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Sámi Folklore: Andras Baive

Sámi Folklore: Andras Baive
Andrew Lang wrote this Sámi tale in English in The Orange Fairy Book 1906.

Once upon a time there lived in Lapland a man who was so very strong and swift of foot that nobody in his native town of Vadso could come near him if they were running races in the summer evenings. The people of Vadso were very proud of their champion, and thought that there was no one like him in the world, till, by-and-by, it came to their ears that there dwelt among the mountains a Lapp, Andras Baive by name, who was said by his friends to be even stronger and swifter than the bailiff. Of course not a creature in Vadso believed that, and declared that if it made the mountaineers happier to talk such nonsense, why, let them!

The winter was long and cold, and the thoughts of the villagers were much busier with wolves than with Andras Baive, when suddenly, on a frosty day, he made his appearance in the little town of Vadso. The bailiff was delighted at this chance of trying his strength, and at once went out to seek Andras and to coax him into giving proof of his vigour. As he walked along his eyes fell upon a big eight-oared boat that lay upon the shore, and his face shone with pleasure. ‘That is the very thing,’ laughed he, ‘I will make him jump over that boat.’ Andras was quite ready to accept the challenge, and they soon settled the terms of the wager. He who could jump over the boat without so much as touching it with his heel was to be the winner, and would get a large sum of money as the prize. So, followed by many of the villagers, the two men walked down to the sea.

An old fisherman was chosen to stand near the boat to watch fair play, and to hold the stakes, and Andras, as the stranger was told to jump first. Going back to the flag which had been stuck into the sand to mark the starting place, he ran forward, with his head well thrown back, and cleared the boat with a mighty bound. The lookers- on cheered him, and indeed he well deserve it; but they waited anxiously all the same to see what the bailiff would do. On he came, taller than Andras by several inches, but heavier of build. He too sprang high and well, but as he came down his heel just grazed the edge of the boat. Dead silence reigned amidst the townsfolk, but Andras only laughed and said carelessly:

‘Just a little too short, bailiff; next time you must do better than that.’

The bailiff turned red with anger at his rival’s scornful words, and answered quickly: ‘Next time you will have something harder to do.’ And turning his back on his friends, he went sulkily home. Andras, putting the money he had earned in his pocket, went home also.

The following spring Andras happened to be driving his reindeer along a great fiord to the west of Vadso. A boy who had met him hastened to tell the bailiff that his enemy was only a few miles off; and the bailiff, disguising himself as a Stalo, or ogre, called his son and his dog and rowed away across the fjord to the place where the boy had met Andras.

Now the mountaineer was lazily walking along the sands, thinking of the new hut that he was building with the money that he had won on the day of his lucky jump. He wandered on, his eyes fixed on the sands, so that he did not see the bailiff drive his boat behind a rock, while he changed himself into a heap of wreckage which floated in on the waves. A stumble over a stone recalled Andras to himself, and looking up he beheld the mass of wreckage. ‘Dear me! I may find some use for that,’ he said; and hastened down to the sea, waiting till he could lay hold of some stray rope which might float towards him. Suddenly–he could not have told why–a nameless fear seized upon him, and he fled away from the shore as if for his life. As he ran he heard the sound of a pipe, such as only ogres of the Stalo kind were wont to use; and there flashed into his mind what the bailiff had said when they jumped the boat: ‘Next time you will have something harder to do.’ So it was no wreckage after all that he had seen, but the bailiff himself.

It happened that in the long summer nights up in the mountain, where the sun never set, and it was very difficult to get to sleep, Andras had spent many hours in the study of magic, and this stood him in good stead now. The instant he heard the Stalo music he wished himself to become the feet of a reindeer, and in this guise he galloped like the wind for several miles. Then he stopped to take breath and find out what his enemy was doing. Nothing he could see, but to his ears the notes of a pipe floated over the plain, and ever, as he listened, it drew nearer.

A cold shiver shook Andras, and this time he wished himself the feet of a reindeer calf. For when a reindeer calf has reached the age at which he begins first to lose his hair he is so swift that neither beast nor bird can come near him. A reindeer calf is the swiftest of all things living. Yes; but not so swift as a Stalo, as Andras found out when he stopped to rest, and heard the pipe playing!

For a moment his heart sank, and he gave himself up for dead, till he remembered that, not far off, were two little lakes joined together by a short though very broad river. In the middle of the river lay a stone that was always covered by water, except in dry seasons, and as the winter rains had been very heavy, he felt quite sure that not even the top of it could be seen. The next minute, if anyone had been looking that way, he would have beheld a small reindeer calf speeding northwards, and by-and-by giving a great spring, which landed him in the midst of the stream. But, instead of sinking to the bottom, he paused a second to steady himself, then gave a second spring which landed him on the further shore. He next ran on to a little hill where he saw down and began to neigh loudly, so that the Stalo might know exactly where he was.

‘Ah! There you are,’ cried the Stalo, appearing on the opposite bank; ‘for a moment I really thought I had lost you.’

‘No such luck,’ answered Andras, shaking his head sorrowfully. By this time he had taken his own shape again.

‘Well, but I don’t see how I am to get to you’ said the Stalo, looking up and down.

‘Jump over, as I did,’ answered Andras; ‘it is quite easy.’

‘But I could not jump this river; and I don’t know how you did,’ replied the Stalo.

‘I should be ashamed to say such things,’ exclaimed Andras. ‘Do you mean to tell me that a jump, which the weakest Lapp boy would make nothing of, is beyond your strength?’

The Stalo grew red and angry when he heard these words, just as Andras meant him to do. He bounded into the air and fell straight into the river. Not that that would have mattered, for he was a good swimmer; but Andras drew out the bow and arrows which every Lapp carries, and took aim at him. His aim was good, but the Stalo sprang so high into the air that the arrow flew between his feet. A second shot, directed at his forehead, fared no better, for this time the Stalo jumped so high to the other side that the arrow passed between his finger and thumb. Then Andras aimed his third arrow a little over the Stalo’s head, and when he sprang up, just an instant too soon, it hit him between the ribs.

Mortally wounded as he was, the Stalo was not yet dead, and managed to swim to the shore. Stretching himself on the sand, he said slowly to Andras:

‘Promise that you will give me an honourable burial, and when my body is laid in the grave go in my boat across the fiord, and take whatever you find in my house which belongs to me. My dog you must kill, but spare my son, Andras.’

Then he died; and Andras sailed in his boat away across the fiord and found the dog and boy. The dog, a fierce, wicked-looking creature, he slew with one blow from his fist, for it is well known that if a Stalo’s dog licks the blood that flows from his dead master’s wounds the Stalo comes to life again. That is why no REAL Stalo is ever seen without his dog; but the bailiff, being only half a Stalo, had forgotten him, when he went to the little lakes in search of Andras. Next, Andras put all the gold and jewels which he found in the boat into his pockets, and bidding the boy get in, pushed it off from the shore, leaving the little craft to drift as it would, while he himself ran home. With the treasure he possessed he was able to buy a great herd of reindeer; and he soon married a rich wife, whose parents would not have him as a son-in-law when he was poor, and the two lived happy for ever after.

 

Source & Reference:
Featured Illustration: “Andras Baive shoots the Stalo.” by H.J Ford, published in The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (1906), Longmans, Green and Company
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Featured

Huldra: Northern European Forest Creature

Be watchful when you are hiking in the dark tall woods of Northern Europe, you just may come across a lovely woman that is really a creature termed ‘Huldra’ who are a legendary race of Norwegian forest spirits that dwell in the dark woods of Norway. Huldra is also known as Holder to Germanic folks. They are also spoken about in oral Sámi tradition and Lapplanders. According to Swedish folklore Huldra are called Tallemaja “pine tree Mary,” or skogsrå “spirits of the forest.” In Sámi folklore they are known as Ulda. The origin of the name Hulda connects her to the shaman Völva and the German figure Holder or Frau Holle.

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She emerges out of the dark woods as a bewitching stunning, fair skin woman with long wavy, blonde hair wearing a crown of flowers upon her head with a large gap in its back sometimes filled with tree bark. The Huldra also have cow tail on their lower backs. The Swedish skogsrå has a fox tail on its lower back.

The Huldra are practical jokers known to seduce single men to wed them. Once at the altar the Huldra will turn herself into an old crone in order to shock the groom to be. Once the wedding follows through this spirited creature will gain tremendous strength.

There is a male species of the Huldra termed a huldrekall who dwell beneath the earth in underground tunnels and are hideously, unattractive compared to the Hulda. They have enormous large noses similar to trolls.

 

Sources & References:

  • K. M. Briggs, The Fairies in English Tradition and LiteratureUniversity of Chicago Press, London, 1967
  • Charlotte S. Sidgwick, The Story of Norway, Oxford 1885. Rivingtons Waterloo Place London.
  • Huldra, Featured illustration Skogsrå, Wikimedia Commons in Public Domain
  • “Huldra”  Theodor Kittelsen 1892. Illustration at Wikimedia Commons Public Domain.
Featured

Damona Gaulish Goddess of Cows

Today is Cow Appreciation Day. To celebrate this day let me introduce you to Damona  a Gaulish/Celtic goddess of Cows and healing who was worshiped by the Celts in Burgundy. She was a consort of Apollo Borvo and of Apollo Moritasgus.

Reproduction statue of the Damona, found at Hochscheid near another depicting the god Apollo Public Domain

Source:

  • Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.
Featured

Australian Birthday Custom: Fairy Bread

The Fae must love Australians, given the fact that their Birthday celebrations include a delightful dessert called Fairy Bread.

Fairy Bread what is it? It’s white bread smeared with butter or margarine loaded with colourful sprinkles then sliced into triangles. It’s  served at children’s’ Birthday parties across Australia and New Zealand.

Photo below of a Fairy ornament with Fairy Bread credited to HI COOKERY

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The origin of Fairy Bread is a bit of a mystery. Some folks say it began in Australia in the 1920s, legend has it that a newspaper called The Hobart Mercury wrote about it in an article concerning children dining on Fairy Bread. The newspaper began on July 5th, 1854 by George Auber Jones and John Davies. The Hobert Mercury has evolved over the years into The Mercury owned by News Corp Australia, present editor is Chris Jones.

Earlier mention of Fairy Bread was cited by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson in  his 1913 poem Fairy Bread, published in A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwood

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Above Illustration ‘Fairy Bread’ by Florence Edith Storer

Below link is a recipe on How to make Fairy Bread on WikiHow

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Fairy-Bread

Source & Reference:

  • Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods 1913
  • The Australian National Dictionary Centre
  • WikiHow
  • Fairy Bread poem illustrations in Public Domain
  • Featured Illustration of ‘Fairy Bread’ by Mary Ruth Hallock from ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1919
Featured

Ved-ava Finnish Water Goddess

Ved-ava, a Finnish water goddess ruler of the Finno-Ugric and Baltic people. She is the overseer of fishing and abundance.

Ved-ava is described as a sea creature that is similar to a mermaid. She wears her hair long and has a bottom of a fish tail. Ved-ava has a sweet voice seducing folks with her beautiful songs. Fishermen often revered her with their first catch of the day. She represents incarnation of a person that drowned.

In western Russia the Mordvins considered her their Mother of water. In Estonia, she is known as Vete-ema.

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Source & Reference:

  • “Ved-ava.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2019. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 
  • Featured Paintings Contemplation and Promise by Victor Nizovtsev in 9 (Public Domain)
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Seanchaí: Celtic Story Teller

The Seanchaí means (“old lore”) Seanchaithe in Gaelic. A traditional Celtic Story teller and Historian. This tradition even continues in contemporary times.

Seanchaithe (plural) in ancient times served the Clan Chiefs. They were keepers of the history and stories for their tribe. These Celtic storytellers used their own special artistry and dialect that was unique to the Irish folk tradition.

 

 

Source & Reference:

  • Robinson, M (1985) The Concise Scots Dictionary Chambers, Oxford ISBN 0-08-028491-4
  • Illustration of a Seanchaí sharing a story (Public Domain)

 

Featured

Viking Voyages to Vinland

Did you know that the Scandinavian Vikings visited Newfoundland and Labrador Canada approximately five centuries before John Cabot or Christopher Columbus sailed to North America? Vinland or Wine-land was discovered by Leif Erickson, covered the area from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the northeastern New Brunswick known for its grapevines, then all the way up to Newfoundland.

Photo below: Reenactment of Viking ships at L’Anse aux Meadows

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Vikings were known for their raiding and trading in unknown lands such as L’Anse aux Meadows located at the Northern tip of Newfoundland. In 1960 archaeological artifacts were found there. This site’s discovery and dig was lead by Archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad with her husband Helge Ingstad. Vineland or Wine-land was written about in the Icelandic Sagas. This site was named an Archaeological and Historical site by the Government of Canada in 1968. Over time, the Vikings left the area due to the extreme cold and lack of food during the winter months, they returned home.

Photo: Archaeologist, Anne Ingstad at L’Anse aux Meadows, 1963.

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Photo below: L’Anse aux Meadows site at the North tip of Newfoundland.

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L’Anse aux Meadows may be the camp Straumfjörd  meaning stream-fjord described by the famous Viking, Erik The Red in The Saga of Erik The Red.
This site dates back six thousand years earlier before the Vikings, where The Dorset Paleo-Eskimo peoples lived from 500 BCE to 1500 CE.
Source & Reference:
  • Hreinsson, Vidar (1997) The Complete Sagas of Icelanders (Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, Reykjavik, Iceland) ISBN 978-9979-9293-0-7
  • Wahlgren, Erik (2000). The Vikings and America. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-28199-4.
  •  Wallace, Birgitta (2003). “The Norse in Newfoundland: L’Anse aux Meadows and Vinland”. The New Early Modern Newfoundland. 
  • All photos in Public Domain

 

 

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Red-Hat: The Naughty Whale of Hvalfjörður

Red-Hat: The Naughty Whale of Hvalfjörður is an ancient folktale that began with trawlers hunting the Great Auks for food. Hvalfjörður, is located in the southern region of Iceland. This type of whale is not just any whale it is a Raudkembingur a bad-ass type of whale with a red crest that resembles a hat or comb.

One day an unfortunate young trawler was lost, he turned up on a craggy island. The lad was not alone, he was startled by an Elvene tribe. He could not return home so he made the best of it by pairing with an elf woman who birthed their son. The man still pining to return to his native village, nagged his elf mate so much that she agreed to grant him a way to return to his village on the provision that he would baptize his elf child in his home church. The man agreed with her terms. Once he returned to his village he decided not to have his elf child baptized, and left it in a cradle outside of the church. Hearing about the man’s betrayal, the elf lady cursed him and transformed him into a large whale with a red hat as the man had been wearing a red hat at the time.

The Red-Hat Whale-Man became very angry with the elf woman that he began a killing spree upon the local sailors and fishermen. The only folks left was a local wizard and his daughter. The wizard crafted some magic by leading the vengeful whale from the sea towards the narrow part of the river. The whale now spellbound followed them till they arrived at a waterfall where the whale jumped up and landed in the river above.

The Wizard accompanied by his daughter kept hiking along the river to a lake. The angry whale was extremely fatigued so much that it broke his heart under the duress that he sank to the lake bottom. His only remains discovered was his red hat floating upon the lake and the frightening Red-Hat Whale-Man, tyrant of the sea was never seen again.

Source & Reference:

*J.M. Bedell, Queen of the Elves and Other Stories: Icelandic Folktales. ISBN-10: 1566566339, ISBN-13:978-1566566339

*Featured image ©Nifty Brýn Buckles 2019.

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World Goth Day

Today is World Goth Day!

Notre Dame Catholic Cathedral comes to mind when I think of Gothic architecture. It is unfortunate that the lead roof and oak spire began to burn up from a fire that was caused by new reconstruction on the building.However since then there has been rumors that a public swimming pool may be built on the roof.  Notre Dame means “Our Lady of Paris.” It was completed in 1290 CE, under the charge of the Bishop Maurice de Sully. 1024px-Notredame_Paris

To celebrate World Goth Day you may wish to read a Gothic novel such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus published in 1818.  Her protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a daunting scientist sporting much perseverance he creates in his laboratory a huge monster at least 8 feet tall. The creature is made through Alchemy and Chemistry including reanimation of dead corpse tissue. Lots of fun for Gothic readers!

Below illustration: Steel engraving (993 × 78 mm), for the frontispiece of the 1831 revised edition of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, published by Colburn and Bentley, London.

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Another famous Gothic author I enjoy reading is Edgar Allen Poe who died a very mysterious, controversial, death on October 7th 1849.

His short novel The Black Cat was published on August 19th 1843 on The Saturday Evening Post. A story about the study of psychology on guilt and how it slowly, eats away at the protagonist. The murderer covers up his crime and thinks he is untouchable, but he is so guilt-ridden that he betrays himself, from his very own nagging conscience.

You can read it here The Black Cat on The Saturday Evening Post. Below illustration of The Black Cat by Byam Shaw.

Enjoy!

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Sources & References:

  • Haggerty, George E. (1989). Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0271006451.
  • Davis, Michael T. “Splendor and Peril: The Cathedral of Paris, 1290–1350.” The Art Bulletin (1998) 80#1 pp: 34–66.
  • Saturday Evening Post The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe
  • Featured image of gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral (Public Domain.)

 

 

 

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The Spadena Witch House 

Sometimes certain houses may present a fairy tale feeling to the observer, some have a magnificent effect on us  just by their unique design.

One such house in particular, is the Spadena House located in Beverly Hills California.

This house is termed the “Witch House,” “Fairytale house or “Story book house.”

Most likely due to its lopsided roof and pointed gabled peaks.

The Spadena house was built in 1921 serving as dressing rooms and offices for Wilver Culver’s film studio. Later in 1934 it was transported to its present day location.

The Spadena House once had a its very own moat and a lovely English garden.

Realtor, Michael Libow bought and renovated the house in 1997.

This fairytale house with its Lilliputian windows and stucco siding still interests tourists and locals. There are bus tours that you can take to view and appreciate this magical witchy designed home.

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Source & Reference:

LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/local/la-hm-storybook13jan13-story.html

Photos in Public Domain.

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The Old Woman in the Wood

The Old Woman in the Wood also included in Little brother & little sister and other tales by the Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilheim Grimm) Fairy tales published 1812-1858.

A poor servant-girl was once travelling with the family with which she was in service, through a great forest, and when they were in the midst of it, robbers came out of the thicket, and murdered all they found. All perished together except the girl, who had jumped out of the carriage in a fright, and hidden herself behind a tree. When the robbers had gone away with their booty, she came out and beheld the great disaster. Then she began to weep bitterly, and said, “What can a poor girl like me do now? I do not know how to get out of the forest, no human being lives in it, so I must certainly starve.” She walked about and looked for a road, but could find none. When it was evening she seated herself under a tree, gave herself into God’s keeping, and resolved to sit waiting there and not go away, let what might happen. When, however, she had sat there for a while, a white dove came flying to her with a little golden key in its mouth. It put the little key in her hand, and said, “Dost thou see that great tree, therein is a little lock, it opens with the tiny key, and there thou wilt find food enough, and suffer no more hunger.” Then she went to the tree and opened it, and found milk in a little dish, and white bread to break into it, so that she could eat her fill. When she was satisfied, she said, “It is now the time when the hens at home go to roost, I am so tired I could go to bed too.” Then the dove flew to her again, and brought another golden key in its bill, and said, “Open that tree there, and thou willt find a bed.” So she opened it, and found a beautiful white bed, and she prayed God to protect her during the night, and lay down and slept. In the morning the dove came for the third time, and again brought a little key, and said, “Open that tree there, and thou wilt find clothes.” And when she opened it, she found garments beset with gold and with jewels, more splendid than those of any king’s daughter. So she lived there for some time, and the dove came every day and provided her with all she needed, and it was a quiet good life.
Once, however, the dove came and said, “Wilt thou do something for my sake?” – “With all my heart,” said the girl. Then said the little dove, “I will guide thee to a small house; enter it, and inside it, an old woman will be sitting by the fire and will say, ‘Good-day.’ But on thy life give her no answer, let her do what she will, but pass by her on the right side; further on, there is a door, which open, and thou wilt enter into a room where a quantity of rings of all kinds are lying, amongst which are some magnificent ones with shining stones; leave them, however, where they are, and seek out a plain one, which must likewise be amongst them, and bring it here to me as quickly as thou canst.” The girl went to the little house, and came to the door. There sat an old woman who stared when she saw her, and said, “Good-day my child.” The girl gave her no answer, and opened the door. “Whither away,” cried the old woman, and seized her by the gown, and wanted to hold her fast, saying, “That is my house; no one can go in there if I choose not to allow it.” But the girl was silent, got away from her, and went straight into the room. Now there lay on the table an enormous quantity of rings, which gleamed and glittered before her eyes. She turned them over and looked for the plain one, but could not find it. While she was seeking, she saw the old woman and how she was stealing away, and wanting to get off with a bird-cage which she had in her hand. So she went after her and took the cage out of her hand, and when she raised it up and looked into it, a bird was inside which had the plain ring in its bill. Then she took the ring, and ran quite joyously home with it, and thought the little white dove would come and get the ring, but it did not. Then she leant against a tree and determined to wait for the dove, and, as she thus stood, it seemed just as if the tree was soft and pliant, and was letting its branches down. And suddenly the branches twined around her, and were two arms, and when she looked round, the tree was a handsome man, who embraced and kissed her heartily, and said, “Thou hast delivered me from the power of the old woman, who is a wicked witch. She had changed me into a tree, and every day for two hours I was a white dove, and so long as she possessed the ring I could not regain my human form.” Then his servants and his horses, who had likewise been changed into trees, were freed from the enchantment also, and stood beside him. And he led them forth to his kingdom, for he was a King’s son, and they married, and lived happily.

 

 

 

Source & Reference:

  • The Old Woman in the Wood, (German: Die Alte im Wald) is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 123. It is Aarne-Thompson type 442.
  •  Featured Illustration by Arthur Rackham 1917
Featured

Scandinavian Monster: The Mara

Mare or Mara, Maru, Mora found in Scandinavian, Slavic and German folklore is taken from Nattamara (nightmare). It is a vicious female spirit that visits folks while they sleep at night. The Mare will sit and ride upon ones chest making it very uncomfortable for breathing inducing frightening nightmares to their victims.

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One tale The Mare is written in the Norse Ynglinga Saga 1225 CE by Snorri Sturluson.

King Vanlandi Sveigðisson of Uppsala 1164 ( a Swedish city North of Stockholm)

Legend mentions that he perished from a midnight ride of The Mare on his chest that caused such a monstrous nightmare the king was literally scared to death! The Mare was summoned by the Finnish Sorceress Hulda, who in turn was employed by King Vanlandi’s discarded wife Drifa. The King promised Drifa he would return home to her after three years. After ten years the neglected wife hired Hulda to bring back the King or kill him. Vanlandi fell asleep when he began whining that the nightmare “rode him,” his men held the King’s head it began to “trod on his legs!” breaking them. The Mare seized his feet and finally pressed too hard on his head causing death.

 

 

Sources & References:

  • Alaric Hall, ‘The Evidence for Maran, the Anglo-Saxon “Nightmares,” Neophilologus, 91 2007
  • Grimm, Jacob (1883), Google Books “XVII. Wights and Elves“, Teutonic Mythology2, James Steven Stallybrass (tr.), W. Swan Sonnenschein & Allen, pp. 439–517
  • Featured art The Nightmare, a variation, by Fuseli (1790-91) Public Domain
  •  Illustration The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli, 1781 Public Domain

 

Featured

Easter Folklore: France

Each Easter Monday the petite town of Bessieres France (Haute Garonne)  implements their unique tradition beginning in 1973.  The town chefs carefully create a huge, tasty omelette, made from 15,000 eggs and its diameter is 4 metres! Fifty or so folks volunteer to crack all the eggs. This takes all about 90 minutes including cooking time for the omelette. The town’s folklore was based from a 19th century tale. Napoleon Bonaparte and his army stopped over at one of the Inns at Bessieres. The Inn keeper cooked up a delicious omelette for Napoleon Bonaparte while he was sojourning in Bessieres. He savoured the omelette so much that the whole town used all their eggs and cooked him a colossal omelette.

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Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) Napoleon Crossing the Alps — Kunsthistorisches Museum in Public Domain

Source & Reference: https://www.omelettegeante.fr

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Mythology of The Unicorn

Don’t you just love Unicorns? I do. I was fascinated with these eloquent, strong, equine creatures of antiquity since early childhood.

Below Photo of Chinese Qilin Statue in Summer Palace, Public Domain

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They may have originated from the Asian Unicorns such as the Qilin from China and the Kirin from Japan. Narwhals may be the original inspiration for the Unicorn, the tusk of the Narwhal was sold as the Unicorn horn in the past. Many Ancient Greek scholars wrote on the illustrious Unicorn such as Pliny the Younger, Ctesias and Strabo to list a few.

Below Illustration: Historical depiction of a narwhal from ‘Brehms Tierleben‘ (1864–1869) Public Domain.

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Even the Bible in the Old Testament mentions the Unicorn

“God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.”—Numbers 23:22 (including several more passages.)

Unicorns may have also evolved from Elasmotherium that roamed Siberia 39,000 years ago.

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Above Illustration: First published restoration (1878) of E. sibiricum, by Rashevsky, under supervision of A.F. Brant

Unicorn lore is located around the world from Asia, Persia, Turkey, Siberia, including the United Kingdom. Unicorns were early environmentalists as their great horn purified the water wherever they went. The Unicorn symbol represented pure water of river, lakes and streams. According to Unicorn myth its horn could remove poisons once the tip of its horn touched liquids. Its unique power to cleanse water was noted in Physiologus 14th century exposition. A snake had poisoned the water at a massive lake that quenched the thirst of several animals. A lovely Unicorn approached the lake and with its great horn made the sign of the cross thus sanitizing the toxic water so the animals were able to safely drink from the lake.

During the medieval times Unicorn horns were also known as Alicorns used to heal all types of maladies. Royal Alchemists would use them in their super energized plant based antidotes. It was known to fight plagues and counteract snake and scorpion venom.

Below photo: Three Unicorn horns from the Mariakerk in Utrecht, now on display at the Rijksmuseum.

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The 12th century abbess Hidegard of Bingen kept her written medical journals, noting alicorns were used to treat Leprosy when mixed with eggs. Leather from the Unicorn was crafted into a belt to ward off plaque and fevers. Leather shoes from the Unicorn would heal Gout and other foot ailments.

Unicorns are found in several flags and coat of arms in Europe and United Kingdom.

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Above: Royal Coat of Arms, Elizabeth 2nd in Right of the United Kingdom. Public Domain.

The Unicorn with a Rainbow in today’s culture is a popular symbol of the LGBT. The Rainbow Unicorn symbol was created by by American artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. Unicorns have become important to the LGBT community as a gay pride symbol since the 1900’s. According to Alice Fisher of The Guardian, she mentions in her article that  the Unicorn with Rainbow image gained popularity during the gay rights protests of the 1970s and 1980.

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Above Photo of Unicorn with Rainbow on truck in Portland’s Gay Pride Parade 2017 Public Domain.

 

 

Sources & References:

  • Hildegarde, B. (1989). Le Livre des subtilités des créatures divines. II. Paris: Millon.
  • Odell Shepard, The Lore of the Unicorn at Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002FL4WSI/internetsacredte
  • Perry, J. (2016) ‘Real ‘Siberian unicorn’ remains found.’ http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/29/living/real-unicorn-remains/
  • Godfrey, L. S. (2009).  Mythical creatures . Chelsea House Publishers
  • Fisher, Alice (2017-10-15). “Why the unicorn has become the emblem for our times | Alice Fisher”. the Guardian.
  • Featured Art by Salvador Dali (1941-1989) “The Happy Unicorn.” 1976. Public Domain.

 

 

Featured

Fortuna: Roman Goddess of Luck & Fate

Speaking of Lady Luck the Roman Goddess Fortuna or Fortūna in Latin certainly has earned her title. She may have been a former Latin or Etruscan goddess Servius Tullius. Fortuna represents the vital spark of luck, abundance, fate and chance that humans all hope and pray for at one time or another. Augustus Ceasar declared he was her favourite chosen son even if he was not it’s a great way to psyche out your enemies. Fortuna was popular, not as famous as Diana of Juno. Roman soldiers brought her adoration to England where she was revered there. Fortuna was known as a oracular goddess, many would have their fortunes told at her shrine.

April 1st just happens to be her hallowed day. It is a day for women  to ask her to invoke their mate’s virility and desire. She is often represented by the wheel of fortune, a cornucopia (abundance) or a ship’s rudder or a ball. Her father was allegedly Jupiter, Lord of Light and plenty. Her temple was dedicated to her on June 11th. The Festival of Fortuna was celebrated on or near the Summer Solstice.

 

Source & Reference:

  • Billington, S., Green, M. ‘The Concept of the Goddess’ (London, New York, 1996), 133-134.
  • Lesley Adkins, Roy A. Adkins (2001) Dictionary of Roman Religion
  • Featured Illustration of Lady Fortune in a Boccaccio manuscript Public Domain

 

 

 

Featured

Festival of Cybele

Cybele or Kybele, an ancient Greek goddess was known for her rejection of the Greek god Zeus who lusted after her.
According to Greek Mythology Even after Cybele’s refusal to procreate with Zeus the philanderer figured out a way of seducing her.
Cybele was impregnated by Zeus and birthed a hermaphrodite demon named Agdistis. She was a wild child, so feral that all the other gods feared her. They were so frightened of the child they conspired against Agdistis and pruned off her genitals.
Legend has it from Agdistis blood loss popped an Almond tree. Later the Romans adapted their own version of Cybele and Attis.
Cybele is noted as Gaia, Earth’s oldest goddess or forest witch. Cybele’s cult is one of the oldest religions. She may have her origins in Ancient Turkey and Middle East. The Romans named her Magna Mater meaning Great Mother. and the Antoloians called her Mountain Mother. Cybele has her own tale that she was raised by Leopards in the wild after her mother abandoned her in the wilderness. Over time Cybele practiced magic becoming a forest witch and then evolving into a much revered goddess.
Above: Phrygian statue of Agdistis from mid-6th century BCE at or near Hattusa.
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Source & Reference:
*Ancient History Encyclopedia online by Donald L. Wasson
*Walton, Francis Redding (1996). “Agdistis“. In Hornblower, Simon. Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* All Photos in Public Domain at Wikipedia
Featured

Spring Goddess Ostara Celebration

The Spring Equinox March ushers in a joyful Ostara Spring celebration.

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The Druids revered the Spring Equinox on the full moon of the Spring Equinox month. The Spring Equinox also called Vernal Equinox was revered by the ancient Celtic and Saxon pagans for centuries.

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Above Illustration: Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts

Ostara is the name of the pagan Anglo-Saxon Spring goddess, she represents dawn. Ostara manages nature with the aid of The Horned god, securing the growth of budding plants, and fertility of nature while celebrating the welcome of the Spring equinox through dance. Below shows Ostara on the pagan wheel of the year.

pagan wheel of the year

Ostara or Eostre is the namesake of the festival of Easter that ushers in spring and fertility.
In ancient times, Eosturmonap also known as the month of April. Eostre or Ostara feasts were held in her honor by pagan Anglo-Saxons. Ostara was mentioned early in ‘The Venerable Bede,’ 673-735 Ce.
The Christian Paschal month usurped Ostara and changed it to ‘Easter’ to celebrate the Christ resurrection or Spring Sun rebirth. During the Christian takeover of pagan Europe from the 7th to 15th centuries. Pagans were persecuted, burned at the stake and forced into Christianity.
Jacob Grimm discovered evidence that Anglo-Saxons once revered Austra an old Norse fertility goddess. Her cult of the goddess was located in the Southeast region of England.

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Today more and more NeoPagans and Wiccans have returned to their ancestral, nature religions that embrace the rule of natural law, that is sustainable and compliments mother earth. The brown hare and eggs accompany Ostara to usher in the Spring Vernal celebration.

Symbols of Spring:

The European Brown Hare also known as the ‘March Hare’ awakens out of its winter slumber to embrace the warm earth and graze on grass and clover robustly, after a long frigid winter.

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Eggs:

Folklore cites one can stand a raw egg on the end of the exact time of the Spring Equinox.

Spring equinox

March flower is represented by the Narcissus also known as Daffodil

According to folklore, daffodils are famous for bringing good fortune. An old tradition cites that if one makes the resolute effort not to trample on daffodils, Lady Ostara will award one with abundance and good luck. Daffodils are noted as the flower for those born in March.

Daffodils open a doorway to light and positive energy between the physical world and the otherworld. These cheery flowers represent Springtime,fertility, rebirth, they usher into our physical realm benevolent entities of light such as faeries and angels.

According to folklore, always give Daffodils as a bunch. A single Daffodil given to another will bring bad luck to the receiver. In some parts of the UK neighborhoods, folks who are the first to sight a Daffodil will be blessed with abundance.

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Source & Reference:

  • Shaw, Pagan Goddess in the early Germanic World, 49-71.
  • Holly, T. (2001). “Mad World of the European Hare”. In MacDonald, D. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 710–711. ISBN 0-19-850823-9.
  • Old Farmers Almanac 1792
  • Pictures in Public Domain
  • http://www.Vicnews.com
Featured

Irish Folktale: Children of Lir

The Children of Lir is an Irish Folktale, Lir was the lord of the sea. His first wife conceived four children with him. Later she died and Lir married his wife’s sister Aoife.

Unfortunately for his four children, Aoife was green with envy of them and concocted a magical spell transforming the 4 youngsters into 4 large white Swans. The children stayed as swans for 900 years until St. Patrick arrived in Ireland. According to Irish legend St. Patrick rang a Church bell and it miraculously broke the curse and returned the spellbound youngsters back to their former selves as children.

 

 

Source & Reference:

  • MacKillop, James, ed. (2004), “Oidheadh Chlainne Lir”, A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, doi:10.1093/acref/9780198609674.001.0001

 

  • Featured Art: The Children of Lir (1914) by John Duncan
Featured

Sámi Goddess: Akka

The Sámi people revere Akka, which means ‘Old Woman.’ In Finnish it means Great Grandmother. The Sámi drum represents The Great Mother Goddess Maderakka , the mother of creation, fertility and plenty. Maderakka has three daughters who help her bestow fertility to the Sámi. Sarakka means ‘Dividing Woman’ who opens the womb to allow birth. Offerings were left at the fire, daily. Juksakka, known as ‘Bow Woman’ dwells just beneath the earth she is a guardian deity that protects children. Uksakka means ‘Door Woman’, who guards both women and children, reindeer milk was sprinkled outside the door for her favour. Uksakka is responsible for the formation of the fetus in its’ mother’s womb and delegates sexes.

There is also Jabme-Akka is the goddess who governs the underworld, soothing infant spirits of deceased babes to the underworld. However, all other spirits reside in sorrow. The dead are buried with vital tools for living since everything is the opposite.

Sámi women are known for their highly, skilled weaving of textiles that is passed down through their mothers and grandmothers.

Below: Mother and child, © Nord-Troms Museum. NTRMF42-03137. Samer i Nordreisa i Troms fylke. Gunhild Marie Inger Anna Siri og Nils Isak Persen Siri. Fotografiet er fra 1940. Kvinnen bruker et vevd samisk belte. Sami mother with child in Nordreisa (1940), Troms County in Norway. The woman is wearing a woven belt

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Norwegian Sámi artist Mari Boine in Warszawa, September 2007. Photo shown below by Henryk Kotowski, 2007. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

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Source & Reference:

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Icelandic Folk Art:

Famous Icelandic artist Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval (1885-1972). He is well known for his landscape paintings with an abstract or cubist touch with symbolist elements mixing myths and elves into the landscape.

Below 2,000 kr. banknote with Kjarval’s image on it.

2000 Icelandic Krona

Source & Reference:

*Saatchi Gallery online: https://www.saatchigallery.com/museums/museum-profile/Reykjavik+Art+Museum/615.html

*Featured image of The Sisters of Sapi, 1948 by Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval

Featured

Pagan Roots of Valentine’s Day

Most of us have heard of the Christian St. Valentine priest that was martyred for attempting to influence Roman pagans to adopt Christianity beginning in 269 CE.

In fact there were a few of them that were martyred. Looking back through our crystal balls we see further into a pagan history  and lore of February 14th and 15th. Romans celebrated Juno Februata also known as Juno Fructifier, Queen of the Roman deities. One noted tradition was for a man to draw a woman’s name from an urn filled with female names. Once drawn, the chosen female would couple with the male who chose her name for a year. This was to celebrate and encourage fertility.  Quite a party indeed!

Below photo of a (Bronze Wolf Head 1st Century)

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On February 15th the Romans also celebrated Lupercalia revering Lupercus also known as Faunus meaning “The Wild One.” He is a woodland spirit depicting the wildness of nature and fertility of the people. He is presented as Saturn’s grandson.

His sister Fauna also known as Fatua and Bona Dea meaning “Good Goddess.” She was the keeper of Mysteries, a woman only event. Her initiates were women.

The festival of Lupercalia began with priests of Faunus called Luperci turn up at the cave on the Palatine, the alleged spot where the she-wolf was said to nurse Romulus and Remus. Next the Sacrifice of male goats and dogs were offered up by the Luperci priests and the meat eaten by them. The Luperci would anoint themselves with goat’s blood while sporting “Juno’s Cloak,” crafted with torn patches of goat skin. They and their chosen youths would carry about the Palatine cracking folks with their whips on their hands. If a woman was struck with a whip, it was believed she would most likely become fertile and conceive a child. The Lupercalia ended in 494 CE. I’m sure the goats and dogs were grateful.

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The Lupercalian Festival in Rome (ca. 1578–1610), drawing by the circle of Adam Elsheimer, showing the Luperci dressed as dogs and goats, with Cupid and personifications of fertility. Public Domain.

Later thanks to romantics like Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote the first Valentine’s Day association with romantic love in Parlement of Foules 1382. His poem was written in honour of the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard second of England to Anne of Bohemia.

Over time Valentine’s Day transitioned into a billion dollar retail business from sales of  roses, chocolates and Valentine cards. Eros the Greek god of erotica who was known to carry two arrows. One was made out of gold to initiate love and the other arrow was made of lead for rejection. Legend dictates that Eros once shot the Greek god Apollo with a gold arrow to fall in love with a nymph named Daphene. However, trickster Eros shot Daphene with a lead arrow so she would detest and reject Apollos’ advances. Quite a practical joker!

Cupid, was given by the Romans to the cherub angels named Putti crafted by artists during the Renaissance. Folks began sending Valentine cards to each other in the 17th century where the infant Cupid image stuck.

Below, Cupid Riding on a Dolphin (1630) by Erasmus Quellinus II

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Roses were the favoured flower of Venus the Roman goddess of love and fertility. “Queen of the Flowers!” named by the poet Sappho. the rose is known to be the purest of flowers. The origin of roses began 3000 years ago in Iran. The rose bud stands for strong affection. Place a few Red rose petals to attract love under your pillow when you retire for the evening. Pink roses are to enhance friendships. White rose petals under your pillow will prevent nightmares.

Chocolates, (my favorite!) became a popular Valentine gift over time. In 1868, Cadbury the British chocolate company created Fancy Boxes, which were decorated boxes of chocolates in the shape of a Valentine’s Day heart. Photo below in Public Domain.

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Jewelery became a popular gift to receive on this special day. If you are single, do something delightful for yourself like a Spa day or purchase your favorite chocolates.

You’re worth it!

If your birth date is in February up until the 19th you are born under the Air sign of Aquarius. Your birthstone is Amethyst and your flowers  are Violet, Iris and Primrose.

A June birthday has the red rose that represents love and fertility by Juno. Roses bloom in June.

Why  give a dozen Roses? A red rose represents the giver’s love to their beloved for each month of the year.

Roses a dozen

 

No matter how you celebrate, Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

Written by Nifty Bryn Buckles

 

 

Source & Reference:

  • North, John. Roman Religion. The Classical Association, 2000, pp. 47 online and 50 on the problems of interpreting evidence for the Lupercalia.
  • Beard, Mary; North, John; Price, Simon. Religions of Rome: A History. Cambridge University Press, 1998, vol. 1
  •  Meaning of flowers 2000 Archived 2008-02-20 at the Wayback Machine
  • Roses in vase photo in Public Domain
  • Beautiful Spring Girl – background Herbert Dawson, (id-1480350272)

 

Featured

Super Blood Wolf Moon

Tonight, January 20th when a Super Blood Wolf Moon with an eclipse will be viewed by folks in Europe, West Africa, Northern Russia and the Americas North, Central and South.

This extraordinary moon with its’ dark reddish hue will look larger than life contrasting in the dark sky. What is a lunar eclipse you ask? A lunar eclipse happens when our planet Earth travels between our Moon and Sun and aligns with them to block the Sun’s light that normally would reflect off our Moon.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “There are three types of lunar eclipses: total, partial, and penumbral, with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse—when the Earth’s shadow totally covers the Moon. A lunar eclipse can occur only when there is a full Moon: January’s Wolf Moon turns 100% full on the 21st at 12:16 a.m. EST.”

NASA explains the red blood hue of the super moon. “During a total lunar eclipse, white sunlight hitting the atmosphere on the sides of the Earth gets absorbed and then radiated out (scattered). Blue-colored light is most affected,” NASA officials wrote online. “That is, the atmosphere filters out (scatters away) most of the blue-colored light. What’s left over is the orange- and red-colored light.”

Some call it a Super Blood Blue Moon while the indigenous people of North America call it a Super Blood Wolf Moon. This term predates the Super Blood Blue Moon phrase.

The indigenous people or First Nations people named the Super Blood Wolf Moon to reflect the hungry wolves that would gather and howl with hunger at the January full moon outside the villages. The climate was harsh and cold and many creatures would perish or nearly starve to death during these severe winters.

The Super Blood Wolf Moon will definitely be a Werewolf motivator! 

The Werewolf Myth may have originated from a disease called Hypertrichosis occurs when one’s body grows an unusual amount of hair which may occur at birth or happens later in an adult’s life. 

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Above picture: Petrus Gonsalvus, “The Hairy Man” by Joris Hoefnagelfrom his “Elementa Depicta” in Public Domain.

Belief in werewolves developed in parallel to the belief in witches, in the course of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Similar to the witchcraft trials as a whole, the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland (especially the Valais and Vaud) in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century.

 In folklore, Werewolves are famous wedding crashers and will easily rush into a wedding snatch the bride and scurry into the night. The bride was never seen again. Folklore cites that Werewolves do not change under a full moon they transform through black magic. The full moon morphing was introduced by Hollywood movie scripts. To kill a werewolf it is best to shoot it with a silver bullet.

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Illustration of Werewolf by Nifty Bryn Buckles

Enjoy the Super Blood Wolf Moon January 20th.

 

 

Sources & References:

*Farmers’ Almanac, https://www.farmersalmanac.com/january-2019-lunar-eclipse-33826

*NASA https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/events/2019/1/21/total-lunar-eclipse-and-supermoon/

*Google books: squochee kesos The New England historical & genealogical register and antiquarian journal: v. 10

*James, William; Berger, Timothy; Elston, Dirk (2005). Andrews Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (10 ed.). Saunders. p. 769. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0

*Rose, C. (2000). Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. New York: Norton. p. 230. ISBN 0-393-32211-4.

 

 

 

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The Tiny Finish Tonttu of Yule

WinterFolklore ❄🌲

The Tiny Finish Tonttu of Yule

Nisse (Norway) or Tonttu (Finland) is a tiny elf identified with the winter solstice & Yule season. Nisse have four fingers, has pointed ears with eyes reflecting light in the dark, like those of a cat. Nisse may accompany the Júlbock/Yule goat.

Source & References:

*German and Scandinavian Legendary Creatures: Elf, Troll, Tomte, Jörmungandr, etc.

LLC Books 2010

Featured

Vasilisa and The Fiery Skull

Vasalisa and The Fiery Skull is a heroine in Russian Folklore.

A merchant and his first wife had a single daughter, who was known as Vasalisa the Beautiful. Vasilisa’s mother died when Vasilisa turned eight years old. Her mother on her deathbed, gave Vasalisa a small, wooden doll with instructions to give it a bit to eat and a bit to drink if she were in need, and then it would help her.

When her mother died, Vasalisa gave it a bit to drink and a bit to eat, and it comforted her. Over time, her father remarried; his second wife was a woman with two daughters. Vasilisa’s stepmother was mean and vicious towards her, with her doll’s aid, she was able to perform all the tasks forced upon her. When young males came courting, the stepmother dismissed them all because it was not proper for the younger to marry before the older, and none of the suitors wished to marry Vasilisa’s stepsisters.

The merchant one day, had to set out on a journey. His wife sold the house and moved them all to a dreary hut by the forest. One time she gave each of the girls a task and extinguished all the fires except a single candle. Her older daughter then extinguished the candle, whereupon they sent Vasalisa to fetch fire from Baba Yaga’s hut.

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Above Illustration: Baba Yaga in her mortar, by Ivan Bilibin. (Public domain)

The doll advised her to go, and she went. While she was sauntering down a dark path, a mysterious man rode by her in the hours before dawn, dressed in white, riding a white horse whose equipment was all white; then a similar rider in red.She came to a house that stood on chicken legs and was walled by a fence made of skeleton bones. A black rider, like the white and red riders, galloped past her, and night fell, whereupon the eye sockets of the skulls began to glow. Vasilisa was too frightened to run away, and so Baba Yaga found her when she arrived in her mortar. Baba Yaga said that Vasilisa must perform tasks successfully, in order to earn the fire, or be killed. Her list of chores consisted of cleaning the house and yard, wash Baba Yaga’s laundry, and cook her a meal.

Vasilisa’s other tasks were to separate grains of rotten corn from sound corn, and separate poppy seeds from grains of soil. Baba Yaga left, and Vasilisa’s heart grew heavy, as she worked herself into exhaustion. When all hope of completing the tasks seemed lost, the doll whispered that she would complete the tasks for Vasilisa, and that the girl should sleep.

At dawn, the white rider passed; at or before noon, the red. As the black rider rode past, Baba Yaga returned and could complain of nothing. She bade three pairs of disembodied hands seize the corn to squeeze the oil from it, then asked Vasilisa if she had any questions. Vasilisa asked about the rider’s identities and was told that the white one was Day, the red one the Sun, and the black one Night.

When Vasilisa thought of asking about the disembodied hands, the doll quivered in her pocket. Vasilisa realized she should not ask, and told Baba Yaga she had no further questions. In return, Baba Yaga inquired as to the cause of Vasilisa’s success. On hearing the answer “by my mother’s blessing,” Baba Yaga, who wanted nobody with any kind of blessing in her presence, threw Vasilisa out of her house, and sent her home with a skull-lantern full of burning coals, to provide light for her step-family. Upon her return, Vasilisa found that, since sending her out on her task, her step-family had been unable to light any candles or fire in their home. Even lamps and candles that might be brought in from outside were useless for the purpose, as all were snuffed out the second they were carried over the threshold. The coals brought in the skull-lantern burned Vasilisa’s stepmother and stepsisters to ashes, and Vasilisa buried the skull according to its instructions, so no person would ever be harmed by it.

Later, Vasilisa became an assistant to a maker of cloth in Russia’s capital city, where she became so skilled at her work that the Tsar himself noticed her skill; he later married Vasilisa.

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Above Illustration: Vasilisa at the Hut of Baba Yaga, by Ivan Bilibin (Public Domain)

Sources:

Satran, Paula Redmond, and Rosenkrantz, Linda (2007). Baby Name Bible. St. Martin’s Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-35220-2

Tatar, Maria (2002). The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. W.W. Norton and Company.

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Witchy Folklore

Witches in folklore are interesting, colorful and magical such as Cerridwen a Welsh enchantress, shape-shifting herbalist and witch. She was known as the keeper of The Cauldron of Knowledge and Insight and The White Sow. Welsh magical practitioners considered, Cerridwen as a symbol of wisdom and power. Today she is still revered in the Wicca religion as The Goddess of the Pair.

Below Painting of Ceridwen by Christopher Williams (1910)

(c) The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The 13th century Tale of Taliesin, was named after the 6th century poet who is the focus of the legend. Cerridwen is married to a giant named Tegidfoel. She births two children, a daughter named Crearwy, which means ” Light.” Cerridwen’s son is named Afagddu which means “Dark.” These Celtic children repesent the Gaelic force of Yin and Yang much like the ancient Taoist symbol. Cerridwen desires the best for her children, especially her son Afagddu who she sees him lacking specific gifts such as being attractive. She doesn’t worry about her daughter as she is equipped with all the desired gifts and skills for life.

Cerridwen uses her superior magic to concoct a potion to enhance his powers of intellect, supernatural, fortune telling, botanical knowledge. While Cerridwen collects the herbs and recites her ritual for the potion someone must keep stirring the cauldron and keep it boiling for a year plus one day. A blind man tends to its fire and the cauldron is stirred by an ignorant boy named Gwion Bach who eventually becomes the Future Taliesin.

One day while stirring the pot, three drops splash on his thumb. The splashed potion was scalding hot that Gwion sucks on his thumb to soothe the pain unknowingly tasting the potion. The potion is effective with the first three drops after that it turns into poison.

Gwion suddenly realizes his error of tasting the potion so he flees from the scene trying to escape Cerridwen’s anger. She tracks Gwion across the countryside transforming herself into several different creatures. Gwion has these same morphing powers too. He first transforms into a hare in order to escape the infuriated witch. Cerridwen morphs into a greyhound in order to catch the fast moving hare. Gwion next becomes a fish, the clever witch transforms into an otter to counter his move. The Gwion morphs into a bird yet Cerridwen turns into a Hawk that flys faster than a small bird. Lastly, Gwion changes into a single corn kernel, only to be eaten by the crafty witch disguised as a hen. However, the tale does not end there. The very fact that the boy had swallowed the potion protected him from being completely destroyed. Once Cerridwen was pregnant she was very insightful and knew the infant would be Gwion once he was born. She plotted to kill him upon his birth. She hadn’t planned for the baby boy to be so handsome that she could not go ahead to kill him. Cerridwen sewed a bag placing the baby into it and threw it into the ocean. The boy didn’t drown but was rescued near Aberdyfi a Welsh shore. The Prince who rescued him was named Elffin ap Gwyddno; the reborn baby grew to become a man known as the legendary bard Taliesin.

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Above Illustration of the skilled witch Cerridwen, the blind man and the boy Gwion stirring the Cauldron (Public Domain.)

Another famous witch who was connected to the Fae is the powerful Irish Queen Morrighan, a goddess of war and battle. According to  Irish folklore, this role would be assigned to the bain sidhe, who managed the death of an associate linked to a particular family or clan. Morrighan may have been the same witch Morgan le Fay mentioned in the Arthurian legends. Her first debut in literature is in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The Life of Merlin, written in the first half of the twelfth century. Morgan has become known as a Femme Fatale, who bewitches men and then creates all types of magical chaos.

Below Picture of  Merlin presenting the future King Arthur, 1873. Private Collection. Artist: Lauffer, Emil Johann (1837-1909).  Public Domain

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Another one was Danu, a witchy Celtic mother. Her name is The Queen of Elphame, and she turns up in the folk tradition of Lowland Scotland. The Queen of Elphame is most notable for her role in the medieval ballad and later fairy tale called “Thomas the Rhymer.” Danu was linked with the Tuatha Dé Danann (“People of the Goddess Danu”).

According to Scottish Folklore the Queen of Elphame, is the fairy ruler of Elphame (Elf-home; compare Norse Álfheimr), the underworld Scottish fairyland is linked to the Celtic witch Nicnevin. She appears in a number of conventional mystical ballads, including Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin. She also appears in a number of accounts from witchcraft trials and confessions, including the confession of Isobel Gowdie.

Alexander Montgomerie, in his Flyting, described her as:

Nicnevin with her nymphes, in number anew
With charms from Caitness and Chanrie of Ross
Whose cunning consists in casting a clew.

 

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The Arrival of the King & Queen of Fairies  – E Stuart Hardy.

 

Speaking of Nicnevin, besides being the famous Queen of Elphame, Queen of the Fairies of Fife. She is also called Gyre Carlin, the Bone mother.

Witch Gaelic

Witch Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Nicnevin name evolved from the Gaelic Nic an Neamhain, meaning “Daughter of Flap,” spirit-woman or witch/goddess who personifies the frenzied havoc of war. She is symbolized by flying geese similar to the symbols of the Roman goddess Juno. Succeeding the chaotic Christian witch trials, she was then categorized as a Seelie (benevolent fairy)  Queen of Elphame and Unseelie (malevolent fairy) Nicnevin goddess of Witches. She represents both sides of the divine feminine.

Nicnevin is associated with the deceased riders of the night in German folklore of the Wild Hunt. She is a shape-shifter representing once more the divine feminine. She can morph into an old crone or a beautiful young woman dependant upon her situation. Nicnevin is also known as the goddess of witches, magic, crossroads and the dark moon.

 

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Queen of the Unseelie by the talented Brian Froud

Nicnevin is revered by witches on Samhain, the Celtic New Year, here she is celebrated with prayers and feasts in her name. The Rites of Nicnevin are practiced on November 1st. During this seasonal celebration, she is known to grant wishes and answer pagan’s thoughtful prayers. Nicnevin is the legendary mother witch, Hecate, or Habundia figure of Scottish fairy lore.

Fairies have existed according to fairy-lore for a very long time. They are well known in many cultures and in different regions around the earth.

Many tales speak of the Fae’s special leader, a mystical queen who governed Fairyland.

 

Not all witches represent the Crone phase, such as the maiden witch named Grimhild or Grímhildr in Scandinavian Folklore. According to Norse legends in the 13th century Völsunga Saga she was quite attractive yet nefarious. She was described as a “Fierce-Hearted Woman.”The Saga mentions that Grimhild married King Gjúki of Burgundy and birthed three children.

Grimhildr

She was bored to death at times, no mobile phones back then, so she gave the hero Sigurðr a magic potion that made him forgetful. He forgot that he had married his wife Brynhildr so he in his confused state of mind would marry Gudrun, her daughter. Grimhildr even desired for her one son Gunnar to marry Brynhildr who would have nothing to do with this awful set up except for the fact she had promised Grimhildr that she would do it. 

Brynhildr would only marry the man who could cross the ring of flames she placed around her. Grimhildr convinced Sigurðr into aiding Gunarr marry Brynhildr. Sigurðr was the only one who could cross the ring of fire that encircled Brynhildr, so he and Gunnar switched bodies so Gunnar’s body could cross the flames. The brave Brynhildr wed Gunnar after she had made a promise to Grimhildr. When Brybhildr heard that Sigurðr had betrayed her with another woman named Gudron, unaware that he had been bewitched by Grimhildr in marrying her daughter Gudrun, she became very angry and vengeful towards Grimhildr. Brynhildr killed Sigurðr and herself. Next, Grimhildr forced Gudrun to marry Bryhilr’s brother Atli. Gudrun didn’t want to marry Atli since she knew he would kill her brothers.

That is the last we hear of Grimhildr in the Völsunga saga, some folks believe that the actual ring of fire that Brynhildr encircled herself with, may have brought misfortune even death upon the attractive, mischievous Grimhildr.

Last but never least is the powerful Hecate also known in Ancient Greek as  Ἑκάτη or Hekátē) Queen goddess of Witchcraft, Queen of the Crossroads and the Night. Her name in Greek, means “influence from afar.” She is often depicted as the triple-headed Hound of the Moon, and at times symbolized rotating a spinning wheel.

Mighty Hecate governs the realm between life and death. She serves as an emissary between people and spirits. The Greeks knew her as a Titan’s daughter and as the handmaiden to the goddess Persephone, Queen of the Dead. She is a skilled herbalist and botanist. Hecate may have originated on the Black Sea, home to Medea her most trusted servant and priestess. In Caria  now modern day Western Turkey, she was worshiped as their Supreme goddess at her cult site of Lagina. She owns the real Skeleton Key that unlocks the gates to all other realms.  

According to the poet Hesiod, Hecate was the only daughter of Asteria, a star goddess who was the aunt of Artemis and Apollo. The celebration of Hecate’s birth was connected to Phoebe’s return during the darkest stage of the moon as a lunar goddess. 

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 In the Theogony of Hesiod depicts Hecate as a Titan who aligned herself with Zeus and cites in Theogony,

Hesiod describes Hecate in her role as one of the Titans who allied herself with Zeus, and says in Theogony,

 ” Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods…For as many as were born of Gaia and Ouranos amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Kronos (Zeus) did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honor, but much more still, for Zeus honors her.”

Today, Hecate is revered by Wiccans and Neo-pagans alike. She is petitioned for many things such as healing, protection in travel, vengeance for crimes committed against women, fertility and wisdom. Lost at the crossroads? Hecate is Queen of the Crossroads you may state her name for guidance. She has been known to give one signs along the way. So pay attention!

 

 

 

Sources & References:

Katharine Briggs, A Dictionary of Fairies (Penguin, 1977; ISBN 0140047530Thomas

Wright, Narratives of sorcery and magic, from the most authentic sources (Redfield, 1852)

Rossell Hope Robbins , The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, 1959.

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ffcc/ffcc002.htm

Völsunga Saga, The Saga of the Volsungs. The Icelandic Text According to MS Nks 1824 b, 4° With an English Translation, Introduction and Notes by Kaaren Grimstad. 2nd ed. AQ-Verlag, Saarbrücken 2005.

Gantz, Jeffrey. Early Irish Myths and Sagas (Penguin Classics: London, 1981.)

Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd.

Ruickbie, Leo. Witchcraft Out of the Shadows: A Complete History. Robert Hale, 2004.

 Hecate Education at Ancient Encyclopedia online.

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Kitsune, Japanese Fox Spirit

Kitsune or 狐, キツネ a Japanese trickster, fox spirit. According to Japanese folklore it is a smart fox that shapeshifts into a person that may cause chaos. They are described as a species of Yōkai, or spirit, kitsune are not ghosts, or unlike regular foxes they are white in colour. Kitsune have supernatural powers and are very strategic in their endeavors.

There are two common types of kitsune: The Zenko (善狐, means good foxes) are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with Inari; they are sometimes simply called Inari foxes.

On the other paw, the Yako (野狐, means field foxes, also called nogitsune) they tend to be mischievous or even malevolent.

According to Japanese folklore traditions there are other types of Kitsune. One example is, the Ninko which is an invisible fox spirit that people can notice only after it possesses them.

Source:

*Hall, Jamie (2003). Half Human, Half Animal: Tales of Werewolves and Related Creatures. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4107-5809-5

*Featured image: The moon on Musashi Plain (fox) by Yoshitoshi in Public Domain.

 

 

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Cabbage Lore

Origins of Cabbage began in China and it was brought to Europe by the Celts in 600 B.C.E.

Cabbage prefers cool weather to grow and will split in two in hot temperatures. It grows pretty yellow flowers.

Cabbage is packed full of vitamins especially Vitamin C. It was used to feed the allied prisoners in Germany during World War 2.

The Man in the Moon may have evolved from the Scandinavian pagan god Máni mentioned in the Poetic Edda from earlier traditional sources and the 13th century Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturluson.

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According to folklore, a cabbage thief became The man in The Moon when he stole his neighbor’s cabbage on by the light of the moon on Christmas Eve and escaped from the angry farmer and hid himself in the moon.

My guess is his desire was to make some Sauerkraut. 😉

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Check out this great organic Sauerkraut recipe at https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/natural-fermentation/sauerkraut and remember to eat your veggies.

Sources:

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Viking Ship ‘Naglfar’

‘Naglfar’ is an Ancient Norse Viking ship built from the dead Viking’s toes and fingernails. 
Yes, the Norse people trimmed the toe nails and finger nails of the dead Vikings and they built the Viking ship ‘Naglfar’ with them.

Legend has it that when Ragnarök finally begins, the ship Naglfar will sail to Vígríðr, carrying the army of the dead to fight the Norse gods.

The Poetic Edda mentions Naglfar in the 13th century from earlier ancestral sources, and the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson.

Verse from The Prose Edda

49. Hrym steers from the east, the waters rise, the mundane snake is coiled in Jötun rage. The worm beats the water, and the eagle screams: the pale of beak tears carcases; Naglfar is loosed.

The Naglfar Norse Ship is depicted in the Tullstorp Runestone in Scania, Sweden.

The Tullstorp Runestone displays Ragnarök apocalyptic event carved into the runestone revealing the magnificent  spectral ship Naglfar sailing beneath the gigantic wolf Fenrir.

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Sources:

*The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson 13th Century

*Naglfar ship illustration in Public Domain

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Des Loup-Garous, Winged Female Werewolves

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Above illustration by Maurice Sand (1983-1889) of a Loup Garou (Female Werewolf pack.) 

The Halloween countdown continues with Winged female werewolves that can fly termed, Loups Garoux. Loups Garoux or Werewolves Loup Garou means werewolf in French. Loups Garoux is the plural, meaning werewolves. Loup Garoux of French Canadian and Haiti is combination of UK werewolf myths and African Sorcerers’ occult lore. Les Loups Garoux of the Caribbean refers to  the male werewolves they transform from werewolves to men. However, Loups garoux of the island according to folklore, are females, women who morph into werewolves. This is genetic and is inherited.

Many of the loups-garous belong to a covert occultic community. Several of them attain their supernatural sorcery from Loa/Iwa major spirits in Haitian Vodou that work as agents of the Grand Met. Legend mentions the traditional belief is these women were barren, became frustrated and deliberately morphed into werewolves or maybe they were just good friends that decided to hang out together? Female loups garoux are known to transform during twilight.

Different from regular werewolves these girls can fly and have large wings that leave a glowing trail like a comet. The downside is they enjoy snacking on the blood of children similar to a vampire.

Shamans may work with particular plants to repel the loups garoux. Bamboo, snake plant and Kalanchoe encircle them around the house.

Loups garoux favor the nights of the month when the moon is full or waxing half predominately on the 7th or 13th day of the month.

So keep you head up when ambling at night during a half waxing moon or a full moon. Whether it is down a lonely, shadowy, country path or a misty city street, you may just hear an aerial flapping of wings,(I suggest you run!) or your inaction may lead to your doom

Photo of a Loup Garou in France public domain.

Sources:

“loup-garou”. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4 ed.). 2000.

“Appendix I: Indo-European Roots: w-ro-“. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4 ed.). 2000

Goens, Jean (1993). Loups-garous, vampires et autres monstres : enquêtes médicales et littéraires. Paris: CNRS Editions. Ménard, Philippe (1984).

“Les histoires de loup-garou au moyen-âge”. Symposium in honorem prof. M. de Riquer (in French). Barcelona UP. pp. 209–38

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Litha, Summer Solstice in Folklore

Litha is a pagan celebration of the Summer Solstice or Alban Heruin held June 20th to June 23rd.

ruins of temple against clear blue sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During Litha a fire festival is held to revere the Summer Solstice. The sun along with its energy and life gives warmth. It is an ancient pagan ritual and celebration welcoming the sun at its’ longest day of the year. The ancient Celts would light a wheel or ball of straw on fire and roll it down a hill. They also had bale fires. Fire, being magical in the pagan world, represents the sun and spiritual cleansing. A new beginning, a time of growth and prosperity. This was in honor of their Sun god or goddess to bless them with bountiful crops for the year. The element of fire in ancient times was used for divination to see future events.

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In northern Europe where the winters are long and cold Litha is extremely important. It is a time to celebrate warmer days  and nights, a time to grow and gather food such as berries and pick fruit  from the fruit trees  in preparation for the long cold winters. Plants and herbs were picked for tea and magical healing.

Some of these rituals are still held at Stonehenge as the stones represent the rising of the sun at its highest position in the wheel of the year.

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Magical rituals  include lighting a candle,with respect for the Summer Solstice. Crafting a protective amulet. Another ritual is dancing and singing around a bonfire, blessings with honey or mead. Creating flowers and flower wreaths to wear on top of their hair for men and women. Picnic feasts are popular among pagan families this time of year.

While many pagans celebrate the sun as a masculine energy, Norse pagans saw the sun to represent Sól or Sunna a Norse female goddess of the sun while her brother Máni represents the moon god.

According to Norse folklore, A person named Mundilfari who had two children, they had very light colored hair and skin that he named one Máni meaning Moon and the girl child was named Sól meaning Sun. Once Sól grew up her father Mundilfari betrothed her to a mortal called Glenr. This cheeky act of Mundilfari infuriated the Vanir so much that they snatched Sól and her brother Máni and placed them in the sky. Sól was forced to drive the horses named, Arvakr ( Early riser) and Alsvidr ( Most Rapid) that carried the Sun (created from molten pieces from the Muspell world and to kindle the nine worlds by these Vanir gods and goddesses. Two bellows were set under the horses shoulders to keep them cool.  Sól is chased by the wolf Sköll meaning (One who mocks). He is the offspring of Fenrir the notorious Arch wolf and is Loki’s offspring. The legend dictates that Sköll will devour Sól during the apocalyptic Ragnarock.

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Several Pagans marry this time of year similar with the spring Beltane. Some rededicate themselves to the lord and lady following timeless tradition. The traditional incense for Litha is sage, lemon, rose, wisteria, mint, sunflower and basil. Sacred gemstone for the Summer solstice Litha is ruby, red like the midsummer fires.

fairies with green lady

Litha is also the time of year the Fae are very active, remember not to step into a fairy ring or you may be whisked away down into their other-world and you will never place foot in this world again!

 

summer solstice blessing

If there are many falling stars during a clear summer evening, expect thunder. If there are none, expect fine weather. – Author Unknown

 

 

 

Source and Reference:

Snyder, Russell. (2014-06-16) Enjoying Midsummer the Finnish way – thisisFINLAND. Finland.fi.

Grimm, Jacob (1883). Teutonic Mythology, Volume 2. George Bell & Sons.

Hutton, Ronald (1996). The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford University Press

Above illustrations and photos in Public Domain.

 

 

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Walpurgis & Beltane Festivals

The German festival of Walpurgisnacht, is April 30th similar to the UK Walpurgis or Beltane which runs from April 30th to May 3rd. It is also known as Lady Day or May Day in Germany.

Walpurgis night 2018 photo credited to Karina Hessland

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In the UK pagans celebrate the Green Man festival which is mainly a foliage fertility celebration honoring our ancestors, the close of winter embracing the blossom of Spring.

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The powers of elves and the Fae grow and reach their peak at the Summer Solstice.

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Folklore tells us It is a time of enchantment and magical renewal. Beltane is a great time for planting gardens especially herbs and casting spells.

In Scandinavia, pagans play out mock battles between Winter and Summer.

Beltane is a time for Community Bonfires.
Tradition teaches us that sacred woods are kindled by spark from flint. The Irish Gaelic, Beltane Fire is called ‘teine eigin’ or fire from rubbing sticks together.

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Pagans may jump over the Beltane Fire, swoosh through it, or do a clockwise dance around the bonfire.
There is drumming that compliments the dancers.
If you live in the country gather your kin and have a bonfire that you can contain in areas like a beach on sand.
Keep children out of the way so no injuries happen. Remember Safety first and enjoy Beltane. Welcome Spring! Welcome Lady May! Welcome Green Man!

 

*Featured Illustration: Walpurgisnaght by Swiss artist Albert Welti 1897 (Public Domain)

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Pussy Willow Folklore

pussy willow folklore

The many buds of the pussy willow make it a favorite flower for Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year). The fluffy white blossoms of the pussy willow are similar to silk, and they spring young shoots a green jade color.

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According to Chinese tradition, this represents the coming of prosperity. In the Lunar New Year period in spring, stalks of the plant may be bought from the markets.

Once they are unbundled within one’s residence, the stalks are frequently decorated with gold and red ornaments—ornaments with colors that signify prosperity and happiness.

 

Picture below Old German Easter postcard. Public Domain.

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Source and Reference:

 

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Beannaichte Hogmanay! Celtic Traditions to Welcome The New Year.

Beannaichte Hogmanay!

Happy Hogmanay!

Happy New Year!

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The Scottish celebration of Hogmanay is close at hand. Hogmanay is the Gaelic word for the last day of the year, celebrated on New Year’s eve.

This is the time of year when Celtic folks in Scotland gather together to welcome in the New Year and say Farewell or in Scot’s Gaelic, Soraidh, to the old year.

Several sources cite that Gaelic origins grew from French or Norse language or an older version of gaelic. New year ceremonies and mid-winter observance were natural in both Gaelic and Norse traditions. Hogmanay is a larger celebration in Scotland and predates the Christian Christmas. According to Scotland’s own website Scotland.org  The Word Hogmany originated from the Norman French from hoguinan (a New Year’s gift). They  also mention it’s a modification of the Gaelic og maidne (new morning), the Flemish hoog min dag (day or love) or, an Anglo Saxon haleg monath (holy month). The largest Hogmany festival is held in Edinburgh.

Historians also believe Hogmanay originated from a winter solstice festival introduced by the Vikings, for whom the passing of the shortest day was a cause for celebration, given how far north they lived. This Viking influence combined with the existing Gaelic pagan traditions to form the climactic torch parades through Edinburgh and other Scottish cities.

 First Footing:

According to Scotland.org  The ‘First Footing’ – “the ‘first foot’ in the house after midnight is still very common is Scotland. To ensure good luck, a first footer should be a dark-haired male. Fair-haired first footers were not particularly welcome after the Viking invasions of ancient times. Traditional gifts include a lump of coal to lovingly place on the host’s fire, along with shortbread, a black bun and whisky to toast to a Happy New Year.”

Remember to always bring a gift and have dark hair when first footing a home. It will bring good luck!

Redding the House:

Similar to the west’s spring cleaning rituals when a main clean-up is done to prepare the house for the New Year. Sweeping or cleaning out one’s  chimney was a paramount tradition. ‘Out with the Old and In with the New!’ Some folks are skilled in reading the ashes, similar to  tea leaf readings. This is a critical time of year when fire plays a huge vast part in celebrations, it’s only natural to bring a bit of it into the house.

The Saining of the House:

Once the house was clean, the woman of the house would carry a smoking Juniper branch. This is termed smudging or cleansing the home of negative energy or evil spirits that could cause illness.

 Fire Festivals & Bon Fires:

The Vikings may have introduced the use of fire to purify and banish evil spirits which is an ancient custom. Fire is at the center of several Hogmanay celebrations in Biggar, Comrie, Stonehaven, and the largest is at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival.

Hogmanay

Auld Lang Syne:

Hogmanay in Scotland includes a warm rendition of Auld Lang Syne, of this endearing poem by the Scottish national bard, Robert Burns or Rabbie Burns. The Scots link arms and hands while they sing this famous poem.

Tradition dictates that arms are only linked at the start of the final verse. Folks link hands and arms in a circle, they rush to the middle of the circle while still holding hands at the end of the song. Many other English speaking cultures now practice this tradition.

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The Scottish lyrics of Auld lang Syne by Robert Burns in 1788, set to the melody of the traditional folk song Raud.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!

and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,

and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,

frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

Here is the English Version.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne? (long, long, ago)

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!

and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,

and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,

from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!

And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

 

 

Sources & Reference:

Scotland.org website

The Concise Scots Dictionary Cambers (1985) ISBN 0-08-028491-4

“The Origins, History and Traditions of Hogmanay”, The British Newspaper Archive

 

 

 

 

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February Pagan Celebrations: Groundhog Day, Imbolc & Charming of the Plough

Groundhog Day:

Today, North Americans’ wait in anticipation for Punxsutawney Phil to appear from his den to see his shadow or not. Currently, Phil saw his shadow and Americans will see six more weeks of winter! Groundhog’s day origin evolves out of Europe. A woolly bear was used instead of a groundhog to predict the near future, weather. The weather was predicted by how wide was the bear’s dark brown strip on his coat. A wide strip predicted a shorter winter while a thin strip predicted a longer winter.
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The Charming of the Plough:

‘The Charming of The Plough.’ is an Anglo-Saxon charm and celebrated still today in Sweden and Denmark. ‘The Charming of the Plough,’ dates back into ancient agriculture times, long before the spread of Christianity in Europe.
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European cultures would bless the plough for a bountiful harvest. Remember, they didn’t have grocery stores back then. Pagan’s lives revolved around agriculture and they made their food and everyday household products from ‘scratch.’

Imbolc is a Celtic pagan, Wiccan, celebration to honor the Celtic goddess Brighid or Brigid  means ‘exalted one.’ She is the goddess mystic/healer that is honored throughout Ireland, ‘Isle of man’ and Scotland. Imbolc celebrates Spring’s imminent restoration from winter.
Brighid oversees the hearth n home. She is the patron of bards and poets, sorcerers, healers and magicians. She is known to have these gifts. Her priestesses honor her with a sacred flame. Later the Christian church that wiped out thousands of pagans, usurped Brighid for St. Brigid which the church did to many other pagan gods and godesses of Europe. Imbloc is still celebrated each year in early February by Wiccans one of their higher sabbats.

Many Catholic Christian churches in Europe celebrate St. Brigid with ‘Candlemass’ which was taken from goddess Brighid’s ‘CandleWheel.’ Brighid’s candlewheel is circular and has candles to honor the Celtic goddess with fire for ‘hearth n home.’
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O’ Brighid Gaelic Queen of ‘fire n light,’

Bless this home n hearth tonight!

Welcome Spring’s first warm kiss of light,

Banish, winter’s cold with flight.

Enjoy your Celebrations!
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+Berger, Pamela (1985). The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint. Boston: Beacon Press. pp. 70–73. ISBN 9780807067239.

*Monaghan, Patricia. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. Infobase Publishing, 2004. p. 25

*Photos and illustrations in public domain.

 

Why The Bear is Stumpy-tailed

Why the Bear is Stumpy-tailed is an old Norwegian fairy tale that was gathered from Norwegian folks by Jørgen Moe and Peter Christen Asbjørnsen in their fairy tale book Norske Folke-eventyr 1843.

One day the bear met the fox, who came slinking along with a string of fish he had stolen.

“Whence did you get those from?” asked the bear.

“Oh! my Lord Bruin, I’ve been out fishing and caught them,” said the fox.

So the bear had a mind to learn to fish too, and bade the fox tell him how he was to set about it.

“Oh! it’s an easy craft for you,” answered the fox, and soon learnt. You’ve only got to go upon the ice, and cut a hole and stick your tail down into it; and so you must go on holding it there as long as you can. You’re not to mind if your tail smarts a little; that’s when the fish bite. The longer you hold it there the more fish you’ll get; and then all at once out with it, with a cross pull sideways, and with a strong pull too.”

Yes; the bear did as the fox had said, and held his tail a long, long time down in the hole, till it was fast frozen in. Then he pulled it out with a cross pull, and it snapped short off. That’s why Bruin goes about with a stumpy tail this very day.

Source & Reference:

Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen, Moe Jørgen Engebretsen, Popular Tales from the Norse (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1859)

Featured photo of a black bear in Horsefly Peninsula B.C. Courtesy of Alan D. Wilson Wikimedia Commons in Public Domain.

 

 

The Mysterious Cottingley Fairies

This is a fantastic tale of two cousins that lived in Cottingley, England in the early 20th century.

Elsie Wright was 15 yrs old and Francis Griffiths was 10 years old at the time these photos were taken in 1917.

Researchers claim there were 5 photographs taken altogether, with Elsie and Francis interacting with the fae.

Later Sir Arthur Conan Doyle discovered their work and posted their photos in his article about fairies in Strand Magazine December (1920)

After much investigation into these mysterious photos some deduced they were real while many thought they were fakes.

A total conundrum to say the least.

In 1983 the two cousins confessed they faked the fairy photos.

Later, Elsie passed away age 87 in 1988 and Francis died at age 79 in 1986.

Their Shenanigans created a stir among popular spiritualists at that time such as Edward Gardner.

The girls talent with photography and cut-out fairies is now documented in books and some folks still claim the photos are real.

Above Photo of Francis Griffiths frolicking with the fae.

Source & Reference:

*Gardner, Edward l. Fairies:The Cottingley Photographs and their Sequel. London Theosophical Society, 1945.

*Cooper, Joe (1982), “Cottingley: At Last the Truth”, The Unexplained

*Photos by Elsie Wight and Francis Griffiths (Public Domain)

Giant Wolves/Wargs of Norse Mythology

Early beginnings for the pups Sköll and Hati. Odin caught them and held them in the kennels in Asgard in order to keep their father and an enemy to the Aesir, Hróðvitnir, at bay. According to Norse folklore, wargs are mythological giant wolves such as Fenrir, Sköll, and Hati.
In the Hervarar saga, King Heidrek is asked by Gestumblindi (Odin),

What is that lamp
which lights up men,

but flame engulfs it,

and wargs grasp after it always?

Heidrek perceives the answer is the Sun, explaining,

She lights up every land and shines over all men, and Skõll and Hati are called wargs.

Those are wolves, one going before the sun, the other after the moon.

Wargs are large, dangerous wolves.

Trundholm-Sun-Chariot

Above: The Trundholm sun chariot from Bronze Age Denmark.

Hati, (meaning hateful) is a large Warg and the son of Hroðvitnir. He desires to ensnare the moon Máni the brother of Sól which he will eventually wolf down. Sköll (meaning mockery) is his accomplice. He is named after one of Saturn’s moons Saturn XLVII. Sköll chases Sól through the sky and will devour her and her horses at Ragnarök

Wolves in folklore also served as a symbol for menacing anthropoid beasts. For example, Gunnr’s horse was a kenning for “wolf” on the Rök Runestone, in the Lay of Hyndla, the völva (witch) Hyndla rides a wolf and to Baldur’s funeral, the giantess Hyrrokkin arrived on a wolf.
Once the wolves gobble up the Sun and moon the end of the world will begin with the eclipse to launch the apocalyptic event, Ragnarök.

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Picture of the wolves Sköll meaning (revenge or mockery) and Hati meaning (hate) chasing Sól also known as Sunna (the sun goddess) and Máni (moon god). Public domain.

Máni and Sól were giants according to Norse Mythology. The solution to devour them is to take them out with giant wargs.

Do giant wolves exist in contemporary times? Today palaeontologists have discovered the Dire Wolf meaning ‘Fearsome dog”  Dire wolves roamed North and South America 125000-9500 years ago in the Late Pleistocene, early Holocene eras. They are similar in size to the Grey wolf and Yukon wolf.

A discovery of a giant wolf’s head dating back to 40000 years ago was found near the Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia, Siberia.

Read the article in the link below, courtesy of Live Science by staff writer Yasemin Saplakoglu

https://www.livescience.com/65677-severed-head-ancient-wolf-russia.html

The Pleistocene wolf’s head measured 40cm in length, half the size of a modern wolf’s body which varies from 66 to 86cm.

Pleistocene wolf head

Above: The giant wolf with its fur and fangs still intact aged 2 to 4 years old when it perished. Photo by Albert Protopopov courtesy of strangesounds.org.

 

Source & References:

  • Encyclopedia of Norse Germanic Folklore, Mythology, and Magic. by Claude Lecouteaux copyright ©2005,2007,2014  English translation by Inner Traditions International. ©2016 ISBN 9781620554807
  • Featured image: Odin and Fenris (1909) by Dorothy Hardy
  • Live Science by staff writer Yasemin Saplakoglu
  • https://www.livescience.com/65677-severed-head-ancient-wolf-russia.html