Saturday, August 15, 2015

For Love of Art and Symbolism


Indie publishing is a wonderful thing. Twenty years ago there was no opportunity for me to hold a book in my hand that was all about my artwork. Wow. It has been a long road of 59 years.
Me at 2 1/2 with my chalk board.

I started drawing when I was two.  By nine I was hooked on black and white, and by eighteen I was teaching others pen and ink technique. Graphic art and teaching became a serious pursuit, and I did both for many years. Decades later, while researching symbols and images throughout history to decode them, I realized that I had always used symbolic imagery in my art. 

In 2001 I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. I was determined to continue doing what I loved. I even had a newspaper article about my struggle. The MDA accepted one of my pencil drawings into their national collection. Since teaching children would become difficult, I pursued higher education in the only thing I knew. Visual language. 

Now, a postgraduate degree and five books later, I find there is no end to the deep well of symbolic imagery used by humans, or the rest of nature for that matter. A cat leaves marks or spray on a tree to say "mine." How is it that they know to do this, and understand another's mark? Birds make nests without instructions, a one-celled paramecium knows what its food is. Our own homeostatic physiological (whew – big words) systems such as PH know how to adjust when straying from normal. The big question is, once above or below normal, how does it know where normal is, so that it can return? 

Dreams happen even when you don’t remember them. Nightmares frighten young children, and even adults when we will admit it. Some even have prophetic or lucid dreams, a subject worthy of a lifetime of study just on its own. Dream imagery is symbolic, yet not created in the physical world. This brings up a very important point. Symbolism is the language of the mind. What we can construe from this truth is astounding: 

The language of symbols begins in the genetic construction of life. 

 The instructions for building a nest are in the code which makes birds birds. A paramecium can recognize food because it can see – which means it has a brain connected to an eye (Duncan-Enzmann), and a program which translates what it sees into what that is. Genetic memory is a fascinating field of study. This is the foundation of archetypal images. Something that is seen (or even a behavior) for generations, for hundreds or thousands of years, becomes part of the genetic code. The sun, mother and child, danger, all are experienced by everyone that lives. These experiences are logged into the genetic code. The study of symbolism leads to the study of genetic imagery. 

I began by expounding upon the benefits of indie publishing. And herein I have used one to share the depth and breadth of the subject I have dedicated my life to. For without someone to share knowledge with it becomes useless, and crumbles to dust in someone’s attic. Knowledge of truth enables enlightenment, personal victory, and better vision for the future. Truth cannot be obtained through contrivances or deconstruction of history; but we can find it in the symbols that record our ancestor’s lives – symbols that have survived thousands of years of natural and human destruction. To make sure what I have been blessed to know is available to others I write - this blog, a monthly newsletter, books, and curriculum which I teach. 

Symbology: My Art and Symbols is a fun, lighthearted, big pictures less writing coffee table introduction to the fascinating world of visual language.  eBook fans will love Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids, and introduction to the lost civilization that left us most of this magnificent picture language, and Symbology: World of Symbols for much more information. For a more academic publication, Symbology: Decoding Classic Images has five-star reviews. And then for the child in all of us The Lost Unicorn, an original fairy tale inspired by my research into the symbolism of the unicorn and of the princess (print and eBook). 

The effort to produce information continues: I am writing another fairy tale, and another book on decoding images. Most importantly, a reference on the language of our ancestors is being released this month, Ice Age Language: Translation, Grammar, and Vocabulary, by Robert Duncan-Enzmann, translator, and J Robert Snyder, editor. This information is fundamental context for symbolism research. Another Indie publication. Wow. 

So be excited about the world of indie authors. Support us. We are the modern purveyors of Oral Tradition, the record keeping system of the most ancient peoples. Many have wonderful imaginative stories to tell, many have great information to share which can enrich our lives and make them easier. Buy an eBook, or a real paper book, feed your brain and their families. 

The Elf, accepted by MDA for national collection
About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle is a professor of mythology and symbolism, fairy tale author, blogger, and geek. She earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales decoding prehistoric images, working closely with Duncan-Enzmann. She is also a 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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Tracks, by John Campbell


Dakota Brooktroute
 JC
Pencil on paper


John Campbell is an artist and poet living in Maine. He has received awards for both his poetry and his artwork. 

The best advice he ever received as an artist, he says, was: "just draw." With progressive and almost complete loss of hearing, and a recent illness that left him without depth perception, I said to him again, "just draw." I pleaded with him to join his poetry and his art together. 

John's poetry flows from the core of his soul - and here is a glimpse into his soul in a new work of poetry and art together. 

   Tracks

Brother Cree say moose leave the deepest track
Yet his marks do not stay
Follow moose til the last hoof-print
A day, a week, a month, even the Earth forgets
But a dog, a good dog can leave tracks across a heart forever
A good heart like a shield, it tells a story
And is taut holding the dog as it crosses
If the human heart is poor the dog sinks in cloudy waters of misery
For dogs carry love, like wind carries cloud
It's their nature here, and in the spirit world
On the far side of clear waters others will know you
Through your dogs joy, you will be welcome someday



An earlier award winning work by John Campbell. Pencil on paper, 18 x 24"
Many Wolves
Tribute to a Chief by JC
Blue Ribbon 

Monday, July 27, 2015

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.



About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle is a professor of mythology and symbolism, fairy tale author, blogger, and geek. She earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales decoding prehistoric images, working closely with Duncan-Enzmann. She is also a 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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Fine Arts of Divination

Diagrammatic Synopsis of the Divinatory Arts, Robert Fludd, 1619

Divination: the act of foretelling the future, often by interpreting omens. Among the many forms of divination are predictions based on the symbols of Tarot cards, the fall of dice, yarrow sticks, or colored beans, the configuration of such natural phenomena as clouds or wind, and the movement of birds or other living creatures. – Watkins Dictionary of Magic

Divination is so called because it is considered a gift of the divine – a gift from the gods. It is the art of foretelling the future, using omens, portents, visions, and divinatory tools… Divination has, for thousands of years, been a tool of priests, seers, shamans, astrologers, medicine men, Gypsies, and wise men and women. – The Witch Book

People of every age are preoccupied with knowing the future. Perhaps we should consider that many would be fearful of our futures should we know them, and that Mother Nature has screened the future from our eyes for our benefit; still, we entertain the idea that we would be at some great advantage over others if we could just lift the veil and peek in.

This fascination has driven the development of divinatory arts. Some are more familiar, like astrology and cartomancy,  and some not – like lampadomancy. Minor divinatory methods can be found throughout the centuries, invented by no-one knows who, born of human ingenuity. We will leave the major divination arts to later posts, and discuss here the odd world of minor methods.
Some methods are not very attractive sounding. Romans practiced haruspicy; the inspection of the entrails of slaughtered animals. They also roasted the shoulder of a sheep, examining the cracks in the bones, and interpreting them for any messages. Oddly, Christians preserved these practices until the eleventh century. Another method survived longer, stichomancy – done by opening a book randomly and interpreting the first words on the page in a prophetic manner. Use of this method using the Bible resulted in the phrase “sortes sanctorum,” or “lots of the saints.” 

A form of divination still used in some French provinces is one of the most perplexing methods of the art to be used. Coscinomancy uses a balanced, spinning sieve. It must be done with the sieve held in the appropriate manner, just so. “Spinning the sas” refers to this method, sas being an old word for sieve or strainer.
Notably, every culture ascribes divinatory powers to objects in rotation. Gyratory movement is most mysterious, even diabolic to some. From this action we get “spin the bottle,” the roulette wheel, and the Wheel of Fortune, made popular by the game show. Most mysterious, baffling the most brilliant minds, is the gyroscope; it is a representation of the movement of planets.

Along with rotation, the four elements each have a mode of divination. Pyromancy, or pyroscopy is divination by fire, where certain objects – chiefly pounded, crushed peas – are thrown in the fire and their manner of burning is observed. Aeromancy is divination by examining variations and phenomena of air. Hydromancy - or hydatoscopy if rain water is used, pegomancy if spring water - is comprised of many different methods. One might study the ripples that form when three little pebbles are dropped into still water, or drop oil on the water and see future events as in a mirror. Geomancy, divination by earth, was also known as the Art of the Little Dots, which at one time was confused with cartomancy. One might throw a handful of earth on the ground and examine the figure it forms, or even place random dots on a piece of paper, interpreting their position. Lecanomancy is performed by dropping precious stones into water: a mysterious whistling sound results which announces the thing desired. 


Aleuromancy and alphitomancy require cakes made of wheat or barley flour; these cannot be swallowed by a guilty person. One famous, very old method is alectoromancy, or alectryomancy, which is divination by a cock: grains of corn are placed on the letters of the alphabet which divides a circle, and as the cock pecks at the corn, the letters are noted and interpreted.

Axinomancy is divination by a hatchet struck into a round stake; the quivers of the handle are interpreted. Cephatomancy is divination by a donkey’s head. Cromniomancy consists of writing names on onions that are then planted; the one that sprouts first indicates what is required. Dactylomancy is performed with rings on the fingernails. Daphnomancy uses a branch of Laurel, which announces a fortunate event if it crackles when burned.

Astragalomancy, or astragyromancy, was performed among the ancients with knucklebones upon which the alphabet was marked. Dice were later substituted with numbers 1 – 12 on them representing the twelve divisions of human language. A divination art based on the movement of flame in a lamp is called lampadomancy. Libanomancy requires smoke or incense, and lithomancy uses precious stones. A very curious art is margaritomancy, divination by pearl. The pearl is to be enchanted and shut in a pot. If a guilty name is said the pearl will leap, striking the side of the pot. Molybdomancy requires melted lead to be dropped in water, and the hissing is interpreted.

A key, suspended by a thread from the nail of a young virgin, is called cleidomancy. A verse from Psalms is repeated, and the key revolves if the query can be affirmed. Belomancy was a favorite of soldiers, using arrows. Onychomancy reads the sun’s reflection from nails, and oinomancy is divination by wine. Ovomancy has to do with the germ of an egg being the divining agent, and ornithomancy, or oniscopy, was an ancient art, divining by the flight of passing birds. This was practiced in Rome. Straws are used in sideromancy; an odd number are thrown upon a red hot iron, and while they burn, judgment is formed from the movement, twisting and bending of the straws, the sparkling of the flames, and the behavior of the smoke.

Mirrors have a special place in magic, and they are important in divination. Catoptromancy, or crystallomancy, is performed with a magic mirror or lens. It is one of the most ancient forms of divination. Legend says it came from Persia, where in the temple of Ceres, a spring was consulted by means of a mirror with a thread fastened to it. The thread was immersed in the water, and the diviner saw in the mirror whether sick persons were to be cured. Pythagoras had a magic mirror which he held up to the moon, imitating the Thessalian sorcerers who had used this method from remotest antiquity. Magic mirrors are mentioned by Spartianus, Apuleius, Pausanias, and St. Augustine. In the twelfth century these practitioners were called speculatorii.

Magic mirrors also appear in fairy tales like Snow White, a story that has its roots in cultures of prehistory. When the elements of the divinatory art and the elements of the fairy tales are compared, we can trace them to a common origin with the people who built the megaliths, named the days of the week, and discovered the Venus clock. It is likely that the ancient art of divination using mirrors, thread, and water began with the Vanir astronomers of the Atlantic period – 5000 BC – evolving from methods by which they read the stars to construct calendars (which predict the future); water created a level horizon, and thread was both used in plumb bobs for vertical, and vertically as a cross-hair, and where they intersected would pinpoint a heavenly location. Duncan-Enzmann has decoded these and many other symbols, myths, and legends that started with the megalith mariners.

The use of a magic mirror is the opposite of necromancy; here mortals who don’t yet exist are made to appear in the mirror, or if they do exist, are seen doing something that will not take place until later. The manner of using the magic mirror is very simple, but documents or illustrations about it are exceedingly rare. Both illustrations below of mirror diviners may have alchemistic meaning, suggested by the hieroglyphs and style of presentation. 

Witch Using a Magic Mirror, da Vinci

"The Magic Mirror," from La Tres Sainte Trinosophie, 18th  cent.
In England, practitioners refer to themselves as crystal-gazers and use an egg-shaped crystal, or even simpler, they place a bright sixpence into the bottom of a glass of water and gaze upon it. Crystal balls are also used for gazing and have been for centuries, perhaps longer. A perfectly round, clear crystal is a wonder to behold, and even small ones are expensive. Gazing into a crystal ball is said to reveal the past and the future, as well as secret events, or hidden characteristics. After concentrated and focused observation, colored clouds appear to the viewer and are interpreted to answer questions. Rising clouds are seen as a positive answer, sinking ones are a no. Color is important; black is not favorable, whereas white denotes success. Yellow is unpleasant, orange is disappointment, red is illness, or trouble, blue and green bring pleasant surprises.

A divinatory method related to the magic mirror, hydromancy, and oinomancy is the Three Vases of Artephius. One made of earthenware contains oil of myrrh, one of green earthenware contains wine, and the third of white earthenware contains water; or the second and third could be copper and glass. According to an old diagram, a candle and a cloth are necessary, and a wand of polar-wood half peeled of bark, a bright knife, and a pumpkin root.

Hydromancy gave birth to the celebrated process of divination by coffee-grounds. This cannot be any older than the introduction of coffee to Europe or Italy. When coffee dregs are poured out onto a white plate and the liquid carefully drained, patterns are left behind which are interpreted. Circles mean money and predict wealth. A crown means State success, a diamond good fortune in love, and if you see a number you should certainly play the lottery with it. The three formulas borrowed from the language of demons must be spoken at the right times during the process.

There are many more minor methods of divining. Of great interest would be the processes known as Cabbalistic, used much in the eighteenth century. Casanova knew how to benefit from them, if his memoirs are to be believed. These arts consist of divining by forming numerical combinations, some of which are extraordinarily complicated. There is a book called La Clef d’Or, ou l’Astrologue fortune devin, traduit de l’Italien d’Albumazzar de Carpentari, par M. Peregrinus. The author must have been a great humanitarian - winning at lotteries by guessing the number to be drawn is one benefit. Considering that we still draw lotteries today and we have computers to help us with formulas and math, it would seem a good art to learn. Numerology tries to foretell a person’s character and future using their birth date, and is also a study of the Hebrew alphabet, where each letter is also a number.

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder


Michelle is a professor of mythology and symbolism, fairy tale author, blogger, and geek. She earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales decoding prehistoric images, working closely with Duncan-Enzmann. She is also a 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