Rituals and Traditions Archive

  • Here we re-tell the creation myth of Ch'ujtiat from the Ch'ol People. Stories director Gabriela Badillo’s 68 Voices, 68 Hearts, a series of one-minute animations that preserve indigenous Mexican stories with narration provided by native speakers.

    Ch´ol Creation Story: The Origin of Life on Earth

    Here we re-tell the creation myth of Ch'ujtiat from the Ch'ol People. Stories director Gabriela Badillo’s 68 Voices, 68 Hearts, a series of one-minute animations that preserve indigenous Mexican stories with narration provided by native speakers.

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  • The following story from 19th Century Venice, Italy, is similar to the "Bluebeard" folktales from France, regarding the dangers of female curiosity about forbidden chambers and how questioning patriarchal rules can open the door of truth. This mythic jaunt takes another route about when the Devil married three sisters and how the third sister managed to rescue the other two from the fires of Hell. Italo Calvino also published another variant of this story in 1956, called Silver Nose.

    Italian Folktale: How the Devil Married Three Sisters

    The following story from 19th Century Venice, Italy, is similar to the "Bluebeard" folktales from France, regarding the dangers of female curiosity about forbidden chambers and how questioning patriarchal rules can open the door of truth. This mythic jaunt takes another route about when the Devil married three sisters and how the third sister managed to rescue the other two from the fires of Hell. Italo Calvino also published another variant of this story in 1956, called Silver Nose.

    Continue Reading...

  • The Kraken, a mythological super-squid or legendary massive octopus from the depths of the ocean, known to destroy ships, also has some significant scientific basis for its existence. Here we share an encounter with this magical sea monster in an excerpt from Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'.

    Behold the Kraken, Destroyer from the Depths of the Sea

    The Kraken, a mythological super-squid or legendary massive octopus from the depths of the ocean, known to destroy ships, also has some significant scientific basis for its existence. Here we share an encounter with this magical sea monster in an excerpt from Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'.

    Continue Reading...

  • As outbreaks of "crazy sickness" continue to afflict Nicaraguan Miskitu towns and villages, we revisit the story of the Duhindu of Kambla, or how the community overcame their first case of this "culture-bound syndrome," blamed on the dark supernatural forces out of the wild bush.

    Miskitu Stories: ‘Crazy Sickness’ and the Duendes of the Wild

    As outbreaks of "crazy sickness" continue to afflict Nicaraguan Miskitu towns and villages, we revisit the story of the Duhindu of Kambla, or how the community overcame their first case of this "culture-bound syndrome," blamed on the dark supernatural forces out of the wild bush.

    Continue Reading...

  • A story from the Nicaraguan Miskitu People about the mango trees planted to feed the dead in the cemetery, and the fear of stealing the ripe fruits.

    Miskitu Legend: The Mangoes of the Dead

    A story from the Nicaraguan Miskitu People about the mango trees planted to feed the dead in the cemetery, and the fear of stealing the ripe fruits.

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  • May Day (May 1) marks the return of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, with origins in ancient agricultural rituals to ensure fertility, handed down from the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Later permutations included the Celtic festival of Beltane and Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from All Saints Day (November 1), and cross-quarter day with pagan overtones. Today, this ancient festival survives, including gathering wildflowers and decorating a May tree or Maypole, around which people dance, and some use it for political protest in association with International Workers Day.

    The Pagan Spring Fertility Origins of May Day

    May Day (May 1) marks the return of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, with origins in ancient agricultural rituals to ensure fertility, handed down from the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Later permutations included the Celtic festival of Beltane and Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from All Saints Day (November 1), and cross-quarter day with pagan overtones. Today, this ancient festival survives, including gathering wildflowers and decorating a May tree or Maypole, around which people dance, and some use it for political protest in association with International Workers Day.

    Continue Reading...

  • In Aztec cosmology, the soul's journey to the Underworld after death leaves them with four destinations: the Sacred Orchard of the Gods, the Place of Darkness, the Kingdom of the Sun, and a paradise called the Mansion of the Moon. The most common deaths end up on their way to Mictlán with its nine levels, crashing mountains and rushing rivers, and four years of struggle. This pantheon of gods and goddesses and the expanse of the 13 Heavens provides the cultural basis for the Day of the Dead customs and celebrations.

    Mythological Journey to the Aztec Underworld

    In Aztec cosmology, the soul's journey to the Underworld after death leaves them with four destinations: the Sacred Orchard of the Gods, the Place of Darkness, the Kingdom of the Sun, and a paradise called the Mansion of the Moon. The most common deaths end up on their way to Mictlán with its nine levels, crashing mountains and rushing rivers, and four years of struggle. This pantheon of gods and goddesses and the expanse of the 13 Heavens provides the cultural basis for the Day of the Dead customs and celebrations.

    Continue Reading...

  • In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. The following myth tells how her daughter Proserpina was abducted by the ruler of the underworld, forced to become his wife, but with Ceres' help, she watches over the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth or renewal.

    The Underworld, Rebirth and Renewal with Ceres and Proserpina

    In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. The following myth tells how her daughter Proserpina was abducted by the ruler of the underworld, forced to become his wife, but with Ceres' help, she watches over the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth or renewal.

    Continue Reading...

  • An anthropological and archaeological study of the origins of the Christmas Tree customs that grew out of the older European pagan Winter Solstice rituals by the Old European Culture Blog.

    Christmas Trees, Solstice Rituals, and the Garden of Eden

    An anthropological and archaeological study of the origins of the Christmas Tree customs that grew out of the older European pagan Winter Solstice rituals by the Old European Culture Blog.

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  • Here is a retelling of the Hopi story, The Revenge of the Katcinas (Kachinas or Katsinam). To grow crops and survive in their mountainous desert, the Hopis understand the necessity for proper devotion to the supernatural powers, known as the Kachinas, who embody the spirits of living things and also of ancestors who have died and become a part of nature. When the people fall out of favor with the supernaturals, disaster results.

    Hopi Survival and the Supernaturals: Revenge of the Kachinas

    Here is a retelling of the Hopi story, The Revenge of the Katcinas (Kachinas or Katsinam). To grow crops and survive in their mountainous desert, the Hopis understand the necessity for proper devotion to the supernatural powers, known as the Kachinas, who embody the spirits of living things and also of ancestors who have died and become a part of nature. When the people fall out of favor with the supernaturals, disaster results.

    Continue Reading...

  • An exhibition by artist Cristóbal Valecillos in Los Angeles invoked the Dancing Devils of Yare, a 400-year old Venezuelan tradition celebrating life, the triumph of good over evil, and renewal.  His provocative interpretation of the diablo masks, hand-sculpted from repurposed waste materials, takes aim at culture and consumption in the US, a plea for overcoming. 

    Dancing Devils of Venezuela Challenge US Consumer Culture

    An exhibition by artist Cristóbal Valecillos in Los Angeles invoked the Dancing Devils of Yare, a 400-year old Venezuelan tradition celebrating life, the triumph of good over evil, and renewal.  His provocative interpretation of the diablo masks, hand-sculpted from repurposed waste materials, takes aim at culture and consumption in the US, a plea for overcoming. 

    Continue Reading...

  • The timeless brilliance of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, illuminated by the mysterious art of Balinese shadow theatre, enacted to the percussive metallophones of traditional gamelan ensembles.

    Hindu Epic ‘Mahabharata’ in Balinese Shadow Theatre and Dance

    The timeless brilliance of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, illuminated by the mysterious art of Balinese shadow theatre, enacted to the percussive metallophones of traditional gamelan ensembles.

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  • Facing cultural genocide at the turn of the 1900s, the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) people's way of life in northern Vancouver Island were protected and preserved by the work of anthropologist Franz Boas and photographer Edward S. Curtis.

    Forest Spirits ‘Induce Confusion’ in Native Vancouver Island

    Facing cultural genocide at the turn of the 1900s, the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) people's way of life in northern Vancouver Island were protected and preserved by the work of anthropologist Franz Boas and photographer Edward S. Curtis.

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  • Here we re-tell the story of Takutzi Nakawe, Grandmother Rain, and how the world was created, according to the Wixaritari (Huicholes) of the Western Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.

    Journey of Grandmother Rain – World Creation of the Wixáritari (Huicholes)

    Here we re-tell the story of Takutzi Nakawe, Grandmother Rain, and how the world was created, according to the Wixaritari (Huicholes) of the Western Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.

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  • The original lands of the Crow or Apsáalooke peoples were east of Yellowstone National Park in Montana/Wyoming, the Absarokas, across the Basin to the Big Horn Mountains, and southeast to the Wind Rivers. This story, recounted to anthropologist Robert Lowie at the turn of the 20th Century, reveals the esoteric visionary experience of a young Crow, and his interest to visit the Land of the Birds.

    Myth: The Crow Who Visited the Land of the Seven Cranes

    The original lands of the Crow or Apsáalooke peoples were east of Yellowstone National Park in Montana/Wyoming, the Absarokas, across the Basin to the Big Horn Mountains, and southeast to the Wind Rivers. This story, recounted to anthropologist Robert Lowie at the turn of the 20th Century, reveals the esoteric visionary experience of a young Crow, and his interest to visit the Land of the Birds.

    Continue Reading...

  • The traditional Yaqui story of the Sorcerer Cricket, made into a video short by Gabriela Badillo, tells how he saved the people from a serpent monster, only to face the prophesied coming of the Spanish conquistadores.

    Yaqui of Mexico: How the Sorcerer Cricket Saved the People

    The traditional Yaqui story of the Sorcerer Cricket, made into a video short by Gabriela Badillo, tells how he saved the people from a serpent monster, only to face the prophesied coming of the Spanish conquistadores.

    Continue Reading...

  • Christmas legends make the freezing nights pass faster and the children - and laborers - behave. Iceland's Jólakötturinn, or Yule Cat, warned lazy children would be eaten by a monster cat, which has roots hundreds of years back, and popularized by a poem by Johannes ur Kotlum.

    Labor Taskmaster: The Yule Cat Monster of Iceland

    Christmas legends make the freezing nights pass faster and the children - and laborers - behave. Iceland's Jólakötturinn, or Yule Cat, warned lazy children would be eaten by a monster cat, which has roots hundreds of years back, and popularized by a poem by Johannes ur Kotlum.

    Continue Reading...

  • Krampus, a half-goat, half-daemon of centuries-old Bavarian-Alpine lore, appears prior to the celebration of the benevolent giver Saint Nicholas on December 6th, where Central European communities have a Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, the night before.

    Krampus, Wild Nature Spirit, the Christmas Daemon

    Krampus, a half-goat, half-daemon of centuries-old Bavarian-Alpine lore, appears prior to the celebration of the benevolent giver Saint Nicholas on December 6th, where Central European communities have a Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, the night before.

    Continue Reading...

  • Shadow-Trickster Donald Trump, preaching revolutionary change and unending prosperity, emerged from the shadow of hatred and aggression, and now proceeds to install one of the most repressive, socially regressive, selfish, greedy, and racist US Presidential Administrations in generations. It must be resisted, but with a trickster spirit.

    Shadow Trickster Trump Betrays Populism, Absconds With…

    Shadow-Trickster Donald Trump, preaching revolutionary change and unending prosperity, emerged from the shadow of hatred and aggression, and now proceeds to install one of the most repressive, socially regressive, selfish, greedy, and racist US Presidential Administrations in generations. It must be resisted, but with a trickster spirit.

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  • Traditional Mayan healers, bone-setters, herbal curanderos, and spiritual guides or shamans, provide good physical and mental health options for poor Indigenous Guatemalans.

    Traditional Healing Among the Highland Maya

    Traditional Mayan healers, bone-setters, herbal curanderos, and spiritual guides or shamans, provide good physical and mental health options for poor Indigenous Guatemalans.

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  • Ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, one of the most important plant explorers of the 20th century, served as a key inspiration in a recent film called "Embrace of the Serpent." In December 1941, Schultes entered the Amazon to study how indigenous peoples used plants for medicinal, ritual, and practical purposes. After nearly a decade of fieldwork, he made significant discoveries about the sacred hallucinogen ayahuasca. In total, Schultes would collect more than 24,000 species of plants including some 300 species new to Western science.

    “Embrace of the Serpent” Film: Journey of Healing and Ethnobotany

    Ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, one of the most important plant explorers of the 20th century, served as a key inspiration in a recent film called "Embrace of the Serpent." In December 1941, Schultes entered the Amazon to study how indigenous peoples used plants for medicinal, ritual, and practical purposes. After nearly a decade of fieldwork, he made significant discoveries about the sacred hallucinogen ayahuasca. In total, Schultes would collect more than 24,000 species of plants including some 300 species new to Western science.

    Continue Reading...

  • The Kogi People of Colombia, through two separate documentaries, delivered a message of a sustainable interconnection with nature and community as a way to avert climate and ecological destruction.

    Kogi People’s Lesson From the Heart of the Mountain

    The Kogi People of Colombia, through two separate documentaries, delivered a message of a sustainable interconnection with nature and community as a way to avert climate and ecological destruction.

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  • The Kumeyaay of southern and Baja California have a rich history of coexistence on the border of California and Mexico in the mountainous region of San Diego County. Here we republish Florence Shipek's treatise on the preservation of their sacred mountain called Kuuchamaa, also known as Cuchuma, as well as several videos on their culture, history and stories.

    Kuuchamaa: The Exalted High Place of the Kumeyaay

    The Kumeyaay of southern and Baja California have a rich history of coexistence on the border of California and Mexico in the mountainous region of San Diego County. Here we republish Florence Shipek's treatise on the preservation of their sacred mountain called Kuuchamaa, also known as Cuchuma, as well as several videos on their culture, history and stories.

    Continue Reading...

  • Using sacred tools and treatment by touch, connection and cures through spirits in flight and ritual extraction of sickness, the traditional healers of central Australia explain their extraordinary skills and how they deal with contemporary issues and Western medicine.

    Spirit Talk: Stories of Traditional Healers of Central Australia

    Using sacred tools and treatment by touch, connection and cures through spirits in flight and ritual extraction of sickness, the traditional healers of central Australia explain their extraordinary skills and how they deal with contemporary issues and Western medicine.

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  • The fracking boom threatens Puebloan and Hopi ancestral homelands around New Mexico's sacred Chaco Canyon and local Diné communities are fighting drilling, pipeline projects and just general industrialization of their region without bringing real economic development. See the videos from the Solstice Project.

    Fracking Boom Surrounds Sacred Chaco Canyon

    The fracking boom threatens Puebloan and Hopi ancestral homelands around New Mexico's sacred Chaco Canyon and local Diné communities are fighting drilling, pipeline projects and just general industrialization of their region without bringing real economic development. See the videos from the Solstice Project.

    Continue Reading...