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Mioriţa

Though there are countless whimsical and ghostly tales, Mioriţa is a folklore poem, exclusive to Romania. There are over 1,500 variants of the poem and was conceived in Transylvania. The poem, which was translated into a ballad, is based on an initiation rite and is sung in the form of carols during the winter holidays. It’s cultural significance is that it has been shared among some of the most influential and important people of Romania. Having been translated into over 20 languages, the Mioritic has been the inspiration for countless writers, composers and artists. It is one of the most popular of the four traditional myths of Romanian literature. Here is the translated version:

Mioriţa

Near a low foothill
At Heaven’s doorsill,
Where the trail’s descending
To the plain and ending,

Here three shepherds keep
Their three flocks of sheep,
One, Moldavian,
One, Transylvanian
And one, Vrancean.

Now, the Vrancean
And the Transylvanian
In their thoughts, conniving,
Have laid plans, contriving

At the close of day
To ambush and slay
The Moldavian;

He, the wealthier one,
Had more flocks to keep,
Handsome, long-horned sheep,
Horses, trained and sound,
And the fiercest hounds.

One small ewe-lamb, though,
Dappled gray as tow,
While three full days passed
Bleated loud and fast;
Would not touch the grass.

”Ewe-lamb, dapple-gray,
Muzzled black and gray,
While three full days passed
You bleat loud and fast;
Don’t you like this grass?

Are you too sick to eat,
Little lamb so sweet?”

”Oh my master dear,
Drive the flock out near
That field, dark to view,
Where the grass grows new,
Where there’s shade for you.

”Master, master dear,
Call a large hound near,
A fierce one and fearless,
Strong, loyal and peerless.

The Transylvanian
And the Vrancean
When the daylight’s through
Mean to murder you.”

”Lamb, my little ewe,
If this omen’s true,
If I’m doomed to death
On this tract of heath,

Tell the Vrancean
And Transylvanian
To let my bones lie
Somewhere here close by,

By the sheepfold here
So my flocks are near,
Back of my hut’s grounds
So I’ll hear my hounds.

Tell them what I say:
There, beside me lay
One small pipe of beech
With its soft, sweet speech,

One small pipe of bone
Whit its loving tone,
One of elderwood,
Fiery-tongued and good.

Then the winds that blow
Would play on them so
All my listening sheep
Would draw near and weep
Tears, no blood so deep.

How I met my death,
Tell them not a breath;
Say I could not tarry,
I have gone to marry

A princess – my bride
Is the whole world’s pride.
At my wedding, tell
How a bright star fell,
Sun and moon came down
To hold my bridal crown,

Firs and maple trees
Were my guests; my priests
Were the mountains high;
Fiddlers, birds that fly,
All birds of the sky;
Torchlights, stars on high.

But if you see there,
Should you meet somewhere,
My old mother, little,
With her white wool girdle,
Eyes with their tears flowing,

Over the plains going,
Asking one and all,
Saying to them all,

’Who has ever known,
Who has seen my own
Shepherd fine to see,
Slim as a willow tree,

With his dear face, bright
As the milk-foam, white,
His small mustache, right
As the young wheat’s ear,

With his hair so dear,
Like plumes of the crow
Little eyes that glow
Like the ripe black sloe?’

Ewe-lamb, small and pretty,
For her sake have pity,
Let it just be said
I have gone to wed
A princess most noble
There on Heaven’s door sill.

To that mother, old,
Let it not be told
That a star fell, bright,
For my bridal night;
Firs and maple trees
Were my guests, priests
Were the mountains high;
Fiddlers, birds that fly,
All birds of the sky;
Torchlights, stars on high.”

We Remember Them

At the rising of the sun
and at its going down,
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind
and in the chill of Winter,
We remember them.
At the opening of buds
and in the rebirth of Spring,
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies
and in the warmth of Summer,
We remember them.
At the rustling of leaves
and the beauty of Autumn,
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year
and when it ends,
We remember them.
As long as we live,
they too will live;
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.
When we are weary
and in need of strength,
We remember them.
When we are lost
and sick at heart,
We remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
We remember them.
When we have decisions
that are difficult to make,
We remember them
When we have achievements
that are based on theirs,
We remember them.
As long as we live,
they too shall live,
for they are a part of us,
as we remember them.

~by Rabbi Jack Riemer

The King of the Cats

Here’s a great cat story from Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland, by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde, published in 1887.

A most important personage in feline history is the King of the Cats. He may be in your house a common looking fellow enough, with no distinguishing mark of exalted rank about him, so that it is very difficult to verify his genuine claims to royalty. Therefore the best way is to cut off a tiny little bit of his ear. If he is really the royal personage, he will immediately speak out and declare who he is; and perhaps, at the same the, tell you some very disagreeable truths about yourself, not at all pleasant to have discussed by the house cat.

A man once, in a fit of passion, cut off the head of the domestic pussy, and threw it on the fire. On which the head exclaimed, in a fierce voice, “Go tell your wife that you have cut off the head of the King of the Cats; but wait! I shall come back and be avenged for this insult,” and the eyes of the cat glared at him horribly from the fire.

And so it happened; for that day year, while the master of the house was playing with a pet kitten, it suddenly flew at his throat and bit him so severely that he died soon after.

A story is current also, that one night an old woman was sitting up very late spinning, when a knocking came to the door. “Who is there?” she asked. No answer; but still the knocking went on. “‘Who is there?” she asked a second the. No answer; and the knocking continued. “Who is there?” she asked the third time, in a very angry passion.

Then there came a small voice–“Ah, Judy, agrah, let me in,–for I am cold and hungry; open the door, Judy, agrah, and let me sit by the fire, for the night is cold out here. Judy, agrah, let me in, let me in!”

The heart of Judy was touched, for she thought it was some small child that had lost its way, and she rose up from her spinning, and went and opened the door–when in walked a large black cat with a white breast, and two white kittens after her.

They all made over to the fire and began to warm and dry themselves, purring all the time very loudly; but Judy said never a word, only went on spinning.

Then the black cat spoke at last–“Judy, agrah, don’t stay up so late again, for the fairies wanted to hold a council here tonight, and to have some supper, but you have prevented them; so they were very angry and determined to kill you, and only for myself and my two daughters here you would be dead by this time. So take my advice, don’t interfere with the fairy hours again, for the night is theirs, and they hate to look on the face of a mortal when they are out for pleasure or business. So I ran on to tell you, and now give me a drink of milk, for I must be off.”

And after the milk was finished the cat stood up, and called her daughters to come away.

“Good-night, Judy, agrah,” she said. “You have been very civil to me, and I’ll not forget it to you. Good-night, good night.”

With that the black cat and the two kittens whisked up the chimney; but Judy looking down saw something glittering on the hearth, and taking it up she found it was a piece of silver, more than she ever could make in a month by her spinning, and she was glad in her heart, and never again sat up so late to interfere with the fairy hours, but the black cat and her daughters came no more again to the house.

Kwan Yin and the Swallows

“Kwan Yin is one of the most universally beloved of deities in the Buddhist tradition. Also known as Kuan Yin, Quan Yin, Quan’Am (Vietnam), Kannon (Japan), and Kanin (Bali), She is the embodiment of compassionate loving kindness. As the Bodhisattva of Compassion, She hears the cries of all beings.”

Kwan Yin and the Swallows
by Dharmadasa Karuna

The cloud blue crests of Jianshan Mountain leaned into the morning light. Flaxen rays reached into the window of a young woman sleeping on a bed of straw. Her hair was the color of the night sky, and lapped over her belly and hips. Her skin was the color of the sun. She awoke and walked outside. The nest of swallows on her windowsill was empty. It was the end of summer.

Her bare feet pressed into the fallen leaves on the ground. She entered the woods in search of a cluster of white flowers with purple stems. Mother seemed unsure of herself this week, and Dong Quai would calm her nerves. She closed her eyes and let the forest guide her. She found the flowers in the silence.

“Kwan Yin, where are you? Talking to your birds again?”

“Coming mother.” The young woman emerged from the woods. “I was gathering a tonic for our tea.”

“I have to go wash clothes at the river for Mrs. Lim. Save the tea for lunch. We’re having visitors.”

“Who mother?”

“Madam Hong and her son.”

“Why are they coming? We don’t need visitors.”

“The fortune teller said you were a good match for Madam Hong’s son.”

“Mother, you know I don’t want to marry.”

“You are a woman now, and while your hair still falls down your back and your breath is sweet, you must take a husband.”

“I’m going to enter the nunnery.”

“That is a child’s dream, Kwan Yin.”

Kwan Yin looked down and did not answer.

“We are poor Kwan Yin, and the Hongs are wealthy. They are an honorable family. Do you understand?”

“Mother, I…”

“You have never been with a man and….”

“I know it is my duty to care for you.”

“They are not all as kind as your father was. After you clean the house and cook the meals, they will make you cut wood, carry water, and milk the goat. Then you must lay with them every night. Your work is only done when you sleep.”

“Mother, I know. I know what I must do.”

Continue reading

The Powers of Kuan Yin

World-Honored One!
May I ask once more
The reason that this holy Bodhisat
Is named as Kuan Yin?
The World-Honored One replied
By uttering this song:

engle-i-tusindvis

She responds well to all places in all directions!.
The echoes of her holy deeds
Resound throughout the world.
Her broad vows as deep as the ocean.
When, after countless aeons
Of serving countless Buddhas,
She pledged great and pure vows
To liberate afflicted beings.

Now listen carefully to the results.
To hear her name or see her image
Or sincerely and mindfully recite her name,
She delivers beings from every woe.

If someone is malicious
Pushing you into a pit of fire,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would turn the pit of fire into a pool!

Were you adrift upon the sea
With dragon-fish and demons around you,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would spare you from the hungry waves.

Suppose from Mount Sumeru’s peak
Some enemy should cast you down,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And sun-like you would float in space.

Were you pursued by evil men
And crushed against the Iron Mountain,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And not a hair would come to harm.

Were you chased by a band of thieves,
Their cruel knives now raised to slay,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And their minds would immediately develop compassion.

Suppose the King was extremely anger at you,
The headsman’s sword upraised to strike,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would dash the sword to pieces.

Were you in jail by prison walls,
Your wrists and ankles bound with chains,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would instantly obtain release.

Were you cursed or poisoned,
And lay now in the danger,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would send the spells back & nullify its poison.

Were you surrounded by demons
Or harmful dragons and ghosts,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And none would dare to do any harm.

Did savage beasts press all around
With fearful fangs, ferocious claws,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would make them run off quickly.

From: The Lotus Sutra and Spring Liao

Mescalero Apache Song of the Gotal Ceremony

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The black turkey gobbler, under the east, the middle of his trail; toward us
it is about to dawn.
The black gurkey gobbler, the tips of his beautiful tail;
above us the dawn whitens.
The black turkey gobbler, the tips of his beautiful tail;
above us the dawn becomes yellow.
The sunbeams stream forward, dawn boys,
with shimmering shoes of yellow.
On top of the sunbeams that stream toward us
they are dancing.
At the east the rainbow moves forward, dawn maidens,
with shimmering shoes and shirts of yellow dance over us.
Beautifully over us it is dawning.
Above us among the mountains the herbs are becoming green.
Above us on the top of the mountains the herbs are becoming yellow.
Above us among the mountains,
with shoes of yellow I go around the fruits and the herbs that shimmer.
Above us among the mountains,
the shimmering fruits with shoes and shirts of yellow are bent toward him.
On the beautiful mountains above it is daylight.

 

From Gotal: A Mescalero Apache Ceremony by PE Goddard

Meadow Queen Fairy Song

A73The Song of The
Queen Of The Meadow Fairy

Queen of the Meadow
where small streams are flowing,
What is your kingdom
and whom do you rule?
“Mine are the places
where wet grass is growing,
Mine are the people
of marshland and pool.

“Kingfisher-courtiers,
swift-flashing, beautiful,
Dragon-flies, minnows,
are mine one and all;
Little frog-servants who
wait round me, dutiful,
Hop on my errands
and come when I call.”

Gentle Queen Meadowsweet,
served with such loyalty,
Have you no crown to wear?
“Nothing I need
for a sign of my royalty,
Nothing at all
But my own fluffy hair!”

~Cicely Mary Barker

How People Learned to Write

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Once every year, the gods all gathered together in Upshukina, the palace of fate. There they discussed the destinies of men and women and argued about who should live and who should die, which people should be rich and which people should be poor.

The final decisions were made by Marduk, king of the gods, but all the gods and goddesses took part in the discussion and put forward their arguments and opinions.

When Marduk reached his decisions, he whispered them to his son Nabu who carefully wrote the fate of each person down on his special clay tablet. When the time was right, Nabu checked the writing on his tablets to make sure of Marduk’s orders. He then summoned the appropriate god, goddess, or demon, who was sent to Earth to carry out Marduk’s instructions.

Sin, the moon god, always stood close to Marduk during the discussions and sometimes he overheard Marduk’s decisions or caught a glimpse of what Nabu was writing. Then Sin would send his messenger Zaqar to Earth to warn people of the fate in store for them. Zaqar moved through the night and whispered to people in their dreams. However, people did not always hear him correctly and sometimes misunderstood the voices in their dreams.

One year, Nabu came down from the palace of Marduk with his wife, Tashmetum. They lived on Earth for some time in the city of Borsippa. There Nabu and Tashmetum taught people how to read and write so that they could keep a record of the lives and destinies of men and women, just as Nabu wrote his own records of Marduk’s instructions.

Nabu and Tashmetum eventually returned to the heavens, but people have continued teaching each other how to read and write ever since.

From: World Myths

The Epic of Erra

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Erra was the warrior of the gods and the commander of the Sebitti, seven gods of war who marched at his side when he went into battle. There had been peace in Babylon for a long time, but the Sebitti began to cry loudly that they were growing bored and old with no more battles.

Erra’s weapons complained, “We have become blunt, and rusty, and covered in spiders’ webs, and we have almost forgotten how to fight! It is time for a war!”

Erra believed that Marduk had become a lazy ruler, allowing his people in Babylon to become too numerous and noisy, and he decided to begin a war in the city. But first he had to get Marduk out of the way.

“Your crown looks so battered and dirty,” he told Marduk. “It is not fit for a god who rules a city as beautiful as Babylon.”

Erra persuaded Marduk to go in search of the skilled craftspeople who could restore his crown to its original golden brilliance. The craftspeople lived far from Babylon, and Marduk was reluctant to leave his temple, not knowing what would happen if he was not there to protect his people.

Marduk consents to Erra’s plan but only when Erra promises to maintain order in his absence. Marduk returns Erra takes offence, either at some slight or because he has been tricked out of the opportunity to use his power. He vows to give Marduk and the other senior gods cause to remember him, and brags of his warlike prowess and destructive power. The effect of Erra’s anger is immediate bloodshed and anarchy.

Erra began to spread devastation – he set families against each other, creating conflict and wars. Shrines, temples, palaces, and houses were destroyed in the fighting, and many people were killed. The city is so polluted by bloodshed that Marduk cannot any longer abide in his temple and, amid bitter lament, leaves his station at the center of the cosmos. Erra now has the whole world at his mercy.

This violence is not the result of Marduk leaving his cosmic station a second time. Rather it seems that his earlier absence from his temple has produced an instability in the cosmos which has repercussions even after he reoccupied it

Next Erra vows to destroy the seat of cosmic government so that all voices of moderation are silenced.  And the effect of Erra’s ambition then becomes yet more terrible, as he launches on the world a conflict that will bring all countries to civil war. Only then will Erra permit the carnage to cease, when a new ruler will arise in Babylonia.

To facilitate this new order, Erra allows Ishum to bring an end to the conflict, which he does. At last he is content, basking in the gods’ acknowledgement of the supremacy of his power. He commands that the country shall thrive in a period of new prosperity. Erra gives to Ishum the tasks of perpetuating Ishum’s victory over the enemies of Babylon.

From: World Myths and other sources

The Enuma Elish Simplified

This epic is one of the most important sources for understanding the Babylonian worldview, centered on the supremacy of Marduk and the creation of humankind for the service of the gods. Its primary original purpose, however, is not an exposition of theology but the elevation of Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, above other Mesopotamian gods.

The Enûma Eliš exists in various copies from Babylon and Assyria. The version from Ashurbanipal’s library dates to the 7th century BCE. The composition of the text probably dates to the bronze age, to the time of Hammurabi or perhaps the early Kassite era (roughly 18th to 16th centuries BCE), although some scholars favor a later date of c. 1100 BCE.

Marduk-Via-Lactea

What follows is a summary of the information on the seven tablets:

Tablet 1

Apsu is the god of fresh water and thus male fertility. Tiamat, wife of Apsu, is the goddess of the sea and thus chaos and threat. Tiamat gives birth to Anshar and Kishar, gods who represented the boundary between the earth and sky (the horizon). To Anshar and Kishar is born Anu, god of sky, who in turn bears Ea.

These “sons of the gods” make so much commotion and are so ill-behaved that Apsu decides to destroy them. When Ea learns of the plan, he kills Apsu and with his wife Damkina establishes their dwelling above his body. Damkina then gives birth to Marduk, the god of spring symbolized both by the light of the sun and the lightning in storm and rain. He was also the patron god of the city of Babylon.

Meanwhile Tiamat is enraged at the murder of her husband Apsu, and vows revenge. She creates eleven monsters to help her carry out her vengeance. Tiamat takes a new husband, Kingu, in place of the slain Apsu and puts him in charge of her newly assembled army.

Tablet 2

Tiamat represents the forces of disorder and chaos in the world. In the cycle of seasons, Tiamat is winter and barrenness. In the second tablet, to avenge the murder of her husband Tiamat prepares to unleash on the other gods the destructive forces that she has assembled.

Ea learns of her plan and attempts to confront Tiamat. While the tablet is damaged, it is apparent that Ea fails to stop Tiamat. Then Anu attempts to challenge her but fails as well. The gods become afraid that no one will be able to stop Taimat’s vengeful rampage.

Tablet 3

Anshar’s minister Gaga is dispatched to the other gods to report the activities of Tiamat and to tell them of Marduk’s willingness to face her. Much of this tablet is poetic repetition of previous conversations.

Tablet 4

The council of the gods tests Marduk’s powers by having him make a garment disappear and then reappear. After passing the test, the council enthrones Marduk as high king and commissions him to fight Tiamat.

With the authority and power of the council, Marduk assembles his weapons, the four winds as well as the seven winds of destruction. He rides in his chariot of clouds with the weapons of the storm to confront Tiamat. After entangling her in a net, Marduk unleashes the Evil Wind to inflate Tiamat. When she is incapacitated by the wind, Marduk kills her with an arrow through her heart and takes captive the other gods and monsters who were her allies.

He also captured her husband Kingu. After smashing Tiamat’s head with a club, Marduk divided her corpse, using half to create the earth and the other half to create the sky complete with bars to keep the chaotic waters from escaping. The tablet ends with Marduk establishing dwelling places for his allies.

Tablet 5

Marduk builds dwelling places for the other gods. As they take their place, they establish the days and months and seasons of the year. Since this is a myth about the natural world, the “stations” that Marduk establishes for the gods correspond to the celestial luminaries that figured in Babylonian astrology. The phases (horns) of the Moon determine the cycles of the months. From the spittle of Tiamat Marduk creates rain for the earth.

The city of Babylon is established as the audience room of King Marduk.

Tablet 6

Marduk decides to create human beings, but needs blood and bone from which to fashion them. Ea advises that only one of the gods should die to provide the materials for creation, the one who was guilty of plotting evil against the gods. Marduk inquires of the assembly of the gods about who incited Tiamat’s rebellion, and was told that it was her husband Kingu.

Ea kills Kingu and uses his blood to fashion mankind so they can perform menial tasks for the gods. To honor Marduk, the gods construct a house for him in Babylon. After its completion, Marduk gives a great feast for the gods in his new house who all praise Marduk for his greatness in subduing Tiamat.

The first group of the fifty throne names of Marduk are recited.

Tablet 7

Continuation of praise of Marduk as chief of Babylon and head of the Babylonian pantheon because of his role in creation. The rest of Marduk’s fifty throne names declaring his dominion are recited. Final blessings on Marduk and instructions to the people to remember and recite Marduk’s deeds.

Source:The Voice

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