Cherokee folklore: The legend of the Cherokee Rose

For the Cherokee people the Cherokee Rose was a special symbol given in answer to their prayers to give them hope and strength through a terrible ordeal.  This work briefly looks at the terrible circumstances that caused most of the Cherokee and other people to be forcibly uprooted and moved to a new home many miles away.  It also tells a version of the legend of  how a wild flower became a symbol of hope for the Cherokee people and a sign that they were not forgotten.

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The Cherokee Rose (Rosa laevigata) – Public Domain

On the 28th of May 1830, the United States Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This authorized Andrew Jackson, the President of the United States of America and his successor, Martin Van Burrens, to begin the “negotiations” for the removal of the southern Native American people from their homelands to land west of the Mississippi River. The intention was to free up their land for the ever increasing number of settlers who were steadily displacing them.  It was not supposed to legalize the enforced removal of people and although the Cherokees won an appeal in the Supreme Court Andrew Jackson would not comply and forced relocations, or death marches were enacted.

Although some had left voluntarily it was mostly through force that the relocations took place and involved the Cherokee, Seminole, Chocktaw, Chickasaw and Muscogge, or Creek people who were regarded as the Five Civilized Tribes.  It also involved other people including the Kickapoo,  Wyandot, Lenape,  Potowatomi and the Shawnee and some African slaves and European Americans and was done in stages.  A few of them who owned land were allowed to stay and some continued to live in the wilds.   Between 1830 and 1850 most were sent under armed escort on a a long and hazardous journey west of the Mississippi to land that the government had designated to them.   Some went overland and some went by river. Either way it was a terrible journey and many died.  The first of the people to be forcibly removed were the Choctaw who suffered greatly on the journey. One of their chief’s described it as a “trail of tears and death” and thereafter the forced journey became known as the Trail of Tears.

By 1928 the discovery of gold in Georgia put pressure on the government by settlers and prospectors and they forced the Cherokees and the other peoples to move to the allotted Indian Territories west of the Mississippi River which became Oklahoma.  Many Cherokees and other Native Americans died on that enforced march that began in 1834.  It was estimated that of about 16,543 Cherokees who took part up to 6,000 died on the journey.

The Trail of Tears

It was a long and terrible journey and although the brave Cherokees were hardy and stoic their ordeal began to tell on them.  Many children perished through disease and malnutrition along the way.  Their mothers were so full of grief and tears they began to struggle to help and encourage the remaining children to keep going and survive the journey to the new lands.

The Elders of the Cherokee people saw this and grew worried.  They knew that the children were the future of their people and for the people to survive in the future the children had to survive in the present, even under such terrible conditions.   For the children to survive they needed their mother’s strength and love and so they prayed for help and guidance and a sign.

Their prayer is answered

Their prayers were heard and they received a message and were told,

“In the morning tell the women to look back along the trail where their tears have fallen and watered the earth.  For every tear they will see the small green shoots of plants that will grow upwards fast and then fall back to the earth.  Wherever it touches the earth another plant shall grow and another and another and so forth.  The plant will grow fast in in the morning light and by the afternoon will flower with a beautiful rose with five petals.   

The petals of the rose will be pure white representing the purity of the tears of the Cherokee mothers.  The center is gold symbolizing the gold taken by the greed of those who drove the Cherokees from their ancestral lands.  The rose has seven leaves on each stem representing the seven clans of the Cherokee people.

This plant will spread.  It will be a strong plant and will take back some of the land stolen from the Cherokees.”

In the morning the mothers woke up and began weeping but the Elders told them to look back down the trail and the mothers obeyed.  Looking back the way they had come they marveled to see a small green shoots sprouting along the trail in the earth that their tears had watered.  As they walked on, each time they looked back they saw a trail of green plants back along the trail they had just walked along.  By noon these plants had grown into a beautiful white flowering rose.

The flower was created as a sign that they were being watched over and that they were still loved and to give them hope and strength. It became known as the Cherokee Rose and came to symbolize the pain and suffering of the Cherokee people on the long and terrible Trail of Tears that they call it “nu na hi du na tlo hi lu i,” or the “Trail Where They Cried.”

Today the Cherokee Rose grows all along the Trail of Tears all the way from Georgia and North Carolina to east Oklahoma to the land that had been decreed by the government to be the new home of the Cherokee Nation.

© 24/06/2016 zteve t evans

 References and Attributions

Copyright May 24th, 2016 zteve t evans

Stoats in folklore and heraldry

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Public Domain

Stoats in folklore

The stoat (Mustela erminea), is a small animal that has a vast range and is native to both North America and Eurasia.  Consequently there is a great diversity of folklore and legend that has become attached to this small furry creature throughout the many different human cultures found throughout its territory.  This article briefly describes some of the folklore and legends that associate it with the royalty and institutions of Britain, followed by a discussion of the folklore of Brittany, France that lends it a possible spiritual symbolism that was attached to its use in heraldry.

Royalty and institutions

Stoats are animals that can change their coats with the seasons especially in northern regions of their range.  In the summer their fur is reddish-brown with a black, tipped tail. In winter the coat can turn pure white except for the tip of the tail which remains black.  Their winter pelt was much desired for many uses and often known as ermine.  

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Elizabet I with a stoat – Public Domain

The Ermine Portrait of Elizabeth I of England by William Segar depicts Elizabeth with a white stoat, possibly emphasizing her purity. It was seen as a symbol of high status and used by royalty around Europe as well as Britain where it was used as trim in ceremonial robes and garments of the royalty.  Members of the House of Lords used it and academics of Cambridge and Oxford also used it in ecclesiastical garments still worn by Prelates of the Catholic Church.  Its use was seen as a sign of the equality of their status with nobility.  Thankfully in modern times because of cost and the growing abhorrence towards using real animal fur and the growing realization that it looks far better on the living animal, synthetic fur is increasingly being used. Nevertheless ermine and its substitute forms still has a special historic place in the folklore and heraldry of many lands.

Stoats in heraldry

In the folklore of Brittany, France, it is believed that rather than soil its pure white winter coat the stoat would prefer to die.  It was claimed that when it was being hunted it would turn and surrender itself to death rather than sully its pure white coat. The coat of arms of the former Dutchy of Brittany features  a pattern of ermine and it also appears on the Flag of Brittany as a symbol of purity and the willingness to die rather than give in to lower morals.

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Coat of Arms of the former Dutchy of Brittany

The tradition is said to have come from the time of Anne de Bretagne (about 1477 – 1514), who had been married to two successive French kings and was the last independent ruler of Brittany.  She had seen a stoat in white winter coat being hunted and chased to the edge of a mud swamp.  The creature had turned to face its attackers and death rather than try to cross the mud.  Apparently Anne interpreted this as the animal choosing to face death rather than dirty its pure white coat. She was said to have saved it and chose it to become the symbol of her dynasty with the motto: Plutôt la mort que la souillure. (Death rather than defilement)

In heraldry, or ceremonial purposes, ermine is given black marks or patterns that as well as representing the black tip of the tale also represents nails. The symbolism of this originated with Plato who saw the Soul and the Higher spirit and being “nailed”to the body, so the nail symbolically joins the soul and the body as one.

Spiritual symbolism

Another aspect of its symbolism is that in summer it had a brown coat which turns white in winter.  This is viewed as being symbolic of someone on a spiritual journey who has traveled through the Four Seasons.

Life’s journey can be represented by a symbolic chart which depicts a 24 hour clock face but also marked are the four seasons and the Cardinal directions. The 24 hour point at the top represents midnight and the night and also North and Winter. The 6 o’clock point is East but also Dawn and Spring.  The 12 o’clock point is South and Noon but is also Summer.  The 18 hour point is West or Sunset but also Autumn.  This represents the path of the ordinary person on life’s journey and sometimes called The Wheel of Life.

For those seeking spiritual development and enlightenment the path is longer.  The birth time is Spring/Dawn and they progress to mid-life at Summer/Noon and then to later life Autumn/Evening.  For those on the spiritual path there follows another stage of experiencing Winter as a living human being.  This can be an extremely harrowing experience and is often called the “Dark night of the Soul.”   Those that successfully complete this path come to a new Dawn without the need to further reincarnate having achieved the ultimate destiny at the end and unite with their Higher self while alive becoming their Higher spirit or a “god in life.”

A hidden story

For a small and fairly common animal the stoat was given a greater significance than its natural stature would seem possible.  Like many other everyday animals and objects that we take for granted there lies a hidden folk story and perhaps more waiting to be told.

© 18/4/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright April 18th, 2016 zteve t evans

Atagâ’hï: The hidden lake of the Cherokees

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Cherokee tradition

The Cherokee are a Native American people from the Southeastern United States of America.  They evolved a rich culture centuries before the first Europeans set foot in the New World.  Like any other ancient people they saw the world around them and strove to make sense of their place in the great scheme of things. Over time they evolved, mythology, legends, folktales and lore which explained how they see their place in the world, how the world works and much more besides.  Presented here is the Cherokee tradition of the hidden lake of  Atagâ’hï that is said to only be able to be experienced and seen after careful preparations and a suitable plane of spiritual development has been attained by an individual.  This is followed by a short folktale of how a young Cherokee brave and his little sister believed they found the hidden place and finally conclude.

Seeking Atagâ’hï

The hidden lake of Atagâ’hï is a special place that the Cherokee people believe lies in the wild lands of the Great Smoky Mountains that separate Tennessee from North Carolina, somewhere west of the birthplace of the Oconaluftee river.  Atagâ’hï which means Gall place is not an easy place for humans to find and some people think it does not exist at all. The Cherokees know that it exists even though few people are said to have ever seen.  Its location although  secret to humans is known to the animals who seek it out for healing when they are sick or wounded.

If by chance some wanderer in the wild ventures close to it, he, or she, may hear the sound of the wings of the multitude of wild ducks and birds that inhabit the hidden place and fly in the skies above the waters.  Should that wanderer then follow that sound they will not find a lake, but may find a dry flat plain of mud. No birds, animals, plants or any living thing, or even its beautiful waters will be seen by the wanderer.

Nevertheless, the Cherokee people will tell you that it is still there but to see it and experience it then it is necessary to heighten your own inner spiritual development. Then it is necessary to fast and pray to the spirits and then begin an all night vigil.  Only then when the person has attained the right enhanced state of being will the lake and its inhabitants be visible to them as the sun rises after the night of the vigil.

People make the mistake of thinking that because the lake is not seen then it does not exist or if they stumbled across a mudflat in the wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains that it has dried up long ago.  It is not so. To see and experience the hidden lake of Atagâ’hï it is necessary to follow closely the procedure that has been given and then and only then can Atagâ’hï be seen and experienced.

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The Great Smoky Mountains – Public Domain

After the appropriate procedures have been followed the magical lake will appear at  sunrise as a wide but shallow expanse of beautiful blue water fed by springs falling from high cliffs around it.  The waters are home to many kinds of wild fowl, fish and reptiles. In the skies above birds of all kinds fly overhead or swim upon its surface and animal tracks of all kinds led down to the water edge.  It it is known that animals such as bears know how to find Atagâ’hï and bathe in the waters which heal their wounds and cure their sickness. This is a sacred place for all creatures and that is the reason why the lake is kept from the view of most humans especially hunters.

A message from the sun

Of the many people who have sought Atagâ’hï only a few have ever found it.  Two of these may have been two Cherokee youngsters by the name of Utani and Netani.  Utani was the elder brother of Netani, who was his little sister.  He was a young Cherokee lad, tall and strong, who was approaching the age when he would be considered a brave and be expected to act like one. Utani had been given a new knife with a bright and shiny blade that was razor sharp and gleamed and glittered in the sunshine.

He was fascinated by his knife and the way the blade reflected the sun.  He placed it upon the ground in the sun and stood and admired the way it gleamed in the sunshine.  He was so absorbed in staring at the blade gleaming in the sunlight that he did not notice the approach of his sister, Netani.  Not until her body cut out the sunlight from the blade stopping it gleaming did he notice she was there.

Seeing the knife suddenly stop gleaming Utani looked up and saw it was because his sister was blocking the sun by where she was standing and her shadow was falling upon it “Please remove your shadow from my knife,” he said but Netani just staring at him at him with puzzled look on her face.  “Please move so that that your body does not stop the sun from shining on my knife!” he said.  Netani did not move so he said it again.

Although Netani did not understand why Utani was staring at the blade, because he was her elder brother she obeyed him and moved out of the way allowing the sun to shine upon the knife again. Then she asked him why he was so fascinated about the knife.  Realising she may think him foolish and because he was now approaching the age of when a Cherokee boy becomes a brave and he did not want to sound childish.  He told her that he was watching the blade of his knife because the sun was shining on it and was sending him a message.

Utani had not reckoned on his little sister’s natural curiosity. She was fascinated and begged to know what the message was.  Thinking to quiet her curiosity he told her that the sun was telling him the secret location of Atagâ’hï the hidden lake. Too late Utani realised he had gone too far with his childishness.  But, he was obstinate. He did not want to be seen to lose face by telling his little sister that he had made it all up and did not know the way to the hidden lake.  If he did he would have to admit  that he had not received a message from the sun from his knife.  Netani was intrigued by the thought of Atagâ’hï and begged him to take her there.

In search of Atagâ’hï

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Great Smokey Mountains – By Terry White

Utani realised he was in a fix but thinking now he was almost a brave he must begin to act like one. So he decided, perhaps foolishly, that he would try and find the way to the hidden lake of Atagâ’hï. Picking up his knife he placed it in its sheath at his side and taking his sister by the hand began walking towards the high ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains.

With no clear idea of which way to go Utani led his sister along the trails that led up to the high ridges.  They walked for hours through the wild woods climbing higher and ever higher along remote trails that few trod.  They got further away from home than Utani had ever been before and he began to feel scared, but he did not want to show fear in case he frightening his sister who had always placed her trust in him.  They walked and walked and came across no sign of the lake and Netani now began to grow tired and lagged behind.  She called to Utani to wait for her and suggested they rest and then head home as she was beginning to feel very hungry.  She suggested they come back tomorrow and look when they would have more time.

Secretly, Utani was very pleased because he had no idea where he was going and with his sister suggesting it was time to go home he would not lose face and he was also feeling very hungry and tired.  Making out he was angry he agreed to turn round and go home, but as he took his sister’s hand to return down the trail he kicked a pebble which rolled across the trail to one side and down a bank and they heard a plop as it fell into water.

Atagâ’hï

Brother and sister looked at each other with surprise and then very quietly and carefully walked to the side of the trail which had thick branches and foliage growing along it. Pulling the foliage out of the way Utani and Netani found themselves looking down a bank that ran to the the edge of a beautiful blue lake that was hidden by trees and bushes.  All around  around the edges of the lake great cliffs rose and springs of crystal clear water bubbled down their face into the lake.  There were multitudes of ducks and other water fowl and many different kinds of birds.  The waters were filled with fish and their were reptiles in among them  Around the shore of the lake there were the footprints of many kinds of animals and they could see bears and deer, squirrels and many other kinds of animals.  They knew they had found the Atagâ’hï the hidden lake of their Cherokee people.

They looked about them and realised it was getting towards sundown so they agreed to return home and come back again in the morning to explore it further.  When they arrived home it was dark and their mother and father and the older braves of the village were worried and angry.  They wanted to know where they had been and Netani told them happily that the sun had sent a message to Utani’s knife blade telling him where to find Atagâ’hï and that was where they had been.  Their parents laughed and the older braves laughed.  Utani and Netani did not laugh. They knew they had found the hidden lake of Atagâ’hï and could find it again.  Now, for those who wander in the Great Smoky Mountains sometimes along the trail in the wilds you may come across a young Cherokee brave and his sister kicking pebbles down a bank on the side of the trail.

Drawing conclusions

So that is the tradition and folktale of Atagâ’hï of the Cherokee people.  For those interested in conclusions it would seem fitting that I  leave the reader to form their own ideas and draw their own conclusions from their own knowledge and experience.

What do you think?

© 09/03/2016  zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright March 9th, 2016 zteve t evans

 

 

Cormoran, the Giant of St Michael’s Mount

St. Michael’s Mount is a tidal island that lies just in Mount’s Bay, off the coast of Cornwall and  a short distance from the town of Marazion.  At high tide it becomes an island and when the tide goes out it can be reached from Marazion by a short stroll across a stone causeway.   Looking very much like the scene from a fairy tale the mount rises up out of Mount’s Bay and is crowned with a castle.  Below the castle lies a cluster of houses and a small harbour where the causeway runs from Marazion connecting it to the Cornish mainland.

 
Many centuries ago Mount’s Bay was above water and  once home to a forest that.  It is not known exactly what happened but the forest is now under the sea. Whether the land sank or the sea rose is not known, but this land is said to have been drowned by the sea in an event that was possibly similar to a tsunami. The petrified remains of the trees  can sometimes still be seen after storms.

Cormoran the giant

Many years before the flood the forest was said to be the home of birds, animals and probably humans.  But there was also giants and the biggest of all was Cormoran and there are many tales concerning him and many versions of the same tale but in Cornish folklore it is Cormoran, with the help of his wife who built the Mount with the name “St Michael’s” added later from a different legend.

 
In the middle of the forest was one huge white rock and one day while roaming the forest Cormoran came across it and taking a liking to the place decided to built a high hill of white rocks and to make it his home.  His idea was to look out from the heights of the hill over the countryside keeping an eye on what was going on all around.

Building the Mount

It was a mammoth task he had set himself but he knew just what he wanted and he cut, shaped and sorted the slabs of granite using only the white.  Those that had a tinge of green, grey or pink he rejected.  Cormoran had a wife by the name of Cormelian who was a very conscientious and hard working giantess. Now Cormoran was a lazy fellow and he made poor Cormelian carry all the blocks of granite from the quarry to the site while he put his feet up and went to sleep.

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Pixabay – By Efraimstochter – CC0 Public Domain

Cormelian helps

Now Cormelian worked at the task conscientiously putting each slab of white granite in her apron, carrying it to the site and putting it in place.  She soon found it to be very hard work and began thinking that the slabs of green, grey or pink granite would look much prettier than just white.   They were easier for her to get to and not so far to carry and she was beginning to get tired and bored with carrying slabs while her husband snored and slept.  She grew increasingly frustrated and resentful and the work was taking days and days. One day while Cormoran snored she picked up a huge green slab and placing it in her apron and carried it to the growing mound of stones as quickly as she could lest he should wake.   Just as she was about to put the stone in place Cormoran opened one eye saw what she was doing.

 
He was furious with her but instead of raging and shouting crept up behind her and struck her such a blow on the back of her head that she staggered. Her apron string broke and the huge green slab fell to the ground.  There it remains in that exact same spot today and no human could ever move it.  The sea rose or the land sank and the area became inundated with the sea and is how we find it today on the beach.

Cormoran and the Lord of Pengersick

Cormoran had a very hideous appearance.  As well as being very ugly he only had one eye and that was situated in the middle of his forehead.  He had a large mouth with a few yellow, broken teeth left, but most were now gone.   His hideous appearance and sheer size made the local people terrified of him.  He was also the most habitual thief taking whatever he wanted from anyone.

 
All the local people and farmers were frightened of him and he knew it and used to his advantage. When he was hungry he would stride the short distance from the Mount to the mainland and steal the best sheep, pigs and cattle, throwing them over his shoulder and striding home to enjoy eating them. The local farmers suffered sorely from this thievery but were helpless to prevent it.

 
Now it came to pass that one day Cormoran met his match, well more than his match.  The estate of the Lord of Pengersick lay nearby and it was well known that his lordship was away in foreign lands in the east. Cormoran would take advantage of this raiding the estate for the best sheep, pigs and cattle in all of Cornwall. One day Cormoran thought he would raid his lordships livestock so setting out from the Mount he strode across to Pengersick Cove which was the nearest and quickest way to the estate.

 
In the past Cormoran had stolen a great deal of livestock from Pengersick and had no fear of any confrontation with the local people or the lord.   His sheer size and hideous appearance had always frightened them off and he laughed at the thought of it. He feared no human.  He had no time for any of them only had respect for giants like himself, but especially the giant of Trecrobben Hill who was his friend.

 
Now it just so happened that the Lord of Pengersick had returned from his travels in the eastern lands where he was said to have learned much of the ancient arts of magic and sorcery. It is told that by the use of these arts he knew Cormoran was coming and was ready for him.   His servants had told him about the giant’s thieving and his lordship resolved to teach him a lesson.

 
So Cormoran waded ashore thinking he would quickly snaffle a sheep or a cow for an easy meal and stride home to enjoy his ill gotten fayre. Now as he stepped ashore a funny thing happened to him that had never happened before.  He began to feel really queasy in the stomach and his head went all funny inside and he felt confused and bewildered.  He thought perhaps the strong sun had affected him but others say it was the Lord of Pengersick who through magic arts was watching his every move and had thrown a spell on him, but Cormoran had no inkling of this.  All Cormoran knew was he felt decidedly peculiar and unwell but things were about to get very strange indeed.

 
Forcing himself to keep his mind on his goal of stealing his dinner he decided to catch one of his lordship’s cattle that were peacefully grazing nearby.  Still feeling decidedly wobbly he crept up to one and tried to grasp it round the neck.  To his surprise the cow was as slippery as an eel and he began floundering around trying to grasp it but it kept slipping out of his grip.

 
Cormoran was now feeling really woozy and very confused and bewildered.  He began losing his temper and gave up trying to catch the cow.  Instead out of desperation and spite he grabbed its calf, which although also slippery, was smaller and he managed to master it.  Tying its legs together he threw it around his neck and and tried to hurry home to the Mount for a good dinner.

 
He was still feeling strange and funny in his head but as he staggered home he noticed something else strange that was happening.  For his long legs the distance back to his home was not great and he usually managed it with ease but now something was happening he could not explain.   No matter how fast he tried to walk, or how long he made his strides he did not seem to be getting very far.

 
Looking around him the countryside appeared different and peculiar, but he could not say why, or was even sure of where he was.   He was becoming exhausted and seemed to have got nowhere but at last he saw Pengersick Cove, but in the sea was a great black rock which he could not ever remember seeing before.  Confused and bewildered he thought he must have taken a wrong path and he tried to turn around and go back the way he came.

 

To his shock and growing horror he found he could not turn around and could not even walk backwards.  he found himself being dragged towards the black rock by some invisible force.  He laid down and dug his heels in the ground but the rock still dragged him towards it closer and closer.  Soon the invisible force had dragged him near enough for him to stretch his arms out thinking to hold himself from the rock, but he found his hands were now stuck fast to it.  No matter how hard he tugged and pulled and twisted he could not free his hands from the rock.  He was stuck fast and now he was panicking.

 

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Pixabay – By LoggaWiggler – CC0 Public Domain

To make matters worse the calf he was carrying around his neck was also panicking kicking him and bellowing and soon he was covered in cuts and bruises but his hands were stuck to the rock and could do nothing to free the calf or fend it off.  Soon he could feel himself turning cold.  His hands on the stone started to stiffen followed by his arms and his back and then his legs. Soon all his body felt as rigid and as solid as stone, but all the while his senses grew keener enhancing his fear.  Fear gripped him as he thought he would now become petrified solid.

 
It is said the Lord of Pengersick with his magic arts saw all this and was well pleased with the spell he had put on Cormoran and decided to leave him there till the next morning to teach him not to go thieving his livestock.   So Cormoran was left to stand as still and rigid and cold as stone in the bay with the calf kicking and bellowing until morning. The tide came in and the water rose up to his neck and he feared he would drown but he did not and then the tide went out again.

 
In the morning Cormoran was still well and truly stuck to the stone and could not pull or twist his hands free.  The Lord of Pengersick, thinking he would teach him another lesson arrived on his horse and began berating Cormoran and gave him a severe tongue lashing making the giant quake.  However his lordship was not finished with Cormoran and dismounting from his horse gave the giant a severe thrashing with his stick.

 
So severely and so viciously was Cormoran beaten that he screamed and writhed in agony.  He struggling so hard that he pulled the skin from his hands to get free from the rock that had held him and ran into the sea striding rapidly through the waves to his home on St Michael’s Mount.  There he nursed his hands in misery for many a day until they healed.  Never again did Cormoran steal livestock from his lordship’s land though he still raided the other farms in the area.

 
Cormoran’s hands eventually healed up but during that time he made the life of his poor wife, Cormelian, a proper misery.  As well as having sore hands and bruises and weals across his back, his pride had been hurt from the lesson the Lord of Pengersick had given him. He was mortified about what the other giants would think and poor Cormelian had to endure his bad temper for many a day to her dismay.

The death of Cormelian

Now Cormelian was a very kind and good-natured giantess and was always working hard looking after the home and her grumpy, bad-tempered husband.  It was thanks to her that the worst of his bad behaviour was curbed. Her one weakness was her excessive inquisitiveness.   She was not really nosy and she never did anyone any harm, but her curiosity always seemed to get the better of her and this was to prove tragic.

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Pixabay – By goldfaun – CC0 Public Domain

 
Cormoran  was great friends with the Trecrobben Hill giant on the mainland and they would borrow things and lend things of each other as is the way with good friends.  Now when one of them wanted to borrow something they would shout across to each other and one would simply throw the other what was required, which would sail for miles high in the air for the other to catch.

 
Cormoran wore hobnailed boots on his great big feet and one day he could feel a nail sticking in his foot.   He shouted across to his friend to throw him his cobbling-hammer.  His friend duly obliged  and lobbed the hammer high in the air.

 
Cormelian was busy working in the house and hearing Cormoran shouting ran out in her inquisitiveness to see what was happening.  Running out from the dark house into bright sunshine her eyes were dazzled. Although Cormoran shouted a warning she did not see the hammer coming and it struck her full on top of her head killing her instantly.  She fell down in front of Cormoran who let out a great howl and the giant of Trecrobben Hill raced down to see what had happened.

 
The two giants wept and hugged each other and hugged and shook poor Cormelian trying to bring her back to life but she was as dead as stone.  They wailed and cried so much that they caused a gale that wrecked two ships upon the sea and blew the roofs of many of the houses in Marazion but all to no avail and all that was left to do was bury her.

 
Now although Cormoran was a grumpy old giant and very often mistreated Cormelian he loved her in his own way and was never the same after he lost her.  His friend from Trecrobben Hill was also devastated as he had never intended anyone should get hurt let alone killed.  Together the two giants buried Cormelian, but where the grave may be is not known for sure. Some say it was on the Mount in the courtyard, others say the two of them lifted up Chapel Rock and laid her to rest underneath, but others say they gave her to the sea.

Jack the Giant killer

Cormoran met his own death some years later at the hands of a local lad who came to specialize in killing giants and became known as Jack the Giant-Killer.   After the death of his wife Cormoran had no one to rein him in and although he avoided the Lord of Pengersick’s livestock he raided all the other farms in the locality all the more.  One day the local farmers became so annoyed with him they convened a meeting in Penzance to discuss what they should do.

 
After a great deal of arguing and talking an idea was proposed that they all accepted mainly because none could think of anything better.  Over the years Cormoran had accumulated a great deal of treasure that he had stolen from the neighbourhood. It was proposed that anyone who could get rid of Cormoran for ever would be given this considerable treasure trove as a reward.   Although no one believed anyone would be foolhardy enough to fight the giant, or strong enough to defeat him.  Certainly none of them were brave enough to try.   Nevertheless they put out advertisements searching for such a person but no one seemed interested or had the courage to try.

 
Eventually just as they were giving up on the idea to their surprise and amusement a simple farmer’s boy by the name of Jack volunteered to have a go.  Although no one had faith that he could accomplish the task they were desperate so they agreed and he took up the challenge.

 
That night Jack took a small boat and paddled over to the Mount while Cormoran was asleep.  Working fast but quietly he dug a deep pit on the path the giant used everyday that ran down from his home.  As dawn broke he stood outside the giant’s door and blew three loud notes on his horn.  Waking with a start, Cormoran rushed outside to see what all the commotion was.  As soon as he steps out the door Jack starts shouting at him and taunts him.  Furious Cormoran chases Jack down the path, but the rising sun dazzles him and he does not see the pit Jack had dug.

 
Jack, knowing where the pit is leaps over it as Cormoran is about to grab him and the giant blinded by the sun falls into it to his surprise.  Turning quickly Jack drives his pickaxe into the skull of the giant killing him instantly and that was the end of Cormoran the Giant of St Michael’s Mount. But for every ending there is a beginning.  Jack claims his reward and that is how he began his career as the famous giant-killer.

 

Return of the giants

 

These days there are no more giants in or around Mount’s Bay though tales of them remain.  Perhaps one day the water will recede from the bay and the forest will return and giants will again live in it and on the Mount, but I don’t suppose the local farmers would be very pleased!

© 24/01/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright 24/01/2016 zteve t evans

 

 

Chilote folklore: The ghost ship called El Caleuche

The Chiloé Archipelago is situated off the coast of Chile and the people who live on these islands are isolated from the mainland and are forced by circumstances to be independent and self-sufficient.  Their island society evolved and developed around the natural resources of their environment and being island folk  the sea is a big part of their lives.  

They evolved their own ways of explaining the world which grew into their own unique mythology and folklore and many of the stories revolve around the sea.  One of those stories tells how the sea is kept clear of the dead bodies of those who are drowned at sea who must sail for eternity on a ghostly ship the Chilote islanders call El Caleuche.

El Caleuche

This strange phantom ship is believed to be a living being that is always awake and on its guard against unwanted intruders.  It appears as a shining white ship  with  three masts  that carry five sails.  Read more

The Chilote mythology of Chile, South America

Chilote mythology

Chilote mythology is the mythology of the people who live on the Chiloé Archipelago lying near the coast of southern Chile. The biggest of the islands is Chiloé, which means “land of sea gulls” and pronounced, Chee-lo-way. Archaeologists believe the islands have been settled by humans for at least 5,000 years. The people of the Chiloé Archipelago are known as Chilotes and are the descendants of Huilliche and Choncho Indians and the main language spoken is now Spanish.

A unique mythology

Their lives and well being, in the past, present and the foreseeable future are inextricably linked to the sea. This dependence has seen the evolution of a unique mythology, folklore and traditions to help them explain and make sense of the world they live in. Naturally, for an island people, the sea plays a large part in this mythology, reflecting its importance to the people.

Spanish ships bring Christianity

Another important influence was the arrival of the Spanish from across the other side of the world in huge ships with masts and sails. The first sightings of these strange ships, perhaps sailing on the distant horizon and maybe stopping off at an island, must have had a profound effect on the native people. But in 1567 the Spanish stopped at the islands bringing with them from across the other side of the world, Christianity.  Read more

Russian folklore: The fool of the world and the flying ship

The traditional Russian folktale of the Fool of the World and the flying ship although a children’s story has a number of lessons built within it for those who care, or dare to look. For example there are themes of naivety and innocence, but also friendship, love, faith and belief. The important thing for the reader is to make up their own mind using their own knowledge and experience as to what if any lessons there may be, at least for them.

The Fool of the World

In the days of the great Tsars of Russia there lived in a village an old peasant couple who were the parents of three sons. The two oldest sons were deemed to be young men of high intelligence and considered handsome to look upon by maidens. The youngest was deemed to be a fool. His parents were ashamed of him and often mocked him and were cruel to him calling him the Fool of the World. Sometimes he felt sad at this. Even so, he had a cheerful and optimistic disposition and mostly remained happy in his own ways.  Read more