It’s time for week 22! This week I’ll be looking at figures beginning with ‘v’, including; Vlkodlak, Vohhu Mano, Vulture, Vamana, Varaha, and Vila.
Vlkodlak is the “wolf-man” from Slavic folklore. Cotterell & Storm (2007:250) states that “he exists because of the ancient respect accorded to the ravenous wolf, which in the forests of northern and central Europe was the animal most feared”.
Vohu Mano, one of the Amesa Spentas (Holy Immortals), is found in ancient Iranian mythology. “These divine beings were believed to people the universe and to look after humanity” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:328). Cotterell & Storm (2007:328) also adds that “Vohu Mano (’Good Thought’ or ‘Spirit of Good’) reigned over useful animals and was often represented by the cow.”
Vamana, a “divine dwarf” (Tresidder, 2004:500) is the fifth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. See also Tresidder (2004:500) for the myth of Vamana and the demon, Bali.
Varaha, a “divine Boar” (Tresidder, 2004:501) is the third avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. “When earth, envisaged as a woman, become submerged in the ocean, Varaha lifted her out of the water with his tusks” (Tresidder, 2004:501).
The Vila in Slavic myth, are one of “a race of female spirits of the dead” (Tresidder, 2004:504). Described as being “forever young and beautiful” (Tresidder, 2004:504), in Bulgarian tradition they are said to represent the souls of young, unbaptizes girls (see also Tresidder, 2004:504). “The Poles claimed that the vila was condemned to float between heaven and earth because she had been frivolous in life. Prominent in southern Slavic folk myth, she was beneficial and loved to dance and sing”(Tresidder, 2004:504). Tresidder (2004:504), adds that there “are stories of vilas marrying mortal men”.
“Now a metaphor for opportunistic greed, but in ancient Egypt a pretective symbol” (Tresidder, 2004:511). The Egyptian vulture goddess, Nekhbet, was the guardian of the pharaoh and the queen wore a vulture headdress (Tresidder, 2004:511). Tresidder (2004:511) adds that “[in] ancient Iran, vultures were purifiers, speeding the process of bodily disintegration and rebirth” and that “in Tibet [bodies are fed to them] as a final act of compassion” (Tresidder, 2004:511). Lastly Tresidder (2004:511) lists that vultures are “tutelary spirits in some Indian myths”, they were sacred to Mars in Rome and was ridden by Saturn because they were associated with old age.
Sources and Other Websites
The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.
Check out The Folklore Podcast – Old Hag Syndrome! Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!
Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!
Cotterell, A. & R. Storm. (2007). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology. London: Hermes House.
Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.