Category Archives: Air Totems

Reborn Through Art and Ink (a personal essay)

The Journey of a Tattoo

The tattoo gun murmurs its Morse code on my Manubrium, the hard bones perched just above soft curves of cleavage.  From the first tip of costal cartilage, down to the fourth Line of Union on my sternum, I feel the tattoo engraved upon my chest and the fusion is finally complete.

When I discovered the tattoo design, I knew it would be mine.  I knew where it would float above my bones and swim inside my skin.  I wondered, only briefly, about the implications of tattooing a corporate logo on my outrageously anti-establishment design.  But the Nippon Gaikku logo was born in the 1800s, and was crafted with integrity, a brand of honor that now chokes on the smog of modern-day mechanization.

The tattoo design on my chest is the progenitor of the Yamaha logo, the very first to establish its presence for proud craftsmanship of elegant musical instruments.  The tattoo-logo is a Hoo (pronounced haw-oh). It’s a Chinese Phoenix with a tuning fork clamped solidly in her beak.  The Hoo and I may have been married through ink and blood only two years ago, but our journey began many years prior to her debut on my chest.

History between this Yamaha Phoenix and I started in elementary school.  Crippled by grade-school awkwardness, I recall gimping into a tiny music room.  My ungainliness swelled at the site of Mrs. Roan.  She was my 3rd grade music teacher and the object of my youthful and bungling adoration.  Her dark beauty, her zeal, her penchant for tailored white suits and black paten leather shoes with killer heels and pointy tips – so exotic, and all so uncharacteristic of the school-marm stereotype.   I remember the silk of her pant suit elegantly shifting as she walked around the stuffy music room, rounding all her students up in a circle.  She passed out a series of musical instruments to each of us, the first of which was a Yamaha French Horn, an instrument Mrs. Roan professed being quite adept at playing.

The horn was passed from one pair of grubby hands to another round the circle.  Each child attempted, unsuccessfully, to birth sound from the bowels of the nickel-plated beast.

Lastly, the bright, silvery horn was passed to me.  Its metallic skin was bruised from peanut butter and jelly smears left by chubby kid fingers, still unwashed from consuming cafeteria lunches.  I cradled the horn lovingly and I remember whispering to it: “I know you’re magic. You’ll play for me.”

My tiny lips pressed against the cold metal mouthpiece.  With the corners of my mouth downturned, brows furrowed, mind honed on the bull’s-eye of sound, I willed my lips to putter quickly through marble-like mouthpiece.   My efforts were rewarded by a crystalline bellow, a clear herald of the horn’s brilliance, a solid ‘middle c’ note emanated from the horn.  Mrs. Roan stood akimbo in response, her cinnamon eyes glowing in approval at my victory; I won her favor, a cold rose plucked in a moment of sun-kissed glory.  I coaxed sound from this mass of twisted tubing and unlikely metal.  Magic was mine.

Standing in the center of that circle, horn in trembling hands, my peers beamed at me with tooth-missing grins.  In that moment I recall feeling gift-wrapped in attunement;  a Yamaha French horn trumpeted the surprise arrival of homeostasis, and magic.

Years passed and I continued to cut my embouchure on dented King’s and tinny Conn’s – all rented French horns of  dubious quality.  But I persistently played these metal beasts – chromatic scales groaning through the walls of school practice rooms and childhood hallways.

The Summer transitioning between junior and senior high school was one of prolonged anxiety;  try-outs for high school concert band were held the first of August, and I was struggling to spin melodic gold from a deflated, barren Elkhart horn.

A fluke of nature intervened. A serious eye infection threatened to take my vision that July, which would make my right eye a vacuous hole of non-sight.  Laying in the hospital, agony scraping at my optic nerves, my dad fidgeted by my bedside.  My awareness flickered between pain and pain-killers, but I remember my dad’s words uttered from the anxiety of his daughter facing a life of half-blindness.  “Make it through this,” he said, “and I’ll buy you the best damn French horn you’ll ever lay hands on.”

I made it out of the procedures with eyesight intact, and dad made good on his promise.  He bought me a Yamaha 668, the elite of the fleet for its day.  A professional horn with seamless nickel streaming like smooth ripples of water in my hands.   It resonated in my arms.  Within this bright horn, there was music tingling, aching, itching to be released.  I was reborn after playing the new horn for the first time.  The sound I could produce was tangible lusciousness, like being robed in musical satin. That horn took me to 1st chair all through high school, prestige in college years, and even serving as a free-lance musician for both symphonic bands and chamber orchestras.

Now, decades later, sitting in a battered dentists chair doubling as a recliner for tattoo initiates, I think on these memories mixed with melodic overtones.  As my friend and tattoo artist coaxes life from ink, etching the Yamaha Chinese Phoenix on my breastbone, I reflect on the appropriateness of the symbolism.  Reborn indeed.

Was it happenstance that my eyesight was saved?  I don’t think so.  Rather, I believe it was the restorative power of my heartfelt devotion for creating good music, and my love of the French horn rescued me from  living a half-blind life (physically and metaphorically).

Thankfully, it’s not the first time artistic expression has lifted me out of a pile of life’s potentially suffocating ashes.  Good music, played rightly, is nothing short of pure enlightenment and I’m lucky (despite my uber-awkward youth)  I found illumination that day long ago while rendering clear tones from that sticky silver horn in the third grade.

The tattoo gun finally ceases hammering at my breast plate, and I walk to the mirror to behold the new scenery on my skin.    Looking in the mirror, I could swear the phoenix winks back at me – a knowing wink, a shared acknowledgement of restored vision, a confirmation how the drive for creative expression can give way to ascension, leading a willing heart out of the dark.

Avia V.
11/28/10

Animal Messages: The Good News

Animal Messages - It's All Good

In one capacity or another, I’ve been dipping into animal consciousness and interpreting symbolic messages they contribute to the greater/global consciousness.

An email I got from a reader of my main website (whats-your-sign), asked a great question:

Hi Avia, I love your work and reading your animal insights have really helped me on my life’s journey.  A few years ago I was having a terrible spell of bad circumstances.  The Owl kept visiting me, and I was convinced it was a bad omen.  Do you remember me emailing you about this several years back?  You responded with a link to an article you wrote about symbolic Owl meanings, and it helped.  It also made me explore more of your animal interpretations, and I noticed something.  All your interpretations are positive.  It seems there is nothing but good news coming from our birds, fish and mammals from your perspective.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a criticism, but even your ideals about Snakes and Spiders (critters who aren’t my favorites, lol) are positive and uplifting.  Can you tell me why is it all good news?  Don’t animal messages sometimes include negativity, or at least a warning of bad things to come?  Thanks for your work.
Love,
Beth

Beth makes a good point.

I look at animal consciousness as an extension of the Unified consciousness (call it the God, the Goddess, Christ consciousness – by any name,  it’s that omnipresent, pervasive, supportive intelligence unifying all energy).  I mention on many occasions that the creatures of our planet are (mostly) clarified energy – they don’t have the weirdies of mentality like humans often exhibit.  Because our creatures are clarified, they’re a pure channel for Unified consciousness.

So, when I dive in for data about animal messages, animal meanings, etc., it just makes sense the information retrieved will be a bright reflection of the Unified field – supportive, buoying, brilliant.  In short, the Natural Realm lives closer to, and indeed, is one with God.  Naturally, their communications will reflect that relationship.


If you dig this post, you might also like:

Getting Messages from Nature

Nature Symbols

Animal Totems & Animal Symbolism

Tips to Knowing Your Animal Totems

Silly Bands and Animal Totems


Silly Bands and Animal Totems
Silly Bands and Animal Totems

I got the low-down on silly bands from my niece, who gave me this one – a Dragon, who happens to be my predominant animal totem.

Now, I’m not big on extraneous consumerism.  I prefer to keep my personal adornments and purchases as pure and simple as possible.  However, I can see some pretty practical uses for silly bands in relation to our animal totems.

To explain…

Life is replete with distractions.  There’s so much going on in our modern lives.  Busy-busy, push-pull, tag-your-it. 

If your days are potentially crammed with complexity like mine are, then perhaps you’ll agree it’s good (indeed, even necessary) to keep reminders close by.  Reminders that ground us, and redirect our consciousness back to the pure vitals of life like: Compassion, Dynamism, Expansiveness, Balance, and such.

I have tattoos that serve as permanent reminders of these things and more.  Photographs plaster my office-studio walls serving the same purpose.

Imagine my surprise and delight when this tiny silicon silly band fulfilled the same function. 

Every time my eyes catch sight of this little guy, I return to my core – a place in which my Dragon’s crave for me to stay rooted.  Why? Because being rooted in the realms of our animal totems manifests superior benefit for them, ourselves and our society.

Just thoughts…an idea for triggering awareness back to your ideal, totemic core.

That said, a special thanks to my niece for this wicked-keen gift! ;)

Other pages of interest…

Tips to Knowing and Re-Connecting with Your Animal Totems

EcoIntuition: What is it?

Animal Totems (a whole heap of ’em)

Crow Dreams and Pearls of Patience

Crow Dream Interpretations
Crow Dream Interpretations


For many nights now, a behemoth Crow cackles in my consciousness. She comes dressed in her classic black, iridescent robes.  A daughter of Nyx, dark as soot – her presence equally clingy within my inhaling mind.

Always in moments like these I wonder about the concept of dreaming within dreams, which prompts me to consider reality – and this all leads to a chain-reaction of odd musings that hurl me off-track from my focus.

And what is my focus?

Oh, yeah – right…the dream…

Did you know Crows are mother figures to the Hopitu-Shinumu Indians?  Uh huh.  The Crow is one among the Hopi’s legion of Kachinas.  It descends in the Winter, spitting out seeds like a Tommy Gun run amok – rapid fire and with widespread dissemination being more important than technical aim.  Those seeds represent the promise of the future – the continuation of the tribe.

This makes sense.  In the span of one month, two mother-figures in my life have left this physical life.  Good for them.  But, not-so-good for those of us left behind dealing with the sucking black holes of our separation-issues.

Since these so-called “deaths” of important mother-figures in my life, the Onyx Crow keeps cawing in my dreams, and her symbolism keeps shifting, twisting, morphing.  That’s typical.  It’s the Crow way to be elusive.  She makes us work for meaning.  We must earn the epiphanies.  In this way, our understanding of her presence becomes substantial – galvanized in our psyche.  The lessons learned from the Crow are solid, permanent.

She is shrill and course in her speech.  Her voice pierces like a big-tooth saw heaving through stainless steel, rendering an unearthy sound – metallic, jagged, like reverberating insanity.  Of course, it’s an attention-grabbing technique.  I’ve been numb.  -Nothing like an  other-world “rebel yell” to get one’s attention.

It works.  I become lucid within the dream, the spectral body sits up bolt-straight.

Now that she has my attention, the Crow stills her ripping cackles and shits a pearl in my left hand.  Yes, you read that right.

I borrow hope from the Hopi, interpreting this Crow as a Mother come to rattle my attention until the numb-fluffs are shaken off.

This interpretive approach is underscored by the presence of that white-bright lustery pearl.  In Chinese symbology, pearls are very yin.  They are associated with water, the moon and feminine themes.  I like how pearls are born from an oceanic womb – dark as night, just like my Mother Crow.

I also appreciate how pearls are wrought into existence via  a defense mechanism.  Pearls are formed as a response to an irritant or parasitic invasion upon the mollusk.

This makes sense in context of my recent mental states.  Tons of intruders in the form of rogue emotions/memories/mental frenzies have invaded my space as a result of these recent “deaths.”

I keep my interpretations of this dream rather loose, because I know my Obsidian Compatriot – that crazy Mother Crow will tweak my perception again.  She is every inch a task-master in spiritual learning.  I also know her pearl-pooping symbolism will morph in meaning too.

A prime point to be taken away from this post is this: Sometimes a dream interpretation is far from succinct.  Pat answers simply will not apply to certain dreams/experiences.

There are times when waking and dreaming life coalesce in a weird crockpot, and the symbolic flavors must stew over time before any real sense can be made of any of it.

That’s a tough pill to swallow for some of us.   In this instant-download-push-button-get-it-now world, the concept of waiting for a big picture to formulate does not sit well.  But wait we must.  Sometimes that’s the only option: Patience in the process, and faith in knowing illumination will come when it’s damn good and ready (and of course, when we are ready to receive).

Other stuff:

Mother Symbolism

Raven Symbolism

Six Steps to Interpreting Dreams

Dream Symbolism

Crow Medicine for Laughter

 

Samhain and the Seven Swans of Virtue

Samhain and the Seven Swans of Virtue

As we approach the cross-quarter holiday of Samhain, it’s a great opportunity to dive into ancient myth and stories.  Why?  Because ancient parables connect us with our ancestry and offer magnificent lessons we can apply to our modern way of life – thus making our experiences richer and more meaningful.

Now, I realize surface research into Samhain uncovers some potentially disturbing and macabre symbolism involving death and dark powers.  But, as with anything worthwhile, we’ve got to explore beyond the surface before striking true gold.  There is priceless philosophical gold surrounding Samhain.

One of these golden nuggets is nestled deep in the folds of Bardic wisdom (the realm of sacred Celtic storytelling).  It’s the story of the Seven Swans of Virtue, and it unfolds, thusly:

Once upon a time (I know, how trite…indulge me), there was a behemoth egg and the Universe was curled within it, growing steadily over millions of years.  At the moment of its fullest development the Universe quaked inside the egg and cracked open.  The yolk poured out of the egg and formed all matter/mass and this energy ruled the day (light).  The albumen (egg white) spilled out to create all the heavens and this energy ruled the night (dark). But that’s not all that emerged from the great egg.  From the intimacy shared between light and dark whilst incubating within the cosmic eggshell, seven magical swans were born and their names were:

Faith
Truth
Purity
Strength
Patience
Kindness
Temperance

These were known as the Seven Swans of Virtue and although they lived brightly in the heavens, they had the ability to shift between the two realms (Light/Material/Earth and Dark/Immaterial/Skies) at whim.    Now as the ever-progressing wheel of time continued making its revolutions, humankind evolved from the mix of heaven and earth.

In the beginning, humans were content to simply swim in the cosmos, satisfied with reveling in limitless bounty.  But after awhile, humans craved more diversity, and so they were offered a choice to experience a new way of life.  In this new way of living humans could experience their world through tactile (physical) form while simultaneously having access to heavenly (spiritual) experience too.  The contrast between physical and ethereal would be distinct, but access to both realms could still be obtained.  This offered humans a greater dimension of experience.

Unfortunately, the choice to live in enhanced contrast backfired for many humans.  The physical aspects of life proved to be utterly consuming.  The body and all the physical trappings that came with it caused humans to lose focus on their heavenly, celestial connections.  Eventually, the human race forgot their lineage and denied their divine connections to the heavens altogether. Throughout humankind’s blindness, the Seven Swans of Virtue remained vigilant in their celestial connection to the human soul.  The choice to ascend self-imposed prisons of physicality was always available to mankind.

By simply acknowledging their eternal connection to the seven virtues, the heavenly Swans were able to bridge the gap between light and dark and the soul of man would be balanced; renewed.  But it required fortitude and commitment from mankind to sustain the memory of their divine lineage.  Sadly, most humans at this point were simply maddened by the compulsive wants and cravings perpetuated by physical illusions.  These compulsions continued to feed a deep imbalance within humankind and led to manifestations of lust, greed, lack, sloth, envy, gluttony, hate (the antithetical flip-side of the Seven Virtues). Observing this difficult transition over the ages, the Seven Swans of Virtue conceded humankind was doomed to live out a endless cycle of illusory strife and struggle.  Without some kind of guidance, humankind would be lost in a chaotic abyss of misdirection.

Wanting to honor their choice to experience diversity, the Swans vowed to intercede on behalf on mankind, but with conditions.  So, the Seven Swans of Virtue agreed to shapeshift to earth and make themselves abundantly accessible to humankind, but only twice a year: Once on Beltane in honor of the cosmic yolk (light) and Once again on Samhain in reverence of the celestial albumen (dark).  These dates were chosen because of they are at their peak of cosmic balance.  It was during these times that the channels connecting physical and spiritual are opened at their widest, affording humankind to retrieve their Truth and reestablish their hereditary balance.

And so, upon midnight on Samhain, these majestic beauties begin their descent to earth whereupon they gather up the virtuous of heart who truly wish to know the Truth of their divine births as well as know the true ways of the Universe.  The Seven Swans of Virtue make themselves more openly known during this time so humankind may be apt to transcend the prison of illusions and re-embrace its cosmic connections.

The Seven Swans of Virtue still descend to Earth today.  The Celts knew this, and that’s why the constellation of Pleiades marked the cosmic opening from which the celestial Swans flew to visit the Earth.  These two dates (Samhain and Beltane) are the gateways to transformation for humankind.  So, this time of Samhain affords each of us the grandest opportunity for renewal, enlightenment and metamorphosis.

-The End-

If nothing else, the Seven Swans of Virtue is a great story to tell ’round your Samhain or Halloween hearth fire this year.

Other links of interest:

Symbolic Meaning of the Swan (on Whats-Your-Sign.com) includes Celtic symbolism.

Halloween Symbols and Meanings (on Whats-Your-Sign.com)

Meaning of Halloween (on Whats-Your-Sign.com)