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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Sacred Crocodile



The crocodile is the most misunderstood animal on earth. It's associated with anything brutal and bad. Most people think crocodiles are just only interested in sleeping, swimming and eating. Seen as unfriendly man eaters, devourers of anything and considered living dinosaurs by some, crocodiles are far more beautiful and interesting.

First of all the crocodile mother have very strong maternal instincts and protects her young. She also loves her babies and nurtures them as well as a mammal mother. Crocodiles are sociable creatures and often found in groups. They have feelings and emotions. Some can even get frightened of sudden noise and shocks. They appear to show hostility but in actual fact they're just relaxing and cooling down in the warm sun. Crocodiles are only aggressive when during the mating season and defending their offspring against other predators.

Crocodiles have a lifespan of up to 80 years, roughly above human lifespan. Although people can live beyond 80 years, many die between the ages 40 and 70 on average. Crocodiles as a species have been around for longer than the dinosaurs and outlived them. They also have barely changed physically for millions of years.

In Egyptian mythology, Sobek was a crocodile deity, sometimes shown with a human body and crocodile's head or as a crocodile in full form. He was a powerful and ferocious god of war and fertility. He warded off evil entities and was seen as a type of solar god. The Egyptian goddess Ammut was seen as a divine crocodile demoness, who ate the living dead and always sits on judgement.

Mayan royalty was buried along with crocodiles and alligators. It's unsure and unlikely that people in ancient Mayan culture had crocodiles and alligators as pets, but these animals were valued with respect. Stone crocodiles are found throughout ancient Mesoamerican art. In Aztec mythology, Cipactli was a crocodile goddess who ruled the earth as a protector and guide, and she was linked to the beginning of time and the start of civilisation. A crocodile or alligator features in the Aztec calendar, as the first day, the day sign "Cipactli" of the East. In the Trecena or 13 days calendar, the crocodile is again the first tutelery divinity to appear.

The crocodile as an aspect of the mother goddess also appears in Hindu myth as Makara, of the River Ganges, associated with travel, wealth, power and aggression who carries a goddess across the water. The Egyptian goddess Taweret is a pregnant goddess with the head of a crocodile, with humanlike female breasts, limbs of a lion and the rest of her like a hippo. She's associated with fertility and childbirth as well as magic and power. Tiamat is a dark goddess and an aquatic monster from Mesopotamian mythology. Although from the description she might've been a sea dragon, it's considered that she had crocodile features and possibly resembles the Machimosaurus species. If anyone studies monsters in mythology, they have clues about known animals and prehistoric beasts tied with them.

I've found that the myths and stories of crocodiles overlap with myths and stories of dragons the further back one looks in history or the different corners of the earth one finds. There are many types of prehistoric crocodiles that existed in the world and many fossils of ancient crocodiles found all over Europe.

Today people simply look upon crocodiles with scorn, fear and greed for their leather. It's disgusting that crocodiles are farm bred for the purpose of their skins, as these animals have always nourished the earth and given much spirituality to humans in our earliest beginnings. Crocodiles are prone to affection but with much training and with warning, for not anyone can be closely bonded with these powerful animals. Ancient people saw crocodiles as gods and the herald of early civilisations. Perhaps these animals, more widespread in prehistory across the world, were the dragons that we revere in fantasy and folklore? 

Links:

A crocodile story from Papua   
Book "Crocodiles: Their Natural History, Folklore and Conservation" by C.A.W. Guggisberg.
Legends and myths of crocodiles
Aztec calendar crocodile day sign Cipactli
Crocodiles of the World 
Crocodile evolution timeline

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Sisters of the Valkyrie? (Part V) Apsara

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 fifth entry on the series "Sisters of the Valkyrie" is about the Apsara from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. These divine supernatural female beings resemble beautiful young women. They're also called Vidhya Dari, Widodari, Apson, Hapsari, Tep Apsar, Bidadari, Accara, Bidadari and Apsarasa.

These Apsaras are celestial nymphs who dance in the court of Indra, thunder god and king of the Devas. Apsaras entertain by dancing and their beauty has made them official seductive agents of Indra, to go on missions and disrupt any sage who is against Indra. Sages can be bedded by an Apsara and turned mad, but if an Apsara doesn't succeed her task properly, or if not at all done, she can be cursed by a sage. Indra has also set a curse of a failed Apsara by turning her into stone or casting her to live as an animal on earth. These curses wore off eventually and they resumed their proper beautiful appearance.

Apsaras serve Indra, and they have ridden across the skies on horses, wind and wings. Now the Apsaras are perpetual virgins who remain pure in form and body. They're perpetual dancers who flatter the souls of the war dead when they've been awarded a place in heaven at Indra's court.

There are many Apsaras who appear in the Natya Shastra, an ancient Indian writing for performing arts. These nymphs are also scattered over temples in the form of sculptures, depticted as groups of scantily clad dancing maidens. The Apsara dance is played across many countries and cultures in modern times, from India to China, Cambodia and Indonesia. There are also cave paintings of Apsara in China.

The Apsara may be similar to the "pearls of heaven", the Houri, beautiful celestial virgins who appear in the Quaran that are described as pure and lovely. Certain warriors died in order to enter that dwelling of heaven and encounter the Houri. Sometimes a Houri delivered a soul of a warrior to heaven. In some part of the world where Islam replaced the pagan religions, the belief of the Apsara may have transformed into the 72 virgins/Houri over a period of time.    

Links:

Apsara - Wikipedia

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Werewolf holidays: Lupercalia



One of the werewolf holidays and celebrations of this new discussion is Lupercalia. Today is it tied with Valentine's Day, an exchange of gifts, cards, flowers, food, all tokens of love, and a reminder of one's beloveds.  For Lupercalia, the werewolf holiday, it is also a season to cherish ones mate with gifts and affection. It's also a time to be on heat and look for a partner.

In ancient times, Lupercalia began in Italy and it started as a holiday to celebrate the goddess Luperca. Her alternative name is Lupa. This goddess is a great she-wolf, who nurtured, fed, raised twin baby boys Romuls and Remus, the sons of Mars, god of war. As the Wolf was most a sacred animal to Mars, and the woodpecker the most sacred bird to Mars, both the mother wolf goddess and a spirit woodpecker helped to adopt and nurse the infants.

The biological mother of the two baby boys was Rhea Silvia, a beautiful priestess of the goddess Vesta, who swore an oath to celibacy. The god Mars loved her and impregnated her during a visit, and she bore the twins. (There is a confusion to the tale that the father might've been Hercules). Her father and uncle had her and the twins sent to death as punishment for breaking her chastity vows. Rhea Silvia was to be buried alive, and in other versions she and her sons were placed in a box and thrown in a river to drown.  The boys and their mother was rescued by Tiberinus, a river deity who found the box caught among twigs of a fig tree. He later married Rhea Silvia.

The children were raised by the motherly she-wolf Lupa/Luperca in her warm cave inlaid with leaves and herbs. The wolf goddess had a cult that identified her as a protectress and mate of the wolf god Lupercus. She has also been confused with Acca Larentia, a goddess of sexuality and considered a prostitute, but she might've been a local fertility goddess Dea Dia, who was lesser version of the goddess Ceres.  She was the famous goddess of growth, nurturing, creation, fertility, agriculture, fruit, motherhood, seed corn, and also guardian of the underworld. Her characteristics include nursing of children and it's possible that Lupa the She-Wolf was Ceres in disguise.

The two boys Romulus and Remus become shepherds when they left the cave. They are both soon identified by rivals as the missing sons of Rhea Silvia and taken before their granduncle the king. After arrests and threats of death, both brothers escape after killing their evil grand uncle and are offered a throne. They locate a new site to build their own kingdom after having a spiritual vision of six vultures, and became the founders of Rome. Today the symbol of Rome is a she-wolf who raised the founders of Rome. The animal sacred to Italy is a wolf.

The celebration of Lupercalia or "Wolf Festival" is far older than Rome itself anyway. It was over the three days from the 13th February, 14th February and to the 15th February, in honour of the wolf gods Lupercus and Lupa, who would protect the people and domestic animals from malicious spirits. Around this time, goats and dogs were sacrificed, and priestesses prepared cakes as offerings. It was a time mostly celebrated by peasants, farmers and shepherds, who needed the help, power and protection of the wolf gods. During the 5th Century, the pagan celebration was outlawed and Christianised, made into Valentine's Day in celebration of Saint Valentine held on 14th February, as it is what it's known today.

Now this day is mainly linked with romance and love hearts but there are strange aspects. In some parts of Europe, Valentine's Day is about the protection of honey, plants, vineyards, seeds and fields, and considered the time when Spring is about to wake up, animals leaving their hibernation and bees and butterflies returning. It has fertility connotations and positive reminders that the sun is coming back to lighten and warm the land again. For lycanthropes, therianthropes and werewolves, Lupercalia Day is a holiday of love and blessing the soil.

Rayne   

Links:
Art is by Jen Philpot
The Roman festival Lupercalia

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Three parents



For the first time in history, a person will be born from three parents. In a recent move, British MP's voted in favour of science creating babies using the DNA of two women and one man. The Prime Minister David Cameron said "We're not playing god here, we're just making sure that two parents who want a healthy baby can have one." Others agree that it will also help people to have children. The idea of two mothers will combine the mitochondrial dna and increase chances of a stronger, healthier and complete child. Some mitochondrial genes are defective and carries genetic problems that a different mitochondrial would not but two of those can strengthen and enhance the genes of a baby. Someone considered that this would make genetically modified (GM) people.

Regardless of the debates, my own view is that this is going to change humans and create a different species for the first time since humans became what we are now. I don't think this is a bad thing to be honest.

Once upon a time, people didn't like test tube created babies, and that started during the 1970's now decades in the past. The test tube babies have since grown up into healthy normal adults. Although some are worried about making babies in science labs, and others are cheering that it's good for medicine and families, no one is really seeing the spiritual and cosmic implications of it.

First of all, human origins itself is unknown. Shrouded in mystery. Okay some people believe in evolution, but there are too many holes with the theory. There was no intermediate species or missing links, not just with humans but all animals. It's as though animals sprung out of the ground.

According to myth, the gods created us from soil and water. In Norse myth, Ask and Embla were the first two humans. Three gods, Odin and his brothers, Villi and Ve, created the first man and woman from trees. In Celtic creation myth, the gods made humans and animals from trees. In Greek myth, humans were made from clay.

Where did humans come from? Our parents, of course. How did animals get here? From their parents. This is the concept of being made from a seed, egg, soil and water, whatever you look at it. What we do know, sort of, is that we sprung up and materialised in the Cenozoic era.

Now we're developing the technology to make perfected humans born from three parents, and two mothers. This is BIG news, as far as I'm concerned. Would we evolve in the future as a modified stronger species? This is not an extinction of the present human era, but a start of a new people and a new world.