Monday, 22 June 2015

Sisters (and brothers) of the Valkyrie? part VIII: Angels

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 eighth entry on the "Sisters of the Valkyrie" is about Angels.

There is a common belief that there isn't any female angels because Abrahamic religions says so. But dig deeper and one can find them. Just like in times past when all of the gods were joined into one God and all the goddesses became a single Madonna in main religious doctrine and paths, angels and saints replaced some of the other deities and beings but were all men.

Angels are well known throughout the world and are loved by everyone including children. Angels are said to watch over us, protect us and help us pass over into the afterlife. Valkyries and goddesses similar to them had this divine work, and still people associate angels with winged female beings. Naturally people view the powerful angels, the warriors and guardians as men, but the gentle loving angels as women. Artists give angels feminine features including breasts. The fact angels are beautiful, light, and winged suggests that not only the valkyries are confined to the Norse and the Germanics but also to a wide range of people across the globe.

I've covered some of them. Angels are considered today's valkyries. The name "angel" is from Latin angelos to mean "messenger of the gods" and "messengers of God". They seem to represent the divine and are a part of the divine power. So are valkyries. The valkyrie battle aspect of the angel comes in many cross culture forms, and is similar to the Frevashi of Zoroastrian beliefs. These Frevashi are often considered warlike but also "choosers" of the slain and of life's destiny. These are elemental beings, male counterparts of the sky nymphs, but working alongside with brothers AND sisters. There are different types of angels in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Each one has a part to play and a heirarchy.

There are as mentioned some female angels in religion. Bath Kol is a "daughter of the voice of God" and described as a female angel but a daughter of a male angel and possibly a mortal woman. Anahita is a female nature angel of fruit and harvests. Barbelo is a wise female goddess of kindness and wealth. Charmeine is another nature angel who represents the balance of life. Iofiel is a female angel of beauty and self love. Regina Angelium is a queen of the angels, and others like her are called Shekinah and Pistis Sophia. These are angels of wisdom, love and protection from evil. In Catholicism she's called the Virgin Mary. Shushienae is a female angel that heals the mind, body, spirit and earth. Now Gabriel (also named Gabriella) is also considered a strong female angel but widely considered male as all angels are men according to the Bible, Quran and Talmund. She's an archangel and has communicated with mortals, nurtures children and helps them feel better, removes entities and assists those who wish to contact the gods/God.

More on this:

Angels by Doreen Virtue
Angels - Wikipedia

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Midsummer festive spirit

It's weird that modern people in some countries like the UK only celebrate midwinter but forget all about celebrating the midsummer solstice. They only feel festive in midwinter but neglect the summer solstice, depriving themselves and everyone else including children of being joyful twice a year. However, some people do celebrate the midsummer sun in countries like Sweden and Finland where it's an important and wonderful time. Pagans celebrate the summer solstice and many of them call it Litha. Christians believe it's the birthday of St. John the Baptist.

Decourations for midsummer solstice are often explosive displays of beautiful colourful flowers. Many hanging backets cascade with rainbows fresh flowers like roses, pansies, asters, gerberas, lilies, orchids, carnations, tulips, geraniums and primroses. Wild flowers such as jasmine, daisies, lavender, sweat peas, mountain laurel, heather, iris, allium and bluebells race the fields, tables, buckets, urns and pots. Some choose to introduce tropical flowers to wear and decourate, to emphasise the summer and the sun's golden rays. These exotic colourful flowers like morning glory, lotus, chrysanthemum, alipnia, dahlias, hibiscus and plumeria rubra are some favourites. If not having loads of flowers all over the house, garden and street, some wear flowers in their hair or use floral print clothes.

Now many countries make bonfires to symbolise the midsummer sun. In Sweden they have a Midsummer pole, or Majstag, made with twisted green leaves and shaped like a cross, Tiwaz rune or Algiz the life rune with rings on each etension. The pole is like both a tall green pillar and a tree. The shape generates a sense of fertility. These midsummer poles can be made in miniature out of straw, reeds, grass, paper.. to decourate the house and banquet tables.

Dewdrops and rainfall on midsummer night has healing powers. Not only was dewdrops and rain water used in medicines and drinking but to add in baking. Birch leaves during midsummer was thought to be so divine that it was used to bandage wounds and cure all manner of pain. Midsummer is also when elves, trolls, goblins and fairies appear if seen in the right angle. Women and girls wear crowns of flowers and dance around the midsummer pole. 

In Sweden, pick nine different flowers and don't tell anyone, increases the magic. Flowers under a girl's pillow granted her wishes during midsummer night. And if she dreams of her future husband it will come true. Wreaths made of flowers hung from doors and ceilings protected the home against malicious spirits. Good luck happens if your propert has two birch trees near the door and some people planted them.

Food can be as bright as a lush garden. Seeded breads, pickled herring, horseradish and mustards, cured fish, tomato, herbs, shallots, roasted lamb, fruit, cheese, boiled mint covered potatoes, boiled eggs, lemon and lime, asparagus, salads, cake and beans. The drinks are beer, snaps, strawberry juice and mint tea. Much of what foods I've mentioned here are popular in Sweden at Midsummer.      

Midsummer celebrations
Swedish midsummer

Friday, 12 June 2015

Divine Canines: Anubis

 This is the third post of a series 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.

Anubis is the Egyptian god of the dead. He is often portrayed as being having a jackal's head and a man's body. Usually he appears black, representing death and darkness, tombs and night. He protected the souls of the departed, and he also protected the corpses and aided in mummification and wrapping up of bodies.

Originally Anubis was a jackal god of graves who looked entirelly like a jackal from Egypt's earliest predynastic history myths. Later, come the Old Kingdom , Anubis became extremely important and was powerful, even loved. That was around when the god's images became a jackel/dog headed man. It's unclear who his parents were, as stories changed over periods of different epochs. The father of Anubis was either Ra, who is mention as a powerful solar god, or Orisis according to the Greeks. But Anubis had various more mothers from Bastet, Nepthys, Hesat and Isis.

Gods of ancient Egypt: Anubis
Land of Pyramids: Anubis

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Magical boys (part 2) SUMMER

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. I've already covered "Winter" and this second part will be about "Summer".

The season of Summer, and even Spring and early Autumn is much considered a time of flowers, fruits, corn, harvests, growth, sunlight, warmth, the colours gold and endless blue skies. There are many solar divinities and earth gods and spirits. Boys make up as much part of the summer traditions as girls. There is the story of the Holly King and the Oak King (mentioned in "Winter" post, see link). The Holly King is a symbol of Winter and his counterpart, the Oak King is symbolic of Summer. Both are divine brothers who rule different parts of the year, Winter and Summer. The Oak King is powerful during the Midsummer solstice. It's this time of year when the Holly King is asleep and weakest. This is a masculine twin brotherhood of light and dark, and possibly two sides of a coin. In a way this is also like Janus, the Roman god of time with two different faces.
Some believe that the Oak King may be another aspect of the Green Man. This deity is actually a carving made from stone and wood, to represent the fertile earth, fruit, vegetables, plants, trees and crops. He's regarded as a god of the earth, rebirth, renewal, growth and fertility. His power is drawn from the soil and his energy lives in the ground, stones, wood and grass. He appears sometimes as Jack in the Green in late Spring/early Summer parades, dancing and dressed in foliage. He displays a war link in Athurian legends of the Green Knight.
While this green man/green god and Oak King masters over the fields and through the forests, his minions and children display mischief. In the Suffolk village of Woolpit, a green coloured boy and girl emerged from nowhere and claimed to be from another world. And there are the cheeky goblins and brownies who steal from veggie patches under moonlight, and leave bacteria in their paths to ruin crops. Robin Goodfellow is a similar boy of nature's mysteries. He's a famous hobgoblin with pagan roots with an appearance in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare. Some consider this type of spirit to be a puck, from Old Norse "Puki" as well as Celtic "Puca". He's a land wight, or a boy fae, that will be kind if you're kind to him.

These sprites are also considered similar to the fauns, Centaurs and satyrs of Greco-Roman myths. Who are these magical boy spirits of the wilderness then? Are they simply boy versions of nymphs? Are they demi gods? or demonic entities? or aliens? or bad men who dwell in isolated bands looking for someone to rob? The seven dwarves are a well loved bunch of boys who protect the vulnerable Snow White princess from harm. They could also be land wights, spirits, goblins, gnomes, ghosts or even robbers!!!! However, these boys have been given strange features to mark them non human, such as hooves, pointed ears, tails and horns.
Pan and Cernunnos are horned nature gods who ruled the land. They were gods of animals and plants. Men traditionally wear horns and antlers on certain festivals to represent Herne the Hunter, a young male spirit of the royal grounds. Herne is possibly connected to both Cernunnos and Odin.
Since the Roman occupation of Britain, were tales of the eerie hoodies, or Hooded Spirits. These beings were three boys/young men as a trio, who were called Genii cucullati, who were sons or servants of the hooded Telesphorus, a god of healing and protection.The Genii cucullati, the hoodies so to speak, acted like spectral monks that guarded areas from anything malicious and protected children. But hooded boys and men were always associated with criminality.
Robin Hood is a hooded hero of the Middle Ages, who dwelled in Sherwood Forest, but there were many Robin Hoods. There was Robin of Loxley, Robin of Wakefield and Robin of York. Considered an outlaw "wolf head" in his hood, a yoeman with skills in archery, an Anglo Saxon hero against the oppressive Norman conquerers. He also might be a real person or persons as there were a lot of hooded outlaws during medieval England. And Robin has a mystical charm that is almost similar to Robin Goodfellow and Hodekin, a spirit youth that protected the home in German folklore.