Weekend Writing Warriors #8

Greetings Weekend Writing Warriors! I hope you all had a wonderful week and had much time for writing and imagining!

If you are not familiar, Weekend Writing Warriors is a wonderful blog hop of talented writers sharing bits and bites of their stories. It’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. You can check out all the writers at this link.

For this excerpt we are still in chapter one of ‘Ling, but have jumped to the very end of the chapter. Evelyn has had a rough day and she’s fled to her favorite place, Witch’s cabin. But she’s about to learn something that will change her life forever.

The excerpt:

“But I saw you stab me, saw the point go in!”

“You feel any pain?” Witch asked, dropping her knitting needles to the table.

“Of course I feel the pain, you stabbed me!”

“No cut, no blood, but you feel pain?”

Evelyn nodded, for the first time in her life that she could remember, mute.

“Remarkable,” Witch said.

“Witch, what am I?” Evelyn asked.

“Child, why do you call me such after all these years? I don’t call you changeling, though indeed you are one.”

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Galeru, The Rainbow Serpent

http://vsbattles.wikia.com/wiki/Rainbow_Serpent_(Yurlungur)

http://vsbattles.wikia.com/wiki/Rainbow_Serpent_(Yurlungur)

Myths and folklore are fascinating things. They reveal much about the people that create them, what terrifies them, and what they hold most dear. I found this gem at the end of a rainbow, in a small puddle more dirt than water, but precious nevertheless.

The Galeru came from deep beneath the earth, raising mountains, ridges and gorges as it pushed it’s way to the surface of the earth. It is an immense creature, and inhabits all the deep stores of water on and beneath the surface, creating gullies and deep channels filled with water as it slithers across the landscape. When a rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said the Galeru is traveling from one waterhole to the next. A waterhole with a Galeru never dries up, even during the longest drought.

The most common Galeru myth is the story of two sisters, the Wawalag sisters, traveling together across country. The older sister gives birth, her blood flowing into a waterhole where the Galeru lives. The Galeru eats the sisters and the child, only to regurgitate them after being bitten by an ant, allowing the Serpent to now speak in their voices and teach sacred ritual to the people of that land.

Sacred ritual was born of this tale, including a blood ritual in which aboriginal men symbolically recreate the Wawalag story by cutting their arms and/or penises and letting their blood run over their own bodies, each other’s bodies, or into a woman’s uterus. Sometimes they will mix their blood with menstrual blood, letting them flow together, celebrating and recreating the intermingling of the two sexes.

The Galeru is an Aboriginal myth born in the bone-dry deserts of the Australian outback, where water is, perhaps, the most precious of things. A rainbow, harbinger of water and rain, would be a most yearned for sign decorating the sky. It is no surprise the cultures living there would associate it with a benevolent (and sometimes dangerously angry) deity.

I love stories like this. They can provide little nuggets that grow, in time, into full stories of their own. But they also provide a glimpse into the beautiful diversity of thought, perception, and culture in our world – giving inspiration for the cultural tapestries of our own stories.

 

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Weekend Writing Warrior #7

Wow… it’s been a very long time since I’ve participated in Weekend Writing Warriors! Sometimes life just gets in the way, and this time around it was quitting a job that was terrible for my health and well-being, starting a new job, then buying a new home and all the fun stuff that goes along with moving.

My blogging has been feeble (understatement!), but my writing has been somewhat better. I’m roughly 40k words into a new novel, tentatively titled ‘Ling, about a young girl who wakes one day to discover she is not who she believes herself to be. Rather, she is a Changeling. A curse put on her parents by a desperate Warlock five long years ago.

Don’t forget to check out the other talented Weekend Writing Warriors posts today. You can find the full list at the following link.

 

These are the opening eight lines for the novel. I hope you enjoy them!

Mornings were the best part of every day. Other’s might dread them but to Evelyn they were like the first page of a new book, the first leaves of spring, or like the burst of sweetness from the first raspberries of summer. Morning had potential. Adventures to be had, conversations to be enjoyed. Anything could happen.

This potential is what drove Evelyn from the depths of her soft sheets and plump down bed every morning with a smile on her face and a glint in her eye. It was what forced her to jump hurriedly into the clothes she’d abandoned the night before and dash down the stairs without even running a brush through her long brown hair. It was this potential that caused her mother to roll her eyes, scold dramatically, and chase Evelyn back up the stairs until her hair was properly braided and her body properly stowed in freshly washed clothes.

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Adventures in Fantasy – Beekeeping

Like many fantasy readers, at least those of us who seek out the epic variety, I’m fascinated by all things medieval. I also am pretty hands on. I like to try things and learn things. I especially like to try things and learn things that relate to characters in my books.

I’m also a tree-hugger, I’m not gonna lie. I shave my legs and arm pits, but my house is filled to the brim with energy saving light bulbs, we’re about a year out from installing solar on our rooftop, I refuse to use any sort of pesticide or herbicide in or around the house, and I budget in the extra cash to ensure all our produce and meat are organic and free range.

So perhaps it makes perfect sense that I’ve decided to take up beekeeping. Most of us are aware of the dramatic population decline of the honey bee, and most of us understand the implications to our food supply and botanical biodiversity should the little buggers die out. I’ve been intercropping native blooming plants in the garden for ages, but I felt compelled to take more direct action.

Plus, there’s Bug. A little character in a little story that’s been stewing in a dark shadowy corner of my mind for ages. Bug has an affinity for the multi-legged multifaceted creepy crawlies of the world – particularly those of the buzzing variety. And of course… she’s a beekeeper.

What better way to get to know your character than by learning to do what she does?

Earlier this year I took a beekeeping class, and I just recently hoofed it across town to pick up my very own package of bees. Picking them up was a breeze. A quick in and out at the local bee shop with about twenty of my beekeeping colleagues and I had my package. Installing them in the hive was a bit more of an adventure, and I thought I’d share it with all of you.

The queen comes in a separate cage, called a Queen Cage. Most packages come with a newly bred queen, and if she’s released in with the rest of the bees before they’ve fallen under her thrall they will kill her. So the first step of installing them into the hive is to get the queen transferred over.

Queen Cage

Queen Cage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve got the queen properly wedged in the hive it’s time to dump the bees into the hive. Yes. I said dump. You literally shake them out of the package you transported them in and onto the open box of the hive. I’m not going to lie, I started sweating at this stage. There are roughly 10,000 bees in a package, and they were all tumbling out of a box I was unceremoniously shaking, crashing into an open hive below.

Pouring bees from the package

It’s Raining Bees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I expected a bloodbath.

But they were completely disinterested in me. They were too busy checking out the new digs. And probably stretching out their wings – they’d been awfully cramped in that transport package.

Bees in the hive.

That’s a lot of bees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point they all made their way into the hive, I gave them some pollen patties (bee food), put on the lid, and called it a day. I hope these ladies stay this docile forever! I’m not looking forward to that first bee sting. Or subsequent stings for that matter. I *am*, however, looking forward to exploring my character Bug through this process. And to the honey of course.

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F is for Farasi Bahari – A to Z Challenge

farasi bahari image

Source: http://mythicsummer.blogspot.com/2012/01/farasi-bahari-and-haetae.html

This next tale I found deep in the Pacific hidden in a nook inhabited by an eel. The eel put up a bit of a fight, but I prevailed, and introduce you now to the farasi bahari.

Emerald green hides, and fins for mane and tail, the farasi bahari are magical horses that live deep in the Indian Ocean. They have no need for air, and thus have no lungs and are never short of breath. They flee at the the faintest scent of human and are impossible to capture, but any offspring beget on normal mares inherent their speed and endurance.

Horses are to many sub genre’s of fantasy what air is to all of us, but most often the usual run-of-the-mill types are used. Occasionally one finds a unicorn or pegasus, or the somewhat specially endowed (such as Shadowfax in the Lord of the Rings books). But magical hybrids with fins instead of fur and without the need for air? Now we’re talkin’!

k.

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E is for Eikthyrnir, The Giver of Water – A to Z Challenge

An image if Eikthyrnir

Found on vallume.deviantart.com

This next A to Z Challenge tale I found on page 321 of a stained tome called The Dictionary of Mythology. The story of Eikthyrnir is likely familiar to some of you, anyone with a fascination in Nordic Mythology will likely have encountered it. It might not be quite as uncommon as the others I’m presenting here in this series, but its imagery is so compelling I had to share it here.

Eikthyrnir is a mighty stag that stood on the roof of Valhalla and, craning it’s neck, ate from the great Oak tree Laerad. Fluid dropped from Eikthyrnir’s antlers, and from this were birthed all the great rivers of the world.

Eikþyrnir heitir hiörtr,er stendr á höllo Heriaföðrsok bítr af Læraðs limom;en af hans hornomdrýpr i Hvergelmi,þaðan eigo vötn öll vega:

Eikthyrnir the hart is called,that stands o’er Odin’s hall,and bits from Lærad’s branches;from his horns fall drops into Hvergelmir,whence all waters rise:

When I read this I think about the Nightwalker from Princess Mononoke, a creature as large as the sky, nibbling on a mighty oak, leaking all the water of the world from its vast reach of antler. It’s beautiful imagery, a beauty rarely seen outside of Miyazaki films, but that would fit wonderfully within the pages of a fantasy novel.

k.

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D is for Dinnshenchas – A to Z Challenge

Image Courtesy of: http://bit.ly/1yBtfbD

Image Courtesy of: http://bit.ly/1yBtfbD

The fourth story in my April A to Z Blog challenge I found riding about on the back of an enormous bull grazing in a field in western Colorado. Which is odd, considering it originates in Ireland. Then again, Aine is Goddess of cattle and protector of women, and would thusly be anywhere they are.

The myths tell a tale of violence and rape, and out of Aine’s grief and anger, the Dinnshenchas were born, dwarf fairies able to take any shape to guard cattle and to help avenge women harmed by men.

There are plenty of stories of shape shifters within the fantasy genre. And plenty of rape as well, depending on the sub-genre. But here we have something of a different story altogether. A race of paranormal beings hell bent on handing out justice. Shape shifters with a unique purpose. A motivation beyond survival. Something not so commonly seen within the fantasy genre. Plot nugget.

k.

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C is for Camazotz, the Destroyer of Life: A to Z Challenge

Camazotz Statue MayanAt the bottom of the Amazon, deep in the belly of an Arapaima, I found this Central American story of the second people, and of the giant bird Camazotz who has a bottomless appetite for the heads of people.

The Mayan gods Tepeu and Gucamatz sought out the help of magic adepts, and through incantation found that man should be made of wood, and woman of the pith of bulrush. They set to work and soon found success, and while able to speak and beget children these wooden people had neither fat nor blood nor intelligence. The gods sent four huge birds to destroy their creation. Xecotcovuch tore out their eyes, Camulotz cut off their heads, Cotzbalam ate their flesh, and Tecumbalam crushed their bones.

These second people tried to flee. They climbed to the roofs of their homes to escape the flood but the walls crumbed. They ran to the trees, seeking safety in the high branches, but the trees fled. They sought to hide in the caves of the mountains but found heavy stone doors closed tightly against them.

Vengeful gods are well known in the collective pages of Fantasy, but birds are most often portrayed as helpers (when portrayed at all). In this tale we have four enormous birds with a particular taste for human flesh and annihilation.

k.

Want to see the other beasties from the April A to Z challenge?
Abiku
Baku

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B is for The Eater of Dreams; the baku – A to Z Challenge

Baku, creatures of MythThe second entry in my April A to Z Challenge I found while wandering the dreams of children scattered across China and Japan. They cried out in the night. Tossed violently in their beds. Caught in the talons of the monstrous beasts that tread the pale blue threads attaching their souls to their dreaming mortal forms below. When these children awoke, sweat soaked and shaking, they chanted under their breaths: Baku-san, come eat my dream. Baku-san, come eat my dream. Baku-san, come eat my dream.

The baku is a supernatural being with the body of a horse, the face of a lion, the trunk of an elephant, and the feet of a tiger. A terrifying chimeric visage, a construction that could only itself be made in nightmare. But the baku hungers only for dreams. Particularly those tinged with the luscious taste of fear. Beware invoking it for this purpose though. If the nightmare is not enough to satiate its hunger it will go after all your hopes and dreams as well, leaving you a listless shell of a person with nothing to live for.

While dreams often make an appearance in fantasy, they are rarely the star of the show. N.K. Jemisin’s Dreamblood books are the only ones that come to mind. But the vision of enormous horse/lion chimeras treading the night skies, syphoning off first our fears then finally our most precious dreams, is a story waiting to be told. For what are we, without our hopes and our fears?

k.

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A is for Abiku – A to Z Challenge

Flowers & Trees

Greetings fellow A to Z bloggers! A warm welcome to you and to everyone else stopping by.  I wish I could say I was writing this from the warm tropical beaches of Mexico, but alas, I’m whiling the hours away on a plane headed back home instead. My only consolation is the fun month of blogging I have ahead of me and all the wonderful folks I’ll be meeting along the way!

I’ve been poking around in the gloomy places of the world seeking stories of monsters, beasts, and mythical creatures. Bookshelves, heavily guarded with bastions of eight-leggeds, weighted with books that’ve not felt the touch of human hands for decades. Perhaps millennia. Strange transitory zones between sea and land with creatures both webbed and legged. In places with darkness so absolute I began to wonder if the sun had yet been birthed or if it were only some strange dream I’d had. And I’ve found things.

Today’s entry I found deep within the bole if a giant baobab tree.

In some areas of Africa the spirits of wood and tree and forest are said enter the womb of a woman, to be born attached to her child and to dwell on earth, die, and be reborn into the same family. It ‘brings the child to it’s forest home’ before the child reaches puberty, a euphemism for causing the child’s death before the age of eleven.

In some areas of Africa the term abiku is used to describe the spirits of those children who have died young, spirits that linger with the family they were born too, befriend any new children, and lure them, too, to their early deaths.

Within folklore it is rare for a child to survive possession by abiku. Desperate parents and village medicine men would ring bells around the child, a sound said to drive off the abiku. Parents would tie heavy iron weights to their children’s feet in an effort to keep them in this world. Those most desperate would maim, disfigure, or torture their children in the belief that such pain would drive the abiku away.

In the fantasy genre tree and forest spirits are often depicted as beneficent and wise. I find the story of the abiku a fascinating counterpoint to this trope. The abiku myth was likely born out of the desperate grief felt by those who lose their children before birth or while very young. In today’s world, though, humanity’s relationship with trees and the forest is one of violent antagonism, making the story of the abiku an interesting plot nugget to explore.

k.

p.s.
A short story called Abiku.

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