Monday, February 4, 2013

Unicorns Have Better Press Agents!

Merlin and the Unicorn, copyright Merlin, BBC Televsion
   
     What is it about Unicorns?  Why are they so revered?  Unicorns appear in the folktales of many human cultures.  Dragons do as well, but there's a difference.  Dragons are sometimes portrayed as good and often portrayed as evil while Unicorns are always presented as gentle, good and pure of heart.  Have you ever heard of an evil Unicorn?  What's up with that?  Think about it: is it realistic to believe that there has never been a Unicorn who went bad?  Really, what are the odds?  Actually, I wouldn't care that humans (and my own Faerie-kind) have such a positive view of Unicorns except for the fact that Dragons don't get the same respect.  Yes, there are stories about good Dragons, especially in eastern cultures, but often in western cultures Dragons are things to be fought, feared, detested and killed.  It's just wrong!  What have Dragons done to deserve such bad publicity?  Wait.  Don't answer that.  Your answer will likely be based on  the bias drilled into you by anti-Dragon tales.  Just keep in mind that villains and heroes often are defined by who's telling the story.

     Oh, before I go on, I should introduce myself.  I am Siobhan Rainshee.*  My aunt, Keena Mythweaver, has been writing posts for this blog for a while and she asked me to fill in for her this week.  We are both Faeries, but not the kind most humans (or the humans I've met) think of when they see the word "fairy."  We are human-sized and we do not have wings.  Neither of us can fly (though I would love to find a way to).  We do, however, have magic.  My aunt uses it to heal humans in Baile Eile, but the humans don't know she uses it.  They also don't know she's a Faerie; they think she's an "herbalist."  I don't have healing magic.  I have other gifts.  My favorite is the ability to make thunderstorms whenever I want.  But I'm getting way off the subject. Back to Dragons and Unicorns.

     As I was saying, before I went off on the tangent, when a story paints Dragons as evil, you have to keep in mind who's telling the tale.  Take The Hobbit for instance.  Poor Smaug is characterized as greedy, dangerous--murderous in fact--and conniving.  At the same time, he also seems to be a bit dull, which is a telling inconsistency, don't you think?  Now think about who's telling the tale.  I have no argument with the historian, J.R.R. Tolkien.  He's relating the tale as it was passed on to him.  I don't really even blame the Hobbit, Mr. Baggins (although you have to admit he can't be entirely trusted since he loves to play tricks and tell stories, stretching and twisting the truth to suit his own purposes.  Oh! And he deceived the Dragon--but I suppose that doesn't count since Smaug was, after all, a Dragon).  Who do I blame then for slandering Smaug's good name?  I blame the Dwarves.  I know they claim that Smaug killed their kin and took all their treasure, but look at it this way: they stole all his treasure.  They may argue that what they did was just since the wealth was theirs to begin with, but Smaug is dead and can't tell his side.  Perhaps their ancestor stole the fortune from Smaug in the first place.  The Dwarves are free to tell whatever lies they choose because Smaug is dead, murdered by a glory-seeking townsman. And what was the reaction to this slaughter?  Celebration!

     But kill a Unicorn and find out what happens.  Here are two quick examples.  The Harry Potter books say that, because Unicorns are so pure, anyone who murders them will live a "half-life" and a life that is cursed.  In the television series, Merlin, Prince Arthur kills a Unicorn while hunting and this action brings doom and destruction upon the whole of Camelot. To save his people, Arthur repents and undergoes tests to prove what is in his heart.  When, in the final test, he chooses to drink poison rather than allow his servant, Merlin, to drink it, he is finally judged pure of heart and Camelot is restored to health and well-being--as is the Unicorn who magically returns to life.  Which is fine.  I have nothing against Unicorns.  I just don't understand why people feel free to condemn Dragons as evil, greedy, treacherous, and so on, but refuse ever to say a bad word against the Unicorns.  I am sure that Unicorns are, on the whole, good, but they are not perfect.  I speak from experience.  I know a Unicorn--Cay--and she certainly is not perfect.  She is not bad, but she does have her faults.  Primarily, she is nosy, a bit pushy and a nuisance.  Maybe I'll write a blog post about her one day, just to put Unicorns in a more realistic light. In the meantime, keep this in mind: it's not that Unicorns are superior to Dragons; they just have a brilliant publicist!

Have you ever encountered a story of a bad Unicorn?

What do you think of Dragons?  Why?

Sonas!   [Happiness!]
   Siobhan

*Both Siobhan and Keena are characters in the forthcoming novel, Music of Dragons, by Christine Dorman
   

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Which Wizard?

     Merlin, Gandalf, Harry Potter--who's your favorite?  Do you have a favorite?  I like all three, but I will admit that I if I HAD to choose, there would be no hesitation.  My favorite wizard is Merlin.  (NOTE: I can feel the energy from those readers who are thinking, "Why isn't Dumbledore on this list?" And my answer is: I'm trying to keep this simple and the books / films were called Harry Potter, not Albus Dumbledore, otherwise I would put Hermione Granger on the list since I think she could beat Harry in any Wizards' duel anytime if she so chose).  Okay, back on track: Merlin, Gandalf and Harry Potter are three of the most famous, iconic wizards of all time. Questions such as: Who would win--Harry or Merlin  / Gandalf or Harry--have been asked before, but I what I want to know is: of the three, who is the greatest / best wizard ever and why? 

     Now that may sound like a simple question, but it really isn't.  Why?  Because none of these three is a simple, linear character (this is part of why they're so memorable).  I've heard the question, "Who would win: Merlin or Harry Potter?" Bradley James, of the BBC series, Merlin, answered that Merlin would, of course, beat Harry because Potter has to use a wand and Merlin just uses his hand.  Good point--IF Merlin is the wizard as portrayed in that series.  Or if the Merlin involved in the duel is the character from Mary Stewart's Crystal Cave (or the rest of her Merlin trilogy) since he wins more often by using his wits rather than his magic.  Then again, if he's just using his wits, could Merlin win against a wand-wielding Harry?  Of course, the wizard of Arthurian legend has been known (in other incarnations) to use a staff like Gandalf (or more accurately, Gandalf uses a staff like Merlin). There are in fact so many versions of Merlin in literature, film and television that answering "Who would win: Merlin or...?" or "Who is the best wizard ever--Merlin, Potter or Gandalf?" requires the clarification question,"Which Merlin do you mean?"

     All right then, I'll be specific and just focus on the character from the BBC series as he is brilliantly portrayed by Colin Morgan.  Now the question can be answered, right?  Not really.  Are you talking about Merlin in Season One?  Season Three?  Season Five?  He is on a journey and he grows, so he's not the same wizard.

     Similar complications arise with Harry.  The twelve-year-old wizard in The Sorcerer's Stone (or The Philosopher's Stone) is obviously nowhere near as skilled or experienced as the eighteen-year-old who defeats Voldemort in The Deathly Hallows.

     Even talking about Gandalf isn't simple.  Do we mean Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White?

     So having acknowledged these complications, I ask again: Who is your favorite wizard ever and why?

     Five years ago, I would have said, "Merlin from The Crystal Cave," but now, I'd say Colin Morgan's Merlin, Season Four / Season Five.  Yes, I didn't answer the why part.  That'd be a whole other blog.
And just to stir things up a bit: Hermione or Harry--who's really more powerful?  Morgana, Hermione, Morgause, Bellatrix...do you notice that only one of these magical women is portrayed as "good"?  Oh wait! That's another blog too. In the meantime, think about it.

Blessings!




Saturday, January 12, 2013

With Great Power Comes...

Siobhan in human clothes and her friend, Cay the Unicorn
     There is a saying, "With great power comes great responsibility."  It is a concept that I am trying to get my niece to understand. I have yet to succeed.

     Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I am Keena Mythweaver.  Christine asked me awhile back to write some guest blogs for her and I have carried on longer than she expected (although not as consistently as I should have, I must admit).  I am a Faerie, but not a Tinker Bell-type. Faeries come in many sizes and kinds.  I am human-sized and don't have wings.  These two attributes enable me to live among humans in a town called Baile Eile.  I am a healer who uses herbs (and some Faerie magic) to heal.  No one in the town knows I'm a Faerie.  They accept me as a practitioner of Alternative Medicine.

     My sister's child, Siobhan, is a teenage Faerie.  She is intelligent, courageous, resourceful and charming--when she puts her mind to it.  My niece is compassionate as well and she is a devoted daughter. Overall, she is a wonderful person and I am proud of her.  But she still has some growing to do. Particularly in the area of considering consequences before acting and in using her powers in responsible ways.  I will focus today only on one power: her ability to create thunderstorms at will. She has a habit of making storms when she gets bored and feels in need of a little entertainment. Her mother has tried to remind her that her "entertainment" might adversely affect others.  She still sneaks storms in when she believes she can get away with it.  What is more concerning to me is that, recently, she used her power vindictively. Siobhan became irritated with a boy who was flirting with her.  She used her power to destroy a piece of his property (fortunately he wasn't near it at the time).  Since she was staying with me at the time, it fell to me not only to reprimand her, but to try to get her to understand that this was an irresponsible and completely unacceptable use of magic.  As we discussed the incident, it became clear to me that Siobhan genuinely had had no intention of hurting anyone. She simply wasn't thinking things through.  She was venting her anger through the lightning.  But that is the heart of the problem.  Anyone who has the ability to create lightning at will, needs to be able to deal with anger in a healthy way.  With great power comes great responsibility.

     Oprah has asked, "If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?"  Someone interviewing the cast of the BBC series, Merlin, asked the cast, "If you could have one of Merlin's powers, which one would you want and why?"  So I ask you to consider a similar question:If you could have one magical ability, what would you chose and why?  Then consider: What would you do with that power?  In what ways could you benefit others with it?  Or do you want the power just for your own benefits? What drawbacks would there be to having that power?  What responsibility would you suddenly have to deal with as a result of having that power?

Have a great weekend.  Blessings!

Keena

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Life in the Dead of Winter

   Tomorrow will be New Year's Eve in human Western culture.  When I moved to Baile Eile from Cu Tailte as a young Faerie, I found it strange that humans, at least most of those in the Western hemisphere, celebrate the first day of the New Year during the winter.  This seemed entirely out of step with nature.  In Cu Tailte, the New Year is celebrated at the start of Spring.  This emphasizes the natural cycle of birth, death and rebirth.  Think about it. Spring is the time of new life. It is the time when most plants begin to grow and trees begin to flower.  Many animals are born in the Spring.  It is a season of new life, hope and promise.  Then that life comes to full blossom in the Summer and either is harvested or begins to fade or wither in the Autumn.  Winter is a dark, cold season when the trees are bare, food is scarce, and life seems to be buried  by the snow. Everything seems dead, but then in the Spring, color and abundance return to the earth. There is new life and new beginnings, a chance to start fresh.

     How strange, then, that humans celebrate the New Year in the dead of Winter.  Having spent some time now among humans, I've begun to realize that starting the new year in the middle of the season of dormancy is not so strange and is perhaps quite a good idea.  Winter can seem very long and sometimes it's hard to remember that Spring will come.  Celebrating the New Year, then, in the midst of Winter dreariness can be a call to hope and to the belief that, even in the midst of grayness and difficulty, the seeds of good things to come are being sown.  The song, "The Rose," points this out:

          "Just remember, in the winter,      
           Far beneath the bitter snows,
           Lies the seed that,             
           With the sun's love
           In the Spring becomes
           the rose."

     So, in the midst of Winter, as the New Year is about to begin, hope in the good things that will come to fruition this year.  Welcome the promise that comes with new life and rebirth.  Let go of discouragement and anything that keeps you in the darkness of winter.  You have the opportunity to come to new life, to start again.  What will you do with it?  What do you hope for?  What do you promise for yourself and for others?

I wish you a New Year of peace and joy.

Blessings!
Keena*

*If you are new to this blog and are wondering who Keena is (since Christine Dorman is listed as the person who does the posts) she is a guest blogger.  Please see the posts "The Faerie Who Lives Down the Block" and "Culture Shock" to learn more about her.  And in case you're wondering about the fact that I have a Faerie as a guest blogger...she is a character in my novel Music of Dragons. Which isn't to say that she isn't real :)



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Undependable Human Magic--Technology


Although I have marveled at human technology (cell phones, computers and even televisions) ever since I arrived in Baile Eile, I have to say magic is more dependable.  Once you know how to perform a magical task, you can depend on using it effectively whenever you need it.  The only time it won't work is if you are not focused.  Even if you are sick, you can still use your magic.  In fact, it's when I'm sick that I appreciate my magical abilities the most.  I can clean dirty dishes by just saying a few words over them.  Works every time.

Computers, on the other hand, are not so dependable, especially in regards to the Internet.  It works often enough that I have come to depend upon it.  It works often enough that I am frustrated when it doesn't.  There are a variety of ways in which the Internet will suddenly become a road block rather than a path to information and / or communication.  "Can't connect to the website."  "Oops! The address no longer works." "The server has failed."  Then there are the times when the wind changes and there is no signal, no Internet access. Even when the Internet is available, there can be other problems. I've spent time carefully composing an email and have sent it off in the belief that I have communicated only to get a message the next day saying that the mail was undelieverable.  At times, picking up the phone is quicker--unless it's a cell phone and there is no signal.  Or the number, which I've successfully dialed before, comes up as a call restriction.

I use the computer for more than just the Internet and email.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this.  At this point, I have patient records in it, files containing my own personal information and a couple different calendars.  Also, I have written down many of the Cu Tailte myths and lists of important persons and events in Cu Tailte history. All of my music and many photographs and drawings are in my laptop.  Imagine my frustration, then, when the computer suddenly stopped working.  And I do mean suddenly.  I used it and two hours later it no longer worked.  I won't go into the details.  Suffice it to say, I was not only aggravated, but handicapped.  Abruptly I had no access to information and tools that I use on a daily basis.  Yes, there were alternatives. I could use the Internet through the computers at the library and use backup disks to view my patient files.  Even so, I felt the loss, most keenly in regards to my music.  Although much of the music on my computer was downloaded from CDs that I still have, I no longer have a CD player.  So I spent nearly three weeks without my music.  Music is vital to a Faerie.  Without regular exposure to music, our souls wither.  Not only did I quickly begin to lose energy, I became less patient and increasingly irritable.  A very bad condition for a healer to be in.



What I have learned from the experience is to have a backup.  Not just those disks or an external hard drive, but another way to save and access my music and important information.  I have discovered that I am more dependent on the computer than I had realized and so I am working on ways to return it to the status of  a tool rather than a vital necessity.

Oh!  I can hear some of you questioning why I didn't just use magic either to fix the computer or to make music for myself.  A gentle reminder: Faeries are not omnipotent.  Each Faerie has particular gifts.  It is possible to add to these by learning other magic from a generous mentor, but there is so much to learn that no Faerie will ever know every kind of magic.  I cannot create music magically, but since there is musical ability in my family, I have decided to learn how to play an instrument.  That way I can have music whenever I want or need it.  The instrument I've chosen to learn is the Irish whistle.  Fortunately I live alone.  No one should have to endure listening to me play at this stage.  The sound I am making is definitely not yet music!  Still, I trust that I will improve.  I found a wonderful tutor.  She gives lessons via the Internet--LOL!

Blessings!
Keena

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Adorably Deadly Capall Agamecht

     Happy Spring and welcome to my fantasy blog.  My name is Christine and I am writing a fantasy novel currently titled Music of Dragons.  For a while I had one of my characters, Keena Mythweaver, "writing" posts for this blog.  The post below is on a character in the book, the Capall Agamecht.  He is my invention, but is based on a couple of water horses from Celtic folklore.  Recently, he made his re-entry into my main character's life and I thought it might a good time to re-post his story.  I hope you enjoy it and enjoy getting to know a little about Keena.
The Capall Agamecht
       Many apologies for the blog silence over the past few weeks.  As I said previously, flu season hit in Baile Eile and my life got hectic with tending the sick.  Then I caught the flu myself.  After all these years of  treating ill humans, I would think that I should have built up an immunity to viruses such as the flu, but apparently I haven''t.  Not only that, but the flu wreaks even more havoc with a Faerie's body than it does a human's.  My body flirted with the idea of transforming the flu into pneumonia.  It nearly succeeded too, but fortunately, an extract of Willow bark, many doses of mint and chamomile tea, menthol vapor and a bit of rest turned the course of the infection.  It isn't entirely gone, but I am able to work again.

     I've started telling you a bit about my homeland of Cu Tailte, the five magical lands.  Today, I want to tell you about one of the creatures who lives in Ghost Sprite Grove: the Capall Agamecht.  He is beautiful to look at and has quite a charming personality.  The Capall Agamecht is a Water Horse.  Well, he falls into the category of Water Horses, magical horses that live in or near water.  He is a kin to the Irish Kelpie, the Irish Each Uisge and the Welsh Cffyl Dwr.  Those three actually are horses.  The Capall Agamecht, however, is a pony.  His pony size makes him particularly cute and harmless-looking.  Don't be fooled though.  He is far from harmless.  Indeed, he is both dangerous and malicious.  The Capall Agamecht is, by nature, black with a red mane.  His eyes burn with flame and he has two, large, feathery black wings.  If you saw him in his terrifying natural form, you would know instantly to avoid him.  Unfortunately, he has the ability to change his coloring.  Often, he appears as a purple pony with a silver or multicolored mane and large, innocent-looking violet eyes, looking something like those adorable stuffed Pegasus toys many human girls have had as childhood friends.
Want to go for a ride?
    Unlike human horses, the Capall Agamecht can talk and he will speak in honeyed tones pleasing words that you want to hear.  He is quite a charmer, as I mentioned above, and he will offer to give you a ride on his back.  Don't do it!  Once someone mounts his back, the Capall Agamecht flies high into the air then disappears, leaving his victim to fall to his or her death.  And that is his goal: to murder. Despite the toy Pegasus appearance he often adopts, he is, in the words of my sister, Keira, a cree du nathar--a serpent-hearted monster who kills for no reason other than the sport of it.

Want to reconsider?

     Blessings on your week.  I will leave you with one last thought, some advice that Cay the Unicorn once gave my niece, Siobhan: Beware of those who promise to give you all that your heart desires.

Keena Mythweaver, Faerie Healer

*Please note: Capall Agamecht, Cu Tailte, Baile Eile, Cree du Nathar, and Keena Mythweaver are copyright Christine Dorman and Christine Fallon

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quick Questions from Keena

     Hi!  I hope you are well.  There has been an outbreak of intestinal problems here in Baile Eile among the humans.  Of course, not all of the residents come to me.  Some go to traditional doctors and others treat themselves.  But I've been busy helping people through their distress.  It's hardest on the children.  They feel miserable and they get dehydrated so easily.

In the midst of the busyness, I have been thinking and here are some questions that I offer for you to reflect upon this week:

     We Faeries have gifts that are magical in nature, but all beings have gifts.  What are some of your gifts and how do you share them with others?

     What helps you get through times of distress?

     Who needs your help right now?  Is there anyone who needs you to reach out to him or her?

     How comfortable are you with asking for help when you need it?

I'd love to hear your answers, but the questions are primarily for you to mine for surprise treasures.

Blessings!

Keena