Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday’s Mythological Creature of the Day-- Hotei (the Laughing Buddha)

I’ve seen the Laughing Buddha figurines so many times at the Asian restaurants, in new age stores, on people’s bookshelves. The little bold happy guy with a wide smile and a big belly. I’m sure lots of you came across him one time or another. I’ve never known who he was, but figured he was a symbol for good luck and prosperity. Buddha in a happy state of mind, laughing and giggling... A happy Deity, who’ve just returned from nirvana and having a blast, observing the crazy world around him. Well, truth to be told, I’ve also found the figurine to be slightly creepy. Is he laughing with us or at us?

To my surprise, I’ve opened my big Mythological Encyclopedia on an article about Hotei today. Sounded familiar... Oh, I knew it from the name of a very good Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, owned by the same gentleman as Ebisu (one of the most famous Japanese restaurants in the City)...

So, it’s turned out that Hotei (also known as Budai in Chinese folklore, also known as the Laughing Buddha) is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune in Japanese mythology. His name means a cloth sack. He is the god of plenty, and also a representation of communication and joy. The prototype of Hotei is a Chinese Buddhist monk in the 9th-10th century, who’d got famous for his interpretation of some happy signs from "above". He looked unusual for a typical monk (very short, and one couldn’t miss that big belly) and had a distinctive behavioral quirk -- walking around half-naked with a cloth sack on his back. He was attracting so much attention that people started to talk about and draw him, and through these drawings he became a legend. In the 15th century he was included into the league of the Seven Gods of Fortune by the name of Hotei.

I’d love to learn more about this guy!

Check these sites:

This is not truly related but funny!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday’s Mythological Creature of the Day -- Bacabs ( Bakabs ), Mayan Myths

Bacabs were four brothers, who were sky-bearers, standing at the four corners of the Universe: Hobnil -- the Guard of the East, his assigned color is red and the Kan years, Cantzicnal -- the Guard of the North, his assigned color is white and the Muluc years, Saccimi -- the Guard of the West, his assigned color is black and the Ix years, and Hosanek -- the Guard of the South, his assigned color is yellow and the Cauac years.

Bacabs are anthropomorphic creatures, but it is believed that the earlier years of the Mayan civilization associated them with the four animals (iguana, opossum, turtle, and snail) or some insects (i.e. spiders and honey bees). Hobnil was portrayed as the protector of the beekeepers in some documents.

Since they were Year Bearer patrons, the Bacabs were important in divination ceremonies. They were approached with questions about crops, weather, or the health of bees, and often invoked in curing rituals.
By the 15th century the four Bacabs got interconnected with the four Chaaks ( the 4 rain deities, associated with the four primary compass directions) and Pauahtuns (the 4 wind deities). Interestingly, there have been mentions of the Underworld Bacabs who were supporting the skies of the Underworld as well.

In Classic Maya iconography, the Bacab occurs in various stereotypical situations:
• Fourfold, the Bacabs are repeatedly shown carrying the slab of a throne or the roof of a building.
• Bacab inhabiting the Earth Turtle is part of the scenes with the resurrection of the Maya maize god.
• Still unexplained is a recurring scene in which the Bacab, half-hidden in his conch, is held by his wrist, about to be sacrificed with a knife.
If you want to know more, please check the following sites (including Wikipedia -- great reference section, BTW).




Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Creative People and Organizing Skills: Time Management

Today was the day when I reached the tipping point in my clutter/creative disorder situation by posting a desperate scream on Twitter “Why am I so disorganized?!” It made me think about all these successful women who juggle career/family & friends/hobbies without a glitch and still find the time for themselves. Is it a myth or reality?

How can I bring structure into my chaotic life? What if I do it but won’t like it? ;-) What if I start planning, and then my life will turn into boring routine, too predictable & controlled? Do I really need more structure?

Well... YES, I DO!!!

I have been crawling to the acknowledgement of this regretful fact for the last couple of weeks now. It started with trying to find an app for my smart phone vs. regular Outlook Calendar that I religiously use for my normal business life. I tried a few apps but none of them necessarily caught my fancy.

While surfing Russian sites last night, I came across a mention of a planner by Yana Frank “365 Days in the Life of a Creative Person” (per her publisher, it’s been translated into English -- please hurry! ;-)), a sort-of a workbook/daily planner that goes together with her bestseller “The Muse and The Beast”. The publisher’s website generously shared a few of the worksheets that she had created & used herself -- I felt they were doable and easy to implement.

So, after a series of incidents today, I caved in and proclaimed to my very patient husband that I was going to Barnes and Noble to buy “a magic book” -- A DAILY PLANNER. The last time I used one was back in 1997...

The variety of products available to the aspiring organizing gurus was overwhelming. After a thorough search I picked a 2012 Weekly Professional Planner (Don’t be fooled by its name, it actually starts from July 2011 and goes to June 2013!). I liked it because it looked non-scary, had a half-hour appointment scheduling (will change it to 45/15 & explain why later), huge section of notes, a monthly & weekly format. The perfect solution to all my problems!!!

Upon my return, I waved it in front of my husband with apparent triumph, pushing it back and forth into his face, saying “Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself! Looky! Looky”. The next 15 minutes were spent discussing the thoughtfulness and craftsmanship put in the planner, then I had to find an appropriate time-management quote to be calligraphically inscribed on the inner left cover with a new pen (to be used for this book only) that took about half-an-hour, while I was chasing my hubby around the house with the laptop, reading him aloud the possible variants, and the grand finale -- I had to find/put stickers from my old scrapbooking project to decorate a few pages of the notes portion.

An hour of super-productive preparation... Beware efficient creative living -- here I come!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday’s Mythological Creature of the Day -- Manannán mac Lir (Celtic Mythology)

Is it Friday already? What a busy week it’s been... that would be my lame explanation for the lack of posts ;-))).

Last weekend we took a drive along the scenic coast of California via Highway 1 (I vote it for the most beautiful highway in the country!)

I opened my favorite mythological encyclopedia right in the middle today and, ironically, it was the Manannán’s entry that first caught my eye.

Manannán mac Lir comes from the Celtic myths. Not only he is a sea/ocean deity, but also connected to the Underworld of the Dead and often portrayed as a psychopomp. He is described riding a horse, named Enbarr, among the waves or traveling through the ocean on his chariot. Manannan’s land ownership has been often connected to the Isle of Man in Great Britain, where he has been worshipped at least till the end on the 19th century. He is usually associated with the Goddess Tuatha Dé Danann or Dana, (who I’d love to research more!) but a lot of scholars consider Manannán even older than her.

After the battle by the tribes of Dana (aka fairies) versus the Mil’s sons or Fomorians, (close to the Greek Titans), the fairies retreated and hid in the magic hills or sidhens. It was Manannán who gave the lost tribes the three gifts: invisibility magic, eternal youth and his pigs, that would always be there, in spite of the fact how many of them had been eaten.

Here are a couple of fun resources to check out:


""> -- a beautiful poem by Faoiltiarna-Wolf">


Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday’s Mythological Creature of the Day -- Amazon

I thought it would be appropriate if today I will describe Amazon, the real/mythological woman -worrier of Ancient Greece. The main reason for my choice is -- my novel 2.18 went live on Amazon Kindle on August 31st!!!

You can’t imagine how excited I am. And to share my joy and happiness I lowered the price to .99 for the next two weeks. This is my way to show my deep appreciation to all the people I’ve met through Twitter, GoodReads and blogs. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is the beginning of the road, and I wouldn’t wish for a better company -- you know, who you are!

But back to the Amazons -- in my Mythological Encyclopedia, it’s mentioned that, allegedly, the Amazons were born through the union of Ares and his daughter, Harmony. They lived in Minor Asia, or near Azov Sea or Libya. They would consent to sex with men only for the procreation. If a girl was born -- she would be raised within the tribe. If a boy was born -- he would be sent to his father or killed.

Amazons were supposed to have excellent archery skills and were equally skilled with battle axes and light shields. Allegedly, the name of the tribe came from a ritual of cutting of or burning their left breast for a more convenient way of handling the weapons. Though, through the historical artifacts, we’ve learnt that both breasts were intact, but they would ride into the battle with one breast exposed to distract the male armies.

It’s also hard to say if they were of myth or actual tribes. Among others, there are extensive mentions by Pluto that Alexander the Great visited the warrior women clans...

Here are a couple of links for you to check out. Please let me know what you think. Myth or Truth?

And why was called Amazon? Here is the answer from

“Jeff Bezos founded, Inc. in 1994 and the site went online in 1995. The company was originally named Cadabra, Inc., but the name was changed when it was discovered that people sometimes heard the name as "Cadaver". The name was chosen because the Amazon River is one of the largest rivers in the world and so the name suggests large size, and also in part because it starts with "A" and therefore would show up near the beginning of alphabetical lists.”

So it doesn’t deal with Amazons at all! Though judging by its warrior style, I would say that there might be some relationship!

Enjoy and have a great weekend!