Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Dream Catcher Legends

Legend of the Spider and Grandmother What ties together a spider and a grandmother? In an ancient Native American tale, an old grandmother saw a spider nearby her sleeping spot. She had watched the spider for days while he spun his web.
Her grandson entered one day and saw the spider. He picked up a rock and was going to crush it, but the grandmother stopped him. He asked her why. But the grandmother just smiled.

After the boy left, the spider spoke to the grandmother who had been watching him spin his web for days and to thank her for saving his life he would give her a gift. He showed her how to spin a web. He said the web would snare all the bad dreams and only the good dreams would come through to be remembered. The bad would become entangled in the web.

The legend is one explanation of the creation of a dream catcher. The Lokata Dream Catcher Legend Another legend of the dream catcher tells of an old Lakota spiritual leader who was on a very high mountain and had a vision.

In this vision, Iktomi, who was a great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. As they were talking, the spider picked up the willow hoop which had feathers, beads on it and began to spin a web.
He and the elder spoke about the cycles of life. We begin as infants, then on to childhood and then adults. As we enter old age, we need to be cared for like children, which complete the circle.

Iktomi also spoke of good and bad forces that can alter the forces of nature. When he had finished speaking he gave the elder the finished web and told him that it was a perfect circle with a hole in the center. He instructed him to use the web to help people reach their goals, using their ideas and dreams. The web will catch the good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole.

The spiritual elder passed this information on to his people and many hung a dream catcher above their beds. It is said that the dream catcher holds the destiny of the future.

The Lakota believe that good and bad dreams move freely about in the night winds.
The dream catcher grabs the floating good dreams and holds them in the webbing until the light of day. At this point they pass to the mind of the sleeper so that he can follow his dream.

The Origin of the Dream Catcher Found in Ojibwa Tribe As interesting as these legends are, dream catchers, a true Native American art, are attributed to the Ojibwa Tribe based on a long tradition of oral stories and legends passed on through the generations.

The Ojibwa tribe, whose traditional homeland is around the Great Lakes, has ancient stories relating the tales of the use of these dream catchers with their spider like web to capture the nightmares of sleeping children. These originally were quiet small only about 3 inches in diameter and made of bent wood, and a string or leather attached to a feather. The pattern used for the webbing was similar to the snowshoes made by the tribe.

The dream catcher was hung by a sleeping child to prevent nightmares. The legend was that the bad dreams would be caught in the dream catcher’s web.
The ancient story told by the Objibwa tells of Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) who along with Wanabozhoo brought the sun to the people. Asibikaashi still takes care of her people today; however, since the Ojibwa nation has spread to the four corners of North America, it is difficult to make this journey.
So mothers, sisters, and grandmothers took it upon themselves to make the weaving webs for the new babies.The shape is of a circle as that is how the sun travels each day.

The web allows for the bad dreams to be caught and the open circle in the center permits the good thoughts to come through. It is traditional to put a feather in the center as it means breath or air which is essential for life.
The baby watches the feather move in the flow of air is entertained as well as learning the lesson of the air. The type of feather generally used signifies different properties; the feather of an owl (a woman’s feather) is symbolic of wisdom and an eagle feather (a man’s feather) represents courage.

Today the use of feathers of these birds is forbidden by the government, so sometimes four gems are used to signify the four directions. The Gifts of the Four Directions Each of the four directions holds the promise of attributes important to the Native American.

From the East comes the eagle with gifts of the color yellow, spiritual, Father Sky, dreams, and courage. From the West come the gifts of the turtle and bear; protection, the color black, and fire. Next, from the South come the gifts of the cougar: the color red, summer, Mother Earth, and nourishment. And finally, from the North come the gifts of the polar bear: the color white, winter, water, Grandmother Moon, and wisdom.

Frances Densmore’s Research Frances Densmore, after extensive research, published in 1929 a book, Chippewa Customs, in which she describes the dream catcher webs and their use of hanging over a baby’s crib to catch bad dreams.

For thousands of years, the Native Americans used the dream catcher to provide only dreams of good for their children.

The original dream catcher had a very tiny hole in the center and all dreams were caught in the web. Dreams have great powers according to the Old Ones and the web entangles the bad so that they do not reach the sleeper and disturbed his sleep.
However, the good dreams float through the center down the trail of beads into the mind of the sleeper.

The bad dreams entangled in the web would perish in the light of the sun at daybreak.

Popularity of Dream Catchers During the 60’s and 70’s the dream catchers became accepted with other tribes such as Cherokee, Lakota and Navajo. These are not found in all Native American tribes.

The popularity of dream catchers today is widespread. You can find jewelry such as earrings, and dream catchers dangling from mirrors in cars as well as the traditional catcher hung over the bed.

You can purchase a true Native American made Dream Catcher from various stores along the roads and in towns near the Reservation Lands in Arizona and New Mexico.
In addition, on line sites sell this Native American craft item.
Some people want to make their own dream catcher and can find instructional internet sites and books.

For many believe the legend of the dream catcher and enjoy peaceful and beautiful dreams by sleeping under its power.


Versione Italiana:

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris is an underground ossuary in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate (the "Barrière d'Enfer" at today's Place Denfert-Rochereau), the ossuary holds the remains of about six million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris's stone mines.

Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1874. Following an incident of vandalism, they were closed to the public in September 2009 and reopened 19 December of the same year.

In the entrance there is a stone portal, the ossuary entry, with the inscription:

Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort ('Stop! Here lies the Empire of Death").

The Catacombs are one of the 14 City of Paris' Museums that have been incorporated since January 1st 2013 in the public institution Paris Musées.
The official name for the catacombs is l'Ossuaire Municipal.

Although this cemetery covers only a small section of underground tunnels comprising "les carrières de Paris" ("the quarries of Paris"), Parisians today often refer to the entire tunnel network as "the catacombs".

Since Roman times, Paris has buried its dead on the outskirts of the city, but habits changed with the rise of Christianity and its practice of burying its faithful in the consecrated ground under and around its churches, no matter their location.

By the 10th century, many of Paris's parish cemeteries were well within city limits, and eventually some, because of their central location in dense urban growth, were unable to expand and became overcrowded. An attempt to remedy this situation came in the early 12th century with the opening of a central mass burial ground for those not wealthy enough to pay for a church burial.

Depending on the St. Opportune church near Paris's central Les Halles district, this cemetery had its own Saints Innocents church and parish appellation by the end of the same century. Eventually, Paris's other churches adopted the technique of mass inhumation as well.

Once an excavation in one section of the cemetery was full, it would be covered over and another opened. Residues resulting from the decaying of organic matter, a process often chemically accelerated with the use of lime, entered directly into the earth, creating a situation unacceptable for a city whose then-principal source of water was wells.

As it was one of Paris's most sought-after cemeteries and a large source of revenue for the parish and church, the clergy had continued burials there even when its grounds were filled to overflowing. By then, the cemetery was lined on all four sides with "charniers" reserved for the bones of the dead exhumed from mass graves that had "lain" long enough for all the flesh they contained to decompose.

Once emptied, a mass sepulchre would be used again, but even then, the earth was already filled beyond saturation with decomposing human remains.
A series of ineffective decrees limiting the use of the cemetery did little to remedy the situation, and it wasn't until the late 18th century that it was decided to create three new large-scale suburban burial grounds on the outskirts of the city, and to condemn all existing parish cemeteries within city limits.

The new cemeteries were created outside the central area of the capital, in the early 19th century: Montmartre Cemetery in the north, Père Lachaise Cemetery in the east, Passy Cemetery in the west. Later, Montparnasse Cemetery was added in the south.

The government had been searching for and consolidating long abandoned stone quarries in and around the capital since 1777, and it was the Police Lieutenant General overseeing the renovations, Alexandre Lenoir, who first had the idea to use empty underground tunnels on the outskirts of the capital to this end.

His successor, Thiroux de Crosne, chose a place to the south of Paris's "porte d'Enfer" city gate (the place Denfert-Rochereau today), and the exhumation and transfer of all Paris's dead to the underground sepulture began in 1786, taking until 1788 to complete.

From the eve of a consecration ceremony on the 7th April the same year, behind a procession of chanting priests, began a parade of black-covered bone-laden horse-drawn wagons that continued for years.

In work overseen by the Inspector General of Quarries, Charles-Axel Guillaumot, the bones were deposited in a wide well dug in land bought from a property, "La maison de la Tombe Issoire" (near a house with the same name), and distributed throughout the underground caverns by workers below. Also deposited near the same house were crosses, urns and other necropolis memorabilia recovered from Paris's church graveyards.

The catacombs in their first years were mainly a bone repository, but Guillaumot's successor from 1810, Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury, oversaw the renovations that would transform the underground caverns into a real and visitable sepulture on par with any mausoleum.

In addition to directing the arrangement of skulls and femurs into the configuration seen in the catacombs today, he used those tombstones and cemetery decorations he could find (many had disappeared after the 1789 Revolution) to complement the walls of bones.

The Catacombs entry is in the western pavilion of Paris's former Barrière d'Enfer city gate. After descending a narrow spiral stone stairwell of 19 meters to the darkness and silence broken only by the gurgling of a hidden aqueduct channeling local springs away from the area, and after passing through a long (about 1.5 km) and twisting hallway of mortared stone, visitors find themselves before a sculpture that existed from a time before this part of the mines became an ossuary, a model of France's Port-Mahon fortress created by a former Quarry Inspector.

Beyond begin the halls and caverns of walls of carefully arranged bones. Some of the arrangements are almost artistic in nature, such as a heart-shaped outline in one wall formed with skulls embedded in surrounding tibias; another is a round room whose central pillar is also a carefully created 'keg' bone arrangement.

Along the way one would find other 'monuments' created in the years before catacomb renovations, such as a source-gathering fountain baptised "La Samaritaine" because of later-added engravings. There are also rusty gates blocking passages leading to other 'unvisitable' parts of the catacombs – many of these are either un-renovated or were too un-navigable for regular tours.

Bodies of the dead from the riots in the Place de Grève, the Hôtel de Brienne, and Rue Meslée were put in the catacombs on 28 and 29 August 1788.
The tomb of the Val-de-Grâce hospital doorkeeper, Philibert Aspairt, lost in the catacombs in 1793 and found 11 years later, is located in the catacombs on the spot where his body was found.

The catacomb walls are covered in graffiti dating from the eighteenth century onwards. Victor Hugo used his knowledge about the tunnel system in Les Misérables. In 1871, communards killed a group of monarchists in one chamber. During World War II, Parisian members of the French Resistance used the tunnel system.

Also during this period, German soldiers established an underground bunker in the catacombs below Lycée Montaigne, a high school in the 6th arrondissement.

Although the catacombs offered space to bury the dead, they presented disadvantages to building structures; because the catacombs are right under the Paris streets, large foundations cannot be built. For this reason, there are not many tall buildings in this area of Paris.


The Dark Fairies

A fairy is a mythical being often described as a sort of spirit. Fairies are generally represented as humans in appearance with magical abilities, and it is said they would apply their magic to disguise themselves.

In the past, several animals were believed to be fairies. Still, the most of people, today, use the word fairy to describe only the winged creature harmless and impalpable . People often referred to them as little graceful folkloristic community, or peace community.

However, the term fairy offers many definitions. Long time ago the terms fairy was used to describe any magical creature, including goblins or gnomes. The origins of the fairies aren't very clear in folk. They have been classified as so many things. The folk have also suggested that their beginnings was originated from religious beliefs who have lost credibility with the arrival of Christianity.

Subsequently, the fairies appeared as characters in the stories of medieval chivalric tales, Victorian fairy tales and modern literature. Even if in the literature of today they are pictured like young tiny Humanoids with wings, in the past have been depicted benevolently in a different way: tall, angelic beings or small shriveled gnomes were some of the most common descriptions. Fairy's wings were not common, and indeed many little fairies flew on stems of flowers or on the back of birds using the magic. In fact, fairy wings have become popular only in the Victorian era.

A lot of the fairy folklore revolves around protection from their mischief and malice. At one time, people regarded fairies as evil beings and were really afraid of them. They didn't want to offend the dark fairies for fear of reprisals, so they would go out of their way to avoid a confrontation.

But those who love the fairies don't have to be worried, the question about the essential nature of the fairies is still subject of discussion. It has been subject of legends and scholarly publications for centuries.

"I believe in everything until it was disproved. So I believe in fairies, myths, dragons. There is everything, even if it's just in your mind. Who says that dreams and nightmares are not real like the here and now? "
~ John Lennon

Protection From The Dark Fairies -Practical Considerations

In a time when people thought that they could really meet fairies, it was generally accepted that these dark fairies were malicious and often dangerous. Tangling the hair of a sleeper, stealing small items, or bring a traveler on the wrong road, were considered harmless pranks. However, they were also charged with deadly conduct.

Consumption (tuberculosis) was considered to be a fault of the fairies. They forced boys and girls dancing every night, which made them tired for lack of sleep. Mysterious diseases of domestic animals were caused by dancing fairies.
In other legends, the dark fate liked to abduct humans. Both young men and women, or children, by swapping places and left. Ugly kids are fairy babies they are left in place where they have stolen human children. Even the older subjects might be kidnapped.

Any woman who had given birth without a special rite of the Church was believed to be in danger. A sudden death might be a fairy kidnapping, with the apparently dead body having been replaced with a wooden body that resembled the person kidnapped. A common warning was to not eat the food of the fairies if you were kidnapped. It was thought that serve to trap the prisoners of the fairies of darkness forever.

As a result, the practical considerations of oscure fairies was an advice on how to avoid them. The most fascinating and effective protections were cold iron, wearing clothes inside and outside, running water, in particular bells (bells of the Church), St. John's wort, and four-leaf clovers. In Rowan, some trees , are sacred to the fairies, and in other stories is a protection against them. In Newfoundland, the most popular protection from dark fairy is bread. The bread is connected with home, industry, and domestic nature. This is why many believed that the bread was frowned upon by some types of fairies. Contradictorily, the baked bread is a traditional offering to the people of the fairies in Celtic folklore.

There are many ambiguous tales in folklore of fairies. Bells of protection against dark fairies, but a fairy riding often has bells on harness. Of course this may be why the fate of the Seelie Court, use them to protect themselves from the fate of the Unseelie court. Some traditions say that the cockcrow away dark fairies, but other stories tell that certain types of fairies raised domestic poultry.

Another hint: do not follow a will-o'-the-wisp (a pale light that you see at night on a marshland). The dark fairy takes you on the wrong road. Avoid shelters and travel routes of the fairies. Do not dig into the hills. Fairy forts (remnants of circular dwellings) should be left undisturbed. If a person trim the bushes around the fairies' forts it could be killed from dark fairies. People who have seen the fairies have told you not to look at them closely. Dark fairies resent that it violated their privacy.

If you don't understand how a mill work, Scottish communities were often superstitious belief that Miller must work with the fairies. No one has ever gone to the mill at night, because everyone knew that the fairies brought their grain to be ground after dark. A clever Miller doesn't contradic all this not so she could sleep without worrying that he wouldn't have been robbed.

Home owners knocked the corners of their home because the angle locked meant a trajectory of the fairy. Some houses were built with aligned front and rear doors, so they could be left them opened overnight and dark fairies can pass through. Only one fairy tree was left in Scotland, in prevention, although the road has been widened in seventy years.

It was also the belief that a person could evoke a particular fairy if he knew his name. This might insult the dark fairy, or may grant the powers and gifts to those who have relied on. But one had to be careful, the Fairy gold was unreliable. It looked like gold when it was poured, but later turned into leaves, broom flowers, cakes, gingerbread or an assortment of other worthless stuff.