The Colorful Folklore Behind the Flaming Mountains of Turpan
The Flaming Mountains of Turpan (also known as Turfan) are located in the Tian Shan Mountain range in China’s Xinjiang province. These mountains lie to the east of the city of Turpan, which is located on the northeastern rim of the Taklamakan Desert. This is the largest, driest and hottest desert in China. The name of these mountains certainly conjures up an image of an inhospitable environment, in accordance with the harsh reputation of the Taklamakan Desert.
In Japan, some believe in a formless
specter called Betobeto-san that follows
you around at night. Its wooden sandals
make a ‘beto-beto’ sound behind you, but
when you turn around, nothing is there,
and if you start walking again, the sound
continues. However, if you step to the
side of the road and say, 'After you,
Betobeto-san,’ it will leave you alone. SourceSource 2Source 3
Remember that witchcraft has no defined style. It can look like anything. It can look like elegant altars to gods and goddesses. It can be a messy kitchen full of drying herbs and fresh vegetables. It can be shelves brimming with books and journals. Or witchcraft can be small windowsills with crystals and plants. It can sigils hidden under furniture. It can be pockets overflowing with shells and stones. Witchcraft is personal and beautiful. Don’t let anyone or anything belittle your craft.
The signs as various myths and legends surrounding the origin/creation of certain flowers (not the flowers directly associated with each zodiac sign).
ARIES // Amaryllis(Greek) – A love struck maiden longed
for the handsome Alteo, but he was cold to her. In a desperate gesture, she
pierced her heart with a golden arrow and walked to visit him every day. On the
thirteenth day, beautiful scarlet flowers bloomed along the path from every
drop of her blood. Alteo fell in love with her, and her heart was healed.
TAURUS // Rose(Greek) – Chloris, the goddess of
flowers, found one of her beautiful nymphs dead in the woods. She cried, and
turned body into a flower. She asked her husband Zephyr, the wind, to blow the
clouds away so Apollo could shower her in sunlight. Dionysus added nectar for
fragrance, and Aphrodite added pure beauty, then named it for her son, Eros,
and hailed her the “Queen of Flowers”.
GEMINI // Foxglove(Celtic) – Foxgloves from “Folks
Glove”, as in fairy folk. Fairies would hide in the bell blossoms and wear
them as petticoats, caps and gloves. If you pluck the foxglove, it angered them
and they may play tricks in revenge! Fairies would give the flowers to foxes so
they wouldn’t get caught raiding chicken coupes. With the magic gloves on, they
could steal eggs without making a sound.
CANCER // Pārijāta(Hindu) – Pārijāta was a princess who fell in love with the sun god, Surya. However, he
left her for another. When he deserted her, the princess became hopeless and
committed suicide. From her ashes grew a tree. Unable to stand the sight of the
lover who broke her heart, the flowers only bloom at night under the eyes of the moon, and
she sheds them like tear-drops before the sun rises.
LEO // Sunflower (Greek) – The nymph Clythia was in love with the God of the Sun, Apollo, but he shunned
her and courted a princess. Jealous Clythia told the king who, furious
at the princess, buried her alive. Saddened, Apollo went back to heavens
without a word. She lay on the ground distraught for nine days, watching him,
hoping for a single glance. Clythia wasted away and became a flower, whose petals still
follow his chariot across the sky each day, waiting for forgiveness.
VIRGO // Aster(Greek) – When
the god Jupiter decided to flood the earth to destroy the men constantly at war,
the goddess Astraea was so upset she asked to be turned into a star. Her wish
was granted, but when the flood waters receded she wept for the loss of lives.
As her tears turned to stardust and fell to earth, the beautiful aster flower
sprung wherever they landed.
LIBRA // Anemone(Greek) –
Chloris, the goddess of flowers, was married to Zephyr, the god of the west
wind. Zephyr fell in love with a beautiful nymph that served Chloris named
Anemone. Jealous and angry, the goddess banished her to keep them apart, and
Anemone died of a broken heart. Zephyr resurrected her as a flower. She withers
every winter but returns every spring to greet Zephyr with open petals.
SCORPIO // Peony(Chinese)
– Queen Wu was disheartened to see only winter jasmine in her garden. She
wrote a poem to the goddess of flowers asking her to make everything bloom that
night instead of waiting for spring. The next morning, all flowers flourished
except the peony, which refused to bloom out of season. She was offended and
banished it. Once gone, it bloomed beautifully. Furious, she ordered it to be
burned – however the next year, the burnt peony grew back. With black petals.
SAGITTARIUS // Pa'u-o-Hi'iaka(Hawaiian) – When Hi'iaka, the goddess of island nature, was a baby her
older sister, the Volcano goddess Pele, left her on the beach while she went
fishing. Due to a storm, Pele was gone for a very long time. When she returned,
she found flowering vines had grown over the baby to shield her from the sun.
Hi'iaka now wears them as a skirt to protect her on adventures and in the
CAPRICORN // Aconite(Greek) – As one of his twelve labors, the hero Hercules was sent to fetch the
three-headed dog Cerberus from the underworld. With the help of Persephone, he
was successful. The spittle of the beast dripped upon the rocky earth, and from
it sprang the first aconite plant. The purple wolfsbane flowers are elegant, but
it’s leaves and roots are deathly poisonous.
AQUARIUS // Iris(Greek) –
The goddess Iris would bring messages to the gods across the sky, appearing to
mortals as a rainbow. She acted as the link between the heavens and earth,
where she left irises of many colors, the three upright petals symbolizing
hope, valor, and wisdom. If purple Irises were planted over the graves of
women, it would summon the Goddess, who would guide the dead in their journey.
PISCES // Water Lily(Brazilian) – When the moon goddess,
Jaci, hid behind the mountains, she’d take beautiful girls with her and turn
them into stars. Naiá, a girl who loved the goddess, dreamt of
becoming a star, so she roamed the mountains every night. While resting by the
lake, she saw the moon’s reflection, dove into the water and drowned. To reward
Naiá for her sacrifice, Jaci turned her into a star different from all the
others – the star of the waters.
This is one of the short films made as part of the Legendy Polskie cycle (”Polish Legends”). Directed and designed by a CGI artist acclaimed worldwide, Tomasz Bagiński, the cycle aims to present Polish folklore in a new manner, and to prove that fantasy films can be done well (or better!) outside of Hollywood.
The goal is to combine modern, world-class filmmaking with… some of the more typical aspects of Polish-ness, not only where legends are concerned.
This installment in the series does not require knowing any particular legend, the English subs are passable (though it’s less funny, some of this stuff is not very translate-able), so it’s pretty accessible to general public.
Also, really cool.
For explanations of some things that may perplex foreigners, see below.
Concept: teenage mermaid struggles to convince her parents that she’s not, in fact, hanging out near the surface all the time because she’s involved in a forbidden romance with a human; it’s just that her smartphone is only waterproof to a depth of two metres.
Hidden like Viking gold under the landscape there is a rich body of nearly lost folkwitch tradition hiding in plain sight on the internet. Particularly in the 18th and 19th century antiquarians, folklorists and ethnologists documented the rural and occasionally urban folk beliefs of practically all of the UK and much of Europe. Organizations like the Folklore Society, founded in 1878, were created to help catalog and publish this body of collected ethnological data. A vast repository of a spectrum of witch and cunning craft practices.
Below are a list of links to various sources on the internet. The non Abramhamic roots of British folk traditions date from an era of Celtic settlers, and thus much of the spirit tradition concerns beings we now collectively call “fairies”, though their origins and nature differ greatly.
Books Available Online for free:
Folklore Society/Folk-Lore Journal:
Over 100 publications made by the Folk-Lore Society can be found on Archive.org. Unfortunately these are mostly unsorted, although they represent a massive amount of folkwitch information. Particularly in the realm of curses, hexes, salves, second sight, and boundary magic.
I will be launching a separate blog dedicated to delving into the contents of the Folklore Society’s publications in the next few weeks. In the meantime - Happy digging: Link to archive of FOLKLORE JOURNAL
Books whose content focuses on first-hand accounts of folk traditions, alpha by author. (* denotes particularly important titles)
pooka or phouka are one of the most feared and mischievous of all the faeries in Ireland
and considered to be bringers both of good and bad fortune. These creatures were said to be shape changers which could take the appearance of black horses, goats and rabbits. They may also take a human form, which includes various animal features, such as ears or a tail.