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Archive for 'mythology'

T is for Taniwha

T

I was brought up hearing tales from Maori mythology. Everyone in New Zealand knows of Maui who fished our country from the sea. One particular beast from the legends has always fascinated me, and that’s the taniwha.

The taniwha (pronounced tan-e-fa) is a Maori monster, a ferocious beast that ate naughty children and devoured warriors and other hapless people who found themselves in the wrong place. They live in lakes, rivers and the sea and some live in caves. Some taniwha are friendly—if the local villagers gave them regular food offerings—while others are plain nasty and kill anyone who crosses their path.

In 2002 construction on a highway in the Waikato region of New Zealand was halted because local Maori said the road works were disturbing a taniwha. The portion of road that was being improved was a bad accident site and it was said the taniwha was responsible for the high death toll.

In a Herald story, Dr Ranginui Walker said “like most cultures, Maori use mysticism to explain the inexplicable or grossly unlucky, like a branch falling from a tree and killing a man walking under it at that moment. Europeans might call it the hand of God, Maori might blame tipua, an evil spirit living in the tree. All beliefs require a leap of faith that defy rational explanation.”

The road building finally continued after consultation and negotiations between locals and Transit NZ.

Make That Man Mine

A few years ago, I wrote a taniwha shifter romance called Make That Man Mine. Here’s the blurb:

On her 25th birthday Emma Montrose decides it’s time to show bad boy investigator, Jack Sullivan she’s more than an efficient secretary. She’s a woman with needs, and she wants him.

Jack is a taniwha, a shifter, who requires women to satiate the sexual demands of the serpent within. Nothing more. Then work forces the reluctant Jack and ecstatic Emma undercover as a couple. Thrown together, pretence and reality blur generating hot sex laced with risk…

Matau, the Giant

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

Like most countries, New Zealand has myths to explain the formation of various lakes and mountains. This is the legend of how Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand was formed.

Renowned beauty Manata lived in Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. She was popular with neighboring men and many of them wanted to take her as their wife. Manata’s father didn’t consider any of the suitors husband material.

One of her suitors was called Matakauri. He loved Manata and she loved him in return.

One day a giant called Matau stole Manata from her home and carried her away into the mountains. Manata’s father told Matakauri that if he could rescue his daughter, he’d approve of a marriage between them.

Matakauri knew that the giant always turned sleepy when the wind blew from the nor’west, and once conditions were right, he set out to rescue his love. When he arrived the giant was sound asleep.

“Come with me,” Matakauri said. “I’ll take you home.”

“The giant has tied me to him with a rope made from the skin of his two-headed dogs. It is impossible to break,” Manata cried.

Matakauri tried to cut it, but to no avail. Manata started weeping and when her tears fell on the rope it dissolved. Freed, the lovers fled to safety.

As promised, the couple married, but Matakauri worried about the giant returning and stealing his new wife. When the wind blew from the nor’west again, he sneaked up to the giant’s home and found the giant curled up and sleeping on a bed of bracken. Matakauri set fire to the bracken and the giant suffocated before he regained consciousness. The giant’s body sank deeper and deeper into the ground until he created an enormous chasm many kilometers long. His entire body was consumed by the flames, except the heart, which kept beating.

Rain began to fall and it flowed into the new chasm. The heat generated by the fiery giant bonfire melted the snow on the nearby mountains. Soon the chasm was full of water and it remains as a lake to this day—a lake shaped like a giant who has drawn up his knees in sleep.

Meanwhile the giant’s heart still beats beneath the surface of the water, sometimes so hard that the waves thunder against the shoreline.

I didn’t realize we had giant myths in New Zealand, and I’ve been enjoying reading through Taniwha, Giants, and Supernatural Creatures by Aw Reed and Ross Calman. Do you have any local giant myths?

Today I’m visiting Lissa Matthews where I’m discussing Maxwell’s, the fictional club in Past Regrets. There’s a giveaway too.

Thirteen Tricksters & Meanies from the World of Mythology

Thursday Thirteen

Many romances, especially paranormal and urban fantasy ones, are based on the world of mythology. An example is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Hunter series. Old myths and legends are rich in ideas for authors, so I thought I’d mention a few characters from within mythology for my Thursday Thirteen today.

Thirteen Tricksters & Means from Mythology

To start, mythology is a collection of stories that helped people make sense of the world. They were passed orally from generation to generation. Sometimes people wrote the myths down, and they were often celebrated in dance and art.

1. Chimera – a fire breathing monster made up of a mishmash of body parts of different animals.

2. Bacchus – the Roman god of wine and ecstasy. He gave King Midas the power to change everything he touched into gold.

3. Maui – he’s one of our New Zealand tricksters, and was supposedly responsible for fishing up New Zealand. He was a slippery one, and frankly, I’d run if I saw him. He pushed up the heavens and stole fire for mankind.

4. Cunning Hare – he’s an animal trickster that always outwits the other animals. He’s known in the US as Brer Rabbit.

5. Loki – the Norse trickster god. He caused the death of Odin’s son, Balder and is still being punished for it.

6. Baba Yaga – is a cannibal witch from Russia. She lives in a revolving hut that’s supported by hen’s feet, and she flies through the air in a mortar (grinding pot)

7. Guan Di – the Chinese god of war. Originally, he sold tofu, but he killed a magistrate and had to flee his home. He became a soldier and was promoted to the status of god of war.

8. Eshu – the trickster god of the Yoruba people in west Africa. He likes playing tricks on people – mischievous ones. He disguises himself as a naughty boy, a wise old man and a priest.

9. Kokopelli – another trickster. He’s also responsible for fertility of crops and the village women. I used Kokopelli as the basis for my story Seeking Kokopelli.

10. Tengu – a part man and part bird. They’re Japanese and have magic invisibility cloaks.

11. Sekhmet – a lioness god, sent by Ra to destroy mankind. Ra changed his mind and the only way to stop Sekhmet was to ply her with drink and get her drunk.

12. Centaur – half man and half horse they’re wild and savage. There are centaurs in the Harry Potter series.

13. Yen-lo – the ruler and judge of the dead in China. He weighs the souls first. Those who were virtuous had light souls while sinners possessed heavy souls. The souls must past several tests before they can be reincarnated.

All of these seem unfriendly to me. I’m not sure I’d like to meet them, but they certainly provide inspiration for stories.

Do you have any favorite stories based on mythology? Which of the above would you prefer to face? Write a story about?

Source: Mythology, an Eyewitness Book, by Neil Philip