Category: Nature

Mermaid, Siren, Harpy, or Banshee? (part 1 of 2)

The powers and attributes of these mythological figures are commonly mixed but I’m particularly curious as to the original distinctions which, as you will see, vary depending on culture. As always each image is linked back to the source simply click to follow. Also, let’s be clear: I like seeing different mixes but we are dealing with the traditional figures in these two posts.

mermaids_atoll___the_lost_ship_by_daninaimare-d4cs3vr

Let’s start with the most common mix up, ey? Mermaids have appeared in Walt Disney Pictures’ 2011 film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, stories about Peter Pan, and C.S. Lewis’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia. The earliest mermaid comes from Assyrian mythology in 1000 BC by the Goddess Atargatis – the first mermaid (known as Derketo in Greek mythology). Goddess Atargatis was the goddess of fertility and responsible for the conservation of fish – fish were sacred to her and it was forbidden to consume them especially in Ascalon. Atargatis fell in love with a human shephard who she then accidentally killed during lovemaking. Guilt overcame her and she threw herself into the ocean to become a fish but her beauty was so great that the transformation was not completed. Why? Because the waters refused to conceal her divine beauty.

derceto

Another origin story belongs with Thessalonike of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s sister. Her story is tied to that her hair was bathed in water from the fountain of immortality in the Aegean. After Alexander’s death she was so stricken with grief that she threw herself into the sea to drown but was instead transformed into a mermaid who thereafter lived in the Aegean. Any sailors who discovered her were asked only one question: “Is Alexander still the king?” Should they answer no, she transformed into a gorgon and summon a deadly storm. Should the sailors answer yes, she would grant them calm seas for the remainder of their journey. There is also the African water spirit, Mami Wata/Mamba Muntu, who was a source of healing and good luck for her followers but dealt sickness, delusion, and drowning for those who disobeyed. She sometimes appeared as a mermaid but never as a human and was often associated with a snake. There was also the chance that she could return a person to land with increased wealth, beauty, and psychic power. Mermaids from the One Thousand and One Nights were anatomically similar to humans but could breathe underwater. They could and would reproduce with humans and their children would have the ability to live underwater as well as on land.

mermaid_by_sharandula-d3d1wmu

In most cultures where mermaids were present it was always considered bad luck to do anything unkind to them. They could grant wishes or present humans with cures They could not thrive out of water except for the ‘Merrow’ from Scotland and Ireland who would sometimes marry and live with humans. Some mermaids wore a red cap which if it was stolen and hidden from them they would shed their tails and live on land much like with selkies when their whole skins were hidden. However, in British folklore seeing one was a sign of bad luck and they were attributed of causing storms that brought ships to wreckage. Though mermaids lived for a long time none of them had souls, particularly in Slavic mythology where mermaids came from the spirit of a drowned woman who then lured men to their death, dragging them down to their underwater kingdom.

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Any recorded biological possibility of becoming a mermaid surfaces in the medical condition of sirenomelia (Mermaid Syndrome) where an infant is born with their legs fused together. Historically they never live more than a few days due to bladder and kidney malfunctions but there are modern cases when the mutation has been corrected for prolongued land life. It seems the rule of thumb is the more beautiful the mermaid the less likely they were to outright kill you and the more sympathetic and helpful they were likely to be – although mermen were typically wilder, uglier with green seaweed for hair, and had little interest in humans.

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Sirens are the most commonly crossed with mermaids. The physical distinction is that mermaids and mermen were part fish while sirens were part bird although they also lived by the sea on an island or cliffs. Though mermaids had beautiful singing voices their power lay in the ability to cause storms which wrecked sailors and their ships while sirens mesmerized men into a trance with their voices, compelling them to reach the siren whereby she brought sailors to death from her perch upon rocky islands, cliffs, and the shore. Sirens are present in the 2003 Dreamworks movie Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, before that they are notably present in Homer’s Odyssey and date as far back as the Greek story of Persephone and Hades. In the original Greek story the Sirens began as the human companions of Persephone. After Persephone was abducted by Hades they were turned into half-bird, half-woman by Persephone’s mother Demeter. In some versions Demeter did this to help the women locate her daughter but in others it was punishment for failing to either prevent Persephone’s capture or locate Persephone. A siren’s song is irresistibly sweet yet sad, an eternal call for Persephone’s return.

sirens_feast_by_immarart-d79sogg

In India they are usually depicted with harps, lutes, or lyres which were used in combination with their voices to lull men to sleep before then tearing the men to shreds with their talons. Sirens were said to be so gifted musical talents that they could calm the wind. The bane of the siren comes in the elaboration by post-Homeric writers: if someone heard a siren’s song and escaped alive that siren would die as after Odysseus passed their island unharmed the sirens singing to him flung themselves down to perish among the rocks and waves. When Jason and his Argonauts came across sirens in their search for the Golden Fleece, Orpheus drowned out the siren call with his lyre. When Christianity took over sirens became a mere symbol of worldly temptations such as that of prostitutes.

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There is abundant research to be had on all of these figures and their variations and I have only covered bare basics for each of the umbrella nominations as far as origin, appearance, and attributes. Want to delve into more information but not sure where to start? Check out my references below!

 

Part 2–> Mermaid, Siren, Banshee, or Harpy? (part 2 of 2)

Sources:

 

Other Ratified Research posts:

  1. The Luckdragon
  2. Beneficial Stress
  3. another link coming soon
  4. another link coming soon
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Trees and Foxes

Okay my dears this week is just a quick art update! Also, as a reminder, SaS has officially settled into updates for every other week. You can read it on Tumblr or deviantArt. For information on when the next post will be up just scroll down to the comments on dA!

Tree Sketches
Tree Sketches

I didn’t realize I missed drawing trees so much until I was asked to recently.

original fox character
original fox character

Make a note of this fox character. You will see her again. You may have seen something of her already in a previous post. Where is the rest of it? Patience sweeties, spoilers~

Much love and have a great weekend!

A Tree Blushing Valentine’s

I hope you are showering yourselves with love and appreciation today!

To me this particular day is a reminder that not just once a year you should treat yourself (and if applicable your special someone) to something nice. Look, even these trees are feeling a blush coming on!

Tree blush spied on a walk!
Taken on a walk with a friend.

No, that’s not literally a flora blush (though I like to think of it that way) that’s actually red lichen. Let’s have a talk about relationships.

Let’s start of with “what is lichen?” Lichen is a combination of algae and fungus – and can sometimes also contain the third organism cyanobacteria. The lichen grows best on trees in a cool, partially sunny, and moist environment. They face difficulty growing in polluted environments and are less likely to be seen in city-side foliage.

Different types of lichen were also used to produce dye either by boiling them in water or fermenting them in ammonia (urine tradtionally). These dyes were used differently across the world historically: yellow in North America, purple in Europe, and brown with red on Scottish tartans. If you’re anything like me you’ll be tilting your head and saying, “OH” because the preferences of certain historical styles and per royalty will suddenly make much more sense.

Fungus grows on the tree and collects moisture. This feeds the algae which photosynthesizes energy from the sun which in turn feeds the fungus making theirs a mutually symbiotic relationship. This pair of thallus’ attach to the tree bark via rhizines (hair-like filaments) and do not harm the tree, making their and the tree’s relationship one of commensalism.

Mutual
Mutual Relationship

Personally I am used to seeing green lichen, so what makes the lichen pictured above red? Based on the research I have done the red and white lichen pictured above is a crutose lichen, which means it rows radiating from the center with the newest growth on the edges. As to which lichen specifically this is, I am not entirely sure, though I can tell you that lichen is typically named after its fungus section.

Some people think the lichen is unsightly and can purge it if they wish with several different methods, including a soap solution, copper-sulfate, and lime sulfur (which could also damage the tree if applied to the roots).

Soap Cleanse
Soap Cleanse

If you want to learn more, please feel free to explore any of the linked text above.

So, we’ve covered relationships, especially mutually beneficial ones, and red. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone and remember, much love~

Valentine's Chibis
Valentine’s Chibis

Other “Ratified Research” articles:

  1. The Luckdragon
  2. Purple Heart
  3. Headless Horseman
  4. Glaucus atlanticus: The Blue Dragon

On Making Free Time

We are busy.

Everywhere there is reverberation, a mixture of energy and noise that fills every microsecond of our existence.

We multitask like nobody’s business. No matter our location: walking the streets, laying in bed at home, sitting at the office, snuggled on the sofa with our loved ones.

At all hours we walk, talk, and browse the internet all at once on palm sized mobile phones and laptops which are now more like power houses, double edged swords expanding our communication and simultaneously shutting us off to the world around us.

We are buzzing by in a network of noise and information. Not only do we have to sort through brain waves but radio waves on top of social networks both in personal relations and online. So much is done yet we have no time.

Every second of every day has to be filled – watch this show, listen to this music, read this material – be entertained – be entertained – entertain – noise – noise – noise –

crazy face

Breathe.

You have to remember to breath. To sit and listen to each breath that flows in and out of your body. Oxygen coming in and carbon dioxide traveling out. Just like your excrement the exhaled air is the useless and toxic that your body has processed and that needs to be expelled.

Eat. Never forget to eat.

Who says you can’t have crumbled bacon in your salad? Who says you can’t have fresh spinach or apple slices in your hamburger? Mix in your cravings – fried wings here, ice cream there, chips on break. Realize that you can never go on a diet. The definition of “diet” is the sum of foods an organism ingests for nutrients. It is okay to have and like sweets and fried food. Only mind your moderation.

Go to the park. Walk your dog. Walk yourself. Take an umbrella in the case of a light shower.

I recently found myself going too fast. So fast, in fact, that I tripped over myself and now I have a lingering sickness which makes it hard to focus on days off. Nursing oneself takes time and the frustration of not being able to spend that time on art was almost unbearable.

Almost.

unbearable

I went to the store to purchase soup and a plush blanket. Sweeping by the aisles a pair of boots on display caught my fancy – the style of the buckles and straps around the ankles. Already in possession of my intended purchases I stopped and tried the boots on. My only and favorite pair had to be thrown out for I’d worn them to death and these had the build I favored: zipper up and close fitting but with stretch plaits at the top to allow for tucking in the legs of pants if desired. As I took the time to walk around the store I did not think about the five hundred tabs in my internet browser, the monster file of images I had to sort through, or the unfinished digital art I needed to do. Just walking felt nice, to not have to think of anything but whether or not the boots were worth the buy.

I did not buy the boots. I went home and closed all the nonessential tabs, cutting them down to five. If the research was that important I would get to it eventually.

One thing at a time, guys and gals. Remember to rest and enjoy the journey, not just the end point. Keep living stretches of moments, ride the rise and fall of the sine wave, and the end point will come to meet you.

Those Who Make It So

There is a saying: Actions speak louder than words. I believe this to be true. We can sit and think positive thoughts all we like but I have never experienced anything happen until I start moving and doing. The more positively I interact with the world around me the more goodness I witness come actively into my life. Kindness and positivity does not always need a reason. Most of the time I like to do it just because, especially if it makes me feel good on the inside doing it. For example: pulling over on my drive to work to carry a turtle safely across the road. Sure, other drivers were slowing down or veering around the reptile but s/he was a long way from the destination and traffic was about to pick up.

I discovered this video a while ago and every time I see it I tear up. Whoever has cut this video together must not only have been highly skilled but also must have felt strongly on the matter. I believe that great work comes about not only because of the skill set, but because of the belief in the messages behind the piece.

 

Kindness, compassion and positivity is authored by those who take the time to make it so. For that reason I will stop to carry turtles to safety.

Speak up.

Act.

The light is in you~

The Purple Heart

“Oh my God Clark – there are these vows: no lovers, that would explain why Lois was hit, no allies, which would explain my purple heart, and no disciples outside of the cult, that’s her. ” — Chloe Sullivan, Smallville Season 9 Episode 10 – “Disciple”

Curious that phrase, “purple heart” to an exploring mind that had heard the phrase rarely. Of course I could glean a passing-in-context definition but a seeking mind will locate answers:

purple heart definition

The first of those definitions is what Allison Mack‘s character Chloe was referring to in context. What interested me the most out of the three was the second definition. I have seen plenty of dark wood, stained wood, and treated wood, but never dark purplish-brown timber. It seems that the genus of trees Peltogyne is particularly responsible for purple heartwood though it does not start out that way. First of all, heartwood is the center of a tree, a section that undergoes a natural, genetically programmed chemical reaction. This reaction results in the heartwood becoming particularly resistant to water and decay.

wood_cross_section_001
the bits that make wood

The cells of the heartwood lack cytoplasm and are functionally dead. Each species has a uniquely pigmented center, though it is not always this starkly different from sapwood (the living wood of the tree that holds sap and also stores and transports water from the roots to the leaves as needed by season). The ratio of sapwood to heartwood varies by species. Some trees can survive with a relatively slim layer of sapwood while others have a more compacted area of heartwood. We use heartwood to produce a great aesthetic effect in floors, dressers, bed frames, desks, window frames, and more. The Peltogyne heartwood is ranked one of the extremely densest woods in the world and can be used to produce a particularly pleasing pigment:

Peltogyne hardwood flooring
amaranth wood

Peltogyne is also known as purpleheart, amendiom, and amaranth. Its heartwood starts out a light brown but turns a rich purple after it is cut. The gorgeous shade above is induced by exposing Peltogyne‘s heartwood to UV light (sunlight) which turns the wood dark brown – but it retains a purple hue. When the desired color is achieved it is preserved by a UV inhibitor. Purpleheart is prized in its use for inlay work, particularly in furniture and musical instruments. It is used primarily in smaller scale projects because it is fairly expensive and difficult to work with.

One day I hope to have some of this inlay on pieces in my own home. This is beautiful work and I’m glad I stumbled upon it. It’s another of my appreciations in this wide world, not to mention another interesting connection to a translation of my name.

Well? Go feed your curious mind!

More “Ratified Research” articles:

  1. The Headless Horseman
  2. Glaucus atlanticus: The Blue Dragon
  3. The Luck Dragon
  4. People, Horses, and Halitosis

Underwater Rivers!

Remember that liquid density experiment you did when you were younger? The one where you poured as many different liquids into a container as you could and then dropped items into it to see what held them up?

Liquid Density Tower

Well, get ready for a life sized alternate version of it! It’s called an underwater river an it manifests in nature under select conditions.

Underwater Rivers

How does this happen? Well, like with the first picture of experimental liquids, it is a matter of density. In Mexico “the natural formation occurs when hydrogen sulfate mixes with saltwater causing it to be much heavier than regular salt water. The mixture sinks to the bottom, forming a distinct separation that flows like a river.”1 These rivers have also formed in sub-tropical regions and can be present throughout the year. The high density water can cut deep through the ocean floor just like the land bound rivers can. One such river cuts through the Black Sea, and another winds in the waters off the coast of Australia.2 Isn’t that fascinating?

I hope all is well on your end and you are exploring and learning about the things that interest you. Keep moving forward~

 

Sources:

  1. Mexico Underwater River – The Huffington Post
  2. Underwater ‘Rivers’ Discovered on Ocean Floor – Lifescience