Myth and Magic EP 28 — Fantasy Writers Kitbag — Episode 28 SHOW-NOTES

Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.

CLICK HERE for Episode

Apple >>>      SPOTIFY >>>

This week I explore what WONDER means and how to employ the emotion in your fantasy fiction by using what I call the: wonder-equation. Also, I look in some depth at creating a credible system of magic for your fantasy fiction and the wildflower of the week is the Anemone (my photo below)

What does WONDER mean and how to employ it in your fantasy fiction

As an emotion, wonder is compared to awe though awe involves an element of respect and a fear response rather than pure joy, so wonder is a joyous surprise that is usually produced by an unexpected or very rare set of circumstances or a remarkable series of events

The 16th century philosopher Descartes suggested that the emotional reaction to unexpected phenomena is wonder. And it’s more than mere admiration, it’s astonishment.

Perhaps wonder can be linked to curiosity through a simple equation: curiosity brings surprise and surprise brings wonder.

The the Polish-born American philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote: wonder is a key emotion in living a worthy life.

It’s worth trying to evoke wonder in all of your creative writing, but it’s especially important when writing fantasy fiction. Think of it in this way: If a concept is unfamiliar to a reader, he or she will turn pages to find out more; if it becomes difficult to understand (but worth it and can be read easily) it will generate more interest, attention, and even enthusiasm. And when there is satisfying resolution, it will evoke great pleasure.
So follow the wonder equation in all your story ideas:

Create curiosity: bring peculiarity, rarity, distinction, strangeness, juxtaposition, and exoticism
Curiosity brings Surprise: delight the reader by giving rewards for hard work, provide compensation
Surprise brings Wonder: resolve all the puzzles you set, provide explanations, bring satisfying conclusions

Creating a credible system of magic for your fantasy fiction

If a hero or MC can snap fingers to make everything suddenly seem okay, or they can raise a loved-one from the dead, stop rushing the bullets in their teeth, fly at will, transform into whatever creatures they desire, travel time and they regularly act like they’re indestructible and almighty, where’s the tension in that? Where’s the drama? Your readers will soon be bored with a superman / superwoman character who possesses divine superpowers and can snap their fingers to resolve conflict. I always thought this was Superman’s biggest flaw. Why bother with a full plot? He could wake up in the morning, save everyone from possible harm, and then go back to sleep. A character, whether good or bad, is only interesting if he or she has flaws. And a story is only interesting to us if it contains conflict. And where is the feeling of anxiety if the reader already knows that everything will be fine because a character can snap their fingers or wiggle s nose and everything will get re-set to zero, nobody gets hurt, everyone lives, and there’s a happy ending. Life doesn’t work like that. The real world doesn’t work like that. Crap happens. And when it does, there is a sense of loss. And there is anxiety even even when crap doesn’t happen… because we all know that it will probably come. And there ain’t much you and I can do about it. So your fictional world should deal in this “actuality” too… the actuality that bad stuff will happen and there’s not much that many of your characters can do about it… but there might be, just might be, a secret hidden knowledge, a rare and dangerous cure, or some person with an incredible gift, that might possibly be able to provide a cure for the bad stuff. But, if that miraculous knowledge is “out there” then it must be extraordinarily rare or extremely unreliable or incredibly expensive (or, most likely, all three)… otherwise everyone (but especially the wealthy and the powerful) would have access to it wouldn’t they? In fact the selfish rich would probably squirrel it away for themselves and their family. (In fact, Queen Elizabeth the First actually had her own wizard / magician, Dr. John Dee, who had extraordinary powers. Other famous historical rulers did too.)

We know that Harry Potter and his friends work hard, very hard, to be good at magic. Magic is not easy and it is not free … if magic was free and easy then everyone would do it! We would all be wizard/magicians and there would not have to be hunger, poverty, disease, crime, disorder, chaos or anxiety in the world. But everyone isn’t a wizard/magician… very few are. So, why is that? Is it because only a small elite group has the innate talent to be wizardly or were born blessed with special characteristics that make them magical? Or are so few likely to become magical because it is extremely difficult, requires a lot of work, great effort, years of devotion, a life of dedication and will have other costs or burdens (perhaps hidden) that are directly imposed on the individual? I equate it to becoming a very good, first-class musician. It takes hours-days-weeks of practice to become a very good musician, you must focus on your talent morning-noon-and-night, you must dedicate your whole being to your art, every ounce of your energy, each thought, each word, every action, and even your dreams must be consumed by it. In fact, you probably won’t sleep, rest, or play, because that would hamper practice. And practice makes perfect. Soon, the only thing that is important to you is mastering your craft.

Magicians are like musicians. So, while Harry Potter and his friends are making a supreme effort to become better magicians, other average people like you and me are casually “wasting time” having romances, playing sports, listening to parents, living upstairs in bedrooms (and not in remote castles miles away from our families) dating, learning to drive, playing computer games, listening to pop music, going to fast food restaurants, etc. But the adept abandons all these things to improve his or her magical craft.

What type of magic do you want to create? Ceremonial or Sympathetic? I’ve already covered these categories in Episode of Myth and Magic.

Why? How will this magic propel the plot, add new dimensions, change or motivate characters, propel events or add tension and drama? Don’t forget Chekhov’s Gun principle

Now, check-out the Three Main Points of a Magical System:

Main point 1: Magic shouldn’t exist without a need for it. . .
nor without favorable conditions and without a trained and committed magician — the adept.

So determine the following:

The need for magic in the fictional world you ant to create. Why is it required? What is its function? (For example, does it replace technology, medicine, or chemistry?) If that’s what it does, then remember, you must consider the consequences of having NO technology, medicine or chemistry in your world and stick to it!) Ask what the conditions would have been like before you introduced magic into your fictional world and speculate what it would be like for characters if they lived in a world without magic. If it wouldn’t be much different or the story can be told without magic, why present it at all? Ask yourself what your fictional world would be like with and then without magic? Test a few ideas and speculate on outcomes. Could the monster be defeated another way? Could the Princess be saved by cunning, wit or strength (without) magic? Could the invading force be held back without a magical staff?

Then ask, who is adept? Why are these types adept? (Maybe they’re elves, so have evolved magical prowess over millennia, or maybe they come from a lineage or underclass, like Romani gypsies, so have a long history of learning and practicing magic within their hereditary group. Or maybe they are “specially recognized” individuals who get taken away to be isolated and trained for long intense periods of tutelage… these are the so-called Magician’s Apprentices ( like Harry Potter and his pals.) How long would it take an adept to become fully proficient in wizardry? Many years? A lifetime? Or, like a musician, would they never be satisfied with their proficiency? Would they never become“fully skilled” (like medical surgeons) so they must practice and rehearse their skills always-and-everyday to get better-and-better.

Main point 2: Magic has a cost, the cost must be paid before it can work. . .
paid by someone or something

it ought to cost
the cost might be effort, outlay, or a handsome price
the cost might be tremendous effort, or a few “silver pieces” (like Gypsy fortune tellers ask) or it might be a larger sacrifice, for example something that can’t be given up easily

Main point 3: Magic is esoteric (the secrets are kept by a few)

Ever wondered why Hogwarts is a castle protected by walls and a moat, lots of enchantments and spells, and is impossible for a Muggle to locate? Or why candidates for the Jedi Order are taken away from parents, at the age of five, to be asked to “release all earthly attachments; to let go of all they’ve grown to love,” before they begin a journey of initiation. Or that stage magician’s belong a secretive “magic circle”?

It’s because magic is esoteric.

Derived from the ancient Greek adjective esôterikós (which means: to belong to an inner circle) it came to define anyone who could belong to a subculture or clique that is outside “normal” religious ideas or viewpoints or has ideas that are at odds at with secular culture or established science; and whose members claim to have some kind of “higher knowledge” (think of Jedi, for example).

An expert in magical esotericism was the English historian Frances Yates, who studied in depth the lives of wizards such as the Renaissance heretic Giordano Bruno.

She concluded that there were six types of esotericism

Here is my spin on it, for fantasy fiction writers:

1: the idea of ​​ “correspondences” This is the idea that there are symbolic and real correspondences between all things in the universe. For example, the stars above us act in the same way (and even look the same) as the atoms we are constructed of — that is, the microcosm corresponds with the macrocosm
2: the idea of “living nature” This is the argument that the natural universe is imbued with its own life force and is a “living organism” in its own right (think of “the Force” used by the Jedi)
3: the idea of “mediation” This is the idea that some people act as conduits for ​​mediation, and that accompanied by rituals, symbolic images, mandalas, intermediate spirits and mantras, these people can provide access to “hidden” worlds or other levels of reality (think of witch doctors)
4: the idea of “transmutation experience” This is the emphasis on transformation through practice, for example, superpowers can be obtained through some kind of spiritual transformation (think of Gandalf the Gray becoming Gandalf the White)
5: the idea of “concordance” Many esotericists believe that there is a fundamental unifying principle for all religions and spiritual practices in the world. The principle of the idea of ​​concordance is that upon reaching this unifying principle, the different beliefs of the world will unite into one (think of the lyrics to John Lennon’s song “Imagine.”)
6: the idea of “transmission” In esotericism, due to its secret nature, the emphasis on transmitting teachings is through a process of initiation that allows the apprentice to gain access into an elite “magic circle” What happens to those initiates who fail to make the grade? They already know some of the “secrets”. Are they killed or, in some other way, silenced?


Wildflower of the week: Anemone

In my front yard (we call it front garden in England) under an upright blue juniper tree that my mum gave me several years ago (which she grew from seed) I have grown Anemones. They bloom at this time of the year and are quite startling in their beauty.

Anemōnē means “daughter of the wind” from the ancient Greek (ánemos, meaning wind) and the Roman poet Ovid (born 43 BC) suggests tells that the plant was created by the goddess Aphrodite (aka Venus) after her mortal (as in human) lover, Adonis was gored by a wild boar, and was killed. Aphrodite’s tears at his death mixed with his blood to gave rise to the anemone The name also used is the windflower.

These origin stories reflect the dual meaning of the arrival of the spring breeze (the windflower nods in acceptance, see my video) and the death of a loved one. There is also Christian symbolism here: Lent and Easter is the time of renewal and rebirth but will bring death before resurrection. The anemone remains “hidden” underground (when I got mine, they were hard little nuggety bulbs that needed to be soaked in water before planting) and doesn’t not emerge until Lent. When it emerges, fern-like leaf and blossom together, it is a thing of beauty.

In the Victorian language of flowers, the anemone represented a forsaken love of any kind. The According to Bucklands Book of Gypsy Magic, the Romani people considered it to be a magical herb and it was used to to ward off pests, disease and bad luck. Though some Eastern cultures believe that the anemone is a symbol of bad luck or ill-tidings.

IF you would like me to give you a CALL OUT on my show please check the criteria below then email me: promoter at rawramp dot com


*You must be a fantasy fiction writer, novelist, poet
*You must have an active twitter account
*You follow @neilmach on twitter
*You subscribe to my podcast
*You have a new book to talk about

INTERVIEW: If you want to come onto the show to talk about the book or anything to do with MYTH & MAGIC especially writing for it, please contact me via
TWITTER: @neilmach
The Email address given above

Moondog and the Reed Leopard - click here

Moondog and the Reed Leopard – click here

Myth and Magic EP 18 — Fantasy Writers Kitbag — Episode 18 SHOW-NOTES

Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.

CLICK HERE for >>> Episode Eighteen: 22M

This week I Discover the origins of Hogmanay. Is New Year about celebrating Elves who sent Trolls back home? Thinking about your own fantasy fiction project : what is your big idea? In this show I will provide you with some thematic suggestions for your own project. Also, find out who Enki was, and why this deity is connected with New Year. Also discover the ancient origins of January.

Happy Hogmanay

Happy Hogmanay

Happy Hob dy naa

Perhaps this ancient festival is all about invoking the hill-men (Icelandic viking “haugmenn” or Anglo-Saxon hoghmen) aka “elves” who are called to banish the trolls and send them into the sea… and after much wassailing, merriment and first-footing… the Scots tend to celebrate New Year’s Day (Ne’er day) with a special steak pie dinner.

In Scotland, the first Monday after New Year’s Day was traditionally known as Hansel Monday, or Handsel Monday. It originates from the old Saxon word which means “to deliver into the hand” … a time for handing-out tokens, gifts and cash to those who have helped during the year. Money received during Handsel Monday is supposed to insure monetary luck all for the rest of the year

Don’t forget on the Twelfth Night (January 5) to chalk your door (or even better, get a stranger to do it) to earn blessings and protection for your house for another year. The letters CMB – perhaps separated by crosses and numerals (that form 2020) – will suffice. CMB are the initials of the three Wise Men (Magi) Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar as well as the initials for a short prayer: Christus mansionem benedicat (Christ bless this house.)

The first day of a month in the Roman calendar was known as the calends, because it signifies another lunar phase. It’s where we get the word “Calender” from. But for a long while, the New Year started on the calends of March! Huh?

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after Janus who is the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology … but the original Roman calendar consisted of just 10 months totalling 304 days. But around 713 BC January and February were added to the year so each annual period contained 354 days (a lunar year.) So, get your head around this if you can, March was originally the first month in the old Roman calendar until Janus (the two-faced God of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, and doorways) gave his name to a new “First Month of the Year.”

January was known as “wolf month” by the Saxons and “oak moon” in Finland (oak moon) tammikuu

Cervulus or Cervula is the name of a Roman festival celebrated on the kalends of January.

In astrology this is the time of Capricorn (the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac). An amateur astrologer once told me that the symbol of the constellation is the “only mythical beast” but that only works if you believe the centaur is non-mythical (perhaps you do, which is why you listen to this podcast) anyway: the Capricorn symbol is a SeaGoat that’s based on Enki – the ancient Sumerian god of water, knowledge, mischief, crafts, and creation (also knwon as EA by the Babylonians.) The God is allegedly Hurrian in origin (the Hurrians were e Bronze Age people who lived in the area we now call Armenia) and the first temple to Enki was built in the area we now know as Southern Iraq more than 6,500 years ago… so Enki is very, very, ancient.

Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization and therefore he is often portrayed wearing the horned crown of divinity and he’s considered to be the the master-shaper of all the world, the god of wisdom and the master of all magic. Because Enki came from the water and, in fact, brought everything into being from the water, for astronomers, the constellation is located in an area of sky called the Sea or the Water, that consists of many water-related constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces and Eridanus.

Unsuprisingly, really, Capricornus the original SEA-GOAT is also sometimes identified as Pan, the god with a goat’s horns and legs, who saved himself from the monster Typhon by giving himself a fish’s tail and diving into a river. PAN is a Proto-Indo-European god that I have discussed before, but he’s the rustic God of of the wild, shepherds and flocks, and the nature of mountains. As the character Pushan he acts as a PSYCHOPOMP and is the oldest (or most ancient) deity.

So, when you’re wishing your neighbors, colleagues and friends a Happy New Year think again! You are, perhaps, calling on the sleeping hoghmen to protect them from marauding trolls, wishing them a fortunate wolf month” under an Oak Moon or invoking the master-shaper of the world, Lord Enki himself with the Piper at the Gates of Dawn to bring them prosperity.

How to write phantasmagorical fantasy fiction

I’m currently writing my #85k90 novel. That’s 85,000 words in 90 days… and, by the way, I don’t cheat myself… I write a new novel from scratch when I enter this type of challenge. So this will be an entirely different project to my #NaNoWriMo manuscript of 2019.

Over the next ninety days I’ll try to provide you with the first steps you require to make your fantasy fiction a fact… not fantasy. I’ll continue to give you magical and mythical facts and news but I’ll also begin to propose some advice for your own work.

Anyway, I think that it’s time to start to develop a fantasy fiction novel WITH YOU and we have to start somewhere.

What literary element will come first?


You might have some juicy ideas about character and plot… but what about theme? My belief is that this must come first. Oh Scheiße (or a word to that effect) I hear you whimper. Yes, I know it will make your brain hurt… but think about like this. Did Tolkein really start with barefooted, fattish, weed-smokers? Did he even know where his main protagonists would take him? (Academics suggest the LOTR was initially intended to be one volume.) Urm, my guess is that he thought about his theme first.

WHAT’S A THEME? It’s the story’s BIG IDEA

Tolkein’s BIG IDEA might have been something along the lines of: will the meek inherit the earth or will they be tempted by evil along the way?

Likewise, is the The Chronicles of Narnia just about a bunch of kids using a magic wardrobe to visit another world? ( Lewis had been toying with the wardrobe idea for years, anyway.) Or is it a book about a terrible White Witch (probably based on H. Rider Haggard’s She, anyhow) who finds herself at war with a lion-hearted King-God? No, I’m guessing C. S. Lewis started with the theme of redemption… something along the lines of: could guilt (not sin) ever be forgiven?

So I suggest you start with your THEME. Once you have your BIG IDEA firmly rooted in the back of your mind, your characters and (later) your plot will be easier to sketch-out.

Now, I don’t expect it will be easy for you (but it will be a lot easier to work out your THEME before you start to write, believe me) because it is not a tangible thing. Nevertheless, it will (likely) set the tone of your work too. Just make a rough note, a hazy idea will do, to begin with, and then let the haziness ferment in your brain for a while. Once you’ve let the idea sloosh around in your brain for a while, try to write down what’s known as a thematic statement…

Thematic statements might include:

Does love have the power to destroy lives?
Is the world filled with morally grey characters or are there true Good and Evil characters?
What are the the consequences if a person seeks power over love?
Survival of the fittest
Can a person overcome prejudice and fear to bring about justice?
Is a person who runs away from society also running away from themselves?
Notice how these themes tend to be about the universal human condition or universal truths about being a human. Don’t worry if your book is about Dragons, Elves, Aliens or Warthogs… the point is that it WILL BE READ BY HUMANS (one hopes) so it must appeal to their nature.

Don’t worry – your theme doesn’t have to be original (just don’t nick mine, ha ha) REEDSY have a great little quiz you can try, if you’re still grappling with this idea: Why not give it a whirl?

The THEME for MY fantasy fiction novel (the one I’m writing right now with you over the next 90 days) will be : Can a person have two sides to their character or does one side have to die to allow the other side to live? PLEASE DON’T COPY IT!?! Think UP your OWN theme. And try to develop just ONE THEME.

Once you begin writing your first draft, you’ll find your THEME will become rooted in your mind and will help bring out your character’s flaws or will appear in any obstacles she/he/it will have to overcome to reach a conclusion and, depending on your ability, it might also reinforce your motifs. Don’t worry about this right now, the main thing is that you have a Theme to begin with…

Fantasy Fiction News Bronze Age burial mound damage

This week the BBC reported that police in in Monmouthshire, South Wales are investigating reports of “appalling damage” at a Bronze Age burial mound at Llanvaches which dates back 3,000-4,000 years.

WENTWOOD is the largest ancient woodland in Wales

The BBC say the “Gwent Police Rural Crime Team” have suggested the destruction was caused by off-road vehicles and said immediate prevention measures were being put in place.
The Woodland Trust shared pictures of its Wentwood site, near Newport, on Monday afternoon, where tyre tracks had covered the monument.
And the site manager Rob Davies said that the damage has been “an ongoing problem”
“A feature that is around 3,000-4,000 years old has been damaged within a few minutes,” he added.
“This is a Bronze Age burial mound, a scheduled ancient monument, and the damage caused is therefore a criminal offence.”

Burial mounds (often seen on maps marked as tumulus) were used by late neolithic people in Britain to bury their dead and mainly used between 2200BC and 1100BC . Two Round Barrows are located within Wentwood Forest.

An astronomical alignment at the Gray Hill stone circle near where the Wentwood Forest damage had been caused suggests alignment on the midwinter sunrise, downhill towards the South-east, between two standing stones, named the “First Piper” and the “Second Piper.” A distinctive notch on the horizon adds to the weight of evidence behind the solsticial alignment claim.

Tolkein talks about Barrow-Land when describing his “Middle-earth” and the famous home of of Bilbo Baggins (and Frodo) is a hobbit-burrow dug into the top of The Hill… not dissimilar to a Bronze Age mound.

Next week: Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?


Myth and Magic 3D graphic

Myth and Magic

CLICK HERE to listen to >>> Episode Eighteen of MYTH & MAGIC 22M


Myth and Magic EP 6 — Fantasy Writers Kitbag — Episode 6 SHOW-NOTES

Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.

CLICK HERE for >>> Episode Six: 20M

This week I visit Chateau Brametourte in Lautrec; to see the haunted tower that inspired the story of the trapped maiden in the tower, Rapunzel. Inside this 11th century castle I look at apotropaic marks a.k.a. witch marks, and I consider cryptids. I also discuss the work of Michael Swanwick. My wildflower of the week is the Sunflower.

The actual tower at Chateau Brametourte, Lautrec

Rapunzels Tower

Hi all

I’m just back from the Chateau de Brametourte, in Lautrec having spent six days celebrating my daughter’s nuptials… The setting was this 11th century castle in Lautrec, Midi-Pyrenees, France sited between the World Heritage sites of Toulouse, Albi and Carcassonne. The castle is home to tales of Cathars, Knights Templar, Wars of Religion and is believed to be the inspiration for the “Maiden in The Tower” folk traditions.

The “The Maiden in The Tower” legend probably began life here at Chateau de Brametourte, Lautrec, Franc aalthough story the has striking similarities to a Persian tale included in the epic poem Shahnameh

Also, the early Christian Saint Barbara was supposedly kept locked in a tower by her father in order to preserve her from the outside world.

In Lautrec, France Local villagers say that the name Brametourte comes from a tale that’s nearly a thousand years old.  The Viscount of Toulouse came to visit his Baron and noticed the beauty of the Viscount’s young daughter.  He told the Baron that she might be a future wife for him and requested that she be preserved in purity for him.  She was locked in the tower for him to return, though he never did.

Local villages saw her calling and crying from the window of the wtower and named her ‘Brame’ [crying] ‘Tourte’ [coming from the Occitane for ‘tourterelle’ or ‘turtle dove’].  It’s said she frequently reappears in the chamber, despite several exorcisms.

An alternate ending suggests a passing knight heard the dove-call cries from the chateau tower and went to rescue the lady…


Vast Apotropaic Mark in the cobbles at Chateau de Brametourte

Vast Apotropaic Mark in the cobbles at Chateau de Brametourte

Apotropaic Marks aka WITCH MARKS are ritualistic protection symbols symbols often scraped into rock to ward off evil or misfortune. They are commonly found in houses and churches, in doors and on window frames.

Marian WITCH MARKS offer ritualistic protection to a bed chamber at Chateau de Brametourte

Marian WITCH MARKS offer ritualistic protection to a bed chamber at Chateau de Brametourte

Such marks have been found at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, and at the Tower of London

For example, the markings, at Creswell Crags on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border, include hundreds of letters, symbols and patterns carved in limestone walls put there to protect against witches and curses. The Creswell cave is the largest assemblage of protective marks in the UK.

It’s thought most marks date between 16th century to the early 19th century.

At apotropaic mark is known as a “daisy wheel” or HEXAFOIL mark (6 leaf) guards the main door to the living space. A vast HEXAFOIL guards the main entrance to the Chateau.

In grain barns, daisy wheel markings often protect door openings

According to Historic England the daisy wheel marks shouldn’t be confused with the (far older) pentangle (five pointed) stars that are thought to trap evil spirits into an endless line – these were first used as early as 3000BC



Fantasy Writers Definitions: cryptids

Cryptids are animals that are presumed to exist on the basis of anecdotal or folklorist evidence that might be considered insufficient by mainstream science. The best examples are YETI and LOCH NESS MONSTER, who have reportedly been seen countless times by scores of witnesses but remain, “unproven”

Ancient bestiaries or compendiums of beasts often included dragons, unicorns, basilisk, and griffins featured alongside genuine zoological specimens and were often created by men of science… for example Leonardo da Vinci created a bestiary.

Another state of affairs that causes a “grey area” to exist as to the origins of such beasts is that nature is itself remarkable and almost fantastical itself, so “nothing can be ruled out.” For example, the bunyip is a mythical creature said to lurk swamps, billabongs in Australia as is said to be ferocious black animal that swims and also walks on land, and is armed with with tusks. Yet southern elephant seals and leopard seals have been known to move up the Murray and Darling (Rivers) and although this is extremely rare and quite extraordinary … sightings by aborigines can’t be ruled out and probably go some way to explain the beast. Both cassowary birds and the duck-billed platypus were thought to be mythical until proven “real” by baffled naturalists.

Sea monster krakens are common in Scandinavian folklore and although were mentioned in studious bestiaries were thought to be entirely mythical until modern era scientists began to study deep-sea gigantism which have produced several examples of “krakens” inclduding giant sea-spiders, giant jellyfish, giant stingrays and the colossal squid … a huge cephalopod, that’s been found washed ashore in places such as Norway.

A sunflower bouquet at a wedding in Chateau de Brametourte

A sunflower bouquet at a wedding in Chateau de Brametourte

Wildflower of the week THE SUNFLOWER

Helianthus annuus

Sunflower seeds were brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century

Traditionally, Native American groups planted sunflowers on the north edges of their gardens as a “fourth sister” to the crops of corn, beans, and squash. It’s thought the flowers have been “domesticated” for a least 5000 years.

Indigenous American peoples such as the Aztecs, Otomi and the Incas used the sunflower as a symbol of their solar deity

During the 18th century, the use of sunflower oil became very popular with members of the Russian Orthodox Church, because sunflower oil was one of the few oils allowed during the Lentern fasting

Among the Pueblo Zuni people of Southwestern United States the fresh or dried root is chewed by a medicine man before he sucks the venom from a snakebite and applies a poultice

A common misconception is that flowering sunflower heads track the Sun. In Tarn last weekend, all heads drooped to the earth, but typically the sun flowers point eastwards. Nevertheless, the the Spiritualist Church use the plant as their symbol

The same whorls and spirals seen in horns, teeth, claws are found in the florets and head of the traditional sunflower…

The Iron Dragon's Mother

The Iron Dragon’s Mother

Michael Swanwick

Swanwick has released the third instalment of his “Industrialized Faërie” novels: The Iron Dragon’s Mother

His first: The Iron Dragon’s Daughter t combines fantasy and science fiction story telling to bring the tale of Jane, a changeling girl who slaves at a dragon factory in the world of Faerie, to build part-magical, part-cybernetic monsters that are used as jet fighters. Swanwick admits to having written it as a homage to J.R.R. Tolkien and to subvert fantasy tropes.

The new book is said to be lighter in tone to the previous, and yet still gritty and wry…

Do You Want to Be Interviewed on MYTH and MAGIC — The Fantasy Fiction Writers PODCAST? CHECK THE CRITERIA HERE