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”

The Name of the Weretiger: A Quarterly Bestiary Supplement

Last week I posted a longer article on weretigers in myth and modern media. One of the headaches I discovered with these shapeshifters is that names for different types of weretigers can get very confusing. Several cultures may have vastly different names for creatures with similar descriptions. Other times I could find no names or I found the same name used for beasts that seem very different. To simplify things, I created my own broad categories.

Now, I’d like to share the list of real names I discovered. Continue reading “The Name of the Weretiger: A Quarterly Bestiary Supplement”

Weretigers: More Than the Werewolf’s Cooler Cousin

Weretigers. They sound like something modern media would make up just to add to the pantheon of were-creatures. And from the looks of RPGs and paranormal romance novels, that’s exactly what happened. But did you know there’s also a rich mythological heritage behind the weretiger? In fact, weretiger traditions exist in cultures across Asia. Today, I’d like to give you a quick tour of those myths. Continue reading “Weretigers: More Than the Werewolf’s Cooler Cousin”