Posted on 13 Comments

Welcome to the Úlfsvættr Craftsman domain

I want to welcome you to my website of the Úlfsvættr Craftsman. This is the culmination after years of study and working to fine tune my craft in order to produce the highest of quality. Items that easily could become heirlooms passed on to younger generations. But more than that is this Blog where I have so much I want to share with you from my vast experiences and wide variety of knowledge crammed packed into my mind. I hope you enjoy what you see and in some way whether you visit to browse my shop, look through the gallery or just read through this Blog which will be added to four times a month. In time or perhaps by the time you are reading this I will also have a newsletter available as well. Thank you again for taking the time to read this welcome message and remember to always “Keep the Primal Side Alive.”

Posted on Leave a comment

Orcas: Folklore, Symbolism and More

Being someone who grew up and spent a great deal of my U.S. Coast Guard career in the Pacific Northwest I got to see a lot of the native coastal culture which had deep connections with a certain mammal of the seas. From art to ceremonies and more you will find the Orcas incorporated into them. I myself got to witness them in the wilds of the magnificent Salish Sea, which I will be discussing that sea later on here. But before I go on I need to just say that even though the Orca has the common name “Killer Whale” I must say it is a name I personally do not like using but it will be mentioned in sited articles during this post. Orcas are not even a Whale at all but the larges member of the Dolphin family (Delphinidae). Killers? Well yes they are magnificent predators but that is nature. I find Orcas to be so special in many ways and unfortunately they are an endangered species but the good news is measures are in place to not only help preserve them but to allow in hopes that their population grows and flourishes. So with that said let us dive into the world of the Orcas.

Get to know the Orca

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are among the world’s most easily recognized marine mammals. The largest member of the dolphin family, orcas are highly intelligent and social animals, spending their lives in groups or pods where they hunt together and share responsibility for raising young and taking care of the sick or injured.

Adult orcas have shiny black backs, white chests and patches of white above and behind their eyes. They have paddle-shaped pectoral fins and tall triangular dorsal fins. Their distinct coloring mean they are easy to identify and rarely confused with other dolphins or whales. Orcas vary in size depending on where they live. Adult males are larger than adult females, with males reaching 32 feet (10 meters) in length and females growing to 28 feet (8.5 meters).

Found in every ocean on the planet, orcas are likely the most widely distributed mammal in the world, next to humans. There are three distinct types of orcas recognized in the eastern North Pacific Ocean—transient, resident, and offshore. Residents live close to shore in large pods of about 10 to 20 individuals and feed primarily on fish. Offshore orcas are similar to residents, but are distinguished by their smaller overall size and rounded, nicked fins. Transient orcas live in smaller groups of about three to seven individuals and spend their lives out at sea where they prey on seals, sea lions, and other dolphins (which, strangely, are the same animals that resident orcas like to swim and play with). All three types of orca have genetic differences and do not mingle or interbreed. SOURCE

Drawing on interviews, official records, private archives, and his own family history, Jason M. Colby tells the exhilarating and often heartbreaking story of how people came to love the ocean’s greatest predator. Historically reviled as dangerous pests, killer whales were dying by the hundreds, even thousands, by the 1950s–the victims of whalers, fishermen, and even the US military. In the Pacific Northwest, fishermen shot them, scientists harpooned them, and the Canadian government mounted a machine gun to eliminate them. But that all changed in 1965, when Seattle entrepreneur Ted Griffin became the first person to swim and perform with a captive killer whale. The show proved wildly popular, and he began capturing and selling others, including Sea World’s first Shamu.

Over the following decade, live display transformed views of Orcinus orca. The public embraced killer whales as charismatic and friendly, while scientists enjoyed their first access to live orcas. In the Pacific Northwest, these captive encounters reshaped regional values and helped drive environmental activism, including Greenpeace’s anti-whaling campaigns. Yet even as Northwesterners taught the world to love whales, they came to oppose their captivity and to fight for the freedom of a marine predator that had become a regional icon.

Orcas in popular culture

Many ancient civilizations knew them well. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder, who died in AD 79, describe them as huge animals enemies of the whales. Historically, for the native peoples of North America sighting of killer whales is common, so they developed an interesting mythology about them. For example, in the beliefs of the Kwakiutl and Nuu-chah-nulth orcas acquire a relevant meaning for hosting the souls of their chiefs who have died.

Many ancient cultures show great respect for killer whales and are present in their culture and myths. This concept is a bit different in the actual cultures, as they are tagged as fierce whales and highly dangerous creatures. Although for a long time, they had a bad reputation in recent times this has been changing.

The Inuit people today know a lot about orcas. They can identify them and know what they eat, but this is because they live close to them. By contrast, many of today’s Western societies acquire this knowledge through films, literature and television. SOURCE

Killer whales / Orcas (Orcinus orca) large pod including calf traveling together while foraging on large schools of Herring (Clupea harengus) in the cold waters of northern Norway, January.

Ten facts about orcas (killer whales)

  1. Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family.
  2. A male orca can be nearly 33 feet (10 meters) in length and weigh around 22,000 pounds (10,000kg).
  3. Orcas are highly intelligent and able to coordinate hunting tactics.
  4. Female orcas are thought to live to 80 years of age or more.
  5. The dorsal fin of a male orca is up to 6 feet (2 meters) tall.
  6. Orcas are extremely fast swimmers and have been recorded at speeds of up to 33.5 mph (54 kph).
  7. A wild orca pod can cover over 99 miles (160 kilometers) a day, foraging and socializing.
  8. They were give the name “killer whale” by ancient sailors who saw them preying on large whales.
  9. Orcas are still hunted in some countries, such as Greenland.
  10. Different kinds of orcas are called “ecotypes”. They hunt specific prey and live in different parts of the world. SOURCE

Folklore and Native Culture

The Woman Stolen by Killer Whales (Tahltan)

A man was out fishing and drying halibut, and his wife helped him.

One day he felt something very heavy on his hook and could not pull it up. He tied the line to the thwart of the canoe and paddled ashore. With much trouble he managed to land the fish on the beach.

He called on his wife to kill it quickly, and she dispatched it with her knife. She cut it up and hung it up to dry, as is done with halibut. They did not know what kind of a fish it was. It was quite strange to them, but they thought it might be good food. When the woman had finished her work, she went to the edge of the water to wash her hands.

As soon as she put her hands into the water, something seized them and pulled her underneath the sea. She had been taken by the Killer-Whales who had come to have revenge on the man for killing their friend. Continue reading HERE.

In Inuit folklore the Akhlut is an orca spirit that takes the form of a gigantic wolf or a wolf-orca hybrid when on land.

It is a vicious, dangerous beast that ventured onto land in order to hunt humans and other animals. Its tracks can be recognized because they are wolf tracks that lead to and from the ocean, indicating that the creature is waiting for prey under the water nearby.

Often, dogs seen walking to the ocean or into it are considered one of these malevolent beasts. Little is known of this spirit other than that can transform between and orca and/or wolf. SOURCE

The killer whale (Orcinus orca), also referred to as the orca whale or orca, and less commonly as the blackfish or grampus, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. Killer whales are found in all oceans, from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. Killer whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals like pinnipeds, and even large whales. They have been known to attack baleen whale calves. Killer whales are regarded as apex predators, lacking natural predators.

Orcas in Haida Culture

The Haida myths and legends about killer whales tells how they are supernatural beings and how they basically ruled the underworld. The underworld in Haida culture refers to the ocean and everything in it. The killer whales had their own villages equivalent to the Haida villages on the surface with longhouses lined up with each other. The stories the Haida have about killer whales are endless, many of them end up being about a killer whale that stole a woman from the shore because he wanted to bring her back to his village and marry her.

There are also stories about the origins of killer whales and stories of their strength. Some say killer whales descended from coastal wolves. There was a story about a man with two wolf pups who, as they grew bigger and bigger, would swim out to sea to hunt whales. They would bring whales back for dinner everyday until one day a heavy fog came in and the wolves became lost at sea, eventually turning into killer whales.

There’s another story about how the supernatural beings were holding a contest. The island of Haida Gwaii was sinking, and to see who would be given the job of holding it up, they needed to see who the strongest. In this contest was a boy who had the ability to wear the skin of others. The contest was to see who can lay on a bed of hot coals the longest, the boy knowing the killer whales skin was the toughest, decided to cheat he took the killer whales skin and wore it when the supernatural beings weren’t looking, he won the contest. It is said he now holds up Haida Gwaii on a totem with his little pet ermine, when there is an earthquake on Haida Gwaii it is said to be the ermine running up and down the pole. Continue reading HERE.

Orca Symbolism in Indigenous Cultures of the Pacific Northwest

(Image by Cecil James from Pixabay)

The Orca, also known as the Killer Whale or Blackfish, possesses a profound significance in the rich tapestry of mythology and folklore of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. 

Amongst many tribes in the region, such as the Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Kwakiutl, the Orca is revered as a clan animal and serves as a cherished clan crest. Its powerful presence is an enduring symbol of the deep-rooted cultural traditions and profound connection to the natural world that have shaped the identity of these communities for generations.

The Orca is a venerated medicine animal, embodying an enduring symbol of strength and power. In addition, the Orca is regarded as a cherished protector of humanity among the Tlingit people. Despite their status as skilled whale hunters, the Tlingit do not hunt the Orca, acknowledging its esteemed role as a guardian of their communities. 

For the Kwakiutl tribes, the Orca held an even more poignant significance – it was believed that upon the death of a seafarer, their soul would transform into an Orca, much like forest hunters were said to become wolves. This enduring belief is a testament to the deep spiritual connection that has long existed between humans and these majestic creatures of the sea.

To catch a glimpse of an Orca off the coast is to bear witness to a poignant and meaningful omen. In some indigenous cultures, the Orca is revered as a messenger, a spiritual entity transcending the physical realm to offer guidance and wisdom to those still bound to this mortal plane. To some, the sighting of an Orca may even signify a departed chief or tribe member reaching out from beyond the veil to communicate with and protect their loved ones still walking the earth. Continue reading HERE.

During four years of shooting in the icy waters that surround the volcanic archipelago of the Crozet Islands, we have followed the trial and tribulations of Delphine, a young female adolescent killer whale. Living and growing within her family group she gradually learns how to find her bearings, how to hunt king penguins or Minke rorquals and how to get stranded in order to catch sea elephants.

Further Symbolism and Meaning of the Orca

Shamans suggest the Orca or Killer Whale knows the secrets to exquisite romance, long life, peaceful interactions, community cooperation, and perhaps a well-protected family. The Orca is a Whale and the largest member of the Oceanic Dolphin family, so they have many common characteristics, including mischief, curiosity, and intellect. The Orca brain is sophisticated, seeing the aquatic beast is the second largest among Sea Creatures.

Orcas is diligent when working within their pod, raising their calves with the meticulous care. The Orca pods are interdependent and team-oriented. Orcas travel together, hunt together, and play together. Life within the pod is social and friendly, which is one message the creature delivers to humankind: The importance of learning how to live happily together so that everyone benefits.

Orcas have an intimate connection with the Feminine principal of the Universe. They are matrilineal. A female leads each pod, teaching the young everything they need to know for survival. Should a mother in the pod pass away, the sister, grandmother, or next female in line steps into the role; this gives Orca various Yin energetic signatures including nurturing, education, bonding, comfort, facilitation, and endless patience. Even though people call them Killer Whales, the Orca Animal Guide is a gentle creature who takes an interest in those who cannot help themselves. Continue reading HERE.

Orcas of the Salish Sea

The Salish sea for me has a huge importance for me just from fond memories of traveling that sea in my career but on a spiritual level as well. The Salish sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific ocean found between northwest Washington and British Columbia that holds an amazing variety of diverse Marine and Coastal wildlife which certainly includes the Orca. The Salish sea itself is very sacred to the Native cultures who reside there as well.

An Orca pod on the move in the Salish Sea.

Orcas have been a symbol of the West Coast for many thousands of years. They they are an important part of the culture of many Indigenous peoples, belief systems, symbolism, art and storytelling.

The orca is a symbol often centered around luck, compassion and family. Orcas are known to some Indigenous communities as the guardians of the sea. To some people, orcas represent the strength of love and the bonds of family because of their strong group behaviour.

Indigenous peoples and orcas have lived in harmony in the Pacific Northwest since time immemorial. It is important to look to Indigenous communities for knowledge and understanding of the history, location, and behaviours of the Pacific Northwest’s orca populations, as well as to their leadership, when developing protection and recovery actions. SOURCE

photo: Animalia Life

The Pacific Northwest is home to three Orca ecotypes

  • Resident Orcas, of which there are two distinct populations
  • Bigg’s orcas, also known as transients: approx. 400 individuals (population increasing)
  • Offshore orcas: approx. 300 individuals (population trend unknown) SOURCE

The Orca People (qalqaləxič)

Coast Salish peoples, here for thousands of years before settlers arrived, shared a strong belief in the existence of “myth age,” when beings sharing both human and animal qualities roamed the earth. According to legend, a Changer (dukʷibəɬ) transformed beings into animals, giving the native people the essential elements of their culture.

The killer whale or orca is important to the Tulalip Tribes. As the Snohomish legend goes, if a killer whale approaches their canoe, they will greet it with these words: “killer whale, killer whale, your ancestors were also my ancestors.”

A long-told Tulalip story says there were two brothers, famous seal hunters, who went to live in the ocean and became killer whales. Later, when the Tulalip people had been starving, they were relieved to see the salmon arrive.

Suddenly, seals arrived, too, and began devouring the salmon. Remembering their seal-hunting ancestors, the qalq̓aləx̌ič, they called them for help. The killer whales heard the call and arrived to kill the seals, saving the salmon and the Tulalip people from starvation.

“Tulalip” comes from the Lushootseed word dxʷlilap (far towards the end) referring to the wide berth cut by canoes entering Tulalip bay, eight miles north of Mukilteo, to avoid running aground. Tulalip tribal members are the direct descendants of the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and other allied tribes and bands signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, which was signed here. SOURCE

Meet Onyx and the orcas of J pod, the world’s most famous whales.
Illustrated with stunning photos, this picture book introduces young readers to the orcas humans first fell in love with. The members of J pod live in the Salish Sea, off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Moby Doll was the first orca ever displayed in captivity, Granny was the oldest orca known to humanity, and Scarlet was the orca humans fought to save.

Orcas of the Salish Sea Written By Kaori Pi

The black dorsal fin slices up slowly with barely a ripple. First it rises about a foot above the surface. Like a submarine’s periscope, it travels straight ahead for twenty feet until the mighty stroke of the adult male’s flukes lift six feet of dripping, wavy fin into the air. A huge torpedo-shaped head pushes out just far enough for a loud burst of air out the blowhole and a quick suck to refill the orca’s lungs before it arcs silently back into the depths.

It’s J3, a male over 40 years old, rising to breathe beside his family. His mother’s sister plows up next to him to heave an explosive blow, followed by three more generations of J pod orcas, all closely related and inseparable their entire lives. J3’s age is documented from photos taken in the first years of demographic field research in the mid-1970’s. Several females are much older, however, including two, J2 and K7, both estimated to be over 90 years old in 1995.

Wispy clouds of vapor linger high over their heads as they pass a hundred yards from Lime Kiln Lighthouse at Whale Watch Park. One suddenly twists in tight circles pursuing a large salmon. The others dive into the kelp, rubbing the long soft strands along their backs and into the notches of their flukes as they check for salmon hiding in the shadows. Above them the snow-whitened Olympics stand watch over this vast inland sea, glowing with red-orange hues in the early morning sun. Continue reading HERE.

For eons, a one-of-a-kind population of killer whales has hunted Chinook salmon along the Pacific Coast of the United States. For the last 40 years, renowned whale scientist Ken Balcomb has closely observed them. He’s familiar with a deadly pattern – as salmon numbers plummet, orcas starve. The solution, says Balcomb, is getting rid of four fish-killing dams 500 miles away on the largest tributary to what once was the largest Chinook producing river on earth. Studying whales is science. Removing dams is politics. Defiantly mixing the two, says Balcomb, has become the most important work of his storied career. Meanwhile, the race to extinction for salmon and orcas speeds up, nipping at the heels of the plodding, clumsy pace of political change in the Pacific Northwest, where dams and hydropower are king.

In Conclusion

So in conclusion as you have seen during this blog post there is a tremendous amount of information regarding these amazing Wolves of the Seas and I could have gone on further but I felt ending the Blog with the Orcas of my homeland felt suiting. Even as I wrote and put together the sources for this one I for a moment felt like I was back home which is something special for me. I can only hope that someday I return home to the Pacific Northwest and once again can take to sea and experience with my own eyes the beauty of the Orcas.

Further Resources

Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in science, art and history

Orca guide: diet, how they hunt, and what they’re related to

9 Reasons to Be Obsessed with Orcas

Native American Killer Whale Mythology (Orca or Blackfish)

Orca Whales (Pacific Northwest)

The language of Whales

Posted on Leave a comment

The Magic of Coastal Plants

The Magic of Coastal Plants by W1tchsbrew

Be sure to check her Etsy shop Wood ov Wyrd

Coastal Plant Life

There are many well-known plants throughout the world that have been documented for their esthetic,  medicinal uses and spiritual properties. From trees and grasses to soils, stones and flowers; the nature of this planet we inhabit has always been, not only beautiful, but extremely useful. 

One of the lesser explored subjects regarding vegetation, is that of coastal plant life. 

Naturally occurring coastal plants have adapted to their harsh environment by developing strategies such as fleshy, tough leaves to conserve moisture and withstand salty wind. 

Although the species variety of coastal plant life is vast, there are a few that stand out, not only for their medicinal uses, but their spiritual impact as well.

Sea Thrift

What is it?

Sea Thrift or “Armeria Maritima” is one of the many plants that might be found in coastal salt marshes, pastures and maritime cliffs. 

This colorful flower can be found near coasts all over the world and thrives in dry, sandy turf as well as somewhat acidic soils. Sea Thrift tolerates and processes salt but doesn’t necessarily need saline soils as habitat. Occasionally, it can also be found in dry woods or in gaunt meadows. In comparison to its tolerance of drought and maritime exposure, Sea Thrift does not do well in shade and prefers a more direct subjection to sunlight. This plant blooms mainly in the late spring and early summer seasons and is pollinated by a variety of insects including bees, flies, beetles and Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). 

Medicinal Uses:

This dried flowering plant can be made into an antibiotic and has been used in the treatment of obesity, some nervous disorders and urinary infections. However, it cannot be used externally due to causing dermatitis or local irritation.

Metephysical Uses:

Sea Thrift is an excellent plant to aid in staying well-grounded and maintaining a core equilibrium or inner harmony – no matter how erratic the environment. 

This flower is also believed to help free the circulation of mental, physical and spiritual energy for a more balanced state of being. Just hanging around these plants will impart this.

Sea Kale

What is it?

Sea Kale, also known as “Crambe Maritima”, grows wild along the coasts of Europe, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea. As a relative of cabbage, Sea Kale was first cultivated as a vegetable in Britain around the turn of the 18th century. The blanched stems are eaten and became more popular in the mid-19th century. Known by a variety of names, including sea-colewort and scurvy-grass, this plant was often pickled for long sea voyages to prevent scurvy. 

Sea Kale can be grown even in completely landlocked regions so long as it falls within a cool, moist climate.

Medicinal Uses:

Sea kale is an excellent source of vitamin C and also contains some calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and manganese.

It even contains anti-cancer properties as well as antiviral, anti-fungal, antiseptic and purifying properties. Historically, Sea Kale leaves were used in healing wounds, the seed juice for gastritis and the fruits for removing worms.

It also boosts the immune system, improves metabolism and can help with weight gain.

Metaphysical Uses:

Sea Kale is mainly used in spiritual practices for its ability to bring about prosperity and abundance. Whether attracting wealth, promoting growth or cultivating healing energies, Sea Kale is the perfect go to.

This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to 125 frequently encountered wildflowers and other plants that grow in coastal habitats from Massachusetts to central Florida. Drawn from the authors’ many years of studying, photographing, and teaching others about plants and their habitats, this handy guide will appeal to everyone from the budding naturalist out to enjoy a day at the beach to the professional scientist seeking accurate, current information about coastal plants.

Seaweed

What is it?

Seaweed has a history of thriving in oceans, lakes and rivers and is part of the algae family or “singular alga”. There are over 10,000 species of seaweed, but they are all categorized into three main types (brown, green and red).

For more about this coastal plant be sure to check out my other post All About Seaweed.

Medicinal Uses:

The health benefits of seaweed have been utilized for hundreds of years. It has been used for dietary purposes such as metabolism or promoting good gut bacteria and has been included in skin care treatment for some diseases including rheumatism. 

Metaphysical Uses:

Seaweed is believed to be very useful for its banishing powers and is commonly used as a sort of “negative energy repellent”. It is also thought to aid in recovering from trauma, reducing stress, balancing emotion, attracting prosperity and cleansing one’s aura. Are you a Sea Witch? This is the plant for you.

Common Gorse 

What is it?

Common Gorse, scientifically known as “Ulex europaeus”, is a large, evergreen shrub, covered in needle-like leaves and distinctive, coconut-perfumed, yellow flowers. This plant can be seen along the coast growing in grasslands, wetlands, near beaches and in neighboring towns. It generally flowers from January to June, although it may flower sporadically throughout the year. It provides shelter and food for many insects and birds, such as Dartford warblers, stonechats and yellowhammers. Traditionally, Common Gorse was regularly collected from common-land for a number of purposes including fuel for firing bread ovens, fodder for livestock and was even bound to make floor and chimney brushes. 

Medicinal Uses:

In Irish folk medicine, Common Gorse was widely used to treat coughs, colds, sore throats, tuberculosis, asthma, heartburn, hiccups, jaundice, heart problems, dermatitis, ringworm, swellings, and as a general tonic. 

This plant can even be strained as a tea, made into an essential oil, or used in skin care. In cosmetics, organic gorse extract helps to address the signs of ageing due to its skin firming and tightening effect. 

Metaphysical Uses:

Traditionally, Common Gorse was sometimes used as a boundary between fields. It is often used in spirituality, not only for setting boundaries, but as protection and an aid in restoration as well. Manifesting prosperity and gathering strength are also very common uses for this plant in spiritual workings. Common Gorse can be used in money spells and is believed to attract good fortune. 

This easy-to-use field guide features 794 species of plants commonly found along the Pacific coast from Oregon to Alaska, including trees, shrubs, wildflowers, aquatic plants, grasses, ferns, mosses and lichens. PLANTS OF COASTAL BRITISH COLUMBIA covers the entire length of the British Columbia coast, from shoreline to alpine. Includes: * 1100 color photographs * More than 1000 line drawings and silhouettes * Clear species descriptions and keys to groups * Descriptions of each plant’s habitat and range * 794 new color range maps. * Rich and engaging notes on each species describe aboriginal and other local uses of plants for food, medicine and implements, along with unique characteristics of the plants and the origins of their names. For both amateurs and professionals, this is the best, most accessible, most up-to-date guide of its kind.

Seagrass

What is it?

Seagrasses are the only flowering plants which grow in marine environments. Most species of seagrass are perennials (being recurrent and having a life span of two years or more) and are visible throughout the year.

Seagrasses grow in salty and brackish waters (semi salty) around the world, typically along gently sloping, protected coastlines. Because they depend on light for photosynthesis, they are most commonly found in shallow depths where light levels are high. In some places, seagrasses are made into useful objects such as rugs and even roofing. These marine plants are very important nurseries for sea life of all sorts.

Medicinal Uses:

Seagrass meadows can reduce disease causing bacterial pathogens by >50%, to the benefit of humans and adjacent coral reefs alike.

In folk medicine, seagrasses have been used for a variety of remedial purposes such as the treatment of fever and skin diseases, muscle pains, wounds, stomach problems, and as a remedy against the stings of different kinds of rays.

Metaphysical Uses:

If you have the patience, you can dry out and ‘weave’ a ball of seagrass and hang it up in your home to provide protection. But, aside from the home and hearth, seagrass can be utilized in all sorts of protection spells, knot magic, and as a tool for attracting abundance. Do you think the sailors of history may have perhaps used seagrass in knot magic as a way to work with their ocean deities? So do I.

Sea Oats

What are they?

Sea Oats, also known as “Uniola paniculata”, is considered an important plant in terms of its integral role in sand dune formation and stabilization. So much so that it has been given special protected status by the state of Florida where is illegal to destroy or remove without a permit. Sea Oats is a perennial grass and is long lived, slow growing, and is commonly associated with the upper dunes along beach fronts. It produces a large seed head, or panicle, during summer months. Sea Oats are very drought tolerant and produce a massive root system. It withstands salt water spray and thrives in areas with blowing sand, which promotes the plant’s growth and helps it spread. 

Medicinal Uses:

In the past, Sea Oats have been cooked and eaten as a cereal. Although it isn’t traditionally known for medicinal purposes, the dried stocks of these plants were sometimes used for wound care, as a method to help dry out the wound.

Metaphysical Uses: 

Sea Oats are believed to be quite useful in spirituality when manifesting protection or abundance. The seeds can be used as an offering when working with Oceanic deities and are seen as an excellent “exchange gift” when asking for guidance, protection or blessings of any kind. Sea Oats can also be used to aid in grounding, growth, and endurance. Now that’s a breakfast of champions. 

Seaside Daisy 

What is it?

Seaside Daisy, scientifically “Erigeron glaucus”, is a wildflower native to the coastline of Oregon and California where it grows on beaches, coastal bluffs and sand dunes. Its flowering seasons are Winter, Spring and Summer. This flower supports several insect species  including butterflies, moths, bees and caterpillars. Seaside Daisies prefer full sun exposure but will tolerate a small amount of shade. It is also extremely resilient in the cold, withstanding temperatures from 15F*. Seaside Daisies can tolerate frost, wind, salt soils and heat, making it an all-around tough little flower.

Erigeron is Greek for “an old man in the spring,” referring to the Seaside Daisy’s early flowering and fluffy white seed heads. 

Medicinal Uses:

Seaside Daisy can be made into tea for coughs, bronchitis, disorders of the liver and kidneys, and swelling or inflammation. It can also be used as a drying agent (astringent) and as a “blood purifier.” Some people take homeopathic wild daisy for preventing problems during childbirth, pain and soreness, and minor bleeding.

Metaphysical Uses:

Seaside Daisy flowers hold deep symbolic and spiritual significance. The ancient Greeks believed that the Daisy flower was a symbol of purity, and used it in wreaths to crown their athletic heroes. In medieval times, it was connected with innocence, victory, purity, and was frequently used in art and literature. Seaside Daisies can be associated with loyalty, new beginnings, purity, love, and are believed to encourage positive energy and good fortune. This plant can also be used in healing rituals or protection spells. Having been spiritually and symbolically utilized for hundreds of years, the Seaside Daisy is one of the most special plants you’ll find near the coast.

From fearsome sharks to lowly urchins, 90 percent of marine creatures live in coastal waters. Protecting these habitats is a battle humanity must win.
“An incredibly thorough guide for identifying, harvesting, and utilizing medicinal plants.” —Dr. Deborah Frances RN, ND Naturopathic physician, herbalist, author, and lecturer

In Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants, Scott Kloos is your trusted guide to finding, identifying, harvesting, and using 120 of the region’s most powerful wild plants. You’ll learn how to safely and ethically forage, and how to use wild plants in herbal medicines including teas, tinctures, and salves. Plant profiles include clear, color photographs, identification tips, medicinal uses and herbal preparations, and harvesting suggestions. Lists of what to forage for each season makes the guide useful year-round. Thorough, comprehensive, and safe, this is a must-have for foragers, naturalists, and herbalists in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and northern California.
Posted on 2 Comments

The Slavic Mother Goddess Mokosh

The Gods and Goddesses of the Slavic pantheon are ones I feel connected to and have studied for years. maybe due to having Slavic blood running through me or perhaps how they resonate with my beliefs and spiritual path. Either way I want to begin featuring each of the Slavic pantheon with posts on my blog here and I have decided to begin with the most important Goddess which is Mokosh (Mokoš). She is such an important Goddess among the Slavic pantheon that she is still revered to this day as she deserves.So let us get into all there is known about this Mother Goddess.

Getting to know Mokosh

There are seven primordial gods in Slavic mythology, and only one of them is female: Mokosh. In the pantheon in the Kievan Rus’ state, she is the only goddess at all, and so her specific role in Slavic mythology is vast and varied, and, more aptly perhaps, foggy and damp. Mother earth and house spirit, tender of sheep and spinner of fate, Mokosh is the supreme Slavic goddess. 

In Slavic mythology, Mokosh, sometimes transliterated as Mokoš and meaning “Friday,” is Moist Mother Earth and thus the most important (or sometimes only) goddess in the religion. As a creator, she is said to have been discovered sleeping in a cave by a flowering spring by the spring god Jarilo, with whom she created the fruits of the earth. She is also the protector of spinning, tending sheep, and wool, patron of merchants and fishermen, who protects cattle from plague and people from drought, disease, drowning, and unclean spirits. 

The origins of Mokosh as mother earth may date to pre-Indo-European times (Cuceteni or Tripolye culture, 6th–5th millennia BCE) when a near-global woman-centered religion is thought to have been in place. Some scholars suggest she may be a version of Finno-Ugric sun goddess Jumala.

In 980 CE, Kievan Rus emperor Vladimir I (died 1015) erected six idols to Slavic gods and included Mokosh in 980 CE, although he took them down when he converted to Christianity. Nestor the Chronicler (11th century CE), a monk at the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv, mentions her as the only female in his list of seven gods of the Slavs. Versions of her are included in the tales of many different Slavic countries. SOURCE

Mokosh, also called Mokoš, was worshiped by the ancient Slavs as the Goddess of the Earth and fertility. Mokosh is the Goddess who gives and takes life, spinner of the thread of life, giver of the water of life, fertility, and health in marriage. She is most likely a later and more strongly personified variant of the Slavs’ elder earth Goddess: The Damp Mother Earth Goddess.

Appearance and Reputation

Surviving images of Mokosh are rare—although there were stone monuments to her beginning at least as long ago as the 7th century. A wooden cult figure in a wooded area in the Czech Republic is said to be a figure of her. Historical references say she had a large head and long arms, a reference to her connection with spiders and spinning. Symbols associated with her include spindles and cloth, the rhombus, and the Sacred Tree or Pillar.

Some Slavic peasants felt it was wrong to spit on the earth or beat it. During the Spring, practitioners considered the earth pregnant: before March 25 (“Lady Day”), they would neither construct a building or a fence, drive a stake into the ground or sow seed. When peasant women gathered herbs they first lay prone and prayed to Mother Earth to bless any medicinal herbs. SOURCE

Key Takeaways: Mokosh

  • Associated Deities: Tellus, Ziva (Siva), Rusalki (water nixies), Lada 
  • Equivalents: St. Paraskeva Pianitsa (Christian Orthodox); loosely comparable to the Greek Titan Gaia, Hera (Greek), Juno (Roman), Astarte (Semitic)
  • Epithets: Goddess Who Spins Wool, Mother Moist Earth, Flax Woman
  • Culture/Country: Slavonic Culture, Eastern and Central Europe
  • Primary Sources: Nestor Chronicle (a.k.a. Primary Chronicle), Christian-recorded Slavic tales
  • Realms and Powers: Power over the earth, water, and death. Protector of spinning, fertility, grain, cattle, sheep, and wool; fisherman and merchants. 
  • Family: Wife to Perun, lover to Veles and Jarilo
Modern wooden statue of Mother Goddess Mokosh in the Czech Republic

October – The month of Mykosh

Home, calmness, softness, gratitude, feminine grace and creativity are the quiet feelings that permeate the month of Vinotok – October. This is the women’s month, ruled by the East Slavic goddess Mokosh, the great mother, the only goddess in Vladimir of Kiev pantheon, who watches over women. We meet her all over “Slavija” on traditional embroideries, where she is usually depicted as a female creature with birds (symbol of passage), carrying another creature. She is a protector of predicates, women’s affairs, midwives. Her holiday is the last Friday of October month. At that time she is already in the last trimester of pregnancy, when at the winter solstice – she gives birth to a “new sun”.

Mokoš leads us to tune in to ourselves in the fall. All the weaving and sewing of the new future can be successful in the long run only if we know how to look deeply and analytically into the past, learn from mistakes and then resolutely clean up with everything that no longer serves us now. Above all, it is also a time of women’s deepening, where it is important for a man to stand by her side. In the old days, people expressed their love by having a boy carry her spinning wheel home after finishing with spinning together with other girls. Continue reading HERE.

Slavic mysticism is mostly obscure folklore, which is a shame because some mythologies, like Egyptian, Indian, and Greek, have much-written information about them. Some myths came from Slavic lands before Christianity, while others came from complicated Christian bias. So, here is a list of gods and goddesses from Slavic cultures. By reading this book, you can find out about many Slavic goddesses such as Mokosh, Zorya, Lada, Vesna, Marzanna and Many More.

Mokosh, like Brigid, is associated with wells, springs and moisture; the name Mokosh comes from the root ‘mol’ meaning ‘moisture’, and is connected with the Slavic words mokry and moknut (‘wet’ and ‘to get wet’) . Mokosh brings the water of life and protects the life-giving waters on which human and animal existence depend. In this way Mokosh gives life to plants and animals, and is often portrayed with them. She is an important Slavic Mother Goddess, embodying fertility, femininity, prosperity, protection, health, good luck, abundance, and a successful future.

Mokosh is also a warrior goddess, in her fierce aspect as a goddess of protection. One of her epithets is ‘She who strikes with her wings’. The fact that she is a winged Goddess indicates her power and that which she grants to her priestesses and devotees, to travel between the worlds in trance, dream, and vision, for blessing and for healing on behalf of the community and all who are in need. Mokosh is also connected to butterflies, symbols of transformation, and bees, symbols of priestesses in antiquity. Continue reading HERE.

The symbol of Mother Goddess Mokosh

Why is Mokosh still important?

Today, Mokosh is popular as a powerful life-giving force and protector of women. She has a big following amongst Rodnovery women.

They often make small idols out of stone for prayer. The stones are called Mokosh-stones or breast-shaped boulders, and it’s believed that they hold power.

As mentioned above, many places can be found bearing the name of Mokosh, or a similar name. In Eastern Europe, we can find even more villages named after her, and stories that depict her as a woman with uplifted hands.

Mokosh is celebrated in the Rodnovery tradition twice per year, once in Spring around the first or second Friday of May, and once in Fall on the last Friday of October. SOURCE


Meet Mother Mokosh, the Slavic goddess of earth, fertility, love and growth. She is truly amazing, as not much is known about her origins – according to legends, she just appeared out of the blue. She is a creature of emotions – a lover, temptress, mother protecting her children. And her children can be found anywhere, as she was one of the gods who created humankind in Slavic mythology. The most important festivity when this Slavic deity is cherished is Kupala night. It takes place on the day of summer solstice and is an opportunity to find eternal love and a soulmate.

What is associated with Mokosh

  • Spinning yarn
  • Weaving
  • Shearing
  • Protection
  • Childbirth
  • Spell casting
  • Fate
  • Fertility
  • Horses
  • Earth
  • Water
  • Rain
  • Tending Sheep
  • Wool
  • Matron of merchants and fishermen, who protects cattle from plague and people from drought, disease, drowning, and unclean spirits.

Further Resources:

Mokosz/Mokosh – Slavic Great Mother and Protector of Women

The Ancient Earth Mother

Slavic Traditions & Mythology

Slavic Mythology

Posted on Leave a comment

Werewolves: History, Folklore and More

The subject of Werewolves have been a fascination of mine since I was a child and still is to this day. There are so many folktales and indigenous lore regarding them found around the world that it is in itself a huge subject that can take years to study. Werewolves have captivated people around the world so much so they can be found in novels, movies and even in festivals. There is so much that can be discussed about these creatures of the night that it would take a series of posts but I decided today to give you a sort of ‘best of’ resources for you to dive into. So with that I hope you enjoy as we get into the topic of the Werewolf.

It’s unclear exactly when and where the werewolf legend originated. Some scholars believe the werewolf made its debut in The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest known Western prose, when Gilgamesh jilted a potential lover because she had turned her previous mate into a wolf.

Werewolves made another early appearance in Greek mythology with the Legend of Lycaon. According to the legend, Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus, angered the god Zeus when he served him a meal made from the remains of a sacrificed boy. As punishment, the enraged Zeus turned Lycaon and his sons into wolves.

Werewolves also emerged in early Nordic folklore. The Saga of the Volsungs tells the story of a father and son who discovered wolf pelts that had the power to turn people into wolves for ten days. The father-son duo donned the pelts, transformed into wolves and went on a killing rampage in the forest. Their rampage ended when the father attacked his son, causing a lethal wound. The son only survived because a kind raven gave the father a leaf with healing powers. Continue reading HERE.

Theories of Origin

A recent theory has been proposed to explain werewolf episodes in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ergot, which causes a form of foodborne illness, is a fungus that grows in place of rye grains in wet growing seasons after very cold winters. Ergot poisoning usually affects whole towns or at least poor areas of towns and results in hallucinations, mass hysteria and paranoia, as well as convulsions and sometimes death. (LSD can be derived from ergot.)

Ergot poisoning has been proposed as both a cause of an individual believing that he or she is a werewolf and of a whole town believing that they had seen a werewolf. However, this theory is controversial and unsatisfactory. Witchcraft hysteria and legends of animal transformations, as well as hysteria and superstition in general, have existed across the world for all of recorded history. Even if ergot poisoning is found to be an accurate explanation in some cases, it cannot be applied to all instances. An over-reliance on any one theory denies the diversity and complexity of such occurrences.

Some modern researchers have tried to use conditions such as rabies, hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth over the entire body) or porphyria (an enzyme disorder with symptoms including hallucinations and paranoia) as an explanation for werewolf beliefs. Congenital erythropoietic porphyria has clinical features which include photosensitivity (so sufferers only go out at night), hairy hands and face, poorly healing skin, pink urine, and reddish colour to the teeth.

There is also a rare mental disorder called clinical lycanthropy, in which an affected person has a delusional belief that he or she is transforming into another animal, although not always a wolf or werewolf.

Others believe werewolf legends arose as a part of shamanism and totem animals in primitive and nature-based cultures.

The term therianthropy has been adopted to describe a spiritual concept in which the individual believes he or she has the spirit or soul, in whole or in part, of a non-human animal. SOURCE

Etymology

The belief in werewolves is not just a European phenomenon but is encountered world wide. This is apparent when considering the etymology of the word. Medieval Europe held strong beliefs in the existence of werewolves during the 15th to 17th centuries, which was reflected in the literature of the time. The term lycanthropy is derived from lycanthropos of ancient Greece meaning wolf plus man (Rose, 2000).

In Old English werewolf is derived from wer or were signifying man, and the word wulf for wolf. In Old Welsh there is gwir and Old Irish has tear where wild dog is used synonymously for wolf. Again, weri from Old English means to wear the skin of a wolf, perhaps ritually. The word is compounded from lyc from the Proto-Indo-European root wlkwo meaning wolf, hence the vira of Sansrit, and the vir of Latin. Counterparts of the English word werewolf are found in the Germanic form of wehr-wolf, a variation meaning man-wolf. A cognate is the Gothic word wair, the wer of Old High German. I France the derivation of loup-garou is from the loup for wolf.

In Eastern Europe the idea of the werewolf is related closely to the concept of the vampire, referred to in Serbia as the vukodlak. In Lithuania the werewolf is called vyras. The word vampire in Slavonic languages is vampire and the origin of the English term, with the Greek vrykolakas originating amongst the Serbs, with werewolf being wilkolak amongst the Poles. For the Scandinavians the Old Norse cognate is verr. Again, in Old Norse there is the vargulf, a wolf that kills large numbers of livestock, which connects with warg-wolf. The words warg, werg, and wera are cognate with the vargr of Old Norse. This refers to an outlaw being regarded as a wolf, a ulfhednar seen as a wolf-like berserker wearing wolf skins in battle. SOURCE

Since before recorded history, werewolves have captivated human imagination. Simultaneously, they represent our deepest fears as well as our desire to connect with our primal ancestry. Today, werewolves are portrayed negatively, associated with violence, cruelty, cannibalism, and general malevolence.

However, in ages past, legends depicted them not as monsters, but as a range of neutral to benevolent individuals, such as traveling companions, guardians, and knights. The robust legacy of the werewolf spans from prehistory, through ancient Greece and Rome, to the Middle Ages, into the Early Modern period, and finally into present-day popular culture. Over the ages, the view of the werewolf has become distorted. Media treatment of werewolves is associated with inferior writing, lacking in thought, depth, and meaning. Werewolves as characters or creatures are now generally seen as single-minded and one-dimensional, and they want nothing more than to kill, devour, and possibly violate humans.

Hollywood depictions have resulted in the destruction of the true meanings behind werewolf legends that fascinated and terrified humans for so many ages. If these negative trends were reversed, perhaps entertainment might not only discover again some of the true meanings behind the werewolf myth, but also take the first steps toward reversing negative portrayals of wolves themselves, which humans have, for eons, wrongfully stigmatized and portrayed as evil, resulting in wolves receiving crueler treatment than virtually any other animal.

To revive the many questions posed by lycanthropy, entertainment must show respect to the rich history of so many cultures all around the world – and rediscover the legend of the werewolf.

English folk-lore is singularly barren of were-wolf stories, the reason being that wolves had been extirpated from England under the Anglo-Saxon kings, and therefore ceased to be objects of dread to the people. The traditional belief in were-wolfism must, however, have remained long in the popular mind, though at present it has disappeared, for the word occurs in old ballads and romances.

The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring Gould (1865)

The ‘werewolf gap’: it’s all about the folklore

Between St Augustine (c. AD 400) and the twelfth-century flowering of werewolf stories we hear nothing about them. What are we to make of this 500-year gap? A simple explanation might be that the authors of the twelfth century rediscovered the long-forgotten werewolves in their ancient texts and just chose to start writing about them again. Such an explanation might initially seem to be favoured by the fact that Marie de France’s Anglo-Norman werewolf poem Bisclavret of AD 1160-78, for example, has much in common with Petronius’ story: signally, we find the recurring theme of the werewolf’s need to keep his clothes safe if he is to be able to recover his human form, with Bisclavret hiding his clothes under a rock when it is time for him to transform. However, it is unlikely that Marie had direct access to Petronius’ story…

The more interesting and intriguing possibility is that werewolves just went underground, as it were, and continued to thrive under the radar in the realm of folklore and folktale throughout these centuries, only to resurface into the world of fine literature again in the twelfth. And this is almost certainly what happened. A clue to this is to be found in what is a central theme of Marie de France’s tale, and the tales of other writers of her age: that of the adulterous wife.

When Bisclavret’s wife learns that he is a werewolf, she makes him reveal where he hides his clothes whilst under transformation, and accordingly steals them and makes off with them with the help of her lover, with whom she then elopes, leaving Bisclavret stranded as a wolf for many years before his is able to take his revenge on the pair and recover his human form. When we look back at Petronius’ tale we can see that the motif of an adulterous wife is already lurking in it in an incidental detail of which nothing is made: Melissa is conducting an adulterous affair with Niceros. There is no obvious reason why Marie and the writers of her time should have seized upon this incidental detail and elaborated it so greatly – even if they did, after all, have access to Petronius’ text. It is much more likely that, as an artful writer, Petronius had included the incidental detail of the adulterous wife in order to allude to another, related werewolf story he was familiar with but was not on this occasion telling. It will then have been upon this second story, preserved in folklore alone for a millennium, that Marie and her contemporary writers were eventually to seize. SOURCE

Legends Of The Werewolves

‘Real’ Werewolves

Today, werewolves are known to be mythical creatures found in fiction instead of lurking in the dark woods, but that was not always the case. Not so long ago, belief in werewolves was common. Overall, there was little difference between the killings and activities of wolves and werewolves: both would hunt at night, attacking sheep or livestock, and sometimes humans. The main difference was, of course, that the werewolf changed into human form at some point.

There are several medical conditions that can mimic the appearance of a werewolf and may have contributed to early belief in the literal existence of the creatures. One is hypertrichosis, which creates unusually long hair on the face and body; a second condition, porphyria, is characterized by extreme sensitivity to light (thus encouraging its victims to only go out at night), seizures, anxiety, and other symptoms. Neither of these rare conditions turns anyone into a werewolf, of course, but centuries ago when belief in witches, vampires, and magic was common it didn’t take much to spawn werewolf stories.

Clinical lycanthropy is a recognized medical condition in which a person believes himself or herself to be an animal, and indeed there are rare cases where people have claimed to be werewolves. For example in 1589, a German man named Peter Stubbe claimed to own a belt of wolf skin that allowed him to change into a wolf: His body would bend into a lupine form; his teeth would multiply in his mouth; and he craved human blood. Continue reading HERE.

An exploration of werewolf beliefs and legends from Classical Antiquity to the post-medieval period

• Examines werewolf tales and stories from early Greece, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Eastern Europe, China, and Japan, as well as legends of other shapeshifting creatures such as were-tigers, were-jackals, and were-caribou

• Looks at the various ways people become werewolves, including pacts with the devil, magic, and spells, and explores ways to identify, escape, and do away with werewolves

• Includes the trial records from medieval Europe for individuals who were tried on suspicion of being werewolves and the personal records of people whose spouses could shapeshift into wolves

An animal both mythical and real, a terrifying predator and the villain in many a fairytale, the wolf has haunted the human imagination since prehistoric times. Even more disturbing is the possibility that some individuals can change into wolves. These werewolves, or lycanthropes, are able to divest themselves of their human nature and transform into enemies that are all the more dangerous as no one knows who they are. Means of protecting oneself from this beast have been a concern for people since Classical Antiquity, and werewolf legends offer both fascinating tales of horror as well as advice for thwarting these creatures or breaking the werewolf curse.

In this exploration of werewolf folktales, legends, and historical accounts, Claude Lecouteux examines werewolf beliefs and stories from early Greece to the post-medieval age, including the beliefs of the Norse and tales from France, Germany, Eastern Europe, China, and Japan. The author includes the trial records from medieval Europe for individuals who were tried on suspicion of being werewolves and the personal records of people whose spouses could shapeshift into wolves. He investigates the nature of the werewolf, how it can act as the double or lead to out-of-body experiences, and its counterparts in other parts of the world such as were-tigers, were-jackals, and even were-caribou in the Inuit regions of North America. Lecouteux also looks at the various ways people become werewolves, including pacts with the devil and spells, and explores ways to identify, escape, and do away with werewolves. Sharing werewolf mysteries from around the world, Lecouteux shows that by studying the legends of the werewolf we also gain insight into the psyche and ancient imagination of humanity.

Curse or Power?

Various methods for becoming a werewolf have been reported, one of the simplest being the removal of clothing and putting on a belt made of wolf skin, probably as a substitute for the assumption of an entire animal skin (which also is frequently described). In other cases, the body is rubbed with a magic salve. Drinking rainwater out of the footprint of the animal in question or from certain enchanted streams were also considered effectual modes of accomplishing metamorphosis. The 16th century Swedish writer Olaus Magnus says that the Livonian werewolves were initiated by draining a cup of specially prepared beer and repeating a set formula. Ralston in his Songs of the Russian People gives the form of incantation still familiar in Russia.

In Italy, France and Germany, it was said that a man or woman could turn into a werewolf if he or she, on a certain Wednesday or Friday, slept outside on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on his face.

In Brazil, it is believed that when a woman has seven daughters and the eighth child is a man, the latter is likely to be a werewolf.

Becoming a werewolf simply by being bitten or scratched by another werewolf as a form of contagion is common in modern horror fiction, but this kind of transmission is rare in legend, unlike the case in vampirism.

Even if the denotation of lycanthropy is limited to the wolf-metamorphosis of living human beings, the beliefs classed together under this head are far from uniform, and the term is somewhat capriciously applied. The transformation may be temporary or permanent; the were-animal may be the man himself metamorphosed; may be his double whose activity leaves the real man to all appearance unchanged; may be his soul, which goes forth seeking whom it may devour, leaving its body in a state of trance; or it may be no more than the messenger of the human being, a real animal or a familiar spirit, whose intimate connection with its owner is shown by the fact that any injury to it is believed, by a phenomenon known as repercussion, to cause a corresponding injury to the human being. SOURCE

Woodcut of a werewolf attack (1512). Lucas Cranach the Elder.

So as you have seen here there is a vast amount of information regarding the subject of Werewolves which can take someone a great deal of time to look over. I truly enjoy this subject and will just leave you with this. Medically yes there are those inflicted with a genetic disorder to give them the appearance of a Werewolf at no fault of their own. We can clearly see that around the world Werewolves are woven into folklore and modern culture. So the question could be asked, do werewolves or some sort of cryptid wolf-like being exist? Did Werewolf type creatures once roam this world and have in some mysterious way vanished? Could they still exist but be as rare as Hen’s teeth? The truth is we cannot really answer these questions with certainty but the open-minded side of me likes to think it is possible.

Further Resources

The Werewolves of Latvia

Werewolf Legends from Around the World

The Origins of Werewolves

The Scottish Wulver

The Werewolf in Norway: Everything You Need to Know

Werewolves that Fish and Fight in Battles: The Scottish Wulver and Irish Faoladh in Folklore

The Long, Hidden History of the Viking Obsession With Werewolves

King Lycaon Mythology | What is the Greek Origin of Werewolves?

Werewolf Legends from Germany

Posted on Leave a comment

Polynesian Astronomy

Polynesian culture, the history of the people of Polynesia and all that encompasses has been a fascination of mine since having a spiritual experience with a Samoan Tafuga which is a story I hold sacred. The Polynesians thousands of years ago took to the seas for a myriad of reasons and in doing so created a oceanic civilization that spans thousands of miles and evolved into many different sub-cultures of the original Polynesian explorers that utilized the Pacific waves, currents and winds but most importantly, the Stars. In this blog post I intend to deliver to my readers a vast amount of information regarding this subject because the passion I have for it runs deep.

Interest in the heavens goes back far into the ancient fabric of Polynesian culture. Many of the early Polynesian gods and demi-gods derived from or dwelt in the heavens, and many of the legendary exploits took place among the heavenly bodies. The demi-god Maui, especially, was known for such astronomical deeds as snaring the Sun to slow its passage across the sky, or of fashioning a magical fishhook (recognized in Western astronomy as the stinger in Scorpio) to fish up the Hawaiian Islands out of the deep ocean.

In a more practical vein, the early Polynesians were highly skilled sailors and navigators who sailed thousands of miles over open ocean between the Society Islands, the Marquesas, Easter Island in the east, the Hawaiian Islands in the north, and New Zealand in the southwest. Navigation was accomplished primarily, we believe, by a thorough knowledge of the stars, their rising and setting points along the horizon and their meridian passage as a function of latitude. Of course, there were other indicators in nature that helped guide them: the winds, the waves, the ocean swells, cloud formations, and birds and fish.

No instruments or charts of any kind were used to assist these early navigators. But with the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, and subsequent arrivals of foreign ships, the Hawaiians were introduced to spyglasses, sextants, compasses, clocks, and charts, and easily adapted to Western technology. The foreign ideas and techniques soon crowded out the ancient and extensive knowledge of the sky and, sadly, most of this ancient lore has been lost and forgotten. To a large extent our current lack of knowledge of Hawaiian astronomy can be attributed to the early immigrants, mostly missionaries, who transcribed the unwritten language of the Hawaiians. The Hawaiians had names for hundreds of stars and other astronomical objects and concepts. Many of the words were recorded, but not their English equivalents, which were unknown to the transcribers. Continue reading HERE.

The Islands of Polynesia Source

Where Did Polynesians First Come From?

The answer to that question is one of historians’ greatest ongoing debates. 

The leading theory is that Polynesian ancestors started in Southeast Asia, and over the course of thousands of years, constructed vessels and used currents to populate offshore islands. As their skills in wayfaring and navigation grew, the Polynesians sailed their double-hulled canoes for thousands of miles to the east.

While the timing of the Pacific migration is disputed, it’s believed Polynesians reached Samoa and Tonga as early as 1200 BC.

From there they fanned out to the Marquesas Islands as early as 300 AD, eventually heading north to the Hawaiian Islands between 400 and 600 AD. It’s believed that Tahiti and Easter Island were settled about the same time, and later on—around 1200 AD—the Polynesians voyaged southwest to the islands of Aotearoa.

Other theories suggest that the Polynesians may have actually sailed from South America. One of the main proponents of this alternative theory was the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who, in 1947, famously sailed aboard the Kon-Tiki from the coast of Peru to the Tuamotu Islands—over 4,300 miles away. SOURCE

An introduction to the storied Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa and its significance from the Hawaiian Renaissance to today.

Objects and events in the skies were also important to ancient Oceanic peoples in a variety of other ways. They certainly had an extensive knowledge of astronomy: ethnographers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries recorded a great many names for stars, planets, nebulae (such as the Magellanic Clouds), areas of the Milky Way, and so on—things actually visible in the sky—as well as for purely conceptual constructs related to the motions of the heavenly bodies. As an example of the latter, the Hawai-ians had names for what we might call the celestial tropics—the most northerly and southerly paths followed by the sun around the sky at the times of the June and December solstices, respectively. The northern tropic they termed “the black shining road of Kane” and the southern one “the black shining road of Kanaloa,” Kane and Kanaloa being two principal creator-gods. The same or similar names for certain celestial objects (with dialectic variants) can often be found right across the linguistically homogenous area of Polynesia and even farther afield, which indicates considerable antiquity. For example, the Pleiades were known in Hawai’i as Makali’i, in Samoa as Li’i, in Tonga as Mataliki, in Tahiti as Matari’i, and by the Maoris of New Zealand as Matariki. To the west of Polynesia they were known, for example, within Vanuatu (Melanesia) as Matalike and in Pohnpei (Micronesia) as Makeriker.

Stars and constellations were frequently associated with gods, culture heroes, or living chiefs, as well as featuring in stories of ocean voyaging and of ancient homelands. A form of genealogical prayer chant common in Polynesia served to place those of the highest rank in a cosmic scheme of things that includes everything in the sky as well as on earth. A famous example of this is the Hawaiian Kumulipo. SOURCE

So far as I have been able to discover, the study Of astronomy was treated by the Tongans as a branch of navigation. Certain it is that these bold and skillful mariners were keen Observers Of the heavens and that no small part of the equipment of the old sea captains was the ability, based rather on experience and judgment than on rules, to determine when to shift from one star or constellation and to set the course by another group.

Post-Captain Cook

The first record of scientific astronomical observations being made from Hawai`i appears to be that of a British expedition on 8 December 1874. Captain G. L. Tupman of the HBM Scout observed a transit of Venus from a site on Punchbowl Street.  Observations of this transit were also made from Waimea, Kaua`i and Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i Island.

David Kalakaua reigned over the Kingdom of Hawai`i from 1874 to 1891. King Kalakaua was a worldly and progressive monarch, especially considering how recently his people had been exposed to the society and culture of the “civilized” Western world. It was his ambition, as King of Hawai`i, to travel far and wide to learn the ways of the outside world. Even before his voyage, which took place in 1881, Kalakaua had shown an interest in astronomy, and in a letter to Captain R. S. Floyd on November 22, 1880, had expressed a desire to see an observatory established in Hawai`i. His voyage began with a visit to San Francisco, where he visited Lick Observatory in nearby San Jose. Mr. French of Lick Observatory evidently was the King’s guide at the observatory. In his journal Mr. French noted how interested and enthusiastic the King had been and how he had expressed a desire to bring such a telescope to Hawai`i.

It was not long after this that King Kalakaua expressed his interest in having an observatory in Hawai`i. Perhaps as a result of the King’s interest a telescope was purchased from England in 1883 for Punahou School, a private school established by early missionaries to Hawai`i. In 1884 the five-inch refractor was installed in a dome constructed above Pauahi Hall on the school’s campus. Unfortunately, it was not a stable, solid mounting, and the telescope was not useable. Nevertheless, it was the first permanent telescope in Hawai`i and did prove itself useful later on, as we shall see. In 1956 this telescope was installed in Punahou’s newly completed MacNeil Observatory and Science Center. Sometime since then it was replaced and has disappeared, sad to relate.

It appears that the first scientific astronomical and geophysical studies made on Mauna Kea were those conducted in 1892 by Mr. E. D. Preston, astronomer, of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey as part of an extensive survey of the island of Hawai`i. Together with his assistant, Mr. W. E. Wall, and surveyor Prof. W. D. Alexander, the team set up near Lake Waiau a meridian telescope for determining latitude, as well as a gravimeter, a magnetometer, and a barometer to determine altitude. This expedition contributed the first accurate base-line geophysical data for the island. SOURCE

Ke Kā o Makali‘i (“The Canoe-Bailer of Makali‘i”)

Ke Kā o Makali‘i is formed by five stars curving across the sky from ‘akau (north) to hema (south) in the shape of a bailer. It rises in the east like a cup, holding the constellation of Orion and Taurus, and as it begins to set in the west, it pours the content of the cup down to the western horizon.

During Ho’oilo (the winter season from November to April), these stars are visible for most of the night in the Hawaiian sky; during Kau (the summer season from May to October), these stars are in the sky overhead mostly during the daylight hours. SOURCE

Most people think that the Pacific was settled by accident. But this clip upsets that notion by focusing on the lost technique of “Wayfinding.” Is it possible that Polynesians used the Pacific for trading routes and refined their navigational techniques to reach the Americas millennia before Columbus?

O na hoku no na kiu o ka lani.
‘The stars are the eyes of heaven.’

Hawaiian Sailing Proverb (Pukui, 1983)

Hawaiian Voyaging Traditions

The ancient Hawaiians saw Procyon as part of an asterism including four other stars, in Ke Ka o Makali’i (“the canoe bailer of Makali’i”) that assisted them while navigating at sea. Recently named Puana (Maori for “blossom”), it had no recorded Hawaiian name outside of its use in the asterism (Johnson et al., 1975). The constellation was part of a curving formation in the shape of a bailer surrounding the western constellation Orion. Makali’i has several meanings in Hawaiian: 1) it’s the name for the Pleiades, a group of seven stars called Nā hiku o Makali’i (meaning seven little eyes); 2) it was the name for the third modern voyaging canoe (following Hōkūle‘a and Hawai‘i loa) built by native Hawaiians to resurrect ancestral voyaging traditions; and 3) it was the name of the navigator of the legendary canoe of Chief Hawai’iloa, who is often identified as the discoverer of Hawai’i.

Puana forms Ke Ka o Makali’i with Capella (Hoku-lei: star lei), Sirius (A’a: burning brightly), Castor and Pollux (Namahoe: the twins), and Canopus (Ke Ali‘i o kona i ka lewa: chief of the southern heavens) (Brosch, 2008). Polynesian navigators at sea looked east for rising stars to use as clues to direction and the constellation was seen to rise in the east like a cup (Hawaiian Star Lines). SOURCE

Dr. Orchiston is a foremost authority on the subject of New Zealand astronomy, and here are the collected papers of his fruitful studies in this area, including both those published many years ago and new material. The papers herein review traditional Maori astronomy, examine the appearance of nautical astronomy practiced by Cook and his astronomers on their various stopovers in New Zealand during their three voyagers to the South Seas, and also explore notable nineteenth century New Zealand observatories historically, from significant telescopes now located in New Zealand to local and international observations made during the 1874 and 1882 transits of Venus and the nineteenth and twentieth century preoccupation of New Zealand amateur astronomers with comets and meteors.

Lunar Month

Ancient Polynesians recognized the planets and the fixed stars. In Hawaii the eastern star was called manalo and the evening star was called na-holo-holo. Their calendar measured the movement of the stars across the sky with great accuracy. Like all ancient cultures the star group of Pleiades, “the seven sisters” had great significance. Its first appearance in the evening sky , which at present falls in November marked the beginning of the year and was highly celebrated. Some other Polynesian groups began their year when Pleiades made its appearance in the morning sky which fell around June.

The lunar month was observed and 29/30 days of the month were given different names for the nights of the Moon. The Hawaiians called this year beginning with Pleiades appearance in the sky Makahiki. It was divided into twelve lunar months, beginning with the new Moon. By allotting 29/30 days to each lunar month there was usually a left over portion of days at the end of the year, but it is unknown what significance was attached to it.. They would use a cycle of 19 years in which the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 11yh, 13th, 16th, 19th years were allowed to have an extra 13th lunar month. In the intervening years, the 12th month was given extra length to account for the extra days. The Greeks followed a similar system. SOURCE

The names given by the Tahitian people to the nights of the Moon are:

  1. (New Moon) – Tirio or Teriere
  2. HiroHiti
  3. Hoata
  4. Hami-ama-mua
  5. Hami-ama-roto
  6. Hami-ama-muri
  7. ‘Ore’ ore-mua
  8. ‘Ore’ ore-mui
  9. Tamatea
  10. Huna
  11. Rapu or Ari
  12. Maharu
  13. Hu-a
  14. Maitu
  15. Motu
  16. Mara’i
  17. Turu or Turutea
  18. Ra’au-mua
  19. Ra’au-muri
  20. ‘Ore’ ore-mua
  21. ‘Ore’ ore-roto
  22. ‘Ore’ ore-muri
  23. Ta’aroa-mua
  24. Ta’aroa -roto
  25. Ta’aroa-muri
  26. Tane
  27. Ro’o-nui
  28. Ro’o-mauri
  29. Mutu or Maurimate

TAHITIAN ASTRONOMY

[Recited in 1818 at Porapora, by Rua-nui (Great-pit), a clever old woman, then bent with age, and eyes dim. The stars were identified with their equivalents in English by the aid of Paora’i (cleft sky), Counsellor of Porapora, in 1822, and by the best authority in Tahiti, later from the MSS. of the Rev. J. M. Orsmond, Missionary of Tahiti.]

Communicated by Miss Teuira Henry.

RUA-TUPUA-NUI (source-of-great-growth) was the origin; when he took to wife Atea-ta’o-nui (vast-expanse-of-great bidding), there were born his princes, Shooting-stars; then followed the Moon; then followed the Sun; then followed the Comets; then followed Fa’a-iti (Little-Valley, Perseus), Fa’a-nui (Great Valley, Auriga), and Fa’a-tapotupotu (Open Valley, Gemenii), in King Clear-open-sky, which constellations are all in the North.

Fa’a-nui (Auriga) dwelt with his wife Tahi-ari’i (Unique Sovereign, Capella in Auriga), and begat his prince Ta’urua (Great Festivity, Venus), who runs in the evening, and who heralds the night and the day, the stars, the moon, and the sun, as a compass to guide Hiro’s ship at sea. And there followed Ta’ero (Bacchus or Mercury), by the sun.

Ta’urua (Great Venus) prepared his canoe, Mata-taui-noa (Continually-changing-face), and sailed along the west, to King South, and dwelt with his wife Rua-o-mere (cavern-of-parental-yearnings, Capricornus), the compass that stands on the southern side of the sky.

There was born his prince Maunu-‘ura (fading-redness, Mars), who rises in the evening with two faces (two shades in its disc) a red star, the god that flies to offer oblations for thought in his season. Continue reading HERE.

Further Resources

How Polynesian navigation history informs astronomy today

The Polynesian, Master Mariner and Astronomer

Voyaging Stars: Aspects of Polynesian and Micronesian Astronomy

Archaeoastronomy in Polynesia

Islander Mythology and Astronomy

A Collection of Curricula for the STARLAB Polynesian Voyaging Cylinder

ASTRONOMY IN HAWAI`I

Posted on Leave a comment

All About Seaweed

All About Seaweed by W1tchsbrew

Be sure to check her Etsy shop Wood ov Wyrd

Seaweed – What Is It?:

As a long-standing earth dweller of millions of years, Seaweed has a primitive history of thriving within oceans, rivers, and lakes as part of the marine algae family. 

Exceptionally diverse, there are over 10,000 species, with three main types: 

brown (Phaeophyceae), 

green (Chlorophyta), 

and red (Rhodophyta).

Ancient usage of Seaweed has extended across food, medicine and even land fertilizer.

Seaweed – On the Menu:

Considered by many to be a “superfood” due to its wide variety of nutrients, Seaweed has been a staple of several Asian cultures for centuries. 

While its popularity in the western world is a more recent event, as more people discover the many benefits this vegetable has to offer, it’s quickly becoming part of a healthy, balanced diet for a large number of Americans as well.

Many species of Seaweed are well-known for their digestive health properties. 

Seaweed prompts the release of enzymes that promote nutrient absorption. These enzymes also promote fat metabolism. Seaweed also enhances the work of good gut bacteria while guarding against the effects of harmful bacteria.

This film shows fascinating seaweed aquacultures and their potential to provide sustainable marine food. We experienced seaweed farming and processing in northern Europe and Asia.

Seaweed – Physical Healing Properties:

Algae have been used as medication in China and Japan for hundreds of years, and seaweed was (and is) a substantial part of the daily diet and traditional herbal medicine in these countries. 

Seaweed is regarded in those regions as a treatment for tuberculosis, rheumatism, colds, open wounds and intestinal worms. 

Today, some skin care companies will use Seaweed in their product as it is highly regarded for its skin health benefits. 

Seaweed grows in shallow water and deep, in rivers and lakes as well – though the Seaweed  popular in skin care always comes from the sea. 

Seaweed is also an important part of Ayurvedic medicine (a Hindu healing system from India), thalassotherapy (saltwater therapy), phytotherapy (herbal medicine), and macrobiotic cuisine. 

Sustainable Pacific Northwest-based seaweed harvester Amanda Swinimer describes the ecology, culinary uses, evidence-based health benefits and climate change-resisting potential of seaweed and shares highlights from her remarkable life beneath the waves.

Seaweed Metaphysical Properties:

Element: Water

Alchemical Planet: Moon

Astrology signs: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio

Witches call Seaweed “Lady’s Tree”. In general, it is considered a carrier of good luck and abundance. 

Seaweed is also believed to be an effective tool in summoning entities and energies which dwell in the sea such as:

  • Mermaids and Mermen to ask for their help. 
  • Undines – they are usually called the Elementals of the Water and the Sea.
  • Gods and Goddesses of the Sea like PoseidonAmphitriteRánNjord and Triton
  • Nymphs who dwell nearby.
  • Summoning the Winds. 

The Sea itself is believed to be pure and cannot be desecrated. Therefore, its salt is believed to possess unlimited banishing powers. 

As an ocean plant, Seaweeds are said to embody the banishing powers of the sea and are used commonly for repelling negativity.

Sea Witches gather Seaweed and place it outside their doors, on door knobs and beside doorsteps to change bad luck and drive away dark energies.

Seaweeds can even be kept in vases, usually on mantelpiece or over the hearth and fireplace, to protect the house against violence, destructive fire and physical harm. 

The healing energies of the ocean can be channeled through Seaweed in many ways and can be used in instances such as: 

  • Recovering from trauma
  • Balancing emotion
  • Reducing stress or
  • Cleansing one’s aura
Sir David Attenborough is supporting a campaign to help save an important marine habitat. Kelp forests off the West Sussex coast are among the most biodiverse environments on the planet, but they have been damaged by changing fishing habits and the dumping of sediment on the seafloor.

Seaweed – Symbolism and Spirituality:

Seaweed is a symbol of fertility as it is a plant that grows in the sea and reproduces quickly, producing many seeds or spores that drift on ocean currents and are eventually deposited on land.

Seaweed is also a symbol of nourishment and is associated with life, growth and the earth.

The meaning of this plant’s growth pattern suggests that an individual may be able to reach their goals quickly through hard work.

Seaweed is a common sight in many people’s dreams. It has various meanings, ranging from fertility to spirituality, depending on the context in which it was seen. 

In general, however, seeing seaweed in your dream can indicate that you are going through some type of life change or spiritual transformation. 

You may also see seaweed in your dream as a sign of prosperity and abundance. 

Further Resources:

Seaside societies have included seaweed in their diets for millennia. Today we are rediscovering what they have long known: seaweed provides a nutritional punch, a powerful mix of iodine, iron, vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin K, vitamin B12; minerals, fiber and protein. It is linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity and it is believed to help in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
The Seaweed Cookbook covers all aspects of seaweed. It is for those who would like to incorporate this powerful food into their diet and it is for those who already enjoy it and want to discover new recipes. The book explains the benefits of eating seaweed, where to buy it, how to collect it (if you’re lucky enough to live seaside), and how to dry, store, soak and handle it as an ingredient. Most importantly, there are 50 easy and delicious recipes.

Forest in the Sea (1983)

7 Surprising Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed

Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast : common marine algae from Alaska to Baja California

Medicinal Uses of Seaweed

The Science of Seaweeds

The Seaweed Site: information on marine algae

Posted on Leave a comment

Seahorses: Folklore, Symbolism and More

Seahorses are certainly a unique aquatic animal of the oceans and has fascinating unique qualities that make them really stand out. I have always enjoyed watching these beautiful marine animals and even have one tattooed as a part of my left sleeve dedicated to the sea. What molts people may not know is that there are 57 species of Seahorses, including seadragons and pipefish. Also Seahorses can be found in mythology and folklore around the world anywhere there is land meeting the oceans. They also can be one’s spirit animal and have amazing symbolism which I will cover as well in this post.

Until you see one for yourself, it’s easy to believe that seahorses are pure make-believe. So curious, so magical, they seem to have wandered straight out of a book of fairy tales. Even a dead, dried seahorse washed up on a beach keeps its otherworldly shape, encased in its enduring bony armour, waiting for someone to come along, pick it up and wonder what it might be. A miniature dragon? An enchanted serpent? It’s no wonder seahorses have been puzzling people around the world for centuries, inspiring them to tell stories, pass on myths and legends, and find mystical uses for these most charming sea creatures.

Some of the oldest seahorse stories tell of the Greek sea god Poseidon galloping through the oceans on a golden chariot pulled by hippocampus, the beast that was half horse and half fish (today, the seahorses’ scientific name also happens to be Hippocampus). It’s thought ancient Greek fishermen believed the real seahorses they sometimes found tangled in their nets were the offspring of Poseidon’s mighty steeds.

All sorts of ancient Mediterranean art and objects depict the hippocampus. Phoenicians and Etruscans often painted these watery horses on the walls of burial chambers, accompanying the dead on their voyage across the seas and into the afterlife. There’s even a single hippocampus from ancient Egypt painted on a mummy’s coffin.

Many other legends tell stories of watery spirits that take the form of horses. Scottish lochs are said to be haunted by “kelpies”. They come onto dry land and graze with other, normal horses but if you mount and ride one you’ll be dragged underwater as your steed tries to drown and eat you. Similar malevolent beasts were called “tangies” in the Orkney Isles and “shoopiltrees” in the Shetlands. Scandinavian legends tell of the “havhest”, a huge sea serpent, half horse and half fish like hippocampus, that could breathe fire and sink ships. Continue reading HERE.

Absolutely captivating creatures, seahorses seem like a product of myth and imagination rather than of nature. They are small, elusive, and are named for their heads, which are shaped like miniature ponies with tiny snouts. They swim slowly upright by rapidly fanning their delicate dorsal fin, coil their tails to anchor themselves in a drift, and spend days in a dancing courtship. Afterward, it is the male who carries the female’s eggs in his pouch and hatches the young. Seahorses are found worldwide, and they are highly sensitive to environmental destruction and disturbance, making them the flagship species for shallow-water habitat conservation. They are as ecologically important as they are beautiful.

Seahorses celebrates the remarkable variety of seahorse species as well as their exquisiteness. 57 species, including seadragons and pipefish, are presented in lush, life-size photographs alongside descriptive drawings, and each entry includes detailed and up-to-date information on natural history and conservation. Sara Lourie, a foremost expert on seahorse taxonomy, presents captivating stories of species that range from less than an inch to over a foot in height, while highlighting recent discoveries and ecological concerns. Accessibly written, but comprehensive in scope, this book will be a stunning and invaluable reference on seahorse evolution, biology, habitat, and behavior.

Masters of camouflage and rarely seen, seahorses continue to be a fascinating subject of active research. This visually rich and informative book is certain to become the authoritative guide to these charming and unusual wonders of the sea, beloved at aquariums the world over.

In Roman mythology, seahorses were the steeds of Neptune, deity of the Upper Waters. As attributes of Neptune, they represented cosmic forces and the rhythm of the waves. They were also the steeds of Poseidon, a Greek sea god. Daily, Poseidon rode through the ocean on a chariot pulled by seahorses.

Seahorses represented the lunar and humid element of the sea and chaos. Seahorses also carried the dead safely to the underworld. Because of their unique form, the Chinese regarded seahorses as the lesser sons of dragons. In Norse myth, they symbolized the power of water. SOURCE

These animals aren’t like any other living creatures on Earth, they look like they came from some other planet. Biologically speaking, they are quite different from all other terrestrial beings, which has put them in the spotlight a long time ago. At the same time, they look very funny, especially when dancing in the water. The offspring of these creatures are born not by females, as usual, but by males, which sets them apart from all other terrestrial beings. The smallest species of these creatures are only 2 centimeters long, and the largest are up to 30. Their body is covered with spikes. They serve both as camouflage and protection from predators because they don’t know how to defend themselves.

Seahorse Spirit Animal

The Seahorse teaches balance in parenting, how to get in touch with the Masculine Divine, and to get through difficult periods with greater ease. Delve deeply in Seahorse symbolism and meaning to find out how this animal spirit guide can support, assist, and inspire you.

Many ancient cultures connected the Seahorse with various Divine beings.

In Rome and Greece, for example, the Seahorse was sacred to Poseidon and Neptune, potent sea gods. As a result, one of the keynote meanings for Seahorse is one of power and authority, particularly in matters of emotion and intuition because of the Water Element involved.

A rather lovely story from Greco-Roman times indicates that the Seahorse is a guide to drown sailors.

This creature safely guides them through the spiritual vortex until they reach their ordained fate in the afterlife (is it any wonder that sailors used seahorse images as luck charms?). SOURCE

Seahorse Symbolism

  • Water Elemental
  • The Afterlife
  • Power
  • Luck
  • Alchemy
  • Safety
  • Kindness
  • Perception
  • Kindness
  • Manners
  • Pacing
  • Tenacity
  • Progress
  • Ingenuity
  • Stealth
  • Authority
  • Fatherhood
  • Partnership
Frederick Stuart Church’s The Mermaid, 1887

Further Resources:

10 Seahorse Symbolism Facts & Meaning: A Totem, Spirit & Power Animal

Seahorses in Myth, Legend & Art

What are the links between seahorses, folklore and Newcastle upon Tyne?

Seahorse Symbolism & Meaning & the Seahorse Spirit Animal

Posted on Leave a comment

The Druids: History and More

Being someone who is spiritual and has a passion for history one area that has fascinated me are the tales of the ancient Druids. From accounts by those of the Roman empire into the Renaissance age and even to this day where modern Druidism still exists. Druids existed in the religious practices of the ancient Celtic cultures and it is said even held sort of position as judges. The ancient Druids are still shrouded in mystery but enough is known to enable me to provide my readers with a ton of excellent resources which I hope will be enjoyed.

A Long History

About 2500 years ago, and possibly long before that, at each end of the Indo-European arc, tribal spiritualities emerged that would eventually grow to become flourishing modern movements, with adherents all over the world. While the earliest versions of what would later become the Hindu and Jain religions emerged in the Indus valley, in western Europe at about the same time, writers began to record the existence of Druidism.

Its practice was first noted in two Greek works over two thousand years ago in around 200 BCE although both works were since lost. In 50 BCE Julius Caesar wrote that Druidism originated in Britain, and although some claim that Druids could be found across much of Europe, from Ireland in the west to Anatolia (now Turkey) in the east, scholars now believe this is unlikely. Instead Druids were probably native just to the British Isles, Ireland and western Gaul (now France).

Although written accounts seem to have begun 2,200 years ago, Druidry was probably in existence for a good deal of time before then, and it seems likely that as a type of religion or magical practice it evolved out of earlier pre-Druidic cult practices. Continue reading HERE.

The Druids by Peter Berresford Ellis

In this compelling and highly reliable study of the Druids, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological findings, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society.
The Druids emerge as the intellectual caste of ancient Celtic society. They were the doctors, the lawyers, the ambassadors, the advisers to kings. They also had a religious function. Ellis describes the special Druidic training, their philosophy, their belief in auguries, and their intriguing origins. He also shows that the current “New Age” image of the Druids as benevolent wizards comes from a woefully inadequate interpretation of the facts.

“By the bright circle of the golden sun,
By the bright courses of the errant moon,
By the dread potency of every star,
In the mysterious Zodiac’s burning girth,
By each and all of these supernal signs,
We do adjure thee, with this trusty blade
To guard yon central oak, whose holy stem,
Involves the spirit of high Taranis:
Be this thy charge.”-MASON

THE
THE VEIL OF ISIS;
OR,
MYSTERIES OF THE DRUIDS
BY
W. WINWOOD READE.
(1861)

In simple terms, the Druids were the priests of the Celtic tribes in Britain. But to state that fact does not convey the breadth of their influence in Celtic society. The Druids were a sort of super-class of priests, political advisors, teachers, healers, and arbitrators among the Celtic tribes.

They had their own universities, where traditional knowledge was passed on by rote (i.e. memorized). Druids had the right to speak ahead of the king in council, and may in some situations have held more authority than the king. They acted as ambassadors in time of war, they composed verse and upheld the law. They were a sort of glue holding together Celtic culture.

We know that the Druids used both animal and human sacrifice, and that many of their observances centred on oak groves and water. The Isle of Anglesey, in present-day Wales, was a centre of Druidic practice. SOURCE

Using ancient and medieval sources, alongside comparative analysis, the identity and beliefs of the druids take shape, from their organizational practices, to their philosophy and spiritual beliefs.

“The Druids officiate at the worship of the gods, regulate at public and private sacrifice, and rule on all religious questions. Large numbers of young men flock to them for instruction, and they are held in great honour by the people.”

Julius Caesar (Gallic Wars, VI:13)

A Complete History Of The Druids: Their Origin, Manners, Customs, Powers, Temples, Rites, And Superstition, With An Inquiry Into Their Religion (1810) by T. G. Lomax. This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world’s literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.

Theology

Since Druidry is a spiritual path – a religion to some, a way of life to others – Druids share a belief in the fundamentally spiritual nature of life. Some will favour a particular way of understanding the source of this spiritual nature, and may feel themselves to be animists, pantheists, polytheists, monotheists or duotheists. Others will avoid choosing any one conception of Deity, believing that by its very nature this is unknowable by the mind.

Monotheistic druids believe there is one Deity: either a Goddess or God, or a Being who is better named Spirit or Great Spirit, to remove misleading associations to gender. But other druids are duo-theists, believing that Deity exists as a pair of forces or beings, which they often characterize as the God and Goddess.

Polytheistic Druids believe that many gods and goddesses exist, while animists and pantheists believe that Deity does not exist as one or more personal gods, but is instead present in all things, and is everything. Continue reading HERE.

Two Druids, 19th-century engraving based on a 1719 illustration by Bernard de Montfaucon, who said that he was reproducing a bas-relief found at Autun, Burgundy. SOURCE

Caesar’s Account of the Druids

According to Caesar, who had encountered druids in Gaul, they were an essential class of the Gallic society. The Druids recognized a single leader who ruled the group until his death. They met at a sacred place in Gaul every year, while Britain remained the center of druidic studies. Caesar notes that the Druids who wished to undertake further druidic education often made pilgrimages to Britain to improve their knowledge which sometimes lasted over twenty years. 

The Druids did not take part in war and were exempt from military taxes and enlistment. Instead, they studied lore, medicine, astrology, and philosophy, among many other subjects. According to Caesar, they did not record their practices, but they did make use of the Greek alphabet in different spheres of their public and private accounts. Caesar’s most disturbing recording is the practice of human sacrifice, for which the Druids used criminals. The victim would be sacrificed through burning in a wicker man. 

The wicker man was a large wicker effigy in which the body was placed. Yet archaeology has not provided any evidence of this practice nor of its associations with the Druids. Indeed it is not unlikely that Caesar exaggerated specific claims to exemplify Gaul and Britain’s conquest. Caesar depicted the Druids as both learned and barbaric. But just how much of this account is exaggerated, we will probably never know. SOURCE

In this edition of “Ancient World History”, we are going to take you through a journey where you can learn about the rise and fall of the druids i.e., find out all about the history of druids.

Further Resources:

The Druids and Romanization

Who were the Druids?

Who were the Druids? A history of Druidism in Britain

The Buried Mysteries Of Wale’s Ancient Druids | Time Team | Odyssey

The Druid’s Book of Ceremonies, Prayers and Songs

Posted on Leave a comment

Bilskirnir – The Great Hall of Thor

When it comes to the Norse Gods and Goddesses we see a lot of information and vast popularity with Valhalla and Freyja’s great hall of Sessrúmnir. Unfortunately it seems in my observation that most neglect or are unaware that many of the other Norse Gods and Goddesses have their own great halls such as Fensalir, the great hall of Frigga; Himinbjorg, the great hall of Heimdallr or even my matron Goddess Rán has Ránsalir plus many more. But today I want to cover the great hall of Thor known as Bilskirnir.

The largest hall in Asgard and one of the largest single-owner hall in all the nine worlds, is Thor’s hall called Bilskirnir. This single hall is larger than Valhalla and all the houses around it, including the walls. Bilskirnir is the equivalent of a small city. This hall has six hundred and forty rooms, not only filled with people from Valhalla but also with those who died in battle and were sworn to Thor. In it Thor’s guests also live there for a while, the servants of Thor and also Sif’s servants, even Loki dwelt there for a time. The walls of this huge hall are made of brick and stone and all the rooms are high-ceilinged and each room has windows that are constantly open to let the air in, even when it is raining.

Unlike what we are used to hear or see about Thor in out modern world perspective, Thor is the champion of Asgard, he is the god of the common people such as farmers, he is the protector of mankind and often wanders in the world of mortals and has mortals as guests in his own hall. Thor isn’t blond, he is red-haired and has a red-beard.

In this great hall also lives Meile, which most don’t know who this figure is, and in truth he doesn’t want to be known or be famous, but he is one of Thor’s younger brothers who seldom is at Bilskirnir, but can be found there once in a while.

There are two other denizens of this great hall, two other of great renown a part from Sif herself, the wife of Thor. These two are Roskva and Thjalfi or Thjalfr. They are the children of Egil Skytten, the midgard mortal, it is said that he had an affair with Groa, the giant sorceress wife of Aurvandil who is the first husband of Sif, and together they had a son, the god Ullr. So it is said that Roskva and Thjalfi are the sons of Egil the mortal and of Groa, which makes them Half-human.

There are many tales of how Roskva and Thjalfi came to live with Thor, the most heard one (summarizing) is that when Thor and Loki were traveling together, they came to a farm where they found this human family with two children. They all sat and had dinner together, they ate one of Thor’s goats but all had been warned not to break any bones. The children did it and as a payment for their disobedience, Thor took them to his hall to work there.

Another tale, not so often heard, is that Groa and Aurvandil were good friends of Thor and after raising the two children, they sent them to be fostered at Bilskirnir. Thjalfi became Thor’s page, accompanying him in many journeys.

Thjalfi is also the messenger of Bilskirnir and a guide for those who are wandering about Asgard and lost. Roskva helps in Bilskirnir and she is also a guide there, for this great hall is a confusing labyrinth.

Behind Thor’s hall there is a small hall (small compared with Bilskirnir itself) that belongs to Thor’s daughter Thrud, the sister of Magni and Modi. The land where Thor’s hall was built is called Thrudheim, in honor of Thor’s daughter and to show the love and pride he has for her. SOURCE

This is the Northern Myths Podcast, an archetypal exploration of the myths and legends of Northern Europe, including Norse mythology, the Finnish Kalevala, and more.

“The land is holy | that lies hard by
The gods and the elves together;
And Thor shall ever | in Thrudheim dwell,
Till the gods to destruction go.”
~ Grimnismal

Bilskirnir (Old Norse “lightning-crack”) is the hall of the thunder-god Þórr in Norse mythology. Here he lives with his wife Sif and their children. According to Grímnismál, the hall is the greatest of buildings and contains 540 rooms, located in Ásgarðr, as are all the dwellings of the gods, in the kingdom of Þrúðheimr (or Þrúðvangar according to Gylfaginning and Ynglinga saga). SOURCE

The name Bilskirnir only appears twice in Snorri’s Edda. There he quotes the verse from Grímnismál and later in Skáldskaparmál quotes a skaldic kenning containing the name.

Gylfaginning 21:

Þá mælti Gangleri: “Hver eru nöfn annarra ásanna, eða hvat hafast þeir at, eða hvat hafa þeir gert til frama?”

Hárr segir: “Þórr er þeira framast, sá er kallaðr er Ása-Þórr eða Öku-Þórr. Hann er sterkastr allra goðanna ok manna. Hann á þar ríki, er Þrúðvangar heita, en höll hans heitir Bilskirrnir. Í þeim sal eru fimm hundruð gólfa ok fjórir tigir. Þat er hús mest, svá at menn viti. Svá segir í Grímnismálum:

Fimm hundruð golfa

ok umb fjórum tögum,

svá hygg ek Bilskirrni með bugum;

ranna þeira,

er ek reft vita,

míns veit ek mest magar.

XXI. Then said Gangleri: “What are the names of the other Æsir, or what is their office, or what deeds of renown have they done?”

Hárr answered: “Thor is the foremost of them, he that is called Thor of the Æsir, or Öku-Thor; he is strongest of all the gods and men. He has his realm in the place called Thrúdvangar, and his hall is called Bilskirnir (“From the flashing of light”); in that hall are five hundred rooms and forty. That is the greatest house that men know of; It is thus said in Grímnismál:

Five hundred floors | and more than forty,

So reckon I Bilskirnir with bending ways;

Of those houses | that I know of hall-roofed,

My son’s I know the most. SOURCE

Bilskirnir is the hall of the god Thor in Norse mythology. Here he lives with his wife Sif and their children. According to Grímnismál, the hall is the greatest of buildings and contains 540 rooms, located in Asgard, as are all the dwellings of the gods, in the kingdom of Þrúðheimr.

Further Resources:

Where Thor Hangs His Hammer

Thor of the Aesir

The Great Halls Of The Gods

Posted on Leave a comment

Thrymr: Norse Giant and His Moon

Þrymr

The jötunn who stole Thor’s hammer Mjöllnir. He is solely attested in the eddic poem Þrymskviða.

One morning, upon waking, Thor discovers that his hammer is missing. He tells Loki and together they go to Freyja’s dwelling to borrow her feather-dress so that he might go looking for his hammer, and Freyja consents. Loki dons the feather-dress and flies until he reaches Jötunheimr. He sees Þrymr sitting on a mound and asks him if he has hidden Hlórriði‘s hammer. The giant confirms that he has hidden it eight miles deep in the earth and says that it will remain there unless Freyja is given to him as his wife.

Loki returns to Ásgarðr and tells Thor that Þrymr has his hammer but that he will not get it back unless they bring Freyja. They go to Freyja and instruct her to put on her bridal dress and come with them to Jötunheimr. Freyja is furious and refuses to go, so the gods hold council how they might get the hammer back. Heimdallr proposes that Thor disguises himself as the goddess, wearing a woman’s dress, a veil, and the Brísinga necklace. Thor reluctantly agrees. Continue reading HERE.

Þrymskviða (often spelled Thrymskvida) is one of the most famous poems of the Poetic Edda, telling of the time Thor had to put on a wedding dress to get his stolen hammer (Mjǫllnir) back.

Þrymskviða
The Lay of Thrym

The Thrymskwitha is one of the very best of the Eddie poems. It is the dramatic story of how Thor, aided by Loki, got back his famous hammer. Thrym had stolen it, and he would not give it up until they would bring him Freyja to wife; but she very indignantly refused to get married under any such terms. It is finally arranged, though much against his will, that Thor himself must dress up to impersonate Freyja, and go up to get married to the giant Thrym. The latter half of the poem contains the carrying out of this plan. But Thor is the great thunder-god. He is the largest and strongest of them all, and a ravenous eater and drinker. The story is elsewhere told of him that once, in a drinking contest, he lowered the sea several inches. It is he alone that was not allowed to walk over the bridge of the rainbow for fear he might break it down. What could be more incongruous and ludicrous, then, than to have this great clumsy god dress up as Freyja, the fairest of the goddesses, and to go off in her name to marry the ice-giant Thrym! The Norse poet has made good use of his opportunities, and we have in this poem a masterpiece of its kind. Continue reading HERE.

Þrymr (Thrymr, Thrym; “uproar”) was king of the jotnar. His kingdom was called Jötunheimr. In one legend, he stole Mjollnir, Thor’s hammer, to extort the gods into giving him Freyja as his wife. © Nataša Ilinčić

Thrymr Moon of Saturn

N00178353.jpg was taken on 2011-11-26 07:04 (PST) and received on Earth 2011-11-27 01:07 (PST). The camera was pointing toward Thrymr, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System

Discovery

Thrymr was discovered in 2000 by Brett J. Gladman, John J. Kavelaars, Jean-Marc Petit, Hans Scholl, Matthew J. Holman, Brian G. Marsden, Phillip D. Nicholson, and Joseph A. Burns using the 3.6-m Canada-France-Hawaii reflector on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, with adaptive optics. They discovered seven other Saturnian moons at the same time: Tarvos, Ijiraq, Suttungr, Skathi, Siarnaq, Erriapus, and Mundilfari.

Overview

Thrymr has a mean radius of 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers), assuming an albedo (a measure of how reflective the surface is) of 0.06. It orbits Saturn at an inclination of about 174 degrees and an eccentricity of about 0.5. At a mean distance of 12.7 million miles (20.4 million kilometers) from Saturn, the moon takes about 1,094 Earth days to complete one orbit.

Thrymr is a member of the Norse group of moons. These “irregular” moons have retrograde orbits around Saturn – traveling around in the opposite direction from the planet’s rotation. Thrymr and the other Norse moons also have eccentric orbits, meaning they are more elongated than circular.

Like Saturn’s other irregular moons, Thrymr is thought to be an object that was captured by Saturn’s gravity, rather than having accreted from the dusty disk that surrounded the newly formed planet as the regular moons are thought to have done.

How Thrymr Got Its Name

Originally called S/2000 S7, Thrymr was named for a giant in Norse mythology who stole Thor’s hammer and offered to return it only if the gods gave him the very beautiful goddess Freyia to be his wife. The gods agree, but instead send Thor, disguised as Freyia. Thor as Freyia orders the hammer to be placed on “her” knee, whereupon Thor uses the hammer to kill Thrymr, along with the giant’s sister, who had asked for “Freyia’s” rings. SOURCE

Launched three years before the new century… a spacecraft wound its way through the empty reaches of the solar system. On Earth, its progress was little noted, as it swung twice by the planet Venus, then our moon. And Earth. The asteroid belt. And Jupiter. Almost seven years later, on the first of July 2004, the Cassini probe entered the orbit of Saturn. It then began to compile what has become one of the greatest photographic collections of all time, of a giant gas planet, surrounded by colorful rings, guarded by a diverse collection of moons, and millions of tiny moonlets.

Further Resources:

Þrymskviða : The Lay of Thrym

THRYMSKVITHA

Þrymskviða

Thrymr Moon Facts