Otherworld | Behind the Scenes: The Myths

Talis Logo1_no background

instagram logopinterest iconspotify icontwitter logofacebookgoodreads logoamazon icon small

Hello everyone!

Today’s post I take you behind the scenes once more into the shaping of the Otherworld Trilogy but we’re going a bit more specific this time. I’m sharing with you the various legends and myths that were inspirational to crafting both the world and the characters.

If you’re a bit of a history nerd like me then you’ll probably recognize some if not all of these! I didn’t start out with myths when plotting out Crooked Raven, but they did come up in my research quite early on as I searched for names + their meanings. I always tease English majors and their love of finding symbolism in anything and everything to the point where you’re pretty sure they’re making stuff up but I actually went full nerd with this series choosing names, places, and symbols with intent. I’m not going to go into everything but these are some of the bigger ones.

It’s important to note that the Otherworld Trilogy is not a retelling of any myth therefore if you try to compare it to any then it shall fail you because while it is indeed inspired by many ancient tales ultimately it is a story unto itself and it doesn’t try to be anything else.

I’m sure you can find several myths that link to elements in this series for I find that no matter what part of the world you explore you will find similar tales linking us all together as our ancestors tried to puzzle out the mystery that is life and death. If you do know of any myths that I don’t mention that are similar then feel free to tell me and I’ll look it up! As for me and where I was raised, these are the myths that I’ve been taught and familiar with since childhood so they are the ones that bounced about in my thoughts before I ever put pen to paper and wrote the story of the Otherworld Trilogy.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this peek into the making of my fantasy series! March 26 is just around the corner and before we know it Carrion Crow (Otherworld #2) will be available on Amazon! Don’t forget to check my social medias for teasers leading up to the release!

Stay tuned…

Talis Logo1_no background
Carrion Crow (Otherworld #2) by Talis Jones

goodreads logo Goodreads | amazon icon small Amazon
*available as eBook and paperback


*Disclaimer: I do not own the following images

Oneiroi

oneiroi 5

Oneiroi (Ονειρος Ονειροι) is Greek for “dream” and in Greek mythology the Oneiroi are the children of the god of night, Nyx, and are the personification of dreams. It is also said that they had several siblings and/or relations including the gods of death, sleep, and old age. There are several references to them however their exact story remains conflicting and difficult to discern. In some instances it is said that their domain lies between the land of the living and the land of the dead.

As for me and this particular project I didn’t need the details about Oneiroi, I simply stumbled across inspiration from that last bit – a place between living and death. As you can read in my post Behind The Scenes: Setting, that combined with other bits and pieces gathered in my mind over time with this Greek mythology to inspire the Island of Oneiroi that sets the tale of my Otherworld Trilogy. My Oneiroi is also a place between life and death where the living visit while dreaming and the dead either choose to dwell for a time or choose to pass straight to the afterlife. It is a place of dreams and nightmares, life and death, immortality and fate, magic and peace.


Pan

pan 1

I. Greek Mythology

Pan (Παν) has roots in different mythologies but for this post I’ll focus on the Greek. His name means “all” and he is the god of nature (meadows, forests, mountains, etc.). But of course you might notice that there is no flute-playing goat-man frolicking around the Island of Oneiroi and that’s because as with all of these myths that influenced my books I only used a sprig of inspiration, and with Pan that meant the rule of nature as well as his impish behavior. Part of my character Titus was inspired by Pan. Titus takes great care of the Island but not without enjoying a few games and chases with those dwelling there.

II. J.M. Barrie’s Children’s Story

Now this Pan had a much stronger influence when it came to inspiring the story slowly coming to life in my head. Neverland, an island where children don’t grow up and can fly simply by thinking happy thoughts. Well, my characters can’t fly but the Lost Boys certainly inspired the creation of the Whispers and they have powers/gifts well enough although not simply by thinking happy thoughts. Peter Pan likes to play games with those in Neverland but he also defends it and this fed into the roles of both Titus and the Whispers of Oneiroi.

Pan 2.jpg
F.D. Bedford (1911)

Charon

charon 1
Illustration by Gustave Doré for an 1861 edition of Dante’s Inferno (The Divine Comedy).

Charon (Χάρων) is the ferryman in Greek mythology. Son of the god Nyx he transports the newly dead across the River Styx to the land of the dead. He is a fairly well known character and versions of Charon appear in several mythologies. In general he has become closely associated with the afterlife even occasionally bearing the name Angel of Death.

Just as with Barrie’s Neverland, I am sure you can guess where Charon fits into my books. Titus is closely related to the Whispers/guardians of Oneiroi and although he enjoys playing games and painting his role larger than it truly is, when it comes down to it his only job besides aiding the Whispers in protecting the Island of Oneiroi is to ferry souls from our world to the Otherworld. This concept of death as a journey, particularly one separating destinations by water, is fairly common in mythology and it fit in well with the story I was molding as well. Unfortunately for my characters they were not taken to a land of rest and judgment (no Hades in my books either), but rather all they are promised is the chance to live a new life for a little while longer.

charon 2


Brân

bran 1

Brân is Celtic for “raven” and, as you can guess, is a Celtic deity (although some historians disagree) as well as a Welsh king. There are quite a few stories surrounding him but the most well-known legend describes his head being cut off and buried in White Hill to become the Guardian of Britain and the land was blessed with several decades of peace (until King Arthur dug it up and flung it into the sea). Brân the Blessed is known for having a close bond with his sister, going to battle for her honor, and being associated with the raven (as is obvious with his name).

So how does Brân fit into Oneiroi? Well, the Celtic symbolism with the raven and crow certainly plays a part but for Brân specifically it was his role as a guardian and the way he defended his sister. In case you haven’t guessed yet Brân influenced Geoffrey “Eisen” Verdandi. He might not be a king but he does go to battle for his sister, although unlike Brân he doesn’t quite prove himself quite as good a leader. Even so he ultimately makes his decisions to protect Oneiroi, his sister, and bring the land peace.


Morrigan

morrigan 1

Morrigan (Morrígan; Mórrígan; Mór-Ríoghain) is a Celtic goddess mostly associated to death, fate, victory, war, and foretelling doom. She was actually called the Great Goddess as she was the dominant goddess in Europe. Originally she was seen as the goddess who transported souls through the cycle of life and death but later on her association with death becomes more favored viewing her as more of a warrior driven by their own needs such as power, warfare, and magic. Although other writings do maintain her light side casting her as a protector of the land and even plays the role of helping put the legendary Arthur into power. She has a strong link to birds in particular crows, ravens, and vultures, sharing Brân’s totem animal. In some of the earlier writings Morrigan is even described as a shape-shifter goddess able to take on the form of a crow.

This goddess and her stories became a facet to the character Cassandra, it fit so well with the story I was crafting it surprised me. But Cassandra (who you don’t officially meet until Carrion Crow although her presence marks every page) was called to protect Oneiroi and aid those seeking new life, but as you’ll learn in Wings of Ruin things do not quite work out that way and she tumbles down the path of power and revenge.


Saul

saul 2.jpg

Saul (שָׁאוּל) was the first king of Israel, chosen both by the twelve tribes of Israel and the prophet Samuel. Saul led the Israelites against the encroaching Philistines but Samuel warns them/foretells that electing a king would lead to a loss of freedom and was ultimately a rejection of God who advised the tribes not to choose a human king for God is their king.

Bits of this theme can be found in my series but as with everything listed here it is no translation exactly and was never meant to be. But the little pieces from this biblical story that can be found in my writing are the broad strokes of 1 Samuel 8 and what follows. Oneiroi was originally governed/guarded by the Whisper Council, but Cassandra succeeds in establishing a Crown, despite Titus’ warnings, making herself the first Crown of Oneiroi and expanding her rule while the throne ultimately deteriorates the freedoms and peace once found in the land. The Whispers become legends and bedtime stories as they recceed and allow the people what they claimed they desired, a Crown, only to rise when the land is drunk on bloodshed.


Miscellaneous Art

The first is a painting of the Isle of the Dead and the second is Death playing the fiddle. Creepy, mysterious, intriguing, and both had ideas bursting from my thoughts.

These two paintings by Arnold Böcklin were art pieces I stumbled upon as one often stumbles when accustomed to browsing the web during phases of boredom and yet this discovery was the very first thing to bring true imagery to the story in my mind. True a lot of pieces collided at once (Oneiroi, Pan, Böcklin, music) but there was something about these pieces that really made me excited to scribble out the basis for what would become the Otherworld Trilogy.

These paintings by Maxime Simoncelli I found much later on in my writing process but I’m including them anyhow because her imagery so beautifully matches how I pictured the Island of Oneiroi.


Nursery Rhymes

crow top hat

HEIGH-HO, THE CARRION CROW

Mother Goose

A carrion crow sat on an oak,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
Watching a tailor shape his cloak;
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!

Wife, bring me my old bent bow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
That I may shoot yon carrion crow;
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, loi de riddle, hi ding do!

The tailor he shot, and missed his mark,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!
And shot his own sow quite through the heart;
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!

Wife! bring brandy in a spoon,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!
For our old sow is in a swoon;
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!


Links if you’re curious to learn more:

https://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Oneiroi/oneiroi.html
https://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Oneiroi.html
https://pantheon.org/articles/o/oneiroi.html
https://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Pan.html
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Charon-Greek-mythology
https://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Kharon.html
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bran-Celtic-god
https://www.druidry.org/library/sacred-sites/bran-sleeping-guardian
https://www.druidry.org/library/gods-goddesses/morrigan
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saul-king-of-Israel
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Samuel+8&version=NIV
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10607/10607-h/10607-h.htm#a54


Crooked Raven promo banner_free with KU

Alarum promo banner_free with KU_2.0

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s