There is something magical about cats. Perhaps that's why they are the most popular pet on the planet and feature prominently in the folklore, myths and artwork of so many cultures throughout time. Believed by many to have special powers, and often the companions of royalty or witches, they are mysterious creatures and hold a special place in our hearts. I've included below some links for anyone interested in exploring more about cats in folklore and art.
I became interested in Taoist philosophy over twenty years ago after reading a book called Life Without Stress by a dentist called Arthur Sokoloff. I picked it up in a bookstore on my travels and I guess it would have been unremarkable had it not provided insights that were to change the course of my thoughts over the next two decades. Taoism is one of three major religions of ancient China and while it is often discussed in the west as having two branches, philosophical (Daojia) and Religious (Daojiao), within China there is no such distinction. Rather it is a combination of mythology, folk practices, religious rites and a philosophy first written about by the legendary Lao Tzu in the Tao De Jing.
In the west, the ideas of going with the flow and living a natural and spontaneous life have been absorbed by the new age movement and some of the real wisdom has been lost. In my own explorations of Taoist philosophy I was always attempting to find a way to incorporate the ideas realistica…
I have developed something of an obsession with Japanese folklore lately and have decided to gather together some resources and keep them in one place in case any one else is interested in exploring this fascinating area. My recent (and first ever) trip to Japan has fuelled the fires even more so I will update this post as I discover more.
Dragons are one of the most enduring of mythical creatures and hold a special place in the hearts of many people. They have been present in the myths, folklore and art of a diverse range of cultures throughout time, and stories about them continue to this day. This post is primarily a collection of links to resources for those interested in finding out more about these amazing mythical creatures.
I was reflecting recently on the type of content that had been shared during Folklore Thursday's cities and urban areas theme. It was interesting to me that there was a significant amount of folklore that was of the spooky kind. There were plenty of ghosts, hauntings and the supernatural. I pondered the reason for this, and for the eerie nature of a lot of urban legends. Now, I may be totally wrong, but I can't help wondering if it isn't the case that when a lot of people find themselves together in cities, somewhat isolated from the natural world, that the tone of tales also becomes rather unnatural. Things don't feel right when we isolate ourselves from the natural order of things.
In cities, particularly in the past, people worked indoors and lived in very close quarters. The streets were dirty and the air often dirtier. Away from nature, crammed into these conditions, tales took a more sinister tone and I wonder whether that is a symptom of the human cut of from wh…
Benzaiten, also known as Benten, is the Japanese goddess of all that flows, including water and rivers but also words, music, poetry, speech and learning. She originated in India as the Hindu goddess Sarawati and shares a lot of the same characteristics. Over time she evolved into a Buddhist goddess and is now included as the only female amongst the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan.
'Benzaiten Seated on a Dragon' - Keisei Benzaiten in Art
In art she is often depicted holding a musical instrument and her image is usually connected in some way with water. In Japan she is closely associated with dragons and snakes. Her connection to snakes is possible derived from Saraswati who is said to have killed a three headed snake. This is possibly the root of the Japanese tales below, which connect her to the dragon.
Goddess Benzaiten by Celeste Angus From a miniature shrine …
Throughout history bats have made their way into the folklore of cultures around the world. Interestingly there is disparity between their role in western folklore to that in the east. Exploring different folktales has given me a new appreciation for this remarkable animal.
The oldest fossils of bats are around 50 million years old. There are over 1000 different species and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are particularly prevalent in tropical areas. Bats are rather unique because, as mammals, they carry and feed their babies like humans and other mammals, and yet they don't walk or crawl but rather fly like birds. Often termed liminal, which is to say they are outside the normal order of things, their inability to fit neatly into a particular category of creatures makes them all the more mysterious. It is no surprise then that they have come to be associated with things such as death, hauntings and the dark side of life.