I am so sick and tired of people like J. K. Rowling and the Final Fantasy makers using perfectly good pieces of folklore, myth and legend.
Well, no, scratch that. It's pretty cool when they do it.
But then it means that I *can't* do it to that particular myth.
I mean, I learned of bezoars literally twenty minutes before I picked up the sixth Harry Potter book. Now can I use bezoars in a story without comparison? No.
And then there's her use of Hippogriffs. Now, I can't use my imagination when I describe a Hippogriff. You know why? Because everyone will say that I'm getting it wrong! (The legends of Hippogriffs say that they're half horse and half gryphon. J.K. Rowling went too far to the Gryphon side of things for my taste, while other people (*cough*Neil Gaiman*cough*) normally make it look too much like a horse for my taste.)
So here, I intend to make a list of cool mythology that I learn that I need to use in a story someday. It'll start small, but I'll build on it with time. Oh, and rest assured that I plan on doing more research before using any of these, as I'll just be posting snippets as they come to my attention.
Oh, and in case I ever forget, here's an invaluable tool for doing research into this kind of thing.
Fear Liath More-I honestly wasn't sure whether to list this entry as a person, or as a creature/monster. He's better known as The Grey Man, though the resemblance to The Abominable Snowman/Yeti/Bigfoot/Sasquatch is worth noting. One of the more terrifying aspects of Fear Liath More, though, is that he seems more ghost-like than any of those other ape-like monsters. Living near the summit of Ben MacDhui, one of the peaks of the Scottish Cairngorn Mountains, his(?) presence may be more psychological than physical at times. When appearing, it is usually as a slender Yeti-esque creature with blue or grey fur, although strange grey/blue splotches that cover the sky have been seen and are said to be him. More frequently, though, his "encounters" are in the form of feelings of extreme lethargy or coldness (if you're lucky) or fear and trepidation. In the case of the latter, the fear may be so great as to cause near suicidal-craziness in the attempt to get away, often accompanied by the sound of footfalls just behind you, while a voice speaks incomprehensibly in what sounds like a form of Gaelic. My use for him? Not sure. But it might be interesting to someday write a story with a race of Yeti-like creatures. And Fear Liath More would make for an interesting shaman or something. Maybe a Sasquatch Specter? Who knows.
Baba Yaga is worth remembering, though she's a bit overused. Still, it's interesting how some people think of her as a single entity, and how for others the term "Baba Yaga" is just a description of a type of person, like "wizard" or "shaman." Still, I find it odd that there are enough of these Baba Yagas living in huts with chicken legs to warrant a descriptive term for all of them. Still, if I ever need a cannibalistic witch from Russia, this is definitely the character that I plan on using (though she'll probably wind up being very similar to the version of Baba Yaga that Pete Abrams used in his "Oceans Unmoving" story, mainly because I think that story is done too well for me to reasonably counter with my limited imagination).
Nightingale The Robber-Also known as "Solovei The Brigand" is an epic thief from Russian folklore who waits in trees for passerby, capable of stunning (or even killing) them with an incredibly powerful whistle. Normally said to have lived in a forest near Bryansk on the road to Kiev. Defeated by someone named "Ilya Muromets", though the entire forest was levelled. So much potential here. I'm imagining translating this guy into a science fiction world.
Fabian-A good spirit said to inhabit the hills and forests between Prague and Pilsen in the Czech Republic. He used to be a knight, until his old wife (a sorceress) tried to turn him into an evil spirit. He was succesfully transformed into a spirit, though he managed to stay good (his new wife was turned into a flower). Fabian now spends his time scaring thieves and villains in forest, and is frequently depicted as a game-keeper by statue makers. He'd make a fantastic nemesis for Nightingale The Robber, if you ask me.
Monsters And Creatures
Hircocervi is the plural form for the singular "Hircocervus." Possibly the most obscure creature I've ever run across, as far as I can tell this is a half goat/half stag animal. I've not been able to find many references to it ANYWHERE. Seriously, go check wikipedia or pantheon.org and you'll find that relatively few sources know quite what these things are. It's possibly related to the minor deity Cerrnunos, but I'm not sure if that's the case.1
The Beast Of Bodmin/The Beast Of Exmoor/Phantom cats/Alien Big Cats (ABCs)-These are all names for similar creatures, a name for unexplainably large cat-creatures seen in England, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Explanations range from mere urban legends about monsters to demonic creatures to aliens to hybrids of existing big cats that have created a new subspecies to simple misidentification by not entirely reliable witnesses. Their ability to evade capture (and heat-vision cameras) does indicate that something fishy is going on....but as it stands, there's not enough evidence to call these things cryptozoology, but too much evidence to call these things myths.
Peryton-A must have for this section! The Peryton is an incredibly obscure myth, sometimes said to have come from Atlantis. A cross between a Stag and a large Bird, the Peryton is sometimes depicted as a winged stag, sometimes as a creature with the forelegs and head of a stag, but the wings, rear-feet and tail of a giant bird. On top of this, the Peryton is considered to be dangerously carnivorous, capable of eating humans (a group of Roman soldiers was defeated by a flock of Peryton (Perytons? What's the plural here? And is it a flock? How about a murder? A murder of Peryton?) if nameless 16th century scholars are to be believed). Now, right off the bat, the combination of Atlantis and some sort of monstrous mutant screams "USE THIS IN A KRYLMA STORY," possibly in a story I'm writing now called "Minos And The Minotaur Project," however, there's even MORE cool stuff. Peryton are also, you see, known for their strange shadows: the shadow of a human being! Also, some legends speak of Peryton(s) as holding the souls of people lost at sea while others claim that they hold the souls of murderers. There is SO MUCH story potential here...
The Elephant Bird is more cryptozoological than mythical or legendary. We're less positive of its existence than we are of the Dodo, but more positive than the Jackalope. Anyway, this massive creature (for reference, see here) was probably the basis for stories about The Roc. Its eggs were the largest that some believe an egg could get and still work. So while we know it existed, we don't know exactly when. Wiigii!
Rahav-Described as a "cosmic sea monster" in the only place that I can find mention of him, he seems to be based on some parts of Jewish folklore much like the Leviathan or Golem. Rahav is described as a giant sea creature slain by God after not agreeing to help create the world (which seems incredibly harsh of God, even considering the Old Testament's occasionally harsh depictions of him), and that the stench of his carcass is disguised by the sea (hence the strange smell of the ocean). Other sources seem to indicate that Rahav is one and the same as the Leviathan, though many disagree with this. I honestly can't find much info on him anywhere other than at http://www.pantheon.org/articles/r/rahav.html so I'll have to spend some time in research (I mean, not even a Google image search provides anything of interest). If nothing else, it'd be a cool name to use. And the term "Cosmic Sea Monster" already works well with a story Universe that I'm creating (remember the name "Shebana Reneis", as Rahav'll likely pop up in a story involving her, should I ever get the initiative to flesh out that world a bit more).
Cities And Places
The Spiderweb City-Described by Marco Polo who had something of a gift for inventing fictitious locations, the Spider Web City is said to hang over a deep valley between two mountains, held in place by ropes, walkways, nets, catwalks, chains, and anything else that the city deems necessary to support itself from falling to the Earth below, though everyone knows that fate to be inevitable. The city is much like any other, with everyone living in houses, working on construction or at shops, children playing and learning, everything that happens in most cities. They just have to do it while hanging from the giant web above them. EDIT I've just learned that this may, in fact, be the creation of Italo Calvino, not Marco Polo. I wonder if it's still valid for me to steal. ANOTHER EDIT Okay, it's in a book by Italo Calvino called "Invisible Cities." It's mentioned as "Ophelia, the Spiderweb City." I should still steal it, though.
Myths, Legends And Lore
The Tower Of Hanoi-This popular puzzle, when it was created, was given a legend by the mathematician who made it. The legend said that there was a game of this played with sixty-four golden discs on three pegs (some sources say it was played by Buddhist monks in the Alps, some say it was played in a tower in Hanoi, some say it was played by monks in a tower in Hanoi. Take your pick). The legend basically says that when the game is finished it will cause the end of the world. Never mind that it'll take more years than there are known stars in the sky (I think), but still....interesting legend.