Tag Archives: mythology

MYTHS OF FIJI – GODS AND OTHER ENTITIES ON THE SOUL’S JOURNEY

FOR BALLADEER’S BLOG’S LOOK AT OVER TWENTY FIJIAN GODS CLICK HERE

Fiji 4The people of Fiji believed in an epic journey for the souls of the deceased. That journey is even more detailed than the Soul’s Journey envisioned by the Tupari of Brazil.

I. For four days the spirit of the deceased lingers in the vicinity of its host body’s death. Then it begins the long and perilous journey to Mbulu, the land of the dead.

II. Upon reaching the headlands at Naithobokoboko the spirit encounters the goddess LEWALEVU. This deity tries to prevent the soul from proceeding unless she is propitiated by offerings of leaves.

III. If the deceased successfully passes Lewalevu it next encounters the sandalwood tree at Vuniyasikinikini. The spirit is required to pinch the bark of the Yasi/ sandalwood tree with its fingernails.

              If the nails are long and sharp enough to sink into the bark it proves the person did not do much fighting or hard work in life. If its nails are short and dull it proves the deceased worked and fought hard in life and may continue their journey.

IV. Next awaits the goddess NANG-GA NANG-GA, the Devourer of Bachelors. Nang-ga Nang-ga sits on a black rock by the edge of the sea. On one side of her stone perch lap the ocean’s waves and on the other side steep jagged cliffs jut up to the skies. Continue reading

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ORION: THE ELVIS PRESLEY HOAX/ PUT-ON

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It’s Battle of New Orleans Day AND Elvis Presley’s birthday! In the past I’ve posted my review of Change of Habit, the Elvis movie with him as a doctor, Mary Tyler Moore as a nun and Ed Asner as a cop. I’ve also posted about the musical in which Elvis IS Andrew Jackson – Rock ‘N’ Roll vs the Redcoats. (With an Ann-Margret drag queen as pirate Jean Lafitte. )

This blog post will dredge up the often-neglected Orion business from decades ago. It was a fun bit of nonsense that only the most far-gone Elvis Conspiracy Theorists take seriously. As always I consider conspiracy theories, put-ons, hoaxes and ARG’s to be modern variations of myth and folklore.

Yes, Elvis died in 1977. That’s not the point. The point is the way the whole Orion/ Jimmy Ellis/ Elvis Conspiracy rabbit hole deserves to be studied forever because of the way fiction and reality seemingly influenced each other to the point where they became almost inseparable.

Orion 2

I WANT EL SANTO AND I WANT HIM NOW!

If you’re new to these events get ready for the Elvis Presley equivalent of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast. And let me make it clear I’m not accusing anyone of anything. I have no idea what anyone’s motives were regarding any aspect of the following.

I’ll present the tale in the style of the fictional Carl Kolchak – as “items” in a list:

ITEM: Elvis Presley died in August of 1977, yet in the years that followed an ever-increasing body of folklore and myth would develop regarding the late rock star supposedly faking his own death. His motives varied according to the theory.

ITEM: For a time Elvis sightings seemed to outnumber sightings of Bigfoot, UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster combined.

ITEM: The novel Orion was published. Conspiracy lovers often cite either 1977, 1978 or 1979 as the year of publication, so you can see how deep some of the rabbit holes run.

ITEM: Orion featured a very Elvis-like young man from the American south who becomes a sensation as a rock singer. In the end the character Orion is so weary of the stresses of stardom that he fakes his own death to get away from it all.

Orion RebornITEM: Claims are made that enigmatic power players managed to get the novel removed from bookstores. The claims are sometimes accompanied by insinuations that this was done because the book might have struck too close to reality with its “fake death” ending.   

ITEM: A masked singer – who looks like a standard Elvis  impersonator except for the mask – appears and calls himself Orion. He begins releasing albums and performing in public. This Orion’s first album, tantalizingly titled Reborn, is released in 1978. Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: REINOLD AND ANGELICA

FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE

Forest of ArdenAFTER FERRAU THE MUSLIM HAD BEHEADED THE SLEEPING PRINCE ARGALIA, he once again mounted his horse and rode off eastward through the Forest of Arden, continuing his search for the fleeing Princess Angelica. Roland the Paladin was likewise scouring the forest for this woman who had bewitched so many men back at the court of Charlemagne.

Another Paladin, Reinold, was far ahead of the other pursuers of Angelica due to the supernatural speed of his enchanted horse, Bayard. In the Forest of Arden were two magical sources of water – a fountain that was hundreds of years old and from which flowed the Waters of Hatred, and a stream which carried the Waters of Love. (The Waters of Bemused Resignation were in a different forest altogether.) The parched Reinold came upon the fountain and unsuspectingly drank from it.

Suddenly he was filled with naked loathing for the princess he had til now felt passionately in love with. Disgusted with himself for having pursued this object of hatred he rode westward to return to the Emperor’s court. After a time he grew tired, so he dismounted and napped on the grass beneath the trees. Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: THE TOURNAMENT TO WIN THE CATHAY PRINCESS

FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE

paladins of charlemagneTHE NEXT MORNING, the 31 warriors who wanted to joust for the possession of Princess Angelica of Cathay donned their armor and rode together to the Fountain of the Pine. Angelica’s brother Argalia was awaiting them there.

With Maugris the Enchanter held captive by King Galafron of Cathay, as we saw last time around, none of the Paladins and Muslim soldiers knew that Argalia had the unfair advantage of a mystical lance which would unseat every combatant at its slightest touch.

Astolpho drew the first lot in our previous installment and so he was the first Paladin to face Angelica’s brother the prince. Argalia’s enchanted lance did its usual work of unseating Astolpho immediately upon contact. Astolpho was never noted for success with a lance, though he was deadly with a sword, so nothing much was made of him having been unseated. Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: THE PRINCESS OF CATHAY

CharlemagneChristmas time through Twelfth Night is the time of year that Balladeer’s Blog covers tales of Charlemagne and his Paladins. These tales are the legends, not the historical accounts of the real Emperor Charlemagne and his court. FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE 

Charlemagne's empireTHE PRINCESS OF CATHAY – The previous installment’s reference to a tournament prompted a lot of readers to ask for a full-blown tournament story from the tales of Charlemagne. As always, I listen to you readers, so here we go.

During the brief period of Charlemagne’s Peace, when he was not at war with any of the other powers in the known world, the Emperor held a magnificent tournament. With no war currently raging between the Franks and others, participants from all over came to Paris for the event.

Even Saracens from Muslim-Colonized Spain competed in the jousting and enjoyed the feasts. During one such feast, the court was surprised by a visit from four 10-foot tall giants who bore a divan. Beside the giants and their burden walked a Paladin in exotic, unfamiliar armor. Upon the divan sat the most beautiful woman ever seen by any of those present.

masc graveyard smallerThe woman’s black hair was adorned with jewels and her clothing was of the finest kind. She and her Paladin were permitted to approach Charlemagne’s throne and present themselves. The woman identified herself as Princess Angelica of Cathay. The man in armor was her brother, Prince Umberto.

NOTE: In many medieval legends such as this, “Cathay” does not refer to the actual location in northwest China but to a mythical city-state which supposedly existed in some non-specific location to the East of Europe. This fictional Cathay combined qualities of Europe and the Far East.

Princess Angelica presented the challenge she and her brother brought with them – Prince Umberto would joust with any of the armored warriors gathered for the tournament. He would meet them one by one by the Fountain of the Pine. Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: LOTHAIR AND BENES

CharlemagneAs always here at Balladeer’s Blog, Christmas time all the way through Twelfth Night are when I make blog posts about Charlemagne and his Paladins. (The figures of legend, not the historical Charlemagne.) In old traditions Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the new Holy Roman Empire by the Pope on Christmas Day, hence the reason that tales of Charlemagne are often associated with the Yuletide holiday. (In real life Charlemagne was crowned Emperor a few months later.) FOR MY FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE  

PaladinLOTHAIR AND BENES – This story takes place much earlier than most of my previously covered Tales of Charlemagne. Lothair (in real life the grandson of Charlemagne) was, according to legend, the Emperor’s oldest son. Lothair was brave and virtuous, unlike Charlemagne’s scheming and treacherous son Charlot.

Of late the Emperor was stewing over the way that Duke Benes had provided no men for Charlemagne’s most recent military campaigns against the Muslim colonialists in Spain, nor had he provided money. Neither had he acknowledged the Emperor’s authority over him by any shows of courtesy.

At first Charlemagne furiously planned to march on Duke Benes’ city of Aygremont and take the city. Then he would hang Benes, kill his son Maugris the Enchanter and burn his wife alive. Duke Naymes, one of the Emperor’s Paladins, talked Charlemagne into giving peace a chance by merely sending a hundred Paladins to Aygremont in order to convey the Emperor’s wish that he submit to an order and show his allegiance. Continue reading

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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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