Thursday, December 3, 2009
In Revelation 16:16, the battlefield designated where blasphemers, unclean spirits, and devils join forces for the final great battle of the ages between their evil hordes and Christ and his faithful angelic army is Armageddon, “the mound of Megiddo.” The inspiration for such a choice of battlegrounds was quite likely an obvious one for John the Revelator, for it has been said that more blood has been shed around the hill of Megiddo than any other single spot on Earth. Located 10 miles southwest of Nazareth at the entrance to a pass across the Carmel mountain range, it stands on the main highway between Asia and Africa and in a key position between the Euphrates and the Nile rivers, thus providing a traditional meeting place of armies from the East and from the West. For thousands of years, the Valley of Mageddon, now known as the Jezreel Valley, had been the site where great battles had been waged and the fate of empires decided. Thothmes III, whose military strategies made Egypt a world empire, proclaimed the taking of Megiddo to be worth the conquering of a thousand cities. During World War I in 1918, the British general Allenby broke the power of the Turkish army at Megiddo.
Most scholars agree that the word “Armageddon” is a Greek corruption of the Hebrew Har-Megiddo, “the mound of Megiddo,” but they debate exactly when the designation of Armageddon was first used. The city of Megiddo was abandoned sometime during the Persian period (539 B.C.E.–332 B.C.E.), and the small villages established to the south were known by other names. It could well have been that John the Revelator, writing in the Jewish apocalyptic tradition of a final conflict between the forces of light and darkness, was well aware of the bloody tradition of the hill of Megiddo and was inspired by the ruins of the city on its edge; but by the Middle Ages, theologians appeared to employ Armageddon as a spiritual concept without any conscious association with the Valley of Megiddo. Armageddon simply stood for the promised time when the returning Christ and his legions of angels would gather to defeat the assembled armies of darkness. During that same period, those church scholars who persisted in naming an actual geographical location for the final battle between good and evil theorized that it might occur at places in the Holy Land as widely separated as Mount Tabor, Mount Zion, Mount Carmel, or Mount Hermon.
In the fourteenth century, the Jewish geographer Estori Ha-Farchi suggested that the roadside village of Lejjun might be the location of the biblical Megiddo. Ha-Farchi pointed out that Lejjun was the Arabic form of Legio, the old Roman name for the place. In the early nineteenth century, American biblical scholar Edwin Robinson traveled to the area of Palestine that was held at that time by the Ottoman Empire and became convinced that Ha-Farchi was correct in his designation of the site as the biblical Megiddo. Later explorers and archaeologists determined that the ruins of the ancient city lay about a mile north of Lejjun at what had been renamed by the Ottoman government as the mound of Tell el-Mutasellim, “the hill of the governor.”
Today, tourists visit Tel Megiddo in great numbers, attracted by the site’s apocalyptic mystique and the old battleground’s significance as the place where the fate of ancient empires was decided with the might of sword and spear. The Israel National Parks Authority works in close coordination with the Megiddo Expedition and the Ename Center for Public Archaeology of Belgium in offering visitors a dramatic perspective of the history of Armageddon.
Bloomfield, Arthur E. Before the Last Battle—Armageddon. Minneapolis: Dimension Books, Bethany Fellowship, 1971.
Goetz, William R. Apocalypse Next. Camp Hill, Penn.: Horizon Books, 1996.
Shaw, Eva. Eve of Destruction: Prophecies, Theories and Preparations for the End of the World. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1995.
Silberman, Neil Asher, Israel Finkelstein, David Ussishkin, and Baruch Halpern. “Digging at Armageddon.” Archaeology, November/December 1999, pp. 32–39.
Unterman, Alan. Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The concept of a great southern continent surrounding the South Pole derived from the ancient Greek view that the landmass of Europe and Asia and North Africa (their known world) must be balanced by a large continent in the southern hemisphere in order to provide the required equilibrium and so prevent the Earth hurtling into space. This theory was consolidated by Ptolemy in his treatise Geographica, a manuscript copy of which came to light in early-15th-century Italy. Subsequent maps, based on the Geographica, depicted the southern tip of Africa stretching as far as latitude 20º South where it joined a west-to-east coastline extending to the Asian continent, thus enclosing the Indian Ocean. Across the bottom of the map, behind this long coastline, was a vast continent known to contemporary cartographers as Terra Incognita (the unknown land).
The Portuguese maritime expansion at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, during which they pioneered a route round the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean in 1488, dispelled the Ptolemaic theory of a landlocked ocean, but the concept of a southern continent was to remain for almost 300 years. Speculation that it extended to the South Atlantic region was seemingly given substance by Amerigo Vespucci’s claim to have reached 52º South latitude and to have sighted an unknown land on his 1501–1502 voyage down the coast of South America. When Ferdinand Magellan penetrated even further south to pass through the strait that now bears his name and reported seeing campfires on a land to the south, which he appropriately named Tierra del Fuego, a vast southern continent became even more imprinted on the minds and maps of European cartographers.
Following Magellan’s voyage across the Pacific, the southern continent’s configuration was amended to an irregular and roughly circular landmass, surrounded by a continuous southern ocean, which appears on the 1531 map drawn by Oronce Finé, Nova Et Integra Universi Orbis Descriptio (A New and Complete Description of the World) on which the continent is designated “Terra Australis Recenter inventa sed nondum plene cognita” (The South Land recently discovered but not yet well known).
Gerard Mercator’s famous 1569 world map outlined Terra Australis’s coastline running continuously and diagonally from Tierra del Fuego to New Guinea. On the promontory closest to New Guinea is the legend “Haec continentem Australem nonnulli Magellanicum regionem ab eius inventore non cupant” (this southern continent some call Magellanica after its discoverer). The name Magellanica continued to appear on maps in tandem with Terra Australis until the 17th century when Terra Australis Incognita (The Unknown Southern Land) was favored by the leading Dutch cartographers.
Mercator’s continental coastline descended into a wide gulf (Gulf of Carpentaria?) containing two islands (Groote Eylandt?) whose western shore was formed by another promontory reaching almost to Java. This was the furthest extent of the imaginary continent in the Pacific region; the coastline now dropped away to the southwest until it completed the circle back to Tierra del Fuego. Abraham Ortelius’s 1571 atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the Lands of the World) included a map showing a southern continent similar to Mercator’s.
By the beginning of the 17th century, not only was Terra Australis believed to be a geographical certainty just waiting to be discovered but also, because of its location in the tropics, a vast, untapped source of gold, precious stones, grain, and spices. It was even linked to the distant biblical land of Ophir, which had sent its riches to King Solomon. Not for nothing were the islands discovered by Alvaro de Mendaña and Pedro Fernandez de Quirós named after the Old Testament king.
Brief details of Terra Australis occur in Cornelis Wytfliet’s Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum (Supplement to Ptolemy’s Descriptions) published in an English-language edition in Louvain in 1598: “The terra Australis is therefore the southernmost of all other lands, directly beneath the Antarctic circle; extending beyond the tropic of Capricorn to the West, it ends almost at the equator itself, and separated by a narrow strait lies on the East opposite to New Guinea, only known so far by a few shores because after one voyage and another that route has been given up and unless sailors are forced and driven by stress of winds it is seldom visited. The terra Australis begins at two or three degrees below the equator and it is said by some to be of such magnitude that if at any time it is fully discovered they think it will be the fifth part of the world.” Vague though this description might be, the passage possesses an intrinsic interest insofar as it mentions a narrow strait separating New Guinea from Terra Australis, eight years before Luis Vaez de Torres sailed through it, giving rise to further speculation regarding a prior discovery by the Portuguese.
Terra Australis continued to bewitch and bewilder cartographers until the latter half of the 18th century when men like Charles de Brosses and Alexander Dalrymple still urged its merits as a source of immense wealth, as a colony, and as a strategic base dominating the Indian and Pacific Ocean sea routes. For a time Abel Tasman’s discovery of New Zealand seemed to confirm Mercator’s northwest-tending Pacific shoreline but, eventually, the voyages of Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville and James Cook crisscrossed the ocean, finding deep waters where Terra Australis was to be found. Eventually this rich and mythical continent shrank into the reality that was Australia, but the one bore virtually no relation to the other.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Have chisel will chip!
Before recoiling in absolute incredulity that, deep in antiquity, oceangoing mariners from ancient Egypt landed on Australian shores, the evidence unearthed by Michael Terry, the veteran explorer of the Australian interior, should be investigated.
In 1961, on a mining exploration west of Alice Springs, near the Western Australian border, he spotted a carving of a rhinoceros-type animal, with short stumpy legs, a long upswept tail, and a curved back and horn. A short distance away, further search “revealed a horizontal human figure about seven feet long on a cliff face. . . . It seemed to have some kind of headdress, or helmet. There was a proper outline of anatomy. Whereas Aborigines are content to represent legs and arms by straight lines, this figure possessed ankles, calves, thighs and so on” (“Did Ptolemy Know of Australia?” Walkabout, August 1965). Six examples of a “ram’s head” symbol were also found nearby. Both the “rhinoceros” and the horizontal figure were 30 feet above the present ground level, suggesting that the platform used by the carver had eroded away, testifying to their great age. Intrigued by this discovery, Terry embarked on further research into the whole question of pre-16th-century sightings and even landings on the southern continent. He reported that in 1891, Joseph Bradshaw found rock paintings in a cave near the Prince Regent River in Western Australia and quoted him as stating: “the most remarkable fact is that wherever a profile face in shown the features are of a most pronounced aquiline type, quite different from those of the natives we encountered. One might imagine himself viewing the painted walls of an ancient Egyptian temple.”
Terry also documents the finding of a 2,200-year-old coin of Pharaoh Ptolemy IV (221–204 B.C.) by Andy Henderson in 1910, discovered while he was sinking a line of post holes across an Aboriginal track. The coin was two feet below the surface of a gravel ridge in a rain forest, inland from Taylor’s Bay, 10 miles north of Cairns, a location that positively invites enticing speculation because the bay “is an obvious shelter from the south-east monsoon. I hazard that ancient mariners anchored there, and that some of the crew went ashore to explore the tableland, by way of the sole access, the Aboriginal walking-track. Possibly one carried a bag of coins which broke, or in some other way dropped the coin that Henderson retrieved” (“Australia’s Unwritten History.” Walkabout, August 1967).
Of course, it is always pleasant and diverting to indulge in flights of fancy but the impartial observer might conclude that Terry offers a sufficient core of hard facts to warrant further academic research.
A reproduction of a 1566 world map by Nicolas Desliens. With south orientated at the top, the top left corner has a large land mass that is claimed to be Australia, charted from Chinese voyages.
Speculation that Chinese seamen discovered a south land at the beginning of the 15th century is based on the large-scale military and trading expeditions into the Indian Ocean, commanded by Zheng-He, which extended to Sri Lanka in 1406; to Calicut, on the Malabar Coast, in 1407; to Hormuz and Aden 1413 through 1415; and to the east coast of Africa in 1417. These voyages are well documented in Chinese records and confirm that Chinese fleets possessed an oceangoing capacity. Significantly, the records relate that of 700 ships that sailed for Sri Lanka in 1406, only 620 reached port there. Some ships were lost in a storm, others are reported to have broken away from the fleet and sailed southward.
The discovery in Beijing in 1932 of an early map, dated 1426, including a representation of the south land, which bears little apparent resemblance to Australia but that was remarkably similar to European maps of this early period, suggests that the Chinese had certain knowledge of the configuration of Australia and the Pacific Ocean.
Early-14th-century Chinese coins and pottery, uncovered in Western Australia, Tasmania, and New South Wales, have also been cited as evidence of early Chinese contact with Australia, possibly by the ships that had been diverted south on the 1406 voyage and that had reached Western Australia, sailed to Tasmania, and then continued up the east coast of the continent. Additionally, the name of the township, Nimbin, in northern New South Wales, occurs in Chinese records. Opposing theories consider Nimbin to derive from either a legendary Aborigine hero or to translate from an Aborigine term denoting a little hairy man.
A figurine of a man clothed in a long flowing robe, sitting astride an antelope, found lodged in the roots of a banyan tree near Darwin in 1879, seemingly provided further evidence of an early Chinese presence in Australia. Almost 50 years later, this was identified as a medieval jade figure of Shou Lao, a Taoist divine. From its position when found, it was deemed unlikely that it had been dropped or planted in modern times and had, in fact, been deliberately placed there. Moreover, Taoism had always remained a distinctively Chinese religion confined to China. So, the argument ran, it was probably conveyed to Australia in a Chinese ship.
Alas, late-20th-century opinion was that the figurine belonged not to the medieval period but to the early 19th century and was thus discredited as supporting evidence of a Chinese discovery of Australia a good century before the earliest European contact. But that was not the end of the story. Principally based on the author’s detailed scrutiny and interpretation of early Portuguese maritime cartography, and also on his own knowledge and experience of navigation, Gavin Menzies’s 1421: The Year China Discovered the World (2002) threatens to revolutionize the study of overseas discovery and exploration.
Early in March 1421, so the story runs, a huge armada set off from Beijing. Comprising 250 gigantic, 9-masted junks, each divided into 16 internal watertight compartments, accompanied by 400 grain-transporting freighters and escorted by squadrons of fast and maneuverable warships, this unprecedentedly powerful armada had two main aims. First, to return the kings and envoys who had attended the inauguration of China’s new capital, The Walled City, in Beijing and, second, to create a vast maritime trading empire widening across the oceans of the world.
In recognition of his long service to China’s overseas trade, the supreme command of this imposing manifestation of Chinese maritime power was given to Zheng-He. At sea, anchored off Sumatra, his command was divided into four separate fleets. Two, under Hong Bao and Zhou Man, Menzies contends, discovered Australia.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The map of Chinese Kingdom from the «Drawing book of Siberia», 1699-1703
For more than three hundred years Russian travelers, merchants, diplomats, military agents and geographers created geographical descriptions and maps of the various regions of China. All their data was highly required by the government. As the Russian settlements moved far to the East from Ural in XVI – XVII centuries, government striven to extend the sphere of its influence to the Asia, promote Russian trade and oppose similar efforts from other European states. Several regions were subjects of the military interest, several – as potential trade and transport corridors. The pure academic interest to the nature, inhabitants, economy and natural resources was also great.
In Medieval time all maps of China came to Russia from Europe. First original and reliable data on China was received during the colonization of Siberia in XVI-XVII. It is considered that they came from Cossacks, sent by Ioann IV in 1567 «in order to find out new countries» (Popov, I.I., 1862). Only in the middle of the XVII century 9 diplomatic missions to the Jungarian khanate in Western Mongolia. were sent. The mission of Baikov started from Tobolsk to Pekin in 1654-1658 (Postnikov, 2001). Government sent expeditions to the Inner China to check rumors about gold sands, find short route
To India, collect strategic military information about Northern and Western China. Military reconnaissance data became of great interest especially after the Qinq Empire conquered the Eastern Turkestan and Jungaria in the mid-XVIII century. At this time historical sources do not contain exact and detailed information about places and geographical objects, but mainly unverified geographical narratives. One of the most interesting sources of the end of XVII is the geographical atlas of Siberia known as “Book of charts for Siberia (1699-1703)” by S.U. Remezov, studied in details by L.A. Goldenberg (1965, 1990). It is based on the medieval Siberian land cadastre.
Early maps and charts.
This detailed and accurate data describing geography and demography of Siberia was not available for the European cartographers. The book includes several charts of Central Asia and China (as far as Tibet). The most interesting is the combination of the Russian data on Siberia unknown for the West and data on China borrowed from the Western sources. It shows the zone where Russian and Chinese cultures met. This atlas was considered so much valuable for border demarcation, that even in 1980s during the Soviet-Chinese boundary disputes the Soviet Foreign Ministry restricted access to it, and till now it still remains unpublished for this reason.
One of the most universal monster myths is that of the dragon. The awesome, reptile-like beasts appear in the folklore of nearly every country. And the fact that the creature was truly regarded as an actual monster rather than a myth can be demonstrated in several writings of the day. Edward Topsell, writing in his Historie of Serpents (1608), commented that among all the kinds of serpents, there is none comparable to the Dragon, or that afforded and yielded “so much plentiful matter in history for the ample discovery of the nature thereof.”
While examining the “true accounts” of dragons in the folklore and records of several cultures, one cannot help wondering if there really were dragon-like monsters prowling the earth, devouring hapless villagers, receiving periodic sacrifices of young maidens, spreading terror into the hearts of all, and being thwarted only by courageous knights. For years, children have been read tales, seen motion pictures, and heard songs of reluctant dragons, kindly dragons, affectionate dragons, magic dragons, and timid dragons.
Behind every myth smolders some spark of truth and reality. A few scientists hold the theory that a number of dinosaurs might have survived into the Age of Man. Pick up any book on dinosaurs and it is apparent that a Tyrannosaurus Rex would have made a terrific dragon in anyone’s legend. Such a huge reptile thudding about the countryside of early Europe or Asia could certainly fit even the most dramatic descriptions of a dragon.
No theorist favoring the surviving dinosaur solution to dragons claims that the great reptiles existed in anything approaching abundance. But even a handful of such ancient monsters existing in isolated lakes and forested valleys would not have gone unnoticed, even in the sparsely populated Europe of the Dark Ages. The discovery of even just a few of these great reptiles would have given rise to a far-reaching legend.
A more palatable theory is that the ancient historians were actually describing huge snakes such as the python, which often reaches a length of more than 30 feet. A number of dragon stories from the Middle Ages tell how the dragon wound itself about its prey and slowly crushed it.
The giant snake theory does not account for descriptions of the dragon’s feet or its ability to walk on all fours, but some species of giant lizard, such as the Komodo dragon, attains a length of 10–12 feet. The Komodo presently resides in the East Indies, but in ancient times, it is possible that St. George and his fellow dragon-killers might have fought some unknown species of monster lizard in Europe and Asia.
A third, more believable theory has an adventurer of the Middle Ages coming upon a cave filled with the bones of a giant cave bear and mistaking them for the skeletal remains of a dragon. Workmen excavating earth for a cathedral might even have unearthed the fossil remains of a dinosaur. It was not until the nineteenth century that scientists realized that the age of fossil bones often ran into millions of years. Previously, the skeletons were considered to have been the remains of some giant creature only recently dead. If, at the time the dragon legend was flourishing in Europe, a discovery of fossil remains was unearthed or sighted in a cave, the find would seem to offer conclusive proof for the existence of dragons. It is likely that the bones of the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, and the giant cave bear were not that uncommon in early Europe. The tusk of the mammoth was often called for in the recipes of medieval love potions.
In the marketplace of the Austrian city of Klagenfurt, there is a statue of a giant killing a dragon. The dragon’s head has quite obviously been modeled on the skull of a woolly rhinoceros. The connection can be proven by the fact that old records note the discovery of a “dragon’s skull” in Klagenfurt in the sixteenth century, 30 years before the statue was constructed. The skull has been preserved all these years by the city fathers and can be identified today as that of the Ice Age rhinoceros.
Carrington, Richard. Mermaids and Mastodons. London: Arrow Books, 1960.
Heuvelmans, Bernard. On the Track of Unknown Animals. New York: Hill and Wang, 1958.
Mackal, Roy P. A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe. New York: E. J. Brill, 1987.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Were the Dark Ages Triggered by Volcano-Related Climate Changes in the 6th Century?(If so, was Krakatau volcano the culprit?)
by Ken Wohletz
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Copyright 2000 UC
Modern history has its origins in the tumultuous 6th and 7th centuries. During this period agricultural failures and the emergence of the plague contributed to: (1) the demise of ancient super cities, old Persia, Indonesian civilizations, the Nasca culture of South America, and southern Arabian civilizations; (2) the schism of the Roman Empire with the conception of many nation states and the re-birth of a united China; and (3) the origin and spread of Islam while Arian Christianity disappeared. In his book, Catastrophe An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World, author David Keys explores history and archaeology to link all of these human upheavals to climate destabilization brought on by a natural catastrophe, with strong evidence from tree-ring and ice-core data that it occurred in 535 AD.
via Were the Dark Ages Triggered by Volcano.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The Russians call a silvan spirit Lešiy, Lesovik (cf. Russian lesu, "forest, wood"), and such a being shows himself either in human or in animal guise. When he appears in the former shape, he is an old man with long hair and beard, with flashing green eyes, and with his body covered by a thick coat of hair. His stature depends on the height of the tree, etc., which he inhabits: in the forests he may attain the size of high trees; in the fields he is no taller than grass. In the woods the Lešiye frequently appear to travelers as ordinary people or as their friends; but at other times they take the shapes of bears, wolves, hares, etc. They live in deep woods and in fields; forests, fields, and meadows are the realm over which they rule. Usually there is only one Lešiy in each wood; but if there are several, a "silvan czar" is their lord. Some Lešiye remain alone by themselves in forest solitudes and in caves, while others are fond of society and build in the woods spacious dwellings where they live with their wives and children.
The principal business of the silvan spirits is to guard the forest. They do not allow people to whistle or to shout there; they drive away thieves, frightening them by their cries and playing pranks upon them. The deer and the birds enjoy their protection; but their favorite is the bear, with whom they feast and revel.
When the Lešiy walks through the forest to look after his property, a rustling of the trees accompanies him; he roams through the woods, rocks upon the boughs, whistles, laughs, claps his hands, cracks his whip, neighs like a horse, lows like a cow, barks like a dog, and mews like a cat. The echo is his work; and since a strong wind constantly blows around him, no man has ever seen his footsteps either in sand or in snow.
He is of a mocking and teasing disposition, and is fond of misleading those who have lost their way, removing boundary stones and signposts, or taking the shape of a wanderer's friend to confuse him and lure him into thickets and morasses. He also entices girls and children into his copses, where he keeps them until, long afterward, they escape with their honor lost; and he likewise substitutes his own offspring for human children, such a changeling being ugly, stupid, and voracious, but strong as a horse. If a man suddenly falls ill while in the forest, he believes that this affliction has been sent upon him by the Lešiy; to recover his health he wraps a slice of salted bread in linen and lays it in the woods as a present for the silvan spirit.
Shepherds and huntsmen gain the Lešiy's favor by presents. The former make him an offering in the shape of a cow and thus secure his protection for their flocks; while the latter place a piece of salted bread on the stump of a tree and leave for him the first game which they take. Moreover, the recitation of certain formulae secures his services, and there are many ways to obviate the danger of being led astray by him as by turning one's garments inside out, putting the right shoe on the left foot, bending down to look between one's legs, etc.
Nymphs and dryads likewise show themselves in the woods, and are pictured as beautiful girls, wearing a white or green gown, and with golden or green hair. In the evening, when stillness reigns in nature, they divert themselves by dancing and singing; and they also dance at noon, when it is dangerous to approach their circles, since they dance or tickle to death those who allow themselves to be attracted by their songs. They are most perilous to young lads, whereas they often feel pity for girls and richly reward them.
The dryads punish children who shout in the woods while gathering mushrooms; but, on the other hand, if they are courteously asked, they show where these fungi grow in abundance The forest where they live usually contains a magic well whose waters cure all diseases. Sometimes they marry country lads, but they will not permit themselves to be insulted or reminded of their descent.
Woods and mountains are the home of "Wild Women" (Bohemian Divoženky, Lusatian Džiwje Žony, Polish Dziwozony, Sluveoian Divje Devojke, Bulgarian Divi-te Leni), good-looking: beings with large square heads, long, thick hair (ruddy. or black in color), hairy bodies, and long fingers. They lived in underground burrows and had houseluo; is like mankind. They either gathered ears in the fields or picked them from the sheaves, and having ground the grain on a stone, they baked bread which spread its odor throughout the wood. Besides bread they ate the root of the liquorices and caught game and fish. They were fond of combing hemp, which they wove into frocks and shirts.
The "Wild Women" knew the secret forces of nature, and from plants and roots they prepared unguents with which they anointed themselves, thus becoming light and invisible. They were fond of music and singing; and storms were believed to be caused by their wild frolicking. Lads and lasses were invited to dance with them and afterward reaped rich rewards. They maintained a friendly intercourse with human beings, frequently entering their villages and borrowing kneading-troughs and other necessaries. Those who did not forget to reserve some dish for them were well repaid, for the "Wild Women" kept their houses in order, swept their rooms and courtyards, cleared their firesides of ashes, and took care of their children; in the fields they reaped the corn, and gathering up the grain, tied it Into sheaves; for the women they not only spun hemp, but also gave them crops that never diminished. Many stories are told about their marriages with country lads. They were model wives and housekeepers, but they vanished if any one called them "Wild Women," and untidy firesides or dirty kneading-troughs were also apt to drive them away.
They were dangerous to any person, whom they might meet alone in the forest, turning him round and round until he lost his way. They lay in wait especially for women who had just become mothers and substituted their own offspring for the human children, these changelings, called Divous ("Wild Brats") or Premien ("Changelings"), being ugly, squalling, and unshapely. The "Wild Women" did much harm to avaricious and greedy persons, dragging their corn along fields, bewitching their cows, acid afflicting their children with whooping-cough, or even killing them. It was during Midsummer Night that they were most powerful.
The Lusatian Serbs believe that the Džiwje Žony ("Wild Women") are white beings who reveal themselves at noon or at evening. They like to spin hemp; and if a girl spins or combs it for them, they reward her by leaves that become gold.
In Polish superstition the Dziwožony are superhuman females with cold and callous hearts and filled with passionate sensuality. They are tall in stature, their faces are thin, and their hair is long and disheveled. They fling their breasts over their shoulders, since otherwise they would be hindered in running; and their garments are always disarranged. Groups of them go about woods and fields, and if they chance upon human beings, they tickle the adults to death, but take the young folk with them to be their lovers and playmates. For this reason young people never go to the woods alone, but only in groups. In the belief of the Slovenians the Divje Devojke, or Dekle, dwell in the forests; at harvest-time they come down to the fields to reap the corn, and the "Wild Men" bind it into sheaves, the farmers' wives bringing them food in return. Where they came from no one can tell, and the cracking of whips has driven them away at last. The Divja Žena is a woman of tall figure, with an enormously large head and long black hair, but very short feet; site dwells in mountain caves. If a woman does not nurse her child properly, the "Wild Woman" comes and either substitutes a changeling for it or carries it away.
The Bulgarian Diva-ta Žena lives in the woods anti is covered with a thick coat of hair; she throws her long breasts over her shoulders and thus nurses her children. She is strong and savage, and her enunciation is defective.
More rarely mention is made of "Wild Men." They live in forests, and their entire bodies are covered with hair or moss, while a tuft of ferns adorns their heads. If they catch a young girl, they take her to wife; and if she runs away from them, they tear her child to pieces. They appear to lonely wanderers and, accompanied by terrible gusts of wind, they frighten them and lead them into morasses. The "Wild Men" like to tease gamekeepers and forest-rangers by imitating the hewing, sawing, and felling of trees; and they chase deer in the woods, hooting horribly all the while. In Slovenian tradition the Divji Mož ("Wild Man") lived in a deep forest cave and was possessed of terrible strength. The peasants of tie neighborhood who wished to avoid being harmed by him had to carry food to the cottage that was nearest his cave; but he was well disposed toward the peasants who cooked their meals in his hut and advised them how to set to work.
Besides these silvan spirits there are similar beings of various names. The ancient Czechs were familiar with Jeze and Jezenky ("Lamias"), who were said to have the faces of women, the bodies of sows, and the legs of horses, People still believe in Jezinky who, living in caves, put out the eyes of human beings after lulling them to sleep, and who kidnap small children, whom they feed on dainty morsels, in their caverns. The ancient Poles, too, knew of them and still tell stories of Jendzyna, who figures in popular fairy-tales as Jaga-baba, Ježibaba, Jendžibaba, etc.
In Moravia the "Wild Beings" are small and ungainly, live in fields, and may transform themselves into all sorts of animals. Since their own children are ugly, they steal those of mankind and treat them very well; but the changelings whom they foist on human beings are hideous and bald, with huge heads and stomachs; they neither grow nor talk, but eat a great deal, whining and whimpering constantly. The Slovaks have their Zruty, or Ozruti, who are wild and gigantic beings, living in the wildernesses of the Tatra Mountains.