Mäetagused vol. 19


The Place of the Hostile Twins in a Proposed Theogonic Structure

Emily Lyle

Comparative mythology needs to consider two parallel pairs of twins. One is the pair of antagonistic twins, the other the Ashvin pair of twins found in the Vedas.

Often they are treated only as simply a pair, the personification of fertility and prosperity. One of them is the cattle-breeder-twin and the other horseman-twin. In Roman mythology, the Ashvin twins are Castor and Pollux; in the Jewish legend, Esav and Jacob.

The topic of the first birth of the twins is more clearly treated in the versions of the antagonistic twins. E.g. the zervanistic god of light Ohrmazd and god of darkness Ahriman; in Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus. Characteristic of the story of the antagonistic twins is the argument over which will become the ruler, i.e. they are royal twins and their royal descent is as important in their identification as their antagonism. Thus, the theogony peaking with the birth of the antagonistic twins is only applicable in a society ruled by a king.

On Beliefs Related to the Starry Sky. III. Ancient China

Enn Kasak

The article concerns Chinese astral myths, calendar and astrology.

Chinese creation myths concern also the creation of the Sun, Moon and stars. The heavenly bodies are constantly endangered by the sky dragon that now and then catches them, probably a reference to eclipses.

Cosmology existed in Ancient China in the same sense as in Ancient Greede, though many ancient books were burned on the emperor's orders in 213 BC. Teaching of the endless sky emerged in the Han era, while in 1 century AD the theory of endless empty space was formulated.

For the majority of Chinese history, astronomers were in the service of the country - studying and interpreting heavenly phenomena. The Chinese divided the heavenly sphere into several hundred little constellations of one to ten stars. They used the so-called Lunar Zodiac that contained 28 xiu or homes of the Moon but also the Sun Zodiac. Myths concerned the stars and their naming. Heavenly processes were believed to influence the earthly.

From China come the earliest observations of solar eclipses and comets. The earliest registered solar eclipse is dated in 720 BC. There are also records about ceremonies dedicated to solar eclipses.

Halley's comet has been sighted and recorded since 12 BC at its every passage, but irregularly already since 240 BC. The very first comet descriptions come from 1057-1056 BC.

Chinese chronology is based on imperial eras: the inauguration of every emperor started a new era. The Chinese lunar-solar calendar was improved via constant observations. Seasons were determined by the position of the Ursa Major at dawn. The length of synodic months at the time was 29.5 days and a topic year 366 days. A supplementary month was added according to a 19-year cycle. Chinese calendar achieved its contemporary form in 7th-10th centuries.

On the religious concepts of the Aranda

Mihkel Niglas

The Aranda tribe living in central Australia is one of the biggest and best studied. Relatively much is known of their cosmogony, anthropology and reincarnation concepts, while little is known about what specific people believed. Some of the first researchers were W. B. Spencer and F. J. Gillen (who coined the term dream time) and father and son C. Strehlow and T. G. H. Strehlow (who contradicted the belief that the Aranda people are homogenous and explained that the term dream time is a mistranslation of mythical time and prehistoric eternity).

One of the main difficulties with studying Aranda culture derives from the fact that the material was collected by amateurs. Another difficulty lies in the fact that the more significant religious heritage, songs and ceremonies were secret, not publicly displayed. A problem is also the totemic terminology of the researchers who all implicitly presumed the existence of a totemism. C. Strehlow used the term totemic gods for mythical beings, but sporadically also dubbed them (synonymically) totemic ancestors. T. G. H. Strehlow's terms are totemic ancestors, ancestors and supernatural beings, A. P. Eikin's totem heroes, Wilpert's cultural heroes, etc.

The article concerns the cosmogonic, anthropological and reincarnation concepts of the Aranda.

African Folk Narratives as an Ethnological Religion Source: On the Example of Bulsa (North-Ghana) Heritage

Rüdiger Schott

Continued from Mäetagused 16.

In many Bulsa narratives, death, the deceased and ghosts have the central role.

The mourning festivities have an important place in Bulsa tradition, being held not after the funeral but at the earliest in the dry season following the death, but oftern only one or more years later. Mourning ceremonies and festivities are not elaborated on in Bulsa narratives. However, they display the attitude of the Bulsas: in proper families, the members of the family feel connected with the deceased person even after his or her death.

Many Bulsa narratives emphasise that God must be believed in. Nobody can be killed against the intent of the God and God punishes those doubting its power. Bulsa narratives lack the sentimental happy end: evil and ingratitude are human vices that unavoidably lead to doom.

In conclusion, Bulsa folk tales can be used as an additional source in relion studies. The narratives convey no information on the details elementary for the narrator and the characters are stereotypical, the situations expressing fictive circumstances nor directly relative to everyday life. Their value in religion ethnology lies mostly in that they mark the so-called neuralgic nodes of the religion and can be used to assess the ethos, values and attitudes of the community. They are authentic in that they relay religious information not induced by European concepts and questions by foreigners.

The Semiotic Functions of Voice in the Folklore and Beliefs of Siberian Peoples

Jelena Novik

Non-verbal means of expression have great significance from the point of view of folklore. The voice, as an instrument of human semiotic behaviour has a special place among these.

The article concerns systematisation of concepts of voice in Siberian oral tradition, highlighting its semiotic functions and observing their transformation due to some characteristics of archaic folklore.

Voices of nature were identified and this led to giving semiotic meaning to natural sounds: a specific being was associated with the sound. Best known among the beliefs, omens and forecasts based on acoustic code is the complex connected with the "language" of fire - interpretation of the sounds of burning. The concept of the "language" of fire probably derives from the concept of a fire god or fairy. Sounds can also have a warning or forecasting nature. A number of omens and beliefs are based on the interpretation of animal sounds as the speech of animals. A common type of acoustic signs is imitation of the sounds of nature.

The semantisation of sound in oral culture leads to voices of nature being valued and partly also acknowledged as 1) natural objects, 2) a concept that denotes a living being and life, and eventually as an expression of intent and opportunity to govern the other's behaviour.

Many Siberian peoples believe that every person has his or her own song. Usually the statistical norms of the family or social

group are relied upon in creating a song. There is a number of taboos concerning personal songs.

Bear feasts are a good example on how the "voice of a soul" (a song or instrumental piece) becomes the the religious expression of the ancestor-guardian spirit and a means of establishing contact between it and the living descendants.

Human Sacrifice in Estonian Pre-Christian Religion

Tõnno Jonuks

Researchers of Estonian prehistoric religion have only briefly concerned the topic of human sacrifice. According to Aliis Moora, mostly the enemy and war prisoners were sacrificed, the main reason indicated in the Livonian Chronicle by Henrici as alleviating crop failure. Archaeological finds confirm human sacrifice only in the case of a couple of graves.

In addition to the Henrici Chronicon Livoniae, the middle-age chronicle by Adam of Bremen Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificium is considered. Adam knows of human sacrifice in all countries east of the Baltic Sea while the Livonian Chronicle describes the cruel sacrifice of a preast in chapters I: 10 and XXVI: 7.

In times of peace, sacrifice was mainly to benefit crops while in times of war gratitude sacrifices were made after a successful battle. Sacrifying was performed by the heads of family or, in the case of bigger sacrifices, the heads of the parish or county.

Human sacrifice was definitely a collective event and an important role was probably played by the wise men who had to read omens to determine who to sacrifice.

Satan, Falling into Sin and Witchcraft. The Demonology of Christian Witches and Theological Antropology

Dieter Harmening

In Christian Europe, witches are usually spoken about in the context of inquisition and court. The concept of witches in Christian Europe is perhaps best described in Malleus Maleficarium. The topics listed there originate from the western theological tradition, not the fantasy of the book's author. The present article deals with statements concerning witches, dividing these into mythological, demonological and anthropological.

Western demonology and concept of witchcraft is based on late Antique Neoplatonistic cosmology. According to this model, witching uses heavenly influences and powers, partly found in different cosmic elements and the nature of which corresponds the desired result. This scheme was adopted by early Christianity and modified to depict demons as fallen angels and their cosmic habitat to signify the place they had fallen to. They attempt to mislead people to become god-like. Witchcraft is thus treated as a set of symbols and signs to communicate with demons. Aquino Thomas introduces contracts with demons.

By the 18th-century Enlightenment critics on superstition, significantly much of superstition is attributed to women, especially old women (e.g. the writings of Wilhelm of Paris, Johannes of Frankfurt and Nikolaus Jauer). Lactantius considers tendency towards superstition to be one of the weaknesses of the female nature. The terms connected with the old women's superstition include "old women's tales" (Ambrosius' aniles fabulae). Superstition is connected with worshipping idols. The 1487 Malleus Malleficarum represents the Augustinian teaching of sin, displayed in discussions of the credulity of women.

Death Penalty in Estonian Witch Processes

Villem Uuspuu

Reprint of the article published in Usuteadusline Ajakiri in 1938, Nos. 2-4.

Analysis of court records concerning death penalty for witches in Estonia in 1588-1723 reveals the proven execution of 55 witches. The usual means of execution was burning, seldom chopping the head with sword and also single qualified death sentences. Observation of processes connected with performed execution is only possible within the 17th century. Compared to executions performed in West Europe, the executions in Estonia can be considered only a feeble echo.

Death penalty was connected with performing witchcraft as a punishable criminal act. Aggravating circumstances were personal communication with the devil, first of all dedication to the devil via certain contracted acts, for which the criminal was burned. Alleviating circumstances (lack of contract with the devil, confession and humble pleading with the court) led to execution by chopping the head off with a sword.

Setus in Petseri Area

Jüri (Georg) Truusmann

This material was first printed at the end of the 19th century. The censor Jüri (Georg) Truusmann (1856-1930) gives an overview of an ethnographic trip to the western part of Pihkva gubernya, the territory populated by Setus, in 1885.

Attention is focused on the everyday life of the Setus. There is a strong Russian influence, but they have retained their Estonian nationality. Their national costumes, folklore, language, mentality and way of life have retained many archaic aspects lost elsewhere in Estonia.

The language barrier with Russian-speaking educators is a problem in the area.

Although attendance to the Orthodox church is dutiful, many noticeably pagan religious concepts have survived. There are home-held missas dedicated to idols.

On certain holidays, sacrifice (foodstuff) is brought to holy places, both official and pagan. Often the donations are later claimed by paupers. There are also holidays celebrated commonly by the Setus and Russians.

The Young Reindeer Holiday

Ülo Siimets

Jelo lives among the Chukch reindeer herders. In autumn, a helicopter forcibly takes children to school and brings provisions for the winter which everyone can take from the warehouse according to his needs. Since school education results in Russification, reindeer herders are mostly older men.

One morning Jelo wakes to find out that it is the young reindeer holiday (qaanmatgörgön), consisting of two holidays. First is the day of killing young thin-furred reindeer (teetawhögögön) for summer skins. As the weather becomes colder and the reindeer fur thicker, the second reindeer holiday (wöllgönqaanmatgörön) takes place where reindeer are killed for winter skins. Fire can not be lighted from a match on these days but has to be lighted with traditional means; the coals are kept then overnight in a special vessel.

The Chukch clad in festive clothes and the reindeer herd is let loose. They catch a black-and-white patched male calf, cow and bull chosen last night by the wiseman guided by spirits. These reindeer are traditionally sacrificed with a ritual spear - first the bull, then cow and calf. People smear each other's faces with blood of the sacrified animals and also mark the natas. It brings bad luck to wash the blood off and thus people look blood-striped for the next couple of days until the dried blood comes off.

The reindeer heads are put on top of staves and leftt here. Next come festivities at the fire, culminating in people becoming crazed from eating mushrooms (Amanita muscaria).