Myth, Legend, and Symbolism

Discussion in 'Culture' started by nanoteuthis, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Prospero año nuevo a todos los amigos, amigas, y calamares....

    Inspired by an exchange with Fujisawas Sake (John) on another thread, I thought it might be fun to add a new one for 2003 dealing with cephs in traditional (as opposed to pop) culture, folklore, arts and literature.

    I'd like to kick it off with an excerpt from a book that should be especially close to Steve-O's and Kat's hearts -- PACIFIC MYTHOLOGY: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYTH AND LEGEND by Jan Knappert, 1995 edition, Diamond Books, London. Surprisingly, I could find no entries under Cephalopod, Cuttlefish, Nautilus, or Squid. However, when I looked under Octopus, it said "See Kupe." Here is what I found under the latter entry:

    KUPE: According to legend, a man named Kupe was fishing near his home on Raiatea when an octopus stole his fishhooks with its many arms. Enraged, Kupe jumped into his canoe and pursued the beast for 35 days. By that time he had covered 2,400 miles to the south-west and there he sighted an island larger than any he had ever seen before: North Island, New Zealand. He sailed back and invited his compatriots to follow him to the new found land. They did so and became the Maoris.

    -- from PACIFIC MYTHOLOGY, page 162 (paperback)

    I don't know where Raiatea is, or whether there really was such a place, but perhaps our Antipodean contingent can fill us in as to whether there is some historical truth about the geographical origins of the Maori in this legend.

    TONMOers, feel free to add to this thread with any ceph symbolism, legend, lore, and myth that you can find, online or otherwise.

    (And if you don't mind some off-topic factoids every now and then, PACIFIC MYTHOLOGY also contains entries for Kat, Tangaroa, and Taniwha.)

    Let's see if we can expand this thread into a GOLDEN BOUGH of teuthophilia! :idea:

    Tani, Transmitter of Teuthsome Tales
     
  2. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    There is something fascinating about the giant squid that taps into our fear and curiosity.

    -- from http://www.giantsquidcenter.com/

    IMHO, there is indeed something primal about Architeuthis-as-archetype. Does it symbolize our own subconscious, lurking in the shadowy depths below the surface of our "higher" mind, difficult to conceptualize for the very reason that it is so inseparable a part of us? The human mind studying itself must, by definition, affect the object of its study. It is elusive, like Architeuthis. "Squid = Id"? Why not?

    The seemingly paradoxical "fear and curiosity" reaction, I believe, comes from the simultaneously familiar and alien features of the animal. Too many legs, rocket-shaped body, predatory beak, gargantuan size -- alien. Great human-like eyes, dexterity of limbs, ease of movement -- familiar. Though we have not yet seen any living adults, we take pleasure in artistic representations of them. Even though they may raise a shudder in some observers, we remain fixated upon their image. We want to know them, as we want to know ourselves, in spite of ourselves.... dark corners and all.

    What would Jung say? Freud? Any and all contributions of ceph legends, and commentary/analysis by TONMOers, would be most appreciated.

    My :twocents:,
    Tani
     
  3. Tintenfisch

    Tintenfisch Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

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    As I recall, in 'Island of the Blue Dolphins' there's mention of hunting the 'devilfish,' an enormous octopus of probably exaggerated size and aggression. I think there's also brief mention of what the native American peoples who encountered them (coastal, I suppose :) ) thought/believed about them, at least those living on the northern west coast of North America.
    Hm, a vague and unresearched post. Anyone else know more about this?
     
  4. Fujisawas Sake

    Fujisawas Sake Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    Heya!

    Yeah, I remember reading an old Polynesian or Hawaiian legend about a greedy shark who nearly gets himself killed by a lazy octopus reef guardian who puts the squeeze on shark (literally) for waking him up from his nap.

    I'm a-Freud I don't have much insight on fear (groan!) :lol: , but I think that we need our monsters. We need some mysteries out there, some lurking horror (BLATANT Lovecraft plug) to strike some fear... I think it has something to do with fear keeping us a bit sharp and wary of the world around us... I have no idea.

    Well, that's my two clams worth...

    John
     
  5. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Hi John!

    I like your theory about "fear keeping us a bit sharp and wary of the world around us." Not to go too much off-topic, but I remember reading a book called THE GIFT OF FEAR which encourages people to distinguish between unfounded paranoia and the "gut instinct" which is an evolutionary survival advantage in avoiding potentially dangerous situations (e.g., not taking a shortcut through Central Park at 2 a.m. with a roll of $100s sticking out of your pocket!).

    Back on-topic, I loved the contribution about the octo defeating the shark -- please let us know if you find out any more details about this.

    Here is something I gleaned from a beautiful book titled NA PULE KAHIKO: ANCIENT HAWAIIAN PRAYERS, by June Gutmanis, Editions Limited, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1983. By way of explanation, Kanaloa -- god of the deep ocean -- is one of the four great male gods in traditional Hawaiian religion. According to Gutmanis, Kanaloa is the 'aumakua (guardian spirit) of the squid and octopus. He is also associated with the west (called the "much traveled road of Kanaloa"), with ocean winds, and with bananas. Additionally, he is often associated with healing.

    Following are two prayers -- preceded by explanations and followed with English transations -- taken from NA PULE KAHIKO:

    This prayer to Kanaloa is one used in treating a sick person. After putting the patient to bed without medicine, the treating kahuna [healer - TD] recites the following over the sick person:

    E Kanaloa, ke akua ka hee!
    Eia kau mai o (inoa)
    E ka hee o kai uli,
    Ka hee o ka lua one,
    Ka hee i ka papa.
    Ka hee pio!
    Eia ka oukou mai, o (inoa)
    He mai hoomoe ia no ka hee palaha.

    O Kanaloa, god of the squid!
    Here is your patient, (name)
    O squid of the deep blue sea,
    Squid the inhabits the coral reef,
    Squid that burrows in the sand,
    Squid that squirts water from its sack!
    Here is a sick man for you to heal, (name)
    A patient put to bed for treatment
    by the squid the lies flat.

    Toward morning a fisherman is sent out to catch a hee mahola, that is, an octopus which is lying on the sand, outside its hole, with its legs extended on the ocean floor. While letting down his hook and lure the fisherman prays as follows:

    Eia ka leho,
    He leho ula no ka heehoopai.
    Eia ka kao, he laau,
    He lama no ka hee-mahola, no ka hee-palaha.
    E Kanaloa i ke Ku,
    Kulia ke papa,
    Kulia i ka papa hee!
    Kulia ka hee o kai uli!
    E ala, e Kanaloa!
    Hoeu! hoala! e ala ka hee!
    E ala ka hee-palaha! E ala ka hee-mahola!

    Here is the cowry,
    A red cowry to attract the squid to his death.
    Here is the spear, a mere stick,
    A spear of lama wood for the squid that lies flat.
    O Kanaloa of the tabu nights,
    Stand upright on the solid floor!
    Stand upon the floor where lies the squid!
    Stand up to take the squid of the deep sea!
    Rise up, O Kanaloa!
    Stir up! agitate! let the squid awake!
    Let the squid that lies flat awake,
    the squid that lies spread out.


    -- from NA PULE KAHIKO: ANCIENT HAWAIIAN PRAYERS, page 6

    It's interesting that "octopus" and "squid" appear to be interchangeable in the Hawaiian language. Or, perhaps, "octopus" is referred to as "the squid that lies flat." Not having studied Hawaiian language -- though it's one of my dreams to do so someday! -- I don't know if this is correct. Perhaps one of our New Xenaland contingent may know enough Maori to solve this for us (since I believe all Polynesian languages are strongly related).

    Aloha,
    Tani
     
  6. Tintenfisch

    Tintenfisch Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, as resident wannabe kiwi, afraid I can't shed much light on the etymology of octopus/squid being the same, although I'm pretty sure that 'wheke' does mean both in Maori, and 'feke' likewise in Tongan (since, yes, the Polynesian languages are very closely linked - for example, the god mentioned in the above prayer as Kanaloa is easily recognizable as Tangaloa in (I think) Maori (although maybe Fijian) (and there are way too many sets of ()s in here).
    Clear as mud? ;)
     
  7. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Re: Myth, Legend, and Symbolism

    Do tell, don't Tanitalise :D
     
  8. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Re: Myth, Legend, and Symbolism

    OK, You Asked For It!

    KAT: The Good God of the Banks Islanders, who taught the people how to hollow out a tree trunk and make a canoe.

    [I did a netsearch for Banks Island, and according to which source you believe, it is either a part of Queensland, Australia, or the westernmost island of the Alaskan archipelago. Help with this, somebody? -- TD]

    TANGAROA: (Maori; Kanaloa, Hawaiian; Tangaloa, Tongan; Tagaloa, Samoan; Ta'aroa, Tahitian) The Polynesian God of the Ocean, the Polynesian Poseidon, son of the Earth-Goddess Papa, who had so much water in her body that it swelled up one day and burst forth, becoming the ocean. Tangaroa breathes only twice in 24 hours, so huge is he. We call that the tidal movement. His brother is Rongo, who was, according to some myths, the same as Maui, the Fisher of Islands, the inventor of sail-ships.

    Tangaroa is shown in some famous sculptures as the Creator, out of whose body the creatures emerge, including human beings. The Indian god Brahma created nature in a similar fashion. The myth of the Ocean-God as the Creator is explained by the myth of Ika-Tere, the Fish-God, some of whose children were partly human, like mermaids and mermen, although often the right side was fish while the left side was human. Gradually they became all-human.

    In Tahuata (the Marquesas), Tangaroa is known as Tanaoa, the God of the Primeval Darkness (like Chaos, one of the oldest gods, according to Hesiod). At a given morning a new god, Atea, "Space," emerged, freeing himself so that there was room for Atanua, "Dawn," to arise. She married Atea, since light can only exist in, or together with, space. Their child was Tu-Mea, the first man. Tanaoa was confined to the depths of the ocean, where darkness and silence still reign.


    [There are many fascinating points in the above definition. For one thing, they confirm Tintenfisch's statement about the fact that Kanaloa is the Hawaiian equivalent of Tangaroa, and about the strong similarities of the various Polynesian languages.

    Secondly, the Marquesan "children of the fish-god" myth -- like "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" in reverse! -- pre-dates and accurately predicts Darwin's concept of life originally evolving in the sea.

    Similarly -- though I know very little about the science of cosmology -- it seems to me that the Marquesan "creation" myth in the third paragraph, may be a very early predecessor of the Big Bang theory, in which Light and Space emerge simultaneously from the primal chaos. That may be pure coincidence, but it certainly shows great insignt into the way the world works from a society which some modern nations may arrogantly consider "primitive." -- TD]

    TANIWHA: A huge monster like a dragon or an enormous lizard which once lived in numbers in the caves and lakes in the mountains of New Zealand. Two of them were slain by the hero Pitaka.

    [Dammit, Jim, I'm a bioluminescent cephalopod, not a reptile! -- TD]

    -- all definitions from PACIFIC MYTHOLOGY: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYTH AND LEGEND by Jan Knappert

    Let's keep those myths, legends, literature, folklore, art, psychology, and symbolism coming, gang....

    Tani
    Not a Meanie
     
  9. Tintenfisch

    Tintenfisch Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

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    Re: Myth, Legend, and Symbolism

    I thought everyone knew this... ? :mrgreen: (Actually the only other definition I knew for 'Kat' is 'a south African shrub chewed as a stimulant' - also spelled 'khat' or even better 'qat' - making it an invaluable Scrabble word ;) ).

    Hey, speaking of Lovecraft and mythology, my grandmother (an Elder Being, LOL) saved a newspaper article for me from November, about a research vessel taking sonar readings of the ocean floor just west of Cuba, and finding a series of remarkably geometric formations that could without too much imagination-stretch be construed as ruins of a civilization... under 2000' of water! The stone blocks are along the lines of 8'x10', circular, square and pyramid-shaped.
    ... Hello, Lovecraft fans... ?!! :cthulhu:

    So did anyone else hear about this?
     
  10. Tintenfisch

    Tintenfisch Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

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  11. termite

    termite Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hello!!
    In reply to an early question about the location of Raiatea... I believe it is an island in the Society Islands of French Polynesia, to which Tahiti belongs. The Marquesas are another group of islands in French Polynesia. I happened to pick up a slightly older travel guide called "Tahiti and French Polynesia a travel survival kit". I have found it very interesting. I gather from the book that the Marquesas were established first and then Hawaii, New Zealand, Easter Island, and Tahiti were discovered and established from there. I wonder if Maori and Tahitian mythology concerning octopus and squid would be similar? It seems that might be true since the cultures share similar creation mythology and such. No mention of cephs. :(
     
  12. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Re: Myth, Legend, and Symbolism

    Cough, choke, splutter, spit, gasp! She could hollow out a tree trunk and make a canoe with her wit, but that 'good God' business is taking it too far!!! :mrgreen:
     
  13. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    This work of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was posted on the old board many moons ago, but as the ultimate Archi poem, it deserves a special place in any anthology of classical ceph literature:

    THE KRAKEN

    Below the thunders of the upper deep;
    Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
    His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
    The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
    About his shadowy sides: above him swell
    Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
    And far away into the sickly light,
    From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
    Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
    Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
    There hath he lain for ages and will lie
    Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
    Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
    Then once by men and angels to be seen,
    In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
     
  14. Tintenfisch

    Tintenfisch Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, they like to use that poem in various squid films... most recently a crew of students from Auckland doing a Master's in film spliced little bits of it into their production. Sets a nice mood. :)
     
  15. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    While the following is not an ancient legend, it is more accurately included here than under a regular "Pop Culture" forum due to its source -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, a massive 1888 compendium of the world's esoteric traditions, by Theosophical Society founder Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, who in turn quotes another author below:

    Victor Hugo was ridiculed for . . . . his marvellous word-painting of the devil-fish, and his description of a man becoming its helpless victim. "The thing was derided as an impossibility; yet within a few years were discovered, on the shores of Newfoundland, cuttle fish with arms extending to thirty feet in length, and capable of dragging a good-sized boat beneath the surface; and their action has been reproduced for centuries past . . . . by Japanese artists." ("Mythical Monsters," p. II Introd.).

    -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE by H.P. Blavatsky, Vol. 2, pp. 440-441 (ellipses and italics by author)

    While perpetuating the sensationalist image of Architeuthis as a ravenous monster -- and tacitly accepting the quoted author's inaccurate description of Archi as a cuttlefish rather than a squid -- HPB at least regards its existence as fact rather than fabrication.
     
  16. WhiteKiboko

    WhiteKiboko Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    What would Jung say? Freud? Any and all contributions of ceph legends, and commentary/analysis by TONMOers, would be most appreciated.

    i shudder to think what freud would have to say about squid, with the shape, ink and what not.... and im sure he'd have a field day about dying after mating...
     
  17. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    :lol: Either that, or he'd take a couple of puffs on his cigar and say, "Sometimes a squid is just a squid."
     
  18. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    While Tennyson's poem "The Kraken" evokes a vivid image of vastness and awe, the following work (by a great 19th century American Transcendentalist) uses the most beautiful of cephs as an extended metaphor for the spiritual growth of the human individual. Enjoy!

    THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS

    This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
    Sails the unshadowed main --
    The venturous bark that flings
    On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
    In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
    And coral reefs lie bare,
    Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

    Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
    Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
    And every chambered cell,
    Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
    As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
    Before thee lies revealed --
    Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

    Year after year beheld the silent toil
    That spread his lustrous coil;
    Still, as the spiral grew,
    He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
    Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
    Built up its idle door,
    Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

    Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
    Child of the wandering sea,
    Cast from her lap, forlorn!
    From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
    Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn;
    While on mine ear it rings,
    Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:

    Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
    As the swift seasons roll!
    Leave thy low-vaulted past!
    Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
    Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
    Till thou at length art free,
    Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!


    -- by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)


    It is of interest that Holmes was apparently accused of confusing the Chambered Nautilus with the Paper Nautilus (Argonaut), as the following critique suggests:

    "We need not trouble ourselves about the distinction between this [the pearly Nautilus] and the Paper Nautilus, the Argonauta of the ancients. The name applied to both shows that each has long been compared to a ship, as you may see more fully in Webster's Dictionary or the Encyclopedia, to which he refers. If you will look into Roget's Bridgewater Treatise you will find a figure of one of these shells and a section of it. The last will show you the series of enlarging compartments successively dwelt in by the animal that inhabits the shell, which is built in a widening spiral. [This poem seemed to share with Dorothy Q. Dr. Holmes's interest, if one may judge by the frequency with which he chose it for reading or for autograph albums. He says on receipt of an album from the Princess of Wales, `I copied into it the last verse of a poem of mine called The Chambered Nautilus, as I have often done for plain republican albums.']" (p. 149)

    "I have now and then found a naturalist who still worried over the distinction between the Pearly Nautilus and the Paper Nautilus, or Argonauta. As the stories about both are mere fables, attaching to the Physalia, or Portuguese man-of-war, as well as to these two molluscs, it seems over-nice to quarrel with the poetical handling of a fiction sufficiently justified by the name commonly applied to the ship of pearl as well as the ship of paper." (p. 341)


    -- from REPRESENTATIVE POETRY ONLINE by Ian Lancashire


    Though I personally love the spiritual aspects of the poem, IMHO it can be appreciated by anyone who has fallen in love with the mystical grace and beauty of either species.

    Tani
     
  19. WhiteKiboko

    WhiteKiboko Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    "uses the most beautiful of cephs" ? ..... i see objectivity has gone right out the window....
     
  20. nanoteuthis

    nanoteuthis Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Oh all right, so I used a little "poetic license"! But if I were being totally objective, they'd accuse me of personal bias, or at least nepotism:

    "I feel pretty, oh so pretty...."

    Link 1

    And I'm not the only one who thinks so:

    Link 2

    These are my baby pictures -- was I adorable, or what?

    Link 3

    Even Richard Ellis thinks I'm cute:

    Link 4

    But you're entitled to your opinion -- my motto is, "Chacun à son teuth"!

    :nautilus: :octopus: :squid:
     

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