Folklore & Myth Thursday – Week 23 – W

Welcome to week 23’s Folklore and Myth Thursday post! This week I’ll be looking at: Wandjina, Watatsumi-no-kami, water and washing, the White Buffalo Woman, Widjingara, Wisakedjak, and the wren.


Wandjina is an “ancestral spirit of the Dreamtime in the Aboriginal mythology of Australia’s Kimberley region” (Tresidder, 2004:512). Tresidder, (2004:512) also adds that “[each] clan is said to posses a wandjina, linked with an animal, as its protective ancestor”.

Wandjina rock art.jpg
By Claire Taylor from Everywhere, Australia – Wandjina Rock Art, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link


Watatsumi-no-kami is the Japanese “god of the sea, ruler of the oceans and numerous lesser deities” (Tresidder, 2004:513). Watatsumi-no-kami’s daughter, Tayotama-hime, married Hiko-hoho-demi. They were the grandparents of the first emperor of Japan, Jimmu-tenno. See also Tresidder (2004:513).

Water and Washing

While water is an “ancient and universal symbol of purity, fertility and the source of life” (Tresidder, 2004:513), washin is an “important purification rite” (Tresidder, 2004:513). “[Pools] for ritual ablution are known from ancient Egyptian and Indus Valley temples…” and in Islam, “it is the custom to wash the face, hands, and feet before worship five times daily” (Tresidder, 2004:513). Tresidder (2004:513) adds that in “Buddhist initiation ceremonies, novice monks ritually wash away their past lives” and that, by “washing his hands after his trial of Christ [Jesus], Pilate sought to absolve himself of guilt for the crucifixion”.

The White Buffalo Woman

“A mysterious and beautiful woman of the Buffalo people, according to Lakota myth. She brought the Lakota the sacred pipe central to their ritual” (Tresidder, 2004:517).


According to the “Worora people of Australia’s western Kimberleys” (Tresidder, 2004:517), Widjingara was the first human to die. “Widjingara was killed by wandjinas who, contrary to marriage rules, had wanted to steal a woman betrothed to someone else” (Tresidder, 2004:517). Tresidder (2004:518) adds that Widjingara “later became the native cat… a nocturnal marsupial that scavenges on corpses”.


Wisakedjak is the “trickster figure of the Cree people of North America…” (Tresidder, 2004:520). “In Cree myth, the supreme being Gitchi Manitou asked Wisakedjak to teach animals and people to live in harmony, but instead he sowed discord”. Gitchi Manitou sent a great flood which only Wisakedjak and a few animals survived (Tresidder, 2004:520). “The world and its inhabitant were created anew, but Wisakedjak kept few of his powers” (Tresidder, 2004:520).


An emblem of happiness for Native Americans, the wren is in Welsh tradition the little king of the birds. In Ireland the wren is associated with prophetic powers. See also Tresidder (2004:523).

Odontorchilus branickii.jpg
By Joseph Smit – Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (vol. 1885, plate VII), Public Domain, Link

Sources and Other Websites

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

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!


Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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