Friday, August 14, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--Huldu-Folk

After seeing the movie Thale, I wanted to find tales featuring Hulder, seductive forest-dwelling women with tails. This book, Scandinavian Folk-Lore, edited by William Alexander Craigie, has several starting on page 162.  Unfortunately, it has no illustrations, but I've collected some from other sources. Note the tails sticking out from under the Hulders's skirts.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Voice of the Bell

This tale of a bell, a baby, and a male curfew is from The Unmannerly Tiger and other Korean Tales by William Elliot Griffis.  I can't remember reading any other tale featuring a male curfew. I'd like to find others.

Folkwear Pattern

Baby Bell Pepper

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Unnatural Mother: a Swazi Tale

From Fairy Tales From South Africa by Mrs.E.J. Bourhill and Mrs. J.B. Drake enjoy The Unnatural Mother.

In this tale a child sends a parent on a quest; I've never come across that situation before.  A mother sins against nature, so has to redeem herself by finding and bringing home some special water.

between 1919 and 1936

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--Jack o' the Lantern

This origin tale for the Jack-o'-lantern is on page 5 of Irish Fairy Tales: Folklore and Legends, illustrated by Geoffrey Strahan. A grumpy man, an angel, some demons.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Plague-Omen

This short Polish tale deals with the plague as a merry-making train of specters. or the Homen.  Look for it on page 19 of Slavonic Fairy Tales, Collected and Translated from the Russian, Polish, Servian, and Bohemian,  edited by John Theophilus Naaké.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Carnation Youth

This week check out another free online book by Elsie Spicer Eells, Tales of Enchantment from Spain.  I recommend the second tale in the collection: The Carnation Youth.

This tale features:

  • A young man turned into a flower
  • A young woman who leaves home to find him
  • Helpful birds

Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--How Night Came

This week's free Google Book is Fairy Tales From Brazil: How and Why Tales From Brazilian Folk-Lore by Elsie Spicer Eels with Illustrations by Helen M. Barton. How Night Came is the first story.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--Seven Brothers and their Sister

This week check out Santal Folk Tales translated by A. Campbell of the Santal Mission.  The Santal People are a tribe in India. In the preface the translator admits to some bowdlerizing: "It was to be expected that in the popular tales of a simple, unpolished people like the Santals, expressions and allusions unfitted for ears polite would be found."
The story Seven Brothers and their Sister features the sacrifice of an unwilling victim.  A jugi gosae (a caste of Hindus who make and sell doras) is consulted.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--Master and Pupil (or The Devil Outwitted)

From Georgian Folk Tales translated by Marjory Wardrop enjoy Master and Pupil.  Who doesn't love a deceiving-the-devil story?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Maiden the Sun Made love to, and Her Boys

From Zuñi Folk Tales, edited by Frank Hamilton Cushing, enjoy The Maiden the Sun Made Love to, and Her Boys.  The Zuñi are a Native American tribe living in New Mexico.
Dancers at Zuni Pueblo courtesy Wikimedia

This long, complicated tale includes:
  • Solar impregnation
  • Twins
  • Dismemberment
  • Resurrection
  • An explanation for the origin of anger 

(Dear fairy tale fans, I originally planned to find motif numbers for every tale, but it's getting to be too much work.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--God's Godson

From Gypsy Folk-Tales by Francis Hindes Groome, enjoy God's Godson. It's a short hero tale.

This book has a very long introduction, in case you decide to browse.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gifts From Hawaii

Rosemary went to Hawaii and brought some nice stuff back for me.

A tee shirt from David & Goliath and a tropical-themed lunch bucket.

This post card, picturing a green sea turtle, includes attached samples of beach sand and pebbles.
Thanks you, Rosemary!

Here's a picture of my cats having nothing to do with the previous pictures.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Three Oranges

Enjoy this Magyar version of the Love for Three Oranges.  It's on page 133 of The Folk-Tales of the Magyars, volume 13, by W. Henry Jones, János Kriza, János Erdélyi, Gyula Pap.

Here are other versions of this tale I have found.

The Love of Three Oranges, The Borzoi Book of French Folk Tales, Paul Delarue, editor, pp. 126-134.

The Three Citrons of Love, Portuguese Folk-Tales. collected by Consiglieri Pedroso, translated by Miss Henriqueta Monteiro, London: Elliot Stock, 1882, pp. 9-13.

The Princess of the Third Pumpkin,Yiddish Folktales, edited by Beatrice Silverman Weinreich, translated by Leonard Wolf, NY: Pantheon Bks, 1988 pp.122-125 (

The Love of the Three Pomegranates, Italian Folktales, Italo Calvino,compiler, NY: Pantheon, 1980. pp. 389-393

The Reed Maiden, Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians, Western Slavs, and Magyars by Jeremiah Curtin, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington,1891, p 457-  (There is also a 1971 edition.)

The Three Love-Oranges, Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-Lore of Rome by R.H. Busk, Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1877. pp. 15-21.

The Love of the Three Oranges, Italian Popular Tales, by Thomas Frederick Crane, Houghton Mifflin & Co., 1885, pp. 338-343.

The Three Orange-Peris, Turkish Fairy Tales and Folk Tales, edited by Ignácz Kúnos, London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896, pp. 12-29

The Young Lord and the Cucumber Girl, Tales Alive in Turkey by Warren S. Walker & Ahmet E. Uysal, Cambridge: Harvard U P, 1966, pp. 64-71. (

How the Pigeon became a Tame Bird, Fairy Tales From Brazil by Elsie Spicer Eells, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1917, pp.165-174.

The basic pattern of these stories goes like this:

  • Young man gets three fruits or plants containing young women.
  • Young man releases women by cutting fruit, but fails to provide water for first two.
  • Young man leaves young woman in tree while he prepares for wedding.
  • False bride turns true bride into animal or plant.
  • Young man returns and marries false bride.
  • True bride tries to get attention of young man in whatever nonhuman form she's in.
  • True bride (in many versions) moves in with a woman.
  • True bride manages to get attention of young man
  • False bride is removed; true bride moves in.
There is considerable variation among versions.  For instance, the young lord in The Young Lord and the Cucumber Girl has to go on a long quest, get milk for a lion, meat for a tiger, chewing gum for a witch, drink from a blood-and-pus fountain, and slip past giants to get 3 cucumbers from a giantess.  In contrast, the prince in The Princess of the Third Pumpkin had only to get up at dawn, put on his coat, and take a bottle of water to his parents' garden, where three pumpkins are growing on one vine.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Enchanted Flower

This week's collection is Fairy Tales from the Harz Mountains.  The Harz Mountains are in Germany and are full of medieval  castles. (Note: I fixed the links. Sorry about that!)

 The Enchanted Flower, page 81, is like the continuation of the Apollo and Daphne story. It begins with a flower that used to be a woman who didn't want to marry the Count of  Lauenburg.  She avoids him by turning into a white flower.  The tale deals with how the flower becomes a woman again: the right person has to pluck her.  In this case, the right person is a young woman about to be married.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Flowers Imitate Art

Once again Rosemary and I see the Art in Bloom entries at the MFA.  Flower-arrangers have to make an arrangement that goes with an assigned artwork.  I took some pictures.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday

This week's Google book is Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo containing the story The Blind Man who Recovered His Sight.  A cruel mother blinds her son--the son recovers his sight--the son and daughter kill the mother--there are consequences for matricide.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Holy Ghost Feast Parade

This parade goes right past my home.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fairy Tale Friday--The Gold Giving Serpent

The fairy tale for this week is from India: Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs.

Now here's a portion of the entry "sacred Animals" from Brill's Encyclopedia of Hinduism regarding the Cobra:

Nāga: The Snake

Of all the animals worshipped in India, the cobra snake has probably been the most important and has the longest history. A very complex symbolism and history are attached to the sacred snake in Hinduism, and snake worship has multiple origins and represents a plurality of traditions. Snake worship includes the direct worship of the fearsome and dangerous living snakes, worship of the nāga deities associated with water, and the conception of the vedic Vṛtra connected to the cosmic struggle of the god Indra. Vṛtra, the enemy of Indra in the Ṛgveda, is also called Ahi (“Snake”) and might refer to a primordial snake in control of the cosmic water. The word for the divine snake is nāga, which is also the name of tribes of humans, and elephants are called nāga as well. Nāga as a name for snakes is used mostly only for cobras as divinities. “The Nāga of Indian mythology and folklore,” wrote J.P. Vogel, “is not really the snake in general, but the cobra raised to the rank of divine being” (Vogel, 1926, 27). In the early Ṛgveda and in the Atharvaveda, the word ahi is used for snakes as well as mythological serpents. In the later part of the Veda, sarpa is used. The word nāga appears in the Brahmaṇas the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas (and the Buddhist Jātakas), and here nāga is used only for the mythological serpents, while snakes living in nature are called sarpas. In Amarakośa, a Sanskrit lexicon, nāga is not listed as a synonym for snake. Cobras, in contrast, are called nāgas, and in religious art, nāgas typically have cobra hoods in both their zoomorphic and anthropomorphic shapes (Semeka-Pankratov, 1979; Vogel, 1926).
The nāgas are connected to water – to rain as well as the dark, creative, cosmic waters of the underworld. They are thought to hide in the interior of the earth and to appear on the surface, particularly during rainy season. They inhabit lakes and rivers, and the ocean is said to be their abode. The cobra was often thought to reside under trees and in the anthills, which were thought to be entrances to the underworld. The snake world (Nāgaloka) is described in the Mahābhārata as a delightful abode full of wealthy palaces, and the cobra was therefore thought of as guardian of treasures. The nāgas are associated with weather phenomena such as rainstorms and lightening and are believed to control the rain. The poisonous snake represents danger and power over life and death. The snake leaving its skin behind symbolized longevity or immortality, and it is a simile of mokṣa (liberation) and of the way one who is liberated leaves evil behind (Vogel, 1926).
Hinduism contains a rich nāga mythology. The nāgas are important figures, especially in the first book of the Mahābhārata, the Ādiparvan, which contains numerous nāga stories (in the Pauṣya, Puloman, and Āstīka chapters), but narratives about sacred snakes are found throughout the Mahābhārata (Minkowski, 1991). King Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice (sarpasattra) in the Khāṇḍava Forest is the frame story of the Mahābhārata (Minkowski, 1991).The story of the origin of the nāgas is told in connection with the snake sacrifice. The nāgas are presented as sons of Kadrū, whose sister Vinatā is the mother of Garuḍa. The nāgas and Garuḍa are enemies, and enmity of Garuḍa and his cousins the nāgas is a favorite theme in Indian literature and art (Vogel, 1924). Kadrū fraudulently won a bet against Vinatā, and those of Kadrū’s sons who had refused to be partners in the fraud were to perish in King Janamejaya’s sacrifice. The sacrifice was to be performed because of the violent death of his father Parikṣit, who, while hunting, met a sage who had taken a vow of silence, so Parikṣit insulted him by throwing a dead snake round his shoulders when he did not answer. The son of the sage cursed the king: on the seventh day, the lord of snakes Takṣaka was to take the king to the god of death, Yama. The king took all possible precautions, but at the end of the seventh day, the king ate a piece of fruit with a small worm inside. The worm, it turned out, was Takṣaka, who, after he had been eaten, assumed his real form and bit the king. The bite killed the king, and the heat of the poison even caused the palace to burn down (Vogel, 1924). One of Kadrū’s sons, the snake Śeṣa (“Remainder”), who is also called Ananta (“Without End”), secluded himself from his brothers and became an ascetic with matted hair and bark garments. When Brahmā asked him what was the aim of his asceticism, Śeṣa answered that he refused to stay with his brothers who hated Garuḍa and one another. Śeṣa chose the boon from Brahmā that his mind would rejoice in righteousness, tranquility, and asceticism ( tapas ). Brahmā asked him to bear the earth, and since then Śeṣa has carried the earth on his head, enveloping her in his coils (Vogel, 1924). A dominant theme of the Mahābhārata is the pralaya (destruction) and the end of a yuga (era; see cosmic cycles). Only two survive this pralaya, and one of them is Śeṣa, whose name signifies this fact (Minkowski, 1991). Another nāga of importance is Vāsuki, who had been anointed as king of nāgas, according to the Mahābhārata (Ādiparvan), and who was the snake used as rope around Mount Meru by the devas and asuras for churning the ocean.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Monday, April 13, 2015

Heat Week

This week Harvard is sponsoring events dealing with climate change, and people are pressuring the university to divest from fossil fuels.  I could have joined the protesters, but they said you needed to go to a training session, and you could be arrested, so I wimped out.  Here's what it looked like this morning.

Outside Mass. Hall, where President Faust has her office.

They have their headquarters at the First Parish Church, which you can see in the distance.