In the last post I broke down the monetary system and how symbols are used. In this post I want to talk a little bit about animal symbolism.
From my research it seems that most of the animal symbolism comes from the astrological Zodiac. The zodiac has been used for thousands of years.
The zodiac, the 12 signs listed in a horoscope, is closely tied to how the Earth moves through the heavens. The signs are derived from the constellations that mark out the path on which the sun appears to travel over the course of a year. You might think that dates in a horoscope correspond to when the sun passes through each constellation. But they don’t, much of the time because astrology and astronomy are different systems. Plus, a closer examination of the motion of the Earth, the sun, and the stars shows the zodiac to be more intricate than you might imagine!
As Earth orbits the sun, the sun appears to pass in front of different constellations. Much like the moon appears in a slightly different place in the sky each night, the location of the sun relative to distant background stars drifts in an easterly direction from day to day. It’s not that the sun is actually moving. Its motion is entirely an illusion, caused by Earth’s own motion around our star. The classical map of the sky, with the 48 Greek constellations, was derived from at least two different pre-Greek traditions. One tradition comprised the 12 signs of the zodiac, with several associated animal constellations, all of which developed over 3,200-500 BC in Mesopotamia in a religious or ritual tradition. These were taken over by the Greeks around 500 BC. However the other Babylonian constellations, their farming-calendar tradition, were not adopted. The other tradition was not Mesopotamian; it comprised large constellations which appear to date from 2,800 BC, probably from the Mediterranean region, devised for the navigators of ships. They include huge bears and serpents which marked the celestial pole and equator at that time, and probably the four anonymous giants which we know as Hercules, Ophiuchus, Bootes, and Auriga, as well as some of the large southern ‘marine’ constellations. The origins of some other constellations, including the Perseus tableau and various animals, are unknown. It is therefore currently concluded that among the Indo-European peoples, astrology dates to the third millennium BC.The astrology of today (Western astrology) is based on the Greek myths which in turn are based on late Egyptian myths based on ancient Kemetic myths and traditions. The most ancient myths link the very creation of humans to the creation of the zodiac and astrology. As you will see when we look at many of the characteristics assigned to the different sun signs and compare the different
characteristics of the Neters/Neteru and the myths about them, there are many similarities. It would appear that much has survived, although without reference to the historical roots of the whole system. For a long time the credit for the origin of the zodiac has been laid at the doors of the Greeks or the Mesopotanians. However from the Greeks at least some credit was given to the ancient Africans(Egyptians). There is also the correlation of the zodiac with the biblical references. There are twelve(12) months just like the 12 Tribes of Israel. Jesus also had twelve followers. Jesus was born in a stable. Which is an animal house(zodiac).
In the Bible there is a reference to the God El. Sometimes referred to as Bull El or Bull God. I believe this is possibly from the zodiac sign which is a bull. Baal, god worshipped in many ancient Middle Eastern communities, especially among the Canaanites, who apparently considered him a fertility deity and one of the most important gods in the pantheon. As a Semitic common noun baal (Hebrew baʿal) meant “owner” or “lord,” although it could be used more generally; for example, a baal of wings was a winged creature, and, in the plural, baalim of arrows indicated archers. Yet such fluidity in the use of the term baal did not prevent it from being attached to a god of distinct character. As such, Baal designated the universal god of fertility, and in that capacity his title was Prince, Lord of the Earth. He was also called the Lord of Rain and Dew, the two forms of moisture that were indispensable for fertile soil in Canaan. In Ugaritic and Hebrew, Baal’s epithet as the storm god was He Who Rides on the Clouds. In Phoenician he was called Baal Shamen, Lord of the Heavens.
The goat god Baphomet became important to the Order of the Knights Templar and remained a significant image in freemasonry. It has acted as a foundation to many satanic images that incorporate goat-features.The Order of the Knights templar was formed during the crusades when many knights and squires set out for the Holy Land. For generations they dominated a large part of the Mediterranean with their headquarters in Malta. The inverted five-pointed star, or Cross of Malta is used as a cryptogram for Baphomet.
The time period for Capricorn is from December 21- January 19. of course Christmas is during that time period. Which is why there are images of Santa Claus riding a goat. It is called a Yule Goat. The Yule goat is a Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbol and tradition. Its origin may be Germanic pagan and has existed in many variants during Scandinavian history. Modern representations of the Yule goat are typically made of straw. On a side note Christmas was once known as Saturnalia. Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December.
Throughout ancient history there have always been different mythical creatures. The creatures are usually associated with nature or some type of afterlife or the astral plane. When you have a bad dream it’s known as a night-mare. A mare is a female horse(above pic).
Then there is the mythical creature the Unicorn. I’d also like to mention that the reason you see bulls and stallions used a lot is because of their huge sexual organs. It’s because it represents fertility.
One of the main reasons the gay community uses the unicorn a lot is because the horn represents the male phallus. Horn as in horny..get it? Unicorns are always seen with rainbows and are associated with fantasyland and otherworlds. Unicorns exist in a far away land hidden in the shadows…like being in a closet.
Part three will deal with the symbolism we see right in front us everyday.
In the context of traditional Africa, people are surrounded not by things but by beings; the first in rank being GOD . Although in many parts of Africa, God is conceived as male, in other instances there are feminine images. For example, the Supreme gods of the Ewe of Ghana are Mawu-Lisa. They are twins. Mawu, the female is represented by the moon, while Lisa the male is represented by the sun. As husband and wife , Mawu-Lisa had seven pairs of twins which became the major gods of the Ewe. What is of major interest to us is the red wooden statue with large breasts and a crescent in one hand found among the Ewe. This image of Mawu is the only known image of the Supreme Being in Africa.
The Akan of Ghana have a similar view of God. The Ashanti for example, have sometimes thought of [Nyame ] the SUPREME BEING as both male and female. The female principle is symbolized by the moon which created human beings with water. The male principle is symbolized by the sun. The sun shot life-giving fire into the human veins and made human beings live. Generally however, the women is seen as the MOTHER of humankind, from whom all people originated. The Akposso tell that when God made human beings, he first made woman on the earth and bore her the first child, the first human being. The main idea here , says Mbiti, is to link human life directly with God through the woman. The woman herself is created by God and in turn becomes the instrument of human life.
Although the life of the first human beings is generally depicted as having been in a form of paradise, with God providing all the necessities of life, this paradise got lost. EARTH and HEAVEN separated from each other and God went to live in heaven while human beings lived on the earth. And in place of the lost gifts came diseases suffering, and death. Incidentally, the blame for this unfortunate tragedy is always put on the woman. These myths of origin however, often give us a picture of the woman as someone placed in a special relationship with God with whom she shares the creative process of life and also the misfortunes, and death which in various ways came into the world.
Apart from belief in the Supreme Being, Africans do recognize lesser categories of spiritual forces. These are considered more responsive to the needs of human beings in their secular and religious lives. These divinities were created by God to fulfill specific functions. They are regarded as the children of God or the messengers of God, or his agents. They may be male or female, good or evil, may have their abode in the environment, such as trees, rocks, rivers, the sea and even certain animals. They are however not confined to the physical objects in which they reside, since they have unlimited mobility and can move anywhere. They are treated with respect when they fulfill human expectations. However, they may be despised when they fail to deliver the goods. In the cult of these divinities, there are both priests and priestesses who serve at their shrines or temples. However, the sex of the minister is not an indication of the sex of the divinity. Each sex can operate as the messenger of the deity. African traditional religion, is therefore less sexist in its image of the spiritual world as compared to other world religions.
It is this factor which has made it possible for both men and women to perform their sacred functions in the worship of God and his functionaries, the divinities, who incidentally are in both sexes.
SPIRIT OF THE EARTH
Next after the Supreme Being is the EARTH DEITY. In most African societies, the earth is given a feminine image. The Akan of Ghana and the Igbo of Nigeria regard the earth as a goddess. Among the Akan, she ranks next after the Supreme Being and the second deity to be offered a drink during worship. Her day of rest is Thursday and severe punishment was meted out in the past to those who infringed this taboo. Although there are no temples, shrines or priests dedicated to her, because her bounty is accessible to all, She nonetheless receives offerings and sacrifices at the planting season.
The land generally cannot be farmed without asking for her permission. When a grave is about to be dug the Spirit of the earth is offered sacrifice. The Igbo of Nigeria, unlike the Akan, dedicate shrines and priestesses to the Mother goddess, the Queen of the underworld who is responsible for public morality. Homicide, kidnapping , stealing farm products, adultery and giving birth to twins or abnormal children are all offenses against her. Laws are made and oaths sworn in her name. According to Parrinder, Ani is the most-loved deity, and the one who is closest to the people. She helps them if they are in trouble with other divinities, but punishes hardened criminals. Also the most important festival, the yam [harvest] festival is held in her honor receives offerings during the planting season, and also when the first fruits are harvested.
Temporary houses [Mbari] made to accommodate sacred sculptures and other statues representing deities always contain the statue of Ani which stands in the middle. Here, she is depicted as a mother with a child in her arms or knees and a sword in her hand. Facing Ala is the storm god a subordinate counterpart of the goddess. The Mende of Sierra Leone also regard Mother earth as a goddess, the common mother of mankind and the wife of God [Maa-ndoo]. Like the Akan, the Mende do not worship the Spirit of the earth, although she is invoked together with God [NGEWO] during important occasions. Laws are made to protect her sanctity, for example, sexual intercourse in the bush is a violation of her sacredness and offenders were severely punished. Apart from the Earth goddess, several other deities are found residing in bodies of water.
SPIRITS OF WATER
It is alleged that the sexual identity of spiritual beings suggest that female deities like their human counterparts, ordinarily have domestic rather than communal orientation. Evidence at our disposal, however does not in any way point to the subordination of female deities to male deities. All over Africa, water bodies like the sea, rivers lakes and lagoons are regarded as the habitats of deities and are thus treated with great reverence and sometimes worshipped at shrines with specially appointed priests and priestesses. Yemoja, the most prominent of the river divinities among the Yoruba, for example, is not only the mother of numerous river deities, but also the ruler of the Ogun river in Abeokuta. She is also the mother of fishes and the giver of children. Women therefore pray to her for children, with yams and fowls.
There are other prominent river goddesses like Oya the goddess of the Niger river who is believed to be the companion , or one of the wives of SHANGO, the god of thunder. She is so fierce and terrible that no one can look upon her. Oya is often identified with the wind that blows when no rain follows. There are others like Orisha OKO, an important farm goddess. Temples erected for her are the most common of all the Yoruba divinities. Women are her principal worshippers, especially during the yam festival. There is no doubt that African traditional religion is life- affirming.
The religion seeks to insure the fertility and vitality of human beings and the land on which their own and other creatures’ livelihood depends. It is therefore reasonable that women pray to these divinities who are in direct control of fertility.
W0MEN IN RITES OF PASSAGE
Women frequently play important roles in personal rituals of status transformation associated with birth, puberty and death. At childbirth, women express gratitude to God with prayers and sacrifices, and at death they sing dirges to express their sorrow. The most significant role of women is seen during girls nubility rites. Marion Kilson has observed that “Wherever they occur the principal officiants and participants are women. Moreover, the symbolism of these rituals vividly portray the essential cultural meaning of mature womanhood. Such rituals express the dualistic nature of women’s sexuality and the means by which the positive aspects of fertility may be harnessed for social good and the negative aspects of sexuality may be contained and socially controlled.
In Ghana, the most well-preserved female puberty rites are the Dipo of the Krobo, and the Bragoro of the Asante. So important were the ideals of these rites that its violation in former times constituted a crime. A girl who became pregnant before the performance of the puberty rites was banished together with the man who was responsible for it. Purification rites were performed to rid the society of its evil consequences. It must be noted that not only did the puberty rites prepare the young for marriage, it also prepared them for procreation without which marriage was incomplete. The ceremonies therefore, marked the entry of young girls into adulthood. During the period of their ritual seclusion the young girls are taught the secrets of the society and also brought closely to the supernatural forces which are supposed to ensure their protection, blessing and fertility during their period of motherhood. Mothers of such concerned girls usually pray that their daughters grow to full maturity and bear children.
MUSICAL ROLE OF WOMEN IN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
A lot of festivals abound in African traditional religions. A good number of them are in honor of the most important divinities and ancestors. Of relevance to us is the phenomenon of singing and dancing by well-dressed women during the celebrations of these festivals. Although the songs and dancing add luster to the celebrations, they have a veiled but more important effect of curbing recalcitrant and criminally minded members of the community who during the year had broken the norms, convictions and customs prevalent in the community. The songs are deliberately composed to highlight the abuses and crimes committed and expose the criminals.The singing groups, protected by the community’s traditions, perform the role of ‘the people’s court’ to whose verdict the culprits and their relations cannot pretend to be indifferent and against which they have no appeal.
In Ghana, the popular APOO festival and others share the same characteristics with some festivals in Nigeria. The gaily dressed women, armed with well- rehearsed abusive songs move from house to house, mentioning names and coming down heavily on the social miscreants within the community.
Under the immunity graciously conferred by tradition ,the women boldly call out in songs the names of the offenders in front of their houses and contemptuously pour down condemnation on them. By so doing these women help to cleanse society of social misfits by bringing to the open the sins committed under the cover of darkness. Furthermore, with their ritual dances and singing women warm the hearts of the gods who by their nature, hate evil and always want to get rid of them. Disarmed by the traditional immunity enjoyed by the women social non- conformist are either compelled to mend their ways or flee from the community. This indeed, has been a very significant and effective mechanism of social control in many African countries. It is important to note that as part of these celebrations, traditional rulers offer sacrifices to purify the community to remove the evils accumulated during the year, thus renewing the society.
In order to approach the situation scientifically, CBS
Records commissioned the Harvard University Business
School to do a study. Westbrooks served as the
coordinator. The title of the study was, A Study of the Soul
Music Environment Prepared for Columbia Records Group.
The Harvard team was officially titled the “Columbia
Records Project Group.” In his book The Anatomy Of A
Record Company: How To Survive The Record Business,
Westbrooks outlined some of the key rationales for the
First, CBS wanted to determine the profit potential, so they
would not forfeit any market share. Second, CBS wanted to
examine the crossover potential (crossover indicating
crossing over from the Soul chart to the Pop chart in the
music industry trade magazines, or as many described it,
from the black chart to the White chart). Charts contribute
heavily to records being played on radio.
In 1972, when the study was conducted, CBS Records had
only two acts they felt could effectively penetrate the black
market: Sly Stone and Santana. “The following
recommendations were suggested to correct this: purchase
already developed talent rosters from companies like
Philadelphia International Records, Stax Records; revive
and re-establish proven talents (Isley Brothers, O’Jays, Lou
Rawls); take breaking groups and break them bigger (Earth
Wind and Fire, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes); buy into
breaking trends (Jazz Fusion through Miles Davis and his
‘alumni’: Weather Report, Headhunters, Mahavishnu
Orchestra), and perpetuate success, Michael Jackson.”
The results of the study were quite striking. For instance,
CBS Records developed a black Music Marketing Division
that was copied throughout the industry by every major
record company doing business in black music. CBS
increased its artist roster from two progressive black oriented
acts in 1972, to one hundred and twenty-five in
1980 – the largest roster of black artists in the industry.
Michael Jackson broke all previous sales records with his
album “Thriller,” anticipating another big one with his next
album, “Bad.” At that time he was the number one music
artist/entertainer in the world. The bittersweet side of this, it
institutionalized black popular music, but it caused other
forms of music: blues, jazz and folk music to suffer virtual
elimination on most radio play lists and concert bills.
According to the study, it created more jobs for blacks, a
point that must be clarified. Though dozens of blacks were
employed to capitalize on this new found market, if the
discontinued black-owned record companies had survived,
hundreds of blacks would have been employed.
Ironically, Clive Davis, President of CBS Records during the
time of the study, denies ever having used it, “I went ahead
on creative feel, intuitive reasoning and common sense, not
because I had any study or blueprint. I’ve never read that
study, I’ve never seen it, and I’ve certainly never used it as
a blueprint. [The study] did not form the basis for any move
that I made,” Westbrooks.
According to Verdine White, bass player for Earth Wind and
Fire, “Columbia did a Harvard study on black music. Clive
followed the Harvard study in terms of the viability of black
music. He really made black music his goal. By signing us,
Philadelphia International, Bill Withers, and Herbie Hancock
(Miles was already on the label), they wanted to make a
change.” Mr. White said that since the 1920s and Bessie
Smith, Columbia had not been successful with black music.
Ray Barnes, a successful record producer at the time (late
1980s), suggests that there
may have been a hidden agenda behind the Harvard study.
He speaks of a conversation
he had with a top black executive associated with the study
(Westbrooks): I met with him
and he had just left the major company that he was working
with (CBS). He said, Im going
to tell you something about this industry that will probably
surprise you. He said, when I
was working for the major company, they had me do a
study on what it was that enabled
black people to make the kind of music that they do. He
said, the industry realized that
black people influenced from 75 to 90 percent of all music
made in America and the world. So that meant that these
people, black people, have the influence which influenced
almost all the music. The danger that was happening at
that time was: you had Motown, you had Stax, you had
Sussex. You had these black record companies at that time
who had the majority of the black acts.
He told me that CBS, Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Polygram,
all of them got together to do
this study. They wanted to find out what it is that makes
black music what it is. The idea is
that, if we can find the ingredients, then maybe we can
make the music without black
people. Then we wont have to have them. We can make
the music ourselves.