Neatest religious folklore?
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22-04-2013, 02:15 PM (This post was last modified: 22-04-2013 02:53 PM by ghostexorcist.)
Neatest religious folklore?
As I'm sure everyone is well aware of, polling has shown atheists and agnostics know more about religion than the religious do. One benefit of studying religion is coming across really awesome folklore associated with the various religions. What is the neatest that you've read about? Feel free to post the names of books about the stuff you mention.

I specialize in Eastern religions, so I have all sorts of examples from Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, etc. However, I have an interest in western occultism, too. The first thing that comes to mind are the Benandanti Christians of Italy. They were labeled witches by the church for their shamanistic practices, but they considered themselves anti-witches. They believed that, at night, their souls could leave their bodies, transform into various animals--including werewolves--open gates to hell, and battle witches in the underworld. They are considered a fertility cult because the purpose for these battles was to save the coming harvest from blights sent by witches. I first read about them years ago while doing research on western werewolf traditions.

I recently purchased the book The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1983) by Carlo Ginzburg because I wanted to know more about them. Just in case anyone is interested, here are some good books on western occultism and werewolves:

* The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (1959) by Rossell Hope Robbins

This is an oldy but a goody. I first bought this book back in 2005 after hearing about it from an episode of the X-Files. I believe this might have been my first introduction to the Benandanti. It is a masterstroke of research on western occult traditions. You can read it here.

* The Book of Were-Wolves (1865) by Sabine Baring-Gould

Despite its age, it is still quoted in modern literature. It is THE book to read if you are interested in werewolf lore. You can read it here if you don't want to buy it.
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22-04-2013, 02:37 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
Not sure if this is what you're after, but how about tengrism? (Which we actually brought to Europe, way, way back... Only, he's called Tangra in Bulgarian.)

"Tengri is a pure, white goose that flies constantly over an endless expanse of water, which represents time. Beneath this water, Ak Ana ("White Mother") calls out to him saying "Create". To overcome his loneliness, Tengri creates Er Kishi, who is not as pure or as white as Tengri and together they set up the world. Er Kishi becomes a demonic character and strives to mislead people and draw them into its darkness. Tengri assumes the name Tengri Ülgen and withdraws into Heaven from which he tries to provide people with guidance through sacred animals that he sends among them. The Ak Tengris occupy the fifth level of Heaven. Shaman priests who want to reach Tengri Ülgen never get further than this level, where they convey their wishes to the divine guides. Returns to earth or to the human level take place in a goose-shaped vessel."

Not really folklore, but we also had the bogomils. They actually had some not too shabby ideas.

"The Bogomils were both Adoptionists and Manichaeans and taught that God had two sons, the elder Satanail and the younger Michael. The elder son rebelled against the father and became the evil spirit. After his fall he created the lower heavens and the earth and tried in vain to create man; in the end he had to appeal to God for the Spirit. After creation Adam was allowed to till the ground on condition that he sold himself and his posterity to the owner of the earth. Then Michael was sent in the form of a man; he became identified with Jesus, and was "elected" by God after the baptism in the Jordan. When the Holy Ghost (again Michael) appeared in the shape of the dove, Jesus received power to break the covenant in the form of a clay tablet (hierographon) held by Satanail from Adam. He had now become the angel Michael in a human form; as such he vanquished Satanail, and deprived him of the termination -il = God, in which his power resided. Satanail was thus transformed into Satan. Through his machinations the crucifixion took place, and Satan was the originator of the whole Orthodox community with its churches, vestments, ceremonies, sacraments and fasts, with its monks and priests. This world being the work of Satan, the perfect must eschew any and every excess of its pleasure. They were extreme ascetics, and prohibited the eating of meat."

But if there's one thing anyone should take from this wall of text, is that this is how the English came up with the word "bugger" - comes from the world "Bulgarian", as Catharism had its roots in Bogomilism, and them Western Europeans weren't too keen on the Cathars. So yeah, we're all buggers here Angel





As for folklore proper - who else do you think you owe vampires to (or at least the word), if not my neck of the woods. Not that I'm particularly proud. Confused

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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22-04-2013, 02:46 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
(22-04-2013 02:15 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  As I'm sure everyone is well aware of, polling has shown atheists and agnostics know more about religion than the religious do. One benefit of studying religion is coming across really awesome folklore associated with the various religions. What is the neatest that you've read about? Feel free to post the names of books about the stuff you mention.

I specialize in Eastern religions, so I have all sorts of examples from Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, etc. However, I have an interest in western occultism, too. The first thing that comes to mind are the Benandanti Christians of Italy. They were labeled witches by the church for their shamanistic practices, but they considered themselves anti-witches. They believed that, at night, their souls could leave their bodies, transform into various animals--including werewolves--open gates to hell, and battle witches in the underworld. They are considered a fertility cult because the purpose for these battles was to save the coming harvest from blights sent by witches. I first read about them years ago while doing research on western werewolf traditions.

I recently purchased the book The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1983) by Carlo Ginzburg because I wanted to know more about them. Just in case anyone is interested, here are some good books on western occultism and werewolves:

* The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (1959) by Rossell Hope Robbins

This is an oldy but a goody. I first bought this book back in 2005 after hearing about it from an episode of the X-Files. I believe this might have been my first introduction to the Benandanti. It is a masterstroke of research on western occult traditions. You can read it here.

* The Book of Were-Wolves (1865) by Sabine Baring-Gould

Despite its age, it is still quoted in modern literature. It is THE book to read if they are interested in werewolf lore. You can read it here if you don't want to buy it.





God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon

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22-04-2013, 02:57 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
Okay, so this really wasn't what you asked, so may I try again? Blush

We also have samodivas (among other creatures; not too different from other European folkloric creatures, but...).

"They are usually hostile and dangerous to people - men who gaze upon a Samodiva fall instantly in love (or at least in lust), and women go as far as taking their own lives in the sight of such beauty. Sometimes a Samodiva would seduce a man, commonly a shepherd or a trespasser in her forest, and take him as her lover - however, in doing so she would take all of his life energy, his essence. The man would then become obsessed with the Samodiva and chase her relentlessly, unable to think about anything else (including his own nourishment). The Samodiva, fuelled by the energy she stole from her admirer, would then proceed to torture the man until he dies of exhaustion."

Nobody say I didn't warn you Angel

And one of the things I remember from a presentation on arachnophobia I've done several times in a couple different languages (I must be a masochist or something) is Anansi.

"Another story tells of how Anansi once tried to hoard all of the world's wisdom in a pot (in some versions a calabash). Anansi was already very clever, but he decided to gather together all the wisdom he could find and keep it in a safe place.

With all the wisdom sealed in a pot, he was still concerned that it was not safe enough, so he secretly took the pot to a tall thorny tree in the forest (in some versions the Silk Cotton tree). His young son, Ntikuma, saw him go and followed him at some distance to see what he was doing.

The pot was too big for Anansi to hold while he climbed the tree, so he tied it in front of him. Like this the pot was in the way and Anansi kept slipping down, getting more and more frustrated and angry with each attempt.

Ntikuma laughed when he saw what Anansi was doing. "Why don't you tie the pot behind you, then you will be able to grip the tree?" he suggested.

Anansi was so annoyed by his failed attempts and the realisation that his child was right that he let the pot slip. It smashed and all the wisdom fell out. Just at this moment a storm arrived and the rain washed the wisdom into the stream. It was taken out to sea, and spread all around the world, so that there is now a little of it in everyone.

Though Anansi chased his son home through the rain, he was reconciled to the loss, for, he says: "What is the use of all that wisdom if a young child still needs to put you right?"

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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22-04-2013, 07:36 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
(22-04-2013 02:57 PM)Vera Wrote:  Okay, so this really wasn't what you asked, so may I try again? Blush

We also have samodivas (among other creatures; not too different from other European folkloric creatures, but...).

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I remember living in the bushes, drawing that girl all day... Hadda make myself go eat... out of dumpster. Big Grin

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How about an Aswang? This thingy came up in my youtube recommended videos, prolly from watching too many UFOs. Tongue

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22-04-2013, 08:19 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
(22-04-2013 02:57 PM)Vera Wrote:  Okay, so this really wasn't what you asked, so may I try again? Blush

If it has anything to do with folk beliefs with ties to religion of any kind, I'm interested.

The folk beliefs of Daoism are extremely interesting. Adherents view the Daoist heaven (well, at least the lower level) as being a bureaucracy complete with judges, guards, clerks, and messengers. They control everything, even the number of years that someone lives. This "allotted lifespan" can be as short as a few years or as long as a few centuries. The only way to live out this full time is to be a good person. The deity responsible for reporting offenses to heaven once a month is the Kitchen god (灶神). Daoists believe their are several ways to escape the watchful eye of heaven and not only live out the rest of your allotted days, but become immortal. One method is to slip a death certificate with your name into the casket of your recently deceased grandfather. This somehow tricks heaven into thinking you are dead. Another method is using a magic spell to make an object like a bamboo pole, a wooden sword, a talisman, or a shoe to take on the appearance of a dead body. People who chose these methods must move away and change their name in order avoid heavenly retribution. This does not make them immortal, however.

Daoists have two main modes of becoming immortal: external alchemy and internal alchemy. External alchemy is the use of elixirs, while internal is breathing exercises. After achieving immortality, one must remain on earth as an "Earthbound Immortal" until they have accrued enough good deeds to be accepted into the heavenly realms. They then slough off their flesh and rise in spirit to heaven, where they become apart of the heavenly bureaucracy.

A good (but expensive) book to read on this is To Live As Long As Heaven and Earth (2002) by Robert Campany.
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22-04-2013, 10:34 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
I like the Pagan-oriented belief that there are gnomes and trolls who live inside of rocks and trees.

Mainly because I think it would be super fuckin' cool if gnomes and trolls lived inside of rocks and trees.

I'd be all like "Holy shit, bro! There's a gnome in that tree!" and they'd be all like "I know, bro, it's super fuckin' cool!" and then we'd high-five and go do other stuff.

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22-04-2013, 10:42 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
Grew up around wicca. It's alright. Pretty stories.
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22-04-2013, 10:46 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
(22-04-2013 10:34 PM)Misanthropik Wrote:  I like the Pagan-oriented belief that there are gnomes and trolls who live inside of rocks and trees.

Mainly because I think it would be super fuckin' cool if gnomes and trolls lived inside of rocks and trees.

I'd be all like "Holy shit, bro! There's a gnome in that tree!" and they'd be all like "I know, bro, it's super fuckin' cool!" and then we'd high-five and go do other stuff.

Laughat

That made me giggle. I LOVE gnomes. I have them all throughout my garden and yard Tongue

I like the idea that they get up and "roam the world" while we are asleep. (I also love advertising; The "you'll never roam alone" catch phrase is PERFECT for the Travelocity commercials, with the little gnome as their mascot.)

"It was life, often unsatisfying, frequently cruel, usually boring, sometimes beautiful, once in awhile exhilarating." -Stephen King
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22-04-2013, 10:52 PM
RE: Neatest religious folklore?
I like the Enuma Elish. The Babylonian creation myth.
Much of Genesis was "appropriated" from it.
It's very poetic. Lot of monsters, and flying beasts, and sea monsters.

When above the heavens were not named
Below the earth was not called by name
Apsu, the primeval, was their progenitor
Mummi-Tiamat was the bearer of all of them

They got "Leviathon" (in Isaiah) from it, almost word for word. Baal defeats a dragon-like monster: “You will crush Leviathan the fleeing serpent; you will consume the twisting serpent, the mighty one with seven heads.” (see Isaiah 27:1 which uses the same phrase.)

An older version of this myth is found in the Babylonian
Creation Epic, in which the storm god Marduk defeats the sea monster Tiamat, (in other places, the Dragon of Chaos), and creates the earth and sky by cutting her corpse in two parts. The latter motif appears a number of times in the Bible verses that extol Yahweh’s military skills: “Was it not you who split Rahab in half, who pierced the dragon through?” (Isaiah 51:9; see also Job 26:12; Psalms 74:13, and 89:10). The writers of Job were at least aware of the Dragon Myth.

The Enuma Elish, and was recovered by archaeologists in 1849 CE, in the ruins of the Royal library at Ashurbanipal, in the ancient city of Nineveh. It was written on clay tablets. In the Enuma Elish the head of the council of gods, is Apsu, and he is identified with sweet/clean/fresh water, and the goddess, Tiamet, with the sea, (salt water). Their son Mummu symbolized the mist that rises from the waters.

In the myth, (the Enuma Elish),Tiamat marries Apsu, and many evil deities were born. Tiamat was an evil woman, whose purpose was to create conflict, strife, and confusion. She decided to kill her children, and a great war followed. Apsu, her husband was killed by Ea, (his son), and he, fearing Tiamat, fled to the farthest distance of the Fresh Waters. Tiamat, then remarried her son Kingu, and had more kiddies, and battled them also, and eventually was killed by her grandson, Marduk, the Sun God.

Also the Egyptian god "Nun" is cool, and the cosmic egg and the Ogdoad. http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/nun.html )

Too many others to list.

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