Lost Cities: Seeking Zerzuria And The Oasis Of Little Birds

The Oasis Of Little Birds

Rumours of the lost city of Zerzura have been circulating for centuries, pointing to its existence somewhere in the Sahara Desert west of the River Nile in Egypt or Libya. The first known mention of it was by Osman al-Nabulsi, the regional administrator of the Fayyum writing in the 13th century.  He referred to is as a city, “white as a dove,” and called “The Oasis of Little Birds.”  The next known reference comes from a mysterious Arab manuscript called “The Kitab al Kanuz,” or “The Book of Hidden Pearls,” from the 15th century by an unknown author who places it vaguely somewhere in the Sahara,

 “You will find palms and vines and flowing wells. Follow the valley until you meet another valley opening west between two hills. In it, you will find a road. Follow it to the City of Zerzura. You will find its gate closed. It is a white city, like a dove. By the gate, you will find a bird sculpture. Stretch up your hand to its beak and take from it a key. Open the gate with it and enter the city. You will find much wealth and the king and queen in their place, sleeping the sleep of enchantment, but do not go near them. Take the treasure, and that is all.”

This passage alone generates a wealth of romance and mystery; even more enigmatically, scholars cannot find the book if it ever existed. Many researchers suspect the lost book, either in the form of a manuscript or idea, was the creation of Hamid Keila, who we shall meet later in this work.

There are also claims the city was guarded by black giants which may have referred the Toubou, or Tebu people, a Saharan ethnic group of nomads whose ancestors raided Saharan oases and were traditionally considered warriors and spoke the Tebu languages.  Their name means “rock people.”

The Wadee Zerzoora

John Gardner Wilkinson, an English Egyptologist in 1835, provided the first European account of Zerzura based on a report from an Arab who claimed to have found the oasis while searching for a lost camel. According to him, Zerzura lay five days west of the track between Farafra and Bahariva. He described it as abundant in palm trees and springs of water with ruined buildings nearby and called it the “Wadee Zerzoora.”  The evidence was second-hand and quite vague, and stories of several secret places in the desert had been circulating for many years.

But, once again interest grew in the legendary city. Further hope of its existence strengthened later when explorers came across an undiscovered oasis believed to be the one that the Arab had referenced in the account to Wilkinson. Nevertheless, the lost city was not found, but European explorers and adventurers continued the search for Zerzura.

Seeking Zerzura

In the twentieth century Ralph Bagnold, a British pioneer of desert exploration, took up the search. Inspired by Ahmed Hassanein’s book “Lost Oasis,” he explored a vast area from Cairo to Ain Dalla in 1929,   using three motorized vehicles.  Furthermore, between 1929 and 1930, László (Ladislaus) Almásy, a Hungarian, led an expedition in search of Zerzura using trucks. In 1933 the Almásy – Patrick Clayton expedition using airplanes, found two previously unknown valleys in a region called Gilf Kebir. He speculated these to be part of Zerzura, and possibly the third of the so-called Zerzura wadis.

In 1930, the participants of the search for Zerzura, met in a bar in Wadi Haifa and formed the Zerzura Club. Many later served as British officers in World War Two in the Long-Range Desert Patrol during the North African Campaign and remained friends. However, Almásy served the Axis powers during the war.

The Account of Hamid Keila

In 1418, scribes for the emir of Benghazi, Libya, documented the case of Hamid Keil,  a camel driver, who visited a mysterious city in the desert called Zerzura after being rescued by its inhabitants. He had been traveling in a caravan from the Nile bound for the oases of Dakhla and Khaga when they ran into a powerful sandstorm. Fortunately, He had managed to shelter under a dead camel, until the storm finally abated, to find, he found he was the only survivor. Physically weakened by the storm, confused by the changes the sandstorm had brought to the landscape, he wandered around, looking for a familiar landmark. Finally, lost and alone he  ran out of water, and became delirious.

Fortunately, a group of unknown men came across him, providing aid and taking him to their home, which they called Zerzura, situated in a valley between two mountains. Keila describes Zerzura as a white city with entry gates decorated by a carving of an unknown bird. These men were unlike others in the area, being of tall stature, with fair hair, fair complexion, and blue eyes. Furthermore, their swords were long and straight rather than curved like Arab scimitars.

Inside the gates were many women and children with fair hair, fair complexion, and blue eyes. The city had many luxurious white houses, palm trees, springs, wells, and pools. Water was plentiful and used for drinking, bathing, and washing clothes. Keila claimed the people treated him kindly and spoke a form of Arabic he was unfamiliar with but could understand with difficulty. The Zerzurans, or “El Suri” did not appear to be Muslims. There were no mosques in the city, and he never heard calls to prayer by any muezzin. Moreover, the women did not wear veils.

Eventually, Keila left Zerzura and travelled to Benghazi, where he presented himself to the emir with his story. The emir was puzzled as to why he should risk a long and arduous journey to Benghazi when the Zerzurans were well looking after him. Keila became uncomfortable with the line of questioning and told the emir he had escaped one night. 

The puzzled emir wanted to know why it was necessary to escape from people who had treated him with all benevolence. Keila was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and could not give an adequate explanation making the emir suspicious. He ordered his guards to search him, and they found a beautiful gold ring set with a ruby concealed in Keila’s clothing. 

The emir asked how Keila had come into possession of the ring, but he could not give a satisfactory answer. Although he accepted Keila met the Zerzurans and visited their city, he also believed he had stolen the ring from them or someone else. The emir condemned Keila to be taken into the desert, where his hands were severed. He was then left alone at the mercy of providence. Although the emir searched for Zerzura, he never found it.

King Idris of Libya

The ring was purportedly possessed by King Idris of Libya, who Muammar al-Gaddafi dethroned in 1969. Expert opinion had concluded that it was a highly valuable work dating to the 12th century and believed to have been of European origin. From this, people speculatively assumed that the Zerzurans were a lost army of crusaders either traveling to Jerusalem or returning from it. They had either lost their way or set up home purposely in the remoteness of the desert because, for unknown reasons, they did not want to be found.

Although much romance and mystery are attached to the legend of the lost city of Zerzura, there is extraordinarily little evidence supporting it. The existence of the ring is not substantiated, and experts consider Hamid Keila was the author of the “Kitab al Kanuz” if it had ever existed.

New Exploration and Scientific Knowledge

Nevertheless, although it has not been found or proven to have ever existed, the quest yielded a great deal of new and essential information about the region’s geography and the formation and movement of sand dunes. When Nasa managed to land a remote-controlled probe on Mars, it sent back images of dunes like those found on Earth. Therefore, they sought out Zerzura Club member, desert explorer, and geologist Ralph Bagnold, by this time 81 years old, for advice. He had extensively studied Aeolian processes, which is how wind shaped and formed the landscape, especially how it created and moved sand dunes. The  Bagnold Dunes on Mars were named after him by Nasa.

Like other quests for lost cities of gold and treasure around the world, such as El Dorado in South America and the Seven Cities of Cibola in the North American continent, Zerzura has yet to be found. Nevertheless, the quests for these fabulous cities, whether driven by greed, romanticism, or curiosity, did lead to the exploration and mapping of vast unknown territories and new scientific knowledge. In recent years archaeologists and scientists using modern technology have successfully found hidden cities, temples, roads, and other products of human activity concealed in vast tangled jungles, or underneath the sea, or in the empty deserts of the world.

Maybe, lying in wait under the shifting sands of the Sahara Desert, are the ruins of a white city with a ruined gate, where a small sculpture of a bird holds a key in its beak. Maybe the key will open the gate, and somewhere inside the city, a king and queen are still sleeping through the ages. 

© 11/01/2023 zteve t evans


References, Attributions And Further Reading

Copyright January 11, 2023 zteve t evans


The Legend Of Saint Boniface And The Thunder Oak And The Origin Of The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is more than a much-loved and glittering centrepiece of festive decorations and celebrations. In the home, it is a unifying symbol the family can gather around, strengthening familial ties and a place of fun and cheer. When placed in the local community it becomes a rallying point for people to sing carols, meet, and strengthen social bonds. However, its exact origin is debated, and there are different ideas of how its importance to the festival evolved. Presented here is a retelling of how Saint Boniface introduced the fir tree into traditions and celebrations of the birth of Jesus. This tells how Saint Boniface cut down a sacred oak tree that was a prominent place of pagan worship in a place now called Hesse in Germany. Saint Boniface, also known as Winfrid or Winfred, was born c. 675 in Wessex, England and died June 5, 754, in Dokkum, Frisia, now part of the Neverlands. He was an English Benedictine monk working to establish Christianity in Germany and the Frankish empire. At that time, in that place, people worshipped pagan gods under a sacred tree growing singularly or in groves. The tree in this legend was called the Thunder Oak and is sometimes known as the Donar Oak, Jove’s Oak, the Oak of Jupiter, and other similar terms in other myths and legends.

Legend Of The Thunder Oak

The story begins in a time long before the establishment of Christianity in the Germanic lands where a massive oak grew. It was a true giant of trees so tall its topmost branches were hidden by clouds. Its ancient body was broad and twisted from which a profusion of long, gnarled, stretching limbs spread, creating a vast overarching canopy of darkness centre around the tree. To the people of these lands, the great tree was sacred and venerated as the Thunder Oak of their great god Thor and one of the most important shrines of his cult. Yet, under the darkness of its great canopy, human victims died under the bloodied knife of the priests of Thor, their blood soaking into the ground to feed the ravenous roots of the ancient oak.

Even in the dead of winter, bare of leaves and acorns, the space under its vast spreading branches, clumped with mistletoe, was a place of continuous and gloomy darkness. In this dread place, an atmosphere of quiet but overwhelming fear pervaded under the great smothering branches. Animals avoided the tree, making wide detours around it, while birds would not fly near or over it or perch in its branches. Even the buzzing flies and creeping insects kept well out of the dread darkness under its canopy.

And it came to pass, one cold, white Christmas Eve, as Christians were preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ, the priests of Thor gathered under their sacred tree. They had not come to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or Christmas. Instead, they had come to pay homage to their god of war and thunder and witness the human sacrifice whose blood would nourish and strengthen the great tree and feed its darkness. They were joined by a great throng of their people to worship their own god, as was their tradition at this time of year.

Over the great tree rose a bright moon. The high priest chanted and made magical signs over the altar while the victim lay shivering in the cold, awaiting the stab of pain from the deadly knife that would end their life. As the high priest spread his arms out towards the Thunder Oak, his eyes adoring the sacred tree, his hand raised to strike, the air became still, all sound in the forest stopped, and silence fell. The bright moon rose to its zenith, sending her rays to find and illuminate the helpless man spread-eagled on the altar slab awaiting the stab of pain that would end their life. It never came. Instead, something extraordinary happened. As the pure rays of the brilliant moon lit the altar, the forest’s silence was broken. From the depths of the woods came the sound of Christian hymns sung by a throng of people growing louder as they drew nearer. They were led by Saint Boniface, who had come to bring Christianity and establish the church of Jesus Christ.

As the illuminating moon banished the darkness under the great Thunder Tree of Thor, Saint Boniface strode forward, wielding a shining axe. The High Priest, dagger in his hands, his raised arms poised to strike, froze. His followers parted to allow the saint to march directly up to the Thunder Oak unchallenged. Then, gathering his strength in his arms, he struck a blow that caused a great gash in the tree’s trunk with his axe. The shocked High Priest and his followers looked on in fear as he struck the oak repeatedly, causing an ever-widening gash in the its body.

Suddenly, a mighty wind swept over the forest roof, hitting the great oak with force. With an awful groan, the tree toppled backwards, crashing into the ground with such force it caused its great trunk to split into four equal portions. Behind the wreckage of the oak, a young fir tree stood, its green spire pointing the way to heaven. Dropping his axe and turning to his people, the saint pointed at the young verdant tree and joyfully cried,

“See there, the young scion of the forest, the tree of peace! See how it is shaped like a church steeple pointing to heaven. We build our houses from it to shelter us; its foliage remains evergreen. Let this tree be known as the tree of the Christ child. Let us bring it into our homes where it will encourage our loving deeds and acts of kindness and bring the peace of Jesus Christ into our hearts as we shun the wildness of the wood!”

In obedience to the saint, they took the sapling fir into their great communal meeting hall where all could see it. They abandoned the cult of Thor and the Thunder Oak and practised Christianity, and every year celebrated Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ with a young evergreen fir tree at the centre of their home, family, and community.

© 12/12/2022 zteve t evans


References, Attributions And Further Reading

Copyright December 12th, 2022 zteve t evans


Ghostlore: The Troubled Farmhouse of Longdendale

The valley of Longdendale in the Peak District of England is one of those places where ghostly encounters, haunted houses and supernatural forces are never far away. The following is a retelling of a legend collected by Thomas Middleton, which he called “The Haunted Farm,” and included in his book “Legends of Longdendale.”

The Haunted Farm

Once, an ancient farmhouse stood on the edge of Godley Green in Godley. It was a pleasant location near the turnpike road along a country lane. From its windows looking east, there were good views of beautiful farmlands and beyond to the bleak hills where the ancient church of Mottram stood dark against the sky. At first appearance, especially from a distance, it looked charming, quaint, and homely. For centuries it had been the ancestral home of a family of farmers. Each generation had added to the building resulting in the interior having many rooms of varying sizes, giving it a curiously haphazard, though charming appearance from the outside.

Yet, as this charming house was approached, the quaintness shifted to an “oddness.” Something about it was out of place, or at least in the wrong place, and the dwelling did not seem comfortable in the landscape. Those of a sensitive nature perceived a cold, threatening air that clung around it, giving a vague sense of unhomeliness that was difficult to define, and a feeling of being watched. It was as if the house was a living sentient being with a brooding malign intent. Indeed, that was the sinister and unnerving reputation it had acquired over the long centuries from the superstitious local people.

According to local tradition, long before the arrival of Saint Augustine and the Christian church, before the first building of the farmhouse, the land was a site of pagan worship. The ancient people conducted unholy rituals and practices invoking the old gods to ensure the fertility of the land and people. The old religion had eventually been replaced by the new, resulting in the Christian version of life and death, this world and the next, becoming securely enchained into the minds of the local people.

The Old Dame

Numerous disturbing, unexplained incidents have been seen over the years in the farmhouse. These often involve the unquiet spirit of an old dame who was attributed to possessing all the typical physical characteristics of a witch. These included a hooked nose, a bent back, and a repulsive face. Now, folk can be very unkind towards someone who looks different from what is considered normal, allowing their own superstition and fear to influence their perception of the uniqueness of someone else.

Furthermore, to make matters worse, in the case of the old dame, she was also accused of displaying unusual behaviour, and to add spice to the pot, it was rumoured that hidden in the farmhouse or secretly buried somewhere on the farm was a horde of treasure. This treasure was rumoured to be the cause of her unquiet spirit. After she died, her ghost was seen roaming around the farmhouse and adjoining farmland, appearing to be searching for something. Some say she was looking for the treasure but could never find it. Others say she was the guardian of the treasure, and in her wanderings was checking the rooms, and patrolling the farm to guard against treasure hunters.

A Feeling of Being Watched

Over the centuries, the farmhouse had grown to a considerable size. The additions and extensions to its structure each generation had given it an irregular geometry that formed no standard plan. Inside it was a warren of rooms of varied sizes on four floors connected by creaking stairs, shadowy corridors, and cold passageways with dark corners.

There were probably several family members, servants, and farm hands in residence, and it was regularly visited by friends, neighbours, and people in the farming business. New visitors unfamiliar with the house’s history were often deceived into admiring its charm, warmth, and quaint interior and furnishings, especially from the outside looking in. However, on stepping inside, visitors were disturbed to sense an unhomely atmosphere that permeated certain parts of the house and an unsettling feeling of being watched by invisible eyes. At this realisation, the charm turned to repulsion, the warmth to chill, and a quick exit sought.

Uncanny Incidents

Over the generations, multiple sinister and unexplained events had been reported, and the farmhouse acquired a growing reputation for paranormal activity. Despite this, no one had ever been known to have been harmed other than receiving a terrible fright. Therefore, most of the family ignored such incidents, having grown accustomed to them over the years.

Even so, visitors unused to such incidents often took a less philosophical attitude. Hence, over the decades, an extensive collection of ghastly, sinister, and uncanny events experienced by non-family members continued to grow. These people were of good reputation, sound judgement and calm temperament and the reports were considered reliable.

For example, doors, even locked doors, groaned open as if an invisible being had passed through. In bedrooms, floorboards creaked under unseen feet in the dead hours of the night. People complained, while passing along the stone-flagged passageways of the ground floor, of experiencing a feeling of being watched and followed. Suddenly a voice behind utters their name as a cold hand is lain upon their shoulder. Then, turning fearfully around, they find no one there but are, gripped by an icy coldness and a feeling of blind panic.

Further incidents include doors opening and closing on their own and the sound of someone trudging up the stairs. Sleepers awake by an icy breath blowing upon their faces or someone breathing and whispering close to where they lay their head while asleep. Additionally, others tell how the bed begins to slowly rock, and their coverings are suddenly snatched away. Cold, unseen hands grasp their feet and wrench them from the bed onto the floor. At these times, the pale, ghastly figure of an old woman silently floating through walls or closed doors was often seen.

On occasions in ground floor rooms, furniture mysteriously moved around, and ornaments and portraits changed position. In the kitchen, pots and pans had been seen sliding across the kitchen table, tumbling, and crashing onto the floor on their own accord. Others fly across the kitchen as if thrown by some petulant, invisible hand. Sometimes a peculiar noise was heard, like someone sweeping the stone floor with a stiff brush. All these unusual and unexplained events were blamed upon the old dame.

An Eerie Poltergeist

Another poltergeist incident involved a daughter in the family who was passionately courting a local lad with a reputation for being a philanderer. One evening, to her delight and his great anticipation, he paid her a visit. The two sat before the kitchen fire, wrapped in each other’s arms, whispering sweet nothings, and dreaming of a rosy future together.

Outside, all was calm and quiet; no wind stirred in the branches of the trees or whistled through cracks in doors and windows. The same relaxed state surrounded the two lovers in the kitchen by the fire. But as their passion grew, unexpectedly, a powerful gust of air burst across the kitchen out of nowhere.

An almighty clattering of pots, pans and breaking crockery was heard as they flew from one end of the kitchen to the other. Around the house, the gust sped, knocking books, ornaments and vases from shelves, tables, and ledges, dumping them unceremoniously upon the stone floor with a resounding crash. At that same instant, every door and window in the house flew wide open and crashed back into place.

Shocked out of his amour, the young man jumped to his feet, crying, “For the love of God, what is happening!”

His sweetheart replied, calmly with a smile, “Why it is nothing but the old dame on her wanderings about the house, take no notice. Let us continue where we left off!”

But her panic-stricken lover grabbed his hat and ran out the door, which opened on its own accord, and slammed shut as he bolted through. Without a backward glance, he ran hell for leather over the fields back to his own home. With him gone, the atmosphere in the house reverted to its earlier relaxed state, but the lad never returned. In time she fell in love and married a young man who made a loving husband, and the two were very happy together. Maybe the old dame did her a favour!

A Mother’s Warning

There are also reports of cases where a strange incident at the farm resulted in the righting of a wrong that occurred somewhere else. For example, one month after this incident, the farmer employed a new farmhand who lived on the other side of the village of Charlesworth. As it was a considerable distance to walk every day, the farmer agreed to provide him with lodging in the farmhouse.

The new farmhand worked his first day, impressing his employer with his attitude and industry. Then, after supper, he went to bed, looking forward to a good night’s sleep. The following morning at daybreak, he came down to the kitchen for breakfast, his eyes wide and bloodshot, his face as white as a sheet. The farmer and his wife were shocked at his appearance and asked if he was ill.

He replied,

“I have spent every minute of last night awake, shaking in fear. I have seen a boggart – an apparition – the ghost of an old woman. It was the spirit of my mother who came to visit me. On her deathbed, I had promised to place a stone upon her grave carved with her name.

I am ashamed to admit I have failed to keep that promise. I have been too selfish and greedy to spare the money for her stone. Then, last night, she came to remind me of my promise.

I am sorry for my disrespectful and selfish behaviour. Therefore, I vow I will not rest until I have saved the money to buy a stone for my mother carved with her name and placed on her grave as should have already been done!”

He kept his promise this time, although he had to work hard. He refused to stay in the farmhouse and instead chose to live back in his old home on the other side of Charlesworth.

He needed the money, so he needed his job at the farm. So, every morning, he walked the long journey to his workplace. Then, after a hard day of work, he returned on foot to his home in the evening. To give him credit, he worked hard, and he saved the money, and although it took a long time, he saved enough for a handsome stone with his mother’s name carved upon it, which he had placed upon her grave. So, whether through fear of the supernatural or old-fashioned guilt, something good came from a paranormal incident at the farm.

Exorcism

After this incident, supernatural and unexplained happenings increased. Other farmhands and servants also reported frightening experiences while staying in the farmhouse and left their employment and the farm. This affected the farm business badly as word spread of the sinister incidents in the farmhouse, and the farmer could not get staff for love or money.

At last, in desperation, he sought advice from Reverend James Brooks, pastor of Hyde Chapel, Gee Cross, who was experienced in laying to rest the disturbed spirits of the dead. The Reverend Brookes gathered the help of several devout Christians from around the locality. Under his direction, they spent several nights in the haunted rooms and passages of the farmhouse. With their help, he performed special services and rituals designed to drive out evil or lay unquiet spirits to rest.

Initially, his efforts seemed successful as for over twelve months, no other supernatural phenomenon was reported. However, inexplicable, and alarming events eventually resumed, but these were far fewer for shorter durations, but gradually increased so the exorcism was considered to have failed.

The following reports are from a period beginning in 1880 and reported over the next decade.

The Rocking Chair Incident

One day in the mid-afternoon, the farmer’s wife, with her young son and daughter, remained in the house while her family and staff were working the farm. She had just washed a tub of clothes and taken them out in the yard to hang on the washing line. As she was busy outside pegging out the washing, her children, as children so often do, saw their chance for making mischief. So, with their mother busy outside, they snuck off to open the pantry door, where they knew they would find tasty homemade jam, cakes, and biscuits to feast upon. As they greedily ate the delicacies, getting jam all over their fingers and faces, a sudden almighty crash from the room directly above made them jump in fear and guilt.

Terrified and believing there must be intruders, they dashed out into the yard for the protection of their mother and to warn her of their fears. Seeing the sticky red jam on their face and fingers, their mother realised they had raided the pantry. But seeing the fear in their eyes and having also heard the crash decided to investigate. Being a rustic, no-nonsense woman, she seized the yard broom as a weapon and marched into the house and up the stairs to the room above the pantry, her children following.

Entering the room, she was stunned to see an old rocking chair pitching violently back and forth. It was as if some invisible person in great agitation was sitting in it. She grew even more alarmed as the chair’s motion continued unabated, and although she tried, she could not stop it. So, she sent her children to find help, and they alerted one of the farm labourers. He laughed at their tale but told them to wait outside while he investigated.

Entering the room, he found the farmer’s wife bewildered and at a loss at what to do as the chair rocked violently up and down. Although he was as fit and strong as any local man and no coward, he was highly superstitious. Seeing the pitching of the rocking chair with no one appearing to be seated in it, he was paralysed with fear, too terrified to do anything. At last, unable to think of anything better, the farmer’s wife sat in the rocking chair, finally stopping its motion.

According to local tradition, the rocking chair belonged to the old dame who had been very fond of it. She was rumoured to have died while rocking in the chair in that room, and it was claimed that her unquiet spirit had set the chair in motion.

An Uncanny Garden Plot

Although the inside of the farmhouse had an eerie reputation, strange things also happened outside. The garden was fertile and highly productive except for a mysterious patch of brown soil, which seemed as good as the rest. Strangely, no plant ever grew in this patch, and an uncanny and eerie feeling emanated from it. In the hottest summer, anyone standing on that patch experienced coldness seeping into their feet that crept into their mind. Yet, inexplicably, in winter, it never froze over or turned white with frost or snow.

Earlier owners had tried to cultivate this spot but to no avail. Despite everything they tried, not a single blade of grass, weed or flower would grow. Yet, take the soil and place it in a pot away from that patch of ground, and plants thrived. Primroses, tulips, daffodils, and all the garden flowers were planted but failed to grow in that sterile plot. Vegetables and fruits were also tried but were also unsuccessful. The best gardeners using the best fertilisers and tending this patch with all skill and care did not get a solitary shoot from that soil in that location. But place the earth in a pot away from the patch, and plants thrived. It was most mysterious!

Eventually, one gardener dug down deeper than the others and, to his shock and horror, unearthed numerous bones that proved to be of human origin. This led to a theory that it was not the fertility of the soil that was the problem. Instead, by the presence of the bones, it was guessed that some act of evil had contaminated the patch and emanated up through the ground, counteracting the soil’s natural fertility. Furthermore, the bones belonged to a victim who had been wickedly murdered and buried under the plot. Alternatively, the bones had belonged to a person who had been filled with wickedness while alive. That wickedness possessed the patch and accounted for the coldness and unnatural attributes of the plot.

The Black Cat

Another strange report tells how the wife of one of the farmers received an uncanny omen of the death of one of her family. Her brother worked on the farm and had fallen ill, and she had taken it on herself to nurse him.

One day she had been forced to leave him unattended while she walked to Gee Cross on urgent farm business. Worrying about her brother, she walked quickly to Gee Cross, completed the farm business, and set off for home. While on her way, she was startled when a black cat walked across her path. It sat down, gazing at her for a few seconds with a knowing look, then jumped up and ran off. Around the locality where she lived black cats were seen as omens of misfortune. Nevertheless, she was more concerned with her brother’s health than black cats and pushed the incident from her mind and hurried on.

To her alarm, what looked like the same black cat again crossed her path, sat, looked at her, and ran off. Thinking it very coincidental, she continued to hurry back to her brother. She had not gone far when to her disbelief, the black cat reappeared, repeating the same behaviour. She tried but could not catch it, so putting all thoughts about black cats aside, she resumed her journey home.

On reaching the narrow lane that ran to her home, she found her mother had walked up from the farmhouse to meet her. It was a lovely summer evening, warm and still, yet comfortable. There was no murmur or movement in the air, and no sound of bird, animal, or anything else could be heard near or far. The mother and daughter walked along in silence, pleasantly lost in their thoughts, enjoying the evening.

The lane was bounded here and there by hawthorn hedges. As they walked, bushes to their right-hand side suddenly began to rustle and shake violently and inexplicably. Then, as they stared in shock, they saw a figure dressed all in white flowing robes leave the farmhouse door and glide along the other side of the hedge.

Realising something had happened at the farmhouse, they hurried home. On entering, the farmer’s wife ran upstairs to the sickbed of her brother only to find to her sorrow, that he had just expired.

Laid To Rest

The incidents mentioned here are just a small selection of those that have been claimed to have witnessed at the farmhouse during its long history.  It would be comforting to think that the unquiet soul of the old dame had at lasd found peace or whatever restless spirits or disturbed presence that had lurked in its confines had passed back to where it belonged.

©16/11/2022 zteve t evans


References, Attributions and Further Reading

Copyright zteve t evans November16th, 2022


Paiute Legends: A Journey To The Ghost Land Of Shin-Au-Av

Shin-au-av

Death Valley in Eastern California is a strange, forbidden, and mysterious place of myths and legends of the First People. One legend from the Native American Paiute people of the region tells of the Ghost Land – the realm of the dead – ruled over by Shin-au-av (1), and accessed through caves and tunnels under the desert valley. This tells how a Paiute chief grieved so much by the death of his wife could not face living without her. The more he dwelt upon the memory of his dead wife, the more determined he became to join her. Finally, after much thought, he decided he would travel in his earthly body to the Ghost Land (2) to find her.

The Journey to the Ghost Land

After spiritually preparing himself, he followed the trail of his ancestors through miles of underground tunnels and passages for days. It was a perilous long, lonely, and harrowing journey through the depths and bowels of the earth. These dark places were inhabited by strange vicious beasts, evil spirits, and demons, and he had to fight off their attacks. Nevertheless, he was determined to reach the realm of Shin-au-av to reunite with his dear wife and overcome all the perils he faced. After many weary, fear-filled days, he finally came to the end of the tunnel and stepped into the most glorious light. 

As his eyes grew used to the light, he found himself on a high ledge looking down the throat of an abyss. On the far side of the chasm was a beautiful land of soft sunshine and lush green meadows. From the ledge where he stood, a narrow rock bridge arched over a dark, bottomless void and was the only way he could find to reach the other side and the beautiful land beyond. He realized he either had to go back or brave the bridge crossing. The chief was bold and determined to reach the realm of Shin-au-av and find his wife, so he carefully crossed over the bridge to the other side. 

As he stepped off the bridge, he was welcomed by a beautiful maiden who introduced herself as the daughter of Shin-au-av. She escorted him to a small valley that was very much like a giant natural amphitheater and told him to be seated. 

The Dance of the Dead

Sitting as she directed, he looked before him and saw thousands upon thousands of dead people all dancing in a great circle before him. He saw that they all seemed fit, well, and incredibly happy. This gave him great comfort thinking his wife would be happy too. But, watching intently as they all danced in the circle before him, he felt despondent and said, “How will I ever find my wife among so many?”

The daughter of Shin-au-av promised him he would find her but told him he must be patient. She went away and returned with food and drink to make his watch more bearable. After eating with him, she told him she had to go, but before leaving, she told him, 

“Your wife is one of the dancers and will dance in the circle with the others. As soon as you see her, run into the circle, take hold of her, and carry her out as quickly as you can. After that, you and she must return to the world above. Go back over the bridge and through the tunnels the way you came. Whatever you do, neither of you must look back – I repeat – do not look back!”  

He watched the dance for seven days and saw many people dancing in the circle; thousands passed before him. A number of these he recognized who had been his family or friends, while others he saw had been his enemies dancing in the circle together. But, to his frustration, his wife did not appear in the dance, and he began to despair. 

At last, she appeared, and he quickly jumped up and ran forward, embracing her and pulling her out of the circle. The two joyously ran hand in hand across the valley to the rock bridge that spanned the void. Approaching the bridge, they slowed down to cross carefully and safely. The chief nervously glanced over his shoulder to see if they were being followed. When he looked to the fore again, he was shocked to see his wife vanish before his eyes and found himself alone.

Return Home

Stunned by his foolishness and not knowing what else to do, he made his way back over the rock bridge and through the dark tunnels the way he had come. Finally, after many dangerous adventures, he found his way home and told his people of the Dance of the Dead and the wonder of the realm of Shin-au-av and the dark terrors of the tunnels he had endured in his dark, lonely journey. Despite his escape, he yearned for the day he would return to join the Dance of the Dead and reunite with his beloved wife in the Ghost Land of Shin-au-av.

© 11/10/2022 zteve t evans


Notes

(1) Shin-au-av in connection with this legend sometimes comes across as the name of a mythical underground land of the dead, or lost city, or kingdom. In this work I am interpreting Shin-au-va to be the ruler of the land of dead, which was nameded epynomynously after him, but also known as the Ghost Land or other names. There is also a cultural hero, spirit or god named Shin-au-va and sometime two siblings known as the Shin-au-va brothers appear in several legends. The elder of these is named Tabuts or similar and considerd a wolf, while the younger is Shinangway and considered a wolf. Shi-au-va is sometines associated with a spirit or hero called Na-gun-to-wip which is also sometime the name of a fabled place. (This all needs more research).

(2) It is worth noting the Paiutes are also strongly connected to the Ghost Dance religion and wonder if this legend also has associationssomewhere along the line. (This needs more research)


References, Attributions and Further Reading

Copyright October 11th, 2022 zteve t evans


The Peach Blossom Spring – Musings On Utopia

Peach Blossom Spring

Peach Blossom Shangri-la, also known as Peach Blossom Spring and the Peach Blossom Land, is a Chinese fable written in 421 CE by Tao Yuanming, one of the greatest poets of the six dynasties. He wrote it during a period of national disunity and political instability and tells how a poor fisherman chanced upon a hidden utopian village where people lived happily in peace and harmony, isolated from the outside world.

There are elements and influences from Chinese mythology and folklore and the political and social situation at the time of the author’s life and is essentially an allegorical work of fiction. Nevertheless, with millions of refugees in the modern world seeking a safe sanctuary to live in peace without fear, in the ways of their ancestors before them, this story is still very relevant today. Presented here is a translation by Rick Davis and David Steelman (1), followed by a few observations for discussion.


Peach Blossom Shangri-La: Tao Hua Yuan Ji By Tao Yuanming Translation

During the Taiyuan era of the Jin Dynasty there was a man of Wuling who made his living as a fisherman. Once while following a stream he forgot how far he had gone. He suddenly came to a grove of blossoming peach trees. It lined both banks for several hundred paces and included not a single other kind of tree. Petals of the dazzling and fragrant blossoms were falling everywhere in profusion. Thinking this place highly unusual, the fisherman advanced once again in wanting to see how far it went.

The peach trees stopped at the stream’s source, where the fisherman came to a mountain with a small opening through which it seemed he could see light. Leaving his boat, he entered the opening. At first it was so narrow that he could barely pass, but after advancing a short distance it suddenly opened up to reveal a broad, flat area with imposing houses, good fields, beautiful ponds, mulberry trees, bamboo, and the like. The fisherman saw paths extending among the fields in all directions, and could hear the sounds of chickens and dogs. Men and women working in the fields all wore clothing that looked like that of foreign lands. The elderly and children all seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves.

The people were amazed to see the fisherman, and they asked him from where he had come. He told them in detail, then the people invited him to their home, set out wine, butchered a chicken, and prepared a meal. Other villagers heard about the fisherman, and they all came to ask him questions. Then the villagers told him, “To avoid the chaos of war during the Qin Dynasty, our ancestors brought their families and villagers to this isolated place and never left it, so we’ve had no contact with the outside world.” They asked the fisherman what the present reign was. They were not even aware of the Han Dynasty, let alone the Wei and Jin. The fisherman told them everything he knew in great detail, and the villagers were amazed and heaved sighs. Then other villagers also invited the fisherman to their homes, where they gave him food and drink. After several days there, the fisherman bid farewell, at which time some villagers told him, “It’s not worth telling people on the outside about us.”

The fisherman exited through the opening, found his boat, and retraced his route while leaving markers to find this place again. Upon his arrival at the prefecture town he went to the prefect and told him what had happened. The prefect immediately sent a person to follow the fisherman and look for the trail markers, but they got lost and never found the way.

Liu Ziji of Nanyang was a person of noble character. When he heard this story he was happy and planned to visit the Shangri-la, but he died of illness before he could accomplish it. After that no one else ever looked for the place.


Peach Blossom: A Special Moment In Time

Peaches are highly regarded in Chinese mythology and tradition and are considered the fruit of immortals. Therefore, when the fisherman comes across a grove of blossoming peach trees, he is moving into a magical place, and their flowering indicates a special moment in time. Furthermore, the blossoming peach trees stop at the head of a natural water spring, further showing that something extraordinary is happening. For the Chinese, the wellsprings and sources of streams and rivers are places where water and life enter the world pure, uncontaminated, and transparent. 

A Vulnerable Paradise 

This utopian village exists in tandem with the outside world but is separated and hidden from it, only protected by a secret entrance through a cave. Here, people happily live together in the ways of their ancestors, in peaceful harmony independent of the outside world, sustained by their own efforts. This would seem an ideal way of life, a veritable paradise to many people. But is it all that it seems?   

A Sceptical Viewpoint 

While this happy utopian village society has not changed in centuries, the outside world has moved on. Unlike other examples of mythical other worlds or magical places, the time in the village runs at the same speed as the time in the outside world. We know this because when the fisherman leaves for home after several days, he is still in step with the inhabitants of the outside world.

In this Chinese example, although the two societies move in time, they have evolved in oppossing ways. Moreover, despite the conflict and chaos in the outside world, it is deemed to have progressed, yet remains dangerous. The village has remained stable, happy, peaceful, and safe. While some people see this positively because, living in this state of splendid isolation, its people have remained content and safe from interference from the rest of humanity. 

Conversely, cynics see the village as static and sterile, where no progress has been made in centuries. A hideout for people who lack the courage to face the turmoil, fear, and pain of the outside world, lacking the will to adapt to change to survive. They argue that trouble and pain make the external world dynamic, forcing and accepting change, making individuals and society tough and adaptable. 

The apparent absence of strife in the reclusive village, although bringing happiness and peace to its citizens, provides a static society vulnerable to change from natural events and interference from the outside. The villagers certainly know the dangers of the outside world and ask the fisherman not to reveal their presence. Their fear is underlined by the fisherman marking trees hoping to find his way back and by telling the Prefect of a town of his discovery.

Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Positive View

There is a well-known proverb or koan from Zen Buddhism which springs to mind,  

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” 

Although the quote may not have influenced Tao Yuanming, it does relevant with the villager’s way of life. 

On the surface, a person appears no different after enlightenment as they were before. However, that is not necessarily so. Before enlightenment, a person focused on the outside world of “doing,” doing what ever must be done to survive. After enlightenment, the person’s inner consciousness has changed, and the focus becomes the world of “being”  and being at peace while doing the necessary mundane tasks. 

The hidden village in Tao Yuanming’s story is the inner world of being – the world of enlightenment, peace, and contentment – while the outer world – the world of their origin, the world of the fisherman, of emporers, wars, and strife that stem from the inner resistance and conflict we fight in when doing things we do like doing, despite knowing they have to be done. The villagers all appear happy and content externally to an outside observer, but it takes a great deal of inner strength and effort to accept the necessity of the everyday mundane tasks and sheer hard work necessary for survival. 

The outstanding achievement of the villagers is their acceptance allows them to carry out the mundane and demanding tasks of life happily. Conversely, people in the outside world tend to protest and oppose the tedious and challenging aspects of life even though they are necessary for survival, only to create more conflict for themselves and their society. 

The villagers may appear to look calm and living effortlessly, in a similar way a swan may appear to glide easily and serenely over the water. Yet, all the time below the waterline, out of sight, its legs constantly work hard to maintain the seemingly effortless movement across the water. 

Curiously, the fisherman chooses to return home to his own world, hoping to reveal the rare and fragile paradise he has found rather than stay and enjoy it. He leaves a trail intending to return himself or others to follow, but the trail disappears strangely. Liu Ziji of Nanyang, a man of noble character who planned to visit the village, dies suddenly, so the hidden sanctuary remains undisturbed.   

The disappearance of the trail and the nobleman’s death are fortunate for the villagers. However, the attempted betrayal of the hidden sanctuary’s whereabouts is a typical reaction by someone from the outside world, who finds somewhere special, where people have lived peacefully and happily for centuries, and feels the world must be told about it and see for themselves.   

The Mystery Of Meaning

The meaning of the work has been and still is discussed and argued over by many experts and scholars since its creation. There are many different views, and I would contend the different viewpoints are a necessary part of its mystery which is why it continues to be studied and discussed, and reminds us how,

“all the best things escape too much definition.” (2)

© 14/09/2022 zteve t evans


References, Attributions, And Further Reading

Copyright September 14th, 2022 zteve t evans


The Brujo De Chiloé – The Wild Warlocks Of The Chiloé Archipelago – For Ancient Pages

This article was first published on AncientPages.com, May 4, 2022, titled, The Brujo De Chiloé – The Wild Warlocks Of The Chiloé Archipelago, by zteve t evans.

The Brujo de Chiloé

The Brujo de Chiloé, or the Warlocks of Chiloé, were a secretive coven of male witches allegedly involved in witchcraft and crime on the islands of the Chiloé Archipelago off the coast of southern Chile. It should be emphasised that not all witches on Chiloe were males or belonged to the cult. There were male and female witches who worked for the good of people and were healers and fortune tellers. These were called Machis and considered benevolent, but there were also malevolent practitioners called Kalku, and from these the Brujos may have originated.

Brujo’s cult was believed to be a complex tight-knit, secretive organisation, drawing from indigenous superstition and tradition and using black magic in their activities. Utilizing the superstitions and beliefs of the islander to their advantage they were alleged to have used intimidation and fear to minimise opposition and to achieve their aims. They were said to be involved in blackmail, extortion, smuggling and other criminal activities.

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Native North American Lore: The Cherokee Earth Diver Creation Myth

Mythical Water Beetle

EARTH DIVER CREATION MYTHS

Creation myths evolve in the oral traditions of society, providing an unscientific account of how the world was created and became inhabited by people, animals, and plants.  With oral transmission, it is common to find several versions of the same myth in the same society.  A cultural group often considers these stories to carry important information or truths coded through allegory, metaphor, and symbolism giving that culture, and the individual members, a sense of origin, history, purpose, and even destiny. 

Mythologists classify creation myths in various ways, and the following example is an Earth Diver type of myth.  Earth Diver myths provide a narrative explaining how the earth or land mass formed, making life possible for humans, fauna, and flora.   The diver is a fictional character, usually an animal, bird, or insect that dives to the bottom of the ocean to bring back a clod of the ocean floor which expands into a landmass suitable in size with enough attributes and qualities to sustain plants, living creatures, and humans. 

Presented here is a retelling of an Earth Diver creation myth from the Cherokee people of North America taken from, Myths of the Cherokee by James Mooney, followed by a brief discussion of some of the points of interest raised in the story.


BEFORE CREATION

In this myth, the earth is an enormous island floating in an ocean of water.  The island had four cords attached to the sky vault, which was of solid rock.  These four cords kept the island suspended in the water, preventing it from sinking.

Cherokees have always known this but cannot remember who attached these cords.  Furthermore, they say they will fray and break when the world wears out with age, and the island will sink into the ocean.  The Cherokees feared this event deeming it inevitable.

The island has not always existed.  In the distant past, there was a vast ocean of water below the sky vault without a single landmass.  Above the sky vault was a place called Gălûñ′lătĭ, where the animals and birds lived before the creation of land.  It was not very spacious and overcrowded with animals and birds, but there was nowhere else to go because all the world below was covered by water, and there was no land.

DAYUNSI, THE WATER BEETLE

In their cramped environment, the animals and birds were curious to know about the world below, wondering if they could live more comfortably below and spent a lot of time discussing this.  At last, the water beetle named, Dayunsi, or “Beaver’s Grandchild,” boldly volunteered to venture to the watery world below to explore and return with an answer to their questions.

Dayunsi went down and ran over the sea surface in all directions discovering there was no solid place above the water where anything could live.  Finally, diving deep below the water to see what lay beneath, he came upon the sea floor.  Reaching out, he grabbed lumps of soft mud and returned to the surface.

On the surface, the mud began to swell, grow, and expand in all directions until it became an island called land or earth, but in these early times, it was flat, exceptionally soft, damp, and muddy.   Dayunsi returned to Gălûñ′lătĭ to report what he had seen and what he had done.

Although the animals and birds yearned to leave their cramped environment and pondered deeply on the possibility of living below, they were very patient and wary.  Therefore, to play safe, they sent different birds to fly down to explore and bring back news of what the island was like, hoping it would eventually make a suitable home for them.

THE GREAT BUZZARD

Time after time, different birds flew down and explored the world below, only to report the land was still too soggy and wet to bear any weight.  Nevertheless, other birds continued to fly down at intervals to check the condition of the land, only to report that the ground was still too soft.  At last, the Great Buzzard, the father of all buzzards, flew out and returned with news the land was now dry and solid enough to bear their weight.  They sent him back to further scout out the island so he could advise further.

Flying down and all around, he discovered parts of the island were hardening, but many other places were still too soft.  He grew tired as he passed over one region, and his wings flapped against the ground, and wherever his wings struck the soft ground, rifts, ridges, and peaks formed in the mud.  These hardened into valleys, hills, and mountains, and this region became the land of the Cherokees and explains why their country is full of peaks and valleys today.  The animals called down to him to return, fearing that the entire island would become covered in mountains and valleys.

SETTING THE SUN

The animals cautiously waited a while longer until the ground was drier and more solid, and then they went down to live upon it.  There was much more space, but it was a dark world, so the Conjurors positioned the sun to travel under the arch of the sky vault, moving from east to west over the earth.

Unfortunately, the sun was not high enough, and the earth was too hot, causing the shell of Tsiska′gĭlĭ′, the Red Crawfish, to burn bright red ruining his meat for Cherokees to eat.  Therefore, the Conjurors raised the sun a handbreadth higher, but it was still too hot.  So they raised it handbreadth, by handbreadth, until they got it to just the right altitude to warm and light the earth comfortably.  The height they raised it to was called “the seven handbreadths,” or “Gûlkwâ′gine Di′gălûñ′lătiyûñ,” and is the highest point the sun can be above the land without touching the sky vault.

Every day the sun traveled in a set course under the arch of the sky vault, lighting and warming the Overland, and then traveled underneath, doing the same to the Underland, returning to its starting point in the Overland every morning to resume its journey until the end.

THE UNDERLAND AND OVERLAND

The Underland is like the Overland having the same animals, birds, and plants.  The seasons are the same but correspond the opposite to the world above. The mountain streams that flow down from the mountains are the paths that lead to the entrances of the Underland.  The springs that are the sources of these streams are the doors and entrances to the Underland.  Those who wish to enter the Underworld must fast by eating and drinking minimum food and water and be guided by a person of the Underland.

PLANTS AND FLOWERS

During the creation period of the plants and flowers, everyone was to remain awake for seven nights watching the process.  Most managed to stay awake the first few nights, but although they tried, many fell asleep.  After that, only the panther, the owl, and a few other creatures stayed awake.  These received abilities to see in the dark and prey upon those that had to sleep during the night.

Some of the trees also remained awake while the other trees fell asleep.  Those trees which remained awake became forever green, and the best medicine came from them.  However, The trees which fell asleep lost their hair every winter.  Cherokees do not know who ordained this because it all happened before they appeared upon the land.

BROTHER AND SISTER

According to the Elders, the first Cherokees were a brother and sister, and there were no others.  The brother struck his sister with a fish and instructed her to reproduce.  Seven days later, she gave birth to a child, and every seven days after, another child, and so forth.

The population increased fast, and there became a danger the land would not be able to maintain everyone.  Therefore, it was decreed that women should only give birth once a year.  The Elders do not know who ordained this, but it has remained that way ever since.


POINTS OF NOTE

The animals and birds in the myth existed before the creation of the earthly world, moving down from the cramped domain of Gălûñ′lătĭ above the sky vault to populate the newly formed land in the world below.  There was one language used and understood by all living things to communicate with one another and between species.

Intellectually, they were much more human-like than their modern counterparts, consulting, discussing, and making plans together.  Moreover, they appear physically greater and more robust than their modern-day counterparts.

For example, the Great Buzzard must have been gigantic for his wings to dip in the semiliquid ground and form the mountains and valleys of the home country of the Cherokees.  Additionally,  Dayunsi, the water beetle, dives to depths far beyond that of modern-day beetles to return with the mud that formed the land.  Instead of choosing a larger, more potent animal, the humble water beetle plays a significant part in the creation of the land, making life on earth possible for animals, birds, plants, and humans. 

The first humans appeared only after land, sun, animals, birds, plants, and trees became established.  When they did, they found a world that supplied their daily living needs, ready and waiting for them to take advantage of it.  The plants, trees, animals, and birds provided food, clothing, medicine, and most of their daily living needs. 

Of course, people will see many discussion points in myths like this, and opinions will vary, but what matters is what the reader makes of it for themselves.

©20/07/2022 zteve t evans


REFERENCE, ATTRIBUTIONS, AND FURTHER READING

Copyright July 20th, 2022 zteve t evans


Khasi Folktales: The Legend of Lum Sophet Bneng

Thanks to Cliparts.Co

THE KHASI PEOPLE

The Khasi are an ancient people dwelling mainly in the Indian state of Meghalaya with smaller populations in the neighboring state of Assam and regions of Bangladesh. They have a long history and rich culture and many ancient traditions and festivals are still practiced. There are still those who remember many of their old myths and stories which give an explanation of where they came from and the world around them.

KHASI MYTHOLOGY

According to their traditional lore, the original home of the Khasi people was known as “Ki Hynñiewtrep” or “The Seven Huts” in English.  Their supreme deity was called, “U Blei Trai Kynrad” or “God the Lord Master,” who had ordered humanity into sixteen divine families known as “Khadhynriew Trep.” In those days families could move freely between Heaven and Earth because a physical connection between the two realms was located on their sacred hill of Lum Sohpet bneng, which means “Navel of Heaven.” Today it is a place of festival and pilgrimage for those Khasis who continue to remember and respect the old religion keeping alive the ancient traditions and lore of their people.

The following folktale of the Khasi people is called The Legend of Mount Sophet Bneng from a collection of tales, legends and myths titled, “Folk-Tales of the Khasis” by Mrs. Rafy.  This tells that on top of the great hill of Lum Sohpet Bneng there once grew tree so tall it reached from Earth up to Heaven.

THE LEGEND OF MOUNT SOPHET BNENG

The tree was called the Jingkieng ksiar and sometimes referred to as the Golden Bridge or Golden Ladder, because the people of Heaven used it to climb up and down between Heaven and Earth.  At the time the Earth was not inhabited by people because they would visit and return to Heaven to live.  

During this time all of humanity lived in Heaven but the Earth was inhibited by all manner of different animals, birds, reptile, insects, and a multitude of other different lifeforms.   There was a great variety of plants, some large, some small, many with luscious fruits, beautiful flowers, and vibrant foliage.  It was a very beautiful and wonderful world, and the humans would visit Earth by climbing down the tree where they could roam in wonder and delight and return at their leisure by climbing back up the tree.

In those blessed days there was only one language spoken and sang and all of creation communicated freely together. Trees, flowers, birds, animals, fishes, insects even rocks and stones and the sixteen families used it to commune among themselves and with nature.

PLANTING GARDENS

When they discovered the soil around Lum Sohpet Bneng was rich and fertile they began to cultivate crops for profit planting many gardens and fields.  U Blei Trai Kynrad, their supreme divinity granted this but decreed that they must return to Heaven every night and only be on Earth during the day. The sixteen human families of Heaven followed this practice rigidly.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, there was a single malevolent one among them who lusted power and resented divine authority. Furthermore, he grew loathe to follow the will of the Creator and sought to rule over his fellow human beings. He was always seeking ways to further and attain his ambitions and gain control over the people.

One day seven families climbed down the tree to work upon their gardens and fields on Earth, leaving the other nine to go about their business in Heaven.

SEVERING THE CONNECTION

When all the seven families were hard at work the malevolent one saw his chance.Thinking that without the tree to move between Heaven and Earth those seven families would be easier to bring under his control without the interference of God the Lord Master. Therefore, he took an axe and cut down the tree that connected Heaven and Earth. The seven families working their crops were stranded on Earth, and those nine families in Heaven severed completely from Earth.

This is how humans came to live permanently upon the Earth. Those seven families were called “Ki Hinniew Skum” which means the “seven roots”, or “seven nests” and it is from these that the rest of humanity living on Earth is descended.

Ever since the people of Heaven and Earth have been separated from each other.  Furthermore, as the seven families spread over the Earth the language became splintered into many different tongues.  The ability of the people to communicate with one another was damaged and the ability to converse with nature was lost or severely impaired.  This all happened thousands of years ago through the act of one evil man who craved power and control over the people.

ANOTHER VERSION

Another version of the myth tells that in the early days of the world there was no separation between Heaven and Earth and people obeyed God’s laws and lived in harmony with the natural world. Heaven and Earth were connected by the Jingkieng ksiar,andpeople began living on Earth. Overtime they forgot or disobeyed the rules of the creator and made their own laws.  Where there had been one language in Heaven and on Earth a multitude of tongues evolved.  People could no longer talk to nature or among themselves and they came into conflict with Heaven.  Because of this the tree withered and died and the connection between the two realms was lost.

A WARNING!

The loss of the tree is often viewed as an allegory warning of the consequences of the severing of connections between humans on Earth and God in Heaven.

©08/06/2022 zteve t evans


REFERENCES, ATTRIBUTIONS AND FURTHER READING

Copyright June 8th, 2022 zteve t evans


Mount’s Bay, Lyonesse, Langarroc: Legendary Submerged Lands And Buried Towns Of Cornwall – For Ancient Pages


This article was first published on AncientPages.com, April 21, 2022, Mount’s Bay, Lyonesse, Langarroc: Legendary Submerged Lands And Buried Towns Of Cornwall, by zteve t evans


Cornwall, the uttermost southwestern peninsula of England, has a long, fascinating history absolutely brimming with folklore, legends, and traditions. Ancient monuments scatter the landscape, and all around the rugged coastline, traditions of smugglers, pirates and mermaids abound alongside intriguing legends of towns and land submerged by the sea or entombed under massive dunes of sand. Presented here is a brief look at three legendary places that lie buried under the sand or drowned by the sea.

The Drowned Forest And Lake Under Mount’s Bay

Mount’s Bay is home to St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island with a quaint harbour overlooked by a medieval church and a picturesque castle. It is connected to the Cornish mainland by a stone causeway at low tide. At high tide, the sea rises above the causeway cutting the Mount from the Cornish mainland, turning it into an island. According to tradition, St Michael’s Mount is where Jack the Giant Killer began his career by slaying Cormoran the Giant.

In the past, parts of Mount’s Bay were above sea level and home to woods and a body of water named Gwavas Lake. Humans and animals were believed to inhabit this area, and according to legend, on the bank of the lake was a small chapel where a holy man lived. People came to him seeking healing for ailments and agonies of the mind and body, which he cured using prayers and water from Gwavas Lake. Because of his remarkable healing powers, he became venerated as a saint, and his small chapel received a continuous stream of pilgrims seeking his aid.

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Tales of the Lost, the Drowned and the All-Seeing Eye – Vengeance Will Come!

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The Feather of the Firebird: A Creative Retelling of the Firebird, Princess Vasilisa and the Horse of Power

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Havelok the Dane: Hero-King of Two Realms

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Khasi Folktales: The Cooing of the Doves

Presented here is a retelling of an ancient folktale of the Khasi people who dwell in Meghalaya in north-eastern India and parts of Assam and Bangladesh, sourced from “Folk-Tales of the Khasis,” by K. U. Rafy. It tells how long ago, unlike today, doves sang wonderful songs like many other birds. These songs expressed their happiness to be alive and the glory of the world around, until something happened to end their glorious melodies. Their joyous singing was replaced with the sad, wistful, “Cooing” sound, we are familiar with them making today.

THE COOING OF THE DOVES

The story tells how back in the old days a happy family of the first doves lived in the forest. The youngest was a daughter named was Ka Paro. Being the youngest she was much loved by her parents and siblings who were all protective of her pampering her more than they should. The family often ate together in a nearby field of grain. When it was time for food, they insisting she remain securely hidden in their family nesting tree until the signal was given that all was safe enough for her to venture forth.

Ka Paro

 One day they had left Ka Paro alone in the family nest while they flew to the field and around the area making sure there was no potential danger. While she waited, Ka Paro grew bored and flew to the top of a nearby tree which had a many succulent red berries growing in its branches. She was not interested in the berries but was looking forward to feeding in the grain field with her family. While she waited, she saw many other birds feasting upon them but did not take much notice. Instead, she spent her time preening her feathers while waiting for her family to give the signal all was clear for her to join them.  

A Handome Jungle Bird

To her surprise a very handsome jungle bird of a clan she had never seen before flew down and perched on a nearby branch and started pecking at the berries. Ka Paro had never seen a bird as stunning as this one, with such gorgeous feathers of gold and green, and he came and pecked berries on the very branch that she perched upon.

She was surprised and delighted, and greatly admiring this handsome stranger and began to sing one of her sweetest melodies to attract his attention hoping to please him.

Seeing the gentle beautiful Ka Paro, and hearing her beautiful voice, he was very quickly drawn to her and sang along with her. He introduced himself as U Jylleit, the jungle bird, and she told him she was Ka Paro the dove. The two became fast friends and met every day on the same branch in the same tree. She would sit preening her feathers and singing while, he picked at the berries singing a duet with her. Every now and then the two exchanged shy, admiring glances.

They grew to love each other and U Jylleit plucked up the courage to ask her parents for consent to their marriage. However, her parents were not warmly welcoming to the proposal not feeling too sure of how genuine U Jylleit really was. They did not want to judge him unfairly yet wanted to protect their beloved daughter from being hurt.

Marriage

Therefore, they thought carefully about what to do. Ka Paro loved U Jylleit with all her heart and begged her parents to approve the marriage. She begged, she pleaded and argued her case again and again declaring she loved him like the moon loved the stars and that she would love him forever, while he declared his own eternal love for her before her parents.

However, her parents knew more of the world than their young daughter. Maybe they were being overprotective, but they were not too certain of this handsome stranger who had flown in from nowhere to win their daughter’s heart. Furthermore, there was also the question of a marriage between two different unrelated clans, which the two lovers undeniable were, which made them feel uncomfortable. There was also another reason that caused them to doubt the strength of U Jylleit’s love for their daughter.

They knew that the red berries had attracted him to the tree where their daughter perched, and knew those berries only appeared at the present time of the year. Moreover, with all the other birds feeding on the berries the tree would eventually be gone and would not return until the following year. They also knew, like other crops, the berries appeared at various times in different places and birds and animals moved from one place to another to feed on them.

A Test

For these reasons they were reluctant to risk their daughter’s happiness. Nevertheless,  rather than issues a flat refusal they wisely decided to put U Jylleit to a test

Ka Paro’s parents told the two lovers they would only allow the marriage after all the berries were gone. They wanted to see if U Jylleit, for the love of their daughter, be content with the meagre diet of the doves, which he could have survived on. The two lovers readily agreed. U Jylleit swore he would stay with Ka Paro through thick and thin and never leave her. For her part, Ka Paro had absolute confidence her lover would stay and share the same plain and meagre food as her. She simply did not believe he would fly away to another place where the berries could be found in abundance.

And so, the two lovers continued to meet in the tree and while Ka Paro sang and preened U Jylleit sang and ate red berries which became fewer and fewer. One day Ka Paro flew to the tree to meet her lover and began singing and preening expecting her to join her. He did not arrive as he usually did so she continued and preening and singing but still he did not arrive. Looking around, for him she was shocked to see all the berries had gone and realised the truth.

Hearbreak

U Jylleit, without even saying goodbye, had  taken wing to find another berry tree and she never saw him again. Her heart broken; Ka Paro never sang another note. The only sound she would utter from that moment on was a melancholy “cooing” which is the same we hear from doves all around the world today.

© 28/04/2022 zteve t evans


REFERENCES, ATTRIBUTIONS AND FURTHER READING

Copyright April 28, 2022 zteve t evans


PUBLICATIONS BY zteve t evans

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