Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Inspiration, mythology and modern technology.

Where I would be without the internet I do not know. Although I have a veritable library of mythology books at home, I am regularly inspired by the internet. One of my favourite past times is cruising the net looking for images of cool mythological beasts, sexy heroes and perfect heroines. Today I'm going to show you a few images of things that have inspired me - in the hope that they too, may inspire you too.

The first is an image I found whilst cruising the net looking for dragon pictures. I'm yet to write about dragons, but they were my first mythological love. I particularly like this picture because the dragon is small (like a nano-dragon from Cressida Cowell's How to Train your Dragon Series of books *love them*) and looks lifelike. I had this as my screen saver for quite some time! Dragons, like vampires are found in most mythologies from around the world. A fact I find intriguing. I always ponder if the myths of dragons were born from ancient people discovering dinosaur bones and trying to explain them.
[image courtesy:sugarpeep]

This one is of the internal structures of a Naga. How cool is it?! This image really enthused me. I love imagining how mythological creatures could be biologically functional, and clearly there are other people out there who think the same! I was sorely tempted to go and start googling the internals of dragons, harpies etc, but really do not have the time... so will file it away for another blog post!

This one is of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. I've been reading a lot about the real pirates of the Americas at the moment, so they're rather something of a current muse for me. And I just like Johnny Depp.
[Image courtesy: demigods.com]

.   .  .  .à
This is a rather alternative looking Manticore. I don't fly with with the whole Manticore with wings thing. From my research I've noticed that the wings are a more recent addition to myths... I could be wrong, but still I prefer my Manticores without them. However, this particular critter looks pretty beastly, and I like the idea of this being some sort of Chimaera.

Similarly, men are fodder for my writing muse. After all,  I like to study faces and see how brows move, how light plays in the twinkle of an eye, the line of a regal nose etc. I've said it before... It's a hard job but someone's got to do it....
For the record I don't just use gorgeous men either.    .  .  .  .  . à
Some of my villains such as the Bomoh (in "Magical Redemption" ) have been inspired by something quite different. The Bomoh was inspired by a  book cover by Geoffrey Walker, called the "Bomoh's Apprentice". Which I bought whilst in Malaysia last year, and as you can see, there is very little charming or gorgeous about that image.

On that attractive note, I shall leave you and bid you all a good week, as I am off for a cup of coffee and some good ol'fashioned writing.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mythical bugs and spiders..

Do you like creepy crawlies? Ants, spiders, bees?

It may surprise to you to know, but there is an amazing array of insects and spiders that appear in mythology throughout the world. As with many of the lesser known myths, these creatures are have significantly faded from the human consciousness in the last century or so. Some such as the pelesit, (which appears in "Magical Redemption") I've already blogged about, but I'm going to introduce you to a few more...

Allow me to firstly introduce the Tsuchigumo. A rather fearsome Japanese shape-shifting demon, who mostly appears in the form of a gigantic hairy spider. The Tsuchigumos are adept at spinning illusions that draw victims into their webs, where they then feast like a vampire on the humans blood. Tsuchigumos can be male or female. There is a story about a legendary warrior named Raiko, who finds himself not once but twiced enmeshed in a Tsuchigumo web... rivetting stuff! These creatures particularly remind me of Agarog, from Harry Potter.
Second insect of the day is the Thriae. Those familar with Greek mythology may have heard of them. Basically, the Thriae are three nymphs, who possess the gift of prophecy. They have been depicted as having the head and upper body of a woman (a common feature I notice in a great number of myths - think the Naga, Harpy, Satyr, Glaistig, centaur etc) but the lower abdomen and legs of a bee. Their heads look as though they have been dusted with pollen... which if they are indeed 1/2 bee seems entirely understandable. The Thriae were the tutors in the art of divination to the God Apollo. They consume mostly (again unsurprisingly) honey. There is some debate as to whether the Thriae were actually human priestesses who acted as oracle/prophets after drinking an intoxicating honey drink...

Next,  is a myth some may be familiar with. This is Itzpapalotl, from Aztec mythology. Itzpapalotl is also know as Clawed Butterfly, or Obsidian Butterfly. There is some suggestion that the name did not refer to a butterfly at all, but a bat. Anyway, most descriptions of her are quite similar in that; her body is skeletal, with eagle or jaguar style claws, and the tips of butterfly wings are like razor sharp obsidian. To the Aztecs, Itzpapalotl was the protector of women in labour and midwives. She was also the ruler of a paradise world for babies who die at birth. She is sometimes described as being a powerful star demon. When in her Earthly manifestation, Izpapalotl was the leader of the 'demons of the dark' - the spirits of women who died in childbirth. These demons were believed to hunt at night, seducing men (I think we've found an Aztec Succubus!) and causing illnesses and madness.

real antlion
Image courtesy: Kaitlin Edlund
I also feel I really have to mention thee Ant-Lion because it is a seriously random insect mythological beast. Possibly the most ridiculous one I've ever encountered. This beast is is described in early beastiaries (these are collections of animals real and mythical that early biologists compiled). Ant-lion's father is a lion and its mother is an ant...Yep. Really. I told you this one is ridiculous. Anyway, the head and front of the ant-lion resembles the lion (except in miniature) and its rear parts are those of an ant. The early beastiaries talk about the ant-lion perishing soon after birth because its dual nature does not allow it to be an omnivore. Later books discarded this notion, and begin to describe a real insect 'ant-lions', which are a species of neuroptera lava. This lavae buries its body in the sand and feeds on insects that come its way...

As I'm really running out of time (and should be studying), I'm going to show you one last mythological beast.  It is the Spider woman. I remember seeing one of these in a "Doctor Who" show a few years ago (she was an alien however). In mythology, the Hopi Indians and  allegedly the pre-Columbian natives of Teotihuacan (Mexico) had a Spider Woman deity. According to Hopi legend Spider woman, or Spider Grandmother,  was considered to be creator and weaver of life,the great teacher, protector and Mother of all creation to several  south-western Native American cultures. She manifests as a sacred guardian, overseeing the welfare of all those in need. I personally think its refreshing that a spider creature could be so kindly revered. If I had the time, I'd do some more research on this topic.  Alas the time for blogging further has passed!

[All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy of, B. Rosen's "Mythical Creatures Bible", and F. Cowens "Dragons & Fantasy Beasts"]

Enjoy your weekend