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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in symbolism

Joseph Bloch has invited us to participate in a July Blogfest by writing about cultural appropriation.

I'm a Jungian and an eclectic Neopagan, which means that I am doubly vulnerable to charges of cultural appropriation.  Jungianism and eclectic Neopaganism are criticized for their borrowing of symbols from other cultures for a variety of reasons.  First, the removal of religious symbols and practices from their cultural context may be seen as trivializing.  Second, the adoption of the traditions and practices of another culture may be seen as a form of cultural theft, and another form of Western colonialism.  In many cases, these charges are well-founded, but I don't think it is fair or accurate to condemn eclecticism automatically as either trivializing or as cultural theft.

The trivialization of religious symbols

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I may not share your theological views, but as a Platonist I'm impressed with your rigorous logic and willingness to share your be
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Wow! Hadn't heard about the Lesbos lawsuit! Those are exactly the right questions: where do we draw the line? and who gets to de

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Bulls.  Big, strong, temperamental creatures that have had loomed large in man’s past.  Bull jumping, bull baiting, bull fights and running of the bulls are events where they were, and in some cases still are, featured.  They were used in the form of oxen to pull plows and carts.  Their virility kept up herds, generating wealth for their owners. In some areas, placing a bull head above a door gives protection and luck much like the horse shoe.  As sacrifices, few animals were more costly.  From them we get the terms ‘seeing red’ and ‘bull-headed’.  A lot of myths feature bulls, even modern myths like Paul Bunyan and his blue ox.  In some cultures, earthquakes are blamed on a rowdy celestial bull believed to have the world upon its horns.  A lot of masculine divinities, particularly those of the sun and the sky, are associated with bulls.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Minoan_Head_Bull_-_Heraklion_Archaeological_Museum.jpg

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  • Melia Brokaw
    Melia Brokaw says #
    I saw that but again I wonder if those are bulls or cows with horns. Sounds like an interesting temple!
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Interesting post and great list thanks! I follow the research done at Catal Huyuk; their dig season just started back up, so I've
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Great informational post. Odd coincidence: My wife and I were just talking about Paul Bunyan and Babe today.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Spider and I

Yesterday I did what I normally do in the afternoon- bring the laundry in from off the wash-line. I reach for a shirt, and there is a spider that has spun a delicate web between it and another shirt. Grabbing a small stick, I carefully pick it off its web and place it on a branch. See, I’m not scared of spiders.

Getting to the final bit of laundry, I unpeg a long black skirt off the line and drape it over my arm. Out the corner of my eye I notice something large and greyish rubbing against me. I think nothing of it. As I plop the skirt in the laundry basket, the greyish thing moves and realisation dawns.

There’s a shrill scream of some choice ‘French’ and I do the heebie-jeebie dance one naturally does when an eight-legged mammoth has rubbed up against you. Ok, I’m scared of spiders- but only when they are the size of dinner plates (I’m exaggerating, the size of saucers). However, I didn’t kill it. I just grabbed a big stick, and from an overstretched distance, flicked it off on to the ground… and then grabbed my laundry and ran for the door. However, the Gods were not done with me yet…

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  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    How interesting...right after posting this I had a rather intense little spider encounter...I wrote about it on my blog, if you ca
  • Bronwyn Katzke
    Bronwyn Katzke says #
    Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Spider has shown up in my life a few times before, but each time the personal meaning has been
  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    What a lovely post! For most of my early Pagan years, Spider was my totem. I also see their beauty and complexity as something to

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Symbols are motifs, letters, numbers, figures and characters that represent something else.

Ultimately, symbols are short-cuts. Like the tip of the funnel, they lead to something wider and deeper. But the entrance to that "biggerness" lies at the point of symbol.

Interestingly, the Greek origin for the word symbol is sýmbolon which means "to throw a sign". 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought it would be fun to explore one of the ubiquitous symbols of the season: the cornucopia.

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Abundtia-400.jpg

From the Latin words cornu (horn) and copiae (plenty or abundance), cornucopia’s other namesake is quite literally this interpretation: horn of plenty. We often see this woven, hollow centerpiece festooned with flowers of orange, red and yellow—along with grapes, sheaves of wheat, apples and other fruit.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It can be difficult to discover personal meaning and purpose when we don't zoom out to get a big picture of the patterns and symbols in our life. One way we can discover the patterns and purposes of our life is by discerning prevalent Archetypes and symbols.

What is an archetype? An archetype is a template or original pattern from which copies are made. Psychologist Carl Jung, author Joseph Campbell, storyteller/author Clarissa Pinkola Estes, psychologist Jean Shinonda-Bolen and others are among those that have brought the concept of Archetypes into our consciousness. 

To break it down in practical, every day terms, Archetypes are patterns that are universally recognized. We see Archetypes in myths, fairy tales, literature, and movies. Think about your own life. Which types of movies do you like? Do you consistently cast yourself in the Hero role? The Underdog or Victim? The Detective? What about the Warrior, Princess, or Femme Fatale? 

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Thanks for further sharing your perspective, John!
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Hi John, As I mentioned in my post, others have built upon what Jung postulated (Myss, Shinoda Bolen, Carol Pearson etc.). concer
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Actually, most Pagan and New Age authors who draw on Jung, do not build on his ideas, but rather present a stripped down version o

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Like many Pagans, I am a lover of literature. It was in books that I first discovered the Gods. I devoured tales of Artemis and Apollo and Isis and Anubis and Brigid. And -- like many -- the first thing I did after my (re)discovery of the Gods was build an altar.

I felt most drawn to the Hellenic Gods, but I had no real guidelines for the proper construction of a Greek-style altar. I found a basic diagram in Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, and used that as a template: bust of Apollo and a gold candle on the right, bust of Artemis and a silver candle on the left, bowl of dried flowers, small cup of earth, small cup of water.

Over the years, my altar has expanded and changed multiple times, as my spiritual path has matured and as I have moved around the country. Currently, my main altar includes icons for Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Hekate and Gaea, along with a hand-made clay icon of Odin (in thanks for a vision of Him, which I am still mulling over). 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Like the Pentagram of Wicca and Witchcraft, and the Mjölnir of Asatru, Hellenismos has its own symbols. Symbols are used for a couple of reasons; identification, for one. When I see someone wearing a pentagram, I almost automatically assume they are Pagan as well. Flashing my pentagram ring usually gets me a smile and a knowing glance. I like those encounters.

Although the chances of running into another Greek Recon are slim here in the Netherlands, I am invested in the symbols of Hellenismos none the less. But what are they? Besides the obvious representations of the Theoi, there are a few, but we'll look into the Theoi first. Most Greek Gods and Goddesses are associated with a specific animal or item. Wearing Their favored symbols on a necklace of bracelet is a good way to feel closer to Them. From myth, this is a (non-exhaustive) list of the Theoi and their favored animals.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I've always been fond of the dodecahedron (twelve-sided Platonic solid) in relation to Classical paganism. It's referenced by Plat

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Click for full description.
©1990 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc

Today we're going to explore the abundance of symbols within the enigmatic High Priestess Tarot card from the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition.

 

Click for full description.Number 2 – Balance; Yin/Yang; Opposites Unified (Taoism); "Good Things Comes in Pairs" (Chinese philosophy); Diversity (Pythagoras); Potential for Disorder/Evil (Pythagoras); Balance; Duality; Opposition

 

Click for full description.Black and White Pillars – As the number 2, black and white signifies duality—yin/yang, dark/light, feminine/masculine, severity/mercy, passive/aggressive, esoteric/exoteric, heart/mind, intuition/logic and so on. Toggling back and forth, they are "either/or". However, the central veil featuring pomegranates and the date palm tree connects the two pillars—suggesting integration and the union of opposites. The two pillars, when joined by the veil, signify "both".

 

B and J – In I Kings 7 (Old Testament), the author offers a detailed description of Solomon's temple, including the pillars that marked the entrance. Verse 21 states: "Then he set up the pillars by the vestibule of the temple; he set up the pillar on the right and called its name Jachin, and he set up the pillar on the left and called its name Boaz." (NKJV) In Hebrew, Jachin means "He Shall Establish", while Boaz means "In It Is Strength".

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Just saw your post, Lisa! Fascinating insight. Thank you for mentioning this and posting the link!
  • Lisa Allen
    Lisa Allen says #
    Excellent blog post Janet! May I also mention that the Golden Crescent may also refer to the Crescent of Venus (aka the Horns of
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    You got it, Jeff!

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