research

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.

Writing

2018: Year In Review

The last 6 months have been a whirlwind of activity and excitement for me. This inaugural but semi-regular post serves as part-reflection on recent events and part-update on current, unfolding projects. Curious to know more?


Storytelling & More: The launch of this website coincided with the publication of my debut Fantasy novel Bone Arrow and my regular posts here on this blog include summaries of Amerindian, indigenous Australian and Norse folktales, legends and myths I’ve found interesting during my research. I also post regular reviews of recently read novels I’ve found stimulating.


Bone Arrow Released: In August 2018, I released the ebook version of my debut Fantasy novel, Bone Arrowwhich was inspired by Amerindian folktales and legends. On October 1, the first paperback copies of Bone Arrow were available in major online bookstores from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository in the UK and Booktopia in Australia. The end of December 2018, marks the 3 months anniversary of the release of Bone Arrow. To coincide with this, I have written a series of 3 short posts sharing my reflections on the journey and my motivations behind Bone Arrow.


Work-in-Progress: In early 2018, I started researching a new project based on Norse myths. Under the working title, Ragnarok Dreaming,is a contemporary Fantasy retelling aspects of Norse mythology and incorporating the landscape and legends of ancient Australia. At the end of 2018, Ragnarok Dreaming was nearly 1/4 complete.


Museum Research Visit: In June 2018, I took a brief research trip to Melbourne Museum in Australia to see an amazing exhibition on-loan from the Swedish History Museum of Viking Age artefacts. The exhibition included a reconstructed Viking Age ship, silver and gold jewellery and ornaments, swords from Viking burials, reconstructed swords using ancient Nordic forging technologies, trade items including measurement scales for transactions, Norse currencies and slave collars.


NaNoWriMo 2018: In October 2018, I combined starting the first draft for Ragnarok Dreamingwith National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) using the extra motivation to put months of planning and research into action. Aside from increasing support and awareness of creative writing, NaNoWriMo was perfect to help me overcome any uncertainties in beginning a new project.


The New Year: In 2019, I’m planning a short research pilgrimage to Sweden, Norway and Iceland to experience first-hand, the landscape and history where the Norse myths and Viking Age culture were born. I also hope to complete the first draft of my current work-in-progress, Ragnarok Dreaming.

Writing

Bone Arrow Release

Excitement has been growing and finally, the announcement that debut Fantasy novel Bone Arrow is now available in eBook and paperback formats. I have enjoyed exploring Amerindian folktales and traditions which inspired me to re-imagine a Fantasy landscape where global fables and legends resonant in the constant shifting dominance of light and darkness.

research

Tariaksuq & Ijiraq

Amerindian cultures in the Arctic regions including the Inuit, mention in folktales, the “shadow people” or the Tariaksuq and Ijiraq, elusive, shape-shifting and malevolent spirits known for kidnapping children. These spirits, often mentioned in close association, can take the form of a humanoid-caribou like the Tariaksuq, or can lack consistent physical forms like the Ijiraq. Yet both the Ijiraq and Tariaksuq are believed to kidnap children who are either stolen or led astray, and once lost, the children are kept hostage unless they convince the spirits to release them. Not only children could fall prey to these elusive spirits with adults becoming confused and easily lost while trekking.


The Ijiraq, like the Tariaksuq, are reported to have powers which make them visible only from periphery of eye sight. The frozen lands where these spirits are believed to dwell have underground pockets of hydrogen sulfide gas. This noxious gas is capable of inducing hallucinations and confusion. The combination of noxious gas in these frozen lands is thought the reason for why the Tariaksuq cannot be seen directly. These strange and temporary vision loss issues may be the result of exposure to the gases released from vents in the arctic marshes and volcanic landscape.

research, Writing

Wakinyan

Wakinyan or the Thunderbird is an important and mythological figure in many North American folktales, stories and cultural traditions.


Wakinyan is described as a giant bird, much like a raven in coloring but often with some aspects resembling an eagle. The Thunderbird of the Plains and mid-western Amerindian cultures is often associated with the months of summer while on the Northwestern coast, the mythic figure is often depicted holding a killer whale grasped in its talons. The Thunderbird is a mythic figure, inspiring many different forms of artwork and oral stories. Uniquely to the Amerindian tribes of the Northwest Coast of United States and Canada, the Thunderbird can be a symbol or totem associated with specific families or kinship ties. This is how the Thunderbird is often depicted on totem poles. The mythology and legends surrounding the Thunderbird are as different as the Amerindian tribes associated with the mythic creature. To the indigenous cultures surviving on the Plains and mid-western regions of the United States, the Thunderbird was associated with the summer storms, the giant wings of the Thunderbird caused the claps of thunder during a storm while the bright silver eyes were the source of lightning. The Thunderbird was also associated and invoked during ceremonies and dance relating to warfare.


In the nineteenth century, the Ghost Dance tradition became sacred among many indigenous North American cultures. A drum, created by the indigenous Pawnee man George Beaver in 1891, was part of the sacred Ghost Dance movement. The drum depicts the Thunderbird as a harbinger of war showing the bird descending from a storm bringing with it war and battle. Many of the tales, poems and dances about the Thunderbird associate the storm-bringing mythical being with the approach of warfare and the bringer of battle.

research

Wendigo

The wendigo legend forms a central part of tales and lore from Amerindian tradition in the forested areas of the Great Lakes in Canada and the northern United States. Despite numerous indigenous cultures inhabiting this region, the legend of the wendigo remains consistent with only two main variations. The majority of tales describe the wendigo is a giant or monstrous human-like creature associated with the harsh winters, insatiable greed, violence, murder and cannibalism.


The wendigo is reported as a giant, often several times the size of an ordinary man or the wendigo can be an evil spirit capable of possessing humans. If possessed, the individual becomes afflicted with traits associated with the wendigo, including, lying, acts of violence, murder or cannibalism.Among the Ojibwa, the wendigo lore is detailed. For example, the wendigo is an evil spirit but takes the form of a giant monster with glowing red eyes, fanged teeth and a lipless mouth. The wendigo consumes anyone who ventures into its territory. Lore states a wendigo is also capable of possessing a human, turning that individual into another wendigo. The afflicted person now enacts the traits associated with the wendigo with cannibalism, often acting without compunction and consuming those once held dear.The common and underlying theme of the wendigo legend is the damned nature of the monster. The wendigo is often described and depicted as both gluttonous but emaciated, suggesting that despite the craving for human flesh, no satiation exists once cannibalism is committed. Doubtless the legend of the wendigo serves as a ghost story and warning fable of times when harsh winters and famine were real concerns and reminding those of the desperation resorted to in acts of cannibalism.