A few years ago I began to look into the history and use of the Theban alphabet which are also known as Witches Runes, Witch writing, Honorian alphabet and the Runes of Honorius. This form of cypher dates back to Medieval times and has been a used in Mysticism and magical practices ever since. In recent years I began making Theban divination sets and find it to be quite a intriguing type of divination. So today’s blog post will be covering all about this interesting alphabet.
The Origins of the Theban
The Witch’s alphabet dates back to the 14th Century and is also known as the Theban alphabet. Additionally it has been called the Honorian alphabet, Theban Script or the Runes of Honorius. It’s exact origin is unknown nor is it’s original creator. As it is with all undocumented ancient history, there is controversy surrounding the Witch’s alphabet. It’s mostly been attributed to Honorius of Thebes, a Middle Age figure shrouded in so much mystery that some consider his very existence to be a myth. Many students of the occult believe the Theban alphabet dates back much further, to before the 11th Century. That group claims it originated as an alchemical cipher with an Avestan influence. Avestan is oldest preserved Indo-Aryan language and it’s closely related to Vedic Sanskrit. But this counter-theory is also undocumented and thus un-provable.
However, there is evidence to be gleaned from the shape of the characters and corresponding curve patterns that define Theban. They show an unmistakable resemblance to characters found in the Avestan alphabet. This alone doesn’t prove a theory. There are major differences such as fewer characters and the inclusion in Theban of a symbol to denote the end of a sentence. Theban does not have an upper or a lower case, so that symbol was critical. Another comparison has been made with Latin. There is a one-to-one correspondence between letters of the Witch’s alphabet and Latin alphabets with the exception of the letters j and u. Those two letters are represented by the letters for i and v. The Theban alphabet has also been called a runic alphabet but it’s clearly not. Runes are characterized by straight lines and sharp edges, while the Theban alphabet is mostly based on arcs and curls.SOURCE
The first known recordings of the alphabet came from the astrologer Johannes Trithemius who included it in his 1518 published book Polygraphia. Trithemius stated the alphabet came from the Theban Honorius and it was revealed by Petries de Apono (aka Pietro D’Abano).
Since Petries de Apono was close with Pope Honorius IV, some believe him to be the source; or his granduncle, Pope Honorious III. However, there is no proof of this because there has not been any work from either of them that contains this alphabet, including the manuscript written by Pope Honorious III called Grimoire du Pape Honorius.
Another belief connects to the fourteenth-century manuscript The Sworn Book of Honoriusauthored by Honorius of Thebes. According to lore, Honorius of Thebes was a scribe who complied this information together during a large assembly of deeply knowledgable magical practitioners. However, this is still speculation because the only copy of The Sworn Book of Honorius that remains today states that the Theban alphabet’s origins are from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.SOURCE
Uses in Magick and Divination
With the exception of the letters J and U / V, this alphabet is a one to one substitution cipher. That means that each character of the Theban alphabet corresponds to one of the letters in the Latin alphabet.
That makes this alphabet very easy to use in your magic writings and other workings. It’s simple to switch one letter for another to obscure what you’re writing.
Especially when the Theban alphabet was created, the Christian church was doing its best to stamp out any ancient practices, paganism, or witchcraft. Writing in a script that couldn’t be translated allowed magicians and witches to record their work without fear of being killed by the church.
The Theban alphabet is popular among witches to give their writings a mystical quality and to hide the meaning of what they are writing. Wiccans and other witches have adopted many substitution ciphers to hide and obscure the contents of their books of shadows.SOURCE
The Theban alphabet can also be used in a similar way in divination like is done with Ogham and Elder Futhark Runes which you can learn more reading HEREand HERE.
In conclusion the Theban alphabet is one that can be used in a variety of ways for spiritual divination and witchcraft practices. It has a fascinating history with origins shrouded in mystery and has been a part of Occult and Mysticism for centuries. Today you can see it used for spells in Grimoires, Book of Shadow and more giving the Theban a practical use still to this day.
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
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
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.
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.SOURCEcredit 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
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
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
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 Babaroga, baba 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
Mongolia is a country I have been fascinated for a very long time and a place someday I hope to visit. Mongolia is so rich in history, culture and spirituality. Lesser known by most, which is unfortunate, is Mongolian Shamanism. This is a subject I touched on in my blog post regarding the Tengriism which is the native religion of Siberia, Mongolia and throughout the Asian Steppe. Even the great Genghis Khan (ca. 1162–1227) himself was a believer in Tengri and attributed his success and rise to power due to his devotion to Tengriism. So now I wish to dive into specifically what Mongolian Shamanism is all about, at least what is known because the unfortunate truth is with modern society taking a strong hold in Mongolia, the native religion is slowly disappearing. So I wish to at least do my part in sharing with you what I have gathered to help preserve this fascinating spiritual practice.
Mongolian Shamanism is an ancient ethnic religion, tradition and moreover, a way of life. It is a way to connect with nature and all of creation. As all ancient spiritual practices are rooted in nature, shamanism is the method by which we can strengthen that natural connection. It is also centered on the worship of the Tenger “Tengri” (Heaven, God of Heaven, God)
Shamanism is the universal spiritual wisdom inherent to all tribes and it is memory of tribes and nations, preserving the traditions throughout the centuries. Mongolian shamanism is an all-encompassing system of belief that includes medicine, religion, a reverence of nature, and ancestor worship.
It is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with spiritual world. A shaman is someone who is regarded as having access to the world of spirits and enters into a trance state during a ritual and connects with spirits of their ancestors. Shamans perform a variety of functions depending upon their respective cultures; healing, leading a sacrifice, preserving the tradition by storytelling and songs, fortune-telling, and acting as a psychopomp (literal meaning, “guide of souls”). A single Shaman may fulfill several of these functions. In this way the Shaman helps to maintain balance and harmony on both a personal and planetary level.SOURCE
Ovoos or aobaoes (in Mongolian “heap”) are large rock ceremonial altars in the shape of mounds that are traditionally used for worship in the indigenous religion of Mongols and related ethnic groups. Every ovoo is considered to be the representation of a god. There are ovoos dedicated to heavenly gods, mountain gods, other gods of nature, and also to gods of human lineages. In Inner Mongolia, the ovoos for worship of ancestral gods can be private shrines of an extended family or kin, otherwise they are common to villages (dedicated to the god of a village). Pilgrims passing by an ovoo traditionally circle it three times in clockwise direction while making prayers. They often make offerings by adding stones to the mound, or by hanging blue ceremonial silk scarves, called khadaq, symbolizing the Tengri mountain spirits. Some pilgrims also leave money, milk, incense sticks, or bottles of alcoholic beverages.SOURCE
Much like with Norse Paganism (Asatru), Slavic Paganism often in modern times gets a negative reputation by some mainstream sources and organizations as a result of a minority demographic that utilizes such spiritual beliefs for their own malicious intentions. However the more ancient native beliefs throughout the Slavic countries which can be in general described as Slavic Paganism has a rich history of traditions, ritual holidays and their Gods and Goddesses. Being that I myself have Slavic blood running through my veins I have been fascinated and studied this subject for years and even in my own crafts pay homage to Slavic Paganism and their Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. In fact eventually on this Blog I plan to feature each Slavic God and Goddess in their own post.
The use of this methodology in contemporary paganism is not new. It has proven its worth through the compelling reconstructions of the paganisms of other ethno-cultural groups, such as the Gauls, Anglo-Saxons, Greco-Egyptians and Norse, among others.
Slavic reconstructionist paganism includes three main objects of worship: the gods (Russian: Bogi), the spirits (Russian: Dushi), and the ancestors (Russian: Predki). We believe in multiple, distinct gods who are both immanent (appearing in the world) and transcendent (not limited to the material world). We believe that every building, every forest, every river or lake, the landscape itself is populated by countless spirits. We believe that our ancestors watch over and protect us throughout our life.SOURCE
The following list gives some of the more important Slavic deities known from older sources. Almost all of these are easily identifiable as Slavic cognates of other Proto-Indo-European Goddesses and Gods. The names used here are just some of the forms of the names which vary widely because of dialect differences in the Slavic languages as well as differences in the alphabets and the manner of their transcription from the Cyrillic alphabet. The element -bog seen in several of these names means ‘a god’ in various Slavic languages. The earliest references to specific deities are to Vladimir’s pantheon, the Gods and one Goddess worshiped by Prince Vladimir in about 980 CE before his conversion to Christianity. Most of the earliest references are from Christian sources and do not give much information, and even that is suspect. However many of these deities continue to be worshiped in the dual religion of the country people, and so they are well known from folk traditions.
Belbog, with the element bel- meaning ‘bright, white.’ This deity is known from early Christian sources. Bereginya, mentioned in old sources, the bereginyi (plural) receive offerings among the folk, and there are folk stories told about them. Bereginya dolls are still made by Russians. Dazhbog, a ‘Day God’ known from Vladimir’s pantheon and other early sources. In myths, he is the father of the morning and evening stars and of the Zoryi. Khors, known from Vladimir’s pantheon, but little else is known about this God. Koliada, the Goddess associated with the winter solstice and possibly a personification of it. There are many songs and dances known for her. Kupalo/Kupala, a deity associated with the summer solstice. Kupalo, a masculine form, appears in early Christian references, while Kupala, a feminine form, appears in more recent folklore sources. Lado/Lada. Lado, a masculine form, appears in early sources and is identified with Pluto and was the God invited to any occasion of merriment including weddings. Lada, a feminine form, appears in many folklore sources and is the Goddess associated with the May Day festival. There are many songs for her which people still sing. Although the linguistic relationship is uncertain, she appears to be the Slavic version of the Proto-Indo-European Goddess *Pleto. Leshii, a personification of the forest fires which were a big concern for people who lived and worked in the northern forests. Marzanna, a Grain Goddess known from early references and later folklore Mesyats, a personification of the Moon, Mesyats appears in folk tales, where he or she marries Dazhbog, and they have lots of little baby stars together. Mokosha, a Goddess from Vladimir’s pantheon, she remained important to people and is associated with water. Perun, known from Vladimir’s pantheon, he is the Slavic version of the Proto-Indo-European God *Perkunos, a Storm God. Poxvizd, Pogwizd are Wind Gods. Priye and Porevit are Slavic versions of the Proto-Indo-European Goddess *Pria, Goddess of spring flowers. Radigast at Rethra, known originally from Christian sources, the name Radigast is not well understood, but Rethra, the site of a temple appears to be the Slavic form of a standard Proto-Indo-European Goddess or God. The site of the temple described in old records is not certain, but it is probably south of the Tollense Sea (lake), where a wooden idol with two heads was found in 1968. Rugavit, known from a confused description by the Christian Saxo Grammaticus, Rugavit was said to be a God of War. In later Slavic folklore she appears as Baba Rugen and similar names, meaning Rye Mother among the country people. Simargl, mentioned in connection with Vladimir’s pantheon, the Simargl was often pictured in folk art as a supernatural bird with a long or braided tail. Various etymologies have been offered, but it may be borrowed from a Zoroastrian/Persian source. The Simargl was also borrowed into Islam and can be found as far afield as Indonesia where it is known as the Simurgh. Stribog, a Wind God in Vladimir’s pantheon, also mentioned in the Lay of Igor. Svantovit, is mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus but may be borrowed from Zoroastrian as one of the Amesha Spentas. It’s not clear because the name has been interpreted and reinterpreted in various languages, including as St. Vitus in Latin. The archaeological site for a major temple of Svantovit has been found at Arkona on the island of Rugen along the Baltic Sea. A proper dig was done by Schuchhardt starting in 1922. Svarog, a God of the Sun or of the Forge in early sources. Svarozhich, a son of Svarog, another name for a forge or smithy, also known from early sources. Volos/Veles, though not specifically mentioned in Vladimir’s pantheon, it is known that warriors at that time (10th century) swore oaths by Veles and their swords. Veles is more widely known as the protector of cattle though he seems to take the form of a wolf. Yarovit, one of the faces of Svantovit, and a deity of summer. Yaro means ‘summer.’ Zhiva is a Grain Goddess, and the Slavic version of the Proto-Indo-European Goddess *Devi. Zoryi/Zorya, the Zoryi (plural) were personified forms of the sun at sunrise (dawn) and sunset and their names are cognate with other Indo-European names for the Sun, such as Surya. There is a third sister called Black Zorya who represents Night in folklore, or as some say, the Northern Lights. The three are the daughters of Dazhbog. They sometimes appear as knights on horseback as in the tale of Vasilisa and the Baba Yaga.SOURCE
Years ago when I discovered I have Finnish blood it led me to learn much about the Kalevala which actually led me to begin studying the Saami (Sámi) people, their culture and of course their Gods and Goddesses which do vary depending on the region. The variety is due to the fact that these amazing people live in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Someday I wish to visit a Saami town and spend time with one of their Spiritual ones.
For those of you interested in learning about the Saami and their Gods and Goddesses, here are some great resources.
Sami, also spelled Saami, or Same, Sami, Sabme, any member of a people speaking the Sami language and inhabiting ….. and adjacent areas of northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, as well as the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They belong to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family. Almost all Sami are now bilingual, and many no longer even speak their native language. In the late 20th century there were from 30,000 to 40,000 Sami in Norway and about 20,000 in Sweden, 6,000 in Finland, and 2,000 in Russia.
The Sami are the descendants of nomadic peoples who had inhabited northern Scandinavia for thousands of years. When the Finns entered Finland, beginning about ad 100, Sami settlements were probably dispersed over the whole of that country; today they are confined to its northern extremity. In Sweden and Norway they have similarly been pushed north. The origin of the Sami is obscure; some scholars include them among the Paleo-Siberian peoples; others maintain that they were alpine and came from central Europe.Continue reading HERE.
The Sami vs. Outsiders
By Káre (Kimmi Woodard)
According to historians, the proto-Sami were said to have inhabited most of Scandinavia and Northwest Russia. We first hear of them in the year 98 AD from the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Germania. At that time, they were called “Fenni.” Tacitus described them as a primitive hunting tribe who roamed the forests near Germany. In the second century A.D, Ptolemy of Alexandria spoke of a tribe in Scandinavia called the “Phinnoi.” And then in 555 AD the Greek historian Procopius in describing a war between the Romans and the Goths referred to a people called the “Skridfinns” who inhabited Scandinavia. And then once again in 750 AD Paulus Diaconus mentions a people called the “Skridfinns” who kept animals resembling deer. This name then spread throughout Scandinavia, to the Finns, the Russians and later to the Germans, Hungarians, Estonians and other groups. Today, the Sami prefer the name Sami, and their land is called Sapmi.
Viking Age Trade:
In the Viking Age there was a tremendous amount of trade (called the Finn Trade) along the coast of the Gulf of Finland and Bothnia. This area brought seasonal visits from Finns, Russians, and Scandinavian merchants, which eventually attracted the attention of the emerging nation states. It was during this early period that the Finns colonized the southwest corner of Finland. And in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, there was also emigration into Sweden. As the Swedes, Finns and Norwegians pushed northward, Sapmi steadily decreased in size. In this early period we learn that the Sami merchants first traded with the Vikings, and later they traded with the travelers from northern Europe. According to the article “Important Years in Same History,” because of this early cultural contact, the Sami people advanced from a Stone Age society to a society that eventually developed its own monetary system; their currency was named tjoervie. The cultural contact not only benefited the Sami but other groups as well. The contact was often mutually beneficial. For example, it was quite common during this early period for different cultures to borrow words from one another. The Sami language, for instance, has hundreds of loanwords of Scandinavian or Germanic origin, as well as many from Finnish. Similarly, the Scandinavians and Finns have many words from each other.Continue reading HERE.
Ravens are perhaps the most common bird symbol in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. They assume a variety of roles, ranging from messengers of deities and sages to oracles and tricksters. They play a central part in many creation myths and are typically associated with the supernatural realms lying beyond the ordinary experience. What is so lurid about these black-feathered creatures and why does the sight of them send a wave of shivers down one’s spine? Studying the folklore of different cultures may unravel the motives underlying the superstitious beliefs and religious faiths.
In most North European mythologies birds such as ravens, vultures and others feeding on carrion—the flesh of the dead—commonly pass as symbols of war, death, and misfortune. Celtic and Irish goddesses were believed to appear in the form of a crow or a raven, gathering over the battlefields, where they would feed on the flesh of the fallen warriors. Also, seeing a raven or a crow before going into a battle gave a sense of foreboding and meant that the army would be defeated. When the giant Bran, king of Britain in Welsh mythology, was mortally wounded while warring against the Irish, he commanded his followers to behead him and carry his head to the Tower of London for his burial and as a sign of protection of Britain. A popular superstition arose declaring that if the ravens ever fled the Tower of London, the monarchy would fall. As long as they nested there, Britain would never be successfully invaded. In medieval times, these pagan legends resulted in demonetization of crows and ravens, which were consequently depicted as familiars of witches.
However, the raven as a symbol, also have a positive interpretation. The omniscient god Odin, one of the chief gods in Norse mythology, had a pair ravens called Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Mind) perching on his shoulders. Each daybreak they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody, even the dead. By sunrise, they would come back to whisper their master what they had seen and learned. Since they embodied Odin’s mind and thoughts, they symbolized his ability to see into the future. The book also makes a mention of an early Norse poem Hrafnagaldur Óðins (Odin’s Raven Chant), in which Odin sends the ravens to the Underworld to investigate the disappearance of the lost goddess Idunn. Sometimes Odin himself would turn into a raven.
In North American folklore ravens are the creators of the world. Details of the creation tale differ, but essentially “the Raven”—a creature with the human body and raven’s beak—is believed to have made the world. He gave light to people, taught them to take care of themselves, make clothes, canoes and houses. He also brought vegetation, animals, and other benefits for the human kind. Much like the biblical story of Noah, he is said to have taken animals two by two on a big raft in order to save them from a massive flood. After all, he had done for the humans, he wished to marry a woman in turn, but her family refused to let her go. As a revenge, the myth says, the Raven created mosquitoes from crushed leaves to pester the humans forever.
Learn more about the raven in folklore, myths and spiritual meaning below.
Finnish mythology dates its animistic and shamanistic beliefs of nature spirits to 3,000+ years ago. The objects of nature (sky, sun, moon and stars) are all considered distinct entities and deities. The earliest written accounts are from Bishop Mikael Agricola (1551), Gabriel Mexenius (1733), Daniel Juslenius (1745), Zacharias Topelius (1822), and then later Elias Lönnrot (1849) in the Kalevala.
Finnish mythology is from the close geographic region as the Norse pantheon (Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark) yet is distinctly different. Where the Norse mythology influences are Germanic and Indo-European, the Finnish mythology stems from eastern Finno-Ugric languages. Interestingly, the Finnish legends go back so far they don’t even mention Swedes, Germans or Russians which is one of the reasons the poems are thought to be at least 3,000 years old. They may have originated during the time before the Finnish people separated from the Hungarians.
From Runo 9, The Healing Of Väinämöinen
“I myself know iron’s birth,
I can say the start of steel:
Air’s the first one of the mothers,
Water, oldest of the brothers,
Iron, youngest of the brothers,
Fire, the brother in the middle.”
The land of Finland and its climate are reflected in the poetry and folklore of the myths. Finland is a places of mountains and marshes with lakes, rivers, seas and islands that often figure in the stories. The climate is cold and winter lasts a minimum of seven months. It is not surprising that their more prominent god controls snow, ice and hail. Due to the long winters, there is more focus in the myths on hunting, fish and herds of cattle rather than agriculture or fields, especially compared to other religions. The mythical beings focus on nature and not the realms of human emotion; there is no specific attention paid to wisdom, justice or law and even love is given to the realm of a forest demon.
Painting credit:The black swan of Tuonela, the realm of the dead in Finnish folk mythology. Painting by nationalist painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
For many years I have been fascinated with the ancient history and culture of Mongolia, specifically regarding the great Genghis Khan and what he created. Along my reading and watching documentaries about Khan I came across the native religion of Mongolia and the Asian Steppe known as Tengriism. Khan himself was a Tengrist. It was the major belief of the Xiongnu, Xianbei, Turkic, Bulgar, Mongolian, Hunnic, and Altaic peoples before the vast majority accepted Buddhism, Islam, or Lamaism. Primarily it revolves around the “Sky God”, known as Tengri. Tengri embodies the “celestial sky” who is timeless and infinite. However Tengriism is far deeper in its complexities and is in no way monotheist. In fact there are many other deities, spirits and other creatures in Tengriism. One of the most beautiful things about Tengriism is how openly welcome the people of this native faith are regarding other native faiths (Paganism/Heathism).
Another observation of mine are some striking similarities I noticed between Tengriism and Norse Paganism such as the complexities of their Gods and Goddesses as well as the absolute passion they have for their traditions, kinship and rituals. A dear friend of mine who is a Völva in Iceland goes to a large international festival every year where representatives of native religions from around the world are invited to and as she has shown me in photos, the Norse Pagans are always mingling with the Tengrists from Mongolia. To go even deeper into my own resonance with Tengriism and Mongolia itself, I discovered going way back through my own bloodline someone at some point had relations with someone native to Mongolia.
I even went so far as to make a personal wall altar dedicated to Tengriism and its Gods and Goddesses which you can see lower down in this post.
The Turkic/Tengri (Mongolian) Gods and Goddesses
Major Gods and Goddesses
Gok Tengri – God of Sky. Creator of everything. Tengri was the main god of the Turkic pantheon, controlling the celestial sphere. And this god is Mongolia’s traditional god.
Kayra (or Kaira) – Supreme God of universe. He is the Spirit of God and creator god in Turkic mythology. Son of the sky deity (Gok Tengri).
Erlik or Erklik-Erklikhan – God of the dead and of the underworld. One of the original gods in the pantheon, he kept his existence in Tengriism, as the evil deity (Like in Zoroastrianism).
Ulgan (or Ulgen) – God of benevolence. Son of Kaira. He is a Turkic and Mongolian creator-deity.
Mergen – God of wisdom. Son of Kaira. He is a Turkic deity of abundance and knowledge.
Kyzaghan – War god of the European Huns. The first Turks did not have a war god. Kyzaghan is the son of Kayra and the brother of Ulgan.
Umay or Umai – Goddess of fertility. She is the goddess of virginity and as such related to women, mothers and children.
Kubai – Goddess of birth and children. She protects women who give birth. She gives the children souls.
Koyash or Kuyash – Sun God. Koyash is the son of Gok Tengri “Sky God” and the Earth Goddess.
Ak Ana – Goddess of creation. Ak Ana, is the primordial creator-goddess of Turkic people. She is also known as the goddess of the water.
Ay Ata – Moon God. According to the mythology, he is a moon god and he have been living in sixth floor of the sky with Gun Ana.Gun Ana – Sun Goddess. She is the common Turkic solar deity, treated as a goddess in the Kazakh and Kyrgyz mythologies.
Yel Ana – Goddess of winds. In Hungarian folklore she is referred to as the “queen of wind” too.
Yel Ata – God of winds. In Hungarian folklore he is also referred to as the “king of wind”.
Burkut – Eagle God. The eagle god Burkut symbolizes the sun and power.
Öd Tengri or Öd-Ögöd – God of time. İs seen as the impersonation of time in Turkic mythology. Generally seen with the horse of time and Ödlek.
Boz Tengri – God mostly seen as the god of the ground and steppes.
Aisyt – Goddess of beauty. She is also the mother goddess of the Yakut people from Siberia.
Su Ana – Goddess of water. Su Ana is said to appear as a naked young woman with a fairy-like face.
Su Ata – God of water. He appears as an old man with a frog-like face, greenish beard, with his body covered in algae and muck.
Od Ana – Goddess of fire. Also referred to as goddess of marriage. In Mongolian folklore she is referred to as the “queen of fire”.
Od Ata – God of fire. In Mongolian folklore he is referred to as the Od Khan “king of fire”. He is a fire spirit in the shamanistic traditions of Mongolia.
Yer Tanry – Earth Goddess / God. As a fertility goddess, she was recognized as the giver of crops and abundance.
Etugen – Earth Goddess. Her name originates from Ötüken, the holy mountain of the earth and fertility goddess of the ancient Turks.
Hurmuz or Kurmez – God of souls. Also he is a god in Mongolian mythology and shamanism, described as the chief of the 55 gods.
Jaiyk – God of rivers. He is a god in Turkic pantheon, previously known as Dayık in Altai mythology. He lives at the junction of 17 rivers.
Alaz – God of fire in Turkic mythology. Also known as Alas-Batyr or sometimes Alaz Khan.
Baianai – Hunting Goddess. She is also the Yakut goddess of forests and joy.
Other Gods and Goddesses
Adaghan – Mountain God. He protects the mountains and the creatures that live there. His name means sacrifice acceptor.
Akbugha – God of medicine. He is the god of health and healing in ancient Turkic tradition. He has a white serpent.
Shalyk – Hunting God. He was the Turkic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness and protector of forests.
Inehsit – Goddess of childbirth and labour pains. She was the divine helper of women in labour has an obvious origin in the human midwife.
Qovaq – God of the sky. He brings up a new sun every day; for that reason, he is hunted by Yelbehen to stop her and cause total darkness.
Uren – Goddess of the harvest. She presided over grains and the fertility of the earth.
Zarlık – Goddess of Judgement. She was the goddess of justice, fair judgements and the rights.
Zada – Wind God. He is the ruler of the winds, and owner of Yada Tashy (Wind Stone).
Ukulan – Water God. He is the chief of the rivers, springs, streams and fountains.
Izıh – God of wild animals. He is especially the god of freed animals.
Chokqu – Goddess of good wishes. She fulfills wishes.
Talai or Dalai – God of Oceans. He was the personification of the World Ocean, an enormous river encircling the world.
Äbädä – Spirit of forest. It is an innocent spirit in Tatar mythology, that looks like an old woman. Äbädä also is represented in mythologies of Siberian peoples. He protects the birds, trees, and animals of the forest.
Al Basty – Female daemon spirit. She is an ancient female spirit, the personification of guilt, found in folklore throughout the Caucasus mountains, with origins going as far back as Sumerian mythology.
Archura – Forest monster. Archura usually appears as a man, but he is able to change his size from that of a blade of grass to a very tall tree. He protects the animals and birds in the forest.
Ardow – Spirit of water. Ardows are spirits of human souls that died drowning, residing in the element of their own demise. They are responsible for sucking people into swamps and lakes as well as killing the animals standing near the still waters.
Azmych – Road spirit. He is an evil-spirit that causes disorientation and leads a person aimlessly around and round. The term also refers to lose one’s way.
Basty – Spirit of nightmares. Basty is best known for its shapeshifting abilities and it is an evil spirit or goblin in Turkic folklore which rides on people’s chests while they sleep, bringing on bad dreams (or “nightmares”).
Bichura – A household spirit in Tatar / Turkic folklore. Traditionally, every house is said to have a Bichura. It has also been said that Bichura can take on the appearance of cats or dogs. It wears red dresses.
Cadı – A witch or a woman who practices witchcraft. The stereotypical Cadı is commonly portrayed as wicked old woman who has wrinkled skin, pimples, and pointy hats. They also have warts on their noses and sometimes long claw-like fingernails.
Chak – A folk devil. He was specifically busy corrupting peasants. While sometimes shown in any rustic setting, he was usually pictured standing on or near a willow tree at the edge of a swamp.
Chesma iyesi – cat-shaped spirit that lives in wells or fountains and tempts youths to drowning.
Çor – A jinn-like creature, responsible for mental disorders.
Erbörü – A creature like Werewolf. It is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction (e.g. via a bite or scratch from another werewolf).
Erbüke – A creature like Shahmaran. An Erbüke is often depicted as a wise and benign man with the features of a man above the waist and those of a serpent below the waist. He is held to be king of the snakes.
Hortdan or Hortlak – A monster, who goes out from graves. The Hortdans are creatures of Azerbaijanese mythology, as a representation of evil spirits, the spirits of the dead.
Irshi – A fairy-like spirit. She is generally described as a beautiful girl) appearance and having magical powers. Although they are often depicted as young, sometimes winged, tall, radiant, angelic spirits.İye – A spirit assigned to a specific element, animal, lineage or place.
Karakoncolos – A malevolent creature. Bogeyman. According to Ottoman Turkish myths, they appear on the first ten days of ‘the dreadful cold’, when they stand on murky corners, and ask seemingly ordinary questions to the passers-by.
Kormos – ghost of the deceased
Khyrtyq – A female swamp demon. In Turkic mythology she is known for being malicious and dangerous. She was said to live in thickets near rivers, streams and lakes.
Mhachkay – Akin of vampire. It is a creature a bit similar to vampire in Turkic (and especially Tatar) folklore. People who were born with two hearts and two souls were believed to be Mhachkay.
Neme – A spiritual being. They are mythical creatures originated in Turkic folklore. Nemes are elves very similar to other ones but they keep watch over forests, mountains, caves and underground.
Orek – Animated corpse like zombie. In Turkic folklore it is an animated corpse brought back to life by mystical means such as witchcraft.
Shurala – Forest daemon. According to legends, Şüräle lives in forests. He has long fingers, a horn on its forehead, and a woolly body. He lures victims to a thicket and tickles them to death.
Susulu – Mermaid in Turkic mythologies. She is a legendary aquatic creature with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. She is the daughter of the Sea King.
Ubir – A monster like vampire. It is a mythological or folkloric being in Turkic mythology who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether it is undead person or being.
Uylak – A witch or spirit, that infested with people. An Uylak can turn into any animal or any object. He is capable of shapeshifting into a horse, a moth, or a wolf. He is also resistant to Archura’s enchantments.
Yarbogha – A creature like bull. Yarboghas are half-man, half bull; having the torso of a man extending where the neck of a bull should be. They were said to be wild, savage, and lustful.
Yaryond – A creature like Centaurus. The centaurs are half-man, half horse; having the torso of a man extending where the neck of a horse should be. They were said to be wild, savage, and lustful.
Yuxa – Queen of serpents. According to popular beliefs, every 100-year-old snake is transformed into Yuxa. In fairy tales, Yuxa is described as a beautiful damsel who would marry men in order to beget offspring.
Zilant – Serpent-like dragon. Since 1730, it has been the official symbol of Kazan. This winged snake is mentioned in legends about the foundation of Kazan. Zilant should be distinguished from Aq Yılan (White Snake), which is the king of snakes.