Red Thread Reblog: Who Mourns the Sirens? — Myth Crafts

Welcome to Red Thread Reblog, a feature that pairs a post about media inspired by mythology with a post about the mythology shown in the media.

A Song Below Water reinterprets the “traditional” siren mythology to reflect the struggles of Black women today, but it turns out that traditional narrative was more complicated as well. The Mythcrafts team, Shiva and Emma, routinely take on topics ranging from (and sometimes blending) mythology, folklore, modern media, science, and spirituality. Sometimes they dive deep and sometimes their posts have a lighter narrative feel. Whichever suits your mood, Mythcrafts is always a good place to stop by if you’re looking for well-researched commentary with a refreshing layer of wit. Their insightful investigation into the evolution of siren mythos reveals how these beings began as bird-like nymphs whose song was simply sad rather than meant to lead men to their deaths. Reading this post was such a revelation, and it makes a perfect companion to A Song Below Water, showing how the image of sirens has come full circle, or perhaps even spiraled to a new level.

Sirens are often mistakenly thought of as a monstrous counterpart to the mermaid; evil temptresses lurking in the sea foam waiting to lure innocent sailors to their death with their songs. This was not so in the classical tradition; Sirens were in fact half-avian and it was their hybrid bird nature that was responsible for […]

Who Mourns the Sirens? — Myth Crafts

Red Thread Reblog: A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow — Emerald City Bookworm

Welcome to Red Thread Reblog, a feature that pairs a post about media inspired by mythology with a post about the mythology shown in the media.

I’ve mentioned A Song Below Water before, but I’ll bring it up again because I really believe this is an important book. Set in a slightly alternate Portland, Oregon, Bethany C. Morrow’s story follows two sisters, Tavia and Effie. Effie is still discovering the magic in her heritage, but Tavia knows from the beginning she is a siren, one of two acknowledged magical human minorities in this world. Unlike the popular elokos who appear across races, sirens are always Black women. And their powers are feared, so Tavia has long hidden her identity. The social justice element is key in this book, something Cristi Smith-Jones tackles with grace in her review on Emerald City Bookworm. I highly recommend Cristi’s site and her reviews, which are detailed and thoughtful, often celebrating OwnVoices works in a variety of genres. She highlights the beauty in A Song Below Water as well as its call for change, and it was through her blog that I first learned of the newly released sequel, A Chorus Rises!

Bethany C. Morrow’s 2020 YA novel A Song Below Water is a timely and necessary story that takes places fantasy elements in a contemporary setting in a refreshing way. It’s an incredible tale about social justice, self-discovery, sisterhood, and the power in finding one’s voice.  I bought the Kindle edition of A Song Below Water […]

A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow —

Shadows of Legend: Sifting Bones of Myth from the Grishaverse, Part 1

Considering the popularity of Netflix’s new Shadow and Bone series, I thought it might be interesting to talk about the Grishaverse. For those not familiar with the term, the Grishaverse is a fantasy world where some people—Grisha—are born with the ability to manipulate parts of the physical world, including air, iron, shadows, and light. Leigh Bardugo’s world includes several nations, but the stories mostly center around Ravka, inspired by historical and mythical Russia. Today, I’d like to examine the mythical side of things, the tales that might have shaped the Grishaverse. Some topics will touch on some pretty big spoilers, but I’ll make sure to keep those at the end under a “Spoiler Zone” label for those who wish to avoid them. Continue reading “Shadows of Legend: Sifting Bones of Myth from the Grishaverse, Part 1”

Liebster Award from Nicole

I received a Liebster Award nomination from Nicole! If you’re not familiar with her site, Nicole’s Book Thoughts, head on over and check it out! Nicole reviews a nice variety of books, managing to give key details for those wondering if a book is right for them while still avoiding or clearly marking any major spoilers. You’ll also find fun posts with tags, lists, and general updates about life and reading. I am endlessly impressed with the way she took a school project blog and turned it into this wonderful, personable site. Thank you, Nicole! Continue reading “Liebster Award from Nicole”

Steady Light, Many Names: Five Faces of Venus

After several months as the Morning Star, Venus has returned to the twilight side. It’s still low in the Northern Hemisphere sky, but you might be able to catch a glimpse near sunset. Back when I kept a star journal, this bright light was one of the first I learned to identify and track. It has received many faces and stories throughout the world, with sometimes quite different personalities. To celebrate the return of the Evening Star, I’d like to share a selection of these faces with you. Though I only have room to go into five in detail, I’ll include some of their close relatives or neighbors as well as a few media appearances. Continue reading “Steady Light, Many Names: Five Faces of Venus”

Quarterly Bestiary: Trolls: From Hostile Magic to Lovable Goofs

Let’s talk about trolls. No, not the online hater type; it’s the original ones from mythology I want to cover today. You probably have your own go-to image of a troll, whether it’s big or small, deadly or cuddly. Yet the name has been applied to a surprising range of creatures, mostly from Scandinavian mythology. Most of the traditional trolls are antagonistic to humans, but beyond that, what makes a troll? Where do these trolls come from, and how did they go from menacing gods and cave explorers to prancing about in children’s movies? Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Quarterly Bestiary: Trolls: From Hostile Magic to Lovable Goofs”

Hey, Tolkien, Where’d You Get Those Elves? Part 2: Build an Elf

The road goes ever on…especially when you dig into the origin of Tolkien’s Elves! At this point, I’ve pretty much concluded that there is no single model for the Elves of Middle-earth, but rather that Tolkien incorporated bits and pieces from a variety of influences. And some elements, of course, were original inventions. In Part 1, I went over a few possible inspirations from pre-Tolkien fantasy literature and cultural connections based on his languages. This time I’d like to get more into the true mythological sources. So let’s dive in and see what pieces Tolkien used to craft his Elves! Continue reading “Hey, Tolkien, Where’d You Get Those Elves? Part 2: Build an Elf”

Hey, Tolkien, Where’d You Get Those Elves? Part 1: Stars and Swans

J. R.R. Tolkien’s tales of Middle-earth have had a profound impact on the fantasy genre, especially his Elves. Rather than the tiny, mischievous sprites found in cookie commercials and some children’s media, his Elves are near human-sized. Immortal and possessing an ethereal beauty, they are generally shown as wiser, more sensitive, and more in-tune with nature than humans. Similar elves have become a common staple in fantasy works. But where did Tolkien get his Elves? Tracing the possibilities turns out to be quite the journey, so I’ll split this into two parts and start with literary and linguistic leads before covering the more mythological ones. Continue reading “Hey, Tolkien, Where’d You Get Those Elves? Part 1: Stars and Swans”

March 2021 Updates

Spring is here! I hope all of you are getting a chance to enjoy some sign of new life and returning light. I’ll admit my hay-fever gives me mixed feelings about spring flowers, but so far things haven’t been so bad. I even got to enjoy some lovely spring rain, which tends to put me in the writing mood. How about you? How is spring treating you so far?

Continue reading “March 2021 Updates”

Of Cu Chulain and Cowboys: Reflections on an Irish Epic and Westerns

It’s the week of St. Patrick’s Day, which means it’s time for an Irish-themed post! I’m part Irish and feel a strong connection to that heritage. So every March, I’ll be covering a topic related to Irish mythology, history, or media—or even all three. Erin go bragh!

What would you do for a cow? Probably not much, and you probably send hundreds of people die in a battle over one. Yet that is the subject of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, also translated as The Cattle Raid of Cooley. I had been planning to read the Táin for a while knowing only that it was one of the most important epics in Irish cultural history. When I actually sat down with it, I was startled, partly because it was about stealing a bull and partly because certainly elements reminded me of the cowboys and ranchers of the Western genre. Now, I’m not saying one is directly related to the other. However, they do work remarkably well as mirrors, helping us to look deeper at the themes they share and those they don’t. Continue reading “Of Cu Chulain and Cowboys: Reflections on an Irish Epic and Westerns”