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Mythologica Redwallia IV: Moles
With their quaint speech, honesty, and simple yet sound logic, moles have long been a cherished staple of the Redwall books. In our world, the line between cherished beastie and pernicious pest is often blurred, but in the world of foremoles and deeper 'n' ever pie, these friendly creatures are always some of the heroes of the story.
The mole is a creature with one of the most varied reputations on earth, and literature has in fact seemed to influence our interpretation of it quite a bit. Since Kenneth Grahme's classic The Wind in the Willows, many people see moles as quiet, shy creatures, mostly harmless and often keeping to themselves. However, if you walk down the garden aisle of a hardware store, you may see a tall canister of mole poison alongside the bags of fertilizer. Moles, in their relative obscurity as a species, seem to attract many different views from different people.
The same variety of opinions of moles seems to have taken root in their mythological background.
True to its nature, the mole is portrayed mostly as a creature of the earth, and sometimes of the underworld. In ancient Greece, moles were sacrificed to Poseidon, god of the sea, as both the sea and moles were capable of disturbing the land. They were also connected to Asclepius, a Greek god of healing.
The mole's persona as a healer spans many different cultures, including India (associated with Rudra, another god of healing) and Native America, where the mole was the first shaman, supposedly having taught human medicine men to cure diseases by penetrating the "Crack in the World," which is deep underground. Other worlds, ages, and places in space could also be seen through the Crack.
For a time, early Christians related the mole to Satan, as the two were both located beneath the earth and the mole's blindness represented Satan's blinding of the soul. Moles were, in many cultures, a symbol of spiritual disability.
There are some old European superstitions concerning moles. One states that if you hold a live mole in your hand as high as you can and squeeze it until it dies, you will always have money. Another says that rats won't live in a cellar with a mole. Yet another suggests that if you sprinkle garlic and sulfur around a mole's hole, it will come out into the open. According to French folklore, the mole only surfaces from beneath the ground at exactly 12 noon and 6 PM, and French children wore mole parts in small bags to ward off worms and convulsions.
Moles appear again in Greek mythology, when they are heard to have claimed that they came into being by the blood of a king called Phineus. Phineus angered Phaethon, one of the titans. Phaethon blinded him and sent a race of winged creatures to live with him in his sadness. Two brothers, Zetes and Kalais, slew them and fed Phineus, but Phaethon turned Phineus into a mole. To this day, moles are said to be blind and gluttonous.
The most famous mole of all is most likely Mr. Mole from Kenneth Grahme's classic novel The Wind in the Willows, a tale of three friends - Mr. Mole, Mr. Rat, and Mr. Badger - who try to help Mr. Toad combat his dangerous habits concerning motor cars and the weasels who take over his home.
Moles are one of the rarest species on the ROC. Keeping up their unique accent is sometimes a chore, but those who are up to the challenge usually pull it off well. It's a struggle to make your character or net alter ego a humble, simple mole, but for some ROCers, this is a welcome challenge.
Want to know more? Take a look my bibliography! If you find a discrepancy in the information somewhere above, tell me about it! If it's legit (and not just additional material I didn't find), I'll give you credit for it in the next issue.
I make sure to post next month's subject in advance (see below), so if you have any legends or famous characters you'd like me to include, please let me know at email@example.com!
Next month: Hares!
The Bestiary Index - http://ww2.netnitco.net/users/legend01/beast.htm
Greek Mythology: Helios, god of the sun - http://www.theoi.com/Ouranos/Helios.html
Rodents, Moles, Superstitions, Folklore, and More - http://www.sandiego-books.com/rodents.htm