Mäetagused vol. 3


Forty Birds in Estonian Folk Belief II
Mall Hiiemäe

Seagulls (Larus) were in the old times thought to be the souls~spirits of drowned sailors. By their behaviour, weather has been forecasted, especially in the areas near the shore (see the map). Peewits (Vanellus vanellus) was thought to have been used to find hiding people in the ancient wars because of its chirping sound and aggressive voice (the call: here's one!). a touch with the egg of a wheatear (Oenathe oenathe) was believed to have a bad influence on one's skin. The dove (Columba livia) has an image of special protectiveness maybe because of Christian influences. Hawks (Falnicormes) have, according to the legend, been made by Jude or the devil; a demon-like forest-fairy of the devil may appear as a hawk. Hawks as well as owls were nailed to the stallion doors for protection against witchcraft and nightmares. With the crucifixion of Jesus, legends about the structure of the beak of the crossbills (Loxia), and the red hue in the feathers of chaffints (Fringiela coelebs), redstart (Phoenicurus Roenicurus), etc. The cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is the most popular bird in Estonian folk belief. To the fairy-tale AT 720 ("The orphan as a cuckoo«) is added or exists separately a song. Smaller birds have been considered to be the feeders~servants of the cuckoo; the cuckoo singing near the house is thought to be an omen of death also today.

A Brief Outline of Contemporary Neo-Paganism in the West

Ergo-Hart Västrik

Neo-Paganism can be considered as a marginal cultural and religious phenomenon in a modern society. This article which is mostly based on the sources available in Internet, gives a brief overview of the Neo-Paganism in the English speaking West, particularly in the United States where Neo-Pagan groupings have declared their views widely in World Wide Web. The present article will address some characteristics of the movement, facts about the development of the different groups, as well as their similarities and differences.
A modern western society of today can be characterized as post-religious or post-Christian as in comparison with preceding periods of time an increasing secularization is underway. Religion is substituted by the other aspects of modern life, e.g. traits of cult and religion can be observed in politics, popular sub-cultures and mass media. On the other hand, modern time is characterised as an era of science, a triumph of secularism and rationalism. One may think that the decrease of the religious dominant on everyday life and society in general has, in turn, increased the interest in alternative spiritual and religious movements. The tendency is reflected in the formation and spread of the religious movements of Oriental origin, various Christian and non-Christian denominations and multifarious other new religious movements of different and mixed origins. All the trends can be characterised with a goodwill to understand the world and live differently from how it has been in earlier times, so that to complement the mainstream of Christianity, provide the alternative to atheism or any other tendency in the society.
Modern Neo-Paganism is usually classified as one of the abovementioned new religious movements coming to public attention in West-European and North-American countries since the 1960s. The term Neo-Paganism do not signify any homogenous trend or movement, but is used as an universal appellation for a variety of alternative movements (from neo-shamanism to women's spirituality circles). In general Neo-Paganism is defined as spiritual movement that attempts to revive the ancient polytheistic religions of Europe and Middle East. Different movements carry out the process of revival in diverse ways, as the teachings of the Neo-Pagan groups are based on different sources such as:
(1) ancient ethnic or local traditions (e.g. Celtic, Germanic, Mediterranean);
(2) modern written sources (e.g. anthropological theories, fiction, books of alternative spirituality that are treated as cult-books within a certain grouping); and
(3) alternative movements and teachings in society (e.g. occultism, freemasonry, anthroposophy, new age, feminism, green movement).
The sources mentioned above are included in the teaching of the particular grouping separately, two at time or all together. We may distiguish the groupings that:
(a) follow certain "pure« well-documented tradition or form of religion that has existed in ancient times (e.g. Druidists, Asatruars, Hellens)
(b) combine the religious elements and traditions of different origin as well as modern ideas (e.g. different forms of Wicca);
(c) synthesize a new universal and abstract Pagan religion out of the aforementioned sources (e.g. Church of All Worlds).
Neo-Paganism in Europe and North-America after the World War II, has been largely influenced by the occult movements and interest towards the European magic and witchcraft (Wordsworth... 1995). It is closely related to the activities of British civil servant Gerald Bosseau Gardner (1884-1962) who published in 1954, three years after the repeal of last British Witchcraft law, a book Witchcraft Today. Gardner popularized a theory of anthropologist Margaret Murray according to which witchcraft had existed since the pre-Christian times in small, scattered, occult groups practicing old pagan religion (Melton 1989: 142, Clark 1994). Typical of the ideas of Gardner and Murray was to see whichcraft as an ancient religion; thus the activities and rituals of witches were not, according to their ideas, focused to the Evil One, but horned deity of fertility. Gardner tried to change the public opinion towards the witches known in the past as well as show that the cult of witches is still existing. He considered himself to be the successor of the ancient witches and founded with the group of enthusiasts a movement named Wicca. The adherents of Wicca formed several covens, basic groups of modern witches, in Britain and soon the movement spread to English-speaking North-America.
The term Neo-Paganism was introduced to the public through the writings of Tim Zell, known also as Ottter G'Zell, who is the founder of Church of All Worlds (CAW), one of the most well-known and widespread Neo-Pagan organisations in the United States (Melton 1989: 145). Zell was familiar with the Wiccan ideas but main mythological patterns of the CAW are based on the Robert Heinlein's science fiction Stranger in a Strange Land. CAW was the first Neo-Pagan organisation to obtain full Federal recognition in the United States in 1968. According to the ideology of CAW, Neo-Paganism is a revival and reconstruction of ancient Nature religions adapted for the modern world. CAW is typical example of the new religious movement that is combining elements of different cultures and spiritual disciplines. At the same time, the ideology of CAW is focused on the topics actual in modern society.
There are a number of movements that attempt to base their teaching on authentic tradition, certain well-documented ancient religion. Usually these people have keen interest in history and cultural heritage of their ancestors or any other tradition of a certain ethnic group. It is witnessed that the tradition has not forwarded without interruption, but according to their ideas the results of contemporary academic studies provide enough material to reconstruct an ancient religion and introduce it into modern life. Being part of the larger community, these groupings distinguish themselves from the other Neo-Pagan trends, e.g. from Wiccans and CAW. Their pantheons are taken over from the lists of gods and other written sources containing data about ancient religions and mythology. Revival of the religion of the ancient Celts is called Druidism. Best known form of Norse Paganism or Odinism is Asatru.
According to the postulates of Margot Adler – the author of Drawing Down the Moon, one of the most outstanding studies in contemporary Neo-Paganism – there were between 50, 000 and 100, 000 active self-identified Pagan or members of Wicca in the United States in the late 1970s. Despite the fact that several groupings declare Neo-Paganism to be one of the fastest spreading new religions in the modern world, it still has the marginal status; ordinary people obtain information concerning Neo-Paganism mainly from inexpensive Sunday papers and booklets. That is why the neo-pagan movements have not been accepted as serious religion organisatsions and here the possibilities of Internet should ease the spread of neutral information which should make the modern society more pluralistic.

Little mos'-woman

Aado Lintrop

In the summer of 1979 I taped a number of fairy-tales and stories in the northeastern corner of Mansiland in the village of Sukerya. As I had no experience whatsoever of transcribing texts at that time, I asked a student of the Leningrad Pedagogical Institute, Klavdia Sainakhova, who was in her homevillage at that time, to transcribe some of the more interesting stories so I could later translate them.

I gave the tapes to the Archive, but the story of a strange hand with a bell stayed in my mind. Who was that strange Hand With a Bell who troubled the sister while the brother was hunting? I know that in Mansi stories the hero is often depicted by some characteristic feature or sign that within a cultural group should be enough to indentify him. For example in that same year, 1979, I collected a story, the main characters of which were Lungs - khopsi. I was explained that they are to be taken as a thin person perspiring in the sun. But about the Hand with a bell nobody could or wanted to say anything. While translating the story I got at first the impression that it depicts the relationship between two different groups. The sister, who belongs to the mos'- moiety, sits at home and sews good thing of sable, waiting for a suitor. Then comes a man who is symbolized by a hand with a bell and shows that the sister had timed to stop taking care of her brother. But the brother does not want to give up his sister, hides himself and chops off the suitor's hand. This is followed by revenge from the Hand with a bell or his relatives. The chain of actions is started by the brother that broke the unwritten law.

In the folklore of the nations of the world it is common that the plot of a fairy-tale or legend is concentrated around marrying, often taking the hero either to faraway lands or the supernatural world. From these we can feel the world conception of small tribes of exogamously related hunter cultures where in the central position were all kinds of problems connected with taking a wife. Often the destiny of the whole tribe depended upon a successful betrothal. But often the hero looking for a spouse is not a mortal man but some supernatural being. In that case the story is taking place in the mythical creation times and in some way influences the future world order.

I got a new idea in connection with the Hand with a bell in connection with what I saw at bear feasting in 1991. In the last feasting night the singer of holy songs was accompanied by a man who had bells tied to the wrists of both hands. During the song he stood behind the performer, but after the song danced rhythmically shaking hands. Maybe the hand with a bell from that story was to mark its owners special connection to bear feasting? In that case it could be a sign of belonging to some tribe - bear as a totem animal was especially connected with the por- moiety, as well as the whole bear-feasting tradition was.

In favour of the supernatural origin of the Hand with a bell are the many reports where bell is connected with the dead or the supernatural. In the fairy-tale with totemistic subtone that has been published in Estonian "The Crowgirl Who had Braids" the crow-mother's daughter is characterised as a girl with braids in a dark fur-coat, bells on the sleeves and beads in the ears. Karjalainen also marks that often in the sacred places of Obugrians there was a copper bell hanging on some tree. Northern Hants often tied such a bell to the crossbeam of the gravehouse. A horse bow with a bell or a bell tied to clothes often characterised several fairies at Mansi bear feasts.

From Kannisto's "Wogulische Volksdichtung" third volume I found a modification of our story that was written down in 1905 from the Mansis living by the Konda. The beginning of the story is noticeable. One of the heroes is there called The Nephew of the Woman and it is added that he lives with his auntie. As the auntie is not mentioned anymore it is to be guessed that for the teller this beginning sentence meant some kind of typical beginning formula for some certain type of stories, a popular classification of stories that says that the following story is going to be about the Nephew of the Woman, not somebody else (this is necessary to understand the context of the story). But The Nephew of the Woman or The Woman's Son (eekva pygris') is World Surveyor Man's profaned synonym, who repeats thricks of gods from the creation times in the cultural surroundings familiar to men.

In the southern Mansi variant of the story for The Hand with a bell revenges Seven Sables High Iron-Copper Man. A character with about the same name can be found in Hanti stories collected by Steinitz where he (Seven Sables High Iron-Copper Hero) is at the same time both the father of the World Surveyor Man and the enemy. He repeatedly doubts in the faithfulness of his wife and makes his youngest son compete the elder ones. But in the same way acted the sky-god Numi-Toorum himself - he accused his wife in unfaithfulness (according to a quite widespread legend the World Surveyor Man/The Nephew of the Woman was born just when Numi-Toorum had thrown his wife, Kaltashi, down from the heaven because he suspected her in unfaithfulness). Numi-Toorum was also the one that organised a competition between his sons that was won by the youngest son. And although the Seven Sables High Iron-Copper Man doubt if he is the real father of the youngest son, the latter always calls him father. But in the hardest moments he always turns with a prayer to his fair father living "in the seventh sky in a house with roof batten and a vent-hole: "If you really have made me the ruler of one hundred winged spirits, if you really have made me the ruler of one hundred footed spirits...""

Seven Sables High Iron-Copper Man also connects with Numi-Toorum in the south Mansi version of our story, where his last appearance was accompanied by "the crashing against each other the seven-edges of the till then calm sky, the seven downhanging edges of the sky." And to the sky she returned after eating up the boy. But The Hand with the bell? Maybe it is one of the attributes of the god of sky. Because the last manifestation of the Seven Sables High Man was accompanied by the jingling of the bells as well as the crashing of the sky.

Thus if our stories are not fairy-tales but religious legends the plot of which hints to the mythical creation times, the triangle of characters is Numi-Toorum, Kaltesh; and the World Surveyor Man who are connected by an incestuous relationship. The fact that both the gods die by the end of the story means nothing as this may be only a "playout" of one of the versions of their relationship. In some other story they are connected by an entirely different relationships. But if the given is a legend on the lines of relationships between moieties, the characters may be the mythical forefathers, and as the supernatural being interferes wither Numi-Toorum or World Surveyor Man. In that case, incest is not impossible either. But if you treat the stories as fairy-tales, they can be taken as a kind of horror stories á la "The eater is already listening behind the door".
Sound 523 kb .au Sound Sample

Comets which have made history

Erik Tago

Earlier superstitious views of comets have changed more rational in recent centuries. A short review of comets which have been outstanding from historical and astronomical point of view has presented.

Wedding Dictionary II

Ülo Tedre

The key-word based dictionary (L-P) introduces Estonian wedding customs and ceremonial characters. To the customs are added their disseminatin area and basic names with references to parishes.

A New Version of "The Boatman of Viljandi"

Madis Arukask

Those interested in newer popmusic need not be introduced the song "The Boatman of Viljandi" sang by the band "Untsakad" - an innovated version of a wellknown folksong that has caused somewhat controversiary feelings in the listeners of the older generation. The song was in the radio tops of 1996 and in the TV show "The 7 Bold Ones" and it can also be found on the double CD of "Untsakad" "Päälinna laiv Von Krahlis" (1996). But now you can already acquaint with a newer version of the "The Boatman of Viljandi" sang-played by Üllar Meriste in the end of 1996.
A couple of words about the author and how the song came to be. Üllar Meriste studied in the former Viljandi Culture School at the same time as Margus Põldsepp, the later founder of "Untsakad". He reformed "The Boatman of Viljandi" in the last year of his studies -1989. According to him, the older version of the song had seemed to oldfashioned to him and as a rocklover he had reformed the song accordingly. The song became popular in the whole school and as its creator left Viljandi after graduating the song was still sung there - in the campus corridors and at parties, at fist accompanied by a guitar.
As folkmusic became more popular, also professional bands became more interested in "The Boatman of Viljandi". In the end of 1994, the band "Ummamuudu" wanted to own it and "Untsakad", too, asked and were ready to let the author himself sing in the song in the studio. Stories stayed stories till Margus Põldsepp himself changed the destiny of the song with a stern hand in 1995.
Üllar Meriste thinks the arrangement done by "Untsakad" very pleasant and not too far away form teh original version. More questionable is the introductory part of the song imitating runo song accompanied by drumbeat but obviously this has not lowered teh value of the song.
But now let us listen to the original beauty.
Sound 3.9 Mb .au Sound Sample

Political anecdotes II

Kadi Sarv

A political anecdote is, first of all, a popular and not a scientific concept. It is a forbidden story told only to those you trust. who think like the speaker does. This phenomenon characterises primarily a society of repression where people have no opportunities to express their dissatisfaction in a legal way.
Political subject is found in conundrums just as often as in anecdotes. For some subjects, the conundrums even appears to express attitudes and opinions more colourfully and precisely than the anecdote, the longer performance style of which has been forgotten over time, may sometimes take the form of the conundrum. The so-called introduction is omitted and the colourful punch line of the anecdote is used in the new conundrum.
Political anecdotes and conundrums may occur in anecdotes about persons, ethnicity or animals.
Political anecdotes can be divided into three groups:
1. Anecdotes and conundrums about statesmen. Typical subjects are a visit, a competition or an outdoing of each other;
2. Anecdotes which make fun of the socialist or communist system, but in which specific statesmen are not mentioned;
3. Anecdotes about living conditions, in which situations created by the crumbling system are described.
The majority of material used in this article originates from the Estonian Folklore Archives, especially form the collections handed in by children during the competition of recording school traditions in 1992.
In the second part of the article series, an overview is given of political anecdotes told in 1939-1945.

Orphan on the Moon

Once upon a time there was an orphan. Her life was very hard. Her mother and father had died and she lived at her stepmother's place. Her stepmother was very bad and cruel. She made her do the hardest work of all but gave only the worst food to eat and only very little of that, too. When the orphan couldn't work any more, stepmother beat her.

Once in springtime when the appletrees were blooming, the orphan sat under an appletree and started to cry. Big tears were streaming down from her eyes, but from the appletree white blossoms were falling. The orpan looked at the blossoms and sang:
Stepmother beats me, five times a day birches,
stepmother beats me, five times a day birches,
From the appletree blossoms are falling, from my eyes - tears,
from the appletree blossoms are falling, from my eyes - tears.

Once on a Saturday the orphan was told to heat the sauna. The orphan took water and wood to the sauna all by herself and heated the sauna. When the sauna was hot, then the orphan made steam for the others and softened sauna whisks for them. Everybody else went to the sauna. Everybody had been in the sauna but the orphan still couldnt go there. She was to go there after everybody else.

Outside it was midnight and the full moon was shining in the sky when at last the orphan could go to sauna. But the orphan was too tired to go to the sauna. She stood on the sauna threshold and sang looking into the sky:
Moon, dear, take me to yourself
for the waterbringer, the sauna whisk softener, the sauna-heater, the steam-thrower,
in the summer i will eat without sugar, in the winter i will walk without shoes,
in the summer i will eat without sugar, in the winter i will walk without shoes.

The moon pitied the orphan and took her with him to live.

When the full moon is shining then you can see the orphan on it: in one hand there is a bucket and in the other a sauna whisk. Life is much better for the orphan on the moon than it ever was on the Earth,
So the story ends.

The picuters were drawn and the old-time story translated into the Võru-Seto language by Jüvä Sullov.

Looking at the crises of enculturization
Thoughts while transcribing tapes of an expedition

Aivar Jürgenson
In the summer of 1996 on the fieldwork in the near-border area of Setumaa Pihkva oblast I collected all kinds of oral lore, but the dictophone also caught all kinds of information that was secondary from the point of view of legend and memorate texts, but that later while listening to and transcribing the tapes became more and more important. That information is laughter.

I guess every religion researcher who has been to fieldwork has witnessed a situation where an informant , talking of some religious object or phenomenon, starts to laugh because of conflicting feelings even though there is nothing to laugh at. To understand the function of laughter in the given situation it is necessary to get rid of the rigid associations between laughter and jokes or at least admit the possibility that in every association laughter need not be caused by merry mood. The phenomenon has been treated in several ways. V. Propp has turned attention to the religious, ritual background of laughter. According to him, laughter has a different meaning in every context. Thus laughter was forbidden where the world of the dead crosses with ours. Propp suggests possible connections for that motif with the shamanistic conception of soultravelling. At the same time he gives an example of using laughter as a magical instrument (Propp 1976: 178-192).

Herbert Spencer has mentioned the connection of laughter with the controversary, but also with the degeneration of the phenomenon (Spencer 1939). The changing of every situation from big to small, from valued to nonvalued, form dangerous to safe may cause a relieving situation, a comical effect. If some important ethnicity carrying some value suddenly loses its characteristic feature, the situation may seem comical to the observer. He laughs and is happy to be above the situation (Knuuttila 1992: 106-107). Listening to the fieldwork tapes it is noticeable how often informants burst out laughing while talking about mythological beings.

This is often caused by the direct outslipping of this area from the sphere of reality. From the frightening and the mysterious has become just laughable in the process of demythologizing and degrading. Thus such laughter is often an indication of secularization, estrangement from the religious world view. It shows that authorities in the traditional culture are not valued anymore, that what might be the main permanent value that keeps the tradition alive and from losing its identity is honoured no longer. Changes paralysing the functioning mechanisms of enculturistation have taken place. The older generation cannot make the younger take over the traditional thinking and behaving formulas.
It is quite usual that the story that was once told by the grandfather - and he heard it of course from his grandfather who heard it from his grandfather etc. - is not taken as an indisputable axiom but is confronted with all kinds of wisdom of this world. School education has made children wise and (grand)parents silly.

Although the material used in the present text originates from Setumaa, I believe that the tendencies I tried to illustrate with this are characteristic to any changing culture looking for alternatives to the traditional world view.