Monday, December 20, 2004

The Power Of Symbols

Another interesting discussion from Deans World:
We were having a surprisingly interesting discussion here (sometimes the most mundane topics generate the most diverse conversations around here) when the subject of the swastika of all things came up. Which brought to mind the various ways that particular symbol has been used throughout history--and how much meaning humans pour into the symbols they see.
In Navajo myth the swastika represents the legend of the whirling log.

In the Whirling Logs narrative, or Tsil-ol-ne story, the hero of the story sets out on a long journey [down the San Juan River]. At first, the gods try to persuade him against going, but seeing his determination, help him hollow out a log in which he will travel down the river.

Along the way, he has many misadventures which ultimately result in his gaining important ceremonial knowledge. In one such instance, he and his craft are captured by the Water People, who carry him down beneath the waters to the home of Water Monster. Black God threatens to set fire to Water Monster's home and the hero is released, but not before being taught by Frog how to cure the illnesses caused by the Water People.

When he finally reaches the big river [the Colorado River] that is his destination, the gods take his log out of a whirlpool where the rivers meet, and help him to shore.

I just thought it was interesting.

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