Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Tag

Mewling The Blues To The Ancient Mythological Cat Goddesses   53 comments

Mewling the Blues To The Ancient Cat Goddesses

Russian Blue Cats, Mythological Cat Goddesses 

Russian Blue3

The Russian Blue is considered one of the most chic and ancient breeds in the cat world. Well-known as a one-person cat with a distinctive personality which identifies it as a breed apart from other cats, it is very much a timid and reserved creature although it is also gentle and affectionate, with an interesting and entertaining nature. It is also referred to as the Archangel Blue, Maltese Blue, and the Spanish Blue.

Russian Blue14Little is known about the history of the Russian Blue but the title Archangel may have come from the Archangel Isles in northern Russia or also the Russian White Sea Port by this name. It is thought most likely that nineteenth century Russian sailors brought these silvery-grey cats with them with the intention to sell them in UK. Their rich blue and silver-highlighted fur colouring is sometimes likened to that of a seal, and may also account for their timidness; it is claimed that they used to be hunted for their unusual coats.

Russian Blue19

It is said that the Russian Blue is a descendant of the Royal Cat of the Russian Czars and also that it was the favourite pet of Queen Victoria. In Russia, it is considered to be lucky hence couples make sure a cat moves into their new home with them. The breed almost disappeared during World War II, but was later revived by the introduction of Siamese blood. One outstanding characteristic of all Russian Blues is the smiling expression they wear– and who doesn’t like to be greeted with a smile!

Russian Blue12Russian Blues always have startlingly vivid green eyes, and to those who gaze into the eyes of such cats, their intensity of those eyes is mesmerizing; the gaze of the cat was first observed by the Egyptians. They associated the cat with the hawk-headed god Horus, who was the son of Isis. In Ancient Egypt, cats “captured the glow of the setting sun in their eyes and kept it safe until morning.”

Russian Blue9There are a great many cultures who consider cats to be mystical creatures who in reality were in fact fairies or goblins who cunningly disguised themselves as cats. Amongst these cultures they believe that staring intensely into cats eyes will reveal visions of the fairy sphere snooping inquisitively back at the human realm through the cat’s eyes. By contrast the Japanese believe that vampires can masquerade in the form of cats but that they give themselves away by the manifestation of two tails!

Russian Blue18One of the most well-known folklore myths regarding the Russian Blue is the narrative about a cat spirit that appears in time of need to help someone in trouble. Once it has gained the trust of that person, the cat’s spirit one way or another reveals rewards that can be physical and/or spiritual treasures.


Cat Mythology

Freyja’s Cat-Driven Chariot

Thor_google2The Norse goddess Freyja, deity of love, beauty, fertility, war, wealth, divination, and magic, was worshipped by the Vikings, who prayed to her for rain and the granting of good crop yields; to this end jugs of milk for the cats were left out in Scandinavian countries. She rode in the heavens in a chariot pulled by two giant, blue-grey cats, (said to be Norwegian Forest cats). These cats are the children of the magic cat, Bauyn, that were a gift from Thor the god of Thunder.

BAST (Ancient Egyptian Lower Kingdom)

Bast_Egyptian goddess2_pinterestBast-cat goddess3_googleThe Egyptian goddess Bast (also known as Bastet, Ubasti, Pasht or Pakhet) was the benevolent and protective goddess of pet and household cats. But like all Egyptian cat goddesses she was also portrayed as a war-like goddess (“Bast” means “devourer”).

Lioness-Cub-by-Rahul-Matthan2Cheetah_google2Lynx_pinterest2She was often illustrated as a fierce lioness but was also symbolized in cheetah or lynx form. However Bast was the only ancient Egyptian cat goddess to also be depicted as a domestic cat, personifying both the strength and ferocity of a combative lioness, and the frisky, elegant, friendly, and wily nature of a cat.

Sun god-Ra2Known originally as “the protector goddess of Lower Egypt” she was the fierce shield and defender of the pharaoh. Bast was also the guard and protector of the sun-god Ra, and was consequently known as the “Lady of Flame” and the “Eye of Ra.”

Russian Blue 16tsIllustrations of her frequently depict her clasping the” ankh” which was designed to signify “the breath of life” or a papyrus wand which was intended to signify Lower Egypt. She occasionally bears a war-sceptre (signifying strength) and is often accompanied by a litter of kittens

She is also seen as the goddess of fertility and the protector of cats, women and children, to harm one was considered to be a crime against her and so very unlucky. Her priests kept sacred cats in her temple, which were considered to be incarnations of the goddess.

Bast_Shadowness2hellenic_mythology___artemis__goddess_of_the_hunt_by_emanuellakozas-d6p4l9n3Bast was originally the goddess of the sunrise, with the ability and command at her disposal to rouse a solar eclipse. but because the Greeks because linked her with Artemis – the lunar goddess, and the brother of Apollo (hence she became the daughter of Isis and Osiris) transformed her into a lunar goddess; the Moon and the cat’s nocturnal nature certainly sit well together!

 13923408614402cat-moon-by-apofiss2The_Cat_and_the_Moon_by_hiddenmuse2

Some other ancient Egyptian Cat Goddesses.

Pakhet, "She Who Scratches", was a big cat goddess, presumably with big scratchy claws! She defended from evil the living and the dead.

Mafdet, the first of the cat goddesses, was a protective war goddess who spat fire at cobras and who also took a variety of feline forms – the ancient Egyptian lynx, the cheetah or the lion. Known as the “Runner” she was the cat goddess who killed the colossal snake Apep who was the enemy of Ra the sun-god.

Sources:

landofpyramids.org/cat-goddesses

Wikipedia

Pretty in Pink At The Edge Of The Galaxy   38 comments

 

Far away in the celestial wastelands at the outer edge of our Solar System further out even than Pluto, lies a lone dwarf planet going by the name of Sedna.

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Conspicuously red and shiny and boasting the sharing of its name with an Inuit goddess who according to mythology was the creator of the Arctic’s sea life, Sedna was likely enjoying its privileged position of unique lonesomeness. Having enjoyed this status since it was first discovered in 2003 it may not however have been quite so impressed to learn that it had company!

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Ever so slightly freezing cold at approximately -430 degrees F and very pretty in pink, dwarf planet 2012 VP113 lies 7 ½ billion miles from Earth’s sun (Earth lies at 93 million miles from its sun); although when it suits, it has the capacity to swing out to as far as 42 billion miles from our Sun; this is due to it’s having what is technically known as an “eccentric and elongated orbit.” Not to be outdone by its fainter pink neighbour Sedna can swagger out up to double this distance at 84 billion miles from the sun.

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Frozen pink world, VP113 is also a very small dwarf planet at only 280 miles in diameter meaning that Sedna can at least enjoy the satisfaction of being twice the size; although Earth dwarfs them both with a 7,900 miles diameter .VP113 is not at all shiny and therefore despite being very, very pretty in pink was extremely difficult for astronomers to spot. Hence its existence remained unknown until 2012 when it was discovered by the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory telescope based in Chile.

So what exactly is so fascinating about a faint, frozen pink dwarf planet somewhere out in the farthest reaches of the solar system?

Basically it is likely there are many more such worlds to be found in this remote region of the solar system just waiting to be found. Scientists hope that they will, as a collective, shed light on the formation of both the new worlds such as VP113 and also our Solar System.

Sources:

Associated Press

Agence France-Presse

2014 Winter Olympics–Coming Soon to a Crater Near You!!   46 comments

Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics 2014

 

2014 Winter Olympics – Chelyabinsk Meteor Anniversary

2014-winter-olympics-logoThe 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games (22nd Winter Olympic Games), are set to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia.                 clip_image001clip_image001[1]

Chelyabinsk meteor Chelyabinsk meteor 2The Chelyabinsk meteor was a Near-Earth asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013 exploding in an air burst about 40 km above Korkino, south of central Chelyabinsk Oblast. The explosion created a bright flash, churning out a sizeable quantity of small meteorite fragments and a formidable shock wave.

Lake Chebarkul The meteorite fragments fell in and near to Lake Chebarkul with the largest extracted from the bed of the lake on 16 October 2013. Despite its 654 kg (1,442 lbs.) mass tipping and breaking the scales it was weighed on, it proved very fragile and shattered into three distinct pieces. In the aftermath of the Chelyabinsk meteor event an unofficial market swiftly arose for meteorite fragments.

The anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor event will be in Sochi, Russia on 15 February 2014. A total of seven gold medals are available to be won during the anniversary day’s medal events and each will contain fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

2014 Winter Olympic Medals with meteorite fragmentsFragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite

 

Callisto (2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics)

callisto2In a very interesting to note lol that by some strange cosmic coincidence the 2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics will be held on Jupiter’s extremely ancient Galilean moon Callisto, the most heavily cratered moon in the Solar System.

Callisto’s impact-battered surface features multi-ring structures, variously shaped impact craters, and chains of craters (catenae). Probably due to the icy nature of its surface Callisto lacks any large mountains. The water that has spread over the surface forming bright rays and rings around the crater is a result of the meteorite impacts puncturing holes in Callisto’s crust.

It is now believed that beneath Callisto’s crust may lie a salty, subsurface ocean of liquid water around 50–200 km deep indicated by studies of the magnetic fields around Jupiter and its moons. This leaves open the option that there could be extra-terrestrial microbial life on Callisto, though conditions are thought to be less conducive to life than on neighbouring Jovian moon Europa.

Callisto in Olympian Mythology

Mount-olympusZeus and CallistoZeus-greek-mythology-god-of-the-godsCallisto is named after one of Zeus – god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus’s many lovers, in Greek mythology. It is said that Callisto herself was a nymph who was associated with the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.

Zeus was held in exceptionally high esteem and power by the Ancient Greeks and once every four years the Olympians held a festival including games to honour their god. Today nations still meet for the Olympic Games but not to honour Zeus, rather the ability of the athletes themselves are considered and rewarded.

 

Valhalla Basin (2014 Galactic Winter Olympics)

Valhalla Basin_Credit_WikipediaValhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPLIn another wildly unlikely cosmic coincidence, the main venue of the Galactic Winter Olympics, Valhalla Basin, is also a crater produced by an impacting meteor. (Not the same one as Russia’s! Don’t be silly!) Furthermore it is not only the largest multi-ring impact crater on Callisto but also in the Solar System.

Discovered by the Voyager probes in 1979–80 it is located slightly to the north of the equator on Callisto’s Jupiter-facing hemisphere. Part of an extensive system in the

Valhalla region Valhalla’s bright-floored central basin stretches across a diameter spanning 360 km. It is surrounded by at least eight concentric mountainous ridges, which resemble frozen rings of ‘ghostlike ripples’ extending as far as 1,500 km from the basin’s central point.

Valhalla in Mythology

ValhallaOdinThis huge impact crater is named after Valhalla, Odin’s great hall in Norse mythology.  

                                                                         

Valhalla_was_in_Asgard_Home_of_the_fallen_VikingsValhalla, Hall of the Slain, in Norse mythology is the most beautiful of Asgard’s many great halls. It was here with Odin that the W Door Valhalla Guarded by a Wolfheroes who had been slain in battle – the Einherjar, feasted nightly on the meat of the boar Schrimnir and from the goat Heldrun, mead, whilst preparing for the up and coming battle of Ragnarok. Eight hundred warriors marching shoulder to shoulder will emerge from each one of Valhalla’s five hundred and forty doors when this time comes.

Vast and daunting Valhalla was said to have spears for rafters and golden shields providing roofing thatch, along with a fine array of breast plates, scattered around the Hall.

The western door of Valhalla is guarded by a wolf and hovering high above the door an eagle. Outside the front of the hall is Glasir, a golden tree and on the roof of Valhalla, the green leaves of another tree known as Læraðr – happily munched through by the goat Heldrun and the stag Eikþyrnir.

Asgard Crater Region– Callisto

To the west of Valhalla is another large multi-ring basin—Asgard Crater; the second largest multi-ring structure (impact crater) on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. The crater is named after Asgard, the realm of the gods in Norse mythology,

Asgard in Norse Mythology – Olympic Links

Bifrost and ValhallaThe Norse equivalent to Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, Asgard was the home and stronghold of the Norse gods. Set in the skies the only way to reach it was to cross Bifrost – the rainbow bridge.

Valhalla, the dwelling of Odin was the grandest and most magnificent of the many gold and silver halls to be found in Asgard. Norse mythology stated that Asgard would be destroyed at Ragnarok -"Doom of the powers (gods)," also known as “Gotterdammerung” which in Norse mythology means “the end of the cosmos.” A huge final battle would be fought and the world enveloped in flames; the gods defeated by giants and demons. But a number of the gods will survive, or will be reborn and out of the sea a green and fertile world will emerge.

2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics!

Coming soon to a Crater Near You!!

Valhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPL

Sources:

Viking Mythology : http://www.missgien.net

http://www.wikipedia

Related blogs on this site.

Zeus god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus – https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/zeusgod-of-the-olympics-and-supreme-ruler-of-mt-olympus/

Russian Fireball Explodes over Chelyabinsk–And it’s all the US’s Fault!!!! https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/russian-fireball-explodes-over-chelyabinskand-its-all-the-uss-fault/

Galactic Olympics – Mars 2012 https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/2012-gale-crater-galactic-olympics/

Alien Sunsets   33 comments

Watching the sunset on another world 150 light years from Earth….

What would it look like?

Osiris

HD 209458 b (Osiris) is a large exoplanet or extrasolar planet that orbits the Sun-like star HD 209458 in the constellation Pegasus, some 150 light-years from Earth’s solar system. First discovered on November 5, 1999 during “Spectroscopic studies.”

Osiris_HD 209458bOsiris

Osiris is a 7th magnitude world, visible from Earth with good binoculars or a decent telescope. Osiris (HD209458b), 150 Ly from Earth orbits very closely to its sun. Measured by the Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope on March 23. 2005 it had an atmospheric temperature of around 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) it’s year lasts just 3.5 Earth days long. Very bad for the aging process!

Osiris Firsts:

First PrizeHD 209458 b was the first transiting extrasolar planet discovered:

  • Known to have an atmosphere
  • Observed to have an evaporating hydrogen atmosphere
  • Found to have an atmosphere containing oxygen and carbon
  • One of the first two extrasolar planets to be directly spectroscopically observed
  • The first extrasolar planet found to have water vapour in its atmosphere. (April 2007)

(Sunset On HD 189733 – Osiris)

Sunset on HD209458b (reconstructed from the HST/STIS transmission spectrum): Image: Frederic Pont of the University of Exeter: based on data form a camera on-board the Hubble Space Telescope)

Osiris doesn’t actually have as surface on which to sit peacefully watching an alien sunset but for the purposes of this post we will pretend it does. What it does have however is an atmosphere, which when passed through by the light from its star (sun) – it does this every so often when Osiris passes between Earth and its own sun (transits)– allows the scientific types here on sunny Earth to figure out in a scientific way mostly beyond the understanding of the average Earthling, exactly which colours its sun would set in, should Osiris have a surface – as already stated it doesn’t but… and we were spending a happily romantic evening sitting on the (make-believe) surface.

I said it HASN’T got one!!! So don’t try it!! It won’t be any good for you!!

In the image to the right Osiris’s sunset can be seen as it would appear if having travelled at light speed to reach it, you were floating 6,200 miles/10,000 km above the planetary surface – preferably not in a deckchair unless you’re wearing a heavy duty space suit 😉 a space station would do nicely.

Floating 6,200 miles above the planetary surface...The Osirisian sun- HD 209458– it’s star, is, much like Earth’s Sun, white – yes I know…The Sun is yellow…but if there was no atmosphere it would look white – not that we would see it because without an atmosphere life on Earth would have survived for approx. 20 seconds before exploding into instant extinction.

An alien sunset on Osiris really does look alien – unlike Earth’s. Osiris’s atmosphere consists of sodium which when starlight (sunlight) zips through it, absorbs the red light. (think prisms and colours of rainbows when white light is split) This results in the remaining starlight appearing blue. It makes perfectly good sense if you were paying attention in your school science lessons. If you weren’t then it’s your own fault and you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself!!

As back home on Earth the blue light from the star is scattered (“Rayleigh scattering,” a mechanism also responsible for the Earth’s sky being blue) creating a progressive change through the blue end of the spectrum through to a pretty green and later a deep, dark shade of green as its star dips further beneath the horizon.

The more sensible approach to watching the Osirian sunset...In such colours you should be able to get a good view of Osiris’s sun without going instantly blind in which case you will notice it looks oddly flat around the southern half. The same effect occurs when we watch the sun setting from Earth. This is the consequence of diffraction (light bending) and nothing to worry about..

Osiris, Eygptian god of the Underworld_Credit Jeff DahlWhilst you are relaxing in the Osirisian sunset you can reflect on the little snippet of mythology attached to it’s title… Osiris was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail. His green skin is symbolic of new birth. This image is based on New Kingdom tomb paintings.

    

      AND FOR COMPARISION PURPOSES, THE SUNSET ON HD 189733 b

    Sunset on HD 189733 bSunset on HD 189733 b looks like an especially awesome Earth sunset when the sky is very clear and there is only a small amount of dust in the atmosphere. HD 189733 b is much closer to its star (sun) than Earth is to our Sun so its star looks considerably bigger 25 times larger than Earth’s sun when viewed at sunset compared.

Soaking up the atmosphere on HD 189733b

HD 189733 b’s sun is orange and nowhere near as hot as Earth’s Sun and consequently is coloured orange as oppose to the white of our Sun. Instead of undergoing a gradual change of colour as it sets, this alien sun transforms straight from its original orange colour to deepest red in the thick layers of the lower atmosphere.

Jupiter and HD 189733 b size comparison

HD 189733b discovered in 2005 is an extrasolar planet of similar size to Jupiter. It orbits a star (it’s sun) in a binary system called HD 189733 in the constellation of Vulpecula in two Earth days. The aging process on this world would be terribly fast in our terms and those wrinkles would appear in a frighteningly super-smart short time!! The star system itself one of the closest planet-star systems known making it extremely hot. It is located near the Dumbell Nebula, approximately 62 light years from Earth and is known as a “Hot Jupiter.”

HD 189733 and M27, the Dumbbell Nebula. Credit: Daniel Jaroschik

HD 189733b shares many similar characteristics as HD 209458b (a.k.a. “Osiris) Although HD 189733b’s atmosphere isn’t thought to be evaporating like Osiris’, atmospheric gases extend far beyond it and out into space. This is significant in that starlight can also pass through meaning that scientists have been able to figure out that the atmosphere contains water and methane resulting in the probability that HD 189733b may have a blue hue, reminiscent of Uranus.

The atmosphere also contains iron, silicate and aluminium oxide particles. These would seem to collect in HD 189733b’s upper atmosphere, forming a thin, hazy, reflective cloud in the exosphere. This leads to the natural conclusion that the weather on HD 189733b is hot and cloudy.

Thanks to the Spitzer telescope it was discovered in February 2007 for the first time that the atmosphere of exoplanet HD 209458b (Osiris) is relatively dry, thick and dusty. Osiris even contains grains of sand (silicates).

Exoplanet

Although it is not suitable for the existence of alien life it is an exciting step on the road to discovery of such worlds.

Sources:

PhysOrg.com

Prof. Frédéric Pont

ExoClimes.com

Pan Galactic Space Goat   71 comments

 

Capricornus – The Celestial Sea Goat

Capricornus - The Goat -The Constellation

CAPRICORNUS – its correct astronomical title, is a very faint constellation also known as the zodiac sign Capricorn by astrologers. It shares a part of the night sky with fishes, whales, rivers, and water carriers. Despite being depicted as a sea goat it bears closer resemblance to a triangle or if you’re a Halloween fan, witches pointed hat.

Originating with the ancient Sumerians and Babylonians, the constellation Capricornus was known as SUHUR-MASH-HA, THE GOAT FISH.

Pan - Half Goat_Half Fish

Pan The God Of The Countryside

The Greeks, however called it AEGOCEROS (GOAT-HORNED). The name of the well-known Italian island – “CAPRI” means “THE ISLAND OF GOATS” but the star atlas’s of old indicate that ancient Greeks associated the constellation Capricornus with the god of the countryside known as Pan. Pan was said to have had the head, horns and forelegs of a goat and a fish’s tail.

Pan, A Playful And Mischievous God

PAN was a very mischievous and naughty god who spent as much time as he possibly could chasing goddesses and female sea nymphs. These activities were punctuated with periods of sleep and relaxation aiming to aid a speedy recovery from his exertions and to renew his strength for his next session of very naughty behaviour.

Pan Pipes (Syrinx)

Syrinx The Nymph

Not all his seductive godly ways turned out as planned – THE NYMPH “SYRINX” was so un-entranced by his godly charms that she transformed herself into a bunch of reeds to avoid his attentions. Ever hopeful, Pan grabbed hold of them and was surprised when they created an un-expectedly beautiful musical sound as the wind blew gently through them.

Inspired and greatly pleased by this discovery Pan waxed together several of varying lengths so forming today’s PAN PIPES (SYRINX)

Pan seduces the nymphs and goddesses

So it comes as no great surprise that Pan, on being fortunate enough to come across a wild and wicked field party hosted by naughty sea nymphs and goddesses was only too happy to gate crash it and indulge in all kinds of untold fun and mischief.

Typhon The Terrible

Pan’s indulgences were however rudely interrupted by the approach of the huge and ferocious Typhon – a monster sent by Gaia – Mother Earth to attack the gods. After booming a deafening warning to the gods (being something of a loud mouth) Pan’s suggested each god transformed themselves into a different kind of animal and fled to a place of safety in order to escape the terrible Typhon.

                             TyphonZeusPan as the goat fish

To the amusement of the passing god ZEUS THE GOD OF THUNDER, Pan in great alarm, (hence the term panic) dived into the nearest river intending to transform fully into goat-form. Things did not go quite to plan and the lower part of his body changed into that of a fish!

The Mighty Battle of Zeus

Zeus fought a mighty battle with Typhon eventually overcoming him with thunderbolts, after which SICILY’S MOUNT ETNA became the monster’s final resting place. Refusing to rest even in death Typon’s breath was said to be responsible for the fiery, volcanic eruptions produced by Mt Etna.

 Mt Etna eruptingMt Etna erupting2

During this battle Zeus was badly injured and was left unable to run or fight. Pan with the help of Hermes repaired the damage done to him and he was able to continue with the battle and onto victory.

Artistic image of constellation Capriconus (The Goat)

 

By way of thanks Zeus placed an image of Pan – the sea goat Capricornus, in the night sky.

Japanese Wolves ~ “Guardian Dog of the Mountains”   66 comments

 

Japanese Wolves

“Yama no Bankun” (Guardian Dog of the Mountains)

Japanese Wolves_The Guardians of the Mountains

Ōkami (wolf)  狼(おおかみ)

Also known as: Okuri-inu 送り犬 (escorting dog), Okuri-ōkami 送り狼 (escorting wolf), Yama-inu 山犬 (mountain dog)

Officially, the last of the Japanese wolves was extinct in 1905 and no wolves now exist in Japan. The Hokkaidō or Ezo wolf, cousin to the grey Honshū wolf (Canis lupus hodophylax, or ōkami, the smallest of all wolves) located in Hokkaidō fell victim to extinction in 1889.

                               Japanese Wolf Japanese Ezo Wolf Japanese Honshu wolf_National Museum of Science and Nature 

It is however thought locally, that the wolf, also very much a creature of folklore and religion is still living, deep in the Japanese mountain forests and many people continue to claim they have seen one. This is probably based on the Wolf’s unique ability to keep so well out of sight of man, that it was almost invisible, allowing it to also keep an unwatched eye on man! Local Hongu saying: “The wolf can hide even where there is only a single reed.”

Wolf Deities – The Wolf in Myth and Legend

 jap wolf agyo at Mitake jinja in shibuya2

The wolves association with the mountains also remains very clear with places names such as Okamitaira (Wolf Plateau), Okamizawa (Wolf Marsh), Okami’iwa (Wolf Rock) and Kobirotoge (Howling Wolf Pass) in the Kii Peninsula mountains abounding.
The wolf, closely connected with the god (kami) of the mountains is considered to be the gods pet or their messenger (otsukai お使い) in the Tamaki Jinja and Takataki Jinja shrines located in Totsukawa Mura. In some cases it is even thought to be a god in its own right, "great kami (大神)", and the Ōguchi-no-makami (大口真神, "true god of the great mouth") is a wolf figure that is worshipped at Mitsumine Shrine in Saitama Prefecture,

“Yama no Bankun” (Guard Dog of the Mountains)

                                                  Guard Dog of the Mountains_Yamu no BankunJapanese_wolf_poster_Canis "Hodophylax"

The Japanese wolf is commonly known as Yama-inu,(mountain dog), and as with domestic dogs that display guard-like behaviour, in myth and legend the okuri-inu or okuri-ōkami ("escorting wolf") can also be seen as man’s protector, frequently from the dangers of other wolves when they are alone in Japan’s deep mountain forests. Another type of wolf is thought to escort in the form of stalking mankind as prey, malevolently attacking if their human “prey” should fall or trip and taking many different forms in order to deceive and bewitch humans. This has led in South/Central Honshū and Shikoku, to the belief that the wolf is a supernatural being. But one which if treated with respect by humans is also an honest creature, willing to offer protection when asked to spare a life and in the face of submissive human behaviour towards them.

Canis hodophilaxCanis Hodophylax – the Japanese scientific name linked to the legend of the benign okuri-ōkami ("escorting wolf") derives from the Greek word for “way/path” – Hodo, and the Greek word for “guard” – phylax, together creating “guardian of the way.” ** This also relates to the Ice wolves of Europa – Guardians of the Wolf-Gates and Pathfinders of the Wolf-Ways (interstellar pathways/gateways between worlds)

Such wolves are encouraged to remain protective with rewards consisting of their favourite foods (salt or sekihan -azuki beans and rice) when they have ensured safe passage for those concerned, helping to cement the relationship between man and wolf. Sekihan was also offered in congratulation, according to tradition in Yamanashi Prefecture, to the She-wolf when her wolf-cubs were born. It was believed that by the giving of this ceremonial food, usually served at the time of newly birthed human babies, would lead to return gifts of congratulation from the wolf when the villagers babies were born, in the form of deer, boar, hares etc.

“The Cypress of Dog Howls”

http://youtu.be/tupOeH4bcfw Wolf Howl in Asahiyama (Hokkaido, Japan)

               honshu-wolf_statue2and Japanese Wolf SymbolThe Cypress of Dog Howls Symbolism

North of Hongu high in the Tamaki mountains “The Cypress of Dog Howls” is found – a giant tree where on the eve of the 1889 Great Flood that killed numerous inhabitants of Hongu and surrounding areas, prophetic wolves howled continuously. They materialised on the Tamaki mountains to protect and aid the vulnerable villagers from the disaster that had overtaken them.

Wolf Charms and Boar Deterrents

Villagers would often pray to the wolf. "Lord Wolf [oino tono], please protect us and stop the ravages of the deer and wild boar.”  Especially in the Sendai region, this would happen whenever the wolf was spotted, as it was believed they would protect the mountain farms and help to control the ever increasing and destructive boar population. So strong was this belief, that even charms were used in the wolf’s absence, enshrined in the shrine of the village. In Hongu and even across Japan they had and still do, a wolf charm (ofuda) they called a boar deterrent (shishiyoke) to guard against the wild boars.

Japanese Wolf’s Natural Symbolism of Society in Japan

Japanese Wolf The quality and nature of the wolf’s relationship to humans, also reflects its moral relationship to them. This can be clearly seen in “Japanese wolf lore” which relates tales not of good or bad wolves but of good or bad people. Wolf lore promotes the wolf as a “natural symbol of society”

There is a strong message to the Japanese people that the exchanges they share with the wolf are also a model of how they should conduct the relationship between themselves and nature.

The wolf symbolises both the wildness and the control of the mountains (Yama) and although the original Japanese wolf may now be extinct, it is most certainly not out-dated or superseded. The reintroduction of wolves to Japan – as has been appealed for over recent times would have many positive influences:

· The wolf would help restore order to the ecology of Japan’s forests

· Nature would also be restored in the process 

· Human control would be reinstated

· The Japanese mountains would become manageable again…..

But in order for human control to be reinstated, first the return of the Yama no bankun, the "guard dog of the mountains"  is a required necessity.

                                  Kuroinu_Japanese Wolf Mask

Sources: 
1.  John Knight ~ "On the Extinction of the Japanese Wolf." Asian Folklore Studies

2. “Japan Guide Book” ~ japanguidebook.com

Zeus–god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus   48 comments

Zeus – Supreme god and ruler – Mount Olympus

Zeus - Supreme god

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Zeus was all-powerful, magnificent, awe-inspiring and knowledgeable – the sovereign god and ruler of the gods on Mt Olympus in Thessaly. His image was a common sight on Greek coins and he was known by many titles: Lord of the Sky, the Cloud- gatherer, the Rain-god and Zeus the Thunderer, These titles expressed very clearly how high in esteem and power Zeus was held the Ancient Greeks;

Rain, a rarity in a climate as hot and dry as that of Greece was considered to be the most important force of nature in the Ancient World. A life-giving force. This in sharp contrast to the more usual all-powerful sun-gods of other mythologies.

 

Zeus and wife Hera and Eagle Zeus did however, as regarded his love life, i.e. his affairs, display a surprising lack of common sense and ability to stay out of trouble and proved this whilst indulging in his unfaithfulness to his wife.

 

Zeus was also the ‘guardian of political order and peace.’ His breastplate, bearing the head of a Gorgon – so glorious and at the same time awful to behold that no human could see Zeus in all his magnificence and survive. His weapon, the thunderbolt which had been designed by three Cyclopes, he could hurl with deadly intent and accuracy. The Eagle was his bird and his oracle, Dodona. The Oak was his tree and his priests were made aware of his will by the rustling of its leaves.

        Zeus_god of thunder    zeus-eagles

Once every four years the Olympians held a festival including games to honour their god. Today nations still meet for the Olympic Games but not to honour Zeus. The ability of the athletes themselves are considered and rewarded.

Olympics – Ancient Greece to London 2012

The Olympics, held every four years during the midsummer full moon- an intentional choice of timing allowing the games to continue through the night, began as a festival to honour Zeus in Ancient Greece. They were designed to encourage "the development of body, mind, and spirit."

Olympic Rings Now, more than 2,700 years after the original Ancient Olympics, London, which did not even exist at that time, and now the capital city of around 8 million people, is in the ultimate point of preparing to host the 2012 Olympic Games. On 27 July, in the traditional opening ceremony athletes from around the world will march into the newly built London Olympic Stadium and the lighting of the Olympic flame will occur, to burn for the duration of the Games.

The Olympic Flame was first introduced at the 1928 Olympic Games, the torch relay at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

2012 torch lighting at site of anc olym Today the most iconic of the Olympic symbols – the Olympic Flame, which is lit from a flame from the sun during a ceremony in Athens, is then carried in a torch relay to the host city in time for the main opening ceremony. On arriving at the main stadium arena the Olympic torch is then used to light the flame. Athletes parade behind their national flags, the releasing of doves symbolise peace.

The Olympic Oath

The first official ceremony of the Ancient Olympic Games was the taking of the oaths at the opening of the Games. It was conducted in front of a statue of Zeus of the Oaths (Zeus Horkios) and accompanied by a sacrifice. The athletes and trainers had to swear that they had studiously trained for 10 months and that they were willing to obey the Games rules.

At today’s Olympic opening ceremony one Olympic athlete from the host country, holds one corner of the Olympic flag, taking, on behalf of every athlete competing, the Olympic oath:

Olympics-2012-Stadium-Design"In the name of all the competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams."

The original oath was taken for the first time in Belgium at the Antwerp Games in 1920. The reference to drugs was an additional inclusion in 2000.

The Olympic Creed

Judges and officials in Ancient Greek Olympics – The Hellanodikes, also took an oath to judge fairly and in a fashion that was not biased. Today a host country judge formally repeats the Olympic creed, from the scoreboard display during the Opening Ceremony. First used for the Olympic Athletes at a 1908 London Games service, this creed was introduced at Munich’s Olympic Games in 1972:

"The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

The Olympics have survived terrorism, embargoes and an increase in drug use yet nations continue despite all the problems that have occurred, to bid for the honour of acting as ‘host to the world.’

Ki Lin–Chinese Unicorn   43 comments

 

Ki Lin – Fabulous Unicorns of Chinese Mythology

(Equus orientalis) (Updated 3 March 2012)

 

imageThe Chinese Unicorn known as the Ki Lin (pronounced chee-lin), haimages for thousands of years been an integral part of Chinese mythology. It’s most common form and the one most familiar, is that of a horse-like creature, though probably a different branch of the horse family to the Unicorn, with a deer’s body, the tail of an ox, the hooves of a horse, and a single short horn growing prominently from the middle of its forehead. On occasion it is said to have a minimum of three horns! Multi-coloured (five) hair on its back represents the five sacred Chinese colours: red, yellow, blue, white, and black. Yellow hair can be found on its underside. In fact with its green scaly skin and manes of hair it bears a closer resemblance to a dragon than a unicorn. Neither is it the traditional Western unicorns shimmering white colour, but can be found in a range of colours including black, red and green.

The Ki Lin, (Ki, the male Unicorn, and Lin, the female Unicorn.) is a gentle creature that will not harm any living thing. It consumes only non-live plant life such as dead grass. Its exact habitat is unknown but it has a lifespan of around 1,000 years and stands about 1.5m tall. It is also in receipt of powers far greater than those of the “standard unicorn” and these work to ensure that it is impossible to both catch or kill, and it is claimed that it sprang from the centre of the Earth and has the power of speech.

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As one of the “Four Fabulous Beasts of Chinese Mythology” the Ki Lin is representative of all mammals and furred creatures, as well as the West-pointing direction of the compass. They symbolise purity, innocence, truth and justice, and in Chinese mythology the Unicorn’s appearance was interpreted as a sign of good times, that came to humans only on important enterprises. It is said it will return again when good and prosperous times return to the lands…could be a long time coming then!

Many traditional Chinese stories indicate that the Ki Lin are great defenders of the innocent but have a particular dislike of the guilty and have a tendency to spear them creating major courtroom dramas! It is thought of as a holy creature. During the Court of Genghis Kharband expedition the Ki Lin passed on a message, speaking with a voice of melodious gong-like quality, of such love and peace to the “Great Leader”  that he was moved to make the momentous decision to recall one of the worst and most bloodthirsty of his military campaigns avoiding much bloodshed.

(Updated 3 March 2012)

Ancient Greek Olympics   24 comments

The mythological origins of the Olympics

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The Olympic Games, originally a religious event, was the most important national festival of the ancient Greeks originally created to honour Zeus, king of the Greek gods. It is also said that Zeus founded the Olympic Games to commemorate his victory over his father Kronos whom it is claimed he wrestled with at Olympia.

 

 

profimedia-0086671418Apollo competed in a footrace with Hermes and also defeated Ares, the god of war, in a boxing match. And the heroic Hercules, descendant of the Idaean Herakles who guarded Zeus after he was born along with 1758162-herc02_mediumfour other Daktyloi was also was said to have taken part in the Games. 

 

Records of the Olympics date back to 776 BC when the official "First Olympiad" was held. The games were held every four years (time periods which the Greeks called Olympiads.) Discontinued by Emperor Theodosius I of Rome in the 4th century AD, they were not reinstated in Athens till 1896.

 

 

                                    The Olympics – sacred festival

HalicarnassusTheaterThe Olympic stadium was built southwest of Athens in Olympia close by Zeus’s temple. The 42 foot high gold and ivory statue of Zeus residing within the temple’s walls was sculpted by Pheidias, and was viewed as one of seven wonders of the ancient world.

Zeus’s alter was said to have been erected on the site struck by a thunderbolt, the god had hurled from his throne aloft Mount Olympus, the assembly point of the gods. To honour this legend Elis’s coins were engraved on their reverse side with the design of a mighty thunderbolt.

Delphi

 

 

 

Statue_of_Zeus

 

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Individual competitors trained rigorously. Winning an Olympic contest was a glory held in higher regard than winning a battle but was also intended through displays of great strength and personal agility to be pleasing and impressive to the gods, to whom athletes often prayed to for victory and made gifts of animals, produce, or small cakes, in thanks giving offerings for their victories. They were presented with garlands of laurel, a tree that was sacred to Apollo following the transfiguration of his cherished Daphne into a laurel tree. They were then given a crown of olive wreaths, and gained the privilege of being viewed as national heroes.

Women and the Olympic Flame

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 2426272Male competitors were proud individuals, usually competing nude, in order to strut and display the strength and prowess of their perfectly worked out bodies.

Consequently women, foreigners, slaves, and the unfortunates who had been dishonoured were prohibited from competing; Married women, were barred altogether from even watching any Olympic events, with dire consequences if they disobeyed, the only exception being the chariot races where the olympic-torch-9men were fully clothed.

They did however have their own Games in honour of the beautiful Hera – the Heraia, at Argos, held for women every four years until the time of the Roman rule. This was a sprinting competition in which sixteen women took part in three races, divided by age.

olympictorch-postprocessed-byrjt2004image007And it should not be forgotten that one of the most enduring images of the Greek Olympic Games are the those of the priestesses endowed with beautiful costumes igniting the Olympic flame with a colossal solar reflector.

The Olympic Torch or Flame a symbol of the Olympic Games originated in Ancient Greece and symbolizes fire, which was Olympic_Torch-2stolen from Greek god Zeus by Prometheus. The sacred flame burned by way of celebration throughout the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia inside of the temple of Hera, carefully guarded by her priestess and it said to have never gone out since its first lighting.

Today eleven women, representing the “Vestal Virgins”, stage a ceremony in which the Olympic torch is set ablaze by the light of the Sun. The Olympic Torch Relay ends on the day of the opening ceremony in the central stadium of the Games.

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The Isthmian Games 

olympic_coinThe Olympic Games were just one of Greece’s four major national festivals – others known as the Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian Games. The Isthmian Games were of a lighter hearted nature than the others and as such were especially well received.

Olive leaf prize

The Olympic Games were held to honour Zeus, whereas the Isthmian Games were a festival of athletic and musical competitions which honoured the sea god Poseidon whose legendary sanctuary was on the Isthmus of Corinth. Poseidon also presided over earthquakes and horses, and in the early Olympic Games, chariot racing with horses was a very important component of the Games.

The Isthmian Games were held in spring every second and fourth years of the Olympic Games. They competed for a prize consisting of a wreath of celery and later, for one of pine leaves and sometimes a statue or an ode.

 

21st Century Athens Olympics Opening Ceremony

 

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Mystical and Fabled Unicorns   20 comments

 

Unicorns ~ The Creature that came from Nowhere!

The Unicorn (Briabhall) along with the dragon is probably one of Europe’s best known mythical creatures. With the sleek head and body of a white horse, the strong legs of a buck antelope, a lion’s tail, and a single sharp horn on its head it stands as a beautiful, graceful attractive beast, giving it high profile in human imagination.

It is an emblem of purity, pure white in colour, strong, fierce and wild in temperament, untameable by nature. And yet also it is meek and gentle towards both its young and with human virgins.

It is the symbol of supreme magical power. It teaches that every action is creation, so make every day count. It also helps us to understand the relationship between physical and spiritual realities.

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Inhabiting the forests and light woodland of Eurasia particularly India, and with a lifespan aprox 40-60 years Unicorns mate once, for life. They are noted for their tender behaviour to each other and especially for being gentle with their young. But they are solitary by nature only coming together during the spring breeding season.

Their horns are straight with a spiral groove projecting from the middle of their foreheads. Usually bout 18”/45cm long and variegated, white at the base, black in the middle with a crimson tip.Also seen in all black or light brown.

Indian Unicorn

  • Observed in the 5th century by Greek historian Ctesias was said to have a purple head and dark blue eyes.
  • A splendid black horn almost 3 ft/1m long was observed by early Greek Ambassador to India – Megasthenes.

Horns as Antidotes

A unicorn’s horn is stronger than any other organic substance known it is a remarkable material not yet fully understood.

  • Potent anti-toxin
  • Medieval time said dipping it in water purified whole lakes and rivers (exaggerated!)
  • Invaluable as an antidote to toxins right up to 18th century.
  • True Unicorn horn would stop silk wrapped around it being burned by hot coals

NB The Tower of London Treasury 1641 Inventory valued unicorn in the Royal Treasury at £40,000 (equal to £1 million today)

Unicorns and Lions

Unicorns evolved from stumpy horses of Pliocene era (2 million years ago) developing into the majestic thoroughbreds of today but with greater speed, strength, intelligence and a fearsome brow weapon. If left alone they are a peaceable creature, but in battle they are strong and ferocious – a necessary trait as they were natural prey for large predators like lions and tigers.

The age old conflict between unicorn and lion is a feature of the British Royal Family’s Coat of Arms (shield supplied by the English Lion and the Scottish Unicorn) Also in well known nursery rhyme. The Lion’s victory is a metaphor for the Lion’s evolutionary triumph.

“The Lion and the Unicorn

Were fighting for the crown

The Lion beat the Unicorn

All around the town.”

Hunting/Baiting Unicornsclip_image003

The Unicorn’s exceptional speed and strength made it impossible to hunt in the normal way. Unicorns are prone to charging horn first at all adversaries and piercing all armour. Consequently the hunters would stand in front of a tree, stepping aside at the last minute and the clip_image002unicorn horn would spear the tree leaving it open to attack.

Devotion to their young means if threatened they can be forced to stand and fight

  • They’re easily mesmerised by their own reflection eg in a virgin’s mirror!

Hunters can catch the unicorn only by placing a young virgin in his haunts. No sooner does he see the damsel, than he runs towards her and lies down at her feet and so suffers himself to be captured.

       The Bestiary of Gullaume, Clerc de Normandie (13th century)

The hunter would then kill the unicorn or chop off its horn leavinclip_image004g the unicorn vulnerable to all kinds of predators. Virgins were largely responsible for the destruction of the European Unicorn population. The practice was ended in 17th century when virgins suddenly became extremely rare!

Post Renaissance Horn Trade

Hunting pretty much ceased in the absence of horn demand, which initially dropped off between 1563 and 1638 when it was banned in churches and hailed valueless by those who claimed, they were instead “Narwhal” tusks. But Unicorns had already been hunted close to extinction for the horns that made them unique. In Europe populations WERE extinct. The few remainder continued to live a lonely life in North India, Central Asia and the Caucasu, untamed and unbowed. Legend says they disappeared when Noah forgot to take any on board the arc. However there is evidence enough of their survival into the modern age before they became extinct.

clip_image005Unicorns are unique because they are not in mythology. There are no mythical tales about Unicorns unlike Pegasus – the winged horse. For a creature that came from nowhere, never really existed and has no real origins the Unicorn stayed alive in the imagination of the human race foclip_image006r a remarkable length of time. No other creature paralleled it apart, possibly from the Griffon, and that not to the same degree.

Greek scholars believed it to be real and to have come from India. At that time little was known of India either, so both seemed magical and mythical, and the mystical, mysterious Unicorn was a creature who commanded great respect and power.

This was perhaps also because the Unicorn is the only mythical creature not based on human fears. They were not monsters, but were revered and respected. They were strong, solitary creatures who sought to do good for all, and never posed a threat to humans or any other creature that did not first seek to harm them.