Skip to main content

U is for Unicorn.....


The marker of innocence, believed by some, to have existed at one time, the Unicorn is revered for its beauty and healing powers.

White horse of European folklore with a large, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. Its horn is said to have the power to cure illness and can make poisoned water, drinkable. In some descriptions, the Unicorn also possesses a goat's beard and cloven hooves. Its popularity stems form the Middle Ages and the Renaissance when it became the symbol for purity and grace--- only to be seen and captured by a virgin.

Though Unicorns are first mentioned in the texts of Ancient Greece, the creatures are not part of Greek mythology, but in the factual accounts of history-- for the writers of Greek natural history believed Unicorns to actually exist. The earliest account is from Ctesias (Greek physician and historian who lived during the 5th century, B.C.) who described them as "wild asses, fleet of foot, having a horn a cubit and a half in length and colored white, red and black."


The horn, itself, referred to as alicorn, was a substance that held magical and medicinal properties. Fake alicorn powder (made from the tusks of narwhals) was sold in Europe for medicinal purposes-- believing the alicorn powder had the power to heal and detect poisons, physicians would make cures from the narwhal tusks and sell them.

Connected as they are to the purity and innocence of maidens-- Unicorns were said to relinquish their ferocity and wild nature if they happened upon a seated maiden. The animal would timidly approach the young girl/woman and fall asleep in her lap-- making them susceptible to capture by hunters.



Step Softly As Snow

Quiet, listen, make not a sound,
there's magic afoot, if you just look around.

Timid and wild and fierce in its stance,
he'll bask in your presence, if you give him a chance.

Careful and gentle, step softly as snow,
sit still 'neath the willow, near the river's sweet flow.

He'll nestle beside, if pure maiden you be,
none other shall tame him, none other shall see.

                                                                                                              ---e.a.s. demers







Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Y is for Yeth Hound.....

Yeth Hound--- one of the incarnations of the "Black Dog" myth, this one located specifically, in Devon, England.

"Black Dogs" appear in myths across the world, most are associated with death and bad omens... i.e. Hell Hounds.

The Yeth Hound is said to be the spirit of an unbaptised child that takes the form of a headless black dog. The Hound wanders the woods at night making pitiful wailing sounds (though, I'm unclear as to how it makes wailing sounds without having a head).

The Black Dogs were possibly one inspiration from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ghost dog in The Hound of the Baskervilles-- "an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen."



Heed Not, the Lonesome Cry
Heed not, the lonesome cry, the baleful wail echoing through the woods. Seek not, the black hound's sigh, look not where the headless creature stood.
One sound, your limbs will shake, your heart filled with the deepest dread. One glimpse, your sou…

B is for Banshee.....

Irish bean sidhe and Scottish Gaelic bean sith, literally, woman of fairyland.


The mythology and legend surrounding the Banshee is a bit mixed. The most readily accepted story is of a hag-like creature wailing the impending death of someone nearby-- most ancient Gaelic families, especially the more well-to-do families, had their own Banshees that attached themselves to the lineage of the family name. I suppose it was a sign of station for a family to be able to claim their own Banshee--- I mean, who needs an exciting/ tongue-wagging-inciting skeleton in your cupboard when you've got a Banshee wailing in your rafters?
The origins of the more familiar Banshee may have stemmed from the ancient Keeners-- women who were employed to sing a lament at a funeral. The best Keeners were in high demand to "wail" and "weep" for the great personage who had fallen.

The Great families would boast a bean sidhe or bean sith-- a fairy-woman Keener--and having foresight, the Keene…

S is for Siren.....

Sirens--- the beautiful, the terrifying.
Vicious, but, seemingly opportunistic creatures who lured sailors to their deaths by the sound of their captivating songs. Whether the stories of these creatures were a result of surviving sailors attempting to explain their near-miss in an effort to divert the fault of their shipwreck from their hands, or whether as a warning for those leaving to ensure their fidelity to the women they left behind, is unclear...

Considered the daughters of Achelous(river god), and though they have been blamed for the death of many sailors, they were not, however, sea deities. They have sometimes been called Muses of the lower world, their sad song causing the body and soul of those sailors who hear them to fall into a fatal lethargy.

In early myths, Sirens were the combined form of birds and women. Sometimes with a large female head, their bodies covered in bird feathers, their feet...scaled. Later myths show them as female figures with the legs of birds, tho…