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Saturday, 25 July 2020

Shrovetide Carnival

Shrovetide Carnival is one of the oldest folk traditions originating from the time before Christianity. In Slovenia, Shrovetide Carnival was first mentioned in the 17th century. Our ancestors believed that the ritual would chase evil spirits from the land.

The best-known Shrovetide figures include kurenti, laufarija, škoromati, otepovci, orači and zeleni Jurij or Green George...
On Shrovetide, hopping kurent carnival figures chase winter from the land.

They wear wooden masks and run through the streets of Cerkno.


Orači (Ploughmen)
Zeleni Jurij (Green Man)

The Cerknica Carnival is also reigned by Ursula the Witch alongside Jezerko the Lake Man, the Giant Pike Fish, the Dragon, Liza the Witch and Butalci. 
Ursula the Witch

Jezerko the Lake Man


Tuesday, 21 July 2020

A leap of faith...

Last night, I watched a documentary about the landing on the moon in the ‘60’s.  The first two-thirds of the documentary were about the preparation and landing.  It actually brought tears to my eyes, when Neil Armstrong said the famous sentence, as he stepped down off the last rung: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.  That surprised me, that it should be so emotive.  I’m really not like that…
I recalled sitting in class with what seemed like the whole school packed into one hot room, watching a television set with doors on it that was wheeled out for the weekly educational programmes.  I was at a Catholic girls’ secondary school, and I must have been thirteen years old.  The school was only two years old, when I started there.  It was way out the back of town.  There was a sort of creek running through the school (more gully erosion than creek), with a log across which we teetered to get to the top “ovals” (read paddocks).  We saved all the scraps from lunch-time to give to the pig farmer up the road, and we burned all the burnable rubbish in an incinerator after lunch.  We all had jobs after lunch break.  For quite a while, mine was sorting the scrap-and-rubbish-buckets, putting the scrap buckets under the building, and setting light to the contents of the incinerator.  That was fun, as we (the two of us: a girl called Marguerite and I) were allowed into class a bit late, and we also had an exclusive kind of status.  However, Marguerite’s parents threatened to sue the school when she contracted hepatitis, and thus ended our foray into recycling.  I also recall looking out the window, one day, and seeing a cow meandering through the schoolyard.  Dora Stewart and I ran out to chase the animal out of the school grounds, and a good time was had by all. 
My father did not believe in the Moon Landing, even at the time.  He claimed that the moon did not exist- that it was merely the reflection of the earth in space.  He said that the publicity stunt was merely to take people’s minds off the Vietnam War.  He also said that someone had come and deliberately scraped the paint off our roof, that Mum was a communist, that some of the advertisements on TV were aimed at him, and that he was on a blacklist.  You get my drift…
So, last night, much of this came back to me, watching the ungainly, boxy shape of Neil Armstrong stepping down into the dust.  There was, unfortunately, a vague sense of cynicism in my enjoyment that had never really been there before.  What was it that the conspiracy theorists claimed about the American flag?  Something about a breeze that should not have been there, blowing the cloth.  They also claimed there was some object that didn’t belong, lying on the ground, that you could discern if you magnified the image.  These notions reminded me of the Beatles’ song that was supposed to say “Ringo is dead!” if you played the LP backwards.  Conspiracy theorists are often not cynics, at all, but people who long for mystery.
Anyway, the niggling of vague doubt was completely erased as I watched the third segment of the documentary in which the three astronauts spoke of the many years that followed the moon landing.  They spoke of being changed men; they spoke of the fact that they could never look at life or the universe in the same way.  “The landing on the moon was only one day in my life”, one of them said…”the rest has been devoted to Jesus”.  He explained that, on his return to earth, he had started attending a Bible-reading group, and that his newfound beliefs eclipsed that one day that was a turning-point in his life.  Another said how he remembered looking out of the Apollo and seeing the moon and the stars and thinking: “The earth, and everyone on the earth, and everything that man has made, is made of the stars… We are all one!” He told what a moving experience it was, to come to that realisation. 
I do not remember which old man it was who said which words, but I was struck by the awe with which they spoke, not of the moon, but of the earth.  “Sometimes, I just go out, and go on an escalator”, one of them said, “just to have people around me.  And I think to myself: We really do live in the Garden of Eden!  All men spoke of the strangeness of being one of only two men standing on a planet uninhabited by any others; of knowing that everyone else was down there on the earth, but that they were so far away, and so alone.  One described the loneliness of this realisation, but another described the feeling as euphoric.
Thinking about the documentary, later, it struck me how ironic it was that three men could travel so far, and under such unnatural circumstances, to achieve these insights.  Listening to the wonder in their voices, seeing the openness on their faces, there was no question, in my mind, that these men had experienced something extraordinary.  The image of the Garden of Eden came up several times, and I remembered the day I came to my own epiphany.  I can’t recall what I was doing- I certainly wasn’t setting foot on any celestial body.  But I recall the sudden understanding that the Book of Genesis is not a story about the past, at all.  It is prophetic.  We are living in it right now. 


Thursday, 16 July 2020

Please scream inside your heart...

The Fuji-Q Highland amusement park near Tokyo has an unorthodox request for its roller coaster riders.
"Please scream inside your heart," and not out loud, the park is asking. The unusual ask is meant to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Sequoyah Cherokee River Journal.

Thank you so much for sending your stunning poetry to Sequoyah Cherokee River Journal.
I'd be happy and honored to publish your poem "Sky God"
in Issue 4 of Sequoyah Cherokee River Journal.
I would be honored to translate your poem "Sky God".


Ann Martin Wonderful! You're a treasure, Phili! 
Anne Morgan CongratulationsPhilomena - you're a jewel in the crown of Tasmanian poetry.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Отава Ё - Про Ивана Groove (русское готическое R'N'B) - Otava Yo

Otava Yo (RussianОтава Ё, ота́ва meaning "aftergrass") is a Russian folk rock band from Saint Petersburg, formed in 2003...

The Elusive Fern Flower

Fern (Athýrium fílix-fémina) – use an infusion of fern as a floor wash when cleansing the house to rid the house of evil spirits. In folk tradition, washing a house with infusion of fern helped appease Kikimora – a malevolent house spirit. Dried fern was placed in a charm-pouch for a traveler, so that he could achieve the goal of his journey. In witchcraft, fern is believed to intensify telepathic and telekinetic powers. It was used for contacting the Otherworld. As a moisture loving plant, fern was used in weather magic for summoning rain. 

A legendary fern flower was a real treasure to find and keep. It was believed to protect from snakes and any malevolent spirit, bring good luck to its owner, help become invisible, attract riches, find buried treasures, etc. However, not every legend about people finding fern flower ended well. Those who searched and found it for love indeed benefited from this find fully; however, fern flower is said to avoid greedy and dishonest people. Those who obtain it solely for the purpose of gaining riches they did not deserve usually are punished with madness in the end, while all the treasures they gained with its help become nothing but a pile of ashes and shards of broken pots. Fern, and especially its mystical flower, is sacred to Perun (for more information on fern flower see “Fern Flower” in the section devoted to mystical and mythical herbs). Collect fern on Kupala’s Eve (Eve of Summer Solstice).

Fern flower is the most famous among all the mystical herbs, primarily because fern (Athýrium fílix-fémina) is a very common plant that, no matter how much we’d want to, would never produce any real flowers (for more info on the fern plant, please see “Fern”). Researcher of Russian traditions, academic I.P. Sakharov writes the following about this plant: “Female fern, or fern is collected on St. John’s Day, with special rituals and incantations. According to folk view, only fern flower contains its power; it blooms only on St. John’s Eve and is protected by evil forces. Villagers provide all the details of fern blooming. Let’s repeat their story.
At midnight, from the bush of broad-leaf fern, a flower bud appears. It moves back and forth, then rocks like a river wave, then hops like a live bird. All of this happens because evil forces are trying to hide the precious blossom from human eyes. Then, expanding and growing upwards every minute, it blooms like hot coal. Finally, at 12 am precisely, the star-like flower unfolds with a cracking sound; its flame shines upon itself and in the distance. At the very same moment, evil forces show up and collect this flower.
One who dares to collect a fern flower must enter the forest in advance, find the bush [of fern], cast a circle around himself and wait for it to bloom. He has to be firm and unhesitant against evil forces, withstand all the temptations, be indifferent to all transformations of evil force. If he turns around when someone calls his name, the evil forces would twist his neck, or strangle him, or leave him mad for the rest of his life. So far, villagers don’t know anyone who was able to collect the fern flower besides sorcerers. Fern flower has a power over evil spirits, allows one rule over earth and water, find buried treasures, and become invisible. All this power would belong to the one that comes into possession of this flower. As they search for buried treasures, the seekers throw fern flower up in the air. If there is a buried treasure nearby, the flower would fly over it like a star and then fall straight to the ground.” (I.P. Sakharov, “Tales of Russian People: Tales of Russian Sorcery”)
Many ideas are suggested as to whether the fern flower really exists. Some say certain type of fungus may infect fern leaves and make them glow at night; others are certain that this is just a fairytale invented for fools; thirds claim that fern flower is not physical but appears as a burst of energy coming straight from the plant – this is why it is so difficult to collect it. Where is the truth? We wouldn’t know unless we experience it ourselves.
Slavic people believed that all herbs became magical on Kupala’s Eve. At this time, they could talk to humans and each other, bloom with absolutely magical “fiery” flowers, show a way to buried treasure, and even move, running away from an unworthy person daring to collect them. Who knows, maybe all these legends will come to life once again on this Kupala’s Eve, only if we are brave enough to open ourselves to nature and believe in Kupala’s magic, just as our ancestors a did long time ago.
- MagPie (aka Olga Stanton)

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Hulla, Skogsra, Skogsfru, Tallemaja, Pine Tree Mary...

In Norwegian folklore it is believed a fairy-woman or nymph named Huldra ("secret" or "hidden") lives in the forest or mountains. Sometimes, she is said to be beautiful, but seen from behind, revealed to be hollow. Other times, she is said to be blue-skinned. In areas where she is known as "skogsnerte" ("blue"), she is said to be coloured blue and wearing a green petticoat.
As Huldra (by which she is most often known), she wears a blue petticoat and a white snood that barely covers a cow-like tail. She is particularly fond of brindled cattle, and keeps a herd of hornless cows. In the mountains, her song can be herd over a great distance- a low and mournful tune.

Aleksander L Nordaas