Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Magical boys (part 2) SUMMER
The charming boy figures in folklore, myths and legends include warriors, gods, heroes and princes. Some of the most famous and popular heroic boys range from heroes who killed giants, dragons and monsters. Knights of chivalry and legend. Mystical young apprentices and wizards. Boys made of wood and machines. And immortals, gods and boys from the fairy realm. I've already covered "Winter" and this second part will be about "Summer".
The season of Summer, and even Spring and early Autumn is much considered a time of flowers, fruits, corn, harvests, growth, sunlight, warmth, the colours gold and endless blue skies. There are many solar divinities and earth gods and spirits. Boys make up as much part of the summer traditions as girls. There is the story of the Holly King and the Oak King (mentioned in "Winter" post, see link). The Holly King is a symbol of Winter and his counterpart, the Oak King is symbolic of Summer. Both are divine brothers who rule different parts of the year, Winter and Summer. The Oak King is powerful during the Midsummer solstice. It's this time of year when the Holly King is asleep and weakest. This is a masculine twin brotherhood of light and dark, and possibly two sides of a coin. In a way this is also like Janus, the Roman god of time with two different faces.
Some believe that the Oak King may be another aspect of the Green Man. This deity is actually a carving made from stone and wood, to represent the fertile earth, fruit, vegetables, plants, trees and crops. He's regarded as a god of the earth, rebirth, renewal, growth and fertility. His power is drawn from the soil and his energy lives in the ground, stones, wood and grass. He appears sometimes as Jack in the Green in late Spring/early Summer parades, dancing and dressed in foliage. He displays a war link in Athurian legends of the Green Knight.
While this green man/green god and Oak King masters over the fields and through the forests, his minions and children display mischief. In the Suffolk village of Woolpit, a green coloured boy and girl emerged from nowhere and claimed to be from another world. And there are the cheeky goblins and brownies who steal from veggie patches under moonlight, and leave bacteria in their paths to ruin crops. Robin Goodfellow is a similar boy of nature's mysteries. He's a famous hobgoblin with pagan roots with an appearance in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare. Some consider this type of spirit to be a puck, from Old Norse "Puki" as well as Celtic "Puca". He's a land wight, or a boy fae, that will be kind if you're kind to him.
These sprites are also considered similar to the fauns, Centaurs and satyrs of Greco-Roman myths. Who are these magical boy spirits of the wilderness then? Are they simply boy versions of nymphs? Are they demi gods? or demonic entities? or aliens? or bad men who dwell in isolated bands looking for someone to rob? The seven dwarves are a well loved bunch of boys who protect the vulnerable Snow White princess from harm. They could also be land wights, spirits, goblins, gnomes, ghosts or even robbers!!!! However, these boys have been given strange features to mark them non human, such as hooves, pointed ears, tails and horns.
Pan and Cernunnos are horned nature gods who ruled the land. They were gods of animals and plants. Men traditionally wear horns and antlers on certain festivals to represent Herne the Hunter, a young male spirit of the royal grounds. Herne is possibly connected to both Cernunnos and Odin.
Since the Roman occupation of Britain, were tales of the eerie hoodies, or Hooded Spirits. These beings were three boys/young men as a trio, who were called Genii cucullati, who were sons or servants of the hooded Telesphorus, a god of healing and protection.The Genii cucullati, the hoodies so to speak, acted like spectral monks that guarded areas from anything malicious and protected children. But hooded boys and men were always associated with criminality.
Robin Hood is a hooded hero of the Middle Ages, who dwelled in Sherwood Forest, but there were many Robin Hoods. There was Robin of Loxley, Robin of Wakefield and Robin of York. Considered an outlaw "wolf head" in his hood, a yoeman with skills in archery, an Anglo Saxon hero against the oppressive Norman conquerers. He also might be a real person or persons as there were a lot of hooded outlaws during medieval England. And Robin has a mystical charm that is almost similar to Robin Goodfellow and Hodekin, a spirit youth that protected the home in German folklore.