Saturday, May 28, 2011

Beings of Faerie: Royalty

Royalty: people of royal blood and monarchial lineage

Charles VII of France {Public Domain}

Royalty & Faith:

Where do royalty fit into the grand and glorious realm of Faerie? Well, fantasy as a genre usually leans towards the medieval, when monarchs reigned supreme over the people. Often, these monarchs claimed authority and power directly from God and acted as His law enforcement throughout their kingdoms.

Monarchs could be actual authorities, or they might be ceremonial figures whose main point was to impress the people and encourage them or direct them when called upon by the real authority {for example, a military hero or regent}.

The Bible says many things about kings and monarchy. Here are a few pertinent quotes:

Deuteronomy 17:14-15a, "[Laws Concerning Israel's Kings] When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,' you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose."

Deuteronomy 17:18-20, "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel."

1 Samuel 8:11-18, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons...and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties.... He will take your daughters.... He will take the tenth of your grain.... He will take your male servants and female servants.... He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

1 Samuel 12:13, "And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you."

Psalm 10:16a, "The LORD is king forever and ever."

Psalm 22:28, "For kingship belongs to the LORD, and He rules over all the nations."

Very interesting passages, aye? If you're writing royalty, then it would definitely be worth your while to do a more thorough search on "kings" in the Bible. And even if you decide not to incorporate what you learn, or decide to modify a Biblical kingship - for, after all, God gave us the gift of imagination - then hopefully you will have been enriched anyway by this research!

Casper David Friedrich {Public Domain}
Writing Royalty:

I won't embarrass you by trying to explain how one writes royalty. I'm sure you're well aware that most royals are mere humans like ourselves, merely graced by God with higher authority and power. So there you go.

Just one note, though, before you leave - royalty should not be add-ons to your story. If the framework of government in your realm incorporates royalty, then by all means go ahead! However, if you've already got a functioning government that "works," keep it. You can always rewrite later to include them!

Queen Victoria {Public Domain}

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beings of Faerie: Horse-Creatures

Horse: A solid-hoofed plant-eating domesticated mammal with a flowing mane and tail, used for riding, racing, and to carry and pull loads

Centaur: A creature with the head, arms, and torso of a human and the body and legs of a horse

Pegasus {winged horse}: a horse with wings, originally from Greek legend

Unicorn: A mythical creature resembling a horse, with a single horn in the center of its forehead; often symbolic of chastity or purity

Public Domain
Horse-Creatures & Faith:

There's a lot of ground to cover, isn't there? Let's take a quick look at each creature from the standpoint of faith.

Horses, the most "earthly" of these creatures, pose no problems with a Biblical worldview. They were created by God on day 6 of creation, along with the rest of land-dwelling creatures. They're animals, and thus "lower" than human beings and incapable of spiritual intelligence.

Centaurs are slightly more troublesome. Throughout Greek mythology, they were a nasty race prone to wildness and barbaric manners. Irredeemable? Just ask C.S. Lewis, who incorporated them in The Chronicles of Narnia. According to Wikipedia, "Lewis depicted centaurs as the wisest and noblest of creatures. They are gifted at stargazing, prophecy, healing, and warfare, a fierce and valiant race always faithful to the High King Aslan the Lion. Lewis generally uses the species to inspire awe in his readers." Clearly reconcilable.

Next we have Pegasus and Pegasi, or winged horses in general. Like centaurs, Pegasi originate in Greek myth {Pegasus sprang from the blood of Medusa}. However, winged horses aren't inherently "tainted" by this pagan origin; rather, it leaves more room for deciding on an alternate imaginative beginning. It's quite similar to what Lewis did with centaurs.

Last, but certainly not least, is the unicorn. Here's a fascinating bit of trivia about unicorns: did you know the King James Bible mentions unicorns? In later translations, "unicorn" was changed to "wild ox," but here's an original verse: Numbers 23:22 says, "God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of a unicorn." Amazing! Also, the unicorn is usually held to be symbolic of purity and grace. This really is a lovely creature to capture in your writing!

{Public Domain}

{Public Domain}

Domenico Zampeiri {Public Domain}

On Writing Horse-Creatures:

Horse-creatures are infinitely useful to any author, whether as a mode of transport or as their own race of beings. Here are some general considerations for each species.

A. Horses
~ Uses: transportation, warfare, or racing and entertainment?

~ Sentience: Can horses communicate {as with Chronicles of Narnia}, or are they more like simple pets?

~ Similarities and differences from earth-horses: Make your horses recognizable, yet show that they're special creatures in a fantasy realm. For example, write all horses with gold eyes!

B. Centaurs
~ Origin: Be creative in crafting a unique origin for these special two-race creatures!

~ Culture: What activities do centaurs excel in? Are they artistic or technological, warrior or scribe?

~ Quirks: {Always the most fun part of creating creatures} Do they carry four swords, as with the Narnia movies? Perhaps they can't run far without a sip of electric-blue nectar?

~ Interaction with other races: Aloof and distant? Or perhaps engaged in a relationship with only a single human? Friendly? Silly?

C. Pegasi
~ Origin: As with centaurs, craft your own! For example, in Robin McKinley's Pegasus, the pegasi were the original inhabitants of the land before humans came.

~ Culture: Again, like centaurs, what is their cultural legacy? Are they composers of songs and legends of pegasi heroes? Incredible weavers, as with McKinley's book? This would also include their structure of government, and any particular rituals or customs they have.

~ Quirks: A funny way of wheezing when they talk? Chattering teeth when they're hot? Can't fly in daylight? It's up to you!

~ Interaction with other races: In McKinley's Pegasus, the pegasi were a distant race who couldn't communicate with humans, yet were "bonded" to members of the royal family. They communicated via sign language and "interpreters." What is the best mode of interaction for your realm?

D. Unicorns
~ Origin: You're in luck - the origin of unicorns can be anything! No prior attachments to sever. Just be sure to incorporate them smoothly into the tapestry of your world!

~ Intelligence: More intelligent than humans, or less?

~ Role in society: Are they wild animals, or organized into a governmental structure? Are they closely knit as a group, or tied to particular groups of humans, or something else entirely?

~ Quirks: Do they grant wishes with a hair plucked from their tail? Can only the pure in heart ride them?

And there you have it - your personal guide to exploring the creation of horse-creatures. Enjoy writing!

{Public Domain}

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beings of Faerie: Elves

Elf: in legend, a race of semi-divine beings endowed with power used for or against humankind {also termed High Elf; for the fairy-like creature, see this post}


Elves & Faith:

What does the Bible have to say on the topic of elvenkind? In short, nothing. However, Christians can still learn about and create elves from the perspective of a Biblical worldview.

Let's begin with the origin of High Elves. Germanic and Norse mythology both include elf-like creatures, usually lordly beings in possession of magical powers. Because of their great beauty and power, High Elves were often viewed as semi-divine. Norse legends divided elvenkind into light elves and dark elves.

Centuries later, J.R.R. Tokien, considered the father of fantasy, crafted elves of this type that occupied a large portion his world of Middle-Earth. Tolkien's elves originated through a special act of creation by Iluvatar, the Creator, and were known as the Firstborn. While similar to the elves of Norse legend, they also possessed vast histories and languages of Tolkien's invention. To this day, Tolkien is held as the unparalleled master of elvish creation.

Here is Tolkien's description of the coming of the Elves to Middle-earth, from The Silmarillion. "In that hour the Children of the Earth awoke, the Firstborn of Iluvatar. By the starlit mere of Cuivienen, Water of Awakening, they rose from the sleep of Iluvatar; and while they dwelt yet silent by Cuivienen their eyes beheld first of all things the stars of heaven. Therefore they have ever loved the starlight."

As Tolkien so masterfully demonstrates, when elves are created with care and artistic craft, they can be God-glorifying and a light in the darkness of this world. So, with care and gentleness, create!

Ted Nasmith, At Lake Cuivienen

Writing Elves:

Now we've established grounds for creating elves within a Biblical framework, how should we go about the intimidating process of actually creating elvenkind? Here are some beginning thoughts to give you a framework to build your creation upon.

1. Origin ~ as discussed above, elves have no one proper origin. So it's up to you, as writer, to create a beginning suitable for their majesty, an origin that will explain their power and beauty. {Be warned, though, that it'll be a tough battle to surpass Tolkien here.}

2. Characteristics ~ here is where the creation of elves really branches out. What are your elves "known for"? How do they differ from other beings in the same realm, and from other elves in other realms? {Included in this might be their technological development, style of clothing, crafts, and so forth.}

3. Powers ~ you will need to carefully define - and limit - the extent of the elves' glory and power.

4. Morality ~ yes, yes, elves are usually viewed as good and noble; "worthy souls," so to speak. But let's get creative here! Unless they're a perfect race - which is definitely a possibility - elves will have some faults. Or perhaps you will create entirely good as well as entirely bad elves. Whatever you decide, keep it consistent and keep it believable, within the framework of your world.

5. Language, history, culture ~ see J.R.R. Tolkien {especially use The Silmarillion as a guide}. However, even though Tolkien created elves brilliantly, don't be shackled to his interpretation. Add your own insights!

With elves, there is much to build upon, yet room still for creativity and imagination. Once again, feel free to use your own unique perspective to add freshness to your particular flavor of elves.

Nils Blommer, Angsalvor

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beings of Faerie: Fairies

Fairy: a supernatural being, generally conceived as having a diminutive human form and possessing magical powers, often with wings

Fairy Princess {Karen's Whimsy}

Fairies & Faith:

Fairies are not mentioned in the Bible, nor are they thought to be historically true. So, what is their mythological origin, and would it compromise a Biblical message?

Fairies are generally perceived as an intelligent species separate from humans. They are close to nature, so are sometimes viewed as "elemental" -- that is, beings made from nature.

An unusual but thought-provoking {while unbiblical} alternative is that fairies are in between angels and demons. That is, when God cast Satan out of heaven, some angels were also cast out that were not good enough for heaven and not bad enough for hell. While this could be an interesting story idea, it would definitely need to be reconciled with the Biblical account.

Individual authors also have their own takes on fairies. J.M. Barrie {Peter Pan} wrote, "When the first baby laughed for the first time, his laugh broke into a million pieces, and they all went skipping about. That was the beginning of fairies."

Clearly, there's no one "right answer" when writing about fairies. So, be encouraged: your creativity has the final say!

Fairy {Karen's Whimsy}

On Writing Fairies:

Here are some things to consider when crafting fairies in your story world.

1. Morality & Intelligence ~ Are they wise or foolish? Good or evil?

2. Size ~ Small, of course, but how small? Walnut-sized? Pencil-sized?

3. Wings ~ There are all different shapes, colors, and sizes to choose from. You can have different races of fairies with different types of wings, or different colors for different characters, or whatever you like!

4. Origins ~ As mentioned above, fairies don't have a clear "beginning" - so you get to make it up! How did fairies emerge?

5. Quirks ~ Blue-skinned? Tinkle like bells? Spread glittery dust everywhere? Have pet frogs? Imagine and create!

6. Relationship to other Beings ~ Do they live in their own "world," removed from contact with all other forms of intelligent life? Or do they love to wreak havoc in human lives?

Again, there's lots more to explore, so get busy and start writing!

Fairy Princess {Karen's Whimsy}

Beings of Faerie: Dragons

Dragon: a mythical animal usually represented as an enormous winged and scaly serpent or saurian with a crested head and large claws and teeth, often breathing fire

Ciruelo Cabral: Attack
Dragons & Faith

Do dragons exist? What does the Bible say about them? Are dragons evil? Should Christians write - or even read - about these monstrous beasts?

Well, according to the Bible {as well as current scientific theory}, dragon-like creatures actually walked the earth in history. The Bible contains several passages that describe dragons, either metaphorically or literally {see Numbers 21, Deuteronomy 8:15, Isaiah 27:1, Isaiah 30:6, Revelation 12}. In many of these passages, the dragon does represent Satan or some evil force. However, at other times this "flaming serpent" is simply a creature God created, giving God glory through its unique nature.

The most striking passage of the latter kind is Job 41. Read and be amazed.

Lay your hands on him [the leviathan, also called a "water dragon"];
   remember the battle—you will not do it again!

Behold, the hope of a man is false;
   he is laid low even at the sight of him.

No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up.
   Who then is he who can stand before me?

Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.

 I will not keep silence concerning his limbs,
   or his mighty strength, or his goodly frame.

Who can strip off his outer garment?
   Who would come near him with a bridle?

Who can open the doors of his face?
   Around his teeth is terror.

His back is made of rows of shields,
   shut up closely as with a seal.
One is so near to another
   that no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another;
   they clasp each other and cannot be separated.

His sneezings flash forth light,
   and his eyes are like
 the eyelids of the dawn.   
Out of his mouth go flaming torches;
   sparks of fire leap forth.
Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke,
   as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
   and a flame comes forth from his mouth.

In his neck abides strength,
   and terror dances before him.

The folds of his flesh stick together,
   firmly cast on him and immovable.
His heart is hard as a stone,
   hard as the lower millstone.

When he raises himself up the mighty are afraid;
   at the crashing they are beside themselves.

Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail,
   nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin.

He counts iron as straw,
   and bronze as rotten wood.

The arrow cannot make him flee;
   for him sling stones are turned to stubble.

Clubs are counted as stubble;
   he laughs at the rattle of javelins.

His underparts are like sharp potsherds;
   he spreads himself like
 a threshing sledge on the mire.
He makes the deep boil like a pot;
   he makes the sea like a pot of ointment.

Behind him he leaves a shining wake;
   one would think the deep to be white-haired.

On earth there is not his like,
   a creature without fear.

He sees everything that is high;
   he is king over all the
 sons of pride.

Ciruelo Cabral: The White Guardian
On Writing Dragons

When writing dragons, there are many different aspects to consider. Among the most basic questions to ask yourself are the following:

1. Morality: good or evil, either good and evil, or amoral?

2. Intelligence: More intelligent than humans, or less?

3. Color: all white, mixed colors, all black, single colors, rainbow colors? {Be creative here!}

4. Size: small and cute, or large and fearsome? Large as a school bus? Small as a loaf of bread? Large as a football stadium?

5. Temperament: easily offended? friendly? ferocious?

6. Quirks: five horns on its head? A fondness for handkerchiefs? {Again, creativity is essential! Be different!}

7. Relationship to humans {or the beings that populate your  world}: rare and aloof? friendly pets? dragons with dragon riders? police force? Or can it even communicate with other creatures?

There's a whole lot more, but that is for *you* to discover! Keep dreaming and creating!

Ciruelo Cabral: Flying Dark Dragon