Armorial Achievments

Armorial Achievments

So apparently the official term is “Armorial Achievements” not coat of arms. Back in the day, a coat of arms was actually a coat worn that would have the Escutcheon (shield) on the back. The Armorial Achievement is the entire collection of emblems awarded. Back in the day, these Armorial Achievements were awarded to families or individuals. Everything from the shape of the escutcheon to colors, supporters (the animals/people on the side of the shield), crest, helm, etc. I think the motto would be the only thing left to the family to come up with on their own. Click here to see a pic of what I am talking about. 

Nowadays, we can make one up without needing the emblems awarded to us from the king or queen. I have been looking at making a couple. One for my family, and one for my youtube channel. I was trying to think of a good logo to use but couldn’t really think of anything I liked. Then I had an idea of using a coat of arms as a logo. This will have everything to do with the topic of my vlog; preparedness. Now I just have to come up with ideas for what to put on it.

Maybe this is why we don’t really call them Armorial Achievements anymore, because we didn’t achieve them. We just make a coat of arms that we think looks good and use it. Wouldn’t really make sense to call it an armorial achievement when we didn’t have to fight in a war to earn it. I do like that it is a picture of the person represented. Kate Middleton just had hers done. I recommend you check it out. I like how simple it is.

I really love how every single detail on a coat of arms has meaning. Everything. The shape of the sheild, the color, the fur, the symbols placed on it and around it. It is incredible the layers of meaning on some of these coat of arms. They are just stuffed with meaning.

I encourage you, if you have not already, to look up some of your family names and see what family crests and armorial achievements come up. That could make for a good FHE activity or genealogy activity.

Tartans

Tartans

I had family dinner today with my parents and brothers to celebrate my wife’s birthday. While there my brother Dan and I talked about tartans. We have talked about getting a family tartan for a while now, almost a year. We had attended a Robbie Burns dinner last January and that is what sparked the idea in the first place.

A Little Back Story

My dads dad changed his last name from Greenwood to Sinclaire. I heard it was because of his belief in numerology. What ever the reason, we have a unique opportunity. My dad is first generation with the new last name, making my brothers and I second generation.

I have tried to find a tartan somewhere in our family history. Nothing. I know, seems odd. I tried again tonight with my parents giving me family names to try. Nothing. We are all from southern England. They don’t have tartans in Southern England.

The Result

So I was thinking it would be a great idea and a wonderful opportunity for our family to create our own tartan and coat of arms. Tartans tell a nice story of where the family came from or important things to that clan/family. Often clan tartans would have yellow for the wheat they grew, green for the grassy hills of Scotland, or blue for the endless sky. Coat of arms show strengths and more images of where the family comes from. So now I want to create one that can tell our families story. Apparently I can actually create a tartan and register it so it will be an official tartan. I definitely want to get some kilts made from it. That would be so sweet.

This is going to take some time. I have 4 brothers and we will have to agree on what colours to use and what it should look like. I laugh at the thought because my brothers and I are very different. Each one of us is completely different from the rest, so this will be interesting. But from the discussion tonight at family dinner, it sounds like everyone is on board. I’m excited to help create an image of who our family is.

Now let the compromises begin!

Number 2

Number 2

This is one if my favorite numbers. It’s main meaning is that of opposites or opposing forces. Opposition in all things. One image that comes to mind is the scales of justice. Two sides to it, never more. There needs to be a balance between the two sides of mercy and justice. Actually with the scales of justice we hope it is tipped more on the side of mercy than having a complete balance. Though we do know that the demands of justice need to be met. Good thing Christ met those demands. Sounds weird to say that we need a balance between good and evil though. I don’t think I need a balance of evil. We don’t need to do a bad thing for every good thing we do. So the scales of justice only work as a symbol to a certain extent. But I believe we do need a balance of happiness and misery. The story of Adam and Eve gives us that same idea. The Book of Mormon clarifies the story quite a bit. It says Adam had no joy for he knew no misery. There must be a contrast so we have something to compare it to. 2 Nephi chapter 2 is a fantastic chapter to read about the law of opposition in all things.

Some symbols come to mind when I’m thinking of the number 2. I enjoy the duality if some symbols.  Two opposing meanings to 1 object or image. Here’s a few examples:
A tree. Tree of life vs tree of knowledge of good and evil
The swastika. A symbol for good fortune. This is why Hitler chose it. But now it brings feelings of hatred and anger to mind when seen.
The serpent. Satan in the garden of Eden, and Christ risen as the brazen serpent by Moses.
I’m sure there are plenty others, but those are the ones that come to mind. Another one I just thought of is the inverted 5 pointed star. Many view it as a satanic symbol, but it is anciently a symbol for Christ, the Morning Star.
I am curious about why it has to be 2? Why is opposition 2, not 3? Or more? It’s choose God or satan, good or evil. Why not Good, evil, or mediocrity? Or God, satan, or man? It really does come down to one of 2 choices. Not one of 3 or 4. You either choose to be with God or against Him.
It makes it simpler. Not so many choices to choose from. It’s like going to buy a car and your choices are a red one or a yellow one. That’s it. All cars are the same, just pick your color. 
So really, we just need to pick our side. Who do we choose to follow? And yes it’s a choice. We choose to follow satan or we choose to follow God. It hit me pretty hard when I read it in a book called “The Compound Effect” that everything we do is a choice. Sitting and watching tv instead of doing work or attending to our family duties is a choice. You made the choice to sit and do nothing. You are where you are in life because of choices.
Let’s, if we haven’t yet, sit down and consciously choose who we are going to follow. Once that decision is made, all other choices to follow will be easier to make. 
Remember when you read the scriptures that they don’t always say the number 2 when they are using it as a symbol. You can see it in the way they right, for example “man is free to choose liberty and eternal life…or to choose captivity and death.” No mention of the number two but it is implied in the available choices.
There needs to be an opposition to all things. This is an eternal and unchangong law. Which in turn makes the number 2 a very powerful number.

Number 1

Number 1

I’m going to continue in my numbers in scripture theme. I am going to actually do a post per number. I hope you will find this as interesting as I do.

So we start at the beginning. #1
Clues to finding out what the numbers mean is to ask why? I mentioned in an earlier post that my favorite question is why?
Here’s a good example. Deuteronomy 6:4 “The Lord our God is one Lord”. Why is it necessary to mention that God is “one Lord”? Is there another God that is two Lords? In a book called The Lost Language of Symbolism, it says “The number one is indivisible, and not made up of other numbers, and is therefore independent of all others”. 
Sounds like the number one is a great number to symbolize unity. To be one. So in Genesis when it says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh”(Gen 2:24), it means there should be unity in the marriage. I feel pretty safe to say that it doesn’t mean they will literally become one person, like the husband obsorbs the wife or something, or they become attached at the hip. It simply means to be united. So why not say ” and they shall be united”? Because the number 1 paints a nice picture. One is not to rule the other, but they are to be one, nothing dividing them. Act as one. Similar to a basketball team that plays as one. 
This, I believe, is one area where the idea of the Godhead becomes confusing. It is thought to be three yet one. Many believe it to be three different hats of one being, God. Others believe it is three different beings under one hat, God. 
Either way, the number one is a great number to paint the image of unity. So when God commands us in John 17:11 “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are”, he is asking that we be one like the Godhead. Not in flesh, becoming one body, but in unity. 
Man this turned into a sermon rather quickly. Not my intention, but what can I expect when I talk about numbers in scripture?
One other thought. One is the first number. It is the first in existence. Before reaching any other number, we must first arrive at one. Before we obtain any other number we must first aquire one. One must be present in all other numbers. No wonder it is a great number to describe God. 

Numbers in scripture

Numbers in scripture

I taught sunday school this week. It was on Elisha getting the mantle from Elijah. I don’t think I knew this before, but the mantle was an actual piece of clothing worn by the prophet. So when Elijah was taken up by God and the mantle fell to Elisha, it actually fell. The cloth that Elijah wore as a mantle fell to Elisha, who became the next prophet.

Anyways, onto numbers. In the story of Elisha, he offers to heal a leper named Naaman. He tells Naaman to bath 7 times in the river Jordan. If he does, he will be healed. I got thinking. This kind of a request is all over the scriptures. Children of Israel marched around the city of Jericho 7 days and 7 times on the last day, God created the Earth in 7 days. Why 7? What is so significant about 7?

I’m not really going to talk about the number 7 in this post, but I wanted to plant the idea in your minds of the importance of numbers in the scriptures.

The bible is an interesting book. It is debated daily all over the globe. What do we take literal and what is figurative?  When we consider what we are reading in the bible, we need to consider the author.

I mentioned this is my first post about symbols. “If I understand it correctly, the easterners, those who wrote the bible, wrote more in a painting style. The details aren’t important as long as the message gets across. We westerners, write more in a architectural style, where all the details have to be perfect. So, we “architects” are reading a book written by “painters” expecting every detail to be perfect and literal. We are looking at a painting and expecting it to be a blue print. Seeing it as such is a very big mistake. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe the bible is an inspired work. I believe it is the word of God. But the authors wrote in a way as to paint a picture in our minds, not give us a blue print. Hence the dilemma in the world of whose interpretation is correct? A lot of what was written is symbolic, and I love searching it out and finding the true meaning behind it.”

The same can be considered about numbers in the versus. There are meanings behind those numbers. 

1 is unity(be one with God). 
2 often represents opposites(good vs evil). 
3 can mean divine involvement(Father Son and Holy Ghost). 
4 is a number to impress geographical completeness (four corners of the earth). 
5 can have significance to Gods grace, or mans fallen state. 
6 is the number for mortality. 
7 means perfect or complete. 
8 is the number for Christ, resurrection, new beginnings, rebirth and baptism. 
9 is often the number for judgement, finality or completion, 
10 means all of a part. (10 commandments did not comprise all of Gods commandments). 

There are more numbers mentioned but I wont go any further then the 10 examples above. So when Elisha tells Naaman to bathe 7 times in the river Jordan, he may well be suggesting that Naaman have a perfect or complete cleansing. Whether or not Elisha actually told Naaman to wash him self 7 times is not important. The use of the number 7 is. Either the author is telling us that Elisha told Naaman to have a perfect or complete cleansing, or, if Elisha actually did tell him to bathe 7 times, Naaman would have been well aware of the significance of the number. It would not have been odd for him to have to bathe that many times. 

One things to note about leprosy. It was often used to symbol for sin. To rid ourselves of sin(leprosy) we must complete perfect(7) repentance(washing). 

I really hope I am making sense. You can see why I can’t include more about the numbers in the this post. It will go on for ever. I find this stuff quite interesting, which I’m sure you can see. I hope I am creating a small spark of interest in some of you which will cause you to pick up the dusty book and begin studying it again, looking for these small hidden treasures. More to come on this subject.

A bit of symbolism

A bit of symbolism

We went on a hike today on Mount Washington. It was refreshing to spend time in the woods. I don’t get out as often as I would like to living in Calgary.

It reminded me of Moses 6:63. It is one of my favourite scriptures. At least on the symbolism topic. “…all things are created and made to bare record of me.”

My seminary teacher would ask us “how much is all?” We would reply “100%.” 100% of things are created to bare record of Him. It’s hard to walk in the woods, away from the rush of the big city and not feel closer to Him.

This is probably the biggest reason I enjoy camping and snowboarding. Sitting on the top of the slope looking down at the valley, no sound but wind and my own thoughts. Sitting around a campfire listening to the fire crackle and the breeze rustle the leaves. Very awe-inspiring.

My dad used to go camping by himself. He called it “going into the house of the Lord.” He would do it when there was a big decision ahead of him. I can see why he did it. It is so peaceful. He encouraged me to do it before I went on my mission. So I did the weekend before I left. Took my scriptures and my journal and talked with the Lord about the next two years. It was awesome. A great way to clear my mind.

For me I like to look at things around me and think about Moses 6:63. I think about how every thing was created to bare record of Christ. I wonder, when looking at a tree for example, “how was this made to bare record of the creator? How does it remind me of Him.” I can come up with a few ways it does for me, and I am sure it’s different for everyone. The important part is that it brings our attention to Him.

Some of you may not believe the same as I do and that is ok. Either way, going out into the woods can bring a sense of peace to everyone in their own way. To me it is a recharging of the mind and a way to strengthen my relationship with my Creator.

Names

Names

I will not be listing all biblical names and giving meanings here. That would make for one long post. What I did want to do was talk about a few names and what I have found interesting about them.

I taught sunday school yesterday. It was on the story of Moses freeing the children of Israel. I found it quite interesting that Moses is named Moses because Pharaohs daughter “drew him out of the water”. “Moses” in the hebrew language literally means “to draw out.” How fitting for Moses to be named Moses. His life mission was to “draw out” the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage.

One thing about biblical names compared to names today is that biblical names would often change. Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Solomon to Jedediah to name a few. A lot of names would change because the persons purpose would change, or they would reach a milestone. According to some sources, Abram means “exalted father” and Abraham means “father of many”. Considering the covenant God made with Abraham, “for a father of many nations have I made thee.”( Gen. 17:5), I think it is quite fitting. Another example is Jacob, which means “supplanter” and Israel is “one who prevails(fights) with God.” Jacob wrestled with an Angel before receiving his name change. Another possible meaning of Israel is “one who rules with God,” and this may be the reason his name was changed because God says this ” for as a prince hast thou power with God…”

Today names don’t mean the same thing. We don’t have our names changed when we reach milestones in our lives. Last names are different. Last names came about because given names were being repeated and the population was growing. You would have David son of Richard, which is now more commonly known as David Richardson. The tradition has been for women to take on the name of the husband, and even that is fading. The trend is now leaning toward both keeping their names and hyphenating them.

Today we are trying to be creative with names. They don’t have any particular meaning other than being original. I personally think it is becoming a bit ridiculous the extent some go to be original with their names. What are your children going to think about their names when they realize that their parents just tried to get a name no one else had?

I am grateful my dad picked my names for their meanings. I have been able to look at my name and think “wow, my dad saw that in me.” I have tried to do the same with my kids. Give them names that they can look at to help them realize who they are.

We all go through that phase of “who am I?” It’s nice for us to be able to look at our names and think “well, my parents saw this in me when I was born, maybe I could see it in myself.” It can become part of who we are; help us find our identity.

If you don’t know the meaning of your name I would recommend you look it up and see what you find. I would also ask your parents why they chose that name. Maybe you are named after a relative or a very important person in your parents lives.

I hope some of you learn something really cool about yourselves this week that you didn’t previously know 😉

Why Scriptural Symbolism?

Why Scriptural Symbolism?

“Symbolism…stretches the capacity of both expression and comprehension and becomes the medium through which some of the most universal, elemental, and intangible concepts of man are conveyed.” ~ Funk and Wagnalls company Dictionary

“Why?”
It’s my favourite question. (When I ask it, not my 4 yr old).  Why use trees as symbols? Why are certain colours or numbers mentioned more than others? Why use the same symbol but convey opposing meanings at different times?

If I understand it correctly, the easterners, those who wrote the bible, wrote more in a painting style. The details aren’t important as long as the message gets across. We westerners, write more in a architectural style, where all the details have to be perfect. So, we “architects” are reading a book written by “painters” expecting every detail to be perfect and literal. We are looking at a painting and expecting it to be a blue print. Seeing it as such is a very big mistake. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe the bible is an inspired work. I believe it is the word of God. But the authors wrote in a way as to paint a picture in our minds, not give us a blue print. Hence the dilemma in the world of whose interpretation is correct? A lot of what was written is symbolic, and I love searching it out and finding the true meaning behind it.

My interest in scriptural symbols began on my mission. I served for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints* in Connecticut U.S.A. I can’t remember when I first got a fascination with symbols, but I do remember the first book I bought. “Symbols in Stone” by Brown and Smith. It talks about some of the symbols and images on our Temples. Since that book I have had a new way of approaching scripture. It opened my eyes and mind to different possibilities. I find it very interesting that a simple image, a tree or a snake for example, can send different messages to different people. That the same symbol or image can be used for different purposes in the same book. Whole cultures can see a symbol one way and another culture can see the same symbol in a complete opposite way. The swastika is a great example of that. (no, the swastika is not in the scriptures).

That brings up a good point. Many of the symbols I talk about wont be based in the scriptures. I mentioned in my first post, “Welcome”, that I may be changing things around in my blog while I get more comfortable with certain names and titles for my topics. This one may change to just “Symbolism”. We will see.

I also ran into Freemasonry* on my mission. I will talk about this in more detail later. Freemasonry is an organization based around using symbols to teach biblical principles. It is fascinating seeing what symbols they choose and the meanings they have behind them.

Symbols are a way for us to communicate entire messages in a single image. It is our responsibility to discover the meanings of these symbols and what hidden messages lie within.

*DISCLAIMER*
I want to mention a couple things about this subject. I am coming at this from the perspective of an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and an active Freemason. The purpose of this blog is NOT to persuade anyone to believe the same as me, it is merely a study journal for my studies and a spot where I can share my thoughts with others who are interested. I am always open to your point of view of symbols and what they mean to you. 
Also, I am not going to do an exposé on Freemasonry. I will only be giving examples of masonic symbols and their meanings. 
I hope you can enjoy my insights.