Dripstone is the research blog for queer visual artist, researcher, writer and curator Venus Jasper.

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Wetlands: Sacred Swamp

Western Ghats (India)

"Locals have always worshipped here. Their ancient gods have sought refuge under the dark canopy, surrounded by the soft lapping of water against damp soil. The buzz of dragonflies and damselflies accompanies the croaking and singing of frogs.

Their overlapping pitches creates a natural orchestra, accompanied by the booming call of the Hanuman langur and the bark of grazing spotted deer. Their slender legs are sucked into the wet earth as they nose amongst the reeds and water plants, interspersing dainty bites with sips of water.

"Having visited various sacred groves while exploring the Western Ghats, I noted the differences between sacred swamp forests and those that are not used for religious worship. Sacred swamp forests tend to be cleaner, with less disruption to the natural ecosystem, and are frequented only on religious festivals or for offerings.

Excessive trespassing is seen as disrespectful towards the gods that reside there. Similarly, collecting forest products, felling trees, poaching, hunting, fishing, and littering are viewed as offensive to the sentiments of the groves, leaving these pockets of forest as role models for community-led conservation. In contrast, non-sacred forested swamps are far more disrupted, with native vegetation frequently collected by local villagers.

Sacred swamp forests tend to be closer to human habitation, yet studies have found higher biodiversity in these patches than in non-sacred swamps. Thus, sacred swamps have higher conservation value and serve as a fascinating model for community conservation in this biodiversity hotspot."


Swamp Thing by DC Comics.

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Images above: how I met swamps via (computer) games.

European Region, several

is there a deity devoted to the swamp?

"There are many theories about votive offerings that were made in different parts of Europe into bodies of water (such as at La Tène at the northeastern edge of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland or in Scandinavia), about bog bodies, etc.

Tacitus wrote in Germania about the cult of Nerthus (Mother Earth) among the Germanic-speaking “Reudingi, Aviones, Anglii, Varini, Eudoses, Suarini and Nuitones.” Tacitus reported that her chariot and cult image were “washed in clean in a secluded lake. This service is performed by slaves who are immediately afterwards drowned in the lake.”

The Matronae Aufaniae were goddesses, probably of Germanic origin, who were worshiped in the part of the Rhineland ruled by the Roman Empire (including by Roman soldiers–especially the First Legion Minervia–and road police/beneficiarii consulares) and whose name probably means “goddesses of swampy place.“

* The Matres (Latin for "mothers")[1] and Matronae (Latin for "matrons")[1] were female deities venerated in Northwestern Europe, of whom relics are found dating from the first to the fifth century AD.

Laumės (Lithuania)

Laumės descended from the sky to Earth. They lived nearby lakes, abandoned bath-houses, in islands of lakes or dense forests. Many names of water pools in Lithuania are named after the word Laumė. Laumės liked to gather near rivers, lakes, swamps, in meadows, there dew fell in the night in New Moon or Full Moon. They danced and enjoyed themselves, leaving circles (like Fairy Ring) in the grass. Usually, Laumės were most powerful at Friday of New Moon, at the rainiest days of the month in Lithuania.

Laumės are the very oldest goddesses of Lithuanian mythology. The image of these goddesses may have formed during the historical Mesolithic period, just after the Ice Age.[2] Laumės could appear in the form of animals, as mares or as female goats, bears and dogs. Later, Laumės had an anthropomorphic appearance: they usually had birds’ claws for feet and appeared as women with the head or lower body of a female goat. Other forms included half-human/half dog or half mare, similar to centaurs. Like cyclops, Laumės often had only one eye. They also had large breasts with stone nipples; pieces of belemnitida found on the ground were called "Laumės nipples."


Baltic area

Oh wow super epic website:https://deepbaltic.com/2021/12/07/mapping-folklore-mythical-creatures-of-the-baltics-and-beyond/

"In Lithuania, the most common mythical creatures also have their own habitats. Imps are supposed to reside in bogs and swamps, fairy maidens (laumė in Lithuanian) are often associated with lakes and meadows where thick fogs are seen at dusk and dawn. Giants and devils leave their footprints on stones. Giants are usually mentioned in association with hills and lakes they have created. It could be said that our mythical creatures are indeed closely related to nature. "

Rusalka (Slavic)

In Slavic folklore, the rusalka (plural: rusalky/rusalki; Cyrillic: русалка; Polish: rusałka) is a typically feminine entity, often malicious toward mankind and frequently associated with water, with counterparts in other parts of Europe, such as the French Melusine and the Germanic Nixie. Folklorists have proposed a variety of origins for the entity, including that they may originally stem from Slavic paganism, where they may have been seen as benevolent spirits.[1] Rusalki appear in a variety of media in modern popular culture, particularly in Slavic language-speaking countries, where they frequently resemble the concept of the mermaid.

In northern Russia, the rusalka was also known by various names such as the vodyanitsa[2] (or vodyaniha/vodyantikha;[3] Russian: водяни́ца, водяни́ха, водянти́ха; lit. "she from the water" or "the water maiden"), kupalka[2] (Russian: купа́лка; "bather"), shutovka[3] (Russian: шуто́вка; "joker", "jester" or "prankster") and loskotukha[2] (or shchekotukha,[3] shchekotunya; Russian: лоскоту́ха, щекоту́ха, щекоту́нья; "tickler" or "she who tickles"). In Ukraine, the rusalka was called a mavka. Those names were more common until the 20th century, and the word rusalka was perceived by many people as bookish, scholarly.[3]


Rokita (Poland)

In Polish folk beliefs, Rokita is the guardian of wetlands and the creator of swamp mists, also known as milk. It usually resides near water or near roads and dikes. It lives inside an old willow, which is believed to be - like all wetlands and forests - the gate to the afterlife. In folk spells, he is asked, especially by witches, for an abundance of milk from cows. It was believed that he could take the form of a cat. In the noble tradition, he was also known as Rokicki. Known throughout Poland, mentioned in numerous documents from witch trials, the hero of many tales and legends. In later stories, he wanders around the world, where together with Boruta he defends people in need.

Rokita, daj mleka,
oddaje ci duszę i ciało,
bo mi się mleka zachciało.
Rokita, give me milk,
I give you my soul and body
because I am thirsty for milk.

There was also Bledne Ogniki

In folklore, a will-o'-the-wisp, will-o'-wisp or ignis fatuus (Latin for 'giddy flame', plural ignes fatui), is an atmospheric ghost light seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. The phenomenon is known in English folk belief, English folklore and much of European folklore by a variety of names, including jack-o'-lantern, friar's lantern, and hinkypunk and is said to mislead travellers by resembling a flickering lamp or lantern. In literature, will-o'-the-wisp metaphorically refers to a hope or goal that leads one on, but is impossible to reach, or something one finds strange or sinister.

(Polish translations by Good Heavens)

rohe kooreporepo (Aotearoa/New Zealand)


"This documentary is a positive ecological story following teams of kaitiaki (guardians) as they work to replant and reflood Aotearoa's dying wetlands and swamps using mātauranga (traditional Māori knowledge) as their guide. Wetlands and swamps act as "territorial sponges" in the landscape: soaking up rainwater, preventing flooding, recharging groundwater systems and storing carbon. In this extended trailer, local iwi, farmers, artists, scientists and young people from across Aotearoa discuss the unique ecosystems of their rohe kōreporepo — swamps and sacred places..

The Importance of Sacred Natural Sites for Biodiversity Conservation (Unesco research)
- 'Swamp as sacred space': Save wetlands to save ourselves
- Half the wetlands in Europe lost in past 300 years, researchers calculate
- Nonhuman NonSense: Mud Flood (project)
- turbatol.org (Venice Biennale Pavilion by Chili)

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