graphic:-mythology

German folklore is the folk tradition which has developed in Germany over centuries. It shares many characteristics with Scandinavian and English folklore due to their origins in a common Germanic Mythology. It reflects a similar mix of influences: a pre-Christian pantheon and other beings equivalent to those of Norse mythology; magical characters (often pre-Christian) associated with Christian festivals, and various regional character stories. As in Scandinavia, when belief in the old gods disappeared, remnants of the mythos persisted: Holda, a supernatural patron of spinning; the Lorelei, a dangerous Rhein siren derived from 19th century literature; the spirit Berchta; the Weisse Frauen, a water spirit said to protect children; the Wild Hunt; the giant Rübezahl; changeling legends; and many more entities such as the elf, dwarf, kobold, and erlking. Popular holiday-related folklore includes Krampus and Knecht Ruprecht, a rough companion to Santa Claus; the Lutzelfrau, a Yule witch who must be appeased with small presents; the Osterhase (first Easter Bunny); and Walpurgisnacht, a spring festival derived from pagan customs. Character folklore includes the stories of the Pied Piper of Hameln, the trickster Till Eulenspiegel, the Town Musicians of Bremen, and Faust. Folklore elements, such as the Rhein Maidens and the Grimms’ The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear, formed part of the source material for Richard Wagner’s opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. Some of the works of Washington Irving, e.g. Rip van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, are based on German folktales. So are most Disney movies (American Walt Disney was quite the fan of Germany). Within Germany, the nationalistic aspect of some of these mystical stories was further emphasized during the National Socialist (Nazi) era of the 1930s and 40s. Folklore studies, Volkskunde, were co-opted as a political tool, to seek out traditional customs to support the idea of historical continuity with a Germanic culture. 

As a German, I will say that the remnants of this WW2 era still make me… reluctant to dive into many of the “Nordic/Germanic” folk legends as much of it was tainted by and is now linked to the WW2 era. I see blogs with a “Nordic” theme and they make me cringe just slightly. I’m sure I’m not the only German who feels that way - but as a people, we probably need to get over this now, 70 years on, and remember that long before any “Nazis” claimed and promoted this part of our culture, it already had existed for centuries.

Eris is the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord. Her name is the equivalent of Latin Discordia, which means “discord”. Eris’ Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia. Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman counterpart is Bellona. The dwarf planet Eris is named after the goddess, as is the religion Discordianism.

Advice From the Greek Gods
  • Aphrodite:beauty can be a weapon or a curse. It is up to you to decide how to use it. If you use it to your advantage, you can destroy cities, create wars, cause chaos. Look what happened because of Helen of Troy. But beauty will never make someone love you. Beauty only sparks desire, never love.
  • Apollo:music is important. It can heal and energize you. Take time out of your day to turn your favourite music on or try something new. Pick up an instrument, you may want to try to make your own music. Sit in the sun, with the light on your face, and relax.
  • Ares:you will always be able to fight. You will always have victories, whatever the size. They may be as small as getting out of bed in the morning when depression pressures you to stay in. We all have the strength to continue on and fight the battles set before us.
  • Artemis:do not be afraid of the night. The moon and the stars are always with you, even if you cannot see them. Remember the things that go bump in the night are only animals, an owl hunting or a raccoon scavenging. Animals are living things, with the same fears as humans, and they are to be respected.
  • Athena:wisdom is not always found in books and can be scored by tests. You are not stupid. You know more about something than your teachers and professors, whether it be your favourite sport or video game. Though you may feel like what you are learning may be useless now, it may be useful eventually. Knowledge is power in whatever form. Seize what you can and never give it back.
  • Demeter:enjoy nature. Go for walks in the woods during a hot afternoon to be cooled by the shade the trees will give you. Dig your toes into the sand on a beach and watch the sunset. Eat organic, delicious fruit and let the juices drip down your chin like you are a child again. Respect the earth and it will respect you.
  • Dionysus:sometimes you have to let go. Take a step back from the stresses of life and let yourself have fun. Go with your friends to that new club that opened downtown, dance the entire night until you have blisters on your feet, and drink as much as you want, even if that means your friends have to drag you home in a cab. Being able to forget, if only for a short time, is therapy in itself.
  • Hades:do not be afraid of death. It comes to us all. Death is not cold. It is peace and resolution. It is much needed rest after a long day of labor. It is coming home after a lifetime of struggles. Accept it but do not forget to cherish life while you have it.
  • Hephaestus:being able to work with your hands is a gift. It might be fixing cars or it could be creating beautiful art, it does not matter. If you like your gift, pursue it at all costs and never let other people try to hold you back from it. You are not crippled, you are not helpless, and they do not have that kind of power over you.
  • Hera:family is something that does not last forever. Love them if they are good to you, but even family can be toxic. No one deserves to have toxic people in their life even if they are blood. Never forget that you can create a family of your own.
  • Hermes:travel the world. See as much as you can, try exotic foods, give gifts to people with no regards to the cost, learn jokes in foreign languages, play tricks on your friends, and experience everything life has to offer. It is vital to be knowledgeable about the world around you, and even more to be able to experience it firsthand.
  • Hestia:find your home and place in the world. A home could be found with a person, or your family, or your childhood house, or somewhere on the opposite side of the globe. When the traveling is over and you are weary, you will want a familiar bed to crawl into and a space to call your own. You will know it in your bones when you have found your true home. Keep your hearth burning and take in those in need.
  • Poseidon:the ocean is not something to be trifled with. It is fierce storms and unknown creatures hiding in its darkest depths, but it is also a glittering mirror and lapping waves against a sandy shore. The beauty and ferocity of the ocean goes unparalleled throughout the world. Keep both of those in mind, or it may swallow you whole.
  • Zeus:having power over others is a serious responsiblity. It is not everything, either. Gaining power should not be a goal or an obsession. The power of the heavens could back you but it does not make people truly loyal or trustworthy. They can slip a dagger between your ribs when you turn your back. If you do possess some power, respect and honor your subjects and treat them as equals. After all, you are human too.

Riina: Boomerang-wielding Ghost Hunter

Once upon a time in the Solomon Islands, two women were having a Very Bad Day. How bad, you ask? Well, they’d been kidnapped by two ghosts. These weren’t the dude-in-sheet ghosts you might think, no — these were gosile, hungry monsters who wanted to eat raw human flesh 24/7. They’d swooped down from the sky and kidnapped the two women, taking them back to their far-away island.

Now, to be fair, the gosile tried being good hosts! When the women cried out, “please don’t eat us!” they obeyed, and didn’t eat them even a little. Not one bit! Instead, thegosile were quite neighborly, teaching their captives how to fly and bringing them plenty of food! However, the food was human sushi and the method of flying involved cutting off their feet and draining out blood from their legs. These were significant contributors to their Very Bad Day.

Subsequent efforts by the hard-working gosile just made matters worse. When the captive women pointed out that they didn’t like to eat dead humans – no, not even the brains, and yes, they knew that was the best part –  the gosile went out of their way to procure and even cook fish for the picky footless women. Why, the thoughtfulgosile even, on one trip, brought back the rotting corpses of two of their captives’ close relatives. And yet, this just made the captives cry and cry! What’s a hard-working undead kidnapper to do?

Many tried to rescue the women. Their husbands put forth an enormous reward of coconuts, porpoise teeth, pig tusks, and strings of shells (what else could one ask for?). Hundreds of canoes set off to rescue the women, but none returned. Witnessing the many failed rescues prompted the women to cry out, “is there no man to save us from these monsters?!”

There wasn’t.

But there was a woman.

The story of the kidnapped women (and the attendant reward for their return) had spread widely, eventually reaching the ear of Riina, leader of the warrior women on the island of Lumalao. She met with the two reward-offering husbands and offered to kill the gosile, but was met with derisive laughter. This pissed her right the fuck off.

Stomping her feet, she proclaimed, “these are just gosile – and male gosile at that! I am stronger, and I will break their jaws!

And so she and several of her warrior women loaded up a canoe and set out for the gosile island. As they got near, they heard the tell-tale sound of approaching gosile whooooeeeiiiii, sounded the wind as it blew through their long hair — and Riina told her compatriots to duck down and hide. Standing tall, she faced the oncoming gosile. Seeing a single woman with no backup, the gosile brandished his red stone axe and dove straight at her!

This was a mistake.

Riina grabbed the motherfucker by his hair, slammed him down on the boat, and jammed her knee into his back. As the other women started tying him up, Riina interrogated him, shouting “where do you get your power?!” Stammering, the gosile answered, “from betel, lime, and my axe!”

Now, in Melanesian culture, it’s taboo for women to step over sacred or magical items. It’s a big no-no. As everyone knows, something about a lady’s feet robs items of their magic powers. Walking over them deliberately is downright un-neighborly.

Thus did Riina come to do a little jig over the gosile‘s personal effects. Deliberately, and with great glee. And thus did his magical weaponry become so much detritus.

The canoe landed on the gosile‘s island, and the warrior women entered the cave where the women were held hostage. This cave, while likely well-furnished according to gosile specifications, left much to be desired for the average Melanesian. There’s no way around it: the walls were lined with rotting skulls. No matter how nice the color scheme or how fetching the rug, it would prove hard to draw attention away from the preponderance of ghastly murder evidence.

It is at this point that the second gosile ambushed Riina, attacking her from behind! However, she proved too quick for him, swiftly producing her special weapon — a boomerang — and hitting him with it so hard that he died. Yes, she hit a ghost so hard with a throwing stick it died. That is how strong Riina was.

With the gosile dead, Riina freed the two women, kicked over the rows of skulls, and paddled back to get her reward. They were met by happy husbands and thanked by way of a fancy meal, one mercifully free of human sushi.

There are many other stories of Riina and her band of warrior women, but perhaps they are best saved for another time.

ART NOTES

Solomon Islanders, peculiarly enough, have a gene for blonde hair that evolved entirely separately from Europeans! It looks neat:

Given that the most specific origin for this story was “Solomon Islands,” and that the Solomon Islands are home to a great many similar yet distinct cultures, the representation here is, of necessity, a mishmash. However, all the details of their outfits come from visual reference.

Also, despite some repeat searching, I could not actually find other stories of Riina. The book from which I took the story said they exist, though – would be happy to hear more, if anyone can find them!

CITATIONS

Pacific Island Legends: Tales from Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australia by Bo Flood, Beret E Strong, and William Flood

SHOUT-OUTS (success rate: 86%)

Clearly way too easy on you all! I shall have to redouble my efforts. You all got it right:

@jedda_martele, Stefke, @omgninjapenguin, gonecatawampus, KenzieD, Cynder, cookiemomster, SCastillo, Ladyzfactor , Rance Fawbush, Library Liv, Rey, CMG, Amber Glenn-Thomas, Ria Cajucom, infomaniacgirl, millerel1, lonelyzephyr83, Kate M., Scott Johnson, TxFoodGeek, Mandi L, Ian Jacobson, Angie, Dani N, pavlina87, Piratebluetooth, Madeleine, @wynndrosinger

NEXT WEEK ON REJECTED PRINCESSES

Although she never really made it into the Shahnameh, this heroine’s adventures – particularly on her wedding night – are worth hearing.

(submit guesses here, and if you’re right, I’ll list you under ‘shout-outs’ next week!)