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!

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