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Hag Stones: History, Meaning and use in Magick

Hag stones are something I have been fascinated with for a very long time and enjoy collecting them from all over this country and around the world. Hag stones have been a part of magical practices and folklore for thousands of years and still to this day. They have a variety of other names such as Fairy Stones, Odin Stones, Holey Stones, Witch Stones, Adder Stones, Snake Eggs, Hex Stones, Holeys, and Eye Stones. From viewing into the spirit realm to warding off evil spirits at sea, Hag stones have many uses which will be explained in this blog. Hag stones are most commonly found on beaches along the coast but also can be found on lake shores and even in river beds. So with that all said let us get into the fascinating world of these amazing stones.

Origin of the Term Hag Stone

The name “hag stone” originates in part from ancient beliefs that most maladies, which were curable by using this stone, were caused originally by spectral hags. Other areas call them adder stones because they are believed to protect the wearer from the effects of snake bite. Germanic legend says that adder stones are formed when serpents gather together and use their venom to create the holes in the center of the stones. Hag stones are said to have many uses. They have been used by witches worldwide for centuries in both rituals and spell work. They also have been used, ironically, as a toll to counteract a witch’s magick. Legend has it that they can be used to ward off the dead, curses, sickness and nightmares.

They are used to see invisible creatures of the land of the Fae and open up a window to other realms. They are used as protection against spells, warding, and healing. The spell for fertility magic had a hag stone tied to the bedpost to help facilitate pregnancy. There are stories of very large hag stones; large enough for someone to walk through. These are used by couples trying to achieve pregnancy by walking through it together or holding hands.

Livestock owners would use the stones to protect their animals from bewitchment or being ridden to the Sabbath by witches. A stone would be suspended by a cord in the center of each stable to protect the horses and other live stock. Else a cow would give sour milk and hens refused to lay and eggs. Fisherman and sailors would often find them on beaches during their travels. They would tie them to their boats to keep off evil spirits and witches from affecting their ships and their catch. It was believed that evil spirits and witches would curse ships to have small catches, but a hag stone would prevent this from happening. A few stories speak of them being able to control the winds on the high seas; or more formerly, they could control the weather. Continue reading HERE.

A few uses of Hag Stones

  • Hang it above your front door or over a window to keep evil spirits out. 
  • If you’re a sailor, tie one with rope to your ship to prevent witches clinging to your vessel, and to swing in the wind to help break up storm clouds. 
  • Wear it around your neck on a string to ensure good health and to heal any minor ills. 
  • Nail one above the door of your barn to stop witches souring your herd’s milk or taking your horses for a gallop in the night. 
  • Attach a hag stone to your bedpost to keep bad dreams away. 
  • Tie one to your keys so they will never be lost again. 
  • Use them to help you conceive a baby. (We’re not quite clear on exactly how this is done. Perhaps just have one about your person…)
  • Enter Fairyland through it (apparently the hole is a portal). Again, we’re unsure about how to do this, but it can’t hurt to just have a peer at Fairyland through the hole. 

*Only ever take one at a time though, and only for yourself. The stones are said to find you; you don’t find the stones. And they only work for the person they found. SOURCE

Some of the hag Stones in my personal collection from the Oregon coast, Florida coast and Lake Michigan.

How to Use Hag Stones for Magick

Despite their general state being to banish faeries, if you wish to attract some, you can pour morning dew through a Hag Stone hole and anoint yourself with it. 

Other rituals that can be practiced with these objects, include a fertility ritual, a ritual for increased mental balance and safety while seafaring. 

For the fertility ritual, you must find a Hag Stone that is big enough to walk or crawl through, while most Hag Stones are pebble sized there are a few that are more of a boulder. You must then link hands with your partner then go through together. If all goes well you will be blessed with a baby.

For the ritual of mental healing and balance, tie a Hag Stone to your bedpost or headboard. The next time you take a nap you will be graced with calmness, enhanced mood and other benefits that resemble meditation.

For the final ritual you must nail a Hag Stone to the side of your sea-craft, make sure to secure it very tightly in order to make sure it does not fall into the watery depths of the ocean. After you have done this folklore states that storms and rough tides will be dissuaded from coming your way as will all manner of malevolent sea spirits.

While at sea, Hag Stones could also be utilized for breaking up storms, this also applies on land. In order to do this simply tie a string or rope through the Hag Stone and swirl it around your head, this will dispel the gathering storms. SOURCE

In this video, I talk about the meaning, magick, and folklore of these wonderful stones and how to use them.

Further Resources

This History of Hagstones║Use them in your Witchcraft

Hag Stones and Lucky Charms

Hag Stones and Fairy Stones

Hag Stone Meaning and Magic – Everything You Need To Know

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Baba Yaga: The Famous Witch of Slavic Folklore

The Baba Yaga is the most famous Witch of Slavic folklore and in my opinion gets misinterpreted by many who know so little about who she is and what she symbolizes. The Baba Yaga is actually quite complex and even though most consider her a malevolent and evil Witch of the woods there are others like myself who believe there is a more benevolent side of her and this can be accounted in far older Pagan practices from the Slavic regions of Eastern Europe. Most of what we find describing her as this hideous old child eating hag only dates back to the 18th century but her origins are actually far older. In fact there are some sources that believe there are multiple Baba Yaga’s found throughout Eastern Europe but even beyond that there are folklore tales of other Baba Yaga like Witches in other parts of Europe and even the Middle East. I personally am fascinated with Slavic folklore seeing how I have ancestry from that region and have done some spiritual work with the Baba Yaga so I felt this was an important subject to bring to my readers.

Introduction

Baba Yaga is a powerful and terrifying witch depicted in Slavic folklore. She lives in a small hut, located deep in the forest. Her property is surrounded by a massive fence, decorated with human bones as if they were ornamental wind chimes. Often, her hut is described as being set upon chicken legs, an unsettling image any way it is illustrated. Her primary mode of transportation is a mortar and pestle set. She sits within the bowl of the mortar and uses the pestle like an oar to move through the sky. This shows attention to the practice of alchemy or herbal work, which is an integral part of witchcraft. It is said she appears as a long, skeletal figure with an enormous hooked nose which reaches the ceiling of her hut when she rests. Her legacy is as erratic as she is, as she is often said to be the guardian of her dark and wild land, a matriarch, and a wise teacher, but also a fickle and treacherous eater of men. The earliest recognizable mention of her is found in a Russian text written by Mikhail V. Lomonosov in which he presents a series of tales from Slavic tradition. Most surviving stories involving Baba Yaga don’t revolve around her, but around heroes or villains who come in contact with her. SOURCE

Etymology of Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga has been associated with ancient mythological characters (she’s like the Boogeyman in Russian mythology). In the Slavic languages, the word “baba” means “old woman” or “grandma” although this word was sometimes used as a term that would describe female demons or specific ailments like measles (also called “baba Sharka”).

In addition, the word “baba” was also used for some astronomical phenomena or concepts of time and seasons, such as “baba Gale” which described the moon, or “baba Marta” which was the other name of the month March. The origins of the word “yaga” are quite unclear although some experts suggest that the word means “evil” or “horror”.

The variation of the full name “Baba Yaga” can be found in the languages of the Eastern Slavs. As a reference to the Russian folklore, the word “baba” in Old Russian means “midwife”, “fortune teller” or “sorceress”. The modern Russian, on the other hand, defines the word “babushka” as “grandmother” or simply “old woman”.

In Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, “baba” means “grandma”, however, in many modern Slavic languages, the word “baba” is a pejorative synonym of the word “woman” (suggesting a foolish woman). The great number of associations related to the origin of the character of Baba Yaga created many theories that, nonetheless, support the main assumption that “baba” means “old woman” or “grandmother”. Moreover, “baba” was maybe added to distinguish the Baba Yaga from her possible male counterpart in the myth. As it was mentioned before, the second element of the name “Yaga” has a rather problematic etymology. Scholars have never made an adamant consensus over its meaning. “Yaga” appears in various Slavic languages. SOURCE credit Meet the Slavs

Origins of Baba Yaga

Many folklorists study Baba Yaga and argue over where she came from. This character appeared many centuries ago and tracking her true roots is a challenge. I’ve read many different versions, one that stood out to me is the ancient traditions of Finno-Ugric people.


It’s is believed that those people had a tradition that goes back to the paganism era when there were many ethnic religions. There was a group that believed in a ritual that was supposed to help them stay connected with their passed relatives. The ritual involved creating a doll (or baba – which means a women) out of sticks and dressing it in a fur coat called yaga. They would build her a “house” mostly out of wood. Since this house was only a symbolism and didn’t carry any functional purpose – it didn’t have any windows or doors. They also liked to raise it above the ground on sticks so that the animals would not get inside of it. SOURCE

It is said that Baba Yaga resides within a house that sits atop giant Chicken legs deep in thew forest and can move around to different locations.

My hands are tree roots,

My breath is the wind

I hide in your shadow till dusk comes again

Always seen, rarely heard and

Never quite understood

I’m the last person you come to when no one else listens

Seek me out by the light of the pink moon-

Whisper to me what you tell no one

I’m only remembered as

An ugly obscurity who keeps your secrets

An enigmatic monsoon-

Neither winter nor spring,

Death nor the moon.

Baba Yaga by L SOURCE

Is the Baba Yaga a Benevolent Witch?

There are some lesser known stories of the Baba Yaga actually being more benevolent depending on how you approach her and other stories where she is more of a neutral Witch and reacts depending on the situation to in a way maintain some sort of magical balance.

One of the most interesting details of Baba Yaga is that she is described as being neither malevolent nor “good.” Many folktales throughout the centuries differentiate between witches as being either good or evil, but stories of Baba Yaga illuminate that the true nature of a witch is more ambiguous, or even unpredictable. This Slavic crone is often helpful, willing to impart her wisdom unto those who seek it, but she is also a formidable enemy, should one incur her ire. Many times, she has been credited with the success or the downfall of heroes in Slavic lore. SOURCE

Discover ancient and modern Slavic magical practices through stories told by the legendary Baba Yaga herself. Learn about the magic of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as the magic of weather, animals, seasons, stones, food, beeswax, and more. Each chapter includes a piece of the fairy tale of Vasylyna, comments from Baba Yaga, and hands-on tips and techniques from author Madame Pamita.

Similar Baba Yaga’s

Babaroga (not to be mistaken with Baba Yaga!) is creature known among Southern Slavs. She is represented as very ugly, hunchbacked old woman with horn on head, who live in dark caves. According to folktales, Babaroga likes to steal naughty children and to bring them to her lair.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia, the Bogeyman is called Babarogababa meaning old woman and rogovi meaning horns, literally meaning old woman with horns. The details vary from one household to another. In one version, babaroga takes children, puts them in a sack, and then, when it comes to its cave, eats them. In another version, it takes children and pulls them up through tiny holes in the ceiling. 

Iraq’s ancient folklore has the saalua, a half-witch half-demon ghoul that “is used by parents to scare naughty children”. She is briefly mentioned in a tale of the 1001 Nights, and is known in some other Persian Gulf countries as well.

Black Annis was a hag with a blue face and iron claws who lived in a cave in the Dane Hills of Leicestershire. She ventured forth at night in search of children to devour. Grindylow, Jenny Greenteeth and Nelly Longarms were grotesque hags who lived in ponds and rivers and dragged children beneath the water if they got too close. SOURCE

Baba Yaga is an ambiguous and fascinating figure. She appears in traditional Russian folktales as a monstrous and hungry cannibal, or as a canny inquisitor of the adolescent hero or heroine of the tale. In new translations and with an introduction by Sibelan Forrester, Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales is a selection of tales that draws from the famous collection of Aleksandr Afanas’ev, but also includes some tales from the lesser-known nineteenth-century collection of Ivan Khudiakov. This new collection includes beloved classics such as “Vasilisa the Beautiful” and “The Frog Princess,” as well as a version of the tale that is the basis for the ballet “The Firebird.”
Today we go back and re-examine the tale of Baba Yaga, the Slavic wild witch of the woods.

Further Resources

Baba Yaga, Folk Tales From the Russian, by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal, [1903], at sacred-texts.com

Baba Yaga: Russian Folktales’ Classic Witch

Hedgespoken – Baba Yaga

On today’s episode, Charles and Crofty cross the thrice-nine lands to delve into the lore of one of Slavic mythology’s most enigmatic figures, and discover that her roots run far deeper than the wicked witch of popular culture.
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Dragonflies: Folklore, Spiritual Meaning and More

Long before Humans walked on this planet and even before Dinosaurs existed there were winged hunters gliding across primordial ponds and through wind blown grassy fields looking for their prey. They come in a variety of shapes and colors from glowing blue to looking like red dragons to even having the appearance of a stained glass mosaic. For about 300 million years Dragonflies have been an apex predator of the insect world and it is not a surprise that during ancient human civilization to present time the Dragonfly has melded into folklore, mythology and deep spirituality.

I personally have always enjoyed watching them fly around and even hearing other’s stories regarding them and even more spiritual experiences regarding Dragonflies. So this inspired me to put together this blog post for my readers to enjoy.

The Dragonfly in Folklore: Good Luck Symbol and Weigher of Souls

by Icy Sedgwick

Seeing swarms of dragonflies mean rain is on the way.

In some cultures, dragonflies represent good luck or prosperity. So make a wish when you see a dragonfly and it’ll come true.

Fishermen used them as an indicator of good fishing grounds. Plenty of dragonflies meant there were plenty of fish around. If a dragonfly hovered near the fisherman, he took it as a good luck sign. In various spiritual pathways, the dragonfly acts as a messenger between the worlds. They teach those who see them to ‘go with the flow’. But seeing one in your dreams is a warning.

If a dragonfly lands on you, you’ll hear good news from someone you care about. Seeing a dead dragonfly means you’ll hear sad news. And catching a dragonfly meant you’d marry within a year.

In Japan, dragonflies bring good fortune. The dragonfly often appears in haiku poetry, representing strength and happiness. The red dragonfly is thought of as sacred. One name for Japan is ‘the Island of the Dragonfly’. That’s partly because its curved shape is believed to resemble a dragonfly at rest.

One of the reasons dragonflies are so beloved in Japan is due to a legend about the 21st emperor, Yuryaka Tenvo. While out hunting, an insect bit his arm. Some legends say it was a horsefly, others say it was a mosquito. Either way, a dragonfly appeared and ate the insect, rescuing the emperor from further harm. Continue reading HERE.

Image by FerenghiFoto [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Dragonfly

Dragonfly with wings of Blue, what makes me wonder just like you
You hover over a yellow flower, mesmerized by her power
I see myself attracted to, the colours of life, just like you
Something bright will pull me in, to take my light deep deep within
Oh dragonfly Oh dragonfly lets savour life, just you and I

© johnnydod 2010

Folklore & Nature: Dragonflies

by Keller Brenner

Devil’s Darning Needle, Snake Doctor, Devil’s Horse, Horse Stinger, Mosquito Hawk, Adderbolt, Ear Cutter, Water Witch, Hobgoblin Fly — dragonflies have had many names owing to the folklore and superstitions surrounding these colorful insects.

The ‘snake doctor’ name for dragonflies comes from Pennsylvania and the belief that they acted as guards of the serpents found there, warning them of any danger. Some believed that the dragonflies could even revive a dead snake, bringing it back to life. Killing the servants of the snake was inadvisable lest the serpent retaliate.

On the Isle of Wight, residents believed the dragonflies possessed a painful sting and legend had it that the dragonflies could tell if a child was good or bad. When good children went fishing, dragonflies would hover over the water’s edge where the fish were, but when bad children went near the water, the dragonflies would instead sting them.

Dragonflies possess no stingers, the appendages on their tails are only for mating and they have no venom. The shape of the dragonfly’s body has led to another of their names, ‘devil’s darning needle’.

In several areas of the United States the dragonfly was thought to sew shut the mouths, eyes or even ears of misbehaving children or profane men. Others believed that dragonflies would sew fingers or toes together if they were exposed while sleeping. In parts of Europe, including Sweden, dragonflies could tell if children were lying, and would stitch their their eyes or mouths closed as punishment. Today, the Aeshnidae family of dragonflies is still called darners in North America. Continue reading HERE.

Dragonflies and damselflies are often called birdwatchers’ insects. Large, brightly colored, active in the daytime, and displaying complex and interesting behaviors, they have existed since the days of the dinosaurs, and they continue to flourish. Their ancestors were the biggest insects ever, and they still impress us with their size, the largest bigger than a small hummingbird. There are more than 6,000 odonate species known at present, and you need only visit any wetland on a warm summer day to be enthralled by their stunning colors and fascinating behavior. In this lavishly illustrated natural history, leading dragonfly expert Dennis Paulson offers a comprehensive, accessible, and appealing introduction to the world’s dragonflies and damselflies.

In most cultures dragonflies have been objects of superstition. European folklore is no exception. Many old myths have been lost during the history, but fragments of these old myths are still living in old local names for dragonflies. Only in Germany dragonflies have had over 150 different names. Some of these are Teufelsnadel (“Devil’s needle”), Wasserhexe (“Water witch”), Hollenross (“Goddess’ horse”), Teufelspferd (“Devil’s horse”) and Schlangentöter (“Snake killer”). Also the name Snake Doctor has been used in Germany. In England the name Devil’s darning needle and Horse stinger have been used. In Denmark the dragonfly have got such different names as Fandens ridehest (“Devil’s riding horse”) and Guldsmed (“Goldsmith”). Different names of dragonflies referring to them as the devils tools have also occurred in many other European cultures, some examples are the Spanish Caballito del Diablo (“Devil’s horse”) and the French l’aiguille du diable (“Devil’s needle”).

The Swedish name for dragonfly is trollslända, which means “hobgoblin fly” in English. Long time ago people in Sweden believed that hobgoblins, elves, brownies and such creatures lived in our great woods. In that folklore the dragonflies was considered to be the hobgoblins twisting tools. During the history the dragonflies even have been connected with love and female, the names damselfly (England), Demoiselle (France) and Jungfer (Germany) are some examples of those nice associations. An old Swedish name for dragonfly is Blindsticka (“Blind stinger”), this name comes from the opinion that a dragonfly could pick out your eyes. Other people thought that the dragonfly could sew together your eyelids. The same name appears as well in Norway (“Öyenstikker”) as in Germany (“Augenstecher”).

In certain parts of Norway, the dragonfly is also known as “ørsnildra”. The exact meaning of this word is unknown to me but the part “ør”, does obviously refer to the Norwegian word for “ear”, as people (and especially children) often thought that the dragonfly would poke holes in their ear-drums if it got inside their ears!

An other old Swedish name is Skams besman (“Devil’s steelyard”), this name probably depends on the dragonfly’s body shape that, with some imagination looks like the weighting tool. In the folklore this was interpreted as that the Devil used the dragonfly to weight the people’s souls. When a dragonfly flew around your head, your soul was weighted and you should expect seriously injury as punishment. It is very interesting that, despite of those ideas that the dragonfly should be the Devil’s tool, the dragonfly have been a holy animal in Scandinavia. In the Æsir cult the dragonfly was thought to be the love goddess Freya’s symbol.

Some of the Latin names of dragonfly families have interesting meanings: The name Libellula might have been derived from the word libella (“booklet”) referring to the resting dragonfly, which wings, with some imagination, looks quite like the pages of an open book. The name Odonata was created by Fabricius in 1793 as name for the whole dragonfly order, means “toothed”. In some countries, e.g. Indonesia, many African and South American countries both the adult and larva dragonflies are caught to be eaten fried or in soup. In China and Japan the dragonflies has been treated as holy animals, and believed to have medical qualities. Even today the dragonfly Sympetrum frequens is used as fever reducing drug. SOURCE

They hover over ponds and pools and inhabit the banks of rivers and streams. With their dazzling metallic colours and unique ways of flying they are truly jewels of the air. This film presents dragonflies as they have never been seen before. Fascinating close up shots take us into the world of these insects, which have lived on earth since the age of the dinosaurs. Spectacular super slow motion shots and elaborate computer animation uncover, for the first time, how dragonflies capture their prey at lightning speed while flying and how they mate in the air. Underwater photography reveals the development of the predatory dragonfly larvae while time lapse sequences show the emergence of the fully grown insect. However these amazingly colourful flying acrobats are in danger. The dragonfly’s preferred habitat in and around water is rapidly diminishing, which, in Europe alone, has pushed around 80 species to the brink of extinction.

Further Resources

Worldwide Dragonfly Association

Dragonfly Symbolism & Meaning

Native American Dragonfly Mythology

Dragonfly Folklore and Mythology

Dragonfly Symbolism in Europe

Scary Myths About Dragonflies

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Foxes: Folklore, Myth and More

The Fox is an incredible animal who is as diverse in its sub-species to where they live which is every continent except Antarctica. They can be found from Australia to the Arctic and just about everywhere in-between. So it is not surprising that when it comes to folklore and mythology both newer tales to those of ancient times you will find the Fox mentioned more than any other animal from Japan to the Native American tales. The Fox also happens to be a personal favorite of mine so featuring them on my Blog for me is a must.

Foxes in Folklore

Symbolism and metaphor are often used in folklore to explore the depths of human emotions and how we have connected with the world around us. Animals in particular, have long been a popular source of inspiration, acting as reflections of our best and worst qualities, or appearing to us as magical creatures linking the mortal and spirit realms.

There are maybe only a handful of animals, both real and mythological, that are more commonly found in folklore globally than the fox. Considering the relatively close proximity humans and foxes have had with each other, it is no surprise that we included this relationship in our mythologies and tales. Even the ancient Sumerians were inspired by foxes and included one in the Eridu Genesis myth, first recorded around 1600 BCE.

In general, there is a split consensus cross-culturally when it comes to the depiction of foxes in folklore. The fox is perhaps most well known as a trickster, sneaky and cunning in behavior, creating devious plans which they occasionally fall victim to. In Aesop’s Fables, they are egotistical, con artists, and benefit from the misfortune of others. Phrases like “sly as a fox” and “outfoxed” are references to the trickster persona. Continue reading HERE. And find Part 2 HERE.

Fox Carved in Stone Göbekli Tepe. Acsen. Shutterstock.
Göbekli Tepe is a world heritage site in Turkey. The monolithic structures are thought to have been erected around 9,600-8,200 BCE.

It would be difficult to compile a complete list of all the available fox mythology. In the Scandinavian countries, foxes were believed to cause the northern lights. These aurora were called “revontulet” in Finland, meaning “fox fires”. SOURCE

The Scandinavian legend of Aurora borealis by CORinAZONe on DeviantArt

A more modern version of the of the Northern Lights regarding a Fox written by Don Fowler is a favorite of mine which I want to share with you.

Long ago when the world was young there lived in the forest of Midgard a small fox named Rav who was as black as night. He was a sly little fox who liked to play jokes on the other animals of the forest. Needless to say, he didn’t have many friends in the forest.

One day he was confronted by some rabbits that wanted to make fun of his abnormal black fur. He ran past them and swiped his tail over the grass in passing, lighting it into flames. The scared rabbits bound off in fear and hasted deep into the forest to escape the flames.

The land wight of the forest lake got upset with Rav and scolded the fox for causing such trouble. Rav tried to lie to the forest lake, telling her that he would not do such a thing again. But the forest lake knew better than to trust a fox and sent him from Midgard across Yggdrasil to Jotunheim, the land of giants and trolls.

Jotunheim is a cold, icy land, and there the fox found his lovely black coat had gone arctic white. Worse than that, now the little arctic fox was all alone and had to constantly flee from the giants and the trolls of the wild north. He did well at protecting only his own hide and the years passed before he knew it.

Then on a bitter cold day he spied a small fire where two travelers were eating. One had red hair and a beard and carried a mighty hammer. The other had black hair and seemed, to Rav, to be very cunning and fair. But as he was watching the giants played a trick on the travelers by making the snow storm so hard the travelers could not find their way. Rav knew the lost travelers would come under attack by the giants soon.

It was then Rav felt regret for his own actions in the past, and felt sympathy for the bold travelers. Running ahead, he swept his tail over the snow, sending up a whirl of fire into the sky making it like day. It was enough to startle the giants as he lit a path to the Bifrost bridge for the travelers.

At the top of the bridge one of the travelers companions could make out what was going on far below. He quickly alerted all in Asgard of the danger of the trouble making giants. So it was that in the end the travelers made it back to their land safely despite the snow storm.

Impressed with the little arctic fox they made Rav a small home at the base of the Bifrost bridge where it meets the frigid snow of the north. It would be the little arctic fox’s duty to send up flames nightly so that anyone lost could see and find their way back home. He was so good at making his northern lights that they became known as the Foxfires or the Revontulet.

The Fox is the star of more fairy tales and fables than any other animal! Find out why by reading this book. From California to Norway, Africa to Ancient Greece these stories have traveled with the people who loved them best. You can learn to be witty, clever, and outsmart your foe with the help of these fox tales. Maybe you too can learn to sing your own fox songs! The author, Brian “Fox” Ellis once had a pet fox! He has studied the science and folklore of foxes and shares his love of these cunning creatures with all who will listen. He infuses the folktales with solid science and writes science with a fairy tale spin. He has performed Fox Tales around the world and because his name is Fox, folks have given small fox carvings of virtually every style imaginable. This book is the fourth in a series called Fox Tales Folklore that blends history and ecology, poetry and personal narrative to explore themes like A River of Stories, Prairie Tales, Bird Tales and Fish Tales. All of the books will soon be available here on Amazon as a paperback or eBook, but you can also visit www.foxtalesint.com to download an audio book or you could even watch a live performance of these stories on his YouTube channel Fox Tales International.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 19. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
“On this highway is a place called Teumessos (Teumessus), where it is said that Europa was hidden by Zeus. There is also another legend, which tells of a Fox called the Teumessian Fox, how owing to the wrath of Dionysos the beast was reared to destroy the Thebans, and how, when about to be caught by the Hound [Lailaps (Laelaps)] given by Artemis to Prokris (Procris) the daughter of Erekhtheus (Erechtheus), the Fox was turned into a stone, as was likewise this Hound.”

THE ALOPEX TEUMESIOS (Teumessian Fox) was a giant fox sent by the gods to ravage the countryside of Thebes as punishment for some crime. Kreon (Creon), regent of Thebes, commanded Amphitryon destroy the fox–an impossible task for the beast was destined never to be caught. The hero solved the problem by setting the magical dog Lailaps (Laelaps) on the trail, for it was destined to always catch its quarry. Zeus, faced with a paradox of fate–an uncatchable fox being pursued by an inescapable dog–, turned the pair to stone, so freezing their contest in time. SOURCE

Kitsune

Kitsune (狐, キツネ, IPA: [kitsɯne]) in the literal sense is the Japanese word for “fox”. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict legendary foxes as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others – as foxes in folklore often do – other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and humans lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto “kami,” or “spirit,” and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox’s supernatural significance. Continue reading HERE.

The Role of Foxes in Slavic Mythology and Folklore

By @Dunoss.Art on Instagram

The early Slavs often had a similar perception of the fox that is still popular in modern culture across the world today. No matter the species, foxes were seen as sly and cunning tricksters. They use this skill often to deceive protagonists, and this makes them often villains in folk tales. Among the Slavs, though, the fox has positive roles as well.

When tricksters are mentioned in Slavic mythology, it’s impossible not to mention Weles (Veles), god of the lowlands, underworld, serpents, and cattle. Like the fox, Weles is often incorrectly perceived as evil, stealing Perun‘s cattle as well as his son, Jaryło. The god serves a crucial role, though, and so does the fox, serving as the symbol of mind over brute strength. Continue reading HERE.

The fox is a scavenger carnivores dog generally found in urban city areas in the northern Hemisphere. The fox is a nocturnal mammal meaning that the fox only goes out a night to hunt for prey. Wild foxes tend live for around 6-7 years but some foxes have been known to be older than 13 in captivity. The wild fox hunts for the mouse and other small mammals and birds but foxes appear to enjoy all species of insect.

Further Resources

Foxes and Fox Lore

The Nine Tailed Fox of Chinese Mythology

Foxes in Mythology

Native American Fox Mythology

Vulpes, Vixen and … Vulpix? Foxes in folklore and popular culture

Fox Symbolism & Meaning

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Fireflies: Folklore, Myth and More

Fireflies are in my top five of favorite insects and a lot of those reasons will be within what you find in this post from their mystical appearance at night to the significance they hold in a lot of folklore. The Firefly also known as a lightning Bug can be a significant meaning in your dreams, as a totem and even a spirit animal which will be covered here as well but first let me share with you a story about myself and Fireflies which sometimes I wonder if there are Fae among them in disguise.

Many years ago I lived in a beautiful part of the Appalachians on a property with a pond in front of my house over an acre in size with it surrounded by grass. Every day right at dusk I would sit or lay on the grass in front of the pond. I would watch the fish nipping at the bugs on the surface of the pond ass the Bats began swooping like acrobatic jets above beginning to feed. All the time as it darkened the Fireflies would emerge from the grass undergrowth and it truly looked like a scene from a fantasy movie. Truly an amazing experience every time.

The Magic & Folklore of Fireflies By Patti Wigington

In China, long ago, it was believed that fireflies were a product of burning grasses. Ancient Chinese manuscripts hint that a popular summer pastime was to catch fireflies and put them in a transparent box, to use as a lantern, much like children (and adults) often do today.

There’s a Japanese legend that lightning bugs are actually the souls of the dead. Variations on the tale say that they’re the spirits of warriors who fell in battle. Our About.com Japanese Language Expert, Namiko Abe, says, “The Japanese word for a firefly is hotaru… In some cultures, hotaru might not have a positive reputation, but they are well liked in Japanese society. They have been a metaphor for passionate love in poetry since Man’you-shu (the 8th-century anthology).”

Even though fireflies put on a pretty great light show, it’s not just for entertainment. The flashing of their light is how they communicate with each other – especially for courtship rituals. Males flash to let the ladies know they’re looking for love… and the females respond with flashes to say they’re interested.

Fireflies appear in a lot of Native American folklore as well. There’s an Apache legend in which the trickster Fox tries to steal fire from the firefly village. To accomplish this, he fools them and manages to set his own tail on fire with a piece of burning bark. As he escapes the firefly village, he gives the bark to Hawk, who flies off, scattering embers around the world, which is how fire came to the Apache people. As punishment for his deception, the fireflies told Fox that he would never be able to use fire himself.

Using Firefly Magic

Think about the different aspects of firefly folklore. How can you use them in a magical working?

  • Feeling lost? Catch some fireflies in a jar (please, poke holes in the lid!) and ask them to illuminate your way. Release them when you’re done.
  • Use fireflies to represent the element of fire on your summer altar.
  • Fireflies are sometimes associated with the moon – use them in summer moon rituals.
  • Incorporate firefly light into a ritual to attract a new mate, and see who responds.
  • Some people associate fireflies with the Fae – if you practice any sort of Faerie magic, welcome the fireflies into your celebrations.
  • Incorporate firefly symbolism into a ritual to honor your ancestors. SOURCE
Firefly (Junkiri) glowing at night. Image credit: Nepali Times 

The Symbolic Meaning of Crossing Paths With a Bright Little Firefly or Lightning Bug This Summer by Rebecca Norris

Fireflies—which are technically a type of nocturnal beetle!—often go unnoticed until nighttime. But, as soon as the tail of their abdomen begins to glow, the little bugs (also called lightning bugs) transform into seemingly-magical creatures that create specks of light in the dark evening air, leaving children and adults alike in awe. What makes them extra special is that they’re only around for a few weeks in the summer, and only in certain areas (in the U.S., that means warm, humid climates east of Kansas).

According to Honigman, fireflies serve as powerful and empowering reminders for anyone who sees them. “A little light shining bravely in the darkness,” she says of their symbolic meaning. “Small and alone, showing us that we are each worthy, that every person shines their own unique light, and in our own world, be represented in the global struggle for illumination. Light over dark. Positive over negative. However tiny you are, your light still illuminates the darkness.”

Honigman says they’re also reminders to be intentional about the light you seek in others. “Fireflies have a unique way of shining their light, in order to draw the exact right mate to them,” she explains. “They flash their light in specific patterns, and only the right mate responds to each individual pattern. This reminds us to be specific with the people we keep around us, and to be intentional with our circle. One firefly won’t be drawn to another one unless communication is exact and specific. Similarly, the right people for you will heed your call. If it feels ‘off’ then this isn’t your person.” Continue reading HERE.

Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs is the first-ever comprehensive firefly guide for eastern and central North America. It is written for all those who want to know more about the amazing world of lightning bugs and learn the secrets hidden in the flash patterns of the 75+ species found in the eastern and central United States and Canada. As an independent researcher working with numerous university teams, naturalist Lynn Frierson Faust, “The Lightning Bug Lady,” has spent decades tracking the behavior and researching the habitats of these fascinating creatures.

Fireflies

by Bliss Carman

The fireflies across the dusk
Are flashing signals through the gloom—
Courageous messengers of light
That dare immensities of doom.

About the seeding meadow-grass,
Like busy watchmen in the street,
They come and go, they turn and pass,
Lighting the way for Beauty’s feet.

Or up they float on viewless wings
To twinkle high among the trees,
And rival with soft glimmerings
The shining of the Pleiades.

The stars that wheel above the hill
Are not more wonderful to see,
Nor the great tasks that they fulfill
More needed in eternity.

Sir David Attenborough explores the world of bio-luminescence, the often spectacular natural light produced by some creatures. Specially designed cameras reveal nature’s leading lights.

Further Resources

Firefly Symbolism & Meaning

Spiritual meaning of fireflies: the symbolism! Does it indicate good luck?

Common Names for Fireflies

The Light of the Firefly: What is its Role in Japanese Culture?

Symbolic Meaning of the Firefly

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Slavic Mermaids and Water Spirits

Many years ago I began reading about and studying the folklore, deities and overall mythology of the Slavic culture mainly after discovering I have some Slavic lineage. What I quickly learned was how much I enjoy it and even to this day still am always on thew lookout for books regarding this subject. In particular, as I am all about anything with water, I especially enjoy learning about Beings that reside in or around the water of Slavic folklore and even Kupala who is the Slavic goddess of joy and water. If you enjoy Slavic folklore as much as I do then I hope you will enjoy this blog post I thoroughly enjoyed putting together for my readers.

The Rusalki, by Jane L. Mickelson

Beautiful, mysterious, deadly: mermaids of Russian folklore

They meet by moonlight, rising out of lakes and ponds or drifting down from the branches of birch trees, hair drip-ping with dew. Their corpse-pale skin reveals their inhuman nature. Their watery essence links them to ancient, elemental forces. In Russian and Ukrainian tradition they are called the rusalki, and they belong to the spiritual world of women, as the mythology surrounding them testifies. For not only do they bring the fertilizing spring rains when invoked by village maidens, but they also punish any man who chances upon them, using as a weapon the very element that the women so longingly call forth: they lure the interloper into the water and drown him.

In some versions of tales about them, the rusalki are portrayed as shape-shifters, most frequently appearing as unearthly and beautiful young women, but also as birds, particularly water birds such as swans or ducks. This aspect of their nature as a mixture of animal and human relates them to other female water-beings found throughout mythology and folklore around the world, from the sirens that tempted sailors to their doom in the Odyssey to the mermaids that continue to appear in popular modern films and literature. Joanna Hubbs, who has traced the lineage of the rusalki in her book Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture, views them as the descendants of an earlier Slavic water elemental, a character part woman and part beast, “the beregina, [which] assumed in folk art the form of the half-woman and half-bird or fish-siren.”1 Hubbs states that the name of the rusalki’s ancestor finds its source in the word “bereg,” which may be translated as “shore.” Continue reading HERE.

Vodyanoy – Water Spirit/The Spirit of the Lake

Also known as Vodnik, the Water Spirit of Dvořák’s opera is better known in folklore as Vodyanoy (amongst other names, such as Wassermann or Nix). Dvořák appeared to be particularly fond of this Water Goblin, writing a separate symphonic tone poem titled Vodník.

Hailing from Slavic, German and Czech’s shared folklore, Vodyanoys were often depicted as humanoids with toad-like features, such as gills, webbed fingers, a greenish hue and anuran features. Usually found riding along the river on a half-sunk log, the Vodyanoy were generally viewed as elderly old men, in stark contrast to the youthful feminine Rusalkas.

Whilst not necessarily viewed as malevolent, Vodyanoy (along with Rusalki) were often blamed for drownings, with the Vodyanoy storing the souls of the drowned in teapots. Usually thought to be pretty lazy, they pass the time by playing cards, smoking pipes, and watching the water pass by. SOURCE

Дженеев Иван Алексеевич, Water Depths. Whirlpool, 1907

Waters and Sacred Spaces

We know from the accounts of chroniclers that pagan temples at Radegast (Rethra) and Wolin, both in modern Poland, were surrounded by bodies of water: swamps, moats and lakes [2]. Chroniclers tell of local beliefs about spirits in these waters, and we can speculate about their use in ritual: bathing and sacrificing in these waters during holy times of the year.

Veneration of springs is a well known in Slavic cultures and persists even to this day, in the form of cults of Christian saints, in many rural areas. But this practice is certainly ancient; aside from the desire for the health benefits of mineral water, springs were either the object of worship or accompanying shrines to gods among Slavic pagan tribes living near the Elbe river.

The Głomacze tribe’s spring was famed for its fortune-telling: it was coated with acorns, oats or wheat to predict peace, and ash or blood to predict war [3]. Acorns covering these waters meant nearby oaks to drop them: oak being a sacred symbol of the thunder god, Perun. Similarly, in Szczecin, a fountain at the base of a large oak tree was venerated as a shrine, to which god the chronicler does not name, but we might speculate it to be the thunderer [2]. Continue reading HERE.

“Ilya Muromets” by Nikolay Roerich

Surprisingly, the Slavs imagined their own Styx, a border river between life and the underworld, and in Russia, this river was called Smorodina, which translates quite clearly as “The Stinky One.”

The river is “stinky,” because it is made of constantly burning and fuming fire. Smorodina is the border between our world and the afterlife that a man’s soul needs to cross to get to the land of plenty (probably The Three Nines Kingdom).

“The melting river is ferocious, a fierce river, the angriest one of all. Its first trickle is like a fire, another one is a spark falling, and because of the third one, the smoke is coming down in columns,” an old Russian bylina (oral epic tale) “Dobrynya and The Serpent” relates. Continue reading HERE.

Russian sauna water spirit B’annik

It was also believed that in ba’nyas (Russian saunas) lived the water spirit named B’annik. He might do various evil things: to scare you while washing, throw stones from the oven or even to raw. He always washed after all the humans at night accompanied with demons, L’eshijs, mermaids & other minor spirits. To please Bannik people left a broom, a bar of soap & some water in a bathing barrel. Besides it was forbidden to build a house on the sauna’s place. This area was considered to be cursed. SOURCE

Another spooky story from SVP! We spoke of what happens when people are so bad, even hell spits them back out, but that isn’t the case with the Rusalka. The Rusalka are women who met untimely deaths at the bottom of the river, but return to lure more victims to a watery grave. Are they spirits seeking justice? Or vengeance? We don’t advise getting close enough to find out.
Vodyanoy Concept and Story Art. Story references inspired by: Nenad Gajic’s book “Slovenska mitologija” and Louis Leger’s book “La Mythologie Slave”

Further Resources

Slavic Folk

Slavic Mermaids: Water Ghosts and Goblins

Rusalka

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Mermaids: Legends, Origins and More

Since I was a child playing on the beaches of Oregon and California, I have had a fascination with all things regarding the sea from its marine life to maritime history and especially the mysterious tales of its beings told in ancient to even modern folklore. One of those mystical beings of the sea I adore are Mermaids which can be seen in folklore tales all around the world. Today’s post is all about Mermaid folklore, their origins, mythology and more. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did putting it together for my readers.

Early origins of Mermaids

The roots of mermaid mythology are more varied than one would expect.  In modern myth we tend to see mermaids in a singular way – kind and benevolent to humans who keep to their own kind in the deep waters of the ocean.  Not all stories go this way, though, and in most cases the most ancient tales of mermaid mythology follow quite a different view.

The earliest known mermaid legends come from Syria around 1000 B.C. where the Syrian goddess Atargatis dove into a lake to take the form of a fish, but the powers there would not allow her give up her great beauty, so only her bottom half became a fish and she kept her top half in human form. 

As myths tend to do, the story changed over time and Atargatis became mixed with Syrian goddess Ashtarte, who is generally considered the counterpart to Greek mythology’s Aphrodite.  Though Aphrodite is rarely portrayed in mermaid form, this evolution of mermaid mythology is what led to Aphrodite’s role in the mythology of Pisces, which clearly has roots in Syrian mythology.

Later tales in the mythology of mermaids stem from Homer’s epic “The Odyssey”, where some mythologists believe the Sirens to have been in mermaid form.  This was an extremely popular version of the mermaid throughout history.  Many popular tales including legends from the British Isles and the famous Arabian Nights tales identify mermaids in exactly this fashion.  In these myths, mermaids would sing to men on ships or shores nearby, practically hypnotizing them with their beauty and song.  Those affected would rush out to sea only to be either drowned, eaten, or otherwise sent to their doom. Continue reading HERE.

An illustration of Derceto from the work of German scholar Athanasius Kircher, “Oedipus Aegyptiacus”, published in 1652.  (Image credit: Athanasius Kircher/Public Domain)

The Lorelei

“Flows the Rhine as flowing wine,
Bright in its unrest,
Sweet with odors of the vine;
Heaven in its breast.”

So the boatman Hugo sung,
Long, long ago,
By the Lurley-berg that hung
In the sunset glow.

At that fateful rock, upraised
From its foamy base,
Suddenly the boatman gazed
With a stricken face.

On its summit, wondrous fair,
Shining angel-wise,
Sat a maid, with golden hair
And beseeching eyes.

From a shoulder’s rosy sphere
All the robe that slid,
Ripple bright and water-clear,
Rather show’d than hid.

As her hair her fingers through
(Fingers pearly white)
Slowly pass’d, the diamond dew
Fell and broke in light.

But a gold harp from her feet
Lifted she ere long,
And its music, pulsing sweet,
Fed a wondrous song.

And the boatman, drifting fast,
Listen’d to his cost;
On the rocks before him cast!
In the whirlpool lost!

Then the Lorelei’s luring form
Faded from the eye,
As a cloud fades, rosy warm,
In a purple sky.”

– The Lorelei, 1869
From Harper’s Weekly,
January 16, 1869
The Mariners’ Museum Research Library and Archives
SOURCE

Though not as well known as their female counterparts, mermen have an equally fierce reputation for summoning storms, sinking ships and drowning sailors. One especially feared group, the Blue Men of the Minch, are said to dwell in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland, according to The Scotsman. They look like ordinary men (from the waist up anyway) with the exception of their blue-tinted skin and gray beards. Local lore claims that before laying siege to a ship, the Blue Men often challenge its captain to a rhyming contest; if the captain is quick enough of wit and agile enough of tongue he can best the Blue Men and save his sailors from a watery grave. 

Japanese legends have a version of merfolk called kappa. Said to reside in Japanese lakes, coasts and rivers, these child-size water spirits appear more animal than human, with simian faces and tortoise shells on their backs, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. Like the Blue Men, the kappa sometimes interact with humans and challenge them to games of skill in which the penalty for losing is death. Kappa are said to have an appetite for children and those foolish enough to swim alone in remote places — but they especially prize fresh cucumbers. 

Throughout West, South and Central Africa, the mythical water spirit called Mami Wata, which means “Mother of the Waters”, was once worshiped for their ability to bestow beauty, health and wisdom to their followers, according to the Royal Museums Greenwich. Mami Wata is often portrayed as a mermaid or snake charmer, however, her appearance has been influenced by presentations of other indigenous African water spriest as well as European mermaids and Hindu gods and goddesses, according to the Smithsonian. Continue reading HERE.

Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales From Around the World by Heidi Anne Heiner
Ramakien Murals depicting the hero Hanuman meeting the mermaid Suvannamaccha, Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand (Ramakien Murals depicting the hero Hanuman meeting the mermaid Suvannamaccha, Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand (1831)

Southeast Asian folklore includes the story of a mermaid princess, Suvannamaccha (meaning “golden fish”).

In the Ramayana, the countries retellings of the Indian epic poem, one of the heroes, Hanuman attempts to build a bridge of stones across the sea.

His plans are hampered by Suvannamaccha who has been instructed to prevent the causeway’s completion. The two meet and fall in love and Suvannamaccha ends up helping Hanuman finishing the path. The mermaid is now seen as a herald of good luck and her figure is depicted in charms, streamers and icons throughout Cambodia, Thailand and Lao. SOURCE

Further Resources

Behind the Mythology: Mermaids

Origin of the Mermaid Myth

Mermaids – Myth and Folklore

On the Origins of Mermaids

21 Facts about Mermaids

Mermaid Mythology – Mermaids Myths and Legends

Known throughout mythology, folklore and modern adaptation, we take a look at Mermaids and some stories that suggest they may be out there, lurking in the bottom of the ocean.
Mermaids – Today we take a look at the stories behind Mermaids from Greek mythology, Mesopotamian mythology, Russian & British folklore.
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The Werewolves of Latvia

The tales and history of Werewolves have always been a fascination of mine and I will be posting more about the folklore regarding these creatures in cultures throughout the world. Today however I want to share with you all about the folklore of the Vilkacis (Vilkatis) which are the Werewolves of Latvia.

In some countries there are legends of humans that are actually able to send their soul into another creature. The vilkacis – which are what the werewolves of Latvia are known as (Latvia is a country in Northern Europe) are rumored to be able to do this. Some stories of the Latvian werewolves (vilkacis) say that the werewolves aren’t actually humans that transform into wolves, but rather humans that send their souls into wolves! The process is a dangerous – and sometimes deadly one – as sometimes once the soul has left the human body it can be hard for the soul to return back into it’s own body – causing the human to die as a consequence. A body with no soul cannot live.

Out of body experiences aren’t unknown – in fact, it is believed that with mediation and concentration, some people can – and have had – out of body experiences. The interesting thing that seems to be unique to the vilkacis however – that ability to enter into the body of another creature – is not quite as common an occurrence. Often the possession of one body by another body’s soul is associated with witchcraft. Which brings up the question of are the vilkacis truly werewolves? Or possibly some type of witch or other creature? Or maybe even a werewolf subspecies? They are certainly not what we imagine when we think of the traditional werewolf. It is worth noting however that not all vilkacis send their soul out of the body – in fact, it is not quite clear if that is what happens, as other stories indicate they may physically transform.

Other facts about the vilkacis (werewolves of Latvia): 1.) they are not immortal and can be injured, 2.) they are not believed to be evil (although there is some proof to the contrary) 3.) females are most likely to be vilkacis. Original source no longer available from ilovewerewolves.com

The Rauda Forest of Latvia holds tales of the Vilkacis

Tukums Werewolves Tales

Mystical stories and legends abound about the Rauda Forest — a truly ghostly forest! Sages say that in the sense of energies, it does not lag behind the legendary Pokaiņi Forest. The Rauda Forest is special with the fact that here — unlike anywhere else in Latvia — one can experience a marked contrast of energies. Here, the positive and the negative energy come face to face.

Plenty of folk tales and legends assure that, given certain circumstances, with the help of magic rituals, humans are able to turn into wolves or werewolves. However, the werewolf folklore of Courland introduces us to a different kind of werewolf that must have been like this since the beginning of time — the giant, prehistoric spectres, phantoms, shadows, more resembling the Celtic “great and mighty dark”, or fortibus umbris.

Near Tukums, not far from the Engure highway, right in the middle of an eerie marsh in the Rauda woods, there is a mound. On top of the mound, stands a thick oak tree, centuries old and long since dead. A dark hollow stretches along its trunk about three metres above the ground; its broad, broken, moss and lichen covered branches are stretched towards the sky like veiny arms.

At least five different werewolf myths and thrice as many ghost stories have sprung from the Draņķozols Oak and its oddly beautiful surroundings. The most famous is the tale of the evil spirits that lead travelers astray, with countless accounts of people getting lost while hiking, picking berries or mushrooms. The spirits send them walking in circles till exhaustion, ending up always at the said oak, thus falling gradually into terror and hopelessness. Continue reading HERE.

Olaus Magnus, (1555) in his 𝐻𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑎 𝑑𝑒 𝐺𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑏𝑢𝑠 ‘𝑆𝑒𝑝𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑏𝑢𝑠’ (A Description of the Northern Peoples), mentions:-

“𝘐𝘯 𝘗𝘳𝘶𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘢, 𝘓𝘪𝘷𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘢, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘓𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘶𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘢, 𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘩𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘯𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘴, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘵, 𝘺𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘢 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴.”

“𝘖𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘢𝘵 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵, 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘢 𝘮𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘶𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘵, 𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘸𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘥𝘰 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴; 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘢 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘩𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘥𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘪𝘴𝘰𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘦𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘳𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘥𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘰, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘥𝘦𝘷𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘭 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯.” Source credit: Latvian Werewolves

Further Resources

The Werewolves of Livonia: Lycanthropy and Shape-Changing in Scholarly Texts, 1550–1720

THE WEREWOLF IN LATGALIAN FOLKLORE

Livonia Werewolves

History Channel Documentary
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Dragons – Mythology, History and more

The stories of Dragons have fascinated me my entire life from folklore around the world to how they are depicted in books and movies. Dragons are depicted in every kind of style and color you can imagine from fiery titans in size with impenetrable scales to small more feathery gentle creatures. They can be seen as cave dwellers hiding hoards of treasure such as J.R.R. Tolkein’s Smaug to the legendary Fafnir of Norse mythology.

Dragons can be found in the folklore of pretty much every ancient civilization on every continent and is heavily a part of many important tales involving Gods and Goddesses from Scandinavia, to China and in between. They are even to this day wrapped up in a lot of modern culture as we see in movies, books and even festivals. The subject of Dragons is quite massive and could take pages and pages on my blog to cover in full extent. Instead what I have chosen to do is provide my readers with one massive post that includes some of the best resources available.

Dragons can be placed in two groups- East and West dragons, and they were regarded as either good or very fearsome and evil creatures.

In ancient China, a dragon was a highly significant creature that became a symbol of the Emperor and his throne was sometimes called the Dragon Throne. Ancient Chinese believed dragons were in control the weather and water. These creatures were said to be able to manipulate oceans, floods, tornadoes and storms.

There are nine distinctive Chinese dragons and some of them are serpent-like creatures with large bodies and long heads. The dragon in China is believed to be a benign creature that is said to bring wisdom, power and luck. They are famous for their goodness and to ward off evil, protect the innocent and bring safety to all.

Tradition and celebration of New Year in China can be traced to a dragon named Nian (or “year”).

Nian was a legendary wild beast that attacked people at the end of the old year. Villagers would use loud noises and bright lights to scare the creature away, a practice that slowly morphed into the Chinese New Year festivities. Today the dragon has its own year on the Chinese calendar.

On the British Isles and in Scandinavia, dragons were often depicted as wingless creatures. In this part of the world, the dragon was depicted as a more malevolent creature that was very difficult to kill. The West dragon was wingless and lived in dark places or wells where he was guarding hoard treasures. Approaching the dragon was almost impossible because of its poisonous fire breath.

Dragons in British and Scandinavian mythology often appear in stories when a prince tries to save a young maiden from being abducted by the fearsome animal. If he can slay the dragon, he can become the new King and win the girl as his bride. Continue reading HERE.

Draken Harald Hårfagre is a modern real working Dragonship from Vikinggården, Avaldsnes, Haugesund, Norway.

Dragonships were large longships that had carved heads of dragons and other magical beings mounted on their stem. They were ships for chieftains and kings. The ship’s dragonhead was a visual message about the owner’s status.

His dragon with her sails of blue,
All bright and brilliant to the view,
High hoisted on the yard arms wide,
Carries great Canute o’er the tide.
Brave is the royal progress — fast
The proud ship’s keel obeys the mast,
Dashes through foam, and gains the land,
Raising a surge on Limfjord’s strand.

(The Song of Canute, Saga of St. Olaf)

Many have asked if Dragons really existed? Do they still exist in a spiritual realm? Many believe they indeed do just as Elves, Faeries and other mystical beings in some way cohabitate in this world.

Further Resources:

Dragons: Exploring the Ancient Origins of the Mythical Beasts

Zmaj and the Dragon Lore of Slavic Mythology

Dragons of Greek Mythology

Dragons from Myth, Folklore and Magick

Dragons of Fame

Dragon as a Totem

Dragon Totem Meaning and Dragon Symbolism

Dragons were once thought to be just as real as wolves, boars or deer. Now, go inside some of the greatest battles between man and dragon in Western folklore and explore the many influences that came together to create the sum of all medieval fears.
The legends of Dragons
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The Elves of the Yggdrasil

When most discuss or think of the Elves of Norse Mythology they usually think of a certain kind of Tolkien in appearance and even refer to them as the Dark and Light Elves. But I want to go deeper into these Elves and to educate my readers on how much more expansive they are within the Yggdrasil. So in this Blog post I plan to cover the Svartálfar (“Black Elves), Dökkálfar (“Dark Elves), Ljösalfar (“Light Elves) and the Hvítálfar (“Shining Elves).

The Dökkálfar are referenced in a few places in Norse mythology. The name itself means ‘dark elves’ and Snorri describes them as living in the earth. Grimm calls them ‘Genii obscuri’ or spirits of the dark and suggests a connection between them and nâir, spirits of the dead, even going so far as to place them living ”in Hel, the heathen hades” (Grimm, 1888, p446). Grimm also questions whether the Dökkálfar should be separated from the nâir or whether “[t]he dusky elves are souls of dead men…” (Grimm, 1888, p 447). There is some strong evidence that the Dökkálfar were the mound dead or male ancestors and the Dökkálfar are sometimes called Mound Elves; it is not certain however and it may be that some Dökkálfar are human dead but others are not.

Svartálfar – meaning ‘black elves’ they possess their own world, Svartálfheim [black elf home]. The Duergar or Dwarves also live in Svartálfheim creating a longstanding confusion about whether Svartálfar are truly elves in their own right or are actually another name for Dwarves. Both are associated with mountains and mountainous regions, but seem to have a distinct and separate focus in activities and interactions with people. Grimm believes that the Svartálfar were good natured beings and argues that they received worship from people into the 19th century.

The Álfar and the Duergar – elves and dwarves – are also difficult groups to entirely sort out. On one hand there are some good arguments that the two may actually be the same, with Svartálfar and potentially Dökkálfar both simply being alternate names for deurgar. This is supported by three main things: many deurgar have names that incorporate the word ‘álf’ such as Vindalf and Gandalf; the Svartálfar were said to live in Svartálfheim but the deurgar live there as well; and the svartalfar and Dökkálfar were said to live beneath the ground or in mounds. However there is also evidence that might support the argument that the two groups were separate, including that they are occasionally referenced in the same work together as different groups. In verse 25 of Hrafnagaldr Óðins we see the Dökkálfar being grouped together with giants, dead men, and dwarves: “gýgjur og þursar, náir, dvergar og dökkálfar” [Giantesses and giants, dead men, dwarves and dark elves]. This would at the least seem to indicate some degree of separation between Duergar and Dökkálfar. In the Alvissmal it is also established that the Álfar and Duergar have different languages and kennings for things, which would also indicate separation of the two groups (Gundarsson, 2007). For the most part the Álfar would seem to be beings closely tied to the Gods, perhaps one step beneath them in power and influence, beings who can influence weather and possess powerful magic that can effect people’s health. The Duergar are associated with mining and smithcraft and are not as closely tied to the Gods; when they appear in myth dealing with the Gods they must always be negotiated with or otherwise dealt with in some fashion diplomatically.

The Álfar are a complicated and fascinating group in mythology and I have barely touched on them here. Consider this merely a brief introduction to some basic ideas about the Álfar as they appear in Norse mythology but bear in mind that they can be found throughout Germanic/Norse folklore. they are beings that are both benevolent and dangerous as the mood suits and depending on how they are treated, like the elves found across folklore.

Further Resources:

Ljösalfar, Dökkalfar & Alfheim: 7 Unknowns about Norse Elves

Svartálfar

Medieval Scandinavian Elves and Dwarves

Elves are Fairies? Wait, what?