Magical Protective Jackets: The Warlock Fecket

In ancient times there were many superstitions that frightened folks. Most people relied upon their tribal shaman, cunning woman or wits, to craft protective amulets such as a lucky rabbit’s foot, magical battle flags and even clothes.

One such piece in Scotland was a magic protective jacket worn by magicians called the Warlock Fecket. This protective magical jacket had to be hand woven from the skins of water snakes at a specific phase of the March moon.

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Above Photo of Scottish warriors 13th century. Public Domain

According to the Legend of Lord Soulis it was a supernatural way of defeating a wound proof person that features the number nine frequently.

Background of Lord Soulis, Hermitage Castle was apparently built by one Nicholas de Soulis (Robin Redcap) around 1240, in a traditional Norman Motte and Bailey pattern. It remained in his family until approximately 1320 when his heir, William de Soulis, forfeited it because of suspected witchcraft and the attempted regicide of King Robert I of Scotland. Soulis was also accused of being linked with the murderous border goblin called Redcaps. Legend has it that Soulis’s tenantship, suffered unbearable devastations, and arrested him, for the murder of Laird of Branxholm near the Ninestane Rig (a megalithic circle). His enemies boiled him death in molten lead. Ouch!

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Above Photo of a Murderous Redcap courtesy of Villains Wiki

In truth, he died, a prisoner, in Dumbarton Castle. Hermitage Castle is alleged to be spooked by Redcap Sly, de Soulis’s familiar spirit.

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Photo above of Hermitage Castle 1860 in Public Domain.

The Norwegian Kings in Medieval times, had wars with pagan farmers forcing them to convert to Christianity. One war the Battle of Heimskringla, the Saint Olaf’s Saga tells the story of the Battle of Stiklastad in Norway 1031. Norwegian farmers rebelled against King Oláf Haraldson. A pagan farmer named Thorir Hund wore his protective, magic reindeer-skin coat crafted by “troll-wise Finns,” this was to keep him wound free.

Thorir fought Tjotta and made his way to the king and attempted to kill him. The king struck Thorir’s shoulder but didn’t injure him. Some say smoke seeped out of the magic jacket. Bjorn the king’s marshal struck Thorir with the blunt end of the battle-axe knocking him back, Thorir came after Bjorn and ran him threw with his sword after that the king was killed. It looks like the magical reindeer jacket kept Thorir safe.

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Above Illustration of Thorir Hund wearing magical protective, Reindeer Jacket/cloak. Public domain

Sources and References:

  • Folklore, Myths & Legends of Britain. 1973. Reader’s Digest. London.
  • Graham, Barbara (1975). The Soulis Cross. Kilmarnock and District History Group. p. 16.
  • Nigel Pennick, Pagan Magic of the Northern Tradition ©2015 Destiny Books
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Vasilisa and The Fiery Skull 💀🔥

Vasalisa and The Fiery Skull 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.

 

Fólkvangr, Freyja’s Field

Hey folks! Did you know that the Scandinavian goddess Freyja had her own field?

According to Norse mythology, Fólkvangr  in the Old Norse language means “field of the host” or “people-field” or “army-field”) it is a pasture or field governed by the goddess Freyja where half the dead that fought in combat turn up upon death, while the other half are sent to the god Odin in Valhalla. Fólkvangr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. According to the Prose Edda, within Fólkvangr is Freyja’s hall Sessrúmnir.

Freyja helps other deities by lending the use of her feathered cloak. She initiates in events of fertility and love, and is often sought after by powerful jötnar who desire to make her their wife. Freyja’s  has an absentee husband, the god Óðr. She  has cried tears of gold for him, and seeks him out under a variety of names such as Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, Valfreyja, and Vanadís.

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The Goddess Freyja above illustration by “Freya” (1882) by Carl Emil Doepler  (Public Domain)

 

 

Source & Reference:

  • Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology, and Magic by Claude Lecouteux ISBN 9781620554807 Copyright ©2005

The Brave Vanir Witch Gullveig/Heiðr

The Witch Gullveig in Norse lore is a favorite Vanir Goddess of mine, she appears as a dauntless champion deemed evil by opposing deities called the Aesir. According to Norse mythology there was a violent war that exploded between the Vanir and the Aesir gods and goddesses, recorded in the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá composed in the thirteenth century by Snorri Sturluson 1178 – 1241.

The Völuspá mentions a very brave witch named Gullveig, a völva, Vanir sorceress goddess. The wizardly, Vanir resided in Vanaheim the sixth of the Norse nine worlds, the Aesir lived in Asgard where Odin reigned. Gullveig was a very skilled witch in the art of the seidr, a strange kind of magic that could change one’s fate in an instant. She was a shaman, that made magical wands from sacred trees and could cast spells to help or hinder depending upon the request. She was also known to temper wolves.

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Above Illustration: The Nine worlds of Yggdrasil, of Norse Mythology Public Domain

The Aesir were captivated by her skills, seeking her expertise and craved her magic of alchemy. The Aesir behaved as hypocrites and accused Gullveig of being covetous instead of examining their own selfish intentions. The lust for gold subdued the Aesir and they turned against each other. The Aesir’s hunger for gold triggered a war, first by Odin throwing his spear into the center of the Aesir crowd congregated in his hall.

It’s funny how gold has that effect on mere mortals and even more ironic how it effects the Aesir in this lore. Once the Aesir became conscious of their fervor for gold flamed and their itch for power, they became hostile towards Gullveig. She was bound, impaled and torched alive, one could smell her barbecued flesh throughout Odin’s Hall. Gullveig was forced to endure this fiery horror not just once but three times! Talk about a bad day! Each time they tortured this heroic witch, she would arise from the sizzling flames like the blazing Phoenix bird of Greek mythology.

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Above Illustration: A phoenix depicted in a book of legendary creatures by FJ Bertuch (1747–1822)  Public Domain

After their futile attempts of torture to rid themselves of this powerful witch, the Aesir were impressed by Gullveig and respected her, granting her a new name Heiðr, the gleaming one.

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Above Illustration: The Æsir lift Gullveig on spears over fire by Lorenz Frølich (1895)

 

 

Source & Reference:

  • Bellows, Henry Adams (1923). The Poetic Edda. American-Scandinavian Foundation.

 

  • Lindow, John (2002). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515382-0

 

 

‘Draco’ Constellation in Folklore

How much do you know about Dragons or constellations? Here is my bit of ‘Dragon Dribble.’

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Above Illustration: Draco coils around the north celestial pole, as depicted in Urania’s Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c.1825 (Public domain)

‘Draco,’ Is a magical, mysterious Constellation in the heavens.
Draco, is located above the North Pole. It has fifteen stars in its’ system.
It protects the ‘Little Dipper,’ and embraces the ‘Big Dipper.’
Draco in Greek legend is noted fighting against Zeus in the great,Titan War.
Draco attacks Athena, she rails back grabs him by the tail and flings him into the night sky. Draco, perplexed finds himself wrapped around the North Pole as a decorative, constellation in the sky.

Another Greek legend surrounding Draco represents Ladon, the dragon entrusted by Hera with guarding the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides. Gaia the Greek goddess bestowed a bountiful apple orchard as a wedding gift to Hera and Zeus. These golden apples were very magical and bestowed immortality upon any person that ate them.The Eleventh Labor of Hercules had him steal three of these golden apples that were protected from Ladon a hundred headed dragon that was the guardian of this unique apple orchard.

Draco is best seen in July’s night sky. Dragons and Serpents displayed in ancient statues and paintings have been found in temples and places of star worship, maybe representing the Draco constellation? Many represent ancient deities of wisdom.

Dragon Queens also known as Dragon Ladies were revered long before Dragon Kings they represent the primordial divine essence.

According to ancient East Asian Folklore, these sacred Dragon Queens ruled over the winds and rain they represented the yang energy, aid in healing and boost fertility. The Dragon Kings managed the dark moist caverns representing the water element of yin energy and they were known for ruling over dark elves.

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Above photo: An ancient statue of Queen of Heaven Dragon Queen. (Public domain)

Dragons are still revered in China and they represent the ancient emperors and majesty. Every Chinese New Year the people celebrate with their Chinese Dragon dance as shown in photo below. (Public domain)

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Draco Malfoy, an antagonist in the Harry Potter Book series, written by J.K. Rowling is named after the constellation as well.

So grab your telescope and keep an eye on Draco’s constellation in the Northern starry sky.

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Above photo: The constellation Draco as it can be seen by the naked eye (Public domain)

 

Sources and Reference:

Hornung, Erik (2001), The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West, Ithaca, New York and London, England: Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-3847-0

Black, Jeremy; Green, Anthony (1992), Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary, The British Museum Press, ISBN 0-7141-1705-6

Hamilton, Edith; Mythology  Copyright© 1942  Back Bay Books/Little Brown & Company, Hachette Book Group 1290 Ave. of Americas, NY,NY 10104  ISBN 978-0-316-22333-1

French, Sue (July 2012). “By Draco’s Scaly Folds”. Sky & Telescope.

Litha, Summer Solstice in Folklore

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

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

 

 

Where Gigantic Trolls Dwell – Iceland’s Reynisdrangar

In modern times when someone calls a person a Troll it refers to a annoying individual teasing or making unwanted comments on you social media. We’ve all experienced it.

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Above Illustration by John Bauer 1905 (Public Domain.)

There was a time way back in the day when Icelanders believed Trolls existed. Much has to do with the old lava formations that form Iceland’s scenic landscape. These frightening, monstrous Trolls dwell in the dark caves and crevices in such places like Reynisdrangar off the south east coast of Iceland. Don’t fret too much. Keep yourself out in the sunlight then, the trolls can’t smash you into little pieces. You see if a troll is caught in the daylight it will promptly turn to stone in a New York minute, so to speak.

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Iceland’s troll lore speaks of gargantuan rock formations that remain from the corpse’s of two gigantic trolls named Hvítserkur with his son Bardur who attempted to haul a large ship to shore when they were exposed to the dawn’s sunlight. The tale tells how their boisterous voices are still heard in the shrieking gale winds from the sea, yearning to be released from their plight.

Though trolls are known for their rambunctious rage, at times they can appear calm and mild. They are fair and will return a favor with a favor to folks that show kindness towards them. Trolls are accomplished Foodies, farmers, carvers and impressive at fishing.

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Above Photos of Icelandic Trolls in Reynisdrangar (Public Domain)

Modern tales mention the story of a husband who discovered his wife taken by the two trolls, sadly, she was found frozen during the night. The husband forced the two trolls to take an oath never to kill another person again. He loved his wife with all his heart, she was a free spirit. Her husband grieved that he was unable to provide a home for his wife and the fact that the three Norns weaved for his wife such a tragic fate among the trolls, lava rocks, and the tumultuous sea at Reynisfjara

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Above Photo at Reynisdrangar – sea stacks at Vík. (Public domain.)

 

 

Sources and References:

Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic folklore, Mythology and Magic by Claude Lecouteaux

Discover South Iceland Highland – Attractions: Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar Archived 2011-07-01 at the Way-back Machine.