Barbara of the Balloons
July 1, 2017
The Wolfman
July 1, 2017

Lore’s Corner: Tooth Fairy

Ever wonder about the tradition of Tooth Fairies?

The tooth fairy is a fantasy figure of early childhood. In folklore, when children lose baby teeth, they put them under their pillow. The tooth fairy would then visit while they sleep, take the tooth and replace it with a small payment. The concept lead to a tradition practiced in various countries in the English-speaking world.

The origin of this tale started in early Europe. It began with a practice of burying baby teeth that fell out. When a child’s sixth tooth fell out, the parents would slip a gift or money from the tooth fairy under the child’s pillow and take the tooth.

In Northern Europe, there was also a tradition of tand-fé or tooth fee, which was paid when a child lost its first tooth. This tradition was recorded in writings as early as the Edda’s, which are the earliest written record of Norse and Northern European traditions.

The reward left varies by country, the family’s economic status, amounts the child’s peers report receiving and other factors. A 2013 survey by Visa Inc. found that American children receive $3.70 per tooth on average.

During the Middle Ages, other superstitions arose surrounding children’s teeth. Take England, children were instructed to burn their baby teeth in order to save the child from hardship in the afterlife. Children who didn’t consign their baby teeth to the fire would spend eternity searching for them in the afterlife. The Vikings supposedly paid children for their teeth. In Norse culture, children’s teeth and other articles belonging to children were said to bring good luck in battle. Scandinavian warriors hung children’s teeth on a string around their necks. Fear of witches was another reason to bury or burn teeth. In medieval Europe, it was thought if a witch got a hold of one’s teeth, it could lead to them having total power over him or her.

What would a tooth fairy look like? There are few details of the tooth fairy’s appearance that are consistent. A 1984 study found 74 percent of those surveyed believed the tooth fairy to be female, 12 percent believed the tooth fairy to be neither male nor female, and 8 percent believed the tooth fairy could be either gender. And there is the basic Tinkerbell-type tooth fairy with wings, wand, a little older and whatnot. Some who think of the tooth fairy is a man, or a bunny rabbit or a mouse. A review of published children’s books and popular artwork depicts the tooth fairy as a child with wings, a pixie, a dragon, a blue mother-figure, a flying ballerina, two little old men, a dental hygienist, a potbellied flying man smoking a cigar, a bat, a bear and others. Unlike the well-established imagining of Santa Claus, differences in renderings of the tooth fairy are not as upsetting to children.

Belief in the tooth fairy can be viewed two ways. One view is children believe as part of the trusting nature of childhood. The other is the tooth fairy is used to label adults as being too trusting and ready to believe anything. Research points that the belief in the tooth fairy may provide such comfort to a child experiencing fear or pain resulting from the loss of a tooth.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooth_fairy

 

 

Lore’s Corner:

Ghouls. Wonder what they are?

A ghoul is a monster or evil spirit in Arabic mythology. Ghouls are associated with graveyards, like zombies except Ghouls consume human flesh. The term Ghoul was first used in English literature in 1786, by William Beckford in his novel which describes the ghūl of Arabic folklore. In modern fiction, the term has often been used for a certain kind of undead monster. By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger or graverobber.

Ghoul is from the Arabic word “to seize”. The meaning is etymologically related to the term galla, the name of a class of Underworld demons from Sumerian and Akkadian mythology.

In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis. A ghoul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes, or abandoned places, to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead, then taking the form of the person most recently eaten.

In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghoulah and the plural is ghilan. In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or gluttonous individual.

Ref: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghoul

Lore’s Corner:

By LM David

What is a Minotaur?

By all accounts, it’s a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man that dwelled in the center of a Labyrinth by order of King Minos of Crete. The Minotaur was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.

“Minotaur” was originally a proper noun referencing the mythical figure. Now, “minotaur” is a common noun referring to a generic species of bull-headed creatures developed in 20th-century fantasy genre fiction.

What gave rise to this creature? When Minos of Crete ascended the throne, he competed with his brothers for rule. Minos prayed to Poseidon, the sea god, to send him a snow-white bull as a sign of support. For said favor, Minos was to kill the bull to show honor to the deity. Minos, instead, kept the being because of its beauty. He thought Poseidon would not care if he kept the white bull and sacrificed one of his own.  As punishment, Poseidon made Pasiphaë, Minos’s wife, fall in love with the bull. Pasiphaë had a craftsman make a hollow wooden cow, she then climbed inside it and mated with the white bull. The offspring produced was the Minotaur. As the creature grew, he became ferocious and, being the unnatural offspring of a woman and a beast, had no natural source of nourishment and thus devoured humans for sustenance.

 

To contain the creature, Minos, on the advice of an Oracle, ordered a craftsman to build a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur.

From Classical times through the Renaissance, the Minotaur appears at the center of depictions of Labyrinths. What finally happened to the Minotaur? According to mythology, Androgeus, son of Minos, had been killed by the Athenians because they were jealous of the victories he won at the Panathenaic festival. Another says he was killed by the Cretan bull who had been his mother’s former taurine lover, which Aegeus, king of Athens, had commanded him to slay. The common tradition is Minos waged war to avenge the death of his son and won. Catullus, in his account of the Minotaur’s birth, refers to another version in which Athens was “compelled by the cruel plague to pay penalties for the killing of Androgeos.” Aegeus had to avert the plague caused by his crime by sending “young men at the same time as the best of unwed girls as a feast” to the Minotaur. Minos required seven Athenian youths and seven maidens, drawn by lots, be sent every seventh or ninth year (some accounts say every year) to be devoured by the Minotaur.

When the third sacrifice approached, Theseus volunteered to slay the monster. Once in Crete, the daughter of Minos, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus and helped him navigate the labyrinth. In most accounts, she gave him a ball of thread to allow him to retrace his path. Theseus killed the Minotaur with the sword of Aegeus and, on the way home, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on an island before heading for Crete.

The ruins of Minos’ palace at Knossos were discovered but the labyrinth was not. The enormous number of rooms in the structure suggested the palace itself was the source of the labyrinth myth to some. That theory has now been discredited.

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minotaur

 

 

Lore’s Corner-Gremlins

Ever wonder about Gremlins?

Gremlins are mythological creatures most often depicted as mischievous and mechanically oriented, with a specific interest in airplanes. Gremlins’ mischievous natures are similar to those of English folkloric “imps”, while their inclination to damage, or dismantle, machinery is more modern.

Although their origin is found in myths among airmen, claiming that the gremlins were responsible for sabotaging aircraft, “some people” derive the name Gremlin from the Old English word gremian, “to vex.” In the book, Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia, the name is a combination of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and Fremlin Beer. Since WWII, different fantastical creatures have been referred to as gremlins, bearing varying degrees of resemblance to the originals.

The term “gremlin” originated in Royal Air Force (RAF) in the 1920s among the British pilots, with the earliest recorded printed use being in a poem published in the journal on10 April 1929. Later sources have sometimes claimed that the concept goes back to WWI, but there is no print evidence of this.

An early reference to the gremlin is in a novel entitled The ATA: Women with Wings, where Scotland is described as “gremlin country”, a mystical and rugged territory where scissor-wielding gremlins cut the wires of biplanes when unsuspecting pilots were about. An article in the servicemen’s fortnightly Royal Air Force Journal dated 18 April 1942, also chronicles the appearance of gremlins, although it states the stories had been in existence for several years.

Allegedly, there exists a World War II poster warning of gremlins.

 

The concept of gremlins popularized during World War II among airmen of the UK’s RAF units, in particular the men of the high-altitude Photographic Reconnaissance Units (PRU) The flight crews blamed gremlins for inexplicable accidents that occurred during their missions. Gremlins were also thought, at one point, to have enemy sympathies, but investigations revealed enemy aircraft had similar and equally inexplicable mechanical problems. As such, gremlins were portrayed as being equal opportunity tricksters, taking no sides in the conflict, and acting out their mischief from their own self-interest. In reality, the gremlins were a form of “buck passing” or deflecting blame. Some experts believe this “passing the buck” was important to the morale of pilots. An author and historian stated, “Gremlins, while imaginary, played a very important role to the airmen of the Royal Air Force. Gremlin tales helped build morale among pilots, which, in turn, helped them repel the Luftwaffe invasion. In a way, it could be argued that gremlins, troublesome as they were, ultimately helped the Allies win the war.”

While Roald Dahl was famous for making gremlins known worldwide, many returning Air Servicemen swear they saw creatures tinkering with their equipment. One crewman swore he saw one before an engine malfunction that caused his plane to rapidly lose altitude, forcing the aircraft to return to base. Folklorist Hazen likewise offers his own alleged eyewitness testimony of these creatures, which appeared in an academically praised and peer-reviewed publication, describing an occasion he found “a parted cable which bore obvious tooth marks in spite of the fact that the break occurred in a most inaccessible part of the plane.” At this point, Hazen states he heard “a gruff voice” demand, “How many times must you be told to obey orders and not tackle jobs you aren’t qualified for? — This is how it should be done.” Upon which Hazen heard a “musical twang” and another cable was parted.

Critics of this idea state that the stress of combat and the dizzying heights caused such hallucinations, often believed to be a coping mechanism of the mind to help explain the many problems aircraft faced whilst in combat.

So, are Gremlins just the imagination of airmen wanting to keep their sanity when something went wrong with their planes? Don’t know. But when flying on a commercial flight, I’m keeping the lights on . . . in case.

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gremlin

 

 

The Bogeyman (also spelled bogieman, boogeyman, or boogie man, is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults to frighten children into good behavior.

 

As a child, the word was used every time I had to go to the basement for something. Dark places became horror pits. Parent, do they have a sense of humor or what?

 

The Bogey man monster has no specific appearance, and conceptions about it can vary drastically from household to household within the same community. In many cases, he has no set appearance in the mind of an adult or child, but is simply a non-specific embodiment of terror. Parents may tell their children that if they misbehave, the bogeyman will get them. Bogeymen may target a specific mischief—for instance, a bogeyman that punishes children who suck their thumbs—or general misbehavior, depending on what purpose needs serving. In some cases, the bogeyman is a nickname for the devil. Bogeyman tales vary by region. The bogeyman is usually a masculine entity but can be any gender or simply androgynous.

 

The word “bogey” is believed to be derived from the Middle English bogge/bugge (hobgoblin) and is generally thought to be a cognate of the German bögge, böggel-mann (English “Bogeyman”).The word could also be linked to many similar words in other European languages: bogle (Scots), boeman (Dutch), Butzemann (German), busemann (Norwegian), bøhmand / bussemand (Danish), bòcan, púca, pooka or pookha (Irish), pwca, bwga or bwgan (Welsh), puki (Old Norse), pixie or piskie (Cornish), puck (English), mumus (Hungarian), bogu (Slavonic), buka (Russian, бука), bauk (Serbian), bubulis (Latvian), baubas (Lithuanian), bobo (Polish), bebok (Silesian), papão (Portuguese), торбалан (Bulgarian), Μπαμπούλας (Greek), bua (Georgian, ბუა), babau (Italian), baubau(Romanian) papu (Catalan).

 

This guy has a “rep” no matter what country he’s in.

 

The word bugbear, from bug + bear, suggests that the bogey eating small children takes on the appearance of a bear. The word bugaboo probably arose as an alteration of bugbear.

 

In Southeast Asia, the term “bogie” is popularly supposed to refer to Bugis or Buganese pirates, ruthless seafarers of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia’s third-largest island. These pirates often plagued early English and Dutch trading ships of the British East India Company and Dutch East India Company. It is popularly believed that this resulted in the European sailors’ bringing their fear of the “bugi men” back to their home countries. However, etymologists disagree with this, because words relating to bogeyman were in common use centuries before European colonization of Southeast Asia and it is therefore unlikely that the Bugis would have been commonly known to westerners during that time.

 

In other cultures, Bogeyman-like beings are almost universal, common to the folklore of many countries. And in many countries, a bogeyman variant is portrayed as a man with a sack on his back who carries naughty children away. This is true for many Latin countries, such as Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and the countries of Spanish America, where it referred to as el “Hombre del costal”, el “hombre del saco”, or in Portuguese, o “homem do saco” (all of which mean “the sack/bag man”), or el roba-chicos, meaning child-stealer. Similar legends are also very common in Eastern Europe, as well as Haiti and some countries in Asia.

 

In Spain, parents will sing lullabies or tell rhymes to children, warning them that if they do not sleep, El Coco (the bogeyman) will come and get them. The rhyme originated in the 17th century has evolved over the years, but still retains its original meaning. Coconuts (Spanish: coco) received that name because their brownish hairy surface reminded Portuguese explorers of coco, a ghost with a pumpkin head. Latin America also has El Coco, although its folklore is usually quite different, commonly mixed with native beliefs, and, because of cultural contacts, sometimes more related to the bogeyman of the United States. Among Mexican-Americans, El Cucuy is portrayed as an evil monster that hides under children’s bed at night and kidnaps or eats the child that does not obey his/her parents or go to sleep when it is time to do so. However, the Spanish American bogeyman does not resemble the shapeless or hairy monster of Spain: social sciences professor Manuel Medrano says popular legend describes El cucuy as a small humanoid with glowing red eyes that hides in closets or under the bed.

 

And parents wonder why their children grow up scared of the dark, checking closets and just maladjusted in general.

 

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogeyman

The chupacabra or chupacabras, literally “goat-sucker”; “chupar“, “to suck”, and “cabra“, “goat”) is a legendary creature first purported sighted in Puerto Rico. The name comes from the animal’s habit of attacking and drinking blood of livestock, especially goat.

Eyewitness sightings started as early as 1995 in Puerto Rico. There have been sightings as far north as Maine, and as far south as Chile. It has been sightings in Russia and the Philippines, but those have been disregarded as lacking evidence. Sightings in northern Mexico and the southern United States have been verified as canids afflicted by mange. Biologists and wildlife management deem the chupacabra an urban legend.

The first reported attacks by the creature occurred in March 1995 in Puerto Rico. Eight sheep were discovered dead, each with three puncture wounds in the chest area and drained of blood. In August that year, a sighing was reported in a Puerto Rican town where as many as 150 farm animals and pets were reportedly killed.

The origin of this creature was documented in a five-year investigation by Benjamin Radford. He included a description given by the original eyewitness in Puerto Rico, who based her account on the creature Sil in the science-fiction horror film Species. Hhe deemed her account “cannot be trusted.”

Chupacabra reports are divided into two categories:

  • the reports from Puerto Rico and Latin America where animals were attacked and it is supposed their blood was extracted
  • the reports in the United States of mammals, mostly dogs and coyotes with mange, that people call “chupacabra” due to their unusual appearance

In late October 2010, a Michigan biologist concluded chupacabra reports in the United States were simply coyotes infected with the parasite Sarcoptes scabiei, whose symptoms would explain most of the features of the chupacabra, which was little fur, thickened skin, and rank odor. Stray Mexican Hairless Dogs have been mistaken for chupacabras.

In April 2006, the chupacabra was spotted for the first time in Russia, witnesses reporting the beast had killed animals and sucked out their blood. Later reports, from neighboring villages, stated sheep were killed and had their blood drained.  In May 2006, experts suggested the area frequented by chupacabras was in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine and neighboring regions of Russia, but also in parts of Belarus and Poland. Reports of chupacabra-like attacks happened in the Moscow, dozens of birds and animals were found bloodless, with strange incisions. On least two occasions, the mysterious kangaroo-like creature (“with a crocodile head”) even attacked humans. According to Chernobrov, the two extraordinary things about the chupacabras’ ways are leaving a ‘vanishing’ line of footprints, looking as if it takes off like a bird, and tends to assort its victim’s bodies ‘aesthetically’, often by color and size, or build pyramids with the dead bodies.

In mid-August 2006, a citizen in Maine described an “evil looking” rodent-like animal with fangs found dead alongside a road. Photographs were taken, and witness reports seem to agree the creature was canine in appearance, but seemed unlike any dog, or wolf, in the area.

In September 2009, a TV special aired showing close-up footage of an unidentified dead animal. That same report stated locals speculated it might be a chupacabra. A Texas taxidermist received a body from a former student whose cousin discovered the animal in his barn. The taxidermist stated it might be a genetically mutated coyote.

The latest sighing occurred in April, 2014. A couple claimed they captured a chupacabra on March 29, 2014. Later, their claim was disputed as a raccoon suffering from sarcoptic mange.

The common description of the chupacabra is reptilian-like with leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin and sharp spines, or quills, down its back, standing approximately 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 m) high, and stands, and hops, like a kangaroo.

A less common description of a chupacabra is a strange breed of wild dog, mostly hairless and a pronounced spinal ridge, unusually distinct eye sockets, fangs, and claws. Unlike conventional predators, the chupacabra is said to drain all of the animal’s blood (and sometimes organs) usually through three holes in the shape of an upside-down triangle or through one or two holes.

Wouldn’t that make a great pet?

 

Source Material: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/chupacabra

 

 

Father Time.

What is Father Time about? A man is usually depicted as a bearded, elderly individual dressed in a robe with a scythe and hourglass or other timekeeping device (which represents time’s constant one-way movement, and generally and abstractly, entropy). This image is derived from several sources including the Grim Reaper and Chronos, the Greek Titan of human time, reaping, and calendars, or the Lord of Time.

On New Year’s Eve many editorial cartoons use the trope of Father Time as the personification of the prior year (or “the Old Year”) who typically “hands over” his duties to the equally allegorical Baby New Year (or “the New Year”), or who otherwise characterizes the preceding year.

In popular culture

Father Time is an established symbol in numerous cultures. He appears in a variety of art and media. In some cases, the symbol appears specifically as Father Time, while in other cases it maybe coined by another name (such as Saturn). Either way, the characters demonstrate the attributes for which Father Time has acquired over the centuries.

Father Time has been a prevalent part of many cultures throughout the ages, known as Pakiž in some countries and even referred to as the “personification of time.” In some cultures, Father Time is only seen during the New Year because he is thought to hand over the duties of the new year to Baby New Year. Some cultures belief Father Time, like the Grim Reaper, constantly watches us and has each, and every one of our hourglasses slowly decreasing, the sand in slipping through the hands of time.

As for where did the legend of Father Time began? Well, that is linked to Chronos (also known as Chronus). He is the personification of time itself. Indeed, the word means “time” and is the root of “chronology”. It was, however, originally employed in a purely poetic sense. There essentially is no God or Goddess directly associated with time per se in the annals of Greek mythology, but there may have been a Titan of Time.

Saturn (referred to by the Greeks as Cronus or Kronos) was the Roman Deity of Time. Male ruler of the Roman Gods prior to Jupiter, Saturn’s weapon was a scythe or sickle. The Romans honored Saturn at a Mid-Winter festival called Saturnalia that lasted for days and had feasts and making merry. All business was suspended and schools, closed. Parents also gave toys to their children. Saturn may have been worshiped by the pre-Hellenic population of the country but probably not as revered by Greeks themselves.

Since ancient history, time has been identified with Saturn. Mythology states he was the son of Uranus (Heaven or Sky-Father) and Gaea (Earth-Mother) and the youngest of the Twelve Titans. Upon the advice of Gaea, Saturn castrated his father, which separated Heaven from Earth. Saturn’s emasculation of Uranus made Saturn King of the Titans. Consequently, the sickle (and later, the scythe) became representative of the cruel and unrelenting flow of time, which, in the end, cuts down all things.

Ouch!

According to some folktales, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto represented Air, Water, and Death — the three things that time cannot kill, and the overthrow of Saturn symbolized the demise of the old culture, which worshiped this ancient God.

Visit: http://www.novareinna.com/festive/oft.html, for more information on theories and beliefs of the origins of Father Time.

Sources:

http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Father+Time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_Time

http://www.novareinna.com/festive/oft.html

 

Krampus. Until I sat down to write this installment of Lore’s Corner, I had never heard of Krampus. I am glad I had not because this guy is no push over.

 

December represents Christmas, Santa Claus and presents, reindeer and sitting in front of a fireplace drinking hot chocolate and warm cider. In German-speaking Alpine folklore Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who, according to traditional narratives, is a figure who punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved. Yikes! That is in contrast with jolly ole St. Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. In regions within the Austrian, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas widely talked about in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear but some folklorists and anthropologists, say Krampus has pre-Christian origins.

 

Quoting Maurice Bruce who wrote, in 1958:

 

“There seems to be little doubt as to his true identity for, in no other form is the full regalia of the Horned God of the Witches, so well preserved. The birch—apart from its phallic significance—may have a connection with the initiation rites of certain witch-covens; rites which entailed binding and scourging as a form of mock-death. The chains could have been introduced in a Christian attempt to ‘bind the Devil’ but again they could be a remnant of pagan initiation rites”.

 

In the 20th century, Austrian governments discouraged the pagan initiation practice. In the aftermath of the 1934 Austrian Civil War, the Krampus tradition was prohibited by the Dollfuss regime. Towards the end of the century, Krampus celebrations became popular once again and continue even now. The Krampus tradition is being revived in Bavaria as well, along with a local artistic tradition of hand-carved wooden masks. There has been ongoing public debate in Austria in modern times about whether Krampus is appropriate for children.

 

Krampus is steadily becoming a popular creature in North American pop culture. This has been met with controversy, as many see it as part of a “growing movement of anti-Christmas festivities” there. While celebrated, these rituals are rare but gaining interest.

 

Although Krampus appears in many variations, most share some common physical characteristics. He is hairy, usually brown, or black, and has the cloven hooves – sometimes one foot is a hoof and the other a regular foot. He also has the horns of a goat and a long-pointed tongue that lolls out.

 

Krampus carries chains, thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He thrashes the chains for dramatic effect and is sometimes accompanied with bells of various sizes. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a washtub strapped to his back. This is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell. Some older versions make mention of naughty children being put in the bag and being taken. This part of the legend refers to the times that the Moors raided the European coasts, and as far as Iceland, to abduct the local people into slavery.

 

Since the 1800s, Europeans have been exchanging greeting cards featuring Krampus looming menacingly over children. North American Krampus celebrations, though rare, are a growing phenomenon.

 

Personally, Krampus is a definite candidate for a lump of coal in his stocking for Christmas.

 

Source Material: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus

Pandora. Ever wonder about her?

 

Mythology says it began with Prometheus and a dispute between him and Zeus over which part of a sacrificial bull should go to men and which to the gods. Prometheus first carved the bull up, and from the hide, fashioned two opened mouthed bags. In one he put the best flesh but covered the meat with unappetizing stomach of the beast. In the other bag, he placed bare bones, but hid them beneath a layer of rich and gleaming fat. Zeus saw through the deception but chose the fat covered bones to create an eternal hostility between gods and humans.

 

Enraged that Prometheus would even think about tricking him, Zeus decided to withhold the gift of fire from mankind. Man got the choicest of meat but would have to eat it raw. Prometheus stole the fire anyway.

 

When Zeus discovered what Prometheus did, he proclaimed a curse on Prometheus and his descendants as well as humankind. To avenge himself, Zeus prepared an evil yet seductive gift. Until that time, all mortal races had been exclusively male – a condition that goes a long way toward explaining why none of them lasted very long. The female counterparts of earlier mortals, if any, were nymphs of the lakes and forests and mountains. But mortal women had not yet been seen on Earth.

 

So Zeus decided to change that. To punish man for receiving fire – and perhaps to complete the creation of this final human race – he ordered Hephaestus to mix earth with water and fashion a clay woman. She was a shy, modest maiden and had a face modeled after the goddesses. When all was finished, Hermes named this maiden “Pandora” (which means “all gifts”) since all the gods had given her a “gift,” sealed inside a special box or jar, to carry to mankind: an evil that would long torment this race of men. Hermes gave the figure to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus, who had warned him Zeus would retaliate and to never accept gifts from Zeus. Epimetheus did not heed the warning.

 

Before the arrival of Pandora, men live free of painful illness, free of suffering, free of need for toil and hardship. But Pandora had not been on Earth long before she became curious about the gifts that were inside the vessel the gods had given her. When she opened this jar, or box, the contents overflowed and scattered throughout the earth. The “gifts” released from Pandora’s box – such sources of woe as well as vice, passion, labor, old age, insanity, sickness and even death – brought only grief and trouble to man. Pandora recapped the box, at Zeus’s bidding, before hope could come out.

 

This first woman not only unleashed a host of evils upon the world – she also became, according to Hesoid, the mother of all wicked woman.

 

Well, now you know why women get blamed despite the fact men start trouble.

 

Ref: The complete idiot’s guide to Classical Mythology, second edition, copyright 2004.

 

 

The Mythology of the Phoenix

In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix (Greek: φοῖνιξ phoinix; with Latin: phoenix, phœnix, fenix) is a long-lived bird hat is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. According to some sources, the phoenix dies in a show of flames and combustion, although there are other sources that claim that the legendary bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again. According to some texts, the phoenix could live over 1,400 years before rebirth. Herodotus, Lucan, Pliny the Elder, Pope Clement I, Lactantius, Ovid, and Isidore of Seville are among those who have contributed to the retelling and transmission of the phoenix motif.

In the historical record, the phoenix “could symbolize renewal in general as well as the sun, time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life”.

Etymology

The modern English noun phoenix derives from Middle English phenix (before 1150), itself from Old English fēnix (around 750). Old English fēnix was borrowed from Medieval Latin phenix, which is derived from Classical Latin phoenīx. The Classical Latin phoenīx represents Greek φοῖνιξ phoinīx.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the bird, was sometimes associated with the similar-sounding Phoenicia, a civilization famous for its production of purple dye from conch shells. A late antique etymology offered by the 6th- and 7th-century CE archbishop Isidore of Seville accordingly derives the name of the phoenix from its allegedly purple-red hue. Because the costly purple dye from Phoenicia was associated with the upper classes in antiquity and, later, with royalty, in the medieval period the phoenix was considered “the royal bird”.

Relation to the Egyptian Bennu

Classical discourse on the subject of the phoenix points to a potential origin of the phoenix in Ancient Egypt. In the 19th century scholastic suspicions appeared to be confirmed by the discovery that Egyptians in Heliopolis had venerated the Bennu, a solar bird observed in some respects to be similar to the Greek phoenix. However, the Egyptian sources regarding the bennu are often problematic and open to a variety of interpretations. Some of these sources may have been influenced by Greek notions of the phoenix.

Appearance

The phoenix is sometimes pictured in ancient and medieval literature and medieval art as endowed with a nimbus, which emphasizes the bird’s connection with the sun. In the oldest images of phoenixes on record these nimbuses often have seven rays, like Helios (the personified sun of Greek mythology). Pliny the Elder also describes the bird as having a crest of feathers on its head, and Ezekiel the Dramatist compared it to a rooster.

Although the phoenix was generally believed to be colorful and vibrant, there is no clear consensus about its coloration. Some thought that the bird had peacock-like coloring. Herodotus‘ claim of red and yellow is popular in many versions of the story on record. Ezekiel the Dramatist declared that the phoenix had red legs and striking yellow eyes, but Lactantius said that its eyes were blue like sapphires and that its legs were covered in scales of yellow-gold with rose-colored talons.

From the descriptions of the mythical bird, it’s my opinion they’d make great pets.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_%28mythology%29

 

Samhain. This name has popped up several times but the meaning behind it was not known. I believed it had something to do with pagans but never sure. Here is what was learned about Samhain.

Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on November 1st and the festivities fall approximately halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, which are also celebrated approximately halfway between the two yearly solstices and equinoxes: Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. Historically, it has been widely observed throughout Ireland, and later the Isle of Man and Scotland.

The Mound of the Hostages, a Neolithic passage tomb at the Hill of Tara, is aligned with the Samhain sunrise. Samhain is mentioned in early Irish literature and known to have pre-Christian roots. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock slaughtered for winter. As at Beltane, special bonfires were lit. These were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers and there were rituals involving them. Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí) could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits that the Aos Sí needed to be appeased to ensure the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend, and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. Divination rituals were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples. In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer suggested that it was the “Celtic New Year”.

In the 9th century AD, the Early Church shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while the 2nd of November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged to create the modern Halloween. Historians have used the name ‘Samhain’ to refer to Gaelic ‘Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century.

Bottom line, the tradition of Halloween may have evolved from Samhain celebrations and it’s nice knowing that little slice of historic information.

Reference: Wikipedia/Samhain

 

 

 

The Easter Bunny. Ever wonder why we hard boil eggs, colored and hide for children to find? Well here is the scoop.

The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, the “Easter Hare” originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and, at times, toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus or the Christ kind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays. The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times, it was widely believed (as by Pliny, Plutarch, Philostratus, and Aelian) that the hare was a hermaphrodite. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child. Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.

As for coloring, or decorating, Easter eggs, the Orthodox churches have a custom of abstaining from eggs during the fast of Lent. The only way to keep them from being wasted was to boil or roast them, and begin eating them to break the fast. As a special dish, they would probably have been decorated as part of the celebrations. Later, German Protestants retained the custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, though they did not continue the tradition of fasting. Eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes, and some over time added the custom of decorating the eggs. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ (and, of the renewal of life in springtime). Some also use the color green, in honor of the new foliage emerging after the long-dead time of winter. The Ukrainian art of decorating eggs for Easter, known as pysanky, dates to ancient, pre-Christian times. Similar variants of this form of artwork are seen amongst other eastern European culture.

The idea of an egg-giving hare came to the U.S. in the 18th century. Protestant German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the “Osterhase” (sometimes spelled “Oschter Haws”). Hase means “hare”, not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the “Easter Bunny” indeed is a hare. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.

It was a tradition in our family to dress up. Girls got new dresses and a hat that looked like sunny side up eggs. I recall trying to make a Frisbee out of mine and often heard ringing in my ears from getting backhanded when the hat landed on a neighbor’s roof. And the sad part, I never learned not to fling the hat on Easter nor understood why it seemed attracted to rooftops. Silly me.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Bunny

 

Trolls

Then thinking what subject to tackle for this month’s Darkness Within Ezine, I thought: Trolls.

What are trolls? They seem to be either Norse or Scandinavian in origin. Recent exposure to the lore comes from Disney’s Frozen. In the movie, Trolls are depicted as creatures who resemble rocks and are happy-go-lucky, breaking out in song when guests drop in. They are match makers and have the ability to marry people. They also sing. Who wouldn’t enjoy a rendition of He’s a bit of a fixer upper centered around them? Adorable, right?

In Norse mythology, trolls dwell in isolated mountains, rocks, and caves. They tend to live together (usually as father-and-daughter or mother-and-son) and are rarely said to be helpful or friendly to humans.

An Austrian-American scholar theorized Trolls have four distinct classes; lords of nature, mythical magicians, hostile monsters and heroic and courtly beings — the last class being the youngest. Said theory was termed “unsupported by any convincing evidence”. Old Norse mythology, in the Middle Ages, say trolls vary from giant or mountain-dwellers, witches, abnormally strong or large or ugly people, evil spirits, ghosts, magical boars, heathen demi-gods, demons, brunnmigis or berserkers. The word “troll” may have been used by pagan settlers as a term for supernatural beings humans needed to respect and avoid rather than worship.

In Scandinavian folklore, the definition of Trolls is: ancient beings with enormous strength that are slow and dim-witted. They can also be man-eaters. The myth states Trolls look much the same as humans and not hideous. However, they live far away from human habitation. There is one important point that is mentioned in all stories with respect to these beings … the sun turns them to stone.

How do Trolls fit into the supernatural? Well, they are considered “nature beings” and “all-purpose otherworldly”, the equivalent, for example, to fairies. With all this going for them, what could possibly frighten a Troll? The answer? Lightning. Folktales mention Thor, the Norse god of thunder, had a role in fighting beastly Trolls. In modern Scandinavia, the lack of troll populations is often explained as a result of the “accuracy and efficiency of the lightning strikes”. Could Thor be in Asgard engaging in target practice?

According to history, stories about trolls were exploited by romantics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who sought to construct a national past and thus an image from apparently ancient and unsullied rural traditions. Somehow Trolls just don’t invoke “romance” no matter how you write the character.

Today Trolls have a strong presence in the world of literature. The most famous being pinned by Tolkien in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies. The exception with Middle Earth Trolls is they happen to be evil, stupid, have crude habits yet intelligent enough to communicate with each other using a known language. Oh, they are also hideous to look at. And, like the others from Norse and Scandinavian forklore, the sun can still turn these guys to rocks — who would not want a large, gross looking statue parked on their front lawn? I’m checking out eBay.,,

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