Quarterly Bestiary: Aos Si: The Complicated Neighbors

The word “fairy” can refer to many different types of mythical beings. Both the teeny winged fairies still popularly pictured and the wilder human-sized fae of YA and adult fantasy novels often reflect a patchwork of source material. Since it would take many posts to adequately cover all those sources, I’m going to focus on the aos sí of Ireland today. A fair amount of modern fairy lore hearkens back to these Good Neighbors, who, like most neighbors, were never really good or bad. They were simply their own people, with their own motivations and standards. Continue reading “Quarterly Bestiary: Aos Si: The Complicated Neighbors”

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”

Siuil a Run: A Song and a Manga Bridging Two Traditions

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!

Follow a thread of story and you never know where you’ll end up. About a year ago, I stumbled on an unusual manga about two characters who blur the black-and-white rules of their world. Siúil a Rún: The Girl from the Other Side is now one of my favorite graphic series, and volume 8 is scheduled for release today, St. Patrick’s Day! What’s Irish Gaelic doing in a manga title? Well, when I went searching for the answer to that question, it led me back to an Irish folk song. On the surface, they’re very different works, but both reflect on the divisions of human conflict versus the bonds that bring us together. This time, I’ll take the proper path, from “Siúil a Rún”, a song of love and war, to a manga that blends European and Japanese mythological influences. Continue reading “Siuil a Run: A Song and a Manga Bridging Two Traditions”