Pages

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Narcissus and Narcissa, a story of love and grief

Waterhouse: Narcissus

Today, Narcissism is seen as an unhealthy fascination with one’s self.  This is derived from the ancient myth about a beautiful boy named Narcissus. The story as told by Ovid is about the goddess Echo who falls in love with him and does everything she can to show her love for him. Narcissus is unimpressed and rebuffs her affections; scorned, she runs into the woods. Intrigued, Narcissus went into the woods looking for the mysterious woman. After some verbal exchanges which relate to her name – Echo – Narcissus searches for water and kneeling over a lake he sees his reflection. According to the modern myth, upon seeing his stunning features he becomes aware of all the pain he has put women through over his beauty. He kneels over the water and then dives in, drowning. The nymphs find a beautiful flower where his body should be, and name the flower after him. 


In one myth, the goddess of the forest appeared and found that the lake, which had been fresh water, was transformed into a lake of salty tears. She asked the lake why it wept. 

“I weep for Narcissus" the lake replied. 

"I am surprised that you weep for Narcissus, for I pursued him in the forest, but you could contemplate his beauty close at hand." 

"Was Narcissus beautiful?" the lake asked. 

“You do not know that?" the goddess said in wonder. "After all, it was by your banks that he knelt every day to contemplate himself !"

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it explained it wept for Narcissus because of his beauty, but that in the depths of his eyes it could see its own beauty reflected.

Palimpsest gathers on story, myth, and symbol as they are adapted by cultures. It would seem that this modern version has been altered to suit the culture of the day. Looking deeper into the origin of this story, extracting the events which are told in other allegories and myth, there is a more compassionate story to be told in which Narcissus and Narcissa were twins. Pausanias records the story this way, and it is a story of love, loss, and grief. This older version by Pausanias locates the spring of Narcissus at Donacon 'Reed-bed' in the territory of the Thespians. He expresses doubt that someone could not distinguish a reflection from a real person and cites the lesser-known variant in which Narcissus had a twin sister. In his account, both dressed similarly and hunted together (as twins would), and that Narcissus fell in love with her. Anyone who is a twin, or knows twins, would agree that this is not uncommon. Indeed my own twin sisters seemed to have a world of their own, how much more would fraternal twins become exclusive? Pausanias also writes that when his twin died, Narcissus pined after her and pretended that the reflection he saw in the water was his sister. Narcissa was later changed to Echo, the mountain nymph who falls in love with an unresponsive, self-absorbed Narcissus.

Some Greek tales suggest that Narcissus was sexually attracted to his sister, and when she was alive, made love to her. This also is believable, as in some cultures today and some cultures from which myths flow, family marriages were not unusual; Narcissus was born at a time when sibling marriage was common. Differences in ancient myths and their root stories are partially due to the life span of information, and partially due to human intervention; folklore is destroyed or changed by enemies, or those seeking to change the course of the future.

The story of Echo involves jealousy of another goddess – stories of jealous Hera are common in mythology and tell of punishment inflicted by the angry goddess. Medusa and Narcissa suffered this fate: deconstruction of her true story, replaced by one of questionable morality. From this version of the myth told around 1200 BC, the tale of the devastated twins was deconstructed to put their love in terms of morality and sin, Christianized around 300 AD.

The myth of the twins also connects to the symbolism of the stories of Gemini. Other aspects of the Narcissus myth relate to watery mirrors which were used before the Watchers went to Egypt (records of which are mentioned in Uriel’s machine) and to the king’s orb which reflects light. The message in this myth of love and grief is now that marrying family is bad, love of self is bad, and it conveys hatred of mirrors. Some accounts say Narcissus commits suicide, another sin.

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. 

gon

Sunday, November 7, 2021

The Cross - from direction to salvation



Winter Solstice Cross - M. Snyder

The cross is a symbol familiar to almost everyone in one form or another. The equal-armed cross is one of the most ancient human symbols, appearing tens of thousands of years BC. It was the first symbol for direction: north, south, east, and west. Over time, one arm of the cross was lengthened to differentiate the directions, the extended arm of the cross denoting south. The circle on the familiar Celtic cross would more accurately be an ellipse and symbolizes the position of the sun at the winter solstice when the sun is at its lowest point, above the Tropic of Cancer. 
Left to right: directional cross, southern cross, winter solstice cross, solar cross, Neolithic solar cross
Crosses are visibly prominent in the pictographic language of early peoples. The solar cross, or wheel cross, is evident in Neolithic inscriptions and denotes direction and time - ultimately seasons and the cycles of nature. The solar cross is now a symbol for Earth. The cross became a symbol of the great god, the sun. 
Crosses resemble other symbols, such as the ankh, which translates to life. Also similar are the symbols for female, Mercury, Taurus, and the Tau. The triple tau, or triple pillars, has astronomical interpretations pertaining to the solstices, equinoxes, colures, and relative constellations. The tau cross has other names associated with religion: the crux Commissa, Old Testament, Anticipatory, Advent, or St. Anthony's cross. It is commonly associated with St. Francis, it is a pagan sign of the Mystic Tau of the Chaldeans, and to the Egyptians means “sacred gate.” The tau cross is a symbol of Mithras, Attis, and Tammuz, all gods associated with the sun. 


Another cross symbol is the Chi-Rho. One legend says Emperor Constantine had a vision before the battle against Maxentius. According to this legend, Constantine's premonition was that he would be victorious if he put this cross on the standards of his soldiers, symbolizing his recognition of the one true religion - Christianity. The Maltese cross is a firefighter’s badge of honor.
According to one legend, this dates back to battles between the Saracens and the Knights Templar on the Island of Malta. The Saracens developed a fierce weapon that hurled fireballs at their enemies. The Knights banded together to fight this new weapon and saved many lives, eventually driving their attackers out. The island of Malta was given to the brave knights to reward their courage. The eight-pointed cross has been on their flag and used as a symbol of firefighters since.

The cross has evolved from a symbol for four directions into a symbol of sacrifice and salvation. The Southern Cross with the extended arm is used by Christians to symbolize the sacrifice of Christ for salvation, imaged with or without the Savior upon it. In Rennes le Chateau, France there is a southern cross with a mother and child imaged upon it where the arms of the cross intersect. Madonna and Child are not here crucified, but glorified, surrounded by radial lines.

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. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

A Most Mysterious Egg


The Orphic Egg
Michelle Snyder
Aristotle stated that “...all men naturally desire to know.” Knowing, however, means different things to different people, and knowing can be dangerous. There is also the thrill of knowing what you believe others do not know and cannot understand. Thus the Mysteries and the initiates of many ages and cultures came into being, along with their rituals, and the symbols which both concealed and revealed their secrets.

To understand the ancient mysteries one can turn to the symbolism which originally concealed them. One such symbol is the Orphic Egg, an egg with a snake wound around it from bottom to top. It is the ancient and foremost symbol of the Orphic Mysteries, which were named after Orpheus, a legendary singer in Greek myth (500 BC). He could charm animals, stones, and trees by his songs. With his music he passed Cerberus, the three headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades, and rescued his wife. The Greeks borrowed ancient rituals and named them after Orpheus, who became the figurehead for a mystery religion promising life after death and the inspiration of divine power. Little is known about the people who originated these rituals.
   
In the esoteric tradition the Orphic Egg represents the soul of the philosopher, with the serpent symbolizing the Mysteries. The Orphic Egg represents things both bound and infinite. It signifies the Cosmos as encircled by the fiery Creative Spirit. Like other ancient symbols, this one is, in part, also a reflection of the mysteries of existence as seen in nature. If we compare this mystic egg-and-serpent symbol with scientific information about the path of the moon, we find great similarities between the two: The egg, a symbol for the earth, around which the snake (a feminine symbol, as is the moon) winds itself. The spiraling snake resembles the path our moon takes - the head and the tip of the serpent’s tail representing the moon’s position at its apparent halt in orbit.

A similar symbol, the World Egg (not bound by a serpent), is regarded as holding the seed from which all things will manifest.  The earliest known idea of "egg-shaped cosmos" comes directly from Hindu scriptures. The Sanskrit term for this symbol is Brahmanda, where Brahm = Cosmos and Anda = Egg. In Greek myths, Persephone, the great goddess of night and the underworld, brought forth the World Egg. As it cracked in half, half of the shell became Heaven; the other half fell to become Earth. In many cultures the egg is a symbol for the Earth, and snakes are associated with the moon. This supports the idea that astronomical patterns such as that which the moon makes around the earth were observed, understood, and symbolized.
   
The idea that Earth hatched from an egg is common in many traditions. To the ancient Ukrainians the golden yolk is the sun god, the white shell the White Goddess. Similar symbolism is found in Phoenician, Celtic, Greek, Tibetan, Hindu, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and Siberian iconography. Everywhere today the egg is a well-known symbol of life and fertility; the Easter egg symbolizes the renewal of life that comes with spring. And so I reflect on another egg mystery, as Parkes Cadman said “What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?”


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 Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: ReVision
Symbology: World of Symbols

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
Tears 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, May 30, 2019

Yggdrasil, the original Tree of Life


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow - M. Snyder
As humans have done throughout history our ancestors created and used symbols to express complicated or mysterious concepts, like the natural cycles of life. Animals often eat in the shelter or shade of trees, leaving what they do not want to “melt” slowly into the ground. Animals also die under trees, their remains melting into the ground, nourishing the trees. Thus nourished, the trees grow and bloom, again providing shelter and food for the animals. The ancients noticed this cycle - death providing food for the tree, which in turn thrives and provides food for life - and a symbol was born.

Yggdrasil  (the Cosmic Tree, later the World Tree or Tree of Life) represents the link between Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld, uniting Above and Below. The trunk of the tree, or Axis Mundi, symbolizes the path between the material and spiritual realms; a sort of life line (the path of nourishment). The children’s poem Rock-a-bye Baby comes from this mythology - the baby is suspended from the branches of the tree, between Heaven and Earth (in the path of nourishment), to be blessed and protected. This practice, hanging the baby from tree branches, developed while the parents worked in the field and tended herds of pigs (which would attack a baby). The precious babies, hanging from a branch, were safe from animals while the adults were busy.

The Cosmic Tree, like the Axis Mundi, is considered to be at the center of the world, at the junction between the home of the gods, the realm of men, and the underworld (Heaven, Earth, and Hell). All sacred and holy places, temples and sanctuaries, are an assimilation of this symbolic archetype. In Christian depictions, Yggdrasil is two trees: the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.


Symbols of Yggdrasil are found world-wide, from prehistory to the present. The ancient tree, with roots deep underground, a trunk through which flows nourishment for life, and branches which spread out in the heavens, is considered the giver of blessings. Yggdrasil is also a giver of spiritual wisdom; Odin received the gift of language, and Buddha his enlightenment from this tree.

The Allerød Yggdrasil from c. 9000 BC is the ancestor of our Norse, Celtic, Hebrew, Vedic, Christian, and Mohammedan Tree of Life. Yggdrasil symbolizes the origin and cycles of life and death, and attributes them to something beyond the corporeal world. Trees also bear seeds and fruit, which regenerate both trees and Earth; from this the tree has become a symbol of immortality. Yggdrasil is guarded by fearsome beings such as dragons, fiery serpents, or angels with swords of fire.

Allerod Yggdrasil, 9000 BC
Trans: Duncan-Enzmann
Yggdrasil images are still created and used to express that which is best communicated symbolically.  Archetypal psychologist James Hillman points out that the soul reveals itself through images.  Religious sequence throughout the world is the same - from chaos to birth, life, and death, then dissolution back to chaos and reconfiguration. The image of the ancient tree Yggdrasil symbolizes this process. The similarity of these images indicates commonality in the mythologies they represent. Family “trees” showing genealogy imply the same flow of life through the generations of those related by family ties. 

Michelle Paula Snyder, MPhil Divinity


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, and founder/VP of the Foundation for Research of the Enzmann Archive.

Symbologist Michelle Snyder
Non-Fiction - Symbology:

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