Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Shaman's Sickness and Alien Abductions

It's was little after Midnight when I began typing this, and I'm feeling a bit creeped out by the stories of alien abductions and dark spirit journeys that I'm reading to brush recall everything necessary for this article. The emotions of folk beief, the culture behind them have always been what's drawn be to these stories. I believe that it's important not to seperate yourself from these emotions, much as I may want to this late at night. This is because these stories are very real to the people who experianced them. So one can't understand the stories of a person's encounters with aliens, fairies, or the spirit world without understanding their emotions. 

Perhaps what's most striking to me is how our society has turned what people once thought of as spiritual experiances into "parascintific" encounters. The spirits and creatures known as bigfoot became evolutionary missing links, fairies became ghosts, and shaman's journeys turned into Alien Abductions. 
Anyone who has read about the "shaman's sickness" and Alien Abduction symptoms will likely see how similar thise stories are. Many people experiance and think about many of the encounters and moments related to shamanism, even if they interpret them differently based on their culture. 

The Shaman's Sickness
The shaman's sickness refers to the time when the shaman's first come to the attention of the spirit world. During this time the spirits will possess and sometimes attack the shaman. Under the spirits influence the shaman's behavior begins to change, and sometimes they gain actual symptoms of a sickness. One shaman nearly died from small pox during which he met the spirit of small pox and went on a journey into the other world. Many people who experianced the events of the shaman's sickness were deeply disterbed and upset by their experiances (just as those who suffer alien abductions are) until an older shaman came to them and explained how to deal with the spirits or the person had a near death experiance which allowed them to more fully enter the spirit world. Once either of these events occured the gained the ability to control their experiance in the spirit world a little better, and had deeper, more meaningful journeys.


I would argue that shaman techniques and ideas helped people deal with the hard experiances they were suffering through. After all if a person thinks about abduction experiances as them being reborn as part of a larger spirit/fairy world which gives them special abilities to help humanity, the person will feel better than if they think of these things as a violation by some alien creatures. This is the challenge of changing our belief system, people still suffer through many of the same experiances, but they have no way of dealing with or understanding them. 

It's also important to keep in mind that shaman's have only fragmented memories of their experiances with the spirit world, and sometimes don't recall it at all. This is of course similar to alien abducties. 


Shaman's Encounters that are similar to Alien Abducties

1 - Memories of flight
Obviously many people are carried into the air by the fairies and or spirits. Bright lights are a common part of this experiance, as the spirit world or heaven is typically filled with bright lights. This is in many way similar to near death experiances as well. 

2- Being devoured by animals and or being dismembered. 
What does being eaten by a wolf have to do with aliens? Being devoured by animals is one of the reported memories from alien abductions These memories seem strange for anyone abducted by aliens to have. his makes far more sense in the context of shamanism. Being cut open and or apart, makes more sense in terms of an alien abduction but it was common for spirits and fairies to do this in addition to or in place of devouring the shaman. The reason for this was so that the shaman could be reborn as a spiritual being. Essentually someone had to have their regular body die so that they could become something greater, a more spiritual being. There is a story about the greatest Fairy Doctor (shaman / good witch) in Ireland being brought through a village by the fairies in a coffin, only to rise from the "dead" in order to help humanity. Yupik Shaman's were commonly eaten by bears and regergitated as powerful shamans, and some people were tortured and cut on by strange spirits for years before being released, as if no time had passed at all.

3 - A sense of a mission
Aliens, fairies, and spirits frequently instill human's with a mission, and a greater awarness of the environment, which seems odd in the context of aliens, if anyone has any thoughts on this I'd be interested in hearing them? This makes more sense in conjunction with the idea of spiritual beings, anciestral spirits, deities, fairies, etc. Shamans were most often made shamans by the spirits in order to help their fellow humans. 

4-A sense of being special and of having psychic abilities.
Gaining a sense of importance, of uniqueness and psychic abilities is of course part and partial of the whole shaman experiance.

5-Believing that they have had intercourse during the night.
Intercourse with strange visitors is a common experiance for alien abducties. While intercourse with spirits was a common part of the shaman's experaince, for often their relationship with the spirit world was partially sexual. One woman from the Amur River region had sex with a tiger spirit and so gave birth to her spirit helpers (two tigers who left her after being born but came back to her when they had grown up and flew her into the spirit world). Another man from Northern Siberia had sex with a strange being who gave birth to his spirit helper. Even Loki had sex with a magical being and so gave birth to a spirit helper, though he gave this helper spirit (an eight legged horse) to Odin.

6-Pregnancies that end without explination or discharge
It was common for shamans to give birth to spiritual beings, and typically pregnancies which involved such beings took less time so it often seemed like they ended early.

7 - Compulsion to become an Vegitarian
Though not all shamans or abducties become vegitarian it is a compusion that many of them share. A Cunning man from Britain was known to eat no meat, as were many other witches and shamans.

8 - Memories of a spiritual place, often some place a person has been (from childhood for example)... Of course, this is where the spirit resides. Many of the spirits that helped shmanas were the spirit owners of specific places. 

9 - Fear of talking about aliens / spirits / fairies
The reason it's difficult to learn about shamans is that they believe it to be taboo to talk too much about their own experiances. For some talking about thier shaman's experiance was a method of sucide, for they knew that in doing so they would eventually be killed by the spirits. 

10- Feeling of passing through solid objects was how witches left thier homes. When the goddes/fairy queen Perchta, of Alpine tradition, sounded her drums people' would fly out from their beds, going up chimneys or through windows, doors, or walls to join her in battling evil spirits in the sky. These people weren't supposed to speak too much of their experiance so it's difficult to say how much or what they recalled from it. The notion that a shaman sends their soul out of their body and so passes through solid objects is a common one, however. 

11- Running off to strange places is a common theme of alien abduction and shamanizing. The spirit would take control of (possess) the shaman and cause them to run off into the wilderness. Many times this was done while the person was asleep or unaware and so they would wake up in the forest, tangled in a tree with no idea how they'd gotten there. 

12 - Marks, cuts, etc. 
Not always mentioned in shaman beliefs, however, witch hunters would examine witches, for such marks which indicates that this was part of the shaman tradition in Europe.

13 - Anxiety, libile mood, disorientation, and similar mood changes were common parts of the shaman's experiance. As was wild and often reckless behavior wjem they first came to the attention of the spirits.

The one think I haven't found in cases of alien abductions which are common in to early shaman experiances is oversleeping, and constant sleepiness, so if anyone knows of cases of alien adbucties becoming overly tired and sleeping constnatly I'd be be interested in hearing it. 

There are records of similar shaman's experiances that are thousands of years old, and in most cases these shaman's, like many people who experiance alien abductions, gained a desire and a power to help humanity. Only tradition and understanding of their culture helped the shaman's to refine and build upon their newfound skills and spiritual awareness. 

There are of course many other encounters with fairies which are similar to encounters with aliens, in many cases spirits would simply attack or temperarily kidnap someone for reasons other than to turn them into a shaman. But such encounters are best explored in another article. 

So what are your thoughts? Are these signs of an alien abduction, spirits and fairies, or mental hallucinations?

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Animistic Vampire in New England

The following article by George R. Stetson is from the Journal "American Anthropologist" and was published in 1896 about the vampire beliefs in New England.

The belief in the vampire and the whole family of demons has its origin in the animism, spiritism, or personification of the barbarian, who, unable to distinguish the objective from the subjective, ascribes good and evil influences and all natural phenomena to good and evil spirits.

Mr Conway remarks of this vampire belief that " it is, perhaps, the most formidable survival of demonic superstition now existing in the world."

Under the names of vampire, were-wolf, man-wolf, night mare, night-demon — in the Illyrian tongue oupires, or leeches ;
in modern Greek broucolaques, and in our common tongue ghosts,
each country having its own peculiar designation — the super-
stitious of the ancient and modern world, of Chaldea and Baby-
lonia, Persia, Egypt, and Syria, of Illyriaj Poland, Turkey,
Servia, Germany, England, Central Africa, New England, and
the islands of the Malay and Polynesian archipelagoes, desig-
nate the spirits which leave the tomb, generally in the night, to
torment the living.

The character, purpose, and manner of the vampire mani-
festations depend, like its designation, upon environment and
the plane of culture.

All primitive peoples have believed in the existence of good
and evil spirits holding a middle place between men and gods.
Calmet lays down in most explicit terms, as he was bound to
do by the canons of his church, the doctrine of angels and
demons as a matter of dogmatic theology.

The early Christians were possessed, or obsessed, by demons,
and the so-oalled demoniacal possession of idiots, lunatics, and
hysterical persons is still common in Japan, China, India, and
Africa, and instances are noted in western Europe, all yielding
to the methods of Christian and pagan exorcists as practiced in
New Testament times.

The Hebrew synonym of demon was serpent; the Greek,
diabolus, a calumniator, or impure spirit. The Rabbins were
divided in opinion, some believing they were entirely spiritual,
others that they were corporeal, capable of generation and sub-
ject to death.

As before suggested, it was the general belief that the vampire
is a spirit which leaves its dead body in the grave to visit and
torment the living.

The modern Greeks are persuaded that the bodies of the ex-
communicated do not putrefy in their tombs, but appear in the
night as in the day, and that to encounter them is dangerous.

Instances are cited by Calmet, in Christian antiquity, of ex-
communicated persons visibly arising from their tombs and
leaving the churches when the deacon commanded the excom-
municated and those who did not partake of the communion to
retire. The same writer states that " it was an opinion widely
circulated in Germany that certain dead ate in their tombs and
devoured all they could find about them, incltfdiiig their own
flesh, accompanied by a certain piercing shriek and a sound of
munching and groaning."

A German author has thought it worth while to write a work
entitled "De Masticatione mortuorum in tumulis." In many parts
of England a person who is ill is said to be " wisht '.' or " over-
looked." The superstition of the "evil eye" originated and
exists in the same degree of culture ; the evil'eye " which kills
snakes, scares wolves, hatches ostrich eggs, and breeds leprosy."
The Polynesians believed that the vampires were the departed
souls, which quitted the grave, and grave idols, to creep by night
into the houses and devour the heart and entrails of the sleepers,
who afterward died.*

The Kareins tell of the Kephu, which devours the souls of men
who die. The Mintira of the Malay peninsula have their water
demon, who sucks blood from men's toes and thumbs.

* Foster^s Observntions During a Voyage Around the World.

" The first theory of the vampire superstitions," remarks Ty-
lor * " is that the soul of the living man, often a sorcerer, leaves
its proper body asleep and goes forth, perhaps in the visible form
of a straw or fluff of down, slips through the keyhole, and at-
tacks a living victim. Some say these Mauri come by night to
men, sit upon their breasts, and suck their blood, while others'
think children are alone attacked, while to men they are night-
mares.

" The second theory is that the soul of a dead man goes out
from its buried body and sucks the blood of living men ; the
victim becomes thin, languid, bloodless, and, falling into a rapid
decline, dies."

The belief in the Obi of Jamaica and the Vaudoux or Vodun
of the west African coast, Jamaica, and Haiti is essentially the
same as that of the vampire, and its worship and superstitions,
which in Africa include child - murder, still survive in those
parts, as well as in several districts among the negro population
of our southern states. The negro laid under the ban of the
Obi or who is vaudouxed or, in the vernacular, " hoodooed "
slowly pines to death.

In New England the vampire superstition is unknown by its
proper name. It is there believed that consumption is not a
physical but a spiritual disease, obsession, or visitation ; that as
long as the body of a dead consumptive relative has blood in its
heart it is proof that an occult influence steals from it for death
and is at work draining the blood of the living into the heart of
the dead and causing his rapid decline.

It is a common belief in primitive races of low culture that
disease is caused by the revengeful spirits of man or other ani-
mals — notably among some tribes of North American Indians
as well as of African negroes.

Russian superstition supposes nine sisters who plague man-
kind with fever. They lie chained up in caverns, and when let
loose pounce upon men without pity.f

As in the financial and political, the psychologic world has
its periods of exaltation and depression, of ebb and flow, of con-
fidence and alarm. In the eighteenth century a vampire panic
beginning in Servia and Hungary spread thence into northern


and western Europe, acquiring its new life and impetus from the
horrors attending the prevalence of the plague and other dis-
tressing epidemics in an age of great public moral depravity
and illiteracy. Calmet, a learned Benedictine monk and abb6
of Senones, seized this opportunity to write a popular treatise
on the vampire, which in a short time passed through many
editions. It was my good fortune not long since to find in
the Boston Athenaeum library an original copy of his work.
Its title-page reads as follows : " Traits sur les apparitions des
esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Mo-
ravie, etc. Par le R. P. Dom Augustine Calmet, abbe de S6nones.
Nouvelle edition, revisee, corregie, et augmentie par I'auteur, avec
une lettre de Mons le Marquis MafFei, sur la magie. A Paris :
Ghez debure I'aine quay des Augustins £l I'image S. Paul.
MDCCLI. Avec approb et priv du roi."

Calmet was born in Lorraine, near Commercy, in 1672, and
his chief works were a commentary and history of the Bible. He
died as the abbe of Senones, in the department of the Vosges.

This curious treatise has evidently proved a mine of wealth
to all modern encyclopedists and demonologists. It impresses
one as the work of a man whose mental convictions do not en-
tirely conform to the traditions and dogmas of his church, and
his style at times appears somewhat apologetic. Calmet declares
his belief to be that the vampires of Europe and the brucolaques
of Greece are the excommunicated which the grave rejects. They
are the dead of a longer or shorter time who leave their tombs
to torment the living, sucking their blood and announcing their
appearance by rattling of doors and windows. The name vam-
pire, or d'oupires, signifies in the Slavonic tongue a bloodsucker.
He formulates the three theories then existing as to the cause of
these appearances :

First : That the persons were buried alive and naturally leave
their tombs.

Second : That they are dead, but that by God's permission or
particular command they return to their bodies for a time, as
when they are exhumed their bodies are found entire, the blood
red and fluid, and their members soft and pliable.

Third : That it is the devil who makes these apparitions ap-
pear and by their means causes all the evil done to men and
animals.

In some places the specter appears as in the flesh, walks, talks,
infests villages, ill uses both men and beasts, sucks the blood of
their near relations, makes them ill, and finally causes their
death.

The late Monsieur de Vassimont, counselor of the chamber of
the courts of Bar, was informed by public report in Monravia that
it was common enough in that country to see men who had died
some time before " present themselves in a party and sit down
to table with persons of their acquaintance without saying a word
and nodding to one of the party, the one indicated would in-
fallibly die some days after."*

About 1735 on the frontier of Hungary a dead person appeared
after ten years' burial and caused the death of his father. In
1730 in Turkish Servia it was believed that those who had been
passive vampires during life became active after death; in
Russia, that the vampire does not stop his unwelcome visits at
a single member of a family, but extends his visits to the last
member, which is the Rhode Island belief

The captain of grenadiers in the regiment of Monsieur le Baron
Trenck, cited by Calmet, declares " that it is only in their family
and among their own relations that the vampires delight in
destroying their species."

The inhabitante of the island of Chio do not answer unless
called twice, being persuaded that the brucolaques do not call
but once, and when so called the vampire disappears, and the
person called dies in a few days. The classic writers from
Sophocles to Shakespeare and from Shakespeare to our own
time have recognized the superstition.

Mr Conway quotes from the legend of Ishtar descending to
Hades to seek some beloved one. She threatens if the door be
not opened —

" I will raise the dead to be devourers of the living ;
Upon the living shall the dead prey."t

Singularly, in his discourse on modern superstitions De
Quincey, to whom crude superstitions clung and who had faith
in dreams as portents, does not allude to the vampire ; but his
contemporary, Lord Byron, in his lines on the opening of the
royal tomb at Windsor, recognizes this belief in the transforma-
tion of the dead :

" Justice and death have mixed their dust in vain,
Each royal vampire vi^akes to life again."

William of Malmsbury says that *' in England they believed
that the wicked came baclc after death by the will of the devil;"
and it was not an unusual belief that those whose death had
been caused in this manner, at their death pursued the same evil
calling. Naturally under such an uncomfortable and inconven-
ient infliction some avenue of escape must, if possible, be found.
It was first necessary to locate the vampire. If on opening the
grave of a " suspect " the body was found to be of a rose color, the
beard, hair, and nails renewed, and the veins filled, the evidence
of its being the abode of a vampire was conclusive. A voyager
in the Levant in the seventeenth century is quoted as relating
that an excommunicated person was exhumed and the body
found full, healthy, and well disposed and the veins filled with
the blood the vampire had taken from the living. In a certain
Turkish village, of forty persons exhumed seventeen »ave evi-
dence of vampirism. In Hungary, one deaa thirty years was
found in a natural state. In ITST/ the bodies of five religieuse
were discovered in a tomb near the hospital of Quebec, that had
been buried twenty years, covered with flesh and suffused with
blood.*

The methods of relief from or disposition of the vampire's
dwelling place are not numerous, but extremely sanguinary and
ghastly.

In Servia a relief is found in eating of the earth of his grave
and rubbing the person with his blood. This prescription was,
however, valueless if after forty days the body was exhumed
and all the evidences of an archivampire were not found. A more
common and almost universal method of relief, especially in the
Turkish provinces and in the Greek islands, was to burn the
body and scatter the ashes to the winds. Some old writers are
of the opinion that the souls of the dead cannot be quiet until
the entire body has been consumed. Exceptions are noted in the
Levant, where the body is cut in pieces and boiled in wine, and
where, according to Voltaire, the heart is torn out and burned.

In Hungary and Servia, to destroy the demon it was consid-
ered necessary to exhume the body, insert in the heart and other
parts of the defunct, or pierce it through witli a sharp instru-
ment, as in the case of suicides, upon which it utters a dreadful
cry, as if alive ; it is then decapitated and the body burned. In
New England the body is exhumed, the heart burned, and the
ashes scattered. The discovery of the vampire's resting-place
was itself an art.

In Hungary and in Russia they choose a boy young enough
to be certain that he is innocent of any impurity, put him on
the back of a horse which has never stumbled and is absolutely
black, and make him ride over all the graves in the cemetery.
The grave over which the horse refuses to pass is reputed to be
that of a vampire."

Gilbert Stuart, the distinguished American painter, when asked
by a London friend where he was born, replied : " Six miles
from Pottawoone, ten miles from Poppasquash, four miles from
Conanicut, and not far from the spot where the famous battle
with the warlike Pequots was fought." In plainer language,
Stuart was born in the old snuff mill belonging to his father and
Dr Moffat, at the head of Petaquamscott pond, six miles from
Newport, across the bay, and about the same distance from Narra-
gansett Pier, in the state of Rhode Island.

By some mysterious survival, occult transmission, or remark-
able atavism, this region, including within its radius the towns
of Exeter, Foster, Kingstown, East Greenwich, and others, with
their scattered hamlets and more pretentious villages, is distin-
guished by the prevalence of this remarkable superstition — a sur-
vival of the days of Sardanapalus, of Nebuchadnezzar, and of New
Testament history in the closing years of what we are pleased to
call the enlightened nineteenth century. It is an extraordinary
instance of a barbaric superstition outcropping in and coexisting
with a high general culture, of which Max Miiller and others
have spoken, and which is not so uncommon, if rarely so ex-
tremely aggravated, crude, and painful.

The region referred to, where agriculture is in a depressed con-
dition and abandoned farms are numerous, is the tramping-
ground of the book agent, the chromo peddler, the patent-medi-
cine man and the home of the erotic and neurotic modern novel.
The social isolation away from the larger villages is as complete
as a century and a half ago, when the boy Gilbert Stuart tramped
the woods, fished the streams, and was developing and absorb-
ing his artistic inspirations, while the agricultural and economic
conditions are very much worse.*

Farm-houses deserted and ruinous are frequent, and the once
productive lands, neglected and overgrown with scrubby oak,
speak forcefully and mournfully of the migration of the youth-
ful farmers from country to town. In short, the region furnishes
an object-lesson in the decline of wealth consequent upon the
prevalence of a too common heresy in the district that land will
take care of itself, or that it can be robbed from generation to
genen.tion without injury, and suggests the almost criminal
neglect of the conservators of public education to give instruction
to our farming youth in a more scientific and more practical agri-
culture. It has been well said by a banker of well known name
in an agricultural district in the midlands of England that " the
depression of agriculture is a depression of brains." Naturally,
in such isolated conditions the superstitions of a much lower
culture have maintained their place and are likely to keep it and
perpetuate it, despite the church, the public school, and the
weekly newspaper. Here Cotton Mather, Justice Sewall, and
the host of medical, clerical, and lay believers in the uncanny
superstitions of bygone centuries could still hold high carnival.

The first visit in this farming community of native-born New
Englanders was made to , a small seashore village pos-
sessing a summer hotel and a few cottages of summer residents
not far from Newport — that Mecca of wealth, fashion, and nine-
teenth-century culture. The family is among its well-
to-do and most intelligent inhabitants. One member of this
family had some years since lost children by consumption, and
by common report claimed to have saved those surviving by
exhumation and cremation of the dead.



* Rhode Island has the largest population to the square mile of any State in the Union 
The town of Exeter, before mentioned, incorporated in 1742-'43, had but 17 persons to, 
the square mile in 1890, and in 1893 had M abandoned farms, or one-fifth of the whole 
number within its limits. Foster, incorporated in 1781 and talcen from Scituate (which 
was settled by Massachusetts emigrants in 1710), had in 1890 a population of 1,2.52, and 
in IS93 had eight abandoned farms, Scituate having forty-five. North Kinqsion had 76 
persons to the square mile in 1890. Mr Arnold, in his history of the State, says that 
" South Kingston was in 1780 by far the wealthiest town in the State." It had a special 
provision made for the " maintenance of religion and education." 

In the same village resides Mr , an intelligent man, by
trade a mason, who is a living witness of the superstition and of
the efficacy of the treatment of the dead which it prescribes.
He informed me that he had lost two brothers by consumption.
Upon the attack of the second brother his father was advised
by Mr , the head of the family before mentioned, to take

up the first body and burn its heart, but the brother attacked
objected to the sacrilege and in consequence subsequently died.
When he was attacked by the disease in his turn, 's ad-
vice prevailed, and the body of the brother last dead was accord-
ingly exhumed, and, " living " blood being found in the heart
and in circulation, it was cremated, and the sufferer began im-
mediately to mend and stood before me a hale, hearty, and
vigorous man of fifty years. When questioned as to his under-
standing of the miraculous influence, he could suggest nothing
and did not recognize the superstition even by name. He re-
membered that the doctors did not believe in its efficacy, but he
and many others did. His father saw the brother's body and
the arterial blood. The attitude of several other persons in
regard to the practice was agnostic, either from fear of public
opinion or other reasons, and their replies to my inquiries were
in the same temper of mind as that of the blind man in the
Gospel of Saint John (9 : 25), who did not dare to express his
belief, but " answered and said. Whether he be a sinner or no,
I know not ; one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now
I see."

At , a small isolated village of scattered houses in a

farming population, distant fifteen or twenty miles from New-
port and eight or ten from Stuart's birthplace, there have been
made within fifty years a half dozen or more exhumations. The

most recent was made within two years, in the family of .

The mother and four children had already succumbed to con-
sumption, and the child most recently deceased (within six
months) was, in obedience to the superstition, exhumed and the

heart burned. Dr , who made the autopsy, stated that he

found the body in the usual condition after an interment of that
length of time. I learned that others of the family have since
died, and one is now very low with the dreaded disease. The doc-
tor remarked that he had consented to the autopsy only after the
pressing solicitation of the surviving children, who were patients
of his, the father at first objecting, but finally, under continued
pressure, yielding. Dr declares the superstition to be

prevalent in all the isolated districts of southern Rhode Island,
and that many instances of its survival can be found in the large
centers of population. In the village now being considered
known exhumations have been made in five families, in the vil-
lage previousl}"^ named in three families, and in two adjoining
villages in two families. In 1875 an instance was reported in
Chicago, and in a New York journal of recent date I read the
following : "At Peukuhl, a small village in Prussia, a farmer died
last March. Since then one of his sons has been sickly, and
believing that the dead man would not rest until he had drawn
to himself the nine surviving members of the family, the sickly
son, armed with a spade, exhumed his father and cut off his
head." It does not by any means absolutely follow that this
barbarous superstition has a stronger hold in Rhode Island than
in any other part of the country. Peculiar conditions have
caused its manifestation and survival there, and similar ones are
likely to produce it elsewhere. The singular feature is that it
should appear and flourish in a native population which from
its infancy has had the ordinary New England educational ad-
vantages ; in a State having a larger population to the square
mile than any in the Union, and in an environment of remark-
able literacy and culture when compared with some other sec-
tions of the country. It is perhaps fortunate that the isolation
of which this is probably the product, an isolation common in
sparsely settled regions, where thought stagnates and insanity
and superstition are prevalent, has produced nothing worse.

In neighboring Connecticut, within a few miles of its university
town of New Haven, there are rural farming populations, fairly
prosperous, of average intelligence, and furnished with churches
and schools, which have made themselves notorious by murder,
suicides, and numerous cases of melancholia and insanity.

Other abundant evidence is at hand pointing to the conclu-
sion that the vampire superstition still retains its hold in its
original habitat — an illustration of the remarkable tenacity and
continuity of a superstition through centuries of intellectual
progress from a lower to a higher culture, and of the impotency
of the latter to entirely eradicate from itself the traditional be-
liefs, customs, habits, observances, and impressions of the former.

It is apparent that our increased and increasing culture, our
appreciation of the principles of natural, mental, and moral
philosophy and knowledge of natural laws has no complete cor-
relation in the decline of primitive and crude superstitions or
increased control of the emotions or the imagination, and that
to force a higher culture upon a lower, or to metamorphose or to
perfectly control its emotional nature through education of the
intellect, is equally impossible. The two cultures may, however,
coexist, intermingling and in a limited degree absorbing from
and retroacting favorably or unfavorably upon each other — tri-
fling aberrations in the inexorable law which binds each to its
own place.

The most enlightened and philosophic have, either apparent
or secreted in their inmost consciousness, superstitious weak-
nesses — negative, involuntary, more or less barbaric, and under
greater or lesser control in correspondence with their education,
their present environment, and the degree of their development —
in the control of the imagination and emotions. These in
various degrees predominate over the understanding where rea-
son is silent or its authority weakens.

S&nya Koval6vsky (1850-1890), one of the most brilliant
mathematicians of the century, who obtained the Prix-Bordin
from the French academy, " the greatest scientific honor ever
gained by a woman," " whose love for mathematical and psycho-
logical problems amounted to a passion," and whose intellect
would accept no proposition incapable of a mathematical demon-
stration, all her life maintained a firm belief in apparitions and
in dreams as portents. She was so influenced bj'^ disagreeable
dreams and the apparition of a demon as to be for some time
thereafter obviously depressed and low-spirited.

A well known and highly cultured American mathematician
recently said to me that his servant had seven years ago nailed
a horseshoe over a house door, and that he had never had the
courage to remove it.

There is in the Chemnitzer-Rocken Philosophic, cited by
Grimm, a register of eleven or twelve hundred crude supersti-
tions surviving in highly educated Germany. Buckle declared
that " superstition was the curse of Scotland," and in this regard
neither Germany nor Scotland are singular.

Of the origin of this superstition in Rhode Island or in other
parts of the United States we are ignorant ; it is in all proba-
bility an exotic like ourselves, originating in the mythographic
period of the Aryan and Semitic peoples, although legends and
superstitions of a somewhat similar character may be found
among the American Indians.

The Ojibwas have, it is said, a legend of the ghostly man-eater.
Mr Mooney, in a personal note, says that he has not met with
any close parallel of the vampire myth among the tribes with
which he is familiar. The Cherokees have, however, something
analogous. There are in that tribe quite a number of old witches
and wizards who thrive and fatten upon the livers of murdered
victims. When some one is dangerously sick these witches
gather invisibly about his bedside and torment him, even lifting
him up and dashing him down again upon the ground until life
is extinct. After he is buried they dig up the body and take
out the liver to feast upon. They thus lengthen their own lives
by as many days as they have taken from his. In this way
they get to be very aged, which renders them objects of suspicion.
It is not, therefore, well to grow old among the Cherokees. If
discovered aud recognized during the feast, when they are again
visible, they die within seven days.

I have personal experience of a case in which a reputed medi-
cine-man was left to die alone because his friends were afraid
to come into the house on account of the presence of invisible
witches.

Jacob Grimm * defines superstition as a persistence of indi-
vidual men in views which the common sense or culture of the
majority has caused them to abandon, a definition which, while
within its limits sufficiently accurate, does not recognize or take
account of the subtile, universal, ineradicable fear of or rever-
ence for the supernatural, the mysterious, and unknown.

De Quinceyhas more comprehensively remarked that ''super-
stition or sympathy with the invisible is the great test of man's
nature as an earthly combining with a celestial. In supersti-
tion is the possibility of religion, and though superstition is often
injurious, degrading, and demoralizing, it is so, not as a form of
corruption or degradation, but as a form of non-development."

In reviewing these cases of psychologic pre-Raphaelitism they
seem, from an economic point of view, to form one of the strongest
as well as weirdest aguments in favor of a general cremation of
the dead that it is possible to present. They also remind us of
the boutade of the Saturday Review, " that to be really mediaeval,
one should have no body ; to be really modern, one should have
no soul ; " and it will be well to remember that if we do not
quite accept these demonic apparitions we shall subject our-
selves to the criticism of that modern mystic, Dr Carl du Prel,
who thus speaks of those who deny the miraculousness of stig-
matization : " For these gentlemen the bounds of possibility
coincide with the limits of their niggardly horizon ; that which
they cannot grasp either does not exist or is only the work of
illusion and deception."

The Fairies (Zwerg) of "Snow White"




Woman Marries a Zwerg
A young woman in Braderup had a very hard job like most women on the Frisian Islands. She felt unhappy and envied the zwerg who were always happy and had to do very little work. Once she went with her neighbor over the hill to where the Önnerersken were dancing. “Oh,” She cried. “I would love to marry one of them, wouldn’t you?”
Her friend replied that she would.
A zwerg heard this and came and wood the girl the next day and soon the two of them were married. She lives with him in his mountain where they have several children.

Zwerg, often translated to dwarfs, are one of the most common fairies of Germanic lore. Claude Lecouteux, one of the premier experts on fairy mythology stated that Zwerc “subsumed a variety of very different creatures, which is the reason for the difficulty affecting all studies of this subject.”

In other words the zwerg aren't just the dwarfs of Germanic mythology, they are also likely the fairies of the Celtic peoples who lived in parts of Germany before the Germanic migration, and the many other fairies that existed in the Alpine regions throughout Central Europe.

As the above story shows, many of these fairies were desirable, and certainly their lifestyle was often believed to be freer, happier than that of humans. At the same time they could be poorer than humans.

In another story a poor girl is wondering through the freezing snow when she discovers a zwerg home. The zwerg demand that she sleep with one of them in return for shelter. After she complies a woman from the human village bursts into the zwerg's home, rude as can be. While she wished to trade with the zwerg she thinks of them as garbage and is furious to discover a human woman with them. Later she brings back the villagers to murder all the zwerg in the hut.

This is a very different story from the above where a human girl marries a zwerg, or a number of short memories of human women being married to zwerg and living happily with them. In one of these stories a woman and a zwerg are happily married as they discuss what to give as a wedding gift to a human couple they know who is getting married.

People's memories of zwerg are interesting because they paint a picture of people living next door to the fairies. For example:

"In Westerberge the zwerg would enter a house at the far end of a village and bake their bread, using their invisibility caps to remain unseen. Every time they did this they always left some bread to thank the owners of the oven."

"In Launenberg there was a farmer named Koch. He had several horses that were always sick and many of them tied. The farmer didn’t understand what was wrong, but at last he discovered that the zwerg resented him. For his stable had been built above the zwerg’s home, and the horses urine flowed down through the ground into the zwerg’s home. Realizing this the man moved his stable and the zwerg were so grateful they gave him some flax string that never ended"

"The zwerg near the village of Dorste were cruel and dangerous. They loved to frighten and hurt people, they kidnapped young ladies and children. But most particularly they would destroy the farmers’ fields. One farmer discovered that they’d been destroying his pea fields and grew furious and went into town to get some advice. Here he learned that if the zwerg lost their hats they would become visible, so he hired a bunch of men to wait in is fields with long rods. Then when he heard the sound of the zwerg rushing about he had the men beat the rods about until one of them struck the zwerg’s hat off its head. Now visible the zwerg begged for mercy and promised to pay for the damage he’d done, so the farmer let him go. Later he went up to the hill to retrieve the promised payment where the zwerg offered him a dead horse. Furiously he cut a few chunks off it thinking it would be good food for his dogs but nothing else. When he got home he was delighted to discover that the meat had turned to gold."

It becomes clear from the dizzying array of stories about zwerg that there are indeed a lot of regional fairy traditions about them. So that means that the fairies in "Snow White" are likely made up of multiple traditions, and may also be fairly unique. In general the zwerg seem to be similar to me a mix of Celtic/Western European fairy ideads. They are generally small, though not always, they love to dance and sing on hills, live in courts, replace human children with changelings, and seem to be refugees from the human invasion. At the same time they are very often clearly Germanic,as they often live in mines and are amazing blacksmiths.

To begin to understand the fairy traditions surrounding these fairies let's examine their introduction in the story: Rather than repeat the whole story here I will, however, simply provide what I believe are the most important quotes about the fairies and their home within.

"Everything in the cottage was small, but neater and cleaner than can be told."

"When it was quite dark the owners of the cottage came back. They were seven dwarfs who dug and delved in the mountains for ore."

"The dwarfs said, if you will take care of our house, cook, make the beds, wash, sew and knit, and if you will keep everything neat and clean you can stay with us and you shall want for nothing."

What should be clear form this is that the zwerg are small, neat, miners, who live in the woods rather than underground, and while they were kind they demanded hard work.

Their mining profession does tie these zwerg to Germanic traditions about dwarfs, but most dwarfs from sagas and eddas lived underground rather than deep in the forest. Indeed, very few fairies lived in cottages in the woods. The idea of a cottage in the forest makes them seem more like "lords of the land," "kings of the forest" rather than dwarfs or Western European fairies. Such lords of the forest often wanted human servants and or slaves to do work for them. Working for them for a set number of years was often a condition of their granting a person some wish. Yet the small size, and the neatness of the zwerg makes them seem to be similar to the Celtic and possibly other fairies of pre-Germanic Germany. These fairies were generally obessed with hard work and would give coins to those who worked hard, often leaving these in a persons boot, while punishing those who didn't. The problem is that many of these are also features that the Romantacist Grimm Brother's may have added or at least focused on. Even so it was common for the zwerg and other fairies to obsess over cleaneliness, kindness, and hardwork so it is likely that these were part of the original fairy tale.

Given the nature of the zwerg as miners, who live in a cottage, and seem to act a bit like Western European small fairies, I would say that there may be three traditions mixed into this story. Either that or the fairies in this story represent a unique local tradition that was intermixed with the Germanic idea of dwarfs.













Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What Happened to America's Vampires and Fairies



Panic washed over the countryside like a wave as the vampires came in the night, draining person after person of their blood. Soon vampire hunters and mobs were out in force, digging up graves to burn the hearts of corpses suspected of attacking the living. This wasn't Transylvania, or Russia, or some other place famous for its vampires, however, this was Rhode Island just a 150 years ago.

In the 19th Century the small towns of Exeter, Foster, Kingstown, East Greenwich, experianced a mass vampire scare. During this time dozens of corpses had their hearts burned as the fear of vampires spread, subsided, and returned again.

But it wasn't just Road Island. Other incidents of vampire panic hit America as well.

"A well known and highly cultured American mathematician recently said to me that his servant had seven yenm ago nailed a horseshoe over a house door, and that he had never had the courage to remove it." American Anthropologist 

Now, with our obsession over good luck and bad luck we forget that horseshoes were originally meant to protect a house against vampiric fairies and other dark spirits. A lot of our superstitions have their roots in fairy belief, we just don’t realize it.

If you are interested in American Folklore or vampires you should really read the article I've cited (It's free!). While it's filled with the culturally biased language of the era the information on incidents of American vampire scares and hunting is wonderful. 

So it's clear that vampires made the crossing into America, so too did the knockers who miners in California continued to leave cakes for in return for luck. Often miners would refuse to enter a new mine unless they were assured the knockers were there. In Nevada people continued to believe in Tommyknockers well into the 20th Century. 

The Headless Horseman tale for which Sleepy Hollow is famous is based on common stories from Germany and England. 

Perhaps most interesting of all is Newfoundland, where fairies came from France, Ireland, Scotland, and Southwest England. Newfoundland has hundreds, if not thousands of memorates and stories about fairies, many of which come from 20th Century. Though it's interesting to note that Newfoundland has less stories of friendly fairies than do most European countries. 

"The majority of fairies are not good fairies," says Barbara Rieti, who did a PhD thesis in folklore, on the subject of fairies, at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, N.L., and later authored the book Strange Terrain: The Fairy World in Newfoundland (ISER Books, Memorial University, 1991). "They play tricks and lead you over the edge or a cliff. They'll change people. Or you'll get a fairy blast when they hit you, and then nasty stuff comes out of the wound, like sticks, balls of wool and fish bones."

Even when they made it to America, fairies seem to only kept their darkest aspects.

Still, it is obvious that stories about fairies and the undead did cross over to America. Yet, while Germany, Ireland, France, and the like are filled with encounter stories, gossip, and fairy tales about fairies, the U.S. seems to have a dearth of these stories about fairies. What we are usually left with are ideas, which only exist in a few places and very often vanished quickly. 

Why? 

There are likely a number of reasons.

First of all, most stories about fairies are sort of a form of gossip; i.e., did you hear, a woman over in such and such village got married to a zwerg. Or a Woman on Dartmoor captured a pixie for a few moments, or a man found a trolls treasure. Gossip such as this, which revolved around bragging, dreams, and fears was perhaps the primary reason that fairy ideas remained. In places where people found something more interesting than fairies to gossip about, or where gossiping about encountering fairies might be embarrassing, people's beliefs in fairies vanished quickly. These places include much of England and the Low Lands of Germany. Places where gossip about people, about businesses, about politics took the fore. Isolated places seem to have gossiped more frequently about fairies, and while the U.S. was filled with isolated places, the East Coast has very few actual mountains. The Appalachian Mountains are a clear exception to this, and there are indeed a number of fairy stories within these. 

It's also important to note that many immigrants came from places that didn't gossip about fairies, and so they were likely to influence their neighbors, making everyone gossip less about fairies. Even scholars of cultural lore like Staton (who wrote the article on Vampires in America) seemed to hold a negative view of such beliefs. Contrast this to scholars like Jacob Grimm and Yeats who celebrated their countries fairy lore as the heart of their nation and one can start to understand how such beliefs vanished fairly quickly. As Peggy M. Baker (Director & Librarian Pilgrim Society & Pilgrim Hall Museum) points out.

"Fantasy writing was slower to win acceptance in America. Because of the strong Puritan hostility to what was seen as "dishonesty," the fairy tales that became so popular on continental Europe during the late 17th century - including such classic stories as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Puss in Boots and Little Red Riding Hood - did not flourish in England or in the English colonies in America."

As with England, ideas from Parapsychology began to dominate, subsuming ideas about fairies. Even stories about Native fairy creatures such as Bigfoot were turned into pseudoscience creatures rather than retaining their mythological nature. If something couldn't fit into people’s notions of science in this country people ignored it. This is why we are left with cryptozoological creatures rather than magical creatures,  UFOs instead of fairies, and only ghosts. Though witch beliefs do remain, and to some extent counter the point I’m just making, but no point in folklore is perfect, everything is a bit murky.

Less collection
Many of the fairy tales collected, were collected because people thought that fairy tales and folk religion would help scholars understand the peasants and therefore the true heart of a country. In America, where everyone was an immigrant, collecting the gossip of random peasants wasn't likely to teach anyone about America's past. Rather it would teach people about the past of many other places, and so the gossip of immigrants just wasn't as interesting to American scholars as the gossip of isolated peasants was to European ones. There were exceptions of course, and the article mentioned at the beginning of this post is one of these. 


Many of the Hmong believe that less Dab (spirits) live in the United States. The Hmong lament that they don't know the local spirits that do live hear and so find it difficult to live in the United States. (Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife)

Owen Davis in his book stated that "In Western Europe the fairies were rooted in local geographies and popular interpretations of the ancient landscape." He goes on to argue that in America people didn't have as many fairy traditions because they could no longer see the raths and trees where these stories took place. While an interesting idea, I would again point to the fact that fairy traditions remained strong in Newfoundland, and Iceland after people migrated to these places. 

Davis’s point is interesting, but I think that there is a lot of evidence that many of these stories did come over, and that what happened was that they faded quickly just as they did in the Lowlands of Europe. Once this happened these beliefs came to be frowned upon and so new migrants rarely talked about them, or were ignored when they did. 

That said, there are a number of tales and memorates which clearly indicate that fairies did in fact come to America.

For example, there are the Fairy Stones of Virginia.

Many hundreds of years before Chief Powhatan’s reign, fairies were dancing around a spring of water, playing with naiads and wood nymphs, when an elfin messenger arrived from a city far away. He brought news of the death of Christ. When these creatures of the forest heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept. As their tears fell upon the earth, they crystallized to form beautiful crosses.


The book "Folk Beliefs from Arkansas" edited by Mary Parler has a number of short snippits of fairy lore, including;

“If a crowded room becomes deathly quiet at 20 til or 20 after the hour, it means the angels are passing through the room.”

“When I was about eight or nine my mother would have me look for rings of mushrooms (clusters). This ring was supposedly left by a fairy and it was a good luck sign. You stand near the ring, close your eyes, make your wish, then turn away. I always looked for these when playing or visiting my grandparents in the country.”

“If logs in a fire burn with blue flame, good fairies are watching you.”

“After dark you never throw out water, sweepings, and etc. for you might accidently hit one of the ‘little people’ and make them angry. My mother told me this; she said she could remember her grandmother saying and practicing this. She came from Ireland.”

"I’ve also heard stories of healers who got their “gift” from the Fair Folk."

There are many such little snippets from around the country, though as previously stated, most of these are form the most isolated areas, places which schollars ignored for a long time, and where people often wouldn't talk about their beliefs with outsiders. One collector of tales in the Ozark Mountains states; "mention witches and they all shut up like clams. If they say anything at all on the subject, it will be that they do not believe any such foolishness. Some of them will even deny that they ever heard of witches or witch masters."

Even so, these witches were once a part of the gossip of the area:

"A witch can assume the form of any bird or animal, but cats and wolves seem to be her favorite disguises. In many a back- woods village you may hear some gossip about a woman who visits her lover in the guise of a house cat. Once inside his cabin, she resumes her natural form and spends the night with him. Shortly before daybreak she becomes a cat again, returns to her home, and is transformed into a woman at her husband's bedside."
"Ozark Superstitions" by Vance Randolph

Or "Another well-known tale is concerned with a witch who assumed the form of a swamp rabbit and lived on milk. A farmer saw this big rabbit sucking his cow and fired at it with a load of turkey shot"

This second story is of interest because sucking milk from a cow in the form of a rabbit is one of the most common activities of fairies and witches in Celtic Europe. So it seems that many of the activities ascribed to fairies in Europe became the activities of witches and ghosts alone. 

This may lead back to the idea of gossip, to what people were willing to talk about. After all it was often forbidden in folklore to mention when the fairies did something good for you. So, over time, stories about the good things they did would disappear, as they did with the water fairies in England.

Regardless, European and Asian fairies and spirits did come to America, we just gloss over, or forget this heritage. Of the Pilgrims Fraser McAlpine, from BBC America Wrote

“They believed in fairies
The Pilgrims belonged to a religious order that came out of the newly-established Church of England and was created during a period in which science was often indistinguishable from magic and therefore hokum. Coming from England, their cultural identities were hugely informed by folklore and ancient tradition. So while they had strong religious beliefs that informed their every decision, they also believed in the supernatural (including fairies), as every beneficiary of that cultural tradition did at the time.”


So, if you want to write about Early European settlers in America, perhaps it’s time to start including the fairies. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Misty Forests: Discover the Secret World of Europe's Oldest Fairyrealm

Mari-El, a land of vast and isolated forests, a land of Europe's oldest Fairy Faiths.

Here in this land it's difficult to tell if you are in the fairy realm in the sky, the underworld, or still in the Middle Realm of Humans and strange spirits. For a person can find themselves in fairyland simply by stepping off the path, or walking out their door at the wrong time.

Mari-el has a dizzying array of spirits, everything and anything you can think of has a spirit. Clean water ways are ruled over the But Aba, the colic of horses is ruled over by a spirit known as Asera. Forests themselves have dozens, if not hundreds of spirits which rule over and divide up the land. For example; there are the Targeldes, which are the spirits of either those who died in the forest (especially murder victims) or still born babies. Appearing as massive headed, giant Cyclopes, they rove the forest near where they were murdered but will occasionally be seen wandering through fields, meadows, and even into town. Mischievous with a cruel streak they are known to shift their form to that of animals, logs, haystacks, they shriek to frighten cattle and laugh at the chaos which results. Similarly they frighten mushroom gatherers, berry pickers, and anyone else who might find themselves in the forest. Worse they also chase people down or lure them into the forest in order to tickle them to death.

From WikiCommons


The forest itself seems to be a Topsy-turvy place in general, for here the obda will appear with their feet on backwards. When they steal a horse to ride about the horse even runs backwards, and typically they face backwards as well. They ride about on a single ski in the winter, or sit in the forest laughing wildly and clapping madly. When they are seen Obda appear as naked, hairy people, with the females having such long breasts that they need to throw them over their shoulders when they run. Like other forest spirits they love to capture and tickle people to death, though they also enjoy using their control over people to make them dance themselves to death. Still most of the time they are more prankish than this and they love to pop out of random places to scream and startle people. In order to escape one can't simply fight them as every drop of their blood which falls to the ground will become another obda. The only real way to defeat them is to keep them away with dogs, which they fear, or to reach inside the holes which are under their armpits for doing so causes the obda to loose it's power. Further it seems that the obda can't run back on its own tracks, so as long as a person runs away from the obda over it's tracks it will be unable to follow them.

Targeldes and Obda also shares the forest with Codra Kugua and Codra Kuba (the old man and old woman of the forest) who are the owners of all the animals in the forest. Any hunter who wishes to have luck in hunting must offer these spirits porridge or else they won't be able to catch game. Worse these spirits might grow angry, causing the forest to shake with their fury. When they demand that the hunter share his food or leave another offering, they'll begin knocking (while invisible) on a nearby tree. Often bored they love games of chance and so are known to gamble with each other, using their animals as the stakes, with the winner getting more animals in their forest, and the looser having less.

As if the woodland weren't crowded enough there are also Keremets (the spirits of people who died badly or heroes that can act as deities and disease bringers) L'esak which are giant forest spirits with a bristly hair like a hay stack and big eyes and a giant head. Which loves to drink liqueur, and howls like a dog or makes sounds like a raven. A weird trickster they will often make dung appear to be bread, or do other similar sorts of things. They are also fore-tellers of tragic events, for those who hear them know that someone they love will soon die (given the nature of the l'esak it may be that they think it’s funny to let someone know something bad is coming so they can watch the person panic and try to prevent it).

From WikiCommons


As human civilization began to grow, it seems that many of these wilderness spirits began to move into human lands. Araptes, a spirit which appears as beautiful three foot tall girls, haunt abandoned bathhouses, though Araptes can also be the spirit of a murderer who haunts a region, or the spirit of a forest which can also be dangerous.

Similarly the Suksendal are feral spirits which lived in the mountains where they would hide under stones. Now, however, they have started to hide under stones in the homestead or in the bathhouse. They appear as short blond men or girls, cause people to have nightmares or rape people in their sleep. They are also known to kidnap babies and commit murder, though one could use sharp iron knifes to keep them away. Further it seems that as they began to live among humans for longer periods of time some of them came to care for the people around them as there are more recent stories about a few of them acting helpfully. One even took a soldier to be an invisible guest at his brothers far away wedding.

Most of the spirits within the household, even the ones that likely came from the wild have similarly become, or always were helpful. Kude Bodez, for example is a deity which lives in the holy corner of the house, where the family continually places fresh twigs for him. Generally friendly the kude will occasionally appear in human form to the family members and bring them good luck and happiness. Still the Kude is a bit like a sensitive child and will become destructive and dangerous if offended, or especially if the people in the house begin to fight with each other. When this happens the kude will begin to act like a poltergeist or bring sickness to the offending family member so that it needs to be calmed with offerings. These offerings are usually of honey, cake, bread, and sacrificed animals (black sheep, duck, hen or hare). After these sacrifices are made the family is expected to share in the kude's feast, eating a family meal of the various offerings, while the head of the household begs the kude for forgiveness and puts a piece of the sacrificed animals organ on the kuda's sacred shelf.


Spirits of Cold and Frost
Poksem Kuguza and Poksem Kuba are the male and female spirits of the cold who live as close knit and mischievous family groups, with their grandfather being the most destructive of them (perhaps because being really really old he's suffering from a bit of Peter Pan syndrome and wants to be childlike again). People sacrifice animals to them, so that they have something to eat, rather than needing to destroy crops.

Justa Kuguza and and Justa Kuba ar ethe male and female spirits of the frost who are much more mischievous and obnoxious than their cold counterparts. They beat on fences, walls and trees while people are trying to sleep. They call for children to come out to play, pinches people's feet and noses, hits people over the head with a mallet so that they become confused from the cold, and will sew the door closed with frost to make it hard for people to get out. They especially love to harass drunk people and will push them about and occasionally go overboard killing people. Occasionally they also climb up into people's rafters, (especially their children Justa Ega and Justa Ebeza (son and daughter respectively)


Burber

The vampires of the Mari People they travel about as a shooting star, as a woman with long hair, or a man with a long beard with sparks trailing from their hair as they fly through the air. They can also appear as a bird which pecks at trees killing them.

They fly out of the their grave through small holes to suck the milk out of cows (causing the remaining milk to have blood or dirt in it) or the blood out of people’s mouths by kissing them. Other dangerous activities include eating people and animal’s eyes, or entering women to eat their fetuses and the stomachs of people. They also become especially beautiful people to become a human’s lover so that they can toy with their emotions and drive them insane. Finally they would possess people, causing them to do evil while in a dream like trance.

In order to deal with them people would dig up the body of the person whose spirit they were and beat it with mountain ash branches and burn it. Though sometimes before they could kill it it would escape from the corpse’s mouth in the form of a butterfly and become a buber bird. To prevent this people would put a stone from the craw of a chicken in the corpse’s mouth. Other times it could be reborn from the ashes after it was burned, so killing it was really hard. The only real way to deal with it then was to put a horseshoe at the threshold of a house so that it couldn't enter.



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Souls of the Mari-El

Everyone had three souls known as Sules, Con and Ort. Should the Sules or Con leave the body the person would die almost instantly. The Con would move about within a person’s body, and if the place where it was located was struck the person would also die.

Unlike the other souls the ort regularly leaves  person’ s body when they dream, or when a shaman sends it out in a form of astral projection. Though if it remains outside of the body too long illness and even death will eventually result. As a free flowing soul ort is also able to remain behind when a person dies, sometimes flying about as a butterfly or a bird, or wandering invisible (or visible) through the village. After forty days people would have a feast to say goodbye to this spirit as if it enter the land of the dead at this point it was likely to grow malicious.




Food

Pancakes are an important food in Mari-El Tales. One man who discovers a wishing tree is gathering wood so that he can have pancakes. Indeed they are perhaps the most commonly mentioned food in Fairy Tales.

The Pancakes include those made with Barley Flour, with Rye, With crushed Onions in the batter, Oats, or Various Berries.

Porridge 

Various Grains boiled with Pork, Mutton, and Beef
For example:

2 Cups Oats, 1 Cup Lard, 1/2 Cup Pork, Clove of Garlic, Water, Salt
Boil until the Pork is well cooked.


Others

Dice Apple's and Turnips, Add a little Sugar, Serve with Sour Cream


Chicken Liver
Fry Liver in Butter with Chopped Onion.
When brown add a little hot water, and a tomato. Simmer with Rice until water is evaporated.
Bake the resulting rice in the oven for a while.


Mushroom Dumplings
Mushrooms, onion, pepper, salt for the dumpling mixture.
Serve with butter or sour cream.

Fish Noodles
Boil a large cleaned fish in water salted to taste.
Remove the Fish
Boil Potatoes and Onions in the Broth, remove.
Cook the Noodles in this broth.










Thursday, April 14, 2016

House Fairies

As a general rule I tend to dislike breaking down fairy types by the place they live. After all; cats, bed bugs, mice, and people all live in houses too but that doesn't make us all the same thing.

Never the less there is something to be said for discussing the magical ecology of homes, villages and cities. This, however, is a very complex endeavor as there are many, many, many types of fairies that can live in people's home, not all of which are easy to classify.

To begin to understand house fairies I'd like to use an example of a story I include in my most recent book "From Celtic Fairies to Romanian Vampires."

"There was a Frisian named Harro Harrsen. When he was planning on building a home he saw a hole in a log, he realized that it would make the perfect place for a little Niskepuk to live. So he built a home, and when it was finished he nailed a board as wide as his hand to act as a trim beneath the hole. He put a bowl filled with gruel and plenty of butter on the trim and in a friendly way called, "Come, loving Niskepuk!" He didn't have to wait long for the Niskepuk's came to look over his new home, which they danced through. Only one of them - who was three inces tall - stayed, living in the hole in the piller in Harro Harrsen's home."

At one time people wanted fairies in their homes, a home without a soul was well, soulless, it couldn't thrive and neither could the people who lived within it. Yet like all human fairy relationships this was a complected one.

Types of Fairies In Homes

Wilderness fairies passing through.

A lot of wilderness fairies will pass through people's homes, tumbling down the chimneys, in through cracks in the walls, under the doors, etc. Often the Celts would leave clean water out for passing fairies to bathe in and wash their children. Others would leave food and drink out for the wild fairies. Indeed there was always the fear that if one didn't provide the wild fairies with something to drink they would come looking for human blood to slack their thirst. 

Other wild fairies would enter homes to play with children, to cause mischief, to steal. The (Buffadello) of Italy is one wilderness fairy which lived in nut trees. They would frequently enter homes in hopes of playing with children. They would also cause general havoc around the house. Running up and down the stairs at night, pulling the covers of people, tickling feet, and more. 

In North England Ainsle came down the chimney and played with a boy at night. She seems to have been a bit of an attention seeker as many fairies are. Showing off her magical ability to create illusions and her artistry.

Often times such wilderness fairies were dangerous which is why the Roman's would use brooms to drive them away or the Japanese would use salt to do the same. They could also be clearly helpful, however. Indeed there are many stories in which wilderness fairies will leave coins or bring luck to those who are clean and kind. So

While these fairies usually only pass through the home their are incidences where wilderness fairies will stay in a human home.

1-Poltergeist

There are fairies that live in trees, in rocks, in the earth, etc. Such fairies can become dangerous if humans build on their homes. Often these fairies will act like poltergeists, pinching people in their sleep, breaking things, etc. In some places the spirits of elder trees might were known to drink the blood out of the breasts of people who build a home using their tree.

This then begs the question, 'how do you build a house without offending the fairies?'

There are dozens of answers to this as it seems each region had it's own specific rules. There are, however, some common rules;

Firstly never build on large sets of rocks as these are the fairies homes. Second never build on the borders between two properties, cities, lands, etc. as fairies claim the border lands.

You can spend the night in a place where you are planning on building. If the fairies disturb your camp it's a sign that you shouldn't build there, if they leave your camp undisturbed it often means they are okay with the building.

Offer the fairies reparations for the land. Give them milk, butter, etc. Historically animal sacrifices of various sorts (especially of horses) were common in return for the right to build on the land.

A coin found on the land was also a sign that it was okay to build there. Snakes could also be a good sign as house fairies often took the form of snakes.

As a writer answering questions like this, creating superstitions can add interesting elements to your culture.  

2-Invited

The name puck may come from Nisepuk. In one story a man notices a hole in log and decided to use this to make the center of his home so that a nisepuk could live in it. He then called the little fairies to his home and one decided to stay. Every day he left the little fairy butter and in return the fairy brought him luck, making him extremely wealthy. Some of these fairies become domesticated, a perminant part of households. Because of this nearly any type of fairy can become a house fairy. There's a sealkie who's a house fairy in one place, while former forest kings are fairies in another. This is based on arrangement between the humans and the fairies.

In Japan there is a tengu (a raven headed and winged forest spirit) which became a household god and protected children from getting burns and houses from fires.

Indeed there are likely thousands of stories about wilderness spirits which were invited into people's homes in order to help them with various tasks or provide protection from various dangers.


3-Adoptive

Some wilderness fairies seem to adopt humans who move into their territory. These fairies are complected as they can be very kind to the people who they've adopted but dangerous to everyone else. In Eastern Europe the lords of the forest were known to adopt certain families, the way a person might adopt a stray kitten. However, while they were kind to their own families they would often put curses on and rob from the neighbors and other people. Thus an old prayer asking for blessings on ones own house spirit, but protection from everyone else's.

In Japan animal spirits, dog spirits, snake spirits, and more might become a part of a family. They would help that family in return for a bit of food. However, they would often possess the neighbors causing illness and other trouble. Thus there were times when families who had fox spirits, etc. were driven out of villages. 


4-Refugees and Outcasts

There are a lot of fairies who have been banished from their homes. Fairy wars and in fighting is common. A king might accuse one of the lesser fairies of having an affair with his wife obliging him to take the form of a cat and hide in a human home. Other times an invading army of fairies will drive the local fairies into hiding in human homes. Most of the time, we never hear exactly why a fairy was banished from the fairy court.

These refugees tend as a general rule to try to be helpful to the family in whose home they have decided to live. Though there are some cases of them taking the form of a cat to live with the family and be cared for them without contributing anything in return.



Any Fairy

The fact that wilderness fairies pass through and often decide to live in the home means that basically any fairy can become a house fairy. This, again, is why I hate to simply create a category of fairies called house fairies. After all, even if both the kobold refugee from the mountains and the fox spirit invited by the family do many of the same things, their emotions, their feelings will be completely different. Especially when writing a book these feelings are what matters.


Attracting and Retaining House Fairies

So how does one attract and retain house fairies?

1-Keep your house clean. House fairies hate mess, they hate untidiness and laziness. Those who fail to work hard and be clean will likely be punished by the wilderness fairies who happen to pass through while those who are clean are likely to be rewarded by them.

2-Never reveal that you have a house fairy. Seriously, they hate it when people talk about them.

3-Leave butter bread and water out for them. Even if there isn't a house fairy such things are a way to get wilderness fairies to pass through regularly and possibly stay.

4-Don't swear and fight in the house. Fairies are extremely emotionally sensitive. If a two year old or an old lady would be upset by it they would as well.


For writers these rules can provide a lot of story fodder. For example, house fairies were what kept vampires out, so if a person was messy, if they didn't have clean water out for the fairies, if they had been cursing recently it meant that vampires could enter their homes...



I will post Part 2 of House Fairies Soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stories of Celtic Fairies - part 1



Fairies don't live in some distant land, instead they exist all around us. Their houses can be right out our back doors as illustrated by the story of "Why the Front Door Was Back". In this story a farmer wonders why his cows keep getting sick.

"I'll tell you," said a voice behind him. It seemed half way between a
squeak and a growl.

He turned round and there he saw a little, angry man. He was dressed
in red, and stood hardly as high as the farmer's knee. The little old
man glared at the big fellow and cried out in a high tone of voice:

"You must change your habits of disposing of your garbage, for other
people have chimneys besides you."

"What has that to do with sickness among my cows?"

"Much indeed. Your family is the cause of your troubles, for they
throw all their slops down my chimney and put out my fire."

The farmer was puzzled beyond the telling, for he owned all the land
within a mile, and knew of no house in sight.

"Put your foot on mine, and then you will have the power of vision, to
see clearly."

The farmer's big boot was at once placed on the little man's slipper,
and when he looked down he almost laughed at the contrast in size.
What was his real surprise, when he saw that the slops thrown out of
his house, did actually fall down; and, besides, the contents of the
full bucket, when emptied, kept on dripping into the chimney of a
house which stood far below, but which he had never seen before.

But as soon as he took his foot off that of the tiny little man, he
saw nothing. Everything like a building vanished as in a dream."

Fairy kingdoms exist within hills, forests, under lakes which we might perceive in small but within the fairies perception these kingdoms can be massive. As the above story illustrates fairyland isn't always so much a place as it is a state of mind.

Fairies and humans in Celtic lore very often lived as symbiotic neighbors. For example, in the story of "The Pixy Threshers" the pixies take it upon themselves to help a farmer thresh his grain. The farmer in the tale understands the fairies well, and so he doesn't disturb them or ever try to look on them. Fairies often hate to be seen by humans (who have the power of the evil eye). He also pays the fairies in a bit of food left out for them.

In other tales fairies would leave coins in people's shoes, in their cupboards, etc. In "Kaddy's Luck" some fairies leave a girl coins, allowing her to become fairly well off.

Indeed many fairies act very much like Santa Claus who isn't based on a single tradition because he was part of many traditions of fairy gift givers. The Apple Tree Man, the Twylyth Teg, and many more all gave coins, luck or other gifts to people.

What's important to understand is that the fairies didn't want to be separate from humanity, their story was in many ways our story. Humans and fairies often lived in a symbiotic relationship with each other. For example in one story;

IANTO LLYWELYN lived by himself in a cottage at Llanfihangel. One night after he had gone to bed he heard a noise outside the door of the house. He opened his window and said, "Who is there? And what do you want?" He was answered by a small silvery voice, "It is room we want to dress our children." lanto went down and opened the door: a dozen small beings entered carrying tiny babies in their arms, and began to search for an earthen pitcher with water; they remained in the cottage for some hours, washing the infants and adorning themselves. Just before the cock crew in the morning they went away, leaving some money on the hearth as a reward for the kindness they had received.

After this lanto used to keep his fire of coal balls burning all night long, leaving a vessel of water on the hearth, and bread with its accompaniments on the table, taking care, also, to remove everything made of iron before going to bed. The fairies often visited his cottage at night, and after each visit he found money left for him on the hearth. lanto gave up working, and lived very comfortably on the money which he received in return for his hospitality from the Fair Family. 


It's true that we often went to war with each other. Indeed the Celtic fairies were banished into their underground world by the human armies and powerful human druids in Irish lore, and there are remnants of this idea in Wales, Cornwall, and Scotland as well. When the fairies kidnapped a farmer's wife he declared war on them and began attacking their hill.

Before continuing perhaps it would be best to explain that as with humans fairies have complex personalities. Just as a human can be both kind and cruel depending on a myriad of circumstances, so too can fairies. The same king who gives alms to poor travelers might over tax his own poor. Thus the same fairies can be both friend and enemy to humanity.


5 Fairy Stories and what they show us about Celtic Fairies

Fitzgerald and Daniel Donohue

A man named Fitzgerald's garden was blighted so he carved a hawthorn stake and went out to call

"on the chief fairy, Daniel O’Donohue, King of Lochlein, and challenging all the fairies of Ulster, and promising, if he couldn’t do for them all himself, he had neighbours who would go with him and help him. “At that time,” said the host, “there wasn’t a man in ten who didn’t believe in the fairies and think that it was they who caused the blight, so they listened to the old man as he went on challenging the fairies of the North, offering his help to Daniel O’Donohue.”

There is only so much fertility to be had in the fields, so in order to gain more some people and fairies would steal it from others.

What's most interesting about this story, however, is the notion that humans and fairies of one region would unite against the humans and fairies of another one.


Poor Fairies Need a Cow

Poor fairies often need to take milk, cattle, bread, etc from humans. In one story a milk keeps getting taken from a man and “One morning, when Hanifin was going to call the herder to drive the cows to be milked he passed near an old fairy fort that was on the road between the house and the pasture, and just as he called to the herder he heard a child crying inside the fort: it was crying for a drink, and the woman said: ‘Be quiet a while; Hanifin’s cows are going home; we’ll soon have milk in plenty’

Rather than grow angry that the fairy is stealing from him Hanifin gives them a cow. Later when he's unable to pay his debts his creditor seeks to seize his cattle the fairies help him...

“The following morning ten policemen and bailiffs went to take Hanifin’s cattle, but when they were driving them up and got as far as the fort they were thrown head over heels, hither and over till they were terribly cut and beaten, and pitched into thorny bushes and holes till they were fools. The cattle, seeing this, took fright, bawled, raised their tails, and ran back to the pasture. The officers were barely able to leave the place. Never again did police or bailiff meddle with Hanifin’s cows. The creditors never collected the money.”


The Midwife and the Fairy

One of the most common stories throughout Europe is of a fairy hiring a midwife to deliver his wives baby. The midwife, however, gets a bit of fairy ointment in her eye and so gains the ability to see the fairies.

Later the fairy attacks someone while indivisible and the midwife saves them. Realizing that she can see him the fairy blinds her.

There are three important takeaways from this story.

1 - The magic of many fairies is based on formulas. They ate special fruit to be immortal, they wore hats to become invisible, they flew with the aid of magical sticks (not wings), etc.

2 - Fairies often need humans to help them with tasks from blacksmithing to midwifery.

3 - Even fairies which needed humans and paid generously could be dangerous under different circumstances.


The Fairies Cowherd

The first part of this tale is about two workers who get food from the fairies. The most interesting part of the story, however, begins with an poor woman who hears of this and goes to the fairies seeking some food as well.

“Well,” replied the fay, “I will give you another loaf. So long as you or your children partake of it it will not grow smaller and will always remain fresh, but if you should give the least morsel to a stranger the loaf will disappear. But as I have helped you, so must you help me. I have four cows, and I wish to send them out to pasture. Promise me that one of your daughters will guard them for me.”

So one of the woman's daughters goes out to take care of the fairies cows. The girl ultimately becomes the godmother to one of the fairy's children and enters fairyland, where she remained for two days. When she'd left her godchild had already grown up.

On returning home she discovered that she had been in fairyland for 10 years.

After she had overcome her surprise the girl resumed her household duties as if nothing particular had happened, and knitted a pair of stockings for her godchild. When they were finished she carried them to the fairy grotto, where, as she thought, she spent the afternoon. But in reality she had been away from home this time for five years. As she was leaving, her godchild gave her a purse, saying: “This purse is full of gold. Whenever you take a piece out another one will come in its place, but if any one else uses it it will lose all its virtue.”

Takeaways

1-Fairies often hire humans to do choirs for them.

2-Time passes differently in fairyland

3-Fairy children tend to grow up quickly or are born wise and ancient from the very beginning.

4-Never reveal fairy help you receive.



The Bwca is Banished

This is the sad story of a house fairy who is very helpful, but people keep playing pranks on him, forcing him to move from one house to another until at last he becomes a bogle (a mischievous/dangerous fairy).

Eventually a cunning (wise man-good witch) catches him by the nose) and banished to the other world.

There are a number of things which can be learned from this story including;

1-The first house the Bwca lives in has a girl who is believed to be part fairy. The two of them get along  well enough, that is until she plays a prank on him (puts urine in his food).

As a general rule half fairies well usually ultimately get into a fight with the fairies. They tend to play pranks on the fairies that get them into trouble, or the compete with the fairies. In either case half-fairies often find themselves not really fitting into human or fairy society.

2-House fairies in Celtic lands tend not to be related to the people in the house. Nor are they even connected to the house. Instead they are often solitary fairies who choose to live among humans for a number of reasons.

3-More than just having different moods fairies can often change form. Thus a kindly bwca can become a dangerous bogle if it's mistreated enough.





Categories of Celtic Fairies



There is no one type of fairy. Indeed, fairies are as diverse as mammals. After all, mermaids, pixies, and cats can all be classified as different types of Celtic fairies, yet these different beings are clearly very different from each other. Further, each fairy will have it's own personality, motivations, and life story which will make them different from other fairies of the same type.

That said there are some general categories of fairies which can be useful for writers and for understanding the general politics of the world of Celtic Fairies. None of these categories of fairies are exclusive, however, as any given fairy can belong to many of them at the same time.


1-Courtly

Many fairies live in royal courts which in structure are very similar to the human royal courts. They have kings, queens, various lords, etc. Further they tend to spend their time engaged in frivolity go about hunting, dancing, etc. Often such courts will wage war on each other and make treaties with human kingdoms. Indeed it could be said that there is a second layer of kingdoms and politics within the same lands we occupy.

The tale about the fairies on "The Gump of St. Just" has a fairly long and detailed description of a fairy court in Cornwall;

All was now ablaze with variously-coloured lights. Every blade of grass was hung with lamps, and every furze bush was illuminated with stars Out from the opening in the hill marched a host of spriggans, as if to clear the road. Then came an immense number of musicians playing on every kind of instrument. These were followed by troop after troop of soldiers, each troop bearing aloft their banner, which appeared to spread itself, to display its blazonry, without the assistance of any breeze. All these arranged themselves in order over the ground, some here and some there.

More and more fairies poured from the hill, servants, ladies, everything one would expect from a human court only much more brilliant. Such stories are by no means unique, indeed nearly every region within the UK and Ireland has a story of the fairy court. Many places also have tales about their human kings making treaties or waging war with the fairy court, adding a whole new political dimension to the world.

Keep in mind that these fairies don't live in a distant kingdom. Rather they rule the hills and lakes within the human kingdom. Nor does any region necessarily have a single fairy king, and the different fairy hills within the same kingdom might go to war with each other, causing famine within the region as a whole.



2-Solitary

Fairies that choose to live alone for a number of reasons. Some fairies simply prefer to live alone but can still be kind, others are very anti-social and dangerous to both humans and fairies alike.


3-Refugees

While there are royal courts of fairies it's important to keep in mind that humanity, and at times other fairy courts have forced many fairies to live as refugees. Often such fairies seem to use illusions to make it seem as if they are living better than they actually are. Others are forced to accept their life as it is.

Scotland, for example, has the Goona;

The Goona is the name given to one class of fairy exiles. A Goona is very kindly and harmless, and goes about at night trying to be of service to mankind. He herds the cattle on the hills, and keeps them away from dangerous places. Often he is seen sitting on the edge of a cliff, and when cattle come near he drives them back. In the summer and autumn seasons he watches the cornfields, and if a cow should try to enter one, he seizes it by a horn and leads it to hill pasture. In winter time, when the cattle are kept in byres, the Goona feels very, lonely, having no work to do. 

Crofters speak kindly of the Goona, and consider themselves lucky when one haunts their countryside. They tell that he is a little fairy man with long golden hair that falls down over his shoulders and back. He is clad in a fox's skin, and in wintry weather he suffers much from cold, for that is part of his punishment. The crofters pity him, and wish that he would come into a house and sit beside a warm fire, but this he is forbidden to do. If a crofter were to offer a Goona any clothing the little lonely fellow would have to go away and he could never return again. The only food the exiled fairy can get are scraps and bones flung away by human beings.

Typically we never learn why exactly these fairies are being punished by the fairy court.

Not all such fairies were solitary, however. Indeed, one could argue that the vast majority of Celtic fairies are refugees of one form or another, for at one time humans conquered their lands and drove them underground. While many fairy courts have escaped the poverty that this caused, others have not. So there are whole kingdoms of fairies which seem impoverished and which must steal from humans for their sustenance.


4-Heavenly

While most fairies in stories lived close to humanity there were some who lived in distant places. A fairy woman in the "The Voyage of Bran" for example, lived on a distant island of happiness and bliss (although humans could still sail to this land as Bran did).

The description of this land is fairly long, however, one part states that;

Lovely land throughout the world's age,
On which the many blossoms drop.

7. 'An ancient tree there is with blossoms,
On which birds call 2 to the Hours. 
’Tis in harmony it is their wont
To call together every Hour.

8. 'Splendours of every colour glisten
Throughout the gentle-voiced plains.
Joy is known, ranked around music,
In southern Mag Argatnél. 

9. 'Unknown is wailing or treachery 
In the familiar cultivated land,
There is nothing rough or harsh, 
But sweet music striking on the ear.

10. 'Without grief, without sorrow, without death,
Without any sickness, without debility, 


5-Ancestral

Many fairies are ancestral spirits. Banshees are one of the most interesting of these. Banshees are sweet maidens who continue to care for their families long after their death. They bless babies with gifts, help the heads of families make decisions, and weep when someone they love is about to die.

Other ancestral spirits live within the fairy court. While these are often the spirits of people have died, some people are taken by the fairies without ever dying. Fairies commonly take musicians, poets, blacksmiths, children, and more. While these people sometimes forget about their families they don't always, and  so can plead with the other fairies to aid those they left behind.


6-Fairies of the wilderness.

Many people are surprised to learn that these fairies aren't that common in Celtic lore. Yes, of course fairies view certain natural features as their home, but they live within these features very much like humans live in cities and castles, they aren't specifically nature spirits per say. Glaistigs and the Brown Man of the Muirs are two notable exceptions to this.

Glaistig tended to be the spirits of water ways or occasionally of rocks. They would herd deer the way people might heard cattle and sheep. While the Brown Man of the Muirs was a guardian of the animals of the moor, who in one case cursed some hunters to whither and die from illness.

There are also the spirits of trees, who can become angry ghosts when the tree they dwell in is cut down. These ghosts are often extremely dangerous, stopping people's heart or causing insanity with a touch.

There are also a number of tree fairies including; the apple tree man, the spirit of nut trees, willows, and the like. All of these fairies are important, but there are less stories about them than the other types of fairies.