Ainu Legend: The ceremony of Mistress Swan

 

Below is the Ainu legend of the Swan:

How this graceful creature preserved part of the Ainu race from extinction
“God originally made the swan and kept it in Paradise as one of his angels. Now, after having lived a long time in the world, the Ainu became degraded and wicked, and did nothing but quarrel among themselves and fight and slay one another. In after years people came from a certain country and made war upon them. The inhabitants of Takai Sara in the Nikap district were in those days very numerous, but the warriors came and exterminated them.

“At that time, one poor little lad, and one only, escaped by hiding among the grass. He hid in fear and trembling, and he alone was left alive in the whole district. But he was such a little child that he was quite unable to procure food to keep himself alive. He therefore sat down and wept sorely. Now there were no people anywhere near the place to help him, and so he came very near starving to death. He wept and wept till he had no more strength left him even to cry.

“When he was at the last extremity, a woman came suddenly from somewhere, took him up, loved him much, and comforted him. She carried him away and built a beautiful house and lived there with him. After a time, when the child was fully grown, he and the woman were married. They reared a very large family and in this way repopulated the district which had been so grievously destroyed.

“The woman who saved this lad and afterwards became his wife was a swan, and formerly had her home in Paradise. She turned herself into a woman and came down to preserve the Ainu race alive in that district. God also saved the child for this purpose. While the woman was alive she used to weep and lament for the people if any of them became ill or died. And so it is at the present day, when the swan’s cry is heard it is found to resemble the weeping and lamentations of the women. This then is the beginning of these things, and swan worship is called ‘the ceremony of the worship of Mistress Swan.'”

Source: Ainu Legends Swan, NOVA Online

Given the genetically established antiquity of the Ainu people who are traceable to the ancient Paleolithic Peoples of Northeast Siberia, it is salient to mention the possible provenance or connections of the Celestial Swan myth here, which has parallels with beliefs elsewhere, see “The Cygnus Mystery” in which Andrew Collins has purportedly unraveled the sky-religion of our most distant ancestors. According to Collins, all around the world ancient peoples, from Göbekli Tepe to Egypt to the Native American cultures, fixed the location of heaven in the same segment of sky, the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan.

In the Cygnus Mystery Collins attempts to provide compelling evidence that …

– The veneration of Cygnus as a bird associated with cosmic life and death goes back 17,000 years to when the constellation occupied pole position in the northen night sky

– In The Cygnus Mystery, Andrew Collins traces this astronomic lore back to 15,000 B.C., when Deneb, the brightest star in Cygnus, was the Pole Star. At that time, he writes that Paleolithic ancestors practiced their religious rituals in caves deep in the earth – caves whose bird-imagery art, anthropologists have found, was the creation of shamans under the influence of hallucinogens that let them travel in visions outside this world. Cygnus, Collins therefore concludes, is at the root of all the world’s religions and that the origins of astronomy, literature, ancient cosmologies, even transoceanic sea voyages all occurred some 17,000 years ago.

– As early as Palaeolithic times, the stars of Cygnus – the ultimate expression of a widespread belief in the bird as a symbol of the soul – were seen as the gateway to heaven. Shamanic journeys, Native American funeral rites, the alignments of prehistoric standing stones, all pointed the way to this sky-world, accessed via the Milky Way or an imagined cosmic axis. This belief shaped cosmologies around the world; influenced sacred architecture from Avebury in Britain to the temples of Mexico, Peru, and India; and lie behind all major religions to this day.

– Colins also makes the extraordinary claim that cosmic rays from a binary star known as Cygnus X-3 (The True God Star) helped accelerate human evolution during the last Ice Age. Due to a dramatic rise in cosmic rays reaching earth, the rays left subatomic traces in those same deep caves. Collins finds support in 2005, in the U.S. think tank that went public with its own findings that a binary system producing powerful jets of cosmic rays triggered a rapid acceleration in human evolution during the last Ice Age.

– Whether we are sceptical or not, of this last bit – given the elements of the Ainu Swan tale and associations with Paradise, and Collins assertions that the Cygnus swan may be regarded as a pathway to Heaven, we can be persuaded by ‘THE CYGNUS MYSTERY to consider the existence of an ancient body and common source of shamanistic knowledge and the influence of the Cygnus constellation on the minds of the Paleolithic through Neolithic peoples…and their awareness that life, death, and evolution were connected directly to a cosmic source… In other words, we are all the Children of the Swan.

***

Two books by two Sandors about the origins of Hungarians by Balint Kacsoh, Hungarian Studies Review, Vol. XL, No. 2 (Fall 2013)

Dr. Sándor had elaborated on the comparative mythology more than she did. In these pages, she turns our attention to the stories written on the night sky as constellations, and invokes our [developmentally] primary, image-based reasoning. The heavens served as gigantic storybook for our forefathers when telling legends to their children; the sky was a map, as well as a calendar. To prove the compatibility of the Finno-Ugric nature of the Magyar language and the Hun-Magyar legend of the miraculous deer, Dr. Sándor presented a similar legend of the Saami (Lappish) people, as recorded by the Saami writer, Johan Turi (p. 431). The legend is “written” in the constellations of the night sky: two brothers (constellation Gemini) are chasing the deer (whose antlers are the constellation Cassiopeia and body is composed of the constellations Perseus and Auriga), but another hunter is also after the deer (constellation Orion), and the water that is “being crossed” by the deer is the celestial river, the Milky Way (illustrated on p. 432). Dr. Sándor correctly identifies the parallel between the Saami legend and the Hun-Magyar version: Hunor and Magor are the twins (Gemini), Orion is Nimrod. The deer, at the same time is the same as the ancestral mother Enéh. Importantly, Dr. Sándor reminds the reader of the nearby con stellation Cygnus (Swan) and the felt swan found in a 5th century B.C. Scythian kurgan in Pazyryk. This swan is interpreted as the “escort of the dead” into the netherworld. Dr. Sándor could have expanded on this, and mention The Swan of Tuonela.
The constellation-based mythological story predates the Pazyryk kurgan, and predates the time when Finnic and Magyar peoples parted. Greek mythology inherited some of the same elements, such as Castor and Pollux (the “twin half-brothers”) whose mother, Leda, was seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. Swan was also a sacred bird and related to the cult of Apollo that reached the Etruscans and the Greeks from Anatolia. The story of sacred twins is considered a part of proto-Indo-European mythology. Yet, we find it in Saami, Finnish, Magyar, and other Uralic speaking people’s mythology, along with the swan. Under the pen name Acharya S, D.M. Murdock offered a similar constellation-based explana- tion about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in her book The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (and offended many believers in the process). Interestingly, the “mirage-chaser” Badiny also described a constellation-based legend about Nimrod as Orion and his twin sons — but what he described was (supposedly) a Sumerian legend. To be sure, the deer was a revered, sacred animal depicted in Sumerian and Bronze Age Hatti art (e.g., the standards found in the royal graves at Alaca Höyük).
Mr. Sandor believes that Conquest era Magyars followed a Vedic religion. Although this claim cannot be supported, I must admit that there are echoes in Vedic mythology and several other religions, making the mistaken identification understandable. One of these echoes is the swan (hamsa in Sanskrit). In Vedic mythology, the Hamsa is associated with Surya (the Sun), and represents balance, perfect union, and life. I would also like to call attention to the etymology of the Magyar word for swan “hattyú” that was missed by both authors. The ancient swan symbolism around the River Kaidu on the southern side of the Tien Shan Mountains (which has the Khan Tengri peak), and the words meaning “swan” in various languages historically related to the region would also be revealing.”

The above observations are interesting, to say the least, because the word for swan in Japanese ‘hakucho” sounds too similar to Hungarian word ‘hattyu’ to be missed.

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