Super Blood Wolf Moon

Happy New Year! Exciting times ahead especially on 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.

werewolf by nifty buckles

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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Winter Solstice: The Yule Log

In Scandinavian countries each year during the Winter Solstice it was tradition to heave a huge log into a large hearth to commemorate the sun’s return.

Picture of Yule log courtesy of Rocksweeper.

The Yule log was usually an Oak log however, Ash was also used in order to grant wisdom and good fortune.

The women would gather to bless and cleanse the home from negative spirits. The oldest male and family members would seek out the ideal large Yule log for the hearth. They would have to anchor large ropes around it and drag it back to their home. It was considered a bad omen to cut the log from a living tree.

The Yule log was rubbed with ale, mead or whiskey and dressed with greenery.

Ornamental shapes were carved into the log, often in the image of Holda or Cailleach for the Celts, her image represented the cold, darkness and death, once tossed upon the hearth winter was exchanged for heat, light and life.

The Yule log was kept lit throughout the Winter Solstice to prevent evil spirits from entering the home and represent welcoming the Solar year.

Many ghost tales were told in front of the warm fire as well as toasts and wishes made. Over the years folks often tie their prayers and petitions to the Yule log before it is tossed into the fire. Sometimes part of the Yule log is saved for the next winter.

Source & Reference:

*Grimm, Jacob (James Steven Stallybrass Trans.) (1882). Teutonic Mythology: Translated from the Fourth Edition with Notes and Appendix Vol. I. London: George Bell and Sons.

*Picture of Yule log cutting in Public Domain.

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

Opera dei Pupi

Sicilian Puppet Theatre, Opera dei Pupi
dates back to the 15th century. Traditional Sicilian Folk Art uses wooden marionettes on strings and metal wires instead of hand puppets.
These marionettes vary in size from small to large.

They comprise Frankish romantic poems one for example is The Song of Roland.

The donkey carts that are used are painted with detailed scenes for the various tales that are performed by these colourful wooden marionettes.

Presently there are only a few troubadours that still travel and perform.

Source & Reference:

  • Giuseppe Guarraci “Ernesto Puzzo e l’opera dei pupi nel siracusano” AICS 2011
  • Pictures in Public Domain

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.

Mictēcacihuātl, Aztec Heroine of The Dead

Mexicans observe their traditional Day of the Dead ancestral festival on November 1st.

Here is an Ancient Aztec goddess that is revered on this Day of the Dead.

Mictēcacihuātl, Lady of The Dead. According to Aztec legends, Mictēcacihuātl means “Lady of the Dead” she is Queen of Mictlan which is the underworld, Mictēcacihuātl governs over the dead with her deity husband, Mictlantecuhtli.

Mictēcacihuātl main job is to over see the deceased’s dead and direct the ancient festivals of the dead.

These ancient festivals emerged from Aztec traditions into the present Day of the Dead after blending with Spanish traditions. Mictēcacihuātl also, watches over the modern festival. Her claim to fame, as the “Lady of the Dead”, was that she was born, then sacrificed as a baby. Mictecacihuatl was displayed with a decayed body and with her jaw wide- opened, to gobble the stars in daytime.

Sources & References:

Fernández, Adela (1992, 1996). Dioses Prehispánicos de México (in Spanish). Mexico City: Panorama Editorial. ISBN 968-38-0306-7. OCLC 28801551

(1993). An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27928-4.