Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Will You Be For Halloween?

This painting is called "Sirin Bird on a Grape Tree" from 1710

Suggested musical pairing:
"Prospero's Speech"
"Penelope's Song"
"Marrakesh Night Market"
"All Souls Night"
"The Old Ways" (#35 on my playlist)
all by Loreena McKennitt
scroll to bottom of play list for the rest of the songs

I myself have been researching my own costume for the past couple weeks. I have a pair of black wings and some birdlike make-up stencils, so I wanted to transform myself into a combination of woman and bird, somehow. If I had to choose an animal to become, it would be a bird because there would be nothing better than having the ability to fly. So, of course, I had to start googling to find out if there was such a creature.
When I put in a search for half bird, half woman, I came up with "sirin" which is the Russian form of the traditional Greek siren. And, this is what Wikipedia had to say about sirins: Sirin is a mythological creature of Russian legend with the head and chest of a beautiful woman and the body of a bird (usually an owl). According to myth, the Sirins lived "in Indian lands" near Eden or around the Euphrates River.

These half-women half-birds are directly based on the Greek myths and later folklore about sirens.They were usually portrayed wearing a crown or with a nimbus. Sirins sang beautiful songs to the saints, foretelling future joys. For mortals, however, the birds were dangerous. Men who heard them would forget everything on earth, follow them, and ultimately die. People would attempt to save themselves from Sirins by shooting cannons, ringing bells and making other loud noises to scare the bird off. Later (17-18th century), the image of Sirins changed and they started to symbolize world harmony (as they live near paradise). People in those times believed only really happy people could hear a Sirin, while only very few could see one because she is as fast and difficult to catch as human happiness. She symbolizes eternal joy and heavenly happiness.

The legend of Sirin might have been introduced to Kievan Rus by Persian merchants in the 8th-9th century. In the cities of Chersonesos and Kiev they are often found on pottery, golden pendants, even on the borders of Gospel books of tenth-twelfth centuries. Pomors often depicted Sirins on the illustrations in the Book of Genesis as birds sitting in paradise trees.

Sometimes Sirins are seen as a metaphor for God's word going into the soul of a man. Sometimes they are seen as a metaphor of heretics tempting the weak. Sometimes Sirins were considered equivalent to the Polish Wila. In Russian folklore, Sirin was mixed with the revered religious writer Saint Ephrem the Syrian. Thus, peasant lyrists such as Nikolay Klyuev often used Sirins as a synonym for poet.

How appropriate! "Sirin" as a synonym for "poet". I am definitely onto something here...

I guess I'll have to also research the Polish "Wila":

This is taken from Monsterpedia:

In Polish mythology, the Wila (VEE-lah) are reputed in Poland to be female fairy-like spirits who live in the wilderness and sometimes clouds. They were believed to be the spirits of women who had been frivolous in their lifetimes and now floated between here and the afterlife. They sometimes appear as the swans, snakes, horses, falcons, or wolves that they can shapeshift into but usually appear as beautiful maidens, naked or dressed in white with long flowing hair.

It is said that if even one of these hairs is plucked, the Wila will die, or be forced to change back to her true shape. A human may gain the control of a Wila by stealing feathers from her wings. Once she gets them back, however, she will disappear.

The voices of the Wila are as beautiful as they are, and one who hears them loses all thoughts of food, drink or sleep, sometimes for days. Despite their feminine charms, however, the Wila are fierce warriors. The earth is said to shake when they do battle. They have healing and prophetic powers and are sometimes willing to help mankind. Other times they lure young men to dance with them, which according to their mood can be a very good or very bad thing for the lad. They ride on horses or deer when they hunt with their bows and arrows and will kill any man who defies them or breaks his word. Fairy rings of deep thick grass are left where they have danced which should never be trod upon (bad luck).

Offerings for Wila consist of round cakes, ribbons, fresh fruits and vegetables or flowers left at sacred trees and wells and at fairy caves.

Well, I don't plan on being naked this Halloween (don't want to scare the kids too much), or wearing white (I will probably be in mostly black to match my wings), but offer me round cakes, ribbons, and flowers, and I may change my mind.;)

Happy Halloween Everyone! May your evening be as mystical as mine...


Bonnie said...

At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, I am going as a guidette for Halloween. I have my Snooki blinged-out, diamond-encrusted sunglasses, loads of black eyeliner and mascara, and a hair straightener. Bring on the fist-pumping!

I'm so lame.

TheWingchairTraveller said...

sounds pretty fierce! ;)
Hope you have a great one!
You have an interesting blog, by the way. you sound like you have the same sort of dilemma as I do: being pulled in two different directions, career-wise. I am a frustrated wanna-be English professor/writer who dreams of being an interior designer!