Irish Mythology.

I wanted to look into myths/legends, and folklores, there is lots of different stories and tales across the world taught throughout the generations. As i want to work within the idea of creating a creature based upon a folklore, i thought i needed to research into a few of the mythologies and come up with a concept for my idea. Many go these folklore don’t have a pacific image to the tale, people guess and talk about what they think they look like, or sounds like but no one has a actually image. This leaves me a lot of room to play with my character and come up with a design. Before i start looking at different types of mythology i need to research the difference between, a myth, a legend and a folklore, although they are all similar ideas, there is pacific differences that could effect my outcome. Story telling is very common in a every culture, its stories that are pasted down over the years. Many people have their own favourite story from childhood and, often, these tales are both fascinating and frightening and carried on throughout generations. These stories include legends, myths and folktales.

A Legend is a semi-true story, which has been passed on from person to person and has important meaning or symbolism for the culture in which it originates. A legend usually includes an element of truth, or is based on historic facts, but with mythical qualities. Legends usually involve heroic characters or fantastic places and often incorporates the spiritual beliefs of the culture in which they originate.

A myth is a story based on tradition or legend, which has a deep symbolic meaning. A myth ‘conveys a truth’ to those who tell it and hear it, rather than necessarily recording a true event. Although some myths can be accounts of actual events, they have become transformed by symbolic meaning or shifted in time or place. Myths are often used to explain universal and local beginnings and involve supernatural beings. The great power of the meaning of these stories, to the culture in which they developed, is a major reason why they survive as long as they do – sometimes for thousands of years.

A folktale is a popular story that was passed on in spoken form, from one generation to the next. Usually the author is unknown and there are often many versions of the tale. Folktales comprise fables, fairy tales, old legends and even ‘urban legends’. Again, some tales may have been based on a partial truth that has been lost or hidden over time. It is difficult to categorize folktales precisely because they fit into many categories.

Myths,legends and folktales are hard to classify and often all overlap, They are often quite similar. I looked at the irish mythology as this is quite close to my heart, i am very interested in the stories i grew up with.

The Banshee…

Banshees are believed by some to be spirts of nature or pre-Christian Gaelic deities. In Theosophy and in Celtic Christian religion, they are commonly called “fallen angels”. In English, they are described as a “fairy” or “fairy woman”.  The Banshee is also said to be tasked with the job of warning selected members of ancient Irish families of the time of their death. According to tradition, the banshee was only said to cry for four major families but this list seems to have been extended due to marriage. Apparently in terms of clothing, she either wears a grey, hooded cloak or a grave robe meant for the unshriven dead. Those who where not allowed to find “absolution”. Banshee usually come in three of many forms, the first being a young woman, the second being a rich middle-aged lady or matron, and the third being of a fraglie old woman. Another being, washing woman. In this form, she is apparently seen washing the bloodstains out of the fated person clothes. Rarely seen but heard, her mourning call is often given at night when someone is about to die. In 1437, Scottish King James the I is said to have been approached by one such being. There have been numerous reports of same thing happening to members of the royal court and other high-profile members of Irish society.  The quality of her voice varies to region to region. Some describe it as ‘low and pleasant’ which can be used to comfort people or generally just to make them feel good and others as ‘a mix of a wail of a woman and a moan of an owl’ which can hypnotize many. Some also take to singing songs to do the work, and put power into it without changing the sound. I wanted an idea of what people thought a banshee looked like, i googled Banshee images and got these images, some people believe its more a ghost like creature and others a witch featured woman. A lot of the images i found are illustrated or sketched as there has never been footage or photographs of the so called ‘Banshee’.

 

The Banshee is an interesting character to explore, but i feel that there are many other creatures related to irish mythology that i want to look into and research this will widen my ideas, and give me a broader research basis!

A Grant…

A Grant is a Celtic creature that for some reason usually comes under Fairies. They are small horses that stand on their hind legs looking for danger. If they see danger they emit a piercing cry to warn other Grants/ those who have tamed it. They can only be found in very dense forest and are very shy.In England, Grant is described to be a yearling foal with sparkling eyes. He prances about the street of the villages at midday or sun down, often capering on his hind legs. All the dogs are after him. His presence is a warning of danger and those who see him are sure their houses will catch fire, or other misfortune will occur. Although A Grant is more a mystical foal than a fairy, it is still seen as a creature, it doesn’t directly related to my human transforamtion but it still helps me in giving me ideas and the background of irish mythology and how i can contextualise my work.

Merrow…

The marrow is another mystical creature, which is quite fascinating. The Merrow, is the Gaelic equivalent to a mermaid, or merman of other cultures. Like popular belief they have a human torso, and fish tail. Their personalities are gentle, modest, benevolent, even affectionate. This is a underwater creature, and not based on the land, this was never something i had thought about in my contextual research. It is an ideal intercession of human to creature.This has been shown in disney films before “little mermaid’.  Although i don’t want to look at disney character this is the exact idea i have of the progression between human and animal, human and creature. The merrow are capable of inter-marrying with humans, and are sometimes reported to come ashore and live among humans for years, though most return back to their home beneath the sea.  This is quite a good mythology that i would like to follow, I’m not really interested in looking at mermaids as such, but a creature from the sea maybe?? Merrow-maidens as reputed for luring handsome young men to follow them beneath the waves where they live in an enchanted state. Merrows are said to wear a special hat called cohuleen druith, and if they lose it, they cannot return to the water. She has soft white webs between her fingers and is often seen with a comb parting he long green hair to either side. As none of these creatures have a pacific image, it is all speculated of what is this creature? what does it look like? This gives me loads of leeway to design my own creature.

Phookas…

A Phooka is an irish goblin that fits under the vast category of The Fae. Phookas are shapeshifters, often taking the form of a horse or goat although they have also been known to appears as a dog or bull. Phooks are prone tointra-species violence and are known for being vicious pranksters. though Phookas never enter human homes theirwelsh counterparts the Bookas are notorious kidnappers who break into the house Santa Clause style. Phookas also take pleasure in destroying crops, it’s said any crops left unharvested on Samhain will then belong to the phookas any effort to cut the crops afterward will be rewarded with dead cattle. they are also thought to hibernate during the year between Beltane and Samhain. This again is another foal\wolf creature, although through images that people have speculated about, i love the idea of the slicked back horns, this is similar to my idea of thick intenas running through the main of the hair coming from the head. Bill Turpin an inspiring makeup artist often works with horns and uses these as a transition from human to creature. I really like the idea of a Phookas, but less a horse more a wolf? Twlight wolfs?

The final Irish creature i have looked at it is the

SELKIE..

The Selkie is my favourite creature, its based upon a beautiful woman, this is the concept I’m trying to achieve, a beautiful woman that has uncontrollably transforming into a creature of the water or earth. Selkies are legendary creatures from Irish, Scottish and Icelandic folklore.

Generally they are imagined as seals that can transform into humans, usually beautiful women. It’s thought that they transform by removing their seal skins and return to their seal form by putting the skin back on.  The majority of tales about selkies are romantic tragedies about lonely fishermen stealing the seal skin of a selkie while they are in human form, forcing them to come home with them to become their wife. The couple then have children and in some versions these children have webbed hands or other abnormalities, all the while the selkie continues to search for her skin as she cannot return to the sea without it. Once found the woman will return to the sea leaving the man desolate. However in some cases the man is completely unaware of the woman’s true nature, that they are selkie. When look at the images of the selkie, it becomes aware that a lot of focus is placed upon her hair, the images i have produced are quite different, one with smooth long silky hair and the other knotted dreadlocked hair. These are both shown as a beautiful creature, there beauty conveys them. The concept of this tale is right, although the creature is wrong, i don’t see myself working with a seal, but another animal. I want my creature come across of fascinating,with the view questioning is she beautiful or ugly?

 

 

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