ball of light lingers at the bottom of the analemma for three days, then rises again toward the Tropic of Cancer. Many symbols have grown from this event. One is the Celtic cross; a symbol for the winter solstice. Its predecessor, the equal-armed (+) cross, appeared tens of thousands of years ago as a symbol for direction: north, south, east, and west. Over time one arm of the cross was lengthened to designate which arms were which; the extended arm of the cross denoting south. The circle of the Celtic Cross (more accurately an ellipse) where it intersects the southern arm symbolizes the position of the sun at the winter solstice, its other intersections being equinoxes and summer solstice. This beautiful image is a popular decoration in homes during the Festival of Lights which is celebrated around the world. Hindu Diwali, Buddhist Tazaungdaing, Jewish Hanukkah, and Christian Christmas are all holy days associated with this time of year; some according to the lunar calendar. Sacred candles and lights on trees, bushes, houses, and windows reflect the anticipation of the return of the sunlight.  

Another tradition of Christmas time is Santa Claus, most commonly associated with Saint Nicholas, an historic fourth-century saint. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession, and because of that he became known as “Nikolaos the Wonderworker.” He also had a reputation for secret gift-giving, which many conclude made him the model for Santa Claus.

Further back in history, as far back as 45,000 years, we find another root for Santa Claus: a Paleolithic Siberian reindeer herder. Duncan-Enzmann tells of this character in Ice Age Language. The reindeer herder traded in reindeer hides, which are both warm and waterproof. He delivered his good by sled, often being charitable to those in need. 


Whatever your tradition is this season, remember that a smile, a kind word, and a warm hug are gifts that money cannot buy. Whether you are young or old, warm or cold, the winter solstice is the longest night of the year. It signals longer days, more light, and warmer weather, all encouraging new life. That is a reason to celebrate. 

Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder is the founder and VP of the Foundation for Research of the Enzmann Archive, Inc. She is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.


Symbologist Michelle Snyder

See more like this at www.enzmannarchive.org and find Michelle's books at their store.