Mythology is a form of symbolic communication. This manner of connecting is very old and predates the phonetic script we use today. While hieroglyphics were thought of as part of a divine script or ‘God’s word’, it was held in high regard by various cultures before phonetic script, based on sound rather than images, began to be used.
Symbolism is the manner in which our dreams communicate with us. Rather than the Queen’s English, our dreams draw first upon archetypes used to represent specific themes, and secondarily upon our personal file of associations from a library of specific memories and experiences we have accumulated. For instance, dreaming about a lion generally draws from a universal register, of strength, pride, confidence or of being a successful competitor. For folks who have no personal association with lions (save possibly walking by their cage at the zoo or seeing them in a nature series), we look toward these themes to help understand what the dream may be attempting to tell us. If, on the other hand, we do have powerful memories or associations to lions, of having had a friend or family member mauled by one, or of having had a lion cub as a pet as a child, then these themes can ‘trump’ those from the archetypal record, as being representative of how YOU relate to the image. When one successfully interprets a dream, it can generate a ‘rush’, an emotional release wherein you feel as though they’ve ‘hit the mark’. It just feels right.
Sumerian hieroglyphics are currently thought by most to be the oldest form of symbolic writing. While the Sumerian culture filled the Tigris-Euphrates river valley from the 4th through the 3rd millennium, the origins of this writing can be traced back to about 8,000 BC where it was used to represent trade goods and livestock on clay tablets. These simple beginnings became more sophisticated over time, evolving into a more complex form of writing system, the earliest texts coming from the cities of Uruk and Jamdat Nasr c. 3300 BC.
Egyptian hieroglyphics were said to have been influenced by the development the Sumerian script, but this has been argued by some. The name itself, hieroglyph, comes from the Greek and basically means ‘sacred carving’ or ‘God’s word.’ Symbols on Gerzean pottery dated from 4000 BC resemble early hieroglyphic writing. Clay tablets dated to the 33rd century BC have been found with what’s been called a proto-hieroglyphic script.One of the difficulties with this form of symbolic notation is the number of ‘units’ needed for successful communication. The phonetic alphabet has 26 letters, combined in various ways to form words. During the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of Egypt, 800 hieroglyphic symbols were used. By the time of the later Greco-Roman conquests of Egypt, working hieroglyphic symbols numbered more than 5,000.Having learned that hieroglyphics were a form of sacred writing, the Greco-Roman authors imagined the complex but rational system as an allegorical, even magical, form of transmitting secret, mystical knowledge.
Chinese characters constitute the oldest used system of writing in the world. Recently, inscribed graphs and pictures have been found at Neolithic sites in China, at Jiahu (c. 6500 BC), Dadiwan and Damaidi (6th millennium) and Banpo (5th millennium). According to legend, on the day writing was born people heard ghosts wailing and saw crops falling like rain.The earliest confirmed body of inscriptions come from oracle bones from the Shang dynasty (c. 1200 to 1050 BC). Carved on pieces of bone and turtle shells, they were sold as ‘dragon bones’ for medicinal purposes. Oracle bone inscriptions are records of divinations performed in communication with royal ancestral spirits. The Shang king wold communicate with his ancestors on topics relating to the royal family, military success, weather conditions, sacrifices and other topics deemed important to the successful management of the kingdom. The responses to these inquiries would be recorded on the divination material itself, which is how they come to us.We are seeing here definite associations between these symbolic forms of communication and divine direction. The Chinese did it through communion with their ancestors, while the Greeks felt that the script itself was sacred and could be used to transmit forms of secret, mystical knowledge. Gilgamesh sleeps on top of a mountain in order to connect with the gods by way of a dream, seeking counsel as to which way he should turn.This past week, I had a dream that someone had stolen the front wheel of my bicycle. The rest of it was still there, chained to the post it had been tied to. Since then, I had been watching my bike rather nervously, wondering if it was going to be safe. My first astrology teacher Louise, with whom I’ve been staying while here in Florida, came home all excited and said “I know what your dream is all about.” I had previously discussed it with her. Lisa and I had returned to the Northeast for the holidays, and Lisa stayed there to help out with her ailing Mom. We had been working on setting up presentations together before we left. Having split up, some of the wind had gone out of our sails.
“The missing wheel of your bicycle is Lisa. Since she left, you’ve lost your momentum and direction on your journey. You can’t ride the bicycle with only one wheel.”
We both laughed as I immediately felt the truth of what she had to say. While here in Florida, Lisa had been doing most of the driving, the role of the front tire.
Sweet dreams to all-