Looking into Germanic folklore it seems that it is quite known for not been very Germanic at all. Germanic qualities seem to be almost impossible to isolate in their writings, although the idea of folklore is to reflect acts, beliefs, words, lyrics, didactic or narrative themes shaped by tradition. Some aspects of the story for example plants and animals that are only found in Germanic countries are clearly recognised as Germanic folklore. Some of these things including; mistletoe; the oak; the roan and mountain ash. The horse is also associated with ancient practices and superstitions which possibly comes from the fact that Germanic people were known for their ceremonial eating of horseflesh, but this is not seen as useful generalisation.
‘Materials of Germanic folklore are of the varied kind, which come from the oldest archaeological remains of the people today.’ Some of the ritual things they did through time was to crush the skulls in prehistoric burials which suggested that they had a fear of the living dead-corpses. Also small holes were found in coffins they believed in aerial souls, and this was a way of passage. Things like this are what would be passed through generations and add to folklore stories and their mythology.
Shorri Sturluson collected and arranged myths for the use of poets, which texts contain much folklore. There was a story ‘The Elder Edda’ which contained the return of the dead to tell their future. This is a good example of old practices and beliefs being taken and turned into stories. Stories of Theodoric or Dietrich or Bern were carried to Tyrol where they were tangled with stories and ideas of life after death, this is a good example of how easily a story can be changed as it gets passed around.
Some of the folk epics took away ideas that were too ‘fabulous’ for courtly ears, one example been Siegfried’s fight with the dragon and his horny skin he developed from bathing in its blood. This been another reason a story might change from its original state. Records of folklore can be found in such forms as chapbooks, folk songs, books of charms, dream books, witchcraft trials and literacy references to stories.
Higher mythology, based on the cult and myths of the God’s were destroyed by the Christian missionaries. And lower mythology, stories of dwafs, kobolds, tommy knockers, water, tree or house spirits, spirits in the growing crops and giants, survived the coming of Christianity and is still used in stories today. Although much was lost some men saved folklore and collected it from where they could, but the amount found is small.
I found an article on a mountain in Arizona, America, the stories linked to these mountains were really interesting so I decided to look into the background of them to find out where all the stories originated from and why there are still new stories coming to light from these mountains. The stories related to it are of lost gold and treasures within mines that still attract people to it today. Also tales of Indian history add to the mountains lore.
The Indian tribes called it the Ka-Katak-Tami, which means the crooked top mountain and from its highest peaks you can see the vast crooked tops spread far to the east and the mountain itself acts as a dividing line between the rural and urban parts of Arizona. There are mentions of lights in the mountain which are said to light the Dutchman’s lost gold mine and the Apache thunder god.
There is a range of animals that the mountain is home to; mule deer; javelinas, mountain lions; bob cats; coyotes, birds, reptiles and amphibians, life on the mountain is totally dependent on availability of water, where water will appear one day and vanish the next. The mountain was formed millions of years ago and started a thousand feet taller than it is today, eroded by running water and wind forming the mountain we see there today, it is a mountain born of fire. In the 1860’s farmers would hear stories from the Pima Indians and how they feared the mountain, the farmers though this superstitious and that is how the mountain got its name.
The first Europeans to visit were said to be the Spanish, Fray Marcos De Niza in 1539, and observed the mountain from Gila River but did not explore the mountain or record it in a journal. The stories of the lost Dutchman’s gold mines are hard to tell from fact and fiction, as fiction was wrapped up in fact over the years, which happens with most stories that get passed along. There is no evidence that people mined there or that the mines were covered up by the Apache.
The Pima Indians had a story of a great flood very similar to our own of Noah and his ark but with subtle differences. The story was some of the Pima Indians which lived on the mountain became corrupt and greedy, a message was sent to Suha a man of the tribe in the winds warning them that if they do not stop their ways then there will be a great flood which will destroy them all. Suha warned the people but they did not listen, so Suha built an ark made of rubber for him and his wife, and as warned there was a great flood which wiped out the tribe. Suha and his wife floated for days in their ark until the water was gone and they were left high in the mountain. He then started to rebuild their home him and his wife. They believed that an evil one named Hauk lived behind the mountain, known as ‘Devil of Superstition Mountain’ and tried to steal daughters from the Pima’s. when the devil stole Suha’s daughter and he saw her being used as a slave girl to the devil, he poisoned the cactus fruit that she made the wine that was served to the devil which killed him instantly. But they feared that his spirit still lurked behind the mountain.
Later stories of wanted criminals who would flee their town and hide in the mountains hoping to escape their fate, but because of the conditions would often die and it is said that their spirits still haunt the mountains. And even to this day there are people who venture into the mountains, either looking for treasure and gold, or just to explore the mountain itself and have been lost and reported missing. Bodies found beheaded and other unexplainable events but the truth in some of the stories is still not known.
I wanted to look into folklore from all different cultures, and when trying to look into Turkish folklore I found that there was not much information on this at all. 200 years after the ‘Brothers Grimm’ a woman in Turkey decided to put together her own book of Turkish folklore stories. To get the information for this she had to search every corner of the land as there was not much known. She gathered the information by asking people their known stories that had been passed down through generations, because of the lack of physical recordings. She also had access to the Turkish ministry of culture and tourisms folklore library.
Asking people of stories they know can be one way to write an original story based on myths or beliefs and it can spark of other ideas, it might be an interesting technique to use as you don’t know what you will find and you can find a lot about your local culture. Although we have such vast access to stories from around the world and other sources that it would seem the tradition of passing on stories through generations has been lost and replaced by mindless gossip of things ‘trending’ at the time.
Few primitive areas have such pot-pourri of cosmogonic beliefs. One small island will have different beliefs of the origin of man. Some of the beliefs here were deity or others being creating man from wood, mud or sand. Some of the other beliefs the man had a magical or spontaneous origin from such things as eggs, plants, stones, blood-clots or other such like things. The Papuan Keraki of south western British New Guinea write that the first people came out of the ground. And the sea, night and fire were said to have been hoarded by and elderly person, usually a woman, until mankind obtained it. This shows how in such a small place with few people, different stories and beliefs can be conjured and spread between small groups, depending on each individual to decide what they believe in the most. I like the idea of the creation of man been a natural, magical thing rather than the usual theories of a god or gods creating man. I think it would be good to create a story around this theory, or even pull characters from their beliefs, like an elderly who controls such things as the sea, night and fire, and then man taking this natural thing to create civilisation and a very unnatural way of life.