Category Archives: Cultural Stuff

Superstitions, customs, myths, legends and beliefs across the globe.

Inktober Day 12 – The Kappa

The Kappa – Yokai of Japan

Today’s Inktober is based on a Japanese demon known as The Kappa part of the Yokai demons, he lives in embodiments of water, rivers, lakes and ponds.

Kappas are renowned for their obsession and passion for cucumbers and therefore locals often give offerings of cucumbers at festivals to the kappa’s to keep them from becoming harmful to the villagers.

Kappas have a naturally forming dip at the top of their heads which constantly hold water, if the water was to be accidentally spilled out, the kappa can become extremely weak or die.  It is said, if you are by an embodiment of water and you see a large aquatic humanoid which represents a human, frog and tortoise mixed together, sometimes they may seem like half duck and turtle that is a kappa and that if you do not have a cucumber to hand, this creature will either rape you anally and steal a part of your soul or tear your limbs apart as their second favourite form of food; So what do you do to ensure you are safe from this creature if you can’t give it an offering – you bow, these creatures are awfully polite and will bow back at you, spilling the water from their heads and rendering them helpless until they can top the water back up in its head giving you enough time to scarper!  Despite how evil all of this sounds, it is also thought that Kappas aren’t always malevolent, in fact often times they can be benevolent and help people who go fishing, particularly if they have been appeased with a cucumber or two.

In old Tokyo many people believed that if you ate cucumbers before going fishing you could prevent an attack, but then this act was banned by law because it was seen to be provoking the kappas to attack all the more!

 

 

 

 

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Bananas and minions

Bananas are magic in more ways than you know and the minions from despicable me must be onto something, so what?  Read on to find out more…

Minions are more than just adorable little yellow beings that help Dr Gru from the movie Despicable Me in my household; they are creatures that have opened doors to getting my son eating healthily because of his little yellow friend obsession!

My little boy, Henry loves to collect minions of all types, even the purple ones.  They are funny, cute and should exist in reality to my mind and his.  But also because of their existence the minions have also assisted in healthy eating.

I am not the only parent to notice the change in their offspring in regards to eating fresh fruit.  Minion’s all-time favourite food is bananas but also they love apples too!  Since watching some minion shorts on YouTube my son has wanted to find banana recipes.  I tried to bake him banana bread, he kind of liked it but the rest of the family hated it.  Then I remembered when Henry was a small baby into being a toddler, he used to love banana sandwiches (a favourite of his grandmother’s), but then he grew out of it.  Recently though, on Henry’s quest for banana recipes I have got him back to eating banana sandwiches again, a firm favourite of his now.

Way before the minions existed however, it is strange that I used to have a weird habit of randomly saying the word “Banana” just for fun at times I couldn’t think of anything else to say… it became my little quirk for years, this started around 2001 and I kind of grew out of it in late 2008 because an ex-boyfriend of mine made me uneasy about being so free with the word “Banana”.  He was a stickler for having things in context and when I said the word “Banana” it was always out of context and he made me feel silly and immature.

Bananas have always been important to me for more reasons than just my weird little habit and loving the minions so much… they have always been part of my daily diet, on days I don’t have a banana I feel listless and lacking in physical energy compared to days I have a banana. 

My favourite milkshake of all time is banana flavour; I prefer homemade milkshakes though – especially since I have been diagnosed lactose intolerant last year.  Banana milkshake is still tasty with the lactose free milk though!  I now make my banana milkshake with Nesquick banana mix and moo free milk and lactose free ice-cream, I then mush up an over ripe banana and blitz, it’s very scrummy and far outweighs anything McDonalds could give me.

Before I got ill, I regarded myself as very sporty and active, lunch would always contain a large banana.

Bananas are all clones of each other and potentially a disease that would affect one will affect all the bananas in the world, meaning we are so close to losing bananas forever… a worrying concept for me and my son as we are more than a little obsessed with the tasty snack!  Did you know as well that a banana is actually a berry and it is a sterile mutation?

Bananas are also sacred to the Hindu God Vishnu and there are many stories about why it is so important to Hindu faith.  Along with Hinduism bananas are also sacred in Buddhism as it is the favoured plant for Buddha.

Gurus from India believe that the banana tree is a portal to the other realm, the realm of the gods and they call the tree the talking tree, because there are many tales that the Gods spoke to mortals through the tree.

The banana also assists with two chakras, the solar plexus and the sacral.

Two banana trees grown outside of a building are spiritual protectors of the residents within.  It is also believed that if you carry a banana with you when travelling the banana will protect you from harm.

It is also widely believed that if you dry a banana and rub it on a man’s body that he becomes more sexually energetic and longer lasting carnally!

Bananas are the symbols of masculinity and it isn’t hard to see why!  Bananas used in magick will help with monetary spells, spells for protection and sexual potency.

So there is more to the banana than first meets the eye!

So the next time you hear a minion shout “BANANA” there are many reasons why they are so obsessed with the wonderful yellow berry!

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Vikings & Hob-Goblins

During the last week of December I have been researching mostly by accident Hob-Goblins and by design Vikings and their respective histories, customs and superstitions around the world.

I have had a Viking story brewing in me for decades but with no firm story grasped and I have had some new ideas regarding this, but because I know very little about Vikings as a collective, I felt that some research was necessary.  I found it weird that an idea I had about Odin actually clashed with mythological truth, it must have been something I learned once but had forgotten it.  The bit about the 8 legged horse.

As a teenager I ventured into spirituality first by learning about Norse witchcraft, the runes, the drumming, the festivals etc., but I never learned more about the mortal Viking history, like I am doing now.  I did know about their war traditions and their units, such as the screeching women and the berserkers through a game I used to play called Rome Total War.  Regarding Viking warfare and general ancient warfare, I would fare well in writing about it because of the amount of historical research I’ve done throughout my life regarding the subject as well as coming from a military family background.

By and large though, I know more about Spartan and Roman day to day life than I do the Vikings.  Which is why I am disappointed to find that the books I am finding at the library are mostly mythological.

I know it sounds funny to think about it, but I have learned more from watching “The Hairy Bikers” and “Gordon Buchanan’s” ventures in Scandinavia regarding food and dance than anything I’ve learned in books.

In fact, even more laughable is the fact that it is easier to learn more about the superstitions of the Hob-Goblin or Santa Claus than about the ancient Viking people.

There is one thing I have learned though and that is in Viking times it was a derogatory term to be deemed “A Viking” for it literally means “PIRATE”.  This was very interesting to learn.

I am learning accidentally about Hob-Goblins because of a book my son was gifted by his friend Alice.  This is the fourth calling to learn about Hobs and house folk in the past 18 months, something is pulling me towards them.  I have no idea what it could be, I have no idea of any story interest I might have in writing about them… yet.  But something is definitely trying to get my attention with this little creature.

I am a very spiritual person, so I believe in little folk like these and recently when I have been reading about them more actively and reading snippets out loud for my son Henry to overhear, I have noticed that the whole house is becoming more accident prone with food and drink and according to legend, this is a sign of a hungry or thirsty and very ignored little house hob.

Funnily enough, along with this, my husband has discovered that his tea is going down faster these days.  So now we have started to make an extra cup of tea in the kitchen and it seems to have stopped the accidents and weirdly enough an inch in the cup has gone down!

I have a lot of experience with all kinds of spirits in my life.  I have never done drugs and I rarely drink, if there is anything to wander about it is my sanity I suppose – but why do we shrug such things off and think someone nuts when little jewels like this are revealed?  Why is it so hard to believe in little fair folk and ghosts but it is fine to believe in God?  Really now, what is the difference?  Oh and for those hard-core atheists, just remember you can’t see ultra violet light and infrared without technology but it exists doesn’t it?  I rest my case.

I was told by a friend recently that my little forays into the spirit realm should be a subject for my blog, because it aligns with fantasy and horror for many people.  This is why I am starting to mention such things.  It has always been a part of me; I just never put it in the blog. 

Hob-goblins in particular have always been something I have been nervous of because of the stories of boggarts and trolls, though trolls are very different to boggarts and hob-goblins.  The nervousness stemmed from a horror movie I watched when I was little and it gave me nightmares, but these days I realised the movie was actually a fantasy comedy and I can’t help laughing every time I see it now.  “Troll” where I believe the real first Harry Potter came from!  A young boy’s sister is kidnapped into fairy world by an evil troll who was formerly a wizard who went bad and got turned into a troll as punishment by his former fiancé – the witch known as Eunice of whom the boy known as Harry Potter befriends in order to save his sister and all his neighbours in their apartment from the evils of the troll unleashing fairyland into the mortal world once again.  The movie was made in 1986 and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Obviously also, hob-goblins are found in the wonderful movie “Labyrinth” starring the late David Bowie, one of my most favourite all time fantasy movies where a young girl called Sara makes a wish she will soon regret, regarding her baby brother Toby.  The King of Goblin City descends upon her and makes a bargain that she has just 13 hours to find her baby brother in his labyrinth of surprises and dangers or else her baby brother will become a goblin forever!  A wonderful story, full of inspiration!

I wonder what my mind will make of these Hob-Goblins someday… I can’t wait to find out!

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Vlad Dracula III

Since the 2nd January I have been slowly reading a history book with a fine comb called “Dracula, Prince of many faces; his life and his times”. I am reading this because I have never sat down at length and read an autobiography of the real legendary hero of Romania outside of short documentaries, articles and mentions in other history books.
So, because a lot of the things I knew about Vlad Dracula before I read this book seem to come from so many other sources, I feel that they are perhaps more accurate than this book. I know you probably think I am wrong to state that because the person who wrote the book was a historian, though I dispute it nonetheless; on the ground that according to my research the Florescu family were well known to be enemies of the Dracula’s and this book was no less written by Radu Florescu, possibly a descendant from those enemies.
I found the historian to be a sympathiser of the Turks and the Ottoman empire despite his apparent heritage; he also doesn’t view Dracula in the same light as other historians and other sources that I have read and he seems to have altered certain facts of major events within his life to make Dracula come across as an unstable tyrant who was unpopular from the start; quite the contrary to the fact. OK, I grant you it is tyrannical to go around killing people in the manner that he did, but by and large he is a much loved hero in Romanian culture, not something a lot of tyrants can proclaim.
So, it makes me wonder, if a lot of Romanians hold Dracula up in a favourable light, whether or not Dracula was as bad as this historian claims he was?
Obviously taking his executions into account they were evil and sadistic, but then again the same could be said for a lot of other cultures in the world at those times. He especially learned his techniques in every manner from the decade or so he was held prisoner and educated by the Turks themselves, so, he is as he was nurtured and the Turks certainly did nurture him ultimately for their own gain. They wanted money, horses, food and a certain amount of young boys integrated into the Ottoman empire to form part of their expanding armies as a sort of security against any Wallachian response and allowed Dracula to govern Wallachia for them, something of which didn’t last long once Vlad Dracula established himself back on his home soil; Dracula rightfully denied the payment and tried to juggle diplomacy between the Turks and the Hungarians for a long time, though eventually it was decided that the Turks were taking too much advantage of their supposed alliance and Dracula dealt with them promptly and harshly as would any other good ruler of the times.
The attack on German immigrants however, is a new thing that I’ve learned about him from this book. Because it is the first I have heard of these events, I cannot dispute it as a legitimate fact.
Many of the things I have learned about Vlad Dracula have made me feel in awe of his cleverness in these very tricky treaties and wars. He was very canny and wasn’t easily duped.
His reactions against the Turks taking possession of his land was by poisoning everything valuable such as wells and damaging his own crops and livestock; he also built dams to mire the edges of the Danube to protect his people from the canon fire from the Turks and then ensuring that his own people moved to safer places away from the invaders leading up to the famous “night of attack” was a very admirable feat, and showed how benevolent he was towards his people despite claims from German sources; He was also incredibly lucky, as six years before this event he was in a war where only 8000 Romanian peasants armed with only pitchforks and scythes, ousted 24000 Turkish professional troops, how he mustered that I have no idea, but to me it shows me how great he actually was, I am very taken by the history of this great and unappreciated man!
I am not taking for granted that things within this book are fact – due to the other sources I’ve learned from. I cannot vouch for whom or where those other sources came from, but I do know one of them was about the legend of Dracula in both media, fiction and fact in one of Jonathan Ross’s specials where a baroness spoke of how great a hero Vlad Dracula actually was and how rightfully offended she was of various inaccuracies and the fact that this great man was turned into a successful horror story.
Some of the events in Draculas life seems more altered in this book than from the other sources too, for example, the incident where he killed a man’s wife and replaced her – from other sources it was said that she didn’t iron his clothes properly and that he was a soldier in Dracula’s army, this book claims he was a normal peasant and his wife got the length of the shirt wrong – so there are some questions about who is right or not.
I have no formal qualifications in anything of which I am saying, but I have read a lot and watched a lot of documentaries over the years about this great prince; I am also an amateur genealogist. I like reading books about wars and royal classes from the 11th to the 17th century and all over the world not just limited to Europe. I read and study these independently to assist me to write such things accurately in any fiction I write, I write a lot containing feudalism generally in many of my fantasy works.
I also educate myself on all kinds of superstitions around the world and so-called heathen beliefs, to again, make my worlds seem more real. I have studied the social sciences to help me further, though I gave up my undergraduate qualification when I found my illness and having a toddler very difficult to juggle with university studies.
By and large I try hard to learn about all things cultural and I think if you are making worlds that aren’t based on Earth or are based on an earlier time on Earth, you need to do the same thing too, otherwise everything will seem unreal to the reader.

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15 minutes of fame review

The notion that everyone has 15 minutes of fame must to a greater extent be increased due to the use of social media and self-promotion these days, surely?
I am not incredibly famous yet, but I do know that there are over 10,000 people who know who I am from various sites and what I stand for, possibly more.
I think therefore, there should be a new study on just how many minutes of fame a person has today.
I believe it can be limitless if you know how to self-promote on the internet and that is a skill that’s fast increasing around the globe, especially because other people will promote you too, if they like you. So, to me, it should be easy to be famous in almost anything if you run a blog, use social media sites a lot and focus on forums and communities that stand for the same or similar things as you do.
Obviously for more success, you should aim to socialise and broadcast something interesting or skilful; otherwise you might become famous for being an idiot, like Katie Hopkins.

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Rats in superstition

There is a new category to my blog from now onwards, as you can see it is called “Cultural Stuff”; mostly this category will contain beliefs around the world in regards to the supernatural and weird, but also superstitions people have believed over the centuries.

We shall start this category off with a Romany and Isle of Man belief that it is extremely bad luck to write, see or even say the word “rat” unless it is written with a dot or dash between each letter to break up the bad luck. Like this r.a.t

It is also bad luck to mention rats whilst aboard a ship, to do so would bring about terrible weather for the rest of the journey.

Rats leaving a ship at the dockyard, was supposed to be a sign that the ship will not make its next journey safely and this is known in most parts of the world.

To dream of a rat, denotes that someone is scheming against you in your waking life.

Rats aren’t considered bad in all cultures though. Rats are considered sacred in India and have a temple dedicated to them by the people of Rajasthan. If a rat is accidentally killed on the premises, you must replace the rat with a statue made of gold to allay bad feeling.

Rats as a totem means that the person will be shrewd in business and can overcome many of life’s obstacles.
It is interesting to point out that the next year of the rat, according to the Chinese calendar is in 2020, previously it was 2008.

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