I made a reference to this and then I realised most of you probably haven’t heard it? It’s like… a folk tale, I guess? Nowadays it’s usually ‘aliens’, but it used to be ‘fairies’ - either way, it’s about powerful creatures from another world who can take us somewhere, be it space or fairyland, where there’s endless space to live and endless food to eat and marvels the likes of which we’ve never seen. They’re the size of a child that’s not yet one year old, they have hair the colour of earth and autumn leaves, and eyes like sunsets. There’s lots of versions of this as is kinda usual of folk tales but this is the one my grandparents tell.
Whenever these aliens come to a world, they watch it for a while, to see if the people are worthy of joining them on the endless planet. The way that they do this is they find the poorest, most wretched and reviled person in the world, and they trade places with him. This is a red, of course - he’s a garbage-collector and a drunk, he’s just been hit for staggering intoxicated too close to the edge of his neighbourhood, and his own wife won’t let him back in the house while he’s drunk because she’s angry that he spent money on drink when they can’t afford a baby.
In this case, three of the aliens have to trade places with him because it takes three of them, standing on each other’s shoulders, to be as tall as him and to fill his coat. With their magic/technology, the aliens weave themselves a mop of hair and false beard the colour of blood in water, and let the garbage collector rest on their ship while they take his place.
They go to work as the garbage collector, and they are confused. They are taking away what is foul so that the town is clean and good-smelling, but nobody seems to be grateful. The top-alien tries to talk to the people while they go around picking up the rubbish, but nobody wants to talk to him - he wishes them a good morning, and they are rude to him, they shout or they leave, they tell the aliens they are dirty and they won’t talk to people who are dirty.
So the aliens finish their work and clean themselves and the false-hair thoroughly, they anoint themselves with oils from their home planet so they smell only of the sweetest flowers, and they dress their disguised form in new clothes woven of shimmering silk so they can go and talk to the people of the town.
The people of the town still won’t speak to them, they still call them dirty. They accuse them of being a thief, because where would a red get such fine clothes? They call the town guards, who demand to see evidence that the aliens have permission to be outside the red district. The aliens are startled, and because they are standing on each other’s shoulders they lose their balance and fall, clutching at the guard as they do. The guards beat them, and the top alien is killed.
Now there are only two aliens, they disguise themselves as an older child, around three years of age. They weave themselves false-hair the colour of wine, and go to work for an undertaker as an apprentice.
As they are travelling to the town, they see a child from the town wandering the roads. The middle-alien, who is now the head, calls out to the child and finds out he is lost. She takes his hand and leads him back to the town, hoping to find his parents.
The guards see the false-red holding the hand of a child, and call her kidnapper and polluter. They attack her with sticks, and the middle-alien is killed.
Now there is only one alien, they can only disguise themselves as a child, less than one year old. They weave themselves false-hair the colour of deepest sunsets and go out into the street, to see who will take pity on this child as they took pity on the child of the town.
No one calls to them, though some shout. No one takes their hand. They are left alone.
When the night draws in, the lone alien returns to her people. The aliens have watched what happened, and there is no argument to be had. The Amentans are not worthy.
In seven or seventy years, the aliens will return. When they return, will we be worthy?
"I hate new country music because the genre has shifted from being retelling of folk tales and tales of the underprivileged working class of the American south and has now boiled down to bragging about your truck.":
this is a really fun series in Russian of traditional folk tales from Russia as well as ethnic minorities in Russia and its surrounding neighbours. they often include dialect items and pronunciation variations from that region in the story too which is cool.
this is my little sister’s favourite one because it includes a fat Ukrainian catfish who only eats salo.
do you know any welsh myths? i feel like it would be fitting to have one of those!
I haven’t done anything Welsh yet, which I feel is basically just taunting my ancestors at this point, so I will grant your request. However, I’ve done it in a really arse about face kind of way, and instead of choosing one of Wales’ myriad beautiful and bizarre myths, I’ve given you a culturally appropriated folklore turned piece of false history. I hope this satisfies your Welsh craving.
There are lots of Welsh names as well as historical information and comparative lore under the Read More, if that helps at all. If you don’t want to read the poorly retold tale of a trusty hound, a legally useless baby and an improbable wolf, then press J on your keyboard to skip it as this is a long post!
Dogs are Shit at Babysitting
A long long time ago, in a time when Wales is an actual place which isn’t just ruled by the apathetic heir to the English throne, there dwells a guy named Llywelyn. Actually, there are about 6,000 guys named Llywelyn because it is a confusingly popular name, but this Llywelyn is the main Llywelyn, because his name is Llywelyn Fawr, which means Llywelyn the Great, and there is no Llywelyn the Best, or even a Llywelyn the Slightly Better. He is also basically the ruler of all of Wales, which sounds really impressive until you remember that Wales is about the size of a thimble and is mostly just fields. Anyway, at the time of this story, Llywelyn has recently become the father to an absolutely incredible baby boy, whose mother was really inconsiderate and died in childbirth. Now, this kid must be literally the best baby ever, because even though he’s illegitimate and therefore can’t be Llywelyn’s heir, making him about as useful as a Human Rights charter at a UKIP convention, Llywelyn doesn’t just fuck off. Instead, he decides to be a thoroughly modern man and take care of the baby himself. He really goes all out with it, too. Like, he moves himself into this shitty castle in the arse end of nowhere, presumably telling his wife that he’s, you know, communing with nature or working on his aura or something, and he becomes the great dad that he has no interest in being to any of his other litters of illegitimate offspring.
He’s not alone, however, because living in a huge castle with just an infant would get kind of boring, once the novelty of cleaning up sick and washing nappies wore off. No, Llywelyn takes his best bro with him: the one friend who’s stuck with him through thick and thin; the pal who’d never judge him for leaving his wife and heir to shack up with a technically useless illegitimate baby. The name of this astonishingly faithful friend is Gelert, and also he has four legs. Not because he’s some sort of mystical sprite, but because he is a dog, and dogs quite often have four legs. As far as dogs go, Gelert is definitely in the uppermost percentile. He’s probably in the top ten. He’s just an all-round A+ canine companion. He was given to Llywelyn as a wedding gift by his father-in-law, King John ‘if I kick my illegitimate daughter Joan out to marry Llywelyn and live in Wales, is that a good enough excuse to ransack the place and raze it to the goddamn ground, leaving it as nothing but a heap of charred remains next to the glorious rolling hills’ of England, which means that of all the things that Llywelyn’s father-in-law gave him on his special day, Llywelyn valued the dog over his wife. Which is fine actually, because they got married when Llywelyn was 31 and Joan was 12, so they probably didn’t have that much in common anyway.
Anyway, Llywelyn and Gelert are totally inseparable. There’s probably entire montages of the two of them just being adorable best friends, with them running down hills in slow motion and sniffing flowers, and Llywelyn sitting in front of a roaring fire and nursing his baby with a plastic teat while Gelert rests faithfully at his slipper-clad feet, and Gelert baring his teeth and snarling as he loyally rips the throat out of the bunny that Llywelyn is hunting, and it’s all lovely and very Lassie-esque. The two of them live with Llywelyn’s pointless illegitimate offspring in their empty castle surrounded by woodland and emptiness, and it’s all just excellent.
One day, Llywelyn is invited to go out on a lads’ hunting trip (basically the equivalent of a boys only trip to Magaluf in those days) with some visiting noblemen and, being a single dad, he naturally leaps at the chance to wear a fancy coat and maybe show off his abs a bit and just fucking kill some shit for fun. However, there’s one slight flaw in the plan, and that’s the fact that living in a castle on a hill in the middle of nowhere does rather limit his babysitting options. There’s no convenient teenage girl called Carly who just wants to make enough money to go to Coachella this year and also prove to her mother that she’s responsible. Not even one. So, Llywelyn improvises, and he decides that the best thing to do would be to just get his best friend to cover for him. But it’s fine, because he doesn’t do anything bizarre like ask Gelert to babysit or anything. That would be weird. He’s just like “look, I’m going on a hunt with the lads, and of course you’re invited because you’re an absolutely stellar hunting hound, but I need you to just check that the castle is safe from, like, random wolves. I have a very real fear of wolves in my castle. I would not like that at all. This castle has historically been a wolf-free zone, and I really plan on keeping it that way. I don’t want to tarnish my perfect track record of zero wolf-related incidents within these walls. Can you do that for me?” and Gelert probably does that thing that dogs do when they silently commune with your soul to convey a wordless message of complete obedience, and Llywelyn beams and says “great, I’ll just go and set some stuff up with the lads and I’ll call you once you’ve had a chance to completely safeguard the life of my defenceless newborn son against improbable wolves,” and Gelert barks and wags his tail and Llywelyn goes off to sharpen his sword in preparation for manly violent japes, then joins his group of hunt-ready friends in the woods.
After a little while, Llywelyn decides that it’s probably been long enough for Gelert to perform all his rigorous security checks, and besides, the lads are getting restless with slaughter cravings, so Llywelyn blows on his super rad hunting horn and waits for a few minutes for Gelert to appear, but much to Llywelyn’s chagrin, Gelert remains about as absent as Llywelyn’s paternal skills. All of Llywelyn’s manly hunting companions sigh, and they’re like “look, Llywelyn, he’s not coming, can we just go already? We came here to metaphorically shoot the shit and literally kill tiny animals, and we’ve all shot about as much shit as we can handle.” Llywelyn just sort of looks worriedly over his shoulder at the castle in the distance, and he says “can we just wait a few minutes, guys? Maybe his alarm didn’t go off or something, he’s probably just getting ready. Let me blow my phallic horn again,” and so he blows his hunting horn again and waits for his trusty hound, all expectant and wide-eyed, but Gelert still doesn’t appear. At this point, his slaughter-hungry menfolk are just groaning and tutting and making their horses trot around in bored circles and talking about how they could totally be piercing the flesh of some innocent animals right now, and eventually Llywelyn just gives up and says “OK, fine, we’ll have to go without him, but we’re not going to have a good time, and we’re all going to feel really guilty about it, so I hope you’re happy,” and his fellow hunters just nod briskly and they’re all “we’re 100% happier at the promise of dead rabbits, now let’s go and establish man as one of the dominant ruinous forces of nature!” and off they go to, like, slaughter badgers and shit. I don’t know what animals are native to Welsh woodland. Maybe a red squirrel or two. Possibly a heron.
When they’ve finished their testosterone-fueled bout of merciless animal slaughter, Llywelyn and the lads trail back to the castle to drink alcohol and talk about how rad the whole thing was. However, when they get to the castle, the first thing Llywelyn notices is that all the furniture has been thrown everywhere, and there’s blood all over the walls. It basically looks like there’s been a horrific incident at IKEA, with entrails splattered all up the ceiling and bits of things that should definitely be on the inside, but are now very much on the outside of who or whatever they once belonged to. Immediately, Llywelyn draws his sword and he’s like “something has gone very amiss here, I suspect wolves,” and one of his companions whispers “it would be a very good idea to try and find your son, because I have a sneaking suspicion that he probably couldn’t take a wolf in a fight, mano a mano” and Llywelyn nods sagely and is about to give some orders when another one of his companions pipes up “no, it’s cool, I’ve found your son, he’s not here” and Llywelyn is like “how have you found him if he’s not here?” and the man points at the corner of the room, where Llywelyn’s son’s crib is overturned in a pool of blood, and next to it lies the sleeping Gelert, whose jaws are covered in blood and guts, and Llywelyn’s heart just sinks.
He turns to his hunting lads and says “lads, you don’t want to see this,” and they’re like “ooh, are you going to mercilessly slaughter your dog, because we absolutely live for that shit and we totally want to see that,” and Llywelyn just fixes them with a stern glare and they all scarper, and he closes the door behind them and turns back to Gelert, who’s woken up at this point and is sitting up, wagging his tail. Llywelyn just lets rip at him, all “I trusted you! I appointed you royal babysitter, and this is how you repay me? By murdering my baby? This is not what I didn’t pay you for! All those times we frolicked in the woods around the bodies of our fresh kills – did all that mean nothing to you? I can’t believe this, you’re the worst friend ever, and one of my bros once boned my wife in our marital bed, so that’s really saying something,” and Gelert just sits there, because he is a dog and doesn’t really know what the fuck is going on. Then, Llywelyn fixes his old friend with a remorseful look and says “it’s really partly my own fault, I should have got a registered babysitter and also probably a human one, but you did eat my son, so I feel like you should also take some of the responsibility here,” and Gelert wags his tail a bit and Llywelyn is like “I thought I’d finished my ceaseless rampage of animal murder for the day, but clearly I was wrong,” and he just plunges his sword right into Gelert’s body, and Gelert makes a noise that can only be described as a death yelp, and dies.
Almost immediately this really high pitched wailing starts up, and Llywelyn looks around in fright, then makes the somewhat belated decision to pick up the upturned crib, and there, absolutely pristine despite the pool of blood around the crib, is his baby son, still alive and pink and healthy and other things that babies generally should be when they haven’t been eaten by dogs. Then Llywelyn notices that there’s also a massive dead wolf in the corner of the room, and it’s almost certainly been there the entire time because dead wolves tend to have difficulty with locomotion, and he realises that he clearly has the observational skills of a mushroom because the blood is clearly the wolf’s and not his son’s, and he drops his sword and it clatters to the floor, mixing Gelert’s blood with what he now knows to be the blood of the improbable wolf, and he falls to the floor in a heap of anguish and probably embarrassment and starts crying in a really manly fashion, because he’s just killed his absolute best bro for nothing.
When he’s finished weeping for the time being, he picks up the body of Gelert and starts whispering to it, like “I misjudged you so hard, you were the best babysitter ever, I’ve never had a babysitter rip a wolf’s throat apart with their teeth to protect my baby son before, I would have given you some Pedigree Chum instead of a cruel and untimely death if I’d realised,” and then has a brilliant idea as to how he can pay tribute to his late canine companion. He carries Gelert outside, burying him at the top of a high mound so that everyone who comes by – statistically, likely no-one ever – will know about the bravery of Gelert and the perils of freelance babysitting without a written contract.
My other retellings can be found here; my dedicated mythology blog is here; and my Mythology Mondays Facebook page is here. The latter two links also allow you to follow my progress in writing a whole actual book. Thrilling.
i did this a while ago now. There’s an old folk song called ‘silver dagger’ - Loads and loads of covers of it- anyway I decided to cover it myself! the song is really about over-procective mothers, but i wanted to do a different take x
i hope it looks okay. it’s very traditionally done, but i don’t know how the quality comes across as a result.. anyway enjoy!
Another 15 Things that you could put in your BOS/Grimoire/whatever you call it.
I decided to write another of these lists…. I really do hope
they help someone.
The chakras – do you use them? Write about it? Research
Your magical ethics – what do you believe you
should and shouldn’t do? It’s all well and good following others rules, why not
come up with your own?
Myths/legends – are there any myths or legends
revolving around deities you work with or even just like? If so how about popping
them in your book.
Folk tales – do you live in an area with a rich
folk tale history? Do you believe in the folk lore? Are you a traditional witch
who works with the lore of the land?
Names of each full moon.
Photos of your altar.
Family traditions – do you have any traditions
with your family? Do you on the first day of spring go for a walk with your
parents every year? Or do you visit a loved one who has passed in the cemetery
on their birthday?
Views on the afterlife – do you have an opinion
on what happens after we die?
Deities to call upon – if you work with deities,
but do not have matron/patron why not write a list of the deities that you can
call upon for different situations.
A table of smudges – I cleanse my home every
month or so (I have spiritual activity here) I have a table that says when I
have/need to cleanse my home again, and notes on what happened.
Herbal growing – if you grow your own fresh?
write about it.
Making your own cleanse/smudge sticks – a how
Nature correspondences – especially things that
are local to your area, that you could potentially use in spell/ritual work.
The Lithuanian devil is never evil. The Lithuanian devil, as portrayed in thousands of folk tales, is rather mischievous, faun-like, an elf who likes fun, helps people out, then gets into trouble for it. Simply put: he has a weakness for people. In Lithuanian homes, it means luck and happiness to have many sculpted little devils around the place.
A bit of Soviet animation in the blog: this is Snegurochka from The Snow Maiden, 1952 (directed by I. Ivanov-Vano)
The Snow Maiden is based on the traditional Russian tale about a girl made of snow, who tried to live among normal people. The tale ends unhappily: Snegurochka melts from warmth of a fire (or love, in different versions).