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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.

Narwhal

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.

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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
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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
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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
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Sámi Goddess: Akka

Today we celebrate International women’s Day! Here are some special female Goddesses of the Sámi people.

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

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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)

 

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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

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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.

 

unseelie-court

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.

The_Wolves_Pursuing_Sol_and_Mani

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.

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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

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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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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.

Osterpostkarte

 

Source and Reference:

 

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Beannaichte Hogmanay! Celtic Traditions to Welcome The New Year.

Beannaichte Hogmanay!

Happy Hogmanay!

Happy New Year!

Hogmanaybagpipes

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.

 

Tiger Nursery Rhyme From Asia

According to Indian folklore, the Hindu warrior goddess Durga rides a huge tiger and battles demons.

Durga has ten arms which makes her an excellent warrior and piggybacks her tigress appellate, Damon.

Durga is an honorable warrior goddess and is the central deity in Shaktism a tradition of Hinduism, here she balances Brahman, the concept of preeminent reality.

The picture below: Durga Mahishasura-Mardini, the slayer of the buffalo demon

Public Domain.

The White Tiger revered in Chinese as 白虎; pinyan: Bái Hǔ is the fourth symbol of the Chinese constellations knowns as the White Tiger of the West (西方白虎) depicting the autumn season and the West.

Photo below of White Tigers this recessive color variant is endowed in the Bengal and Siberian tigers, with common stripes and blue eyes. It is not albinism.

Public Domain.

The tiger’s tail is an old folktale told in countries such as China and Korea, it is generally inadvisable to grasp a tiger by the tail. The Children’s Counting Rhyme of Eeny, meeny, miny, moe mentions catching a tiger by the toe. It’s best if we leave the Tigers to live in peace without human involvement.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

Catch a tiger by the toe.

If he hollers, let him go.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

                                       

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How The Tiger Got its Stripes; A Brazilian Folktale.

Once upon a time, ages and ages ago, so long ago that the tiger had no stripes upon his back and the rabbit still had his tail, there was a tiger who had a farm. The farm was very much overgrown with underbrush and the owner sought a workman to clear the ground for him to plant.

The tiger called all the beasts together and said to them when they had assembled, “I need a good workman at once to clear my farm of the underbrush. To one of you who will do this work I offer an ox in payment.”

The monkey was the first one to step forward and apply for the position. The tiger tried him for a little while but he was not a good workman at all. He did not work steadily enough to accomplish anything. The tiger discharged him very soon and he did not pay him.

Then the tiger hired the goat to do the work. The goat worked faithfully enough but he did not have the brains to do the work well. He would clear a little of the farm in one place and then he would go away and work on another part of it. He never finished anything neatly. The tiger discharged him very soon without paying him.

Next, the tiger tried the armadillo. The armadillo was very strong and he did the work well. The trouble with him was that he had such an appetite. There were a great many ants about the place and the armadillo could never pass by a sweet tender juicy ant without stopping to eat it. It was lunchtime all day long with him. The tiger discharged him and sent him away without paying him anything.

At last the rabbit applied for the position. The tiger laughed at him and said, “Why, little rabbit, you are too small to do the work. The monkey, the goat, and the armadillo have all failed to give satisfaction. Of course, a little beast like you will fail too.”

However, there were no other beasts who applied for the position so the tiger sent for the rabbit and told him that he would try him for a little while.

The rabbit worked faithfully and well, and soon he had cleared a large portion of the ground. The next day he worked just as well. The tiger thought that he had been very lucky to hire the rabbit. He got tired of staying around to watch the rabbit work. The rabbit seemed to know just how to do the work anyway, without orders, so the tiger decided to go away on a hunting trip. He left his son to watch the rabbit.

After the tiger had gone away the rabbit said to the tiger’s son, “The ox which your father is going to give me is marked with a white spot on his left ear and another on his right side, isn’t he?”

“O, no,” replied the tiger’s son. “He is red all over with just a tiny white spot on his right ear.”

The rabbit worked for a while longer and then he said, “The ox which your father is going to give me is kept by the river, isn’t he?”

“Yes,” replied the tiger’s son.

The rabbit had made a plan to go and get the ox without waiting to finish his work. Just as he started off he saw the tiger returning. The tiger noticed that the rabbit had not worked so well when he was away. After that, he stayed and watched the rabbit until the whole farm was cleared. Then the tiger gave the rabbit the ox as he had promised.

“You must kill this ox,” he said to the rabbit, “in a place where there are neither flies nor mosquitoes.”

The rabbit went away with the ox. After he had gone for some distance he thought he would kill him. He heard a cock, however, crowing in the distance and he knew that there must be a farmyard near. There would be flies of course. He went on farther and again he thought that he would kill the ox. The ground looked moist and damp and so did the leaves on the bushes. Since the rabbit thought there would be mosquitoes there he decided not to kill the ox. He went on and on and finally, he came to a high place where there was a strong breeze blowing. “There are no mosquitoes here,” he said to himself. “The place is so far removed from any habitation that there are no flies, either.” He decided to kill the ox.

Just as he was ready to eat the ox, along came the tiger. “O, rabbit, you have been such a good friend of mine,” said the tiger, “and now I am so very, very hungry that all my ribs show, as you yourself can see. Will you not be a good kind rabbit and give me a piece of your ox?”

The rabbit gave the tiger a piece of the ox. The tiger devoured it in the twinkling of an eye. Then he leaned back and said, “Is that all you are going to give me to eat?”

The tiger looked so big and savage that the rabbit did not dare refuse to give him any more of the ox. The tiger ate and ate and ate until he had devoured that entire ox. The rabbit had been able to get only a tiny morsel of it. He was very, very angry at the tiger.

One day not long after the rabbit went to a place not far from the tiger’s house and began cutting down big staves of wood. The tiger soon happened along and asked him what he was doing.

“I’m getting ready to build a stockade around myself,” replied the rabbit. “Haven’t you heard the orders?” The tiger said that he hadn’t heard any orders.

“That is very strange,” said the rabbit. “The order has gone forth that every beast shall fortify himself by building a stockade around himself. All the beasts are doing it.”

The tiger became very much alarmed. “O, dear! O, dear! What shall I do,” he cried. “I don’t know how to build a stockade. I never could do it in the world. O, good rabbit! O, kind rabbit! You are such, a very good friend of mine. Couldn’t you, as a great favour, because of our long friendship, build a stockade about me before you build one around yourself?”

The rabbit replied that he could not think of risking his own life by building the tiger’s fortifications first. Finally, however, he consented to do it.

The rabbit cut down great quantities of long sharp sticks. He set them firmly in the ground about the tiger. He fastened others securely over the top until the tiger was completely shut in by strong bars. Then he went away and left the tiger.

The tiger waited and waited for something to happen to show him the need for the fortifications. Nothing at all happened.

He got very hungry and thirsty. After a while, the monkey passed that way.

The tiger called out, “O, monkey, has the danger passed?”

The monkey did not know what danger the tiger meant, but he replied, “Yes.”

Then the tiger said, “O, monkey, O, good, kind monkey, will you not please be so kind as to help me out of my stockade?”

“Let the one who got you in there help you out,” replied the monkey and he went on his way.

Along came the goat and the tiger called out, “O, goat, has the danger passed?”

The goat did not know anything about any danger, but he replied, “Yes.”

Then the tiger said, “O, goat, O, good kind goat, please be so kind as to help me out of my stockade.”

“Let the one who got you in there help you out,” replied the goat as he went on his way.

Along meandered the armadillo and the tiger called out, “O, armadillo, has the danger passed?”

The armadillo had not heard of any danger, but he replied that it had passed.

Then the tiger said, “O, armadillo, O, good, kind armadillo, you have always been such a good friend and neighbor. Please help me now to get out of my stockade.”

“Let the one who got you in there help you out,” replied the armadillo as he went on his way.

The tiger jumped and jumped with all his force at the top of the stockade, but he could not break through. He jumped and jumped with all his might at the front side of the stockade, but he could not break through. He thought that never in the world would he be able to break out. He rested for a little while and as he rested he thought. He thought how bright the sun was shining outside. He thought what good hunting there was in the jungle. He thought how cool the water was in the spring. Once more he jumped and jumped with all his might at the back side of the stockade. At last, he broke through. He did not get through, however, without getting bad cuts on both his sides from the sharp edges of the staves. Until this day the tiger has stripes on both his sides.

Written in 1917.

 

 

 

 

Sources & References:

Cooper, JC (1992). Symbolic and Mythological Animals. London: Aquarian Press.  ISBN 1-85538-118-4.

I. & P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951, 1952)