Monday, August 13, 2012

Salmon: folklore with fins

Creatures from the sea have long captured folklore attention. From whales that swallowed people to water snakes that could consume an entire lake, they have become an important folklore element for people who live near significant water sources.

Salmon, fresh and salt water, have held a special place among many cultures. From the Druids to Scandinavians to Hawaiians, it has long been a valued creatured. Not just because of its nutritional value, but also because of its ability to impart wisdom and venerability.

Here are a few examples:
  • It appears in Druid wisdom lore and in Irish mythology is associated with knowledge it grants to whoever eats it.
  • In Britian it is believed to be oldest animal. According to the Welsh prose tale Culhwch and Olwen, several of King Arthur’s men ride the salmon to a prison where one of the king’s men is imprisoned.
  • Norse mythology’s Loki who sometimes assists the gods and at other times tricks them,  jumped into a river and transformed himself into a salmon in order to escape punishment from the other gods for fooling one of them into killing his brother.  When the gods held out a net to trap him he attempted to leap over it but was caught by Thor who grabbed him by the tail with his hand, which is why the salmon's tail is tapered.
  • Long abundant on both the East and West coasts of America, salmon is known in the Northwest as "Alaskan turkey." In Hawaii, it is lomi-lomi, a highly prized food.

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