It’s funny how Valentine’s Day evokes images of Cupid. His cherubic face is a contrast to the mischief he pulls when it comes to classic love stories. And although he may just look like a small baby flying around shooting hopeless souls with a bow and arrow, his story is a lot richer.
This celestial and god-like little being hails from way back in time, long before he was stamped on the front of corny Valentine’s Day cards. When I say long, I mean 700 B.C. long. If you’re still not quite sure who this aerial fella is, here’s a quick synopsis:
Cupid was originally part of the Greek culture, a god named Eros—long before the Romans adopted and renamed him ‘Cupido,’ meaning desire. In Latin he was sometimes called Amor as well. Hesiod was the first author to mention him in his work “Theogony”, but it wasn’t until later that we got hints of his lineage. Was he of Aphrodite and Ares? Nyx and Erebus? Venus and Mars? The connections vary at times. But his work was clear: He either shot mortals and gods with sharp golden arrows (for desire) or blunt lead arrows (for aversion).
Image Via ArtStation
Stories and myths are countless among the gods, but for Eros, there are a few notable ones. In one story, he shot Apollo with a golden arrow so he would fall in love with Daphne. Being his mischievous self, Eros shot Daphne with a lead arrow, leading to her repulsion of Apollo.
In another, Eros’ mother Aphrodite (aka Venus de Milo) was so jealous of Psyche (whose name means ‘soul’ and is depicted as a butterfly) that she ordered Eros to make her fall in love with a monstrous beast. Instead, Eros fell in love with Psyche on the condition that she can’t see his face. Eventually, of course, she peeked and he flew off in anger. In time he returned and granted her immortality anyway. It was believed that Cupid experienced the pain similar of a lead arrow when he was stung by a bee as a child when scouting a hive for fresh honey.
As for the chubby, troublesome baby Cupid, it wasn’t until the Hellenistic period (323-31 BC) that he gained this image that, of course, stuck with us. He was even portrayed as being blindfolded, which Shakespeare explained was due to his being a little boy who always changed his mind. Cupid has often been depicted in literature, but now that you have the story, check out the some of the most gorgeous depictions of Eros in art:
Allegory of Venus and Cupid by Agnolo Bronzino, 1545 / Image Via Steven Art Gallery AB
Seated Cupid by Etienne-Maurice Falconet, 1757 / Image Via Wikipedia
Cupidon by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1891 / Image Via WikiArt
Sleeping Cupid by Caravaggio, 1608 / Image Via Wikipedia
Now that you can impress your friends with mythological facts and stories, don’t forget that this is the little face who’s responsible when you start catching those feelings.
Artist Ignasi Monreal got the opportunity of a lifetime earlier this year when he was picked to create a book of illustrations for fashion house Gucci. His inspiration, the winged Icarus from Greek mythology, is showcased as the cover image, wearing a Gucci suit and backpack, of course.
Image via The Drum
Ignasi says he’s always felt a magnetic connection with the sun. Its power and beauty have always drawn him in, and as a young boy in Spain he was enthralled by the story of Icarus, a boy who flew too close to the sun with wings made from feathers and wax. “The myth of Icarus is a reminder, don’t fly too close to the sun,” says Ignasi.
The myth keeps the artist centered as he continues to rise in the world of fashion. Ignasi is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after illustrators in fashion. In 2015, Gucci invited him to collaborate on the digital art project #GucciGram where artists reworked iconic Gucci patterns.
We all love ’em, we all know ’em, we all want to be ’em. Witches. Just the word itself has me throwing on pendants and bobbles and vying to make earthy concoctions and spells. Please tell me I’m not the only one.
Why is it that we love witches so much? Their knowledge, power, strength, and otherworldly aura create something so mystifying that we can only daydream of being one. Especially the ones everybody loves. Below are six literary witches that we wish we could be. I’d like to believe I’ll become one in another life, but anyway. Enjoy, mere humans.
In the musical adaptation, Elphaba is the witch that we all relate to. When I first saw the show on Broadway I fell in love with the play and her character as soon as the curtains drew open. I was the fool who cried at ‘Defying Gravity.’ Her musical character is a bit different from the book in that she’s not as skeptical and distrustful and she never truly gives in to those trying to bring her down. I think that’s why I like her a tad more. She stays true to who she is yet she gives Glinda a chance to show her a different side of life. Her powers are incredible, she fights for what she loves, and she’s stronger than I could ever be. Yes, Elphaba is the green queen.
You know this witch, right? Because if you don’t, you’re missing out. Hermione is a soul and spirit all her own. Her wit, intelligence, strength, and loyalty are something we all want in a friend and damn it if we don’t want Hermione Granger as our bff. Despite being born to muggle parents her magic skills are out of this world and we often find ourselves reading the books or watching the movies just to watch her find the answers we need. Although she does come across as an overconfident know-it-all by many of her classmates, she simply has a fear of failing. We’ve seen time and time again that vulnerability is usually masked by her self-assurance. Often seen as a feminist icon, Hermione has the courage to stick to her convictions no matter what. For this, we want to be in her house.
This beautifully illustrated children’s book is the stuff of cozy reading and innocent imagination. Strega Nona, meaning Grandma Witch in Italian, is the old tale of the local witch woman who is known for her cures, remedies, and even helping the single women of the small Italian village find husbands. What a nice little lady. When she calls upon her young assistant to help her make pasta for the village he makes a mistake and cooks too much. It overflows into the streets and, as a result, he has to eat it all. Strega Nona is known for her compassionate, loving, and nurturing nature for those around her. She is the motherly figure we all need and she just wants to teach us the consequences of our actions and the life lessons we can learn from them. Thankfully, I sort of have my own Strega Nona and her pasta is the best I know.
This witch, goddess, and sorceress of Greek mythology is often given a bad rap, but I tend to see the good in people and I think it’s necessary here. Circe in The Odyssey is quite controversial, especially because she often casts spells on other characters, including Odysseus’ men. After turning them into pigs she explained that their exterior then matched their interior. Ouch. However, she was nice enough to turn them back in time and she treated them kindly while in animal form. She even helps Odysseus find his way back home and remains true to her promise to absolve from casting spells on him. Honestly, I think Circe is as human as she is a witch and a goddess. She has a temper, she wants company, she wants to use her powers while being understood. I think we should all be vulnerable and make mistakes like Circe has; it shows we can remain true and bounce back from a poor choice. Plus, I really just love Greek mythology. That is all.
Ah, yes, the beautiful and mystical Rhiannon that has inspired generations through spoken tales, myths, and songs. This Welsh Horse Goddess is a healing witch with powers beyond measure. She has several parts in the collection of tales within Mabinogi, but I can recall one of her being chased by the Prince’s men on her pure white horse. Her gold cloak glitters behind her as her horse leisurely glides along the ground, yet the men on horseback trailing her never catch up. She’s unreachable, but nearly in grasp. The three birds she has at her shoulder symbolize the sweetest of songs that can heal anyone. Her patience, courage, and beauty that shine from the inside out are qualities we should all strive for. The wonder that comes with being kind to all you come in contact with creates a marvel that is timeless. That’s Rhiannon. Plus, if for some strange reason you haven’t heard Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘Rhiannon’, then please just go do that. It is very loosely tied to the witch, but you will surely feel connected to the sky.
This story is a bonus because it gives us three witches in one story and each of them is as strong as the next! This is the feminist tale that could be plugged into many contemporary situations so for that, I must include it. These three witches cast magic together in peace until Darryl Van Horne deceives them. After seducing each of the women and pushing their powers to the edge of evil, they take revenge. I don’t want to give much away, but these witches are pure powerhouses. Despite their magical status, they’re still vulnerable and I appreciate that. But their revenge is fierce (maybe even a bit much). However, at the time when this novel was created it was seen as breaking the chains of male oppression and patriarchal expectation. The end is left to interpretation, but I still consider these women to be totally badasses. Also, if you’re looking for an adaptation, check out the lighter film of the same name, which stars Cher. Glorious.
To me, these witches embody something we can all use. Gone are the days of green skin and horrid cackles. Patience, courage, power, beauty, kindness, and pure magic are qualities we could apply to everyday life from these timeless women. Sometimes I feel like we’ve lost many of those traits, like they’ve been left somewhere between the pages of a dusty book. That’s why these women inspire me in ways beyond spells and potions. Take their fictional lessons and make them real. Will you ever win? Yes.
Vampires, vamoose! Here are five lesser-known but equally amazing (sometimes terrifying) mystical creatures from around the world.
Image Via inwordsandink
Selkies live as seals but can shed their skins and become human in order to come onto land. They are native to Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, and the Faroe Isles.There are many tales of selkies. They’re said to be very beautiful, being forced into relationships with humans who steal their skins. These tales almost always end with the selkie’s retrieval of their skin, often many years later, and their immediate return to the ocean. The Irish Oscar-nominated animated film Song of the Sea centers around a young boy dealing with his selkie mother’s return to the sea, and the music is gorgeous.
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Kelpies are a shape-shifting water demon native to Scotland. Though usually appearing as a horse, the kelpie can also take a human form, retaining its hooves. The kelpie lures unsuspecting people to their deaths in the water, where it devours them. Almost every large body of water has a kelpie myth associated with it and it has been offered as an explanation for the Loch Ness Monster.
Image Via Nexus Mods
One of the earliest forms of zombie, Draugrs, native to Scadinavia, live in their graves, often guarding treasure which has been buried with them. Draugr have superhuman strength and they can grow at will. They’re murderous and drink the blood of their victims.
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Banshee, from the Irish bean (woman) and sí (fairy), refers to an Irish spirit who announces the death of a family member by ‘keening’ or howling near the home of the deceased. She is said to haunt only five major Irish families: the O’Briens, the O’Neills, the O’Gradys, and the Kavanaghs, though other sources say she will herald the deaths of members of any families descended from the Milesian Stock, beginning with O’ or Mac/Mc. She is described as wearing red or green and having fiery red hair. Her shriek has been likened to the call of a fox.
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The bake-kujira, which means ‘ghost whale,’ is, surprisingly, a ghostly whale, native to Western Japan. It appears as a whale skeleton and swims accompanied by strange birds and fish and allegedly brings misfortune wherever it is spotted.