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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Mermaids

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
How Do You Say 'Yemaya' in Witch?

I'll just say it: Wiccans have pantheon-envy.

The gods of the Wicca are Twofold: the Lady and the Horns. Instead of viewing Them, however, as the gods most specific to witches within the framework of a larger (but lost) pantheon, most Wiccans (unfortunately) have chosen to prefer Dion Fortune's 'All gods are one god, all goddesses are one goddess' bitheism, a choice which (frankly) has not only retarded Wicca's mythological and theological growth, but has opened the gate to the much-vexed problem of cultural appropriation. If all god/desses are one god/dess, then we are entitled to steal Anyone we want from someone else, and it's all grist for our mill.

It's easy to understand why, when encountering the vibrant pantheon and living culture of, for example, Santeria, witches feel envious. What Santeria is now, the Craft used to be. Alas, how much has been taken from us.

But our choices are not limited to either cultural sterility or cultural appropriation. There's another way to navigate these waters.

If, instead, we regard the Horns and the Moon as Two among a larger (if lost) pantheon, then (to take an example) let us ask: How do you say 'Yemayá' in Witch?

Allow me to rephrase the question: What does the witch Goddess of Waters look like?

Let us start with the Moon. The witches' Lady of the Living Waters is—essentially—the reflection of the Moon on Earth. What Moon is in the heavens, She of the Waters is on Earth.

Moon, of course, was born from Sea. (Where She came from originally is what we now call the Pacific Ocean. For witches, there's no gap between science and religion, just a difference in framing the language.) Who has not seen the image of the full Moon floating on the waters of a lake, or the sea, and thought: ah, yes.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    In Latvia, they used to say that "St. Martin has nine Perkunases under his cloak." Perkunas, of course, is the old name for the Th
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Way back in the 1980's there was a TV show called Night Court. I had a dream in which two characters from the show; Dan Fielding

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Is There a Witch Culture?

Do contemporary witches have a culture of our own?

I would contend that we do.

Culture: the totality of transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought characteristic of a community or population.

I would contend that as witches, we're a people, or at least a people-in-the-making. (Look at the past: these things happen all the time.) As such, we have our own culture, whether or not we're fully aware of it yet.

True, our historic culture has not come down to us intact. That's why it's so important to be willing to learn from other people's wisdom. That's why it's so important, when we're borrowing, not simply to take from someone and somewhere else and plunk it down whole and all in our midst. That's why, when we borrow a story, a trope, or a way of doing from someone else, we need first to translate it into Witch.

That's why it's not enough to say (for instance): Yemayá.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I remember well that frisson, Anthony. Mine came while reading L. M. Boston's Enemy at Green Knowe, from her series of teen novels
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember when I first read "The Horned Crown" by Andre Norton. The author used stuff I was reading in the witchcraft books from

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The People of the Waters

In 1653, Swedish witch Karin Persdotter confessed to having learned her magic from a male water spirit, called variously the "man of the stream" (strömkarlen), "the river" (älven), and the "nix" (näcken) (Hall 32).

 

Readers of the Brothers Grimm will recognize this latter term: the nix (masculine) and nixie (feminine) (German nix and nixe) have haunted the rivers, lakes, and ponds of folk tales for (apparently) several millennia at least. They are, in effect, fresh water merfolk.

 

The Hwicce, the Anglo-Saxon tribe ancestral (some say) to today's witches knew a similar species. Their nicor survived in English folklore as the nicker or knucker. The youthful Beowulf was said to have wrestled with several while swimming.

 

In fact, all these names descend from the same ancestor: proto-Germanic *nikwiz, *nikwuz (Watkins 59). To judge by surviving folklore, all the Indo-European-speaking peoples knew of the People of the Waters. But of course, other peoples know them too; everyone knows them. Here in Minnesota, the Anishinabe (Ojibway) call them nebaunaubaequaewuk.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Becoming a Mermaid (Again)

I want to be a mermaid again.


When I was young, my best friend had a pool, and we spent countless hours each summer turning into prunes and pretending we were mermaids. We practiced holding our feet together, flipping imaginary fins as we swam, or, more often, sat on the bottom of the shallow end, having a mermaid tea party.
Somewhere along the way, however, I grew too self-conscious of my body in a bathing suit, and I taught myself not to like the water. I’d never been a strong swimmer, so for years I was able to believe that I simply didn’t like being in the water, preferring to dip my toes in the ocean rather than submerge my whole self. Even when, a few years ago, I worked my way back down to a weight were I felt healthy and sexy, I still clung to the belief that I hated going into the water. As I slowly gained weight and lost confidence, it never even occurred to me to question my often-repeated mantra that “I just didn’t like to be in the water”.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Women of the Waters

What do they do in winter, the women of the waters? In our Land of Ten Thousand Iced-In Lakes, do they sleep burrowed deep like turtles or frogs? Do they dream in suspended animation, frozen in ice, like fish? Or do they slowly swim beneath the ice, haunting with their singing the fisherman in his lonely ice-house?

It seems as if everyone knows them: mermaids, nixies, necks, nereids, víly, rusalki, we call them. Every spring, every pond, every lake, has its own, they say, and some lakes many. Old in the land, the Anishinabe—known to the Cree, who spoke a related but unintelligible language, as Chippewa, “mutterers”—call them nebaunaubaequaewuk. Everyone agrees that their beauty is a dangerous beauty.

They take people, and children in particular; in our own day, people are taken. In summer they sing and dance, especially on nights when the full moon floats like a shining lily on every lake. Our attraction is a mutual attraction, and many stories tell of the handsome youth or maid who goes to live with them and is never seen again. Sometimes they marry humans, but such matings rarely end well. Although we reflect one another, in the end, the People of the Land and the People of the Waters are different peoples, other.

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  • Annwyn Avalon
    Annwyn Avalon says #
    Hi Steven, Thanks for the clarification! When I read that I got really excited! I thought you had found a source I had never seen,
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Annwyn; I'd certainly love to see your research on the subject. I heard this version of the story on a BBC radio article a
  • Annwyn Avalon
    Annwyn Avalon says #
    Lovely article, I have done extensive research on the Lady of Llyn Y Fan Vach, and the Gwragedd Annwn. Can you please cite the sou
  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    LOVE IT!!! Thanks so very much Steve. Bright Blessings, Helga

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