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Monday, 29 September 2014

Werewolves, rabies and romance



The act of transformation from human to wolf in werewolf legends, must stem from an actual real event, or a common practice. The debate of whether or not werewolves exist is ongoing. Some believe that werewolves are just part of the Horror entertainment landscape. We see many wolf people on the silver screen, in books and games. The appeal of the Werewolf is quite different to the appeal of the vampire. People love vampires. Some are even in love with vampires.

Dracula is considered a romantic figure amongst women and Dracula has sex appeal. He's a true heart throb as well as a monster. Dracula is a supernatural dream lover. Vampires themselves are linked with sensuality, beautiful nightmares, gothicism and dark fantasies. Yet the thought of Dracula scared a lot of people only 100 years ago even though he's fictional. The character of Dracula is based upon a book by Bram Stoker, who based the character on a real infamous man called Vlad Tepes.

So that is how the love of vampires started. From fear throughout history, and then transformed into a fantasy lover.

What about werewolves then?

Werewolves have gone through a shift. Not just a transforming from human to wolf, but the concept of the werewolf has started off as a frightening creature who is now a charming belief.

In Neolithic times, the werewolf idea is not known. Humans were beginning to form friendships with wolves and made some of those guardians of the home and fellow hunters. Wolves were tamed and became the domesticated dog. The fear of wolves didn't appear until the wave of agriculture became established throughout the lands. Farmers saw wolves as a threat to their own kept livestock animals. As well as the risk of farmed animals being killed by wolves, depriving people of food, there was floods and drought, ruining crops and threatening starvation. People lived on the edge of hunger. The worry of bad harvest and dead livestock meant there would be famine. The fear of famine was greater back in ancient times and it left people blaming the lack of food on wild predators or in some places, angry gods.

To appease the gods, people sacrificed other human beings, sometimes giving up what food they had, or giving a member of the livestock to the gods. The people killed livestock and human sacrifices in different brutal ways. This was because of failed harvest and so sacrificing meant that the people were both sorry for whatever sins they made, and giving up the life and blood of a living being to show that they are duty bound. Modern people view human sacrifices as abhorrent. People only did this because they feared the gods, and most of all they feared starvation.

Wolves around the corner, wolves at the door, meant that there was poverty and hunger. Hungry people stayed indoors mainly, armed by simple weapons. They were most vulnerable to wolf attacks because they were not surrounded by walls and knights. Only the nobility were protected from the elements.  So ordinary citizens were allowed to keep dogs and cats to protect their families from wild animals and supernatural entities (another issue people suffered from). Then there was plague and other known diseases such as rabies.

Rabies is a known viral infection passed from animal to humans. It's often passed by saliva or bites. The word Rabies is Latin and it means "madness". This causes someone to feel violent, hallucinate, have flu-like symptoms, and become hydrophobic. Such symptoms result in death. If humans with rabies bite another person they'll pass on rabies also. Rabies have been known to be given to someone else through organ transplants by an infected donor. It changes the personality and behaviour of the human and animal. The fear of rabies appeared in the Middle Ages until the last Century. People no longer recognised their once loving dogs who became rabid. Wild  and domestic rabid animals caused much spread of the illness. Many believe that the werewolf legend came from the fear of rabies.  
 
But the idea of werewolfism didn't only form out of people's misery. In ancient history, warriors put on robes from skins and fur of wolves and bears, and took on the souls of the dead animals. These were called Berserkers. Today, during formal military parades, certain officers still garb themselves in the skins of animals that are symbols of their regiments. But modern day combat soldiers don't get trained with the same skills that the Berserkers had. Although warfare is entirely different today than it was in the past, modern soldiers need to be shown some ancient military tactics or the wisdom of the Berserkers would be forgotten.

Werewolf literature of the 19th and 20th centuries are scary, bloody and horrible. Werewolves are nasty. These are cruel, dangerous creatures of the night, who change at the full moon. Werewolves become werewolves because of being bitten by another werewolf. This is like rabies. Werewolves fear silver, and this too is similar to rabies because rabid creatures fear water. Water and silver are linked with the moon.

It's like a curse. It's also weird too because human anatomy is far different to a canines'. Human beings don't have knees bending backwards like dogs and wolves. We don't have long snouts with acute sense of smell. We don't have the same way of seeing and feeling that canines do. We have less hair and no tails. Our canines are much smaller and our tongues are definately not the same. We haven't got the same ears or eyes! Our DNA isn't their DNA so how can werewolves be real... scientifically it's not possible. Or is it?

That's an opening for another post. But today's werewolves in literature and TV are much nicer, good looking and sexy. They've become the friend rather than foe. They are a popular fantasy figure in Paranormal Romance books. Werewolves are now thought of as dream lovers with a wild streak.

Titles with modern werewolves on screen:
Twilight
Monster High
True Blood
Bitten
Teen Wolf
Being Human

   

Werewolf lady picture is "Instinct" by David Gaillet    

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Hazel runes



The hazel tree is another tree that is most sacred to Thunor (Thor), the god of thunder. Hazel is also a remedy against wounds from lightning bolts. The hazel tree has a significant part in magical traditions, folklore, earth lore and religion. The Celts and Germanics believed that the Hazel wood was potent and linked with the spirit world. Nuts from a hazel tree was roasted in Autumn and during the equinox of Halloween, the act of eating roasted hazelnuts made people immune from harmful entities. This was nicknamed "Nut Crack Night". The hazel wood was favourite among priests, wizards, druids, gothi and witches to use in divination.

Hazel twigs can be carved or chopped, then decourated with runes. Nuts in autumn. Catkin flowers in spring. Both catkinds and hazelnuts draw in protective energy and each tree of the hazel is a natural Positive of fertility and medicine properties. Whatever runic system you prefer, Futhark, Anglo Saxon, medieval, ect or even using the Oghan symbols, enhances wisdom and accuracy in making a reading, a forecast and connection with the divine.

I prefer to washe the twigs and cut them into finger sizes, and chip away one side of the wood to put in a rune shape. Most people believe red is an ideal colour to mark the runes, and blood ink is better, according to most Asatru and Wiccan followers. Some like using ochre ink instead of blood to write in the inscriptions. I found that this only helps for some. I personally choose the colour green, the colour of the earth. The writing doesn't have to be made in blood or red ochre. Ink can be written in food colourings, metallic pens and even tree sap of any colour that you feel easier working with.

 Links:

Goddess tree Hazel
Hazel

 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Valkyrie Reginleif



Mentioned on a pillar at a 12th Century stave church in Ornes, Norway, this valkyrie is one of the ferocious and divine of the Valkyries.

Her name is Reginleif and she's "Daughter of the Gods". A demigoddess with supernatural abilities as opposed to being a mortal type of valkyrie woman and spirit. Let me describe Reginleif in a little more detail.

She's connected to a raven's banner. Her hair is the colour of pearl, and her eyes shimmer like silver stars. She wears armour and sometimes a cloak of black feathers. One of the more sinister and dark valkyries associated with blood, war, the occult and death, Reginleif rides on a black wolf named Heart-Biter (Hjartfanu).

She's listed in the Eddas. Here is an extract from Grimnismal that is quoting from Odin:

Hrist ok Mist
vil ek at mér horn beri,
Skeggjöld ok Skögul,
Hildr ok Þrúðr,
Hlökk ok Herfjötur,
Göll ok Geirahöð,
Randgríð ok Ráðgríð
ok Reginleif.
Þær bera einherjum öl.
I want Hrist and Mist
to bring me a horn,
Skeggjöld and Skögul,
Hildr and Þrúðr,
Hlökk and Herfjötur,
Göll and Geirahöð,
Randgríð and Ráðgríð
and Reginleif.
They carry ale to the einherjar.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Oak tree and acorn spirits




The Oak tree is sacred to Thunor, the god of thunder. Used by many Gothi, warriors and men, oak wood is symbolic of masculine power, drawing on the divine and supernatural strike of His lightning bolts.There is magic of an oak tree but there are female deities and feminine spirits also associated with the mighty oak.

There are many spirits and other supernatural guardians of the oak, some look like animals and others like children. Also there are feminine powers of the oak tree that women can gain. Among the oak trees cast of divinities include girls who are spirits and goddesses that thrive in forests and the oaks are special to them. These are dryads, Hamadryads, fae, female light elves, yakshinis and Nang Ta-khian. Among the dryads are the Querqeutrulanae who belonged to the oak grove. The main hamadryad of acorn bearing trees was called Balanos. Goddess Diana fashioned her bows and arrows from oak trees, and the oak was sacred to Her.

The fact the oak tree is associated always with the male gods of thunder and lightning is the power of the tree and the nature as it pulls the strength from the sky towards it. The oak made into tools, weapons, carvings and even doors (particularly if the oak was already struck by lightning) creates a protection spell and acts as a guard. Men have been dominant in voicing their own affinity with the oak and much that has been written down is a fraction of oral traditions.

The fruits of the oak tree, the acorns, are well known for their shape and immortality. These acorns are edible and strong so when planted in soil, the roots begin growing quickly. There is magic of the acorns because these were gathered to induce fertility and spells made using them to increase the better of family, health and communal well being. Certain pagans, witches and healers carried acorns and oak galls as talismans.

Beside the protective and healing magical properties of the oak tree, one can also discover that spirits are linked to a piece of an oak tree, including it's leaves, acorns and twigs. Ancient druids used to cut from oak trees and make talismand and wands. They made sacrifices after climbing oak trees. The oak was important to the ancients.
  

The Ogham Trees - Oak
Oak - Mystical WWW
Oak - The Goddess Tree
Oak - Sacred Earth   

Art "Oak" by Anna Ignatieva

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Adventure Girls: Vasilisa

This is the fourth post of a new series of different story adventuresses."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 Girls part 4 = Vasilisa


Appears in: "Vasilisa the Beautiful" by Alexander Afanasyev.
Relics: A wooden doll and a skull lantern.
Other info: Forest maiden.

Vasilisa is a character from an old Russian fairytale. It begins with a little girl who's dying mother gave her a present in the form of a wooden doll. The doll is no ordinary doll. The dying mother informs her little daughter that the doll will comfort her and talk to her if she gives it something to eat. The doll must not be found by anyone else though as it would be a secret. Vasilisa had to hide the doll from other people after listening to her mother's advice.

One day, some time after the girl's mother died, she fed the wooden doll a scrap of bread. The doll slowly started to eat and then it came to life and took on an animated form. It soon became Vasilisa's friend.

Vasilisa's grieving father remarried. His new wife was a widow with two daughters that were older than Vasilisa. Vasilisa's father had to go away a lot for work and he needed someone to take care of her, and wanted Vasilisa to have a new mother and older sisters for company. The name of the stepmother was Liliya and not considered popular or pleasant by others. She had a very mean personality and whenever Vasilisa's father was absent, Liliya would be cruel to her. The stepsisters were so bitter towards the beautiful Vasilisa that Liliya had her forced into child labour, working in the fields just so she would get ruined, scratched, bitten, sunburnt and break a back or two. However, Vasilisa grew fitter, stronger, healthier and her sunkissed complexion was a pretty golden.

The stepsisters and stepmother Liliya didn't understand it. They had become more weak, pasty, fatter and sicklier by staying indoors and not doing chores. The reason behind Vasilisa's good health and glowing beauty was the wooden doll. The doll always spoke to Vasilisa in private, advising her what special herbs and ointments to take so that she could avoid skin damage and insect bites. The doll told Vasilisa what foods to eat, how to pick them, cook them, and keep up her valued nutrients and vitamins.

Years went by and Vasilisa grew up into a young woman. Liliya wanted her daughters to be married but couldn't find anyone suitable. The local boys wanted to marry Vasilisa instead of the two ill tempered sisters. Liliya became very angry about this. She hid letters sent from her husband to Vasilisa and made her do all the housework. Then Liliya sent Vasilisa and her daughters away to a small house near the edge of a dark forest. Nearby was a field, swamp and dangerous animals. Vasilisa was unhappy, and she's never got her father's letters and believed the lies from Liliya that he was not coming back.

Liliya, her two daughters and Vasilisa were isolated from other people. In the forest nearby, were not just wild animals and poisonous creatures. A curious old woman named Baba Yaga lived there. She was said to be a witch who ate people and surrounded her house with human skulls.

Vasilisa was comforted by her doll, who assured her that her father loved her and that Liliya lied to her and hid his letters. Cheered up by the wooden doll's comforting words, and boosted with health and energy via the doll's guidelines into a proper diet and rest, she stayed healthier and glowing than her stepmother and stepsisters.

Liliya came up with a sinister plan to send Vasilisa away to be killed by Baba Yaga. When Liliya did shun Vasilisa and send her towards the house of Baba Yaga, she confided in her wooden doll. This doll protected Vasilisa from harm. Soon she noticed a strange sight. A man all shining and white rode on a glowing white horse. She watched the rider pass her through the trees. A while later she noticed another man, who was dressed entirely in red, and riding on a bright red horse, rode by through the forest. She kept going. She later came to a sight of a walking house! It was actually a wooden house on top of, what looked like a pair of chicken's legs. There were bones and flaming skeletons all around it. She hesitated. Night fell in the dark creepy forest. Then a third man on horseback appeared. He was dresed entiely in black and the horse was black as shadow. He rode towards the unusual house with chicken's legs and disappeared.

The epic adventure of Vasilisa is just beginning... 

This beautiful fairytale can be read here:Vasilisa

More on Vasilisa:

Baba Yaga 
Vasilisa on Wikipedia

Books:

"Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave" by Marrianna Mayer.