Saturday, 28 June 2014

The green children of Woolpit

There is an old legend from an English village called Woolpit, in Suffolk. A thousand years ago, in the 1100's, Post Norman conquest era at the time of King Stephen, village peasants were working in a field during a warm summer afternoon during harvest season. They soon came across two strange children inside one of the pits. The pits were dug around the field to trap wolves. (The name Woolpit gets its name from "wolf pit"). The two children, a brother and sister,  were both green in colour. They were unable to communicate with the villagers and they spoke in an unusual language. The clothes that they wore were made from leaves, roots, tree bark and also unrecognisable fabric.

The children seemed delirious and frightened but were taken in by the villagers. Then shortly the children were put into the care of a landowner called Sir Richard de Calne, who hoped to learn about the children and their strange language. They lived with him in his house at Wikes for a time. At first both children appeared distressed and hungry but none of them wanted any of the food offered to them. Later they were given a dish of raw fresh beans (some with stalks and others covered in mud) and that was the only thing they liked to eat. Since spending more time in their new home, the children got used to the ordinary food.

One day the boy became ill and passed away. His sister grew up healthy and beautiful. Her appearance changed as the green faded from her hair and skin until she looked like a regular girl. She was soon baptised and then taught lessons in the English language. When she could eventually talk in fluent English, she told of her origins with her brother, that they came from a twilight place called Saint Martin. She and her brother both lived with their father and everyone there was a green colour. She mentioned a river and across that river was a glowing "luminous land". The brother and sister were tending to their father's cattle when they followed the sound of bells, leading them into a cave. They followed the sound of ringing bells through a tunnel and then emerged through the other end of the cave into a world with strong blinding sunlight. That was where they found themselves in Woolpit. They realised they were in another world but couldn't locate the entrance of the cave.

As a young woman, her enigma attracted a lot of attention. It's said that she was later called "Agnes Barre" when she married a man called Richard Barre, who was a chancellor to King Henry the Second of England. They had children and their descendants include Earl Ferrers according to some records. This supposed lineage is speculation because some people don't link Richard Barre with the husband of Agnes Barre.

The account was written in the 12th Century by a monk and historian named William of Newburgh.
So many people come up with theories. Some believe the children were Flemmish, escaping warring villages and living off grass, resulting in a weird green pallor. Others think arsenic poisoning could've been the reason for the children's greenish colouring. Some doubt the timeframe because the period was supposedly during the reign of King Stephen but later on pushed to the realm of King Henry II. Or this is a summery of reports and an actual event that the medieval monk wrote down? Perhaps it's all a fairytale? Britain is full of fairytales and stories of strange phenomena, unusual animals, people, landscapes and mystery objects. It's hard to know what was real and what was legend. People today think the green children come from another dimension or a parallel universe.

What do I think of this? Based on what I've researched, there might be some truth in the Flemmish idea. The place that the girl described sounds like a wintry Scandinavian climate but could it have been another world altogether? Yet there is also the eerieness of the girl's story and the kid's green features. There is a possibility that she and her brother were of the fairy folk. What we have left is a legend now of two mysterious children discovered in a wolf pit. The rest has become mythology and folklore.

Links and Further Reading:

"Hidden History: Lost Civilisations, Secret Knowledge and Ancient Mysteries," by Brian Haughton.
The Green Children of Woolpit  
The Green Children... Mysterious Britain
Anomaly info - Green Children of Woolpit

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Reflections on Midsummer

It's Midsummer Night, and then it will be the Summer Solstice. It's called the "longest day of the year" as it will have the most daylight hours and the shortest night in the year. As the Summer solstice has returned again, I've posted about this subject before each year. This time I will create two posts during the solstices, to discuss a personal reflection of nature, spirits and magic.

As a kid, my experiences of the summer solstice has been that I knew little about it, except that my grandmother used to mention it briefly. I didn't know exactly what it meant. Not until my teens when I read loads of books, studied folklore, art, history and science. So in hindsight, the little kid me not knowing the traditions and myths of ancient times, experienced interesting things during midsummer.

People celebrate the Summer Solstice usually by making a flame, large and small, from bonfires to little candles. It's said to keep evil spirits away because the Summer Solstice is when these things appear in droves. Instead of feeling afraid, people party instead. So the weird fact is that despite it's supernatural leanings, the Summer Solstice is full of energy. The sun itself appears to remain still in the sky and night time is almost a blink between twilights. It's true that there are many reports of hauntings and strange phenomena during the Summer Solstice, as with both solstices and both equinoxes.

Does the Summer solstice effect the earth itself? Yes. It greatly alters the seasons and causes a change in the habits of animals' behaviour. The darker impact may be that many natural disasters have happened during and near midsummer. The more aggressive and venomous creatures emerge in the season and outbreaks of ticks, headlice, other parasites and transmitted diseases. People get stung more during this time and can get damaged skin due to both the heat and too much exposure to the strong Summer sunlight.

Summer Solstice events in the last few decades:

In 1981, a mysterious fire in a London tube station on the Northern Line, killed a man and injured a few others.
Prince William was born in 1982.
In 1989 police arrest about 250 people at the site of Stonehenge.
1990 an earthquake killed thousands of people in Iran.
Greenland starts to become independant from Denmark in 2009.
In 2013 many people died from severe floods in North India. 

Summer Solstice events in the future:

Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Quarta will host it in 2022.
England and Wales will host the Cricket World Cup.
India will send manned missions to the moon in 2020.
ESA plans to journey to Jupiter's moons in 2022.
The first humans to colonise Mars in 2024.
People in 2039 living in the Northern hemisphere will see an Annular solar eclipse.

Okay the next post will be later in the year when the next solstice comes.

(Picture at the top)
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by artist Shawli Chen.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Poisonous & Beautiful: Amanita muscaria

One of the most prettiest and poisonous mushroom is Amanita muscaria. It's best known by its other name "Fly Agaric".

The mushroom belongs to the Agaric family with their identity of colourful speckled caps. They look like the mushrooms of fairy tales and are often thought of as the natural seats for nature spirits and animals.

These mushrooms grow in woodlands and around circular fairy rings. They're also referred to as "magic mushrooms" by some and isn't grown because of it's fungal contamination that decays some tree roots, such as pines in particular. However due to the toxic nature of the mushroom, Fly Agaric has been a special ingrediant for shamanic rituals.

Eating them will cause stomach upset, vomiting, sweating and hallucinations. In some extreme cases, Fly Agaric has caused people to suffer seizures and induce a coma. The effects happen atleast thirty minutes later and follows by painful side effects, illness, sweating and vomiting that can last for days. Death from eating Fly Agaraic is rare but has happened but it's considered a flawed idea based upon old references, while the yellow mushrooms called "Death Caps" are responsible for fatalities.

Rain washes away Fly Agaric's bright spots. If done carefully, some of these mushrooms are also used in medicine and cooking.

More on this mushroom:
Fly Agaric - Woodland Trust

Monday, 9 June 2014

Valkyrie Göndul

Goldul is a dark Valkyrie who carries with her, a magic wand in the shape of a powerful crystal torc. Associated with sorcery, Gondul is one of the valkyries that was feared by ordinary men, women and children.

Her name is linked to the old Norse root gandr that means "magical wand" and "magic charm". Some people dabbling in the occult used to summon Gondul to help assist forming spells and curses. But doing this was often fateful, dangerous and even led to those people being tried for witchcraft.

When Gondul appeared on the battlefield ready to take a fallen warrior to Valhalla, she sometimes failed because the souls of warriors fled. Gondul would humiliate the dead and refuse to help them sit on her horse.

Gondul is a beautiful Valkyrie maiden, whose hair is apple blossom white, and her eyes are silver. She has been known to seduce mortal men and uses her sensuality to manipulate and win the hearts of powerful kings. She was said to have created a war just by bedding two different kings and turning them against one another. Why she did this is not understood or even clear as there are fragmented writings about Godrun. Piecing it all together makes little sense. It just makes her look like a bad mannered Valkyrie.

Linked with sorcery and seduction, cruelty and rebellion, this Valkyrie never betrays the gods. She simply doesn't like mortals very much. Or the ancient texts, poems and stories echo the premitive Valkyrie through Gondul, and anything to do with the Old Ways and so spiritual beings were demonised.

I don't personally take these things too literally. The Valkyries, all, were a type of Northern celestial nymphs that are a part of nature, and help calm the dead warriors so that they settle across peacefully, not through rage. Gondul is, in writings almost anti-clockwise but perhaps she only represents death itself, as angels and the Grim Reaper. Valkyries have been a personification of death for thousands of years, when they're also fantasy figures of women in armour to make the entry to death from a battle feel serene.

In Greek mythology, Keres were maidens of death. Daughters of Nyx, goddess of night, they resembled shadowy female vampire ghosts who drank blood and ate flesh. Their names "Keres" and "Valkyrie" both mean "choosers of the slain". The Valkyries were beautiful and supposedly loving and warm hearted, but doing deeper work you'll find that some valkyries are quite selfish and emotional. Gondul as a mythical character certainly seems that way. Some have found that her name means "werewolf" as she is associated with magic and the occult.


Valkyries - Mythical Realm
Sorla Pattr (English)

Monday, 2 June 2014

Adventure Girls: Dorothy

This is a new series of posts (subjects) I'm going to do, called "Adventure Girls"."Adventure Girls" are about different heroines from fairytales, story books, folklore and legends.
They're girls who've been on exciting adventures, and many of them had to survive or overcome their fears. Tough girls, and always seeking quests.
Some have been led down scary sinister paths, or taken to other lands outside of their control, but soon regained their courage to get what they want.
Many of these girls are pretty famous favourite characters from fairy stories. Others are not so well known but whose stories of adventure and magic have been around for a long time.
The inspiration of doing this new project is an extension from other projects of mine, covered here on this blog, with the titles "Power of the Goddess" (focusing only on Norse and Germanic goddesses) and "Fairytale Gromoire" (there are 8 of those altogether).

Adventure Girl Part 1 = Dorothy
Full name - Dorothy Gale
Appears in - "The Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum
Pets - A dog named Toto
Other info - Farm girl and heroine.

This girl appeals to a lot of young people and children (girls mainly) in a lot of ways. She's tough, for enduring so many dangers and befriending scary looking characters, facing a vile evil witch and helping others. Dorothy is most famously known for wearing a pair of magic shoes. In the fantasy musical "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), Dorothy (played by Judy Garland) wore a pair ruby slippers with hidden untapped powers. Originally in the book, those magic shoes were made of potent silver.

This girl was almost killed at the beginning of the story. Like other adventure girls, these heroines meet death. It's how she was sent to the land of Oz. A tornado whisked her there as she was huddled inside her house, until the house crashed landed upon a witch. The witch wore a pair of magic shoes, and was already a presence in the town of Munchkins, ready to cast a wicked spell over them. Dorothy accidently killed the witch but the witch's sister wanted the magic shoes and take revenge.  There had been two evil wicked witches, the dead witch of the east, whose magic shoes Dorothy inherited. And another, the wicked witch of the west. The good witch, possibly a witch of the north (who appears as Glenda in the 1939 film), gave Dorothy the shoes and a kiss of protection. That would've helped Dorothy on her journey. But instead, Dorothy faced more problems.

Dorothy's quest was to seek a wizard, who lived in the Emerald City, that would help her return home. To get there, she must walk along a road made of yellow bricks. She met a talking scarecrow, a man made of tin, and a lion without courage. These characters went along the road with Dorothy as they too wanted to see the powerful wizard. During the film, all of them make it to the Emerald City but then an intoxicating field of poppies sends them all to sleep. Gradually they are woken and finally enter the city gates, at first blocked by a city guard. When they all eventually meet the wizard, he's a tyrant head floating above a high emerald throne. The wizard is so frightening that they do as he commands, and sends them away to locate the witch of the west. Flying monkeys carry Dorothy to the witch's castle, and again, by accident she kills the second witch with a bucket of water. 

And so it goes on. The film didn't include everything that the original book had within. There were further adventures and more strange and weird characters.

There is a very occult feel to the "Wizard of Oz". It contains references to alchemy, magic and folklore. For instance, the paganism is subliminal and indirect, both using Celtic, Norse and Native American traditions. For example, whether deliberate or not, or it was the author's subconsiousness or plan, it's not too obvious. The little dog Toto is actually a wolf pup nicknamed "Totem". The Emerald City is a desired object, the Emerald Tablet, or Smaragdine Tablet, and Oz the wizard is possibly based on a god such as Hermes or Odin. The yellow brick road isn't a gold rush influence but cryptic clues for reaching the Emerald City, the Grail of Oz.

Dorothy is a modern rural heroine of fairytales and folklore. Although she's one of the favourite heroines admired by a lot of kids, there is a true life tragedy to her. The author read a news report about a real girl named Dorothy Gale, who was killed by a tornado in Irving, Texas, in 1879. Dorothy is also the name of Baum's neice who died during infancy. In a way to cope with the grief, Baum created his character Dorothy as a strong and lively teen heroine.

Actresses who played Dorothy Gale:
Anne Loughlin (1902)
Bebe Daniels (1910)
Dorothy Dwan (1925)
Judy Garland (1939)
Joy Dunstan (1976)
Diana Ross (1978)
Fairuza Balk (1985)
Zooey Deschanel (2007)
Matreya Scarrwena (2014)

More links:

Dorothy Gale Oz Wikia

Pix "Dorothy Gale" by Jessica Oyhenart-Ball