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Tales Told By The Wind Mother

Eastern Europe

 :: 

Hungary

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Hardback:

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eBook:

978-1-913500-95-5

978-1-913500-17-7

978-1-913500-64-1

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Wind Mother

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This volume, Tales Told By The Wind Mother covers stories originating in Hungary and the Magyar tradition.

András Róna-Tas suggests that the Hungarians, also known as the Manicha-Er group, originated in the region between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. Their independent existence began between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, marking the early development of the proto-Hungarian language.

Around 830 AD, when Álmos was about 10 years old, seven related tribes, namely Jenő, Kér, Keszi, Kürt-Gyarmat, Megyer Nyék, and Tarján, formed a confederation in a place called Etelköz. They called themselves the "Hétmagyar" or "Seven Magyars." The leaders of these tribes, known as the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, which included Álmos, Előd, Ond, Kond, Tas, Huba, and Töhötöm, swore a blood oath of eternal loyalty to Álmos.

In essence, this provides a rich history of the Magyar people and a wealth of legends and stories to draw from. This tradition is rooted in early shamanistic beliefs that divided the world into three realms: the Upper World (Felső világ), where the gods resided; the Middle World (Középső világ), our world as we know it; and the Underworld (Alsó világ). At the centre of this world stands a towering tree known as the Világfa or Életfa, the World Tree or Tree of Life.

Throughout these tales, you'll encounter phrases that reference this concept of the world as a superlative. The Upper World is accessed through the foliage of the Világfa, where the Turul bird resides at the pinnacle. The Middle World is situated at the trunk, and the Underworld is located around the tree's roots. In some stories, the tree bears fruit, and you'll come across mentions of golden apples and pears.

The gods and benevolent spirits dwell in the Upper World, where celestial bodies like the Sun and the Moon also reside. The sky is perceived as a vast tent held up by the Tree of Life, with the stars being the holes in it.

The Middle World is inhabited by humans and numerous mythological creatures, many of which possess supernatural qualities. These creatures include forest and water spirits, like the mermaid (sellő), who has a human torso and a fish tail. The wind is controlled by an elderly figure called Szélanya (Wind Mother) or Szélkirály (Wind King). The dragon (Sárkány) is a menacing creature and often the adversary of heroes in these tales, symbolizing their inner struggles. Dragons typically have multiple heads. The lidérc is a mysterious and ghostly entity with various forms, known for its malicious deeds. Elves and goblins (manók) as well as dwarfs (törpék) inhabit the woods and underground, while giants (Óriások) reside in the mountains.

Giants can display both good and bad traits. One of the tradition's beloved beings is the fairies (tündérek), often depicted as beautiful young virgins or female creatures, representing purity and innocence or playfulness and cleverness. They assist humans and sometimes grant them three wishes.

On the other hand, the bábák are likened to cunning old witches, and they appear frequently in these stories.

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