10 votes
Accepted

Why is it lucky to touch or knock on wood?

To make sure your vessel is seaworthy. Sailors in the 17th century would sometimes knock with their hands or tools on the wooden hull of their ship to listen for woodworm or rot, hearing a solid ...
Tom Sol's user avatar
  • 4,061
6 votes

What were medieval European myths about redheads?

witchcraft Red hair was a sign of witchcraft in Christian Europe and it was said that it was often seen as a marker of guilt in the eyes of witch finders. There are many examples of redheads being ...
Tom Sol's user avatar
  • 4,061
5 votes

Cultural association between directions and colors

In recent time the association seems to have been generally dismissed but not so long ago it was credible. Roland B. Dixon, The Color-Symbolism of the Cardinal Points, J. of American Folklore, V. 12, ...
sand1's user avatar
  • 836
5 votes

Pre-Tolkien Orcs in myths or folklore?

Blake came before Tolkien, and Tolkien definitely knew the work of Blake. In Blake's mythology, Orc is a fallen entity who embodies rebellion, and opposes the forces of order and tradition, ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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4 votes

Are there any accounts of English folklore concerning walking willow trees?

To expand slightly on the answer by @Semaphore. In her An Encyclopedia of Fairies Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures (page 159), after the Somerset rhyme, Katharine Mary ...
Gullintanni's user avatar
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4 votes
Accepted

Are there any accounts of English folklore concerning walking willow trees?

This is not an account per se, but it is a source that proves such a belief existed in English folklore. Katharine Mary Briggs documents a Somerset rhyme that goes: Ellum do grieve, Oak he do hate, ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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4 votes

What are some references to Mathonwy in Welsh legends?

Sadly, I've never been able to find any direct references to Mathonwy anywhere. Bromwich (pg. 439) mentions that the name Mathonwy itself could be a doublet for the name Math, like so many names in ...
Dan's user avatar
  • 464
4 votes
Accepted

What is the great gulf mentioned by Hesiod?

Yes, this "great gulf" (χάσμα μέγ') and chaos are one and the same. Gulf, chasm, abyss, void, or gap is an older meaning (LSJ; Wiki) for a term that in modern English has come to mean ...
Brian Donovan's user avatar
3 votes

Can mermaids shapeshift and grow human legs to walk on land?

This theme seems to have become popular in mainstream culture from Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. A 19th century fairy story. However, the idea of a water creature like a mermaid ...
Chenmunka's user avatar
  • 1,066
3 votes

Why are mermaids naked?

A number of reasons: mermaids are part of nature, not culture, Classical depictions of marine deities and other spirits show them naked, and because mermaids are supposed to be sexy.
solsdottir's user avatar
  • 5,886
3 votes
Accepted

What is the mythological status of the 'goethia' demons?

Try "Goetia" instead of "Goethia". Roughly, it means the art of summoning angels, whether fallen or still elevated (though more commonly the former). The Ars Goetia is the first section of The Lesser ...
Topher Cooper's user avatar
3 votes

Legendary forgotten Kingdom of Lechia

Lechia is the mythological name for Poland, stemming from the word Lech (which is also a common first name). According to legend, the name derives from the first ruler of Poland, Lech. It is also ...
Codosaur's user avatar
  • 5,368
3 votes
Accepted

Since when does Valhalla exist in Norse mythology?

No one knows specifically when Valhalla became a part of Norse mythology, but it was -as far as we know- first recorded in the stanzas of a 10th century poem commemorating the Eric Bloodaxe known as ...
Tyler Mc's user avatar
  • 338
3 votes

Why are there different names and appearances for household spirits in Estonian folklore?

I found these definitions in the book [1] and in the paper [2]: Kratt: a demon who stole and brought food, money and other wordly goods to its maker and owner in the form of a whirlwind or meteor-...
LeticiaYanaguya's user avatar
2 votes

Is it safe to "pay the devil with blood" for the power to cast a given spell or curse?

Romanian witchcraft is (not surprisingly given the religiosity of the country) rooted in Christianity, which in its turn copied the principles of a blood sacrifice and scapegoating from Judaism. ...
Codosaur's user avatar
  • 5,368
2 votes

Why is purple the color that protects from witches' curse?

This study should answer your question: The wizards of the violet flame. A magical mystery tour of Romanian politics - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies It presents the manifestations ...
Codosaur's user avatar
  • 5,368
2 votes

Why is it lucky to touch or knock on wood?

My anthropology professor linked it back to the belief that there were spirits, of whatever kind, living in trees and wood, and in order to keep them from hearing what you were saying and spoiling ...
fifthviolet's user avatar
2 votes
Accepted

European folkloric references to "cold iron" as a ward against supernatural entities?

European folklore is replete with mentions of supernatural creatures being averse to iron, especially in the northwestern and northeastern regions. (Allow me also to highlight for passersby, as ...
Dan's user avatar
  • 464
1 vote

When did many kinds of Fairies become small statured or tiny?

So, the idea of many fairies being small or tiny can be traced back to the writings of folks like Shakespeare and Drayton in the medieval and Renaissance periods. In their works, fairies like Puck ...
francesca's user avatar
1 vote

What are some actually evil gods around the world?

In Zoroastrianism, the Angra Mainyu could be seen as an evil god. Angra Mainyu...is the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism's hypostasis of the "destructive/evil spirit" and the main ...
cmw's user avatar
  • 7,199

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