Learning from Folklore
by Dmitri Bayanov, Moscow
Part One is here: http://www.bigfootencounters.com/biology/folklore.htm
Part Two is here: http://www.bigfootencounters.com/biology/folklore2.htm
Part Three is here: http://www.bigfootencounters.com/biology/folklore3.htm
(...) As part of the Iroquoian language stock, the traditional Cherokee names for a bigfoot-like creature are Kecleh-Kudleh (hairy savage) and Nun' Yuni' Wi (stone man). The Snake with the Big Feet Source: Unknown Long ago, in that far-off happy time when the world was new, and there were no white people at all, only Indians and animals, there was a snake that was different from other snakes. (...) Just tells what made that far-off time so happy. p. 230. The Chickasaw
Forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 1800's, the Chickasaw were once a large tribe spread throughout Mississippi. Their language is in the Muskogean family and is very closely related to the Choctaw. Their traditional word, Lofa, means “smelly, hairy being that COULD SPEAK.”(My emphasis -- DB).
Wiley and the Hairy Man
Wiley's mama knew all about things that were magic, like the Hairy Man in the forest.
“The Hairy Man got your daddy, and if you're not careful, Wiley, he'll get you too!” Wiley's mama often warned.
“I'll be careful,” Wiley promised every time.
Wiley had never once so much as caught a sniff of the Hairy Man. All the same, he felt better if he had his two dogs with him when he went into the forest.
One day, Wiley was chopping wood when a pig ran squealing by and his dogs raced after it. No sooner had they disappeared among the trees than something huge and hairy with sharp, pointy teeth came lumbering toward Wiley. It was the Hairy Man! (...)
“You say you can do magic,” continued Wiley. “So can you make things disappear, like all the rope in the neighborhood, for instance?”
“Of course,” said the Hairy Man, scrunching up his eyes tightly, then opening them again. “There–it's done!”
“Oh good!” cried Wiley. “My dogs were tied up, but now they'll be free. Hoooo-eeeeee!”
“Yikes!” yelped the Hairy Man, fleeing into the forest.
Wiley's mama was very proud of her clever son and she was excited too. She knew that if you could trick a monster three times, he'd have to leave you alone forever. (...)
That's the third time we've tricked you, Hairy Man!” he grinned. “So now you have to leave us alone forever. Hoooo-eeeeee!”
“Yikes!” cried the Hairy Man, and Wiley's two dogs chased him all the way back to the forest.
At the 1978 Sasquatch conference in Vancouver, Dr. James R. Butler contributed a paper entitled "The Theoretical Importance of Higher Sensory Perceptions in the Sasquatch Phenomenon". That's the language, or, if you wish jargon, of science. In people's plain parlance Higher Sensory Perceptions are simply magic. The story is fiction inspired by what people call the Hairy Man's magic.
p. 231. The Wildcat Clan
Source: The 44th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, by John R. Swanton, 1926.
This clan differs from other clans principally in what its members eat. They seldom go out in the daytime but roam about at night in search of food. They do not, however, try to steal.
They are swift of foot and when an accident happens to them they depend on their swiftness to escape. They care very little about women, but when they want anything they generally get it. They think more of their feet than of any other parts of their bodies and their eyes are so keen that they can see anyone before he detects them. (...)
Here the striking fact is that this most unusual information was reported back in 1926 by a scientific institution, the Bureau of American Ethnology (!). Wonder if anyone asked the Bureau what kind of people on earth could roam about at night in search of food.
p. 233. The Choctaw
Originally from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, the Choctaw were forcibly removed to Mississippi and Oklahoma in the 1800's. Their language is part of the Muskogean stock and very closely related to Chickasaw. Their traditional names for a bigfoot are Kashehotapalo (cannibal man), Nalusa Falaya (big giant) and Shampe (giant monster).
All of the evil spirits of the Choctaws have followed them on their long journey from the western part of North America. The witches, demons, and the monsters came with the Choctaw people.
But the most horrible frightening of all these beasts is the hideous monster the Choctaws call the Shampe.
A Shampe is a giant in the form of the ugliest Choctaw beast.
He lives in the deepest part of the woods. So far in the forest that no Choctaw has even been able to find the location of his huge, dark cave. The Shampe cannot stand the brightness of the sun or the open air.
The smell of blood will attract him and he will follow the person who has been hunting and carrying a wounded game. Shampes do not have very good vision but have a keen sense of smell. They can track any person or animal.
The Shampes make a whistling noise as he stalks through the forest. His scent is so terrible, that many people have died from his odor. While he looks like a gigantic form of Choctaw, he smells like a skunk. Some of them are really hairy like an ape while others are HAIRLESS. (My emphasis. -- DB). The Choctaws won't live in an area where a Shampe will live or has been spotted. The Choctaws will often be caught or chased by a Shampe. If someone were to drop a small game such as a rabbit or a squirrel, the Shampe stops to eat it and may be drawn off your trail by the blood of the small animal.
Shampes have followed the Choctaw people along their journey from the western United States. They say that all Shampe have returned to the west now. But today, some Choctaws still hear whistling sounds in the woods and catch a strong odor. The Choctaws still drop small animals when they think a Shampe is near. You may never know that all Shampes have returned to the west.
That some sasquatches are hairless is sensational. My supposition is that this is caused by crossbreeding with Homo sapiens. Here's more information in support of the sensation:
"There were other bigfoot that appeared almost hairless. They are the same height as the other bigfoot. The females are birth-a-butts too and look made for child bearing. These hairless ones are the same in height and weight as the ones with hair. Their necks appear to be shrunk in too, like they have no necks at all. (...) He looked like a body builder would with the rib cage really tight looking and the muscles rippled over his stomach area. (...) He was here only a few weeks to a month or so and he never really showed up much until dusk anyway. There was only one time that he came out in daylight where I could see him clearly. (...) The hairy and hairless bigfoot are sort of odd looking in their own respect. I've only seen two in all the time I have had them around us close enough to see what they looked like. To me one looked to have a cave man type look. It was one of the strange males that showed up here once and it took Cheeco as a mate, I think, as that was when she went missing. (...) The other one was a young female that showed up with the clan once and stayed only for a few weeks. She looked like the others except she didn't have a lot of hair, just hair on her upper arms and across her shoulders and on her legs and privates and under her arms and and on her head. (...) She looked almost exactly like the man in the picture of the Neanderthal Stan sent that time to us that is in the book he gave us that night at the motor lodge. (...) I always wondered if maybe she could have been a cross between a bigfoot and a human. (...) She was wild and Papaw didn't ever attempt to get any closer than maybe a few 100 yards away from her. (...) She hit me once with a rock in the center of the back, and once with a clod of dirt in the top of my head. (...) Sheba and Cheeco did not like her at all. They would take every type of opportunity to hit her and run her off from the group. They threw things at her"(50 Years With Bigfoot, 2002, pp.135,136).
Can you imagine a hoaxer, smart enough or crazy enough, to be selling news of hairless bigfoots? It's a lesson to all who have been fooling themselves regarding Janice Carter's evidence.
p. 234. Little-Man-With-Hair-All-Over
Little-Man was hairier than a skunk. Hair grew out of his nose and nostrils. He had thick, matted hair between his buttocks. He was not particularly good-looking and he smelled as if he didn't wash often, but he was a merry fellow who laughed a lot, and he never had any trouble finding pretty girls to share his blanket. He was always on the move, eager to discover new things.
Little-Man-with-Hair-All-Over was small, but he succeeded in everything he did. He was tough in a fight, so they called for him whenever there was something dangerous to do. When a bear monster went on a rampage, ripping up lodges with his huge claws and eating the people inside, Little-Man-with-Hair-All-Over had no trouble killing it. For this his grateful people gave him a magic knife. (...)
Folktale evidence of the existence of dwarfish homins.
p. 246. The Seminoles
The Seminole inhabited portions of Arkansas and Oklahoma in prehistoric times, moving into Florida when it was still ruled by the Spanish. The tribe maintains reservations throughout Florida. In their traditional Muskogean language, Esti capcaki means “tall man” and Ssti capcaki means “tall hairy man.”
Source: Oklahoma Seminoles–Medicine, Magic, and Religion, by James Howard and Willie Lena, 1984. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, p. 211-212.
Tall Hairy Man or Ssti capcaki resembles a human being but of immense stature, ten feet or more in height, and covered with gray hair. He customarily carries a great wooden club made from a branch broken from a tree. Tall Man is reported to have a penetrating odor, like the smell of a stagnant muddy pond.
Willie Lena's father encountered Tall Man once when Willie was very young:
“When Daddy saw it he told Mamma and said that it looked like he had made his club from a limb of one of the trees on our place. Mamma said “If that is so, that tree he broke the limb from will soon be dead!” We all doubted this, but surely enough, the tree died. Where the branches had been there were big holes. It is in holes like this that Seminole women bury stillborn babies. I used to hear a baby crying at one of these trees near our house. There were little bones in there.”
In Russian folklore, the Leshy (woodman, wood goblin) is also said to carry a great wooden club.
p. 267. The Lytton Girls Who Were Stolen By Giants
Source: Legends Beyond Psychology, by Henry James Franzoni III and Kyle Mizokami.
Once some people were camped on the hills near Lytton, and among them were two girls who were fond of playing far away from the camp. Their father warned them against the giants, who infested the country. One day they rambled off, playing as usual, and two giants saw them. They put them under their arms, and ran off with them to their house on an island in a large river, a long distance way. They treated them kindly, and gave them plenty of game to eat. First they brought them grouse, rabbits, and other small game; but when they learned that the girls also ate deer, they brought to them plenty of deer, and the girls made much buckskin. The giants were much amused when they saw how the girls cut up the deer, how they cooked the meat and dressed the skins. For four days the girls were almost overcome by the smell of the giants, but gradually they became used to it.
For four years they lived with the giants, who would carry them across the river to dig roots and gather berries which did not grow on the island. One summer the giants took them a long distance away, to a place where huckleberries were very plentiful. They knew the girls liked huckleberries very much. They left them to gather berries, and said they would go hunting and come back in a few days to take them home. The elder sister recognized the place as not many days' travel from their people's home, and they ran away.
When the giants returned for them, they found them gone, and followed their tracks. When the girls saw that they were about to be overtaken, they climbed into the top of a large spruce-tree, where they could not be seen. They tied themselves with their tump-lines. The giants, who had lost their tracks, thought they must be in the tree, and tried to discover them. They walked all around and looked up, but could not see them. They thought, “If they are there, we shall shake them out.” They shook the tree many times, and pushed and pulled against it; but the tree did not break, and the girls did not fall down. Therefore the giants left.
After they had gone, the girls came down and ran on. The giants were looking all around for their tracks, when at last they came to a place where the girls had passed. They pursued them; and when the girls saw that they would be overtaken, they crawled, one from each end, into a large hollow log on a side-hill. They closed the openings with branches which they tied together with their tump-lines. The giants lost their tracks again, and thought they might be in the log. They pulled at the branches, but they did not move. They peered in through some small cracks, but could not see anything. They tried to roll the log down the hill, to shake out whatever might be inside, but it was too heavy. After a while they left. When they were gone, the girls ran on as before, and after a time reached a hunting camp of their own people in the mountains. During their flight they had lived on berries and fool-hens. Their moccasins were worn out, and their clothes torn. They told the people how the giants lived and acted. They were asked if the giants had any names besides Tsawane'itEmux, and they said they were called Stsomu'lamux and TsekEtinu's.
More folktale evidence of abduction of humans by homins and of happenings in captivity, showing people's interest and curiosity regarding this phenomenon. The story is legendary, but based on what happened more than once in reality.
p. 271. The Hare
The Hare have been known by several different names, including Slavey and Slave. Today, as in prehistoric times, the Hare occupy the Northwest Territories of Canada, the Yukon, northern British Columbia and Alberta. In their traditional language of the Athabaskan family, a bigfoot-like animal is called a “bushman” or Lariyi n and Naka.
Source: The Hare Indians and their World, by Sue Hiroko Hara, 1980. Diamond Jenness Memorial Volume, National Museum of Canada, Canadian Ethnology Service Paper No.63.
A lariyi n is a human-like being who roams around in the bush during the summer and steal women and children. They are considered to be foreign people who lost their way and became transformed into evil dwellers of the wilds.
Bushmen make house under the ground. They stay there all winter. In springtime they come out. They never make fire. They kill moose, and any animal. They might have guns, but usually they have knives, snares. I do not know if they have matches or not. They might smoke tobacco, maybe. They wear any kind of hide in winter. They are just men. There are not women in bushmen. They steal women but not children. They are in all sorts of ages–old ones and young ones. When there is no grub, they die and lie on the ground. Ewe' n (ghosts) might come out from the bushmen, too.
During the winter, they eat fresh meat. Even in winter, there is no fire. One or two people live together. But never three or more. They whistle. [It is taboo for the Hare to whistle in the dark.] They do not have dogs. I do not think they start forest fires. I don't know how they would do with mosquitoes. They speak white man's language. All the white people who got lost in the (Indian) wars became bushmen. I have never seen a bushman. But my dad saw a bushman's track.
This is a contradictory tale indeed. Enough mention of familiar things pertaining to our subject, but mention of "guns" is quite baffling. Hope one day we shall learn what it really means.
p. 272. The Nelchina
There is not a lot of detail about the Nelchina available. Likely the term referred to a variety of tribes in Alaska who spoke languages within the Eskimaun family. Although the Gilyuk were known as fearsome black giants who ate people, their apparent cannibal nature did not translate well into their traditional name, which means “The-Big-Man-With-The-Little-Hat.” Nevertheless, according to Murphy, Green and Steenburg (Meet the Sasquatch, 2004) this name came about because from a distance, the creature's pointed head (sagittal crest) made it appear as though it is wearing a little hat.
Source: Sasquatch–The Apes Among Us, by John Green, 1978. Blaine, Washington, Hancock House, p. 336.
Gilyuk is the shaggy cannibal giant sometimes called “The-Big-Man-With-The-Little-Hat.” The Indians knew that Gilyuk was around because they had seen his sign, a birch sapling about four inches through that had been twisted into shreds as a man might twist a match stick.
Twisted thick tree branches and saplings, reported in homin habitats, is clear evidence that such things are done by hands -- by hands that have tremendous power. Igor Bourtsev saw and photographed such evidence on Janice Carter's property. He also saw and photographed in a forest in Tennessee wooden constructions which have become known as "markers". Similar wooden constructions are also found in Russia and Australia, and there is enough reason to believe they are made by homins. Igor is now intensely investigating this phenomenon and has gathered many photos of homin markers. One thing is already clear: as pointed out by Michael Trachtengerts, we have now signs of the wildmen's presence in this or that area not only on the evidence of their tracks but also of wooden markers. What's more, the latter are far more lasting,and therefore easier to find than tracks.
Before I come to overall conclusions, one more interesting thing the reader sees at the end of the book has to be mentioned. It's Appendix A -- Traditional Native American/First Nations' Names for Bigfoot. A total of 142 such names is listed, of which 125 are translated into English, the meanings of 17 are unknown. Of the 125 known names, 45 mean or imply man (Man of the Woods, Wood Man, Hairy Man, Big Man, Tall Man, Wild Man, Cannibal Man, Stick Indian, Bushman, Big Elder Brother, Night People, etc.); 36 mean giant and also seem to imply giant man; 4 mean devil or demon; 4 mean Bigfoot, and only 1 means Ape or monkey. Note that apes and monkeys do not inhabit North America, so we can ask why Native Americans applied this name to Bigfoot. I had a similar question when writing my book on folklore in Russia. The Chuvash, living in the Volga region, have two names for the homin: Arsuri ("half-man") and Upate ("ape or monkey"). A folklorist, writing about this, wondered why the Chuvash use that name, for apes and monkeys do not inhabit Russia. My answer is that the Chuvash learned of the existence of apes and monkeys not so long ago, while they've always known their wildman. So either they applied one of their wildman's names to apes and monkeys or, vice versa, used the name for apes and monkeys to indicate their wildman because of certain likeness between these beings. I think this reasoning also applies to the name Ba'oosh ("Ape or monkey") used by the Indian tribe Tsimshian. This seems plausible because their other name for Bigfoot is Gyaedem gilhaoli ("Men of the woods"). And don't think that the Malays call the big red ape "man of the wood" (orang utan) -- the name of this ape in the Malay language is "mias". The Malay term "orang utan", used for a real bipedal primate, was wrongly applied to the red ape "mias" by the Europeans in the 18th century, thus covering up a great error of science.
Boris Porshnev was the initiator of the Soviet 1958 scientific expedition to the Pamirs in search of the "snowman". When the expedition returned empty-handed, he wrote in his documentary story The Struggle for Troglodytes: "We were clearly unprepared to question nature without first properly interviewing the people who have for generations lived in the lap of nature". Folklore is one of the main testimonies of generations of people living "in the lap of nature".Says Kathy Strain in her dedication in the book we are learning from: "This work is dedicated to the Native people of North America. These are your stories. Thank you for giving us a piece of your knowledge about a creature that you have always known."Most stories are sufficiently old, just as folklore itself. So why do we learn, or begin to learn, from folklore so late in the day? Because there existed earlier no science, no discipline for the study of our subject. You do not apply to a botanist to learn about the existence and nature of electrons and protons, nor to a zoologist regarding the existence and nature of the "black holes". You need a physicist and an astrophysicist for that. So factual information regarding our subject could not be extracted from folklore and demonology before the existence of hominology and hominologists. The first obstacle to overcome for a student of hominology is to realize that the words "devil", "goblin", "brownie", and the like, one comes across in folklore and demonology, do not mean immaterial, mythological beings, or "mental constructions", as put by one ethnographer. Boris Porshnev was first to realize this. His opponents said to him: "Your snowman is nothing but a wood goblin". And they meant it was pure fantasy and mythology. "Yes", answered Porshnev, "only vice versa, wood goblin is a snowman".The second obstacle is that, in truth, there is fantasy and mythology in folklore and demonology, along with things described accurately and realistically. There are stories and tales, called, in Russian folklore and common people's parlance,"bylichka", which can be translated as "happening" or "what really happened", and there are "skazki", or fanciful "fairy tales". We have seen both kinds of tales in the book under discussion. So we have to use common sense to tell them or their elements apart. Science is "organized common sense" (Thomas Huxley). There are also things and cases when it is difficult or impossible to decide at once whether we deal with fact or fiction, but then hominology would not be a science if all were clear and easy in it. "Patterning", as pointed out by Lady X, comes to help us in such cases.
Lady X coexisted with, observed and studied a family of Bigfoot on her wooded property for six years. Her first encounter with them was sudden and dramatic.This is what she wrote me in response to this work:
"I'm not a specialist in Native American Studies or culture, and thus would never attempt to critique or judge their oral traditions. I'm not in a position to do so, and never would. But I would certainly turn to their oral traditions as a resource and tool, as I've done, and have found much application.
Relatedly, your recent shared message was of particular interest as I reflected on my own initial journey -- striving to acquire behavioral information.
When I discovered I had not only a group of visitors, but a recurring group, and not knowing anything about them, the first and most immediate thing I needed to know was what to expect behaviorally to gauge my level of safety, or what, if anything, might precipitate aggression or lead to endangerment. I immediately went online and found tons on sighting and track reports, and other miscellaneous information, but virtually nothing regarding behavior. Annotated descriptions of books on the subject at the time sounded the same, and there was no one identified or found as having had any ongoing contact and experience for consultation. In short, I was on my own.
My first thought: Who would or might be familiar with these beings and behavioral aspects? From home (on sabbatical) I instantly speed-dialed the college reference librarian (who over the years I'd developed a close working relationship), and she kindly pulled for me (and even ordered off-campus) every book and reference she could find on Native American oral traditions.
Cannibalism ... kidnapping young women and children ... intercepting forest wanderers and travelers ... intimidating and chasing off fishers and hunters ... tricking and playing pranks ... stealing fish and meat ....
Behavioral themes gleaned from oral traditions often appeared to relate to territoriality and spatial organization, resource competition, habitat and resource protection, wildlife protection, food-resource procurement and maintenance, mobility, reproduction, and others.
I found this information most valuable, and it was this information, in part, that dispelled my concerns as seemingly little applied ... (...). There would be nothing in my lifestyle, behavior or actions that should disturb or perturb them. In short, I sensed the situation would be fine, and we should be compatible. I also, in retrospect, was certain they had already been present for quite some time, and I'd never been harmed.
I should note I also used such preliminary information and profiles gleaned from Native Americans to help design methods of study and tailor approaches.
The point to be made: I turned to Native Americans -- their oral traditions -- to gain bearings and insights into behavioral aspects and considerations, and later used as reference for comparisons. What first struck me about oral traditions was that these beings certainly didn't sound like animals, or do things animals would do. They sounded quite humanlike in behavior and action -- able to reason, outsmart, verbalize and more, and they were described and referenced in human terms. At the time it seemed fanciful, but over time, as close contact and experience accrued, I found it was a most accurate assessment."
I can't imagine who could explain and publicize the importance and usefulness of folklore for us better than Lady X with this message. What first struck her "about oral traditions was that these beings certainly didn't sound like animals..." To the question addressed by me to Kathy Strain, "What is your impression of the status the Native Americans and their folklore ascribe to Sasquatch -- human or animal?", she replied: "Dmitri, I would say that most native people feel that bigfoot is a form of human. (...) I think native people view bigfoot as a relative -- but the kind you don't really want to invite to Christmas dinner."
It was a long time ago that I opened Richard Bernheimer's book Wild Men In The Middle Ages before writing this paper. Opening it on this occasion, I was struck by this sentence on p.5: "Heinrich von Hesler, in the fourteenth century, explains in his 'Apocalypse' that wild men are 'Adam's children in form, face, and human intelligence, and are God's own handiwork.'" Because of my initial preconception, borrowed from Boris Porshnev, I didn't earlier believe the fourteenth century author that "wild men" are "Adam's children in form, face, and human intelligence", that is humans on the whole. As I've stated already, the book that made me "betray" my hominology teacher, Professor Porshnev, and start to think that bigfoot can speak, and therefore by Porshnev's own criterion, must be classed as humans, not animals, was the book 50 Years With Bigfoot, that came out and was read by me in 2002. Despite its obvious defects, due to having been authored by lay persons, it's a great revelational book. Thus even more credit goes to the two non-professional authors, Mary Green and Janice Carter, for making a groundbreaking contribution to science.
The two books, 50 Years With Bigfoot and Bigfoot In Native Culture, as demonstrated with a couple of examples above, are complementary and mutually supportive. All previous books on the subject, my first books in English included, were sort of introductory, dealing mainly with the homins' existence and appearance, but indecisive on the most important issue of all -- the beings evolutionary status, the question of their being human or non-human primates. These two volumes can be called our first textbooks in hominology, demonstrating to me beyond doubt that bigfoots, and similarly their hairy relatives in Eurasia and Australia, are human primates. Besides their linguistic ability, another impressible and indicative characteristic is the variety of their psychological types, the existence among them of "good guys" and "bad guys", just like among ordinary humans, some bigfoots being ready to kill and eat people, while others are known to help and save people. I first heard of that from Janice, and now learned from Kathy Strain's book.
So as far as I am concerned, the most crucial and prickly conclusion has been chewed over and swallowed up. And it's only the beginning. Digestion comes next. That is reflection, comprehension, figuring out. Terminology is a headache as usual, terms being the tools of thought. Homin, hominology, hominologist are useful and usable. Homin is a living (non-fossil) non-sapiens hominid (hominin). How closely related to Homo sapiens? As closely as wolves to coyotes or as wolves to domestic dogs, judging by fertile interbreeding between homins and humans. Homin is a human being, but seemingly not a sapiens human being, and that is why we need a special name for him. Accordingly, there is humankind and hominkind. What's the difference? Not in appearance, not in morphology, but in mentality, in ecology, that is existentially? The crucial difference seems to be in the relation with the environment, i.e., with Nature. Homo sapiens has built civilization by "conquering" and "enslaving" Nature, while Homin-the-Wild Man has existed sort of melting into Nature. No sapiens aborigines have such close and intimate links with Nature as homins do. So the best qualifier for them is Nature. They are Nature people, and each of them is a Nature person. Like it or not, in terms of Otherness, each of us is either a "tech person" or "hi tech person":).
Now the great philosophic and sociological question is how on earth these Nature persons have managed to evolve and maintain for ages human intelligence under conditions of wilderness. The answer will probably take long to get, but my hunch is that their "magic" powers have something to do with it.
It's really time for mw to wind up, and before saying goodbye let me remark that there is still a source in Native American culture that has not been tapped. I mean native sayings and proverbs. To show relevance of such expressions I offer a little chapter from my last book:
The Proverbial Connection
Folklorists define the proverb in this way: An apt and colorful expression summarizing people's observations and reflections regarding various sides of real life.
Citing this definition in my book, I note that the proverb has two meanings: one direct and literal, referring to “various sides of real life,” and the other indirect and figurative, applied to various episodes and developments of social life. Thus, when people say “It never rains but it pours,” or “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” or “One shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth,” they use literal, real life meanings in a figurative sense.
So I ask what is the real meaning of the numerous proverbs and sayings of all peoples of the world referring to the devil and other demons. The Russians say, “The devil is not so ugly [or fearsome] as he is painted.” The English say, “The devil is not so black as he is painted” and “to paint the devil blacker than he is.” The Russians say, “The devil is swarthy from birth, not from the sun.” They also say “Brown devil, gray devil, still a devil.” Does this not mean that the creators of these proverbs did know the look of the devil?
The Russian equivalent of the English, “Still waters run deep,” is “Devils dwell in a quiet slough (pool).” For the hominologist the real meaning of the proverb is quite clear.
The famous 19th Century lexicographer Vladimir Dahl offers other proverbs and sayings reflecting the devil's aquatic preferences. “To be led to the devil, like the devil to the marsh,” “Given a marsh, given the devils,” “When devils dive nothing but bubbles arise,” “A job [a work assignment] is not a devil, won't disappear into the water,” “Worms in the earth, devils in the water, crooks in the court, where can a man go?”
Some more sayings from Vladimir Dahl's Dictionary of the Russian Language: “You are as big as the devil [or leshy] but still small in the mind,” “You are clever and strong but can't beat the leshy,” “Leshy is mute but vociferous,” “To roar like a leshy,” “Infected with the devil's fleas and lice,” “The devil brushed himself and lost his brush.”
An Arab proverb goes “Azrata min ghoul” (stinking like a ghoul); also quite a familiar sign. A synonym for “demon” in Russian is “unclean spirit.” Demons collectively are referred to as “nechistaya sila” (unclean power).
When the Kabardians say “to catch the almasty by head hair,” they mean to pull a thing off.
The advice and wish “Go to the devil!” and “The devil take you [him, her]” seem to be international. When a needed person appears at last after a long wait the Russians say, “Where has the devil been carrying you?” Enlightened by the Albert Ostman case, the hominologist knows that the latter saying is a reflection of real life as well.
(Bigfoot Research: The Russian Vision, 2007, pp. 28, 29).
With thanks to Kathy Strain for her book,
to Chris Murphy for helping to put book texts into my emails,
to Bobbie Short for posting parts one through four on her website,
to all who sent their responses,
to the Internet for providing fabulous global connection,
International Center of Hominology
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