Folklore and Myth Thursday – Week 18 – R

Welcome to another Folklore and Myth Thursday post! This week I’ll be focusing on figures and elements beginning with the letter ‘R’. The figures and elements I’ll be looking at this week are: Rangda, Rangi and Papa, the archangel Raphael, reed, resin, Rhiannon, and robin.

Rangda

Rangda (meaning “Widow”) is a “fierce sorceress queen of Balinese myth” (Tresidder, 2004:408). She is depicted as being “near-naked with long hair and nails” (Tresidder, 2004:408). Rangda, according to Tresidder (2004:408), may have originated in a “notorious 11th century queen of Bali”. Tresidder (2004:408) further states that her “immortal opponent is the spirit king Barong … The combat between Rangda and Barong, acted out in Balinese dance, always ends in Barong vanquishing Rangda”.

Rangi and Papa

Rangi – the sky god – and Papa – the earth goddess – are the “primal creator deities of the Maori pantheon” (Tresidder, 2004:408). Rangi and Papa “embraced so tightly in the primordial void that none of their six children could escape after they had been born. Tane, the god of forests, managed to separate them to the positions they now keep, succeeding where the god of war, Tu, failed (Tresidder, 2004:408).

The Archangel Raphael

Raphael (meaning “God heals”), is one of the archangels (divine messengers of God Tresidder, 2004:33). “Archangel are the independent figures of Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, who together with angels, transmit the word of God to humankind” (Tresidder, 2004:33). Raphael “acts as a guardian angel and is traditionally a protector of the young and of travellers” (Tresidder, 2004:408). He appears in the Apocrypha in the Book of Tobit, wherein he restores the father of Tobias’s eyesight” (see also Tresidder, 2004:408).

Saint Raphael.JPG
By Bartolomé Esteban Murillohttp://www.allposters.com/-sp/Archangel-Raphael-with-Bishop-Domonte-Posters_i1732063_.htm. Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. 2007-11-26 (original upload date) Original uploader was Commment at en.wikipedia, Public Domain, Link

Reed

The reed is a “Japanese emblem of purification in the creation myth of Izanagi” (Tresidder, 2004:410). Tressider (2004:410) also adds that “’The Reed Plain’ is a Japanese metaphor for the mortal world, and the reed for manifestation”.

In the Celtic world the reed was also seen to symbolise purification and was thought to be effective against witches, while it “had fertility symbolism in Mesoamerica and was the emblem of the Pan … in Greece” (see Tresidder, 2004:410).

Tresidder (2004:210) notes, however, that the reed is also a symbol of weakness, “as in the biblical reference to Egypt as a weak ally, a ‘broken reed’ (Isaiah 36:6)”. “The reed cross is an emblem of John the Baptist … [and] a symbol of Christ’s Passion” (Tresidder, 2004:410).

Resin

Resin symbolises immortality and “was used in embalming and was mixed with incense” (Tresidder, 2004:411). This symbolism was “based on the belief that resin was an incorruptible substance of long-lived trees such as the cypress, and that it could ensure life after death” (Tresidder, 2004:411).

Frankincense 2005-12-31.jpg
By snotch – photo taken by author, Public Domain, Link

Rhiannon

Rhiannon is a princess from Welsh myth, in which she is the king of the Otherworld’s daughter. In the Mabinogion she is the hero Pwll’s wife, and is further associated with horses and identifiable with Epona, the Celtic horse goddess (see Tresidder, 2004:411-413).

Robin

The robin is an “alternative to the goldfinch in the legendary story of a bird that plucked a thorn from Christ’s [Jesus] crown and was splashed with his blood” (Tresidder, 2004:415). Tresidder (2004:415) also notes that “[this] may have led to European superstitions that the robin announces death by tapping at a window pane, and that it is bad luck to kill one”.

Sources and Other Websites

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – Yule! Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!

Books:

Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

 

Folklore And Myth Thursday – Week 17 – Q

This week I will cover Qudshu, Quintessence, Quirinus, and Quetzalcoatl.

Qudshu

We start off in Egypt this week with the Egyptian goddess “of good health and consort of the fertility god Min” (Tresidder, 2004:402). Tresidder (2004:402) notes that Qudshu is Syrian in origin and was seen at times to be “a form of the goddess Hathor” (Tresidder, 2004:402).
“She is depicted naked, holding lotus flowers and snakes, standing on the back of a lion” (Tresidder, 2004:402).

Quintessence

Quintessence is “perfected matter” (Tresidder, 2004:403). “Western alchemists said that the fout elements (earth, air, fire and water) were surrounded by a purer, mystic element, the ‘fifth essence’ … similar to the Indic notion of prana, the energizing etheric spirit, or the Chinese qi…” (Tresidder, 2004:403).
Tresidder (2004:403) also notes: “[the] animal symbols eagle (air), phoenix (fire), dolphin (water) and man (earth), were grouped together to represent the quitessence”.

Quirinus

Denarius C. Memmius C. F. Romulus.jpg
By Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Moving on to Classical mythology, Quirinus was a Roman god of war, “in origin possibly the Sabine equivalent of Mars” (Tresidder, 2004:403). Tresidder (2004:403) notes that Romulus was identified with Quirinus after his deification.

Quetzacoatl

Quetzacoatl is one of the most important Aztec gods (Tresidder, 2004:403) “although he has his origins in pre-Aztec cultures” (Tresidder, 2004:403).
“The Aztecs adopted Quetzacoatl as the patron of priests, learning and crafts and the inventor of the calendar” (Tresidder, 2004:403). His name means “Feathered Spirit” and “Precious Twin” (Tresidder, 2004:403).
“He appeared in numerous other guises, such as the god of twins and, especially, as the god of the wind, Ehecatl” (Tresidder, 2004:403). He also played a great part in the “myth of the Five Suns” (Tresidder, 2004:403).
See also Tresidder (2004:403) for more information about Quetzacoatl or follow this “Quetzacoatl” link.

Quetzalcoatl telleriano2.jpg
By Unknownhttp://www.crystalinks.com/quetzalcoatl.html, Public Domain, Link

Sources and Other Websites

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – Yule! Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!

Books:

Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

Folklore and Myth Thursday – Week 16 – P

In this week’s Folklore and Myth Thursday post I’m focusing on some figures beginning with the letter ‘p’. These include Phaethon, the Pleiades, Partholon, Patollo, Patrimpo, the Pandavas, the Pey, Pamalak Bagobo, and Polong.

This week we’re starting off with some Classical mythology before moving on to Baltic, Celtic, and other mythologies.

Phaethon

Phaethon, the son of Helios (the sun god) and Clymene (the daughter of Oceanos), “drove his father’s four-horse chariot so fast that he lost control and threatened the world with a terrible heat” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007: 75). Phaethon crashes into the earth when Zeus stops him with a thunderbolt. “It was believed that Phaethon’s mad exploit could be traced in the shape of the Milky Way, while he was reflected in the constellation of Auriga, the charioteer” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007: 75).

The Pleiades

“The Pleiades were the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas, and were named Maia, Electra, Taygete, Celeno, Merope, Asterope and Alcyone. They may have become stars, or doves, in order to escape from the passionate intentions of Orion, the giant hunter” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007: 75). Cotterell & Storm (2007:75) also notes “[their] appearance in the night sky in May coincides with the beginning of summer, and the constellation of Orion then appears to be in perpetual pursuit of them”.

Pleiades large.jpg
By NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory
The science team consists of: D. Soderblom and E. Nelan (STScI), F. Benedict and B. Arthur (U. Texas), and B. Jones (Lick Obs.) – http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2004/20/image/a/, Public Domain, Link

Partholon

On now to a myth of the Celtic world, we have Partholon, the son of Sera, who led one of the early invasions of Ireland (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007: 161).
“Together with twenty-fout men and their wives, he is said to have come out of the west after the waters of the Flood had receded and cleared the island of trees ready for cultivation” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:161). Partholon and his people is said to have lived in Ireland for some five thousand years before an illness struck them all down within a week (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:161).

Patollo

Patollo is the Baltic god of war and the chief god of the Baltic region – “[the] one-eyed god of battle, magic, inspiration and the dead” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:218).Cotterell & Storm (2007:218) notes that he “was depicted as an old man with a long green beard and death-like pallor, wearing a turban … [he] bestowed good fortune and … he took it away whenever he had the desire to taste human blood”. Patollo had a pronounced role with regard to the dead (see Cottell & Storm, 2007:218) and was later identified with the Devil by Christian missionaries (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:218).

Patrimpo

Patrimpo is the Baltic god of fertility and is associated with rivers (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:219). “He was depicted as a happy young man without a beard and crowned with ears of grain” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:219).

The Pandavas

The decendants of King Pandu, the five Pandava princes “fought the Kauravas in the famous battle of Kurukshetra, which is described in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:392). Cotterell & Storm (2007:392) also notes that Arjuna, one of the princes, received spiritual instruction on the eve of battle from Krishna (an avatar of the god Vishnu), who disguised himself as Arjuna’s charioteer. “Krishna’s teaching forms the Bhagavad Gita or ‘Song of the Lord’” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007: 392).

Draupadi and Pandavas.jpg
By Raja Ravi Varma – http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/bce_299_200/mahabharata/draupadiwife/draupadiwife.html, Public Domain, Link

The Pey

The Pey “are demons who drink the blood of the dead and of wounded warriors, and bring misery and bad luck to the living. They are wild creatures with tangled hair” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:392). This is according to the “Tamils of southern India and Sri Lanka” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:392).

Pamalak Bagobo

Pamalak Bagobo is, according to the Bagobo people of Mindanao in the Philippines, th god who created humans (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).
“According to tradition, monkeys once behaved and looked like humans and only acquired their current appearance when Pamalak decided to create humankind as a separate race” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).

Polong

According to Malaysian and Indonesian folklore, the Polong “is a flying demon created from the blood of a murdered man” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:467).
“Whoever owns the Polong can order it to attack his enemies. The victims tear their clothes, go blind and eventually lose consciousness. However, the Polong also feeds on the blood of its owner” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:467).

Sources and Other Websites

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – Yule! Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!

Books:

Cotterell, A. & R. Storm. (2007). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology. London: Hermes House.

Folklore and Myth Thursday: Week 15 – O

Welcome to the first Folklore and Myth Thursday of 2017! This week I will be looking at some figures and elements beginning with the letter ‘O’. These include: Okuninushi, the Oni, Ot, Otshirvani, otter, and omphalos.

Okuninushi

We start this week off with Japanese Shinto mythology. In this mythology Okuninushi is the god of medicine and magic (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:465). “His name means ‘Great Land Master’, and he ruled the earth after its creation until Amaterasu [the sun goddess] sent her grandson Ninigi to take his place. As god of medicine, he is credited with having therapeutic methods of healing” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:465).
After many adventures including his 80 brothers, the beautiful princess Yakami, Susano-Wo and Susero-Hime, Okuninushi married Suseri-Hime and became the ruler of the Izumo province (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:465). For more details about Okuninushi and his adventures, see Cotterell & Storm (2007:465) or follow this “Okuninushi” link.

Ōkuninushi Bronze Statue.jpg
By Flow in edgewiseFlow in edgewise撮影, CC BY 3.0, Link

The Oni

Staying in Japan, we now move on to the Oni – giant horned demons (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466). “They are said to have come to Japan from China with the arrival of Buddhism, and Buddhist priests perform annual rites in order to expel them.” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466). Cotterell & Storm (2007:466) notes that the Oni can have a variety of colours and have three fingers, toes and sometimes three eyes. “The oni of hell have the heads of oxen or horses; they hunt down sinners and take them away in their chariot of fire to Emmo-o, the ruler of the underworld” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).
Oni are usually cruel and lecherous, and some are held responsible for illness and disease (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466). “[Others] are said to have once been mortal women whose jealousy or grief transformed them into demons” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).

Ot

Ot is “the fire queen of the Mongols” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466) and was said to have been “born at the beginning of the world, when the earth and sky separated” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466). She is believed to be identical with Umai – “the mother goddess of the Turkic people of Siberia” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).
“Her blessing is invoked at weddings and her radiance is said to penetrate throughout all the realms” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).

Otshirvani

In Siberian mythology, Otshirvani is a god of light, “sent by the supreme god to fight Losy, a monstrous serpent who killed all mortal beings by covering the world with poison” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).
“Otshirvani took the form of an enormous bird and, seizing Losy in his claws, threw him against the world mountain, killing him” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466).

Otter

The otter is a lunar animal (Tresidder, 2004:362) “linked with fertility and cult initiations in both Africa and North America. The Chinese associated the friendly and playful otter with a high sexual drive, and there are folk tales of otters disguising themselves as women to seduce men.” (Tresidder, 2004:362).
A person shape-shifted into otter form and killed also plays a significant role in one of the myths surrounding the Norse god Loki. I this myth the curse of the dwarf Anvari – a curse which passes to Otter’s father, Hreidmar, is told of. See also (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:466) or follow this “Andvari’s Curse” link.

Omphalos

“A sacred zone or object symbolizing the cosmic novel or centre of creation – a focus of spiritual and physical forces and a link between the underworld, the earth and the heavens” (Tresidder, 2004:356).
Tresidder (2004:356) notes: “The original omphalosat Deplhi in Greece – a white standing-stone with a tracery of carving – was sacred to Apollo and may originally have been a focus of Earth Mother worship and divination”.
“Omphalos symbols ranged from stones of phallic shape or ovoids with serpentine carving symbolizing generative forces to sacred trees or mountains. The holes in sacred Chinese jade bi discs may have somewhat similar significance” (Tresidder, 2004:356).

Omphalos museum.jpg
By ЮкатанOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Sources and more

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – Yule! Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!

Books:

Cotterell, A. & R. Storm. (2007). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology. London: Hermes House.

Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

Folklore and Myth Thursday – Week 14 – N

Welcome back to my folklore and myth Thursday posts! This week I’m focusing on the letter “n” and will be looking at Nammu, Nanna, Namorodo, Nehalennia, The Nihonshoki, and Nun.

Nammu

Nammu is a Sumerian goddess who embodies the primeval ocean (Tresidder, 2004:335). She is “the first deity and origin of all things” (Tresidder, 2004:335), giving birth to the “earth goddess Ki and the sky god An, who in turn coupled to produce the great gods of Sumer, including Enlil and Enki” (Tresidder, 2004:335).

Nanna

Another Sumerian god is Nanna (the Akkadian Sin [see Tresidder, 2004:335]), who is the greatest of the “trinity of astral deities” (Tresidder, 2004:336), who include Inanna and Utu. “He was revered as the god who measured time and, because he shone in the night, also as the enemy of dark forces and wrongdoers” (Tresidder, 2004:336). Nanna is also renowned for his wisdom (see also Tresidder, 2004:336).

Namorodo

Moving on to Australian Aboriginal mythology, we find the grisly Namorodo – a “race of trickster beings” (Tresidder, 2004:335) who are described as “[f]rightening figures with long claws” (Tresidder, 2004:335), their bodies only consisting of bones and skin held together by sinews (Tresidder, 2004:335). Tresidder (2004:335) further notes that: “[the] creatures move at night, flying through the air with a swishing sound. They may kill anyone they hear with one of their claws: particularly the injured and the ill”. Should you be so unfortunate as to be killed by one of these Namorodos, your spirit may be captured by the Namorodo and you will be unable to join the clan’s totemic ancestors, but would rather turn into a “hostile being that wanders through the bush” (see Tresidder, 2004:335). According to Tresidder (2004:335), the Namorodo have also been linked with sorcery and shooting stars. (See also Ngandjala-Ngandjala in Tresidder [2004:340].)

Nehalennia

Heading to Europe now, we find Nehalennia, an “ancient sea goddess of the coastal Netherlands” (Tresidder, 2004:337). Her cult (though it is unclear whether she is a Celtic or Germanic goddess) flourished in the 3rd century AD, with worshippers from all over the western Roman Empire (see Tresidder, 2004:337). She was worshipped at two sanctuaries – “ one on the island of Walcheren an one (now submerged) at Colijnsplaat” (Tresidder, 2004:337).

The Nihonshoki

In the Far East we find that the Chronicle of Japan, or Nihonshoki, is a work that was compiled by scholars and completed in 720 AD (Tresidder, 2004:341). “The Nihonshoki is an important source of Japanese myth, but less reliable than the Kojiki, which was composed at about the same time” (Tresidder, 2004:341). Tresidder (2004:341) notes that it is written in Chinese script and is heavily influenced by Chinese and Korean mythical and historical traditions and dynastic chronicles.

Nihonshoki tanaka version.jpg
By Unknownhttp://www.emuseum.jp/cgi/pkihon.cgi?SyoID=4&ID=w012&SubID=s000, Public Domain, Link

Nun

We conclude this week’s post with a visit to Egypt. Nun is the name of the “dark primeval waters of chaos which existed before the first gods, in one Egyptian account of creation” (Tresidder, 2004:344). Tresidder (2004:344) also notes: [the] chaotic energy within the waters of the Nun held the potential of all life forms [and] the spirit of the creator, but the creator had no place in which to become embodied”. Time and creation only began, according to this account, when a mound of land rose from the Nun and the creator could become embodied on this mound in the form of a bird (see Tresidder, 2004:345). In some accounts (see Tresidder, 2004:345) it is also told that a lotus flower bloomed to reveal the creator. “The primeval waters of chaos were also embodied as a god, Nun, and a goddess, Naunet. They formed part of the eight primal divinities referred to as the Ogdoad” (Tresidder, 2004:345).

Sources and more:

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – Yule! Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!

Books:

Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

Folklore & Myth Thursday – Week 13 – M

Welcome to another Folklore and Myth Thusday post! In this thirteenth post I’ll focus on some folkloric and mythological elements that begin with the letter ‘m’. If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, or would like to find some more resources, you’ll find some links at the end of the post.

This week I’ll focus on Mahakala, Mahisha, Mami Wata and Miengu, Mael Dúin, Minia, and Mokosh.

Mahakala

Last week I had a look at Palden Lhamo. Like Palden Lhamo, Mahakala is also one of the Dharmapalas. Mahakala is “[blue-black] in color, with six arms” (Rosen, 2008:354) and is “a wrathful manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion” (Rosen, 2008:354).

“Mahakala’s complexion – the color of the night sky – symbolizes the spaciousness of enlightened mind” (Rosen, 2008:354). His six arms symbolizes the mastery of the six perfect activities – generosity, patience, morality, enthusiasm, concentration, and wisdom (Rosen, 2008:354). Mahakala’s three eyes represents knowledge of the past, present, and future, while the tiger skin he wears symbolizes purification of desire and the snake he carries symbolizes the purification of anger (see Rosen, 2008:354).

Mahakala Bernakchen.jpg
By Klaus Schaarschmidt – Diamondway Picture Archive, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Mahisha

“Mahisha is the buffalo-headed demon defeated by the Hindu warrior goddess Durga” (Rosen, 2008:78). Rosen tells that “Mahisha was threatening the cosmic order, stomping across the three worlds, polluting the Earth and sea” (Rosen, 2008:78). Durga then came into being to fight Mahisha, but he sent her a marriage proposal (Rosen, 2008:78); to which Durga replied: “I shall marry only he that defeats me in battle” (Rosen, 2008:78).

“An epic conflict began. Mountains shook and oceans trembled as Mahisha attacked. Armed with Shiva’s trident and Vishnu’s discus, the goddess battled back” (Rosen, 2008:78).

Mahisha changes first into a lion and then an elephant, but each time durga defeats it (see Rosen, 2008:78). At last Durga “plunged the trident into his heart (Rosen, 2008:78).

“Her victory is celebrated in Bengal each year during the festival of Durgapuja” (Rosen, 2008:78).

Durga Mahisasuramardini.JPG
By Unknown – picture of the “Guler School”,, Public Domain, Link

Mami Wata and Miengu

Mami Wata and the Miengu (singular Jengu) are “female water spirits honored in Africa, the Caribbean, and parts of North and South America” (Rosen, 2008:134).

“In the oldest versions of her mythology, Mami Wata is a Mermaid with the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a fish or reptile. When she appears as a human woman, she is elegant and exceptionally beautiful, with brilliant eyes, a lighter than normal complexion, attractive clothes in the latest fashion, and abundance of shiny jewelry, and excessively long hair that she is fond of brushing back with a golden comb” (Rosen, 2008:134).

Rosen (2008:134) also notes that she is often accompanied by a large snake (which is “a symbol of psychic power and divinity in many African cultures” (Rosen, 2008:134).

Legends about Mami Wata tell of how she “may kidnap swimmers and take them to her underwater realm, releasing them when they promise fidelity to her cult” (Rosen, 2008:134). She “is also believed to gift her followers with material wealth and spiritual accomplishments” (Rosen, 2008:134).

For more about Mami Wata, see Rosen, 2008:134.

The Miengu are also mermaid-like creatures which inhabit rivers and the sea and are honored in Cameroon (Rosen, 2008:134). “Believed to be beneficient, they carry messenges between the people who honor them and the world of the spirits” (Rosen, 2008:134). The Miengu may further “cure illnesses and bless their devotees with good luck, protection from epidemics, victory in competitions, and fair weather” (Rosen, 2008:134).

Mael Dúin

Mael Dúin is an Irish hero who “sailed away to kill the man who had slain his father (Tresidder, 2004:299). However, he takes more men than a druid advised and his ship gets blown off course. “They [encounter] many fabulous lands and monsters, including ants the size of foals … vanishing maidens and the Land of Women [and] an island of perpetual feasting and pleasure where old age was unknown” (Tresidder, 2004:299) before they returned to Ireland.

Minia

Minia is a “cosmic serpent of northern African mythology” (Tresidder, 2004:318), and, in the Sahara and Sahel it is believed that Minia was the first thing the divine creator created (Tresidder, 2004:318).

“The serpent’s head was in the sky and its tail was in the waters beneath the earth. Its body was divided into seven parts [and these were used to] form the world and all life” (Tresidder, 2004:318).

Mokosh

Mokosh (or Makosh) “was the centre of a fertility cult that was widespread among the eastern Slav peoples” (Tresidder, 2004:300) and is the goddess of “fertility, abundance and moisture” (Tresidder, 2004:300). Mokosh is also the protector of maidens and of women’s work (see also Tresidder, 2004:300).

Obec Mokošín- Bohyně Mokoš.jpg
By Mido mokomidoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Sources and more:

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!

Books:

Rosen, B. (2008). The Mythical Creatures Bible. London: Sterling Publishing.

Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

Folklore and Myth Thursday – Week 12 – L

Join me in exploring the world’s vast variety of myths and legends. Like previous weeks, I will focus on one letter of the alphabet for the week.

This week’s post is filled with mythical creatures, gods and symbols and includes the leucrotta, lamassu, Lhamo, Latin cross, lapis lazuli, and Lugh. Some more websites and sources are listed at the end of the blogpost.

Leucrotta

The crocrotta, according to Pliny, is a combination of a wolf and a dog “with impossibly strong teeth and the uncanny ability to lure by imitating the human voice” (Rosen, 2008:111). The leucrotta is the offspring of a crocrotta and a lion. The leucrotta “is about the size of the wild ass, with the legs of a stag, the neck, tail, and breast of a lion, the head of a badger, cloven hooves, and an enormous mouth that extends up to its ears. Instead of teeth it has a horizontal blade of bone between the upper and lower jaws” (Rosen, 2008:111). Like the crocrotta, the leucrotta can also imitate the human voice.

Lamassu

“In Mesopotamian mythology, Lamassu help people fight chaos and evil. Each day, they hold the gates of dawn open so that the Sun god Shamash can rise and also help to support the weight of the Sun disc.” (Rosen 2009:287) The Lamassu is described as combining the body of a bull or a lion, the wings of an eagle and the head of a bearded man. Statues of these Lamassu  can be found in the sites of ancient Babylonian and Assyrian cities (Rosen 2008:287).

Human-headed Winged Bulls Gate - Louvre.jpg
By PoulpyOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Lhamo

Palden Lhamo is one of the Dharmapalas, “terrifying creatures charged with defending the precious teachings of Tibetan Buddhism” (Rosen, 2008:354). Rosen adds that the Dharmapalas “are embodiments of the Buddha’s compassion, which can take an extremely wrathful form to help people overcome obstacles” (Rosen, 2008:354).

Palden Lhamo is a “female protector … dark blue in color, with flaming red hair, symbolizing her wrathful nature, and wears a crown adorned with five human heads” (Rosen, 2008:354). These human heads symbolise “the five negative passions: anger, obsession, pride, jealousy, and ignorance” (Rosen, 2008: 354).

For more about Lhamo’s exploits, see Rosen, 2008:354.

PaldenLhamo.jpg
Public Domain, Link

Latin Cross

Also called the Christian Cross, the Latic cross is the “typical cross shape that is the major symbol of Christianity” (Nozedar, 2010:107). (Only when Christ appears on the cross is it referred to as a crucifix.) “The Latic Cross is symbolic of the victory of Life over death … [and] the benediction made when the Cross is drawn in the air not only indicates ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost’, but coincides with a much earlier use of the cross; as a symbol of protection” (Nozedar, 2010:107).

For more, see Nozedar, 2010:107.

Lapiz Lazuli

“The golden specs which are scattered throughout this beautiful blue stones like stars in a dark sky are in fact flecks of iron pyrites” (Nozedar, 2010:356). Sacred to the Egyptian goddess of Truth, Ma’at, it was believed to be particularly “potent in treating eyes” (see Nozedar, 2010:356). “[There] is also a New Age belief that the stone can help to open the third eye” (Nozedar, 2010:356).

The lapis lazuli was also called the “stop stone” and was used to cause miscarriage when worn in the form of an amulet (see Nozedar, 2010:356). For more, see Nozedar, 2010:356 and watch this video to see how the stone was used to create pigment.

Lugh

Lugh is one of the major Celtic gods and is multi-talented, with talents as a warrior, harpist, historian, poet, and sorcerer (see Nozedar, 2010:495). Lugh is the god of light and his weapons are a sling and a spear. He is also called a “more advanced and sophisticated” god than Dagda by Nozedar (2010:495).

“Lugh is honored with the festival of of Lughnasadh at the beginning of August … [it] marked the beginning of the harvest, a time for weddings and handfastings” (Nozedar, 2010:495). See also Nozedar, 2010:495 for more about this Celtic god.

Sources and more:

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – it really is very interesting and entertaining.

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!

Nozedar, A. (2010). The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook. London: Harper Collins Publishers.

Rosen, B. (2008). The Mythical Creatures Bible. London: Sterling Publishing.

Folklore and Myth Thursday – Week 11 – K

Welcome to week 11 of the Folklore and Myth Thursday posts. If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, be sure to follow the link at the end of this post, where I’ve also included some links to another great folklore website.

This week I’ll be looking at Kokopeli, Ka, Kachina, Kalkin, Karashishi, Khnum, and Kurma.

Kokopeli

“Kokopeli, in Hopi Indian, means ‘wooden backed’” (Nozedar, 2010:104). The figure, which has antlers and carries a flute, appears in pre-historic rock carvings and is believed to be a fertility symbol (Nozedar, 2010:104). Nozedar (2010:104) also adds that “Kokopeli represents the essence of the creative force, whatever form it mat take”. He also represents the end of winter and the “coming of spring, hope, and new life” (Nozedar, 2010:104). See also Nozedar (2010:104) for some of the Kokopeli legends.

Ka

“In Egyptian belief, the soul or spirit of an individual after death. Life-like funerary statues were believed to embody the ka of the person whom they represented” (Tresidder, 2004:270).

Kachina

Returning to Native American mythology, Tresidder (2004:270) notes that the Kachina are “[one] of a class of ancestral spirits, according to the Pueblo Native American peoples of the southwestern United States, such as the Hopi and Zuni”. THe Kachinas act and are revered “as intemediaries between humans and the great elemental gods” (Tresidder, 2004:270). Kachinas are also bringers of harmony and prosperity (Tresidder, 2004:270).

Kachina doll.JPG
By GromboOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

 Kurma

Kurma, a tortoise, is the second avatar or incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu (Tresidder, 2004:277). “Kurma supported Mount Mandara on his back during the churning of the ocean by the Devas and Asuras” (Tresidder, 2004:277). See also this post for more about this myth.

Kalkin

Kalkin is “the future tenth avatar… of the Hindu god Vishnu” (Tresidder, 2004:271). Kalkin, Tresidder (2004:271) notes, is a messianic figure whose “advent will herald the end of the present cosmic age of evil, the Kali Yuga, and the beginning of a new golden age, or Krita Yuga”. Kalkin will appear as a warrior on a white horse (Tresidder, 2004:271), although Tresidder also notes that, according to a South Indian popular belief, “Kalkin will manifest as the horse itself”.

Karashishi

The Karashishi are symbols of strength and courage (Tresidder, 2004:271). These chow-faced “lions” (Tresidder, 2004:271) guard Buddhist temples in Japan. Tresidder (2004:271) also notes: “[the] male has his mouth open, but is not terrifying”. They are called the “Dogs of Fo [Buddha]” (Tresidder, 2004:271) and the “stylized form is based on second-hand Chinese contact with the lion”.

Khnum

Khnum is one of four “principal creator gods of Egypt” (Tresidder, 2004:272); the other gods being Amun-Ra, Atum and Ptah (see also Tresidder, 2004:272). Khnum is normally depicted as a man with the head of a ram, which is not only his sacred animal, but also a symbol of male creative power (see Tresidder, 2004:272).

“Khum was envisaged as a potter who moulded deities, humans and animals from clay on his potter’s wheel, and then breathed life into them… Khum was believed to control the rising of the waters of the Nile, an annual phenomenon crucial to the fertility of the land” (Tresidder, 2004:272).

Cnouphis-Nilus (Jupiter-Nilus, Dieu Nil), N372.2.jpg
By Jean-François Champollion – Brooklyn Museum, No restrictions, Link

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

To read the previous entries in this blogpost series, follow this link. 

Folklore & Myth Thursday – Week 10 – J

Welcome to Week 10! This week I’ll be looking and some of the (perhaps) lesser known characters, folklore, and mythological entities that start with the letter J. This week’s topics are Japa Mala, Jiza, Jambudvipa, Julunggul, and Jurupari.

Rudraksha beads.jpgJapa Mala

The sacred prayer strings of Hindu monks (Nozedar, 2010:132). Japa Mala “consist of 108 beads, since 108 is a sacred number in the Dharmic religions” (Nozedar, 2010:132). See also rudraksha beads in Nozedar (2010:132).

Photo: By User:Nesusvet – Own work, Public Domain, Link

Jizo

Jizo is a Japanese Buddha deity (Tresidder, 2004:263). “Jizo is depicted as an innocent, childlike character, venerated as a protector of the souls of children and unborn babies” (Nozedar, 2010:97). Tresidder (2004:263) also notes: “Jizo looks after anyone in pain and is believed to bring souls back from hell. Together with Amida and Kannon he is one of the three most popular deities of Japanese Buddhism” (Tresidder, 2004:263).

Jizo Children.jpg
By The original uploader was Mind meal at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.0, Link

Jambudvipa

“The circular continent at the centre of the world, according to Hindu and Jain myth” (Tresidder, 2004: 258). At the centre of the continent is Mount Mandara/Meru “which was used by the Asuras and Devas to churn the ocean” (Tresidder, 2004:258). (See this post for this myth told in full.) “Jambudvipa is ringed by the great Salt Ocean and by another seven continents and seven seas” (Tresidder, 2004:258).

Map of Jambudvipa Indian Hindu Cosmology.jpg
By Internet Archive Book ImagesImage from page 35 of “A comprehensive history of India, civil, military, and social, from the first landing of the English to the suppression of the Sepoy revolt; including an outline of the early history of Hindoostan” (1900), No restrictions, Link

Julunggul

Julunggul is also called Kalseru and, in “the Australian Aboriginal pantheon… is the rainbow serpent Goddess of Fertility who oversees the maturation of boys into men” (Nozedar, 2010:508). Julunggul created the landscape itself and “is the embodiment of water” (Nozedar, 2010:508). Nozedar (2010:508) also notes that “Julunggul resembles other serpent deities, including Owa in the Toruban tradition and Damballah in Voudon”.

Jurupari

According to the Tupi people of Amazonian Brazil, Jurupari is a “child of the sun who overthrew the rule of women” (Tresidder, 2004:269). “In their version of the myth found widely from the Amazon to Tierra del Fuego, the Tupi recount how women, not men, originally ruled the world” (Tresidder, 2004:269).

Tresidder (2004:269) recounts how the “sun grew angry at this and took a wife, Ceucy, a virgin, whom he made pregnant by the sap of the cucura tree.” Jurupari is born and he transfers “all power and sacred wisdom to men [and tells them to] celebrate their power by holding feasts from which women were excluded on pain of death” (Tresidder, 2004:269).

Jurupari, to make an example, even causes his own mother’s death. “To this day Jurupari is said to wander the world looking for the perfect wife for his father, the sun” (Tresidder, 2004:269).

Sources:

Nozedar, A. (2010). The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook. London: Harper Collins Publishers.

Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Flash Fiction: The Sky At Noon

She watched the Moon from the cracks in the wall of the tower where she was kept prisoner every night. Tendrils of light escaped through the cracks where she pressed her eye against the wall. But for all the light that could escape, it was not enough the draw the moon’s attention. He still kept his back turned on her, his face towards the earth as he searched for her there.

She could hear his faint voice above the Stars’ singing. The Stars were singing a dirge for one of their kin who had fallen, trailing the last of her light across the night sky. The Star who loved the Moon and whose heart had been broken by him. He neither noticed her love, nor saw her fall. So they sang a dirge he did not hear as he searched for the Sun on the horizon where the ocean spilled over the edge of the earth.

But the Tower of the Sun was always kept just outside the Moon’s eyeline by the Nightcloak Man who spread the darkness over the earth each night. Each evening he captured the Sun, each night the Moon searched for her in vain. Each night the Nightcloak Man thought the Sun started to love him.

The Sun beat upon the stone of her tower prison and cried out in such anguish that the stone’s heart broke and crumbled.

The walls of the tower fell away, letting out bright shards of light as the Sun stepped forward. The Moon turned around, smiling. He cast his spear at the Nightcloak Man, who fled from them.

For what seemed an eternity the Moon and the Sun hung in the sky together above the earth and people marvelled to see the Moon in the sky at noon.