river site


Hampi, India

Die Lorelei is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen in Rheinland-Pfalz, Southwestern Germany, which soars 120 m above the waterline. It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea. It’s the most famous feature of the Rhein Gorge, a 65 km section of the river between Koblenz and Bingen that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. Strong currents and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat accidents. In German mythology, Lorelei is also the name of a feminine water spirit, similar to mermaids or Rhinemaidens, associated with this rock in popular folklore. They appear in works of music, art, and literature. 

The name comes from the old German words lureln, local dialect for “murmuring”. The heavy currents and a small waterfall created a murmuring sound and this combined with the echo the rock produces to act as a sort of amplifier, giving the rock its name. The murmuring is hard to hear today owing to traffic and the urbanization of the area. In a story of an enchanting female associated with the rock, the beautiful Lore Lay, betrayed by her sweetheart, is accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to death, the bishop consigns her to a nunnery. On the way there, accompanied by 3 knights, she comes to the Lorelei rock. She asks permission to climb it and view the Rhine one more time, does so, and falls to her death; the rock still retaining an echo of her name afterwards. In 1824, Heinrich Heine adapted the theme in one of his most famous poems, “Die Lorelei”. It describes the eponymous female as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracts shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks. In 1837 Heine’s lyrics were set to music by Friedrich Silcher in the art song Lorelei that became well known. A setting by Franz Liszt was also favored. The theme has appeared in countless poems, musical compositions, and literary works since. A list here


shinkyō | 神橋 por Swiftblue
Por Flickr:
Nikkō-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan

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wildwondersofchina A wonderful timelapse film of the rising sun hitting the peak of Mount Miancimu, 6,054 m, also known among the locals as ”The Wife of Kawagebo/Meili Snow Mountain”.
Film shot by @liisawidstrand on the #wildwondersofchina expedition to the famous ”Three Parallel Rivers” @UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Yunnan, China.

Igbo Water Divinities

River gods and goddesses are found wherever a significant river or waterbody is found in Igboland, some of the more powerful cults cover larger areas and command more respect and followers by the importance of the waterbodies. Often of fluid gender, the water spirits are powerful ‘images’ of sexuality, fertility, beauty, and wealth and power. The most powerful water spirits are listed.

[Map of major rivers linked to divinities within Igboland]


Ńjābá is so powerful among southern and specifically southwestern Igbo communities that he outranks Àlà, the Earth Mother, in these communities. Ńjābá is usually male and is the guardian of the river of the same name that is a major tributary of Ụ́gwụ́tá (Oguta) Lake in Imo State, Nigeria. Éké, the royal python, is sacred to Ńjābá and surrounding communities consider them messengers and manifestations of Ńjābá and somewhat of a totem animal of which it is forbidden to harm or eat; serious fines and the responsibility of funding a human-sized burial for the snakes befalls anyone who harms pythons. [Interview about Ńjābá+]

Ímò Ḿmírí

Ímò Ḿmírí is the spirit of the Imo River [pictured] which runs between present day Imo State (which is named after the river) and Abia State and runs into the Atlantic between a section of Rivers State and Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria. She is usually feminine and was associated with the  Ibinukpabi oracle or “Long Juju” of Arochukwu, the most powerful oracle in southeastern Nigeria during the Atlantic Slave Trade, and she is considered as its female counterpart. Ímò Ḿmírí is a largely benevolent fertility spirit. In myth, the Imo is the river that rushed between the Ngwa people of Abia State and their relatives in Imo State creating a permanent cut-off between them. [More+]


Also: Ósìmírí / Órìmílí / Órìmírí / Ósìmílí - the female spirit of the Niger River which is named after her in Igbo. As is usual to feminine water spirits she is a fertility goddess. Èzù nà Ómáḿbálá, the confluence of the Anambra and Niger Rivers, is the site where Èrì’s band, the primogenitor of the Umuleri and Umunri Igbo people, migrated from the north to and settled.


Ìdèmílí is the female spirit of the river of the same name that runs through the local government area of the same name in Anambra State, Nigeria. Ìdèmílí means ‘the pillar of waters’ referring to the spiritual force of the water spirit preventing rain-clouds in the sky from falling [ídè also means flood, and water spirit forces are known to punish through floods or other sorts of water-logging]. Like most water spirits Ìdèmílí is a fertility goddess. Éké, royal pythons, are also sacred to Ìdèmílí and to communities that depend on her and are also known as Éké Ìdèmílí. Ìdèmílí’s story also involves appearing to mortals as a maiden. [The Ìdèmílí story+] [Priest of the Ìdèmílí shrine+]


Also: Ụ̀hámírí - The ambivalent feminine spirit of Ụ́gwụ́tá Lake of which she owns, she is paired with Ńjābá and she is also known as Ògbúìdè meaning ‘deep floodwater’ and her husband is Okita. Ụ̀háḿmírí roughly translates from Igbo as ‘the shining beauty of the waters’; Ụ̀háḿmírí is beautiful and wealthy and happy and childless. She is a powerful spirit among women in Ụ́gwụ́tá and is considered as somewhat of a spirit of achievement among women; successful women in Ụ́gwụ́tá especially were said to mostly be devotees of Ụ̀háḿmírí.


Also: Ụ́làsị̀ / Ụ́ràsị̀ - The spirit of the Ụ́ràshị̀ (Orashi) River which runs through Imo State and Rivers State. A male, Ụ́ràshị̀’s sacred grove, like Ògbúìdè’s, was marked primarily by the red and white pieces of cloth.


Also: Ọ́máḿbálá - The spirit of the Ọ́máḿbárá (Anambra) River which runs through northern Anambra State in Anam-Igbo land and then into the Niger River.

Ọ̀tá Ḿmírí

Of the Ọ̀tá Ḿmírí (Otamiri) River which runs through Imo State and particularly Ụ́ràtà-Igbo communities where the Ḿbárí votive shrines are dedicated to his mother, Àlà the Earth Mother, and where he plays a significant role.

The Mal’ta Culture

The vast territory of North and Central Asia represents a poorly understood region in the prehistoric era, despite intensive excavations that have been conducted during the past century. The earliest human occupation in this region probably began sometime around 40,000 years ago. Small groups of big-game hunters likely migrated into this region from lands to the south and southwest, confronting a harsh climate and long, dry winters. By about 20,000 B.C.E., two principal cultural traditions had developed in Siberia and northeastern Asia: the Mal’ta and the Afontova Gora-Oshurkovo.

The Mal’ta tradition is known from a vast area spanning west of Lake Baikal and the Yenisey River. The site of Mal’ta, for which the culture is named, is composed of a series of subterranean houses made of large animal bones and reindeer antler which had likely been covered with animal skins and sod to protect inhabitants from the severe, prevailing northerly winds.

Among the artistic accomplishments evident at Mal’ta are portable art – not murals, as is more common in Europe. The remains of expertly carved bone, ivory, and antler objects have been found at many Mal'ta sites. Figurines of birds and human females are the most commonly found items. Some of the most well known examples are the so-called Venus figurines.

this poem will send me to hell

I remember the night
I built a home for him
in my heart
I lit a candle I wouldn’t
let the devil woosh out

my youth group sang songs
under the moon
next to the frio river
in southwest texas
three hundred sixty six
five hours (ish) from
my bedroom

I missed the bus sunday morning
my father drove me there with work the
next day so I could spend my first
week away in nature, my first
week away from everything
I’ve known
that day my father showed me
what being a man means

my entire life I was taught
that I was a bad person
I was unclean
I was a sinner
I wasn’t good enough
I wasn’t pure
I wasn’t going to heaven
unless I repented
unless I was immersed
so that night
I sang
I cried
I accepted that
I was broken
I was ugly
I was nothing
wishing to be

/time out from the poem
I was turning something like
twelve, going into 7th grade
it was the beginning of summer
how the fuck is this type of mental abuse
not child abuse? How the fuck
is this allowed?
to threaten children with flames
to guilt trip them into thinking
a man died for them two thousand
years ago and needs you to be
fully immersed in fucking water?
back to poem

the next afternoon we went
further up the river from
our singing site to a swimming
site called the blue hole
the older kids, the badass kids
would jump from a clearing
in the valley side and swim
down to the bottom
touch the bed, it was
something like thirty fucking
feet deep
one time I belly flopped
because I was chubbier
almost knocked myself out
I got hugs and high fives
I was a hero
until dinnertime

I wore an oversized blue
swam out to my youth minister
there were no birds
the sun shone below to the
bottom of the bed
we stood on an underwater shelf
the silence of the birds
the muted smiles of the group
the steady breath of my minister
his heavy hand on my shoulder
like an exclamation point of

he asked if I believed jesus
died for my sins
I confirmed
so in the name
of the father, who abandoned me
of the son, who didn’t know me
of the spirit, who never entered me
I was saved
then he dunked me into
a shade of blue I wasn’t
ready for

I eventually left the church

the same youth group who cried
hugged me abandoned me at a movie
one night and laughed in my face
the next day

it was a congregation that taught
me that my friends who weren’t
church of christ
would be punished and sent to
hell, because their church
didn’t have the same fucking
letters on their sign

the private university who turned
their back on me
the way we had certain fridays
when the food tasted better
when daily chapel was
more like a fireworks show
the visiting seniors completed
their applications thinking
at this place they could
change the world
but the real foundation of faith

isn’t sin
isn’t salvation
isn’t grace

it’s a semester increase
in fucking tuition bulging
from purple and gold
a money basket with
a guilt trip hole in
the bottom

I left the church

the father
the son
the spirit

are just fucking magic tricks
I finally learned

the secret

Art museums and prisons can be seen as two sides of the same coin in an increasingly polarized society where our public lives, and the institutions that define them, are sharply divided by race, class, and geography.
—  Andrea Fraser. Read more of her artist statement for Down the River