If you take myth and folklore, and these things that speak in symbols, they can be interpreted in so many ways that although the actual image is clear enough, the interpretation is infinitely blurred, a sort of enormous rainbow of every possible colour you could imagine.
Fiction is written with reality and reality is written with fiction. We can write fiction because there is reality and we can write reality because there is fiction; everything we consider today to be myth and legend, our ancestors believed to be history and everything in our history includes myths and legends. Before the splendid modern-day mind was formed our cultures and civilizations were conceived in the wombs of, and born of, what we identify today as "fiction, unreality, myth, legend, fantasy, folklore, imaginations, fabrications and tall tales." And in our suddenly realized glory of all our modern-day "advancements" we somehow fail to ask ourselves the question "Who designated myths and legends as unreality? " But I ask myself this question because who decided that he was spectacular enough to stand up and say to our ancestors "You were all stupid and disillusioned and imagining things" and then why did we all decide to believe this person? There are many realities not just one. There is a truth that goes far beyond what we are told today to believe in. And we find that truth when we are brave enough to break away from what keeps everybody else feeling comfortable. Your reality is what you believe in. And nobody should be able to tell you to believe otherwise.
Witches never existed, except in people’s minds. All there was in the olden days was women and some men who believed in herbal cures and in folklore and in the wish to fly. Witches? We’re all witches in one way or another. Witches was the invention of mankind, son. We’re all witches beneath the skin.
In prehistoric times, early man was bowled over by natural events: rain, thunder, lightning, the violent shaking and moving of the ground, mountains spewing deathly hot lava, the glow of the moon, the burning heat of the sun, the twinkling of the stars. Our human brain searched for an answer, and the conclusion was that it all must be caused by something greater than ourselves - this, of course, sprouted the earliest seeds of religion. This theory is certainly reflected in faery lore. In the beautiful sloping hills of Connemara in Ireland, for example, faeries were believed to have been just as beautiful, peaceful, and pleasant as the world around them. But in the Scottish Highlands, with their dark, brooding mountains and eerie highland lakes, villagers warned of deadly water-kelpies and spirit characters that packed a bit more punch.
The Celt, and his cromlechs, and his pillar-stones, these will not change much – indeed, it is doubtful if anybody at all changes at any time. In spite of hosts of deniers, and asserters, and wise-men, and professors, the majority still are adverse to sitting down to dine thirteen at a table, or being helped to salt, or walking under a ladder, of seeing a single magpie flirting his chequered tale. There are, of course, children of light who have set their faces against all this, although even a newspaperman, if you entice him into a cemetery at midnight, will believe in phantoms, for everyone is a visionary, if you scratch him deep enough. But the Celt, unlike any other, is a visionary without scratching.
Some years ago I had a conversation with a man who thought that writing and editing fantasy books was a rather frivolous job for a grown woman like me. He wasn’t trying to be contentious, but he himself was a probation officer, working with troubled kids from the Indian reservation where he’d been raised. Day in, day out, he dealt in a concrete way with very concrete problems, well aware that his words and deeds could change young lives for good or ill. I argued that certain stories are also capable of changing lives, addressing some of the same problems and issues he confronted in his daily work: problems of poverty, violence, and alienation, issues of culture, race, gender, and class... Stories aren’t real, he told me shortly. They don’t feed a kid left home in an empty house. Or keep an abusive relative at bay. Or prevent an unloved child from finding ‘family’ in the nearest gang. Sometimes they do, I tried to argue. The right stories, read at the right time, can be as important as shelter or food. They can help us to escape calamity, and heal us in its aftermath. He frowned, dismissing this foolishness, but his wife was more conciliatory. Write down the names of some books, she said. Maybe we’ll read them. I wrote some titles on a scrap of paper, and the top three were by Charles de lint – for these are precisely the kind of tales that Charles tells better than anyone. The vital, necessary stories. The ones that can change and heal young lives. Stories that use the power of myth to speak truth to the human heart. Charles de Lint creates a magical world that’s not off in a distant Neverland but here and now and accessible, formed by the magic of friendship, art, community, and social activism. Although most of his books have not been published specifically for adolescents and young adults, nonetheless young readers find them and embrace them with particular passion. I’ve long lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people from troubled backgrounds say that books by Charles saved them in their youth, and kept them going. Recently I saw that parole officer again, and I asked after his work. Gets harder every year, he said. Or maybe I’m just getting old. He stopped me as I turned to go. That writer? That Charles de Lint? My wife got me to read them books…. Sometimes I pass them to the kids. Do they like them? I asked him curiously. If I can get them to read, they do. I tell them: Stories are important.
Finally, I’d say to anyone who wants to tell these tales, don’t be afraid to be superstitious. If you have a lucky pen, use it. If you speak with more force and wit when wearing one red sock and one blue one, dress like that. When I’m at work I’m highly superstitious. My own superstition has to do with the voice in which the story comes out. I believe that every story is attended by its own sprite, whose voice we embody when we tell the tale, and that we tell it more successfully if we approach the sprite with a certain degree of respect and courtesy. These sprites are both old and young, male and female, sentimental and cynical, sceptical and credulous, and so on, and what’s more, they’re completely amoral: like the air-spirits who helped Strong Hans escape from the cave, the story-sprites are willing to serve whoever has the ring, whoever is telling the tale. To the accusation that this is nonsense, that all you need to tell a story is a human imagination, I reply, ‘Of course, and this is the way my imagination works.
It would be dreadfully ironic, I mused, if once I earned a soul, I forgot everything about being fey, including all my memories of her. That sort of ending seemed appropriately tragic; the smitten fey creature becomes human but forgets why he wanted to in the first place. Old fairy tales loved that sort of irony.
Like legend and myth, magic fades when it is unused -- hence all the old tales of elfin kingdoms moving further and further away from our world, or that magical beings require our faith, our belief in their existence, to survive. That is a lie. All they require is our recognition.
f you take myth and folklore, and these things that speak in symbols, they can be interpreted in so many ways that although the actual image is clear enough, the interpretation is infinitely blurred, a sort of enormous rainbow of every possible colour you could imagine.
Long ago, when faeries and men still wandered the earth as brothers, the MacLeod chief fell in love with a beautiful faery woman. They had no sooner married and borne a child when she was summoned to return to her people. Husband and wife said a tearful goodbye and parted ways at Fairy Bridge, which you can still visit today. Despite the grieving chief, a celebration was held to honor the birth of the newborn boy, the next great chief of the MacLeods. In all the excitement of the celebration, the baby boy was left in his cradle and the blanket slipped off. In the cold Highland night he began to cry. The baby’s cry tore at his mother, even in another dimension, and so she went to him, wrapping him in her shawl. When the nursemaid arrived, she found the young chief in the arms of his mother, and the faery woman gave her a song she insisted must be sung to the little boy each night. The song became known as The Dunvegan Cradle Song, and it has been sung to little chieflings ever since. The shawl, too, she left as a gift: if the clan were ever in dire need, all they would have to do was wave the flag she’d wrapped around her son, and the faery people would come to their aid. Use the gift wisely, she instructed. The magic of the flag will work three times and no more. As I stood there in Dunvegan Castle, gazing at the Fairy Flag beneath its layers of protective glass, it was hard to imagine the history behind it. The fabric was dated somewhere between the fourth and seventh centuries. The fibers had been analyzed and were believed to be from Syria or Rhodes. Some thought it was part of the robe of an early Christian saint. Others thought it was a part of the war banner for Harald Hardrada, king of Norway, who gave it to the clan as a gift. But there were still others who believed it had come from the shoulders of a beautiful faery maiden. And that faery blood had flowed through the MacLeod family veins ever since. Those people were the MacLeods themselves.
Had she believed all that? Old Pilar's folklore? No, not really; or not exactly. Most likely Pilar hadn't quite believed it either, but it was a reassuring story: that the dead were not entirely dead but were alive in a different way; a paler way admittedly, and somewhat darker. But still able to send messages, if only such messages could be recognized and deciphered. People need such stories, Pilar said once, because however dark, a darkness with voices in it is better than a silent void.
I knew by the signs it would be a hard winter. The hollies bore a heavy crop of berries and birds stripped them bare. Crows quarreled in reaped fields and owls cried in the mountains, mournful as widows. Fur and moss grew thicker than usual. Cold rains came, driven sideways through the trees by north winds, and snows followed.
It must be understood that in some cases the process by which a god or goddess degenerates into a fairy may occupy centuries, and that in the passage of generations such an alteration may be brought about in appearance and traits as to make it seem impossible that any relationship actually exists between the old form and the new. This may be accounted for by the circumstance that in gradually assuming the traits of fairyhood the god or goddess may also have taken on the characteristics of fairies which Already existed in the minds of the folk, the elves of a past age, who were already elves at a period when he or she still flourished in the full vigour of godhead. For in one sense Faerie represents a species of limbo, a great abyss of traditional material, into which every kind of ancient belief came to be cast as the acceptance of one new faith after another dictated the abandonment of forms and ideas unacceptable to its doctrines. The difference between god and fairy is indeed the difference between religion and folk-lore.
Nothing I have will tempt you? King Herla murmured. Lin could only shake her head. Then perhaps I should offer myself, Herla said as he sank to his knees before her. Wonderful girl, will you have me as your husband? Oh, yes, Lin said.
My view of writing "Coldest Girl in Coldtown" was to take every single thing that I loved from every vampire book I had ever read and dump it into one book--everything I like--trying to evoke some of the decadence… Vampires are a high-class monster: They want to dress up. They want to drink a lot of absinthe, or force their victims to drink a lot of absinthe. They have big parties and have elegant rituals. I think that's a thing we associate with vampires--they are the royalty of our monsters. We expect them to be rich, we expect them to be well-dressed. I wanted to have some of that be true because I like it, and have some of it not be true because it's kind of weird. I wanted to put in the idea of infection, which I was really interested in and which was a big feature of the vampire books I read growing up. And, the fear and desire for infection--the way in which our urge towards loving vampires is nihilistic. Our fear of them is our survival instincts kicking in.
There are a number of good books that draw upon fox legends -- foremost among them, Kij Johnson's exquisite novel The Fox Woman . I also recommend Neil Gaiman's The Dream Hunters (with the Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano); Larissa Lai's unusual novel, When Fox Is a Thousand ; Helen Oyeyemi's recent novel, Mr. Fox ; and Ellen Steiber's gorgeous urban fantasy novel, A Rumor of Gems , as well as her heart-breaking novella "The Fox Wife" (published in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears ). For younger readers, try the "Legend of Little Fur" series by Isobelle Carmody. You can also support a fine mythic writer by subscribing to Sylvia Linsteadt's The Gray Fox Epistles: Wild Tales By Mail . For the fox in myth, legend, and lore, try: Fox by Martin Wallen; Reynard the Fox, edited by Kenneth Varty; Kitsune: Japan's Fox of Mystery, Romance, and Humour by Kiyoshi Nozaki; Alien Kind: Foxes and Late Imperial Chinese Narrative by Raina Huntington; The Discourse on Foxes and Ghosts: Ji Yun and Eighteenth-Century Literati Storytelling by Leo Tak-hung Chan; and The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship , by Karen Smythers.
An intelligent enemy,' he would say, stroking his beard as if it were a bristly pet, 'rather than a foolish friend.' Or, 'He learnt the language of pigeons, and forgot his own.' Or, the favourite of Jan Fishan Khan: 'Nothing is what it seems.
It was Stevenson, I think, who most notably that there are some places that simply demand a story should be told of them. ... After all, perhaps Stevenson had only half of the matter. It is true there are places which stir the mind to think that a story must be told about them. But there are also, I believe, places which have their story stored already, and want to tell this to us, through whatever powers they can; through our legends and lore, through our rumors, and our rites. By its whispering fields and its murmuring waters, by the wailing of its winds and the groaning of its stones, by what it chants in darkness and the songs it sings in light, each place must reach out to us, to tell us, tell us what it holds. ("The Axholme Toll")
How different this world to the one about which I used to read, and in which I used to live! This is one peopled by demons, phantoms, vampires, ghouls, boggarts, and nixies. Names of things of which I knew nothing are now so familiar that the creatures themselves appear to have real existence. The Arabian Nights are not more fantastic than our gospels; and Lempriere would have found ours a more marvelous world to catalog than the classical mythical to which he devoted his learning. Ours is a world of luprachaun and clurichaune, deev and cloolie, and through the maze of mystery I have to thread my painful way, now learning how to distinguish oufe from pooka, and nis from pixy; study long screeds upon the doings of effreets and dwergers, or decipher the dwaul of delirious monks who have made homunculi from refuse. Waking or sleeping, the image of some uncouth form is always present to me. What would I not give for a volume by the once despised 'A. L. O. E' or prosy Emma Worboise? Talk of the troubles of Winifred Bertram or Jane Eyre, what are they to mine? Talented authoresses do not seem to know that however terrible it may be to have as a neighbour a mad woman in a tower, it is much worse to have to live in a kitchen with a crocodile. This elementary fact has escaped the notice of writers of fiction; the re-statement of it has induced me to reconsider my decision as to the most longed-for book; my choice now is the Swiss Family Robinson. In it I have no doubt I should find how to make even the crocodile useful, or how to kill it, which would be still better. ("Mysterious Maisie")
The Anne Rice books are a lot about infection. I read "Interview With the Vampire" a million times when I was in seventh and eighth grade. Also, [writing Gavriel's backstory] definitely came from those books: I sat down and reread them all and thought a lot about… the way in which vampirism is pushing away from humanity in interesting ways, and creating something new from humanity. I imprinted on those books pretty hard. Tanith Lee's "Sabella or the Blood Stone" was a big inspiration. I absolutely loved her books; when I was a kid, I wrote many bad Tanith Lee pastiches. Susie McKee Charnas' "The Vampire Tapestry." Poppy Z. Brite's "Lost Souls." Nancy Collins' "Sunglasses After Dark," which sounds like the most '80s title ever. It's about a vampire named Sonja Blue, and she goes around killing vampires. She's the only vampire who's half-alive. It's a really fun, blood-filled romp. It's very "Blade" before "Blade"--with a lady.
I've been very influenced by folklore, fairy tales, and folk ballads, so I love all the classic works based on these things -- like George Macdonald 's 19th century fairy stories, the fairy poetry of W.B. Yeats , and Sylvia Townsend Warner 's splendid book The Kingdoms of Elfin . (I think that particular book of hers wasn't published until the 1970s, not long before her death, but she was an English writer popular in the middle decades of the 20th century.) I'm also a big Pre-Raphaelite fan, so I love William Morris' early fantasy novels. Oh, and " Lud-in-the-Mist " by Hope Mirrlees ( Neil Gaiman is a big fan of that one too), and I could go on and on but I won't!
Early Summer, loveliest season, The world is being colored in. While daylight lasts on the horizon, Sudden, throaty blackbirds sing. The dusty-colored cuckoo cuckoos. "Welcome, summer" is what he says. Winter's unimaginable. The wood's a wickerwork of boughs. Summer means the river's shallow, Thirsty horses nose the pools. Long heather spreads out on bog pillows. White bog cotton droops in bloom. Swallows swerve and flicker up. Music starts behind the mountain. There's moss and a lush growth underfoot. Spongy marshland glugs and stutters. Bog banks shine like ravens' wings. The cuckoo keeps on calling welcome. The speckled fish jumps; and the strong Swift warrior is up and running. A little, jumpy, chirpy fellow Hits the highest note there is; The lark sings out his clear tidings. Summer, shimmer, perfect days.
Trickster foxes appear in old stories gathered from countries and cultures all over the world -- including Aesop's Fables from ancient Greece, the "Reynard" stories of medieval Europe, the "Giovannuzza" tales of Italy, the "Brer Fox" lore of the American South, and stories from diverse Native American traditions.
I really love folklore. I had read a lot of faerie folklore that informed the books I wrote. I also really love vampire folklore; my eighth grade research paper was on [it]. [With this project,] it was really helpful to think about the way you can use language. When you're writing about faeries, you can't call anyone "fey"; there are certain words that become forbidden because they're actualized in what faeries do. When you write about vampires, you could think the same way about things like the word "red" or "hunger"--it's interesting to think of the ways that the words have double meanings, or different meanings that shifted.
Ever since I first read Midori Snyder’s essay, ‘ The Armless Maiden and the Hero’s Journey ’ in The Journal of Mythic Arts , I couldn’t stop thinking about that particular strand of folklore and the application of its powerful themes to the lives of young women. There are many different versions of the tale from around the world, and the ‘Armless Maiden’ or ‘Handless Maiden’ are just two of the more familiar. But whatever the title, we are essentially talking about a narrative that speaks of the power of transformation – and, perhaps more significantly when writing young adult fantasy, the power of the female to transform herself. It’s a rite of passage; something that mirrors the traditional journey from adolescence to adulthood. Common motifs of the stories include – and I am simplifying pretty drastically here – the violent loss of hands or arms for the girl of the title, and their eventual re-growth as she slowly regains her autonomy and independence. In many accounts there is a halfway point in the story where a magician builds a temporary replacement pair of hands for the girl, magical hands and arms that are usually made entirely of silver. What I find interesting is that this isn’t where the story ends; the gaining of silver hands simply marks the beginning of a whole new test for our heroine.
Our house was an old Tudor mansion. My father was very particular in keeping the smallest peculiarities of his home unaltered. Thus the many peaks and gables, the numerous turrets, and the mullioned windows with their quaint lozenge panes set in lead, remained very nearly as they had been three centuries back. Over and above the quaint melancholy of our dwelling, with the deep woods of its park and the sullen waters of the mere, our neighborhood was thinly peopled and primitive, and the people round us were ignorant, and tenacious of ancient ideas and traditions. Thus it was a superstitious atmosphere that we children were reared in, and we heard, from our infancy, countless tales of horror, some mere fables doubtless, others legends of dark deeds of the olden time, exaggerated by credulity and the love of the marvelous. ("Horror: A True Tale")
Allegorical stories of saints battling with giants, monsters and demons may be interpreted as symbolizing the Christian's fight against paganism. At Bwlch Rhiwfelen (Denbigh) St Collen fought and killed a cannibal giantess, afterwards washing away the blood-stains in a well later known as Ffynnon Gollen. In Ireland, the tales of saints slaying giant serpents may have the same meaning; alternatively they (or some of them) may refer to early sightings of genuine water monsters. St Barry banished a serpent from a mountain into Lough Lagan (Roscommon), and a holy well sprang up where the saint's knee touched the ground.
Once, at the dreaming dawn of history -- before the world was categorized and regulated by mortal minds, before solid boundaries formed between the mortal world and any other -- fairies roamed freely among men, and the two races knew each other well. Yet the knowing was never straightforward, and the adventures that mortals and fairies had together were fraught with uncertainty, for fairies and humans were alien to each other.
Increase Mather, President of Harvard University, in his treatise on Remarkable Providences, insists that the smell of herbs alarms the Devil and that medicine expels him. Such beliefs have probably even now not wholly disappeared from among us.
It was a sort of car that seemed to have a faculty for motion with an absolute lack of any accompanying sound whatsoever. This was probably illusory; it must have been, internal combustion engines being what they are, tires being what they are, brakes and gears being what they are, even raspy street-surfacing being what it is. Yet the illusion outside the hotel entrance was a complete one. Just as there are silencers that, when affixed to automatic hand-weapons, deaden their reports, so it was as if this whole massive car body were encased in something of that sort. For, first, there was nothing out there, nothing in sight there. Then, as though the street-bed were water and this bulky black shape were a grotesque gondola, it came floating up out of the darkness from nowhere. And then suddenly, still with no sound whatsoever, there it was at a halt, in position. It was like a ghost-car in every attribute but the visual one. In its trancelike approach and halt, in its lightlessness, in its enshrouded interior, which made it impossible to determine (at least without lowering one's head directly outside the windows and peering in at nose-tip range) if it were even occupied at all, and if so by whom and by how many. You could visualize it scuttling fleetly along some overshadowed country lane at dead of night, lightless, inscrutable, unidentifiable, to halt perhaps beside some inky grove of trees, linger there awhile undetected, then glide on again, its unaccountable errand accomplished without witness, without aftermath. A goblin-car that in an earlier age would have fed folklore and rural legend. Or, in the city, you could visualize it sliding stealthily along some warehouse-blacked back alley, curving and squirming in its terrible silence, then, as it neared the mouth and would have emerged, creeping to a stop and lying there in wait, unguessed in the gloom. Lying here in wait for long hours, like some huge metal-cased predatory animal, waiting to pounce on its prey. Sudden, sharp yellow spurts of fangs, and then to whirl and slink back into anonymity the way it came, leaving the carcass of its prey huddled there and dead. Who was there to know? Who was there to tell? ("The Number's Up")
The linguistic and literary reality of the biblical tradition is folkloristic in essence. The concept of a benei Israel ... is a reflection of no sociopolitical entity of the historical state of Israel of the Assyrian period
I have a very clear memory of my first encounter with myth, sitting in a mobile library and travelling, at the same time, with Theseus on the road to Athens. By the time we'd met, and disposed of, the pine-bending giant Sinis, I'd become completely entranced. Within a few months I'd read every book on myths, legends and folklore in our two nearest libraries.
Often I felt that these men were play-acting: the unreality of their role was their security, even their own destinies were to them saga and folk-tale rather than a private matter; these were men under a spell, men who had been turned into birds or even more likely into some strange beast, and who bore their magic shapes with the same unflurried equanimity, magnanimity, and dignity that we children had marvelled at the beasts of fairy tale. Did they not suspect, moreover, with the wordless apprehension of animals, that if their magic shapes were to be stripped from them the fairy tale would be at an end and their security gone, too, while real life would begin with all it's problems, perhaps in some town where there was neither nature or mirage, no link with the folk-tale and the past, no ancient path to the far side of the mountains and down to the river gullies and out beyond the grass plains, no landmarks from the Sagas? - Only a restless search for sterile, deadening enjoyment.
The odor of burning sulphur shifted on the night air, acrid, a little foul. Somewhere, the Canaan dwellers had learned of a supplier of castor - an extract from the beaver's perineal glands. Little packets containing the brown-orange mass of dried animal matter arrived from Detroit at the Post Office's "general delivery." At home, by the kerosene light, the recipients unwrapped the packets. A poor relative sometimes would be given some of the fibrous gland, bitter and smelling slightly like strong human sweat, and the rest would go into a Mason jar. Each night, as prescribed by old Burrifous through his oracle, Ronnie, a litt1e would be mixed with clear spring water. And as it gave the water a creamy, rusty look, the owner would sigh with awe and fear. The creature, wolf or man, became more real through the very specific which was to vanquish him.
A midwife once told Erszébet of the üszögös gyermek, the stunted child, a premature fetus born alive, a scurrying spectral thing with a rat's feet and ears.Unless the stunted child is immediately destroyed, it will return to its mother's womb. It is something monstrous, grown in secret.