Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Color of Magic and the Evil Eye

Belief that a supernatural power ruled over life and destiny led to superstitions of magic, sorcery, and divination. Divine gods rewarded our virtue and demons cursed our lives. Supplication of gods drove the building of temples, spurred good works, created prayers and ceremonies. But averting evil took magic through rituals, incantations, talismans, charms – and color. Gods used them as well – Marduk, a Babylonian god, carried a red stone between his teeth to ward off demonic influences. Christians wore the crucifix to defy the red Satan. Color was effective in invoking spirits, both good and evil, and has been part of nearly every ritual and ceremony. This included colored ink, paper, thread, ribbon, fabric, and plants.

One widespread superstitious fear was of the evil eye, which cursed a man with one glance. It is held that this curse was from the power of envy transferred from the viewer to the viewed. The cursed would be beset by misfortune, insanity, or disease. It went about wrecking their lives, loves, fortunes, and labors. To avoid the curse of envy, some would hide their success and health, dress their beautiful children in grunge, and go about as if there was nothing to envy. (It would seem this practice has not died out – grunge has been a popular fashion style for decades.) Hindu mothers put daubs of black on the foreheads and eyelids of their babes and tied a piece of white or blue cloth on the dress. 

Talismans were designed to ward off the effects of the wicked eye, and color was important in their power. Some charms in Persia had a bit of turquoise in them. In Jerusalem the defense was a “hand of might” which was always blue, and worn as a bracelet. Scottish new-born babes had a piece of red ribbon tied around their neck. In England rings or amulets of red chalcedony were the talisman of choice. Italians used pieces of coral. In Cairo pottery beads were sold to caravans, and were tied to the forehead of the camels. In this way the gaze of the evil eye would be attracted to the beads, sparing the animals. Brass ornaments which decorate the harnesses of cart horses and shire stallions, and the brass horns rising from their collars, began as amulets intended to protect the animals from the wicked evil eye. Over time these powerful amulets degenerated into mere ornaments. 

Color is and always has been important in magic. Magic formulas were usually written in red, as it is in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Color had great power to resist evil and overthrow demons. When natural red stones were used and no fading took place, the power was greater. This reverence for color was not for beauty or aesthetic reasons. Rings, bracelets, and necklaces had meanings as a practical religious strategy. Some amulets of certain gems and colors blessed their wearer, bringing favor from gods and connecting them with divine beings. Color brought success to commerce, prevented disease, protected travelers by providing safety from shipwreck, lightening, and animal attack. Color even assured a wonderful harvest and managed the elements for beneficial results. The preferred colors for amulets were red, blue, yellow, green and white. Red amulets protected wearers from fire and lightening, and treated disease. Violet stones attracted virtue and faith. When worn by children, the stones assured heaven’s watchfulness, and encouraged obedience to parents. 

Yellow stones attracted prosperity and instilled happiness. Green stones were connected to nature, causing fertility in man and animal. They brought rain and general strength. White stones were thought to come from heaven and bring its protection. For an all-purpose powerful gem, seek out a brown agate – it promises victory to the warrior, favor to the lover in his lady’s eyes, intelligence, happiness, health, and long life. What more is there? 

Belief in color as a powerful force has faded away. Magic, sorcery, and divination survive today in the fortune tellers, crystal gazers, and spiritualists. Once divine, the supernatural has degenerated into so-called black arts. Amulets and esoteric rites were forbidden by Christianity, and only creatures of the devil practiced them. These were labeled witches and fiends, and were persecuted severely, accused of denying faith to practice sorcery. Yet before Christianity reached its height progressing through a period of tortuous inquisition and reformation, magic was often confused with it. Humans were mystic and penitent beings to whom color and god were one, a reverence rooted in the ancient knowledge that the sun brings life, and the light of the sun was powerful color. Today many holistic healers used colored light in their practice.

image: facebookcover.com


Symbologist Michelle 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.

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, November 1, 2018

The Magical Talisman

Queen of Sheba gives Solomon a PentacleKonrad Witz (1400-1446)



Many philosophical and religious discussions come against the talisman. But none succeed. Christianity condemns them and yet crucifixes and rosaries perform the same function as talismans. Gods come and go, but talismans remain. Even a most academic and rational soul carries a good luck charm or a rabbit’s foot which he cherishes. Talismans and instructions as to how to make them have been discovered in many ancient sites. Talismans are evident in all occult traditions. 

Some talismans are created only to do harm, but most are designed to protect against evil forces. Every religion, tradition, and belief system has its talismans. As time passed, they have become so intertwined that tracing individual origins is all but impossible. The magical amulets come in all shapes and sizes – rings, jewels, paper, gardens, even animals. The painting “Spring” by Botticelli was reputed to be a talisman.

Precious stones are formed by powerful natural forces. This makes them natural talismans, and they are used as such in all cultures.  Because of their presence on the garments of the high priests, Christians readily adopted the tradition and use of precious stones as talismans. Many ancient documents state that stones and crystals have healing properties. Modern science has discovered that each stone has a unique vibration pattern which can help stabilize the functions, or malfunctions, of the human brain, which also emits vibrations.

There are different ways of using amulets for various ailments. From writings of the 1600’s we learn that an emerald worn on the person controls lust,  strengthens the memory, and blesses ones rhetoric. Rubies and carbuncles provide protection from plague and poison, and increase gifts of fortune. They can also reconcile persons in a lawsuit. Sapphires produce peacefulness, amiability, and piety. When angry or lying persons hold a diamond in their mouth, these traits are cured. Topaz neutralizes any poisonous liquid, and pearls cure headaches.

For a talisman to have any power it must be engraved with a mark, symbol, or sign. DeGivry found these directions in a manuscript from 1671:

“A talisman is nothing else than the seal, figure, character, or image of a celestial omen, planet, or constellation; impressed, engraved, or sculptured upon a sympathetic stone or upon a metal corresponding to the planet; by a workman whose mind is settled and fixed upon his work and the end of his work without being distracted or dissipated in other unrelated thoughts; on the day and at the hour of the planet; in a fortunate place; during fair, calm weather, and when the planet is in the best aspect that may be in the heavens, the more strongly to attract the influences proper to an effect depending upon the power of the same and on the virtues of its influences.”
That in itself is a tall order, making a true talisman rare and exceedingly valuable. There is a difference between magnetized and unmagnetized talismans. To magnetize the amulet, it must be the right substance, and engraved at a propitious time by a focused artisan who keeps his mind on the work at hand.  You can have a talisman for each day of the week. Like all effective amulets, they must be engraved on the day’s corresponding metals – on gold for the sun, etc. The correct one for each day must be worn.

Some talismans are so useful that if they were generally used they would improve our world considerably. They have most useful powers. One provides protection for you, even late at night in the most cut-throat part of town. Legend says that even in a fight you will not be hurt and your opponents weapons will be turned against him. Another protects against accidents on Saturday – Saturday being an evil day against which one needs protection. Others help you acquire a good memory (is that a memory that works well? Or a memory that is pleasant to recall…). This talisman must be inscribed on Hyena parchment, which should not be too difficult to procure.

Then there are fortune talismans. One depicts Fortuna standing on a globe. Any research of talismans brings up the name Catherine de Medici. Her propensity for the occult is well known. She owned a now famous amulet, made to impart sovereign governance and knowledge of the future.  A very well-known image is called Solomon’s Seal, although you may not recognize it as a talisman. It is made of two overlapping triangles which form a hexagram. The divine name (tetragrammaton) is inscribed in the center. The information we now have about the origin of this magic amulet may add to what we know about talismans in general. 

Hexagons are six-sided shapes. Evident on the crust of the earth, in the formation of rocks, dried corn, and snowflakes, they are formed by pressure from the outside. This is the basis of the “hex”: subjects of the “hex” find themselves surrounded by pressure. Hexagrams of overlapping triangles were used in the days of Solomon to contain evil spirits, trapped by the surrounding pressure. (Pentagons are formed from stretching – pressure from within pushing out.)

A hexagram is a six pointed star composed of two overlapped triangles. The beginnings of the hexagram are seen as far back as 77,000 years, with an upward pointing triangle symbolizing winter solstice sunrise and sunset. By 14,500 BC, summer  and winter solstice sunrises and sunset s were represented with overlapping triangles, one pointing up, one down (Duncan-Enzmann).


1) Blombos solar V, winter solstice, 77,000 BC. 2) Lascaux (14,500 BC) summer solstice. 3) summer/winter solstice .
According to Christopher Knight, as he states in “Solomon’s Power Brokers,” the hexagram known as the Solomon’s Seal, or the Star of David, has roots not only in ancient astronomical observation, but observations done at a particular place, at the latitude of Jerusalem. There is another talisman worn by Jewish children during Bar Mitzva called Shaddai. It is a round metal badge inscribed with that name, and it is of very ancient tradition. Christian Cabalists and magian sorcerers all obtained them. A talisman depicting a hand-drawn Solomon’s Seal was taken off the body of Anslem, Bishop of Wurzburg, Count of Ingelheim; he was an adept in alchemy, and was found dead in his bed.

Many legends have been told about the Mandrake, a natural talisman. The plant we know is probably not the same plant in the Scriptures (dudaim, or love plant), mentioned in Genesis and Song of Solomon. Legend records that it was of Venus, and could make barren women fertile. Some believe it was Ginseng, which has fertility enhancing properties. All writers of the Middle Ages mention that there is a male, and a female plant - its name is likely because the roots are said to resemble tiny humans. Some believed the plant was demonic, as it could reveal knowledge of the future, by shaking their heads when questioned. They were featured in the Harry Potter movies, mentioned by Shakespeare and Machiavelli, and sung about by John Donne.




Symbologist Michelle 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.

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








Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Symbols of Scary


Halloween, or Samhain, the ancient pagan new year, is celebrated at the beginning of winter, a time when everything dies. Corn stalks, harvest sheaves, and scarecrows are all symbolic of the rituals and tradition of the harvest, the basis of the Samhain or All Hallows Eve celebrations. In agriculture, scarecrows are responsible for keeping the birds away. Other common Halloween symbols - cats, snakes, and owls - were depended upon for keeping grain stores rodent-free. In order to suppress pagan agricultural industry, these animals were demonized by the church, associating them with all things evil.

Samhain was a time when the gates to the underworld were believed to be opened and spirits roamed the earth freely.  Offerings of fruits and vegetables were made to honor the dead. Over time, a night to remember and honor the dead became a night of fear of the dead; a day when fairies and ghosts were about. This required masks to hide from the fairies and ancestor-worship rites to placate the spirits. Skeletons are symbols of the dead and a favorite Halloween decoration. Samhain was a night when the dead could cross over and communicate. This was an important time for divination, as any information about the nature of the coming winter was valuable.

Goblins, also a Halloween symbol, are not ghosts. Goblin is actually the  French name for Fairy Folk or Fair Folk, the descendants of the white-skinned blonde Maglamosian people; northern Europeans who, because of their knowledge of astronomy and natural sciences, were feared and powerful, and gained the reputation of being able to do magic.

A very popular activity at Halloween is carving pumpkin faces and lighting them from inside with a candle. These scary faces are sentries designed to scare off evil spirits; legends of the demon Jack probably originated from sightings of bog and marsh “lights” that looked like lanterns being carried. Referred to as Jack-O-Lanterns, they were caused by combustion of methane and marsh gasses.

The most common Halloween character of all is the witch. The word witch likely comes from a word meaning wise one. Pagan witches have many traditions. It is said that at their annual celebration they would marry, initiate new witches, and dance about on branches or broomsticks. Old pictures of witches show them worshipping a horned figure, most likely Cernunnos, the Celtic god of the woods, a Green Man. When the church attempted to stamp out or change all pagan celebrations Cernunnos became a devil figure. Later, witches were imaged with wings like a bat’s; bats fly at night and sleep hanging upside down, lending them to be associated with scary things.

Kids love to dress up and go out to Trick or Treat. Viewed as extortion by some, the tradition actually comes from a time when poorer families went house begging, offering prayers for the dead en exchange for food and money. This was called “guising” (disguising” oneself and knocking on the doors of the affluent) Those who gave were blessed with good luck, those who were stingy were threatened with bad luck. Trick or treat is actually a later American phrase and was known as a time of pranks that were supernatural in character, such as taking apart something large and putting it back together on a roof, or fixing a door so it wouldn't open. People gave candy to avoid having pranks played on them. As the popularity of pranking died out, candy was still given to groups of children who visited their neighbors in costumes to get some goodies.

Early Christians disliked Samhain’s association and connection with the supernatural, and spread the belief that spirits of the dead were delusions from the devil. Eventually the Celtic traditions became associated with the Christian hell, and were greatly feared. Today, less moral significance and more theatrical emphasis is enjoyed by those who practice Halloween traditions. As it is with December to January New Year celebrations, in Pagan and Wiccan traditions Allhallows Eve is considered a good time to make a new start or begin new projects.

TRICK OR TREAT??????

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, October 28, 2018

Magical Mysterious Cats



Illustration for Puss 'n Boots


Cats are a constant source of amusement, humor, affection, comfort, fear, and suspicion. The domestic cat, Felis Catus, is found in the most comfortable location in any house, and has a passionate approach to napping. The fairy tale Puss 'n Boots was originally a story about how wonderful it was for a little girl to have a cat to take care of her. Domestication of cats is an ancient practice dating back at least 10,000 years.  



The history of cats and their symbolism is shared by the owl and the snake. What do cats, snakes, and owls have in common? The answer to that is pivotal in the history and symbolism of all three, cats especially. They all eat rodents; one rat can ruin an entire cache of grain. All three animals were encouraged to frequent farms in northern Europe; milk was left by farmers for them so they would return - this became a practice of leaving "gifts" for their animal friends, then "offerings" to the animal spirits. In European legend the Corn Cat cared for corn crops; when harvested it retired to a special sheaf set aside for it, until the next growing season.

During the Dark Ages, in an effort to subvert Pagan culture, the Church demonized all three animals and it became illegal to even own one as a pet. This effectively destroyed the agricultural commerce of those outside the Church, crushing their independence. From this slander came the modern demonic associations in symbolism to all three (Duncan-Enzmann).

Prior to their deconstruction, cats, snakes, and owls held places of honor in the myths and traditions of many cultures. Cats and snakes, or serpents, are sometimes adversaries, sometimes colleagues. All three animals are sacred in various religions, but the cat holds a special place in the homes of the gods, not to mention the homes of humans. Indeed, during the first century BC it was illegal to kill a cat, and if the murderous act happened after an eclipse, the killer might be torn apart by a mob. St. Agatha was called St. Cat, and the patroness of cats is St Gertrude.

Royal and sacred cats are evident in the cultures of Egypt from 2500 BC. Egyptian temples dedicated to the sun had images of cats in them. A symbol for sun god Ra is a cat, and they are sacred to Isis. Egyptian goddess Bast, or Bastet was imaged with a cat's head; earlier depictions were with a lioness's head. Linked to protective forces, cats were known to defeat snakes and were worshiped for their ability to defeat the enemy Serpent.

Greek goddess Hecate can turn into a cat; she is a goddess of witchcraft. This perhaps was influential in the belief that witches keep cats. The furry feline is also sacred to Diana (Artemis); her brother Apollo, the sun god, is imaged with or as a lion. In Indian religious iconography, the vehicle of sage Vidali is a cat. For two hundred years the Siamese cat resided only with monarchs; Burmese and Siamese believe that cats enshrine spirits of the dead. Scandinavian goddess Freya has a chariot pulled by two cats. The goddess Virgo, who holds a sheaf of grain, or corn stalk, has a cat guardian. Indeed, the Virgin is linked to the cat; Helen, Frigga, Pasht, Artemis, Diana, Maya, and Mary, all, like Virgo the Virgin Mother, have the same attributes. They are linked to the moon, and to the cat. Hercules was given a lion.


When the Christian church demonized cats to a superstitious world, every black cat became a devil, and every old woman who kept cats became a witch. Indeed, a woman was hanged in Exeter because a neighbor saw a cat jump into her cottage window one evening. No further proof was needed. Demons and sorcerers of many traditions are priests and gods of older religions cruelly misrepresented by intolerance and efforts by the church to subvert them. A common belief was that souls too corrupt to inhabit human bodies were in beasts like cats, lions, and monkeys. Since that time, cats have become associated with demons, ghosts, omens, vampires, genies  corpses, and witchcraft. Demonic stinging cats are the enemy of the Celts. They are both charms and talismans.

Cats are representatives of Hecate, goddess of death, and there are many recorded instances of cats appearing right before someone died. In Egypt, cats were credited with considerable powers of clairvoyance. Cats feel beforehand and react to magnetic and meteorological changes. According to physicist Duncan-Enzmann cats, and many animals, can smell water, different types of land and vegetation, and navigate by the stars and sun. This explains their uncanny ability to travel great distances over unknown terrain and return home. Cats were watched in olden time to forecast nature's varying moods. Almost universal is the belief that a cat cleaning behind its ears with wet fore-paws foretells rain. Some cats even display telepathic ability to know when their master returns.

Cats, and other felines, are prevalent in symbolism. They are the fourth sign of the Chinese zodiac, corresponding to Cancer. Cats represent the Great Hunter - they are most present while seeming most absent, relentless in purpose, have unerring aim, and are able to see in the dark.  Goddess Liberty is often imaged with a cat at her feet. In Heraldic iconography cats have been used by companies of soldiers as they symbolize liberty. Romans often used cats on banners, most likely to symbolize the goddess Liberty. After the fall of the Republic, a cat at the feet of a Pope symbolized treason and hypocrisy.

The cat in Native American symbolism denotes cunning, ingenuity, and forethought. Unlike many other cultures, they consider cats neither friend nor servant to mankind. Cat characters are found in the fables, fairy tales, folklore, and poetry of many cultures; Puss 'n Boots, The Cat in the Hat, Lewis Carol's Cheshire Cat, and Duck Wellington's Cat are only a few. 

There are many common expressions about cats:

Playing cat and mouse is an expression derived from the association of the cat with the sun and moon, and the mouse with clouds. The sun darts in and out of the clouds playfully, before dissipating it, as a cat plays with a mouse before pouncing. In Puss 'n Boots the Cat persuades the ogre to become a mouse, then after a good chase, eats him. 

Cats are blessed with nine lives; Apollo, the god of light, was the producer of the original nine month lunar year and is surrounded by nine sister muses; these nine muses grew out of the nine month gestation period - one muse for each month. In Egypt there are three companies of nine gods, also derived from gestation trimesters, as is the trinity of trinities.  Freya, the Norse goddess whose chariot is pulled by cats is connected to the number nine, and she is, in part, a goddess of witchcraft.  

White or black cats being good or bad luck depends on where you are. In some cultures a black cat is not bad luck, as it is not associated with death, and in some places a white cat is because it is the color of ghosts. 

Cats are associated with foreknowledge, and in Japan linked to genies and vampires. The Sephardim (Spanish Jews) believed vampire cats lived among them; Lilith (created before Eve as Adam's first wife) lives as a  black cat named elBroosha, also known as a Screech Owl or Barn Owl, associated with witchcraft. Cats have become symbols of life and death, day and night, sun and moon, good luck and bad, deity and devil. Whatever has befallen them, today these cunning creatures are sometimes family pets, but mostly ignored, like an old toy we would be embarrassed to play with.

Just remember, when you come home to your dog, he wags his tail and you feed him and pet him, and he thinks "wow, you are a god." Your cat sees you, rubs up against your legs, you feed it and pet it, and it thinks "wow, I am a god."


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