Tarot cards and their symbolic meanings have intrigued people for centuries. Tarot reading is the practice of divining wisdom and guidance through a specific spread (or layout) of Tarot cards. However, contrary to popular belief, the cards do not simply tell your fortune. The cards are meant to give insight into the innermost truths of your higher self. In other words, the cards provide an evolved awareness of what you already know deep within. Tarot is a system of archetypes, a picture-book of the human condition, reflecting our states of mind and stages of life.
Archetypes are symbols to which we all can relate. They represent significant aspects of life, people around us as well as events. According to Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, we are all pre-programmed to look for archetypes in our everyday lives because they serve as a framework for our understanding of the world. Each of the 78 Tarot cards is a type of archetype. These powerful archetypes enable us to examine the forces that live deep within us and invoke a mood, a need, or a greater understanding of our personality or soul life.
From its uptake as an instrument of divination in 18th century France, the tarot went on to be used in hermeneutic, magical, semiotic and psychological practices.
The word “tarot” and German Tarock derive from the Italian “Tarocchi”, the origin of which is uncertain but taroch was used as a synonym for foolishness in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
Every card in the 78-card Tarot deck has a different meaning. When you put cards together and read them as a story, you can draw conclusions about your life. In order to see dimensions, the deck is divided into two sections:
There are 22 cards of the Major Arcana, which divulge greater secrets, and 56 cards of the Minor Arcana, which divulge lesser secrets and are further divided into four suits. The suits of the Minor Arcana include: Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles.
The fourteen cards in each suit are numbered Ace through Ten, plus the Court Cards which consist of the Page (Princess), Knight (Prince), Queen, and King.
The Major Arcana cards consist of: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement and The World.
Decks can vary some in naming. And while the suits and individual cards are not always called the same thing, their core meanings are fairly universal.
Tarot card illustrations are generally a single image in an upright position, unlike common playing cards that display a dual image facing both right-side-up and upside-down.
When Tarot cards are collected and shuffled or moved about, they can show up upside-down in a reading. The reversed Tarot card can be interpreted in various ways.
The three-card spread is the easiest spread for a beginner and ideal for a quick basic Tarot reading. Although there are multiple types of “spreads” which can be used, some more in depth than others.
Most legitimate tarot decks come with a small booklet giving brief examples as to what kinds of spreads you can utilize. However one must not rely solely on the instructions of a booklet when practicing this form of divination. Meditation and self educating is key.
To become truly skilled in the art of tarot can take many years of experience and study.
Tarot readers (also known as fortune tellers or seers) are spiritual advisors. Using divination tools such as tarot, they have the ability to both read a persons energy as well as tap into their life circumstances in regards to things that may have or may happen.
Tarot cards are a powerful tool for greater awareness and transformation. They are a metaphysical medium which enables us to connect with our inner wisdom in order to reveal what is really happening below the surface of events around us.
However, a level of caution must be displayed upon entering this revered practice as a misinterpretation of tarot could both give the wrong message as well as steer one’s mental or spiritual state in the wrong direction.
Be sure to check out more from The Herb WitchHERE.
Many of us, do not live in the place that our ancestors lived. I was born in England but moved to Canada as a child. As a Heathen, I use herbs daily in my daily practice as well as in my sacred spaces and it has been quite the journey researching the type of herbs and plants that my ancestor would have used. This is my experience, and I am not going to tell you how to Heathen. I will chat a little bit about how I use herbs to connect with my ancestors, the gods, the land spirits and wights.
I often have Offering fires in which I offer food to my ancestors, a drop of ale poured on the ground and certain herbs to burn in the fire as an offering. In my personal ritual I use the herbs that were common and abundant in the time of my ancestors. The herbs I offer are usually wormwood, mugwort, lemon balm, peppermint, clary sage, rosemary, rose petals, lavender and chamomile. I often interchange this with cedar, juniper and pine tips, black walnut, beech, birch, poplar, willow and elm barks. There is no need for a specific list, I offer what is at hand and what is available to me at that time. Better yet, bundling cedar, pine and juniper with these herbs is a wonderful offering as well and these bundles can be placed directly in the fire to burn along side any incense or loose herbs that you would like to add.
Herbs for the Land Spirits or Landvaettir
Throughout all the seasons, I will often walk through a field or a forested area and leave an herbal offering for the land spirits. I will often tie up a cloth bundlewith various herbs and flowers and seeds and lay it in a clear area for the landspirits. Upon laying down the bundle, I open it up and lay it down flat on the earth. For me it acts as a token of my gratitude for all the gifts that I receive from the land. You can also sit in a spot of your choosing and burn an herb offering bundle or loose herbal incense. These are only suggestions, and you can certainly create your own way of offering up offerings to the Landvaettir.
When offering to the Gods the rationale I use to select herbs is to select herbs that symbolize the qualities and skills of that God. I will provide you with a short list of the herbs I use for offerings to the Gods.
Baldur – Sunflower petals, Marigold, Chamomile (flowers I associate with being bright)
Thor-Nettle, Thistle (protective yet aggressive plants) Oak bark ( sacred to Thor, Donar)
Woden – Mugwort, Plantain, Watercress, Chervil, Mayweed (Wild Chamomile), Dried Crab Apple, Nettle, Fennel and Viper’s Bugloss (borage). These are the herbs from the Nine Herbs Charm poem.
**This is just a sample as I prepare herbs for many gods, but hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea. Please use your own intuition and definitely use what is at hand.
When crafting bundles or incense for burnt offerings to my ancestors I like to offer what ever is in season as well as offering two specific flowers of herbs to my bundles. I often add Forget me nots to my bundles as well as Black Eyes Susans as they are said to act as a conduit to the beloved dead.
I go by the seasons, in early spring it is the first flowers such as violets, tulips and daffodils. Further into summer I will offer roses, lavender, calendula, peppermint, rosemary, clary sage, thyme and what ever else is in season. I the end, it is an offering of what you have and what is available for you to offer up.
Many Blessings to your home and hearth! wyrþe þanc!! The Herb Witch
A highly recommended Youtube channel is that of Freyia Norling who is extremely knowledgeable regarding the use of herbs and more with Norse Folk Medicine.
The Fox is an incredible animal who is as diverse in its sub-species to where they live which is every continent except Antarctica. They can be found from Australia to the Arctic and just about everywhere in-between. So it is not surprising that when it comes to folklore and mythology both newer tales to those of ancient times you will find the Fox mentioned more than any other animal from Japan to the Native American tales. The Fox also happens to be a personal favorite of mine so featuring them on my Blog for me is a must.
Foxes in Folklore
Symbolism and metaphor are often used in folklore to explore the depths of human emotions and how we have connected with the world around us. Animals in particular, have long been a popular source of inspiration, acting as reflections of our best and worst qualities, or appearing to us as magical creatures linking the mortal and spirit realms.
There are maybe only a handful of animals, both real and mythological, that are more commonly found in folklore globally than the fox. Considering the relatively close proximity humans and foxes have had with each other, it is no surprise that we included this relationship in our mythologies and tales. Even the ancient Sumerians were inspired by foxes and included one in the Eridu Genesis myth, first recorded around 1600 BCE.
In general, there is a split consensus cross-culturally when it comes to the depiction of foxes in folklore. The fox is perhaps most well known as a trickster, sneaky and cunning in behavior, creating devious plans which they occasionally fall victim to. In Aesop’s Fables, they are egotistical, con artists, and benefit from the misfortune of others. Phrases like “sly as a fox” and “outfoxed” are references to the trickster persona.Continue reading HERE. And find Part 2 HERE.
It would be difficult to compile a complete list of all the available fox mythology. In the Scandinavian countries, foxes were believed to cause the northern lights. These aurora were called “revontulet” in Finland, meaning “fox fires”.SOURCE
A more modern version of the of the Northern Lights regarding a Fox written by Don Fowler is a favorite of mine which I want to share with you.
Long ago when the world was young there lived in the forest of Midgard a small fox named Rav who was as black as night. He was a sly little fox who liked to play jokes on the other animals of the forest. Needless to say, he didn’t have many friends in the forest.
One day he was confronted by some rabbits that wanted to make fun of his abnormal black fur. He ran past them and swiped his tail over the grass in passing, lighting it into flames. The scared rabbits bound off in fear and hasted deep into the forest to escape the flames.
The land wight of the forest lake got upset with Rav and scolded the fox for causing such trouble. Rav tried to lie to the forest lake, telling her that he would not do such a thing again. But the forest lake knew better than to trust a fox and sent him from Midgard across Yggdrasil to Jotunheim, the land of giants and trolls.
Jotunheim is a cold, icy land, and there the fox found his lovely black coat had gone arctic white. Worse than that, now the little arctic fox was all alone and had to constantly flee from the giants and the trolls of the wild north. He did well at protecting only his own hide and the years passed before he knew it.
Then on a bitter cold day he spied a small fire where two travelers were eating. One had red hair and a beard and carried a mighty hammer. The other had black hair and seemed, to Rav, to be very cunning and fair. But as he was watching the giants played a trick on the travelers by making the snow storm so hard the travelers could not find their way. Rav knew the lost travelers would come under attack by the giants soon.
It was then Rav felt regret for his own actions in the past, and felt sympathy for the bold travelers. Running ahead, he swept his tail over the snow, sending up a whirl of fire into the sky making it like day. It was enough to startle the giants as he lit a path to the Bifrost bridge for the travelers.
At the top of the bridge one of the travelers companions could make out what was going on far below. He quickly alerted all in Asgard of the danger of the trouble making giants. So it was that in the end the travelers made it back to their land safely despite the snow storm.
Impressed with the little arctic fox they made Rav a small home at the base of the Bifrost bridge where it meets the frigid snow of the north. It would be the little arctic fox’s duty to send up flames nightly so that anyone lost could see and find their way back home. He was so good at making his northern lights that they became known as the Foxfires or the Revontulet.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 19. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) : “On this highway is a place called Teumessos (Teumessus), where it is said that Europa was hidden by Zeus. There is also another legend, which tells of a Fox called the Teumessian Fox, how owing to the wrath of Dionysos the beast was reared to destroy the Thebans, and how, when about to be caught by the Hound [Lailaps (Laelaps)] given by Artemis to Prokris (Procris) the daughter of Erekhtheus (Erechtheus), the Fox was turned into a stone, as was likewise this Hound.”
THE ALOPEX TEUMESIOS (Teumessian Fox) was a giant fox sent by the gods to ravage the countryside of Thebes as punishment for some crime. Kreon (Creon), regent of Thebes, commanded Amphitryon destroy the fox–an impossible task for the beast was destined never to be caught. The hero solved the problem by setting the magical dog Lailaps (Laelaps) on the trail, for it was destined to always catch its quarry. Zeus, faced with a paradox of fate–an uncatchable fox being pursued by an inescapable dog–, turned the pair to stone, so freezing their contest in time.SOURCE
Kitsune(狐, キツネ, IPA: [kitsɯne]) in the literal sense is the Japanese word for “fox”. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict legendary foxes as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others – as foxes in folklore often do – other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.
Foxes and humans lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto “kami,” or “spirit,” and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox’s supernatural significance. Continue reading HERE.
The Role of Foxes in Slavic Mythology and Folklore
The early Slavs often had a similar perception of the fox that is still popular in modern culture across the world today. No matter the species, foxes were seen as sly and cunning tricksters. They use this skill often to deceive protagonists, and this makes them often villains in folk tales. Among the Slavs, though, the fox has positive roles as well.
When tricksters are mentioned in Slavic mythology, it’s impossible not to mention Weles (Veles), god of the lowlands, underworld, serpents, and cattle. Like the fox, Weles is often incorrectly perceived as evil, stealing Perun‘s cattle as well as his son, Jaryło. The god serves a crucial role, though, and so does the fox, serving as the symbol of mind over brute strength.Continue reading HERE.
Last night I had the pleasure to be a guest on The Witch’s Hour podcast on Inner Demon Media and it was a great hour of discussion and conversation. I talked a bit about how I began my spiritual path, the “dark” side of paganism, Gatekeeping and its detriment to the Pagan community plus more. I am looking forward to being invited back in the future for another episode.
Be sure to also check out their Facebook page HERE.
The Goddess Hecate (Hekate) is a Goddess that holds great importance within the pantheon of Greek mythology for quite a few important reasons which I plan to cover in this blog post. I myself have not personally worked with her much but have read about her quite a lot and even researched the well know Wheel of Hecate. So knowing how important this Goddess is to so many, I took great care in putting this together so as to make sure I did her justice in honoring her importance and assisting in educating others about who she is, her origin and how to connect with her power and magick.
Everything You Need To Know About Hecate (Maiden, Mother, Crone)
By Danielle Mackay, BA Classical Studies and Linguistics, MA Classical Studies
The goddess Hecate is one of the lesser-known goddesses of the Greek pantheon. Child of Perses and Asteria, she was the only Titan to retain her control under Zeus’ reign. Hecate’s powers transcended the boundaries of the sky, the earth, the seas, and the underworld.
Although there are few myths about the goddess Hecate, her tales reveal a lot about her spheres of influence. During the Roman era, many of her attributes fell in the realm of the underworld. Yet, she also controlled elements that placed her firmly in the light. The goddess possessed extensive powers, which were later assimilated by other deities. Hecate could bestow wealth and blessings on her worshippers, yet she could also withhold these gifts if she were not adequately worshipped. This article will explore who Hecate was and what her attributes and symbols were.
Classical scholars dispute the origins of Hecate’s worship in Ancient Greece. For many, the goddess’ worship has a pre-Greek origin, while for others, it originated in Thrace. Among the theories, the most popular is that Hecate was accepted into Greek religion from the Carians in Asia Minor. According to scholars, it is believed that the goddess came to Greece during the Archaic age. The presence of Hecatean worship in Caria is attested by the number of cult sites dedicated to the goddess. The most prominent of these was in Lagina. However, due to these Anatolian cult sites’ late dates, other classicists argue that an Anatolian origin is impossible for the goddess.Continue reading HERE.
To those at the forefront of Pagan scholarship, the rise of Hekate is neither coincidental nor surprising. Sorita d’Este, author of Circle for Hekate and over a dozen other titles, is a researcher whose work is rooted in mysticism and mythology. She is also the founder of Avalonia, an independent publisher of Pagan and esoteric books.
“In the ancient world, Hekate was a goddess of many names and many faces,” said d’Este. “She was also worshiped by people from many nations and places, so her continued ability to adapt and be relevant today should not really come as a surprise. Hekate is relevant and present in the 21st century. This is evident in the surge of interest in her but also the number of appearances she makes in pop culture, the number of books written about her, and the way that she has a place in the worship and work of polytheists, as well as Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, ceremonial magicians, and even Buddhists and Hindus.”
In 2010, d’Este produced Hekate: Her Sacred Fires, an anthology in which nearly 50 individuals from around the globe share their own personal visions of the goddess. Shortly thereafter, she created The Rite of Her Sacred Fires, an international devotional event celebrated every year during the May full moon. d’Este then formed Covenant of Hekate, a “network of devotees from different traditions and backgrounds who share their works with one another.”SOURCE
“Hecate’s themes are the moon, beginnings and magic. Her symbols are serpents, horses or dogs (Her sacred animals), light (especially a torch), myrrh, silver and moonstone. This Greco-Roman Goddess rules the moon and opportunities. Tonight She opens the path through which the old year departs and the new enters. People customarily worship Hecate at crossroads, where worlds meet, which may be why She became a witch’s Goddess. On this, Hecate’s Day, She bears a torch, lighting the way to the future.
At the eve of a New Year, take a moment and pat yourself on the back for a full of Goddess-centered thinking and action. Note your achievements, and thank Hecate for helping you find the way when your vision seemed clouded. An additional benefit here is that speaking this Goddess’s name today banishes unwanted ghosts, including those figurative ghosts of past negative experiences. Let Hecate take those burdens so your new year will begin without anything holding you back.
To accept this Goddess’s powers in your life throughout your celebrations today, wear white or silver items, and light a white candle in Her honor. For a token that will emphasize Hecate’s magic and lunar energies whenever you need them, bless a moonstone, saying something like:
‘Hecate, fill this silver stone keep your magic with me where ever I roam.’
Carry this, keeping the Goddess close to your heart and spirit.”
The Hecate’s Wheel is a powerful symbol that represents the goddess Hecate. It is also referred to as the Strophalos of Hecate. Hecate’s Wheel is a circle that has a circular maze surrounding a spiral. This symbol draws its inspiration and power from the Moon, Earth, Sea, and Sky. This is more so because the deity Hecate is the ruler of these spheres of the Universe.
Hecate’s Wheel draws attention to the 3 phases of the triple Hecate, the goddess of the moon. It accentuates the 3 phases of the female cycle. The female life starts as a Maiden, graduates to a Mother, and later to a Crone. Hecate’s Wheel indicates the immense blessings and goodwill this goddess provides for the family.
Those with this symbol as their religious icon find it easy to attract prosperity, growth, and progress in their families. Traditionally, Hecate has been seen to be the guardian of the crossroads. This evolved with time, and she became the guardian of magic and witchcraft. Hecate’s Wheel aptly captures the evolution displayed by the goddess Hecate throughout history.
Up to 500 BCE, physical representations of Hecate indicate her evolution through the various phases of womanhood. Hecate’s Wheel started inculcating these images as early as 100 AD. Some of the earliest images of Hecate’s Wheel also depicted the influence of Aphrodite in the affairs of Hecate. In modern times, Hecate’s Wheel has become an important pagan spiritual symbol. It has gained a lot of traction amongst modern pagans. Continue reading HERE.
“Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods…. The son of Cronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea”.
Her gifts towards mankind are all-encompassing, Hesiod tells:
“Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents. And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hecate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less”.
Hecate was carefully attended:
“For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hecate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her”.SOURCE
Otherworldly and rare, Phantom quartz is a variety of quartz consisting of visible layers of overlapping crystal growths. The outline of the inner crystals can be seen due to some variation in composition or mineral inclusion making the boundary between growths visible. The interior crystal layers are known as phantoms.
About 2000 years ago, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote that Quartz crystals were formed in icy environments particularly in caverns and dark clefts in the mountains. This became the widely accepted belief in the 18th century when modern geology was just burgeoning in Europe. Around that time, Phantom Quartz crystals were called ‘ghost crystals’ and ‘shadow crystals.’
Phantom Quartz in Spirituality
Shamans consider Phantom Quartz to be the light stone. It symbolizes the light residing in every person. Toltec philosophy claims that every living being is a light being, which means all organisms come from the same source and are interconnected.
But our light can get dimmed and often not seen by the naked eye. This causes us to feel disconnected from others and the world. Phantom Quartz counters this effect. Its light helps restore our bond with every living creature.
Metaphysical Properties of Phantom Quartz
It is believed that the crystal can heighten intuition and create a connection with one’s spirit guide. Phantom Quartz is used to access the angelic realm. It is beneficial in unblocking and activating the third eye and crown chakras. As a result, greater consciousness and spiritual growth is achieved.
The crystal also has the ability to balance the root and sacral chakras, the areas that can get blocked by a person’s traumas. Blocked lower chakras can lead to fear and low self-esteem. Phantom Quartz clears out and balances these energy points to replace unproductive energies with love, creativity, sexuality, and stability.
Phantom Quartz is effective at cleansing auras and dispelling negative energies. It helps with personal inner growth and overcome stagnation. It aids and enhances healing abilities and facilitates the elimination of toxins from the body. Phantom Quartz connects to the earth and higher realms.
Phantom Quartz is only found in Minas Gerais, an inland state in southern Brazil known for its wealth of minerals and mining activities.
Phantom quartz crystals have been referred to as ghost crystals, spectre crystals and shadow crystals. The name quartz comes from the Saxon word querklufterz which meant cross vein ore.
Fireflies are in my top five of favorite insects and a lot of those reasons will be within what you find in this post from their mystical appearance at night to the significance they hold in a lot of folklore. The Firefly also known as a lightning Bug can be a significant meaning in your dreams, as a totem and even a spirit animal which will be covered here as well but first let me share with you a story about myself and Fireflies which sometimes I wonder if there are Fae among them in disguise.
Many years ago I lived in a beautiful part of the Appalachians on a property with a pond in front of my house over an acre in size with it surrounded by grass. Every day right at dusk I would sit or lay on the grass in front of the pond. I would watch the fish nipping at the bugs on the surface of the pond ass the Bats began swooping like acrobatic jets above beginning to feed. All the time as it darkened the Fireflies would emerge from the grass undergrowth and it truly looked like a scene from a fantasy movie. Truly an amazing experience every time.
In China, long ago, it was believed that fireflies were a product of burning grasses. Ancient Chinese manuscripts hint that a popular summer pastime was to catch fireflies and put them in a transparent box, to use as a lantern, much like children (and adults) often do today.
There’s a Japanese legend that lightning bugs are actually the souls of the dead. Variations on the tale say that they’re the spirits of warriors who fell in battle. Our About.com Japanese Language Expert, Namiko Abe, says, “The Japanese word for a firefly is hotaru… In some cultures, hotaru might not have a positive reputation, but they are well liked in Japanese society. They have been a metaphor for passionate love in poetry since Man’you-shu (the 8th-century anthology).”
Even though fireflies put on a pretty great light show, it’s not just for entertainment. The flashing of their light is how they communicate with each other – especially for courtship rituals. Males flash to let the ladies know they’re looking for love… and the females respond with flashes to say they’re interested.
Fireflies appear in a lot of Native American folklore as well. There’s an Apache legend in which the trickster Fox tries to steal fire from the firefly village. To accomplish this, he fools them and manages to set his own tail on fire with a piece of burning bark. As he escapes the firefly village, he gives the bark to Hawk, who flies off, scattering embers around the world, which is how fire came to the Apache people. As punishment for his deception, the fireflies told Fox that he would never be able to use fire himself.
Using Firefly Magic
Think about the different aspects of firefly folklore. How can you use them in a magical working?
Feeling lost? Catch some fireflies in a jar (please, poke holes in the lid!) and ask them to illuminate your way. Release them when you’re done.
The Symbolic Meaning of Crossing Paths With a Bright Little Firefly or Lightning Bug This Summer by Rebecca Norris
Fireflies—which are technically a type of nocturnal beetle!—often go unnoticed until nighttime. But, as soon as the tail of their abdomen begins to glow, the little bugs (also called lightning bugs) transform into seemingly-magical creatures that create specks of light in the dark evening air, leaving children and adults alike in awe. What makes them extra special is that they’re only around for a few weeks in the summer, and only in certain areas (in the U.S., that means warm, humid climates east of Kansas).
According to Honigman, fireflies serve as powerful and empowering reminders for anyone who sees them. “A little light shining bravely in the darkness,” she says of their symbolic meaning. “Small and alone, showing us that we are each worthy, that every person shines their own unique light, and in our own world, be represented in the global struggle for illumination. Light over dark. Positive over negative. However tiny you are, your light still illuminates the darkness.”
Honigman says they’re also reminders to be intentional about the light you seek in others. “Fireflies have a unique way of shining their light, in order to draw the exact right mate to them,” she explains. “They flash their light in specific patterns, and only the right mate responds to each individual pattern. This reminds us to be specific with the people we keep around us, and to be intentional with our circle. One firefly won’t be drawn to another one unless communication is exact and specific. Similarly, the right people for you will heed your call. If it feels ‘off’ then this isn’t your person.”Continue reading HERE.
by Bliss Carman
The fireflies across the dusk Are flashing signals through the gloom— Courageous messengers of light That dare immensities of doom.
About the seeding meadow-grass, Like busy watchmen in the street, They come and go, they turn and pass, Lighting the way for Beauty’s feet.
Or up they float on viewless wings To twinkle high among the trees, And rival with soft glimmerings The shining of the Pleiades.
The stars that wheel above the hill Are not more wonderful to see, Nor the great tasks that they fulfill More needed in eternity.
Many years ago I began reading about and studying the folklore, deities and overall mythology of the Slavic culture mainly after discovering I have some Slavic lineage. What I quickly learned was how much I enjoy it and even to this day still am always on thew lookout for books regarding this subject. In particular, as I am all about anything with water, I especially enjoy learning about Beings that reside in or around the water of Slavic folklore and even Kupala who is the Slavic goddess of joy and water. If you enjoy Slavic folklore as much as I do then I hope you will enjoy this blog post I thoroughly enjoyed putting together for my readers.
Beautiful, mysterious, deadly: mermaids of Russian folklore
They meet by moonlight, rising out of lakes and ponds or drifting down from the branches of birch trees, hair drip-ping with dew. Their corpse-pale skin reveals their inhuman nature. Their watery essence links them to ancient, elemental forces. In Russian and Ukrainian tradition they are called the rusalki, and they belong to the spiritual world of women, as the mythology surrounding them testiﬁes. For not only do they bring the fertilizing spring rains when invoked by village maidens, but they also punish any man who chances upon them, using as a weapon the very element that the women so longingly call forth: they lure the interloper into the water and drown him.
In some versions of tales about them, the rusalki are portrayed as shape-shifters, most frequently appearing as unearthly and beautiful young women, but also as birds, particularly water birds such as swans or ducks. This aspect of their nature as a mixture of animal and human relates them to other female water-beings found throughout mythology and folklore around the world, from the sirens that tempted sailors to their doom in the Odyssey to the mermaids that continue to appear in popular modern films and literature. Joanna Hubbs, who has traced the lineage of the rusalki in her book Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture, views them as the descendants of an earlier Slavic water elemental, a character part woman and part beast, “the beregina, [which] assumed in folk art the form of the half-woman and half-bird or ﬁsh-siren.”1 Hubbs states that the name of the rusalki’s ancestor ﬁnds its source in the word “bereg,” which may be translated as “shore.”Continue reading HERE.
Vodyanoy – Water Spirit/The Spirit of the Lake
Also known as Vodnik, the Water Spirit of Dvořák’s opera is better known in folklore as Vodyanoy (amongst other names, such as Wassermann or Nix). Dvořák appeared to be particularly fond of this Water Goblin, writing a separate symphonic tone poem titled Vodník.
Hailing from Slavic, German and Czech’s shared folklore, Vodyanoys were often depicted as humanoids with toad-like features, such as gills, webbed fingers, a greenish hue and anuran features. Usually found riding along the river on a half-sunk log, the Vodyanoy were generally viewed as elderly old men, in stark contrast to the youthful feminine Rusalkas.
Whilst not necessarily viewed as malevolent, Vodyanoy (along with Rusalki) were often blamed for drownings, with the Vodyanoy storing the souls of the drowned in teapots. Usually thought to be pretty lazy, they pass the time by playing cards, smoking pipes, and watching the water pass by.SOURCE
Waters and Sacred Spaces
We know from the accounts of chroniclers that pagan temples at Radegast (Rethra) and Wolin, both in modern Poland, were surrounded by bodies of water: swamps, moats and lakes . Chroniclers tell of local beliefs about spirits in these waters, and we can speculate about their use in ritual: bathing and sacrificing in these waters during holy times of the year.
Veneration of springs is a well known in Slavic cultures and persists even to this day, in the form of cults of Christian saints, in many rural areas. But this practice is certainly ancient; aside from the desire for the health benefits of mineral water, springs were either the object of worship or accompanying shrines to gods among Slavic pagan tribes living near the Elbe river.
The Głomacze tribe’s spring was famed for its fortune-telling: it was coated with acorns, oats or wheat to predict peace, and ash or blood to predict war . Acorns covering these waters meant nearby oaks to drop them: oak being a sacred symbol of the thunder god, Perun. Similarly, in Szczecin, a fountain at the base of a large oak tree was venerated as a shrine, to which god the chronicler does not name, but we might speculate it to be the thunderer .Continue reading HERE.
Surprisingly, the Slavs imagined their own Styx, a border river between life and the underworld, and in Russia, this river was called Smorodina, which translates quite clearly as “The Stinky One.”
The river is “stinky,” because it is made of constantly burning and fuming fire. Smorodina is the border between our world and the afterlife that a man’s soul needs to cross to get to the land of plenty (probably The Three Nines Kingdom).
“The melting river is ferocious, a fierce river, the angriest one of all. Its first trickle is like a fire, another one is a spark falling, and because of the third one, the smoke is coming down in columns,” an old Russian bylina (oral epic tale) “Dobrynya and The Serpent” relates. Continue reading HERE.
It was also believed that in ba’nyas (Russian saunas) lived the water spirit named B’annik. He might do various evil things: to scare you while washing, throw stones from the oven or even to raw. He always washed after all the humans at night accompanied with demons, L’eshijs, mermaids & other minor spirits. To please Bannik people left a broom, a bar of soap & some water in a bathing barrel. Besides it was forbidden to build a house on the sauna’s place. This area was considered to be cursed. SOURCE
When asked by people who are first diving into the spirituality of what is commonly known as Norse Paganism I always recommend the Hávamál, the Eddas and of course the Sagas. These I feel really can build a foundation for anyone interested in starting a spiritual path regarding this subject. But of course there are thousands of books regarding the tales of the folklore and the Gods and Goddesses of Scandinavia, many of which are in my personal library which will eventually be added on blogs posts here. But for now I want to focus on five books in my library so let us get to it.
A unique body of medieval literature, the Sagas rank with the world’s greatest literary treasures–as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare. Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured further west–to Greenland and, ultimately, the coast of North America itself.
The ten Sagas and seven shorter tales in this volume include the celebrated “Vinland Sagas,” which recount Leif Eiriksson’s pioneering voyage to the New World and contain the oldest descriptions of the North American continent.Get your copy HERE.
Popular in the 19th century for its sweeping, adventurous, romantic plot and tender love story, the Saga of Fridthjof the Bold was largely neglected in the 20th century. Now, a new and fresh translation of both versions of this Old Norse saga restores it to glory. Also included is the swashbuckling Saga of Thorstein Vikingsson, the father of the hero Fridthjof; the Tale of King Vikar, telling of Fridthjof’s descendants; and plenty of notes and commentary giving the saga’s historical and cultural background. These tales of adventure, war, magic, and love can still thrill the heart today, as they did centuries ago.Get your copy HERE.
The Norwegian island of Hrafnista was long remembered in medieval Iceland as the ancestral home of a family of powerful chieftains, who were said to have faced and triumphed over dangers ranging from tyrant kings, to storms and famines, to giants, dragons, and sorcery. Descendants of these Men of Hrafnista settled in Iceland and gave rise to prominent families, who passed on tales of their ancestors for generations until they were written down. For the first time, the Old Norse sagas of the Men of Hrafnista—the Saga of Ketil Salmon, the Saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek, the Saga of Arrow-Odd, and the Saga of An Bow-Bender—have been collected in one volume, in English translation. Enter the world of Viking legend and lore with these tales of high adventure. Get your copy HERE.
Huge in stature; living in far-distant wastelands; sometimes comically stupid or crude; but possessing vast wealth and knowledge—such are the giants of Norse myth and legend.
Four Icelandic sagas and six tales, spanning five centuries, are brought together for the first time in all-new English translations. All tell of mighty giants, and of the heroes who dared to face them, fight them, and sometimes befriend them. The giants and trolls of old still live on in these legendary sagas of old times. These tales of epic voyages, wars, and romance will appeal to both scholars of Norse mythology and fans of Viking adventure.
The sagas include the Saga of the Kjalarnes People, the Saga of Halfdan Brana’s Fosterling, the Saga of Sorli the Strong, and the Saga of Illugi Grid’s Fosterling.
The six shorter tales are: the Tale of Halfdan the Black, the Tale of Hauk High-Breeches, the Tale of Jokul Buason, the Tale of Brindle-Cross, an excerpt from the Saga of the Fljotsdal People, and the Tale of Asmund Ogre-Lucky. Get your copy HERE.
This gem may not be so easy to acquire as it is out of print as far as I know. My copy of Three Icelandic Sagas is a first edition published on Januray 1st, 1950 and is my favorite in my Sagas collection. The three Sagas told in this book are the Gunnlaugs Saga, Bandamanna Saga and Droplaugarsona Saga which all took place from the late 10th century to early 11th century in Iceland. The book is so well written and even includes some beautiful art depicting scenes from the Sagas. If you manage to get a copy of this first edition it is one you will thoroughly enjoy.
Being someone who has studied the different variations of the Runes for years I have also enjoyed learning about the Runestones of Scandinavia. These monolithic stone carvings are believed started as early as the 4th century CE but the vast majority were created and raised between the 10th and 11th century CE in what would be the late Viking Age. These Runestones sometimes tell a story but mostly are a dedication either in Pagan context or Christian but some are a fusion of both. The thing I like most about them is how each is so unique from the next and I have several friends in Scandinavia who share videos and photos of them with Runestones that allows me to virtually tour these amazing pieces of Viking age history. So with that said I would like to dive into what they are about, importance and all there is to know about the Runestones of Scandinavia.
Runestones: Words from the Viking Age
Remnants of Scandinavia’s Viking past are scattered throughout the countryside of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Among the most intriguing are the stones covered in Viking runes that give a glimpse of the culture and society of the era.
According to the Swedish National Heritage Board, there are about 7,000 runic inscriptions in the world, of which roughly half are Viking Age runestones. Runestones were most commonly raised as memorials to deceased relatives and friends, but they were not burial markers. Instead they were often placed close to roads or other communication routes. The first runestones were raised in Sweden and Norway as early as the third or fourth century A.D., but most were raised during the later Viking period in the 10th and 11th centuries.
Runestones are the oldest existing original works of writing in Scandinavia. Originally they were written in a script consisting of 24 characters, known as the Elder Futhark (f-u-th-a-r-k being the sounds represented by the first six characters). Beginning in the early eighth century, this writing system was replaced by a revised alphabet, known as the Younger Futhark, with just 16 characters. Most of the runestones found in Scandinavia use the Younger Futhark. Although the standard version of this alphabet is the one typically used on runestones, there is also a variation of the Younger Futhark called short-twig runes that was used for everyday messages carved on wood.Continue reading HERE.
The erection of the Jelling runestone by King Harald Bluetooth in the 960’s is usually seen as the beginning of this tradition, although the majority of the runestones were erected in the 11th century.
These runestones could be non-zoomorphic or zoomorphic in nature. Those that were zoomorphic had decoration in Ringerike style or in Urnes style. The inscription usually begins by stating who had the stone erected and in whose memory it was made. These inscriptions include both pagan and Christian dedications. Those with a Christian cross tending to be earlier in the sequence of Christian dedications, as if it were important to show that the person was Christian. Later Christian dedications tend to end with a simple prayer.SOURCE.
As I said in the beginning of this post that I have several friends in Scandinavia who share this passion regarding Runestones and one specific friend I refer to as my go-to friend in Sweden when it comes to this subject as well as Scandinavian Petroglyphs. She is known on Instagram as MooseLady and if you share this interest she is someone I highly recommend following. She is currently a Cultural Heritage History and Archeology student which makes her posts and even discussions in her IG story that more fascinating regarding the subject which really shows how well she presents her own studies of the Runestones. I also highly recommend checking out her Etsy shop which I own a few items from her.