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fiRESTURE CURIOSITIES hy Jlnnette

mkimo

"%

some 6ea.si/y

Superstiiions

Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive in

2010

littp://www.arcliive.org/details/creaturecuriositOOmaki

eRESTURE CURIOSITIES Written by Annette

Makimo

Edited by Sheila Whalen illustrated by Stanley Tang

©

Copyright 1980

THINK INK PUBLICATIONS 3421 North 44th Street Phoenix, Arizona 85018 All

Rights Reserved

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION

THE HORSE

4 5

THE CAT

10

THE DOG

15

THE BAT

19

THE DONKEY

23

THE BEAR

27

THE SNAKE

31

THE TOAD

35

THE PEACOCK

39

THE OWL

43

THE EAGLE

47

THE COCK

51

THE CRANE

56

THE BEE

59

THE SPIDER

62

THE CRICKET

66

THE BUTTERFLY

69

INTRODUCTION In

the Encyclopedia Britannica, the word superstition

ance of beliefs or practices groundless of enlightenment reached by the

in

is

defined as "the accept-

themselves and inconsistent with the degree

community

Superstition has been around since the

to

which one belongs."

dawn

of man.

Prehistoric

man, unable

to explain occurrences in his world, and frightened by often disastrous aftermaths, attributed such happenings to gods or godlike creatures residing earth.

In

in,

on, or above the

an effort to avoid an encore of such terrible doings by the gods,

veloped an interesting assortment of

Many

special

and occult

rites

abilities

and

man

de-

rituals.

were attributed to creatures of the animal

kingdom. Not only did man believe some animals could change form and wreak havoc upon people,

it

was

enchantment, and even

also thought they could predict weather, cast spells of

foretell the future.

Almost every species of animal has been invested with godly powers by some civilization at

some time

in

man's history. From cockroaches to

have been worshipped, sacrificed, praised, and blamed control the willfulness of nature.

in

alligators,

animals

an attempt to appease and

THE HORSE The horse has been around

we know him now. He used short, ears very small,

for

some

fifty million years,

to be about a foot

tall, his

though not exactly

body and

tail

as

long, teeth

and feet adorned with several toes. The version we're familiar

with has been with us since at least 4000 B.C.

when

the Assyrians recorded his

presence.

Perhaps because the horse agriculture,

and

and

folklore,

is

thrilling in sport

so versatile, useful as transportation, helpful

and war, he became

prominent figure

a

in

in religion,

art.

The Greeks held the horse sacred to Poseidon, Athena, and Cronus. Horses pulled the chariot of the sun god Apollo across the sky. figures in

moned

Pegasus, the winged horse,

Greek mythology and the Athenian hero Theseus was supposedly sum-

to his death by the horses of his father, Poseidon.

Greek and Egyptian gods and heroes play an indirect part tion, being

among

the sources for beliefs that

grew up

in

in

western supersti-

medieval Europe. At that

time, the color of a horse had special significance depending on the country in which

one

lived.

In Ireland, a

white horse meant good luck for

him special healing powers

In

make

a

wish before the animal was out of

black horse that signified luck If

owner and could lend

England, on the other hand, a white horse meant tragedy for whoever saw

unless he or she could

legs.

its

he rode the animal while consulting with the "patient."

if

both forelegs

in

sight.

It

England, and a horse with white markings on

were white, the marks must reach an equal height;

with two white legs also bore

a

white star on

its

forehead,

it

was better

if

its

the horse

yet, unless

the star was too large, which would cancel the luck earned by the white forelegs. (Jot this

down

if

you're planning a day at the races.)

it,

was the

Braiding a horse's ing the horse

mane

and running

it

or

tail

began

bareback and held the mount's mane or

were

way

of preventing witches from

The

instead of a bridle or reins.

tail

steal-

seems, rode

it

braids

magic knots that made the witch unable to hold on.

really a series of

Horseshoes

as a

ragged on a midnight spree. Witches,

may

have been

in

use in Britain well before the

Romans

arrived

there and the legendary luck of the horseshoe apparently derives from the Norse god,

whom

Thor, to shoes



all

made

things

of iron were sacred.

points up, so the luck could not run

and barns to keep witches at bay.

In

to be found on a road or

cast off

a wish.

behind on the

left.)

In certain areas,

the muscle spasm this



hair of

all

is

hair



kinds

a horse.

For best it

results,

over his

barrel of water, horsehairs

cross the nose

it

before

left

had

nail-

shoulder

in

victims of rheumatism are even

one pocket

as a cure.

(No cure

now

is

encour-

suggested for

has been the bearer of strange and wonderful powers.

Chopped very

fine

and spread on bread with butter,

would make children well-behaved. (Surely the threat of another

sandwich would keep

To

by

likely to cause.)

Horsehairs were no exception. horsehairs

above the doorways of houses

order for the shoe to bring luck, though,

might be wise to wish that no one would approach him from

(It

aged to carry a horseshoe around

Hair

Medieval families nailed horse-

doorway, the householder would throw

ing the shoe to the

and make

in a field,

away —

would cure

all

but the most obstreperous child

were said to change into worms.

A

in line.)

horse-

Placed

horsehair

in a

drawn

a-

a nosebleed.

allow a horse to breathe into a child's throat would cure a severe cold, and

toothaches would vanish

drunk from.

if

the sufferer drank from the same bucket a horse had

In addition to

demonic

the horse played a central role in

all this,

Innocent horses were lured to their

doom by

a

demon

records of witchcraft testify that horses were changed by spells into

As

the familiars of witches. visible intruders

fuse to

budge

if

haunted by the

a result, horses

a

as

may

believed to stop and

sacred horses walked in proces-

by the way they walked, the rhythm of

movements, and the path they followed. Similarly, Germanic

serve a divine horse as

which emerged

If

caster.

first

it

emerged from the temple

was an omen, the

he fidgets, shuddering and snuffling Finally,

if

would ob-

The foot

right being the favorable sign.

the horse shakes his harness, duck; he

wet weather to come.

priests

after a religious rite.

meteorology seems an inexact science, use If

re-

have inspired the even more ancient Celtic

hippomancy wherein

sion behind a chariot, foretelling the future

for

still

haunted crossroads. (Crossroads are supposed to be

This particular stubbornness

If

are

and

feel in-

spirits of suicides.)

system of divination known

their

Ancient

evil spirits

were presumed able to see and to

from the netherworld. The animals they come to

superstition.

called the colt-pixie.

a horse as

is

in his stall,

your weather

fore-

drawing lightning from the sky.

swishing his

he gallops around the

tail

field,

to and fro, look

kicking up his heels,

high winds are on the way.

Weather superstitions are not the only ones for instance,

name

will bring a

their breath,

course,

is

him. This

how

thought to be bad luck to change

change of fortune. Those

"Break

meant not

may

still

clinging to the horse.

a horses's

who show

a leg," as the horse enters the

for the horse but for the evil spirit

be the origin of the old

long-lived superstitions are.

show

horses will

show

It is still,

name, since the change of

ring.

mumble under

The admonition, of

who might

be about to jinx

business expression and

it

suggests just

PROJECTS FOR THE HORSE horse was quite small and his body shaped differently than

In the beginning, the

it is

today. Design a time line showing illustrations of the stages of evolutionary change.

See

if

you can

give reasons for this remarkable change.

In ancient times,

used

in

man

believed in the

power of magical knots.

modern times? Are they important

superstitious meanings connected with knots? label

them. Explain

how

Why

are getting

are special knots

Are there any

Illustrate five different

some of

knots and

up on the

in

the magical powers of

human

hair.

Make

a poster

these beliefs.

left side

of the bed and starting out on the

thought to be bad omens? Give other examples of logic

How

a sailor?

they got their names.

The ancient Egyptians believed or chart illustrating

To

in a circus?

this

left

foot

custom and explain the

behind them.

Which animal

is

reason for this?

the greatest natural

Can you

enemy

of the horse? Can you explain the

trace the reason to

some remote

superstition?

THE CAT In

ancient

Rome and

and especially

Persia

in

Egypt, cats were objects of wor-

Egypt, where cats were sacred to the goddess Bast, cat cemeteries were

ship.

In

found

as early as

600 B.C. containing the mummified remains of

cats as well as

bronze cat statues.

Later, during the

Dark Ages

in

Europe, testimony of witchcraft included the

accusation that the offender assumed the form of a cat tims.

In fact,

in

order to prey on her

vic-

the still-common adage about a cat having nine lives originated with

the belief that a witch could change herself into a cat as

many

The

as eight times.

ninth try was considered pushing her luck and the witch was likely to be caught in the act and killed.

Because of their association with witchcraft, cats were terribly abused in medieval times

tury,

and were often put to death

Europeans had taken to

represented a change the animals.

would cure and dry

toothache.

boiling a

incredibly cruel ways.

attitude, did not signify

Early dentists

a patient to cure

made by

in

in

a belief in the healing

whole cat

become

By the 17th

cats which,

much improvement a cat skin

and apply

in it

to the face of

frequently dressed with an ointment

in olive oil.

the family cat sneezed three times,

If

quite

ill,

in

the rest of the family would pass on the illness it

would

it.

Other more benevolent customs arose also and some parts of Europe, a pagan

persist to this day.

custom associates the cat with the

are ceremonially dressed in ribbons, flowers,

vest festival.

it

Then, when someone

colds.

it

treatment of

to the pet cat and then drive the poor animal from the house, praying that

take the illness with

cen-

though

Wounds were

meant that the family would soon come down with the household did

power of

spirit of

In

the corn. Cats

and ears of corn to preside over the har-

Undignified, perhaps, but better than being boiled in

oil!

1^

^Cn3

;^

Fortunately, too, for the beleaguered cat, seamen have always treated her well,

considering her a portent of good luck, particularly

board and allowed to a

if

she

is

deliberately brought

mouser to men whose food was stored aboard ship for long periods. under

this practical assistance, the cat could also be placed sailors

need to

on

with the ship. Naturally, the cat would have great value as

sail

raise a fair

wind.

Anyone

foolish

enough to

In

addition to

pot on deck should the

a

toss this furry friend

overboard, then, was asking for a violent and destructive storm



not to mention the

wrath of the crew.

Cats are also

welcome

in

do not run across the

theatres, so long as they

during a performance, since this brings bad luck (and bad reviews). people believe that having a cat

mascot



kick the cat

BLACK



is

In

a black cat,

who

Throughout

the other hand, to

history,

it is still

To

is

is

anyone mistreat the

a mistake, since

your path

rumored that

a cat

in

in

might leave

it is

very

cats'

whiskers can be used is

supposed to cure

devil's certain prey.

the ancient world, cats

a cat stares unblinkingly into the

picking up the presence of unseen entities.

who

it

invisible intruders.

makes you the

curately the character of a person and, unlike the

coaxed into friendship with one

unlucky,

the South

from the days of cat worship

When

is

home from

kick a cat

drown

have been credited with psychic powers.

shadows, she

away

can protect your

the southern United States,

On

it

a black cat crossing

to conjure spells and enchantments.

rheumatism.

lucky, so should

is

symbols of superstition. To stroke one

lucky and to chase

bad omens behind. Though

own

the theatre

stage

business

he or she would be inviting catastrophe. (Ouch!)

cats are, of course, the very

gently along the spine

lucky to

in

Show

more

Further, she can read ac-

forgiving dog, will never be

has mistreated her.

Perhaps because they are such finicky, unpredictable creatures, cats are reputed to be most sensitive to weather changes.

wet weather

is

coming.

If

If

a cat scampers

madly around the house,

she washes her ears, she foretells rain. (Maybe. Fathead, a

Arizona washes

feline resident of Phoenix,

constantly without adding no-

his ears

Indonesians pour a bucket of water over a cat's head

ticeably to the local rainfall.)

to bring rain.

The If

superstitions surrounding cats are legion:

a cat washes her face

from the direction

A black Gray that

cat

comes

A cat

inside

which the cat

in

coming

cats bring

and paws her ear three times, company

to

is

is

coming



facing.

your home brings good luck.

good luck, too

— maybe new

romance or marriage.

A

gray cat

your home brings money to you.

that follows

you home without being coaxed

brings

money,

too.

White cats may bring good luck or bad. Opinions vary.

Don't climb a ladder If

sible,

a black cat crosses

after a black cat walks

under

it.

your path, turn and go the other way.

If

this isn't pos-

turn and take 12 steps; by then the cat should be gone and you

may proceed

safely. If,

for

any reason, you wish to become a black

grasshoppers and crickets.

thought to being used

as a

(If

that

is

cat,

you must

eat a mixture of

not enough to discourage you, give some

toothache remedy or a salve for wounds.)

13

PROJECTS FOR THE CAT There

is

an old belief that a cured and dried cat skin will cure a toothache.

to a patient

how

to use

it

for this purpose.

Invent your

own

Explain

magical cure for a

toothache.

Winston Churchill used to stroke stray black cats for luck whenever he saw them. Are there any other famous people

Make

a

who

believed in unusual good luck charms?

good luck charm mobile.

Many poems and

stories have featured cats.

Find some examples of cat superstitions

connected with the interpretation of the work

itself.

Write a short, original

poem

about cats and superstitions.

Are there any superstitions surrounding other members of the cat family? The in

India? See

if

there

is

any

Cats are often compared to

tigers

basis for these beliefs.

human

females.

List

some

cat characteristics that might

also be attributed to females.

Why do you

suppose that cats are always chasing birds? Create an original legend

explaining this tendency of the cat.

14

THE DOG Dogs have been around for eons. Indeed, they have been domesticated for

more than 6,000

years.

It

seems probable that dogs originated

in

Asia and eastern

Europe, since drawings of them appear on the walls of prehistoric caves. In China, ancient godlike figures guarded the gates to temples. classic

mythology

as the

The dog became prominent

in

companion of the hunter-goddess of the moon, Artemis,

and of the great Heracles.

In less polite

mythical society, the three-headed dog

Cerberus was assigned by Hecate to guard the entrance to the underworld.

The Romans

recoiled

from black dogs, believing them bearers of

evil,

and the

ancient Indians sacrificed dogs to appease their gods. The Indians believed, too, that

dogs could be transformed into humans and vice versa. Minor deities ern religions had

human

bodies with the heads of dogs, or the reverse.

in

some

East-

Some Jews

and early Christians considered dogs unclean and, therefore, unholy, but

this atti-

tude was not widely shared. Dogs were generally believed to be very close to

man

and, unlike other animals, could return after death as ghosts, usually to warn their

former masters of some impending danger.

Many

A

superstitions linger about the dog.

dog howling

at the birth of a child foretells that the child will

be a bad

person.

A strange neath your

A dog if

dog

at

window

lying in a

the dog faces out,

A dog

is

your door

is

a sign of

good

luck; the

same dog whining

be-

bad luck.

doorway

someone

facing in

means someone

is

about to join the family;

will be leaving the family.

howling at night means that something important

is

about to happen

(or

that the fleas are biting).

15

When

a

dog bays the

to run free. This If

full

moon, he

may be connected

is

possessed by the moon's spirit and wants

with the Artemis myth.

the dog eats grass, rolls around and scratches, rain

is

coming

(or those fleas

are getting worse).

When

he cowers in a corner or hides under the furniture, a thunderstorm

is

brewing.

The

To

hair of a

sit

on

a

him; otherwise,

dog can draw

dog it

will bring

will bring

lightning.

you good luck

(if

you

are very well-acquainted with

very bad luck).

Sleeping with a dog cures rheumatism because the disease will be passed to the (Before you try

animal. If

child's

a

dog swallows

a

this, give

some thought

to those fleas.)

tooth extracted from a child, a dog's tooth

mouth. This should not be very

will

grow

in

the

difficult to prevent.

17

PROJECTS FOR THE DOG Look up Fo Dogs (Dogs of Fo) from Chinese mythology. Where do you think these mythological creatures

may have come from? Does

their legend tie in with our dogs

of today? Prepare a tape to share with others explaining these animals.

Why

is

the color black usually associated with evil and witchcraft? Give several ex-

amples of

how

of using the

this color

is

used

in

modern

times.

How many

word black? Are most of them negative or

phrases can you think

positive?

Illustrate the

phrases.

How do you

explain the

"homing"

instinct in dogs

way home hundreds and even thousands to

some ancient and magical power? Find examples of

Why do you

suppose dogs enjoy chewing bones? Could

cious tendency of old?

In

which enables them to find

Draw

a

their

of miles away? Could this be a throwback this instinct in stories.

this

be traced to some fero-

cartoon strip explaining your original legend.

ancient times, the cat was worshipped and the dog was often cursed. Create a

legend explaining

why

the dog and cat seem to be natural enemies today.

THE BAT Bats enjoy one of the least savory reputations

because of their general appearance which because of their nocturnal habits. After

all, in

with the setting sun, there was bound to be could navigate so well without in

some wicked

may

light.

It

the animal world.

in

ancient times

a certain

may

its

In

any

be

may

be

suspicion of a creature that

become

be that, having

sorcerer's recipe, the bat acquired

may It

when man's day ended

a

key ingredient

reputation by association.

be because of the unpleasant habits of one branch of the bat family

pire bat.

It

not beauty pageant material.

is

case, bats are creatures, in the public imagination, of



It

the vam-

haunted

houses and castles, lonely cemeteries, and deserted caves.

In fact,

apart from the vampire bat, the

little

animals are practically harmless.

not to suggest that a bat would make a charming pet; bats are wild creatures

This

is

who

belong

in

cause they

live in

to daylight.

number

the wild. There are a

a bat," for instance,

is

not very blind

at

all.

of misconceptions, however.

"Blind

as

Bats have quite good eyesight but, be-

dark caves and are nocturnal by habit, their eyes are very sensitive

They can

fly

around

in total

darkness, too, because they have highly

developed radar systems and very acute hearing.

One of

the really dangerous things about the bat

transmit rabies. the other hand,

Should you be bitten by one, by it is

not true that

Nor

will

wither and drop

you

will suffer a lifetime of

off.

thing good for your nerves).

if

is it

a

bat bites

true that

if

all

you on a

is

a

will a bat landing

and

see a doctor at once.

On

hand or foot the extremity

bat hits you on the head

dreadful headaches (though

Nor

his ability to carry

means

it is

in flight

not likely to do any-

on your head make you bald

(nervous, yes, but not bald).

19

Someone house

is

(with a keen eye for the obvious) passed the

bad luck. What's more,

someone intends

you

to betray

a bat flying near

(or scare

That bats can predict weather around seeking entrance to

is

hand, are a sign of

When

fair

20

that a bat

in

the

he

is

more than

fact.

When

a bat flaps

just curious; he

is

looking

Bats flying around at twilight, on the other

and sunny weather.

witchcraft was

if

word

you walk along means that

you to death).

in

fashion, would-be witches

blood to their brew to enable them to travel around does. So,

as

probably based on

a building,

for shelter before a rainstorm begins.

you

in

added

a

darkness

that cricket and grasshopper recipe seems to need a

soupcon of

bat's

as skillfully as a bat little

perking up

.

.

.

PROJECTS FOR THE BAT Throughout history vampire legends have one of the legends and

give

persisted.

your explanation of

Did they ever exist? Summarize

it.

Has man learned anything of value from the bat that could be applied to

way

What with

is

it?

rabies? In the

Do

animals carry

all

old legend states

of the legend.

it,

and

how

own

does an animal act when infected

Dark Ages, people were hunted down and

and foamed at the mouth.

An

his

of living?

It

if

List

two

a bat lands

would make an

killed

if

they went wild

possible causes for their behavior and condition.

on your head you

will

go bald. Make up the

Does the vampire bat actually attack human beings? Trace can find some vampire legends about

it in

its

origin

and see

it

could have

if

you

that country.

Check back into prehistoric times and explain the probable evolution of the choosing a creature

rest

interesting filmstrip to share with others!

come from. Make drawings

bat,

of each stage of

development.

Create a spooky story about a bat based on legends and

diorama to

22

illustrate

your story.

its

living habits.

Make

a

THE DONKEY The donkey stiffer

mane, and

is

related to the horse but

a tuft of hair

on

smaller, with longer ears, a shorter,

is

The donkey

its tail.

is

patient, sure-footed,

and

stubborn.

The

jackass (a donkey's uncle) has been around since ancient Egypt and

among

used by Jews, Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians

One

early legend says that the jackass, the mule, and the

of the horse for his size and good looks. The

ass,

vampire and pursued the horse through haunted

whether he caught the horse

may

or,

if

have prepared the horse for his career

Another legend explains the donkey's

when Adam was

how till

assigned to

name

the naming was progressing.

God came

to the donkey.

all

donkey were

Legend does not record

forests.

long, floppy ears.

God

He asked each animal

its

In

the beginning,

visited the garden to see

name and

all

went

creature, slow of wit, had forgotten

name. After God repeated the question again and again, and angry and grabbed the donkey by

this early gallop

in racing.

earth's creatures,

The poor

its

ears.

each time pronouncing the animal's name,

jealous

therefore, changed himself into a

what he did with him, but

so,

was

others.

till

He

Adam

well

its

grew embarrassed

pulled those ears time and again,

the ears stretched and lengthened into

the floppy items they are today. The story, of course, also contributes to the belief that donkeys are stupid.

To one

will

the superstitious, at any rate, donkeys are most useful.

cure scarlet fever.

gray donkeys or mules.

then step on

it.

If

You

will find love

you spot

(And the donkey

is

a

and money

if

For instance, to

you count

a

kiss

hundred

white mule, you must kiss your right hand and

stupid?)

23

Warts? Yes, indeed, the donkey can help you there. Take one white turkey feather, dip in grease

wart.

Do

from the

this for three

Weather

again.

A

left side

of a donkey-drawn cart and rub on your

days until 3:30 p.m. (or try

a little pig lard).

noisy and insistently braying donkey has sensed wet weather

ahead (or has spotted a good-looking jackass).

Donkeys, by the way, are walking lightning rods. kicked a very important Egyptian the temple of at

24

Isis

donkeys ever

in

and requested revenge, so

since!

It

the seat of his pants.

seems a jackass once

The

injured party visited

celestial lightning bolts

have been aiming

PROJECTS FOR THE DONKEY Create your

own myth about how

and act

it

What

is

the difference between a

What

is

the origin of the mule?

How would you fever? Could

immune

it

How part

26

donkey got

his long ears.

Write

it

as a script

donkey and

a

mule?

explain the claim that by kissing a

Illustrate the

donkey you

will

two

animals.

cure scarlet

have originated during an epidemic of the disease? Are donkeys

to the disease?

What reason can you and,

the

out.

in its

give for the

"own" words,

did the in this?

donkey's stubbornness? Speak for the donkey

explain this

game "Pin the

Tail

trait.

on the Donkey" begin? Did superstition have any

Design a similar game for a large group.

THE BEAR There are bears and there are bears. The

common brown

bear

and Europe. His eight-foot, thousand-pound cousin the black bear

America and, though

anything that happens along

It is

folklore.

by preference,

a vegetarian

.

.

.

will nibble

Another cousin, the

tasty morsels as a pig or a sheep.

including an

partly the bear's habit of hibernation that

whose

death and resurrection.

stories include

is

revered in

symbol of courage and strength and

makes him so prominent

in

many

a parallel to the In addition,

cultures.

northern Japan,

in

In

believe that the bear has the magical

him harmless

in

any form since he

The story was common

in

the bear

is

large

The Japanese

at will,

shape at

all.

Any

was probably not around to

little ball

observer

the

many

if

first

weeks of

life,

of fur half-hidden beneath

who aimed

its

for a closer look at the

are

so an ob-

mother

newborn

give his report.

Bear grease was a popular item said to cure baldness

also

but they consider

the Middle Ages that bear cubs were born as shape-

server might well suppose that the real

a

is

lumps and were licked by their mother into the shape of a bear. Bear cubs

had no

he

religious

not attack humans unless provoked by them.

very small, of course, and very dependent during their

kill

many

Sapporo, fine wooden

power to change form

will

in

in spring,

Japan, the bear

carvings are prevalent of the sacred bear, guardian of the forests.

less

then on such

an appetite for

Because he sleeps through the winter months and reappears

and strong and for that reason

Asia

in

North

unwary camper or two.

conforms to the cycle o* Earth herself and also offers figures

now and

grizzly, has

found

is

lives in

rubbed on

in

the 16th century. Amazingly versatile,

a shiny head.

Applied to garden tools,

it

it

was

would

pests that attack plants.

27

The

hair of the bear



fur

from

a live bear's

stomach,

in fact

alcohol and applied to the soles of the feet as a positive cure for

other annoyances of the brain.

In



fits,

was boiled

in

lunacy, and

the rural United States, mothers gave babies a

bear tooth to teethe on and older folk used the tooth to cure toothache (having

found dried cat skin

ineffective).

A

bearskin rug v^as considered a good place to

sleep to cure backaches.

Down

in

Louisiana

it is

ness in the dreamer, but to folklore claims, too, that

said that to

dream of

when

a

dream of

fighting a bear indicates unhappi-

running bear indicates happiness. Southern

a bear hibernates early a long, hard winter

is

in

the

offing.

Finally, the polar bear!

When you

visit

the Arctic and

want to bring back

a

polar bear as a souvenir, cut a hole in the ice four feet in diameter, place garden peas

around

edge, and wait.

its

the peas.

When

polar bear.

Eventually a polar bear will happen along and

he does, knock him into the

How you

28

make

for

and voila! you have caught

a

remove him from the hole and what you do with him subse-

quently the legend does not say. thing!

ice hole

You cannot expect

superstition to cover every-

PROJECTS FOR THE BEAR What happens

to a bear's

body when

it

hibernates?

Make

a

diagram showing

a

hibernating bear.

Create an Eskimo legend and use illustrations explaining where the polar bear came

from and why create the

If

his fur

snow and

you wore

a bear

is all

white.

Explain what magical powers he would use to

ice.

claw around your neck, what do you think

it

would protect you

from and why? Write an advertisement offering magic bear claws

If

you were magically changed

when you

30

see a

man? Explain

into a grizzly bear, this in the bear's

for sale.

what would be your reaction

"own" words.

THE SNAKE The story of Adam and Eve and the serpent

attests to the long, legendary

mocked, and

history of the snake. Snakes have been worshipped, hated, feared,

revered as possessing great

power

for

The ancient Cretans worshipped

good and for

evil.

a snake goddess

whom

they pictured with

snakes coiled about her arms and waist. The Egyptians believed the snake to be the spirit of

the universe, while Buddhists saw

pents sacred to several of their gods and

inance and authority. the

fall

human

symbol of anger. Greeks held

Romans esteemed them

as

ser-

symbols of dom-

believed that Satan took the form of a ser-

of man. The snake remains a sacred object of great power

to present-day African tribes; to fillment of

as a

the Bible, Moses' rod was transformed into a serpent for

In

amazement of Pharaoh and the Jews

pent to engineer the

it

some

tribes

it

represents

life's

beauty and the

ful-

desire.

Britons, long ago,

hung the dried skin of

a

snake over the hearth to protect the

house; Teutonic people in Europe kept "house snakes" as guardians of the family and, like the ever-popular cat, as good ratcatchers as well.

Folklore insists that a in swift pursuit of its prey.

hoop snake can take It

its tail in its

declares that snakes can spit

mouth and

venom

roll

along

great distances

and that snakes have hypnotic power over humans and other animals. None of is

accurate.

Cobras are not

really

charmed

into obedience

this

by music nor do mother

snakes swallow their young to protect them.

31

Suggestions for superstitious use of snakes include wrapping the skin around

your body for protection from lizard at an (are

enemy

you ready

evil spirits,

throwing

concoction made of powdered

a

to turn him into a snake, eating snake eggs to cure stuttering, and

for this?) swallowing a live snake to cure

whooping cough.

For weather clues, ask the Hopi Indians about the use of snakes dances.

Remember,

bring bad weather.

and the

first

too, that to If

across a road or appearing in

home,

yell

snake and leave

snakes are late to disappear

thunder of spring

way. And, of course,

kill a

if

is

said to

it

the

in

lying fall,

awaken the snakes

some unusual spot

a snake slithers to high

and keep him out (did we have to

in a

a mild

again.

winter

A snake

dry season means rain

ground or

tell

in their rain

on the ground

you

tries to slink into

is

will

due,

crawling is

on the

your

that?) because a big storm

is

coming.

A sidelight

on snake lore concerns snake handling. This unusual custom

nated with George

Went Hensley

in

the early 1900's.

origi-

Hensley decided that Scripture

enjoined the faithful to handle serpents and he introduced the practice into churches

throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. The idea spread across the country but, because of the danger involved, snake-handling was quickly outlawed. Nevertheless, the underground cult of snake-handlers

32

still

practices here and there.

//

^

'-1

PROJECTS FOR THE SNAKE Using Egyptian history as a source, illustrate several ways

in

which the snake was

used as a symbol.

List several

ways

chart of the ones

in

which the snake

you

find

most

is

used as a symbol

in

modem

times.

Make

a

interesting.

Pretend that you are a sorcerer and you have managed to crossbreed a snake with

another animal. What would you get and what would you

Which

results.

would

it

traits

would

it

call it?

pick up from each creature and

have? Would you want to keep

it

Illustrate the

what magical powers

as a pet?

Snakeskins often have colorful or intricate designs. Reproduce a snakeskin pattern

on paper. Find examples of uses for snakeskins.

How do you

feel

about the use of

snakeskin for manufactured items?

Snakes appear often

in

early

of this to share with others.

34

American Indian folklore and

rituals.

Find examples

THE TOAD For a really effective hex or a potent love potion, you simply cannot beat our

warty

friend, the toad.

It

may

be the toad's gastronomic preference for spiders, a

staple ingredient in nearly every witch's caldron, that gave the toad his

tion as an aid to witchcraft (a matter of being

Toads were der to

also believed to

make any dog

foolish

exude

by being rubbed on the

In

England,

when

site

in

the

own

company one

reputa-

keeps).

poisonous fluid from certain glands

a

enough to attack

stone (any stone resembling a toad

known by

a toad

become

severely

in or-

A toad-

ill.

shape) could cure an insect's poisonous sting

of the injury.

witchcraft flourished, folks thought a witch might blend a

magic lotion out of toad

spittle

and sap from a plant called sow-thistle. She would

use this unsavory mixture to paint a cross on her body, thereby becoming invisible.

Should the magic wear off while she was three times on her

without

a

broom and

still

about her business, she'd merely

turn into a black cat.

(You could not

tell

spit

the players

program.)

The poor toad who,

bat and the hog, suffered the consequences of a

like the

rather unattractive appearance, has for centuries been slain, chopped, boiled, and

roasted in man's efforts to ward off

demons and

above doorways at the hour of death able journey to the hereafter.

comfy.) In medieval times, a

(The toad's live

to rid the house of germs in the

their

ilk.

Toad

skins were

own

departure was probably not so

toad was suspended over a chimney for three days

wake of

a plague.

A criminal

might carry

toad around with him to escape detection (the aroma must have held off

most assiduous pursuers) and seizures.

A king

hung

order to assure the departed soul a comfort-

in

epileptics

could be cured of any

were recommended to do illness

of a toad (while wrapping his face

in a cat skin

if

a toad

the sufferer spit

and drinking from

dead but the

likewise to prevent

by wearing the heart of

cord around his neck, and a toothache would vanish

a

all

in

on

the

a

mouth

a horse's bucket?).

35

To

accidentally

kill

a toad

was to bring on

rain.

To

find

one

at

your back door

was the sign of a dust storm, and to hear a tree toad calling in the forest meant that rain

was due

(or that a tree toad of opposite

gender and toadly beauty was

in

the

neighborhood).

The

superstition that handling a toad causes warts

cause warts.

handsome get warts

36

Everyone knows that

prince.

on your

if

you

kiss a

is

utter nonsense. Witches

toad three times he

will turn into a

Unless, of course, he belongs to a witch, in which case face.

Life

is

full

of risks!

you

will

^

PROJECTS FOR THE TOAD If

toads do not create warts, what does?

it

as logical as possible.

Why do broom

In

Invent your

this

and make

witches always fly around on brooms? Which superstitions surround the

that could explain this?

many

legends, the heart of an animal or creature

properties.

Can you explain why and

"Once upon forest.

of a

a time, a

Suddenly

mean

it

your version:

handsome young prince went

his horse tripped,

old witch. She got so

Plan a toad-hopping contest. will

was thought to have very potent

examples?

give several

Finish the following fairy tale using three toads in

Where

own myth about

Create a potion to cure the warts.

mad

How many

be held? What prize

will

he

gell

riding into the

magic

off and landed right on top

that she

entries will there be?

What

are the rules?

be offered?

Find "recipes" for wart removal. Share an unusual one with others. Have a wart

you'd care to experiment with?

38

THE PEACOCK Famous

for

ways been the

its

magnificent feathers and for

stuff of legends.

The Arabs

Eden to the serpent who brought about the

fall

by God with the harsh, unlovely shriek that

is its

this cry

is

meant to warn Adam's and

weather. Because of this legend, bring bad luck

if

its

harsh cry, the peacock has

al-

that the peacock opened the gates of

tell

of

Adam and

Eve, and

was punished

According to the Arab

voice.

tale,

Eve's descendants of danger and of severe

among

others, peacock feathers are believed to

they are brought inside a house. Inside a theater, a peacock feather

assures a flop!

The Hindu

fable states that the gods once

escape the fury of the demon, Ravana.

came

a

peacock. In

sight, signified

memory

of

this,

changed themselves into animals to

Indra, the

god of thunder, war and

by the thousand eyes that adorn

sense the onset of rain and the power to

kill

its

feathers,

snakes.

The

and gave

was due when "the peacock mounts on high" and

Snakes abound

in India,

peacock

bile

and blood

bird's burning

smoke

who

a

plumes

is

as

it

it

said that

and yawls.

a step further

kill

snakes

made

and prescribed

away venom, so some snakebite victims would

How efficacious

all

this

was

is

not reported, but people

traveled extensively in India were urged to carry a peacock along.

of superstition was such that some

would

peacock can

was

an antidote to snake poison. Further, smoke from the

said to chase

peacock feather.

struts

so the peacock's mythical ability to

the bird very popular there. Indeed, Indians took

the ability to

it

belief that the

predict rain spread as far west as Ireland where, in the 15th century, rain

rain, be-

the god blessed the bird with a special inner

The power

Indians thought that the very cry of the peacock

repel snakes.

39

The peacock appears to have been

body were used to cure and

infertility.

a sort of walking

wonder drug.

Parts of

its

tuberculosis, forms of paralysis, asthma, headache, flat feet,

Hindus and Moslems carried peacock feathers with which to ward

off the evil eye. Peacock

plume umbrellas were

and even now, on ceremonial occasions,

carried in the entourages of royalty

this elaborate parasol

is

held over the head

of the pope.

Sacred Java.

A

in

China and Japan, the peacock

is

a

demonic

figure

on the

island of

Persian poet once wrote that the peacock has such ugly feet that

never be welcome tale that the

appeared

in

in paradise.

it

would

The poet may have been influenced by the Egyptian

peacock, catching sight of his ugly feet and realizing contrast with his gorgeous plumage,

let

out

how

dreadful they

a piercing shriek of horror

that has remained his cry to this day.

The peacock,

like

many

other animals popular

for Christian lore, and appears often as a

The

bird

sprouts

40

became

new and

a

symbol of resurrection because

splendid plumage.

in

ancient myth, was adapted

background figure it

in paintings

of saints.

regularly molts and then

r^ ^

PROJECTS FOR THE PEACOCK Look up the legend behind the fabled phoenix tion

between

it

and the

beliefs

inspired the birth of this mythical bird?

If

you had asthma or

bird and see

if

there

is

any connec-

surrounding the peacock. Could the peacock have If

not,

what could have?

flat feet,

which parts of the peacock would you use to cure

how

the peacock was created and for what reason. Are

them?

Invent a story explaining

there any other birds that resemble the peacock?

If

so,

where do you think they

came from?

There

is

an old legend from India that

did nothing silver

into

all

day long but admire

mirror and marvel at her beauty. Even

it

her beauty that she

girl

after

when

day she would look

at.

One day

Read

who

her

come

into the palace

came

So angry did the princess become, that she pushed

In his rage,

fell,

her father cast a magic spell on her and

he then changed the princess into a glass pea-

this story over carefully

and find a moral to

your opinion, why the sorcerer changed the princess into

42

to

the great and mighty sorcerer's daughter

out of a tower. As she

changed her into a dove.

in

she passed a pool, she would gaze

would not allow anyone or anything

to visit the princess's brother.

the pretty

Day

As time went by, she became so obsessed with

to savor her lovely reflection.

that was lovely to look

cock

of a beautiful but very vain princess

tells

herself.

it.

Explain,

a glass peacock.

in

THE OWL The owl,

like the bat,

has paid for his simple nocturnal habits, acquiring a repu-

tation as a witch's friend and as the guardian of frests

place by night.

Its

where wicked

revels

owl's superstitious aura. Medieval sages believed the owl could assume

to hunt

down

its

women, who

prey, and wise and weird old

"image," would keep an owl

In fact,

the owl

is

to crops in the field.

who

a pleasant, fuzzy bird

field mice, rats,

harmles (unless you happen to

is

own

for example, flee

omen

remedy

for this.

If

Roman temple

will

an owl nests

pletely to keep the ghosts away.

He does human-

little

who do damage

to say of him that

Some

compli-

is

of death and disaster.

any building upon which an owl makes

should he decide to nest inside, the place there any

business.

and other small animals

Nevertheless, folklore has

mentary. He has been, historically, an

You must,

human form

cherished their witching

as a pet.

be a young rabbit or squirrel) and tends to mind his kind a service by preying on

took

and mournful cry no doubt contributed, too, to the

large eyes

be haunted

in a

building,

it

in

no time

at

his perch;

all.

Nor

is

must be torn down com-

centuries back, an owl decided to nest in a

dedicated to the great god Jupiter. The

little

feathered tenant had

to be promptly evicted and very complicated rites of purification performed before

the building could again be used as a place of worship.

To

the ancient Greeks, however, the owl was sacred, the pet and messenger of

Athena, goddess of wisdom. small winged friend as an

still

Few

of Athena's statues or temples remain, but her

symbolizes learning and we

still

use the expression "wise

owl."

43

An owl

seen in daylight

is

bad

luck.

Young

girls

are especially urged to hurry

day to avert

see one, and stay indoors for the rest of the

home, should they

disaster.

Europeans, hearing an owl hoot, turn their pockets inside out to avoid some unpleasantness.

An owl hooting

going to

come down with

three nights outside your

Finding owl feathers

and then

boil

it

coming nocturnal

The wise a strong north If

is

little

is

a misfortune, and

(Whether

alive.

this

is

is

a

warning that you are

tropical

and the bird

you must hurry to

bird

is

a fine

weather forecaster.

wind to blow. To hear her hooting

Should

this

be-

If

at all

she hoots

Owls hooting

in a tree,

look for

means cold weather

a great deal, especially

is

is

it

due.

ahead; on the

on summer nights,

occur when you are planning a picnic, simply burn some

and/or take off one shoe and turn while.

find an entire owl

custom had anything to do with the owl

she hoots on the west side of a mountain, though, fine weather

tell rain.

not.

is

not reported.)

east side, bad weather.

44

home

malaria, though the disease

fore-

salt

upside down. This will keep the rain off for

(So will cancelling your picnic.)

a

PROJECTS FOR THE OWL What

is it

about an owl's neck that enables

The expression "He has eyes this peculiar trait since Illustrate the physical

in the

an owl

is

to turn

it

back of

his

its

head."

head

may

all

way around?

the

have originated from

supposed to know everything that

is

going on.

construction of an owl's neck and contrast that with a draw-

ing of another animal.

If

you had

a stuffed

owl

in

your home, what do you think

it

would protect you

from?

What does an owl symbolize at night scare

you, especially

to you? if

Is it

fearful or friendly?

you were alone

Would

hooting

its

Explain your

in a strange forest?

reaction.

If

an owl was magically changed into a person, what do you think

like?

Illustrate

Create a

your conception and explain

game using

a

magic

why

forest, the snake,

animals as you wish. Use their magical powers as

many

would look

it

peacock, owl, and as in devising

would look

like this.

many

other

your game and work

legends as you can.

Using illustrations,

from smallest to

46

it

make

largest.

a chart

showing

all

the varieties of owls. Order

Label with names and wingspan.

them

in

THE EAGLE The

eagle

became America's national emblem despite the

Franklin,

who

lobbied energetically for the humble but nourishing turkey.

won

eagle

efforts of

Benjamin

The

out, probably because of his ancient mystique.

Eagles have been associated with longevity and immortality for thousands of

Psalm 103 refers to "thy youth

years.

is

renewed

like the eagle's."

plunge deep into the water to snatch up their prey, which gave that the bird thus renews

rise

Feeling old age advancing, the bird

itself.

Sea eagles do to the legend flies

high into

the sky, increasing his internal heat, then plunges into the cold sea, raising the temperature

till

melt away. Shedding the old feathers and sprouting

his feathers

ones supposedly keeps the bird young. The

that eagle feathers could not be destroyed and would actually

mixed among them.

feathers

Adam

and Eve

in

any

on

in

In

the Hebrides' Shiant

Isles,

consume any other

the folktale suggests that

the form of a pair of eagles.

case, the eagle has represented

To

est drives.

live

new

spread of this fable led to the belief

the Romans,

it

humanity's highest ambitions and strong-

was the bird of Jove, hurler of thunderbolts.

Russia,

Gtrmany, Austria, and France each symbolized their dreams of empire by the eagle, the sign of

The

power and authority.

eagle, with

its

vast wingspan, does soar higher than other birds

to be able to stare straight into the sun.

do«s

up

live

long



often as

much

as

stray children, preying instead

The

bird

one hundred

is

and

is

said

not immortal, of course, but

years.

It

does not, however, snatch

on small game.

47

The power of the its

eagle and

its

association with the gods naturally

herbs would chase

away night demons. Pounded

eagle liver

cataracts, a belief probably born of the bird's keen eyesight.

worn around the neck, was an

irresistible love

your chosen one, you would then

steal a

around your neck to keep your spouse

American Indians

perform

still

into a snake.

The

eggs,

if

and

mixed with honey cured

The heart of an

eagle,

stone from an eagle's next and wear

'\t_

faithful.

a ritual eagle

dance which at

is

said to bring rain

sundown

as a cure

eaten at any other time, would turn the itchy-footed

Snakes, of course, are regularly eaten by eagles (maybe because the

birds recognize an egg thief

48

it

charm. Having secured the love of

and peace. Indian lore further recommends eagle eggs eaten for itching feet.

made

Eagle feathers cooked with special

belongings valuable for medicinal purposes.

when they

see one).

PROJECTS FOR THE EAGLE In

your opinion, what bird besides the eagle would make

for

as

good or

a better

symbol

America and why?

Could the myth about eagles snatching up young children have anything to do with old witches' tales?

Make

a

If

not,

how do you

suppose

began?

it

drawing of the following three birds and explain the differences both

appearance and their

living habits:

eagle, falcon,

tious beliefs about the falcon and the

List several

country.

ways

Explain

in

hawk. Can you find any

hawk? Are they

which the symbol of the eagle

why

they use

it

is

similar to those of the eagle?

used other than for this

symbol. Would

as their

in

supersti-

it

have anything to do

with superstitious beliefs of the past?

Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, provides an opportunity for making

some very unusual and Teach someone

50

else

interesting birds.

how

Try designing

to repeat your design.

a bird using this technique.

THE COCK Because the cock crows loudly at sunrise, he has long been believed to forth the sun,

whose

light dispels the evil

course, the bird himself to carry cocks with

demons of the

was credited with scaring off the

them on

their travels

(what

hatched by a snake from a cock's egg

fits

and died

if it

enemy with



even heard a cock crow.

might have kept cocks for their

Libyans used

little devils.

A

basilisk

was

a creature

that's right, a cock's egg; don't ask

a single glance.

Apparently



and

this lethal basilisk

had

understandable that the Libyans

It is

basilisk value,

call

Before long, of

they happened upon an Indian

if

with his peacock?) to frighten away lions and basilisks.

capable of killing an

darkness.

but for lions? One thinks of the cat

and the canary.

Cocks were sacrificed to the Aztec sun god, particularly pletion of a heart, In

and

new temple

or a

right foot of a

cock

Ceylon, the cock survived

sacrifice of thanksgiving.

new

bridge.

in their

till

In parts of

homes

honor of the com-

to cure a family

member

of an

illness.

the sick person recovered, then was offered as a

Occasionally a cock was sacrificed in an appeal to save an

cow.

ailing

As

if all

this didn't represent

enough trouble

popular for hundreds of years, particularly blers

in

Germany, people hid the head,

in

for the bird, cockfighting has been

England and the United States. Gam-

would bet on which of two cocks, each armed with sharp

spurs,

would

survive

a one-to-one battle.

The Japanese have an elaborate legend explaining why the cock tured in their religious

art.

One

of Japan's two major religions

of both nature and ancestor worship

much

like the religion of

The chief deity

is

of Japan and

worshipped at Shinto shrines,

is

Amaterasu, the sun goddess. She all

is

is

is

so often pic-

Shintoism, a form

American

Indians.

the ancestress of the emperors

of which have double-yoked gate-

ways.

51

Legend says that centuries ago Amaterasu became angry with one of her brothers and shut herself up

in a cave.

Since she was the source of

the world

light,

was plunged into darkness and the other gods could not coax her out. At placed a crowing cock at the entrance to her cave.

Out of

last

they

habit, she responded to

the cock's voice and emerged, filling the world with light again.

The double-yoked

gateways at Amaterasu's shrines represent the cock's perch and the bird himself

is

often pictured there.

The cock became an important symbol Gospel story of Peter's denial of Christ and ed him of what he had done. The bird to temptation.

announced the towers

in

We eral.

is

in

his

Christian tradition because of the

remorse when the cockcrow remind^

a reminder, then, to Christians to

For this reason, and perhaps because an old fable birth of Christ, weathercocks

how

alert

the cock

were customarily placed on church

cannot leave the cock without giving a

little

attention to chickens

These domestic fowl were introduced into Europe from Persia and

haps because they came from a

into the laps of Slavic brides as

part of the world that was list

symbols of

a

Chicken

Do you

handful of chicken gizzards. Want to get

in vinegar that has stood overnight in eggshells.

wishbone. Want

itself

in

gen-

India.

Per-

legendary to most

of superstitious uses. Hens were tossed fertility.

feathers have figured in a variety of folk remedies.

Swallow

be

the Middle Ages.

westerners, chickens quickly acquired a

52

tells

rid

and

eggs, shells, blood,

wish to be beautiful?

of freckles?

Need something

Wash your

special?

to dream of your future spouse? Eat an eggshell

filled

face

Wish on

with

salt.

a

^

On

the other hand, never use water in which eggs have been washed.

Do not keep empty

warts. (Absurd! Witches cause warts.)

witches,

who

a Friday. ficiently

Keep

to cure the

a

mumps,

54

Do not

that a hen that

causes

eat a crowing hen except on

is

crowing

is

probably

insuf-

a fence

tie fried

eggs dipped in sardine

oil

in-

to your jaw.

few chickens and you don't need the weatherman. Feathers thickening

a rooster's legs

mean

cold weather. Chickens dusting themselves in the sand

mean bad weather. Drooping on

as boats.

remember

It

around since

cooked, regardless of the day of the week.) Last, and certainly most

teresting:

on

cannot swim, use them

(Actually, try to

eggshells

mean

it

will clear

feathers

up soon.

mean

rain,

but singing hens

(!?!)

and chickens

PROJECTS FOR THE COCK What

logic

sardine

What

oil

do you think could have been behind the

belief that eggs

side effects

would

this

Dig back into East Indian mythology and create a legend of your

Let's pretend that basilisk.

big

why

you found yourself

own about

the

he was created.

in a

magic forest and suddenly ran into a

a favorite ingredient in witches' potions.

If

you knew someone

and strong and you wanted to make them small and weak, just

would you make your potion? Explain whether externally and

oil?

Create an exciting adventure story of this whole event.

Chicken hearts were

who was

in

wonderful cure have?

cock and where he came from and

dreaded

dipped

would cure mumps? What would mumps have to do with sardine

why you would

it

how

would be consumed or applied

use a particular method.

55

THE CRANE The

sight of a

early man.

Little

huge flock of cranes flying overhead excited the imagination of

wonder, since these huge

birds,

moving

sky, were yet another manifestation of nature that significance.

in large

was too

numbers across the

vivid not to have

The gawky-graceful mating dance of the crane was

a source

some

of interest,

too, and civilizations as diverse as those of Crete and China adapted the dance to their rituals.

When

cranes meet to perform this

each making an odd concentric circle

little

circles, the

little

number, they begin by standing

outer one shuffling about

in a

random manner while the

moves slowly counterclockwise, leaping now and then

performed their crane dance the Labyrinth,

home

in

In

Ancient Cretans

an arena built in a swastika pattern. This arena was

of the fabled Minotaur. The circle and swastika both being

sun symbols, the dance must have been a solar

ritual.

the Far East, crane dancing was connected with thunder, rain,

reincarnation.

inner

into the air and grad-

ually attaining a sort of frenzy that leads to the birds pairing off.

in

apart,

musical sound, part song and part cry. The birds form

fertility,

and

The Chinese believed that black cranes brought demons into the open

and danced with them during

a drought.

They would make

a

paper crane to fasten

to the sedan chair which contained the image of a family

member who had

Again, at Taoist funerals in China, the founder, Lao-Tze,

is

died.

depicted wearing a red

robe decorated with white cranes and riding a white, one-horned animal similar to a

water buffalo.

In

countries as disparate as China, Crete, and Gaul there existed

some

connection between a supernatural being, a horned creature, and the crane. The

connection unfortunately

56

is

lost to us.

All over Asia, cranes

children will fly

make

decorate gay and colorful

New

Year ornaments.

In

Japan,

colorful paper cranes to send to sick people, believing that the crane

away with the

illness.

Apart from their very prompt migration at the onset of winter and spring, cranes have no value as weather forecasters.

But they appear

about a war between cranes and pygmies, and

in

in

an old Homeric tale

many American

Indian tales.

57

PROJECTS FOR THE CRANE Can you explain simply from



Gaul

totally

logic

why

such civilizations

unconnected with each other



all

had

like

China, Crete, and

a belief that tied in

with a

crane, a supernatural being, and a horned creature? Could sailors or traveling mer-

chants have spread

or helped to?

it

Is

this

the

way many

superstitions invaded other

cultures?

Look up three other animals and explain what ing.

Is

animals look alike? Give three examples

Make

a

drawing of

would think that

a crane

this bird

and see is

a

habits or their disposition that

if

this story, try to find

Look up the

they go through before mat-

you can

would create

Minotaur

a

a

Do

the male and female

which the two sexes

figure out Is

why

differ in appearance.

the Japanese people

there something about their living

this belief?

war between the cranes and the pygmies.

who won, and why. Was

it

a fair

match?

If

you

can't find

another one that features the cranes as aggressive creatures.

tale of the fabled

Where do you think

in

good luck omen.

Look up the old Homeric legend about Explain what happened,

it

Minotaur and draw your version of

came from or

did

someone

combination of several other animals?

which parts came from which animal.

58

rituals

there any similarity between the three animals?

create If

so,

it?

this creature.

Was the dreadful

name them and

indicate

THE BEE Bees are busy in

in

legend and superstition.

Believed to be messengers of the gods

ancient times, bees were held so sacred that to

it is

their

no wonder bees were held

in

kill

one might be

a capital offense.

such regard. Their production of honey and

complex, structured society absorb our attention to

They were con-

this day.

sidered so sensitive by the ancients that they were supposed unable to live near a

home where

much

hatred or anger prevailed, and to be

disturbed by swearing or

crude language.

An

old legend

tells

of a beekeeper

and even with love, and who, after

who had

many

tended

his hives

The mourning

years, died.

elaborate and the settlement of the estate took time and, in

were quite forgotten. When

at last a family

member

with great care

all

rituals

were

the to-do, the bees

visited the hives,

they were

empty. Anxious to regain the bees, the family tied black crepe to the main hive and gathered to inform the empty hives of the master's death. Within three days the bees returned. This story gave

been

a

death

in

The Welsh

rise

to the

believe that a bee flying it

around

that

if

without doing you harm, you must make be the soul of

some departed

The perceptive

little

a

relative

a

a sleeping child

bee

flies

when

there has

wish before he

who means

is

a sign of great

around you and follows you flies

to bring

away, because he

you good fortune.

bees are credited with knowing right from

people from bad ones. They

swarm (do not

telling bees

the family.

happiness, and a similar belief has

may

custom of

will

test this theory),

wrong and good

allow a young virgin to pass unharmed through a

and

will

not sting a good person unless they have

been frightened by something.

59

The busy bees

are

supposed to be informed of

and any other family news. This

some hive

countries,

it is

so

annoyed that they

These fussy

little

births, marriages, departures,

an extension of the death custom, of course.

If

no one does inform the

will sting the

next person

bees, they are reputed to

who

does approach them.

creatures are, what's more, not to be given away.

wants to part with a swarm to insult the bees.

In

wise to place a piece of wedding or christening cake next to the

by way of giving the news.

become

is

If

is

advised to

this advice

is

sell

it,

and for a proper

ignored, misfortune will

fall

A

beekeeper

price, in order

upon both

giver

who

not

and

receiver.

Finally, bees that

coming, while bees

way.

60

buzz before the

who

refuse to

first

come out

day of spring mean more cold weather of their hive

mean wet weather

is

is

on the

PROJECTS FOR THE BEE Make

a

drawing of a bee community showing the queen bee and the other

How does

their society differ or relate to

approve of man's

Make

a

the ant

There

of

life?

is

differ with the bee's society is

a natural antagonist of

is

beeswax and does

How

has man's

it?

way

of

it

If so,

life

and man's? Make up

in

it.

How does

it

a legend explaining

man.

an insect called the bee beetle.

cures attributed to

classes.

Would the bees

Explain your answer from a bee's viewpoint.

create a mythological story explaining

What

social structure?

drawing of an ant society and show the various classes

compare or

why

way

man's

Look

how

it

it

up and make

got

its

a

drawing of

it.

Then

name.

have any use for man? Are there any folklore uses or explain

why you

think they work.

or thinking been affected by studying the bee's

way

of

life?

61

THE SPIDER "If

you wish to

Even the tarantula

is

live

and

thrive, let the spider run alive,"

to be spared.

an Athenian maiden, Arachne, ever, very vain of her talent

weaver

herself, to a contest.

piece of cloth and,

The

idea stems

who was

a

most

warns an old adage.

from an old Greek myth about

skilled weaver.

She was

also,

how-

and boldly challenged the goddess Athena, an expert

Each of them worked to produce the

when they

finished,

it

was

clear that Arachne's

finest possible

work was superior

to the goddess's. So enraged was Athena that the frightened Arachne tried to hang herself. girl,

Athena was not to be done out of her revenge, however, and stopped the

changing her into a spider. Though turned into an

skillful

weaver and handed her

them from

artistry

down

insect,

Arachne remained a

To

to her descendants.

trying to hang themselves, Athena

made

it

possible for

prevent any of

them to hang

for

hours by the threads of their webs.

In time,

Athena

anyone who would

felt

try to

spiders to live in peace,

remorse for her anger and was said to cast a

harm one of these

little

To

beings.

Athena brought good fortune

all

those

spell

who

upon

allowed

The custom of

their lives.

sparing the lives of spiders was helped along by practical considerations during the

Middle Ages. Sanitation being what sects

would have made

life

it

was (almost nonexistent)

unbearable were

it

flies

and other

in-

not for the spider quietly spinning her

webs.

It it

was believed,

to heal

in

those days, that to lay a spider's

by congealing the blood.

It is

possible that in

web upon some

acted as a sort of primitive antibiotic to clear up infection.

62

a cut

would help

instances the

web

Out of these myths and customs came an abundance of superstitious spider spins her If

you

you

start

web

lore.

If

a

across your door, expect a visitor (probably a fly or two).

see a spider climbing

up her thread,

your day by seeing her begin

a

you'll have

good

luck, particularly

if

web.

If

the spider deserts her web, a storm

If

a little red spider

coming

is

(or there has

been a shortage of

flies).

bring

walks

down your

sleeve,

remove him gently because he

will

you money. If

you see

a loose thread

on

this

money

spider's

body, pick

it

up carefully and

swing the spider three times around your head (avoid this with the tarantula and the black widow) to insure the good luck.

For bouts of jaundice and ague, swallowing

swallow her web and

all.

(This

may

or

may

take the patient's mind off the other symptoms.)

64

a spider

was

a sure cure.

not bring about a cure, but

You must

it is

sure to

PROJECTS FOR THE SPIDER What has man

learned from studying the spider as he weaves his

spider able to weave such a symmetrical pattem?

Is it

really

web? How

the

is

due to an ancient

legend?

There

is

one spider who weaves

a very

messy, sticky, and strong web.

that you should learn to recognize since this spider

Explain

and

why

its

web showing how

this particular spider

the

it

could save your

web

differs

life.

Make

It is

a

one web

drawing of

from other spiders' weaving.

often associated with hanuted castles, witches'

is

potions, and evil spells.

Is

the scorpion a spider? Where does

ated and for what reason.

Is

from during prehistoric times? Make chose

Is

it

live?

Invent a

myth about how

was

it

cre-

there any creature the scorpion could have evolved a

drawing of that creature showing

why you

it.

the spider an animal or an insect?

has been given this classification.

If it is

Does

it

neither, explain

what

it is

and

why

it

have anything to do with an ancient

legend?

65

THE CRICKET Crickets rode into legend on the coattails of the sects

supposedly warned the

fairies

fairies.

Ancient Greeks and Chinese believed that crickets could a in

known

blend

which

it is

as

"Mother Nature's nectar." Plato

said that the

and Japanese kept the

much

In

little

of Europe,

cricket, heard in a

Muses

home

live

in

bad luck to have

The locust and the grasshopper,

image of one and set

it

in

in-

by Socrates

and the Chinese

elaborate cages as pets.

for the first time,

Arabs, attempting to keep

chirping

on wind and dew,

related a story told

a cricket leave

may be

your house, but

relatives of the cricket,

away the hordes

the heart of their city.

a

predicting a death.

have long been con-

sidered tools of the devil because of the destruction they wreak field.

little

lived again in the bodies of crickets

creatures

it is

The

of approaching danger.

among

crops

the

in

of locusts, built a great golden In

Naples, scads of bronze and

copper images were made for the same reason, especially because the magical properties of leave.

copper would rob the grasshoppers of their energy and force them to

The Japanese made straw images of the

insects in their larva stage, then

marched around the infested crops, carrying torches, beating drums, and bells.

To

river or

raw.

burned them.

In Argentina, farmers beat

on

tin

drums

till

in

their fingers

the

were

Evidently locusts and grasshoppers do not have sensitive ears because none of

this frantic activity

66

ringing

destroy the spirits of the insects, they then threw the straw images

is

reported to have worked.

Albanians would take baskets of locusts to the

them

in

the hope of frightening off their colleagues.

method: they caught one locust and marked

hope was that

this

one

insect

it

cal,

they called

in

and streams and drown

The Indians

tried a subtler

with a red spot, then released

In

The

it.

would report to the others that these were kindly

and the hungry hordes would go elsewhere to feed. terrible plague of locusts.

rivers

folk

1590, Ethiopia suffered a

After exhausting every possible idea, pragmatic and mysti-

the clergy and had the locusts excommunicated. Almost at once a

violent storm broke out which destroyed nearly

all

the insects.

67

PROJECTS FOR THE CRICKET Primitive man, in an effort to rid himself of locusts and grasshoppers, often tried to

destroy the soul of the insect using abstract methods.

played a great part

In

in their

them?

Is

this

with a cricket

Crickets

make

custom

got into your

if it

make

a

a holdover

funny

little

Do any

this noise.

toss

Explain

how

superstition

insects have souls?

Phoenix, Arizona and during the hot summers,

Most people simply catch them and

to

Do

methods.

them

many

outside.

crickets get into the homes.

Why

don't they just

kill

from ancient superstitions? What would you do

home?

chirping noise.

other insects

Invent a legend about

make

strange noises?

why they

How

are able

are they able to

make them?

Entomologists of today have devised pests.

List several

many

different

methods and explain why you

feel

ways to one

is

get rid of agricultural

better, over the long

run, than the others.

What

are the

presumed magical properties of copper? Do people of today actually

believe in these properties?

Can you

cite

any examples of

this?

What

is

your

opinion?

When

the

locusts.

Mormons

A

saved their crops. explaining

68

first settled in

Utah, they experienced a terrible plague of

miracle happened, though, and something

this,

What was

this miracle

came down from the sky and

and why do you think

it

occurred?

can you use an ancient superstition that would logically

fit

In

in?

THE BUTTERFLY When

it

comes to animals, mankind

Among

the beautiful.

insects, surely

their appearance, butterflies have

is

none

alternately intrigued with the ugly and is

as spiritual creatures

for example, bear the souls of the dead to heaven. it is

to

bad luck to catch or

kill

reward. What's more,

its

none to carry your

spirit to

a butterfly lest if

you

man

to

the soul as a tiny winged

many

In

who

might,

parts of Europe, then,

you interrupt the journey of some

killed a butterfly

you might, when you

soul

died, find

heaven.

Pima Indians believed that God came to earth suitable place for

Because of

lovelier than the butterfly.

been thought of

live.

The

human

as a butterfly, searching

out a

early Greeks, on their beautiful vases, represented

being.

In time, that

image evolved to that of a

butterfly.

This association of the butterfly with the soul extended into northern Asia

where

it

was believed that the soul could

curred, however, the ill,

leave the

body during

body would sicken and eventually

die.

life.

When

this oc-

When someone became

then, any butterfly seen in the vicinity was suspected of stealing that person's

soul and

was cajoled with magic

To spot

a

rituals to return the soul to the ailing

white butterfly at the beginning of spring means happiness and

health; a yellow butterfly signifies misfortune; sign of

change and upheaval, but

The butterfly the caterpillar

is

creature to eat fat caterpillar

body.

is

all

beautiful, but

and

a multicolored butterfly

is

a

for the best.

it

began

as a

homely

ravenous as well as homely, folklore has

up the food and cause

a famine.

on the very greenest and

little caterpillar. it

Because

that the devil sent the

Witches would supposedly place a

juiciest plants.

69

The Swiss used to think that

who

caterpillars

were the pets of wicked

tree spirits,

could induce the caterpillars to crawl into a man's brain and drive him crazy.

Rumanians declared that of South Africa see

in

were born of the

caterpillars

them the

souls of the dead,

devil's tears.

who cannot

And

the Bantu

get to heaven until

they change into butterflies.

Caterpillars have

about the

first

English tale has

you from

it

that

fever, chills,

we know who

if

you carry

to

do

this

bon, and bury

tree.

in a

in

(I

your pocket

brand new white cloth,

tie this

If

feet.

don't

Preferably during a

you cannot manage

this,

all

Or you may

The

bite of a

just take

your chances with

poisonous snake, incidentally,

squashed cabbage-caterpillar. Or,

you have Alive.

a

He

if

the

oil is

and

with red full

absorb the poison and

will

In that event, the

only hope

is

rib-

moon.

you may it

try

in a

fever.

will yield to a

mixture of

oil

and

unavailable or you aren't sure whether

cabbage caterpillar on hand, you can simply swallow

will

a green caterpillar.

be good company for the spider

your jaundice. One possible side effect of green.

chills

little

you would

wearing a horseshoe around your neck (don't forget that you have to find field).

know

protect

he'll

you accidently squash the (surely

by three

Or an oak.

If

and warts.

we? You bet we do!) The

him from the pocket

particle of

a hole three feet

Next to an evergreen

around

a caterpillar

anyway), wrap him

it in

fever, hives,

causes warts, don't

and other unpleasantness.

you must remove every

fellow,

want

been accused of causing

two, but

this

who

cured

treatment was that you might turn

to find a witch

who knows

the antidote.

PROJECTS FOR THE BUTTERFLY In

many

old legends, fairies have often been associated with butterflies. Since fairies

are mythical

In

many

and butterflies are

real,

how do you

explain this custom?

ancient civilizations, they associated the soul of a person with the butterfly.

Since these differing cultures seldom had any contact with each other, explain the similarity of their belief?

What do you imagine when you

how do you see a beautiful

butterfly?

Complete

this story:

"Once upon

Day

after

ugly.

a

time

day the

in a

magic

One day while he was crying

denly shone

down from

pond and

his heart out, a

cried since he

was so

very bright light sud-

the skies and, as he looked up

in

wonder, he saw

"

a

Which animal or

insect

is

the natural

enemy

of the butterfly?

think

it is

What

possible medicinal qualities could there be in

Explain

why you

this creature.

caterpillar to cure the bite of a

concoct instead, and why?

72

forest, there lived a very ugly red caterpillar.

caterpillar looked in the

oil

mixed with squashed cabbage-

poisonous snake? What kind of mixture would you

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Copyright 1979

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