Changelings

Changelings could be things like glamoured rocks and logs, but were also often old fairies that no one wanted to deal with anymore, and so they were given to mortals in exchange for children. There were many myths about how to get one’s loved one back from fairies when they were replaced with a changeling. One of the ways to discover if your child was a changeling in Ireland involved brewing eggshells. The changeling would be so perplexed that it would comment on the act, revealing itself to be far older than a human infant or child. Once found out, the changeling could be exchanged for the true human child.

People who have studied the phenomenon and its history have a dark tale to tell. They believe that the changeling legend was eventually used, specifically in Ireland, as an excuse for people to abuse, neglect, and even kill disabled people, as changelings were often described as being different from normal humans in many ways. However, it was also occasionally used as an excuse to kill anyone who did not quite fit in, much like the excuse of witchcraft was used in other European countries. The last recorded case of this was in 1895, when an ill woman named Bridget Cleary was murdered by her husband and several of his friends. Her corpse was found burned and brutally mutilated, and her husband refused to murder. He instead said that he had succeeded in driving the fairy out, and that his wife would soon be returned to him. He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to fifteen years in prison, but this was in a much more modern age. The stories of changelings are much older than that.

~Victoria

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Writing Tips: Denotation vs. Connotation

Denotation:

Definition: A denotation is the dictionary definition of a word.

Example: One example of denotation would be stating that the word cheap means inexpensive.

Connotation:

Definition: A connotation is a definition of a word, but with cultural and personal feelings added in.

Example: One example of connotation would be that the word “cheap” often has a negative meaning, or connotation in this case. For instance, when someone says something was “cheaply made”, it’s often taken to mean that the item wasn’t made very well and won’t last very long.

 

Using Denotations and Connotations in Writing:

As writers, denotations can’t be the only thing we focus on when we write. We also have to look at the connotations of words. For instance, when you go to describe a character as a more dominant person, you have many words to choose from. You could use words like assertive, aggressive, or pushy. However, although all of these have a similar denotation, they have very different connotations. Out of these three words, assertive is the nicest as it means someone is willing to assert their opinions. The word aggressive implies potential violence, and the word pushy implies that the person tends to force things onto people. The word you would use would obviously depend on the character, but word choice is very important. As a writer, you have to consider the connotations of the words you use, in and out of context. Readers only get to know your characters and settings and such through text, they don’t get to have you there to describe what you meant. As such, it’s best to make sure you pick the best word for your specific meaning to make sure your writing comes off as you meant it to.

~Victoria

The Evil Eye

The Evil Eye is a common concept in many cultures around the world. The Evil Eye is sort of like a curse, where the person who has been looked upon with it will face misfortunes. The Evil Eye can occur in various ways, depending on the culture. In most, the Evil Eye occurs when someone looks at you and envies what you have. In some cultures, the Evil Eye can be cast, so to speak, on purpose.

The Evil Eye beliefs are most common in the Mediterranean and in West Asia, although these beliefs have spread as far as South America. In many areas in the Mediterranean and Middle East, it is believed that people with green eyes are more likely to be able to cast the Evil Eye than those with brown. Those with blue eyes are the most likely to be able to accidentally, or purposely, use this power.

Eye symbols and talismans are often used as a sort of defense against the Evil Eye. For instance, the above image was one method used by the Egyptians. Normally the eye above is referred to as the Wedjat or The Eye of Horus. It was often used as a symbol of protection and one of its functions was to ward off the Evil Eye.

~Victoria

Horse Writing Resources

Horse Breeds:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/all_landing.aspx (listed alphabetically)

Horse Colors and Markings:

http://www.equusite.com/articles/basics/basicsColors.shtml

Horse Care:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-health/

English Horse Training:

http://www.horsechannel.com/english-horse-training/

Western Horse Training:

http://www.horsechannel.com/western-horse-training/

Horse Tack Guide:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-resources/online-tack-guide/online-tack-guide.aspx

Horse Tack Cleaning:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-keeping/tack-cleaning-tips.aspx

Horse Tack Fit:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-exclusives/horse-tack-fit.aspx

~Victoria

Four-Leafed Clovers

Four-Leafed clovers are considered to be good luck all over the Western world. However, they’re not always easy to find. In fact, for every four-leafed clover, there’s estimated to be 10,000 normal three-leafed clovers.

Nowadays four-leafed clovers represent luck overall. Some say that the four leaves actually represent faith, hope, love, and luck. In medieval times, carrying a four-leafed clover was supposed to allow you to see faeries, witches, spirits, and other entities or beings that could cause you harm.

Five-leafed clovers also exist. They’re considered to be even luckier than the four-leafed clovers. Also known as rose clovers, the fifth leaf is supposed to stand for money. The most leaves ever found on one clover stem is 56. The clover was found in Japan in 2009.

~Victoria

Figurative Language: Part One

Simile

Definition: A simile is a comparison between two or more things using the words like or as.

Examples: Her eyes were as vibrant as the forest. He fought using swords like a master.

Metaphor

Definition: Metaphors are comparisons between two or more things without using the words like or as.

Examples: Sam broke her heart when he left. A sea of mist came slithering through the forest. (Technically the second example is also personification, as mist cannot slither.)

Hyperbole

Definition: Hyperbole is an obvious exaggeration of something, whether it by the size of something, the amount, or something else.

Examples: There were ten billion ants crawling on the counter. The fish was so big it ate my boat and the homework on it!

Oxymoron

Definition: Oxymorons are when two opposites are put together in the same description.

Examples: The cold water made her hands burn.

Onomatopoeia

Definition: Onomatopoeia is when sound words are used for noise.

Examples: Bang! Boom! Splat! Bark. Ribbit. Meow. Creak.

Alliteration

Definition: Alliteration is when two or more consecutive words share the same sound. In some cases, the words don’t have to be consecutive if there’s enough of them in the sentence.

Examples: Sally sat silently in the sand. James jumped over the jagged metal.

Personification

Definition: Personification is when something that isn’t human is described like one or given the traits of one.

Examples: The shadows danced on the walls. The door hinges screeched out in agony as the door was closed. The wind whispered through the trees.

Synecdoche

Definition: Synecdoche is when you use part of something to stand for the whole. This also is what it’s called when you use a material to refer to the whole.

Examples: I asked for her hand in marriage. Jane laid out her mother’s finest silver.

Metonymy

Definition: Metonymy is when you use something related to something to reference it.

Examples: The orders came directly from the crown. Who will claim the throne? The suits are in the courtroom now.

~Victoria

Mayan and Aztec Masks

Both the Mayans and the Aztecs also had masks they used in traditional ceremonies and some of which are still found in sites today.  For the Aztecs, the masks were mainly for display, not for actual use.  Many were inlaid with precious stones, especially turquoise which was used in a lot of Aztec art.  The shards of turquoise were placed on bases that were made of wood, stone, or sometimes even a real skull. Other decorative items used were obsidian, pyrite, coral and shell.  Archeologists have also found masks with inlaid teeth and eyes.  Mayans commonly used jade to decorate their traditional masks which were sometimes used to adorn the faces of the dead.  While it is not known the significance of the masks on the deceased, there are some scholars who believe that they were either used to scare off potential grave robbers or for ceremonies in the afterlife.  Mayan warriors would also wear masks into battle to channel the ferocity of a certain animal.  There were many other uses for the masks, such as births, weddings, and funerals.  Sadly, most of the lore for the two tribes has been lost over time due to Western influence and the destruction of cultural artifacts by the Spanish.

~Elyce

Weapon and Fighting Reference Vi

Here are some weapon and fighting videos that we compiled a little while back for reference purposes. We use them for writing, but you could probably use them as references for writing, art, anything.

Weapon Videos

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3n7MKHEwA9xXBErhXYZbMQ (this channel in general)

Knives/Daggers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l76lDYHsLAs (documentary, fighting with)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z143thJWRBQ (techniques/duel)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsR-C_P98r0 (sword and dagger)

Swords

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYRJttpKmRM (documentary, history there of)

Greatswords

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hfLZozBVpM (two handed greatsword)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfQ0tzYxIG8 (scottish greatsword)

Staves

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMe0tBBOgCs (staff vs staff)

Unconventional Weapons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OuMsPQeKT0 (cane sword)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNH55EMGyO8 (chain whip)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56xXUEyi_e8 (chain whip)

Bows

http://legacy.fordham.edu/Halsall/ancient/zeno-paradoxes.asp (Zeno paradoxes about arrows)

http://margo.student.utwente.nl/sagi/artikel/longbow/longbow.html (lots of technical stuff)

~Victoria

Púca, Trickster and Shapeshifter

Also known as a pooka, phouka, puca, phooka, puck, and púka among other things, this creature is an Irish trickster and shapeshifter. There exist similar creatures throughout Britain, Wales, and the Channel Islands. In Wales this creature is known as a pwca, in Cornwall a bucca, and on the Channel Islands as a pouque. Being shapeshifters, these creatures appear in a variety of forms. They can take the form of goats, horses, dogs, cats, bulls, foxes, eagles, or any other animal. In some tales, they naturally have a goblin-like shape (as they are sometimes considered a type of goblin). Sometimes they even take human shape, with only one animal feature (such as ears or some kind of tail) to give them away. A púca normally is described as having gold eyes and black fur or hair.

In most legends, the púca is a trickster that likes to mess with people. For instance, they often take the form of horses and take people on wild, but harmless, rides that end with their rider in a creek or mud puddle. However, these creatures are usually benevolent towards humans and have been known to even guide people out of forests when they get lost. In some stories they are much more dangerous creatures that quite enjoy eating humans, but most of the time they are nothing but well-meaning tricksters that often enjoy a good laugh at a human’s expense. On Samhain (sunset of October 31st to sunset November 1st), these creatures can sometimes be found in forests, hills, and mountains and will offer prophecies and advice.

The only person to ever be able to control a púca was Brian Boru, a high king of Ireland. He managed to capture one in the form of a horse, by sliding a special bridle over its head. The bridle had three of the púca’s hairs from its tail woven in. Once he had the púca in his possession, Brian Boru used it as a steed.

In some areas, there are actually agricultural traditions surrounding the púca. All crops must be gathered before November in these traditions, as anything after has been faerie or púca blasted (or defecated on) and is no longer edible. In addition, a portion of the crops must be left in the field for the local púca to make sure it stays satisfied. The portion left in the field is called “the púca’s share”.

Simple Breakdown (tl;dr):

Origin: Northwest Europe (Ireland, Britain, and the Channel Islands). The name of the creature, and its behavior, varies per region.

Territory: Usually lives in mountains, hills, and forests.

Creature Type: Often considered a type of faerie (similar to goblins). Also falls under the categories of trickster, shapeshifter, and nature spirit. Most often mischevious.  In some locales they are considered to be man-eating monsters.

Attributes:  A púca has gold eyes and black fur/hair. In human form, they usually have one animal attribute, most often animal ears or an animal tail.

Abilities: Animal form and human form shapeshifting and sometimes simple faerie magic. Capable of human speech.  A púca can provide prophecies and warnings on Samhain (sunset on October 31st to sunset of November 1st).

Weaknesses: A púca can be controlled with a special bridle with three of its own hairs woven in. Supposedly one of the Irish high kings, Brian Boru, was the only one to do this.

~Victoria

Egyptian Weighing of the Heart

In the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, you had to pass through the Hall of Ma’at, the goddess of justice, truth, and harmony and the daughter of Ra, before you could move on to the afterlife. In the hall, a dead person’s heart would be weighed against Ma’at, represented by a feather. If their heart was lighter than the feather, they were free to move on. If it was heavier, then a goddess named Ammut would gobble up your heart. She is usually depicted with a crocodile’s head, a hippo’s hindquarters, and a lion or leopard’s forelimbs. Besides Ammut and Ma’at, Anubis and Thoth would attend this ceremony. Anubis, the god of mummification and the afterlife, would weigh the heart and Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing, would record the findings.

~Victoria