Friday, April 13, 2018

Goddesses and the Divine Feminine



Cybele and Argus - M. Snyder
Symbolic imagery for the feminine is as ancient as prehistory.  Magdalenian (12,500 BCE) inscriptions show symbols translated by Duncan-Enzmann as shelter, food, and childcare, all feminine concepts.  The triad goddess begins there: grandmothers teaching mothers teaching daughters how to spin, dye, weave, and tailor garments during the bitter cold Ice Age.  The Vanir culture, ca. 5000 BCE, used blonde, life-bringing females to symbolize the life-giving sun.

Throughout the world there is a vast pantheon of goddesses; all cultures and most religions have one or more feminine deities.  Familiar ones include Venus, the goddess of love and beauty; Athena, the goddess of wisdom, philosophy, and war; and Hera, the wife of Zeus and queen of the gods.  Pandora, a creation of all the gods, although not actually a goddess, has taken her place among the feminine immortals of mythology.  Goddesses less known include Hestia, protector of marriage and eldest daughter of Chronos and Rhea.

The relationships between gods and goddesses have been mythologized in every culture.  Kings and queens began as earthly manifestations of deities. Like the pharaohs of Egypt, kings and queens were considered to be gods, symbolizing by their lives the essence of the deities they worshiped.  In Eastern religious iconography, Shiva and his wife Shakti are sculpted, painted, and illustrated in prominent places, depicted in sacred embrace.  Emperor and empress are their earthly counterparts.

The circle and the chalice, grail, or V are among the oldest symbols for the sacred feminine.  Water, the great womb and grave of life, symbolizes the divine feminine, the unconscious, and the emotions.  Earth's biggest nighttime light, the moon, is associated with the natural cycles of the female.  Vessels, vases, cauldrons, boats, and urns---containers---are also feminine symbols, representing the womb.  In antiquity, serpents and snakes were feminine icons representing wisdom, birth, life, and death.  The ankh, a symbol for life and eternity in Egypt, is similar to our contemporary icon for female.  The symbol for the planet and the goddess Venus is the pentagram, the logo used by "America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys, and by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Pentagon.  Fifty pentagrams adorn the flag of the U.S.A.

Perhaps not commonly recognized is that the United States utilizes many feminine symbols, one of which is the eagle-headed goddess Freedom, whose statue adorns our nation's capitol dome.  The statue of the goddess Liberty, our most famous and visible symbol, has the same attributes as the Greek goddess Athena; she offers religious and political liberty, as well as freedom from want and fear.  Thomas Crawford's 1855 statue of the goddess America wears the same cloak of stars and liberty cap as Mithras did.  This nation's capital, the District of Columbia, was named after a goddess.  

Could the founding fathers and their immediate successors have had a deeper vision than is yet commonly realized?  Why did they express their vision with these beautiful, ancient images of the feminine?  The evidence exists in such symbols on our nation's emblems, buildings, and documents.  The passion of these founders of a new kind of governance established our nation.  Perhaps careful study of their chosen symbols could bring us closer to understanding the freedom that was their dream and their amazing achievement.

Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder 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
Non-Fiction - Symbology:
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: ReVision
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Michelle Paula Snyder
Fiction – Fantasy Wonder Tales:
The Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time Lessons, First Book
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book one: The Lost Unicorn
 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book two The Lost Mermaid 
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book three The Lost Dragon

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sacred Geometry

Golden Ratio facial grid

Humans love patterns. We doodle patterns, buy patterns, wrap gifts in patterns, we even dance in patterns. Music and art, science and math, all have patterns. There are patterns in the tiniest things and in the expanse of the universe. Patterns are combinations of repeated shapes. The most perfect shapes are those of the golden mean, or golden ratio – a mathematical equation (1:1.618), a proportion which manifests throughout nature. Beautiful faces supposedly develop in accordance with this equation. Around the world and in every culture, assessments of beauty can be connected with the golden ratio. From prehistory this has been observed. Around 5000 BC, helen was a standard measurement of beauty: Helen of Troy was known as the woman whose face launched a thousand ships. A helen is an ancient term for the golden ratio. 

The ancients believed that a profound order underlies the universe, harmony in number that is expressed in geometry. The golden ratio is the foundation of Sacred Geometry, a term which refers to philosophical beliefs based on it. In ancient Egypt these geometric shapes were considered sacred, and by 550 BC the golden ratio became a philosophy taught by Pythagoras as Sacred Geometry. The shapes of Sacred Geometry date to prehistory; abstract geometric symbols such as spirals, circles, and squares have been used since before the Paleolithic Period, ca. 12,500 BC. Although credited to Pythagoras, the 3-4-5 triangle was known and used ca. 6000 BC by megalithic Vanir astronomers.  


Each shape represents a three dimensional form; circles represent spheres, squares are cubes. Sacred Geometry considers five perfect 3-dimensional forms - the tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedrons, known as the Platonic Solids. Mystery cults in ancient Greece taught that these shapes represent the essential structure of the universe. Pythagoras once said: "Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and demons.” He considered geometry to be the highest form of knowledge and the key to higher mysteries. Our ancient ancestors realized that there is dynamic mathematical relationship between beauty and truth. Artisans used the proportions and shapes of Sacred Geometry to express philosophical and theological ideas as forms of grace and beauty. The architects of classical Greece designed their buildings according to Sacred Geometry to enhance a sense of tranquility and enlightenment. 


Spirals, circles, and squares are basic shapes in Sacred Geometry. Spirals are found on megaliths such as Newgrange, and are associated with seasons, the cycle of birth, growth, and death. Jung considered them an archetypal symbol for cosmic forces. In cartoons spirals are used to indicate dizziness or hypnotism. Squares symbolize uprightness, honesty, and dependability; in fine art squares represent stability, and regulated life and actions. Masons ten thousand years ago knew the principles of geometry and used squaring tools in the construction of megalithic observatories to insure stable foundations. One of the oldest human-made symbols, circles symbolize the sun, infinity, inclusion, perfection, and centering. The Yogis and Priests of early Hinduism marked a circle around themselves as they knelt to pray; the circle represented the surrounding horizon. Sitting in the center of the circle they became associated with the center of the world, a place of stillness and peace. The Whirling Dervish priests dance in circles to “remember God.” 


Golden Rectangle
Sacred Geometry also plays a role in symbol design. Some images have design elements which act as a blueprint beneath the rendered image, so that not all information or meaning of a symbolic emblem is readily visible. For example, an alchemical symbol of a tree with a bird on either side, reflecting the shape of a cross, adds symbolism of the cross to the meaning of the birds and the tree. Renaissance masters used the golden rectangle to design their paintings. These geometric elements contribute balance, proportion, harmony, and meaning to the complete work. 


Mandalas are designs, usually circular, that use the shapes of the golden ratio in concentric layers. These patterns of shape and color elegantly express Sacred Geometry. In Tibet and India mandalas are sacred works of art which function as meditative focus: by moving the eyes watchfully from the perimeter toward the center, the seeker becomes more centered. Theoretically, through the study of symbols, designs and patterns we can access knowledge contained in our genetic memory. Archetypal shapes reach deep into the unconscious and affect the observer, opening the heart and mind to conscious evolution through geometric models. Like all archetypal images, the geometric shapes of mandalas are powerful because they are perceived by the subconscious mind, bypassing the rational processes of thinking. Holistic healers, physical therapists, and other professionals recognize the centering and healing aspects of these designs, and hang them in treatment rooms. Carl Jung had his patients create their own personal mandalas to help them become more centered emotionally and mentally. The next time you’re feeling a little blue, create one of your own: an absorbing and centering task you may find fun!



Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder 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
Non-Fiction - Symbology:
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: ReVision
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Michelle Paula Snyder
Fiction – Fantasy Wonder Tales:
The Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time Lessons, First Book
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book one: The Lost Unicorn
 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book two The Lost Mermaid 
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book three The Lost Dragon

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Love in Springtime


Love is an ancient condition. There are numberless experts on the subject; music, poetry, books, and movies reflect the romantic theme, and in the world of symbols it is no different. Love is hard to put into words, but images have provided a means of communicating this phenomenon since Once Upon a Time.

Humans have been symbolizing emotional and physical attraction since antiquity. Great mythological heroes, gods, and goddesses all portray the complex nature of love relationships, both romantic and familial. Cupid is a well-known love symbol; examples of cupids are found in both sculpture and painting from antiquity. According to Greek mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war – thus we have a mischievous romantic running around with a fistful of arrows, which inflict love upon their unsuspecting targets.

Love and romance symbols include hearts, roses, rings, knots, flowers - and a diamond is a girl’s best friend! Diamonds have been a symbol of love since ancient Greece. In Plato’s time a diamond assured winning a woman’s favor and was also a symbol of faithfulness in love and sorrow. Ivy, because it clings, has become a symbol of true love and friendship.

There was a time when types of flowers conveyed meanings, so messages could be sent discretely, without words.  During the Renaissance, carnations were love symbols. Legend has it that a drop of blood from Adonis, the lover of Aphrodite, made the first rose, and so the rose stands for love. Red, white, and pink roses each carry different messages – a pink rose symbolizes romantic interest. To the troubadours the rose was a symbol of discretion; the phrase “sub rosa,” meaning “under the rose,” comes from this association.

Since antiquity knots have symbolized engagement because knots, like engagements, are binding. In the Celtic, Hindu, and Chinese cultures, knots are designed into wedding garments, representing continuity, longevity, and eternity. Sending messages through love knots is popular in many cultures.

The ring is a promise of protection and is given as a symbol of friendship, engagement, and marriage. In Ireland, a ring called the Claddagh, a crowned heart, is worn either upon the right hand with the heart pointed outwards showing that the wearer is free, or with the heart turned inwards to denote that she is promised.  In Scotland the Luckenbooth, a pin of two hearts entwined with a crown on top, is given as a promise of betrothal. A Welsh traditional love symbol is the Lovespoon, usually a carved wooden spoon with a decorative handle.

Love manifest brings family. Inscriptions from 14,000 years ago, translated by Duncan-Enzmann, tell of mothers and children. Mother and child symbols are perhaps the most abundant, and the most powerful, in any society – a female’s ability to produce new life was worshiped as sacred in the oldest civilizations.  Mother’s Day honors love of and by mothers with symbols expressing appreciation for this endless flow of motherly love: cards, chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and framed pictures of the kids are among the most popular in the West.

I asked myself why love is in the air in Spring? Why not summer on a warm sandy beach sipping lemonade? Or in the winter in front of the crackling fire with a mug of hot chocolate? The Magdalenian inscriptions show us a reproduction calendar; our ancestors observed that babies born at winter solstice were healthier throughout their lives, and had a better chance of surviving. During the ice age, winter was a time when parents were indoors most of the time, and there were fewer natural predators (pollen, viruses, worms, etc.) Babies got the maximum care possible. In order to give birth during winter solstice, conception must happen during Springtime (thus love in the air!). This is also the origin of the fertility celebrations associated with the spring season.

Today, hearts symbolize love, and in wooded areas we can find hearts and initials carved into tree trunks – left there by lovers passing through. Cards with hearts on them send messages of love through the mail; poets and musicians write of giving their hearts to another. It’s Springtime, and love is in the air. Now you can express your hard-to-put-into-words feeling with the ancient language of symbols.

Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder 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
Non-Fiction - Symbology:
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: ReVision
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Michelle Paula Snyder
Fiction – Fantasy Wonder Tales:
The Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time Lessons, First Book
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book one: The Lost Unicorn
 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book two The Lost Mermaid 
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book three The Lost Dragon

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bunnies don’t lay eggs and other Easter considerations


"Of course bunnies don’t lay eggs!" the mother told her daughter. But there was no forthcoming explanation of why Easter – the day of the risen King – was surrounded by baskets of fake grass, candy, chocolate, decorated hard boiled eggs, and cute fluffy bunnies. Never mind what all that has to do with going to church and the Resurrection of Christ.

Easter is celebrated by Christians worldwide as the day Jesus rose from the dead, completing the promise of God. Easter is around the time of Spring Equinox. This date is connected with fertility rites, a practice at least 14,000 years old. 

Reproductive calandric, ca 12,500 BC
It is an ancient practice, love in spring: This is a Paleolithic calendar instructing the cycles of human reproduction: that babies should be conceived in spring, to be born around winter solstice. Winter babies during the ice age had the best chance of survival: Families stayed inside, and newborns got a maximum of attention. 

They also observed that 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. Families were paramount, babies meant the continuation of the human race. Still do. 

Spring Equinox became a time of sexual activity in an effort to produce as many healthy children as possible at winter solstice (now Christmas). Over time rabbits (known for their rapid reproduction) and eggs (from where chics come) became fertility symbols. And everyone knows chocolate is food for romance. Fertility rites were celebrated in ancient Greece, then Rome. Goddesses such as Aphrodite, Demeter, Venus, Kali, Ostara, and Ishtar are connected with cult celebrations of fertility. The Teutonic goddess of the dawn known as Eastra is said to be the basis of the word Easter, eastre being a root word for spring, east being where the sun rises.

      Shown: Tawa, Kernunnos, Sol Invictus, Shamash, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus
Springtime promises new life. Fertility rites celebrate new life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrates new life. The history of crucified and resurrected kings dates back thousands of years, and evolved from the sun goddess Helen. Worship of Helen grew from the understanding that the sun always rose, and as long as it did and there were babies, life would be eternal. Babies come from women, and so girls and women were held in high esteem, along with the life-giving sun. Young blonde girls symbolized the sun, and grew into beautiful blonde queens, and then into the goddess of the sun, Helen. Ca 1200 BC the transformation of goddess Helen into a male began, and she became known as sun gods such as Apollo, Abraxas, Lugh, Ra, Shamash, Sol Invictus, Garuda, Freyr, and Mithra. Jesus is the Christian equivalent of these gods, bringing life and hope, just as the return of the sun brought renewed hope to those struggling against Mother Nature in temperatures that exceeded fifty below zero, ca 12,500 BC. 

Then, as now, life was sacred, babies were precious, and the sun gave warmth and made the food grow. People may celebrate life in different ways, but the life they celebrate is the same. We color Easter eggs and hide them for the kids to find (reminiscent, I think, of Ruth in the fields of Boaz), color pictures of bunnies and little yellow chics, go to church in our best spring clothes, and eat lots of chocolate. After Easter dinner of course.



So Happy Easter. 
May the Sun, and the Son, bless your life, 
and bring you hope, warmth, and the love of family. - Michelle


About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. She is an author, columnist, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:

     Symbology Series:


Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge  
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: My Art and Symbols 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images 
Symbology: World of Symbols 
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

 

 Fairy Tales: 
A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn


 




A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid










The Fairy Tales: Once-Upon-A-Time Lessons First Book