Monday, March 30, 2015

The Three Hares; the Moon Hare, a Hare-witch, and Saint Melangell

Three Hares boss, church of St Hubert's, Dorset. Photo Credit: Eleanor Ludgate.

"From the perspective of European folklore, the rabbit is a creature with strong ties to witchcraft and magic. Rabbits and hares were commonly considered to be favorite familiars of witches. Additionally throughout Wales, Ireland and Scotland it was often believed that witches would transform themselves into hares in order to travel about undetected. In the case of the witch or her familiar it was said that the only way to injure or kill the supernatural hare was with the aid of a silver bullet. Interestingly enough, and a concept with potential significance, some European traditions held that the devil himself would often take the form of a hare with only three legs. This inspires further thought when we note that one of the few claimed powers of the Rabbit’s Foot in Europe was its ability to protect against witchcraft. The color of a rabbit was also of importance as some believed that to see a white rabbit was an omen of death, whilst black rabbits were often thought to be the reincarnated souls of ancestors."

- From an article by Matthew Venus entitled The Rabbit's Foot.

"According to local legend, a huntsman called Bowerman lived on the moor around one thousand years ago. When chasing a hare he and his pack of dogs unwittingly ran into a coven of witches, overturned their cauldron and disrupted their ceremony.

They decided to punish him, and the next time he was hunting, one of the witches turned herself into a hare, and led both Bowerman and his hounds into a mire. As a final punishment, she turned them to stone - the dogs can be seen as a jagged chain of rocks on top of Hound Tor, while the huntsman himself became the rock formation now known as Bowerman's Nose."

- From John Page's "An Exploration of Dartmoor", 1889, found here. (A photograph of Bowerman's Nose can be found at the end of this post.)

"Ancient Chinese men before the Han Dynasty believed that there were no male rabbits and female rabbits only became pregnant by watching the moon and spat out babies from their mouths. The origin of the Chinese term for rabbit "tuzi" was drawn from this belief, where tu means 'spit' and zi means 'babies'. This belief was corrected in the Han Dynasty. Mulan Ci, the story of Hua Mulan, talked about the way to tell rabbits' gender by lifting the rabbit by its ears. It was said that male rabbit's feet kept moving while female rabbit's eyes squint."

- From The Symbolic Meaning of Rabbit in Chinese Culture.


I've been mulling over the Three-hare symbol since I featured it in my spring post... a lot! Something about its attractiveness and the mystery surrounding it took hold of me and the little wheels started turning. If symbols could speak - and, really, that seems to be the whole point of a symbol - then the rotating three hares were speaking to me. So, what is it about those cunning little rabbits? While I can't say anything for certain, my online research has taken me to so many odd places that I'd feel irresponsible if I didn't try to share some of the interesting bits of information I found along the way...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hail to the (Mysterious) March Hare...

A stained glass window in the Castle Inn at Lydford.
Photo Credit: Eleanor Ludgate, found here.

Well, officially it's Spring, and it hasn't come a moment too soon... although, if you're like me, you aren't exactly seeing any signs of it yet.

Enter the mad, March Hare...

Let's face it, it's been a long winter. And if you're feeling a little grey around the gills, down in the dumps, and even a tad snarky, then, perhaps, you're in need of a Mythic fix. In which case, I'm here to give you one...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 12 Update: Glitch Fixed

Thanks to the Powers That Be, the mysterious video problem I was experiencing on my blogs has been repaired.

To celebrate, I was inspired to upload something for your viewing pleasure. I spent about 4 hours searching through YouTube fractal videos looking for something beautiful, lush, cool, unique, under 5 minutes, with a soundtrack that wasn't distracting, irritating, or downright obnoxious.

I found two, possibly three... and all of them can be found on Truman Brown's YouTube channel. The one above is Plantes d'Absinthe.

(Links to all three will have a permanent place in the Mandelbox section of the sidebar.)

Thanks, TB, you don't know it, but you saved my day!

PS  You'll note a new fractal link has been added, too: Frax... an awesome fractal generator designed by Ben Weiss,  Kai Krause, and, someone you might know from a previous post, Tom Beddard.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Mysterious Caves of Fontainebleau

From the caves of Fontainebleau... (click to enlarge)

The Forest of Fontainebleau

"This forest which is now a popular recreation area, was an isolated region for thousands of years. It was a haunt of robbers, fringe dwellers and fugitives who sheltered in its caves and carved the walls with inscriptions, designs, and abstract signs. More than 2,300 square yards of rock are decorated in this way.

Among the carvings are human figures with rectangular bodies, neck-less heads with sunken eyes and U-shaped noses. Their arms are outstretched, with the fingers spread like a fan, and often the legs are missing. A second group, in bas-relief, have their arms close to their bodies, In a third, the figures are dressed in skirts and have only three fingers on each hand.

The crosses, circles and hopscotch-like designs are almost impossible to date. They may be from prehistoric time, or they could have been drawn yesterday. All have been indexed and some are similar to designs which specialists located elsewhere. However, there are some designs which are found only at Fontainebleau. These are the irregular latticed designs which have been deeply incised into the rock. They have been found in the most inaccessible places, in cavities where only an arm can reach. Why were these engravings made under such obviously difficult conditions? They were certainly not made recently, but how old are they? What message did their engravers wish to leave, and who were they?"

- Text and photo (above) found in some older files; source currently unidentified.


Chances are, whenever the topic of prehistoric art crops up, the first examples that spring to mind are the stylized beasts (in shades of black, brown and red ochre) found on cave walls in France, notably those of Lascaux and Chauvet. Or, maybe, those enigmatic Paleolithic handprints which created a minor sensation in 2013; the handprints which, upon closer inspection, were tentatively judged to be the work of primarily female artists. On the other hand, the more informed Fortean mind is likely to turn to the stone carvings found at Göbekli Tepe (also, here), or the Nazca Lines.

But, my fellow fans of weird archaeology, here's another place to add to your files: the mysterious abstract carvings found in the caves of Fontainebleau Forest, located 30 miles south of Paris. While some of the designs were wrought in the late Middle Ages, others have been dated back 15,000 years to the Upper Paleolithic or Magdalenian period; and, still others may have arisen as early as the Neolithic period. So strange and sophisticated are some of the carvings - along with the nearby presence of unusual rock formations, and what appears to be a bestiary of boulders - that it's been proposed the forest of Fontainebleau may contain the artifacts of an unknown civilization...