July 2021 Updates

Well, I’ve survived my brush with the 2021 heat dome so far. It certainly wasn’t fun. I’m never a big fan of hot temperatures, and I’m among the people who don’t have air conditioning in my house. Yet I’m well aware that what I experienced was only a brush. Many people are still suffering from the extreme temperatures, and summer is far from over. How are conditions at your current location? How are you coping with things? Continue reading “July 2021 Updates”

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”

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 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”

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”

Sunshine Blogger Award from Lotus Laura, Second

I received my 6th Sunshine Blogger Award nomination from Lotus Laura! It’s always fun to stop by Laura’s wonderful blog and see what she’s pondering and sharing. She recently started her Crystal Aura blog, which pairs with her YouTube and Etsy shop tarot readings. If you’re interested in her insights, stop by and take a look! On her main blog, you’ll also find posts on a variety of topics, including personal reflections, historical and philosophical pieces, and even her original fiction. Thanks, Laura! Continue reading “Sunshine Blogger Award from Lotus Laura, Second”

A Pair of Thin Places, Part 2: Kilauea

Volcanoes inspire both wonder and fear. Around them rock can flow like water and burn like fire, reshaping the landscape. It’s not surprising, then, that many have developed the layers of tales and rituals that mark a long-term thin place. In Part 1, we looked at Devils Tower/Bear Lodge, which is not a volcano but may be the crystallized heart of an attempted one. Now I’d like to turn to Kīlauea, a living volcano still bringing destruction and creation every time it erupts. Oh, and it’s also said to be the home of a goddess. Continue reading “A Pair of Thin Places, Part 2: Kilauea”

A Pair of Thin Places, Part 1: Devils Tower/Bear Lodge

There are many thin places around the world. Some are built by human hands and some are natural landmarks with human meaning attached to them. I’d like to cover two of these nature-made thin places in this two-parter, starting with Devils Tower/Bear Lodge. This immense rock formation appears to sprout out of the ground in Wyoming. Its appearance alone makes it stand out, but this rock is also wrapped in the layers of legend and tradition so characteristic of a long-established thin place.  Continue reading “A Pair of Thin Places, Part 1: Devils Tower/Bear Lodge”

Thor and Loki in Modern Media, Part 1: Brother Bonds

Chances are if you know any Norse gods by name, Thor and Loki are among them. Along with Odin, they are the stars of the Norse pantheon, appearing frequently in modern movies and novels. Sometimes they feature separately, but I find Thor and Loki most fascinating when they appear together. They’re such a study in opposites. Thor has some nuance but is mostly a predictable muscle god, while Loki is a slippery shapeshifter who defies morals as easily as labels. The popularity of this duo means they have been used in stories around the world. I’d like to look at four of those stories and how they compare to the original mythology. I want to discuss the interpretations of Thor and Loki in a bit more detail, so I’ll break things up into two parts, starting with stories that show the pair as brothers. Continue reading “Thor and Loki in Modern Media, Part 1: Brother Bonds”

Questioning Fossils: Problems with Cryptid Dinosaurs in Africa

African cryptid dinosaurs. This simple phrase packs a host of problems. Several mythical creatures from various Sub-Saharan African cultures have been described as “dinosaurs” and later sighted as cryptids. This by itself is not unusual. I’ve mentioned several mythical creatures that became cryptids in the modern era. However, these specific “dinosaurs” are tied to outdated and even harmful ideas about the African continent and the people who live there. Worse, they are popular enough that the cryptid image tends to obscure the original mythical version. It’s time we take a good hard look at why people are still looking for dinosaurs in Africa. Continue reading “Questioning Fossils: Problems with Cryptid Dinosaurs in Africa”