A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 29: Fantasy Squad – Yeti

YThe Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, is an interesting creature because, though most agree the Yeti is part of myth, cryptozoologists have been trying to prove the existence for years.

I remember an advertisement years ago for Stones Bitter. The barman was based on this legendary creature, which led to lines such as “Are you open, Yeti?” and “This barman’s abominable!” As far as advertising goes, it’s quite clever – it certainly stuck with me and I don’t even drink bitter!

In media, the Yeti has made several appearances. The list includes:

  • Yeti by Seb-M Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Illustrations / Storybook©2010-2015 Seb-M
    Yeti by Seb-M
    Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Illustrations / Storybook©2010-2015 Seb-M

    The Yeti appears in a variety of films, including: The Snow Creature; Half Human; The Abominable Snowman; Monkeybone; Yeti: A Love Story; The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Monsters, Inc.

  • In television depictions include: Hugo the Abominable Snowman (Looney Tunes); Robbie the Reindeer; Power Rangers Operation Overdrive; The Secret Saturdays: Ugly Americans, and Regular Show. A robotic Yeti appeared in The Abominable Snowmen (Doctor Who).
  • The Yeti features in numerous video games: Urban Yeti!; Spyro: Year of the Dragon; Carnivores: Ice Age, and Warcraft.
  • There are references in literature: The Abominable Snowman is a Marvel character; a Yeti is the main creature in Goosebumps (The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena) by R. L. Stine, and the creature features in The Red Guard, a Nick Carter novel.

As always, this is just a flavour. Do you have a favourite story? Have you seen the Stones advert? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Mel

A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 24: Fantasy Squad – Undine

You might be surprised by my choice today, then again, you might not! I considered unicorn, and though I love these mythical creatures, I decided to explore something new.

UUndines, (also spelled Ondine) are water nymphs, and some people believe they have been around since the beginning of time. Nature spirits are common to all cultures, and undines are believed to inhibit the element of water. They are depicted as either human or animal, or half-animal; half-human. Normally invisible to humans, views about their nature vary – a scale which ranges from kind and friendly to malevolent. The general consensus seems to be that they are emotional beings, who enjoy to serve mankind.

Undine by dewmanna* Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2011-2015 dewmanna
Undine by dewmanna*
Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2011-2015 dewmanna

One of the most influential stories is the belief that undines become human when they fall in love. They are normally female and do not possess a soul until they marry. There are some references to male undines, but those are rare. There is also a darker side to the tale – if an undine marries and her husband is unfaithful, he is destined to die.

The group has many species, such as mermaids, for example. Some even believe undines are derived from the Greek figures, Nereids – who were attendants of the sea god Poseidon. Nereids were the daughters of Nereus and Doris. Their number varies, but is either recorded as fifty or one hundred. One of the best known Nereids is Amphitrite (Poseidon’s spouse).

In media, undines are depicted in literature, drama, ballet and music. These include author, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué; poet, Aloysius Bertrand; playright, Maurice Maeterlinck and author, Hans Christian Andersen.

I think it might be fun to play with these delightful beings! There are so many possibilities when it comes to water based powers, making undines an entertaining addition to the squad. But what about you – are you familiar with these creatures? Do you have any stories to share with us?

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Mel

A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 22: Fantasy Squad – Sirens

SI’ve talked about my father’s love of Greek mythology before, (Melissa was the name of a nymph who nursed an infant Zeus), and my interest in sirens probably stems from his own fascination (I’m lucky he wasn’t a sailor!).

Siren by PinkParasol* Traditional Art / Paintings / Fantasy©2011-2015 PinkParasol
Siren by PinkParasol*
Traditional Art / Paintings / Fantasy©2011-2015 PinkParasol

Sirens are often confused with harpies because they are both hybrids; combining women and birds. I’m sure you’re familiar with the legends about these beautiful creatures luring sailors with their enchanting voices. They were said to be handmaidens of the goddess Persephone (Demeter’s daughter), and when Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter gave the sirens wings to aid in the search – or at least that’s one of the tales.

As their appearance in media is limited, I decided to follow a similar format to the Imp post, and share with you a preview from my upcoming fantasy story, The Contract. Sirens will play a big part in the series, and the serialised offshoot of the novels – The Collective. So, here’s a taste:

As a little background, the sirens referred to in this snippet are twins. They form part of Tobias Locke’s Guard (the Hympe King). Tobias is in trouble and has asked Maddison (a freelance hunter) for help. They have agreed to meet on familiar ground.

Sneak Preview – The Contract

Tobias followed his guards through the portal, his senses on full alert. The twins had already scouted the area, a necessary precaution even if the meeting spot did border his land. He accepted their need to protect, yet their obvious concern was starting to grate along his nerves.

“She’s here,” Rheia said, eyes narrowed on a patch of trees.

“Of course she is.” Maddison was always on time. “I think I can take it from here,” he told them.

Obeying the subtle command, the twins changed shape and took to the air, their wings glinting under the afternoon sun.

He watched them for a moment, admiring their exquisite grace, before he walked across the clearing. He stopped when he saw Maddison. She was half-way through a familiar warm-up routine. It shouldn’t have pleased him to discover she was still angry, but it did. He could see the tension in every line of her body, knew she would not welcome such thoughts. Yesterday, when he’d sought her out, he’d expected a fight and had relished the idea. She had accepted the assignment far too easily, even without the punishing lip-lock. Maddison never mixed business with pleasure. But then, right now, everything about her was business – right down to her kick-ass boots.

He was playing with fire, seeking her involvement. She was dangerous, at least to him, because she made him long for the impossible. He was a king, and when he took a bride he would be condemning her to a life of sacrifice. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, do that to Maddison.

“When you’re through with the peep show, how about you come spar with me for a while?” she asked without turning.

The witch has eyes in the back of her head.

He crossed the field, appreciating the fact she came prepared. Her uniform was custom made, though it surprised him to realise she had accessorised with a number of blades. The twin machetes strapped to her back were familiar, but the holstered daggers on her thighs were new to the party. They were overkill, in his opinion. Maddison was tall and lithe, and exuded danger like a carefully applied camouflage.

Her dark, midnight blue hair was pulled back in a long plait that hung down her back. It was adorned with harmless looking jewellery, but Tobias knew that was an illusion.

“I see you brought the man-eaters,” she said, looking up into the sky.

He didn’t need to follow her gaze to the siren twins circling above, he could feel them. As part of his guard they were connected by blood.

“You know they hate it when you call them that.” He also knew she meant no offense. “Besides, the curse was lifted eons ago, now it’s more about the pleasure.”

She laughed, eyes still on the sky as she watched the twins. They resembled large, fierce birds of prey, as beautiful as the eagle and just as deadly. “So I’ve heard.”

Finally, her gaze dropped to his, and he saw her intent swirling in a sea of green. They circled each other, eyes locked, until she made her move.

He felt the jolt of magic like a fist to the side of his jaw. A silken snake wound its way around his neck and squeezed tight, blocking the airway.

By the Gods, she was beautiful, he thought, staring into eyes that became a filter to her power. It shone with a vibrant glow, making her appear almost feral.

“The next time you put your hands on me, I’ll put you in the ground,” Maddison said in a husky, sensual tone, which had his eyes flashing. She was still pissed, all right.

“If you think you can take me, witch, be my guest,” he challenged, manipulating the branches of a nearby tree into doing his bidding.

He had the power to control any living organism, with a few exceptions. Maddison was one of them; her mind was too strong to manipulate.

“Tempting, half-blood, but we have a job to do.”

She used the term half-blood to annoy him, and it would have worked, if she’d put any effort into it. But she didn’t really consider him a lesser being, so he accepted the jibe. Anyone else he would have crushed.

His father was king before he’d renounced his title and married a mortal woman. They had conceived Tobias before the ritual, making him heir to the throne. Now he ruled, and he allowed few to challenge his authority.

“I’m not the one who lost control,” he reminded her, stretching his neck.

With a muted curse, she released him. The silken strand whipped back towards her and coiled into the long braid she wore. It was powerful magic, a fact which made her more than a witch.

***

I hope you enjoyed the snippet. I had so much fun with the sirens, and I think my Dad would have liked them. But now it’s over to you. Do you know of any sirens portrayed in media that you would like to share? I’d love to hear  your thoughts on these beautiful (and sometimes deadly) creatures.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Mel

A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 21: Fantasy Squad – Reaper

RI’m not sure if that’s cheating, but I’ll probably get off on a technicality! This post is about the Grim Reaper, also known as Death or the Angel of Death.

“You might be a king or a little street sweeper, but sooner or later you dance with the reaper” (Quote taken from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey)

Okay, so as well as being a closet Bill and Ted fan, I’ve always been fascinated with Death. In Greek mythology (oh, come on, you can’t be surprised I’m referencing the Greeks), Death was also known as Thanatos, though information about him is scarce as he was mostly ‘pushed aside’ for Hades – god of the underworld. He was born to Nyx (Night) and Erebos (Darkness) and most depictions are of a bearded man with wings – though he has been portrayed as a boy. He was not purely evil and was often represented as gentle.

Grim Reaper by electromancer Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2004-2015 electromancer
Grim Reaper by electromancer – Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2004-2015 electromancer

Most people will be familiar with the depiction of a skeletal figure in a hood, carrying a scythe. There are other representations. Sometimes the Grim Reaper (or Death) is female. In some myths the Grim Reaper actually causes death when arriving to collect victims. This has led to tales of people trying to fend off Death by bribery and tricks.

The Grim Reaper is represented considerably in media – here is a taste:

  • In the Seventh Seal (an Ingmar Bergman film), a knight returning from the crusades plays chess with Death
  • In Discworld by Sir Terry Pratchett, Death is a character – portrayed as a black-robed skeleton.
  • Death appears in the DC Comic Sandman by Neil Gaiman – as a woman.
  • In the Twilight Zone (Season 1), Death was played by Murray Hamilton.
  • Death also appears in Marvel Comics.
  • In The Book Thief (book and film) – Death is the narrator.
  • In the book, On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony, Death is the main character.
  • Brad Pitt played Death in Meet Joe Black.
  • Sam and Dean Winchester have encountered Death in Supernatural.

I’d love to hear how the Grim Reaper is represented in other mythologies, so please feel free to share in the comments. What is your favourite portrayal? How do you imagine the Grim Reaper? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time. Thanks for stopping by.

Mel


A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 18: Fantasy Squad – Pegasus

P

No squad is complete without Pegasus, at least in my opinion. I have always loved the flying horse; a particular favourite within Greek mythology. You probably don’t need to know that I collected as many pictures, trinkets, and stories as I could growing up. I dreamt Pegasus came to whisk me away to places unknown – it was no knight in shining armour for me, I was happy with his stallion, and more interested in travelling to other worlds. Mostly. Okay that’s officially too much information!

So, briefly, in Greek mythology, Pegasus is the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa. It is said that he was born when Medusa was decapitated by Perseus. Much is written about his ascent to heaven, and his adventures. He was transformed into the constellation Pegasus by Zeus.

Pegasus by GoldenPhoenix100 Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2012-2015 GoldenPhoenix100
Pegasus by GoldenPhoenix100
Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2012-2015 GoldenPhoenix100

In media

  • Pegasus is the mascot for TriStar Pictures, and also appears as the logo or mascot for many other organisations.
  • He features in a number of films including; Fantasia; Hercules, and Clash of the Titans (both versions.)
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Pegasus is a galaxy.
  • Battlestar Pegasus was included in both versions of Battlestar Galactica.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Pegasus was a starship – the USS Pegasus.
  • Pegasus had a regular slot in the cartoon The Mighty Hercules.
  • In the Magna and Anime, Saint Seiya, Pegasus is a recurring motif.
  • One of the characters, Kira, from the Broadway production of Xanadu, rides on Pegasus to Mount Olympus.
  • Pegasus is frequently mentioned in Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. He appears in the final book, The Blood of Olympus.
  • Video games such as Age of Mythology; Hercules: Battle With The Gods, and God of War II all include a representation of Pegasus.

As always, this is just a flavour of how this mythical creature is portrayed. So, now it’s over to you. What is your favourite representation of Pegasus? Do you have any interesting stories to share? Which creature in Greek mythology is your favourite?

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Mel

Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)
Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)

A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 15: Fantasy Squad – Minotaur

M

I was tempted to pick mermaid today, I almost did, but it’s about time for another beast to form part of the squad, so I give you – the Minotaur. I also can’t go more than a few days without delving into Greek mythology.

So here’s a low down. Poseidon gifted King Minos and his wife (Pasiphae) with a giant white bull, which Minos was supposed to sacrifice in Poseidon’s honour. When Minos broke his word, Poseidon added a rather nasty appendage to the original gift and cursed Pasiphae with lust for the bull. She went to rather extreme lengths to show her affection (ordering the creation of a hollow wooden cow) in order to mate with him. She gave birth to the Minotaur (part man and part bull) – a beast so evil, Minos instructed Daedalus to build a labyrinth to contain it. Minos sacrificed seven men and seven women every year to keep the Minotaur content. The beast was killed by Theseus, who luckily found his way out of the labyrinth, with help from Ariadne (Minos’ daughter).

Minotaur by PigeonKill Digital Art / Other / Fantasy©2010-2015 PigeonKill
Minotaur by PigeonKill
Digital Art / Other / Fantasy©2010-2015 PigeonKill

The Minotaur in media

 

  • This contest, between Theseus and the Minotaur, features heavily in Greek art.
  • The Minotaur appears in Dante’s Inferno.
  • In Steven Sherril’s novel, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, the story depicts the Minotaur five thousand years after leaving the labyrinth.
  • Minotaurs were introduced in several episodes of One Piece (anime).
  • In Batman: The Animated Series (If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?) – the Riddler builds a labyrinth as a riddle for Batman and Robin to solve – the Minotaur is robotic.
  • The Minotaur appears in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books.
  • A Minotaur or Minotaur like creatures have appeared in Doctor Who. The Fourth Doctor claimed to have given Theseus the ball of string which helped him navigate his way through the labyrinth.
  • A race of Minotaurs appear in C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
  • Time Bandits, a film starring Sean Connery, features a Minotaur.
  • The Minotaur is mentioned in Death’s Shadow, a novel by Darren Shan.
  • A character in the Monster High cartoon (Mattel), Manny Taur, is the son of the Minotaur.
  • A Minotaur is killed by Perseus in the film Wrath of the Titans.
  • In The Librarians series, a Minotaur is featured in human form – the Librarians are stuck in a dimensional labyrinth and hunted by the Minotaur.

There are more references to the Minotaur, and even variations on the myth I shared with you above. Are you familiar with this mythical creature? Would you have the Minotaur on the side of good, or, as the creature does have a penchant for eating people, is the Minotaur more of a villain? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Mel

Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)
Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)

A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 14: Fantasy Squad – Leprechauns

L

Leprechauns are synonymous with Irish culture. Granted many depictions are stereotypical and somewhat derogatory towards the Irish, but that’s not to say the people of Ireland don’t embrace the folklore.

Let’s look at that folklore. Leprechauns are legendary creatures associated with pixies, sprites and fairies. They are mainly described as little old men, wearing a coat and hat, who spend their time mending shoes, and have a penchant for mischief. They are magical beings, are said to have a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and, if captured, can grant three wishes. The colour of their coat varies. More often than not it is green, but early references refer to the colour red.

I always wondered why there are no female leprechauns, at least not according to Irish folklore. One particular belief is that leprechauns are unable to reproduce, that they are the defective offspring of fairies. Now I know these are mythical creatures, but that screams of discrimination to me.

By now, you know that I like to play around with the myths and I would have great fun with the leprechauns on my fantasy squad. I might utilise the craftsmanship element, so they would be deft at fixing things (or situations). I’d keep the magic of course, and as a nod to Ireland, I’d probably keep the accent – who wouldn’t? I’d maybe play around with their size, and find an interesting way to incorporate the gold. You can chip in if you have some ideas!

Leprechaun by mc-the-lane Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2007-2015 mc-the-lane
Leprechaun by mc-the-lane
Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2007-2015 mc-the-lane

But anyway, I’m supposed to be referring this to media. Let’s look at a few films:

  • Leprechaun is a series of American horror films. There are seven in total, and the leprechauns are represented as murderous creatures.
  • Darby O’Gill and the Little People, is a Walt Disney film starring Sean Connery. It is the story of an Irishman doing battle with leprechauns, and based on the books by Herminie Templeton Kavanagh.
  • Finian’s Rainbow starring Fred Astaire is a musical film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. In this film the leprechaun chooses humanity (or in this case the girl) and gives up his leprechaun status.
  • Getting Lucky, a fantasy comedy film, includes an alcoholic leprechaun whose wishes don’t turn out as planned!
  • The Luck of the Irish, a film made in 1948, follows a man (Stephen Fitzgerald) who is torn between his life in New York and his roots in Ireland.
  • A Disney Channel Original movie of the same name (The Luck of the Irish) is about a boy who discovers his family are made up of leprechauns.
  • The Magical legend of the Leprechauns is a Hallmark production TV fantasy movie starring Randy Quaid and Whoopi Goldberg. There are two main stores in the film – a business man who encounters leprechauns, and a pair of star-crossed lovers (a fairy and a leprechaun) being on the opposite sides of a magical war.

Leprechauns appear in television, art and literature too. There are so many references that I decided against doing a list, and instead want to open it up to you. What’s your favourite leprechaun story?

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Mel

Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)
Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)

A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 9: Fantasy Squad – Harpies

H

Harpies are one of my favourite mythical creatures, next to Sirens. Granted, the two are often mixed up, but there is something fascinating about hybrids, especially those with wings!

As this feature is about the portrayal of mythical creatures in media, at least in part, I did a little research. Most of my knowledge comes from Greek mythology, and though I’m familiar with some of the following interpretations, I was surprised at how many references there are. These are just a few:

Harpies by Sophia-M Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2012-2015 Sophia-M
Harpies by Sophia-M
Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2012-2015 Sophia-M
  • Harpies are featured a great deal in Anime and Manga. I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on these representations, but if you do – please share.
  • Betty Ross was temporarily turned into a Harpy in The Incredible Hulk – the delightful Bruce Banner made a deal and found a cure.
  • In Jason and the Argonauts (a particular favourite of mine), harpies torment the blind prophet Phineus, by stealing his food. There are only two of them, when traditionally they come in threes.
  • They are portrayed as monsters in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie.
  • In The Tempest, Ariel disguises herself as a harpy.
  • Harpies appear in various table top and video games.
  • They were frequently portrayed as monsters in The Adventures of Sinbad.
  • They appeared in Charmed as minor demons.
  • Hercules (The Legendary Journeys) and Xena (Warrior Princess) both include harpies.
  • They are Hades‘ minions in Clash of the Titans (remake). In this interpretation they don’t appear as bird-women. They snatch people and drag them to the Underworld.
  • Harpies feature in the epic Latin poem The Aeneid by Virgil.
  • They are based in hell in Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
  • In the Grey Hawk adventure novels (Book 5) – a harpy plays the female protagonist – a heroic one at that!
  • Harpies are a kind of gate-keeper in Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series – maintaining curfew at Camp Half-Blood and eating those who break the rules!
  • As with most of the mythical creatures I’ve dealt with so far, most interpretations are dark. In the 2007 TV Movie – Harpies, they are demonic winged monsters.

There is clearly a pattern, one I would like to see balanced out a little. What are your thoughts? Do you think harpies deserve their bad reputation, or should there be a touch of bitter and sweet when portraying these creatures? Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

Mel

Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)
Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)

A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 8: Fantasy Squad – Giants

GWhat springs to mind when you see the word giant? Do you imagine the ground shaking, buildings falling, boulders flying – all to the back drop of ‘Fe-fi-fo-fum?’ Do you perhaps envisage the collector and dispenser of dreams, that loveable character created by Roald Dahl – the Big Friendly Giant? Or maybe, it’s a jolly ‘ho ho ho’ as you remember the corn-loving, children-friendly, Green Giant! And of course we can’t forget the giant alien robot – The Iron Giant.

The modern perception of giants seems to be that they are violent, and stupid creatures, who like to pick their teeth with the bones of children. Okay, so I might be exaggerating a little, but giants don’t have a particularly good rep; chaotic and wild seem to be synonymous with the giants in mythology.

They play a large role in mythology, whether that’s Celtic, Abrahamic, Greek, Roman, Hindu, Norse or other cultural traditions. Examples can be found in The Bible, with such stories as David and Goliath. One of my favourite Greek myths is the belief that the giants were buried beneath mountains and were responsible for volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

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The Iron Giant by MatthewRHumphreys Cartoons & Comics / Digital Media / Cartoons / Drawings©2011-2015 MatthewRHumphreys

In media, giants appear in Marvel comics, Doctor Who, Dungeons and Dragons and in a variety of films and television programmes. Hagrid from the Harry Potter series is half-giant and half-human. Tolkien mentioned giants, though only fleetingly, and Oscar Wilde wrote the Selfish Giant.

I’m not sure how giants would fit into a fantasy squad. Whatever their personality, and regardless of whether they have a temper, their strength and versatility would make them an excellent comrade in battle. Kind of like the Hulk, and who wouldn’t want Hulk on their team. I’m going to stop there, before I start obsessing about the big guy!

Do you have a favourite giant, or story about a giant? I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Until next time. Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)
Designed by Doobster (Mindful Digressions)