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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 07/28/11

Thursday, July 28, 2011

TOP 10 MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES AND SHAPESHIFTERS!

   Shapeshifting is a common theme in mythology and folklore. Many legendary creatures have this ability, which is represented in a full body transformation. It enables the creature to trick, deceive, hunt, and kill humans. Throughout history many murder sprees have been attributed to the presence of these beings. As Halloween is just around the corner, this list might help to give you all some ideas for a costume if you are going to a party.


10.  Leshy
Leshy



   The Leshy is a male woodland spirit in Slavic mythology believed to protect wild animals and the forests. They usually appear as tall men, but have the ability to change size and shapeshift into any form, animal or plant. Leshies have beards made of living grass and vines, and are often depicted with a tail, hooves, and horns. The Leshy has pale white skin and dark green eyes. They are the lords of the forest and hold close bonds with gray wolves, bears, and all animal life. When a leshy is in human form it looks like a common peasant, although its eyes glow. The creatures can shrink themselves to the height of a blade of grass or grow to the size of the tallest trees. It is commonly understood that leshies will lead peasants astray, make people sick, and even tickle them to death. The creatures are terribly mischievous and have horrible cries. However, Leshies can also imitate human voices and often times lure lost wanderers to their caves. They aren’t always evil, but enjoy misguiding humans and kidnapping young women.


9.  Selkie
Selkie450



   Selkies are creatures found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish mythology. They have the ability to transform themselves from seal to human form. Selkies are able to shapeshift by shedding their seal skin, a risky endeavor because they must reapply the same skin in order to return to seal form. Stories surrounding these creatures are usually romantic tragedies. They are allowed to make contact with humans for only a short amount of time before they must return to the sea. In many cases humans have unknowingly fallen in love with selkies. Other times, humans have hidden the skin of the selkie, thus preventing it from returning to seal form. Male selkies are very handsome in their human form, and have great seduction powers over women. If a man finds and steals a female selkie’s skin then she will be under his control and is often times forced to become his wife. The creatures have been known to lure humans into the sea, by creating illusions and a false sense of reality.



8.  Berserker
Troll Berserker Final



   Berserkers were a group of Norse warriors. They are human, but in battle entered into a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, and transformed into wolves, bears, and wild bulls. This enabled the men to fight more effectively. Their name would give rise to the English word “berserk”. Berserkers were said to wear the pelts of bears and wolves as they entered battle and could make the full transformation as they felt necessary. They are characterized as having bloodshot eyes, incredible strength, and endurance. Various Scandinavian kings used berserkers as part of their army or as hired men and royal bodyguards. Similar behavior is described in the Iliad, in which warriors are possessed by Gods and given the power to exhibit superhuman abilities.



7.  Kitsune
Kitsune



   In Japanese folklore the Kitsune is an intelligent and magical being. The creature’s strength increases with age, wisdom, and life experience. Kitsune is a Japanese fox. They have the ability to assume human form and are great tricksters. The creatures are noted for having as many as nine tails. A kitsune may take human form when it reaches a certain age, usually 100 years. They prefer to assume the shape of a beautiful woman, young girl, or elderly man. The creatures have the ability to clone the appearance of an individual. Kitsune have a fear and hatred of dogs. They can willingly manifest themselves in people’s dreams and create illusions so elaborate that they are perceived as reality. The kitsune can fly, become invisible, and often times generate fire or lightning. In some regions of the world the creatures can bend time, space, and drive people mad.



6.  Púca
Goblin3



   The púca is a legendary creature of Celtic folklore, most notably in Ireland, the West of Scotland, and Wales. The púca is a mythological fairy and ultimate shapeshifter. The creatures are capable of assuming a variety of terrifying forms, including a horse, rabbit, goat, goblin, or dog. No matter what shape the púca takes, its fur is always dark. They are most commonly seen as a black horse with a flowing mane and luminescent orange eyes. Púcas have the power to use human speech and although they are known for giving good advice, they also enjoy confusing and terrifying humans. Púcas have a fondness for riddles and are sociable creatures. They love to gather and play pranks on unsuspecting people and children. In many regions of the world the púca is seen as a creature of the mountains and hills. They are incredibly respected and if treated nicely will help humans.



5.  Wendigo
Wendigo-1



   The Wendigo is a creature appearing in the mythology of the Algonquian people. Descriptions of the Wendigo vary across culture, but they are generally described as a large alien-like canine beast. They are malevolent and cannibalistic creatures. Wendigos are strongly associated with the winter, the north, and coldness. Human beings will transform into Wendigos if they perform cannibalism. The person will become possessed by the demonic spirit of the beast, usually in a dream. Once transformed, the individual will become violent and obsessed with eating human flesh. These monsters are the embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess. They are never satisfied with killing and consuming one person. Wendigos are constantly searching for new victims. They have been classified as giants and upon transformation the human will grow considerably in size. They populate rural and highly forested, mountainous regions. Recently the Wendigo has become a horror entity, much like the vampire, werewolf, or zombie.




4.  Encantado
Princesa-Del-Bosque-Encantado



   An encantado is a Brazilian legendary creature. They live in a deep underwater realm named the Encante. Encantados are most commonly viewed as a type of freshwater dolphin or sea snake that has the ability to shapeshift into human form. They are characterized by superior musical ability, seductiveness, and attraction to parties. The creature’s transformation into human form seems to be rare, and usually occurs at night. While in human form the encantado will wear a hat to hide its protruding forehead. It does not disappear while shapeshifting and frequently displays magical abilities, such as the power to control storms and haunt humans. They use various mind control techniques and can inflict illness, insanity, and even death. The creatures are known for kidnapping humans. Many villagers will not go near the Amazon River at night because of this. Plenty of South Americans believe in the existence of the encantado and claim to have seen and interacted with the species.


3.  Aswang
Aswang 10



    An aswang is a mythical creature in Filipino folklore. The legend of the aswang is well known throughout the Philippines, except in the IIocos region. The creature is described as a combination of vampire and witch and is almost always female. The aswang is an eater of the dead and a cannibal. They are capable of transforming into either a huge black dog or a black boar. The creatures stalk and eat human beings at night. Garlic bulbs, holy water, and other objects are believed to repel aswang. Many stories revolve around these creatures eating children and unborn fetuses. In human form they appear normal, and are quiet, shy, and elusive. At night, they transform into the deadly beast. One key feature of the aswang is its bloodshot eyes. In the Middle Ages, the aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures in the Philippines.



2.  Vampires
Vampire-Eyes-Sm



   Vampires are legendary creatures said to feed on the blood of humans and animals. It is difficult to make a single, definitive description of the folkloric vampire, although they were usually reported as bloated in appearance, ruddy, purplish, or dark in color. They are shapeshifters and can take many forms, predominantly bats or humans. Vampires are typically described as the undead, although some cultures believe that they can be living. Beginning in the 19th century, modern fiction began to portray vampires as gaunt and pale. In the past, vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria, which resulted in corpses being staked and people being accused of vampirism. Many violent killing sprees have been attributed to vampires. They are known to terrorize their previous neighborhoods and will seduce their victims, waiting for the right moment to attack the neck. The creatures will frequently visit their relatives, particularly their spouses. Vampires are masters of disguise and camouflage. The most recently recorded case of vampirism is that of nineteen-year-old Mercy Brown, who died in Exeter, Rhode Island in 1892.



1.  Lycanthrope
671543-Lycanthrope Super



   Lycanthropes or werewolves are mythological humans that have the ability to shapeshift into wolves or anthropomorphic wolf-like creatures. They can infect the human population with a bite and the creature’s transformation is often associated with a full moon. The lycanthropes mythology originated in Europe, but many accounts are found all over the ancient world. Features of the werewolf include the meeting of both eyebrows at the bridge of the nose, curved fingernails, low set ears, and a swinging stride. They have super-human strength and senses, far beyond those of either wolves or men. The beasts are known to feed on the homeless and easy prey. A person can be identified as a werewolf by cutting into their flesh to reveal hair or by revealing special bristles under their tongue. In returning to the human form the creature becomes weak and debilitated. Up until the 20th century wolf attacks on humans were widely reported causes of mass death in Europe.

OMMEGANG FROM BRUSSELS, BELGIUM!!




   On the first Thursday of July and the previous Tuesday every summer, the Ommegang lights up the magnificent of Brussels.

History


   The secular setting stages the glorious and majestic procession in Brussels of Emperor Charles V Guests of honour sit at the delicately worked windows of the Town Hall to watch the reconstitution of this historical meeting from the beautifully decorated balconies. The Prince of Orange, who would become William the Silent, many ladies in waiting, city councillors, the emperor's bulldog and other hounds, his fal conry train with ladies carrying skittish birds perched proudly on their hands--all accompany the Emperor. Accompanied by his son Philip, Crown Prince of Spain and Duke of Brabant, and his sisters Eleanor, Queen of France and Mary of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Regent of the Netherlands. This majestic pageant strides along the proud façades that once housed the guilds and the elegant architecture of the Town Hall, one of the handsomest gothic monuments in Belgium.




   Guests of honour sit at the delicately worked windows of the Town Hall to watch the reconstitution of this historical meeting from the beautifully decorated balconies. The Prince of Orange, who would become William the Silent, many ladies in waiting, city councillors, the emperor's bulldog and other hounds, his fal conry train with ladies carrying skittish birds perched proudly on their hands--all accompany the Emperor. The host is the mayor of city of Brussels. All the town's nobles, rich tradesmen and curious townsfolk were graciously invited to the centuries-old Grand Place.
   The pageant winds its way on foot and on horse, flying banners and pennants, in a colourful but solemn token to the opulence of the Renaissance city on display for all to see.
   This was in 1549. And not hing has changed since then, except that today the Ommegang is a theatrical representation of this historical event.



Charles V


Charles V

   Charles V was the son of Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria (son of Maximilian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy) and Joan the Mad (daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile).
   Charles' father died when he was just six, leaving him his Burgundy estate, Flanders, Artois and Franche-Comté. The Flemish then called on his paternal grandfather, Maximilian of Austria as regent. In 1516, when his other grandfather, Ferdinand of Aragon, died he became Charles I of Spain with its enormous empire: Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples... and the American colonies.







   At the death of Maximilian in 1519, the throne of the Empire fell vacant. Elections were organised, and Charles was elected in preference to Francis I, thanks to the financial assistance of the banker Fugger.

He had become Charles V...


The start of a difficult reign(1519-1521)

   His first problem was to gain recognition of his authority in Spain.
In Aragon, the people wanted to maintain their special rights in those provinces; the Castilians recognised his mother, Joan the Mad, as their legitimate sovereign, and generally speaking, the Spanish feared that as emperor, Charles would be overly preoccupied with central Europe.
   So when he left to visit Germany in 1520, revolt broke out in Toledo. It was repressed, but Charles' power continued to be challenged until he returned in 1522.





The struggle with France and the sixth Italian war(1521-1526)

   Conflict with France began in 1521. The French invaded Navarre, but were unsuccessful in the Netherlands. As the war dragged on, a congress was held in Calais, an English possession.
   The mediation of King Henry VIII of England was a failure--on the contrary, the English King concluded an alliance with the Emperor--France was attacked from both Picardy and Spain. In the meantime, the war around Milan continued. By means of a pact with Leo X in 1520, the imperial forces recovered Milan (1521). Parma and Piacenza were returned to the Church. The rout of the French continued after they lost the battle of Bicocca and after the Pope died in 1522
   The following year, Charles V decided to invade France. An imperial army commanded by a French traitor, the High Constable Charles de Bourbon, attempted a sally in Provence but it was stopped. In the north, the English were humiliated, in Burgundy the Germans were pushed back and in Guyenne, the Spanish were stopped. Francis I took these victories to heart and marched on Milan. But the campaign was disastrous--it ended in Pavia where the king was captured (1525).
   He was transferred to Spain, where he was humiliated and cruelly treated by Charles V. Francis I threatened to abdicate, which would have foiled Charles' victory. In the end, the French king was forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid in exchange for his freedom (January 1528), but it was never applied.






Charles V's allies change sides--the seventh Italian war(1526-1529)
   The all-powerful Charles V had his allies worried. Henry VIII made overtures to Francis I and Pope Clement VII took the head of a league of Italian states. The league was defeated, and Charles de Bourbon, who had his troops to pay, sacked Rome (1527). The Pope was imprisoned in the name of the emperor, causing indignation in all Europe.
   As the war drew on and on, it became expensive. Francis I and Charles V signed the peace of Cambrai (August 1529) by which the emperor definitively renounced his claim to Burgundy. He visited Italy the following year, re-establishing the Medicis in Florence and was crowned the King of Lombardy and Emperor of the Romans by the Pope.







The crusade against the Turks

   Francis I had signed a Capitulation with the Turks, and Venice preferred to negotiate its own interests peacefully. Charles V was thus on his own in opposing the Ottomans. He had to watch the Hungarian border and the Mediterranean. In the east, the Turks took Belgrade in 1521, followed by Rhodes. They were not stopped until Vienna in 1529.
   The Turks were also making headway in the western Mediterranean with the help of their corsairs (including Barberossa and Dragut). They notably took Tunis in 1534 (recaptured by Doria the following year), Algiers (1541), Tripoli (1551), Penon (1564) and Bougie (1555). Indian gold: In 1503, the Casa de Contratacion centralised the American possessions.







   But their riches did not begin to flow before the discovery of the precious metals in upper Peru in 1545. But as no campaign can triumph without money, Charles V would certainly have been more successful had this discovery been made a few years earlier. By 1545, the Turks had been successful in the Mediterranean and France had not give up an inch of territory.

The end of the reign: the decline of the Hapsburg
   In addition, the money came through Spain, but did not stay there. It created opportunities for other powers, hastening the decline of the Habsburg reign. Charles V had to deal with the Protestants throughout his reign. In 1538, he signed a truce with the Smalkalde league supported by Francis I. In 1547, he overcame the Lutheran princes at the battle of Mühlberg and required their return to the Catholic church in a regulation called the Augsburg Interim.







   But the Protestants claimed allegiance with the new King of France, Henry II. Charles V was nearly taken prisoner at Innsbruck and faced with that show of force, he negotiated the Passau Treaty authorising the exercise of the Protestant religion.
   But the trouble continued until the death of the main cause, Maurice Elector of Saxony, and in 1555 the Peace of Augsburg was signed, recognising the Protestant faith throughout the empire according to the principal of "cujus regio, ejus religio". Weakened and disappointed, Charles withdraw to the Netherlands and cut them off from the Empire.



Phillip of Spain



Phillip of Spain

   Son of the Emperor Charles the Fifth and the Empress Isabella of Portugal.
   All these festivals of 1549 were organised in his honour.
   They aim to make him recognised by the population of the Netherlands as the successor of Charles the Fifth. The prince is the widow of Marie of Portugal. He will mary later on Mary I of England, Queen regnant of England and Ireland, Elisabeth of Valois, Pincess of France and his niece, Marie-Anne de Habsbourg of Austria.
  The disorders of the Netherlands will show that Philip of Spain had not understood the sensivity of these countries, on the contrary to his father, who was their natural Prince
The methodes employed by the Spanish Crown wil cause the separation of the Seventeen Provinces, with,on one hand, the North,The United Provinces, which will take William de Nassau as their leader, and they will follow protestantism. One the other hand , The South, The Meridional Provinces, which will remain attached to the Habsbourg of Spain and later of Austria untill the French Revolution.. They will preserve catholicism.



Mary of Austria

Mary of Austria

   Regent of the Netherlands for a period of 25 years.
   The fourth daughter of Philip the Handsome and Joan of Castile, Mary was born in Brussels at the Coudenberg Palace, on September 15, 1505. Despite an unhappy childhood and adolescence, she was famed for her abundant energy, which stood her in good stead when she later became regent of the Netherlands. Losing her father at the age of one, she was taken in by her paternal Aunt Margaret, the Governor of the Netherlands, as her mother, Joan of Castile, had been incarcerated as a result of her insanity.






   At seven years of age she became engaged to the heir to the Kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia. They were wed in 1522. Four years later, the young monarch was killed in a battle against the Turks. The young widow was inconsolable and decided never to marry again, but to remain in Hungary as regent until her brother, Ferdinand, became King of Hungary and Bohemia. He converted the hereditary crowns into hereditary possessions of the house of Habsburg, and so they remained until 1913.
   In 1528, the Queen returned to Mechelen. Two years later, Margaret of Austria suddenly died, thus leaving the post of Governor of the Netherlands vacant. Charles V immediately thought of his sister Mary, who hesitated before accepting the position, for fear of "putting a cord around her neck", at least for a temporary period. The temporary period was to last for 25 years.







   As Duchess of Burgundy, Margaret of Austria enjoyed some degree of independence during time she governed, unlike Mary of Hungary, who turned out to be an obedient regent. She ruled in a zealous and conscientious manner, always ready to agree with her brother. She surprised everyone by displaying sophisticated financial skills and becoming adept at developing military strategies.

The Lady On Sablon's Church

   Erected in 1304 by the crossbow guild in a marshy plain, this chapel was rebuilt at the beginning of the XVth century, as the devotion of Brussel's population for the Virgin's statue kept growing. This statue was brought from Antwerp by Beatrice Soetkens during a night in 1348.






   This tertiary ogival building, that lasted more than one century, had an unusual chancel: without columns and ambulatory. This absence of side parts in front of the eleven lanceolated windows (14 m high) gives it an outstanding slenderness.
The restoration began in 1864 with the chancel, and in 1878 the sides of the nave were cleared from parasitic houses. The restoration was led by the architect Schoy, followed by J. and M. Van Ysendyck. In the right transept, under a superb rose-window, a carving of the XVIIth century represents the boat carrying the miraculous statue.

Ommegang

   The expression "Ommegang" meaning "procession" is derived from the old Flemish words "omme" (around) and "gang" (walk).
   Several Belgian cities had an Ommegang particularly in Flanders. They were always characterised by fervent religious faith, and also included a large, opulent secular participation of the guilds, crafts, and chambers of rhetoric.







   With the name of Beatrice Soetkens and the construction of the church Our Lady of Sablon It all began in 1348, under the reign of Duke John III of Brabant.
   At that time, Brussels was beginning to flourish and was learning how to become a major city. The population of some forty thousand inhabitants was comparable to that of London. The city was surrounded by massive walls four kilometres long, topped with a parapet and boasting fifty towers. Brussels opened seven doors to the world through which goods poured to its markets from the surrounding Brabant countryside and foreign lands. Barges, too, slowly inched their way along the Senne to the heart of the city laden with important loads from other towns.
   The cloth industry had made Brussels rich and tradesmen consorted with the best of society under the supervision of the Amman, an officer of the Duke of Brabant. He owed his authority and competence to the fact that he presided the City Council, saw to the execution of orders and commanded the sergeants at arms.






   But back to our famous Beatrice Soetkens. As tradition would have it, she, the wife of a poor workman in the cloth industry, heard voices one day. She learned that the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, wanted to reward the town of Brussels, and particularly the Crossbow-men's guild for having built a chapel in her honour on the hill at the Sablon. Beatrice was given the mission to go to Antwerp and bring back the miraculous statue of the Virgin venerated there as Our Lady of the Branch (O.L.V. op 't Stokske).
   These voices totally upset Beatrice--she could do nothing but obey. She hurriedly rowed to Antwerp with her husband, and ran to the cathedral to get the statue. The Sacristan tried to stop her, but how could he resist divine will?

He was petrified on the spot, voiceless and motionless!
   Beatrice returned to the boat in her haste to get back to Brussels. But her husband quickly tired of rowing against the current and the wind. Fortunately the Lord was watching--the boat floated upstream to Brussels on its own volition and landed on the spot where the crossbow-men of the guild were practising.
   Intrigued by the arrival of this tiny craft glowing with an unearthly light and piping sweet music, they questioned Beatrice who recounted the cause and circumstances of her expedition to Antwerp.
   The event was deemed a miracle. Even the townsfolk of Antwerp who stormed to Brussels, agreed that it was extraordinary. They consented to leave the statue at the Sablon to be venerated there in the chapel. In addition, a solemn promise was made to erect a church worthy of the event and to organise an annual procession to carry the Virgin around the church under the protection of the Great Crossbow-men's guild.







So the Ommegang was born!

   The origin of this famous procession was indeed the expression of religious fervour supported by a military authority. Gradually the Ommegang became a great town event. Civil authorities, the crafts, chambers of rhetoric and the guilds took their place in front of the clergy.
   It became the magnificent pageant celebrated through the centuries to modern times. Like every year, the " Ommegang Oppidi Bruxellensis" Royal Society continues in the tradition of these centuries-old pageants with historical reference, in the incomparable setting of the Grand-Place of Brussels.