Pondering Changes

The Spirits of YuleAs those who follow me regularly know, I’ve been doing some thinking about where I want to take my writing. I’m finding that some of my interests are changing, and while I still love The Lord of the Rings and Raymond E. Feist’s work, I’m finding that some of my passion for fantasy as a whole has diminished. It isn’t gone, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m finding the folklore far more interesting, much like I did years ago. There’s sense of reality to it and a relevance to daily life that fascinates me.

There are some things in the process of changing in my life, and I wonder if that has something to do with the shifting interests. It also leads me to wonder if I want to make some major changes to my website, to remove some of the history and details of the world of Grevared. That mostly comes from a comment a friend of mine made along the lines of “do you really think anyone wants to read pages of boring history?” I actually do, so it’s included. But I wonder if it needs to be there.

Aliyah Melton Stephens ObituaryI’m also finding work on Aliyah’s Tears fascinating. The epistolary style isn’t one I had even considered before, but it’s challenging and interesting. I’m working to include newspaper articles, medical records, and the like along with diary entries, emails, letters, and texts. There’s a lot that goes into that, and it’s as much fun as creating a fantasy world. I wonder how far I can take this and how it will be received when completed.

Of course, the flip side to that is the The Spirits of Yule is almost completed and ready to release. I haven’t decided if I want to release it when it’s finished or if I want to wait until closer to the holidays. It brings me back to the world of Grevared, a world that I’ve enjoyed working in for the last five years. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to give it up, and I doubt I ever will completely.

I suppose the short version is that I’m re-evaluating some things. If there are those who have recommendations or suggestions about what you’d like to see, please sing out. I’d love to hear what my readers like and what their interests are.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

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Pondering Direction

The Spirits of YuleI’ve been doing some thinking about my writing lately. That’s why I haven’t been nearly as active on social media. I’m trying to decide on a direction, for I think I’m spread too thin.

I’m one of those eclectic readers/authors who likes to do so many things that I can’t keep track of all of them.

I love fantasy, and I love the world of Grevared. If I could get there, I’d pack my bags and leave now. I have so many ideas that span all age groups that my head spins when I think about them. I have a spreadsheet and all of my ideas are organized, but I don’t know which one to pursue first.

I also love mythology and folklore, and I’d like nothing more than to lock myself in a library with tons of books and research until I’m a skeleton turning to dust. I want to delve into the mysteries of ancient times and see where we came from.

I’m also a horror junkie, and, let’s face it, some days horror is just the way to go. Writing it is a cathartic exercise, and I’ve often wondered how many people have escaped prison by writing it. I don’t care much for horror novels, though, so most of my horror is short stories.

Then there are mysteries. I love trying to figure out who did what and when. I love the relaxing atmosphere created by cozy mysteries, and there is plenty of room to mix in my love of mythology and folklore.

CoverSo, at this point, I have no idea what I want to do and where I want to go. I know I’ll release The Spirits of Yule later this year, and I’m hoping to complete the anthologies Rise of the Mad Gods and a horror one. With the horror, I haven’t decided if a current WIP will be part of it or not. It’s a ‘wait and see’ thing right now.

So, as spring approaches and a new cycle begins, I’ll be doing some thinking while I pursue the writing.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

 

Thought for the Day

I talk a lot about the importance of fairy tales and other forms of folklore and why they should have a front row seat in our lives.

I came across this song yesterday. It’s one I had forgotten about. It sums up my thoughts perfectly.

https://youtu.be/Fj3PdR4axC4

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Winter Deities

photo of mountain with ice covered with black and gray cloud
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

I’ve been doing some research into winter deities, partly for The Spirits of Yule, but partly because I’m fascinated by the topic. I’ve read a lot of books on the history of Christmas, the most recent being Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders, but there’s so much more to the season than just that holiday.

There’s darkness in winter, a sense of foreboding as the land goes to sleep. Chill air nips at the fingers and toes, and wind howls through leafless branches. It’s hard to think about a long, cold night full of anxiety and wondering in a world of electric lights and central heating, and while nature may take a break, modern life doesn’t allow it. With the advent of working/schooling from home capabilities, there aren’t really even snow days anymore. I find that sad, and there’s a part of me that wishes for a time when the end of the day meant the end of the day.

That aside, the entire season still holds great fascination for me as the spirits of the dead walk and creatures of darkness lay claim to the land. It’s a great time for horror stories and contemplation, and just a quick dip into the lore of the season is enough to cause shivers.

I’m not far enough along in the research to have too much to share, but I hope to have some soon.

black and white cold fog forest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Until then, here is a short list of beings said to be associated with the winter months.

Amaratasu (Japanese): sun goddess who hid in a cave after a fight with her brother, bringing darkness to the world.

Father Winter: a personification of the season of winter. This being comes from a number of cultures.

The Wild Huntsman: leader of the Wild Hunt, sometimes called Herne the Hunter but goes by other names. The Hunt flies through the night and devours all in its path. Germanic and Celtic

Saturn: (Roman) God of agriculture. His festival, the Saturnalia, was held in December. It was a time of feasting and drinking where roles were often reversed.

Wah Kah Nee (Chinook): a being said to be able to walk barefoot through winter and communicate with its spirits

Random Thought – Folklore

2017052295133200_2 (2)I had a strange dream the other night that got me thinking about the story of “Hansel and Gretel”. Nothing serious, mind you, just the prevalence of these tales in our culture, in all cultures, really.

One of the things that’s always fascinated me about folklore and religion is the similarities between cultures that weren’t supposed to be in contact with each other. It’s always made me wonder how so many different people in so many different places could come up with the same thing at around the same time period. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Jung’s idea of archetypes and the collective unconscious and the universality of human experience. After all, we are all born, live, and die. We have to come to terms with ourselves and learn to live in the world on our own. I get that.

What’s always fascinated me is the amount of similarity and the desire of humans to pass on lessons through stories and analogy. I mean, when I’m trying to get my kids to understand something, I don’t couch it in metaphor and euphemism. I say it plainly. We do the same thing when talking about our day at work or teaching history, in some respects at least.

Why then the need for these tales? We know they serve a purpose outside of entertainment. Many of these tales allow children a glimpse into the adult world long before they experience it themselves. They allow us to meet fear in a form that isn’t as frightening, and children who are read fairy tales generally have an easier time with reading and comprehension. There’s something basic about them that speaks across time and culture to that place within us that makes us all human beings.

But who first thought them? Who crafted these marvelous glimpses into long ago that are so powerful we’re still rewriting them today? Was it an ancient family seated around a fire after a day of hunting? Was it a mother desperate to give hope to a sick child? Was it a sibling offering comfort to the younger ones in times of trouble?

I would love to create a time machine and travel back to that distant time just to watch this phenomena unfold, to meet the richness of culture and experience the connection that allowed the same thoughts, and plots, to arise on opposite sides of the world.

I suppose these are odd thoughts, and they definitely ramble, but I’ve spent the day making snow to decorate with, and I’ve had plenty of time for wandering thoughts.

I hope all have a wonderful holiday week and season.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

The Fantasy Genre: Why I Fell in Love

dragons-1514416_1920I’ve been an avid reader of fantasy for more than thirty years. I remember the first book I read in the genre was Raymond E. Feist’s Magician Apprentice, but it wasn’t the main character, Pug, who captured my attention in the beginning, though I would fall head-over-heels in love with him later. It was the magician, Kulgan.

A rotund man with a long beard and wisdom beyond what was normally possible, Kulgan could reach out into the world and accomplish things no one else could. I was hooked. I wanted that magic in my own life, the ability to see things others missed and the knowledge and wisdom to guide others. I wanted to know about things unseen by normal folks and to understand the mysteries of the universe.

Granted, that’s putting a lot of pressure on a fictional character and a world that was beginning to embrace home computers, but that’s what I wanted, and I wasn’t about to settle for anything less.

As the characters in the series grew into some of my best friends, I branched out and read other authors. I was captivated by these worlds of mystery and magic, of hidden realms and dark secrets. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be there, to walk the roads of Midkemia, or to stroll the paths of the Four Realms, or to climb the mountains of Middle Earth. I wanted to see nature unharmed by human progress, to wander the wilds where creatures from our darkest fears roamed free. I wanted to see dragons and speak with elves, and I wanted to burrow into the earth in the dwarven mines.

And nothing’s changed.

Aradia's Secret Cover with BookI still have that longing, but the chances of being able to experience them in reality is slim without some serious advances in science. A bit ironic, I suppose, that the discipline that prevents the existence of the things I most want to see in our world would be the only chance of seeing them in another, but that’s the way it is. Instead, I opt for studying mythology and ancient cultures, those who believed that magic was possible and that the gods affected the world they lived in.

And I write.

I create worlds that contain all the elements I wish were in this one–the mystery and magic, the creatures that are more than human, even the evil that no one wants to confront. Wizards reach out and grab hold of the matrix of the universe, while elves travel through primeval forests. Dwarfs dig deep into the mountains to bring forth hidden treasures, and demons roam with humans. They aren’t perfect worlds by any stretch, they’re places to go on a rainy Sunday, places where magic is real.

 

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Random Ramble-What To Add

IMG_20160428_203226I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately. I’m guessing the new place and new job have me feeling a bit displaced and drifting. However, I have been able to accomplish some sorting and arranging. My bookshelves are now organized by subject, and, after four years of being in boxes, I’ve pulled out my mythology research and placed it in binders. Well, I’ve gotten it ready to place in binders. I still have to get them.

My intention at this point is to add articles about mythology and folklore to my website. The question becomes ‘what should go on there?’ Do I stick with straight facts as found in history, or do I let my brain run wild and include some of the wacked-out theories I’ve considered over the years. (Trust me, my brain can go to all kinds of odd places.)

For example, like many of the conspiracy theorists, I find it odd that so many of the world’s cultures speak of more advanced beings–gods, angels, humans–teaching mankind how to farm, work magic, heal, wear cosmetics, etc. Now, I’ll admit to not being a big one on researching aliens. (Do I think we’re a bit arrogant to assume we’re the only intelligent creatures in the universe? Yep. Do I think others came in spaceships to teach us how to do things? Ehhh. Not so sure.) But that’s beside the point. My point is this: We have a world’s worth of mythology stating we were taught to do things by others. Here’s the kicker: The archaeological record shows an evolutionary progression from one point to another–simple tools evolve into more complex tools, etc. There’s no sign, not that I’ve been able to find, of jumps in technology on the level of the myths. Of course, I haven’t kept up with things as much for the last few years, so I’d need to do some serious research before making any conclusions, even to myself, but it’s something I like to think about.

Random ramble aside, I’d like to know what you think about adding articles to my website. What types of folklore and mythology most interest you? Are you interested in theories and wild imaginings, or would you prefer a ‘stick to the facts as we know them’ approach? What I would like to create is a starting point database of sorts for all kinds of mythology and folklore. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and I think we’ve forgotten the lessons found in these timeless tales. Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Fairies in Folklore

woman-1489175_1920Even though we live in a world where belief in fairies is considered quaint at best, they still capture our imaginations. From Disney’s Tinkerbell movies to the elves in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to creatures in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, magical beings still have the ability to draw us in and hold us captive. But what are these elusive creatures so prevalent in our folklore and literature? There is no simple definition.

The word ‘fairy’, or ‘faery’, calls to mind tiny beings with an ambient glow, iridescent wings, and a trail of fairy dust, but the word actually encompasses a much wider range of creatures.

The most well-known body of fairy lore comes from Ireland. Here, the Fair Folk are descendants of the Tuatha de Danann, a race of god-like beings who arrived in a cloud of mist from islands to the west. They had mastered the use of magic, which helped them defeat the Firbolg in the first battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians in the second battle of the same name. However, while their dealings with the Firbolg were fairly straight-forward, this was not the case with the Fomorians.

The Cath Maige Tuired, The Second Battle of Mag Tuired, speaks of the Tuatha de Danann’s dealings with the Formorians, including trade and interbreeding. When the Tuatha de Danann were later defeated by the Milesians, they moved into underground hills and formed vast kingdoms where they lived peaceably unless harassed by humans.

While Ireland has the largest collection of fairy lore, the Little People are not restricted to the shores of the Emerald Isle; they are found in some form or another in cultures around the world.

In general, fairies are divided into two main groups: the aristocracy and the peasantry. The aristocracy, said to be descended from the Tuatha de Danann in Ireland, are tall and beautiful with power that far outstrips that of humans. Called the Daoine Sidhe and the Seelie Court, among other things, they live in their kingdoms and tend their cattle. When provoked, however, they react violently. Their arrows cause paralysis and death, and their touch can sicken and kill people and animals. They will damage crops and cattle, the same ones they help propagate when left alone.

The peasantry are more solitary and live in the wilds of nature. They are nature spirits who occupy the dark places of the world. One such place is the taiga forest, which stretches for thousands of miles across Russia. This is a cold place filled with wolves that howl in the night and elk who roam the frozen paths. It is also home to the leshy.

Descriptions of the leshy vary. Some accounts say they are tree-like in size and appearance, while others state they are tiny creatures that can scuttle by unnoticed. Like most fairies, they can change their shape at will, though their natural form is said to be human-like in form with leaf-colored hair and the horns and hooves of a goat.

In Zulu culture, there is a tiny creature known as the abatwa. This being is said to be a hunter who is small enough to hide under a blade of grass and live in an ant hill. They are self-conscious about their size, so if one comes across an abatwa while hunting, it is polite to tell him he was spotted from a good distance away. To insult an abatwa is a death sentence, much like insulting the fairies from Ireland.

If we move on to the folklore of Spain, Portugal, South America, and the Philippines, we find the duende. This creature ranges in size from eighteen inches to three to four feet tall and inhabits houses. While they are neither wholly good nor entirely evil, the duende is a trickster who enjoys tormenting humans. They will steal and destroy property when angered, and their tricks are anything but humorous. They will also torment villages when the mood strikes them.

From Native American folklore, we have Coyote, who might be more accurately considered a god. This spirit is seen as a nature spirit among other things and is known for his trickster attitude. While he’s credited with giving man artwork and fire, he is often portrayed in his more malevolent form. In this form, his tricks come close to being evil, and it’s said he caused misery and sickness to come into the world.

In Italy, there is the Monaciello. This creature is said to resemble a tiny monk similar in appearance to a leprechaun. These creatures supposedly guard wine and treasure. While the typical friar’s clothing is brown, the Monaciello’s is bright red. He lives in houses and takes pleasure in pinching the residents and stealing their clothing. Should the human resident take the Monaciello’s hat, he will be able to claim part of the creature’s treasure in exchange for its return.

On the more malevolent end of the spectrum is the Orculli, also from Italy. These creatures are masters at shape-changing and most identifiable by their stench. They are also cannibalistic and stories tell of them grabbing humans for a snack.

The list of fairy species is enough to fill several volumes, and many have been written, but, in general, they are creatures of magic who are very much connected to the natural world. As man has moved into these natural places, the Fair Folk have been pushed away, as they have no love of industrialization and the trappings of modern life. However, they live on in our stories and imaginations and have a special place in our hearts.

 

FURTHER READING

Appenzeller, Tim. The Enchanted World: Dwarfs. Time-Life Books, 1985.

Appenzeller, Tim. The Enchanted World: Fairies and Elves. Time-Life Books, 1985.

Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse. A Field Guide to the Little People. Simon and Schuster, 1977.

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Mythology. New York: Dell Publishing, Co., 1959.

Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology. New York: Penguin Compass, 1991.

Cole, Joanna. Best Loved Folktales of the World. New York: Anchor Books, 1982.

Hollander, Lee M, trans. The Poetic Edda. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1962.

 

 

For Those Who Like the Mythology

IMG_20160131_181120_975I’ve done a couple of posts about Aradia and the mythology behind the goddess, though it’s been a while. With Aradia’s Secret coming out this week, I thought it would be a good time to list a few links for those who enjoy studying mythology as much as I do.

These are only a few sources, just something to get your feet wet. There are other sources, though not all of them agree on Aradia’s parentage or even if she was actually worshipped.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

The Internet Sacred Text Archive: I love this site! They’ve got just about any religious and mythological text you could imagine available to read for free. There are also a number of other texts, particularly those written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I can spend hours just playing around here.

Aradia’s Birth from Heaven

Ancient Origins

 

Dream Gods Woes

img_20150505_200403We spend almost a third of our lives asleep, and while we sleep we dream. We get images of things from our waking lives, and we also see images that seem to come from somewhere else altogether. Some dreams are pleasant, restful experiences, while others are nightmares that leave us stumped as to their origin. This has been the case for humanity throughout all of recorded history. Even as far back as ancient Mesopotamia, people have recorded their dreams and tried to glean meaning from these nocturnal visions.

One of my current works in progress deals with a dream god, but I’ve had some difficulty deciding how to represent the god. While there are lots of different night deities, there are actually few that specifically represent dreams. I found this extremely odd simply because so much importance is placed on dreams and their meaning throughout history and mythology.

Most of us have heard of the Sandman. This mythological creature puts sand in the eyes, particularly of children, to help them fall asleep at night. (http://www.sleepdex.org/legends.htm). However, this benevolent creature did not begin as a benign friend of children. In the original folklore, he’s a gruesome character that will punish those who don’t fall asleep right away with nightmares and other horrid punishments. There is even one tale of him taking the eyes of naughty children to the moon to feed his own offspring. (https://vanwinkles.com/the-twisted-history-of-the-sandman).

The Sandman is said to have originated as a transmutation of the Greek god Morpheus. More than any other culture, the Greeks had dream and sleep gods, and Morpheus was the dream messenger of the gods. It was his responsibility to provide glimpses into a person’s future and to shape their dreams to reveal truths. Morpheus was chosen for this task because he was the most able to transform himself into any human and mimic their traits more exactly than the other Oneiroi. (http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/morpheus-the-god-of-dreams/)

There are many mentions of prophets and wise men interpreting dreams, and there are tons of tales of gods who created while asleep – Vishnu being one of them – but these weren’t really what I was looking for in the research. What I finally settled on for my own work was to name the dream god Yukamalu and have him as an amalgamation of other dream gods. In Grevared, the gods battled for dominance when the universe exploded, and only the strongest survived. Those who were mostly destroyed combined into single deities, so Yukamalu came into being as a deity with multiple traits. Now I just have to figure out just what those traits are and whether he’s going to be a benevolent god or a more malevolent one.

 

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com