Bird Woman and Crocodile – Storytelling for Everyone

An Aboriginal Legend

Artist, Patricia Blee

A very long time ago, there was Crocodile. He was not so nice and not so courteous. He had the control of fire. Fire was very important for living. It was giving you light during the night and keeping you warm when you were cold. What can you do when you deal with a mean, ill-mannered crocodile? Many animals pleaded with Crocodile, but the more they begged, the meaner Crocodile would get.

One day even a little kangaroo pleaded with Crocodile, “Please give us some fire.”

You know what was Crocodile’s response? He exhaled some fire from his throat, scaring little kangaroo.

High up on a tree, there was a very nice Bird, who was observing everything. The Bird Woman also suffered from the lack of fire. She didn’t like eating her food raw. So, Bird Woman also pleaded with Crocodile to give some light not only to the animals, but also to the people.

“Please share some light with others,” begged Bird Woman on many occasions.

Once, Crocodile blew some fire at Bird Woman, almost burning her feathers. Another time, it snapped, “What do you need the fire for?”

“Well, for example, to cook our food,” she was nicely explaining to Crocodile.

“Eat it raw,” retorted Crocodile.

“Well, it tastes so much better, when it’s cooked,” continued Bird Woman.

“I will cook you with my fire, if you don’t disappear right now,” Crocodile replied angrily.

So she flew away not to anger Crocodile even more.

However, Bird Woman continued to observe Crocodile from her house in the tree. She was patiently watching and waiting. Then, one early morning, Crocodile was still half asleep, stretching and yawning. At his last yawn, he opened his jaw so wide that it took him quite some time to close it.

During that time, Bird Woman quickly flew down, snatching the fire-stick.

Before Crocodile realized what had just happened, Bird Woman was already flying up with the fire-stick. She flew around each tree putting fire into tree’s core. This way a tree could be used as wood to create fire. So people could cook their food, stay warm, and light their way through darkness.

This creation was very magical. It looked as Bird Woman was creating a rainbow with the yellow fire, flying around green trees and with the blue sky shining on her.

“Now, the people can have fire,” said Bird Woman proudly.

Bird Woman flew back to Crocodile and warned him, “From now on, you need to stay in the swamps. Don’t you dare to come out on land or I will light you up.”

The scared Crocodile now stays deep in the swamp. From time to time, he only ventures with his eyes above the water, curious what is going on with the other animals on the land.

So now you know why crocodiles live in the swamps and why the heroine bird is called Rainbow Bird.


Source: Rainbow Bird: An Aboriginal Folktale from Northern Australia by Eric Maddern.
An Aboriginal fire legend of the Dalabon people of Beswick Reserve, telling how Bird Woman stole fire from Crocodile Man, and at the same time, turned herself into the beautiful Rainbow Bird, a dreamtime myth.

The First Rainbow – Storytelling for Everyone

An Achomawi Myth

Pit River Rainbow

Sixty little spider children shivered as they slept. The snow had fallen every day for months. All the animals were cold, hungry, and frightened. Food supplies were almost gone. No one knew what to do. Blue Jay and Redheaded Woodpecker sang and danced for Silver Gray Fox, the creator, who floats above the clouds. Since Silver Gray Fox, had made the whole world with a song and a dance, Blue jay and Woodpecker hoped to be answered with blue skies. But the snow kept falling.

Finally the animals decided to ask Coyote. Coyote had been around a long time, almost since the beginning. They thought that he might know how to reach Silver Gray Fox. They went to the cave where Coyote was sleeping, told him their troubles, and asked for help. “Grrrrowwwlll…go away,” grumbled Coyote, “and let me think.”

Coyote stuck his head into the cold air outside and thought till he caught an idea. He tried singing in little yelps and loud yowls to Silver Gray Fox. Coyote sang and sang, but Silver Gray Fox didn’t listen, or didn’t want to. After all, it was Coyote’s mischief-making when the world was new that had caused Silver Gray Fox to go away beyond the clouds in the first place. Coyote thought he’d better think some more.

Suddenly he saw Spider Woman swinging down on a silky thread from the top of the tallest tree in the forest. Spider Woman’s been on Earth a long, long time, Coyote thought. She’s very wise. I’ll ask her what to do. Coyote went to the tree and lifted his ears to Spider Woman.

“Spider Woman, O wise weaver, O clever one,” called Coyote in his sweetest voice. “We’re all cold and hungry and everyone’s afraid this winter will never end. Silver Gray Fox didn’t seem to notice. Can you help?” asked Coyote.

Spider Woman swayed her shining black body back and forth, back and forth, thinking and thinking, thinking and thinking. Her eight black eyes sparkled when she spoke, “I know how to reach Silver Gray Fox, Coyote, but I’m not the one for the work. Everyone will have to help. You’ll need my two youngest children, too. They’re little and light as dandelion fluff, and the fastest spinners in my web.” Spider Woman called up to her two littlest ones. “Spinnnnnn! Spinnnnnn!”

They came down fast, each spinning on eight little legs, two fine, black twin Spider Boys, full of curiosity and fun. Spider Woman said, “My dear little quick ones, are you ready for a great adventure?” “Yes! Yes! We’re ready!” they cried.

Spider Woman told them her plan, and the Spider Boys set off with Coyote in the snow. They hadn’t gone far when they met two White-Footed Mouse Brothers rooting around for seeds to eat. Coyote told them Spider Woman’s plan. “Will you help?” he asked. “Yes! Yes! We’ll help!” they squeaked.

So they all traveled the trail towards Mount Shasta until they met Weasel Man looking hungry and even leaner than usual. Coyote told Weasel Man his plan. “Will you help?” asked Coyote. “Of course,” rasped Weasel Man, who joined them on the trail.

Before long they came across Red Fox Woman swishing her big fluffy tail through the bushes. “Will you help?” asked Coyote. “Of course, I’ll come,” crooned Red Fox Woman. Then Rabbit Woman poked her head out of her hole. “I’ll come too.” She sneezed, shivering despite her thick fur.

Meadowlark wrapped a winter shawl around her wings, and trudged after the others along the trail to the top of Mount Shasta.

The snow had stopped, but the sky was still cloudy. On top of Mount Shasta, Coyote barked, “Will our two best archers step forward?” The two White Footed Mouse Brothers proudly lifted their bows.

“Everyone listen,” barked Coyote. “If any one of us is only half-hearted, Spider Woman’s plan will fail.

“To get through the clouds to Silver Gray Fox, we must each share our powers, our thoughts, our dreams, our strength, and our songs whole-heartedly. Now, you White-Footed Mouse Brothers, I want you to shoot arrows at exactly the same spot in the sky.”

Turning to the others, Coyote said, “Spider Boys, start spinning spider silk as fast as you can. Weasel Man, White-Footed Mouse Brothers, Red Fox Woman, Rabbit Woman, and I will sing and make music. We must sing with all our might or the Spider Boys won’t make it.” “One!” called Coyote. Everyone got ready. “Two!” counted out Coyote. The animals drew in deep breaths.

The Mouse Brothers pulled back their bowstrings. “Three!” said the Coyote. Two arrows shot straight up and stuck at the same spot in the clouds. “Whiff! Wiff! Wiff Wiff!”, sang the White Footed Mouse Brothers. “Yiyipyipla!”, sang Red Fox Woman. “Wowooooolll!” sang Coyote. Rabbit Woman shook her magic rattle. Weasel Man beat his very old and worn elk-hide drum.

The Spider Boys hurled out long lines of spider silk, weaving swiftly with all their legs. The animals sang up a whirlwind of sound to lift the spider silk until it caught on the arrows in the clouds. Then the Spider Twins scurried up the lines of silk and scrambled through the opening. All the while, down below, the animals continued singing, rattling and drumming. The little Spiders sank, breathless, onto the clouds.

Silver Gray Fox spied them and called out, “What are you two doing here?”

The Spider Boys bent low on their little legs and answered. “Silver Gray Fox, we bring greetings from our mother, Spider Woman, and all the creatures of the world below. We’ve come to ask if you’d please let the sun shine again. The whole world is cold. Everyone is hungry. Everyone is afraid spring will not return, ever.”

They were so sincere and polite that Silver Gray Fox became gentler, and asked, “How did you two get up here?”

The Spider Boys said, “Listen, can you hear the people singing? Can you hear the drum and rattle?”

Silver Gray Fox heard the drum and rattle and the people singing. When the Spider Boys finished telling their story, Silver Gray Fox was pleased and told them, “I’m happy when creatures use their powers together. I’m especially glad to hear that Coyote’s been helping too. Your mother, Spider Woman, made a good plan. To reward all your hard work, I’ll create a sign to show that the skies will clear. And you may also help, but first picture the sun shining bright.”

The Spider Boys thought hard and saw the sun sending out fierce rays in all directions.

“Now, where sun rays meet the damp air” said Silver Gray Fox, “Picture a stripe of red, red as Woodpecker’s head. Add a stripe of blue nearby, blue as Blue Jay’s blue.” The Spider Boys thought hard, and great stripes appeared of red and blue. Silver Gray Fox chanted. “Now, in between, add stripes of orange, yellow and green!” The Spider Boys thought of this and dazzling their eyes, a beautiful arc of colors could be seen across the whole sky above the clouds. It was the very first rainbow.

Meanwhile, down below, beneath the clouds, the animals and people were so cold, hungry, and tired that they had stopped singing and drumming. Spider Woman missed her two youngest children. Each day she missed them more. She blamed Coyote for the trouble. So did the other animals. Coyote slipped away silent, lonely and sad. Above, on the clouds, the twins rested. Their legs ached and their minds were tired.

Silver Gray Fox said, “You did what I asked and kept it secret. That’s very difficult, so I’m giving you a special reward. On wet mornings, when the sun starts to shine, you’ll see what I mean.”

Then the Spider Boys spun down to Earth, and ran back to their mother as fast as they could. Spider Woman cried for joy and wrapped all her legs around her two littlest children. Their fifty-eight sisters and brothers jumped up and down with happiness. All the animals gathered around to hear the Spider Boys’ story.

When they finished, the Spider Boys cried, “Look up!”

Everyone looked up to see that the clouds had drifted apart and there, like a bridge between the earth and the sky was a radiant arch – they could still see the very first rainbow. The sun began to warm the earth. Shoots of grass pushed up through the melting snow.

Meadowlark blew her silver whistle of spring across the valley, calling streams and rivers to awake. Coyote came out of hiding, and racing to a distant hilltop, he gave a long, long howl of joy. The animals held a great feast to honor the rainbow, Silver Gray Fox, Spider Woman, the Spider Twins, Coyote, and the hard work everyone had done together.

To this day, after the rain, when the sun comes out, dewdrops on spider webs shine with tiny rainbows. This is the spiders’ special reward.



Note: The Achomawi (also Achumawi, Ajumawi, and Ahjumawi) were one of several bands known as the “Pit River” tribe of Native Americans who lived in northern California. They lived in the Fall River valley, Tule Lake, and Pit River area near Montgomery Creek in Shasta County to Goose Lake on the Oregon state line. They were closely related to the Atsugewi; both speaking Palaihnihan languages. Their name, “Achomawi,” translates to “River people.”

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John Barleycorn – Storytelling for Everyone

British Legend

Sir John Barleycorn and Miss Hop

It is now high summer and the union of Sun and Earth, of God and Goddess, has produced the First Harvest. Lammas is the celebration of this first, Grain Harvest, a time for gathering in and giving thanks for abundance.

In English folklore, John Barleycorn is a character who represents the crop of barley. Equally as important, he symbolizes the wonderful drinks which can be made from barley—beer and whiskey—and their effects. In the traditional folksong, John Barleycorn, the character of John Barleycorn endures all kinds of indignities, most of which correspond to the cyclic nature of planting, growing, harvesting, and then death.

Robert Burns & the Barleycorn Legend

Although written versions of the song date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there is evidence that it was sung for years before that. There are a number of different versions, but the most well-known one is the Robert Burns version.

Believe it or not, there’s even a John Barleycorn Society at Dartmouth, which says, “A version of the song is included in the Bannatyne Manuscript of 1568, and English broadside versions from the 17th century are common. Robert Burns published his own version in 1782, and modern versions abound.​”

The lyrics to the Robert Burns version of the song are as follows:

There was three kings into the east,
three kings both great and high,
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn must die.

They took a plough and plough’d him down,
put clods upon his head,
and they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on’
and show’rs began to fall.
John Barleycorn got up again,
and sore surprised them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
and he grew thick and strong;
his head well arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
that no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
when he grew wan and pale;
his bendin’ joints and drooping head
show’d he began to fail.

His colour sicken’d more and more,
and he faded into age;
and then his enemies began
to show their deadly rage.

They took a weapon, long and sharp,
and cut him by the knee;
they ty’d him fast upon a cart,
like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
and cudgell’d him full sore.
they hung him up before the storm,
and turn’d him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
with water to the brim,
they heav’d in John Barleycorn.
There, let him sink or swim!

They laid him upon the floor,
to work him farther woe;
and still, as signs of life appear’d,
they toss’d him to and fro.

They wasted o’er a scorching flame
the marrow of his bones;
but a miller us’d him worst of all,
for he crush’d him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very hero blood
and drank it round and round;
and still the more and more they drank,
their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
of noble enterprise;
for if you do but taste his blood,
’twill make your courage rise.

‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
’twill heighten all his joy;
’twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
tho the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
each man a glass in hand;
and may his great posterity
ne’er fail in old Scotland!



Eostre, Germanic Goddess – Storytelling for Everyone

Easter Lore

Art by Helena Nelson-Reed

Ostara, or Eostre or Eastre, is the Germanic Goddess of spring and dawn. She is only mentioned once in scholarly writings of the period: Bede the monk states that during Eostremonath (the old Anglo-Saxon names for April), the pagan Anglo-Saxons help festivals in her honor. Two hundred years later in Germany, in his Life of Charlemagne, a monk named Einhard gives the old name for April as Ostaramonath.

The goddess is also mentioned in a number of inscriptions in Germany, and the modern holiday of Easter—originally the name for the spring Equinox, but later subsumed to the Paschal calendar for the Christian resurrection holiday—is named for her.

The name “Eostre” (Old Germanic “Ostara”), is related to that of Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn, and both can be traced back to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of dawn, thousands of years ago.

Her truth, however, is evident every year. She is the first warm spring winds, the birds that return, the trees that bud and curl forth leaves and flowers. She is the awakening earth, rabbits and hares, the eggs that appear after a winter of no light.

City folk may not know that chickens who are kept in natural lighting quit laying in the winter, when the days are short, and begin again as the days lengthen. March/April is their peak time of year, and those eggs were a valued and welcome protein source for our winter-starved ancestors. Ostara’s legacy is in all those colored eggs which many of us still hang on trees every year.

Jakob Grimm, in his Teutonic Mythology, maintained that “Ostara, Eástre, was goddess of the growing light of spring.” Holy water in the form of the dew, or water collected from brooks, was gathered at this time; washing with it was said to restore youth. Beautiful maidens in sheer white were said to seen frolicking in the country side.

Ostara is usually depicted as a young maiden. As Ember Cooke writes, “…old enough to bear children, but not a mother.” She is wreathed in flowers or new greenery, and often dances. She is often joyous, but can just as easily turn suddenly solemn, like the spring weather that can quickly turn to rain. Like Spring itself, she is capricious, innocent and knowing by turns.

Ostara gives the gift of newness, which is especially important for those of us who are old and cynical in spirit. If you have lost hope over the winter, ask her for a new infusion of it. If you have lost sight of the goal, ask her for fresh eyes to look upon the problem anew.

If you are tired of the world, ask her to show you the small joys that are still around every corner, in every field of flowers that stubbornly make their way up from the earth.

In Celtic tradition, the hare is sacred to the Goddess and is the totem animal of lunar goddesses such as Hecate, Freyja and Holda, since the hare is a symbol for the moon. The Goddess most closely associated with the hare is Eostre, or Ostara. The date of the Christian Easter is determined by the phase of the moon. The nocturnal hare, so closely associated with the moon which dies every morning and is resurrected every evening, also represents the rebirth of nature in Spring.

Over the centuries the symbol of the hare at Ostara has become the Easter Bunny who brings eggs to children on Easter morning, the Christian day of rebirth and resurrection. Hare hunting was taboo, but because the date of Easter is determined by the moon together with the hare’s strong lunar associations, hare-hunting was a common Easter activity in England.



Author adminPosted on April 2, 2021Categories Legends, MythTags Celtic, Easter, Germanic

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.



Hirst, K. Kris. “Mokosh, Slavic Mother Earth Goddess.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020,


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).

The Pagan Christmas Tree – Storytelling for Everyone

Legend and Lore

Victorian Christmas Tree

The “first decorated indoor tree” was recorded in 1605, in Strasbourg, Germany, decorated with roses, apples, wafers and other sweets. Demand for Christmas trees was so high in the 15th century that laws were passed in Strasbourg cracking down on people cutting pine trees.

For many, it’s unthinkable to celebrate Christmas without a beautiful evergreen fir in the living room decorated with sparkling ornaments and wrapped presents. Like most Christmas traditions, including the celebration of Christmas itself, the origin of the Christmas tree can be traced to pagan traditions. 

In fact, were it not for Queen Victoria, the most powerful monarch of her time, decorated fir trees might have remained an obscure custom that only a couple of Germanic and Slavic countries practiced. Here’s a brief rundown of the Christmas tree’s intriguing history.

Long before Christianity appeared, people in the Northern Hemisphere used evergreen plants to decorate their homes, particularly the doors, to celebrate the Winter Solstice. On December 21 or December 22, the day is the shortest and the night the longest.

Traditionally, this time of the year is seen as the return in strength of the sun goddess (Sól/Sunna/Sunne, the common Sun goddess among the Germanic tribes, from Proto-Germanic Sōwilō, and was chased across the sky in her horse-drawn chariot by a wolf) had been weakened during winter.

The evergreen served as a reminder that the goddess would glow again and summer was to be expected.

The clergy banned these practices from the public life, considering them acts of heathenry. So, some collected evergreen branches or trees and brought them to their homes, in secret.

During these early days of the Christmas tree, many statesmen and members of the clergy condemned their use as a celebration of Christ. Lutheran minister Johann von Dannhauer, for instance, complained that the symbol distracted people from the true evergreen tree, Jesus Christ. 

The English Puritans condemned a number of customs associated with Christmas, such as the use of the Yule log, holly and mistletoe. Oliver Cromwell, the influential 17th-century British politician, preached against the “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.”


In mild climates, the Christmas rose flowers in winter, which accounts for its common name. This association with the Yuletide season was emphasized by medieval Nativity plays which presented a story similar to one associated with the poinsettia in later years.

The story tells of a young shepherd girl who was tending her family’s flock on Christmas eve. After witnessing the events of that night, she eagerly accompanied the other shepherds to visit the Holy Child. Distraught that she had no gift to offer, the girl began to cry.

An angel had pity on her led the girl outside where the cherub touched the cold ground. Immediately, a Christmas rose appeared and provided the girl with a gift to offer.

Because of this legend, it was long believed that the Christmas rose was a holy flower with mystical powers. It was often planted close to the entrance of a home in the belief that it would prevent evil spirits that might be passing by from entering the house.



Penelope in the Odyssey – Storytelling for Everyone

Greek Myth & Legend

Artist, Dora Wheeler, “Penelope Unraveling Her Work at Night”

Penelope in the Odyssey, the epic poem by Homer, is the faithful wife of Odysseus (or Ulysses for the Romans). Odysseus is the King of Ithaca, and he is the main protagonist in Homer’s poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Odysseus is a warrior in the Trojan War, and the Odyssey covers his return home after many long years.

In the first poem, the Iliad, Odysseus is away at war, fighting against the Trojans for ten long years. However, when he begins his journey home, many odd challenges come upon him, which take him another ten years to finally get back to his home.

The Faithful Wife

Odysseus leaves his wife Penelope of Ithaca and his son, Telemachus on their own and initiates the journey, during which he loses all his crewmates, and arrives on his own. Penelope waited faithfully for his return, as Telemachus had to help her fight against the many suitors who wanted her hand. During the twenty years of her husband being away, a total of 108 suitors came to try and get her to marry them.

Odysseus’ Trials and Fidelity

On his way back from the Trojan War, Odysseus ran into many troubles because of angering Poseidon, the god of the sea. He struggles through storms, capture, and magic. For seven years, he got stuck on an island with Calypso, where she fell in love with him and begged him to make love to her, promising that she would make him her husband.

Some stories say that he gave in, while others say that he remained faithful just as his wife had done. Athena helped him by asking Zeus, the sky god, to stop Poseidon’s anger and letting Odysseus get on his way.

Odysseus found himself with the Phoenicians who eventually delivered him to Ithaca, after he told them his story. While he was away, goddess Athena and his son came looking for him, but the suitors pining for Penelope planned to kill Telemachus on his ship as he returned.

Keeping Those Suitors at Bay

While Odysseus was away, Penelope had 108 suitors clamoring for her hand. However, due to the love she had for her husband, Penelope chose to remain faithful, strongly believing that Odysseus would return home one day.

For this reason, to avoid remarriage, she devised a few tricks keeping the marriages from taking place and from even meeting her suitors.

One of these tactics was to announce that she would marry if only she completed weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus’ father. For three years, she claimed she was weaving it, and so she couldn’t marry. At night, she tore the weaving apart so it had to be woven again.

However, with Athena’s help together with his son, Odysseus makes his escape from the island where he was kept with Calypso. He finally returns home, revealing himself to his recently returned son, and joins one of Penelope’s final competitions for her hand.

Fighting for Love and Finding Proof

Athena disguises Odysseus as a beggar so that Penelope can’t recognize him, as he joins the competition to marry her. The competition is as follows: The man who can string an arrow to Odysseus’ bow and shoot an arrow through twelve ax heads may have her as their wife.

She creates this competition on purpose, knowing it’s impossible for anyone to win except for her husband. Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus is able to see how things are in his household before his full return.

He wants to know if his wife has been faithful to him. He confirms that she has indeed been, and hence he joins the competition, easily stringing the bow and shooting through twelve ax heads.

Once he completes this task, he throws off his disguises, and with the help of his son, kills all 108 suitors. Telemachus even hangs twelve of the housemaids who had betrayed Penelope or had made love to the suitors themselves.

Odysseus reveals himself to Penelope; fearing that it is some type of a scam, she tries out one more trick on him. She tells her lady’s maid to move the bed that she and Odysseus had shared.

Odysseus had carpentered the bed himself, having the knowledge into the matter, he answered that it could not be moved, because one leg was a living olive tree. Penelope is convinced that her husband has finally returned, and they are reunited in happiness at long last.



Legends of Mt. Shasta – Storytelling for Everyone

Local History

Mount Shasta, the beautiful volcano, has graced the Northern California skyline for centuries. With its luminous glow at sunset, the amazing formation of rare clouds that shroud the mountain, and its prominence in the landscape, there is no wonder that legend and myth have revolved around this mountain for just as long.

In my opinion, the most intriguing of the Mount Shasta mysteries, is that of the lost civilization of the Lemurians. This is a story that I have heard many times: a whole civilization of people, from the lost continent of Lemuria, built a self-sustainable empire inside California’s fifth highest peak.

There are many aspects of the legend. Some versions tell of the Lemurians having the capability of time travel and connections with aliens. Some tell of the vast cavernous tunnels inside the mountain, full of gold and precious gems.

In other tales, hikers in the area are contacted by tall, spiritual beings who appear out of nowhere and disappear in just the same manner. Other tales simply mention the presence of colored orbs and lights in the landscape.

I wanted to know the origin of the tales of Lemurian civilization and what I found in the research was very interesting.

On a fair-weather day in 1883, 17-year-old Frederick Spencer Oliver from Yreka, California, was mapping his family’s property line at the base of Mt. Shasta. As described later to his mother Mary, he began writing uncontrollably with the pen and paper he held in his hand. The mysterious writings detailed that he was the subject chosen to be the amanuensis [scribe] for Phylos the Thibetan, and he would transcribe the book, A Dweller on Two Planets.

Oliver took dictations from Phylos the Thibetan, for about three years, and the writings were eventually published by his mother in 1905, six years after Oliver’s death. A Dweller on Two Planets is a first person account of the Atlantean culture, a culture that had reached a high level of technological and scientific advancement. In the book, Phylos the Thibetan gives a detailed personal history of the lost continent of Atlantis, effects of karma, and the cataclysmic destruction of Poseid, Queen of the Waves.

Enter Edgar Lucian Larkin, who was an astronomer at the Mt. Lowe Observatory, outside of Los Angeles, as well as a writer. As a teenager Larkin developed a deep interest in the idea of lost continents after reading Plato, and well into adulthood never doubted Plato’s account of Atlantis. Larkin came across Oliver’s book and was quite impressed by it, so much so that he referenced Oliver’s writings in an article for the San Francisco Examiner in 1913.

The article, titled “The Atlantides,” addressed the question, “Is there any truth in the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis?”

Twelve years later, an author called only Selvius stated in his article in The Rosicrucians Mystic Triangle, “Descendants of Lemuria: A Description of an Ancient Cult in America,” that Larkin had published an account of Lemurian sightings on Mt. Shasta and that he had apparently seen the Lemurians by telescope while at the Mt. Lowe Observatory. Interestingly enough, no such account by Larkin has ever been located.

However, it has been theorized that Larkin’s mention of Atlanteans and Lemurians, the location of Mt. Shasta, and references to Frederick Spencer Oliver, as well as mentioning temples of gold and countless gems (also paraphrased from A Dweller on Two Planets) may be the sources of the information that Selvius misinterpreted. It appears that Selvius conjured sightings in his own mind and perpetuated the legend of the Lemurians living at Mt. Shasta.

There have been many more authors who have written on the subject. In 1931, Harvey Spencer Lewis, using the pseudonym Wishar Spenle Cerve, wrote a book published by the Rosicrucians about the hidden Lemurians of Mount Shasta. Later William C. Miesse of the College of the Siskiyous described Lewis’ book as “responsible for the legend’s widespread popularity.” 

A local Redding man by the name of Abraham Joseph Mansfield wrote about the folklore in 1976 with his book The King of the Lemurians, the account of a friend who was said they were approached by a Lemurian while hiking on Mt. Shasta in 1931.

So, there it is, a brief history of the tale of the Lemurian civilization. It’s truly no surprise that the beauty and majesty of our beloved Mt. Shasta inspires so many interesting stories, no matter how strange they may be.



Lasiren, Haitian Mermaid – Storytelling for Everyone

Fact or Legend

The Haitian mermaid, Lasiren, has a long tradition and plays an important role in the religious Haitian Vodou beliefs to this day. Many Haitian people frequently report on social media platforms like Twitter that they or their relatives saw mermaids in Haiti themselves.

This is fascinating because it demonstrates that the Haitian mermaid tradition is more alive than many other mermaid myths in different parts of the world. Research on mermaids in Haitian culture and their history shows enduring beliefs about the Haitian mermaid Lasiren (also called Lasirn, Lasirènn, La sirène).

The Haitian Mermaid is an Ocean Queen

Haitian mermaids are connected to one specific female Haitian water spirit called Lasiren. In Haitian folklore, Lasiren is the queen of the ocean and the maritime version of the spirits of love and beauty.

This mermaid queen is thought to live in a luxurious palace underwater but also comes to the surface regularly where she can be seen by humans. She is worshipped mainly in the form of a mermaid. Because of this connection to the ocean queen, when a mermaid is sighted in Haiti, it is often thought to be Lasiren.

It is however not quite clear if there are several different mermaids or if it’s all the same mermaid that people see. Some people say, there are actually many mermaids in the waters around Haiti. Some art also suggests that there is more than one by depicting several mermaids.

Lasiren Has Many Looks

Lasiren is known as the beautiful mermaid of Haiti. But there is not one specific description of what she exactly looks like, except that it is often said that she has long black hair. Most often she is depicted as a mermaid with a fishtail. Sometimes she is depicted as a beautiful human woman as well.

Agwé is Lasiren’s consort and the king of the ocean. Besides her consort, Lasiren is also known to have an affair with Ogou, who is the Lwa of war and power. This affair frequently leads to conflicts between the two male Lwas.

She Represents the Divine Feminine

In Haitian mythology, Lasiren represents the three faces of the feminine together with her two sisters Danto and Freda. The three faces of the feminine are mother, lover and goddess. Danto symbolized the calm and strong woman who is under control: the mother. Freda represents the sexy, passionate and temperamental side of the feminine: the lover. Lasiren, as the ocean queen, symbolizes the mystical and spiritual aspect of a woman.

Song to Lasiren

“The mermaid, the whale,
My hat falls into the sea.
I caress the mermaid,
My hat falls into the sea.
I lie down with the mermaid,
My hat falls into the sea.”

The line “my hat falls into the sea” stands for the feeling of getting such a sudden insight from Lasiren because the sea represents intuition and the unconscious. So, it basically means that your head (with hat) suddenly is being pulled into the ocean of intuition by Lasiren. Quite a beautiful way of thinking about insights. This again emphasizes Lasiren’s spiritual powers.

Lasiren’s Mirror Has Special Meaning

Like sirens in Europe, Lasiren also often carries a comb and a mirror, as a sign of vanity that is connected to her beauty. She is sometimes referred to as the Lwa of vanity because she is known to be concerned about her appearance.

But there is also another meaning behind the mirror: It helps to see and understand yourself more clearly because it can represent a sort of portal between the conscious and unconscious world. Thus she also expresses self-love.

The Haitian Mermaid Has Strong Ties to African Water Goddesses

Lasiren came to Haiti with the African people who were forcefully brought by the colonizers of America. She is often described as the Haitian version of the African water spirits Mami Wata or Yemaja.

Both of them share many similarities with Lasiren and are also worshipped as spirits in various parts of Africa and America. What is special about Lasiren is that she has both African as well as European influences.



Alexander, Skye (2012) Mermaids: The Myths, Legends, and Lore.

Cappucci, John (2015) Vodou Encyclopedia: Magic, Ritual, and Religion.

Video about Lasiren by a Haitian: Ted Vodou on Youtube.

Idun, Goddess of Youthfulness – Storytelling for Everyone

Norse Mythology

Idun (pronounced “IH-dune;” from Old Norse Iðunn, “The Rejuvenating One”) is a goddess who belongs to the Aesir tribe of deities. Her role in the pre-Christian mythology and religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples is unfortunately obscure, but she features prominently in one of the best-known mythological tales.

Lovely and enchanting Idun was a Norse goddess of youthfulness and fertility. She held a key role in the Norse mythos, rejuvenating the gods by giving them magical apples that reversed the effects of aging. She carried her apples in a box made of ash called an eski—along with her fruit, this box served as one of her major symbols.

She was married to Bragi, a skald (bard/poet) who narrated sections of the Lokasenna, of the Poetic Edda, and the Skáldskaparmál of the Prose Edda. The tale of Idun’s abduction by the shapeshifting giant Thjazi remains one of the most famous in Norse mythology:

One day, Odin, Hoenir, and Loki went journeying in the mountainous regions of Asgard. When the hungry travelers happened upon a herd of oxen, they slaughtered one and attempted to cook it.

Every time they tried, however, a talking eagle used magic to prevent the fire from heating the juicy meat. The bird told the gods that if it did not receive its own portion, no one would eat. The gods agreed to share their meal, and the bird flew down to join them.

When the eagle came close enough to touch, Loki seized a branch and attempted to strike it. Loki was too slow, however, and the bird seized the branch (which Loki was still holding onto) in its talons and flew away.

When Loki begged for release, the eagle revealed itself to be the giant Thjazi and demanded that Idun and her magical apples be brought to him. Loki agreed to retrieve her, and the giant-turned-eagle returned him safely to the ground.

When Loki returned home, he lured Idun into a dark forest by telling her it was the location of a rare and precious fruit. Instead of a fruit, however, Idun found Thjazi waiting in his eagle form. The giant seized the young goddess and flew away with her to his home in Jotunheimr.

Without the restorative powers of the apples, the Norse gods withered and grew old: “But the Æsir became straitened at the disappearance of Idunn, and speedily they became hoary and old,” the Skáldskaparmál reads.

Loki was the last god to be seen with Idun, and the gods began to question and threaten him for information. As their threats escalated, Loki told them that if they released him and lent him Freya’s falcon cloak, he would fly away and return with the abducted goddess.

With cloak in hand, Loki flew to Jotunheimr where he found Idun alone in Thjazi’s hall. He transformed her into the shape of a nut and flew away with her. Thjazi quickly discovered Loki’s deception, and pursued the fleeing gods to the gates of Asgard. When the other gods saw Loki returning, they built a massive fire that reached into the heavens.

Loki veered away from the fire at the last moment, but Thjazi was not so lucky. The giant eagle hurtled into the inferno before crashing into the ground as little more than a burning husk.

“Then the Æsir were near at hand and slew Thjazi the giant within the Gate of the Æsir, and that slaying is exceeding famous.”



By Thomas Apel

Illustration by James Doyle Penrose, 1890

Author adminPosted on July 12, 2023July 12, 2023Categories Folktales, Legends, MythTags abduction, Germanic, goddess, magical apples, Norse, shape shifting, youthfulness