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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in animals

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

This morning my heart was breaking for the working dogs left behind at the airport in Kabul. The news about them is confusing because updates from different times all jumble together on social media. Speculation, memes, and even fan fiction crosses my social feed as often as actual news. The fan fiction is about what happens to the dogs after they die. People are imagining it because they don't know for sure and writing gives them comfort. Since I now possess a godphone, after my experience with writing the Fireverse opened me to the gods, I can simply ask the gods. What is my godphone for, if not to ask such questions and get answers?

I asked Odin, "Are there new war dogs in Valhalla?"

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

It's hours now since Sunset, so at first I can't quite make out what's moving in the back yard.

Whatever it is, it's big, the size of a very large cat—an overweight cat, to be sure—but it's way too low-slung to be one of the neighborhood toms that regularly patrol my yard, and besides, the movement is all wrong: a kind of waddling scuttle.

A raccoon? We had one living up in the eaves a few years back: a big old, well-fed urban raccoon. (I opened the blind early one morning to find it giving me the Look: Just who the f*ck are you, and why are you wasting my time? Raccoons are notoriously attitudinous.) But no, the shape is wrong.

It crosses the yard and heads back to the compost heap by the garden. When I see the long, bare rat-tail, I know immediately what it is. I didn't realize that opossums got so big.

Opossums, North America's only native marsupial. I'm guessing from the size that this one's probably a male. In that case, like all male marsupials, he's got a forked penis. That's pretty cool.

Witch-critters. Here in North America, if you can't get bear-grease to make your flying ointment, possum grease will do just fine, they say. Look out, Mr. Possum.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, My wife and I live on the edge of a swamp, and animals emerge into our back yard all the time. Praise be to Artemis, I
The  Minoan Menagerie Part 3: Animals of the Sea

This is the third in a series about animals in Minoan art. Part 1: Animals of the Land and Part 2: Animals of the Sky complete the exploration of the three realms, though we will still have a look at mythical critters in Part 4 (coming up next week).

Of the three realms of land, sky, and sea, the sea is perhaps the most prevalent in Minoan culture and art. Crete is, after all, an island, and the Minoans developed their great wealth as seafaring traders. So it's understandable that the waters of the Mediterranean, and the creatures that live in those waters, would feature in Minoan art in a major way.

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The Minoan Menagerie Part 1: Animals of the Land

Minoan art is inspiring, full of movement and color. Minoan artists depicted the natural world just as often as they showed sacred or ritual scenes. And the art is full of animals, usually depicted with enough accuracy that we can identify the exact species. While some animals in Minoan art are associated with specific deities and act as part of their iconography, others have no sacred associations that we're aware of (yet). So here, we're just going to look at the animals themselves, without referencing the iconography. The art is inspiring enough as it is, if you ask me.

I'm going to organize our exploration of Minoan animals based on the threefold division of land, sea, and sky that prevails in Modern Minoan Paganism and that we think was important to the ancient Minoans. The three realms correspond to our three mother goddesses; the land is the domain of our Earth Mother goddess Rhea.

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Chicken Magic in Folktales and Lore

Chickens are humble animals. They’re heavy, mostly earthbound birds, spending their days pecking at the ground, clucking or crowing, bobbing their heads as they strut around the farmyard. They don’t exactly radiate mysterious elegance in the way that cats and rabbits do. However, when we look closely at European folk tales and medieval lore, we see that chickens very much had a significant place in European folk magic, especially as creatures of protection and sacrifice.

In lore about the river-dwelling Nickelman, or Nixie, Benjamin Thorpe notes that “in Thale they were formerly obliged annually to throw a black cock into the Bode [River]; for if they omitted to do so, someone would certainly die within the year” (87). Claude Lecouteux makes note of this kind of sacrifice several times in The Tradition of Household Spirits, one example being:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Earth and Fire Elements: MAMMALS

Earth Element:
With its bounty, the land sustains life. The plants and trees that grow on the earth nourish us and replenish our air. The earth provides the structure by giving us a firm foundation for our lives. The rocks are the bones that we build our homes on.

Brown Bear:
Brown bears are one of the oldest recorded totemic beings. Ancient legends tell of people sharing caves with bears. (People were contemporaries of cave bears (Ursus speleus) in Eurasia.) Early people often sought permission from the elders and from the bears themselves, before hunting a bear. Brown bears are powerful shamanic beings that connect people with Mother Earth through their caves.

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  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    Thanks for both. Interesting about Finnish Bear beliefs. The bear seems to be an universal animal for many cultures. The Ainu of
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Fun fact, the specific term for bear worship is "arctolatry", which literally means just that. Came across it recently in my resea

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gendering Animals

 We be of one blood, you and I.

 

Animals have gender.

Animals—by which I mean, of course, non-human animals—are male and female, just like we are.*

Why then, in English, do we refer to animals as “it”?

If you think that there are religious implications here, you're right.

“Animals” are our kin. As such, they deserve to be accorded dignity and treated with respect.

As such, they deserve to be spoken of as he or she, not it.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yes, thank Goddess English shed its grammatical genders 1000 years ago, as Old English morphed into Middle. But no, there's no con
  • tehomet
    tehomet says #
    The distinction between (biological) sex and (ascribed) gender that you speak of is a function of the human animal. Quite.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I'm afraid you're confusing gender with biological sex. Gender is grammatical, a product of language, which is a product of cultur
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Virginia: the better that we know others, the better we know ourselves. That said, in the nature of things, we're probabl
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    Well, if you are discussing mammals and birds, yes. With snails and slugs, they are either "it" or "both gendered." Going further

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