Creatures of folklore from indigenous cultures around thew world is one of my many fascinations. From the Rougarou of Cajun folklore to the Selkies of Irish folklore and many in-between. However I must say my absolute favorite has to be the Akhlut of Inuit folklore and for two specific reasons which its makeup of being a hybrid of a Wolf and Orca. I briefly touched on the Akhlut in my Orca blog post but today I wanted to go into more detail on this fierce creature who hunts the Arctic regions of Canada and Greenland.
In Inuit folklore, the kăk-whăn’-û-ghăt kǐg-û-lu’-nǐk or akh’lut is anorca-like composite animal that takes the form of a wolf when on land, and is sometimes depicted as a wolf-orca hybrid.
In 1900, the American naturalist Edward William Nelson described the kăk-whăn’-û-ghăt kǐg-û-lu’-nǐk among a number of other mythical and composite animals:
“It is described as being similar in form to the killer whale and is credited with the power of changing at will to a wolf; after roaming about over the land it may return to the sea and again become a whale. While in the wolf form it is known by the above name, and the Eskimo say they know that this change takes place as they have seen wolf tracks leading to the edge of the sea ice and ending at the water, or beginning at the edge of the water and leading to the shore. … These animals are said to be very fierce and to kill men.”
– Edward William Nelson
Nelson attributed stories of the creature to the orca (akh’lut), and explained wolf tracks appearing to lead into the sea as the result of ice breaking away from the edge. He identifies other composite animals among Inuit folklore, including a white whale that can transform into a reindeer, and says that belief in the kăk-whăn’-û-ghăt kǐg-û-lu’-nǐk is prevalent among Inuit along the shore of theBering Sea.SOURCE
The Akhlut is from Inuit mythology and is considered a rather vicious beast. As you can see, it has orca traits as well as four legs. This is because this aggressive spirit takes the form of an orca, but transforms into a wolf in order to hunt on land. You can tell one has been around when you find wolf tracks leading to or from the icy water. This is pretty much it as far as physical traits since it is fairly elusive. There are times where it is described as a hybrid of a wolf and orca like above.
There are many origin myths for the Akhlut, but this is the one I found most often. A man became obsessed with the sea and wanted to stay there. It reached the point where the people of his village could not recognize him, so they made him leave. He ‘hungered for revenge’ and joined a pack of wolves to survive. He may have worked with the wolves to attack villagers, but that wasn’t consistent. Anyway, his love of the ocean returned after he fed and he dove in to transform into an orca. Now, he remains in that form, but returns to land and becomes a wolf whenever he is ‘hungry for revenge’. It does appear that this eventually evolved into hungry for food over time.SOURCE
What Always comes back into these stories though, is that there are footprints of a wolf to be found going to, or from the ocean, without any signs of the wolf leaving, or going to the ocean. There are, however, some simple explanations for this. First of all, the chunk of ice the arctic wolf was coming from/ going to, simply broke off. Either with the wolf still on it, or with the wolf already having left, but a few meters away. The second solution is somewhat more mysterious, and still some kind of myth. It says that sometimes, when alder arctic wolves are being rejected by a pack, they would commit suicide by jumping in the cold, icy water and drown themselves. This is rather odd, however, because survival instinct should prevent them from doing that, because it’s very strong with animals. The third explanation is that the wolf jumped into the water, swam a little bit, and came onto shore a few meters away. However, this would mean that the wolf would need a reason to swim, because it’s not really nice to swim at the north pole, and it can be rather dangerous, so this theory also has his flaws. SOURCE
So as you can see there is little known about this fearsome creature of the Arctic but even with what is known the Akhlut is not only my favorite creature of folklore but actually one that really resonates me on a personal and spiritual level especially due to the origin story of the Akhlut. In the future I do plan on featuring other creatures of Inuit folklore along with creatures of folklore from around the world.
If you have followed my blog over the past two years you will know how fascinated I am by ancient culture, mythology, folklore and indigenous traditions. Some I have shared are very well known and some not so much. Today I want to dive into a place and people that unfortunately most are not aware of have a rich history regarding their spiritual beliefs that is on a small scale as far as I have researched still exists. That place is the land of Chechnya and its people. So let’s get into it and I hope you enjoy what I am about to share with you.
The Chechens (/ˈtʃɛtʃɛnz, tʃəˈtʃɛnz/; Chechen: Нохчий, Noxçiy, Old Chechen: Нахчой, Naxçoy), historically also known as Kisti and Durdzuks, are a NortheastCaucasianethnic group of the Nakh peoples native to the North Caucasus. They are the largest ethnic group of the North Caucasus and refer to themselves as Nokhchiy; singular Nokhchi, Nokhcho, Nakhchuo or Nakhtche). The vast majority of Chechens today are Muslims and live in Chechnya, a republic ofRussia. The North Caucasus has been invaded numerous times throughout history. Its isolated terrain and the strategic value outsiders have placed on the areas settled by Chechens has contributed much to the Chechen communityethos and helped shape its national character. Chechen society has traditionally beenegalitarian and organized around many autonomous local clans, calledteips.
A teip (also taip, teyp; Nakh[ˈtajpə]: family, kin, clan, tribe) is a Chechen and Ingush tribalorganization or clan, self-identified through descent from a common ancestor or geographic location. It is a sub-unit of the tukkhum and shahar. There are about 150 Chechen and 120 Ingush teips. Teips played an important role in the socioeconomic life of the Chechen and Ingush peoples before and during the Middle Ages, and continue to be an important cultural part to this day. Teips being sub-units of tukkhums, members of the same teip are traditionally thought to descend from a common ancestor, and thus are considered distant blood relatives. Teip names were often derived from an ancestral founder. As is also true of many other North Caucasian peoples, traditionally Chechen and Ingush men were expected to know the names and places of origin of ancestors on their father’s side, going back many generations, with the most common number being considered as 7. Many women also memorized this information, and keener individuals can often recite their maternal ancestral line as well. The memorization of the information serves as a way to impute clan loyalty to younger generations. Amongpeoples of the Caucasus, traditionally, large scale land disputes could sometimes be solved with the help of mutual knowledge of whose ancestors resided where and when.
The Chechens, who call themselves noxchii (singular noxchi or noxchuo ) and their land Noxchiin moxk (“Chechen land”), are the largest indigenous nationality of the North Caucasus. They speak a language of the Nakh-Daghestanian, or East Caucasian language family that is native to the Caucasus, and have lived in or near their present locations for millennia. Chechnya is a small territory of about 5,000 sq. mi. (13,000 sq. km.) corresponding to about 85 percent of the historical Chechen lands (the rest is in today’s Daghestan), with some non-Chechen steppe land added in the north. The lower North Caucasus foothills and adjacent plain including the capital city of Grozny (Soelzha-ghaala “Sunzha City” in Chechen, a name still much in use despite its official renaming to Djohar in 1996) are the most densely populated part of Chechnya. The Chechens numbered just over a million in mid-2000 according to a Danish Refugee Council census. Somewhat over half of the world’s Chechens live in Chechnya; most of the others are scattered throughout Russia, several tens of thousands live in Kazakhstan and nearby, and a few tens of thousands in Jordan, Turkey, and Syria.Continue reading HERE.
The Mythology and Folklore
Although the Vainak peoples (Chechens and Ingush) of the North Caucasus were Islamized relatively late in the early modern period, Amjad Khaimuka (2005) explores their pre-Islamic religion and mythology, including traces of ancestor worship. I propose to rebuild some of the elements. and a funeral cult. The Nak, like many other peoples of the North Caucasus, such as the Circassians and Ossetians, practiced tree worship and believed that trees were the abode of spirits. The Vainak have developed many rituals for offering specific types of wood. The pear tree held a special place in Vainakh beliefs.
Jaimoukha (2005), page 252, contains a list of reconstructed ‘Vainak gods’. Dar (Chechen), Dar (Ingush) or Dara – Supreme God. Corresponds to the Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter, the Germanic Wodan, and the Circassian Teshwe. Gal-Yerdi or Gela – Sun god and patron of cattle breeders. Worship services were held on Nak New Year’s Day, with metal spheres, candles, and sometimes animal sacrifices. Hera – God of Darkness. Seela or Sela – God of stars, thunder and lightning. Sera is often portrayed as an evil and cruel deity in Vainak mythology. His skeins (loose bags made of animal skins) contained “nights” (stars, lightning, thunder). He lives on top of Mount Kazbek in a fiery chariot. It was he who chained Puharmat to the mountain for stealing fire, and for this reason it was forbidden to carry embers and ashes on Wednesdays in his month in the old Vainakh calendar. During the period of Christianization in Chechnya and Ingushetia, he (like Vatshira in Ossetia and Ilya Muromiets in Russia) was identified with Elijah the Prophet and maintained his status. He also, like the Greek Zeus, was unable to control his mortal lust for women (to the dismay of his wife Hulki), and as a result of his episode with a mortal maiden, his daughter, the goddess Sera Sata was born. Sata or Sera Sata – According to various versions, Sheila’s wife or daughter. Goddess of craftsmanship, especially female craftsmanship, equivalent to Satanaya in the Northwest Caucasus. Her face is described as beautiful and shining like the sun. She guides Pukarmat to the top of Mount Kazbek and helps him steal Serra Fire for Earth’s inhabitants. Maetsill – God of agriculture and harvests, and protector of the weak. Ishtar-Deela – Lord of life and death, ruler of the underworld (“Deeli-Malkhi”), responsible for punishing the wicked. Molyz-Yerdi – War god who brought victory to Vaynak. Elta – God of hunting and animals, and of the harvest before Maethir took over the role. He was blinded in one eye due to his father Dheera’s disobedience. Amgali (-Yerdi) – minor deity. Taamash(-Yerdi) – (“Lord of Wonders”) Lord of Destiny. It’s usually small, but when it gets angry, it becomes huge. Tusholi – Goddess of fertility, protector of those greater than her father, Deela. She is believed to live in the sacred Gullane Am Lake. According to scholars, Tushori was the primary deity in early beliefs. People petitioned her for healthy offspring, a bountiful harvest, and a prosperous herd of cattle. In later times, Tushori became an object of worship mainly for childless women. She had a holy day, Tushori Day, on which women brought offerings such as red deer horns, bullets, and candles to the sanctuary of Mount Dheerateh (except for priests and priests). could only be entered with explicit permission). (It was forbidden to cut down trees.) Her day is now considered “Children’s and Women’s Day”. The hoopoe, known as the ‘chicken of Tushori’, was considered ‘her’ bird and could not be hunted except with the permission of the high priest and strictly for medical purposes. Dartsa-Naana (“Mother of Blizzards”) – Goddess of blizzards and avalanches. She lives on the snowy summit of Mount Kazbek, drawing a magical circle around it, which no mortal of any sense dares to cross. If any would dare to do so, Datha Nana would cast them into the abyss and let deadly snow roll upon them in her mountain home. Mok Nana – Goddess of the wind. Seelasat – (“Oriole”) Guardian of the Virgin (probably identical to Sata / Sela Sata, see above). Meler Yerdi – God of plants and cereal drinks. Aira – Guardian of the Eternal Timeline. Mozh – The evil sister of the Sun and Moon. Shrikes have eaten all their other relatives in the sky and are now in constant pursuit of their celestial brethren. A rare eclipse occurs when she catches up with them and takes them prisoner. Mr. Moz agrees to release Sun and Moon only at the request of his innocent eldest daughter. Bolam-Deela – Not much is known about him/her. He/she may or may not have been equal to Dheera Mark. Khagya-Yerdi or Maetzkhali – Lord of the Rock. Mattir-Deela – Another lesser-known god. P’eerska – (Friday) Keeper of Time.SOURCE
When meeting the Chechen mythology and Chechen pagan cults, their connection with the culture of Asia and Europe is clearly traced. This is explained by the fact that since the third century AD, the Caucasus has been the intersection of the routes of communication of many Eastern and European civilizations. Thus, in the language, cults and mythology of the Chechen Republic, in its everyday traditions, up to the present day, the features of the culture of the peoples of Asia, the Mediterranean and Europe are preserved. The same applies to the Chechen theater, music and dance culture of Chechnya. Due to the constant military actions on the territory of the Chechen Republic over many centuries, a significant part of the cultural heritage of the people was irretrievably lost. But the traditions turned out to be alive thanks to the Chechen people, who retained their cultural and ethnic identity.
The number of genres of modern Chechen folklore is impressive: it is the traditional Nart heroic epic and associated mythology, various fairy tales, legends, tales and legends, religious, children’s and ritual folklore, plays, songs and poems of the so-called tyullik and Zhukhurgov. Chechen mythology is not so rich, but it is interesting with relics of pastoral and agricultural cults and totemic beliefs, and the myth “How the sun, moon and stars happened” is just a fundamental work of cosmogony and a significant historical monument of folk culture.
The heroic epic of Chechnya is in many ways similar to that of the Balkars, Ossetians, Circassians and Karachais – both in form and content. Basically, it has three epic groups: legends about giants (cyclops, giants with two eyes and giants – the founders of clans), works about national heroes and traditions – legends that are not associated with the Nart epic, but have a heroic-epic typology. Here is a translation of an excerpt from a legend typical of the second epic group of works:
“So only on the battle lined up both nations with the leaders, Troy sons rush, with chatter, with a cry, like birds: Creek is such a crane is distributed under the high sky If, having avoided both winter storms and endless rains, Screaming herds fly through the rapid flow of the Ocean, Swearing threatening and killing men undersized, pygmies, With terrible rage on whom from air heights attack.“
Chechen fairy tales are very similar to works of a similar genre of other peoples of the North Caucasus and Europe. The plot is a fairy tale magic, domestic, tales of animals, where good always triumphs over evil, and the main character usually comes out the winner from various difficult situations. SOURCE
The following is a list of Vainakh divinities — from “Amaga-erda”, the protector of lakes, to the “Votshabi”, the spirits which watch over herds of aurochs. This list was copied from Mariel Tsaroieva’s amazing Anciennes Croyances des Ingouches et des Tchétchènes (“Ancient Beliefs of the Ingush and the Chechens”, published in 2005), which I found in a remainders bookshop in Brussels. Ms Tsaroieva is of Ingush origin, and holds a PhD in History of Religion from the prestigious Institut National des Langues et Civilizations Orientales in Paris. A former teacher of romance linguistics at the state universities of Chechnya-Ingushetia and Kyrgyzstan, she has published many articles and books on folklore and “geolinguistics”, both in Russian and in French.
The list reads as follows:
The Gods of the World
“diala” — the god-father
“tusholi” — the goddess-mother
“kurkhars” or “tshugul” — the hairstyle of Ingush women
“tq’a” — the god of the universe
“nana latta” — mother earth
“h’al-erda” — the sky-god
“mago-erda” — the god of magic and of wisdom and knowledge
“eshtar” — the god of the afterlife
The Astral Divinities
“malkha” — the sun-god
“but’ ” — the moon-god
The Gods of Nature
“seli” — the god of (thunder-)storms and lightning
“dardza-nana” — the goddess of snowstorms
“mikha-nana” — the goddess of the winds
“khi-nana” — the goddess of rivers and springs
“amaga-erda” — the protector of lakes
“hagar-erda” or “hirga-erda” — the aurochs-god or the rock-god
“amgali-erda” and “saniba-erda” — the tribal gods
“kherkh-erda” — the god of fruit-trees (also protector of great trees, with the “naj-gantskhoi”, the spirits which protect “naj”, “oak trees”)
The Gods of Various Domains of Rural Life
“elta” — the god of hunting
“votshabi” — the spirits which protect herds of aurochs
The “Masters of the Woods” and their daughters or sisters, the “almas”
“tamij-erda” — the god of stock-breeding
“mat-tseli” — the god of agriculture and of justice and equality
“matir-diala” or “matar-diala” — the god of haymaking
“mats-khali” — the god of renewal (of crops)
“boalam-diala” — the god of plants (vegetation) and of travellers
The Gods of Social Life
“susan-diala” — the protector of women and of maternity (i.e. the protector of mothers)
“agoi” — the protector of girls
“orkhus” or “orkhush” — the god of fecundity and procreation
“dika-seli” — the god of goodness and kindness
“arda” — the god of boundaries (or of boundary-markers?) and of clan possessions
The Gods of Work and Handicrafts
“sela-sata” — the protector of handicrafts and know-how
“p’harmat” — the blacksmith-god
“malar-erda” — the god of intoxicating drinks (i.e. the god of alcohol)
“moloz” — the god of war
The Gods of Disease
“una-nana” — the goddess of contagious diseases
“higiz” or “hegiz” — the goddess of smallpox
Some Forgotten Gods of Antiquity
“ami” and “h’ur-ami” or “fur-ami” — perhaps the god of good tidings and the goddesses of the winds, respectively
“baini-seli” — the god of agriculture, perhaps, now replaced by “mat-tseli”; apparently related to the Georgian Mokheve (i.e. the inhabitants of Khevi, the valley of the Terek between the Djvari Pass and the Daryal Gorge)
“falkhan” — probably related to Mago-erda, the god of wisdom and knowledge
“suvsa” — probably the ancient goddess-mother
“sampai-tsuge” or “siampai-tsuoge” — probably the ancient god of trees or of forests; sometimes worshipped as the rain-god
I really enjoyed putting this post together and learned quite a lot regarding this subject and plan to look more into the traditions and folklore of the people of Chechnya. I found a real treasure trove of resources which I will include for those of you who want to learn more about the amazing folklore and mythology which originated from the ancient people of such a fascinating culture.
Being someone who really enjoys learning about ancient civilizations, culture and the people who lived through those times I truly find fascinating. Whether it is the Hittites who fought the ancient Egyptians, The “Sea People” of the Mediterranean or the Tartessians, they all had a hand in forging modern society. Today I want to share with you the still in many regards mysterious people of Scotland known as The Picts.
Origins of The Picts
By the fourth century AD, the predominant race in northern Scotland were the Picts, the name was coined by the Romans who referred to them as ‘Picti’ meaning ‘painted ones’, which referred to the Pictish custom of either tattooing their bodies or covering themselves with warpaint. The Irish referred to them as Cruithni, meaning “the people of the designs”. What they called themselves has gone unrecorded.
The Picts were descendants of the Iron Age people of northern Scotland, believed to have originated in Iberia as hunter-gatherers, they moved through lower Britain and entered Scotland around 7000BC. Recent DNA tests have proven the Picts were closely related to the Basques of northern Spain. The connections between northern Britain and Celtic Spain are supported by many myths and legends. The dolmens, standing stones and the trail of “cup and ring” designs carved on stones by the prehistoric people of Iberia make their way from Spain and Portugal and northern France to Ireland and Scotland and represent the earliest evidence of the movement of prehistoric man from Iberia to Britain.SOURCE
Who Were The Picts?
From the accounts of Britain made by the classical authors, we know that by the fourth century AD, the predominant people in northern Scotland were referred to as “Picts”.
Throughout history, these Picts have been shadowy, enigmatic figures.
From the outset, they were regarded as savage warriors but by the time the Norsemen were compiling their sagas and histories, the memory of the Picts had degenerated into a semi-mythical race of fairies.
Theories abound, although these days it is generally accepted that the Picts were not, as was once believed, a new race, but were simply the descendants of the indigenous Iron Age people of northern Scotland.
The cloud of uncertainty that surrounds the Picts is simply because they left no written records.
Because of this, we have no clear insight into how they lived, their beliefs or society. All we know of them is from second-hand anecdotal evidence, lifted from the various historical writers who recorded their own, possibly biased, impressions of the Pictish people.
The earliest surviving mention of the Picts dates from AD 297.
In a poem praising the Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus, the orator Eumenius wrote that the Britons were already accustomed to the semi-naked “Picti and Hiberni (Irish) as their enemies.“
From Emenius’ statement, we can see that the Picts were already a major thorn in the Roman Empire’s side. And they continued to be a problem for their neighbors – continually harassing them for centuries after the Roman legions abandoned Britain. But who were they?Continue reading HERE.
Conflict with the Romans
The Romans referred to Scotland as Caledonia, a name derived from the Pictish tribe Caledonii. By AD 80 the Romans had succeeded in subduing the tribes of Britons which occupied the area south of the Forth and Clyde, but those to the north proved harder to conquer.
The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus recorded ‘ …the Picts, divided into two tribes called Dicalydones and Verturiones. are roving at large and causing great devastation. In the early-600s, the Spanish bishop and encyclopaedist, Isidore of Seville wrote of them:-‘the Picts, whose name is taken from their bodies, because an artisan, with the tiny point of a pin and the juice squeezed from a native plant, tricks them out with scars to serve as identifying marks, and their nobility are distinguished by their tattooed limbs.’
Gnaeus Julius Agricola advanced to the River Tay, constructing a legionary fortress at Inchtuthil, north of Perth. The Picts, under the leadership of Calgacus (‘the Swordsman’), met the Romans under Julius Agricola, at the Battle of Mons Graupius in 84 A.D. when the Romans marched on their main granaries. Prior to this, the Picts had avoided open battle, preferring to carry out guerilla-style raids. Tacitus records a speech which he claims to have been made by Calgacus before the battle in which he describes the Romans as: “Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace. Continue reading HERE.
The Picts left no written records but instead their legacy comes down to us in the carved stones that can be found around Scotland. See our guide to the ten best placesto see Pictish and Celtic carvings in Scotland. Researchers continue to explore the meaning of the carvings found on Pictish stones, which often feature symbols, animals and people.
When the Angles of Bernicia overran the British kingdoms, one of which was the Anglian kingdom of Deira, they became the most powerful kingdom in Britain. Deira and Bernicia together were called Northumbria.
It is believed the Picts were probably a tributary to Northumbria until the reign of Brideimac Beli in 685 AD. The Anglicans suffered a severe defeat at the Battle of Dun Nectain that stopped their northward expansion. The Picts sent the Angles back south to Britain.
By the mid-9th century, Vikings had destroyed the kingdoms of Dal Riata and Northumbria, greatly diminished the power of the Kingdoms of Strathclyde and founded the Kingdom of York. During a major battle in 839 AD, the Vikings killed the King of Fortriu, Eogan man Oengusa.
Sometime in the 840s AD, Cinaed mac Alpin (Kenneth MacAlpin) became the king of the Picts. He united the Picts and the Scots, and together these tribes formed the new Kingdom of Scotland. At this time, they routed out the Vikings.SOURCE
What Happened to The Picts?
It is believed that, over several decades, the Picts merged with the Gaels. Pictland, also called Pictavia, gradually merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba, which eventually came to be called Scotland.
Alba expanded, absorbing the Brythonic kingdom of Strathclyde and Bernician Lothian. By the 11th century, historians believe the Pictish people and their identity had been subsumed into the “Scots” conglomeration of people.
During the Dark Ages, the Pictish language did not suddenly disappear, but a process of Gaelicisation (which may have begun generations earlier) was clearly underway during the reign of Kenneth MacAlpin. Eventually, the inhabitants of Alba became fully Gaelicised Scots, and the Pict identity was forgotten. Later in British Isles history, the idea of the Picts as a Celtic tribe was revived in myth and legend.SOURCE
Being someone who grew up and spent a great deal of my U.S. Coast Guard career in the Pacific Northwest I got to see a lot of the native coastal culture which had deep connections with a certain mammal of the seas. From art to ceremonies and more you will find the Orcas incorporated into them. I myself got to witness them in the wilds of the magnificent Salish Sea, which I will be discussing that sea later on here. But before I go on I need to just say that even though the Orca has the common name “Killer Whale” I must say it is a name I personally do not like using but it will be mentioned in sited articles during this post. Orcas are not even a Whale at all but the larges member of the Dolphin family (Delphinidae). Killers? Well yes they are magnificent predators but that is nature. I find Orcas to be so special in many ways and unfortunately they are an endangered species but the good news is measures are in place to not only help preserve them but to allow in hopes that their population grows and flourishes. So with that said let us dive into the world of the Orcas.
Get to know the Orca
Orcas, also known as killer whales, are among the world’s most easily recognized marine mammals. The largest member of the dolphin family, orcas are highly intelligent and social animals, spending their lives in groups or pods where they hunt together and share responsibility for raising young and taking care of the sick or injured.
Adult orcas have shiny black backs, white chests and patches of white above and behind their eyes. They have paddle-shaped pectoral fins and tall triangular dorsal fins. Their distinct coloring mean they are easy to identify and rarely confused with other dolphins or whales. Orcas vary in size depending on where they live. Adult males are larger than adult females, with males reaching 32 feet (10 meters) in length and females growing to 28 feet (8.5 meters).
Found in every ocean on the planet, orcas are likely the most widely distributed mammal in the world, next to humans. There are three distinct types of orcas recognized in the eastern North Pacific Ocean—transient, resident, and offshore. Residents live close to shore in large pods of about 10 to 20 individuals and feed primarily on fish. Offshore orcas are similar to residents, but are distinguished by their smaller overall size and rounded, nicked fins. Transient orcas live in smaller groups of about three to seven individuals and spend their lives out at sea where they prey on seals, sea lions, and other dolphins (which, strangely, are the same animals that resident orcas like to swim and play with). All three types of orca have genetic differences and do not mingle or interbreed.SOURCE
Orcas in popular culture
Many ancient civilizations knew them well. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder, who died in AD 79, describe them as huge animals enemies of the whales. Historically, for the native peoples of North America sighting of killer whales is common, so they developed an interesting mythology about them. For example, in the beliefs of the Kwakiutl and Nuu-chah-nulth orcas acquire a relevant meaning for hosting the souls of their chiefs who have died.
Many ancient cultures show great respect for killer whales and are present in their culture and myths. This concept is a bit different in the actual cultures, as they are tagged as fierce whales and highly dangerous creatures. Although for a long time, they had a bad reputation in recent times this has been changing.
The Inuit people today know a lot about orcas. They can identify them and know what they eat, but this is because they live close to them. By contrast, many of today’s Western societies acquire this knowledge through films, literature and television.SOURCE
Ten facts about orcas (killer whales)
Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family.
A male orca can be nearly 33 feet (10 meters) in length and weigh around 22,000 pounds (10,000kg).
Orcas are highly intelligent and able to coordinate hunting tactics.
Female orcas are thought to live to 80 years of age or more.
The dorsal fin of a male orca is up to 6 feet (2 meters) tall.
Orcas are extremely fast swimmers and have been recorded at speeds of up to 33.5 mph (54 kph).
A wild orca pod can cover over 99 miles (160 kilometers) a day, foraging and socializing.
They were give the name “killer whale” by ancient sailors who saw them preying on large whales.
Orcas are still hunted in some countries, such as Greenland.
Different kinds of orcas are called “ecotypes”. They hunt specific prey and live in different parts of the world.SOURCE
Folklore and Native Culture
The Woman Stolen by Killer Whales (Tahltan)
A man was out fishing and drying halibut, and his wife helped him.
One day he felt something very heavy on his hook and could not pull it up. He tied the line to the thwart of the canoe and paddled ashore. With much trouble he managed to land the fish on the beach.
He called on his wife to kill it quickly, and she dispatched it with her knife. She cut it up and hung it up to dry, as is done with halibut. They did not know what kind of a fish it was. It was quite strange to them, but they thought it might be good food. When the woman had finished her work, she went to the edge of the water to wash her hands.
As soon as she put her hands into the water, something seized them and pulled her underneath the sea. She had been taken by the Killer-Whales who had come to have revenge on the man for killing their friend. Continue reading HERE.
In Inuit folklore the Akhlut is an orca spirit that takes the form of a gigantic wolf or a wolf-orca hybrid when on land.
It is a vicious, dangerous beast that ventured onto land in order to hunt humans and other animals. Its tracks can be recognized because they are wolf tracks that lead to and from the ocean, indicating that the creature is waiting for prey under the water nearby.
Often, dogs seen walking to the ocean or into it are considered one of these malevolent beasts. Little is known of this spirit other than that can transform between and orca and/or wolf.SOURCE
Orcas in Haida Culture
The Haida myths and legends about killer whales tells how they are supernatural beings and how they basically ruled the underworld. The underworld in Haida culture refers to the ocean and everything in it. The killer whales had their own villages equivalent to the Haida villages on the surface with longhouses lined up with each other. The stories the Haida have about killer whales are endless, many of them end up being about a killer whale that stole a woman from the shore because he wanted to bring her back to his village and marry her.
There are also stories about the origins of killer whales and stories of their strength. Some say killer whales descended from coastal wolves. There was a story about a man with two wolf pups who, as they grew bigger and bigger, would swim out to sea to hunt whales. They would bring whales back for dinner everyday until one day a heavy fog came in and the wolves became lost at sea, eventually turning into killer whales.
There’s another story about how the supernatural beings were holding a contest. The island of Haida Gwaii was sinking, and to see who would be given the job of holding it up, they needed to see who the strongest. In this contest was a boy who had the ability to wear the skin of others. The contest was to see who can lay on a bed of hot coals the longest, the boy knowing the killer whales skin was the toughest, decided to cheat he took the killer whales skin and wore it when the supernatural beings weren’t looking, he won the contest. It is said he now holds up Haida Gwaii on a totem with his little pet ermine, when there is an earthquake on Haida Gwaii it is said to be the ermine running up and down the pole. Continue reading HERE.
Orca Symbolism in Indigenous Cultures of the Pacific Northwest
The Orca, also known as the Killer Whale or Blackfish, possesses a profound significance in the rich tapestry of mythology and folklore of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America.
Amongst many tribes in the region, such as the Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Kwakiutl, the Orca is revered as a clan animal and serves as a cherished clan crest. Its powerful presence is an enduring symbol of the deep-rooted cultural traditions and profound connection to the natural world that have shaped the identity of these communities for generations.
The Orca is a venerated medicine animal, embodying an enduring symbol of strength and power. In addition, the Orca is regarded as a cherished protector of humanity among the Tlingit people. Despite their status as skilled whale hunters, the Tlingit do not hunt the Orca, acknowledging its esteemed role as a guardian of their communities.
For the Kwakiutl tribes, the Orca held an even more poignant significance – it was believed that upon the death of a seafarer, their soul would transform into an Orca, much like forest hunters were said to become wolves. This enduring belief is a testament to the deep spiritual connection that has long existed between humans and these majestic creatures of the sea.
To catch a glimpse of an Orca off the coast is to bear witness to a poignant and meaningful omen. In some indigenous cultures, the Orca is revered as a messenger, a spiritual entity transcending the physical realm to offer guidance and wisdom to those still bound to this mortal plane. To some, the sighting of an Orca may even signify a departed chief or tribe member reaching out from beyond the veil to communicate with and protect their loved ones still walking the earth. Continue reading HERE.
Further Symbolism and Meaning of the Orca
Shamans suggest the Orca or Killer Whale knows the secrets to exquisite romance, long life, peaceful interactions, community cooperation, and perhaps a well-protected family. The Orca is a Whale and the largest member of the Oceanic Dolphin family, so they have many common characteristics, including mischief, curiosity, and intellect. The Orca brain is sophisticated, seeing the aquatic beast is the second largest among Sea Creatures.
Orcas is diligent when working within their pod, raising their calves with the meticulous care. The Orca pods are interdependent and team-oriented. Orcas travel together, hunt together, and play together. Life within the pod is social and friendly, which is one message the creature delivers to humankind: The importance of learning how to live happily together so that everyone benefits.
Orcas have an intimate connection with the Feminine principal of the Universe. They are matrilineal. A female leads each pod, teaching the young everything they need to know for survival. Should a mother in the pod pass away, the sister, grandmother, or next female in line steps into the role; this gives Orca various Yin energetic signatures including nurturing, education, bonding, comfort, facilitation, and endless patience. Even though people call them Killer Whales, the Orca Animal Guide is a gentle creature who takes an interest in those who cannot help themselves. Continue reading HERE.
Orcas of the Salish Sea
The Salish sea for me has a huge importance for me just from fond memories of traveling that sea in my career but on a spiritual level as well. The Salish sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific ocean found between northwest Washington and British Columbia that holds an amazing variety of diverse Marine and Coastal wildlife which certainly includes the Orca. The Salish sea itself is very sacred to the Native cultures who reside there as well.
Orcas have been a symbol of the West Coast for many thousands of years. They they are an important part of the culture of many Indigenous peoples, belief systems, symbolism, art and storytelling.
The orca is a symbol often centered around luck, compassion and family. Orcas are known to some Indigenous communities as the guardians of the sea. To some people, orcas represent the strength of love and the bonds of family because of their strong group behaviour.
Indigenous peoples and orcas have lived in harmony in the Pacific Northwest since time immemorial. It is important to look to Indigenous communities for knowledge and understanding of the history, location, and behaviours of the Pacific Northwest’s orca populations, as well as to their leadership, when developing protection and recovery actions.SOURCE
The Pacific Northwest is home to three Orca ecotypes
Resident Orcas, of which there are two distinct populations
Coast Salish peoples, here for thousands of years before settlers arrived, shared a strong belief in the existence of “myth age,” when beings sharing both human and animal qualities roamed the earth. According to legend, a Changer (dukʷibəɬ) transformed beings into animals, giving the native people the essential elements of their culture.
The killer whale or orca is important to the Tulalip Tribes. As the Snohomish legend goes, if a killer whale approaches their canoe, they will greet it with these words: “killer whale, killer whale, your ancestors were also my ancestors.”
A long-told Tulalip story says there were two brothers, famous seal hunters, who went to live in the ocean and became killer whales. Later, when the Tulalip people had been starving, they were relieved to see the salmon arrive.
Suddenly, seals arrived, too, and began devouring the salmon. Remembering their seal-hunting ancestors, the qalq̓aləx̌ič, they called them for help. The killer whales heard the call and arrived to kill the seals, saving the salmon and the Tulalip people from starvation.
“Tulalip” comes from the Lushootseed word dxʷlilap (far towards the end) referring to the wide berth cut by canoes entering Tulalip bay, eight miles north of Mukilteo, to avoid running aground. Tulalip tribal members are the direct descendants of the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and other allied tribes and bands signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, which was signed here.SOURCE
The black dorsal fin slices up slowly with barely a ripple. First it rises about a foot above the surface. Like a submarine’s periscope, it travels straight ahead for twenty feet until the mighty stroke of the adult male’s flukes lift six feet of dripping, wavy fin into the air. A huge torpedo-shaped head pushes out just far enough for a loud burst of air out the blowhole and a quick suck to refill the orca’s lungs before it arcs silently back into the depths.
It’s J3, a male over 40 years old, rising to breathe beside his family. His mother’s sister plows up next to him to heave an explosive blow, followed by three more generations of J pod orcas, all closely related and inseparable their entire lives. J3’s age is documented from photos taken in the first years of demographic field research in the mid-1970’s. Several females are much older, however, including two, J2 and K7, both estimated to be over 90 years old in 1995.
Wispy clouds of vapor linger high over their heads as they pass a hundred yards from Lime Kiln Lighthouse at Whale Watch Park. One suddenly twists in tight circles pursuing a large salmon. The others dive into the kelp, rubbing the long soft strands along their backs and into the notches of their flukes as they check for salmon hiding in the shadows. Above them the snow-whitened Olympics stand watch over this vast inland sea, glowing with red-orange hues in the early morning sun. Continue reading HERE.
So in conclusion as you have seen during this blog post there is a tremendous amount of information regarding these amazing Wolves of the Seas and I could have gone on further but I felt ending the Blog with the Orcas of my homeland felt suiting. Even as I wrote and put together the sources for this one I for a moment felt like I was back home which is something special for me. I can only hope that someday I return home to the Pacific Northwest and once again can take to sea and experience with my own eyes the beauty of the Orcas.
Finland is a country filled with rich history, amazing people, fascinating folklore, great culture and a beautiful landscape. It is a country I have been fascinated with for many years for a myriad of reasons. Today I wanted to explore a period of time in Finnish history that is not discussed enough in my opinion and that is what was going on in Finland during the Viking age. The Viking age in Scandinavia and throughout Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean had a huge impact. So The question is this, how was Finland effected during this period of history? Well that is exactly what this blog post is about.
Viking Age Finland is a topic which is rarely discussed when talking about Finnish history. In schools, pupils learn next to nothing about pre-Medieval Finnish society. Also, historians have been rather reluctant to deal with the topic in-depth in recent years, and so very few works have emerged. It is almost as if it were taboo.
Because of its remote location, Finland has always been a little bit behind in technological advances. The Bronze-age had just made its arrival, when in they already started to become out-dated in the cradles of civilization. However, during the iron-age, there were strong contacts with the Finnic tribes on both sides of the Gulf of Finland, as well as to the east and to the west. During the Viking age, the tribes of Finland were more or less at par in technological development with their neighbors to the west, east and the south. Differences between western Finnic tribes and eastern Finnic tribes of Finland become evident by the Merovingian period. Finland is commonly divided between Western Finnish Cultural Sphere and Eastern Finnish Cultural Sphere. The Pre-historic period of Finland stretched all the way to Swedish conquest in the 12th century, and in eastern Finland it stretched all the way to the late 13th century.
The entire area that is thought to have been possessed or controlled by the Finns during the late iron-age was most likely not a united province politically until the medieval times under Swedish rule. There appear to have been some key areas, which formed which are thought to have acted as political entities. The most important of these areas are the Turku-region, and the area known as Vakka-Suomi, which has also been referred to as “Kaland” in some historical sources. It is impossible to tell exactly how these areas were governed, but some educated guesses would suggest a very “democratic” style of decision making. The strong men of different villages would decide together on a common course of action, as no single leader was strong enough to dominate the entire province, very much like the Vikings are thought to have operated. One cannot talk of a nobility or aristocracy as such, but there are evident class-distinctions. These become evident when looking at the items found in the graves. As swords were expensive and hard to come by (as they had to be imported from over-seas), they act as a good marker of a wealthy and usually important person within the community. As mentioned earlier, the Finns of the Turku-region and Vakka-Suomi had a very good geographical location to engage in trade with the west, especially with Birka, as this had become a dominant (if not the dominant) trade-centre of the Baltic by the Viking age.Continue reading HERE.
There is evidence of both peaceful trade and not-so-peaceful conflict between Finns and the neighboring Vikings during this time, and Finland is thought to have been a regular stop for Vikings on their way east, with significant evidence of trade with the Viking trade center of Birka (situated near modern-day Stockholm) found in archeological sites in Finland and Sweden.
Finnish ports along the Baltic sea were thought to have been key factors behind the Norsemen’s expansions eastwards, and it is believed that individual Finns did take part of Viking raids and expeditions.
Furthermore the island of Åland was considered an important Viking port at the time, and it was considered to be Finnish back then too. The Norse also acquired important knowledge about the Russian lands from the Finns, which is thought to have been crucial information enabling their future eastern endeavors.SOURCE
The Ålandic mystery
Åland has been ”a contact zone between Finnic and Scandinavian linguistic and cultural groups for at least two thousand years” (p. 7). Recurrent themes in VAÅ include some ”mysteries”. Åland is conspicuously absent from Old Norse sources, mentioned only once, in Fundinn Noregr (The discovery of Norway); but there it appears in an accurate itinerary, indicating familiarity, as Schalin with Frog point out (pp. 277–278). The lack of place names in Åland older than the late Viking Age and the dearth of artifacts from the late 10th through the 11th century have been taken as evidence of a possible discontinuity in settlement near the end of the Viking Age. Another mystery is the clay paw amulet, a grave practice mainly restricted to Åland, from which it spread to Timerëvo in central Russia. Frog focuses on this rite in relation to bear ceremonialism generally (arguing convincingly that the paws are more likely to represent bear than beaver), situating Åland between Finnic and Scandinavian mythological traditions.
Many contributions adopt indirect approaches to problems for which the evidence is minimal. Ahola, Frog and Schalin explain the methodological problems involved in trying to ascertain the language(s) spoken in Åland during the Viking Age. Aalto explores the meaning of the Norse ethnonym Finnr, which in addition to Sámi and (occasionally) the residents of present-day Finnish territory may have included Ålanders, even if they were Scandinavian speakers. Place names indicate that continuous Swedish-speaking settlement in Southwest Finland dates to around 1100 AD, according to Mikko Heikkilä. Schalin with Frog argues for Germanic etymologies for most of the older place names in Åland. Jomala, a Finnic name for ’god’, is likely an old name for the largest island, and may reflect a Viking Age borrowing of the word into Scandinavian as an appellative for Finnic sacred places (pp. 286–289).
Ahola discusses traditions in Kalevala-meter poetry associated with Saari ’Island’, which has sometimes been identified with Åland. Rather than indicating that these epic stories are based on historical events in Åland, as Kaarle Krohn thought, Ahola suggests that mainland Finns may have come to view Åland as a mystical place because of the valence of islands in epic tradition.SOURCE
Having a close connection and love of the ocean and all that is in its world from the Marine life, its still existing mysteries and the amazing folklore as well as the Gods and Goddesses associated with the seas. I am always exploring into different deities of the seas and learning about their importance with the native cultures who revere them and their importance. One such God is Kanaloa, the Hawaiian God of the ocean, long distance travel and associated with the underworld, fresh water sources and even healing. So in today’s blog post I would like to give honor to this important Hawaiian God.
Kanaloa is known as Kāne’s traveling partner. Kanaloa is said to be tall with a fair-skinned complexion. Kāne is darker, with curly hair and thick lips. These two gods are well known as ʻawa drinkers and for establishing sources of water. Some say Kanaloa would point out the source, and Kāne would bring forth the water. Kāne and Kanaloa are also known as growers of maiʻa.
Kanaloa and Kāne are paired together in other work as well. In building a waʻa (canoe), Kāne is invoked, while Kanaloa, lord of ocean winds, is invoked in sailing the waʻa. The northern limit of the sun’s seasonal travel is called “ke alanui polohiwa a Kāne” (“the dark path of Kāne”); its southern limit is “ke alanui polohiwa a Kanaloa” (“the dark path of Kanaloa”).SOURCE
As a whole, the pattern represents the Aka Web, or The Web of Life, the symbolic connection of all things to each other. In this aspect, the star at the center is the spider/shaman, or the individual who is aware of being the weaver of his or her own life, a dreamweaver.
In another aspect, the eight lines represent “mana”, or spiritual power, because another meaning of “mana” is “branching lines” and the number eight in Hawaiian tradition is symbolic of great power. The four circles represent “aloha”, or love, because the “lei” or garland, a symbol of love, is circular and is used figuratively in Hawaiian to mean a circle (as in “Hanalei – Circular bay”), and because the word “ha” is a part of the word “aloha” and also means “life” and the number four. Together the circles and lines represent the harmony of Love and Power as an ideal to develop.
The star pattern is composed of a dot in the center representing the Aumakua, or Higher Self; a ring representing Lono, or the Mental Self; the seven limbs of the star representing the Seven Principles of Huna; and the ring around the star representing Ku, the Physical or Subconscious Self. One point of the star is always down, aligned with a straight line of the web, representing the connection of the inner with the outer.
The Eye of Kanaloa symbol generates subtle energy, known as “ki” in Hawaiian. This energy can be used for healing, for stimulating physical and mental faculties, and for many other purposes. Most people can sense the energy, which may feel like a tingle, a current, a pressure or a coolness, by holding the hand, fingers, cheek or forehead near the symbol. By itself the symbol will help to harmonize the physical, emotional and mental energies of a room or other location. The energy may be accessed more directly by meditative gazing or by holding the symbol near something that needs harmonizing. The symbol can also amplify and harmonize other energy sources by placing it behind or in front of the 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
Recently a friend of mine sent me a short video regarding a Goddess of the sea I was not aware of but am very much appreciative that I now know of her. Across the lands of the Inuit culture she has many names such as Mother of the Seas, Nuliayuk (Nuliajuk), Taluliyuk but most commonly she is known as Sedna. I immediately dived into learning about her and for those who personally know me know how much I love the Gods and Goddesses of the seas. So I felt an important need to share with you all the story and importance of this Inuit sea goddess that is certainly one of the most celebrated within the Inuit pantheon.
One thing I want to express which is very important to me out of respect to the Inuit nation is this. The Inuit are a proud people with a rich culture, traditions and history which really deserves to be preserved and respected.
SEDNA – (also known as Nuliajuk) – The sea goddess and the most celebrated deity in the Inuit pantheon. Even mythology books that cover no other figures from Inuit myths will usually have an entry on her. She was the daughter of the god and goddess Anguta and Isarrataitsoq and, like countless female figures in Inuit myths, she refused all prospective husbands. Sedna instead had sexual relations with dogs and the “freakish” offspring of these unions were said to be white people and Native American tribes that the Inuit were often at war with.
A ghoulish twist to the story is how Sedna took to using her parents as food (a recurring theme in Inuit myths because of the scarcity of food in the frozen north at times and how instances of cannibalism during such famines were much-discussed). Sedna devoured both of her mother Isarrataitsoq’s arms and had finished eating one of her father’s arms before he was able to subdue her and take her out to sea in his canoe, intent on banishing her to the sea. Continuing to struggle, Sedna clutched the sides of the canoe as her father tried to submerge her, prompting him to take his long knife and cut off her fingers.
Since, to the Inuit, loss or mutilation of the hands was often seen as a horrific transformation into something new, the myth states that Sedna now embraced her fate, transforming her now-fingerless hands into flippers and transforming her severed digits into the various species of sea animals. When the one-armed Anguta returned to shore, where his still-armless wife awaited, Sedna, now fully realized as the sea goddess, caused a massive wave to wash over her parents, dragging them down to her new home to serve in her subaquatic court.Continue reading HERE.
Once upon a time there lived on a solitary shore an Inung with his daughter Sedna. His wife had been dead for some time and the two led a quiet life. Sedna grew up to be a handsome girl and the youths came from all around to sue for her hand, but none of them could touch her proud heart. Finally, at the breaking up of the ice in the spring a fulmar flew from over the ice and wooed Sedna with enticing song. “Come to me,” it said; “come into the land of the birds where there is never hunger, where my tent is made of the most beautiful skins. You shall rest on soft bearskins. My fellows, the fulmars, shall bring you all your heart and desire; their feathers shall clothe you; your lamp will always be filled with oil, your pot with meat.” Sedna could not long resist such wooing and they went together over the vast sea. When at last they reached the country of the fulmar, after a long and hard journey, Sedna discovered that her spouse had shamefully deceived her. Her new home was not built of beautiful pelts, but was covered with wretched fishskins, full of holes, that gave free entrance to the wind and snow. Instead of soft reindeer skins, her bed was made of hard walrus hides and she had to live on miserable fish, which the birds brought her. Too soon she discovered that she had thrown away her opportunities when in her foolish pride she had rejected the Inuit youth. In her woe she sang: “Aja. O father, if you knew how wretched I am you would come to me and we would hurry away in your boat over the waters. The birds look unkindly upon me the stranger; cold winds roar about my bed; they give me but miserable food. O come and take me back home. Aja.”Continue reading HERE.
Did you know that the farthest known celestial body in space is named after the goddess Sedna?
2003 VB12 was the official temporary designation of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Minor Planet Center, based on the year (2003) and date (14 Nov = the 22nd 2-week period of the year thus V=the 22nd letter of the alphabet. after that it is sequential based on the discovery announcement) of discovery. Once the orbit of 2003 VB12 is known well enough (probably 1 year), we will recommend to the IAU Committee on Small Body Nomenclature — which is responsible for solar system names — that it be permanently called Sedna (this has now happened, see above) . Our newly discovered object is the coldest most distant place known in the solar system, so we feel it is appropriate to name it in honor of Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea, who is thought to live at the bottom of the frigid arctic ocean. We will furthermore suggest to the IAU that newly discovered objects in this inner Oort cloud all be named after entities in arctic mythologies.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.
Time for another book recommendation from my personal library and this is a really good one. A History of the Vikings by the late Gwyn Jones(24 May 1907 – 6 December 1999). Jones was a Welsh novelist and story writer, and a scholar and translator of Nordic literature and history.
The subject of this book is the Viking realms, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, their civilization and culture, and their many sided achievements at home and abroad. A highly readable narrative follows the development of these Northern peoples–the Nordmenn–from their origins and the legendary pre-history to the military triumphs of Canute and the defeat of Harald Hardrádi at Stamford Bridge in 1066, which symbolically ended the Viking age. The book recounts the Vikings’ exploits in war, trade, and colonization: the assault on Western Christendom; the trading and military ventures to the Slav and Muslim worlds and to Byzantium; and the western voyages of discovery and settlement to Greenland, Iceland, and America. Numerous photographs, maps, and drawings contribute to Gwyn Jones’s rounded portrait of Viking civilization and vividly evoke the importance in their culture of religion, art, and seafaring.