Thursday, July 29, 2010

Origins of the Scarecrow

The origins of the Scarecrow are enchanting and creepy. A familiar autumnal symbol which dates back further than I thought. Known by many names: Jack in the Straw, tattlebogle, scare bird to name a few.
The first Scarecrows that weren't actual people were made of wood by the Greeks around 2,500 years ago. The Scarecrow represented Priapus(god of horticulture and fertility) the disfigured well endowed son of Aphrodite(goddess of love). According to lore he was abandoned by his mother in a vineyard. The keeper took him in and noticed birds and other creatures were frightened by his appearance. This tale spread through the land and the Scarecrow legend began. Farmers began erecting Scarecrows throughout the world.
I was fascinated to learn that the Pennsylvania Dutch who's human formed Scarecrow was called Bootzaman, or Boggeyman. They often used two one was the Boogey wife called Bootzafrau.
The creepy part of Scarecrow lore is that they come to life at night. They move around and protect an owners property at all costs. I admit I have had Scarecrows move around on me. I think it was the wind or my sons. Or was it? Creepy!

Here's a wonderful Scarecrow Festival I found. Check your area you may have one near you!

The information found here is from several books and online. But a really good one which talks about the origins of many Autumn symbols is Ellen Dugan's Autumn Equinox The Enchantment of Mabon.


Faerie Moon Creations said...

Wow - love the back story! Your little scarecrow is so cute. I will definitely check out that link to see if there's a festival nearby. How fun that would be! Theresa

Wendy the (Very) Good Witch said...

Wow...VERY interesting! I have never heard that but I love the tale. Creepy indeed. Especially the thought of them walking around outside at night....eeegads! Your ornament is just the cutest. I don't envision him as a 'creepy' scarecrow! Have a great weekend!

Dede said...

Very interesting and fun. Love your little scarecrow, so much personality! Wishing you a great weekend!


Guillaume said...

I blogged about scarecrows once:

I love scarecrows and find them utterly sinister. There is something ghostly about them. In French they are called "épouvantails", meaning literally frighteners. I know of their Pagan origins and their association with fertility rituals. You can see this symbolic association in a sequence of Nosferatu, when the character of Knock, turned mad by the presence of the vampire Orlock in his city, runs away from the villagers holding a scarecrow in his hands.

magikalseasons said...

Thanks so much Theresa and Wendy! I really love folklore. If I ever get a chance to go back to college it's folklore I'd like to study oh and horticulture and well the list goes on and on!
Thanks Dede you too! :)
Guillaume I'll have to fly over and check out your blog post. They are fascinating. I once read a horror novel about one I really loved it. I wish I could find it I'd love to read it again!

Guillaume said...

You give me the title of that horror story, I am already on the lookout for for scary stories to prepare myself for Halloween.