Lost Species: Steller’s Sea Cow

One extinct animal that I have a cultus for is Steller’s Sea Cow. Since I have done conservation work for Florida and Belize manatees, their relative will speak to me. The Manatees mourn Steller’s Sea Cow.

Steller’s sea cow, a cold water relative of the manatee and dugong, was unknown to modern people until 1741. At that time, the crew of Vitus Bering’s ship, the Sv. Piotr was ship-wrecked off the coast of Kamchatka, where the last remaining herds of these mammals lived. Through overhunting, Steller’s sea cow went extinct thirty years later.

However, this sea cow (Sirenian) has remained in the memory of many people. Over a century later, Rudyard Kipling in his short story “The White Seal” had Steller’s sea cow guiding seals to a place of refuge from hunters. A century later, people still report encounters with this marine mammal. In the mists and fogs of our imaginations, Steller’s sea cow still swims.

One of the megafauna of the Pleistocene, Steller’s sea cow was one of the last of these animals to go extinct. As large as today’s whales, Steller’s sea cow could have been the largest mammal ever in the world. His extinction brought home to the Europeans, the reality that nothing was inexhaustible. Extinction was very real and very grave. His extinction gave birth to the study of how ecosystems work and can be disrupted.

Lessons that Steller’s Sea Cow teaches are varied. Because extinction is a part of living, life now becomes more precious. Sadness fills us when we hear about the cause of his demise. So much so that we neglect his life and fail to wonder who He was. Did Steller’s Sea Cow follow his dreams to the colder waters? Or were the Manatee and Dugong wise for staying in warmer waters? The answers lie beyond the mists of time and space. Steller’s Sea Cow beckons us to explore his world through memories and dreams.

Steller’s Sea Cow holds a place in our memories. He asks us to remember Him as He was, adventurous and fearless. We may feel sorrow and grief for his passing, but we can hold Steller’s Sea Cow in our hearts. The hole that comes from his extinction still resonates with the Manatee and Dugong, who miss their Brother terribly. The lesson that He teaches us is “that which is remembered still lives.” With that in mind, let us work to keep his siblings alive. Also let us venture into the mists to learn more from Steller’s Sea Cow.

Coming Attractions

Since the last time I did this, it was well received…. I thought I would post what I am working on. If anyone has any requests or want more in-depth looks about something, just ask.

Exploration of the other Beings that share the earth with humans – giants, gnomes, and more

How to research Gods with little lore

In-depth look at magical tools of witches and ceremonial magicians

Extinct animals and their veneration. Stellar’s sea cow, dinosaurs, and more

My book garden for the local community

In-depth look at Edward Bulter and his book, The Way of the Gods

A reblog of How to celebrate Saturnalia

The Morrigan and The Shadow

From my essay in “Walking The Worlds.”

Noted Pagan author, Morgan Daimler writes that the Irish Goddess, The Morrigan is an active force in the world today, appearing in many forms. For me, the voice of The Morrigan comes through the character of The Shadow of popular fiction. I believe that the creator of The Shadow, Walter Gibson, channeled her Voice in writing his stories. Although Gibson created this character in 1930, other writers have continued his legacy. The Shadow remains the Dark Master of Justice much like The Morrigan is the Sovereign Queen.

Often referred to as The Triple Goddess, The Morrigan has three major aspects. She is Morrigu, the Goddess of Battle, Macha, Goddess of Sovereignty, and Badb, the Goddess of Prophecy. As the Goddess of Battle, The Morrigan rouses her warriors for the fight. Shaking her spear, She calls all to war, promising victory for some, but death for many. As the Great Queen, The Morrigan is the personification of sovereignty. In this aspect, She inspires the people to defend their homes and then incites them to go to war as well. As the Goddess of Prophecy, The Morrigan appears as the Washer of the Ford. Often seen washing clothes in a river, She predicts who will die in battle by handling their bloody garments.

Walter Gibson (1897-1985) wrote his many stories in a fugue state. In interviews, he spoke of writing fifteen hours a day for days on end until his fingers bled. Frank Eisgruber, Jr. writes in “Gangland’s Doom,” that Gibson often based his stories on where he was, what the publisher wanted, and what was happening at the time. However, I think that Gibson actually channeled the Voice of The Morrigan in his stories. Furthermore, Orson Welles in his radio version, and various comic book writers, over time, had expanded that Voice in their stories of The Shadow as “the Dark Avenger.”

Who is The Shadow? He has a tripartite identity as the human Kent Allard, the stolen identity of Lamont Cranston, and the Dark Instrument of Fate. As Kent Allard, he is the Dark Eagle, an air ace of World War I. Later in Central Asia, Allard was a warlord who vied for supremacy in the opium trade. Sometime during his warlord days, he entered a monastery, and later emerged as The Shadow.

After he fakes his death in Central America, The Shadow goes to New York City. When he arrives, The Shadow steals the identity of Lamont Cranston, a wealthy socialite. He uses Cranston’s social position to gain entrance into the city’s inner circle of power. After Cranston confronts The Shadow, he is frightened into co-operating with The Shadow’s plans.

Since he has a preternatural power over people’s destinies, The Shadow refers to himself as the “Weird Avenger of Fate.” Gibson first referred to The Shadow with that title, which later became canon for other writers. The Shadow’s use of “weird” is in the sense of the “weird witches” of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The Shadow knows who has to die, who to kill, who to redeem, and who to work for him, just as the various myths say that of The Morrigan.

Gibson discussed his philosophy in writing fiction: “You must treat the character as a discovery rather than your own creation. Treat him not just seriously, but profoundly.” Street and Smith, the publisher, had featured The Shadow a year earlier in another pulp fiction story. They assigned Gibson to flesh the character out for a new magazine series. Writing as rapidly as he could, Gibson came up with an uncanny and nebulous figure, who moved mysteriously in and out of people’s lives. In a physical sense, The Shadow was a black cloaked man who could fade into the darkness. Gibson always regarded The Shadow as remote and aloof, which gives credence to this character being channeled from outside of himself.

How is The Shadow the same as The Morrigan? Since he possesses a deep core of darkness and moral ambiguity within himself, The Shadow “knows what evil that lurks in the hearts of men.” Michael Uslen (noted comic book writer and executive producer of Batman/Dark Knight movies) contrasts The Shadow with other pulp fiction characters. He points out, “The Avenger seeks Justice. He tends to define it according to the law. The Shadow defines Justice the way he himself chooses, making him, judge, jury, and executioner. He finds a chasm of difference between ‘Justice’ and ‘the Law’. (Emphasis mine.) Doc Savage is trying to operate above such ideologies. He is out for the common good of mankind with little regards for countries… and whose justice or whose laws. …The Shadow kills. The Avenger does not. Doc avoids it.” Glimpsing into the character of The Shadow, The Morrigan emerges.

Because Gibson strove to treat his characters profoundly, he reached into the Mythic realm where the Gods dwell. Using his fugue state, The Morrigan shaped Gibson’s writing. By inhabiting The Shadow, The Morrigan speaks to modern people.

Babylon: November/December

In Mesopotamia, the ninth month was a time of storms. In Sumer, it was called Gan-gan-e, “the month of clouds coming out.” This month is dedicated to Ninurta, the Storm God. (Storm Gods are protectors of the order of the universe.) During this month of storms, people hold footraces in honor of Ninurta. These races commemorate his victory over the Anzu Bird, which had stolen the Tablets of Fate. At the start of the races, people shout, “The Anzu is vanquished! Go and inform all the Gods!”

In Babylon, the month was called Kissilimu, and dedicated to the God of War, Nergal. As the fourth husband of Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, Nergal stays with Her for half the year. The war season begins upon his return during Kissilimu. At that time, a festival is held to honor his war chariot. People chant, “May the month Kissilimu, of the great warrior Nergal, absolve! The month Kissilimu, an abundant yield will be heaped up, the mighty hero, Nergal who has arisen from the Underworld!”

Roman Gods of the Month: November

For Romans, November was the month of community and games. The Ludi Plebeii (The Plebeian Games) in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus were held for ten days. I see November as a month to celebrate the community and the blessings of the Gods.

In the Roman calendar, there is a lack of festival compared with the other months. Examining various ritual calendars, there appears in each culture at least one month that is “empty.” For example, Shinto has October as the month when all the Gods go to Izumo Shrine. November is a quiet month for Romans. It seems to be the time when people catch their breath after the harvest and before the festivities of December.

POMONA: A festival thanking Pomona, the Goddess of Orchards for the ripe fruit is held on November 1.

MANIA and DII MANES: The Opening of the Mundus (the Well to the Underworld) is conducted for the third time in the year on November 8.

FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA AND FERONIA: On the Ides of November (the 13th), Fortuna Primigenia and Ferona are honored. As the Mother of Juno and Jupiter, Fortuna Primigenia sets the destiny of children at their birth. Meanwhile, Ferona is the Goddess of Agricultural Produce.