Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The passing of a magical woman

It's with sadness that Tanith Lee has passed away of an illness. She was 67 years old.
She was a fantasy and sci-fi author of many beautiful books, from darkest horror, to glitzy science fiction, to amazing dreamlike fantasy and mystical contemporary fiction.
The worlds she invented were so vivid and rich in characters and complex stories that I was easily captivated, drawn into these realms and inspired.
I only started to read her books when I was 15 years old and found "Castle Dark" in the school library. Then I was hooked to reading more of these lovely books written by this enchanting writer so skilled in bringing fiction to life. For me anyway. I love her "Tales of the Flat Earth" series and "Storm Lord". She is one of my favourite authors.
Once many years ago I even got a letter from Tanith Lee herself when I wrote to the publisher asking when her next book was due out. It was so nice to hear from her.
Now let's all hope that her work will become immortalised and given to the wide public on screen, as such is possible. She should be remembered as one of the greatest female fantasy writers the world has had in modern times.

Rest in Peace Tanith Lee.
(Tanith Lee 19/09/1947 - 24/05/2015)

Friday, 22 May 2015

Sisters of the Valkyrie? (Part VII) Samodiva

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've written entries about the subject, starting with individuals and then perhaps go onto research different aspects of the Valkyrie. The seventh entry on the series "Sisters of the Valkyrie" is about the Samodiva.

They appear in Slavic mythology, especially in Bulgaria and in Romania where they're called Iele and Vila. Samodiva resemble young statuesque women with shining skin, luminous eyes and golden hair. They're always dressed in glittering gowns made of moonlight and rainbows. These women are magical and some legends describe them as having pale feathered wings but they are said to be wingless in other myths, and are so light they can move freely, without being confined to gravity's pull.They carry bows and arrows while riding on spectral deer with serpentine antlers.

The samodiva are guardians of the earth, immortal and elemental. The samodivas have healing abilities and restore the sick and wounded animals of the forests. They tend to the pain inflicted on trees after being cut by axes or hit by lightning. They operate in twinkling clusters like a ring of fairies and a chorus of angels, working only after dark.  It's said that a fairy ring, a circle of mushrooms and flowers on the grass, was left their by the samodivas, a sign that they stood and even danced there.

According to Bulgarian mythology, the samodivas have beautiful singing voices. They can also confuse the mind and trick people and animals into thinking they're birds making a sound in the forest when it is the samodiva communicating in their enchanted code. Their singing can hypnotise and send someone to sleep and even be put under a trance and then manipulated. The samodivas sound lovely so far, but these supernatural women are dangerous and can be deadly.

They have the power to transform someone into a beast or a lump of wood. It's said that certain people who've suddenly gone missing have possibly met the samodiva in the woods, and been changed into animals, stones or twigs! The samodiva don't like being touched by mortal men. They can cause blindness and disease. Samodivas have the ability to cause amnesia in a person and thrust someone into a heavy coma. But women are not spared the dangers of a samodiva. A samodiva can ruin a woman's happiness and beauty. Some samodiva can also make beautiful human women feel suicidal!

Do they have anything much in common with valkyries other than their beauty and wings? or in some folklore they're absent of wings? So far they have more in common with trolls and goblins, if these myths are true. The samodivas are also nicknamed "children of dragons" or lamia, and have been regarded as spirits of the dead, ghosts of beautiful women who enjoy being cruel. Their activities certainly sound like malicious entities with poltergeist characteristics. But this might be due to the fact Bulgarian myths combined pagan with christian influences, turning the divine winged healers of the forest into evil ghosts. In ancient times, samodiva helped ordinary people, from making crops grow full, to curing sick children and to aide women experiencing painful childbirth. The pagan legend of samodiva altered over time.      

Links on this subject:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Spider goddesses

One of the most feared creatures on earth is a spider. People who are really scared of spiders have arachnophobia, named after Arachne, a princess in Greek mythology, who was turned into a spider. Spiders have also been on earth longer than the dinosaurs and kept the earth from contamination from vile pests. Early humans have been aware of the usefulness of spiders, and how they prevent homes from getting swamped by ants and other bothersome insects. People have always had stories to tell of spiders, and ancient legends feature a spider goddess somewhere imparting wisdom to early people.

Spiders spin webs made of silk. Some spiders have also spun golden threads. The webs don't just lure winged insects but also act as bad spirit blockers and keep negative energies out. Webs resemble jewels, especially after a rainfall when droplets of water decourate the webs. The traits of the spider goddess is weaving webs of magic and artistry.

The beautiful princess Arachne was skilled at weaving threads and baskets. She made fantastic tapestries and cloths. She insulted the goddess Athena by having such an inflated ego and she challanged Her to a weaving contest. Athena is a goddess of wisdom, crafts, weaving and warfare. The contest begun, and Athena used a glittering powerful thread to weave a tapestry of gods and mortals. Arachne used a fine rainbow coloured thread and weaved images of gods and mortals embraced. This total insult of the gods angered Athena, and she ripped up Arachne's work. Arachne was so distressed that she hung herself. Athene was full of regret and sadness after this, and sprinkled a magical potion on Arachne's lifeless body, bringing her back to life in the form of a spider. The spider Arachne was able to weave webs forever, and all of her descendants had the same gift.

The myth suggests reincarnation from a gifted mortal into a spinning spider. But the magic of altering a human into another species depends upon the person's abilities, talents, skill and natural gifts.

There are many spider goddesses and goddesses of weaving. Neith of Egyptian myth is a spider goddess. She's also called Net, and has so much traits similar to the Greek goddess Athena, as both are goddesses of crafts, war and wisdom also. Neith is a prehistoric goddess also linked with creation and the turning and spinning of water, sun and moon. She also acts like a powerful weaver who creates destiny and fate of the world, animals, men and women and individuals. She behaves like one of the Three Fates, also similar to the Norns, who are powerful cosmic goddesses that spin the destiny of both mortals and gods. They spin with static webs and each life pattern follows its orbit, as do the planets, suns and moons. Spiders are also spinners of webs, or nets.The Germanic myths don't have an obvious spider goddess but there are certainly those with traits of spinners and weavers of fate, such as the Norns, and the powerful goddesses like Freya and Frigga.

Native American legends tell of spiders creating the star contellations. Various people in the Americas feature powerful goddesses called Spider Woman and Spider Grandmother, who helped create the stars and galaxies. She taught people how to weave, make baskets and clothes. She stole fire from the animals and gave it to humans during winter months. It is this that the spider is highly respected and loved. Prehistoric art features images of spiders all over various ancient places. From the spider geoglyph on the Nazca plain, to Australian aboriginal spider totems.

In Japan is Jorogumo, the benign spider goddess of Joren Falls, saved people from drowning in the waters. Some spiders of the Jorogumo family can live for 400 years, and alter appearance over time. They begin to look like spiders but after a few centuries they transform into beautiful women. They're often magical and they look for particular men to choose as husbands. These spider women have a preference for Samurai warriors, who are very robust, strong, muscular and handsome, considered ideal mates for producing children with. It's been said that occasionally a Joro spider woman has stolen human babies to foster as her own.The nurturing side of spider mothers and spider goddesses has set out the birth of humans becoming learned and more civilised.

Magical spider web art from these mystical goddesses of weaving have been passed down throughout the centuries. Crafts, jewel making, tapestries from tartan to baskets and carpets, painting, threading, beading and even making magical ornaments such as dreamcatchers linked to spider folklore.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Divine Canines: Sarama

This is the second of a series of posts about divine canines, gods and goddesses who are dogs, spirits in dog form and other magical canines. Years ago I did a few posts about wolf goddesses but found in my research too many male canine gods and beasts, or non-wolf canid goddesses that I couldn't include. So I promised to do something on the wider subject of myth and canid species linked to ancient legends, spirits, deities and folklore.

Sarama is a divine she-dog in Vedic mythology and Hinduism. She's also called Deva-shuni. She has aided gods and helped to track demons and wild animals. Described as Mother of all the dogs, she's the mother of two very unusual dogs who each have many eyes flashing in different colours. These two dogs belong to Yama the god of death. They guard entrances to the afterlife. Dogs generally are worshipped and respected in India, as they have a significant role on the physical world and spiritual realms.

Dogs are celebrated on Kukur Tihar in Nepal, the"woship of dogs", once a year during the Hindu five day festival of Tihar "festival of lights". The holiday season is very similar to Diwali. Dogs are treated with jewels, garlands of flowers, spiced and sweetened luxury foods, cushions, decourations, music and hugs. Overall dogs are cherished and they always love the attention. People believe that dogs guard humans, the home and the afterlife.


Nepal dog worship