John Dee - Reality of the Hieroglyphic Monad, a singular entity from which all material things are said to derive, “Monas Hieroglyphica”, 1564.
Dee summarized his description of the glyph as such: “The Sun and the Moon of this Monad desire that the Elements in which the tenth proportion will flower, shall be separated, and this is done by the application of Fire.”
The symbol is constructed from four distinct symbols: the astrological signs for the Moon and the Sun, the Cross, and the Zodiacal Sign of Aries the ram, represented by the two semi-circles at the bottom of the glyph.
The Sun was generally considered the superior heavenly body in 16th century European Astrology, a physical representation of God’s divine and life-giving Fire. Dee emphasizes the construction of the Sun’s symbol: a circular orbit around a central point that is the Earth. The Moon, being of apparently equal size to the Sun, also held particular esteem even though it was both Feminine and occupied the lowest Heavenly Sphere. The Moon, however, is dependent on the Sun for it’s Light, and its appearance is constantly in flux through its shifting Phases.
The Cross represents the Ternary (group of three), being two lines and an intersecting point, which can represent Body, Mind, and Spirit. The union of Body and Mind might just as easily be compared to the union of Spiritual and Physical, or of Male and Female, or of any number of other common Occult Dualities. The Cross also represents the Quaternary (group of four), for it is composed of four segments. In Occult Sciences, a group of four very commonly represents the four Elements.
Each of the twelve Zodiacal figures is traditionally associated with one of the four Elements. Aries’ Element is Fire (as is that of Leo and Sagittarius). Fire is the Element of Change, Creation and Action, seen to bring about Transformation in other things.
If you’ve been paying attention, you might have guessed that my favorite flower is the snapdragon. But I decided to dig deeper into this unique floral beauty and discovered some fascinating meanings behind the dragon’s mouth.
Antirrhinum majus - Garden Snapdragon
The common name of these beauties is pretty self explanatory; the two petals of the flower can be pinched together making a dragon-like “mouth”. The species name is Greek in origin and translates to “like a nose”. The history of the snapdragon is a bit murky. Most guess that this fantastic flower originated in Spain and Italy as a wildflower. The plant is an annual who prefers cool summers and a nice glass of wine with friends. They self-seed well and are sometimes grown for their macabre skull-shaped seed pods.
Meaning and Symbolism
Snapdragons, historically have a dual meaning of both deception and graciousness. In terms of graciousness, it is said that concealing a snapdragon gives the impression of being cordial and friendly. Snapdragons were a symbol of grace and were thought to restore youth and beauty to women. At the same time the act of concealing a snapdragon led to its association with deception and denial. A woman in the Middle Ages, would weave snapdragons in her hair to ward off unwanted advances but also to make herself gracious and intriguing, leading to the flowers association with presumption. Snapdragons are said to ward off evil and curses, as well as unwanted suitors. In Germany, snapdragons were hung over baby’s beds to ward off curses and even witches. In terms of bridal bouquets, snapdragons were supposed to represent a wish for a blessed marriage and to ward off evil from a holy event.
A simple watercolor sketch from 2012 that I like a lot. This kind of scenery is something I can never get quite out of my mind, it shows a actual place that I love very much and a emotional state and atmosphere I’ve experienced a lot in my past. I’m painting a very similar picture again just now!
Continuing The Reading… (What you believe in Quakers, Mennonites, etc will be blown out of the water)
Hex Symbols ~~~~~~~~~~~
In the south-eastern part of Pennsylvania lives a population of European settlers, primarily from the Rhine area. These people come from different religious communities including Lutheran, Moravian, Quakers, Mennonites, and others. Some of these groups, despite their deeply held religious beliefs, are unites by one thing; a thriving belief in witchcraft, also known as Hexerie, from the German Hexen, meaning “witch.”
Despite their godliness, these are very superstitious people. One of the popularly held beliefs is that a cross, drawn on the door-latch, will prevent the Devil from entering the house.
There is a whole series of magical protective symbols that the community paint or carve onto sides of their barns or houses. Called Hex Signs or Barn Signs, these magic symbols are used for a variety of reasons, including averting evil, bringing fertility and prosperity, promoting health, and control of the weather. Many of these signs, which are individually designed, become closely interlinked with a specific family, akin to a coat of arms, and are even tooled into the leather covers ofthe family bibles.
These hex symbols are beautifully decorative and use universally familliar symbols intheir design, including hearts for love, stars for good luck, oak leaves and acorns for strength and growth. They also use the image of a bird called a distelfink, a type of finch that lines is nest with thistledown. This bird is particularly associated with good fortune. The “double distelfink” brings double the luck.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SOURCE:“The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook- An A to Z compendium of over 1000 designs” By Adele Nozedar ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ray Velcoro, here shown breaking the fourth wall in ‘The western book of the dead’ (TD uses metafictional devices in both seasons). This image epitomises two important themes in the second season: the concealed identities of those who commit offences and silence, things not to be spoken of~ (one of the most striking and enigmatic symbols in the Western mysteries is the gesture of bringing the index finger to the lips. On the surface this posture communicates the necessity of secrecy. And on a deeper, hidden level it demonstrates a secret of true power.) However, by breaking the fourth wall, Ray suggests a penetration of those rigid boundaries, previously set out or assumed. Notably Ray is dressed in the colours of green (olive drab) and black.
St. John of Nepomuk, patron saint of the Bohemian Grove (image: source); also the national saint of Bohemia, who was drowned in the Vltava river at the behest of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia. Later accounts state that he was the confessor of the queen of Bohemia and refused to divulge the secrets of the confessional. On the basis of this account, John of Nepomuk is considered the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional, a patron against calumnies and, because of the manner of his death, a protector from floods and drowning.
Harpocrates, God of silence, showing the sign of silence.
The Sacred Heart and the wounds of Christ displayed on a Cross: Death to the soul (heart). darkness in the intellect, the right hand. T, malice, an inclination to evil, the left hand. sensuality - disordered desires, the left foot. irritability and aggression, the right foot
The arts posted in this social profile are not directly related with our society. Politics, sensationalism, homophobia and racism is completely contrary to the practice and teachings of the Fraternitatis S.’.S.’. and Thelema.
We’ve noticed a volume of questions on the topic of Black and White symbolism in works. Light and white symbolizes good and pure. Dark and black is bad and evil. It’s an age-old trope deeply engraved throughout Western society, language, and cultures.
She’s having a “black day.” He’s the “Black sheep” in the family. The evils of “Black magic.” They’re “Black as one is painted.”
On the other hand…
They told an innocent “white lie.” He’s “whiter than white.” Good ole “White-collar” jobs.
These were just a few phrases found in the dictionary. The most frequently used dictionaries were written by racist old white men, so most of the language has been shaped by them.
If you flip further back you find entries like these:
Now, this guide comes from a western particularly American lens of the
view of Black and White and its connotations. We recognize that B&W
color symbolism and meaning varies across cultures.
western society imports its racist views across the globe,
strengthening the Black as Evil and Good as White association within its
“conquest” of mass media.
The Trope Incorporated into our Media
This trope is so normalized in Western culture that it is often unconsciously used and incorporated throughout many aspects of culture. It can easily be found in media, such as our TV-series, movies and literature:
The black, darkly-dressed or featured characters are often the villains or antagonists,
The white or light-featured characters are often the heroes, dispelling the world of the dark Others.
Also note that usually when good guys wear black, they’re more anti-heroes than full-heroes.
Tolkien really let himself go with this trope in Lord of the Rings and has the pure white race of elves be ethereal, wise, super good and natural *angelic singing*. Then there’s the orcs on the other side who are barbaric, unintelligent, violent and disgustingly ugly. Their language is black speech by the way.
“The Black Speech, also known as the Dark Tongue of Mordor,
was the official language of Mordor. Sauron created the Black Speech to be the unifying language
of all the servants of Mordor, used along with different varieties of Orkish and other languages used by his servants.”
“It is notable that the letter “e” is
totally absent from the Black Speech. It was omitted on purpose for being a
favourite letter of the Elves, and for forming a smile when uttering it.”
“In real life, J. R. R. Tolkien created this language
with the intention of making it harsh and ugly…” then later on in the same
piece is written: “…the forces of good
refuse to utter it.” and “Tolkien
designed it to be unpleasant in his own mind…”
So with these quotes you can see the
link between calling it “Black speech” and the unpleasant, evil and anti-social aspects
of the named. Quotes are taken from here.
Many epic fantasy writers mimic Tolkien in his use of fantasy races and themes and such, so they unconsciously also mimic this trope.
Game of Thrones also plays with the good vs evil but switches up the color code with the Kingsguard wearing white and the Night’s Watch wearing black. This posts speaks of the symbolism pertaining to the white cloaks of the Kingsguard.
Attracted to gray characters instead of orcs and angels, Martin regards the hero as the villain on the other side. The Wall’s Night’s Watch, whom Martin described as “criminal scum [who] are also heroes and they wear black”, was a deliberate twist on fantasy stereotypes. Furthermore, the use of black as the identifying colour for the essentially good Night’s Watch and the use of white for the much corrupted Kingsguard is another example of Martin subverting traditional fantasy which tends to link light colours with good and darker ones with evil.From here.
Then there’s Disney that’s notorious for their ingrained racism
This is easily seen in their visuals when portraying villains. When you look at the heroes vs villains, the villains are often portrayed as darker, more “ethnic” (see: Mother Gothel, Jafar) and sometimes queer-coded (like Ratcliff and Dr. Facilier).
Another example: the shadowy,dark huns in Disney’s Mulan. They have greyish, dark skin with strange eye coloring, and they all look the same.
On the left: a hun as portrayed by Disney in Mulan.
Furthermore, Disney typically depicts baddies as “less beautiful” with some exceptions of very beautiful and vain evil ladies (they have a trope with two types of beauty where one is pure and wholesome while the other is vain and egocentric. The second is also usually an older individual).
The Oz film was pretty visual, colorful, and magical until the evil witch and her black monkey minions come and then everything is dark suddenly. Oh, but there’s the “good” monkey, depicted in bright and lighter coloring.
Angels and Demons
Then there’s the trend where angels are always white and demons black/dark in fantasy. This doesn’t have to be and why this is a biased way to depict them, at least from a non-religious point of view, and as far as I know I never found a mention of white wings if wings at all when angels were mentioned. Exceptions go to the angels in higher orders, but still no white mentioned. Fallen angels suddenly have black wings, when they still have them.
The Harms of the Trope
Why is the B/W - Good vs Evil- trope harmful? Well, look at how the colors are associated. Dark as bad, evil. White as good, pure. But then you group a whole people as Dark + “Black” and the other as Light and “White” and you’ve literally set these people in opposition of each other.
There are Black people in the world. There are white people in the world. “Black” as a word is literally viewed as synonymous with darkness and evil. “White” is literally viewed as synonymous with goodness and purity. There’s an intentional pattern here.
Malcolm X’s discussion regarding how Black is used to describe a people adds clarify to this.
Martin Luther King Jr. also discussed the association of Black to Evil and White to Good.
Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made
everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the
synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and
sinister. Look at the word White, it’s always something pure, high and
clean. Well I want to get the language right tonight.
I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out:
‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful!
Another notable example of the result of these engraved associations and aversion to Blackness is how racist fans reacted to the Rue character from the Hunger Games being (rightfully) portrayed as a Black girl in the movies.
A lot of these reactions can be found online. Like this one.
The trope is deeply ingrained into people’s minds and reinforced by the media that combined with systematic racism Black people and even Black children cannot be seen as pure and innocent. These traits incorporated in the Black and White Symbolism is enforced on Black people (and white people to some extent). The symbolism has been influenced further with racism and that is why it can be harmful.
What to do with the trope
Now, we don’t believe people should stop using Black and white in relation to people; running away from the word, even given its history, would only reinforce Black as a badge of shame when that’s simply a lie. We think the better solution is to built up a new dictionary. To stop using black to mean all things sinister and evil and white as all things blameless and good.
Black & White in our Writing
While it’d be difficult to deconstruct these associations overnight, it’s definitely not impossible to be more conscious of how one might be perpetuating the B&W trope within their works.
Pay attention to your writing and the color symbolism there.
Where do you find Black & White imagery? How is it being used?
Are you using shadows and night skies to foreshadow bad things to come?
Morning light and white dresses to symbolize purity and hopefulness?
Now even these aren’t inherent pitfalls.
The following are some ways to make sure of that:
Defy the Trope
I was watching the first season of Sleepy Hollow, when there was an episode with a playful little girl running in the forest wearing a white dress. A little Black girl. While I don’t recall if she were meant to symbolize good or evil so neatly, but simply featuring this young child in white, both common emblems of “innocence” felt like a deviation from the typical white or pale girl to play such a part.
Even when using typically good and white symbolism, including Black and brown people to take part in these roles is a better option that shunning them out of such roles and thus the associated symbolism. How many dark-skinned angels do you see in media? How often are characters of color associated with beings that typically represent purity and goodness?
It’s like with heroes and villains. It’s more preferable to have a diverse mix of characters who play positive roles as opposed to making all your Characters of Color villains or antagonists.
Another example of deviating from the trope can be found with George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series as mentioned further up this post.
Subvert the Trope
Suppose Black represented good. Suppose Black represented life, innocence, and good things to come.
Now suppose White symbolized evil. Suppose White represented death, immorality and ominous things on the horizon.
Subverting the B&W trope is another way to handle it in your writing. If your story is one based on a non-western or even fantasy culture, it’d be easier to sell the idea that this is simply a world that doesn’t treat Black as evil but of neutral or good (and here’s how & why). Attempting to pass this off in a more westernized culture might get confusion or skepticism from readers, though.
One idea is to subtly apply the symbolism. Death always or often occurs under bright, white lighting or sky. The dark, black forest protects the character who is being pursued by evil. A Black cat brings hope and good news.
And before you say this is enforcing “reverse racism!” Nah. Just like if you felt like having all white villains, there is no engraved association with whiteness that exists today that could actually reverse society’s overarching association of white to good and black to bad.
Not All Evil
Say you do have some negative imagery in connection to darkness. First, evaluate how heavily you’re enforcing Black as bad and consider if a change would be good.
You could also avoid reinforcing the message of dark as only/always evil if you were to balance out your associations of darkness by also having some positive or neutral connections to darkness.
New B&W Meanings
Black & White don’t have to mean good or evil at all, as in not the case in every society anyhow. There are other associations with the colors you could emphasize in your writing. Take some of these examples below:
Black Associated Meanings:
Avoid strong = Black people tropes
The term “Black magic” is rooted in racism. Read about this as for
alternatives to “Black magic” here.
aries: bonfires on the beach (fire and water can still work together to cause damage, no matter how relaxing and calming they look when under control) taurus: old swaying trees (very relaxed and beautiful, but can break if under too much pressure) gemini: old book stores in a bustling city (replace bad out of control thoughts with good controlled ones) cancer: fragrant baths in isolation (the water that runs over you is calming and sweet smelling but water can also be dangerous) leo: smoke and lit candles (a small flame that is dangerous to play with dangerous if left alone. the smoke can become difficult to breath if you get what you think is fragrant air) virgo: photos in frames (pictures of the past prove that the only constant is change) libra: old romance films (a tragedy that makes you smile is always a good balance) scorpio: old jewellery in a dusty box (painful or happy memories of past loves that also make you look beautiful) sagittarius: dead flowers in a healthy environment (not all is as it seems and not everything that seems good is good) capricorn: blunt pencils (something that has been manipulated and used for good has still been manipulated and used) aquarius: alleyways (shortcuts during the day but dangerous and avoided at night) pisces: wild animals (the most colourful things are usually the most poisonous)