Incidence

The lovebug, also known as the honeymoon fly or kissingbug (Plecia nearctica), is a member of the family of march flies. It is a small flying insect common to parts of Central America and the southeastern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast.

During and after mating, adult pairs remain coupled, even in flight, for several days. Lovebug flights can number in the hundreds of thousands. The slow, drifting movement of the insects is almost reminiscent of snow fall except the flies also rise up into the air reaching altitudes of over one thousand feet. Two major flights occur each year, first in late spring, then again in late summer.

The species’ reputation as a public nuisance is due not to any bite or sting but to its slightly acidic body chemistry. Because airborne lovebugs can exist in enormous numbers near highways, they die en masse on automobile windshields, hoods, and radiator grills when the vehicles travel at high speeds. If left for more than an hour or two, the remains become dried and extremely difficult to remove.

The lovebug was first described in 1940. At that time, the incidence of lovebugs was most common in Texas and Louisiana. However, by the end of the 20th century the species had spread heavily to all areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Urban legend holds that love bugs are the result of a University of Florida genetics experiment gone wrong,

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Devotion

The Indian Palm Squirrel is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family that can be easily domesticated and kept as pets. It is found naturally in India. In the late 19th century, the Palm Squirrel was accidentally introduced into Western Australia where it has since become a minor pest.

The squirrels eat mainly nuts and fruits. They are opportunists in urban areas, and can be easily domesticated and trained to accept food from humans. Naturally active, their activity reaches levels of frenzy during the mating season. They tend to be very protective over their food sources, often guarding and defending them from birds and other squirrels.

The stripes on the Palm Squirrel’s back are described in a Hindu legend. The bridge at Rameswaram was being constructed by Lord Rama and the Vanara Sena, and the squirrel played its part by rolling in beach sand then running to the bridge to shake the sand from its back, all the time chanting Lord Rama’s name.

Lord Rama was pleased by the creature’s dedication and, in stroking the squirrel’s back, the mark of Rama’s fingers was left on the squirrel ever since. This association with Lord Rama explains why squirrels are considered sacred in India.

Chamber

In Jewish mysticism, the Chamber of Guf, also called the Otzar, is the Hall of Souls located in the Seventh Heaven. Every human soul is held to emanate from the Guf. The Talmud teaches that the Messiah will not come until the Guf is emptied of all its souls.

In keeping with other Jewish legends that envision souls as bird-like, the Guf is sometimes described as a columbarium, or birdhouse. Folklore says sparrows can see the soul’s descent and this explains their joyous chirping.

The mystic significance of the Guf is that each person is important and has a unique role which only each person, with their unique soul, can fulfill. Even a newborn baby brings the Messiah closer simply by being born.

The peculiar idiom of describing the treasury of souls may be connected to the mythic tradition of Adam Kadmon, the primordial man. Adam Kadmon was a supernal being, androgynous and equal in size with the universe. According to Kabbalah, every human soul is a fragment cycling out of the great world soul of Adam Kadmon. Hence, every human soul comes from the Chamber of Guf.

Hybrid

An hippalectryon is a type of fantastic hybrid creature of Ancient Greek folklore, half-horse and half-rooster, with yellow feathers. The rooster half sports wings, the tail and the hind legs. The oldest representation currently known dates back from the 9th century BC, and the motive grows most common in the 6th century, notably on vase painting and sometimes as statues, often shown with a rider. It is also featured on some pieces of currency.

Roosters are a symbol of solar power that routs demons with its singing at sunrise. Horses, especially winged horses, are a funerary symbol as they guide the soul of the dead. The grotesque and ugly hybrid supposedly induced laughter, thereby driving evil away.

Aristophanes describes the hippalectryon as a yellow-feathered, awkward-looking creature. The appearance of the creature is consistent amongst the known artistic representations. A text attributed to Hesychius of Alexandria, mentions three different types of hippalectryons: a giant rooster; a giant vulture; and a creature close to griffins as painted on fabrics from Persia.

Hippalectryons are displayed almost exclusively on black-figure vases from Attica, and could constitute an alternative representation for Pegasus. Fantastic hybrids are a popular and common theme on archaic Greek sculpture and vases. Most hybrids appear to have reached Greece from the East, although no early representation of a hippalectryon in Egyptian or Middle Eastern art has yet been found. They have also been found on engraved stones from the Late Period of ancient Egypt.

An analysis of Aristophanes’ works suggests that it could originate from the Middle East, and the costumes worn by the people featured on potteries with hippalectryons seem to be Asian, though this particular point is a matter of debate.

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Accumulation

The Loch Ness Monster is alleged to be a creature inhabiting Loch Ness in Scotland. Popular interest and belief in the animal has fluctuated since it was brought to the world’s attention in 1933. Evidence of its existence is largely anecdotal, with minimal and much disputed photographic material and sonar readings. The scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster as a modern day myth, and explains sightings as a mix of hoaxes and wishful thinking. Despite this, it remains one of the most famous examples of cryptozoology. The legendary monster has been affectionately referred to as Nessie since the 1950s.

One of the most iconic images of Nessie is known as the Surgeon’s Photograph, which many formerly considered to be good evidence of the monster. Its importance lies in the fact that it was the only photographic evidence of a head and neck, as all the other photographs are humps or disturbances. The image was revealed as a hoax in 1994.

In 1979 the image was claimed to be a picture of an elephant. Other sceptics in the 1980s argued the photo was that of an otter or a diving bird, but after the photographer’s confession most agree it was what he claimed: a toy submarine with a sculpted head attached. Essentially, it was a toy submarine with a head and neck made of plastic wood. One of the researchers who uncovered the hoax argues the Loch Ness Monster is real, and that the hoaxed Surgeon’s Photograph is not cause enough to dismiss eyewitness reports and other evidence.

On a recent expedition to find evidence of Nessie, U.S. research teams came across something quite unexpected, not a prehistoric creature of the deep but thousands of plastic covered golf balls. Mike O’Brien of SeaTrepid explains: “At first we thought they were mushrooms, there were so many. But when we lowered the camera, we were surprised to see that they were in fact, golf balls.” The smattering of balls were found roughly 300 yards from the beach and 100 yards from the shore where it is thought locals and visitors have been using the loch to practice their driving skills for quite some time.

Flame

A phoenix is a mythical bird with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1,000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites. Both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh.

Originally, the phoenix was identified by the Egyptians as a stork or heron-like bird called a benu, known from the Book of the Dead and other Egyptian texts as one of the sacred symbols of worship at Heliopolis, closely associated with the rising sun and the Egyptian sun-god Ra.

The Greeks identified it with their own word phoenix, meaning the color purple-red or crimson. They and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle. According to the Greeks the phoenix lived in Phoenicia next to a well. At dawn, it bathed in the water of the well, and the Greek sun-god Helios stopped his chariot (the sun) in order to listen to its song.

One inspiration that has been suggested for the Egyptian phoenix is the flamingo of East Africa. This bright pink or white bird nests on salt flats that are too hot for its eggs or chicks to survive. It builds a mound several inches tall and large enough to support its egg, which it lays in that marginally cooler location. The convection currents around these mounds resembles the turbulence of a flame.

Phoenix is also the English-language name given to the most important bird in Chinese mythology, the fenghuang, with its own set of characteristics and symbolic meanings. In Russian folklore, the phoenix appears as the Zhar-Ptitsa or firebird, subject of the famous 1910 ballet score by Igor Stravinsky.

Primal

icon_02Dragons are legendary creatures that feature in the myths of worldwide cultures, typically with serpentine or otherwise reptilian traits. They are usually shown in modern times with a body like a huge lizard, or a snake with two pairs of lizard-type legs, and able to emit fire from their mouths. The European dragon has bat-type wings growing from its back. A dragon-like creature with no front legs is known as a wyvern. 

Dragons are often held to have major spiritual significance in various religions and cultures around the world. In many Asian cultures dragons were, and in some cultures still are, revered as representative of the primal forces of nature, religion and the universe. They are associated with wisdom, often said to be wiser than humans, and longevity. They are commonly said to possess some form of magic or other supernatural power, and are often associated with wells, rain, and rivers. In some cultures, they are also said to be capable of human speech.

Although dragons occur in many legends around the world, different cultures have varying stories about monsters that have been grouped together under the dragon label. Some dragons are said to breathe fire or to be poisonous. They are commonly portrayed as serpentine or reptilian, hatching from eggs and possessing typically scaly or feathered bodies. They are sometimes portrayed as having especially large eyes or watching treasure very diligently, a feature that is the origin of the word dragon, from the Greek drakein meaning “to see clearly”).

Some myths portray them with a row of dorsal spines. European dragons are more often winged, while Oriental versions of the dragon resemble large snakes. Dragons can have a variable number of legs: none, two, four, or more when it comes to early European literature. Also, some dragons in Greek literature were known to have millions of legs at a time. Modern depictions of dragons tend to be larger than their original representations, which were often smaller than humans, but grew in the myths and tales of man over the years. Following discovery of how pterosaurs walked on the ground, some modern dragons have been portrayed without front legs and using the wings as front legs pterosaur-fashion when on the ground.

Phases

The lunar effect is a theory which overlaps into sociology, psychology and physiology suggesting that there is correlation between specific stages of the Earth’s lunar cycle and deviant behavior in human beings. The notion behind the lunar effect has fascinated many behavioralists and warranted many experiments and studies.

Across the world, there has been an abundance of pseudoscientific theories and superstitions based on this premise. One theory claiming that the moon has a perceived relationship to fertility is due to the corresponding human menstrual cycle, which averages 28 days. However, only about 30 percent of women have a cycle length within two days of the average. Furthermore, the cycle of lunar phases is 29.53 days long, so the cycles would soon get out of synchronization. Some say that upon seeing the new moon you should hand over whatever silver you have in your pockets or handbag, which supposedly ensures prosperity for the following month.

According to some traditions, prior to the advent of modern techniques, surgeons would supposedly refuse to operate on the full moon because of the increased risk of death of the patient through blood loss. As with most folklore and urban legends, the notion behind the lunar effect has also found its way into the news. For example, most recently, it has been alleged that the full moon may have influenced voter behavior in the US 2000 presidential election.

In the UK, a survey has found that car accidents rise by up to 50 percent during full moons. Senior police officers in Brighton announced in June 2007 that they were planning to deploy more officers over the summer to counter trouble they believe is linked to the lunar cycle. In January 2008, New Zealand’s Justice Minister Annette King suggested that a spate of stabbings in the country could have been caused by the lunar cycle.

Most experiments, however, have found no correlation between the variables and, thus, refuted the theory of lunar effect. Over the past 30 years, even more evidence has emerged to stress that it is pseudoscience.

The majority of scientific research seems to refute the theory of the lunar effect. Psychologist Ivan Kelly of the University of Saskatchewan did a meta-analysis of thirty-seven studies that examined relationships between the moon’s four phases and human behavior. The meta-analysis revealed no correlation. They also checked twenty-three studies that had claimed to show correlation, and nearly half of these contained at least one statistical error.

A study of 4,190 suicides in Sacramento County over a 58-year period showed no correlation to the phase of the moon. A 1992 paper reviewed twenty studies examining correlations between Moon phase and suicides. Most of the twenty studies found no correlation and the ones that did report positive results were inconsistent with each other.

Astronomer Daniel Caton analyzed 70,000,000 birth records from the National Center for Health Statistics, and no correlation between births and moon phase was found. In 1959 Walter Menaker reported that a study of over 510,000 births in New York City showed a 1 percent increase in births in the two weeks after full moon. In 1967 he studied another 500,000 births in New York City, and this time he found a 1 percent increase in births in the two-week period centered on the full moon.

A fifteen month study in Jacksonville, Florida also revealed no lunar effect on crime and hospital room admittance. There was no increase in crime on full moons, according to a statistical analysis by the Jacksonville Police Department. Five of the fifteen full moons had a higher than average rate of crime while ten full moons had a lower than average rate. The higher-than-average days were during warmer months.

Statistical analysis of visits to Shands Hospital emergency room showed no full moon effect. Emergency room admissions consistently have more to do with the day of the week.

Character

Pixies are variously described in folklore and fiction. They are said to disguise themselves as a bundle of rags to lure children into their play and are fond of music and dancing. They are usually depicted with pointed ears, and often wearing a green outfit and pointed hat. Sometimes their eyes are described as being pointed upwards at the temple ends. Pixies are said to be helpful to normal humans, sometimes helping needy widows and others with housework.

They are often ill clothed or naked. Lack of fashion sense has been taken to mean that Pixies generally go unclothed, though they are sensitive to human need for covering. Pixies are said to be invisibly small, and harmless or friendly to man. Yet in some of the legends and historical accounts they are presented as having near human stature.

Many Victorian era poets saw them as magical beings. By the early 19th Century their contact with “normal humans” had diminished. Some Pixies are said to steal children or to lead travelers astray. Pixies are said to reward consideration and punish neglect on the part of larger humans. By their presence they bring blessings to those who are fond of them.

Pixies are drawn to horses, riding them for pleasure and making tangled ringlets in the manes of those horses they ride. Their mythology seems to predate Christian presence in Britain. They were subsumed into what passed as Christianity with the explanation that they were the souls of children who had died unbaptized. Pixies are said to be uncommonly beautiful, though there are some called pixie who have distorted and strange appearance. One Pixie is said to have some goat-like features. Another is said to be coltish in character.

Before the mid 19th Century Pixies and Faires were taken seriously in much of Cornwall and Devon. Books devoted to the homely beliefs of the peasantry are filled with incidents of Pixie manifestations. Some locales are named for the Pixies associated with them. In Devon, near Challacombe,a group of rocks are named for the Pixies said to dwell there. In some areas belief in Pixies and Fairies persists.

Nectar

Honey is created by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. By contriving for bee swarms to nest in artificial hives, people have been able to semi-domesticate the insects, and harvest excess honey. In the hive there are three types of bee: a single female queen bee, a seasonally variable number of male drone bees to fertilize new queens, and some 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees.

The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. Leaving the hive, they collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return. In the process, they release pheromones. These pheromones lead other bees to rich nectar sites by “smell”. Honeybees also release pheromones at the entrance to the hive, which enables returning bees to return to the proper hive.

In the hive the bees use their “honey stomachs” to ingest and regurgitate the nectar a number of times until it is partially digested. The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion until the product reaches a desired quality. It is then stored in honeycomb cells. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar is still high in both water content and natural yeasts which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment.

The process continues as bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb which enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has a long shelf life and will not ferment if properly sealed.

Honey use and production has a long and varied history. In many cultures, honey has associations that go beyond its use as a food. Honey is frequently a talisman and symbol of sweetness. Eva Crane’s The Archaeology of Beekeeping states that humans began hunting for honey at least 10,000 years ago. She evidences this with a cave painting in Valencia, Spain. The painting is a Mesolithic rock painting, showing two female honey-hunters collecting honey and honeycomb from a wild bee hive. The two women are depicted in the nude, carrying baskets, and using a long wobbly ladder in order to reach the wild nest.

In Ancient Egypt, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, and was used in many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian peoples also used honey for embalming the dead. In the Roman Empire, honey was possibly used instead of gold to pay taxes. Pliny the Elder devotes considerable space in his book Naturalis Historia to the bee and honey, and its many uses. The fertility god of Egypt, Min, was offered honey. In some parts of post-classical Greece, like Rhodes, it was formerly the custom for a bride to dip her fingers in honey and make the sign of the cross before entering her new home.

In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashana. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashana greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the new year.

In Buddhism, honey plays an important role in the festival of Madhu Purnima, celebrated by Buddhists in India and Bangladesh. The day commemorates Buddha’s making peace among his disciples by retreating into the wilderness. The legend has it that while he was there, a monkey brought him honey to eat. On Madhu Purnima, Buddhists remember this act by giving honey to monks. The monkey’s gift is frequently depicted in Buddhist art.

The word “honey”, along with variations like “honey bun” and the abbreviation “hon”, has become a term of endearment in most of the English-speaking world. In some places it is used for loved ones. in others, such as the American South, it is used when addressing casual acquaintances or even strangers.

In many children’s books bears are depicted as eating honey, even though most bears actually eat a wide variety of foods, and bears seen at beehives are usually more interested in bee larvae than honey. In some European languages the word for bear is coined from the noun which means honey and the verb which means to eat (Croatian ‘medvjed’). Honey is sometimes sold in bear-shaped jars or squeeze bottles.