Monday, March 24, 2014

Mythical Monday (42)


It seems there are many books based on or influenced by Myths and Mythological Beings.

There are so many different Mythology and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in.  The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.


This week we have:
Fantasy author 
P.G. Holyfield
Talking Incarnation of the gods.



When Melissa asked me to write about mythology that has has influenced my writing, I had first thought to write about Hindu myths, and specifically about The Mahabharata, since it has influenced much of my setting’s cosmology, but I then saw that Joseph Robert Lewis had already written an article on that grand poem. So I decided to focus on The Trickster, as I have my own Trickster in The Land of Caern that goes by the name of Doppin. But then I read Alma Alexandra’s post on The Coyote, and I didn’t want to directly cover very similar material.

So I decided to come at this from a slightly different direction.

One of the great things about fantasy novels is that myths become real. But it’s more than that. It’s easy to look at urban fantasy with its werewolves and vampires and assorted casts of characters and enjoy it on the level of ‘look at those things not real in the real world.’ But that’s just looking at it through our modern lens. While the term “myth” today is usually seen in the pejorative, as a misconception, or even as a lie (“Who, Santa? Oh, he’s just a myth.” Side note: Don’t worry, I know he’s real), myth hasn’t always had that negative connotation.

Myth is the story of the sacred.

The reason I fell in love with mythology, and especially Hindu mythology, was that it was real. Not in the sense that everyone truly believed all the fantastical allegories, stories, legends, and narratives that make up the Hindu mythos (though I’m sure many have and do). What I’m talking about is how these narratives are ingrained in people’s lives.

When I first learned about mythology as a kid, mainly Greek and Roman, like most kids, I appreciated them as stories that explained the unexplainable. How did we come to be? How does lightning exist? Why are there seasons? But when I studied comparative religion in college, and learned more about Hindu mythology, a new world opened up to me. With Hindu tradition, oral and written stories from over thousands of years, it became obvious that these narratives were more of an explanation of why we are here, and how we as humans are a vital component of the spiritual nature of the universe.

And the most important aspect of this that I hope is carried over into my writing: that the spiritual aspects of life, including the very presence of the gods, exists in the reality of human history, down to the day to day events of both kings and men.

There are countless stories of Hindu gods living as men, both in the open and hidden from view. There are stories of gods that don’t even realize they are gods until something happens that shows them their true nature. There are stories of the fantastical, where gods take the forms of animals, giants, or dwarfs, and stories where the gods fight alongside humans against demons, and stories of the mundane where gods take the form of a homeless man sitting under a tree.

The idea of reincarnation and avatars (not the science fiction movie, but the appearance, or more importantly, the deliberate descent of a deity to Earth) became a foundation of my setting’s cosmology. Also, in Hinduism, as in many other systems, there is balance in our universe tied to three specific (or spread over many) entities: The Creator, the Protector, and the Destroyer. As with the idea of personal or deific reincarnation, there is the idea of the universe being cyclic in nature, and these three entities ensure that the universe is created, exists, and is destroyed (don’t worry… renewed would be the better term here). I included these ideas in my setting as well.

Where the Land of Caern diverges from these core ideas is around knowledge, or more specifically, knowing. In my universe, the Creator, known as Az, has a moment of… weakness?
The one god, Az, thought upon his existence and this thought created the universe.  
He breathed, and this breath created Caern.  
He spoke, and these words created all life on Caern.  
He looked over his creation, and this glance created the river of magic that flows throughout Caern.  
And He so loved Caern that he cried; from these tears his Children were born. 
These Children represent different aspects of Az: creation, protection, destruction, nature, magic, love, etc. During Caern’s early history, The Children could enter Caern on a whim, powerful immortal beings who could wield powerful magics and easily bend the will of both man and beast. Sometimes they would appear to influence history. Other times they would enter the world to settle a bet or an argument between one another, or to punish a king or a nation… or simply because one or more were bored and wanted to play with their Father’s favorite world…

Eventually, these appearances caused permanent and irreversible changes to the world. Progeny of the Children would inherit powers from their mother or father, which is how magic entered the world. The Children could take on the form of any being or beast, which is how monsters such as werewolves and vampires began to be seen. And battles between these Children began to tear holes in the fabric between Caern and other worlds, which is how demons and other creatures began to enter the world.

In order to prevent the destruction of Caern, Az placed constraints on his Children. From that point forward, if a Child of Az wanted to enter Caern, he or she had to be born as a mortal, with no knowledge of their true nature. An avatar of one of the Children could live a full life and die without ever realizing who he or she is. Or at some point, if warranted, an avatar would receive an epiphany and learn who they were, and receive some amount of their power… but they would remain very, very mortal.

Throughout history, different peoples and races have countless stories of incarnations of the Children. Religions and nations have risen and fallen around these incarnations (or the misguided belief in someone claiming to be one of the Children). There are religious sects dedicated to finding these avatars and either controlling them or destroying them before they discover their true nature.

Doppin, the Child of Trickery, is the only Child that has found a way around some of the Constraints. He (or she, depending on his/her mood) has knowledge of his true nature from the moment of birth. One of Doppin’s greatest joys is to attach himself to an incarnation of one of these “unknowing’ avatars, and when it is certain to cause the most chaos, trigger the epiphany of that Child of Az. And because of his appetites, his zest for life, and his desire to control his own destiny, Doppin is more human than any immortal, and as such is more of a cultural hero than any of the other Children.

In my first novel, I introduced the world and focused on some of the repercussions of these incarnations of the gods. In the sequel I’m working on now, I focus on the avatars of one or more of the Children, and how events and characters from a particular event in history are causing events to play out in the present. In 2009, several authors (at least one of whom has written articles here) wrote short stories about incarnations of the Children I released as an audio anthology called Tales of the Children.

And as I stated early on, what is most important to me and my writing is the idea that gods and men, the immortal and the mortal, the spiritual and the mundane, aren’t separated. Myths are the narrative of the sacred, and in my world, every story is a part of that narrative. It’s not a question of do you believe in god? It’s how many gods have touched my life?

And the old man sitting over there underneath the tree? Is it just a man, trying to make his way? Or is it Doppin… or another Child that may not have unlocked their true nature?

And you? If you lived in a world where there is a chance that you are the incarnation of a god… would it affect how you live your life?


Author Bio:
P.G. Holyfield grew up in the grand state of Virginia. While attending the University of Virginia, P.G. majored in Religious Studies, focusing on the belief systems and myths of the Eastern world. His love for mythology led to the creation of his fantasy setting called The Land of Caern.

A gamer for most of his life, P.G. has spent almost twenty years creating content for The Land of Caern. After finishing the first draft of Murder at Avedon Hill, P.G. produced the audio version of the novel as a podcast. Two years later, with over half a million audio episodes downloaded, Murder at Avedon Hill was brought to print by Dragon Moon Press.

Murder at Avedon Hill won the John W. Polidori Award for Best Vampire Novel of 2010.

Murder at Avedon Hill was a finalist for Best Fantasy Novel at the 2010 Foreword Book of the Year Awards.

P.G. continues to produce audio and video content, hosting three podcasts for his website, specficmedia.com: the award nominated "Beyond the Wall" GoT podcast, "SpecFicMedia.com Presents: Consumption," and a new show called "SpecFicMedia.com Presents: Tintin Forever."

Sadly, P.G. lost his way and now resides in the one state he never anticipated falling in love with... North Carolina.

You can find out more about The Land of Caern and P.G. Holyfield at http://pgholyfield.com

Author Links:
Site:  The World of PG Holyfield
Twitter:  @PGHolyfield

Read the first 6 Chapters of Murder at Avedon Hill (the first novel in Land of Caern) for free.

Books:
Amazon:


Barnes & Nobles

Or Listen for free:
Murder at Avedon Hill:  iTunes  /  Podiobooks
Tales of the Children:  iTunes  (in the Master feed of Murder at Avedon Hill)

10 comments:

  1. Great guest post I love learning about new to me myths and legends and I have always been fascinated by them.
    I think this will go on my tbr pile
    thanks

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    1. Thank you for visiting Debbie Haupt. PG is an amazing story teller and the story had my attention from the get go. Hope you get to check it out.

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  2. I spent a year studying comparative religion, loved it

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    1. Blodeuedd, that is fascinating! I wish I could have studied it...if I had thought of it when in school.*sigh* :)

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  3. I like looking at different religions through the lens of mythology. I also like where his brain took him in thinking about a theme for his book. Oh what would you do if you were an incarnation of a god?

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    1. Melissa (B&T) I'm with you. I think it's always neat to look into and see what if's with religions. :) Thank you.

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  4. Lol, I ended up earning my minor in anthropology because I took so many classes including quite a few on comparative religion. Good luck with your stories and thank you for raising very interesting questions :)

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    1. Rashda Khan. lol. That's wonderful! Really was interesting to keep going back. Cool! Thank you for visiting. :)

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  5. It's true, it's always interesting to see all the different mythologies like that. thanks for the post!

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