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6x12 Relief carved, hand painted ceramic frog and fern tile.
Available at http://earthsongtiles.com
For thousands of years frogs and toads have lived in the stories and myth of almost every human culture, taking on almost every conceivable role. From the devil to the trickster to the mother of the universe. Unfortunately some folklore surrounding them is negative, especially lore based in Medieval Europe where in the eyes of most Christian religions of the day frogs and toads were typically thought of as evil, demonic creatures who possessed witches spirits. Such folklore was the result of inquisition propaganda and did not reflect earlier Pagan beliefs, which were more in keeping with many other cultures that have and still do view amphibians in a more positive light, relating them to good fortune, protection, fertility and more.
In Egyptian mythology the frog goddess Heket was a very important figure associated with matters of fertility and pregnancy. Working together with her husband, the creator Khunm, Heket was believed to give all creatures the breath of life before they were placed in the womb. In many ancient Chinese legends the toad is a trickster and magician, but also the keeper of the powerful secrets of the world and immortality.
Many tribes of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica worshiped a goddess that took the form of a frog with many udders. Her name was Ceneotl and much like the Egyptian goddess Heket she presided over fertility and childbirth. Frogs were also considered spirits of rain. The Aymara tribe of Peru and Bolivia fashioned small frog images which they placed on hill tops to call down the rain. Early Aztecs saw the toad as the earth mother goddess Tlaltecunti who embodied the endless cycle of death and re-birth.
The life cycle of frogs and toads involves at least one major transformation from tadpole to adult and many species also shed and eat their skin as they grow. This may well explain why so many cultures see frogs as a symbol of creation and transformation. In the most famous frog tale in Western culture, 'The Frog Prince' the frog is depicted as a master of transformation. In earlier variations of this story the frog or toad is a woman.
Frogs and toads have been our companions on earth for countless centuries and the human imagination with it's need for meaning and hunger for stories casts and re-casts them as a major character in the story of the world. But their numbers diminish and we hear less and less from these companions. What richness our stories will loose if we stop hearing their voices and their spirit is lost.