Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I’ve been regaling you with tales of the sirrush, a dragon of Babylonian lore. Unlike many dragon tales, the sirrush dwells in a zone of intersection between history and legend. Documents exist from the era that can confirm or deny details about this dragon. One of these is a text from the Book of Daniel.

Daniel, of course, is a famous Biblical prophet. His mission was to throw down idols and expose what, to him, were false gods. Since Babylon was the world’s great power of the time, Daniel went after their pantheon.

In those days, priests of the god Baal housed a sirrush in one of their temples. They worshiped the dragon, believing this was their god personified on Earth. Upon seeing the sirrush, Daniel declared this was nothing but a beast. The priests of Baal were insulted. They challenged him to prove his words. Daniel baked barley cakes, but secretly poisoned them with pitch, hair and tar. When these were fed to the sirrush, it caused the creature to swell up and burst!

Naturally, the priests were even more furious. They demanded justice from their king. This led to Daniel’s stint in the den of lions, from which the prophet miraculously emerged unharmed. The king was suitably impressed that Daniel’s god had protected him. He had the priests of Baal thrown into the lion’s den instead, where they were instantly killed.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

King Nebuchadnezzar II ruled the Babylonian Empire between 634 and 562 B.C.E. As his conquests mounted, he wanted to secure his capital and inspire awe at the same time. To do this, he build a wall around Babylon that supposedly was wide enough to race chariots on top. Visitors to the city had to pass through one of several magnificent gates.

The most famous of these is the Ishtar Gate. Excavated in 1904, it holds reliefs of several animals representing gods in the Babylonian pantheon. There are lions representing Ishtar (goddess of love), bulls representing Adad (god of storms), and the chief god, Marduk, represented by a strange creature called the sirrush.

Sirrush, also translated as mushhshushu or muhushu, is often referred to as a dragon, but that could be because nobody knew what else to call it. Like many mythological creatures, it is a hybrid beast combining a serpent’s head with forked tongue, either horns or a curled crest, a long neck, scaly body, fore paws of a lion, hind legs of an eagle, and a long tail held upright behind it.

Because the other creatures on the Ishtar Gate are realistic depictions of living animals, some scientists have suggested that the sirrush also represented an actual animal known to the Babylonians. It’s hard to imagine what that might be! However, a giraffe has been put forward as one possible model for the sirrush. They do have long necks and horns. From a distance, the giraffe’s markings might look like scales. While giraffes are not native to Mesopotamia, an empire such ad Babylon could have imported strange creatures from outside the region.

Another idea is that Babylonian scientists had discovered fossil bones and were trying to make sense of them. Either dinosaur bones or bones of a giant mammal like Paraceratherium, from Asia, could have accounted for the legends.

Join me on Wednesday for a Biblical tale of the sirrush.

This is from my soon-to-be-published Swords and Sorcery novelette, The Weight of Their Souls. To be truthful, I’d hoped to have it published by now, but I’m waiting for the cover art. (Aren’t we always waiting for the cover art?)


We gathered in the doorway, and Malachai drawled with casual disdain, “What is it with you, Ravenbeard? We’re facing this unholy thing, and you say you won’t stand with us. Why?”
“Brother,” Mordekai said sternly. “Leave it. We don’t have time for this.”
“The way I see it, we aren’t the ones short on time.”
“That’s between me and my mates,” I answered.
Malachai crossed his arms stubbornly. “Funny, I don’t see any of them here.”
I wanted to punch him, or maybe throw up. “That’s right,” I said through gritted teeth. “You don’t. We fought the wyvern on Vanra Field. What did you do?”


The Weight of their Souls should be coming out soon! Meantime, here are a few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

It’s been a while since I encountered a dragon in the wild, but today I went to the garden show. There were dragons picnicking.

IMG_20170513_101354471

There were dragons flying.

IMG_20170513_095942039

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were dragons just hanging around.

IMG_20170513_095827489_HDR

It was a day of dragony goodness. And, I even picked up some hot peppers for the garden!

———

Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Tarasque

Long ago, in the French province of Provence, there was a fearsome dragon called the Tarasque. The monster inhabited a stretch of the Rhone river where marshes surrounded a rocky island. It preyed upon travelers, both on land and water, and it tore down dams and levies so that flooding was rampant. Due to all this destruction, the whole area was uninhabitable.

The Tarasque had such a horrifying appearance that people had a hard time even describing it. They said it was as big as a bull, with a massive turtle’s shell, a lion’s head, and six bear-like legs. The tail was long and scaly, tipped with a scorpion’s sting. The local king brought an army, including catapults, but nothing could stop the dreaded dragon.

After many months of woe, news of the beastly plague reached a monastery where a holy woman lived. Saint Martha felt pity for the people who suffered such a blight. She went to the banks of the Rhone river. The Tarasque rushed to attack her, but Saint Martha did not run from it. Instead, she sang a hymn of the Lord so beautiful that it charmed the terrible creature. Soon the dreaded dragon laid its head in her lap.

Saint Martha returned to the city, the monster following at her heels like an obedient hound. The people of this land were heathens, and she wanted to show them the power of the Lord. Alas, their fear still gripped them. Knights rushed forth. Even when they slashed it with blades of steel, the Tarasque made no move to defend itself. It died there, unresisting.

Saint Martha grieved, and she preached a sermon that converted the heathens to Christianity. To show remorse for having slain a creature that had become tame and helpless, the king changed the name of his city of Tarascon. A castle, Chateau Tarascon, was built on the island in the Rhone River where the dragon once dwelt. Since the 15th Century, local festivals have been held to honor the famous resident.

———

Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Today I’m visiting with Don Massenzio at his awesome blog, for an author interview answering ten questions. Come on by!

Source: A Perfect 10 with Deby Fredericks

Koschei is a legendary character of Russian folklore who sometimes took the shape of a dragon. He seems to have originally been a man, in some versions related to the dreaded witch, Baba Yaga. With his magical might, Koschei could change his form to the dragon or a whirlwind. However, that was not his greatest power. Koschei was called Deathless because he had discovered the secret to immortality!

Perhaps it was more of a work-around for death. Koschei had learned how to separate his soul from his body. He kept his soul in a secret hiding place. As long as it remained inviolate, Koschei could never be killed.

Freed from the fear of death, Koschei embarked on a reign of terror. Nobody could resist his draconic power, and of course, no one could kill him. Only one brave prince stood against the tyrant. Koschei tried to force him into submission. He assumed his whirlwind form and swooped down upon the prince’s beloved wife. Screams trailed behind them as he snatched her away.

The prince faced a grim choice, to submit to a tyrant or lose his dear wife. But the princess was just as brave as her husband. She pretended to admire her captor. With flattery, she tried to find out the source of his immortality. First she found out that his soul was hidden away. Then she begged to know where it was hidden. Koschei enjoyed her attention, but he wasn’t completely taken in. He gave her a false answer. The princess got a message to her husband telling him of the hiding place. He rushed to the spot and destroyed the supposed vessel of Koschei’s soul.

When it became evident that Koschei was alive and as wicked as ever, the princess again pleaded to know where his soul was kept. Again, he lied. Again, she got word to her husband and again he tried to destroy Koschei’s soul. It did no good. A third time, the princess wheedled and teased. Koschei gave what seemed like a ridiculous answer: his soul was in a pebble, inside the yolk of an egg, inside a duck, inside a hare, inside a great rock, on an island.

After many trials, the brave prince managed to find the island, the rock, the hare, the duck, and the egg. Believe it or not, there was a pebble inside the egg! He took it back to confront Koschei, fully expecting that the dragon would kill him. But a slight blow from the tiny pebble restored the wizard’s soul. All the deaths that had been warded off suddenly fell upon him, and he was killed instantly! The prince and princess were reunited, and peace restored to the land.