sunday legends

July Birth Symbolism

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Ruby-Symbolizing luck and protection, as well as a material wealth stone. Also standing for courage and devotion.

Waterlily- The waterlily stands for majesty and love.

Larkspur- The larkspur stands for love, but the type of love that is being expressed changes by the color of the larkspur.

Trees-Apple, Fir, Elm, Cypress-I’ve touched on trees briefly here.

Apple trees stand for rebirth and beauty. Polish folklore has the tree used for divination purposes, especially for those seeking love. The apple is often a death tree in the sense of bringing energy back out of the underworld.

Fir varies by the type of fir, but is another rebirth tree, a wisdom tree, protection, and change.

Elm trees are another death tree (I’m not sure why the death trees show up so frequently in birth symbolism) as well as standing for knowledge and wisdom.

Cypress trees (oh look another death tree) represents immortality and resurrection.

Other folkloric themes to note: The dog days of summer start in the end of July.

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Closing the Gates

Another week, another early folklore post.

I have been doing heavy duty cleaning since 6 this morning and will probably be up again that early tomorrow, to pack for festival and do more cleaning. Of course the insurance inspection would fall on the same week as my vacation-therefore-I’m-going-out-of-town-week.

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If you are a fan of or at least seen more than few episodes of Supernatural then you have already been exposed to the idea of warding.

Energy flows like water. It moves from place to place, managing to find any opening it can get into a person, building, or other vessel.

A ward functions like a gate-it allows only certain energies in or out. It is a block that prevents something from either leaving or entering; think the infamous circle of salt that Dean and Sam always fall back on.

Folklorically speaking, wards can take on different roles and different intensities. You can ward against a person’s energies, a group, a deity, ghosts, weather, bad luck…whatever energy you find yourself needing to block. Many people start using wards as a basic security level-even if there’s no known concern (such as hexing, crossing, cursing, or other forms of energetic attacks), having a block against other people’s emotions is a good idea to many.

The actual structure of a ward varies, depending on who is casting the ward and what is needed to be done. In some cases something like a mirror can be used-mirror magic works in part by reflecting back whatever is sent. It’s actually a fairly neutral warding style, since the only energy moving is the energy that’s already being thrown at a person. In other cases something like an element is used-each element (water, fire, etc) carries a different energy and that energy is used to protect the caster.

A second form of warding invokes a heavier use of the Shadow and isn’t as common (or sometimes ‘accepted’ though I don’t like that word, if you don’t like something, nothing is forcing you to do it)-a type of if/then statement. It involves a type of mantra work and starts bordering on outright spell work-it is sometimes linked to a deity or other energy directly. “If you hurt me, then get lost in the darkness. If you follow me, get lost in the darkness”, “May you be loved as you love”, even something as subtle as “I’m not here, you don’t see me”. This is where ideas such as glamouring start coming into play.

The third (though not necessarily final) form of warding is physical, where you use an actual item to ward with-the salt circle, a necklace a stone, a ‘built’ charm. Something to bind the intent to and use as a touch point. A traditional fae ward would be broken glass and nails hung in the doorways (well maybe traditional depending on which fae tradition you’re working with). The ward will vary from person to person and need to need, with the potential side effect that it will need to be charged before use, and then cleansed after use is stopped.

The trickiest part of warding is not tying your own energy to the ward (unless doing so deliberately). You are trying to avoid the exchange of energy, so you don’t want to tie yourself to whatever you are doing, or limit the exchange to as little energy flow as possible. The other issue with tying wards to Self is that once your energies start to go low, so does the ward. Earth wards will carry energy for much, much longer than you will.

 

Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Baseball Hall of Fame

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I know that posting a folklore entry on Saturday makes it sort of a cheat to call it the Sunday folklore post.

But it’s festival season, I’m trying to get Mid ready to go-and I have 30 pounds of cherries that I’m trying to get processed out (I have peach cherry butter on the stove right now).

I haven’t written anything for the Haunted Western New York series in a very long time. This is a story that I grew up with (though I admit I grew up in Central New York so I’m cheating a little). I worked within walking distance of the Baseball Hall of Fame and its haunting status was sort of a given. Rather, it came up every so often that it’s haunted (and it was mentioned on the tours during that time-mid to late 1990s anyway). It wasn’t a huge topic of conversation but we knew.

I don’t know anyone who has actually seen Shoeless Joe but the whole town is steeped in ghosts, at least in a manner of speaking. Cooperstown takes its baseball really seriously, but it’s also the seat of the New York State Historical Society. The Cardiff Giant is housed at the Farmer’s Museum. It’s a very historical area that is sort of self aware about it, we know it, but we don’t really talk about it either-that’s tourist stuff, or special occasion stuff, not stuff we ever really sat around talking about.

The way that we’re told the story as locals is that the building is haunted, period. The most common story is that Shoeless Joe Jackson is not terribly impressed that he hasn’t been elected into the Hall of Fame. And there’s the generic sort of haunting reports that every building with a reputation seems to cause. But things apparently have moved and it’s apparently not uncommon to hear the sounds of someone breaking the cases at night-of course the cases are never being broken.

It’s not hard to think that a building that’s full of the relics of sports legends would carry some sort of residual energy. It’s especially not hard to see in a town that sort of vibrates with it.

 

I Don’t Actually Mean Beauty When I Say Beautiful.

*I just realized this one needs a language warning. And maybe a content warning. So there you have it. I swear.

I had a conversation this week that involved the show Beyond Belief, a deer that lives in some bushes, and an elf.

This is the nature of my life.

Apparently it was also International Faerie Day (and National Catfish Awareness Day) earlier this week. But of course when people say faerie now, they don’t actually mean faerie, they mean ‘fairy’ and bring on the Disney wings and glitter. Because that’s all that’s left anymore.

The elf conversation is related to a very long running and odd situation involving a lot of bizarre occurrences, most of which most people are completely willing to believe are nothing at all beyond overactive imaginations and maybe some air currents. What gave me some pause however is that enough of them do link back to things that relate to fae interactions, folklorically speaking, that a little voice in the back of my mind worried about what we just did and if I shouldn’t get some salt and milk.

I’ve mentioned the nature of fae in passing several times but there is one aspect that modern folklore has stripped out of the Mounds Folk. These are not ‘pretty’ creatures.

I’m flying by the seat of my pants on this one, as well as working with a lot of oral tradition that I’ve been taught directly, but the basic reality of it is this-the Victorians had a habit of making things ‘quaint’. Couple that with the rise of a middle class, the modern concept of childhood, and an increasing interest in scientific reasoning you have a social environment that began the evolution away from the slaugh and towards Tinkerbelle.

If you ask modern readers why the fae are the Beautiful Ones, you end up with an answer that makes sense for the current understanding-because they’re beautiful, obviously. They’re attractive and mischievous and sweet. They’re the hot men on romance covers, and they really just want to play.

Except that they’re gorgeous because they want to be and they need to be so you’ll approach them (I do have an entry on glamouring already, that explains the concept with a deeper understanding).

The other issue is that for a lot of these spirits, they came with a certain amount of danger so you approached in a way that would cause the least potential for offense. So they were beautiful because you didn’t want to say ‘you sort of scare the shit out of me, you know that right?’ I dealt with a situation where this modern sensibility (isn’t it adorable how they steal the silverware and do cute things!?) and a historically driven practice (I have to put out the first splash of milk or it’s going to get pissed) ran into each other and led to a lot of flailing, ‘please don’t invite anything to the party if you don’t deeply understand who you’re about first’.

So the thing is this: the folklore that is driving modern fae thought isn’t wrong, it’s just not that old and ignores a great deal of preexisting thought. If you lean to the woo-woo side and think that the fae are nothing but sweetness and light and a magpie tendency to stealing shiny things, then I really hope you don’t run into the dullahan, the slaugh, the cu dubh…you get the general idea. Because I’m not certain you’re going to have the party that you think you’ve been invited for.

Or you’re just going to slap the ‘demon’ label on it and not understand that there’s a whole wealth of stuff out there that doesn’t get talked about because it doesn’t make for cute animations.

June Birth Symbolism

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Pearl-Symbolizing purity, including an increase in health and other types of physical purity and perfection. Also good for money, general luck, and love luck.

Rose-I have written about roses here.

The flower has a deep connection with love and romance, being the flower of Aphrodite/Venus. I think that it’s interesting however that a lot of modern writers and poets associate her with something much closer to the ideal of courtly love than perhaps what she was actually good at-hers was a love that quite fine with the idea of rampaging.

The rose holds several layers of meaning. There are historical examples of the rose actually standing for secrecy as opposed to love. The symmetry of the rose has long been appealing to religious writers of various faiths who use the flower to express the concept of divine love and protection; the connection to the divine has also led to a perhaps increasingly archaic belief that deity smells like roses and a successful exorcism will smell like such.

Trees-Oak and Fig-I’ve touched on trees briefly here.

Oak has a slightly more positive association than the May trees. Oak represents wisdom, power, and creativity.

Fig is another wisdom tree and is connected to both Demeter and Dionysus.

Colors-Red and yellow or white

Other folkloric themes to note: Litha/Midsummer falls on the first day of summer and marks the first early harvest/last planting and full movement into the growing season.

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Big Red Eye

I don’t really think about Bigfoot or Sasquatch much. The myth doesn’t really excite me. Unless there’s a new movie coming out or someone brings it up in conversation, it’s not one of the motifs that sees a lot of usage around here.

I am however interested in American folklore and mythologies, and it turns out that the idea of Big Foot is fairly common throughout the states. I have touched briefly on other variations of this story before (Sheepsquatch). Big Red Eye brings us to New Jersey.

It’s actually a fairly new story, coming out of the mid to late 1970s. Small animals like pet rabbits began dying in Wantage; the local paper suggested that it was a Bigfoot like creature. The police, however, say it was a bear.

The conflicting origin stories haven’t prevented eyewitness reports of the creature that was eventually named Big Red Eye. While the stories started in the 1970s, the cryptid has become something of an Internet legend leading to many people wandering through the woods of Northern New Jersey hoping for a sighting or encounter.

The legend has led to questions such as ‘How would the Jersey Devil hold up against Big Red Eye?’ The Jersey Devil is the monster who might be more familiar in the American psyche; as New Jersey’s other major monster, that myth has a much longer established footprint.

As Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or N.J’s Big Red Eye…

Big Red Eye vs. The Jersey Devil

Big Red Eye

May Birth Symbolism

Pixabay

Pixabay

Emerald-Symbolizing love and success. A renewal stone, the emerald is thought to bestow youth and encourage rebirth (however defined). The emerald is supposedly suggested to boost intelligence and popularity, as well as protect against certain physical dangers and ailments such as poisoning. It is also good to boost travel charms, especially for those traveling by water.

Lily of the Valley-Representing sweetness, purity, honor, and humility (interestingly, so does my birth name).

Hawthornes-[One of my personal symbols, I can’t get away from the silly things] One of the fey trees, it was associated with faeries and other spirits and thusly was often talked about in a ‘proceed with caution’ sense unless you were specifically looking to invoke faerie.

Hawthornes are actually a helpful herb; the berries are used in various preparations for cardiovascular health (please see an herbalist before taking any random herb). They don’t taste unpleasant either.

Trees-Poplar, Chestnut and Ash-I’ve touched on trees briefly here.

…Unfortunately poplar is sort of a mixed bag when it comes to symbolism. It is a tree that is used as a life symbol-whoever it is also one of the death trees (which caused me to do a double take when I saw it on the list, honestly). As a modern image, the tree is often linked with lynching or gallows in lyrical symbolism. Hercules wore poplar leaves into Erebus to capture Cerebus. Take this tree as you will, it also stands for wisdom and endurance.

Chestnuts may be the truly positive member of this triad, standing for health, longevity, and abundance (but abundance sometimes in the form of fertility, so be careful how you phrase things) (and yes, it is -that- form of fertility, specifically).

Ash does a great many things, which often overlap with water symbolism (fluidity, emotion, dreaming). It is sometimes linked to women specifically.

Colors-Red and yellow or blue

Other folkloric themes to note: Beltaine falls on the 1st of May, and is the second of the spring rites-though while Ostara is the first ‘spring’ festival, I think it’s Beltaine that holds the most ‘springy’ meaning for a lot of people.