If you’ve been visiting my blog, you know I’ve been covering symbols and sharing the best of the resources I’ve found. If you’re a writer, I hope you’ve found useful things here. If you’re a reader, I hope you’ve been entertained! There’s a lot more to come.
I just love things that represent things and I tuck them into my stories for fun. I’ll play with names and occupations. Sometimes I’ll tuck things here and there in the decor of a room or symbolically color the weather in a scene. Elements of philosophy sit in the background like patterns on wallpaper, and of course, as is the way of all fiction and fiction authors, my books are peppered with elements of my life and personality. I’ll even play with the food on my character’s plates! It’s a game I’ve created for my readers, but I also do it to amuse myself because I read too and I know I’d love to find things in the stories I read.
Every so often, a reader will write to say they’ve found something and ask did I mean it that way. That brings me such joy. I like being reminded I’m not the only square peg in this world of round holes. :)
Things Representing Things
Regarding things representing things, observing natural phenomena for clues goes back to our earliest hunter-gatherer-scavenger days. A certain sky could mean poor or favorable weather. A certain animal or food could poison you. Certain animal behaviors could signal great change like earthquakes. These are just a few. Over time, a mantic method arose that was meant to find prophetic significance in these routine observations of the environment. We’ve all heard the terms omens, portents, signs of the times. All this falls under the heading of Augury.
noun ~ the art or practice of an augur for divination.
In Ancient Rome, officials known as augurs were charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs. Interpreting the will of the gods was necessary, for whether or not the gods approved upon a course of action determined whether or not you’d do it. You never wanted to displeased the gods. Everyone knew if you did, the gods might hit you with wild weather, or worse, with cataclysmic events like, volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. After all, look what they did to poor Prometheus.
Augurs often looked to the sky and consulted their charts. It was important to note where an unusual occurrence took place in the dome of the sky because location held significance. A heavy storm with a lot of lightning was naturally a sign from Zeus or Odin. But a heavy storm with lightning in the west or in the southern part of the sky might mean something completely different.
Aside from weather attributes, the gods and goddesses across cultures all had their animal attributes – Zeus and Odin’s animal was the eagle. Apollo and the Norse god Tyr shared the wolf, Artemis the bear, and so on. These were symbolic stand-ins for the gods in person. People believed unusual animal behaviors not only foretold the future, they hinted at which god or goddess might bless or take offense in your governing.
For example: Eagles making particular patterns of flight in a certain quadrant of the sky obviously said something. Wolves or bears too near to the village must hold meaning too. This type of observation might also involve a ritual to get it right. Animals might be sacrificed or simply scrutinized. The examination of scat, entrails, blood spatters etc just might hint at a deity’s mind. Crazy stuff, but when “Your guess is as good as mine” doesn’t tell you much, you have to think of something.
“Again, during a sacrifice, the augur Spurinna warned Caesar that the danger threatening him would not come later than the Ides of March.”
Monday ~ More!
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
~William Shakespeare, Mid-Summer Night’s Dream
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