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Mermaids: Legends, Origins and More

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

Early origins of Mermaids

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

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

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

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

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

The Lorelei

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Resources

Behind the Mythology: Mermaids

Origin of the Mermaid Myth

Mermaids – Myth and Folklore

On the Origins of Mermaids

21 Facts about Mermaids

Mermaid Mythology – Mermaids Myths and Legends

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

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

Eye Of Kanaloa

The Eye of Kanaloa by Serge Kahili King

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.

Kauai, Hawaii
I recently purchased this book to add to my library.

Further Resources

KANE AND KANALOA

Kanaloa, Hawaiian God of the Ocean

Kanaloa, Dark Squid God

What You Should Know About Kanaloa (Hawaiian Ocean God)

A video on the ancient Hawaiian god Kanaloa, symbolized by the squid or by the octopus.
Rising from the sea millions of years ago Hawaii was forged from molten lava with a history as rich as its landscapes. Ka’ao means legend in the native Hawaiian language and in this film we explore stories that have been passed down through generations.
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The Werewolves of Latvia

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

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

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

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

The Rauda Forest of Latvia holds tales of the Vilkacis

Tukums Werewolves Tales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Resources

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

THE WEREWOLF IN LATGALIAN FOLKLORE

Livonia Werewolves

History Channel Documentary
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Sedna: Inuit Goddess of the Sea

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.

Sculpture of Sedna in the National Museum of Finland

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.

Inuit mythology refers to the indigenous peoples of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland’s shared spiritual beliefs and practices. Their religion has many parallels with the religions of other North Polar peoples. Inuit myths and legends, like any mythology, both are entertaining and educational. The Inuit attributed excellent and evil powers to deities who lived in a spirit world intertwined with the stunning northern landscape.

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

Further Resources

The Inuit Legend of the Sea Goddess

The Goddess of the Sea: The Story of Sedna

Goddess Sedna

The Arctic Ocean is integral to the lives and culture of the Inuit peoples of the Arctic Circle, and one of their primary deities controls the ocean and all of the creatures who live within it. Though she goes by many different names, and her story varies from region to region, she is widely known as Sedna. Once a mortal girl subjected to cruelty and manipulation, Sedna’s fingers were chopped off, and they became the animals of the sea, while she rose to become one of the most powerful and venerated goddesses in all mythology. Mythology unleashed
In this episode of Makeup and Mythology, I cover Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea– but she wasn’t always. Swindled by her husband and betrayed by her father, this powerful goddess is known to be rather vengeful and demands to be worshiped. Liana C.
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The Kalevala – The Epic Finnish Saga

The Kalevala is truly a gem of Finnish culture, folklore and literature which is one I have been fascinated with for years. It is also perhaps the most famous and republished piece of literature to come out of Finland. The Kalevala is a collection of tales from the creation of the world, stories of Finnish gods and goddesses as well as other figures of the folklore of Finland. I wanted to contribute by sharing this utterly amazing Finnish literature with my readers and explore deeper into its importance and tales. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The first edition of the Kalevala came out in 1835. Elias Lönnrot compiled it from folk poetry recorded into notebooks during his collection trips among poetry singers in 1828–1834. At the time of publication of the Kalevala, Finland was an autonomous grand duchy, and before that, until 1809, Finland was part of the Swedish Kingdom. Especially for Finnish intellectuals, the Kalevala became a symbol of the Finnish past, the Finnish language and Finnish culture, a foundation on which they started to build the fragile Finnish identity. It also aroused much interest abroad, and brought a small, unknown people to the awareness of other Europeans.

The effect of the Kalevala on Finnish culture, arts and sciences has been significant. It has left its mark on the fine arts, literature, theater, dance and music. It lives on in popular culture, films, comics, games and commercials. During different periods, the Kalevala has been significant in different ways, and has given birth to different, strong interpretations. SOURCE (Finnish)

This is my personal copy I have in my library which is beautifully done with fantastic illustrations. Highly recommended.

Not so long ago, in the tiny, isolated villages of Finland, where prolonged summer days gave way to endless winter nights, people would pass the time by singing the many adventures of their favorite heroes: the mighty, magical men and women of ancient days.

They sang of old Vainamoinen, greatest of sages and magicians, who helped create the world but never could find a woman to wed him.

They sang of his friend and ally Ilmarinen, first among craftsmen, the blacksmith who forged the dome of the heavens.

They sang of Louhi, the ancient lady of Northland, whose crafty wit and magical powers made her a worthy opponent for Vainamoinen himself.

And they sang of Aila, Louhi’s lovely daughter, who captured the hopes of the two old friends and drew them as rivals to the shores of Northland.

And while these songs could still be heard, there came along a doctor, a scholar, who gathered and wove them together in a book he called the Kalevala. And so he created for Finns a national epic, and for the rest of the world, a work of wonder.

The songs endure, the heroes live. . . .

– from The Songs of Power: A Northern Tale of magic. Retold by Aaron Shepherd from the Kalevala

Further Resources

Full text of “The Kalevala : the epic poem of Finland”

The Kalevala – The Beginning of Beer in the Finnish Epic Saga

Tolkien and the Kalevala

Kalevala is Finland’s national epic. Compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 1800s, it consists of epic poems of creation, magic, lust, vengeance and death. A story of the sons of Kaleva, the forefather of Finns, it takes the reader to a mythical ancient land filled with monsters and magic, and even to the realm of the dead. Be sure to check more from Antti Palosaari.
Veera Voima is a Finnish folk singer who specializes in rune singing. Her project “Myths of Making” is based on the birth myths of Kalevala. This is a short version of her song “Raudan Synty” (The Origin of Iron).
The Kalevala: the Epic Poem of Finland (Crawford Translation) by Elias LÖNNROT (1802 – 1884), translated by John Martin CRAWFORD (1845 – 1916) Genre(s): Poetry, Sagas Part 2 and Part 3
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Dragons – Mythology, History and more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Resources:

Dragons: Exploring the Ancient Origins of the Mythical Beasts

Zmaj and the Dragon Lore of Slavic Mythology

Dragons of Greek Mythology

Dragons from Myth, Folklore and Magick

Dragons of Fame

Dragon as a Totem

Dragon Totem Meaning and Dragon Symbolism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Resources:

Ljösalfar, Dökkalfar & Alfheim: 7 Unknowns about Norse Elves

Svartálfar

Medieval Scandinavian Elves and Dwarves

Elves are Fairies? Wait, what?

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Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore

It has been a while since I posted a book recommendation so here we go with this true literature gem. Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology and Magic by Claude Lecouteux is a book filled with such great details and images it is one I refer to often as a great resource. Not only does this encyclopedia give brief yet detailed descriptions of every know God and Goddess of the Norse and Germanic pantheons but also of places, creatures and other things from the Böxenwolf, the Werewolves of Northern Germany, to the Goddess Sinthgunt, Goddess of the Cosmos and time, plus so much more. This brilliant book is one I highly recommend for the personal library of anyone who has interest in this subject.

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Huldra – The Seductive Forest Lady

A Huldra is a dangerous seductive forest creature found in Scandinavian folklore. She is a member of a family of a very ancient beings that inhabit the forest, but remain hidden from humankind.

In Scandinavian folklore, the Huldra (Norwegian, derived from a root meaning “covered,” “hidden,” or “secret”) is a very elusive and seductive creature of the forest. The huld-rå being is a rå, which is a keeper or warden of a particular location or land-form. The different species of rå are sometimes distinguished according to the different spheres of nature with which they were connected, such as Skogsrå or Huldra (forest), Sjörå (freshwater) or Havsrå (saltwater), and Bergsrå (mountains).

Other names include: Huldra, huldrå, Hylda, Skogsrå or Skogsfru/Skogfru (meaning ‘lady (ruler) of the forest’ or ‘forest wife/woman/spirit’) and Tallemaja (‘Pine Tree Mary’). They are often referred to as Ulda by the Sámi.

As a whole, they are known as Huldrefolk or Huldufólk. They are hidden folk of the forest. Her name suggests that she is originally the same being as the Völva Huld and the German Holda. “In Scandinavian mythology, Huld is only referenced by Völva or Seiðkona, which is a woman who practiced the Seiðr. She is mentioned in Icelandic tales and sagas, such as the Ynglinga saga, Sturlunga saga and a late medieval Icelandic tale. One source states that she is Odin’s mistress and the mother of the demi-goddesses Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa. As her name suggests, Huld may be in origin the same being as the Huldra and the German Holda.” <Nordisk familjebok (1909)>

The males are called Huldrekall (hulder man), Huldu, or Huldrekarl are often said to be hideous in appearance and have grotesquely long noses.

A Swedish forest spirit visiting a charcoal burner. Illustration by Per Daniel Holm, from Svenska folksägner, Herman Hofberg (1882), Public Domain.

The Huldra (forest woman)

Huldra/skogsrå, The Scandinavian Goddesses

Skogsrået

Huldra – Norse Forest Lady