Trädandar: Scandinavian Tree Fairies

Scandinavian, Trädandar are shape-shifting tree fairies.
They softly speak to each other through the whispering leaves.
Legend has it that the deceased souls of folks, transform into tree spirits upon death.
These nature spirits have been known to care for their surrounding environment.

There are other nature spirits that are similar such as the Dryad they are Greek tree spirits which morph into an attractive woman.

So remember to be kind to trees you never know who resides in them and plant plenty of them you just may house some helpful tree spirits like the Trädandar.

“Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods

and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.”

~ unknown

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Above, Trädandar illustration by Nifty Bryn Buckles ©2019

Source & Reference:

  • Thorpe, Benjamin (1851). Northern Mythology, Comprising the Principle Popular Traditions and Superstitions of Scandinavia, North Germany, and the Netherlands. Vol.2 Scandinavian popular traditions and superstitions.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica online https//www.Britannica.com
  • Featured art: Fairies Looking through a Gothic Arch by John Anster Fitzgerald 1864
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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

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.

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

Jataka Tale: The Hare in The Moon

Jataka Tales are folk tales from India, they tell of the reincarnated lives of Guatama Buddha who was the founder of Buddhism, he taught over a 45 year period. He lived in the eastern part of India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. His given first name was Siddhartha a Prince, who came from a royal family. He could not stand to see the suffering and toil of the poor and wished to help them.

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Guatama Buddha taught a Middle Way between drastic self-restraint and extreme permissiveness. He is the main character in Buddhism. He ascended to peak illumination he had accomplished Buddhahood. He shared his teachings to his students to help stop the suffering and rebirth in this world. He passed down oral tradition and writings of these teachings and tales were written 400 years later.

The Jataka Tales from India tell of the many previous lives of Buddha. They teach morals similar to the Greek Aesop’s Fables. In these tales Guatama Buddha is referred to as Bodhisattva,” since he has not yet accomplished his full-blown Buddha enlightenment. The Hare in The Moon originated from the Pali Canon as the Sasa Jataka and in the Jatakamala of Arya Sura. The famous Man in the Moon that forms the moon’s face was seen as a Hare image in the moon in Asian culture.

Sit back and enjoy this endearing tale of a very charitable Hare and his three friends.

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The Hare in The Moon

Once upon a time the Bodhisattva was reincarnated as a hare. He inhabited a lush green forest among soft grass and fancy ferns, amidst crawling vines and succulent indigeous orchids. The lush beryl woods was framed by a beautiful blue-green river like an Aquamarine gem stone.

This particular jungle was a spiritual refuge for mystics who wander far away from the world to heed their spiritual calling and to reflect on it. These mystics survived on the food given to them by the benevolent villagers. The villagers gave alms joyfully as it was considered their divine duty.

The Bodhisattva hare was blessed with three companions, an otter, a monkey and a jackal (sometimes a fox in other versions) The three friends looked to the hare as their leader. The wise hare taught them the gravity of the giving of alms, how to observe the holy days and keep the moral laws. The Hare on the Hallowday encouraged his friends to be generous and give their own food when a hungry person in need asked for food.

One Hallowday Sakra, lord of devas observed the four companions from his lofty, palace made from marble built on the peak of Mount Meru. Sakra made a decision to test the friends virtue.  During that day the four companions decided to separate in search for food. The otter discovered seven redfish on a riverbank; the monkey picked mangoes from the trees while the jackal came across a lizard resting beside an abandoned container of sour milk.

Sakra transformed into a Brahman (priest) and he said to the otter, “I am hungry friend. I need some food so I can achieve my priestly duties. Can you help me? The kind otter offered the seven redfish that he had collected for his own meal.

Next the Brahman went to the monkey and said ” I am hungry friend, I need food so I can achieve my priestly duties. Can you help me?The generous monkey donated to the Brahman the ripe mangoes that he had desired to eat for himself.

Again, the Brahman went to the jackal and said ” I am hungry friend, I need food so I can achieve my priestly duties. Can you help me?The benevolent jackal donated to the Brahman the sour milk and the lizard which he had planned to eat for his own meal.

Soon after, the Brahman went to the hare and asked for food, but the hare had no food. The hare only ate the lush green grass that grew in the forest. So the Bodhisattva told the Brahman to build a  fire, and when the fire began burning , he said “I have nothing to give you to eat but myself!” Then the unselfish hare hopped into the fire.

Sakra was still disguised as a Brahman. He was totally surprised and deeply touched by the hare’s chivalrous act. He immediately quenched the fire so the dear hare was not burned from the flames. Sakra revealed his true form to the noble hare. “Dear friend,” he said, “Your virtue will be remembered throughout the ages.” Next, Sakra painted the enlightened hare’s image on the pale face of the Moon for everyone to view forever.

Sakra returned to his magnificent palace on Mount Meru, and the four furry friends lived  out their long and happy lives in the lush green forest. To this day, when you look up at the full moon you can see the image of the self-sacrificing hare.

The End.

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Indian Hare Photo above: credit to N.A Nazeer  Public Domain

 

Sources & References:

*John Strong (2004). Relics of the Buddha. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11764-0.

*All Pictures and Photos in the Public Domain

 

 

 

 

Garden Gnome

Spring has arrived! Gardeners are excited to grab their tools and slip into their ugly looking shoes with names that come from large reptiles like Croc or Gator.

One of my favorite wee friends of the garden is the amiable garden gnome.

Gnom mit Zeitung und Tabakspfeife (English: Gnome with newspaper and tobacco pipe) by Heinrich Schlitt. Public Domain

The Garden Gnome is known in folklore to bring good luck to your garden.

These little gnomes usually decked out in red hats, have long white beards and wear green clothes were once Earth Elementals, nature spirits, guardians of the plants and flowers that grow in garden beds. They are also known as the Nisse similar to the Icelandic Huldufólk that guard mines and land.

Gnome comes from Renaissance Latin gnomus, which first appears in the Liber de Nymphis, Sylvanis, Pygmaeis, Salamandris, et Gigantibus etc. by Paracelsus published in Nysa in 1566 and again in the Johannes Huser edition of 1589–1591.

Garden gnomes began in Northern Europe, the UK and Germany.

According to folklore the Nisse would move freely around the gardens at night. Once the sun rose in the sky and they were touched by its warm rays of light, these earth Elementals would turn into stone.

Hence, the modern day Ceramic garden gnome that we see peeking out at us tucked under a colorful green plant or friendly flower.

 

Sources & References:

* Way, Twigs (2009). Garden Gnomes: A History. Shire Library. 487. United Kingdom: Shire Publications.

*Featured Garden gnome:Replica of Lampy, Charles Isham’s 1847 Terracotta gnome from Germany. The original is on display at Lamport Hall.

Icelandic Body Folklore: Necropants

Icelandic Body Folklore of the Nábrók and the Nábrókarstafur.

There are two sides to Folklore. One is light and cheerful like folk dancing and some folk music. Then there is a dark side that presents itself as sheer terrifying like this  Icelandic folklore about real human necropants.
Nábrók means “death underpants!” (No I’m not joking!)
They’re a pair of pants made from the skin of a dead man, according to Icelandic witchcraft, generates a limitless money cache.

The photo below is a replica of a pair of nábrók at The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft.

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The Magick Ritual:
Legend dictates, in order create your own necropants or nábrók, one has to attain approval from the living person in order to use their skin for this ritual after they have expired.

This gruesome ritual states once the deceased man has been buried, he must be dug up and excoriate in one piece his skin from the waist down.

When you step into the skin of the cadaver the Nábrók will fuse itself to your lower body.

Next, you must pillage a coin from a poor widow and place in the scrotum with the magical sigil,  nábrókarstafur, penned on a scrap of paper.

Then, the coin will attract money continuously into the scrotum as long as no one disturbs the initial coin.

The Christian twist to this is for one that desires to attain salvation, the owner of the necropants must convince an unwary male to accept ownership of the nábrók and pop into the pants immediately.

The nábrók will continue producing coins for ages.
Icelandic Sigil of the nábrókarstafur.

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The magical symbol above, is part of the ritual and at its feet are coins.

-Written by NiftyBuckles©2018

 

 

Source and References:

Sigurður, Atlason (14 November 2005). “Stave for Necropants”. Strandagaldur, Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft.