Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 8/25/12

Last Sunday, Nia, my corgi-cattledog and I attended "Woofstock" in Edgewood, NM. It was a celebration of and benefit for local dog rescue organizations. I'd heard there would also be agility demonstrations which is one of the reasons we went but sadly, if there was, we missed them. Nia is a rescue herself. I adopted her in Georgia from a group that had saved her one day from euthanization. Nia is such a fun friend, she makes every day special. I can't imagine if the world and I had been denied her presence because someone gave her up to a kill shelter. Being a cross of two herding breeds, Nia is incredibly obsessive. I can't bring her to any ball-based sporting event or she spends the entire time trying to get the ball and barking if she can't. And she adores coursing! Here is one of her coursing runs at the Society for Creative Anarchronism's Estrella War a few years back:

Night before last, in her obsessive need to find any and all creatures hiding in our woodshed, Nia somehow managed to take a huge chunk out of her toe. Poor thing. She bled everywhere. Then, because she sleeps with me, she kept me up half the night trying to remove the bandage I'd made her. So, in her honor, this week I am sharing the symbolism of dogs.
Dogs symbolize fidelity, vigilance and nobility. People born in the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese Zodiac, are thought to be honest, affectionate, fair and open-minded. In Christian art, the image of a dog depicted at the feet or in the lap of a wedded woman represents faithfulness in marriage. One of the most well-know dogs is Sirius, Orion the Hunter's constant companion, a principal character in Greek mythology and astronomy. Dogs are also associated with the dead, thought to both accompany the soul to the next world and symbolize departed spirits. Some African cultures believe dogs are able to see into the spirit world. Various hounds show up in Celtic mythology, leading heroes in and out of the Underworld or hunting the souls of the dead across the night sky. Celtic lore often connects hounds to the sea (a symbol of the afterlife). This is seen in King Arthur's hound, Cabal who chased Twrch Trwyth into the ocean, the hounds of the sea god Mannanan, Aine's stone which attracted all the mad dogs of Ireland who then fell into the ocean, and Queen Nehellenia, a goddess worshipped at the point where travelers crossed the North Sea from the Netherlands, who is often portrayed with a dog by her side. Dogs are further affiliated with healing because they lick their wounds. Let's hope that works in Nia's favor, granting her a speedy recovery.

Shepherd, Rowena and Rupert. 1000 Symbols. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002.
Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. New York: Oxford, 1959.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 8/18/12

We've had several crazy storms at my house this past week so I'm paying tribute to the power and beauty of nature by discussing the symbolism of lightning.

Lightning symbolizes sudden illumination and the loss of ignorance. It can also represent destructive or creative power as well as angry intervention or retribution by the gods. This is seen in the Tarot, where lightning is interpreted as a sign of divine presence. Similarly symbolic, thunderbolts are a common attribute of many sky gods, embodied in the S-shaped motif on the clothes of the Romano-Celtic sun or sky dieties and in Thor's hammer.

On a related personal note, my sweetie of twenty-two years uses a lightning bolt as a maker's mark and as the division on his Society for Creative Anachronism heraldry.

He chose this emblem because of a scar he's had on his forehead for as long as he can remember. Imagine our surprise when we first learned of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter! Given its meaning, a lightning bolt is the perfect symbol of Harry Potter's adventure and his dealings with Lord Voldemort. And my sweetie? I wonder...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Symbol Fairy 8/11/12

Having spent all week working on the main illustration of my “Saint George and the Dragon” manuscript, I decided today’s symbol would be the Dragon. The word “dragon” in ancient Greek means “snake.” Many dragon images, past and present, are endowed with snake-like looks and qualities. In Greek mythology, there are many different types of dragons including several that are snake-based like the Hydra and Python, of water and of earth, respectively. In western cultures, dragons are often associated with evil but in East Asia, they are commonly considered beneficiary. The dragon’s ability to fly and breathe fire may stem from an origin belief that meteorites were dragons streaking through the sky. The link between dragons and meteors is strengthened by the Celtic story of King Arthur in which Uther took the surname Pendragon (“chief-dragon”) after he saw a dragon-shaped comet (although some say it was his elder brother who saw it). According to Carl Jung, winged dragons represent the transcendent symbolism of the snake and the bird. Combine that with either water, another transcendent symbol, or fire, a destructive symbol, and the dragon becomes the epitome of transcendence. But a dragon can also symbolize primal force, destruction, devouring, as well as wisdom and longevity (in Oriental culture).

I have always loved dragons. I wore a dragon head pendent for years and decorated my room extensively in dragon art. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to be the subject of a dragon-based illustration by my good friend and incredible artist, Robin Wood. That portrait became later became a Dragon Magazine cover!

Jung, Carl G., ed. Man and his Symbols. London: Aldus Books, 1964.
Shepherd, Rowena and Rupert. 1000 Symbols. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The birth of the Saturday Symbol Fairy

I chose to start my "symbol a week" posts on 8-4-12 because it is such a phenomenally-appropriate numerological date. Eight is my absolute favorite number and is also a symbol of perseverance, goals and earthly wisdom. Four is symbolic of solidity, stability, and foundation. Twelve is the sum of both so it lends a sense of completion. Why chose to post as a  "symbol fairy?" Well, it seemed appropriate. It ties into the gifting or bestowing of something on another. Plus I've had a run of fairy-oriented events in the last few weeks, so it fits.
And the first ever symbol? A tree! The symbol of evolution, physical growth or psychological maturation, rebirth, longevity or immortality, wisdom, strength, protection, fertility, offspring, agriculture, sacrifice, resurrection, temple, cross, pillar, hope, mother figure, and center of the world. Like all symbols, it can have additional cultural and archaic connotations specific to each person. The symbolism of a tree is not new to anyone who has taken a workshop from me but it is the most appropriate start to this endeavor of mine since I am Sarah SHADE after all...