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Native American War Horse

During my research into indigenous North American customs and cultures, I came across reference to the markings painted on the war horses. There are many Amerindian cultures and tribes which exist today and many more that have been lost. I acknowledge with respect, that these symbols are not exhaustive nor do they belong to a single tribe. The markings explained below will have different interpretations specific to each tribe.
The markings painted on a war horse signified aspects of the warrior’s prowess, symbols defining the number of enemy horses captured, the number of battle honors earned and wounds received in battle. Other markings like the red handprint signify a completed mission while the red handprint on the shoulder symbolizes the warrior’s oath of vengeance and the intended completion of his mission, to be interpreted as the impending death of his oath-sworn enemy. Other markings are specific to the war horse, offering protection in battle. There are several sets of markings painted around the hoof, eye and nose imbuing the war horse with increased ability to sense and see danger, to be faster and stronger.

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The Winter of the Witch

From the Blurb:

“Vasilisa Petrovna is an unforgettable heroine determined to forge her own path. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.”

Review:

The Winter of the Witch is the final volume in The Winternight Trilogy by American author Katherine Arden following female protagonist Vasilisa in this Fantasy series based on Russian folktales. The first book followed Vasilisa’s childhood and the burgeoning of her identity and powers as a witch. The second book set in Moscow explored Vasilisa’s conflict to be with her family but need for freedom and her eventual understanding that her identity as a witch placed her between the realms of men and the supernatural powers of Russia, the cherti.

The Winter of the Witch continues directly from previous events in Moscow. Vasilia struggles to gain her freedom from the confines of Moscow and the vengeance of Father Constantine and his master, Medvedev, the chaos cherti. In the last moment, Vasilia surrenders herself to the magical powers that are her heritage and escapes into the realms of the cherti. The fire that engulfed Moscow when the firebird was released is soon dwarfed by an invasion of a massive Tatar army. Against the backdrop of warfare and the enslavement of Russia, Vasilia struggles to keep her own humanity and rescue Morozko, the Winter King from an imprisonment devised by his twin, the chaos spirit, Medvedev. In the final battle to save Russia, Vasilisa and her brother Sasha, a warrior monk, unite forces against the overwhelming numbers of the Tatar army with Vasilia uniting all the cherti of Russia, even binding Medvedev to her cause.

Final Thoughts:
The Winter of the Witch was a satisfying and powerful conclusion to the Winternight Trilogy, the culmination of Vasilia’s story and the vibrant Russian folktales made this series an absolute favourite of mine.

My Conclusion?

Highly recommended! A fabulous read.

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Camp NaNoWriMo 2019

I’m participating another month-long writing event by the nonprofit organisation National Novel Writing Month. I began writing the draft of Ragnarok Dreaming during the November NaNoWriMo event. This April, I’m participating in CampNaNoWriMo, an virtual international writing retreat. I aim to write 10,000 words during April. You can follow my updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #CampNaNoWriMo

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Update: Ragnarok Dreaming

I am delighted to announce I’ve just finished writing Part 2 of my work-in-progress novel, Ragnarok Dreaming ! Now that the halfway point has been reached, I’m ready to continue the story of Norse Trickster Loki, enjoying the interacting themes between ancient Norse mythologies and Australian legends and folktales. Onwards to Part 3 !

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Wolfskin

I recently read Wolfskin, the first volume in the duology, The Saga of the Light Isles by Australian author Juliet Marillier.Wolfskin begins in Rogaland among the Norseman of the Viking Age, following a young protagonist Eyvind on his journey to become a wolfskin warrior, one of the most esteemed warrior class in Rogaland. Eyvind befriends Somerled, an outcast younger son of nobility, a highly intelligent but socially awkward boy. Eyvind and Somerled remain friends through to manhood, where both vow by a blood-bond to be as brothers to each other. As young men, Eyvind soon becomes a Wolfskin warrior famed for his prowess in battle while Somerled masters the intricate power games of court life. Sudden events overtake both young men and they begin a dark journey across unmapped oceans to the Light Isles, islands inhabited by the native people, the Folk. Once on the Light Isles, Somerled’s desire for power stretches beyond Eyvind’s control. Witness to Somerled’s ruthlessness, every code Eyvind has believed in is challenged. Although Eyvind is initially saved from desolation by Nessa, royal priestess of the Folk, the two soon form an alliance to save the Folk and the Norseman from Somerled’s destruction.Wolfskin was a satisfying novel, combining dark history and ancient folktales to explore conquest, victory and self-discovery.

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Ragnarok Dreaming: Latest News


Thrilled to provide an update on my current work-in-progress, Ragnarok Dreaming. The first draft for Part 1 is complete and now Part 2 underway! Weaving aspects of indigenous ancient Australian legends with Viking Age Norse myths has definitely been a challenge but with the first 1/4 of Ragnarok Dreaming now on paper, I am more motivated and keen to continue. Onward to the halfway point!

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A Court of Thorns & Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first novel in an adult Fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. Although listed as young adult Fantasy like previous novels by Maas, A Court of Thorns & Roses is unsuitable for younger readers and contains appropriate warnings despite the booksellers listing and conflicting publisher imprint from Bloomsbury YA. A Court of Thorns & Roses follows the protagonist Feyre, the youngest daughter of a once-wealthy merchant but now greatly impoverished. To keep her two older sisters and father from starving, Feyre learned to hunt in the forest south of the great wall dividing the mortal realm from Prythian, the faerie realm. While hunting, Feyre kills a large wolf she suspects is a disguised faerie but generations of mortal hatred toward the Fae justify her kill. Soon, Feyre’s fears manifest when Tamlin, High Lord of the Fae Spring Court punishes Feyre for her crime, taking her to Prythian as his vassal, forcing her to forsake her family.Once in Prythian, Feyre discovers the hatred borne by the mortal world is slightly misfounded, for Tamlin is neither cruel nor merciless. In the relative safety of Tamlin’s power in the Spring Court, Feyre soon learns the greatest danger to the mortal realm is also a threat to Prythian. Although bargaining with the Fae is dangerous, Feyre acknowledges her love for Tamlin, she is determined to break the curse binding him and the other Fae High Lords. So Feyre bargains at great cost to herself to save Tamlin and, in doing so, protect the fragile peace between Prythian and the mortal realm. A Court of Thorns and Roses has a familiar fable quality like the classic tales of Beauty and the Beast but the stronger themes from folktales and folklore of the Fae give depth to the world-building behind Prythian.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a solid foundation to a series that can only expand and explore the complex history hinted at in this first book.

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Norse Gods: The Vanir

Much of the information about Norse mythology is gleaned from the historical texts called the Eddas. As recounted in the Eddas, two separate hosts of deities initially existed, the Vanir and Aesir . These two hosts waged several unsuccessful wars against each other until they united as a single host, combining their strength against the giants. The union of the Vanir and Aesir was then strengthened through marriage alliances. The deities of the Vanir are introduced in this first post, while a second post discusses the Aesir.


The Vanir:

A host of Norse deities almost exclusively associated with the natural elements. These included affinities with the seasons, celestial bodies, and the sedir, a magic associated with women that included foretelling the future. The war between the Aesir and Vanir was settled with an exchange of hostages before several marriages permanently united them.


Njord:

Njord was a prominent god among the Vanir and the father of sibling deities, Freya and Freyr. Njord was embodiment of the winds, especially those winds close to shore. Associated with fishing, Njord was symbolic of the bounties from the sea and often invoked by fishermen. Njord was also invoked by sailors returning from sea voyages hoping for the safety of the shore. Njord was often depicted as an older man, features marked by exposure to the harsh weather of the sea winds.

Freyr:

Son of the Vanir god Njord and sibling to goddess Freya. As with the deities of the Vanir, Freyr was associated with natural elements and was the personification of summer. Freyr was the embodiment of abundance and wealth, associated with harvests, hunts and forests. Freyr was also associated with some aspects of warfare and was often depicted with a golden sword, radiant like the summer sun. More commonly, Freyr was associated the wealth and abundance of good harvests and the bountiful summer forests.

Freya:

Daughter of Vanir god, Njord and sister of the god Freyr. Similar to her sibling, Freya was the personification of Spring. Freya was associated with lovers and with the association of spring, she embodied fertility. Commonly, Freya was depicted as a beautiful maiden and often wreathed in garlands of flowers. There was a darker aspect to Freya that associated her with battle and death. Freya is the leader of the Valkyries, the female warrior spirits who take the souls of honoured warriors slain in battle. Freya was also the archetypal völva, a practitioner of the ancient Norse magic, the sedir, which had many shamanistic qualities and was both revered and feared for the gift it offered of foresight. Freya first taught the sedir to the Norse gods and, by extension, to the mortal realm of Midgard.

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Norse Gods: The Aesir

Much of the information about Norse mythology is gleaned from the historical texts called the Eddas. As recounted in the Eddas, two separate hosts of deities initially existed, the Vanir and Aesir. These two hosts waged several unsuccessful wars against each other until they united as a single host, combining their strength against the giants. The union of the Vanir and Aesir was then strengthened through marriage alliances. The deities of the Vanir were introduced in an earlier post, while this post discusses the Aesir.


The Aesir:

A host of Norse deities that are very different to the Vanir and, considered by many scholars, to be the more recent in Norse mythology. The primary deities in the Aesir are almost exclusively male and associated with warfare and aspects of community and family life. Lesser gods in the Aesir are associated with craftsmanship but all have specific personality traits that would be invoked during prayer.


Odin:

The principal leader of the Aesir. Odin was also the eldest of the gods and the father of many lesser deities. Odin was the embodiment of a leader protecting his dependants through wisdom and seeking knowledge. Odin was also often invoked by leaders before battle as Odin was associated with victory in battle. Odin’s quest for further wisdom to improve his leadership and maintain it, led to many sacrifices including the offering of his eye to gain the foresight he required. Odin was the real leader of the Norse deities and was an exemplar of how rulers should sacrifice themselves for the furthering of their dependant community and family.

Frigg:

Goddess among the Aesir and wife to Odin, who in Odin’s absence from Asgard, became the leader of the Aesir. As the only principal goddess among the Aesir, there is curiously little written specifically about Frigg in the Eddas. Frigg was the embodiment of a virtuous Nordic wife, associated with the household and invoked by married couples for her embodiment of love and marriage. Frigg was commonly depicted as wife, mother and leader but her elaborate clothing revealed a darker aspect to her. Frigg’s powers were like those of Odin, associated with the air. Frigg was responsible for the discovery of flax and her spinning distaff was capable of enacting her fickle mood where she would spin the clouds into her clothing, all as changeable as the weather.

Thor:

A god among the Aesir, the embodiment of thunderstorms and the personification of physical strength. Thor was the son of Odin and often associated with warfare and, like Odin and the god Tyr, these three gods formed a triad of gods often invoked during battle. Where Odin’s powers in warfare are related to qualities aspired for strong leadership, Tyr was invoked for strategic planning and swordsmanship. Thor, on the other hand, was admired for the brute strength and fury he possessed, a battle-rage and lust that could sustain armies and inspire victory. Thor is rarely described or praised for intelligence but his powerful strength and warhammer were often used to save the Aesir and Vanir from attacks by the giants, their common enemy.