The Evolution of My Sacred Symbol
Author: Lady Rain StarDragon (Teresa Garcia)
All around us are symbols, and all are sacred when viewed with Sacred Mind, the state that we enter into when we meditate, or pray, smile at a new baby, or gaze in awe as the sky is painted with crimson and gold as Amaterasu leaves our visible sky as she traverses the High Plain of Heaven while our planet turns. The ones I have chosen for my personal use have changed through the years as I have changed and danced with Time.
As a child, I was raised to be Christian, and specifically Seventh Day Adventist, even though some would say my father was rather lax as he almost never went to church- he worked as a Correctional Officer at a fire camp and almost always ended up on-duty Saturdays. For a while, my mother took my brother and I, and the crucifix was a symbol that held power for me without question. My guardian spirit was with me from birth, and though he said he was a ryu and not an angel as believed in my the church I attended, and often encouraged me to consider what the symbols around and in the text read in services meant. Intuitively, the cross was the four directions for me, and Jesus was Man at the center, taking up his burden. Those in the church seemed to miss what I thought an important fact, his primary mission not being a scapegoat for mistakes we make in life, but a lesson in proper conduct towards our fellows so those mistakes would either not be made or would be lesser.
Others didn’t see my point, although my guardian and teacher agreed whole heartedly. To them, our race was unclean because the original humans disobeyed God (who I later learned was a particular deity called Yahweh of a particular tribe, and therefore possibly not the original creator in the grand scheme of things… provided there is one) . They took the Knowledge of Good and Evil without permission. I couldn’t understand, knowledge is for everyone, especially something like that. According to those in the church I attended, it was necessary for an innocent man to die to atone for such an act. For me, this symbol became tainted and sullied, and it took me a long time to discard the surface level understanding and delve back to the core. That is neither here nor there though, and I did not return to that church, setting out on an inner journey for understanding.
My guardian, that I will refer to here as Goruden, shared wisdom with me that day that I will never forget. “Listen to the wind, it will teach you everything you need to know. Become one with it and the water, flowing always home.” In essence, Nature held the answers that I was looking for. He had already helped me to learn to listen to what the trees told me, and I was learning to see through the eyes of animals. When visiting mountains, I listened to their slow, deep breathing, the voices of the stones, and the stories of the inner earth that Mounts Lassen and Shasta shared with me. Mountains and Wind became my symbols, as well as the stars of the night sky that had guided travelers for eons.
It wasn’t long before I was approached by someone Goruden-sensei had told about me, and I found books in the library when Goruden suggested that I look into knowledge about witches, as some of my ancestors reputedly had been killed as witches. While Goruden taught me the magic of his country and people, as different from humans and yet able at times to take humans into their families or join human families, I read what I could about witches from the reference section of the library and pondered what had been shared by the old woman who had come to me. After a while, I chanced upon “The Witches Bible” by the Farrars. After showing the ad to my mother, I used my allowance money and ordered it with her permission, and she had started checking the mail every day before my father could.
One day, he managed to come home early, and wouldn’t you know it, but that’s when the Gods decreed my package would arrive. Since he didn’t know the return address, he insisted I show him what was in it. Oh my, what a mess that was, and the big pentacle, cup and sword on the cover infuriated my father, due to what he had been taught as a boy about witches. Oddly enough, the next day after a long talk with my mother, I came home from school and discovered that my father wanted to speak with me about the book. He gave it back, having looked through it. The whole thing hadn’t gone the way that I intended it too, but we had a good discussion about why witches weren’t evil, and how a pentacle did not equate to Satanism. I was granted permission to explore this further since it had been he himself that had told me of how there was a witch in the family on his side (mother’s too, but that has no bearing on this) . I accepted teaching from the old woman who had come to me earlier, along with another young lady and a young man who became my training partners, my siblings.
It was during this time that I made personal acquaintance with The Lady, who I discovered to be much like Goruden. An indescribable presence in all her forms, both the terrifying and the beauteous, and although she was both harsh and loving I could stand before her without fear even when she revealed something that had ultimately driven my sister back to her former path.
The Pentacle became my symbol then when I had entered this training, and I determined that I would obtain one to wear. Goruden and I poured through the book together and reviewed the verbal lessons I was granted, as he admitted his knowledge of Western magic and religion was rather limited, having come from Okinawa (curiosity is what caused him to follow my father back to America when the time came) . The star is a symbol that is used by his people as well, and we had much interest in seeing the parallels and differences in practices and beliefs. I had something to call my beliefs, although Goruden never told me what he called what he was teaching, other than “The way things are” or “The path of the Spirits.” He wanted me to find my own path, not to copy what was his and followed by some in his own land.
Time continued to dance on, and I did obtain a Pentacle to wear (I had made several for use on my altar) , although I later ended up giving this to a family member through the man who later was my husband. I had outgrown that particular one, as it had the Tetragramaton upon it. By this time, I had also discovered sources on the religions of the East, and began learning about Shinto. I had obtained another Pentacle that bore the symbols of many religions on it, which symbolized to me not only the five elements I had learned of through Wicca, but the five elements as taught by my guide which were more like states than anything as they flowed into each other. This version of the Pentacle also symbolized to me how every religion contains truth, and how if these are found and combined a greater whole is made.
In the academic texts about Shinto, I found the views Goruden had taught me from as a child, and found pictures of the things he had described to me, the red torii, the roadside Jizo, the shrines both plain and ornate, the gorgeous Buddhist temples that he had visited with curiosity, and the shrine that he had to visit for a month every year. I learned the name he had only given me translations of, Shinto, “The Way of the Kami.”
I realized that every time I had learned something new, I had been approaching the stone circle of my ancestors through the red torri erected in my mind, the gate. Perhaps one day I will build a torri on my property. I also knew the central and most influential symbol in my life, which was not the Pentacle of the Element/States, nor the Sacred Mountain that I now live at the foot of which I am bound energetically to, but the Dragon, Ryu.
Dragon in Japanese is Doragon, Tatsu, or Ryu and is a Kami. Kami is translated by some as God, others as Deity, and others as Spirit but is all of these and more. Kami is Kami. Dragon to me stands for wisdom, strength, friendship, protection and love. Dragons can be vain and jealous, some are self-centered and violent, and like us they can be foolish as they too have negative qualities like everything. However, through my experiences with my guardian, he has taught me well and shared what wisdom he has. He has taught me strength, listened to me cry when hurt emotionally and physically, comforted me when he could. He has protected me to the best of his ability, as he does have other responsibilities than a young woman who is Priestess/Goddess and also both Kami and Human, that sometimes loses sight of the fact that she and all else are Kami. Goruden has been a friend to me all my life, and yes, holds my love just as much as my husband does, or my children. My life path is both Wicca and Shinto, and the symbol that I have designed to express my personal path is the Pentacle with a dragon lounging upon it, for it is who I am.