Wednesday, May 28, 2014

From Grimm Tales to Celtic Dreams


Fairy Tales are the first fantasy stories.

And our greatest cultural artifacts. They tell us about people's hopes and dreams.

I want to curate an online museum of fairy tales from across Eurasia.

In order to do this I need to get hundreds of fairy tales translated into English. Additionally putting together the information on these tales will take months of work, so I'm  hoping to launch a Kickstarter to support this initiative.

Please show your support by signing up below to learn more...








Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kingdoms of Elves - Tabletop RPG

One of the biggest challenges that seems to afflict world builders in RPG's is where to put the elves, the fairies, and other beings. Players and Game Masters alike want vast wildernesses and strange unknown lands, but at the same time creating these empty lands interfere with the flow of the human kingdoms which most maps focus on.

Fairy tales and mythology offer a solution to this problem.

In European lore kingdoms of elves and fairies were often times found in tiny forests. In Shropshire, among other places, for example, any small batch of trees could could contain a fairy kingdom. Most ordinary humans walking through these small batches of trees wouldn't run into the fairies or elves, or even know that there was a kingdom which stretched for miles contained within them.

The fairy and elven kingdoms in these woods were in a magical dimension which could only be reached under specific conditions, such as walking counter clockwise around a certain tree or hill.

Shropshire, like many places with rich fairy histories doesn't have vast wildernesses. Yet there are stories about people who get lost in these small batches of trees, finding themselves in an extensive fairy land. Indeed one of Shropshire's most famous kings would negotiate deals with fairy kingdoms that existed in tiny batches of forest.

For your game

What this means is that massive fairy, elf, and other similar kingdoms could exist within your human kingdom. An extensive set of nations, hundreds of miles across could be wedged magically within a city park no more than a few hundred feed across.

Doing this can allow you to make a simple human map, while putting elf and fairy kingdoms down as landmarks that you can build upon separately.


As part of Eldritch Earth
Obviously this idea is perfect for Eldritch Earth (Urban Fantasy World we're developing)


Any patch of trees or pile of rocks can hide a secret door way to much larger kingdoms. So was a child when you would pretend that the small clump of trees in the park was filled with monsters, you were likely much more right than you ever dared to dream...

Another interesting notion is that of fairy paths. Indo-European cultures from Ireland to Pakistan had a notion that fairies had to travel along certain paths. These paths could be what amounts to magical tunnels from one pocket dimension to another.



Images of Shropshire...



The largest forest in Shropshire is Wyre Forest, which is about 23 Kilometers in area...
images are from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1384615






Thursday, May 15, 2014

Concept art for Maleficent

The concept art for Disney's Maleficent is here, and it's breath taking.

You can see the official site for the move at http://movies.disney.com/maleficent

Or check out my interpretation of the original fairy tale at http://fairies.zeluna.net/2013/11/maleficent-and-fairies-of-sleeping.html




















Monday, May 12, 2014

The Forest Gods

In the book "The Scarlet Letter" the devil hides in the wood, bargaining with people for their souls, and when a deal is struck he has them sign the agreement in blood. This motif of a forest spirit bargaining with people's lives, of a spirit in the woods which seeks to bind people to themselves with contracts signed in blood is one of the most common in Eurasia, and it is far older than Christianity.

Although the forest gods of ancient Europe and Siberia often became the devils of later folklore. Many aspects of their character remained in the fairy tales told about them. Rumpelstiltskin, and others really did want to buy children from their parents. Others sought to buy the parents themselves, and perhaps most importantly their was something both sinister and kind about their nature.

In India, Pakistan, Greece, Russia, and more
the female forest spirits were depicted as creators
while the male spirits were depicted as the dangerous
untamed aspects of the wilderness.
Though things are never so simple, because sometimes
the women would drown and kill people, while the forest
kings could be very helpful.


Some of the most important aspects of the forest spirit include;

1 - The forest represented freedom and serenity.

Among nearly any people the forest represents freedom, a sacred space, and food. For example, among the Selkup a satyr like being, with goat horns and legs, would teach women how to hunt so that they could be free of their husbands, free of society.

Many figures, from Robin Hood to countless Germanic Rebels were given their cause by the forest gods. Told to help the poor find a better life.

In Japanese women would flee their villages to live with mountain kami.

While in Kalasha lore the wilderness (especially the mountains) were a sacred space where men would commune with the deities.

Satyrs in Greek lore were the ultimate bachelors, as are the Leshi of Russia,
and many other forest kings, spirits, and gods. Most of which have
goat legs and horns. The problem is that bachelors which have no
social rules can be both kind and dangerous



2 - The Devil's Bargain

Fairies needed people to act as workers for them. They would take people to weave cloth, serve them at their parties, act as maids, herd their cattle, take care of their children, etc. Because of this they would often make bargains with people, promising them wealth for a given amount of time, in return for the agreement that the person would than work for the fairy thereafter. In essence the forest spirits would buy the persons soul.

In lore those who made this or other deals with the forest spirits would often try to get out of it through trickery or magic. Human's after all have the power to use symbols and words to drive away certain spirits. In ancient pre-Christian Rome for example, people would sweep to drive away nature spirits.

Thus in places such as Brittany people would make a bargain with forest spirit, but when the time came to pay the forest spirit their due they would seek out a priest or someone else who could drive away the spirit to keep them safe.

Other forest spirits such as Rumpelstiltskin and Merlin which bought children from Kings, were likely doing so in order to raise the future king, and so help humanity.




3 - Forest spirits cared about humanity, and often times even taught humans how to create civilization.

They would create shamans and cunning folk (good witches). In one Russian prayer people would plead with the forest spirit to help them win fist fights.

Robin Hood figures throughout Eurasia would be approached by forest spirits who wanted to use them to help the peasants.

(See European Shamanism to learn More)

Forest spirits would find people to act as mediators
between them and the human world. Such humans
could be given good or destructive tasks, depending on the spirit.
Perhaps the most common task was to help the poor.
Others, however, were simply given blessings to help themselves.
Many beggars were believed to have the power
to curse those who didn't give them money. So people would
be generous to them to avoid this.



4- Yet at the same time forest spirits represented danger, the fear of the unknown. People will go into the woods and vanish, children get lost in the woods, in Siberia there are countless tales of people coming across ghost villages, where the people were presumed to all have been taken away by the forest.

Forest spirits were both good and evil, creative and destructive. They brought illness and blessings.


5 - Guardians of the afterlife

Often times at least one of the afterlives was contained within the forest or mountains. This meant that the spirits of the wilderness were often the deities of the afterlife. They would punish those who deserved to be punish, while rewarding others with eternal parties.




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Illustrated English Fairy Tale - Buried Moon

The moon protected humanity from evil monsters with it's light. But in this story it's captured and so must be rescued by humans.

This is an experiment, I'm trying to find out if people are interested in seeing more of these illustrated fairy tales. So please let me know.

You can read the whole fairy tale after the illustrations.

















Long ago, in my grandmother's time, the Carland was all in bogs, great pools of black water, and creeping trickles of green water, and squishy mools which squirted when you stepped on them.

Well, granny used to say how long before her time the Moon herself was once dead and buried in the marshes, and as she used to tell me, I'll tell you all about it.

The Moon up yonder shone and shone, just as she does now, and when she shone she lighted up the bog-pools, so that one could walk about almost as safe as in the day.

But when she didn't shine, out came the Things that dwelt in the darkness and went about seeking to do evil and harm; Bogles and Crawling Horrors, all came out when the Moon didn't shine.

Well, the Moon heard of this, and being kind and good—as she surely is, shining for us in the night instead of taking her natural rest—she was main troubled. "I'll see for myself, I will," said she, "maybe it's not so bad as folks make out."

Sure enough, at the month's end down she stept, wrapped up in a black cloak, and a black hood over her yellow shining hair. Straight she went to the bog edge and looked about her. Water here and water there; waving tussocks and trembling mools, and great black snags all twisted and bent. Before her all was dark—dark but for the glimmer of the stars in the pools, and the light that came from her own white feet, stealing out of her black cloak.

The Moon drew her cloak faster about and trembled, but she wouldn't go back without seeing all there was to be seen; so on she went, stepping as light as the wind in summer from tuft to tuft between the greedy gurgling water holes. Just as she came near a big black pool her foot slipped and she was nigh tumbling in. She grabbed with both hands at a snag near by to steady herself with, but as she touched it, it twined itself round her wrists, like a pair of handcuffs, and gript her so that she couldn't move. She pulled and twisted and fought, but it was no good. She was fast, and must stay fast.

Presently as she stood trembling in the dark, wondering if help would come, she heard something calling in the distance, calling, calling, and then dying away with a sob, till the marshes were full of this pitiful crying sound; then she heard steps floundering along, squishing in the mud and slipping on the tufts, and through the darkness she saw a white face with great feared eyes.

'T was a man strayed in the bogs. Mazed with fear he struggled on toward the flickering light that looked like help and safety. And when the poor Moon saw that he was coming nigher and nigher to the deep hole, further and further from the path, she was so mad and so sorry that she struggled and fought and pulled harder than ever. And though she couldn't get loose, she twisted and turned, till her black hood fell back off her shining yellow hair, and the beautiful light that came from it drove away the darkness.


Oh, but the man cried with joy to see the light again. And at once all evil things fled back into the dark corners, for they cannot abide the light. So he could see where he was, and where the path was, and how he could get out of the marsh. And he was in such haste to get away from the Quicks, and Bogles, and Things that dwelt there, that he scarce looked at the brave light that came from the beautiful shining yellow hair, streaming out over the black cloak and falling to the water at his feet. And the Moon herself was so taken up with saving him, and with rejoicing that he was back on the right path, that she clean forgot that she needed help herself, and that she was held fast by the Black Snag.

So off he went; spent and gasping, and stumbling and sobbing with joy, flying for his life out of the terrible bogs. Then it came over the Moon, she would main like to go with him. So she pulled and fought as if she were mad, till she fell on her knees, spent with tugging, at the foot of the snag. And as she lay there, gasping for breath, the black hood fell forward over her head. So out went the blessed light and back came the darkness, with all its Evil Things, with a screech and a howl. They came crowding round her, mocking and snatching and beating; shrieking with rage and spite, and swearing and snarling, for they knew her for their old enemy, that drove them back into the corners, and kept them from working their wicked wills.

"Drat thee!" yelled the witch-bodies, "thou 'st spoiled our spells this year agone!"

"And us thou sent'st to brood in the corners!" howled the Bogles.

And all the Things joined in with a great "Ho, ho!" till the very tussocks shook and the water gurgled. And they began again.

"We'll poison her—poison her!" shrieked the witches.

And "Ho, ho!" howled the Things again.

"We'll smother her—smother her!" whispered the Crawling Horrors, and twined themselves round her knees.

And "Ho, ho!" mocked the rest of them.

And again they all shouted with spite and ill-will. And the poor Moon crouched down, and wished she was dead and done with.

And they fought and squabbled what they should do with her, till a pale grey light began to come in the sky; and it drew nigh the dawning. And when they saw that, they were feared lest they shouldn't have time to work their will; and they caught hold of her, with horrid bony fingers, and laid her deep in the water at the foot of the snag. And the Bogles fetched a strange big stone and rolled it on top of her, to keep her from rising. And they told two of the Will-o-the-wykes to take turns in watching on the black snag, to see that she lay safe and still, and couldn't get out to spoil their sport.

And there lay the poor Moon, dead and buried in the bog, till some one would set her loose; and who'd know where to look for her.

Well, the days passed, and 't was the time for the new moon's coming, and the folk put pennies in their pockets and straws in their caps so as to be ready for her, and looked about, for the Moon was a good friend to the marsh folk, and they were main glad when the dark time was gone, and the paths were safe again, and the Evil Things were driven back by the blessed Light into the darkness and the waterholes.

But days and days passed, and the new Moon never came, and the nights were aye dark, and the Evil Things were worse than ever. And still the days went on, and the new Moon never came. Naturally the poor folk were strangely feared and mazed, and a lot of them went to the Wise Woman who dwelt in the old mill, and asked if so be she could find out where the Moon was gone.

"Well," said she, after looking in the brewpot, and in the mirror, and in the Book, "it be main queer, but I can't rightly tell ye what's happened to her. If ye hear of aught, come and tell me."

So they went their ways; and as days went by, and never a Moon came, naturally they talked—my word! I reckon they did talk! their tongues wagged at home, and at the inn, and in the garth. But so came one day, as they sat on the great settle in the Inn, a man from the far end of the bog lands was smoking and listening, when all at once he sat up and slapped his knee. "My faicks!" says he, "I'd clean forgot, but I reckon I kens where the Moon be!" and he told them of how he was lost in the bogs, and how, when he was nigh dead with fright, the light shone out, and he found the path and got home safe.

So off they all went to the Wise Woman, and told her about it, and she looked long in the pot and the Book again, and then she nodded her head.

"It's dark still, childer, dark!" says she, "and I can't rightly see, but do as I tell ye, and ye 'll find out for yourselves. Go all of ye, just afore the night gathers, put a stone in your mouth, and take a hazel-twig in your hands, and say never a word till you're safe home again. Then walk on and fear not, far into the midst of the marsh, till ye find a coffin, a candle, and a cross. Then ye'll not be far from your Moon; look, and m'appen ye 'll find her."

So came the next night in the darklings, out they went all together, every man with a stone in his mouth, and a hazel-twig in his hand, and feeling, thou may'st reckon, main feared and creepy. And they stumbled and stottered along the paths into the midst of the bogs; they saw nought, though they heard sighings and flutterings in their ears, and felt cold wet fingers touching them; but all at once, looking around for the coffin, the candle, and the cross, while they came nigh to the pool beside the great snag, where the Moon lay buried. And all at once they stopped, quaking and mazed and skeery, for there was the great stone, half in, half out of the water, for all the world like a strange big coffin; and at the head was the black snag, stretching out its two arms in a dark gruesome cross, and on it a tiddy light flickered, like a dying candle. And they all knelt down in the mud, and said, "Our Lord, first forward, because of the cross, and then backward, to keep off the Bogles; but without speaking out, for they knew that the Evil Things would catch them, if they didn't do as the Wise Woman told them."

Then they went nigher, and took hold of the big stone, and shoved it up, and afterwards they said that for one tiddy minute they saw a strange and beautiful face looking up at them glad-like out of the black water; but the Light came so quick and so white and shining, that they stept back mazed with it, and the very next minute, when they could see again, there was the full Moon in the sky, bright and beautiful and kind as ever, shining and smiling down at them, and making the bogs and the paths as clear as day, and stealing into the very corners, as though she'd have driven the darkness and the Bogles clean away if she could.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Wicked Princess



When she discovers that her Step Mom is a wicked witch this Princess doesn't lay around waiting for her mother to make a move. She sets out to find the witch in the Candy House to learn how to become a witch herself.


Like most wicked witches she makes friends with an imp, a curious and helpful being who helps her conspire to take over the nation.


Please let me know if you would be interested in seeing me complete this story.