See Journalistic Standards, Lack of

Here’s a Sydney Morning Herald article about a very unfortunate situation…

Man has both legs amputated after white-tailed spider bite

For those who would like a summary it goes like this…

A man has had both his legs amputated after being bitten by a white tailed spider!

He didn’t see the spider, and has no evidence he was bitten by anything – let alone any type of spider – but it was a white tailed spider all right!

Scientists and doctors say there is absolutely no evidence that white tailed spider bites cause necrosis, and the media should stop telling people that they do!

Signs of a white tailed spider bite include necrosis and having to have your legs amputated!

Sheeze!

LATER: Oh, and now the story has gone missing and the link goes to a 404 page. I wonder why that is? ­čśÇ

LATER STILL: And now there’s a new article that’s actually based in some kind of reality.

The d├ó vamik├Ęd

The Zurv├ír people have a large store of legends and myths, many of which are specific to particular Houses. One story shared between almost all Houses however is the d├ó vamik├Ęd, or “Tale of Creation”, which seeks to explain the origin of the Zurv├ír and their culture’s strong relationship to the ocean. Versions of the story have been traced back for over 700 years, and although variations abound, the core narrative of the tale remains constant, with “the Creator” (r├ávamiket) making the five important elements of Zurv├ír existence in a specific order common to all versions.

The version of the d├ó vamik├Ęd presented here is taken from the well respected collection of Zurv├ír myths and songs collated and translated into English by G├óron K├ír V├Ęelisavik in 1987.


The Tale of Creation

In the time before the sun, the Creator needed to cross the Great Ocean. So with his hands he crafted the first boat and set sail on his journey.

But it was dark on the ocean, and the Creator could not see his way. So he took coals from his stove and threw them into the sky. They became the stars and lit his way so he was no longer lost, and he continued on his journey.

But the Ocean was empty of all life and the Creator grew hungry. So he took splinters from his oars and threw them into the water. They became the first fish. He caught a fish, and cooked it on his stove, so he was no longer hungry, and he continued on his journey.

But the journey grew long and there was no sound on the ocean but the wind and the waves and the creak of the boat. The Creator become downhearted. So he tore pieces of cloth from his sail and threw them into the air. They became the first seabirds, which danced between the waves and filled the air with their cries. He was no longer downhearted, and he continued on his journey.

But the Ocean was wide and the Creator grew lonely. So he took twine from his ropes and knotted them together. They became the first Zurvár and provided him with the company he craved. He was no longer lonely, and he continued on his journey.

After many days of sailing, the Great Ocean came to an end.  The Creator beached his boat on the far shore and talked with the Zurvár, teaching them to dance and sing like the seabirds, to catch and cook fish, to navigate by the stars and to build boats of their own. He no longer needed his boat, so he pushed it into the water and set it aflame. But the boat did not sink, it burnt brighter and brighter, then rose into the sky and became the sun.

And to this day the Creator’s boat still sails across the sky every day to remind the Zurv├ír of the Creator and all that he taught them.


The sequence of Boat, Stars, Fish, Birds and Zurvár (often represented by the knots tied by the Creator) is found in many aspects of Zurvár society, including the standard suits of playing cards and the days of the traditional five day week. The importance of the number five to Zurvár culture is also often traced to the Tale of Creation, although it is unclear whether the primacy of five derives from the five elements of the story, or vice-versa.

The Creator character of the story has never been worshiped by the Zurvár. He (or in some versions she) is not viewed as a god, but as an important and respected ancestor. Some Houses claim direct descent from the Creator via long and complex genealogies, some of which have been proved to be accurate for as far back as the early 1100s, although nowdays those who take such tales as literal truth are far and few between.