Demons from the Wilderness, Lovers from the Sky

Half-human half-beast creatures are found in myths and legends of nearly every, if not all, culture in the world. Although many of them made their first appearance in stories from ancient Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt, these creatures are most likely a much older concept that was passed down over generations. Ancient Greek’s Pan, who symbolizes and rules over the untamed wild, is depicted with the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat while otherwise being mostly human in his appearance. One of the most popular representations of Anubis, the Egyptian god of death, depicts him as a figure with the body of a man and the head of a jackal with pointed ears holding a gold scale while a heart of the soul is being weighed against Ma’at’s truth feather. In Buddhist mythology, there is the Kalaviṅka, a divine bird with a human head who preached the Dharma through its songs and, in South east Asian mythology, two of the most beloved mythological characters are the benevolent half-human, half-bird creatures known as the Kinnara and Kinnari, celestial musicians who come from the Himalayas and watch over the well-being of humans in times of trouble or danger.

The Rabbits on the Moon

Before the first moon landing in 1969, the Chinese moon goddess Chang’e was mentioned in the Apollo 11 Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription between the Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas and the Apollo 11 crew. The center said, “Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there’s one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.” To this, astronaut Buzz Aldrin replied, “Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.”

The Fisher King

He is the last of the distinguished family line of guardians of the Holy Grail. But he was wounded. He was not only unable to fulfill his duties, he was also unable to father a next generation to carry on after his death. His impotence affected the fertility of his land, reducing it to a barren wasteland. All he could do was fish in the river near his castle and wait for the elusive “chosen one” who could heal him.

Vilifying the Ancient Goddess

These female demons have much in common. They are all physically hideous, anti-mothers in one way or another, and they are all childless or give birth in abnormal ways. They are dangerous and threaten humans with both diseases and death. But they were not always demons.

Ancient Mothers of Drummers and the Art of Dance

The art of dance was incorporated in many religious rituals and festivals of ancient civilizations. From the third millennium BC, ancient Egyptians started to use dance as an integral part of their religious ceremonies, using dancers to perform important events such as divine tales and celestial patterns of shifting sun and stars. In ancient Greece, dance was very freely used for public purposes until it eventually brought about the birth of the popular Greek theatre in the 6th century BC. The first person in history to be called drummer was a woman – a Mesopotamian priestess, in fact.

Healers

Throughout history, women were pharmacists, cultivating healing herbs and exchanging the secrets of their uses. They were also nurses, counselors and midwives who traveled from home to home and village to village. They have always been healers. In around 3500 BCE, Queen Puabi of Ur was buried with surgical instruments so that she might practice surgery in the afterlife. Later in history, though, spoil-sport King Henry VIII of England proclaimed that “No carpenter, smith, weaver or women shall practice surgery.”

Sacrifice the Virgin, Save the People

According to Pliny the Elder, human sacrifice in Ancient Rome was abolished by a senatorial decree in 97 BCE, although by this time the practice had already become so rare that the decree was mostly a symbolic act. The Vedic Purushamedha (“human sacrifice”) is already a purely symbolic act in its earliest records. This was then followed by a period of embarrassment about violence in rituals of this sort as this period corresponds to the rise of Buddhism and Jainism, both of which place emphasis on ahimsa (“non-violence”). Apparently for a time, a very very long time ago, virgin sacrifice could be done for a number of widely accepted reasons – from winning a war, appeasing an angry deity, to architecture.

The Earth, the Goddess and the Color Green

Green is a colour that is universally known as representing nature and the environment. It is also the color of growth, renewal and rebirth. However, green also forebode death. In Egyptian wall paintings, Osiris, the ruler of the underworld, was typically portrayed with a green face. In Ancient Greece, green is associated with Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. For the Romans, green was the color of Venus who, despite being the Roman counterpart of the Greek Aphrodite, also served as the goddess of the gardens, vegetables and vineyards.

Understanding the Ancient Power of Women’s Tears

To this day women’s tears made people uncomfortable and often willing to do just about anything to stop the tears flowing. Another rather interesting reaction is when a woman’s tears invoke anger to those who hears it, or even outright denial. No one wants to hear about a woman’s unhappiness, especially if they feel that they can do very little to help.

Potens Risus: Creation, Destruction and The Ancient Power of Women’s Laughter

It is a great power to be able to light up our surroundings by a smile.  It is also one of the most mysterious features we have as human beings. The great men of the past tried to explain it and failed miserably. So what is laughter? And why are women more powerful when they laugh?

The Feminine Journey of the Woman in a White Dress

In Quezon City, Philippines, there is a well-known ghost of a long-haired woman in a white dress. This woman is said to have died in a car accident while driving along Balete Drive. There are many variations to her story, but they usually involve a taxi driver who was driving late at night and a beautiful woman who asked him for a ride. This long-haired woman in a white dress also exists on the other side of the world, making her way throughout history.

The Passion of Independent Women in Early Christianity

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. —  Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970 Passionate women … Continue reading The Passion of Independent Women in Early Christianity