Archive for the ‘Mythology’ category

The Dragon

December 29, 2017

“Confidence is like a dragon where, for every head cut off, two more heads grow back.”

-x-Criss Jami,Venus in Arms

♡ Christina’s symbolic thank you for helping her make tombstones for her Halloween party this year. With the quote… this is a perfect pair. Can’t wait to wear this earring!♡

Oneiroi Dream

November 15, 2016

just one
so faint
I taste it’s core
it never went away

lingering
a sullen scent
night swallowed
by the day

one dream
wrapped up
in distant stars
burning memory

drift away
go far from here
though the dream
shall set us free

by Felicia Lujan
11.15.2016

In Greek Mythology, “the Oneiroi were the dark-winged spirits (daimones) of dreams which emerged each night like a flock of bats from their cavernous home in Erebos–the land of eternal darkness beyond the rising sun. The Oneiroi passed through one of two gates (pylai). The first of these, made of horn, was the source of the prophetic god-sent dreams, while the other, constructed of ivory, was the source of dreams which were false and without meaning.” Source: theoi.com

Banshee: Exploring the Origins of a Witchy Woman

August 22, 2014
Banshee by Felicia Lujan

~”Banshee” a Digital Composite by Felicia Lujan~

What is a banshee? Is she a spirit? Is she a figment of our imaginations? Is she a monster? Is she a being of light or a lover of the darkness? Something I read recently sparked my curiosity with regard to the origins of these mysterious women who are supposedly supernatural. The dictionary defines a “ban·shee” as “an Irish legend” and “a female spirit whose wailing warns of an impending death in a house.” Banshee appearances and accounts have largely been captured and passed on through oral traditions; however, there are a handful of documented accounts and attempts to make sense of the stories.

A Princeton University web site defines the banshee as a “woman of the side” or a “woman of fairy mounds” or a “seer.” She is said to be a “female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.” This messenger or “fairy woman” is often “keening at the death of important personages.” Important personages? Yes…that is a word! Many believe the banshee can predict death. Many have heard the “mourning call” of the banshee in the late hours of the night when a person is going to die. This happens most often around woodland areas, though there are some accounts by water. A tale from 1437 says that King James I of Scotland had an encounter with a “banshee who foretold his murder…” Her cries may have been “so piercing” that they were able to shatter glass.

The university web site says that “the banshee can appear in a variety of guises. Most often she appears as an ugly, frightening hag, but she can also appear as a stunningly beautiful woman of any age that suits her. In some tales, the figure who first appears to be a ‘banshee’ is later revealed to be the Irish battle goddess, the Morrígan. The hag may also appear as a washer-woman, or bean-nighe (washing woman), and is seen washing the blood stained clothes or armour of those who are about to die.” I would like to learn more about the Irish battle goddess. The banshee is also rumored to appear in other supernatural life forms. She may appear as a “hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel.” In Ireland, these are animals which the locals associate with dark arts and witchcraft.
Syracuse Herald_1.2.1898_Syracuse_NY
In an 1898 column titled The Easy Chair, the Syracuse Herald said that “a genuine Irish banshee is a little old woman in a red cloak…” A little old woman doesn’t seem that scary, but maybe? The column was spurred by the review of a play titled Number Nine. In numerology, the number nine symbolizes karma, spiritual lightening and awakening, mysticism, and divine wisdom in addition to other things. It is not clear who reviewed the play, but it was apparent that their curiosity was spurred by the mythology shrouding the banshee. The column goes on to say that…“she appears only to announce unpleasant events, such as one’s demise” and that “she does not always appear.” According to the author of this column, the banshee may make an appearance only in sound by wailing.

By 1929, the story of the banshee seems to be associated with the death of important people. If you recall the 1898 column and the number nine, this may be due to a growing association of the banshee with karma. The Buffalo Center Tribune ran a short piece titled Believe in Banshee as Herald of Death with regard to the death of Baron O’Neill. Neighbors of the family mogul “declared they heard the wail of the banshee the night before near the ruins of Shane’s castle on the shores of Lough Neagh. The castle was formerly the O’Neill residence.” Maybe people used the banshee as a way to understand the death of corrupt officials? “Baron O’Neill was eighty-nine…” Really? The number nine shows up again? The article says he “had had a long career as judge and member of parliament” from 1863-1880. Maybe he was a bad man?
Buffalo Center Tribune_1.10.1929_Iowa
In 1942, Virginia Moore published a poem titled The Banshee in the scholarly Poetry journal. Her poem captures the darkness and the light of banshee mythology, which may be seen by writers as a deep symbol of both death as well as the afterlife. Moore wrote…“Lightly, lightly, Ever brightly, Moves the banshee, certain death. Cry and call out, Death will fall out. Hold – you cannot hold – your breath.” It is interesting how she frames the poem with light. When you read about the banshee in historical news articles, she (not he) is always fixed as a creature of straight darkness. This is one reason I love writers. We see deeper than the dark. Moore closes her poem with…“Brilliant yellow, Is this fellow, Is the banshee, plumed and bright. Lovers hearing. Listen, fearing. Hark! Who treads the plushy night?”
Elyria Chronicle Telegram_6.28.1935_Elyria_OH

Patricia Lysaght studied banshee folklore in the mid to late 1970s. In her white paper titled Irish Banshee Traditions: A Preliminary Survey, Lysaght took an in-depth look at the folklore of this mythical apparition based on manuscripts from the 1930s in the archives of the Department of Irish Folklore with the University College in Dublin, Ireland. This female scholar went straight to the source. She says that “the explanations of how the banshee came to be are not only few; they also seem to have a limited distribution, or even to be individual fabrications.” That was interesting to learn. It confirms that more often than not, the early origins of these oral stories were not recorded. She did locate an account of a local custom by Co. Tipperary. Tipperary said that “long ago people used to pay women to moan in the corpse house just when the corpse would be leaving for the church.”

Could this be how the mythology of the banshee started? Were women paid to wail and moan when someone died? Maybe we will never know if a banshee is a spirit or a figment of our imaginations or a monster that encompasses the light and darkness? What I do know is that my unending curiosity associated with the origins of mysterious things will never die, much like the tales of the banshee.

Santa Fe New Mexican_10.31.1976_Santa Fe_NM

Sources:

Princeton University Web Site (Accessed August 21, 2014)
https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Banshee.html

The Easy Chair~ Syracuse Herald~ Syracuse, New York (January 2, 1898)

Believe in Banshee as Herald of Death~ Buffalo Center Tribune~ Buffalo Center, Iowa (January 10, 1929)

How it Began~ Elyria Chronicle Telegram~ Elyria, Ohio (June 28, 1935)

The Banshee a poem by Virginia Moore~ Poetry (Vol. 59, No. 5, 1942, Page 247)

Irish Banshee Traditions: A Preliminary Survey by Patricia Lysaght~ An Cumann Le Béaloideas Éireann (The Folklore of Ireland Society), (Page 94-119, 1974-1976)

Down the Old Santa Fe Trail~ Santa Fe New Mexican~ Santa Fe, New Mexico (October 31, 1976)

♥•• Intoxicating Madness and a Magical Root

November 20, 2013

image

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“Insanity” by Felicia Lujan
A digital composite used to demonstrate the personification of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The symbolic image is comprised of 4 layers including: a mandrake root; human hair; a heart; and a tornado.

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Mandrake roots have been used medicinally since at least AD 60. Dioscorides, the Greek physician seems to be one of the first to actually explore the anesthetic use of the roots of the mandragora plant. These long, brown roots from the nightshades family were used in a special tincture to help heal those in need. This may be the earliest example of the use of mandrake roots in medicine, however, the most interesting use of these roots has been associated with love charms, potions and magic.

In medieval times “insane root” was believed to be a root which caused “madness in those eating it…” This root has long been correlated with insanity for both concrete and mythological reasons. After researching, I believe these reasons are numerous and depend on the source. The most logical is the fact that the root acts as a natural drug. Mandrake roots contain “deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids.” Those who consume the root become intoxicated. This explains why it was used as an anesthetic. Maybe this is why it was used not only to induce love, but possibly to ease love pains?

Mandrake roots often grow to look like a human figure. For this reason, the folklore and mythology surrounding the root runs deep. The root has been used to make love charms and to concoct magical love potions. According to the Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, “insane root” is also called a “love apple.” The “fruit” symbolizes fertility and has been identified as a personification of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Consequently, love potions made from mandrake were considered aphrodisiacs.

Sounds like an interesting root to experiment with ha? The Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend also says that “insane root” or “love apple” or mandrake “will cure barrenness.” Barrenness? Maybe I was right about the root being used to ease love pains? A mandrake “love charm” also has the power to “make the wearer invisible, or reveal hidden treasures.”

Hum…I guess if you’re looking for me, you can find me scouring the local herberias/yerberias for the magical root which causes intoxicating madness.

SOURCES

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend (Funk and Wagnalls Standard)

Myths and Mandrakes by Anthony John Carter~ Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine~ Vol.96 (2003)

Wikipedia

Heart of Bolts

June 3, 2013
Heart of Bolts

~~~~~Heart of Bolts~~~~~
Digital composite by Felicia Lujan
The word “bolt” can mean many things. It can be symbolic of: an actual thunderbolt; electricity; the power of Zeus and the heavens; swiftness and speed; a deadbolt or other mechanism that can be locked; rain; light and darkness; or a mechanical part of a firearm which can block the back-end of the chamber as the propellant burns and makes way for a new shell or cartridge.

Life is the fire that burns and the
sun that gives light. Life is the wind
and the rain and the thunder in the sky.
Life is matter and is earth, what is and
what is not, and what’s beyond is in Eternity.
~~~Lucius Annaeus Seneca~~~

 

Coincidentally, the quote I have selected to accompany my newest digital composite is that of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. I have been gathering notes and white papers on stoicism for a couple of weeks, but didn’t come across Seneca until tonight. I find the philosophy of Stoics intriguing. I think I would consider myself the exact opposite when it comes to these Hellenistic teachings. I felt that a “Heart of Bolts” conveys the symbolism of both a Stoic and a (non) Stoic if you will? Maybe emotional versus unemotional, though the philosophy is deeper than that. I will never be morally and/or intellectually perfect. In my mind, no human will be and I actually find that beautiful. Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher who was born in Spain (4 BC) and died in Italy (65 AD). I found it curious that I selected the quote of a Stoic tonight. I usually find a quote I like and then look into the individual. I do not interpret this quote as being devoid of emotion. Do you? Well he was also a dramatist! Maybe I still have much to learn?

Thrills, Magic, Health, Faith and Riches: In Pursuit of Treasure

April 10, 2013

In Pursuit of Treasure by Felicia Lujan
If I had to create a definition for the word treasure, it would not be traditional. In my eyes treasure can be many things. I don’t believe that precious metals and gems are the only physical things which possess value. For example, an archaeologist would consider old bones to be a treasure, and a historian would find wealth in certain records. An entomologist would treasure the discovery of a new insect, while a lover of code may prize a new script.

Within the last couple of years, a book by the Santa Fe author Forrest Fenn has been sought-after by treasure hunters. Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir is a book Fenn has used to drive people into a maddened search for a treasure chest the author has hidden. On March 9, 2013, a 34 year old woman from Texas was found after she got lost in Bandalier National Monument while searching for the treasure. This month, officials with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish threatened to file charges against a man they found digging under a descanso (roadside memorial or grave marker) for the treasure. What are these people thinking?

Web sites across the world proclaim the words “somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe, a magnificent treasure box is hidden. Will you find the treasure? Join the chase!” The book is only being carried by one bookstore here in Santa Fe. The delirium led me to consider the human fascination with treasure, so I decided to peer into a small part of this history.

Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend

~Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary
of Folklore Mythology and Legend (©1949)~

Why are humans so fascinated with the hunt for treasures? Aside from the fact that many people are extremely broke right now, what drives them to partake in the hunt? According to the Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend (©1949), “gold has been consistently the most highly prized of metals thorough the ages…” The book says that “gold was so highly valued, it early became associated with religion. It was used to make idols, as tribute, and as offerings to the Gods.” This means that the symbolism of gold has been ingrained into humans since it was first discovered. Not only has the warm colored metal been associated with the heavens, but the Chinese “believed gold leaf” was “the most perfect form of matter; an unguent containing it was the most powerful remedy of Chinese medicine as it gave renewed life to the human body.”

I have discovered that gold was “a potent curative force” in “early medical practice,” and that it was associated with the Gods. I believe that the value of this metal is inherent in our collective memory for at least two good reasons. I found some interesting articles and books which explore lost treasures. I thought it would be great to share these stories which begin in 1902 and end in 1963. These stories shed light on the quest for treasure and the hunters who obsess about the hunt. The Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend also describes hunters who “go into a trance” while being under the spell of “hunting magic.” A search for gold could not both invite and “repel” madness~ could it? For as long as many people can remember, there have been oral stories of: money walled up in houses; gold being buried in mountains; and unknown treasures which are not considered “lost.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican ran an article on July 24, 1902 in the “Special Correspondence” section of the paper. In this article, it was reported that there was “supposed hidden Spanish Treasure” in Grant County. The special report said that the treasure was hidden in an “old cave near San Lorenzo.” Apparently over the years many people tried to locate the Spanish treasure. I had to laugh out loud in the silent library when I read that the “treasure-seakers” had found many skeletons, but not any treasure. I guess if you were talking to a person interested in straight forward wealth, bones would just be worthless? On the other hand, an archaeologist would find much wealth in that type of finding.

Wealth Hidden by Baker

~Article printed in the Roswell Daily Record
on August 3, 1922~

On August 3, 1922, in Racine, Wisconsin it was was reported that the “lure of hidden treasure” surrounded “an old building on one of the principal streets.” The Roswell Daily Record issued a news release titled “Wealth Hidden by Baker During the War Be Sought by K. of C.” This was a very interesting story. It was reported that a “miser’s hoard of gold” was “buried there, according to pioneers.” It was apparently a “mystery, more than half a century old” that members of the Knights of Columbus wanted to solve. The article seemed to speculate that a German baker starved his wife to become rich. The reporter described her as a “gaunt, silent woman.” During the Civil War, the baker feared “the loss of wealth” so he “withdrew his savings, cashed all his securities and bonds and under cover of darkness buried the treasure somewhere within his house.” The poor starved wife wasn’t even told where the treasure was buried. The baker figured that if she was captured, she would be tortured to reveal the secret location. After the baker died, the wife searched for the loot to no avail.

In the book Hidden Treasure in the Wild West by Oren Arnold (©1966), the author wrote about “Pancho Villa’s Mountain Bank.” Here was one case amongst many cases of hidden treasure being buried in a mountain scape. “The poor people of Mexico considered” Pancho Villa a hero. According to the book, Villa had told his friends “I have some money hidden away in a secret mountain bank.” The hero assured the people by telling them “when it is needed for our experimental work here, I will go get it. Perhaps we can build a testing laboratory with it and hire good scientists. I will look into the matter soon.” What a nice thought! Unfortunately Villa was killed on July 20, 1923. Arnold’s book says that “when he had driven his automobile to a nearby town, old enemies ambushed him.” Before he could reveal the location of his mountain bank, “the harsh staccato bark of machine guns sounded, and Pancho Villa, the great liberator, fell across the steering wheel, dead.”

“Writing in a geological bulletin published by the New Mexico Bureau of Mines in 1935, K.C. Dunham told” the story of Padre LaRue’s mine. In Mines of the Old Southwest by Jack D. Rittenhouse and Rex Arrowsmith (©1963), I located information on the “Organ Mountain Silver Mines.” Arrowsmith was a geologist and gave a particular professional flavor to his account of the mines. The report said that LaRue was “stationed at a hacienda in Chihuahua (Mexico)” and that the priest “was told by a dying friend of placers and a fabulously rich gold-bearing lode in the mountains two days’ journey north of Paso del Norte.” LaRue migrated north with others to the Organ Mountains so that he could find the gold. According to the report, they located the gold, and then buried it at the request of Padre LaRue. The priest was located by the Church in the City of Mexico and he was later “murdered” by a soldier for not divulging the location of the treasure. In case number three, the secret location followed LaRue to his grave.

Treasure Land Map_Campa Book

~Treasure Land map in Arthur L. Campa’s book
Treasure of the Sangre de Cristos: Tales and
Traditions of the Spanish Southwest (©1963)~

The only thing I found in common with the small amount of stories I looked at for this research was the fact that all the men died without telling anyone where the treasure was buried. It is possible that all of these stories were simply not true. It is possible that there was never any treasure at all. Though I guess I could say that as an archivist, I do tend to value stories as a type of treasure. I do find a sort of wealth in that! The author who really put this into perspective for me was Arthur L. Campa. In his book Treasure of the Sangre de Cristos: Tales and Traditions of the Spanish Southwest (©1963), Campa published a “Treasure Land” map which focuses on New Mexico treasures. The map shows places from the north to the south (Taos, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Cuba, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, Tome, Magdalena Mountains, Santa Rita, Mesilla, and the Organ Mountains among others). I was particularly intrigued with Chapter 11~ “Natural Phenomena and the Growth of Legends.”

It is more than safe to conclude that the value of treasure is inherent in our collective memory for several reasons. Campa said that “legends are an interesting product of folk society, the origin of which dates back to pre~Christian days, to Greece, Babylon, and the valley of the Nile. They are so deeply imbedded in the cultural texture of the folk thinking that today, as in the days of the Greeks, even geological formations assume anthropomorphic shapes and are indued with the attributes of folk heroes.” Contemplating the forces which drive humans to insanity can be a good way to peer into the mind. Where are are these behaviors and beliefs rooted?

The treasure Forrest Fenn says he buried may or may not exist. We may never know. Maybe Fenn will take the secret to his grave like so many did before him? Then again “a simple story may be gradually embellished with whatever attributes are important to folk, and with whatever concepts are current and acceptable at the time when it begins.” According to Campa, “very often the actual fact or historical account that gives rise to a particular legend may be totally forgotten, lost, or modified to such an extent that only the legend growing from the original happening survives.”

The Nymph Calypso and Her Stone

February 9, 2013

The back of Odysseus as he turned from Calypso.

The back of Odysseus as he turned from Calypso.

An epic poem by Homer made a mythical woman named Calypso infamous. Scholars have concluded that Homer’s poem The Odyssey (free e-book link below) was written off the Greek coast of Ionia during the latter part of the 8th century (BC). In the poem, Calypso was tragically intrigued by her legendary stone named Odysseus who washed ashore from the Ionian Sea. This poem was laced with temptation, seduction, and diversion. This makes it a classic literary piece, and so begins the Greek myth of Calypso and Odysseus.

Calypso was born to the Greek Titan named Atlas. The mythical Oceanides sea nymph lived on the island of Ogygia. Calypso is said to have had an enchanting voice. She lived in a beautiful cave near the sea. Some scholars and historians believe that the island of Ogygia was a myth, while others think it was actually located in the western Mediterranean Sea. Calypso has been seen as a negative symbol. She has been seen as a symbol of that which diverts men from their goals.

Odysseus was a legendary Greek man who was King of Ithaca. He was a hero in The Odyssey. Odysseus drifted for over a week in the sea before being rescued by Calypso. The king had lost his army and his ship after a battle with “monsters” from Italy and Sicily while returning home from Troy. After floating in the sea for 9 days, Calypso pulled him to shore and decided to keep him because she “became enamored.”

For between 5 and 7 years, Calypso refused to let Odysseus leave her island. Many scholars doubt that she actually forced him to stay and that she probably enchanted him with song. Others think that Calypso held him prisoner or hostage on her island. She offered Odysseus immortality and eternal youth in exchange for his everlasting love. The hero refused, though eventually the two made love apparently against his will.

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“Promise” featuring
Calypso and Odysseus
by Jan Styka
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It is natural for me to want to look at the woman and man in this Greek myth symbolically. Homer must have realized the symbolic power of these individuals. Odysseus is the stone. He is the hard, positive symbol of this myth while Calypso is the soft, negative symbol. The nymph is but a mere diversion in a mission for the greater good. In essence, this myth captures Odysseus as a classic hero with a noble cause, while Calypso is simply an unwanted muse who spurs distraction.

The golden kiss and enchanting voice of Calypso.

The golden kiss and enchanting voice of Calypso.

It is also interesting to see how scholars have studied the etymology of both names. The origin of the name Odysseus has been connected to two phrases amongst others. Odysseus means “he who causes pain” or “the one who is wrathful.” The name Calypso means “to cover, to conceal, to hide.” Etymologicum Magnum says that the name Calypso means “concealing the knowledge.”

In the end of this myth Calypso releases Odysseus on the sea. She does so against her will so that he can return to his wife Penelope in Ithaca. She had no choice but to do so even though she herself had become enchanted.

**Free E-book** The Odyssey by Homer courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Foolish: The Illusion of Intellect

May 9, 2012

The Fool- A Tarot Card- “El Loco?”

Today I read a post about The Fool card in Tarot. One of my favorite gals- Lily Wight of The Arcade of Arts & Arcana posted Tarot art – The Fool on May 9, 2012. I absolutely loved the art work created for that card. Ms. Lily reblogged the tarot post from Tiana Setka’s Divination Blog. After reading the post, I started to contemplate what it means to be foolish? The word foolish can be interpreted in so many ways. The synonyms for the word foolish include: stupid, silly, idiotic, unwise, imprudent, thoughtless, and of course irrational. The antonym for the word foolish is simply wise. At any given time I could be described as all of thee above. Since I take pride in wisdom, how is it that all of thee above can possibly describe me? I am at a loss for words it seems. I guess that my apparent inability to explain my simultaneous identification with synonyms and an antonym for the word foolish, will insure that I remain a humble human.

In 2004, the European Psychologist Journal published a white paper titled Why Smart People Can Be So Foolish. The paper was published in Volume 9, Number 3 (2004) by RJ Sternberg. Sternberg stated bluntly in his article that “not only stupid people act foolishly.” Is that indeed a fact? I do agree. He said that smart people who “tend to act foolishly” can be connected to “five cognitive fallacies.” Those fallacies or misleading notions include unrealistic optimism. Unrealistic hopefulness and optimism come with inevitable disappointment. The author goes on to say that “the antidote to foolishness is wisdom.” Hum? Is there really an “antidote” to foolishness? Maybe I could use a dose of that antidote? What about you? Or is believing that there is indeed an antidote yet another form of unrealistic optimism? You decide…

Deane P. Lewis compiled a web site in 1999 titled Owls in Mythology & Culture. Lewis says that “throughout history and across many cultures, people have regarded Owls with fascination and awe. Few other creatures have so many different and contradictory beliefs about them. Owls have been both feared and venerated, despised and admired, considered wise and foolish, and associated with witchcraft and medicine, the weather, birth and death.” Here we see a similar pattern demonstrating a range of human characteristics which travel from one extreme to another— fear and respect, hate and love, wise and foolish, as well as birth and death.

We can also look at the myth of Pandora in regard to a wise fool. Pandora is sometimes referred to as the first of the women on Earth. It is said that Zeus himself commanded Hephaestus to create the most beautiful woman from Earth and water. To me— creating her from “Earth” would be symbolic of the human form. Think of the phrase “from dust to dust.” Hephaestus then gifted her with the breath of life. As the myth goes, Zeus wanted her to be almost perfect, and foolishly human. This woman was Pandora, and she can be seen as the fool of fools for unleashing the secrets of Pandora’s box or in some versions of the myth, a jar. The jar was as beautiful as she, but she was never to open it. She is said to have been so tortured by what may be in the jar that she felt compelled to lock the jar away in chains so that she would not be tempted to open it. Eventually, Pandora thinking she was so intelligent opened the jar. When she opened the intricate, and inviting container, Pardora simply unleashed a world of pain. What a fool!

The patterns of our human character often demonstrate such a colorful spectrum of extremes. Just as we must be born, we must die. Just as we must be loved, we must be hated. Just as we must smile, we must cry. It is unfortunate that no matter how hard we try to remain wise, the foolish illusion of intellect can blind and burn the eyes of our souls.

The Greek Titan of Intelligence

April 12, 2012

Koios and Phoebe in the Heavens_ Digital Composite by Felicia Lujan_ Includes 1 contemporary and 1 historic image (with a shadow and screen effect).

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“Again, Phoibe came to the desired embrace of Koios.”

(Greek Epic- 4th B.C.)

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Intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge- these are some of the characteristics which can be attributed to Koios (also spelled Coeus). Koios was the son of Father Sky (Ouranos) and Mother Earth (Gaia). As one of the 12 Titans, (the Titan of Intelligence and an elder god) his power was derived from knowledge. He was also a “keeper” of wisdom. The name Koios is representative of one with a curious mind, and/or one posing inquires and questions. As the Titan of Intelligence, it is likely that this titan referred frequently to the written word as well as oral histories while gathering knowledge.

KOIOS (or Coeus)

This titan was also the God of the Axis of Heaven. This is that axis on which the Greek constellations revolved. Some scholars believe that Koios was likely tied to heavenly oracles, and at times it is said that he “scaled the heavens.” Koios also came to be known as Polos, and was tied to the Northern heavenly axis. It is said that the ancient ones noted that this point was “marked by the star alpha Dra in the constellation Draco.” In one Greek Myth, the brothers of Koios were personified as exaggerated pillars. The pillars were intended to hold apart Heaven and Earth.

Hemisphaerium Boreale (Greek Constellations)

Koios was married to the Moon (Phoebe), and she was a Goddess with a prophetic mind (see this post https://myvoyagethroughtime.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/enchantment-and-the-moon-a-look-at-the-greek-goddess-phoebe/). Scholars believe that this duo represented the central source of knowledge and wisdom. Both Phoebe and Koios embodied the heavens. The eventual separation of this couple was tragic. Koios was also a rebel who once ruled the Earth with other elder gods prior to being conquered by the Olympians. Eventually, he was banished to the Underworld for his role in battles with Zeus and the Olympians. I have to wonder if they had books in the Underworld?

Sources:

San Diego State University- College of Education- http://edweb.sdsu.edu/people/bdodge/scaffold/gg/titan.html#Coeus

Behind the Name: The Etymology and History of First Names- http://www.behindthename.com/name/koios

The Theoi Project : Greek Mythology was created and is edited by Aaron J. Atsma, Auckland, New Zealand- http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanKoios.html

Ambrosia: That Which is Reserved for God and Goddess

April 1, 2012
Ambrosia was a food of the Gods.

Ambrosia was a food of the Gods.

Several years ago, I decided that if I ever had a daughter her name would be Ambrosia Dominique. I did not have a daughter, but I did stay true to my love of Greek names with the name of my son. His name is Daryn, and in the Greek language the name means gift. If I would have had a daughter, her name would have been tied to the mysterious mythology of her namesake.

There are several extraordinary myths about ambrosia. This amazing and not completely described item, is said to have been used by the ancient Greeks. They were said to have consumed ambrosia orally, but in some instances used it externally. A powerful item which could bestow one with immortality, was reserved for the Greek God and Goddess of Mount Olympus.

Ambrosia is said to have possibly been a hallucinogenic, causing feelings of euphoria. Some scholars of Greek mythology believe that ambrosia and nectar (often identified as two distinct items) may have really been one in the same, as some sources note that ambrosia was consumed in liquid form. The drink was used as a method of purification, as perfume for attraction, and at times as a sort of love potion. In one particular Greek myth, Athena delivers ambrosia to Heracles when he becomes immortal, and joins the others on Olympus.

Contemporary scholars have concluded that ambrosia was likely honey. The wings of a bee, flight, and the healing properties of honey were likely behind the belief of immortality in relation to the ingestion of ambrosia. The use of ambrosia externally has been recorded in Greek mythology in one of two ways that I have read about. It was used as a salve or ointment to anoint or for healing, and possibly as a way to preserve the spirit of the departed. In two separate myths, ambrosia was used (put on) a corpse. Apollo used ambrosia on the corpse of Sarpedon, and Thetis used it on the corpse of Patroclus.

Though only the most divine beings were allowed to consume or use ambrosia, the special product was inevitably sought after by mortals. I was unable to find any myths which detail the success of any mortal in obtaining and/or consuming/using ambrosia. Though I guess if a mortal got their hands on ambrosia, it wouldn’t really be a myth at all now would it?

If you are interested in reading about the mythology of ambrosia, you may want to check out the following Greek myths about: Aphrodite and her ambrosian oil; Apollo and the corpse of Sarpedon; Calypso and his table; Circe and a flock of doves; Polyphemus, his wine and Odysseus; Psyche, the completion of her quests, and her marriage to Eros; Thetis and Achilles; and Thetis and the corpse of Patroclus.

***Sources:

*Swarthmore College Computer Society http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/08/ajb/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Ambrosia.html

*Dartmouth College http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_5/notes.shtml

*University of Chicago, Department of Romance Languages and Literature, The ARTFL Project http://machaut.uchicago.edu/?action=search&resource=Webster%27s&word=Ambrosia&quicksearch=on

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Amulet,Talisman,Trinket: The Lore of Blood Coral

March 2, 2012


Every morning as I drive to work, I am reminded of my maternal grandmother. Right before I had my one and only child, a son, she gave me a special gift. At the time, I never understood just how special the gift was. It must have been around July of 2005 when my grandma’s warm hand opened mine. She placed an odd shaped piece of coral on my palm. I looked at the red natural gem for a moment, and then asked “what should do with it?” She said that I needed it for protection, and after I gave birth that I should “pin it on her grandson.” My grandma told me that there would be people jealous of the baby and the attention he would get, so that I should be sure he used the coral. My grandma Corine did many things that I would never get to fully understand until I became a woman. What she believed we needed protection from was mal ojo or the evil eye.

As a child, I soaked up many of her traditions and beliefs, often unknowingly. I never took the time to learn more than that. I did know that all children were gifted with coral so of course I saved it. I made Daryn a pin, and he would wear it. I can’t remember when he stopped wearing the pin, but my grandmother passed away a little over two years after my son was born. I have only one photograph of her holding him in her arms. Naturally, I saved the precious piece. I made it into a necklace for me, and would wear it and think of my grandma. Later I decided to hang the necklace from the mirror in my vehicle. Maybe for protection? It still hangs there almost 5 years since my grandma died. For a few weeks, I have been wanting to look into the lore of coral. I finally took the time to do so this week. I was shocked to learn that the practice of gifting a child with red coral is not specific to New Mexico, yet alone to one culture.

A piece of red coral given to me by my maternal grandmother was used to make this necklace. The "horn" or "branch" was much longer at one time, but a piece broke off a few years back. Before it was a necklace, my son would wear the gem as a pin for protection. Now this necklace is hanging from the mirror in my vehicle for protection on the road.

According to Bussoletti, Cottingham, Bruckner, and Roberts, in the Mediterranean, a coral amulet has “distinctive characteristics.” These characteristics stem from “the complex mythological content that surrounds it, tying it to the blood of the head of Medusa that Perseus decapitated, blood that would color and petrify the sea.” They published these ideas in Red Coral Science, Management, and Trade: Lessons from the Mediterranean. In Documents of British Superstition in Oxford, by Ettlinger, the author concluded that folklore of coral declared the gem “one of the most popular amulets by reason of its red colour-since a white coral has never been used as an amulet.”

I also located something called Chinese Charms: Hidden Meaning of Symbols and there it is said that “red coral is considered particularly auspicious.” In Italian Folklore of Italy, red coral was “used to protect mothers and their babies, and trees that bear fruit.” In the Important Symbolism of Middle Eastern Jewelry, “a talisman which is used for the elderly, women, children and babies,” often utilized “antique Mediterranean red coral and amber beads.” Roman Sexualities by Hallett and Skinner said that “women are vigilant in protecting the babies once they are born.” Some “baby amulets” included “branches of coral.”

Thomas Forbes with the Yale University Departments of Anatomy and the History of Science and Medicine published a paper titled Chalcedony and Childbirth: Precious and Semi-Precious Stones as Obstetrical Amulets. In a section titled Gems of Biological Origin, Forbes wrote that “one of the most interesting was coral,” he called the gem a “protective charm,” and said that it was “recommended a piece of coral hung about the neck as a birth charm.”

I did locate a vast amount of information about the mythology of coral, and the origins of these beliefs runs way, way back. One of the most interesting pieces I located was a paper titled The Evil Eye in Italian Art by S.A. Callisen. The paper was published in 1937 in The Art Bulletin (Vol. 19, No. 3). In a nutshell, Callisen mentions some of the following: peoples of the earth have feared the power of the evil eye, and an earnest faith in its malign potency can be traced to the dawn of folklore; in paintings and sculptures a branch of coral can be seen hanging from the Christ Child’s neck; a branch of coral, hung about the neck of an infant, is a protection from harm as a prophylactic against the evil eye; writers on magic were insistent that an amulet of red coral was much the most potent; and some believed that the coral branch was similar to a Roman phallic charm. There are references to coral and color changing. It is said that when the wearer is ill, the blood coral will change from red to a “pale” color.

In Women’s Tales from the New Mexico WPA: La Diabla a Pie, there is a story titled Remedios that is from the 1940s. There it is written, that “babies were harmed by mal ojo (evil eye). It was said that some persons could hurt babies with evil eye or mal ojo unconsciously. When baby was made sick by anyone who had mal ojo.” It is believed that “to protect little children from mal ojo, strings of coral beads were tied around their necks.” So yes- there are local stories, however, the lore of coral is cross-cultural and much deeper than I anticipated.

In the future, I would like to study what I see as the symbolism of coral, as water is one of my power symbols. That is a whole other topic for another long night. For now, if you would like to learn more about the lore of this biological gem, you should read The Evil Eye in Italian Art by S.A. Callisen. There was a great amount of scholarly research that went into that piece. The link is below. That paper is mind blowing! It turns out, there was a significant amount of history rooted in my grandmother’s beliefs about coral and children. It just takes a little looking…


Sources:

Various online sources.

The Art Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 3 (1937, pages 450-462)- The Evil Eye in Italian Art by S.A. Callisenhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/3045692

Women’s Tales from the New Mexico WPA: La Diabla a Pie (page 29)- Edited by Tey Diana Rebolledo and Maria Teresa Marquez

A Magical Island of the Big Screen

February 11, 2012
Screen Shot_2.11.12_A View from Captain Nemo's Nautical Invention

Screen Shot_2.11.12_A View from Captain Nemo’s Nautical Invention

We are on our way to Albuquerque again, but before we head up the mountain (if weather permits), we caught a quick flick. We stopped in Santa Fe to watch the Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. I have been waiting to see the movie since I first saw the previews. The guys didn’t take any convincing. That movie was a hit. It was captivating, super funny, and some parts were touching. Journey 2 is an adventure/fantasy/science fiction flick. The movie stars: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (as Hank); Josh Hutcherson (as Sean); Luis Guzmán (as Gabato); Vanessa Hudgens (as Kailani); Michael Caine (as Alexander); and Kristin Davis (as Liz).

You know I had to love this movie. It had several things I dig. I had no clue there would be code and cryptography. Yeah! The Rock played a former Code Breaker with the Navy who helps his stepson decipher the code. The movie also had: glowing mushrooms; references to Poseidon (the Greek God of the Sea); inventions and scientific references; puzzle solving; old books; an ancient/mythical city; a historic diary filled with script (that may have required a paleography expert); and references to iconic authors. You know I had to love that right???

Between The Rock and Vanessa, the screen was burnin’ up with both eye candy and acting skillz. The actor and actress were among: tiny elephants and sharks; over-sized bugs and lizards; unique orchids; magical sea and landscapes; a gold spewing volcano; and the Lost City of Atlantis.

In the end, the team of explorers used a historic record to escape. The record had the ancient script of Captain Nemo. The captain’s diary was used to find his nautical invention, and flee the mysterious island!

A must see!!!

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Warrior of Fire

January 27, 2012

*****Card 11*****  appearing in my “path to a goal” digital card spread (1.27.2012) from Llewellyn’s Tarot_*****Warrior of Fire_Card 12*****  Fire… one of my symbols. This card filled slot 11 today on a shapeshifting spread. I have been feeling creatively driven lately- so it makes sense!! I totally loved this card… Time to go deeper!! I thought I was deep enough!?? Maybe I should work on a post about shapeshifting?”

Māori: Origins of a Warrior

January 26, 2012

Digital composite of a Māori Warrior by Felicia Lujan. Includes: multiple renderings of a Moko drawing of Te Pehi’s face (1975 white paper); a photograph of a wooden Māori dagger (1920 white paper); and one contemporary photograph.

Origins of a Warrior

*****

Māori man, I can feel the power

of your breath. The energy in each

breath searches for listening hearts.

*****

Māori man, your ancestral cry

pierces me. Indigenous warrior, you

must protect your land and people.

*****
Māori man, your roots run deep.

They are so deep, that only the stars

can remember the origin of those

who came before you.

*****

Māori man, identity marked in thick

black will grace the face of your son.

The children of your children will

forever value your whakapapa.

*****

Māori man, I can feel the spirit

of this spiral of life. The force

gives me strength, and penetrates

my listening heart.

*****

by Felicia Lujan_1.25.2012

________________________________________________________________________

Old Māori Proverb
Ma te huruhuru te manu ka rere, Ma te ao te rangi ka uhi.”
By feathers alone can the bird fly, By clouds are the heavens covered.”
————A Māori Bone Decorative Comb from Riverton by H.D. Skinner
————Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 39, No. 3 (1930), Page 285


War cry of their ancestors, the War Haka or Peruperu is a traditional dance of the Māori of New Zealand. This dance is filled with powerful movements, which involve the entire body and spirit. With their eyes open wide, strong stances, and the use of their tongue, the Māori exude strength. Heavy sounds from the slaps of their hands, dominant foot stomps, and deep shouts, are used to evoke the God of War. This dance is fierce, and is performed with weapons. According to some accounts, the Haka changed dramatically following World War I, but I would need to do more research to confirm that.

I became enthralled with the Māori when Alan Duff’s independent film Once Were Warriors (1994) was released. Duff, a journalist, novelist, and native to New Zealand gave me my first taste of culture in the South Pacific Ocean. I wanted to know more about the islands of New Zealand, which are at least half a world away from me. The film is centered on the social problems of the Heke family, and is still used today as a tool by educators and historians internationally. What inspires me in this film are the themes of hope and family. I am so inspired by the ability of a family to draw strength from tragedy. When one son in the fictional family immerses himself in the spirit of his ancestors, some of the family members are able to band together with mighty force. After seeing these men perform the War Haka or Peruperu, I was intrigued.

From 2001-2003, with each release in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I couldn’t help but remain mystified by the beautiful scenes filmed in New Zealand. There were breathtaking mountains, waters, and mystical places. The islands seemed magical. Through the cinematography in these movies, I could almost grasp the spirit of place. I was recently reminded of New Zealand by “a woman of strength,” Maryanne Pale (http://maryannepale.com/). Maryanne is the woman who nominated me for a Genuine Blogger Award. I was honored to be nominated by such a distinguished and beautiful writer. After discovering she was from New Zealand, I started to look into the origins, history, and mythology of the Māori.

I did track down four anthropological white papers written between 1901 and 1975. I was absolutely amazed to find out that the tattoo (moko) of the Māori often represents ancestral origins (genealogy). I couldn’t believe it?! As an archivist, as a genealogist, as an artist, and as a tattooed woman, I found this astounding. According to one anthropological account of moko designs, “the symbolism that governed an artist’s choices in composition has been lost.” It is understandable that the researchers are referring to hard copy records. Though actual records relative to the symbolism of moko designs may be nonexistent, certainly oral history and collective memory have preserved meaning. One account of an indigenous carver, said that he “was brought up to believe the different patterns in front of each ear represented descent from the male and female sides of a man’s family.”

It was also interesting for me to discover that the primary marks used by the Māori are “curves and spirals.” The spiral is of course one of my signs. I have been signing my art and poetry with the symbol since I was in my youth. I am always lead to the subjects of my writing for a reason, because as we all know, everything happens for a reason. Can you imagine wearing your lineage as a visual badge? It is a fascinating tradition to say the least. In the future, I hope to learn more about the Māori, and maybe one day I can visit New Zealand.


General Information:

Māori Haka
http://nz-maori.com/maori-haka.html

Lord of the Rings Trilogy- Film Locations
http://www.filmnz.com/locations-gallery.html#

Information on New Zealand
http://www.newzealand.com/


Scholarly Sources:

Māori Tatu and Moko by H. Ling Roth
Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 31(1901), Pages 29-64

On Two Wooden Māori Daggers by William Ridgeway and H.D. Skinner
Man, Vol. 20 (1920), Pages 49-52

A Māori Bone Decorative Comb from Riverton by H.D. Skinner
Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 39, No. 3 (1930), Pages 284-285

Moko and C.F. Goldie by Michael King
Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 84, No. 4 (1975), Pages 431-440

Iris: Divine Rainbow Goddess and Messenger of the Olympians

January 13, 2012

*****Digital composite by Felicia***** My representation of Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow consists of five images and was created using layers and masks. The representation also incorporates my spiral symbol.

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.
*****Lord Byron

The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.
*****John Vance Cheney

Iris the divine Rainbow Goddess was a messenger of the Olympians. She was fast and reliable. The goddess served and delivered messages for both Zeus and Hera. Some myths depict Iris as the personification of the rainbow. In other myths, Iris is the mother of Eros, the God of Love. If it was indeed she whom birthed Eros, it is not surprising that she was usually portrayed as loving, kind, and helpful. The sightly Iris is said to have used water from the River Styx to assist other immortals in the renewing of their vows. After filling their cups she delivered messages, ambrosia, and nectar. With her gifts, she replenished immortals. In her mortal and divine forms, the mythical Iris was breathtaking. Her picture of divinity is often rendered with a gold caduceus in hand, and magnificent golden or rainbow wings. The goddess was able to use the rainbow as a portal between Heaven and Earth. Iris was given the gift of flight to aid in the swift delivery of messages to other immortals, as well as to mortals on Earth.

A rainbow is often formed following a storm, and is also associated with golden treasure; therefore Iris and her instrument can be seen as signs of hope and prosperity. Iris and the rainbow embody a symbolic move from darkness to light, and the bow offers an intense spectrum of color as such. In 1984, Julia L. Epstein and Mark L. Greenberg published a white paper titled Decomposing Newton’s Rainbow in the Journal of the History of Ideas (Vol. 45, No. 1, pgs. 115-140). The paper was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, and revealed some research connecting rainbow myth with scientific studies. “Clearly, Newton investigated natural phenomena-light, vision, color-that had for centuries been invested with symbolic mystical and religious significance, and had also attracted serious scientific investigators from antiquity on. Yet a key answer to this question lies in understanding that, although Newton’s exposition of light’s properties, for example, was not itself figurative or laden with rhetorical invention, a great part of its appeal to poets lay in its power to evoke images and metaphors.”

This attempt to forge a language in which words are equivalent to things, of course, represented a linguistic ideal. Language was to annihilate metaphorical modes of expression, according to these new standards, through reduction to a pure sign system in which metaphor would be literalized. The universal language philosophers of the period sought for was a symbolic representation of discoveries in natural philosophy that would be wholly adequate to the processes of the material world.” Epstein and Greenberg acknowledged that the ultimate goal of Newton and poets was “to record the evanescent, to translate light and color into language,” and “to portray the arc and texture of a rainbow.” As Henry David Thoreau once said “the true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” After learning more about Iris, may we continue to grasp at least a part of our metaphorical rainbow, and in turn satisfy our soul.


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