3 Keys To Interpreting Symbols
There are three things you can do every time you are interpreting symbols that will help you be more accurate and have a deeper more meaningful understanding of the belief they originated from.
Wicca originates from Western Europe. The nation of origin and culture of Wicca is based on the Old World beliefs from Western Europe & Britain.
Let's all agree that each nation and country has it's own Pagan faith(s) and origin's. Kemetism beliefs are from Egypt and therefore from the Egyptian Old World culture. Now, let's all agree that Egyptian paganism differs from Wiccan paganism as each Paganism differs from one another by the structure of the God's, mysticism, culture, etc... The dry desert heat & climate of Egypt differs greatly in food, materials, animals, & season's from those comming from a place like Scandinavia. A hippopotamus may not be recognized by it's spiritual meanings to a native Scandinavian. That doesn't mean it wont have meaning, but traditional meaning may be lost in translation without the Scandinavian learning it.
One such example of symbolism being lost in translation is Corn & Corn dollies. Have you noticed all the pretty corn husk dollies made at every Lughnasadh and at Imbolc? Did you know that the Corn referred to in the Old World was not corn on the cob and did not have the shealths of husks that are used to make these kinds of corn husk dollies? Here is two pictures of CornOnTheCob used at Sabbat's and it just isn't accurate:
You can see that over half the images used for Lamas & Lughnasadh as well as John Of The Barley Corn show husks from corn on the cob. Not traditional at all, this is not the correct type of corn associated with this Sabbat or any of the Old Sabbat's.
Let's consider our modern calendar. We have A.D. & B.C. to help us out here. The B.C. time marks the death of Christ and ushers in Christianity. This action happened over the course of a few hundred years. It is also the end of the Old World or Old Ways that we refer to in Wicca or Paganism and is the start of the New World. Once America was discovered it became the New World as well. Corn on the cob was discovered in the America's, in the New World. So why did we name it corn if we already had something we called corn? Good question.
The Old World referred to the grains of wheat & barley as corn. Corn is simply the biological or scientific (wise) word for the kernel on the grain plant. So, corn dollies were made of stalks (shealths) of grain like wheat and barley. See the images below:
In these images we see the ancient craft of wheat weaving and we see a real 'Corn Dolly' as well as a 'God's Eye'. BEAUTIFUL! The art of weaving wheat is very significant in the Old World and to Lugh (the God of Lughnasadh) and to his mother. It is a very delicate, age-old, traditional craft. Just by looking at these images I can just picture a group of witches creating their corn dollies for market and for magick back in traditional times of Western Europe, can't you?
Ok so here is 3 Keys To Interpreting Symbols.
- Origin of the symbol
- Origin of the person reading the symbol and/or origin of the person seeking the meaning
- Time. Is it from the Old World? Corn on the cob was introduced to the world after the fall of paganism
Keeping these in mind while learning symbols can help you understand the origins or original traditional meanings of symbols you are studying.