Spirit: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

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I can’t believe I’ve reached the end of this deck, it’s been such an interesting journey!  Things I’ve found out as I’ve worked my way through this suit in particular:

  • These are powerful creatures.  If you are familiar with tarot, these feel to me like the major cards.  These are cards which are taking us beyond body and mind and focusing much more on intuition, feeling and archetypes.
  • Within this suit, we see the other suits.  We have fire in the form of the phoenix, water in the form of the sea serpent, earth in the form of the dragon and air in the form of the unicorn.
  • There is a theme of spheres, eggs and circles, seen not only in the spirit sign but in each of the images.  The circle is a powerful symbol representing infinity, wholeness, eternity, cycles, protection and so much more.  We see the circle used over and over.  We have the wheel of fortune from tarot, the sun, the moon and the stars, we have the yin yang symbol.  The circle can be read as a zero; nothingness or the potential for everything.
  • The seven cards each represent one of the seven chakras.  I don’t know much about chakras but if this is something you want to know more about, buy the guide book.  To be honest, buy it anyway.  These posts are entirely my own thoughts and are very unofficial and not at all reflective of the guide book!  The guide book, whilst we’re on the topic, has information about each card including what the animal looks like in balance and out of balance and how to restore balance.  If I’m struggling with a card when I’m reading, I find this really helpful.

Cosmic Egg: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

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We saw a couple of creation myths in the golden egg and black egg but these really come into their own with the cosmic egg.

The cosmic egg gave birth to the world so is the perfect card to end on (or start with…). It wasn’t an idea I was familiar with so this is probably a basic portrayal of this card, as with the other egg cards.

The egg in the card is possibly the Orphic Egg.  It was this cosmic egg from which the greek god Phanes hatched and who in turn created the other gods.  However the egg is vital to creation in many cultures and and features in so many myths.  The cosmic egg, or world egg or mundane egg, is the ultimate beginning from which either the universe came from or a mythical being came from who would then create the world.

Let’s take a quick tour of the world and see where and how the cosmic egg appears:

  • In Hindu traditions there are a number of creation stories but the one we’re interested in tells of the universe as a cosmic egg which cycles between expansion and total collapse.  This boom and bust idea gives me hope that we’ll get through all the rubbish stuff which is going on right now.
  • The Persian story explains that a god of good created a perfect spiritual world before creating the tangible world.  This made the god of evil so angry he burst through the cosmic egg which set the sun spinning and thus created days and night and the world as we know it.
  • In China we find the black egg also called the cosmic egg.  This as we saw previously contained a chaotic mix of yin and yang.  There was also a giant called Pangu within the egg and after many years he emerged and in doing so, separated the chaos out into it’s opposites.  Yin and Yang were separated, night and day, light and dark, land and sky.  Eventually Pangu started to die and as he did so, his breath became the wind, his body became the mountains and the parasites which lived on him became humans and thus the world was created.  This version of the creation myth uses duality as a fundamental principle which feels really important to me.
  • The Finnish tell a myth of the world being created from the fragments of an egg.
  • Chronos, the greek personification of time, produced an egg from which Phanes and hence the world hatched.

It is unsurprising that so many creation myths feature an egg, after all the egg is the ultimate symbol of fertility, of life, of birth, of creation.  We see eggs used in 17th century France by brides entering new homes, breaking an egg as they did so would ensure fertility.  If you want to meet your true love, place an egg in front of the fire on a stormy night.  As the storm picks up your love will come through the door and pick up the egg.

For anything associated with creation, we find mention of destruction.  The yin and the yang.  In this case, we find eggs left in tombs, eaten after funerals and we associate eggs with the death of Christ.

The egg is a strong feminine symbol and the universe emerging from an egg really emphasises to me the feminine aspect of the world, of nature, of everything.  How fucking powerful is the feminine that it can create everything.  And perhaps that explains patriarchy and women’s oppression – it must be terrifying to be faced with such immense innate creative power and we know that if we fear something, we try and kill it.

Oomancy is divination by eggs which seems interesting, particularly if you believe that life is all mapped out.  If you believe that then it seems only a short jump to the idea that the egg as a representation of the cosmic egg, contains a map of the future.

According to one theory, which I don’t know much about, there are various eggs which each represent the different stages of the process of creation.  Knowing this, perhaps we can see the golden egg, black egg and the cosmic egg as part of a narrative.  If this chimes with you, have a look for writings by H.P. Blavatsky.

These ideas of the world coming from a cosmic egg goes in two directions in my mind. On one hand, the universe can be a terrifying place and overwhelming and the idea that it fitted into an egg feels comforting. Particularly if you take the egg shell as a strong supporting boundary or mother figure holding us. I know we’ve cracked out of the egg but thinking about the universe still being in the egg feels useful to me. The other direction my thoughts are taken is around the potential and promise and creative energy that was in the egg and now in the universe and in turn in each and every one of us.

Unicorn: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

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Unicorns are the spirit world’s horse, untameable like the zebra, and admired by many.  They are often portrayed as white which ties to their link of purity and virginal women.  They are elusive and powerful, fierce and admired.

We see unicorns in a number of cultures, including mention of it in ancient myths from India and China.  An ancient Greek writer tells of a creature with a white body, purple head, blue eyes and a long horn which was red at the tip, black in the middle and white at the bottom.  Although it seems odd to us today, this is probably a reference to a rhinoceros.

The bible mentions a horned creature called the re’em which some translations refer to as a unicorn.  There are a lot of articles online which discuss this and look at what the re’em really is but for our purpose, a look at the symbolism is perhaps more useful.  The unicorn is considered to be a symbol for Christ, the child of the virgin Mary as well as a symbol of virginity itself.  At the same time, the horn is considered to be a phallus but this makes more sense when we look at placement.  Instead of a penis which would be used to procreate, the unicorn is seen to have a horn which instead is used to connect with spirit, a symbol of spiritual connectedness.  The unicorn transcends sexuality and all the Christian connotations that come with it.  This idea is also visible in the use of unicorn amulets as a symbol of fertility and sexuality and the idea that the wearer would increase their sex appeal; something which seems at odds with the unicorn as “personification” of virginity…  This is a subject for another day but for a religion which likes to control sex, they do seem quite obsessed with it…

Unicorns have a spiral horn projecting from their forehead and this horn is said to have a number of magical properties including the ability to purify poison.  Their horns were considered highly valuable and there was a profitable trade in them, although most were narwhal horns.  The horn could also purify water and make it holy so that other animals could drink it.  This was one of the reasons why there was a lot of prestige attached to hunting them although it was said that only a virgin could capture them.

The horn is obviously a key aspect of this creature and it has been said that all their mighty strength lies in it.  We have touched on the horn as a link to the spirits and gods and this echoes the ideas we have seen with other horned animals.  The spiralled aspect of the horn is important to some people.  It is often depicted as two “threads” entwined around each other and in these images, one thread could represent the mundane and one the spiritual, one the inner self and one the outer consciousness, one earth and one heaven and so on.  As such, the unicorn horn then represents the interactions between these two “worlds” and link the tangible world to the spiritual one.  Thus the unicorn becomes a vehicle for us to reach the gods.

Black Egg: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

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Hmm.. the black egg.  Well… we have all the egg symbolism from the golden egg but this time it’s black.  Yes, I know I’m stating the obvious!

Black has a vast array of meanings from death to nothingness to fear to strength.

In my head, a black egg feels like one which has been around too long and is way past the point of anything hatching from it…

At this stage I think I’d best do some research so I turn to google…

One of my first finds is the Owakudani Black Eggs – legend holds eating just one of these black eggs can add seven years to one’s life.  The eggs are ordinary chicken eggs but the shell turns black due to being boiled in the hot sulfur spring.  This doesn’t feel very relevant so the search continues…

Eventually I uncover the story about Pangu which I covered briefly with the golden egg but lets get a little more detailed:

The story comes from China and is about the creation of the world.  Way back when, the universe was a chaotic mix of yin and yang, earth and heavens which was contained in an egg (a black egg or the cosmic egg depending on which version you’re looking at).  In this egg a giant, Pangu, was born.  When he realised he was trapped he pushed his way out, separating the contents into yin and yang.  Half of the egg became the heavens, half the earth.  When Pangu died, possibly 18,000 years later, his body started to form mountains and other aspects of the earth.  His dying breath became the wind and clouds, his voice became thunder, one eye became the sun and the other the moon.  His blood became rivers and seas and the hairs on his head became stars.  The parasites which had lived on his body because humans and animals and thus the world as it know it today was born.

This feels so much more relevant – the duality of the universe, creating something amazing out of chaos.  These feel like things I can work with.

A few more google searches later…

To dream of a black egg is about the evil within you.  It may also be showing fragility in relationships or hinting at an evil acquaintance.  New beginnings are needed.

We also have this concept of the luminous egg, another idea that I don’t know very much about… The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Toltec Wisdom says that we, human beings, are not solid objects but rather an egg shaped light which extends slightly further than our physical bodies. According to this theory, a strong, luminous egg comes from being centred and in touch with your inner self. A fractured, dull egg lets a person’s energy leak out, creates confusion and chaos and ill health. Not knowing enough about this I’m not sure if the luminous egg is at all linked with the black egg but it does have an aura style glow.

Black is the colour of everything, or the absence of light and for me, these feel like potent metaphors to ponder or meditate on.

What do you think?

Golden Egg: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

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This gold egg is nestled safely amongst a bed of wheat, carefully held and protected whilst we figure out what it means.

Side note: with the three egg cards I’m feeling a bit out of my depth and actually, given where these cards are in the deck, this feels appropriate.  We are in the spirit suit, a suit which is beyond body and mind and much more focused on intuition, feeling and archetypes.

The first thing that came to mind when I started writing this was the goose that laid the golden egg.  Also told as a hen which lays golden eggs, this fable teaches us to be patient and not let greed get the better of us.  Taking care of the hen to a high standard creates riches and abundance.  We reap what we sow.  There is no “golden egg opportunity”, no get rich quick scheme.  Harvests come when we show up regularly, when we put in the work, when we do the tough stuff.

It feels like this card is asking us to nurture and care for and find the treasure within us and around us.  The more we appreciate our own gold, the more we will find within us and others.  Put it the work you need to do to tune into your own wonder and abundance.  Whether that’s meditation, noticing the little things, prayer or whatever works for you, do it!

Other things to think about when it comes to the golden egg include…

  • The Burmese tale of a dragon princess who was impregnated by the solar spirit and laid three eggs.  A hunter took these away and broke the one golden egg which turned into numerous rubies and gems.  This reminds me a bit of the four of pentacles in the wild unknown tarot deck and the abundance discussion raised by the shark card.  Be careful of getting too caught up in protecting what you have that you miss out on what you could have.
  • Think of the egg itself, a symbol of fertility, of potential life and creation.  The eggshell is there to protect something which is incubating, something not quite ready to emerge into the world.  And then think about what gold symbolises and means to you.  It is often seen as high value, causing greed and corruption, temptation, success… Combine these ideas and see where your mind takes you.
  • Also think what a golden egg shell would mean.  As we see in the Russian folktale, Ryaba the Hen, golden eggs are hard to break.  One interpretation of this tale ties into the point touched on in the Burmese story – you can’t have your cake and eat it – but how else could you read an almost unbreakable shell?  For me, this could echo the moral of the goose fable.  To reach your goals – breaking the egg open – you have to put in the effort.
  • Some versions of the story say that Brahma, the Hindu creator, appeared from a golden egg that floated in universal waters.  Similarly, a Korean story tells of six golden eggs which hatched into kings.
  • According to H.P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, which I know nothing at all about, the golden egg is one of three phases of eggs which create the universe.  The golden egg is surrounded by 7 elements; earth, air, fire, water and three secret ones.  I think, but could be very wrong as all the writing feels very cryptic, that the masculine was created in the golden egg stage.

What does the golden egg say to you?

Dragon: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

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Look at that piercing eye!  Intense right?!

So, there are generally two types of dragon, which can be roughly divided into the European dragons and the eastern dragons such as the Chinese dragons.  They are generally scaled and given we have only a limited part of our dragon visible, it’s hard to say much else about this specific case.  Because we don’t know which tradition this dragon comes from I’m going to look at both.

A few generalities

Dragons are generally pictured as being lizard like, snake like and crocodile like although often are much bigger.  Some dragons have wings and most dragons breathe fire.  There is also a blurry line between dragons and sea serpents.  They are strong, intense engimas which are portrayed as both protectors and guardians as well as destroyers.  They hold ancient wisdom and encourage us to reconnect with our primal energy.  They are often considered courageous whilst also presented as devouring maidens and creating storms.  There is a real dichotomy here.  The ancient wise guardian and the raw fighting destructive force.

The dragon, for me, is an earth creature.  Yes it can sometimes breathe fire, yes it can sometimes swim, yes it can sometimes fly but a lot of the dragons I’ve found are cave dwellers, preferably an underground cave.  Regardless of your perspective, it’s clear that there is a little of each element in the dragon.

Here be dragons is supposed to feature on maps on unknown or uncharted land, perhaps hinting at how rare and mysterious dragons are.  Apparently this wasn’t actually done that much but I like the idea which is presumably why so many people don’t question it.

A dragon is medicinally useful, if you can kill one.  Eating the heart, for example, lets you understand animals, sowing the dragon’s teeth will produce new citizens for your city.  There is actually a type of sap known as dragon’s blood which is anti-inflammatory, helps heal tissue and has antiviral properties.

European dragons

Looking into the dragon illustrates a lot about how different cultures view themselves and nature and women…

“Many patriarchal myths tell of the world order established out of chaos through the killing of a dragon, giant snake or sea serpent. We find this especially in Greek and near Eastern mythologies. The Hebrew God kills Leviathan, Apollo kills Python by which he establishes control over the Delphic Oracle, Zeus kills Typhoeus (or Typhon) who is the last child of Gaia, the earth, and so on. Many of these tales explicitly identify the serpent/monster as female, or associate it with an archaic goddess, or with the site of female power.” – The Body of the Goddess, Rachel Pollack

The tradition of slaying dragons and other such creatures seems to be rooted in the male fear of sexuality, in particular female sexuality.  If the dragon is the feminine and linked to female sexuality and menstruation then the killing of the dragon is the acting out of the instinct to destroy what we do not understand, what we fear and what we cannot control.  By we of course I mean the patriarchy.

The tale of George and the dragon, other similar stories and the link between the devil and the dragon are great propaganda for the early Christian church, showing their rule over nature, women and sexuality as well as demonstrating their power.  The dragon and the myths in turn help to oppress and control people during the time of Christian conversion.  Look what we can do, we just saved you from a dragon and now it is only fitting that you leave your nature focused beliefs and follow us.

The European dragons are generally evil, reptile like creatures, not as intelligent as humans, have four legs and wings.  They may have horns, a long and powerful tail and often guard caves of treasure.  This could mean that the slaying of dragons is also representative of human greed. The dragon slaying narrative also places the dragon slayer in the role of potential sacrifice, someone who is prepared to pay the cost so that others might have a better life – sound like any biblical figure you know?  Think about this image of dragons in relation to how much of the western world, actually much of the world in general, treats nature today.

Particularly interesting, given the image on the card, is the suggestion that the word dragon derives from the Greek “to see” and may mean that dragon originally meant “staring one”, “monster with the evil eye” or something along those lines.  On a related note, it is said that dragons have excellent eyesight.

 

Just before we move on to other types of dragons I wanted to include a story from just up the road:

A dragon caught in the River Wear near Durham and was dropped in a well.  It would go on to terrorise the people until several years later, the nobleman who caught it returned.  He was given instructions to kill the dragon and the next thing he saw.  It was arranged that a dog would be the first thing the nobleman saw after killing the dragon but in a mix up, he saw his son…  What is he to do?  If he doesn’t kill his son then he is cursing the next nine generations of his family…  He can’t face it and thus destines his heirs to misery.  (Some versions say that it was his father he saw not his son)

Chinese dragons

Where the European dragon shows dominance over nature, the Eastern dragons tend to reflect respect and reverence for nature and a desire to live in harmony.

Starting with China, we see the dragon as a symbol of good fortune, an honoured and sacred animal which is far more civilised that the western equivalent.  Like them, the chinese dragon has four legs but does not have wings although they can still fly and is seen as wise and intelligent, more so than humans.

It was said that the Chinese people were descended from dragons and that dragons actually taught humans to speak, suggesting they have a higher intelligence than we do.  They are primal forces which possess magic and the gift of long life and thus the wisdom which comes with that.  Considered to have the status of gods, the Chinese treat their dragons very differently to the Europeans…

The Chinese dragon, an earth sign, is considered the luckiest of the birth signs and is strongly associated with the emperor, power and majesty.  People born under the dragon are supposed to be self assured, proud, dignified and passionate.  They are also supposed to be prone to tempers, demanding and cruel.  It feels a bit like there’s a really powerful sureness and strength that comes with this sign and as with most things it can tip into good or bad or oscillate between them.  With great power comes great responsibility and such things.

Where the european dragon is associated with fire, the Chinese dragon is associated with water.  They are the rulers of moving water (waterfalls, waves etc) and by extension they could control the weather.  There are four major Dragon Kings, each representing one of the four seas, and it was these that people would turn to to pray for rain or ask for storms to be abated.  Like water itself, dragons could be consturctive but also destructive so it is wise to keep the dragon kings happy.

In my notes I wrote about a link with the tiger.  As we saw previously, the tiger can represent yin and yang.  The same is true for the dragon which has some yin scales and some yang scales.  When we consider them together, we find the tiger and the dragon used to symbolise balance. The tiger is the yin because of its courage, patience, loyalty and it’s feminine nature. The yang of the dragon is down to it’s outgoing nature and masculine energy.  Thus the two cards combined symbolise the duality of the universe.

There is a lot more to the Chinese dragon but I want to take a look at some other eastern versions and this post is already pretty long…

Other dragons

In Japan we see echoes of the Chinese dragon, they are large, wingless creatures associated with water however they do not fly.  Dragons are often good, as in the Chinese culture.

In Vietnam, we have myths which tell of the Vietnamese people being descended from a dragon and a fairy.  Hopefully not through conventional methods of reproduction… I imagine there would be some logistical challenges there!  Again, the dragon represents the emperor and is said to bring rain. These dragons appear as a complicated mixture of crocodile, snake, cat, rat and bird although over time they came to resemble the Chinese dragon.

According to wikipedia, there are a number of Vietnamese sayings which include reference to dragons:

  • “Rồng gặp mây”: “Dragon meets clouds” – In favourable condition.
  • “Đầu rồng đuôi tôm”: “Dragon’s head, shrimp’s tail” – Good at first and bad at last; something which starts well but ends badly.
  • “Rồng bay, phượng múa”: “Dragon flight, phoenix dance” – Used to praise the calligraphy of someone who writes Chinese ideograms well.
  • “Rồng đến nhà tôm”: “Dragon visits shrimp’s house” – A saying used by a host to (or of) his guest: the host portrays himself as a humble shrimp and his guest as a noble dragon.
  • “Ăn như rồng cuốn, nói như rồng leo, làm như mèo mửa”: “Eating as dragon scrolls, talking as dragon climbs, working as cat vomits” – A criticism of someone who eats too much and talks a lot, but is lazy.

Only one more example I promise!

The Aztec culture was founded by Quetzalcoatl, a dragon god of the wind, of the planet Venus, of the dawn, of arts and crafts and of learning and knowledge.  An excellent god to be creating a civilisation I think!  Imagine if our society focused on these things as the basics for its people instead of materialism and consumerism.

There are lots of different dragon myths depending on where in the world you are.  If this card feels important to you, check out your local folklore.

And in conclusion…

The dragon means many many contradictory things to many people…  Perhaps this is a card where the most important thing to consider is how you feel about dragons; do you find them to be friendly or fierce, helpful or frightening?  And in parallel to that, how do you approach nature and sexuality?  These are big things to think about and the analogy of the dragon may be a helpful tool as you explore your feelings and beliefs.

Sea Serpent: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck

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The sea serpent was one of three cards I drew in my first reading with this deck.  For me, there is a strong element of protection with this card.  There is room to explore yourself and do difficult things in rough waters but with the reassurance that the sea serpent is protecting you.  She* is creating a space where the water is calmer, where the risk is less.  So it’s like stepping out of your comfort zone, but with someone there to have your back.

Sea serpents have been interpreted in many different ways from sea snakes to giant octopuses to driftweed to eels.  Based on the image, this particular sea serpent feels like a sea snake or eel or other long, thin, flexible kind of thing.  However, think about how the sea serpent feels to you, what could it be mistaken for, does looking at the meaning for that help you.  So whilst I do consider this to be a sea serpent and not a case of mistaken identity I think I can learn a lot about it from the other animals that are similar in appearance.  Perhaps the sea serpent is also asking us about identity and misidentification in our own lives.

Feeling misunderstood or misindentified is one of my core issues.  It makes me feel rejected, invalidated, ignored and/or dismissed and I think this card asks me to look at that.  Through a lot of hard work I am now at a place where I can recognise when I am feeling unheard or misheard and I am much better at understanding why I react so strongly to this. There is still a long way to go for me and perhaps the sea serpent can help me by giving me a safe space to explore these issues.

As we saw with the snake, the image on the card portrays an ouroboros – a serpent eating it’s own tail.  This is a symbol of unity, eternity, completeness and the cycle of death and rebirth and it’s parallel, creation and destruction.  Particularly poignent if, like me, the sea serpent in your card is female.  This echoes with the creation of the world, of women giving birth and of matriarchal lineage.

There is something in this card which speaks to me of self sufficiency.  Plato discussed the ouroboros as a symbol of the perfection of the universe.  Wikipedia suggests that it “could be interpreted as the Western equivalent of the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol”.  In Gnosticism, a serpent biting its tail represents eternity and the soul of the world.  Whatever it means to you, this is a powerful symbol.  The idea of the World Serpent which we’ll see in a minute, combined with the image we have on the card and the ouroboros all speak to the immense power of the sea serpent as well as her wide reach.

There are a lot of myths which focus around the idea of slaying the sea serpent but I’m not going to go into much detail as this is a prevalent idea when it comes to dragons so I’ll discuss it in the next post.  When it comes to myths, it is not always clear whether the creatures in question are sea serpents or dragons so it is perhaps worth considering them alongside each other.

Perhaps the most famous of all sea serpents is the Kraken, said to live in the seas off Norway.  She is said to swallow men and ships and even whole whales!  And if you weren’t eaten, you were in danger because of the whirlpools that she leaves in it’s wake.  Totally in keeping with the idea of creation and destruction!  The Kraken is so big that it has been mistaken for islands.

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
– Alfred Tennyson

Norse mythology also gives us Jörmungandr, also known as the Midgard Serpent and the World Serpent.  Jörmungandr was the middle child of Angrboða and Loki along with Fenrir and Hel.   The gods were distressed by this as there had been prophecies that the children would bring doom.  To try and prevent that, the gods scattered the children. Hel was put in charge of the Underworld and death.  Fenris, a wolf, was fostered by the gods who hoped to tame his wildness.  And Jörmungandr was cast into the ocean that surrounds Midgard where she would grow so big that she could surround the earth and place her tail in her mouth, as per our picture.  Encompassing the world, she could cause tsunamis and tempests and when she releases her tail, the end of the world will begin.  Perhaps this is because the ouroboros will be no more and thus the cycle of life and rebirth will have been broken.

Still in Scandanvia, in 1028 AD, Saint Olaf is said to have killed a sea serpent in Norway, throwing its body onto the mountain Syltefjellet.  When we look at the dragon we’ll see a lot of Christianity slaying things as a way of controlling nature and menstruation and women.  This is one of the reasons I’m sticking with my gut feeling that this sea serpent is female**.  The Swedish writer Olaus Magnus describes a sea serpent in his work from Marks on the mountain are associated with the 1555:

Those who sail up along the coast of Norway to trade or to fish, all tell the remarkable story of how a serpent of fearsome size, 200 feet long and 20 feet wide, resides in rifts and caves outside Bergen. On bright summer nights this serpent leaves the caves to eat calves, lambs and pigs, or it fares out to the sea and feeds on sea nettles, crabs and similar marine animals. It has ell-long hair hanging from its neck, sharp black scales and flaming red eyes. It attacks vessels, grabs and swallows people, as it lifts itself up like a column from the water.

A very different story comes from the Philippines where the Bakunawa, a giant sea serpent is believed to be the cause of eclipses.  There are a few versions of the myth but all feature the Bakunawa eating the moon.  In mythology, Bathala created seven moons to light up the night sky.  The Bakunawa was mesmorised by their beauty and rose out of the sea and swallowed the moons whole.  To prevent this, tradition tells of people going out with pots and pans to make lots of noise in the hope of scaring the monster away or of playing soothing music in the hope of sending it to sleep.

Despite these myths portraying a malevolent creature, I like the sea serpent. I like that she can encompass the world and make waves and scare gods.  I also really like that the moon comes up – I love the moon!  Despite the focus on destruction in the myths, I feel like she is a nurturing creature, encouraging your first steps out of your comfort zone.  A mother holding her hand out as her child takes her first unaided steps.  She is on hand and she has created a safe environment for you to tentatively move forward.


*I get some pretty powerful mother goddess type vibes from this card

**Not that it really matters too much.  Most of the time I don’t consider the sex of the animal in the card unless it’s clear or the message would change or I feel intuitively that for me a particular card is male or female.  So the bear is strongly a mother card for me because the metaphor of the mother bear is important to me.