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She was one of the veterans of the Roman pantheon and was introduced as the goddess of spring and flowers among the official state celestials by Titus Tatius, the Sabine king who, after the still famous abduction of Sabine women, attacked Rome, conquered it and founded the later famous kingdom. Therefore, Flora originally had a temple on the Quirinal, in the central area of Rome. It later moved to the Circus Maximus. Floralia, a joyous festival enjoyed especially by young people, then ran from 28 April to 3 May.

Many works of art have been left of it, sculptors and painters were fond of choosing it as a motif from antiquity to the present day, but few stories. She didn't indulge in any adventures, and her family life was spotless, so the only story I have on record is a secondary version of Mars's conception, according to which Iunó was given a magical flower by Flora, whereupon the future god of war (and originally agriculture) was born nine months later.

The Greek equivalent of Flora - for it was already customary in the time of the original cults to compare the two cultures one to one - is one of the Horas, Zephyrus' wife Chlóris.


A statue from Hadrian's villa (now in Capitoline Museums): Wikimedia Commons, licence public domain

11.3. 2024 (11.9.2011)


While Flora took care of flowers in a general sort of way, her colleague Pomona's job included fruit. Romans revered her for it and even supplied her with her own priests and grove south of Rome, though she otherwise shared temples and a cult with her husband Vertumnus, god of the seasons. The latter made a bid for his future wife without much success at first (he queued up a crowd of people, satyrs and gods alike, and like the others, got binned), but when he used the classic trick of working in disguise (here as an old lady), he succeeded, even without violence.

11.3. 2024 (11.9.2011)


Half fish and half god – this is not a description of appearance, but the origin, for Machanu is the son of the monkey god Hanuman and the mermaid Nang Supanmacha. In Thailand, where he comes from, he has not only been honored in the form of statues and depictions, but also - because of his aquatic appearance, his origins, and his function as guardian of the lake behind which the underworld is located - he gave his name to one of the Thai navy's ships during the Second World War.

11.3. 2024 (9.3. 2003)

Ba Ngu'

Dolphins have attracted the attention of coastal nations around the world. They are remembered by Mediterranean peoples as much as by Polynesians or Africans. In Annam, Indonesia, too. The dolphin is not only a kind and gentle creature that saves shipwrecked sailors, but above all the reincarnation of a goddess named Ba Ngu'. Therefore, all dead dolphins found in the sea or on the shore are buried with pomp and circumstance.

It should be noted that the reputation of dolphin rescuers does not really lie, and we do not even have to defend the story of a certain Mr. Arion from Greek myths. In the very recent past, too, several remarkable events have taken place. For example, in 1966, when these animals rescued the Egyptian engineer Mahmoud Vali. This is not an isolated case and seemingly gives truth to the romantic admirers of the marine civilization of intelligent cetaceans.

Unfortunately, the reality is unromantically simple. Dolphins - and other cetaceans - live in gregarious pods where, like many other herd and apparently unintelligent animals, some kind of cooperation is required. In the words of an ethologist, dolphins exhibit epimeletic behavior or helping - within the species - one another. It is this innate instinct, shown, for example, when helping a sick or injured comrade-in-fins, when two dolphins lift an injured one so that it can breathe and not drown, that accounts for their behavior even when it comes to drowning humans.

If humans were food or a danger to cetaceans, it would of course look different, as in the case of sharks, which dolphins are known to hate heartily and profoundly. Although...

11.3. 2024 (9.3. 2003)


In Burma, the Nats are basically in charge of everything. They are the spirits of air and wind, sky, earth, forest, cultivated fields, and uncultivated fields, households, et cetera. However, they are also duly worshipped by the people there, and in the shadow of every Buddhist pagoda, there is always a natsin, a shrine to the nats.

Natsins can be found elsewhere, for example at the end of the village.

Just by the non-exhaustive list of functions held (and I have not even mentioned the nats as death spirits, guardians of treasures, or a small select group of nats - national heroes, or the eleven nat ladies who guard the eleven royal parasols in Mandalay and are called Nat-thami), it is obvious that this is a generic name for all sorts of supernatural beings.

11.3. 2024 (9.3. 2003)


The quick trip around the world that I have taken in the previous weeks is slowly coming to an end. The only thing missing from the collection is the black continent - if we head to it via the Indian Ocean, we can't miss Madagascar.

Before humans came to this large and interesting island, it was inhabited by a race of spirits called Vizimba. Like any decent supernatural people, they excelled in spirit rather than technology. Perhaps that's why ethnographers and mythologists, not archaeologists, find their legacy.

11.3. 2024 (15.3. 2003)


The deities and demons who take care of the harvest are usually active twice a year. In the spring, when they have to make sure that the crops set their first petals to the sunlight and do not remain sleep in the form of seeds, and at the end of summer they have to assist in the harvest. In the meantime - of course - to make sure that those first leaves turn into a harvest. Over the winter, they take a holiday. Some spend it in the underworld, others make extra money at another resort.

The South African Zulu worship Inkosazana, the vegetation demon in female form, usually in spring. She makes sure that the first green leaves of maize make it smoothly through the plant's pre-pubescence to puberty and into the coveted middle age when they are mercilessly cut down by the sickle of a Zulu farmer. A demon focused on one type of crop may, of course, be an expert on the word, but a major factor in Inkosazana's case is a fact that the originally pastoral Zulus, who over time shifted to a more leisurely agricultural way of making a living, specialized in maize.

11.3. 2024 (15.3. 2003)


The rainbow snake of the Yoruba, a West African people who have lived (mostly) there what is now Nigeria for many years. A number of Yoruba city-states are known from the Middle Ages – and most interestingly – open an atlas on a map of Africa, please – it was influenced in its early history by Egyptian and perhaps even Mediterranean culture. Whether the Yoruba came from the Nile or maintained brisk trade and cultural contacts with that region is not yet known, but the truth remains that the backward black continent, despite its reputation, hosted a number of wealthy and developed state formations even as the Roman Empire was falling, plagued by a number of civilizational ills.

Oshunmare is a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Along with the Dahomean slaves exported across the Atlantic to the Americas, it made its way to Brazil. Unlike the Dahomean deities, who, especially in the Caribbean, gradually acquired new attributes until they became the loa of voodoo there, Oshunmare retained his form and mission in his new location.

11.3. 2024 (15.3. 2003)



Let me start with a simple question: How many of them were there? Nine, after all, just look at any of the many depictions that the Greeks and Romans dedicated to the goddesses of art who entertained Zeus on Olympus. Elementary, my dear Watson, count the daughters of the supreme god and goddess of memory, Mnemosyne, with me - Calliope, who was in charge of epic poetry, Euterpe, with a commission for lyric poetry ...

Hold on.

We'll get to the names of the nine Muses who were born in the Thessalian Piraeus and accompanied Apollo. But first, we really must answer the posed question. The one who asked grinned as he said it, for he knows the answer, and he just tests our memory.

The old writers indeed spoke only of the Muse, without specifying her focus in any way, sometimes mentioning four or seven of these beings, only in time did the number increase and settle at nine, including the assigned disciplines. But in the very beginning there were three Muses, and they were very different ladies from the ones we know today.

Of course, any female trinity smacks of - and in this case is - the Triple Goddess. Aiódé (Singing), Meleté (Caring) and Mnémé (Memory) are her stages, that classical form of  the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. In other words, spring, summer and winter, since the Great Goddess was identified with the cycle of the year. Later, the Trinity was also interpreted as the virgin, ruling the heights, the woman, holding the earth and the sea, and the old woman, ruling the underworld, and each of the original trinity became a trinity itself. Which, by simple multiplication, gives the number nine.

The original Muses were Piraean nymphs, daughters of the mother of earth and air, as Hesiodos claims (later myth already identifies Zeus and Mnemosyne as their parents), and resided on Mount Helicon, from where their cult spread to the surrounding area. They are believed to have belonged to the Oreads, the mountain nymphs, although there is also a version that they were the Naiads, the water fairies, for certain wells and springs were dedicated to them, the one on Helicon being one of their favourite places. Most of the evidence, however, is in favor of their mountain origin, for they were daughters of the Earth, and the name of one of the later Muses, Urania, directly means Queen of the Mountains.

The Great Goddess took over during several Hellenic immigration waves, gradually handing over power to the Supreme God. The daughters of Mother Earth became his descendants, and the old names were forgotten and replaced by new ones. So now we can finally count them.


Calliope, the Beautiful Face, became the muse of epic poetry, and the mother of the most famous singer, Orpheus.

Euterpe, the rejoicing muse of lyric poetry

Erato, the Passionate, and therefore - how else - the muse of love poetry

Thalia, the festive, the muse of comedy

Melpomene - the muse of tragedy for a change

Terpsichore, Rejoicing in the dance, of course, muse of the dance and mother of the Sirens

Polymnia, the muse of hymnody and choral singing

Cleo, the Declarer, muse of history

Urania, Queen of the Mountains, muse of astronomy, because the Greeks and Romans counted astronomy and history among the arts.


Their leader is Apollo, who brought them from Helicon, first to Delphi, where they divined from the dance of the stones, and later to Olympus, where they sit near the throne of Zeus, entertaining the Olympians with song and dance, and taking advantage of their popularity - except for the god of war, Ares, all the gods protect them, which guarantees the Muses impunity no matter what they meddle in. Not that they meddle. Their activities are mostly limited to musical guest appearances at the weddings of the gods and the people the gods love, and harmless lobbying, especially in Urania's field of astronomy (they, along with Apollo, interceded for Orpheus' lyre to shine in the sky in the form of a constellation, and also their half-brother, the centaur Krotos, is still known today as the constellation Sagittarius), now and then they do some consulting - this when they judged the famous musical duel between Apollo and Marsyas, which the god won essentially by trickery, and also taught the Sphinx the now famous riddle.

They don't like it when someone dares to claim they sing better than they do. Better he may be, but he must not boast, which Orpheus did not do, and Thamyros did, who was robbed of sight, hearing and voice by the offended Muses. That they do not care about family relations in such a case is evidenced by the story of the Sirens, who challenged the Muses to a singing contest, lost, and were turned into bird monsters. Or, if they already had bird form, the Muses plucked their feathers and made it impossible for the Sirens to fly.

(Given that the mother of the Sirens was Terpsichore and the young girls probably grew up in the company of singing and dancing "aunties" from whom they learned a lot, plucking the poor monsters was more like a lowly disposal of the competition.)

But seriously. The Muses, who had many temples throughout Greece, are the only divine beings of that era whose shrines remain in full operation today. Of course, these are museums, and their great-grandfather, the famous Museion of Alexandria, was founded in year minus 308.


Four dancing Muses: Museum Kunstpalast, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

23.3.2024 (23.3. 2003)


She is said to belong to the fairies, but it seems that folk demonology did not know how to classify this being in any way and so classified him by gender and vague kinship. Perhaps this also speaks of a natural loss of former pagan superstitions; the forest girl may have originally been a fairy as the pre-Christian Bohemians knew her and later changed her appearance and name, which is more likely. It wouldn't be the first or last time.

The Mniška (Nun), known elsewhere as Myška (Little Mouse), used to wear a moss-brown dress, and in the Orlické Mountains she dressed as a nun and had long hair down to her heels. The Mniška from the Sudetes looked like a little doll.

All sources agree, however, that this fast-running forest creature is not dangerous, it just occasionally lunges at children's screamers, because you shouldn't yell in the forest, you can yell at football.


Húkalky and Lulkyně

are another folklore fairies, this time from Moravia, particularly from Wallachia. Their name is derived from the sounds they make: Lulkyně ululu, Húkalky, how else, húkají. That is, they hoot.

Lulkyne do not have a good reputation, it is advisable to avoid them because they have taken it as their habit of many forest fairies to dance a random passer-by to death. The Hukvaldy Castle near Frýdek-Místek, otherwise known as a treasure site, is said to be named after the forest howlers.

In the Rožnov region, Slibky appear instead of Húkalky.

23.3.2024 (4. 5. 2003)


Not far from Bohemian Forest´s Sušice there is the castle Kašperk and to it and its surroundings, there is a wonderful and interesting legend about Swiza, a mysterious ancient woman who has been appearing here since ancient times. She walks around dressed in wolf skin with deer antlers on her head and meeting her, as has been proven, is not a pleasant experience. Because she has lived in Šumava much longer than the missionaries with the cross came to the country, she is a goddess of pagan times and as such, she understandably does not recognize successors. A certain man, who, being a good Christian, refused to worship her face to face, became petrified. It is not surprising, then, that Swiza was given the reputation of being a harbinger of disease and calamity.

23.3.2024 (4. 5. 2003)

Graeae and Gratiae

At first glance, they differ in their names by a letter. But if you see these ladies in natura, you can't go wrong.


Gratiae, Graces, i.e., the Charites

I chose the name Graces for the headline because of the sound-alike resemblance to the other ladies; in Greece, the goddesses of grace and beauty have always been called Charites. As always, the sources disagree on either their number or their origin, but for now, we can quickly switch the count, three prevail.

They are named Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thaleia (sometimes Thalia, be careful not to confuse her with the eponymous Muse), and they are sisters, descendants of Zeus and the oceanic Eurynome. Or - oh dear - Dionysus and Aphrodite, or the solar Helios and the naiad Aigle. True, originally there was probably only one goddess, Charis (" charm" or "grace"), more accurately one of the more pleasing forms of the moon goddess, and Homer lists two Charites, Pasithea and Kalé (while another pair, Auxó, and Hégemóné, were worshipped in Athens) but already Hésiod lists the three highest. The combination of Kalé, Pasithea, and Euphrosyne still features in the story of one of the famous Greek oracles, Teiresias. He, when the three goddesses of charm argued over which of them was the more beautiful, decided that the primacy belonged to Kalé, for which he was turned into an old woman by Aphrodite. According to another version, however, he was turned into a woman and became a notorious whore when he saw mating snakes and killed the female. But – notwithstanding the fact that the myth of the contest is as much a linguistic error as the Pan's death (Pasithea kalé euphrosyné, the Goddess of Joy dear to all, was probably Aphrodite's attribution) – by the time of the classics, the names, the status and the number were already known. The three Charites represented three kinds of beneficence: to give, to receive, to return. They were loved by gods and men alike because they brought beauty and joy; Aglaia even became the wife of Hephaestus in one little-known version, Pasithea the wife of Hypnos, by an action of Zeus' wife Hera, who thus rewarded the god of sleep for putting her unburdened husband to sleep.

A considerable number of depictions have survived (which is probably why there are none here :-) and the Charites themselves had many temples and shrines. And because beauty and grace are an eternal and grateful theme, shrines may not be built, but Charites, along with the Muses, are still depicted.

With the Graeae it is worse in this respect.



The sea god Phorcys and his wife Keta were the parents of many beings, the dragon or serpent Ladon or the trio of Gorgons, of whom we have already had the honor of Medusa. Also a trio of swan grandmothers, the Graea. While the Gorgons were beauties at first, the Graeae were born as old women. Grey, sharing one eye and one tooth. Their names were Enyo, Pemphredo, and Deino and now, of course, there must be some behind-the-scenes insight.

If you're expecting the Great Goddess, you've arrived. The Graeae are a form of death, the goddess of unexpected doom, as Robert Graves deduces. Originally they may have been a triple form of the Earth Goddess, but the classical era imported them into the Perseus myth and modified them into their present form, based on fragments of the original rituals and misinterpretations of the images.

(By the Classical Age in the case of Greek mythology I mean the late Hellenistic and Roman periods, i.e. beginning sometime around half a millennium before Christ, to avoid confusion).

The Graeae resided at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, and there Perseus found them before his quest for Medusa's head – for he needed to know the address of this sister of theirs; in the original depiction, however, it is not Perseus who has stolen the Graeae's single eye, but Hermes, receiving the magical eye from the three barrels - the Graea, nymphs of the underworld river Styx.

23.3.2024 (30.3. 2003)



This lady is said to have been Adam's first wife. It was not a successful marriage, but it also ended in divorce. According to some, she slept with Satan and became the mother of the jinn, another story tells how Lilith fled from Eden to the Red Sea and not even the three angels that God sent after her at Adam's intercession brought her back, how she slipped the apple in the form of a snake to her successor Eve ... Unfortunately, these stories have disappeared from the canonical Holy Bible as we know it today, or did not make it into it at all (the story of the mother of the jinn comes from Islamic tradition). But she remained in the demonology of the Jews, as did her children, called lilim. In the form of a succubus, a nightmare, a demon who seduces men, preys on children and adults, in short, harms on all fronts.

She is described as a long-haired (sometimes winged) silent woman, and her children as creatures with donkey backs, which has its origins in the reputation of donkeys as fornicating and cruel creatures. The symbol of Lilith herself, however, was the little owl, the messenger of death, for Lilith herself was once also the Canaanite goddess of death. Later, she moved to the edge of the desert, which was considered by not only the Jews but all the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, as the sovereign territory of all kinds of demons.

In her demonic form, Lilith, in addition to seducing men, is also involved in abducting or smothering babies in cradles, but originally she was the Great Goddess worshipped by matriarchal farmers, who fell victim to the new gods of the nomadic herdsmen of Adam's tribe - this is what the myth of Lilith as Adam's first wife tells of (and this is also the subject of the famous Cain-Abel controversy).

Most of the Moon Goddesses or Great Mothers are known for their long and unyielding life, even if they are forced to remain in menial positions and eventually turn into ghosts (exemplified by the British Black Annis, or by certain suggestions attributing a similar fate to the specter of White Lady), or into demons (Beelzebub, the Lord), or humble minions (the Greek Athena). Such a career awaited Lilith as well.

Lilith's children Lilim moved to Greece as the Empuses, children of the goddess Hecate. They had the asses of donkeys and either wore brass shoes or had one foot of brass and one foot of donkey. They could transform themselves into cows, bitches, or seductive girls, the last form of course being used to seduce men who, like all decent succubi, were sucked dry of their appetite for life.

The relationship between Lilith and the Etruscan demon Lenith, who guards the gateway to the underworld, is uncertain - a definite link may be the lotus or the lily, the flowers of death that probably gave the faceless Etruscan demon its name - and the idea of the Liliths as the Canaanite Hecate, goddess of death, imported from Palestine.

Unquestionably, however, Lilith appeared as a succubus throughout the Christian and Islamic worlds, with tales of her in England, Scotland, even Mexico, Iran, and Germany.

She was even considered Satan's grandmother - this in the Middle Ages, a time that took such kinship relations deadly seriously, not like today's fairy tales. So seriously that the practice of protecting mothers and their newborns from Lilith endured until recent times.


Displayed Lilith: John Collier, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

23.3.2024 (6.4.2003)

Melusine (Czech version)

She was a water maiden, like the Basque Lamia, at least in appearance. She inhabited the French fabled, sorry, castle of Lusignan and was the foremother of a local family. As is often the case, she wasn't quite human, her mother was a mermaid, so whenever Melusine went into the water, she took on her mother's shape - swapping her legs for a fish tail. Which wouldn't have mattered, and didn't until the day she got married. Like all supernatural or partially supernatural beings, she kept her oddity to herself and put it on her husband's mind not to seek out her secret. Which, of course, did the opposite.

After that, everything went according to the classic scenario - the husband surprised Melusine in her half-animal form, the wife sighed, said something about trust, and that she had to leave. And she jumped out of the window, which for her meant not a pile of broken bones and bloody flesh on the pavement, but a flight to the clouds. Then came a variant of the White Lady - Melusine, in the form of the wind, returning and wailing in the chimneys, like a proper foremother, heralding key events in the life of the family, haunting the battlements. The cynical twentieth century gave birth to the notion that by this spectacle the supernatural and therefore ageless maidens got rid of slowly decaying husbands - some, like the Czech forest fairies or the Japanese yuki onna permanently, others appeared occasionally, apparently weighed down by a guilty conscience.

Enough gossip. Melusine's reputation, though not unlike many others of her kind, had gone around the world. From France it traveled to Germany and in 1555 it appeared in Bohemia. And it found fertile ground here.

Because the lady who flies in the air and whines in the chimneys has been here for a long time. She was called Vetrnice, she took the form of a woman in white with long flowing hair. She was also known to her neighbors - the Lusatian Serbs under the name bóža łošć, the Germans called her gottesklage. She foretold death - but she also roamed cemeteries and bushes, predicted natural disasters, warned of sin, and mourned fallen girls. On Christmas Eve, however, she brought good luck. Like every airy creature, she was neither evil nor good; in order not to harm or revenge herself, she used to be sacrificed - even in recent times. Salt or flour was thrown on the fence post, on the window, or out of the window into the air, and nuts and apples were left for her behind the chimney.

The wistful tale of the unfortunate Melusine, who abounded in identical attributes to the domestic weathervane, simply could not fail to take hold. The former pagan wind demon had acquired a name, history, and personality through rumor.

Like the story of Doctor Faustus, the tale has moved to Bohemia in its complete form, including localization. Instead of the castle of Lusignan, it moved to Velké Losiny, and since mermaids as mothers are in short supply in the hinterland, and the fairies (and later rusalki) who became mothers here and there do not have fish tails, the Melusine of Losiny is simply afflicted with a curse under which she changes every tenth day. From then on, the story is the same.

So the Bohemian Melusine is a ghost compared to other, young, almost juvenile ones. But she is really popular - besides the imported Losiny legend, she is also the heroine of a legend from the Jičín region, according to which a certain knight had two daughters: the older one, Melusina, who was kind and respectful, and the younger one, Katerina, who was her opposite. Evil, domineering, and greedy. And jealous. She managed to convince her father that Melusine was too good and was hanging out with the blacksmith's son, so the knight prevented a possible messalliance by locking the older daughter in the tower of Kumburk Castle. Time went on and on, the nobleman died, and Melusine thought that she would now become the heiress and settle her accounts. But Katherine kept her sister in the tower until a chance passing knight found her. He promised to rescue Melusine, gathered the soldiers, and laid siege to Kumburk. When he managed to scale the walls and slaughter the castle garrison, the castle suddenly went up in flames as the last defenders set fire to the powder magazine. And so perished the savior and his men, and Melusine, who has ever since been flitting about the land which Catherine has finally conquered, lamenting that there is no justice in this world.

A bit odd for a fairy tale, but quite fitting for tales that don't focus on happy endings. Except that the reader can't help feeling that he or she knows this story from somewhere and that the wailing Melusine is written at the end of the story more as a moral, using the name of the unfortunate maiden. And he's right. Because in fact, Melusine's real name was Elisabeth, she came from the Smiřický family, and she was indeed imprisoned at Kumburk. The whole story, then, was really just about money and the fight between the sisters and later their husbands, Ota Henry of Vartenberk and Jindřich Slavata of Chlum. I refer those interested in the original story to the relevant and rich historical literature.

25.3.2024 (20.4. 2003)





"Things just happen. What the hell."
* Terry Pratchett. Hogfather


Welcome to my world. For the longest time I couldn’t think of right name for this place, so I left it without one. Amongst things you can find here are attempts of science fiction and fantasy stories, my collection of gods, bogeymen and monsters and also articles about things that had me interested, be it for a while or for years. (There is more of this, sadly not in English but in Czech, on www.fext.cz)



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