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Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

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JenB
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Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby JenB » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:50 pm

I'm very interested in Traditions and folklore, particularly ancient tribal traditions and believes. It always amazes me that in days gone by, humans were so much more wise than today. They really respected and lived in tune with nature. One line which ran through all the centuries but stopped short some time ago was the fact that we are dependent upon the Earth and Nature, not the other way round.

I'm a great fan of Credo Mutwa and he brings the wisdom of African culture across to well. Herewith an extract.

Birds: Beautiful Fertilisers of Earth

Our people, throughout Africa, believed many strange things regarding birds. First of
all, our general name for a bird in Zulu is ingonyi, while in Sesotho and Tswana it
is ngonyani. These are beautiful, strange and mystical African words, which mean
‘fat’ and ‘fattening’.

Now… what has a bird to do with being fat ? Our people believed that, like the
animal herds that used to criss-cross the face of Africa, birds were bringers of
fertility. We believed that the great bird migrations that used to come into our
skies at certain times of the year brought fertility to or ‘fattened’ the land. For this
reason, a bird, any bird, is called the fertiliser or the fattener… ingonyi.

Another belief regarding birds is that they are the souls of human beings who have
reached a high state of perfection. When you have been reincarnated seven times on
Earth, as either a human being or an animal, you are raised by the Gods to the state
of a bird, the freest creature in the world; a creature that is a friend to the air,
friend to the land and friend to the water. This is the ingonyi - the freest of the free,
the fattener, the fertiliser.

Our people protected birds with very, very strict laws. The mosu tree (umbrella
thorn, or Acacia tortilis) is a large acacia tree, which has bean-like pods as fruits. The
Batswana, ba-Pedi and Northern-speaking people never cut these trees down.
Why? These are the trees upon whose branches migratory birds rest, when they
come into southern Africa at certain times of the year.

Our people used to punish with a savage fine anyone who was caught hunting
more birds than was needed for food. There were exact guidelines laid down to
prevent the exploitation of birds and other animals, for example you were not
allowed to hunt more than two guineafowl a day and you were not allowed to hunt
every day. Each guineafowl you brought down had to last a number of days, which is
why guineafowl meat was dried. The most terrible sin that our people knew
regarding birds was for a man, woman or child to break the eggs of a bird. It is said
that should you commit that sin, you will bring a curse of seven years upon, not only
yourself, but also your family.

When we undergo the deepest initiation into the mysteries of our people, when
we become not only sangomas, but also sanusis (who are higher than sangomas),
we often are asked questions that are actually riddles. The successful answering of
these riddles tells you whether one is a true sanusi or simply a fake. If someone
claims to be a sanusi, I will ask him or her, “Please tell me, fellow sanusi, who is the
beautiful woman who is the mother of a tree ?” Now, if the person is not a true
sanusi, he will not know the answer. But the answer is, “the bird is the mother of the
tree.”

You find a saying all over Africa, in various languages, one that was stressed upon
our people again and again: if you kill a tree, you are killing a bird. In Setswana

Link

Please share your knowledge of similar tales from all over the world with us? Maybe if we can, in a small way, live by the rules traditional people lived, we can in small way change the "rules" modern man is living by.
:D
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France

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Re: Traditions, believes and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby DinkyBird » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:24 pm

A wonderful story JenB, and a lovely topic!

Maybe if we can, in a small way, live by the rules traditional people lived, we can in small way change the "rules" modern man is living by.
So wise.

I really am looking forward to reading more such tales.
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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:16 am

Lovely topic Jen :thumbs_up:

From our earliest ancestors, nature has been a great teacher. It has taught us about survival, about soul and spirit. Even the Christian tradiction uses images of nature to talk of deeper symbols and significance. I think of the beautiful parabel of the lost sheep.

Nature talk, is symbol talk. It is not a concrete way of understanding the world. I think, for instance of the symbolic image of the Dove as a symbol of peace. Maybe because it has the ability to blend into any enviroment.

I always smile at the Christian image of the Dove as symbol of peace. In Chaucer's days it was seen as a symbol of promiscuity. :lol: :lol: :lol: It is a saucy little blighter and very, very productive.

Animals featured prominently in Christian art. In a time when there was no printing press and the average person was illiterate, art became the primary teacher for many. In this regard I think of the image of the lamb appearing in many early Christian paintings.
The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby Grantmissy » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:35 am

J.R.R Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings” was inspired, amongst others, by Icelandic folklore. Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Arica. He was interested in Icelandic folklore and legends. The main message behind Icelandic folklore and legends still remains—how humans should live in harmony with nature and that in the end, good overcomes evil. The national flower of Iceland is the Mountain Avens and their national bird is the Gyrfalcon. Thanks JenB :)
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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby Hawk » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:37 am

I think this topic is a great idea. Even in our modern world our children grow up with stories based on folklore and legend. We have Fairies and Elves who live at the bottom of our garden, Goblins, Witches, and Wizards, Santa Claus and how many others from the rich history and diversity of cultures spread over our world.

We all love folklore and legend. What could be more appropriate here than stories of our dependance and affinity to nature, some drawn perhaps from forgotten ancient wisdom.
Verba volant scripta manent

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby bert » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:07 pm

Like this thread
Wasnt Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter one of the biggest movie hits ever.

One of my favourite legends ever is King Arthur and his knights of the round table
Always believed it ,till i found out that the wholo saga was based on a legend.

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby CuriousCanadian » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:16 pm

I was in a high school drama production of "Camelot" :D....in fact it is where I met Lockie :cool:
Appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had.

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby Elsa » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:59 pm

So Camelot must remain very special to the both of you CC. :D

Saw this saying by John Lennon

Dreams and nightmares

"I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?"
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby CuriousCanadian » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:04 pm

:thumbs_up: Indeed Elsa......

I used to tell my kids... re: Santa.... "if you don't believe in magic.....then magic won't happen for you" :D
Appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had.

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby Dabchick » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:06 pm

Very very interesting topic :thumbs_up:

But I think the mods are going to have an uphill battle to keep religion out of it...

The thing is, the "old" people lived so close to nature that everything, their day-to-day lives, their health, what happens after death, etc. was seen as interconnected and seen in terms of nature (not necessarily a bad thing - in my opinion, it is because modern humans have lost their feeling of being connected with everything else that we live in a world where consumerism, species extinction, global warming, habitat destruction and fragmentation, unsustainable development, human overpopulation etc. rules the day).

Take the Earth Mother religion - probably ancient in origin - all about all creatures being the children of Mother Earth, none more important than the other - and the "Mother" was likely thanked every time an animal was killed for food, or a plant dug up for medicine, or a tree cut down for shelter etc. Day-to-day tasks that modern man would just do without even thinking of the implications.

I've read somewhere, a long time ago that traditionally sangomas and other traditional health practitioners used to collect only a certain amount of bark, only part of a plant, etc. for medicine - always leaving enough for the plant to regenerate itself - usually with a belief or tradition behind the action rather than the scientific thought that if you use everything today there will be nothing left for tomorrow. These days medicinal plants are being driven to extinction because those ancient traditions (and religious connotations) have been lost -now only the present and the self counts, and even traditional medicinal plants are the victims of consumerism.

I do hope that the 'mites keep an open mind and are not offended every time a belief system that differs from their own are mentioned, because I'm really looking forward to hearing (reading) all these traditions, believes, legends and folklore. Just think of the fireside stories we'll have to share after reading this thread :D .

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby josey » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:33 pm

This topic has made me think of flinging dung :twisted:
In his book On Safari in Africa: 101 Things to Know When You Go, Patrick Brakspear wrote the following:
The Hippo, which was originally placed on this earth to live on the open grasslands, was a greedy beast and soon grew enormously fat and uncomfortable. In the heat of the day the Hippo would suffer greatly and would plead to God to allow him to live in the river to stay cool. But God had seen the appetite of this Hippo and said no – for he feared that the Hippo would eat all his fish! After much thought the Hippo pleaded once more with God to live in the river, promising that he would not touch the bountiful fish in the river. He would prove this to God by defecating each day, spreading his dung with his tail for God to see for himself that there were no fish bones there! So to this day, the Hippo lives in the river by day and goes out to eat grass at night when it is cool and always remembers to spray its dung with its tail so that God can see that no fish bones are to be found there.
______________
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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby CuriousCanadian » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:35 pm

:clap: Thanks :D

LOVE that story.. :thumbs_up:
Appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had.

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby JenB » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:07 pm

:clap: Everyone!
That's what I'm talking about! :D

Dabchick wrote:These days medicinal plants are being driven to extinction because those ancient traditions (and religious connotations) have been lost -now only the present and the self counts, and even traditional medicinal plants are the victims of consumerism.

That is exactly the point I'm trying to bring across. :thumbs_up:
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby bert » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:29 pm

In Europe not so long ago we farmed bush willows in the wet areas
And during the winter coppicing took place.
Removing the young branches by cutting down to near ground level.
Being fast growing trees a cycle of 4 years were enough to create a new harvest.
But it was hard work in harsh conditions.
Wet and cold conditions
These guys went out to sleep in simple cottages during a whole week and when the were ill used
what mother nature could provide. They found out that the bark of the the bush willow, tied around
the head cured headaches. Chewing cured tooth pains. And chewing on the root of the Meadowsweet
helped as well. These 2 plants contains salicylic acid. The main ingredient of Asperine.

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Re: Traditions, believes, legends and folklore about Nature.

Unread postby JenB » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:49 pm

Vultures:

Ancient African people used to protect Vultures with some of the strictest laws. Vultures were known as Izingwony zenkosi which means "birds of the king". The king used to make sure that vultures were fed so they never left his land. In KZN, there were special places where large flocks gathered and enjoyed the protection of the Zulu king.
To African people, the vulture was the symbol of fertility.

The greatest honor for a warrior was to be permitted by the king to wear the feathers of a vulture in his headdress, it was believed to be a sign of bravery. Warriors were not allowed to kill a vulture whose feathers he would be wearing. A few men would dig a hole and place a dead ox next to it. The warrior would get into the hole and they covered it with branches. When the vultures flocked to the dead ox, the warrior would catch one by the legs and pull out three feathers from it's tail or wings. The warrior had to stay in the hole until nightfall when the vultures left.

The bones of the vulture were regarded as very valuable. It was ground into a powder and taken to protect people against enemies.
Quite interesting the fact that ancient belief was that unless the vulture died from natural causes the medicine would not have had any effect.

I'm wondering where ancient beliefs were lost. Today large numbers of vultures are being poisoned for medicinal purposes.
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France


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