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Folklore: Shape changer/shifter legends

Tigger the Tiger 13 Nov 11 - 05:26 AM
BobKnight 13 Nov 11 - 05:39 AM
Mo the caller 13 Nov 11 - 05:47 AM
Tigger the Tiger 13 Nov 11 - 06:15 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Nov 11 - 06:26 AM
bubblyrat 13 Nov 11 - 06:45 AM
Dave Hanson 13 Nov 11 - 06:59 AM
Tigger the Tiger 13 Nov 11 - 07:59 AM
Crowhugger 13 Nov 11 - 08:08 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Nov 11 - 08:16 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Nov 11 - 08:17 AM
Tigger the Tiger 13 Nov 11 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,SteveT 14 Nov 11 - 05:21 AM
BobKnight 14 Nov 11 - 07:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Nov 11 - 08:19 AM
BobKnight 14 Nov 11 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Nov 11 - 09:38 AM
theleveller 14 Nov 11 - 10:35 AM
theleveller 14 Nov 11 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,norrie 14 Nov 11 - 11:09 AM
Acme 14 Nov 11 - 11:35 AM
theleveller 14 Nov 11 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Nov 11 - 11:53 AM
Mo the caller 14 Nov 11 - 01:39 PM
olddude 14 Nov 11 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Nov 11 - 02:03 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Nov 11 - 04:58 PM
GloriaJ 14 Nov 11 - 06:33 PM
Crowhugger 14 Nov 11 - 11:26 PM
Bob the Postman 15 Nov 11 - 12:47 AM
alison 15 Nov 11 - 02:57 AM
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Subject: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 05:26 AM

How many cultures or songs refer to the concept of creatures changing from other species to human or reverse?Are these stories common?Is this the basis for the Great Selchie/Silky?I have heard that the whales are supposed to have come out of the sea,then evolved to go back into the sea. Could these songs be records of very early memories of our species/


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: BobKnight
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 05:39 AM

The sort of changes you mention would take many millions of years, so not likely to be racial memory.

I have written a shape shifter song of my own called "Walker Dam" which you can hear if you go to www.youtube.com/bobknightfolk

Bob


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Mo the caller
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 05:47 AM

Don't we all do it in our imagination?
More so in a hunter society. To catch them you have to 'be' the animal, think as they do.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 06:15 AM

Perhaps I should have referred to these stories not as actual memories of our species but as beliefs found in other religions?


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 06:26 AM

Surely, Tigger, the werewolves about whom you have just started another, simultaneous, thread really belong for consideration in this one? Won't you get confused?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: bubblyrat
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 06:45 AM

Call me "Old Fashioned" if you will , but I still prefer "metamorphosis" to the alliterative but rather pedestrian-sounding "Shape-Shifting" ; there again , how many young people today are actually taught to use words like "Metamorphosis" on a casual conversational basis ?? Not many ,I imagine !!


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 06:59 AM

Ah but, metamorphosis applies to natural occurences such as caterpillars turning into butterflies etc. shape shifting applies to non natural things like werewolves, silkies etc.

Two different things

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 07:59 AM

I did not realize that this site was developed to demonstrate our educated vocabularies.I was only asking a question related to songs rather than academic discussion. I agree that metamorphosis is much more aptly applied to zoological processes. I used shape-shifter as that seems to apply to Navajo and Inuit legends also;I thought it might be more open-minded and cross-cultural.As one of the best musicians I have ever known could not read or write,I was looking for all types of people to contribute.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Crowhugger
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 08:08 AM

Did you have a look here yet? Several are mentioned as the conversation goes along.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 08:16 AM

The Polly Vaughan thread has been refreshed, I see. That's another song sometimes associated with this topic.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 08:17 AM

Which reminds me ~~ not a folk dance, I know, but clearly based on folk themes:

Swan Lake.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 13 Nov 11 - 08:35 AM

When I clicked on the link,it gave me a section on disabled musicians,etc.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 05:21 AM

Try ballads such as Tam Lin and The Twa Magicians.

One theory that I came across is that these are perhaps based on initiatory ceremonies from the dim and distant past - much the same as the shamanic transformation process that you mention. I'm sure that there are others. (I put one together myself based around the myth of the birth of Taliesin which I found interesting because, in his case, it is the male who is fleeing and initiating the transformation sequence.)

By the way, I once came across a theory that the Outlandish Knight could also have been a merman of some description who wanted not to drown the lady but carry her to his undersea kingdom. Apparently the talking bird ("parrot") is often a sign that the ballad is a "magical" one and it would explain the lady's reluctance to let her father know what was going on.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: BobKnight
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 07:58 AM

Here's the link for "Walker Dam." It's about the queen of swans :)

Walker Dam


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 08:19 AM

Isobel Gowdie (as recently celebrated by Hunt Emmerson in two graphic tellings for the Fortean Times) was a noted shape-shifter. Her charm was:

I shall go into a hare,
    With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
    And I shall go in the Devil's name,
    Ay while I come home again.


Robert Graves expanded this to:

I will go into a hare
with sorrow and sighing and mickle care,
and I will go in the Devil's name,
aye 'til I be fetched hame
- Hare, take heed of a bitch greyhound
will harry thee all these fells around
for here come I in Our Lady's name
all but for to fetch thee hame

Cunning and art he did not lack
but aye her whistle would fetch him back

I will go into a trout
With sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt,
And show thee many a merry game,
Ere that I be fetched hame.
- Trout, take heed of an otter lank,
will harry close from bank to bank.
For here come I in Our Lady's name
All but for to fetch thee hame.

Cunning and art he did not lack,
But aue her whistle would fetch him back.

Yet I will go into a bee,
With mickle horror and dread of thee
And flit to hive in the Devil's name,
Ere that I be fetched hame
- Bee, take heed of a swallow hen,
Will harry close, both but an' ben,
For here come I in Our Lady's name,
All but for the fetch thee hame

Cunning and art he did not lack,
But aye her whistle would fetch him back.

Yet I shall go into a mouse,
And haste me unto the miller's house,
There in his corn to have good game,
Ere that I be fetched hame.
- Mouse, take heed of a white tib-cat,
that never was baulked of a mouse or rat,
For I'll crack thy bones in Our Lady's name,
Thus shalt thou be fetched hame.

Cunning and art he did not lack,
But aye her whistle would fetch him back.


This poem forms the basis for the entirely bogus Fith/Fath Song which many Wiccans & Neo-Pagans claim as being Traditional. Tori Amos revisits the theme on her new album Night of Hunters which deals with many such aspects of folk & fakelore alike; and a damn fine piece of work it is too.

For more on Seals and Selkies check out the classic The People of the Sea by David Thomson, who also co-wrote The Leaping Hare with George Ewart Evans, in which, amongst other things, you'll find further shape-shifting lore with respect of hares & witches.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: BobKnight
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 09:05 AM

As regards the use of "mickle" did the write perhaps mean, muckle? There is a difference, for as the old saying goes, "Mony a mickle maks a muckle."


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 09:38 AM

I believe the Welsh legends about Taliesin (a poet) involve shape-shifting. See if you can find any authentic old legends of Taliesin online.

As I recall the many fairy tales and legends I have read in my life, it seems that very few have shape-shifting in them.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 10:35 AM

There's an interesting and scholarly exposition of shape-shifting in Mike Williams' book, 'Prehistoric Belief: Shamans, Trance and the Afterlife' where he suggests that, in trance states, shamans took the form of animals to enter the 'otherworld' to communicate with dead ancestors.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 10:51 AM

More about Mike Williams here:

http://www.prehistoricshamanism.com/prehistoric-belief.php


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: GUEST,norrie
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 11:09 AM

Aw, not that old mickle/muckle thing. Many a mickle maks a muckle is not an old saying, it's nonsense. Mickle and Muckle are synonymous, meaning much. So are Pickle and Puckle, meaning a small amount. Many a pickle maks a mickle you might hear in one area, many a puckle maks a muckle in another. Nothing to do with the thread, but it annoyed me. Good to keep the language alive, but let's the meanings alive too.

And so back, I hope, to shape-shifting, which I think is the accepted terminology even amongst people who can spell metamorphisis…


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Acme
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 11:35 AM


Perhaps I should have referred to these stories not as actual memories of our species but as beliefs found in other religions?


Ah - the Other religions. This implies that the position of the speaker accepted as "standard," is not the other, and apparently doesn't have shape-shifters (I'd be willing to bet that they're found even in places as revered as the bible, if people were to look.) And many cultures that have layered christianity on top of their own religions, those intersections are filled with shape shifters.

When I was working on a masters in English Lit I focused on American Indian literature, and as I researched them I could see that shape shifters abound in world literature, not just American Indian. I found reference to it in the UK (Ireland, the dissertation I remember digging up) that brought to mind songs like the Silkie, but also the Madrona (?) - woman whose father wanted her to marry a rich man and made her undress in front of him, so she turned into the madrona that peels it's bark.

Shape-shifters might be akin to what I'll call "state-shifters" - many songs about those who have died who return as ghosts, i.e., The Unquiet Grave. Or like the poem The Grisely Wife, who return as a predator cat.

There has been a recognition and expansion of the magical realism component in storytelling over the last 40 or 50 years as much literature and world view shifted from modernism to postmodernism (partly because it began to acknowledge the charm and richness of The Other), and if it's in poetry and literature, it will be in song also, don't you think? The last 40 or 50 years is modern era, songs written and composed in that time are not anonymous, are not folk, but I wouldn't be surprised if researchers who are now looking back at historic songs in Other cultures are finding ancient songs that express some of these things that have come to be understood by a dominant culture in modern times.

This is a polyglot of ideas (song, literature, religion, culture), they need to be teased apart. But I'm throwing it out there to perhaps move the conversation forward.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 11:51 AM

There's plenty of shape-shifting going on in Celtic mythology. Morrigan, for instance, is a Celtic goddess of war who hovered over the battlefield as a crow or raven. She has been equated with Medh. Badb, Macha, and Nemain may have been aspects of her or she was part of a trinity of war goddesses, with Badb and Macha. The hero Cu Chulainn rejected her because he failed to recognize her. When he died, Morrigan sat on his shoulder as a crow. Cernunnos is a horned (stag) god associated with fertility. You'll find more in 'A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology' by James McKillop.

Then, of course, there's Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' – all 15 books of it…….


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 11:53 AM

See if you can find any authentic old legends of Taliesin online.

Try this: The Birth of Taliesin, which tells of how Taliesin was conceived in an episode of shape-shifting in which he (as Gwion) ended up in the belly of the witch Ceridwen after she (in the form of a hen) gobbled him up in the form of a grain of wheat.

Didn't Disney cover this sort of thing in one of their cartoons?


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Mo the caller
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 01:39 PM

Did Disney film the Puss in Boots story, where the Ogre is tricked into becoming a mouse and being eaten?


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: olddude
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 01:49 PM

I swear to God this is a true story. One trip to Ireland my youngest daughter and I were playing in and out of the dolman on the Burren. Next thing I know there was this huge dog (I thought) running down towards us. My daughter and I ran and jumped the rock fence and when into the car. She said Dad that was one big dog. My family said "what dog" we just saw you and Amy booking what happened. Looked back nothing. When I got home I was searching the net and I read that the dolman was protected by the druids that could change themselves into a wolf.

Was it that, no I don't believe it .. but it sure was strange. Honest to God true story I thought you may enjoy


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 02:03 PM

You want weird wolves & druidlore? Check out the chilling tale of The Hexham Heads...


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 04:58 PM

in places as revered as the bible, if people were to look ...

Although left out of "modern" Bibles, the Lilith legends include lots of "disguises" and different forms for "her" appearances, and a number of different forms for her "minions."

Ancient Greek, and to lesser extent Roman, myths include numerous dieties who appeared as animals (usually for the purpose of sex?) and a number of humans changed into other forms by p**d off gods.

Lesser known religions had many dieties (my Dictionary of Ancient Dieties claims over 10,000 entries) that "appeared in animal form" but it's unclear for many whether they "changed into" those forms to appear to humans or if those where their usual shapes/forms.

John


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: GloriaJ
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 06:33 PM

There's a chinese text called the Wumenkuan written down in 1228 but referring to events several hundred years before.It includes a "story" called Hyakujo's Fox:-.
Hyakujo, a historical person, was head of a large monastery.Every day he gave a talk to the monks, and as they dispersed one old monk always lingered behind.Eventually Hyakujo became curious and went up to ask him who he was.The monk replied "I am not a human, I'm a ghost - I was once, like you, head of this monastery.But one day a monk asked me a question, and because of the answer I gave I now must live through five hundred lives as a fox"
"what was the question?"
"He asked me -" Is the enlightened man subject to the laws of cause and effect, or free of them?" - and I replied "He is free of them" - are you able to see my mistake and free me from the body of the fox?"
Hyakujo said "Ask me the question"
"Is the enlightened man subject to cause and effect?"
Hyakujo replied " He is one with cause and effect"
The monk thanked him and said "Now you have freed me, if you go up onto the mountain you will find the body of a fox - please give me the ceremony of a funeral."

   This story is a spiritual teaching in the Buddhist tradition.It seems at first to give the answer to the monk's question.But the editor,in 1228, adds this;- "Why was he turned into a fox - and why released from the fox's body? If you have an eye to see through this you will know that the old monk did enjoy his five hundred happy blessed lives as a fox".

    I've been inspired by this book for years and have come up with a series of songs based on it.This one I set in a wood near sheffield where the fox appears.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Crowhugger
Date: 14 Nov 11 - 11:26 PM

Tigger, re: the link I posted yesterday, it sounds like you didn't scroll down past those links and read the thread. The disabilities threads at the top are related to the thread's title, which is why they are listed.

But some of the posts in the thread may shed light on your interests.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 15 Nov 11 - 12:47 AM

Here is a simplified version of part of the Tsimshian Bear Mother myth .

Here is a modern carving by Corey Moraes based on the story.


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Subject: RE: Shape changer/shifter legends
From: alison
Date: 15 Nov 11 - 02:57 AM

I've seen large black dogs "protecting" other dolmens in Ireland too olddude when other people couldn't see the dog.

slainte

alison


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