Culture

Culture

Favorite Quotes

“Busy hands are happy hands.” — Grandma Swanstrom (1901-1979) “It is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.” — Epictetus (c55-c135), Discourses, ii, 17. “If you would be a good reader, read; if a writer, write.” — Epictetus (c55-c135), Discourses, ii, 18. “Never lick a gift horse in the mouth.” — Brian Reedy,…

Culture

Siberian Lore

The Buriats of Siberia regarded the eagle as their ancestral father and the swan as their ancestral mother. Kartaga In a Tatar poem, the hero Kartaga struggled with a swan-woman. The contest went on for years, but Kartaga could not defeat her because her soul was not in her body. Instead, her soul inhabited the…

Culture

Symbolism of Swans

In the ancient world, it was widely believed that swans sing only once in their lifetimes, just before they die. Socrates and Plato both mentioned this belief. Geoffrey Chaucer alluded to it about 1374. Hence, the phrase swan song, meaning a person’s final labor. This belief led to an association between swans and prophecy, because…

Culture

Oriental Lore

In the Orient, swans represent gracefulness, nobility and valor. They are also symbolize music. Stories from Siam and Malaysia mention swan maidens. Li Tzu reported that the Mongols made the Chou Emperor Mu drink swan’s blood. A Chinese idiom refers to someone who demands an undeserved reward: “You are a scoundrel who wants to eat…

Culture

Biology

Swans, both genera Cygnus and Olor, belong to the family Anatidae, which includes geese and ducks. They mate for life, although couples sometimes separate following a nesting failure. Young swans are known as cygnets from the Old French cygne, from the Latin cygnus, from the Greek kuknōs (swan). An adult male is a “cob.” An adult female…

Culture

American Indian Lore

The Mandans and Minnitarees looked to an Old Woman Who Never Dies as the force behind growing crops. She lived in the south and sent migratory birds as her emissaries. Each type of bird represented a particular crop — the swan for gourds, the goose for maize, and the duck for beans. When each type…

Culture

Astrological Lore

In astrology, a prominence of Cygnus is said to give a contemplative, dreamy, cultured and adaptable nature, with ill-regulated and unsteady affections. Talents are said to develop late. There is some love of water and swimming and the arts. Manilus, writing in the 1st century CE analyzed the influence of Cygnus as follows: “Its down…