The Stories that Bind Us

I think that I am so drawn to symbolic thought because, to me, it shows the interconnectedness of everything.    Much as I like to tell myself that I am an island and “I don’t need no one!” in reality, there is a god deal of comfort in knowing that we are all in this together.

One of my favorite movies, About a Boy, opens with a brilliant monologue by Hugh Grant about the virtues of “island living” as he calls it:   By the end, though, he realizes that we are more like an archipelago–still kind of islandy but actually connected under the water.

In educating myself about different philosophies and symbols, I have learned that the same stories are woven through all cultural fabrics.  For example, almost all cultures have a Flood Story, like Noah’s Ark.  There is also a fascinating version of the Arthurian legend that focuses on the Merlin but combines elements of the Genesis story.  In this version, Jesus is sent to earth to free the world from evil.  When the Adversary learns of this plan, he sends an Antichrist to earth to foil Jesus.  This Devil or Antichrist comes in the form of a dragon or serpent, and “takes” a young woman who had sought refuge in a sanctuary.  The resulting child is the Merlin, who has characteristics of both his earthly mother and his supernatural father–he is both human and magical.  It also illustrates how Initiates into the Mysteries (like Merlin) have considered themselves sons of both Nature (the human mother) and Wisdom (the serpent or dragon).  How cool is it when legends and stories combine and overlap like this?

I am in awe that we humans, no matter how far apart we are separated by time or space, come up with the same stories and symbols.  It’s Carl Jung’s collective unconscious.  And to me, it’s reassurance that we are all connected, even if it’s under the water.



Spider Wisdom

My house is full of spiders.  In general, I really really really do not like bugs, insects, and  things with many legs in my house.  I am all for them staying outside.  There was one particular spider that had taken up residence behind my stove, and every morning I saw a new web spun across the back burner.  I was determined to squish that spider, but she always escaped me.  So, partly out of respect for her squish-dodging skills and partly out of a desire to walk my talk, I looked up Spider and tried to learn from it.

Wouldn’t you know it, turns out spiders are the guardians of ancient languages and alphabets.  Perfect symbols for aspiring writers like me.  So that’ll teach me to try to squish a Messenger of Wisdom. . . .

Anyway, now I have something else to add to The Wisdom List:  Take the time to learn before trying to squish something.

Entries for The Wisdom List accepted until August 31st!  Best entry wins a groovy prize!

Mercury Retrograde: Time to Reflect

This weekend, Mercury goes retrograde.  In astronomy terms, retrograde means that the planet’s orbit appears to us here on Earth to move backwards.  In astrology terms, a retrograde period symbolizes a time to review and reflect.

Mercury is in Leo for this retrograde period, which will last until August 8th.  So what do Mercury and Leo mean?  What should we be re-evaluating in these next few weeks?

Mercury represents our communication style, the way we look at the world.  It is an intellectual and dynamic energy.  If you recall your classical mythology, Mercury was the messenger to the gods.  Think words, quick-wittedness, learning, and such.

Leo, a fire sign, is the king of the zodiac wheel.  It represents the heart, ambitions, and authority.  Leo can also be quite childish and demanding of attention.  Think of it this way:  when Leo has its act together, it is the regal and dignified King of the Jungle; a Leo who succumbs to his own self-centeredness ends up just being a show-off who can never have enough attention.

Putting those symbols together, then, we can come up with our astrological homework for the next few weeks:

  • Am I communicating clearly, creatively, and from the heart, especially in areas where I am the leader?
  • Am I expressing warmth and generosity?
  • Do I love the sound of my own voice so much and I really want you to hear it too? Or am I confident enough to allow you to speak as well?
  • Am I being joyful and child-like, or just being childish?
  • In situations where I am the leader, am I paying attention to details, conducting myself with dignity, and following my heart?  Or am I simply in it for my own gain?

Some astrologers caution that we should never sign contracts or travel or make important decisions during a Mercury Retrograde.  I usually don’t go so far as that.  For one thing, I’ve learned “never say never.”  For another, life still keeps rolling along no matter what, and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  So I would just say to keep these symbols in mind and be thoughtful in your decision making.  Listen to your heart and choose wisely.

You Payin’ Attention?

The header picture for this blog is a holly.  That holly is, in many ways, the reason for this blog.

One of the most important qualities for a Wisdom Warrior, I believe, is awareness.  As we each walk along our particular path in life, are we paying attention to the lessons and opportunities that come our way?  Whether you amble, sprint, or boogie down your life path, you can still notice the signposts that appear before you.

Of course, noticing is only part of the equation in “paying attention.”  After you notice, do you then ponder?  Do you take the time and effort to study your messages?  Do you research the signs and wonder how they apply to you?

Take my holly, for example.  This particular holly is on one of my favorite trails in Valley Forge Park.  Each time I walk or run past my holly, he catches my eye.  When I took this picture, it was early spring, so he stood out against the bare trees and brownness around him.

As a symbol, the holly signals that it is time to become the spiritual warrior, that it is time to be clear about our purposes.  Native Americans and Druids, among others, believed the holly to be a sacred gift.  While it’s actually a bush, the holly is considered to have all the spiritual power of a tree, and it was often used to make wands, staffs, and prayer sticks.

So when my holly “appeared” to me, I read up on his symbolism and knew it was time for me to be clear about my endeavors and my intentions.  While a challenging one for me, I accepted holly’s message and embarked on a new learning curve.

How about you?  Any signs come your way lately?  Are YOU paying attention?  Share here!

Jupiter in Gemini

On Tuesday, June 12th, Jupiter moved into the sign of Gemini. Jupiter stays in any one sign for about a year, so this move will have some significance for us.  Here’s the symbolism for both Jupiter and Gemini, and what it might mean for you.

Jupiter represents expansion.  To me, Jupiter is a teacher who lets you learn by giving you just enough rope to hang yourself.  I always keep this image in mind because it helps keep me in check whenever I’m tempted to say “Oh, I can handle it!”

Gemini is considered an Air Sign, or an intellectual energy.  It represents cleverness, curiosity, learning, multi-tasking, and versatility.  When it’s not careful, it can be restless, scatterbrained, scheming, and lacking in follow-through.

So what do we make of this Jupiter in Gemini energy that’ll be around for a whole year?  I would say that the Universe is giving us an opportunity to learn how to think and grow intellectually, and to learn how to use our words and mental energies for good.  Thinking of finally writing that Great American Novel or taking an online class?  Go for it!  Thinking of taking on your twentieth task at work or promising something you may or may not be able to do?  Maybe time to think again.

Either way, enjoy the ride and remember to breathe!

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Perhaps it is my Scorpio Sun Sign, but I am drawn to symbolism like a vampire to a silky smooth neck.  We Scorpios love to interpret symbols and untangle a good mystery.  For example, I am looking back over my first two sentences here and noticing all the “s” words (like a snake hissing, and snakes are a Scorpio symbol).  And don’t even get me started on the vampire symbol. . . . blood and death and regeneration.  Doesn’t get more Scorpio than that.

One of my favorite symbolic languages–other than the obvious one of astrology– is that of animal totems.  Many cultures look to nature for messages, and if we can learn the “dictionary” of animal symbols, we too can receive these messages.

Now, first let me state that I don’t necessarily believe in “signs” or “omens” the way you might think.  I believe too strongly in free will to think that there are set-in-stone meanings.  Rather, I believe that one should pay attention to the symbol that appears, and then ask what that symbol means for oneself.

Here are two examples of animals and their symbolic meanings:

Squirrel:  Are you planning and preparing properly?  Are you too busy or not busy enough?  Are you balanced in gathering and giving?

Snake:  Are there areas of your life that require transformation?  Are youpaying attention and being discriminating in what’s going on around you?

Just for today, why not be open to the messengers that appear to you?  Observe, research, and reflect.  Just by the very act of wondering, you will be inviting new possibilities into your world.