Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Today is the last day of the A to Z April Challenge. Hurrah! I've had a lot of fun learning about new things and I hope you did too. I have to commend Susan Gourley/Kelley for visiting me almost every day since the beginning (maybe it was every day) and thanks to the rest of you for your support. If you want to go to the main web page to visit other participants, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme, but I couldn't find what I wanted, so I'll talk about Zenith, because it might be incorporated in a fantasy story.
The zenith is an imaginary point directly "above" a particular location, on the imaginary celestial sphere. "Above" means in the vertical direction opposite to the apparent gravitational force at that location. The opposite direction, ie, the direction in which gravity pulls, is toward the nadir.
Zenith may be used as a name which means success and power.
The term zenith is sometimes used to refer to the highest point reached by a celestial body during its apparent orbit around a given point of observation. This sense of the word is often used to describe the location of the Sun (The sun reached its zenith...), but to an astronomer the sun does not have its own zenith, and is at the zenith only if it is directly overhead.
In a scientific context, the zenith is the direction of reference for measuring the zenith angle between a direction of interest (e.g., a star) and the local zenith.
In astronomy, the attitude in the horizontal coordinate system and the zenith angle are complementary angles, with the horizon perpendicular to the zenith. The astronomical meridian is also determined by the zenith, and is defined as a circle on the celestial sphere that passes through the zenith, nadir, and the celestial poles.
Now that you have all that scientific jargon in your head, jot down the beginning of a story. I decided on one about a girl who loves space travel and can travel long distances by jumping when the sun is on its zenith with her point. Have I got it? In fantasy you can bend the rules, but it helps to have the facts so your readers stay grounded. How about you?
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Today is the 25th day of the A to Z April Challenge, with one more day to go! Phew! Almost there, guys. If you've been following this challenge, you know that the participants of this blog hop post on the alphabet every day except Sunday. If you want to go to the main web page to visit other players, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme, but today I'm posting about the deity Yemanja.
Yemanja is an orisha (a spirit or deity), originally of the Yoruba religion, who has become prominent in many Afro-American religions. Yoruba people, from what is now called Yorubaland, brought Yemaya/Yemoja and a host of other deities/energy forces in nature with them when they were brought to the shores of the Americas as captives. She is the ocean, the essence of motherhood, and a fierce protector of children.
Because the Afro-American religions were transmitted as part of a long oral tradition, there many regional variations on the goddess's name. She is represented with Our lady of Regla and Stella Maris.
- Africa: Yemoja, Ymoja, Yemowo, Mami Wata
- Brazil: Lemanja, Janaina
- Cuba: Yemaya, Yemayah, lemanya, Madre Agua
- Haiti: La Sirene, LaSiren
- USA: Yemalla, Yemana, Yemoja
- Uruguay: lemanja
- Suriname: Watra Mama
- Dominican Republic: Yemalla or La Diosa del mar (sea goddess)
In Yoruba mythology, Yemoja is a mother goddess, patron deity of women especially pregnant women, and the Ogun river. Her parents are Oduduwa and Obatala. There are many stories as to how she became the mother of all saints. She was married to Aganju and had one son, Orungan, and fifteen Orishas came forth from her. They include Ogun, Olokun, Shopona and Shango. Other stories would say that Yemaya was always there in the beginning and all life came from her, including all of the orishas.
In world building, it's good to know about deities and beliefs so as we write we can make our own deities if we so choose. Many times it's up to the author to establish a belief system for the characters in their story. Have you built a belief system in your stories?
Monday, April 28, 2014
Today is the 24th day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog hop post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. To go to the main web page to visit other players, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme and today I chose the word Xanadu. Because there is little known about this it will be a short post. Sorry.
Xanadu is a Mandarin word that is pronounced Shandu. It was the summer capital of Kublai Kahn's Yaun empire. It is also associated with fictitious places.
Other words associated with Xanadu are: Arcadia, dreamland, dreamworld, Eden, heaven, land of milk and honey, paradise, promised land, never-never land, Shangri-La, wonderland.
I want to build a story in Xanadu. A paradise land where fairies are real and magic abounds. Have you ever written about a land such as Xanadu? Maybe it has a different name, but has the same amount of wonder in it? It would be a nice place to visit when you want to relax and imagine things with you muse.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Today is the 23rd day of the A to Z April Challenge. As we begin to wind down in our last few days of this blog hop, participants are still posting every day (except Sunday) on a letter of the alphabet. If you'd like to visit other players, got to the main web page by clicking HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme and today is about the werewolf.
Werewolf fiction denotes the portrayal of werewolves and other shapeshifting man/woman-beasts, in the media of literature, drama, film, games, and music. Werewolf literature includes folklore, legend, saga, fairy tales, Gothic and Horror fiction, fantasy fiction and poetry. Such stories may be supernatural, symbolic or allegorical. A classic American cinematic example of the theme is The Wolf Man (1941) and in later films joins with Frankenstein's monster and Count Dracula, as one of the three famous icons of the modern day horror. However, werewolf fiction is an exceptionally diverse genre with ancient folkloric roots and manifold modern re-interpretations.
In Greek Mythology, there is a story of an Arcadian King called Lycaon who tested Zeus by serving him a dish of his slaughtered and dismembered son to see if Zeus was really all knowing. As punishment for his trickery, Zeus transformed Lycaon into a wolf and killed his 50 sons by lightning bolts, but supposedly revived Lycaon's son Nyctimus, who the king had slaughtered.
In medieval romances, such as Bisclavret, and Guillaume de Palerme the werewolf is relatively benign, appearing as the victim of evil magic and aiding knights errant.
However, in most legends influenced by medieval theology the werewolf was a satanic beast with a craving for human flesh.
This poem was found about becoming a werewolf:
Even a man who is pure of heart
And says his prayers by night
May become a wolf
When the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright
Have you used werewolves in your stories?
Friday, April 25, 2014
Today is the 22nd day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants of this blog hop post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. To go to the main web page to visit other players click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today is about the Vampire.
Vampires are mythical beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures In folkloric tales, undead vampires often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited when they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance, markedly different from today's gaunt, pale vampire which dates from the early 1800s. Although vampiric entities have been recorded in most cultures, the term vampire was not popularised until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe, although local variants were also known by different names, such as vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to what can only be called mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.
In modern times, however, the vampire is generally held to be a fictitious entity, although belief in similar vampiric creatures such as the chupacabra still persists in some cultures. Early folkloric belief in vampires has been ascribed to the ignorance of the body's process of decomposition after death and how people in pre-industrial societies tried to rationalise this, creating the figure of the vampire to explain the mysteries of death. Porphyria was also linked with legends of vampirism in 1985 and received much media exposure, but has since been largely discredited.
The charismatic and sophisticated vampire of modern fiction was born in 1819 with the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori; the story was highly successful and arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century. However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula which is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and provided the basis of the modern vampire legend. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, and television shows. The vampire has since become a dominant figure in the horror genre.
I've always toyed with writing a story about a vampire, but since the Twilight series came out, I figure it has been thoroughly covered in many different stories. Have you used a vampire in your books?
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Today is the 21st day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog hop post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. If you'd like to go to the home page to visit other players, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today I'm talking about Unicorns.
The unicorn is a legendary animal that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. The unicorn was depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers, including Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny the Younger, and Aelian.
In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horselike or goatlike animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goats beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly describes as a wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. In encyclopedias its horn was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. In medieval and Renaissance times, the horn of the narwhal was sometimes sold as unicorn horn.
Hunts for an actual animal as the basis of the unicorn myth, accepting the conception of writers in Antiquity that it really existed somewhere at the edge of the known earth have added a further layer of mythologizing about the unicorn. These have taken various forms, interpreted in a scientific, rather than a wonder-filled manner, to accord with modern perceptions of reality.
What was found was fabricated evidence and bones of what was a type of large cattle that once inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa. Unfortunately, our unicorn myth is just that - a magical myth that carries tales from the ancients of another time.
Have you used unicorns in your stories? What role did they play?
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Today is the 20th day of the A to Z April Challenge. Six more days to go on this blog-hop where participants post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sundays. To go to the main web page so you can visit other players, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme and today is about the Trickster.
In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, and anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. It is suggested that the term "Trickster" was probably first used in this context by Daniel G. Brinton in 1885.
The trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously but usually with positively positive effects (though the trickster's initial intentions may have been positive or negative). Often, the bending/breaking of the rules takes the form of tricks or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish, or both, they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks.
The Trickster or Clown is an example of Jungian archetype. In modern literature the trickster survives as a character archetype, not necessarily supernatural or divine, sometimes no more than a stock character. Often, too, the trickster is distinct in a story by his acting as a sort of catalyst, in that his antics are the cause of other characters' discomfiture, but he himself is left untouched. An example of this can be the mysterious character of Uncle Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker. Drosselmeyer appears to be a magician of some sort and is the source of the evening's magical adventure.
In later folklore, the trickster/clown is incarnated as a clever mischievous man or creature, who tries to survive the dangers and challenges of the world using trickery and deceit as a defense. He is also known for entertaining people as a clown does. For example, many typical fairy tales have the King who wants to find the best groom for his daughter by ordering several trials. No brave or valiant prince or knight manages to win them, until a poor and simple peasant comes. With the help of his wits and cleverness, instead of fighting, he evades or fools monster and villains and dangers with unorthodox manners. Therefore, the most unlikely candidate passes the trials and receives the reward.
The trickster is an enduring archetype that crosses many cultures and appears in a wide variety of popular media. Can you name any in your own literature?
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Today is the 19th day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog-hop post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sundays. To visit the main web page to see other players click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme and today I'm presenting Serendipity Books.
Serendipity is a series of children's books about animals and creatures. The books were written by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James. The books are short stories with colorful illustrations that have a moral perspective.
Cosgrove wrote the books after searching for an easy to read book with a message to read to his then three year old daughter. After finding primarily large expensive books, Cosgrove teamed up with illustrator James to create low cost softcover books. After receiving an offer to publish the books only in hardcover, Cosgrove created his own publishing company - Serendipity Press. The first four books of the Serendipity series were published in 1974. They are: Serendipity, The Dream Tree, Wheedle on the Needle and The Muffin Dragon.
The animals in the Serendipity series include bears, cats, dogs, horses, squirrels, rabbits and mythical creatures such as unicorns, dragons, sea monsters and pegasus. Cosgrove also invented his own creatures such as wheedle, hucklebug and kritter. The books present moral issues such as growing up, disabilities, abuse, fear, friendship, prejudice, gossip and helping the environment.
To date, there are 70 books in the series, written from kindergarten to grade three levels. What an fun way to present common issues to young people. Have you read these books?
Monday, April 21, 2014
Today is the 18th day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog hop post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sundays. To visit the main web page where the entire list of players is, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today I'm telling about the Runestone.
Many tales use runestones in their worlds as a way to tell a story. Today I'm going to tell about the real runestones that exist in the northern countries of Europe.
A runestone is typically a raised stone with a runic inscription, but the term can also be applied to inscriptions on boulders and on bedrock. The tradition began in the 4th century, and it lasted into the 12th century, but most of the runestones date from the late Viking Age. Most runestones are located in Scandinavia, but there are also scattered runestones in locations that were visited by Norsemen in the Viking Age. Runestones are often memorials to deceased men. Runestones were usually brightly coloured when erected, though it is no longer evident as the colour has worn off.
The tradition of raising stones that had runic inscriptions first appeared in the 4th and 5th century in Norway and Sweden, and these early runestones were placed next to graves.
The tradition is mentioned in both Ynglinga saga and Havamal.
For men of consequence a mound should be raised to their memory, and for all other warriors who had been distinguished for manhood a standing stone, a custom that remained long after Odin's time.
~The Ynglinga saga
A son is better
though late he be born,
And his father to death have fared;
seldom stand by the road
Save when kinsman honors his kin.
Another interesting class of runestone is rune-stone-as-self promotion. Bragging was a virtue in Norse society, a habit in which the heroes of sagas often indulged, and is exemplified in runestones of the time. Hundreds of people had stones carved with the purpose of advertising their own achievements or positive traits.
Although most runestones were set up to perpetuate the memories of men, many speak of women, often represented as conscientious landowners and pious Christians.
"Sigrid, Alrik's mother, Orm's daughter made this bridge for her husband Holmgers, father of Sigoerd, for his soul."
"Gunnor, Thythriks daughter, made a bridge in memory of her daughter Astrid. She was the most skillful girl in Hadeland."
Have you used runestones in your stories? I wonder if someone from the future would call our grave markers of today runestones? After all, marking on a stone is still popular today.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Today is the 17th day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sundays. If you would like to visit the main web page where the blog hop list is, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme, and today is about Quests in Fantasy and Mythology.
In mythology and literature, a quest, a journey towards a goal, serves as a plot device and (frequently) as a symbol. Quests appear in the folklore of every nation and also figure prominently in non-national cultures. In literature, the objects of quests require great exertion on the part of the hero, and the overcoming of many obstacles, typically including much travel. The aspect of travel also allows the storyteller to showcase exotic locations and cultures (an objective of the narrator, not the character).
The hero aims to obtain something or someone by the quest, and with this object to return home. The object can be something new, that fulfills a lack in his life, or something that is stolen away from him or someone with authority to dispatch him.
Sometimes the hero has no desire to return, Sir Galahads quest for the Holy Grail is to find it, not to return with it. A return may, indeed, be impossible: Aeneas quests for a homeland, having lost Troy at the beginning of Virgil's Aeneid, and he does not return to Troy to re-found it, but settles in Italy (to become an ancestor of the Romans).
If the hero does return after the culmination of the quest, he may face false heroes who attempt to pass themselves off as him, or his initial response may be a rejection of that return, as Joseph Campbell describes in his critical analysis of quest literature, The Hero With A Thousand Faces.
If someone dispatches the hero on a quest, the overt reason may be false, with the dispatcher actually sending him on the difficult quest in hopes of his death in the attempt, or in order to remove him from the scene for a time, just as if the claim were sincere, except that the tale usually ends with the dispatcher being unmasked and punished.
The quest object may, indeed, function only as a convenient reason for the heroes journey, woven into the plot by the author. Have you created quest objects for your characters to weave them into your plot? How did it work out?
Friday, April 18, 2014
Today is the 16th day of the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog hop post each day (except Sundays) on a letter of the alphabet. To visit other bloggers on the main web page, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme and today I'm writing about Pegasus.
The symbolism of Pegasus varies with time. Symbol of wisdom and especially of fame from the Middle Ages until the Renaissance, he became one symbol of the poetry and the creator of sources in which the poets come to draw inspiration, particularly in the 19th century. Pegasus is the subject of a very rich iconography, especially through the ancient Greek pottery and paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance.
According to legend, everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to the earth, an inspired spring burst forth. One of these springs was upon the Muses Mt. Helicon, the Hippocrene (horse spring), opened at the behest of Poseidon to prevent the mountain swelling rapture at the song of the Muses, another was at Troezen. Hesiod relates how Pegasus was peacefully drinking from a spring, when the hero Bellerophon captured him. Hesiod also says Pegasus carried thunderbolts for Zeus.
This is only some of the accounts of Pegasus in Greek mythology. My own thoughts are about Pegasus carrying the thunderbolts for Zeus. What an incredible story. And for so many years I wore a necklace of a Pegasus, not knowing anything except its beauty. Have you used any winged horses in your stories?
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Today is day 15 in the A to Z April Challenge. Participants are blogging about their favorite subjects every day except Sunday. To visit others in this blog hop, you can go to the main web page HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today I'll be talking about Oracles in Mythology.
In classical antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to interface wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such, it is a form of divination.
The word oracle comes from the Latin verb orare "to speak" and properly refers to the priest or priestess uttering the prediction. In extended use, oracle may also refer to the site of the oracle, and to the oracular utterances themselves, called khresmoi in Greek.
Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. In this sense they were different from seers (manteis) who interpreted signs sent by the gods through bird signs, animal entrails, and other various methods.
The most important oracles of Greek antiquity were Pythia, priestess to Apollo at Delphi, and the oracle of Dione and Zeus at Dodona in Epirus. Other temples of Apollo were located at Didyma, on the coast of Asia Minor, at Corinth and Bassae in the Peloponnese, and at the islands of Delos and Aegina in the Aegean Sea. The Sibylline Oracles are a collection of oracular utterances written in Greek hexameters ascribed to the Sibyls, prophetesses who uttered divine revelations in a frenzied state.
The term oracle is also applied to parallel institutions of divination in other cultures. In Celtic polytheism, divination was performed by the priestly caste, either the Druids or the Vates. This is reflected in the role of "seers" in Dark Age Wales and Ireland. In Norse mythology, Odin took the severed head of the mythical god Mimir to Asgard for consultation as an oracle. The Havamal and other sources relate the sacrifice of Odin for the Oracular Runes whereby he lost an eye (external sight) and won wisdom (internal sight, insight) to be a consulted oracle.
The list goes on for examples of oracles. Have you used an oracle or a seer in one of your stories? How important was their message?
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Today is the 14th day of the A to Z April Challenge. This means two weeks of blogging the alphabet every day except Sundays. For those who would like to visit other participants listed on the main web page, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today I'm looking at the Nobility in Medieval Times. I use the medieval social structure in some of my fantasy stories.
In medieval times, most of the people were peasants, farmers who worked all the time just to grow food. They were protected by the Nobles. But who made up the nobility? The Nobility included the landowners, the King, Lords and Ladies, and Knights of the kingdom.
The King: The King was the highest noble of the land. In theory, the king owned all the land. The King gave out fiefs to his followers, which put them in charge of a portion of the land. The fief holder had to pay the king rent, taxes, and provide soldiers whenever the king needed them.
A Lord: A Lord was given a fief by the king. The lord was expected to pay taxes to the king and provide soldiers when needed. To do that, the lord was given absolute power over his fief. Within it, a lord's word was the law. Whatever the lord said, the people had to do.
A Lady: A Lord also needed a wife who was called a Lady. Her job was to take care of the manor, run the house, and most importantly to have children. Women in medieval times had no rights. They were property. They belonged to their father, husband or even eldest son. This is not to say some women didn't take charge, but the law said they were property.
I imagine that it was hard for the nobility to live in a time when the upper class was continually grappling for who would come out on top. There was constant treachery, kidnapping and even murder of the royals, forcing the nobles family to live with body guards, food tasters and soldiers surrounding them. This meant a host of lower class servants that would be loyal to the family. How did they find these servants? Perhaps some Lords treated their subjects with enough kindness to earn respect and devotion, but others ruled with an iron fist and used fear as a way of controlling their underlings, with punishment and death as rewards for disobedience.
Have you used this social structure in your stories? How did it work for you?
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Today is day thirteen in the A to Z April Challenge. Participants in this blog hop post each day on a different letter of the alphabet (except Sundays). To visit the main web page click Here.
I chose Fantasy as my theme and today is about Middle-earth.
Middle-earth is the fictional universe setting of the majority of author J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. Properly, Middle-earth is the central continent of the imagined world, not a name of the entire world.
Tolkien wrote many times that Middle-earth is located on our earth. He described it as an imaginary period in Earth's past, not only in The Lord of the Rings, but also several letters. He put the end of the Third Age about 6,000 years before his own time, and the environs of the Shire in what is now Northwestern Europe (Hobbiton for example was set at the same latitude as Oxford), though in replies to letters he would also describe elements of the stories as a "...secondary or sub-creational reality" or "Secondary belief". During an interview in January 1971, when asked if the stories take place in a different era, he stated, "No...at a different stage of imagination, yes." However he did nod to the stories setting on earth, speaking of Midgard and Middle-earth, he said, "Oh yes, they're the same word. Most people have made this mistake of thinking Middle-earth is a particular kind of earth or is another planet of the science fiction sort but it's just an old fashioned word for this world we live in, as imagined surrounded by the ocean."
Such an incredible imagination that Tolkien had, I am awed. In one simple word comes an entire world. Do you make maps with your worlds? I have and want to incorporate them in my stories.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Welcome to the 12th day of the A to Z April Challenge. This is a blog hop where the participants follow the alphabet and post every day except Sundays. To visit the main web page click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my theme and today is about Leprechauns.
Probably the most famous of the Irish fairies, leprechauns are little people in Irish folklore, usually clad in a red or green coat, who enjoy partaking in mischief. Like other fairy creatures, leprechauns have been linked to the Tuatha De Danann of Irish mythology. The leprechauns spend all their time busily making shoes, and store away all their coins in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If ever captured by a human, the leprechaun has the power to grant three wishes in exchange for their release. However, they are exceptionally clever and tricky and very few mortals ever get the best of a leprechaun.
Popular depiction shows the leprechaun as being no taller than a small child, with a beard and hat, although they may have originally been perceived as the tallest of the mound dwellers (the Tuatha De Danann).
The earliest known reference to the leprechaun appears in the medieval tale known as the Echtra Fergus mac Leti (Adventure of Fergus son of Leti). The text contains an episode in which Fergus mac Leti, King of Ulster, falls asleep on the beach and wakes up to find himself being dragged into the sea by three luchorpain. He captures his abductors, who grant him three wishes in exchange for their release.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Today is the eleventh day of the A to Z April Challenge, where bloggers post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. To visit the main web page in this blog hop, just click HERE.
I've chosen Fantasy as my theme this month and today is about Knighthood.
Knights were frequently organized into orders of knighthood, many of which were fraternal of military associations of armed, armored and mounted expert soldiers fervently dedicated to God or some other noble cause. Just as such organizations can evoke colorful and powerful images of their role in history, so too can they be used to evoke powerful images in works of fantasy.
In the Early Medieval period any well-equipped horseman could be described as a 'knight,' or miles in Latin. In the course of the 12th century knighthood became a social rank with a distinction being made between 'milites gregarii' (non-noble cavalrymen) and milites nobiles (true knights). As the term 'knight' became increasingly confined to denoting a social rank, the military role of fully armoured cavalryman gained a separate term, 'man-at-arms'. Although any Medieval knight going to war would automatically serve as a man-at-arms, not all men-at-arms were knights.
The ideal of chivalry as the ethos of the Christian warrior, and the transmutation of the term knight from the meaning "servant, soldier", and of chevalier "mounted soldier", to refer to a member of this ideal class, is significantly influenced by the Crusades, on one hand inspired by the military orders of monastic warriors, as seen retrospectively from the point of view of the beginning Late Middle Ages, and on the other hand influenced by Islamic (Saracen) ideals.
I imagine that being a knight was a difficult life for any person who chose to serve in this capacity. Would you want to be a knight?
Friday, April 11, 2014
Today is the tenth day of the A to Z April Challenge for 2014. Participants post on the alphabet every day except Sunday. You can visit other fellow bloggers in this blog hop by clicking HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today is Jabberwocky.
"The Jabberwock with eyes of flame" is a creation of Lewis Carroll and appears in the poem "Jabberwocky" in the book Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
(I apologize for the fuzzy copy. I tried to get it to enlarge, but this was the best it would do.)
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Today is the ninth day of the A to Z April Challenge. This is a blog hop where participants post about a letter of the alphabet, every day except Sunday. You can go to the main web page to visit other participants HERE.
My theme is Fantasy and today is Individualization and Characterization. In order to keep this short, this is an abbreviated discussion.
In Fantasy, there are many different types of characters, or new races introduced to the reader during the course of a story How we create these races can be done by inventing the race, borrowing from ancient mythology or by re-writing an already established race.
Although there are several ways of creating or adapting new races and new outlook on races, one of the surest ways of bringing a race to life is by creating an individual from that race and making him a fully developed character. Many people like to use character interviews where they develop their traits from a personality assessment.
For example, Robert Aspirin, in his Myth Adventures, introduced trolls by presenting Chumley as a real person. Aspirin demonstrates Chumley's intelligence and his big heart through his interaction with the other characters. Terry Pratchett does the same thing for the troll Detritus. Though slow-witted, the troll develops a friendship with his co-worker, the dwarf Cuddy. Pratchett's dwarves also come alive through Carrot, the six foot adopted dwarf, and Corporal Littlebottom, a female dwarf who also joins the Guard. Andre Norton's Dahuan brings the Green People to full realization as Orsya of the Krogan does for that race. Mercedes Lackey's gryphon Skandrannon's love of adventure, his vanity and his devotion to his family make him as human as anyone. To be a successful troll, dwarf, fairy, elf, gryphon or whatever, the character must come alive. That is one of the true keys to breathing life into a cliched race.
How do you create your characters and in what century would they be from?
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Today is the eight day of the A to Z April Challenge. This is a blog hop where participants post each day, except Sundays. We have over 1600 participants, so I hope you meet some new friends. To visit the main web page and visit other bloggers in this challenge click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today is Hippogriff.
Hippogriff (aka: Hippogriffin)
The hippogriff was the offspring of a gryphon - a half eagle/half lion - and a mare, and was considered by medieval writers to be a natural, nonmagical beast. It had the body of a horse and the forelegs, claws, wings and beak of a griffin, which were basically identical to those of an eagle. The hippogriff is often associated with the sun, the gryphons and horses of Apollo's chariot, and the Pegasus. The hippogriff's story is told in Orlando Furioso by Ariosto, most episodes of which are derived from Greek and other legends.
The hippogriff was originally tamed by a magician named Atlantes who lived in a castle in the Pyrenees where Rogero, the magician's foster son, was kept prisoner. Eventually Rogero escaped and took the hippogriff as his mount. In one adventure, it was ridden by Rogero as he tried to save a damsel from sacrifice to a sea beast, an episode that greatly resembled one of Perseus's adventures.
The hippogriff eventually passed into the hands of one of Charlemagne's knights, who then learned from Saint John how to defeat the pagan Africans. In the end, the hippogriff was set free into the mountains and never seen again. Until it was revived in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. The hippogriff, named Buckbeak, was rescued from execution and flew away with Harry's uncle, never to be reappear again in the story.
J. K. Rowling's use a this mythical creature is an excellent example of how writers incorporate beasts in their stories.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Today is day seven for the A to Z April Challenge. This blog hop has over 1600 participants and lasts throughout the month of April, with posts daily except Sundays. To visit other participants, you can go to the main website by clicking HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my theme and today, for the letter G, is Giants, Gnomes and Goblins.
Giants have appeared in various forms and mythologies throughout the world. In Greek mythology, the Titans were the children of Gaea, Mother Earth, and Uranus, the Heavenly Sky. They were of gigantic stature and each Titan governed a certain realm, such as Oceanus over the ocean. Gaea also gave birth to other giants that had one hundred arms and fifty heads.
Norse mythology has even more stories about giants. The Rock and Frost Giants lived in Jotunheim and often battled the Gods. The thunder god Thor was the chief enemy of the giants.
Gnomes were considered a minor race and appeared with less frequency in literature. They are similar to dwarves, though usually depicted as having more human proportions. They generally live underground.
Goblins appear in many folk and fairy tales as mischievous creatures, bewitching and tormenting men. They often wear caps and are depicted as misshapen and bowed little people. They are associated with the earth, live among tree roots and cracks in rocks, and are meddlesome, but not usually dangerous.
Giants, Gnomes and Goblins are used in fantasy writing by many authors. Tolkien used them in his books, such as The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Have you used them in any of your stories? Tell us...
Monday, April 7, 2014
This is day six in the A to Z April Challenge. It's a blog hop where participants post every day, except Sunday, following the alphabet. If you want to visit the home page click HERE.
I chose Fantasy for my A to Z Challenge theme. Today I'm writing about Fantasy.
Lester del Rey was a longtime writer, critic and editor in the fantasy/science fiction field. He used to say that it was harder to write good fantasy than any other form of fiction. Why? Because a writer of fantasy is free to invent anything, unfettered by the laws and dictates of this world and limited only by the depth of imagination and willingness to dream. The temptation to free-fall through a story chock full of incredible images and wondrous beings can be irresistible - but, when not resisted, almost invariably disastrous.
In creating a world populated by monsters and other strange life forms, reliant on uses of magic, and shimmering with images of childhood tales, legends and myths, a writer runs the risk of losing touch with reality entirely. Given the parameters of the world and characters that the writer has created, something of that world and those characters must speak to what we, as readers, know to be true about the human condition. If nothing corresponds to what we know about our own lives, then everything becomes unbelievable. Even the most ridiculous farce must resonate in some identifiable way with truths we have discovered about ourselves. Even the darkest sword and sorcery epic must speak to us of our own harsh experience.
Achieving this end as a fantasy writer demands mastery of a certain skill, one not uncommon with that required of a ship's captain charting a course at sea. When putting together a fantasy tale, a writer must navigate a treacherous passage that bears neither too hard to starboard nor too far to port in order to avoid arriving at an unforseen destination or, worse, ending up on the rocks. Fantasy writing must be grounded in both truth and life experience if it is to work. It can be as inventive and creative as the writer can make it, a whirlwind of images and plot twists, but it cannot be built on a foundation of air. The world must offer us a frame of reference we can recognize. The characters must behave in ways that we believe reasonable and expected. The magic must work in a consistent and balanced manner. The book must leave us with a feeling of comprehension and satisfaction at having spent time turning its pages to discover its end.
Do you have a favorite fantasy that you like to expound on?
(Excerpt from Introduction by Terry Brooks in "The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference")
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Today is day five in the A to Z April Challenge and the letter E is up for us to expound upon. This challenge is a blog hop for the entire month of April and has over a 1000 participants. To go to the main webpage, click HERE.
Essences, Plants and Herbs
In fantasy stories, many mages and sorcerers use essences, plants and herbs for their spells and potions. Here is a short list of plants and their uses.
Acacia: sacred to Diana; used to commune with spirits.
Angelica: sacred to Sophia; restores harmony.
Cinnamon: attracts lovers, health and luck.
Irish Moss: place under your rug for the "luck of the Irish."
Laurel: good luck, worn by victors.
Mandrake: hold the root as you conjure to strengthen spells.
Myrtle: sacred to Artemis.
Patchouli: sacred to Pan.
Rose: sacred to Diana.
Rosemary: offers protection; worn by pagan warriors into battle.
Vervain: sacred to Venus; used to banish evil.
Violet: sacred to the Fairy Queen.
Witches' Broom: purifies water.
I used Patchouli in a sci/fi story, written far in the future. There are numerous uses for these items when you use your imagination. I hope this was informative. What essences, plants and herbs have you used?
Friday, April 4, 2014
Today is the fourth day of the A to Z Challenge lasting the entire month of April, excluding Sundays. This challenge is a blog hop using the letters of the alphabet. To go to the main webpage to visit other participants, click HERE.
I chose Fantasy as my main reference for the month. Today is D for Dragons.
As we know, dragons appear in various mythologies and legends. The Greek monster Echidna was supposed to be half dragon. In Babylonian myth, Tiamat was the great she-dragon that battled the god Marduk. In Norse mythology, Fafnir kept guard over his hoard until killed by Sigurd. The hero Beowulf was eventually killed by a dragon. In English tales, St. George killed a dragon and rescued a young virgin.
The most familiar form of the western dragon is a great flying reptile. It has large batlike wings, a serpentine tail, sharp claws or talons and lots of teeth. These dragons usually breathe fire and some have a penchant for virgins. Often, like Fafnir, they are known to hoard gold and jewels. Dragons are hard to kill but almost always have one vulnerable spot for the hero to find.
Whether or not they are friendly to man, dragons have been a fascination to many throughout history. Do you like reading about dragons? What is your most memorable dragon?
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Today is the third day of the A to Z Challenge, where participants post each day in April except on Sundays. You can visit the web page of this blog hop HERE, to join over one thousand bloggers as they roll through the alphabet this month. I hope to see your name on the list!
My theme is Fantasy and today it's about Castles.
Castles were fortified dwellings deliberately built for the security of a local lord and his or her followers in areas subject to little or no central political control. The primary purpose of true castles is defense, and any other uses were incidental or auxiliary.
Symptomatic of anarchic, fragmented societies, castles were not built for their aesthetic value and were rarely constructed inside strong national states. Rather, they were built for protection against raiders, foreign invaders or aggressive neighbors. From modest fortifications that sheltered a dozen warriors and their dependents, castles evolved through the Middle Ages into complex, durable citadels that housed hundreds. Some of the most well situated, well-constructed and well-stocked castles never succumbed to their enemies, whether by assault or siege.
Castles were usually built or controlled by the ruler of an area and were used to defend its frontiers from invasion. Such castles would be given to leaders who had sworn fealty to the noble. The lord of the castle usually had military control over the area immediately around the castle and maybe within a few hour's travel from it. He lived in the castle with his family, his soldiers and their families, and a variety of craftsmen, servants and serfs. Frequently, the latter did not live in the castle but on its lands and near enough that they could quickly repair it in times of crisis.
Castles were the rocks upon which the tiny states of feudal lords existed, and a suitably built, stocked and manned castle could allow a lord to wield great power within his realm and possible political importance outside of it. Thus, the temperament of the lord was of great importance to the people. They could be ruled by harshness or by compassion.
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Would you want to live in a castle? If so, where would it be?
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
This is the second day of the A to Z Challenge held throughout the month of April. Participants post every day except Sundays in this blog hop and meet with any number of over a thousand bloggers. To go to the main web page, click HERE and you'll find the list of bloggers. Have fun!
The Bard was a musician or minstrel in the middle ages, who usually sang only of heroic deeds They carried their instrument, usually a lute and/or a wooden flute, and like acrobats, traveled from place to place in search of donations to live on.
Many bards and minstrels recited the news of the day set to rhyming music. Since the news wasn't written down, they were popular in the courts of the rich, where they learned of what deeds were being sung about. A knight could possibly hear of his own deeds being sung, sometimes with embellishment to the deeds.
Many bards and minstrels were nobles who either dropped out or were forced out of their noble status.
In the Celtic and Druidic traditions an individual followed the Bardic Path. Devotees would travel from place to place reciting mystical poetry, song and mythology.
(A page from the tale of Beowulf. One of the few tales that was put down in writing)