For those who may not have heard, a ceremonial guard on duty at the Canadian National War Memorial on Parliament Hill was shot and killed this past week. The shooter claimed to be a Muslim and in support of ISIL, but there is no evidence he was working with any sort of organized group, and it seems as though he was mentally ill.
As a symbol, he could not have chosen a better target. It was our National War Memorial. The ceremonial guard was a young man who didn't even have any bullets in the gun he was armed with. His companion tried to chase the culprit down.
I live in an area where the winters are long. And cold. And snowy. Sometimes it seems like spring will never come again. So 5 years ago I started making corn dollies out of corn husks and cotton embroidery floss, cotton twine or jute twine. But these were not just ANY sort of corn dollies, these are SPRING corn dollies.
Some friends of mine who own a Baltic imports store had just come back from a buying trip to Latvia. “Come see this,” said Sean, when I walked in the door. “It's very special.”
He was right. The Thunder brooch was beautiful, bronze, big and solid enough to heft in the palm of a hand. A Sun Wheel, but this was a Sun filled with lightnings: Sun and Thunder in union. “It's a wonderful piece,” he said, “but I can't put it out on the floor.” I was on the verge of asking why not when suddenly I saw why not.
What’s the difference between a pentagram and a pentacle? Aren’t pentagrams satanic? Why do some Wiccans wear pentagrams? Do I have to wear a pentagram to be a Wiccan?
A pentagram is a five-pointed star, usually depicted as interwoven, or with the lines used to draw it overlapping. A pentacle is a pentagram with a circle around it. Pentagrams and pentacles have long been symbols of protection and warding off evil, and they are used for that purpose by many Wiccans today.
A Little History
Pentagrams have been used for thousands of years and appear in ancient Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian art. They have been used by Christians, too—perhaps most famously by Hildegard of Bingen, who, along with other twelfth-century Christian scholars, associated the number five with the five senses and the human body (one head, two arms, and two legs; it reminds me a bit of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man), and saw it as the symbol of the microcosm, or the divine reflected on earth. The symbolism of the pentacle plays an important role in the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and of course it is also associated with the Christmas star and sits atop the Christmas tree in many Christian homes.
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.
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.