Goddess Mokosh – Storytelling for Everyone

Slavic Earth Mother

Mother earth and house spirit, tender of sheep and spinner of fate, Mokosh is the supreme Slavic goddess. The origins of Mokosh as mother earth may date to pre-Indo-European times (6th–5th millennia BCE) when worldwide, woman-centered religions are thought to have existed.

Mokosh in Slavic Mythology

In Slavic mythology, Mokosh, sometimes transliterated as Mokoš and meaning “Friday,” is Moist Mother Earth and thus the most important (or sometimes only) goddess in the religion. As a creator, she is said to have been discovered sleeping in a cave by a flowering spring by the spring god Jarilo, with whom she created the fruits of the earth.

She is also the protector of spinning, tending sheep, and wool, patron of merchants and fishermen, who protects cattle from plague and people from drought, disease, drowning, and unclean spirits.

Appearance and Reputation

Surviving images of Mokosh are rare—although there were stone monuments to her beginning at least as long ago as the 7th century. A wooden cult figure in a wooded area in the Czech Republic is said to be a figure of her. Historical references say she had a large head and long arms, a reference to her connection with spiders and spinning. Symbols associated with her include spindles and cloth, the rhombus, and the Sacred Tree or Pillar.

Role in Mythology

Although the Great Goddess has a variety of consorts, both human and animal, in her role as a primary Slavic goddess, Mokosh is the moist earth goddess and is set against (and married to) Perun as the dry sky god. She is also linked to Veles, in an adulterous manner; and Jarilo, the spring god.

Some Slavic peasants felt it was wrong to spit on the earth or beat it. During the Spring, practitioners considered the earth pregnant: before March 25 (“Lady Day”), they would neither construct a building or a fence, drive a stake into the ground or sow seed. When peasant women gathered herbs they first lay prone and prayed to Mother Earth to bless any medicinal herbs.

Mokosh in Modern Time

With the coming of Christianity into the Slavic countries in the 11th century CE, Mokosh was converted to a saint, St. Paraskeva Pyanitsa (or possibly the Virgin Mary). Described as tall and thin with loose hair, St. Paraskeva Pyanitsa is known as “l’nianisa” (flax woman), connecting her to spinning. She is the patroness of merchants and traders and marriage, and she defends her followers from a range of diseases.

In common with many Indo-European religions (Paraskevi is Friday in modern Greek; Freya = Friday; Venus=Vendredi), Friday is associated with Mokosh and St. Paraskeva Pyanitsa, especially Fridays before important holidays. Her feast day is October 28; and no one may spin, weave, or mend on that day.

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Source:

Hirst, K. Kris. “Mokosh, Slavic Mother Earth Goddess.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, http://thoughtco.com/mokosh-4773684

Bibliography

Detelic, Mirjana. “St. Paraskeve in the Balkan Context.” Folklore 121.1 (2010): 94–105.

Dragnea, Mihai. “Slavic and Greek-Roman Mythology, Comparative Mythology.” Brukenthalia: Romanian Cultural History Review 3 (2007): 20–27.

Marjanic, Suzana. “The Dyadic Goddess and Duotheism in Nodilo’s the Ancient Faith of the Serbs and the Croats.” Studia Mythologica Slavica 6 (2003): 181–204.

Matossian, Mary Kilbourne. “In the Beginning, God Was a Woman.” Journal of Social History 6.3 (1973): 325–43.

Monaghan, Patricia. “Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines.” Novato CA: New World Library, 2014.

Zaroff, Roman. “Organized Pagan Cult in Kievan Rus’. The Invention of Foreign Elite or Evolution of Local Tradition?” Studia Mythologica Slavica (1999).

Barbie and the Heroine’s Journey – Storytelling for Everyone

By Kate Farrell

Wonder why the movie Barbie is a “particular ripple in the universe” as Greta Gerwig, its director, describes it? How did the movie hit deeper than the average chick flick and become a runaway box office success, breaking records worldwide?

Neither its political message of feminism nor its massive brand marketing are adequate explanations for the film’s widespread appeal.

To my discerning eye, Barbie, in its plot, characters, and tropes is the universal story of the heroine’s journey based on ancient folk and fairy tales. Beyond the plastic and tinsel pink, this layer of cultural bedrock persists in the film’s compelling understory.

I’m not alone in finding a mythical layer to this über commercial movie: Others have compared it to the Sumerian myth of Inanna or to the 17th century Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost (a retelling of Genesis). And in a BBC interview, Gerwig revealed that the sources of Barbie include medieval and Renaissance poetry.

Fragments of metaphor and archetypes, cinematic images of pop culture, all create a compelling mosaic that reassembles the shape of the feminine quest. What are those essential elements that draw us in?

To break it down to its most basic element: The feminine quest is all about mothers.

Most of the foundational folk and fairy tales begin with mothers: loving mothers, evil stepmothers, godmothers, magical mother figures, mothers-in-law.

When Barbie stops the dance in the nightly disco and says, “…ever think about dying?” she’s asking what the human mother, Gloria, is feeling. It’s a bleed over from the human world to Barbie Land as the human mother mourns her death or her loss of influence over her teenage daughter, Sasha. Barbie “feels” the mother’s grieving and must find the mother/daughter characters on the human side to resolve it.

It’s almost incredible that the movie begins with the first motif of the heroine’s journey found in most fairy tales: that the “good mother” dies. If you recall “Snow White” or “Cinderella” or “Vasilisa the Brave,” you’ll recognize that losing the loving, birth mother is the first challenge in these stories. And it is the rite of passage for all modern daughters, to separate from their mothers in order to discover their independence.

In the ancient tales of the feminine quest, you’ll also recall the “fairy godmother,” the older, magical mother, or the spiritual mother who appears to assist, mentor, or challenge the heroine. When Barbie meets the real Ruth Handler, the creator of the Barbie doll, on the park bench, she sees her inner beauty and her mother/daughter love—Ruth named Barbie for her daughter. Later, when Barbie meets the “ghost” of Ruth in another dimension, we see the magic of transformation, from doll to living woman, given by the old, ghost mother.

These are but a few parallels of the heroine’s journey found in this blockbuster movie!

Bay Area Writers: To learn how you can incorporate motifs and tropes, characters and plot lines of the heroine’s journey in your creative work, register for my upcoming 2-session workshop!

Mechanics Institute: Writing the Heroine’s Journey with Kate Farrell
Location: Meeting Room, 4th floor, Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post St., San Francisco

TWO-Session Workshop, On-site
September 23, 2023, Saturday 11:00 – 2:00 pm 
October 7, 2023, Saturday 11:00 am– 1:00 pm
Cost: $40 Member, $50 Non-member, Limited Enrollment
Registration NOW Open! CLICK HERE!

You’ll learn how to use elements of the feminine quest in your journaling or creative writing for any genre—fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and more!

Deconstructing the foundational Greek myth of “Psyche and Eros” as the basis for our discussion and writing, we’ll translate its archaic challenges into those facing modern women.

Hope to see you there, so sign up soon!

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Learn more about Kate Farrell and STORY POWER: https://katefarrell.net/

The Red Thread – Storytelling for Everyone

Japanese Legend

According to an ancient Japanese legend, there is an invisible red thread tied to everyone’s little finger at birth. The other end of the red thread is tied to someone that we are destined to meet.

The people connected by this thread will become part of each other’s story. The thread may get tangled or stretched but it will never break. The scarlet connection is not necessarily romantic or limited to couples, the tie can extend out towards all those significant and perhaps seemingly insignificant others that make up the story of our lives.

Our red threads could connect us to a great friend, a teacher, business associate, team mate or mentor. We are all part of a scarlet tapestry. The red threads are given at birth but we weave them together ourselves.

This Japanese legend explains life’s mysteries in a way that is both believable and incredibly romantic. If Fate really exists, let’s hope that it works in exactly the way that’s described here.

Close your eyes. Imagine your body as transparent. Can you picture the endlessly complex network of blood vessels connecting all parts of your body? We owe our existence to these life-giving rivers. Now, take note of one rather special channel within this system – the one that connects the heart with your pinky finger!

​​Formed by the ulnar artery, this channel makes your least notable finger a true “representative” of your heart. For this reason, in many cultures, when two people make a truce, or swear a vow, they do it by crossing their pinkies. 

According to the Japanese legend, this thread emanating from the heart doesn’t end at the tip of the finger. It continues in the form of an invisible red string, which ”flows” out of your pinkie and goes on to intertwine with the red strings of other people – connecting your heart with theirs.

Two people who are connected in this way are bound together by Fate itself. Sooner or later, they are destined to meet, no matter how far apart they live or how much their life circumstances differ. And, when it happens – that encounter is certain to profoundly affect both of them. The strings can sometimes stretch and become tangled, which could postpone the fateful meeting. But – those ties will never be broken.

Such a viewpoint on life and relationships has given birth to holistic philosophy, which states that our vital essence isn’t confined to the borders of our physical body. Holists declare that we are one with the Universe and see the notion of the Red Thread as one of the ways towards understanding this unity.

Have you ever found yourself thinking: ”This person has entered my life for a reason?” Quite possibly, you’re right. And it might be the case that Fate has already guided you to the point where you can bring change into the lives of others. 

This philosophy argues that, although we might not realize it, our lives move in a pre-ordained direction, guided by invisible strings that are woven into the fabric of the Universe itself. And all the while, the red thread connecting us to our distant soul-mates is getting shorter.

As the Japanese would say: Our world has its share of obstacles, but nothing in it happens by accident.

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Sources:

https://brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/the-red-string-of-fate-a-beautiful-japanese-legend-140105/

https://www.faena.com/aleph/the-legend-of-the-red-string-of-japan

https://www.bluearrow.co.uk/blog/the-legend-of-the-red-thread

Author adminPosted on July 28, 2021Categories Folktales, LegendsTags Fate, Japan, red thread

The Power of Baba Yaga – Storytelling for Everyone

Slavic Folklore

In Slavic myths, Baba Yaga is the wild woman or dark lady of magic and there are many folktales about her.

These stories may come from people who lived in the forests of northern Russia and Finland many years ago. For centuries, they had stone statues named Yaga or Golden Babas. Often the statues had their own little huts, built on tree stumps, full of gifts. They were statues of a local goddess that people asked for advice. She also had the power to decide what happened to people, a bit like Baba Yaga.

The word Baba can mean any woman old enough to marry. In the stories, however, Baba Yaga is often described as a frightening, wild, old witch with a terrible appetite for eating people. The story of “Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Fair” is one of the well-known tales and has much in common with other folk tales, such as Cinderella.

Why is Baba Yaga important—Witch or Wise Woman?

Baba Yaga may stand for a person’s fate. When someone enters the hut, they live or die depending on what they say and do. Some also say that Baba Yaga stands for the dark side of wisdom, and the character of Vasilisa stands for the light side.

However she came about, she is more than just an ugly old witch, for she has power—people should fear and respect her.

In many ancient societies, older women were seen as the keepers of wisdom and tradition for the family or tribe. No longer having to care for children, they became mother to the rest of the community.

It was believed that these wise women understood the mysteries of birth and death. They were healers and looked after the dying. Sometimes they were thought to have the power of life and death itself. The word witch once meant wise.

Later, from the 12th century, when people began to believe in the use of magic power for evil, people began to fear and hate these wise women with their potions and advice. Many were put to death and the picture of the wise woman or ‘witch’ changed, to become the frightening, ugly, evil old hag, casting wicked spells, as in the stories today.

Baba Yaga is interesting because, although she is described as a terrifying old witch, she is still wise and powerful; wild, cruel but sometimes also kind. Baba Yaga makes a link between the wise women of early myths and the witches of folk and fairytales.

How does Baba-Yaga live?

Like most witches, Baba Yaga can fly but she does not use a broomstick. Instead, she sits in a giant mortar (a bowl for grinding food) with her knees almost touching her chin. She drives very fast across or above the forest floor, and uses the pestle (the grinder) as a rudder held in her right hand. She sweeps away her tracks with a broom made out of silver birch held in her left hand. Wherever she appears, a wild wind begins to blow, the trees groan and leaves whirl through the air.

Her home is a hut deep in a birch forest, in a place that is difficult to find, unless a magic thread, feather or doll shows the way. The hut has a life of its own. It stands on large chicken legs and can move about. Its windows act as eyes and the lock is full of teeth.

A post fence surrounds the hut. The posts are made of human bones and topped with skulls whose blazing eye sockets light up the forest. Very often the hut is guarded by hungry dogs, evil geese, swans or a black cat.

The hut can spin around and moves through the forest. It makes blood-curdling screeches. Most of those who go in never leave, as Baba Yaga washes them, feeds them and then places them on a giant spatula, before putting them in her oven.

In many stories, the fate of those entering her hut is in their own hands. A guest may, or may not, fit into the oven, depending on how they fit on the spatula. Although she eats as much as ten men, Baba Yaga is very skinny and bony, like a skeleton. Her nose is very long and hooked.

Why do people seek help from Baba Yaga?

It may seem strange that anyone would look for Baba Yaga or enter her hut. However, she is wise and is all knowing, all seeing and tells the whole truth to those who are brave enough to ask.

She rules over the elements (fire, air, earth and water). Her faithful servants are the White Horseman, the Red Horseman and the Black Horseman. She calls them, ‘My Bright Dawn, my Red Sun and my Dark Midnight’ because they control daybreak, sunrise, and nightfall.

Some of her other servants are her soul friends (three bodiless pairs of hands, which suddenly appear to carry out her wishes) and her herdsman, the sorcerer Koshchey the Deathless.

Often a hero or heroine enters her hut looking for wisdom, knowledge, truth or help, like Vasilisa. Baba Yaga aids the heroes and heroines, by giving advice, finding weapons and making tasks easier.

Like many myths and folk tales, these stories also have a moral: If you are good and wise, listen to your elders, and use your intuition you will be rewarded. But if you are cruel and unkind, like the wicked stepmother and her daughters, you might meet a bad end.

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Source: https://www.historicmysteries.com/baba-yaga/

X-Rated Pumpkin Rhyme – Storytelling for Everyone

Most of us at some point in our lives loved hearing and chanting children’s rhymes. Who wouldn’t? They are fun, catchy and somewhat nonsensical. But did you know that many of these seemingly innocent nursery rhymes actually have hidden meanings—and not just ordinary meanings, but terrifying connotations?

Yes, you read that right! Many nursery rhymes that we grew up hearing depict dark themes such as death, mass persecution, murder, bizarre acts, immorality, domestic violence, and so much more.

One of the favorite Mother Goose rhymes at this time of year is:

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.

SHOCKING STORY OF THE PUMPKIN RHYME

“Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” is one of those nursery rhymes that seem innocent and nonsensical at first glance, but if you take a closer look, you’ll discover that it has a gruesome hidden message. This nursery rhyme depicts marriage, infidelity, and murder.

It is generally believed that Peter’s beloved wife was a prostitute. Since he could not keep his spouse from having sexual affairs with numerous men, he decided to kill her and hide her body in an absurdly large pumpkin.

Another interpretation is that Peter was a poor man who married an unfaithful women. It seems that his wife keep on cheating Peter who made a plan to “keep her.” He put her in a chastity belt which was the pumpkin shell. (A chastity belt can was metal underwear along with a lock as well as a key.)

There’s another more murderous version of this rhyme that goes like this.

Eeper Weeper, chimbly (chimney) sweeper,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her.
Had another, didn’t love her,
Up the chimbly he did shove her.

These rhymes suggest that women ought to love and be faithful to their husbands or else they could suffer grave, fatal consequences: They could be murdered by their husbands and then hidden in a pumpkin, shoved in a chimney, or fed to mice.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

“Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” is one of the English nursery rhymes, first published in Britain in the late 18th century or during the early 19th century. In 1825, the rhyme was published in Boston, Massachusetts as Mother Goose’s quarto, otherwise known as the complete melodies.

However, some of the words which were collected from the place called Aberdeen, Scotland published in 1868, had some of the following words, a more gruesome, vivid version.

Peter, my neeper,
Had a wife,
And he couidna’ keep her,
He pat i’ the wa’,
And lat a’ thet mice eat her.

PC PUMPKIN RHYME

Perhaps it is time to write a new version of this infamous, wife-hating verse. Here’s one possibility:

Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater,
Had a pie and couldn’t eat it;
He put it in a pumpkin shell,
And there he ate it very well.

What’s yours?

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Author adminPosted on September 28, 2020Categories FolktalesTags Mother Goose, Peter, Pumpkin