Tag Archives: mythology

JOE MAGARAC: NEGLECTED AMERICAN FOLK HERO

Joe MagaracLabor Day weekend is the appropriate time to post this look at neglected working class folk hero Joe Magarac. This figure was the Steel Mill equivalent of Paul Bunyan and John Henry.

Though mostly associated with Polish-American steel workers in Pittsburgh, PA the general figure of a literal “man of steel” helping and protecting his coworkers can be found from the East Coast through the American Midwest. Sometimes the figure is Croation or some other ethnicity instead of Polish. 

Written versions of Joe Magarac and/or similar steel worker tall tales seem to have started around 1930 or 1931. Oral legends about such figures – but not specifically Joe Magarac – have been dated as early as the 1890s.

Vintage advertisements from tattered old newspapers indicate that such Man of Steel imagery may have been used for the steel industry prior to World War One. This “Which came first, the chicken or the egg” dilemma for Joe Magarac and other Steel Men puts one in mind of the quandary surrounding Billiken lore.        

Joe Magarac statueAs a lame play on words since this is Labor Day season I’ll present Joe Magarac’s origin and then depict his tales as “Labors” like in The Labors of Hercules.

BIRTH – Joe Magarac supposedly sprang into existence from a mound of iron ore and – depending on the version – that mound was either in Pittsburgh or the Old Country. Magarac emerged from the melting mound fully grown and spoke broken English like so many of the other Polish steel workers. He was called into being by the urgent need to catch up on production since the current shift had fallen dangerously behind.

Joe was 7 or 8 feet tall, his flesh was like solid steel, his torso was as wide as a smoke-stack and his arms were as thick as railroad ties. His surname Magarac meant “mule” in the workhorse sense, referring to his stamina. Joe’s appetite was such that he carried his lunch in a washtub instead of a standard lunch box.

Magarac’s favorite leisure time activity was polka-dancing and halushkis were his favorite food.

THE LABORS OF JOE MAGARAC:   Continue reading

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CHINESE MYTHOLOGY: YI THE DIVINE ARCHER

BALLADEER’S BLOG’S TENTH YEAR OF BLOGGING CONTINUES … 

 I.WHAT’S UP WITH YI?  – Yi the Divine Archer from Chinese mythology deserves to be remembered in one breath with some of the other great heroes and monster slayers from belief systems around the world. Most people are only familiar with his feat of shooting down multiple suns that appeared in the sky one day, but this article will provide a light- hearted look at all of his fantastic adventures. 

Yi is pronounced “Yee” according to some sources, but according to others it’s pronounced “EEE”, so you can insert your own Ned Beatty joke here. Continue reading

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SHUGENDO MYTHOLOGY: A LOOK AT EN NO OZUNU

En No OzunuRegular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know that I consider all religions to be mythology, which people are usually fine with unless it’s their own personal religion I’m examining. At any rate En No Ozunu is revered as the founder and most active mythical figure in the belief system called Shugendo, and in some offshoot cults of Shugendo as a virtual patron deity of ninja practices and ancient weather forecasting.

Practitioners of the Shugendo faith are called Yamabushi and their belief system fuses elements of Shinto, Ainu, Buddhism and Taoism along with features of shamanism and the ancient Japanese reverence for mountains, all of which are considered sacred ground in Shugendo. The ninja connection is very big in popular culture but actually the Ainu are more technically the originators of many ninjutsu practices.  

En No Ozunu supposedly began his existence on Earth when he was born to a mortal woman who was Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-FIVE: MARCH 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer HorsleyPART FORTY-FIVE – Of interest to me in the March of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s version of the Fool Killer:

*** A derogatory reference to a fool as “whiffledick.” Obviously that would not carry the exact same meaning back in 1911 as it does today, but it caught my eye. The target of the insult and the exact context cannot be determined from the copy of the issue I had access to because of too much fading.

*** The Fool Killer targeted an Illinois farmer named Reedy (no first name given) for authoring a study he performed which – Reedy claimed – proved that cows need music to improve milk production. Reedy had Oscar H. Bollman (We needed HIS last name?) install a Mason & Hamlin piano in the barn where Reedy had a professional piano player perform for the cows during milking time. Reedy claimed his 19 cows were producing more milk than any 30 cows. Celebrity singers were already lining up to sing to Reedy’s cows. I’m not kidding.

*** Bloated rich pigs who bought miles of land that they wouldn’t need. Continue reading

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IROQUOIS DEITY: ONHDAGWIJA THE MOOSE GODDESS

mooseONHDAGWIJA – The moose goddess. Onhdagwija wandered the forests interacting with and looking after the animals she ruled over. The most prominent myth featuring her depicts her falling in love with an Iroquois hunter. She assumes human form and begins preparing acorn bread for him in his temporary bark cabin while he is off hunting during the day. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-FOUR: FEBRUARY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-FOUR: Among the Fool Killer’s targets in the February of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

*** Religious leaders who were more into money than anything else. As Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer pointed out: “When the dollar rules the pulpit, the Devil rules the pew.”

*** The frivolous fashionistas who decreed that men’s coats and vests must now be “corset-cut” and their pants be more form-fitting. (Remember, they also targeted the way fashion trends arbitrarily changed women’s clothing, too.)

*** Sir Oliver Lodge, a famous spiritualist of the time who warned that the walls between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead were “wearing thin in places.” Continue reading

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The Twelve Handmaidens of Frigga

Love this post from Neptune’s Dolphins blog.

Neptune's Dolphins

nbfrigga_gpalmer By Grace Palmer

At her hall of Fensalir, Frigga, the Norse All-Mother, has twelve handmaidens or ladies-in-waiting to attend to Her. Not much is known about who these handmaidens were since the Lore is scanty about Goddesses in general. Much of what is known today is by Group Verified Gnosis. Diane Paxson and Raven Kaldera, both, have collected this information and written their views about the Twelve Goddesses.

The listing is as follows from Snorri in The Younger Edda.

Saga
At her hall, Sokkvabekk (Sunken Hall), Saga drinks with Odin, the All-Father. The two Gods spend their time trading stories. In common usage, “saga” means “a long tale.” Since She is the Patroness of Historians, Saga collects and passes on knowledge.

Eir
A master physician, Eir lives with Mengloth, the Jotun healer, at the Mountain of Healing, Lyfja. As the Healer of the Gods, Eir could be considered a…

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-THREE: JANUARY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer garbPART FORTY-THREE: The targets of James Larkin Pearson’s version of the Fool Killer in the January of 1911 issue:

*** The Government Printing Office, for its extravagant waste, which is STILL infamous.

*** Jackleg lawyers who gave the rest of the profession a bad name. Pearson depicted them as lecherous villains trying to ravish the blind female embodiment of Justice.

*** Horace Fletcher once again. Fletcher’s “health plan” which consisted of thoroughly chewing one’s food was still a popular fad.

*** People who were throwing themselves into the craze to own and pilot airplanes as they were coming into wider use. Many of these unskilled wannabes wound up just getting themselves killed in spectacular accidents. Continue reading

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TWENTY VIETNAMESE GODS AND GODDESSES

Balladeer’s Blog’s theme of Top 20 Lists for 2020 continues! For a look at U.S. Presidents click HERE 

Vietnam mapMAT GA TRONG – “Sun rooster”. The Vietnamese sun goddess. A daughter of Ngoc Hoang. Her sister is the moon goddess. The sun is her palanquin, adorned with rooster images, and carried across the sky by her attendants as she reclines on it and gives the world light and warmth. Seasonal changes in the length of the days and nights are explained by saying that in summer she is borne across the sky by virile young attendants who take their time because they like to flirt with the goddess on the way, resulting in longer days.

In winter she is borne across the sky by older attendants who hurry across the sky so they can rest their arms and backs all the sooner, resulting in shorter days. In summer her sister has the older attendants and in winter the younger ones. Her son is the Vietnamese fire god Ah Nhi.   Continue reading

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THE EPICS OF ENKIDU: AVAILABLE NOW!

epics of enkidu sizeAHMED ALAMEEN, motion-comic creator and best-selling author of the novel PSYCHS, has just launched his independent graphic novel project THE EPICS OF ENKIDU! Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my obsession with ancient mythology, so it goes without saying that I love the premise of this tale, which combines super-heroics with mythology and autism awareness.

The man-beast Enkidu, the foe-turned-friend in The Epic of Gilgamesh, has survived to the present-day. He surfaces in a hospital, suffering from amnesia. Can an encounter with an enigmatic superhero revive his memories or will these two figures, who should be allies, instead be doomed to fight it out in a tragic misunderstanding of Earth-shaking proportions? Continue reading

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