Advertisement

‘A Dwelling Place for Dragons’: Wild Places in Mythology and Folklore

  • Nell Aubrey
Chapter

Abstract

This Chapter will examine the concept of the Wilderness as a cross-cultural milieu traditionally associated with supernatural encounters. ‘Wilderness’ covers a range of settings across both natural and human environments. Despite ecological variability, a unifying feature of Wilderness is its alterity, concretized in its portrayal as the domain of powerful and ambiguous otherworldly forces. Drawing on mythology, folklore and ethnographic sources, I will explore the character of the Wilderness as a liminal and unstable physical landscape and a spatial reality both potentially transformative and threatening.

Keywords

Wilderness Wild places Folklore Mythology 

References

  1. Abu-Rabia, A. (2005). The evil eye and cultural beliefs among the Bedouin tribes of the Negev, middle east. Folklore, 116(3), 241–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agius, D. A. (2017). Red Sea folk beliefs: A maritime spirit landscape. Northeast African Studies, 17(1), 131–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asma, S. T. (2011). On monsters: An unnatural history of our worst fears. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Ballard, L. M. (1991). Fairies and the supernatural on Reachrai. The good people: New fairylore essays (pp. 47–93). Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barber, E. W., & Barber, P. T. (2012). When they severed earth from sky: How the human mind shapes myth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Barraclough, E. R. (2010). Inside Outlawry in “Grettir’s saga Ásmundarsonar” and “Gísla saga Súrssonar”: Landscape in the Outlaw Sagas. Scandinavian Studies, 82(4), 365–388.Google Scholar
  7. Basso, K. H. (1996). Wisdom sits in places: Landscape and language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bauckham, R. (2006). Modern domination of nature—Historical origins and biblical. In R. J. Berry (Ed.), Environmental stewardship (pp. 32–50). London: T & T Clark.Google Scholar
  9. Blom, J. D. (2009). A dictionary of hallucinations. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.Google Scholar
  10. Borlik, T. A. (2013). Caliban and the fen demons of Lincolnshire: The Englishness of Shakespeare’s Tempest. Shakespeare, 9(1), 21–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bourke, A. (2010). The burning of Bridget Cleary: A true story. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  12. Bovensiepen, J. (2014). Lulik: Taboo, animism, or transgressive sacred? An exploration of identity, morality, and power in Timor-Leste. Oceania, 84(2), 121–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boyd, B. (2018). The evolution of stories: From mimesis to language, from fact to fiction. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 9(1), e1444.Google Scholar
  14. Bruford, A. (1997). Trolls, Hillfolk, Finns, and Picts: The identity of the good neighbors in Orkney and Shetland. The Good People: New Fairylore Essays, 116–141.Google Scholar
  15. Brugger, P., Regard, M., Landis, T., & Oelz, O. (1999). Hallucinatory experiences in extreme-altitude climbers. Neuropsychiatry Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology, 12, 67–71.Google Scholar
  16. Cheng’en, W. (2011). Journey to the West. Singapore: Asiapac Books Pte Ltd.Google Scholar
  17. Coe, K., Aiken, N. E., & Palmer, C. T. (2006). Once upon a time: Ancestors and the evolutionary significance of stories. Anthropological Forum, 16(1), 21–40.Google Scholar
  18. Comptour, M., Caillon, S., & McKey, D. (2016). Pond fishing in the Congolese cuvette: A story of fishermen, animals, and water spirits. Revue d’ethnoécologie, 10, 1–29.Google Scholar
  19. Cronan, W. (1996). The Trouble with wilderness: Or, getting back to the wrong nature. Environmental History, 1(1), 7–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dafni, A. (2011). On the present-day veneration of sacred trees in the holy land. Folklore-Electronic J Folklore, 48, 7–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dal Zovo, C., & González-García, A. C. (2018). ‘The path of the spirits’: A preliminary approach to North-West/South-East oriented rows of cairns in the Altai Mountains. Mongolia. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, 18(4), 399–407.Google Scholar
  22. Dedenbach-Salazar, S. (2017). Deities and spirits in Andean belief-towards a systematisation. Anthropos, 112(2), 443–453.Google Scholar
  23. Dunbar, R. I. (2014). How conversations around campfires came to be. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(39), 14013–14014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ebrahimi, M. S. (2012). Buhaira, the Lake of Demons. Iran and the Caucasus, 16(1), 97–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Endsjø, D. Ø. (2000). To lock up Eleusis: A question of liminal space. Numen, 47(4), 351–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Enges, P. (2015). Changing discourses on becoming lost. Shota Meskhia State Teaching University of Zugdidi Annual Scientific Work 2015, 70.Google Scholar
  27. Feldt, L., & Benavides, G. (2012). Wilderness in mythology and religion. Boston: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  28. Formoso, B. (1998). Bad death and malevolent spirits among the Tai peoples. Anthropos, 93, 3–17.Google Scholar
  29. Fox, R. L. (2010). Travelling heroes: In the epic age of Homer. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  30. Gamble, J. (2011). Serious illness and supernatural agents: Explanatory models for diseases which defy explanation. UMASA.Google Scholar
  31. Garg, A. (2013). Typology of sacred groves and their discrimination from sacred sites. Current Science, 104, 596–599.Google Scholar
  32. Giolláin, D. Ó. (1991). The fairy belief and official religion in Ireland. The Good People: New Fairylore Essays, 199–214.Google Scholar
  33. Grabow, J. (2016). Haunting the wide, White Page–Ghosts in Antarctica. ALPH, 125.Google Scholar
  34. Guillou, A. Y. (2017). Potent places and Animism in Southeast Asia. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 18(5), 389–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gunnell, T. (2000). The season of the dísir: The winter nights, and the dísablót in early medieval Scandinavian belief.Google Scholar
  36. Gunnell, T. (2007). How elvish were the Álfar? In Constructing nations, reconstructing myth: Essays in honour of TA Shippey (pp. 111–130). Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.Google Scholar
  37. Gunnell, T. (2009). Legends and landscape in the Nordic countries. Cultural and Social History, 6(3), 305–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Heather, P. (2005). The fall of the Roman Empire. Clerkenwell: Pan.Google Scholar
  39. Heeschen, V. (2001). The narration “instinct”: Signalling behaviour, communication, and the selective value of storytelling. Trends in Linguistics Studies and Monographs, 133, 179–196.Google Scholar
  40. Hopkirk, P. (2001). Foreign devils on the Silk Road: The search for the lost cities and treasures of Chinese Central Asia. USA: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Hultkrantz, Å. (1987). On beliefs in non-shamanic guardian spirits among Saamis. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 12, 110–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jakobsson, Á. (2006). Where do the giants live? Arkiv för nordisk filologi, 121, 101–112.Google Scholar
  43. James, D. (2015). 2. Tjukurpa Time. Long history, deep time (p. 33). Australia: ANU Press.Google Scholar
  44. Järnefelt, E., Canfield, C. F., & Kelemen, D. (2015). The divided mind of a disbeliever: Intuitive beliefs about nature as purposefully created among different groups of non-religious adults. Cognition, 140, 72–88.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. Johannsen, D. (2010). Crossing the Ecotone: On the narrative representation of nature as ‘wild’. Historicizing religion (pp. 233–248). Pisa: PLUS-Pisa University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Kazanas, S. A., & Altarriba, J. (2017). Did our ancestors fear the unknown? The role of predation in the survival advantage. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 11(1), 83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. LaPier, R. R. (2017). Invisible reality: Storytellers, storytakers, and the supernatural world of the Blackfeet. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  48. Laseron, C. F., & Hurley, F. (2002). Antarctic eyewitness. Edinburgh: Birlinn.Google Scholar
  49. Legare, C. H., Evans, E. M., Rosengren, K. S., & Harris, P. L. (2012). The coexistence of natural and supernatural explanations across cultures and development. Child Development, 83(3), 779–793.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. Lehr, U. (2013). The transcendental side of life: Aquatic demons in Polish folklore. Estonia and Poland: Creativity and Tradition in Cultural Communication, 2, 191–212.Google Scholar
  51. Lennert, A. E. (2017). Place, identity, and relations: The lived experience of two northern worlds. Arctic Anthropology, 54(2), 83–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lindow, J. (2014). Trolls: An unnatural history. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  53. Lloyd, D. M., Lewis, E., Payne, J., & Wilson, L. (2012). A qualitative analysis of sensory phenomena induced by perceptual deprivation. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 11(1), 95–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lucas, A. T. (1963). The sacred trees of Ireland. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 68(207), 16–54.Google Scholar
  55. Manzo, L. C. (2005). For better or worse: Exploring multiple dimensions of place meaning. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25(1), 67–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mayerfeld Bell, M. (1997). The ghosts of place. Theory and Society, 26(6), 813–836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mayor, A. (2001). The first fossil hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman times. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Mayor, A., & Sarjeant, W. A. (2001). The folklore of footprints in stone: from classical antiquity to the present. Ichnos, 8, 143–163.Google Scholar
  59. McCorristine, S. (2018). Spectral Arctic: A history of dreams and ghosts in polar exploration. London: UCL Press.Google Scholar
  60. Michell, J. (1982). Megalithomania: Artists, antiquarians and archaeologists at the old stone monuments. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  61. Mirsky, J. (1998). Sir Aurel Stein: Archaeological explorer. Chicago : University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  62. Moyes, M., Dovers, G., & Niland, D. (1964). Season in solitary. Walkabout, 30, 20.Google Scholar
  63. Nees, M. A., & Phillips, C. (2015). Auditory pareidolia: Effects of contextual priming on perceptions of purportedly paranormal and ambiguous auditory stimuli. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29(1), 129–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Nelson, R. K. (1982). Make prayers to the raven: A Koyukon view of the northern forest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  65. Nicholls, C. J. (2014). ‘Dreamings’ and place—Aboriginal monsters and their meanings. The conversation (p. 30).Google Scholar
  66. Oelschlaeger, M. (1991). The idea of wilderness: From prehistory to the age of ecology. Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Peoples, H. C., Duda, P., & Marlowe, F. W. (2016). Hunter-gatherers and the origins of religion. Human Nature, 27(3), 261–282.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  68. Polo, M., & Latham, R. E. (1958). The travels of Marco Polo: Translated, with an introduction, by Ronald Latham. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  69. Purkiss, D. (2000). Troublesome things: A history of fairies and fairy stories (p. 175). London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  70. Purzycki, B. G. (2010). Spirit masters, ritual cairns, and the adaptive religious system in Tyva. Sibirica, 9(2), 21–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rose, C. (2001). Giants, monsters, and dragons: An encyclopedia of folklore, legend, and myth. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  72. Sabbatani, S., & Fiorino, S. (2016). Pestilence, riots, lynchings and desecration of corpses: The sleep of reason produces monsters. Le infezioni in medicina: rivista periodica di eziologia, epidemiologia, diagnostica, clinica e terapia delle patologie infettive, 24(2), 163–171.Google Scholar
  73. Saler, B., & Ziegler, C. A. (2005). Dracula and carmilla: Monsters and the mind. Philosophy and Literature, 29(1), 218–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Scalise Sugiyama, M. (2017). Oral storytelling as evidence of pedagogy in forager societies. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 471.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Scalise Sugiyama, M., & Sugiyama, L. S. (Under Revision). Humanized topography: Storytelling as a wayfinding strategy. American Anthropologist.Google Scholar
  76. Scannell, L., & Gifford, R. (2010). Defining place attachment: A tripartite organizing framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(1), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Scarre, C. (2004). Displaying the stones: The materiality of ‘megalithic’ monuments. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.Google Scholar
  78. Scarre, C. (2009). Stones with character: Animism, agency and megalithic monuments. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Google Scholar
  79. Scott, J. C. (2017). Against the grain: A deep history of the earliest states. Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Smith, B. D. (2007). Niche construction and the behavioral context of plant and animal domestication. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 16(5), 188–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Smith, D., Schlaepfer, P., Major, K., Dyble, M., Page, A. E., Thompson, J. … & Ngales, M. (2017). Cooperation and the evolution of hunter-gatherer storytelling. Nature Communications, 8(1), 1853.Google Scholar
  82. Stark-Arola, L. (2002). The dynamistic body in traditional Finnish-Karelian thought. Väki, vihat, nenä (pp. 67–103). Helsinki: Finnish Literary Society.Google Scholar
  83. Stoffle, R. W., Loendorf, L., Austin, D. E., Halmo, D. B., Bulletts, A., Arnold, R. W. … & Knudson, R. (2000). Ghost dancing the Grand Canyon: Southern Paiute rock art, ceremony, and cultural landscapes. Current Anthropology, 41(1), 11–38.Google Scholar
  84. Stone, T. (2010). Making law for the Spirits: Angakkuit, revelation and rulemaking in the Canadian Arctic. Numen, 57(2), 127–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Sugiyama, M. S. (2004). Predation, narration, and adaptation: “Little red riding hood” revisited. Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, 5(2), 110–129.Google Scholar
  86. Sugiyama, M. S. (2006). Lions and tigers and bears: Predators as a folklore universal. In H. Friedrich, F. Jannidis, U. Klein, K. Mellmann, S. Metzger, & M. Willems (Eds.), Anthropology and social history: Heuristics in the study of literature (pp. 319–331). Paderborn: Mentis.Google Scholar
  87. Sugiyama, M. S., Sugiyama, L. S., Slingerland, E., & Collard, M. (2011). Once the child is lost he dies’: Monster stories vis-a-vis the problem of errant children (pp. 351–371). Creating consilience: Integrating the sciences and the humanities.Google Scholar
  88. Taggart, D. (2017). All the mountains shake: Seismic and volcanic imagery in the Old Norse literature of Þórr. Scripta Islandica: Isländska Sällskapets Årsbok, 68, 99–122.Google Scholar
  89. Tehrani, J. J. (2013). The phylogeny of little red riding hood. PloS one, 8(11), e78871.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Tuan, Y. F. (1974). Topophilia: A study of environmental attitudes, perceptions and values. Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  91. Uebel, M. (2016). Ecstatic transformation: On the uses of alterity in the middle ages. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  92. Walker, A. R. (2015). From spirits of the wilderness to lords of the place and Guardians of the village and farmlands: Mountains and their spirits in traditional Lahu cosmography, belief, and ritual practice. Anthropos, 110, 27–42.Google Scholar
  93. Waters, F., Blom, J. D., Jardri, R., Hugdahl, K., & Sommer, I. E. C. (2018). Auditory hallucinations, not necessarily a hallmark of psychotic disorder. Psychological Medicine, 48(4), 529–536.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  94. Watson, J. E., Venter, O., Lee, J., Jones, K. R., Robinson, J. G., Possingham, H. P., & Allan, J. R. (2018). Protect the last of the wild. Nature, 563, 27–30.Google Scholar
  95. Westwood, J., & Simpson, J. (2005). The lore of the land: A guide to England’s legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  96. Wiessner, P. W. (2014). Embers of society: Firelight talk among the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(39), 14027–14035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Wiggermann, F. A. (2011). The Mesopotamian Pandemonium. Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni, 77, 298–322.Google Scholar
  98. Wilkinson, T. J., Philip, G., Bradbury, J., Dunford, R., Donoghue, D., Galiatsatos, N. … & Smith, S. L. (2014). Contextualizing early urbanization: Settlement cores, early states and agro-pastoral strategies in the Fertile Crescent during the fourth and third millennia BC. Journal of World Prehistory, 27(1), 43–109.Google Scholar
  99. Willerslev, R. (2004). Not animal, not not-animal: hunting, imitation and empathetic knowledge among the Siberian Yukaghirs. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 10(3), 629–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Wohlleben, P. (2016). The hidden life of trees: What they feel, how they communicate—Discoveries from a secret world. Vancouver: Greystone Books.Google Scholar
  101. Worman, C. O. D. (2010). Trooping fairies, trolls, and talking tigers: the influence of traditional wilderness archetypes on current land use patterns. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19(11), 3171–3193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Wright, R. M. (1993). Pursuing the spirit. Amerindia, 18, 1–40.Google Scholar
  103. Yazdani, S. (2014). Imaginary folkloric beings in the Iranian people’s beliefs. The Anthropologist, 17(3), 967–973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nell Aubrey
    • 1
  1. 1.University College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations