A2Z Challenge: Y is for Yeti

Yeti is a company in Austin that angered the NRA. They make coolers and specialized drink cups. Supporters of the gun lobby are taking their Yeti coolers out to the boonies and literally blowing them up (and recording the deed). Turns out it was a misunderstanding, but this is the NRA. Boom! Oops, too late. See it by clicking here. And I am writing about weird behavior by mythological creatures. Oh, well.

Is blowing this up disrespecting the flag?

In the folklore of Nepal, the Yeti, AKA the Abominable Snowman, is a tall ape-like creature said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. This dude could be confused with Big Foot, or Sasquatch, which is a North American (primarily Pacific Northwest, Washington State or BC, Canada). While they’re not the same, there are similarities (big hairy ape-like). In neither case, has anyone ever produced an example or had one over for pizza and some beers.

Most folks regard the Yeti as a legend for lack of evidence indicating its existence. As with so many things, existence could be proven, but non-existence cannot. Safe to be Yeti (or Big Foot) agnostic. However, here is proof of Sasquatch: I spotted him at the Issaquah Coffee Shop sipping a latte and meeting his neighbors.

Big Foot having his coffee.

Abominable Snowman was coined as a name in 1921, when Charles Howard-Bury led a British expedition that he chronicled in Mount Everest The Reconnaissance. In the book, Howard-Bury accounts crossing an area at 21,000 feet (6,400 meters) where he found footprints that (according to him) “were probably caused by a large ‘loping’ grey wolf, which in the soft snow formed double tracks rather like a those of a bare-footed man”. He added that Sherpa guides volunteered the tracks must be The Wild Man of the Snows.

Maybe they’re cousins or something.

Look both ways for Yeti or Sasquatch and take a photo so we can prove the affirmative. But mind the gaps, particularly crossing the Himalayas at 21,000 feet without oxygen.

 

A2Z Challanege: P is for Pooka

Pooka (or púca, phouka, phooka, phooca, puca, púka, or some other variant), while mostly a creation of Celtic folklore, is a ubiquitous goblin around the world. These little dudes are bringers both of good and bad fortune.

Pooka have dark or white fur that is more like hair. They are not very large. One can take on a variety of different looks, therefore, each may look different that others.

Pooka have similar equivalents throughout Europe. For instance, in Welsh mythology it is named the pwca and in Cornish the Bucca. In the Channel Islands, the pouque were said to be fairies who lived near ancient stones; in Channel Island French the pouquelée, pouquelay, poulpiquet, or polpegan may be them.

The pooka can be either menacing or beneficial. There are plenty of stories where they are wicked assholes, and others where pooka save the day and are heroic. Some stories have them as blood-thirsty, vampire-like creatures who are man-eating beings that hunt down, kill, and eat their victims.

According to legend, a pooka can assume a variety of terrifying or pleasing forms. This can be confusing, but they may be human, animal, or some hybrid creature. As an animal, they’re usually a horse, cat, rabbit, raven, fox, wolf, goat, goblin, or dog. So, we have lots of bases to cover since almost anything can be a pooka.

In most cases, if we humans are enticed onto a pooka’s back, it will be a wild ride. However, unlike a kelpie, which will take its rider and dive into the nearest stream or lake to drown them, the pooka does the rider no permanent harm. I know, “but you just said.” For a second there, I was pooka-possessed and wrote conflicting the things. It’s fantasy, but I suggest passing on the pooka ride.

Although pooka enjoy confusing or terrifying humans, they are generally benevolent.

If you carefully look both ways, you may see a pooka.
Keep away, be nice, and mind the gaps.

Click the P for link to A2Z site

 

A2Z Challenge: N is for Nyx

I have done some writing and reading about darkness and night. So, I picked this goddess to review. I am also a fan of another Nicks, the lady called Stevie. It made sense to me.

 

Nyx is the Greek goddess of the night. By some accounts, Nyx is the offspring of Chaos; by others, she precedes him. Varying accounts have Nyx, in mating with her brother Erebus (Darkness and Shadows), as the mother of many deities. All this Greek deity myth stuff is very confusing and conflicting. Kind of makes me wonder why someone didn’t just decide on one omnipotent god and leave it at that. Anyway, Nyx had a bunch of kiddoes as well as other brothers and sisters.

Other sibling of Nyx, children of Chaos include Gaea (Earth), Tartarus (Underworld), and Eros (Love).

Disregarding paternity (we don’t care who the daddy was), Nyx was the mother of Hypnos (Sleep), Thanatos (Death), Aether, (Brightness), Hemera (Day), Moirai (the Fates), Geras (Old Age), Moros (Doom), Keres (Destruction), Oneiroi (Dreams), Monus (Blame), Oizys (Pain), Hesperides (Daughters of the evening), Nemesis (Retribution), Apate (Deceit), Philotes (Friendship), and Eris (Strife).

I find it interesting that Eros, god of love or sexual desire (think an adultish Cupid), is a direct offspring of Chaos. Yet, unlike other primordial siblings, he is not a physical world deity, but a god for the condition of procreation. Thus, while accounts may vary, ancient Greek mythology elevated the god of love to a primary level. I like that. I have heard love and sex referred to as primordial desires. Now I know why. I plan to use this information when I get back to writing about the paradox of love.

Nyx appearances are sparse in mythology, but they grant the goddess of night such exceptional power and beauty that she was feared even by Zeus. The story goes that Hypnos (her mischievous son and god of sleep) put Zeus to sleep, allowing Heracles to have a very bad day. Can you imagine, the god Zeus sleeping on the job?

Zeus was pissed and would have tossed Hypnos into the sea. But the sleep-god ran to his mama, Nyx, for protection. Even gods did that. Zeus did not want trouble with Nyx, so he chilled and let Hypnos off easy. Tenuous relationships followed.

The vision of Nyx’s power in the cosmos is further enhanced in poems by Orpheus. In one, the entire universe dances to the tune of Nyx singing or chanting. Now that goddess has a voice better than any angel. Right?

Each night Nyx emerges with Erebus. They block the light emitted from Aether, bringing night and darkness to the world. The next morning Hemera emerges to sweep away the darkness of night. Nyx briefly returns to her abode. Mother Nyx and daughter Hemera are never in the same place at the same time. Things may have changed in later Greek mythology, but Nyx is never subjugated.

Look both ways, especially at night.
Find the gaps and mind them well.

A2Z Challenge — I is for Imps

Imp

An imp is a mythological being like a fairy or goblin, frequently described in folklore and superstition. They can be ugly little trouble makers. Their faces are like thin stone frequently twisted into a smirk or a grimace. They have big ears, sometimes horns, and leathery bat-like wings. Their skin may be a reddish brown, or gray and scaly. Imps walk with an unpleasant hunch.

Imps are pranksters who know how to switch babies in cradles. They lead people astray in the wilderness. But they’re not very creative. They don’t design elaborate, malicious schemes by themselves. Their pranks are impulsive humor. If an Imp is seen engaging in more cleaver games, someone else is the mastermind.

Long ago, imps and fairies were considered the same. At some point, the imps became ugly and evil, while the fairies transitioned into sweet things like fairy godmothers, or Disney’s Tinkerbelle.

Fairy. See the difference?

According to folklore, Imps have limited magical powers. They can shapeshift and they may conjure up fire. They’re good spies because they sneak along quietly, disguise themselves, and can disappear. Every private investigator wants at least one. Imps could put all investigative journalists out of work if they could write.

Some cultures may still see Imps to be the same as fairies because both share a sense of free spirit and enjoyment of all things fun. Both enjoy pranks and misleading people. Most of the time, the pranks are harmless fun, but some could be upsetting and harmful.

Imps are not solitary. They like people and crave our attention. To that end, they consider their behavior good when we find it funny. This sometimes backfires when people tire of the imp’s annoying efforts, or become the target of impish antics.

A cutie, but still an Imp

Even when an imp is successful in friendship, it often plays pranks and jokes on its friends because that is the nature of the imp. It’s what they do. This trait is the source of the term “impish” for someone who loves pranks and practical jokes.

When tolerated, imps are familiar spirit servants of witches for whom the little demons serve as spies and informants. During the time of the witch hunts, supernatural creatures such as imps were sought out as proof of witchcraft. Often, the so-called “imp” was a dog, cat, lizard, toad, or some other form.

Imps can be bound or contained within an object like a sword or a crystal ball. They can be kept nearby and summoned when their master wants. Some may grant wishes like a genie.

In the 1891 story by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Bottle Imp, an imp is contained in a bottle and would grant the owner their every wish, provided that the owner’s soul would be sent to hell if the owner did not sell the bottle to a new owner before dying.

Carefully look both ways. The imps are watching you.
Mind the gaps.
Don’t forget to sell the bottle. An estate sale is way too late.

A to Z Challenge — D is for Drow

The Underworld of Drow

I have never played D&D, but I wish I had. When it was popular, my kids played the game. Since writing about these creatures, my daughter has invited me to play D&D with her, her hubby, and the grandkids. I discovered on-line role playing several years ago. That was when I learned how little I knew about elves, and I met my first elf who was a member of a sub-race of elves known as drow.

Of all fantasy creatures, I find elves to be the most interesting. They’re followed by dragons and leprechauns. That is a lot to write about. If we add reports and stories on other humanoids, such as dwarfs and hobbits, a literary subfield within fantasy emerges. Since elf crossbreeding, particularly with humans creates an exponential growth of character possibilities, contemporary story telling became fascinating for both creator and consumer.

If you’re not a fan of D&D or role play (RP), you may assume things about elves regarding stature, intelligence, and friendliness which are likely incorrect. In each case, I was wrong. They’re not little, stupid, and sweet. Admittedly, Santa’s helpers at the North Pole do little to correct the stereotype, but all is fair in fantasy and myth.

Dark, or black elves are from Norse mythology and thought to be the ancestors of the drow. These elves are usually considered to be evil in the inborn, bad seed sense. Yet there is ample evidence for a human-like nature versus nurture conflict and all drow cannot be depended upon to be as wicked as others.

Drow have dark grayish skin. Since they are given to self-decorating, green and even purple colors can also be found. Their hair is naturally white, whitish or yellow, but here again, drow know about hair coloring techniques. Female drow are dominant, being both stronger and slightly larger than males. As with all pure elves, neither sex is capable of beard growth. While eyes are normally red, colors can range. With crossbreeding, even human green or blue eyes are possible. But, if you want to see something spooky; a red eyed, dark-skinned drow can tilt your freak meter.

While drow are unwilling underground creatures, they are most often found by non-drow to be above ground for the obvious reason that subterranean existence for a non-drow creature is as a slave to the drow, if survival is even possible in such a wild, violent place.

Drow fight with anyone, and other drow are never off the hook. That helps to keep their numbers down, since when they do get along well with each other, they are also very prolific producers of offspring.

As with all elves, drow live long lives if they manage to avoid a violent and early death. Again, given all their magic and power, it is their inability to get along that manages to keep the population in check.

Despite what sounds like an evil appearance, drow are attractive elves. This causes surface dwelling races to tolerate drow presence if they behave in a non-drow-like fashion. Surface races of elves and other humanoids have been known to inbreed with drow yielding interesting, yet confusing, results: both good and bad.

Drow are fast, agile, and in their opinion smarter than all other humanoids including other elf groups. The most natural and overwhelming feature of all drow is their phenomenal sense of entitlement. While this can be an annoying and dangerous trait, like so much else regarding drow, it is difficult to tell if it is innate or cultural. Drow culture reinforces all forms of evil within their race beginning at a very young age.

Mind gaps to the world of the drow.
Look both ways as elves are poor drivers.

A to Z Blog Challenge Theme Reveal (2018)

Let’s roll out monsters, goblins, ghouls, and all the fantastic creatures that existed in the minds of men and women from before anyone could write until the present day. Fantasy is not fake when we believe it; and we have for over 100,000 years of human imagination from which to draw. Unfortunately, writing is only about five or six thousand years old. But going way back in time, our innate human ability to imagine is phenomenal. That is my reveal: fantasy creatures displayed front and center.

From angels to zombies, I will select fantastic creatures from legend, fairy tales, fables, and myth. From poems, books, and stories, and from cultures around the world; I will package up those delectably stunning and enchanting fantasy life forms and bring them to you in words and forms.

During April we all do a lot of reading and writing. If you count taxes, arithmetic too. It is a busy, but fun-filled month. I shall attempt brevity and will only present one or two creatures per day beginning with “A” on Sunday, the first day of April, for the 2018 A to Z Blog Challenge.

As my trailer here, I present two Celtic kings: The Forest King, better known as the Oak King or sometimes as Green Man, along with his nemesis, The Holly King, often depicted as a woodsy version of Santa Clause.

The Forest or Oak King
The Holly King

Semiannually, these two battle and fight to the death for supremacy. One time per year, each defeats the other. Depending on the culture and beliefs, a final battle is on summer and winter solstices, or, and more logically, at the time of the Fall or Spring equinoxes. During summer, the Oak King reigns. The Holly King kills the Oak King and reigns in the winter. It is the classic holly vs. ivy symbolic battle called out in King Henry VIII’s, Green Groweth The Holly.

The Oak and Holly Kings Battle

The battle is also echoed many times in other myth and folklore such as the fights between Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, or Lugh and Balor in Celtic legend. In all cases, one must die for the other to triumph.

Regarding such battles and the killing of one king, god, or man, George Frazer wrote,”But we have seen that the very value attached to the life of the man-god necessitates his violent death as the only means of preserving it from the inevitable decay of age.” They are two essential parts of the whole (seasonal reality) that battle all year long. Despite being enemies, without one, the other would no longer exist. Sort of reminds one of yin and yang, doesn’t it?

Look both ways in all seasons of life. Mind well the gaps.

Note: I will be participating in the National Poetry Writing Month challenge separately. Those poems will be identified as NaPoWriMo. This means that during April “Our Literary Journey” will have two posts each day, and one on Sundays after the first.