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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Howling Halloween

From Wolf Science


When you carve pumpkins and dress up as witches, vampires and monsters, think about where it comes from.

It's the season of the Dead. Some people call it Samhain (pronounced "sow-win"), a very ancient Celtic celebration. It's also better knowned as Halloween. To the Scandinavians, it's called Alfablot.

During the ancient rituals of both Samhain and Alfablot, animals (mainly cattle) were sacrificed to the ancestors in celebration of the Dead. Both customs recognised that the spirits of the dead walk at the end of Autumn. The sacrifices were not just in honour of dead ancestors or ghosts but to the nature spirits including fairies. Alfablot means "sacrifice to the elves". Food and sacrificial blood was offered to the spirits in both celebrations.   

Alfablot
Samhain

What can you do?

First of all, in the 21st Century we've become more compassionate towards fellow humans and animals. We don't use live sacrifices anymore during these seasonal rites. Instead we eat, drink and chant. Some people want to make sacrifices but I believe that modern sacrifices should be made entirely different:

Modern day sacrifices:

1. Giving up ones meal and use this as an offering, placing it in the ground or beneath a tree.
2. Removing a lock of hair.
3. Fasting for the day.
4. Donating money and favourite clothes.

However, some prefer to still use living animals. This is just wrong and won't be considered a sacrifice to the gods or spirits anymore. Don't forget that in ancient times, people lived on the brink of starvation and at the mercy of dangerous animals, harsh freezing winters and plagues. Animals and wood (a very important fire fuel to use in the home), was considered a sacrifice if these were offered in the autumn rites, because people suffered more without them. In exchange for that short-term suffering they were rewarded with gifts from nature.

Modern people are a different breed of humans and have no right to destroy any living thing in the name of an ancient sacrifice because modern people won't be making a sacrifice but doing cruelty. Such an act that will have repurcussions. It isn't the person doing a sacrifice because they won't suffer starvation after it. People have lost the meaning of the word "sacrifice" today. Most people think of it as being evil and killing someone and something. It actually means giving up what you most need to others.

To make an ancient type of offering to the dead and nature spirits, you would be better off going to the local butchers and buying some meat. Then offering the meat to the spirits, ghosts and elves, giving it away to the earth, leaving it by a track or a graveyard or a wood.

Some people can say giving food to trick or treaters is an act of sacrifice because you've paid for something you're giving to children dressed up as little monsters. Also leave sweets out throughout the night for the actual spirits would be interested in your sugary offerings. In a way, donating to charity is a form of modern day sacrifice. Today's sacrifices are an act of kindness.

Have a really interesting Halloween.    

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Nyctohylophobia



Nyctohylophobia is a fear of forests and woods at night. This is based on an irrational view that forests at night are full of evil dangers, ghosts, monsters, predators and maniacs. The truth is, maybe this is because of an earliest childhood memory, or an eposure to night forests on TV, in horror films that associate night forests as sinister. Also the truth is, it is not quite true.

While forests are dwellings for wildlife and can be very exciting adventures to be camping in, putting this aside, forests are also known to be unsafe, hiding places for things that are dangerous and mysterious.

Nocturnal forests get filled with nocturnal creatures, making eerie sounds that chill most people. But forests and woodlands are also, just like houses, haunted. Once upon a time, old roads and paths went through a wood and forest, often used by travellers, riders on horseback, stage coaches, ect. These passages don't exist anymore. There are ruins of hamlets and villages found buried in English woodlands. These places haven't been lived in for centuries. Yet the souls of these people and their activities left a paranormal stamp.

Many individual forests and woods are quite recent, planted within the last few hundred years, growing over ancient relics and dwellings. Trees are forests are haunted even because in times past, people were hung from branches and left to rot and get eaten by carrion. Battles took place in areas now wooded. There are also burial mounds, old graves and plague pits littered deep under forest growth. 

It's obvious why such places are haunted. Besides the dead, forests are also places of unknown creatures and monsters, such as Bigfoot, winged people and werewolves. Trees themselves have been considered nasty and malevolent, but often these bad living trees are much confined to folklore and fairytales. However, spirits have been seen in trees and some particular wood from a single tree infected by poison. It is sad that a lot of plants have been cut down because of diseases and it's not proven if anything paranormal was behind that. What is certain is that malicious entities that dwell in trees taint them, as they contaminate rooms and houses and objetcs.

Beside the hocus pocus, there is a lost wisdom of trees. People fear what they don't understand. Trees provide healing properties and food, fresh air and comfort. Trees are living things, and I know that trees have a beating heart. The fear of trees may just be a phobia, and yet people don't like trees anyway because they lack any knowledge and have no appreciation for life. Monster trees and evil forests indeed.

Links:

Haunted trees and forests 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sisters of the Valkyrie? (part I) Goddess Iris



There are Valkyrie-like goddesses and demi goddesses in other belief systems, who resemble the characteristics of the Northern Valkyries. It makes you wonder if they belong to the same species or come from the same root legend. I plan to make several entries about the subject, starting with individuals and then perhaps go onto research different aspects of the Valkyrie.

The first post on this new subject is about the goddess Iris.

She is the goddess of rainbows. Found in Greek mythology, Iris the goddess is a sky goddess who rides the air and travels along the wind currents. She has a pair of golden wings, her hair is pale, silken soft as clouds, and her eyes are very strong and bright. She flies using her wings, or slides across an arc of rainbow. She is one of the messengers, like Hermes, who passes information from one to the other, across land, sea and dimension.

Daughter of Electra, a sky nymph (another individual similar to the Valkyrie), and Thaumas, a sea god. Among Her many siblings are her wicked sisters, the Harpies, who are considered a nightmarish equivalent of the Valkyries. The harpies were monstrous winged women that turn violent and kidnap people. These women are associated with death, because they snatch souls and linger around graves, chewing on corpses. Another sister of Iris is called Celaeno, who is either a harpy, Amazon, Pleiades or princess. Her younger sister is Arke, another light maker of the faded second rainbow compared to vivid Iris.

Beside the many links with harpies and celestial nymphs, Iris is a loving goddess of the colourful rainbow. Iris carries a staff and sometimes a picther of water from the River Styx. She has the ability to send people, and souls, to sleep. She can cure mental illness, even induce them. She can invoke lucid dreams or assist in vision quests. She's also a goddess of the Northern Lights, the aurora borealis, and inner rainbows, the chakras and aura. Iris is like a Valkyrie.
      
So far I've done seven posts on the Valkyries individually. I hand picked seven of them at random. All of my Valkyrie posts are found here, and can be located in the archives.
1. Valkyrie Eir
2. Valkyrie Mist
3. Valkyrie Brynhildr
4. Valkyrie Gondul
5. Valkyrie Hild
6. Valkyrie Kara
7. Valkyrie Reginleif

Goddess Iris painted by artist Josephine Wall

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Adventure Girls: Gretel



This is the FIFTH post of my series in this blog. It's about different girls in well known fairytales 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.

Adventure Girls (part 5) = Gretel

Appears in: "Hansel and Gretel" by the Brothers Grimm.
Companion: Gretel's brother Hansel,
Pets: None, although guided by birds in the story.
Other Info: Solar child.

We're all familiar with the story of "Hansel and Gretel" told by the Brothers Grimm, or the various modern adaptions of it. The story by Grimm includes a little more, such as the appearance of a swan that guides the brother and sister home through the forest near the end of the narrative. At the beginning of the story, two children named Hansel and Gretel live in a cottage in the middle of a forest. They live there with their father and step mother. All of them are with very little food. The step mother is the wicked one who makes her husband abandon the children in the forest. The father is the stupid one for doing as she says and leaves his own children in the forest. But Hansel, the boy, eavesdropped in on the conversation between the adults the night before, listening to his step mothers horrible plan. He sneaked out into the garden and collected small white stones. As the father led the two kids deeper into the forest, Hansel left a trail by dropping the stones on the ground. By morning, Hansel and Gretel woke up in the forest and noticed their father was gone. They followed the white stones back to the cottage. Step mother was fuming mad when they returned. Again the adults talked about leading the children even deeper into the forest. Only this time Hansel couldn't get out of the house to collect stones because the door was locked. He collected some bread crumbs by morning and as he followed his father who took him and Gretel into the forest, in another direction, Hansel dropped the breadcrumbs. By morning, the two children woke up and noticed their father left them again. Birds had eaten all the breadcrumbs and they couldn't find their way home.

I won't retell the rest of the story. If any are not familiar with Hansel and Gretel, you can see the entire narrative here: Grimm's Fairytales, Hansel and Gretel (ENGLISH).

One thing I'll mention here is Gretel. Yes her brother was the one who found a way to get them home the first time and he tricked the nasty witch later on by giving her a bone to touch, as the witch had poor eyesight. He was locked in a cage and the witch wanted to fatten him up by giving him a lot of food. It was the sister Gretel who rescued him and saved everyone from starvation. She destroyed the witch, by pushing her into a large oven.

The story isn't as simple as you may think. The Brothers Grimm retold a story composed of older narratives and based on both myth and historical events. Hansel and Gretel would've lived in the early 14th Century, during the Great Famine. This occured when there was also the terrible bubonic plague. The famine devestated people so much that families were torn apart and millions died. People resorted to cannibalism and abandoning their own children in the wilderness. It explains why the father and step mother of Hansel and Gretel sent their children away to die in the forest. Stories of witches and ogres have a cruel place in the stories, possibly based on truth. There were very dangerous people preying on the vulnerable and during the famine era, looking for someone to eat! People were driven by madness due to hunger and desperation. So much so that it appears in monstrous form. Because of that, Medieval society broke down.    

Gingerbread was a favourite sweet in Medieval times. The gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel is a paradise place for starving lost children. During the famine, bakers and confectioners made as much gingerbread as they could to feed the hungry. Medieval people started decourating and moulding gingerbread into fantastic shapes and artistic designs. But gingerbread is also medicine and has properties in alchemy and herblore, used in magical ingredients to enhance strength and increase love. Gingerbread is a fire symbol, as it comes from the fiery ginger root. Ginger is hot tasting and therefore a spice.

There is a lot of solar symbolism in Hansel and Gretel. The gingerbread house, swan, birds, white stones and the burning oven. The witch being thrown into the oven is a reminder of witch burnings throughout the Middle Ages. And nasty evil characters in fairytales always get killed.

Gretel is a sweet protective heroine that loves her brother and saves him from being eaten by the witch. She is the sister, and Hansel is the brother. Brother and sister pairs occur everywhere in mythology, from Frey and Freya, Isis and Osiris, and Diana and Apollo.

Rayne

"Hansel and Gretel" by Sainendre


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ghosts and food



There is a misunderstanding that ghosts are just phantoms of light, images of the past. Maybe this is true for some of the things that happen: silent phantom World War Two aircraft that appear to crash land in areas, never to be found. Or the battle cries resounding each century on haunted fields. But there is a lot of reports that ghosts, especially of people, appear to look at the witness and even directly talk to them. Some ghosts look so real that they appear like you and me.

Not all ghosts resemble the image of floating white sheets. Some ghosts appear as colourful orbs, and others look like mist, or flashes that are mistaken for lightning. Ghosts can look like dark shadowy figures. Others look like humans and animals. But whatever a ghost looks like isn't just about features here. We grow up thinking that ghosts shouldn't eat and if they did, food will pass right to the floor. Afterall, ghosts are dead, and don't need any food, right? Wrong.

Ghosts DO eat. They eat far more than the living. But how come? you'll ask. Well ghosts need extra nutrients and whole sources of energy to survive, just like we do. The living needs vitamins and minerals to keep going and restore our immune programme, blood warmth and fill our bodies otherwise we'll starve. Without the right ingredients, we become malnourished, ill and eventually die. Ghosts also need this too otherwise they'll disappear.

Ghosts are not going to turn up at the local tuck shop and order a bag of fish and chips. They won't dine out in a restaurant and ask for a three course dinner. Yet ghosts have been seen in eateries, diners, bars, cafes, canteens and pubs. They have been seen on fishing boats, in farm yards and even in abattoirs! They have been seen where there is food to be made. And ghosts have been haunting a lot of eating out places and in drinking dens. In hotels, ghosts are regularly seen around dining rooms, eating and drinking phantom food.

You'll say that they were doing those things when they were alive? Ghosts used to visit those places before they died? Right? Actually, ghosts can eat proper food.

In certain cultures, and in ancient European customs, food was added to the graves so that the dead could have something to eat as their soul crosses over into the afterlife. People used to leave out food, bread, fruit and drink druing Halloween, Samhain, Punky and Walpurga Nights so that the travelling spirits are able to feast. Trick or Treat is not just a kids game but has ancient roots in giving out treats/sweets (food) to the real supernatural beings.

These old traditions are based on fairytales, right? Ghosts don't eat candies and chocolate, right? Well YES they can. But whether one has been caught stealing a biscuit from the fridge is not yet known but ghosts have a need for food. All food. Food we eat and food.... food that wild animals eat.

Ghosts feed on energy also. They eat the static that comes from our bodies, and feed off emotional energy fields. They drain batteries of their power. Many choose not to do this, and certain spirits who keep sucking the energy off living people are parasitic and malicious. They get their energy from some other way.

Certain ghosts love germs. They linger in buildings that are decrepid and filthy. Hauntings occur in derelict, old and dirty locations. Germs create an infection and bacteria, and bacteria itself are living organisms that generate small amounts of energy that the ghosts feed off of.

Food theft. Ghosts have been responsible for stealing items of food from the home, like fruit, bread, milk and meat. Perhaps they grab something from shops too.

Ghosts clean the streets of decay and eat rotten fruit on the ground that came from trees.

Ghosts feed off corpses... mainly animals such as mice and birds as there are more of them to be found everywhere outside. Carcass meat that decays in the open is a favourite of theirs because of the amount of germs, maggots, decay and bacteria that corpse is riddled with, producing a stew of energy.

Ghosts can eat plants also, such as dead grass/straw and cut grass.

They drink water and leave places smoking in unusual vapour that is a form of natural mist or fog.

Ghosts also feed on dung and sewage water. Not all do this but the most revolting stuff to eat is diseased and toxic, it can also generate tons of vital energy also and maintain their solid place on the earth.

Ghosts drink blood or feed off the energy from blood. It is why spirits make people who are unwell feel extremely tired. Menstruating women and girls feel different changes in temperature and also can feel drained. Hospitals are a magnet for ghosts. (This is also where the myth of vampires came from).

Not all of this happens all the time and few ghosts will feed off all in the list above. This post is about ghosts that have been reported over centuries to be living off different things, digusting or tasteful. So remember that during Halloween, long after the trick-or-treaters have gone to bed, leave out some sweets and scraps for passing ghosts as they will really appreciate that too.

Rayne @ She Wolf Night