Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Little robin

For a while , I've been thinking of writing a novel about werewolves. Then two weeks ago I started, first creating some of the characters and places. When I began the start of my story, which I called "Prologue" something took over me and I ended up with my first new character, a little robin redbreast!

I had no idea where this was going so I kept writing and this robin will play quite an important part at the beginning of the story, and I make clear that the robin is a good friend. The werewolves would come later. The robin of my creation is also a little nature spirit. I honestly didn't plan it.

So then I continued with Chapter One, set the ball rolling to introduce my first werewolf character. And as I did this, I kept seeing so many references to robins. I understand that this time of year features many robins decourating seasonal window displays, greetings cards, Yule decourations and the festive holidays. Maybe that inspired me? But I've seen robins appear on TV a lot, even in films unrelated to the holidays. I've seen lots of cute robins when I've gone out.

Yesterday I was out with my daughter. We walked along a street and met the sweetest looking robin, sat right there in the middle of the path. It looked at us, seemed totally unafraid, really tame and hopped towards us. It was just so cute. Then after we spoke to it, the robin came towards us, tweeted and flew up into the frosty bushes with bright red berries.

Now I understand that seeing too many signs and symbols of the robin can mean something. "Robin: ...signifies stimulation of new growth and renewal in many areas of life. He teaches that any changes can be made with joy, laughter and a song in your heart. " Source from Spirit Animal Totems.

A robin is also the sacred bird of the thunder god Thunor (Thor). As a Heathen priestess, this is very significant. Perhaps this is a divine message?

 From Charlotte Richardson (1775-1825) in 'The Redbreast' she writes of a storm during which "....A shivering redbreast sought my door, Some friendly warmth to share..."

From English Poem about Birds.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Sisters of the Valkyrie? (Part III) Goddess Isis

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 third entry on this series "Sisters of the Valkyrie?", is about the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis. Her name means "Goddess of the throne". She's also called Iset. Many carvings, statues and images of her show a winged goddess, or a goddess wearing an elaborate headdress consisting of a throne. Later her headdress was double horned with a red disc in the middle.

She's regarded as a powerful queen goddess and a mother goddess. However, her function is protectress of the dead, rebirth, the afterlife and magic. She can restore life, and help souls of the dead cross over to the afterlife. She's mentioned in the Book of the Dead as a gentle, beautiful and golden goddess who helps spirits. She helps the departed heal their pain, as well as helping them to move on, reincarnate and reunite with lost loved ones.

She's considered a goddess of the star Sirius, or Sopdet, as the star makes the beginning of a new year. And she's often depicted holding a lotus and an ankh. She was the daughter of Nut, goddess of the cosmos, and Geb, god of the earth. She's the sister of Osiris, Set and Nephthys. Both sisters, Isis and Nephthys were winged and protect, guide and assist the dead.

In mythology, Osiris was killed by Set, who later cut his body into sections and scattered the remains over the earth. Isis grieved. She went with her sister to look for the missing pieces of the god, and started to put Osiris together. The sisters found nearly all of the pieces in total. The lost body part was destroyed, as it was consumed by fish and never found again. It was his manhood. So Isis made a golden phallus to complete Osiris' body. In that she was a goddess of medicine, healthing and life.

After she restored the body and life of Osiris, she had a son named Horus and protected him from Set. When Horus grew up into adulthood, he became the first pharaoh. She's had many statues dedicated to her role as mother. During the phase of nurturing her boy-son, she taught people how to grow crops and she showed how to perform the art of weaving, spinning, grain grinding and domesticate animals.

It seems that she was worshipped in Hunter/Gatherer societies during the end of the last Ice Age. She'd helped to introduce the craft of making medicine properties also and displayed teachings of agriculture. This is a common theme in all world mythologies that indicate the gods and goddesses showed mortal humans how to develope, farm, build and produce with metals.

Besides this, other indications that Isis was very similar to the Valkyrie of Norse myth, is not just her key position as leading the spirits to the next world after death, but her appearance. She, her sister and few other Egyptian goddesses, are winged.

This suggests that not only were there valkyrie type female figures in other pantheons, but that the valkyries were goddesses. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A werewolf celebration of Yule

It's that time of year when people build snowmen, open presents, stuff their faces in sweets and turkeys or goose, and drink beer, gather around a fireplace singing out of tune hymns, and watching the Queen's special broadcast message for the season. Okay, with the decourations and trees done up pretty with tinsel and baubles, fairy lights and gingerbread men. We celebrate it that way because we were raised to celebrate it that way, since it was drummed to us as children. But we don't clebrate the other solstice time, the summer one, in that way. In the summer, the majority of people don't know anything about it but those who do just recosgnise it as a scientific sun dance/alignment. This is what the midwinter season of Yule actually was, a celebration of the sun and calling Her to return.

Werewolves recognise that Yule is dark.

Yule celebrations going back many centuries indicate that werewolf traditions coincided with the traditions of warrior tribes. During Yule, there were many animal sacrifices. Boar was used to honour the fertility gods and the Vanir, particularly Freyr and Freya. The boars heads were presented on dishes, covered in honey, mead, stuffing and apples. 

The Winter season is when the daylight is short and nights are longer. Werewolves are generally nocturnal and it's a season best for hunting animals and shielding from malicious active spirits. The season is often linked to stories of the Wild Hunt, when the dead walk and ghosts travel across the land, visiting towns and villages. It's another reason why people subconsiously stick up Yule wreaths and garlands on their front doors, as protection against entities. The Yule wreath is circular and symbolic of the sun. Werewolves frighten off the dead.

To all who don't understand werewolves, werewolves DO celebrate Yule and always have done since ancient times. The werewolf is a reminder of the ancient Indo European warrior caste system and a link to the bonds with the earth, animals and stars. It's not the shapeshifting monster that you're used to seeing in horror films or reading about in horror fiction. The ancient peoples of Europe, Asia and the Americas had a great understanding of the animals and what the true nature of werewolfism is. Now because of this, werewolves (some prefer to call them Therianthropes or Otherkin), have a deep magical sense about the wheel of the year and seasonal changes.

The tree tradition was started as a gesture to the dead ancestors. It was a memorial tree. Gifts for the dead were hung on the branches so that the spirits who return during Yule would find them. This melded with stories of the Yule log and the fir, oak and mistletoe branch. It was only in recent history that the tradition of the decourated tree was placed inside the house.

Today people like their trinkets and lights and presents. Little do they know that it's a season of the sun, ghosts and animal sacrifice! HAVE A LOVELY YULE!


The Wild Hunt

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Snow maidens

Winter is here. Legends of snow and winter, even stories about mountain snow from tropical climates, include mystical girls and goddesses.

Skadi is a Scandinavian goddess of snow, mountains, winter and hunting. She's a frost giantess of beauty, married to Njord, but she was said to be in love with Baldur. The marriage wasn't happy. Skadi found the life of her husband too much to bare because he enjoyed too much noise and light. She resembles a lady in a white gown and fur robes, with hunting bow, and her long hair is white and crowned in ice.      

A nymph called Chione is recognised as a minor goddess of snow in Greek mythology. She's the daughter of Boreas, god of winter and the north wind. She makes snow flakes with her hands, and blows them across the earth. Chione resembles a teenaged girl with white hair and ice coloured eyes.

Snegurochka is a Russian maiden goddess of Yule and the snow. Her name means "snow maiden" and she assists her grandfather, Ded Moroz (Father Frost) during the midwinter and Yule season to deliver presents to households. Her origins are found in folklore, in tales of a magical girl made from snow. She resembles a cheerful girl with glittering hair, and wearing furs.

Angerona is a Roman goddess of winter and the Yule season. She represents the cool sunlight and coldness of winter. She had a silent voice that spoke a hidden language, unheard by mortals.She resembles a young woman in a long white dress, and her pale hair is shimmering with frost.

Yuki-onna is a snow goddess of Japan. She's similar to the "Snow Queen" as she's a dreaded figure, feared by children. She kills during snow storms and snatches away souls of the deasd. She looks like a beautiful young woman, white as snow, blue hair and lips, and her eyes are blazing cold. 

Poli-ahu is a snow goddess who resides on Mount Kea of Hawaii. She's the eldest of four daughters, and her power if snow and ice. She weaves snowflakes and blankets the mountain tops with snow. She resembles a pretty maiden with light hair, eyes and shimmering robes. It's said that mortal men wanted to see her but found the hazards of the cold snowy mountain difficult to climb and couldn't reach her.

Many other snow and winter goddesses are grandmother figures.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Magical boys (part 1) WINTER

Jack Frost by Kyomaru

 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. There are four seasons and I'll begin the subject in Winter and include boys from the winter theme. 

Jack Frost, found in English folklore. This boy is of the fairyfolk, immortal and a nature spirit. He has the form of a boy, sometimes a man, made entirely of ice crystals. Dripping in sheets of ice, or simply ice coloured, this boy appears late at night in Winter and spends hours moving across the land. In the mornings, traces of Jack Frost remain in the form of sheets of ice on rooftops, tree tops, the grass, on roads, cars, on fences. Frost makes door handles stick. Jack Frost is quite a mischevious but friendly spirit. He's the son of Kári the Norse god of wind and grandson of the giant Fornjot. It's believed that Jack Frost is Frosti Jokul, a boy of ice and sleet, the son of Kári. Jack Frost had two children, Snær, a son whose name "snow", and a daughter named Skjalf, princess of Finland. Despite the ancient myths of Jack Frost, he still appears as a figure of patterned ice in the shape of a young man. 

Father Frost, whose name is also Ded Moroz, is a popular character in Slavic myths and fairytales. He's the Eastern figure of winter, Yule and snow. He appears to look like a man in a hooded fur cloak. He carries a magical staff, and journeys through forests, bringing gifts to children. He was based upon a god of winter who froze people to death. Since the 19th Century he's taken on a much friendlier character when different European countries in the West influenced this one. He appears more loving now and similar to Santa Claus, with his granddaughter Snegurochka "snow maiden" helping.

Santa Claus,  a favourite character loved by all children at Yule. He brings gifts on the eve of christmas day and travels on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Today he's thought of as jolly and cheerful, with a white-beard, rounded, red cheeked and wearing red. He wasn't always seen like this. Up until the Victorian era, he wore a draping blue coat lined with fur. Many believe that he was a real man called Saint Nicholas of Myra, a Greek 4th Century bishop. He was charitable and gave out presents and food to the vulnerable in society. But the figure of Santa, or Father Christmas, can be found in earlier tales of myth surrounding celebrations of Yule and the Winter Solstice. The Germanic god Odin is a Yule god, who led the Wild Hunt across the sky. He sent gifts to people through their chimneys, sometimes he travelled down chimneys to deliver gifts. He was bearded, wore a hooded cloak, carried a staff and rode on a strange horse.    

Yule Lads, a popular group of supernatural boys from Iceland at the season of midwinter. They come from Iceland, and deliver gifts and food. In earlier times, the Yule Lads were seen as malicious entities that stole children and caused havoc. They were blamed for deaths during winter. Some believed that they could've been trolls but mainly they were the sons of a scary mountain giantess named Gryla. This gang of wicked boys had a pet named the Yule Cat, who was a type of man eating snowy big cat. The Yule Lads spend a couple of weeks before Midwinter in villages, towns and cities, doing bad deeds. There are thirteen of them altogether. Now the Yule Lads have turned into charming, friendly and happier lads bringing presents and cheer!

Tomte, a group of little boys and little men who appear during winter. The tradition of the Tomte is in Scandinavian countries and belong to the fae/fairy folk. They rememble gnomes with glowing eyes. For centuries they were recognised as winter spirits. They can be protective spirits and will look after home and family, but if they're insulted in any way, they can poison the food or even kill. Once feared, they're now seen as magical and shy who leaves presents and like receiving food as a token of thanks.

Holly King, the legendary king of winter and darkness. He appears stronger in one half of the year, winter, and weakest in the second half of the year, summer. His opponent/brother is the Oak King, who is stronger in summer. The Oak King is of the summer solstice, and the Holly King the winter solstice.