Animals

Symbols and allegories.
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Heith
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Animals

Postby Heith » Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:25 pm

I suppose this topic could be under ways of living - thread as well, but let's put this one here.

Someone (Nefastos?) wrote on the Finnish forum once that many misanthropic persons love animals, and that to care for animals can save from the downward path.

From my personal experience, this is exactly the case. I have had a hard time tolerating people in the past (admittedly somewhat short temper with this still), but animals I have always loved and felt connected to. Especially dogs and horses. I often find that the company of animals helps calm down aggression, makes me happy and somehow healed. I read in some study that petting animals lowers stress level and this is exactly how I feel as well.

Sometimes occultists regard animals as something lesser, which I think a sad mistake. Sure, their intelligence is not perhaps similar to human intelligence, but they have many other fine qualities that we could learn about or have completely forgotten. A human may struggle in a environment, animals generally don't do that and are able to adapt. The animal world has come up with excellent skills that we, despite our best efforts and scientific study still do not understand. Sometimes it seems to me that animals have a quiet wisdom in them. Dogs and horses are among the best healers. Dogs at least I notice can sense or see spirit activity, and I believe cat owners would say that this about their pets too.

Coming from a somewhat shamanic point of view, I also find animals to be important symbols and aid in my workings regarding trance states where things often appear to me as animals. It feels natural and easy to adopt a animal shape in these states- and sometimes otherwise as well.

I was wondering, how you other folk think of animals and your work? Are animals a mere symbol to you or have they done something significant to help or guide you on the way?
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Re: Animals

Postby Sebomai » Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:23 pm

As a cat owner, I can agree that they sense the spirit world. Also human emotions. My two greatest pet loves are mortal enemies. Cats and birds. Cats are the representatives of the otherworldly, to me. And birds are the closest to having an actual human-like emotional life. Almost like clever and silly human children, only generally more well-behaved. These two opposite poles are the greatest pets for me personally.

And lastly, I must mention bats. My father was an honorary member of a real Native American tribe, the Lakota Sioux. He performed a ritual with me, to find my totem/spirit animal. The result was bats, which makes sense. Bats have often shown up at critical and highly charged times in my life. They've been absent for the past couple of years, but he also said they won't always be making a physical appearance, even when one feels that their totem is needed. I'm not entirely sure what they are supposed to represent to me, but they are the animal I feel an unique form of kinship with. Maybe not the strongest kinship, but certainly unlike any other I feel.
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Heith
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Re: Animals

Postby Heith » Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:49 pm

Personally I view birds, especially of the Corvus clan (that would be crows and ravens) as being able to tap into the otherworld, or bearing messages from there. This is especially the case with ravens- intelligent, observant, with a almost coy voice, their appearance always feels significant. A raven always sees you before you see it, and I notice that often when I hear them others in my company are unable to do so. So I guess my ears are always tuned for the quiet raven croak from somewhere in the woods.

Ravens and crows are often connected to death, or deities that are connected to war or death so someone might take them as "ill omens". For me their appearance always feel extremely positive, but this might be due to me feeling positively about death and the energies connected to it.

Last year I frequently found dead animals from my path. It was one dead per week, we were drowning in corpses here. This was a intense period of working with these remains. Instead of shuddering at the smell of decaying flesh I began to respect it, and all squeamishness that I previously might have had left me completely. It's much easier to approach death on a abstract level somehow than to dig one's fingers in rotting flesh. In reality, it's sometimes ugly and uncomfortable, and it takes work to see the beauty in the process of dying. I became fascinated with the colours of dying- the greys, greens, yellows. And the dead zone that appears at first, that all vegetation around the dead animal die as well, only to be replaced by very intense growth in no time at all. This is so direct and it helps me to marvel how death in truth gives life.

This year I've only had one dead on my tracks. A brown, speckled bird had died on my doorstep, so neatly and beautifully that I thought someone had put it there for me to find. I did not take that sign to heart though, I think- it might have been good to stop and think at that point instead of proceeding with all my plans and ideas at super speed which almost resulted to a burn-out.
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Re: Animals

Postby Fomalhaut » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:27 pm

Heith wrote: From my personal experience, this is exactly the case.
Same goes for me.
Last year I frequently found dead animals from my path.
This also has been happening to me all the time. I always find a dead bird on my way for last a few years.

Additionally, I love all animals but my favourite ones are wolves, lions, dogs, crows and snakes.

I am a proud owner of a poodle and we have a very special connections. I sometimes think that she understands me more than any other human being at some occasions.
The animal world has come up with excellent skills that we, despite our best efforts and scientific study still do not understand. Sometimes it seems to me that animals have a quiet wisdom in them.
And I totally agree about this with you.
"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become."
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Re: Animals

Postby Jiva » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:06 am

Well, I own a cat, and to be honest, even though I live with my dad and sister I probably see my cat a lot more. I think cats can sense illness and general mood in people. One thing that's interested me since I first learned of it is the mystery as to why cats purr, with some suggesting that the frequency cats purr at is conducive to improving bone density and help heal related injuries.

Perhaps one reason misanthropic people find an affinity with animals is that they present a mirror of sorts of people, but one which allows qualities that would be considered negative in humans to be tolerated or even cherished.

Regarding animals as psychopomps, I was going to say that I guess I'm a kind of anti-shaman as I rarely dream of animals (or people for that matter) at all :lol:. The only exception I can think of at the moment is a recurring dream I've had for the last few years of bees flying into my lungs. Since reading the Kalevala I've associated birds, bees and insects together, so I've wondered if I should interpret my dream as a soul entering my body or something similar. On the other hand it could just be a subconscious reaction and utterly without any deeper meaning; I'm terrible at analysing myself :P.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Animals

Postby Heith » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:16 pm

Fomalhaut wrote: I am a proud owner of a poodle and we have a very special connections. I sometimes think that she understands me more than any other human being at some occasions.
Well, probably very true. A dog spends a lot of his or her time observing the other pack members. Since humans are poor in dog language, dogs need to learn to read the gestures of people quite accurately. Tensing muscles, certain expressions, tones of voices- the dog will notice these all. Also, as animals are not distracted by listening to the meanings of words, they can sort of see behind that- and by following the gestures and other expression of the person, see behind words.

This is perhaps not related but came to mind so I'll write it- When I moved to abroad with abysmally poor language skills, I was forced to observe the gestures of people carefully in order to try and understand what they meant. Often I noticed that I was just looking at people and their body language, because if I didn't pay extra attention I would understand nothing of what was being said. This brought some other observations to me. I made certain assumptions of their personality and way of being based on what I thought their body language etc gave away- and after some months many of these things came to be. Could have been a coincidence, but an interesting one nevertheless.

But, this taught me of the importance of looking behind a person's words in order to see how they truly are. Animals, I think, have this sort of skill.
Jiva wrote:Well, I own a cat, and to be honest, even though I live with my dad and sister I probably see my cat a lot more. I think cats can sense illness and general mood in people. One thing that's interested me since I first learned of it is the mystery as to why cats purr, with some suggesting that the frequency cats purr at is conducive to improving bone density and help heal related injuries.
Very interesting, I didn't know this.

I am not a cat person and can't claim to understand these animals (although, who can :) ) as I've never had a cat, but one of my relatives is a cat owner. Every time she was ill, she said, her old cat would come and lie on top of her, purring. Other times it would not do that. I don't know if the cat meant to aid her, or merely thought of her as a warm mattress, but a fun story nevertheless.
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Jiva
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Re: Animals

Postby Jiva » Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:08 pm

Heith wrote:
Jiva wrote:However, discussions with Heith and Aquila about shamanic animals and totems, in conjunction with some stuff from Old Norse mythology, made me realise I had some affinity with insects.
How interesting! Would you care to specify?
Jiva wrote:Regarding animals as psychopomps, I was going to say that I guess I'm a kind of anti-shaman as I rarely dream of animals (or people for that matter) at all :lol:. The only exception I can think of at the moment is a recurring dream I've had for the last few years of bees flying into my lungs. Since reading the Kalevala I've associated birds, bees and insects together, so I've wondered if I should interpret my dream as a soul entering my body or something similar. On the other hand it could just be a subconscious reaction and utterly without any deeper meaning; I'm terrible at analysing myself :P.
Well, actually it kind of looks like I got into the beginning of what I was describing in the vegetarian thread here :). I guess the result of our discussions in Finland was a continuation of something initially prompted by the Kalevala. I suppose my link between birds and insects is that birds are typically symbolic of the soul flying free of the physical body, whereas insects are often seen as devourers of useless corpses and, in excess, a plague upon life. Obviously, this is very polarised thinking with not many mythologies being so absolute, but I think it's the prevailing general trend.

Anyway, for specific Germanic stuff, there was an Old English belief that witches stole butter (or milk, cream etc.) which is something that Old Norse witches also used their hugir to steal – in the English language, this might be the etymology for “butterfly”. There's not actually any saga where Old Norse witches turn into or use a fly hugr to steal butter, but there is one saga where a witch is caught trying to get into a house as a fly. I can't remember which saga it's from although I know she gets an injured leg when she's caught.

There is a magical, alchemical quality to butter just as there was for alcohol: something is treated to transform into something else. It's never really explained why the witches wanted the butter, perhaps simply because it was considered magical or valuable. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, there are some parallels between Old Norse and Indian mythology. Aside from the episode of Krishna stealing ghee as a child, there is a Shaivite myth where a rat sneaked into a temple to steal ghee. Shiva had wagered with Parvati that whomever could make a temple lamp burn brighter would become the ruler of the three worlds. As the rat went to drink the ghee it ignited in its mouth and burnt brighter and so the rat ultimately became Bali, the ruler of the three worlds. Obviously, a rat is not an insect, but they share similar negative properties: eaters of the dead, carriers of diseases, considered plagues and so on.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Animals

Postby Nefastos » Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:55 am

Jiva wrote:Anyway, for specific Germanic stuff, there was an Old English belief that witches stole butter (or milk, cream etc.) which is something that Old Norse witches also used their hugir to steal – in the English language, this might be the etymology for “butterfly”. [---] There is a magical, alchemical quality to butter just as there was for alcohol: something is treated to transform into something else. It's never really explained why the witches wanted the butter, perhaps simply because it was considered magical or valuable.


There is a similar, quite often mentioned folklore among the Finns too. Witches made a "paara" (at least partly the word seems to come from Swedish "bära", to carry) to steal the other people's milk & cream & butter & perhaps other things too. It doesn't necessarily manifest in animal form, but might resemble something like a ball of yarn. (Was there more of paara in Pulkkinen's book, Heith? I haven't had time to read it yet.)

I always thought that those witches of the olden times were just self-centered enough to use their magic to get their hands of other people's luxury products & foodstuff, but you are right, there might be a deeper level in that too. Interesting...!
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Animals

Postby Nefastos » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:14 am

Heith wrote:Someone (Nefastos?) wrote on the Finnish forum once that many misanthropic persons love animals, and that to care for animals can save from the downward path.


Yes, that was me. It even seems that the love for animals can make the stop to the downward path even if it's first assumed. This has to do with the downward path having three "initiations" (separations, or gradual murdering of the soul) where from every depth there is a possibility to turn away, just like up an & including the third intitation of the path of ascension, the neophyte has the possibility to turn away & assume the different path. (Argarizim 2)

When I had not yet made my final choice of path, I was in a condition where I would be able to murder a man, but not birds. So it can be said I was saved by the birds, for knowing I could not go deeper into the that path I had no reason to start it in practice at all. (Granted, killing a man would have most likely given me an ability to kill a bird later... That's the beauty of the gradual processes.) Also, I believe that when I die, my energetical body will be transmigrated into the bodies of birds because of our energetical affinity & unity. Yes, that reminds me too about Madonna's Frozen.

When I meet with people who are disgusted by humankind & ready to turn into spiritual if not physical violence, I always think how much it helped me to learn to see us human beings as animals. When our very bad attributes are seen in that light - that we just follow the paths of least resistance, as Bailey said, like the other mollusks - it is easier to understand how greatly we often err & how small we often make ourselves. We just don't know better yet, even when we think we do.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Heith
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Re: Animals

Postby Heith » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:15 pm

Nefastos wrote:
There is a similar, quite often mentioned folklore among the Finns too. Witches made a "paara" (at least partly the word seems to come from Swedish "bära", to carry) to steal the other people's milk & cream & butter & perhaps other things too. It doesn't necessarily manifest in animal form, but might resemble something like a ball of yarn. (Was there more of paara in Pulkkinen's book, Heith? I haven't had time to read it yet.)

I always thought that those witches of the olden times were just self-centered enough to use their magic to get their hands of other people's luxury products & foodstuff, but you are right, there might be a deeper level in that too. Interesting...!
Oh rats, you beat me to it Nefastos- I was reading Jiva's post and going "yay I can add to this!" :D

Actually, Pulkkinen refers to "para" and not "paara"- but I guess there might be two ways to write this. In the aforementioned excellent book "Suomalainen kansanusko", he writes that;

- Para can sometimes be confused with tonttu (tomte) as they were thought to gather wealth for the household.

and very interestingly, connected to your bee- comments, Jiva;

"the deceased could be thought to appear in the form of insects, specially of the kind which appeared in swarms. For example, if swarms of insects destroyed crops, the Mari people thought that the deceased had become angered by something. These were called by a name that means "the dead who don't have anyone to remember (mourn / respect) them". There's another archaic thought of the connection between insects and the dead among some of the Khanty people who believe that after a person has died and spent the same amount of days in Vainajala (land of the dead) as they lived, he or she is then transformed into a water beetle.

In Finland, Pulkkinen comments, there is no clear resemblance of this thought, but sometimes maahinen ( swedish "Vittra" ) is thought to appear in the form of an ant. This creates a connection between ants and the dead, if a maahinen is thought to be originating from the deceased, or to have a connection with them. There's also a word to indicate this; "piritys". "Piritys ("spiritus") is a magical tool which was used quite late in Finland. Basically, it was a box in which a small beetle or a larvae was kept. The owner fed it with his or her blood / & saliva, and it was believed to be able to bring him or her money. A piritys has probably been a soul of a deceased. "

Here my comment; Maahinen ("earth folk" or perhaps, "underground folk") was often thought to be immensely wealthy. They had fine cattle, beautiful houses, and lived in a kind of mirror world where everything was upside down. Sometimes they would swap their own children into human babes- if a child was retarded or sick, this was often offered as an explanation.

continuing with Pulkkinen;
"in Finland a belief has been recorded according to which, if one were to find a bee under a hanged person (after the person has been cut down), this insect could work as a mighty piritys. (My comment: it was believed that if something touches something else, the power becomes transformed. Therefore, the ground where the corpse touches, becomes loaded with death energy. The same with a comb that has been used to comb a corpse's hair, for example. In this case, the hanging place would probably be quite a mighty powerspot as it is. It can also be that the hanging need be complete (as I guess it could be said to be a kind of ritual) in order for the energy to "move on".)

Pulkkinen adds that sometimes piritys and para were confused. It can also be that a piritys is thought to be the soul of the dead person, and if the person hanged was, for example a thief, what better spirit to thief other folk's stuff for you?

pages 298- 301 loosely translated
A para is made with scraps and given life via a magical ritual after which it begins to carry wealth to its owner- usually milk or butter. A para is a representation of women's magic. It was thought to such the milk from the neighbor's cow and then carry it home inside its belly, and to defecate or vomit it in a churn. Usually it was also believed that milk would turn into butter inside para's belly.

The Sámi people know a similar creature called smiergáhttu ("butter cat"). This (and para) were often thought to be roundish creature resembling a ball of wool with either one or three legs. Even if para was a artificial creation, it sometimes appeared as an animal (a cat, or in Europe, a rabbit or hare).

Para was created out of household items, stolen goods and sacramental bread. When crafting a para, one had to be naked (here emphasis on; when a person is naked, it is otherwordly and has to do with magical, not so much erotic qualities- but of course these are present as well as one "gives birth" to para. Clothes are considered "every day", nakedness connects a person to "otherness". Same thing with for example, sun (every day / life) and moon (otherness). It was best to do a magical working on a thursday night or during the night of some holy day. The para is brought to life with a drop of the owner's blood, and it's believed she then gives half of her soul for the para. The blood was given from left hand's ring finger (left: otherness, right: every day) as this was believed to be the finger which represented heart blood. Sometimes the owner added her nails / hair inside the para. If a para was destroyed, the owner would die as well.

There is a kind of slimy mushroom extract which was thought to be left behind by para. Apparently, it resembles butter. People called this "para's butter" or "para's shit". (Here again another fine example of the many references to bodily waste in finnish folk magic!) If one whipped it, this would cause suffering for the witch.

There's a few cases of para in men's magic; money para and wheat para. Pulkkinen comments that these are actually a piritys and a morally degenerated house spirit or tonttu (tomte).

---

As to insects, I heard from someone that if a child gets an insect as their power animal, this ought to be changed- as insects have a tendency to suck one dry. In the light of what I've read now I'd say that the question here would be of death energy, which can be considered to be ill-suited and probably dangerous- not just for the child but for everyone else as well. Or, it can be the shape of a decease- or, as it was believed, an ancestor who "hounds" the child. But now this would go into Sámi naming their children policies and I think this post is quite long already.

As to butter- interesting points. I do think that mostly it was a luxury product, and survival was very hard up here in the northern europe back in the day, but one thing that did come to mind was, butter could also represent the sun in some ways.

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