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Not so brief commentary on Bearskin

(NOTE: This commentary ranges far and broad, roaming through the story of Elijah and Elisha and its connection to the tale Bearskin. The two do have some connection, and I think I show this, but realize I also have weighted the commentary with a lot of extraneous material. I would cut this but they do make some interesting points for meditation, for those who have the mindset for it. At any rate, if the commentary is not amusing and is instead found boring or ridiculous, it's an easy thing to quit reading and progress onward and elsewhere. Whether one finds it interesting or not, I recommend it be taken as worth but a few grains of salt. I often refer to sources many would find questionable, but it's these questionable sources I find interesting, there being something to them which persists in keeping alive certain myths and legends which might be found ridiculous in the ordinary and academic world, but contain an archetypal life of their own else they'd not be so persistent.)

"Bearskin" belongs to folktale type 361, characterized by a young man who enters into a deal with the devil and from it gains a fortune and a young bride (2). Commonly, the individual who enters into a deal with the devil must undergo a trial where for a period of time he is forbidden to tend to his appearance as a man, foregoing bathing and shaving and sometimes the care of his spirit as well if he is also forbidden to pray during this time. In exchange he will have wealth in abundance; but should he die during that period he will forfeit his soul. Always he survives, and upon being cleaned up, his human appearance recovered, he marries a maiden who agreed to the betrothal when he was still as a beast, who may recognize him in his exalted state via an agreed-upon sign.

Approaching the tale from the confines of the Christianized western hemisphere (because whether or not that was the cradle for the tale itself, it has been in those nurseries where the tale has been recited for entertainment and education) an initial glance at "Bearskin's" outline may bring to mind a few "truths" one was perhaps fed as a child, which purport to be the fundamentals of a good, moral education. One is that cleanliness is next to godliness, so tend your outward appearance as it is a reflection of inner character and your very spiritual condition (not to mention the message that it will be difficult for you to get a job and earn your keep if you break social convention concerning acceptable appearance). Second, in contradiction to the general confession that God rules the universe and there is nothing which does not have its life in "Him", Dualism leaps forth and declares that the material world belongs to God's archnemesis, the devil, and that to this devil belongs also filthy lucre. The third message that immediately follows on the heels of this second, but is presented in a more confused fashion, is that as all does belong to the Good High God, this includes material wealth which has been kidnaped by the devil, and thus it is the business of good men and women to restore the material world to its rightful owner by amassing material wealth which, by the transformative agency of those good men and women, is thus rescued and redeemed. How does one do this? A neat trick is to promise to philanthropically sow all the wealth which one will receive; this should help set the wheels of fortune turning in one's direction. And one will receive in accordance to one's spiritual elevation, as is demonstrated by the noble ending of Bearskin, who is not only good but rich and finally handsome. If one recollects that it is the devil who possesses the material world and may not wish to reward philanthropic intentions, then it can be reasoned that obviously the devil intends to trick one down a baser path, but the devil is a stupid silly without the brains of a goat, easily deceived or out-maneuvered.

However cynical this presentation may sound to some (and hopefully a healthy dose of humor is espied) I believe I'm pretty much on target thus far. And so, we arrive at the moral to the tale of "Bearskin." Go ahead, my son or daughter, and make your deal with the devil, for what he possesses is God's own and so you will win out in the end and get the loot and a handsome wife or husband to boot, but do all this without letting the world observe for, recollect, cleanliness is next to godliness and you must have your bath.

"But, mother, that isn't possible if one of the rules is that I let myself go and look like a beast."

"The tale doesn't really mean that. You shall bathe. When the tale says you aren't to bathe, this is a metaphor for neglecting yourself spiritually and taking the devil's path."

"But if I take the devil's path and neglect my spiritual homework, how do I end up doing good and not losing my soul?"

"By God's grace. Call on God for help and He will save you in your hour of need."

"Did Bearskin call on God in his hour of need?"

"I'm sure he did or he wouldn't have outwitted the Devil."

"Then why doesn't it say so?"

"Because anyone with good sense knows that's implied or else Bearskin never would have outwitted the Devil."

"If cleanliness is next to godliness, what about the two sisters who are bad because they don't want to marry a beast who is in service to the devil?"

"They haven't the spiritual depth to see beyond the exterior and know that Bearskin is actually good. They make a false judgment. When you get a little older you will understand they are actually people who have rejected Christ as they don't recognize Him for what He is. The Son of God."

"So, the Son of God was ugly and dirty and looked just like a beast?"

"Of course not. You've seen pictures; He was wonderfully handsome."

"And he didn't strike a deal with the devil?"

"Of course not. When the devil tempted Him with the riches of the world, He told him to get behind Him and not tempt Him. You're getting the tale all twisted up. It's about how even if you're a fool and strike a deal with the devil, you can be saved in the end by counting on God's grace, and redeeming the gifts of the world and using them for good ends."

"Oh, I see. And the sisters?"

"They still made judgments based on appearances. Never do that."

"So, if I meet someone who looks like a beast but they have enough money to get you and daddy out of debt, I should marry them?"

"Of course."

That settles that. Kind of. But I think I've amply demonstrated how some of the so-said inherent lessons which have been forced on the tale simply don't fit. Confronting the tale with a desire for and expectation of moral lessons dished out in easy blacks and whites takes us round and round in circles as one tries to force this piece in here, that piece in there, and ends up excising those which can't be rationalized. Brushing away this mess, shall we begin our approach of "Bearskin" again?

My concentration here will be on those versions of the tale which have the hero as a soldier who undergoes the trial of the wearing of a bearskin, principally the Brothers Grimm variation. In the Brothers Grimm, the hero is a brave, professional soldier who, the war over, is left without a source of income. In Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen's version he is instead a soldier who deserts the battlefield(3). In either case, he is given as having to prove his bravery by the seven years period of the test during which he must not wash or shave, and must keep a bearskin for a cloak or his bed. The Grimm Brothers have the hero killing the bear from which he acquires the bearskin; they also give as part of the deal that Bearskin will have, in addition to his bearskin cloak, the green coat of the devilish figure which will avail him of many great riches; he does not have to wait until successful completion of the test to have them. Though in some versions of the tale Bearskin can spend his mysterious riches as long as he doesn't use them for his own needs, more frequently there isn't this stipulation, and that he has these riches is given as aiding his ability to move about in the world in his despicable condition (if he does not remain ensconced at the inn) for as long as he has money he has his place. Whether or not he is able to use the riches for himself those seven years, he does have to wait until the test is finished before he can enjoy them as a man--that is, if he is still alive and in possession of his sacred soul.

It's interesting that the tale works whether or not the hero begins as a brave soldier, or as a coward. If the hero begins as a brave soldier, one could say that the devilish figure our hero meets is attracted to him by his good qualities and a fiendish will to prove that those fine qualities will be unable to withstand the test. And if the hero is a coward, one could argue that it is this moral slip which attracts the devilish figure's attention, leading him to believe that here is a weak soul easy enough to conquer. Hence, psychologically, whether one is a coward or brave there is always the personal battle to be met in respect of one's primal nature which is ruled by the shadow, and if one wins there are great rewards to be had in undergoing the test, one of which is to temper the personal beast and thus win the "maiden", eradicating worn-out aspects of the psyche which didn't initially see how the beast's passions could work toward good, and certainly didn't comprehend how the primal is an essential part of our nature to be respected, explored, tamed and made to work cooperatively so that hence one does not lose one's "soul" to it. One could reason that, and having cracked that neat little nutshell, say, "There, done." Finis. And one may be right. No doubt, "Bearskin" does work on that level, exhibiting close ties with the tale of "Beauty and the Beast" in which the maiden subdues the fiery temperment of the beast not through slaying him, but through recognizing who he is, his value. But the bear as a totem animal comes with a rich history, as does the devilish figure in green. To know a little about them both gives an opportunity for the tale to be reborn and its mystery increased, rather than depriving Bearskin of whatever magic there might linger about him in his present incarnation.

Bear clans once popular throughout Europe, the tale of the soldier "Bearskin" recalls Berzerkers, Nordic warriors who were so named for their wearing of a bearskin shirt. They are given as having been dedicated to the Goddes Ursel, the She-Bear, and that through donning the bearskin they acquired the bear's fighting spirit. Berzerkers were frenetic in battle, careless of their own safety, fear unknown to them (4). So it seems fitting that the hero is the brave, professional soldier, or even a deserter soldier who must afterwards prove he is not a coward through the initiation into being a Berzerker. In this light, we have a psychic shape-shifter possessing the strengths and weaknesses of the totem animal, which in this case is the bear.

Our Berzerker, however, is not a warrior during his seven years period of testing. To be sure, his aspect is terrifying, but rather than going about warring, he uses his riches generously, as in the gift of gold he makes to an innkeeper, that gold enabling the innkeeper to continue in his occupation and not go bankrupt. The test of courage the Berzerker undergoes rather has to do with his ability to live as an outsider in the world of his fellow men; or, perhaps, beyond this, it is Bearskin's ability to live with himself, to keep an understanding of who he still is, to not lose himself to the bearskin mask, whatever the bearskin mask means, which would result in a sort of soul death.

Reading "Bearskin," one is reminded of lycanthropy, and the link is more substantial than through simple resemblance, Berzerkers becoming bears through the donning of bear skins, and men transforming into wolves in like fashion. There is a familial connection in Greek myth. The Pelasgian king, Lycaon, "deluding wolf," was the father of Callisto, "fairest", who bore to Zeus, Arcas, "bear", the ancestor of the Arcadians. In one version of the story, Callisto, a companion of Artemis, incurs Artemis' wrath through her loss of chastity to Zeus. Artemis changes her into a bear and would have had her dogs hunt Callisto to death had not Zeus caught Callisto up into the heavens and set her image in the stars (5). Callisto was thus Ursa Major, the Great Bear, and Arcas, her son, was Ursa Minor, the Lesser Bear. But Callisto is also understood as being the title of the Moon-Goddess Artemis (not only the Mother of Creatures but the hunter of them as well) in her nymph aspect as the totemic She-Bear. She is a three-fold goddess expressing various aspects as the nymph-virgin, the mother, and the crone who brings death.

Though Callisto may seem a minor player in the Greek pantheon of gods, goddesses and their consorts, there is an etymological link between Callisto and Kali, Callisto (from the greek kalli, "beautiful") being a variation. Barbara Walker, in her "Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets", gives the Lunar priests of Sinai, formerly priestesses of the Moon-goddess, as calling themselves kalu, and states that similar priestesses of prehistoric Ireland were kelles, from which the name Kelly derives, a hierophantic clan devoted to the Goddess Kele. The Saxon lunar calendar (kalends) was cognate with this. (6)

Hints of Kali may be seen in the Hebrew KLH, bride, which also means perfection, and completion; with different vowel points KLH means "destruction, to end." Kali-Mari as the Indian Pot Goddess who made human forms of clay, is seen in the Hebrew KELI, "something prepared", which can mean vessel. I imagine Kali might also be observed in ChIL, "to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. (spec.) to dance, to writhe in pain or fear.

If Callisto is our Bearskin's mother, that fairest one who is likely also responsible for Snow White (the White Goddess), it seems a little ironic that Bearskin mustn't only don a bearskin, but that he is unable to wash or clip his hair or nails, or shave, with which comes a strong sense of his reverting to a sort of primordial man. Never mind that the shearing of hair has been considered by some as a loss of strength (implying power existed in the hair, as if recalling the rays of the sun), as time goes on earth builds up on Bearskin, further concealing his individual identity, and he no longer has his name either to remind himself who he had been, or to identify himself to others. No, he must go by the name of Bearskin.

But what of Callisto herself, who is so "fair", and yet becomes a bear? Why is it a bear into which she turns, and why must she become one?

Considering the identification of the bear with the hero's reversion to a primal nature, it isn't without significance that in Greek myth the first man--corresponding to Adam--was Pelasgus (ancient or seafarer), the grandfather of Arcas, bear; that he sprang from the soil of Arcadia, and that all Pelasgians were given as being born from Ophion, the great serpent. Nor is the link between the bear and the serpent isolated to Greek myth. For example, we observe the connection between the bear clan and the dragon in Welsh myth as well. The father of King Arthur, Arth Vawr, "Heavenly Bear", was Uther Pendragon, "Wonderful Head of the Dragon." Whereas the north pole star is now situated in Ursa Minor, in the 3rd millenium B.C. it was in Alpha Draconis, but has arrived in its present position through the precession of the equinoxes. This has been suggested as an explanation for the dragon being the sire of the bear.

I have to wonder if there is a connection between Arth as the bear and the Sanscrit Urtha, earth. The crusted earth further concealing Bearskin's humanity and adding to this fearsome aspect, he is wild, beyond society--if not in behavior than in appearance, which appears to be the point, that wild behavior doesn't make of him a "bearskin." The closer he comes to the "earth", to nature, the more frightening he becomes, and the less approachable, until he is no longer recognized as a man--and yet a man he is, and is revealed to be at the story's end. What identifies a man as "a man", as if in rebuttal of the beast, is perhaps not the question so much as what relationship he shares with these earthen elements from which he is at least partly born. The tale reminds us again that humans were originally the potter's clay of Kali Mari, and the red earth of the Hebrew ADM.

Also revealed is that it takes courage to consciously abide in what the alchemists would refer to as a state of coagulation, this earth, which is frequently symbolized by chains, for reason of which I will mention that KLIA, in the Hebrew, means "prison." This reminds us that in KLI, the vessel, the pot, is the state of constriction that is KLA.

Another story of Callisto has her changed into a bear by Juno, thus deprived of the beauty by which she captured Jove, but she did not lose her human nature. One day she saw her son, and recognizing him, would have embraced him, but what he saw was a bear and was at the point of killing her when Jove intervened and placed them in the stars. Juno, infuriated by this exaltation, insisted that they be forbidden from entering into the waters. Consequently, we have the two constellations of the Great and Little Bear which move round in the heaven but never sink beneath the ocean. That the dogs had chased Callisto is observed in the Pole-Star, Cynosure, being the last star in the tail of Arcus Minor, Cynosure meaning "dog's eye." Cynosure is given as having a powerful magnetic attraction, the reference being to the Pole-star as the guide of mariners, and to the magnetic attraction of the North (7). It is appropriate that the grandparent of Callisto is the "seafarer" or "ancient" considering how important the North Star was to seafaring peoples.

Bearskin never bathes because he is one of those constellations which never dips into the sea. And it is Callisto's own son who fails to recognize the bear as his mother. Taking it for granted that this pole star is also the spear that once transfixed the Serpent's head, then it would also be the spear that Arcus would have once aimed at his unrecognized mother, which he still carries, and upon which the heavens revolve continually.

Robert Temple, in his book, "The Sirus Mystery" (which I admit is a questionable resource) attempts to explore the word arc and discern cognates. That exploration results in a number of correspondences to Callisto as Arcus, the bear, but also, I think, as Kali. Believing that the ship Argo could refer to the "ark", Temple goes on to give a number of cognates. He discusses the Greek verb, arkeo, meaning "to be strong enough" (here we have the strength of the bear). He points out that arq, in Egyptian, means "to complete, to finish", in the sense of a cycle, and that it means "the last" or "the end of everything." He says it also means "girdle", representing something around a center, and has the further verbal meaning of "to bind around", implying a revolution. The Latin arcere he supposes is a cognate as it means "to enclose." The Egyptian Arqu he gives as meaning, "an educated man, a wise man, an expert, an adept" (which may have something to do with King Arthur). The Egyptian Arq-hehtt is given as meaning "the Other World", which relates to arq also meaning "a measure", as spirits are normally measured in arq-hehtt. Arq can mean also "to wriggle (of a serpent)"--from "binding around"--and arq ur is the word, he says, "for that mystery of mysteries, the Sphinx." Arq means chief or great. Arca means "worship, adoration". "Arjuna, besides being the famous Hindu mythical personage, means 'white, clear' and 'made of silver'--this latter being a form of arq ur, the Egyptian variant form of arq meaning 'silver',which...according to Wallis Budge, has the cognate in Greek...argyros meaning 'silver'." He states there is also a Sanskrit connection with an expression involving the thigh; in Greek, Arktos became the name of Ursa Major, which he says was known to the Egyptians as "the thigh." He says the Greek arkomai means "one must begin" or "one must make a beginning", and that it is related to arche, which means "beginning, starting point", which survives in architecture and archetype--and takes us back to the Egyptian arq meaning "to finish" and "a cycle." (8)

We can see the strength of the bear, as I said, in arkeo. In the Egyptian arq and the Greek arkomai we can see the circulation of Arcus Major and Minor, as well as the Hebrew bride KLH, which also means to complete, perfection, or destruction (the end). Also, the whirling, dancing Kali in the Hebrew ChIL. All of this will become more interesting still, when I eventually touch on alph as meaning whiteness (brought up later in connection with Artemis), for Alpha, is of course, the first letter of the alphabet (hence, "beginning" as with arq), and is ALPh in the Hebrew, which can also mean "to teach, instruct, guide," which reminds of the Egyptian Arqu.

This information that Callisto, or Arcus Major and her son, are never able to sink in the sea, continually revolving, may provide satisfactory answers to why Bearskin doesn't bathe, but doesn't deny other levels of interpretation, such as the alchemical--but from what does alchemy take its images if not from archetypes? In relation to Bearskin, this myth of Arcus Major and Minor in perpetual revolution actually raises other questions. Why is it that Bearskin, who is so obviously based upon Arcus Major and Arcus Minor, is able to become a man again? Why, if he was never to dip into the waters, does this change, and you subsequently have the two elder sisters (who had denied his magnetic attraction) committing suicide, one by hanging and the other by throwing herself in a well?

Returning to my connection of Arth Vawr (Heavely Bear) with Urtha (earth), and Bearskin's trial during which he becomes caked in earth (which I believe expresses the alchemical state of coagulatio which may be seen in the Hebrew KLIA, prison) while writing this essay I had the opportunity to read the dream of an individual which played out to a great degree the search for freedom through a trial time of imprisonment in much the same fashion as seen in "Bearskin." In the dream, the individual could not remember what his crime was, and though it was a nominal one he was sentenced to prison for a time. When he entered, he had to exchange the currency with which he was acquainted for prison currency that was like old time coins, the metals of which were not sandwiched with junk alloys. When he went to look for the cell in which he would be staying, he was redirected away from the nicer quarters toward rear cabins that looked like delapidated summer camp cabins. Inside, these were without walls, so there was a curious sense of freedom even though he was imprisoned. Dust and plaster caked everything. Where the man would sleep was identified by a number written in black magic marker on the ceiling above. His bed was a mildewed blanket. His fellow prisoners were dirty and he felt them to be rather empty, their eyes appearing blank, anesthetized. He felt threatened by them to the point that he was afraid--despite their general friendliness--that they would attack him when he slept. At this point of anxiety he saw a sign which reassured him that he would be all right. Though his wife could have stayed with him, he sent her away, certain he would be able to stay awake through the night, and then when she returned in the morning she could sit over him and keep guard while he slept during the day. A closing scene had him viewing, by a fire, some fellow inmates who were warming themselves. One turning toward him, he saw that his hair covered his face like jungle vines. Again, he felt as though the man's eyes showed anesthetization and was frightened by him. The individual had this dream upon joining a particular discussion group and seemed to feel only the described anxiety over his fellow dream inmates, his sense of their communal hostility despite the anesthetization and blank gazes. One could interpret the dream as having to do with his fear of the discussion group--but I saw in it the character of Bearskin, how he goes through the period of imprisonment during which he loses his ability to express his individuality with his name, a time during which he is also threatened through a solutio which would consume his soul in the primal collective, but which is an opportunity for significant growth and regeneration as evidenced in particular by an archetypal Green Man who is perhaps anesthetized in his appearance because he has been "slumbering" within the man, like a bear in hibernation.

Coincidentally, at the time the individual had this dream, I was visiting a friend who lived not far from where I had spent my 14th summer at a camp. We had taken a drive there, and upon seeing the cabin in which I'd stayed my friend remarked how it looked like a POW camp. Then we went to see the camp where she had spent three summers. After all these years, clearly identifiable on the rafters was where she had written her name in white shoe polish.

During my visit with my friend, it was odd to me that twice I saw individuals, street people, who were so dark with filth they really did strongly remind me of men as bears. One was at a bookstore where I purchased Terence McKenna's "True Hallucinations", which describes McKenna's essentially being visited by the Green Man, an ecstatic and yet terrifying, ego-dissolving experience during which he glimpsed the oneness of things. The second time I saw one of these dark men was when I was leaving to come home. It was curious because street people are fairly common where I live, and I'm not at all unused to them, but I can't recollect when I might have last seen individuals who were so dark with dirt and unkept as to bring to mind a man who has merged himself with the earth.

The wilder Bearskin becomes in appearance, the "earthier", the more he becomes to others the terrifying "Bearskin", and yet despite this wildness he is generous with his wealth in his greencoat (vegetation) aspect. The green-coated devilish spirit with which the soldier meets is none other than the mysterious Green Man, a spirit of regeneration, and also a trickster figure, who is linked with Elijah through El-Khidr, the Green Man. "In both Egyptian Coptic and Islamic traditions, Mar Girgis (Saint George) and el-Khidr are considered identical. In Palestine, Iraq and Kuwait, 'al-Khidr' has been reported to be an enshrined saint.; no shrines for el-Khidr were reported to me in Egypt. Hanauet, p. 51, describes the multiple identity of el-Khidr and reports that he is an enshrined saint with many names, known among Christians as 'Mar Jiryis' and among the Jews as 'Elijah.'" (Folktales of Egypt, Edited and translated by Hasan M. El-Shamy.)(9)

And here, with the meeting of Bearskin and Elijah, through the Green Man, is where it really gets interesting.

In the story of Bearskin, the two older of the three sisters reject Bearskin. When they later learn who he actually is, one hangs herself and the other throws herself into a well. "In the evening, some one knocked at the door, and when the bridegroom opened it, it was the devil in his green coat, who said, 'You see, I have now got two souls in the place of your one.'" Coincidentally, in the story of Elijah, who is also a Green Man, we have the story of the "double spirit."

When Elisha is called by the prophet Elijah, Elijah has come upon him ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. The word for ploughing is ChRSh, and can mean to plough, engrave, but also (from the idea of secrecy) to be silent, to be dear, magical craft. Elijah passes by and casts (ShLK, the same word for pelican) his mantle (ADRTh) upon him. Later, when Elijah is preparing to "cross over" the river Jordan, persistently he attempts to shake Elisha, but Elisha will not be left behind. Elijah takes (LQCh, which also means received, instruction) his mantle (ADRTh, ample) wraps it together (GLM, to fold, a wrapped and unformed mass as the embryo, substance yet being unperfect), smites the Jordan with it so they are divided, and Elijah and Elisha pass over on dry ground. Then Elijah asks what Elisha wants of him before he's taken away, and Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit to be upon him. Elijah responds, "Thou hast asked a hard (QShH, rough, severe, cruel) thing; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken (LQCh) from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so." Then a chariot (RKB) of fire appears, parting them both and Elijah is carried up by a whirlwind (SORH) into heaven. Because Elisha is a witness, he receives the double spirit. He takes his clothes (BGD, to act covertly), rends them in two and takes up the mantle of Elijah. The prophets who meet him say the spirit of Elijah rests (NVCh) on him, NVCh being the word from which Noah (NCh) comes. NChH means to guide, to transport into exile or as colonists, straiten. NChH is itself suggestive of the crossing of the great waters of the deluge, and of their being rest on the other side.

Before I continue, I should say this mantle of Elijah's is a peculiar thing. It is ample, as if a broad covering in a way that distinguishes it from an ordinary mantle, so that when it is tossed over Elisha it is already as if Elijha has received him in an extraordinary manner. When the mantle is "taken up" by Elisha, it could mean that it is to take up a certain spirit of instruction. LQCh contains in it the word LCh, which means green, moist, fresh. I personally believe that in this ample mantle of LQCh there is the cloak of the Green Man.

For me, there is a link between Elisha's receipt of the double spirit, and the Green Man who reports to Bearskin he's received two spirits in place of Bearskin. The link between the Bearskin story and that of Elisha and Elijah is strengthened by the appearance of a bear in the story of Elisha.

A little time later we have Elisha, going to Bethel, being mocked by a number of children. "...and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, 'Go up, thou bald head; go up thou bald head.' And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them." (II Kings Chapter 2)

Bears are infrequently mentioned in the bible, and their appearance here is in a bizarre story that makes no sense to the modern mind. Really, it makes no sense at all. Who is this Elisha, worker of miracles, receiver of the double spirit of Elijah, that he would be so irritable and brutal as to curse "forty-two" children for mocking his baldness? And who is this Elijah, who was anticipated to return at the time of the Messiah, to make straight his way? And who some perceived as the prophet John, who lived as a wild man in the wilderness, never cutting his hair, and subsisting on locusts and honeycomb? Who is this Elijah/John, whose birthday is ritually celebrated at the Summer Solstice, so that he is a twin or brother figure to "Jesus", whose birthday is ritually celebrated at the time of the Winter Solstice?

Robert Graves, in the same section in which he gives the story of Callisto in his book, The Greek Myths, also presents this curious tale about Artemis. Brontes, a Cyclopian giant, had been instructed by Zeus to make for Artemis whatever she wanted. He took her on his knee however, when she came to see him, and disliking his endearments she tore a handful of hair from his chest, where a bald patch remained to the day of his death, "anyone might have supposed that he had the mange." A few paragraphs later we have Alpheius, the river-god, falling in love with Artemis and pursuing her across Greece. Artemis and her nymphs daubed their faces with white mud so that Artemis became indistinguishable from the rest of her company. "Alpheius was forced to retire, pursued by mocking laughter." Graves explains away the Cyclopian Brontes' hair being plucked by saying this may refer to a well-known picture of the event, in which the paint had worn away from the Cyclops' chest. As for Alpheius, he says this may have to do with the gypsum with which the priestesses of Atemis Alphea, at Letrini and Ortygia, daubed their faces in honor of the White Goddess (recollect my assertion that Callisto, as the "fairest", is also a repesentation of the White Goddess), Alph denoting both whiteness and cereal produce. Alphos, meaning leprosy, is cognate to this, and whether or not there is a link here to the Cyclopian Brontes whose chest appears to have "mange" because Artemis ripped a handful of hair from it, I couldn't begin to say but it is something to consider. Graves also writes, "The myth of Callisto has been told to account for the two small girls, dressed as she-bears, who appeared in the Attic festival of Brauronian Artemis, and for the traditional connexion between Artemis and the Great Bear. But an earlier version of the myth may be presumed, in which Zeus seduced Artemis, although she first transformed herself into a bear and then daubed her face with gypsum, in an attempt to escape him." Curiously, DB, the Hebrew for bear, recalls the "daubing" of the face with the gypsum (which is a chalk used in the making of plaster of paris) after Artemis coincidentally transformed herself into a bear (arcas). Still, this "daubing" actually originates from albus, to whiten, through the latindeabare being equivalent to de + abare, to whiten, and abare being equivalent to alb(us).

Brontes means thunder. He was one of three Cyclopean builders of gigantic walls and a master smith, formerly of Thrace, afterwards of Crete and Lycia (again we have the wolf).

Is there a connection between Elisha's receipt of the double spirit (ShNIM, the dual feminine of ShNI, double, second, two) from Elijah, the two she-bears which slay the forty-two children who have mocked Elisha's baldness, the two she-bear children priestess' associated with Artemis whom Graves describes, and the "devil" declaring to Bearskin that he has received two souls in the place of Bearskin's one?

And is there a link between Elisha being taunted for his baldness and the peculiar episode of Artemis tearing out a handful of the Cyclopean Brontes' chest hair, so that it appeared as though he had mange? Alpheus was, after all, himself mocked for having to give up his chase of Artemis after she had daubed her face white with the gypsum. Even if there is no link, one has to wonder what exactly is implied in this "whiteness" in which Artemis disappears, indistinguishable from her devotees. To think of this whiteness in racial terms is an error, just as it is also in error to consider the Black Goddess as being representative of race. It would also be an error to think of the White Goddess as being to the Black Goddess as positive is to negative. To understand what this whiteness means, which contains within it the qualities of ego-dissolution (i.e. Artemis being thus indistinguishable from her devotees) one must look for clues elsewhere, something which I will have to put on hold for the moment as I am more concerned with my pursuit of the Green Man.

After having healed Jericho's waters ("Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land") Elijah is mocked by forty-two children for his baldness. He curses them, (QLL, to be or cause to make light, literally swift, small, sharp, or figuratively as in trifling...to make bright, bring into contempt, despise) whereupon two she-bears appear out of the wood (IOR, which means to thicken with verdure, a copse of bushes, and also honey in the comb) and tears them apart.

It is fascinating that the bears issue from IOR, the verdure, which is also honey in the comb, as hived in trees (LCh, green, is rarely used in the bible, and where it is used it is in reference to a prophesy in Ezekiel concerning the "Southern forests", the forest in that case being also IOR, which is also the honeycomb). DB is bear in Hebrew, and comes from DBB, to move slowly, to glide, cause to speak. This corresponds with DBA, to be sluggish, restful, quiet, and also means strength. DBR, in Hebrew, means to speak, and is the oracle in its judging aspect. DBRH is the bee, and comes from DBR through the idea of orderly motion. Bears in popular thought are connected with honey, as are bees, of course. Here, the slow bears, emerge from the honeycomb of the bee, the oracle, as if in response to the "swift" and brightening curse.

Forty-two was the number of generations between Christ and Abraham. Forty-two is a number of judgement. The Egyptian "Book of the Dead" refers to forty-two judges who will examine the dead, and forty-two sins are enumerated. Forty-two is also the number of the letters of the great name of God, terrible and strong.

The forty-two "little children" that Elisha cursed were little in the sense of QTN, diminutive, which comes from a word meaning "to cut off." As children they were NOR, which comes from another NOR which is identical with another version of NOR, (meaning growl, yell) through the rustling of the mane which accompanies the lion's roar. The word can mean to tumble about, and to overthrow, toss up and down. This is curious for a daughter of Xanthus, the grandson of Arcas, is given as being Psophis, "uproar." Xanthus means "yellow." If you will recollect, Callisto's father was "deluding wolf," and her son was Arcas. In Hebrew, ZAB, "to be yellow", also means wolf.

Who are these forty-two diminutive "cut off" children? Elisha has just returned from healing the waters of the moon, for Jericho means "moon" and contains within it the word IRA, to flow as water, to shoot (as in an arrow, which reminds of Artemis' sacred bow), to point out, to teach. No more will death emanate from those waters, nor barren land (ShKL, to miscarry, suffer abortion, bereave of children, while another ShKL is to be or act circumpsect and hence intelligent, instruct). Is Elisha then, in essense, mocked for his own "barreness" represented in the spot bald of hair? The shearing of hair as in the old tale of the sun god Samson, has to do with the cutting of strength, emasculation, even blinding; it also plays a role in mourning, such as Isis' cutting of a lock of her hair after the death of Osiris (also stated by some to be a Green Man), who himself is first locked in an ark or chest, and later cut up and his pieces distributed throughout the land. And recollect that though Isis impregnated herself via the dead Osiris, and thus Horus was born, Osiris' organ of regeneration is given as having been lost when his pieces were spread throughout the land. This is one reason why I get a sense of Elisha's baldness having to do with also generative or regenerative powers, and that it is why he is mocked by these supposed "children" who seem to behave rather as the forty-two judges, and their judgments in some way nullified or reformed through the intervention or response of the two she-bears.

Another reason I look on this as having to do with regeneration (by this I do not mean literally the powers of procreation), is due to the word used for the "springs" that Elisha has healed. Taking another look at the passage, the spring of waters he healed is called "spring" in the way of MTsA, a going forth, but MTsAH, the feminine of this, means a family descent. MTsA comes from ITsA, to go or bring out, which also can mean "pluck out." The formative world of ITsRH, which precedes the physical world, is that in which things are squeezed and molded into shape, as a potter working his clay, in which things take conception in imagination. ITsR also means to be narrow. In the QBLH, that which occurs in the physical world, has first been formed in ITsRH. Elisha has just healed a certain spring of Jericho, the moon, which has to do with ITsRh and a certain type of descent in that he says there will no longer be the barren land.

Elisha is mocked, it does not say "judged", but I do wonder if a judging isn't implied, and which is nullified or reformed. QLS is the word used here for mocking. The forty-two "cut off" children come out of the city, OIR, another form of which can mean watcher, angel, whereas the bears emerge from the honey or the bushes, IOR, and tear them to pieces. The bears, DB, which emerge from the honey (as if of the bee, DBRH, the oracle, the inner room of the sanctuary) tear to pieces, BRA, which is in a sense a coupling of the letters DB and BRA toward forming the oracle DBRH. BRA is here the word for tearing to pieces, and is the same as to create, to cut down (as a wood), select, feed, choose. The world of Briah is Qablistically considered the world of Creation. All that occurs in ITsRH and then the physical world, must first take place in the world of Briah.

Forty-two is the gematria of AMA, the mother, as well as a maid-servant, slave, Aleister Crowley (8) stating that this is the mother in her unfertilized aspect (as opposed to 52 being the fertilized mother) which carries a curious correspondance with the tale of these 42 cut-off children mocking Elisha after he has healed the waters of the moon so there will be no more barren land, and being then torn to pieces by the bears who emerge from IOR. IOR and OIR both have the gematria of 280. 28 was the number of the years of Osiris (or of his reign) when he was killed and torn to pieces, and yet had a son, Horus. 280 is an elevated version of this. and would be considered as belonging to the world of ITsRH.

I have just found a passage in Robert Grave's "The White Goddess" that supports my supposition that the two she-bears of Artemis' festival are identical with the story of Elisha and the two she-bears. In a footnote he writes, "42 is the number of the children devoured by Elisha's she-bears. This is apparently an iconotropic myth derived from a sacred picture of the Lybio-Thraco-Pelasgian 'Brauronia' ritual. The two she-bears were girls dressed in yellow dresses who pretended to be bears and rushed savagely at the boys who attended the festival. The ritual was in honour of Artemis Callisto, the Moon as Bear-Goddess, and since a goat was sacrificed seems to belong to the Midsummer festivities. 42 is the number of day from the beginning of the H month, which is the preparation for the midsummer marriage and death-orgy, to Midsummer Day. 42 is also the number of infernal jurymen who judged Osiris: the days between his midsummer death and the end of the T month, when he reached Calypso's isle, though this is obscured in the priestly 'Book of the Dead.' According to Clement of Alexandria there were forty-two books of Hermetic mysteries." (10)

The H month and T month refer to what is known as the "Tree Alphabet" or the "Beth-Luis-Nion" alphabet, Beth, Luis and Nion being the first letters. It is given as a genuine relic of Druidism, used for divination. It had five vowels and 13 consonants, each letter named after the tree or shrub of which it is the initial. The 13 consonants are given as forming a calendar, each referring to a month, the 13th being the lunar month of twenty-eight days. The H month (May) is named for Uath, the hawthorn, generally considered to be an unlucky tree. In ancient Greece and Britain, during this month people went about in old clothes and abstained from sexual intercourse. It was considered an unlucky month for marriages. An oracle given Ovide by the Priestess of Juppiter reads, "Until the Ides of June (the middle of the month) there is no luck for brides and their husbands. Until the sweepings from the Temple of Venus have been carried down to the sea by the yellow Tiber I must myself not comb my locks which I have cut in a sign of mourning, nor pare my nails, nor cohabit with my husband though he is the Priest of Juppiter. Be not in haste." Between the H and T month was the D month (for Duir, oak, the seventh month) and midway through it was St. John's Day, June 24th, when the oak-king was sacrificially burned alive. Duir as the god of the oak month is a Janus figure, looking both ways because his post is at the turn of the year. The sacred oak king went to serve then the White Goddess at her mill (the pole star would signify this) as did Samson turn a mill in Delilah's prison-house. The T month is for Tinne, the holly, which flowers in July. In Welsh myth, the Oak Night and Holly Knight fought from the first of May until Doomsday. "Since in mediavel practice St. John the Baptist, who lost his head on St. John's Day, took over the oak king's titles and customs, it was natural to let Jesus, as John's merciful successor, take over the holly-king's." The scarlet-oak or holly-oak is the evergreen twin of the ordinary oak. It has prickly leaves and nourishes the kerm, which is a scarlet insect that Graves says is not unlike the holly-berry from which thee ancients made their royal scarlet dye. "In the Authorised Version of the Bible the word 'oak' is sometimes translated 'terebinth' and sometimes 'scarlet-oak', and these trees make a sacred pair in Palestinian religion. Jesus wore kerm-scarlet when attired as King of the Jews (Matthew XXVII,28)." So, Graves gives D and T as twins, "the lily white boys clothed all in green O!" in the mediaeval "Green Rushes" song. (11)

The Hebrew letter Cheth refers to June, and Teth to July. I have read these two may also both be considered as twin letters.

It may help to look at the mocking of Elisha, and the tearing of the children (in which I think we see the unfertilized mother), in context of his other miracles. Not long after, we have him rescuing a widow woman and her two sons from debt by means of a miracle. After this, he then meets a barren Shunammite woman and he says that she will have a child. She does, but later the child dies. Gehazi, Elisha's servant, is sent to rouse the child from death but is unable to do so. Elisha goes to the child and laying himself on the child returns him to life. A short while later we have the healing of Naaman of his leprosy. Elisha refuses payment, and because Gehazi pursues Naaman and takes payment from him, Elisha commands that the leprosy which had been with Naaman will cleave to Gehazi and to his seed. "And he went out from his presence as a leper as white as snow (ShLG)."

ZRO is the word here for "seed", and though TsRO is used for leprosy, it should be noted that ZRCh (which is not the same as, but would be related to ZRO) means "to irradiate (or shoot forth beams), i.e. to rise (as the sun); spec. to appear as a symptom of leprosy." Gehazi, who was unable to raise the child, takes part of his name from ChZH, which can mean "to gaze at; mentally to perceive, to have a vision of", and also "mentally to dream." His inability to rouse the child infers in itself a kind of barrenness which I think has something to do with he and his seed receiving this "leprosy."

Whenever I see ZRCh, I always refer to the story of the birth of the twins ZRCh and PHRTs. "ZRCh's hand first emerged from the womb, and a red thread was bound around it to show he was the first born. But ZRCh pulled back his hand, and PhRTs emerged first--and he was called PhRTs because of this "breech". The son of PhRTs is ChTsRVN. As seen with TsRO and ZRCh both referring to leprosy, Ts is sometimes interchangable with Z. ChTsRVN, courtyard, comes from ChTsR, a yard (as enclosed). ChZIR means also "protected" in the sense of an enclosure. Which takes us back to ChZH and Gehazi. But what I'm really concerned with here are ZRCh and PhRTs, for the red thread that was tied (QShR) about the hand of ZRCh is none other than the red produced from the worm nourished by the Holly-Oak, as was mentioned above. The Hebrew for it is ThLOH (from ILO, to blurt or devour), a maggot, and when referring to the crimson color is often used with ShNI, which means crimson. ShNI also means double, again, and comes from ShNH, to fold, duplicate, year. ZRCh is given as drawing back his hand, this drawing back being ShVB, to turn back, and contains within it the idea of returning to the starting point. It is now the PhrTs is given as "breaking" through. All this fits in neatly with the Janus idea at Midsummer, the twin deities who fight (as Esau and Jacob wrestled), the younger always usurping the elder's place.

I wonder if Elisha's servant became as ZRCh, for he went "first" to rouse the dead boy (who is given also as sleeping), and was unable to do so. Then Elisha went and the boy came to life. The failure of Elisha's servant is the same as the failure of ZRCh to emerge first in that he withdraws, at which point PhRTs breaks through. I wonder if it has also to do with the double soul which Elisha receives.

280 is the number of PhR, which is the "wild" Ishmael, but also can mean the division of the hoof. The cloven hoof. May I mention here briefly that Pan, who Christianity transformed into a devil, is classically known for his cloven hoof, though viewed as a goat. Graves gives Pan as being an Arcadian god.

The breech that is the breaking through of the "second" who becomes then the "first" is seen also in the story of IShmael. QRCh is baldness, coming from a word meaning ice, hail, and refers to Elisha's baldness. Another word for hail is BRD, formed of the same letters which compose the "word" of the oracle, DBR(H), the bee. Sarah, Abraham's wife, was barren. She gave her handmaiden, Hagar, to Abraham, hoping he might have a child by her which would then be as Sarah's. Then she was jealous and expelled Hagar. An angel came upon Hagar by a fountain of water on the way to Shur.(ShVR, a wall, a traveling about, whereas SHOR means storm, hair, a whirlwind), and told that she was fleeing from Sarah (ShRI), the angel said that she would have a son called Ishmael, a wild man, his hand would be against all men and the hand of men against him, and that he would dwell in the presence of his brother, which is suggested as meaning he would prosper. This was at the wall called Beerlahairoi, between Kadesh and Bered (hail). Ishmael was to be wild in the sense of PhR, the wild ass, PhR meaning breaking forth in wild strength, dividing the hoof, bearing fruit. And of couse this is a line that radiates out from Abraham and Hagar as does the line of Isaac (laughter) radiate out from Sarah and Abraham. Both lines are given the same promise of becoming numberless. "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude," says the angel to Hagar.

Elisha is mocked with the word QLS. He is mocked for his bald spot, which is related to a word for hail and ice, QRCh. Sarah was barren and would later bear a son who she was to call Isaac, laughter (as in a mocking laugher). Isaac's half-brother, the other line of Abraham, was given his name, Ishmael, at the well between Kadesh and Bered (hail).

The dwelling of Ishamael (heard of god), in the presence of his brother, is ShKN. It is a base of the word Shekinah (Jah has dwelt) which is the feminine aspect of god. The name of Elisha means God of Supplication or Riches and contains in it SHVO, a hello, riches, from to be free. Elisha is described as receiving a second portion of Elijah's spirit. Elijah is ALIHV. Combine IHV with ShVO and in a way you can have IShOIHV, Jah has saved. Whereas Joshua (Jehovah has saved) toppled the walls of Jericho, destroying it utterly, with the exception of the saved prostitute RChB, Elisha heals its waters so death issues no more from the waters of the moon. Mocked then for his baldness (QRCh), the two bears, DB, come forth and tear, BRA, the children apart, which is alternately an act of creation, forming DBR (the word, oracle) in which, as I said previously, can also be seen BRD, another form of baldness or hail, which is linked to Ishmael, the other line of Abraham that dwells in the face of his brothers, the brothers being the line of Abraham from which Jesus (yeshua) descended forty-two generations hence.

Much was made of Elisha refusing to part from Elijah, and it was said if he saw Elijah leaving him then he would receive the double spirit. He announced afterwards how he had seen the chariot and the horsemen (PhRSh) of Israel and received the double spirit. PhRSh is from PhRSh, to separate, disperse, wound, sting. There is a curious thing going on here, and it has partly to do with how Elijah was parted from Elisha, for it is by this parting that Elisha receives the double spirit. When ZRCh withdrew, a breech was made through which PhRTs broke through (PhRTs being, by the way, in the line of Christ). IShmael, who will dwell in the face of his brothers is associated with PhR. Elisha observes the PhRSh and receives the second soul.

El-Khadir (the Green Man, the immortal who gained eternal life, Elijah) is given in an Arabic folk tale as being a "beast", a snake, which comes down from the hills and asks Muhammad for a wife. Omar consents to give one of his daughters. The elder one refuses, but the younger one agrees to go. Eventually Omar goes to visit his daughter and finds she is married to El-Khidr, living very happily, but is not permitted into one of the 100 rooms in the mansion. As it turns out, the room into which she isn't permitted is the room in which the sacred buraq is kept, which Muhammad is to ride to the heavens on the day of resurrection to intercede on behalf of his nation, and the room is not to be opened before that day. The tale ends with Omar seeing that his daughter is living happily with El-Khidr, taking her to visit her family, then returning her.

Bearskin is as the same as the beast/serpent in the story of El-Khidr and "Beauty and the Beast." His cleansing recalls Artemis' sacred bath, the pool of rejuvenation, and the notion of a second birth through water (the waters of life). Concealed within the guize or skin of the beast, he not only possesses great wealth but makes gifts of his wealth (recollect, Elisha means God of Riches). Though his ugliness is such that people flee him, his wealth does ensure that he always has a place to stay, and in some versions goes around doing good deeds for the poor out of his bounty. When his time of trial is finished, he returns to claim his "other half" in a sense, his bride, who recognizes him by the fact that he possesses the other broken half of a ring he had given her (an appropriate symbol as the world-serpent also symbolizes the eternal circle, its tail in its mouth).

Why should the Green Man be so pleased with receiving the two souls of the two older sisters who committed suicide, if Bearskin's soul would be choicer? Why does he act as if he has gotten the better end of the deal? Somehow, the two older sisters are a reference to the twin aspects symbolized by ZRCh and PhRTs, and Elisha's receipt of Elijah's soul. Elijah is described in Arabic folklore as being ever in motion, ever passing. In the story of Elisha and the woman whose child he raises, when she is first introduced she is spoken of as seeing Elisha continually passing by. This "continually" is ThMID, "to stretch, constant, perpetual. In this word ThMID is perhaps observed ThAM, the word for twin, and which means "complete." The TsLM, or image of a man is understood as being double. In "The Secret Doctrine" we find, "But in the Kabala...Samael, who is Satan, is shown to be identical with St. Michael, the slayer of the dragon. How is this? For it is said that Tselem (the image) reflects alike Michael and Samael who are one. Both proceed, it is taught, from Ruach (Spirit), Neschamah (Soul) and Nephesch (life). In the 'Chaldean Book of Numbers' Samael is the concealed occult wisdom, and Michael the higher terrestrial Wisdom, both emanating from the same source but diverging after their issue from the mundane soul, which on Earth is Mohat (intellectual understanding) or Manas (the seat of intellect). They diverge, because one (Michael) is influenced by Neschamah, while the other (Samael) remains uninfluenced."

"Bearskin" is rather a story to do with the mystery of plurality and unity in regard to this TsLM, the dual image, wherein you have El-Khidr as both St. Michael/St. George "the dragon slayer" and himself also the beast.

Finally, an interesting thing concerning the "bear," the Arcadians, is the relationship of Arcadia to the legend of a line of Christ which is given as a physical line of descent continuing, hidden, down to the present day. Supposedly this line took refuge in Arcadia. I don't want to get into this too deeply, but in "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" we have Rene d'Anjou given as often representing Arcadia in his art with a fountain or a tombstone, both of which are associated with an underground stream, usually equated with the river Alpheus, the central river in the "actual geographical Arcadia in Greece..." The Underground Stream has been understood to connote the esoteric tradition of Pythagorean, Gnostic, Cabalistic and Hermetic thought, but some imagine it might connote "an unacknowledged and thus 'subterranean' bloodline" descending from Christ. The book asserts that the Benjamites, one of the twelve tribes of Judah who went into exile as they defended the sons of Belial, in their exile, went to Arcadia. "If there was actually an exodus of Benjamites from Palestine, one might hope to find some vestigial record of it. In Greek myth one deoes: in the legend of the son of King Belus, one Danaus, who arrives in Greece with his daughters, by ship. His daughters are said to have introduced the cult of the mother goddess, which became the established cult of the Arcadians. According to Robert Graves the Danaus myth records the arrival in the Peloponnesus of 'colonists from Palestine.' Graves states that King Belus is in fact Baal, or Bel--or perhaps Belial from the Old Testament.


(1) The Brothers Grimm
(2) Aarne, Antti, and Thompson, Stith. The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography. FF Communications, no. 184. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1961.
(3) http://www1.pitt.edu/~dash/type0361.htm. D. L. Ashliman's "Bearskin and other Folk Tales of Type 361", November 1999. The tale is given as abstracted from Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, "Der erste Bärenhäuter" (1670).

A soldier, having deserted his regiment in the thick of battle, took refuge in the woods. However, the foes of war were soon replaced by the enemies cold, thirst, and hunger. With nowhere to turn for help, he was about to surrender to the powers of despair, when without warning an awful spirit appeared before him. He offered the poor soldier great wealth, if he would but serve this uncanny master for seven years. Seeing no other escape from his misery, the soldier agreed.

The terms of the pact were quickly stated: For seven years the soldier was to wear only a bearskin robe, both day and night. He was to say no prayers. Neither comb nor shears were to touch his hair and beard. He was not to wash, nor cut his nails, nor blow his nose, nor even wipe his behind. In return, the spirit would provide him with tobacco, food, drink, and an endless supply of money.

The soldier, who by his very nature was not especially fond of either prayers or of cleanliness, entered into the agreement. He took lodgings in a village inn, and discovered soon enough that his great wealth was ample compensation for his strange looks and ill smell.

A nobleman frequented this inn. Impressed by Bearskin's lavish and generous expenditures, he presented him with a proposal. "I have three beautiful daughters," he said. "If the terms are right, you may choose any one of them for a bride."

Bearskin named a sum that was acceptable to the nobleman, and the two set forth to the palace to make the selection. The two older daughters made no attempt to hide their repugnance of the strange suitor, but the youngest unhesitatingly accepted her father's will. Bearskin formalized the betrothal by removing a ring from his own finger and twisting it into two pieces. One piece he gave to his future bride; the other he kept. Saying that soon he would return, he departed.

The seven years were nearly finished, so a short time later Bearskin did indeed come back for his bride. Now freshly bathed, neatly shorn, elegantly dressed, and riding in a luxurious carriage, he was a suitor worthy of a princess. Identifying himself with his half of the twisted ring, he claimed his bride.

Beside themselves with envy, and furious that they had squandered their rights to this handsome nobleman, one of the bride's older sisters hanged herself from a tree and the other one drowned herself in a well. Thus the devil gained two souls for the one that he had lost.

(4) Barbara Walker's "Encyclopedia of Woman's Myths and Secrets", Harper and Row
(5) Robert Graves, "The Greek Myths"
(6) Barbara Walker's "Encyclopedia of Woman's Myth and Secrets"
(7) "The Age of Fable", Thomas Bulfinch
(8) "The Sirius Mystery", Robert K.G. Temple
(9) "Folktales of Egypt", Edited and translated by Hasan M. El-Shamy.

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