Symbols - What does heaven look like
Toads are the opposite symbolically to frogs.
Toads can inflate their bodies when threatened and stressed and let a poison seep through their skin that, when swallowed, could kill a large dog or small child. And here we have the link with the sorceror. The death prayer.
Some of the symbolism of the toad derives from the fact that toad venom was at one time smoked to achieve rebirth experiences. Thus a toad is also one who may have undergone rebirth, possibly even rebirth via this method. Some toads shed their skin like a snake - another symbol of rebirth. The process of regeneration thus symbolised symbolic death and symbolic rebirth, with all its attendant religious implications. A shaman cannot become a shaman unless they have been through this process, thus anyone able to induce the experiences of rebirth is a maker of shamans – a very key role.
Another fascinating feature of the toad which is exploited symbolically is that males are usually smaller than females and possess the organ of Bidder, an incomplete ovary. Under the right conditions, the organ becomes an active ovary and the toad, in effect, becomes female. This links the toad with the concept of androgyny.
There may – and here it is only may – be a symbolic connection with the fact that true toads – because they have a stocky figure and short legs – are poor jumpers. Thus no five mile boots. Like frogs, some of the symbolism derives from the fact they lay Eggs – eggs themselves being symbolic.
So we might summarise the symbolism thus. A toad is a person on the spiritual path who has chosen the route of overload and may even potentially be a sorcerer. This person is characterised as having a thick skin; an unattractive appearance; a poisonous nature; an inability to ‘fly’ or achieve any sort of spiritual ascent.
The person is associated with the additional symbols of the forest, water and dark places. He shows pomposity when under stress – perhaps he also has a somewhat inflated opinion of himself. His eyes show him to be not dissimilar to a snake, but he has none of the attractive sensuality, intelligence or power of the snake. He also has a distinctly miserable appearance with downturned mouth, an expression of a frown and slightly aggressive stare, somewhat confrontational at times.
Admittedly a none too attractive proposition. But then sorcerors never are.
More general symbolism
We have words that embody the idea of a ‘toady’ being a sychophant, in other words someone who uses obsequious behaviour, flattery and servility to gain advantage; a form of behaviour so obnoxious to some, they call it arse licking or brown nosing or apple polishing. In effect, the person is willing to do anything – however unpleasant – to obtain some form of gain - political [often political], monetary and so on.
John Clare– from the Everyman's poetry collection
Ah, what an host of patronisers then
Would gather round the motley flatterer's den;
A spotted monster in a lambkins hide,
Whose smooth tongue uttered what his heart denied.
They'd call his genius wondrous in extreme
And lisp the novel beauties of his theme
And say 'twas luck on nature's kinder part
To bless such genius with a gentle heart.
Cursed affectation, worse than hell I hate
Thy sheepish features and thy crouching gait
Like sneaking cur that licks his master's shoe.
Bowing and cringing to the Lord knows who.
Licking the dust for each approving nod
Where pride is worshipped like an earthly god.
The rogue that's carted to the gallows tree
Is far more honest in his trade than thee
But why a toad? The poor creature hardly does this in the wild. The answer is that tongue ………..
Young common toads eat ants and some small flies. Adult common toads eat invertebrates such as insects, larvae, spiders, slugs and worms, which they catch on their sticky tongues. Larger toads may also take small reptiles and rodents, which are swallowed alive
Jean de Meun even attributes to them the vice of miserliness or ‘covetousness’.
Romance of the Rose – translated by Frances Morgan
These wretched earthy toads have turned their possessions into their masters. Wealth is worthless unless it is spent, that is what they cannot understand, and they would all reply instead that wealth is worthless unless it is hidden away. This is not so, neverthless they do hide it and neither spend it nor give it away. Whatever happens, it will be spent, even though they had all been hanged; when at last they die, whoever they leave it to will spend it joyfully and they will have no profit from it. They are not even sure of keeping it until then, for someone might lay hands on it and carry it off tomorrow
The symbolically 'black' hierophant
The term Toadman was once in general use. It described a person who, despite their dark nature, had the ability to enable others to have spiritual experiences. The experiences they could help you with were often none too pleasant, but as the holders of the elixir of the hallucinogenic trip, they were often a necessary first stop for those people who wanted to be shamans.
Clovis I, for example, king of the Franks, originally had a coat of arms charged with three toads, which may have indicated he had unusual abilities; this was changed to the familiar fleur-de-lys after his conversion to Christianity.
A toadman is a folk magician who draws their power from toads. Toads are usually their familiar and most often this person is also a hedgecrosser.
Salves and ointments have been used by shamans and witches for goodness knows how long – some as offerings to the spirits & gods and others to travel to meet them.
This salve I made is used for such persons to use in specific rituals: to rub upon their brow, eyelids, neck, chest, hands or feet (but not all of them); in order to shapeshift into a toad (no it won’t turn you or anyone who touches it into a toad -nice try!); to walk between worlds; or, lastly, to commune with or call a toad familiar.
Toads have been held sacred and considered aids in magic for thousands of years from ancient shamanism to modern witchcraft. As amphibians they are creatures of earth, water, and air making them perfect familiar spirits for hedgecrossers, witches, and shamans
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- Hallucinogenic drugs in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures.
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