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Archive for January, 2018

Deep beneath the murky waters of Lake Lagarfljot, Iceland, a monster dwells! This vicious serpent was bound at the bottom of the lake centuries ago. It may not have a cute nickname, like Nessie, but rumors and sightings have persisted from at least 1345 into modern times.

According to the legend, a young lady who lived in the town of Egilsstadir was given a golden ring. She asked her mother the best way to grow this fortune, and the mother told her to place it beneath a lingworm, or heath-dragon. She went out and caught a very small lingworm, and shut it up in her chest of drawers with the ring.

Within a few days, the lingworm grew so large that it shattered the chest. The terrified young lady grabbed the heath-dragon and threw it into Lagarfljot, gold ring and all. Alas, this wasn’t the end of the beast. It continued growing both in size and spite. No one near the lake was safe as the creature killed people and livestock by spitting poison. Two men came from Finland in response to pleas for help. Even they failed to destroy the lake monster. The best they could do was tie its head and tail to the rocks at the bottom of the lake.

Despite being imprisoned in the lake, the Lagarfljot Worm continues to make itself visible. In the water, it is described as having many humps and being about the length of a bus (40 feet or so). In some cases, it’s even been spotted basking on the lake shore and climbing up trees.

One of the best documented “sightings” was in 1983. A crew laying telephone cable across the lake encountered a large, shifting mass on the lake bottom. The cable was laid but soon failed and had to be pulled back up. According the news accounts, the cable had been designed to avoid kinking, yet it was found to be twisted out of shape and torn in several places. Workers joked that they must have laid their cable right into the lingworm’s mouth.

More recently, a video from 2012 purported to show something swimming against swift currents. Further analysis showed that the “creature” most likely was some sort of debris being swung about just below the surface.

As with Loch Ness, scientists have studied Lagarfljot and declared the whole thing a hoax. They say the murky water results from natural erosion. Also that plant material is carried into the lake and sinks, slowly decomposing and releasing gasses that distort the water.

Nevertheless, tour operators and historical societies continue to preserve the legend of the Lagarfljot Worm for future generations.


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The Invisible Library is an urban fantasy/adventure series, wherein there is a great Library whose mission is collect and store dangerous books from multiple dimensions. These dimensions are arrayed in a spectrum between chaos and order. Chaos realms are dominated by fae, while order realms are ruled by dragons. In the eons-long war of dragons and fae, the Library remains neutral while attempting to preserve all the multiverse from annihilation. Sounds simple enough, right?

Ha ha ha.

The main character is Irene, a courageous Librarian who uses any means necessary to gather the requested books. For Irene, “any means” includes a magical language and a no-nonsense attitude. In the first book, she finds herself paired with Vale, a thinly disguised clone of Sherlock Holmes, who is native to the quasi-Victorian realm where Irene is working. She also has a handsome young assistant named Kai, who turns out to be a dragon in human guise. My only small complaint is that Kai spends almost no time in his natural dragonic form, because Cogman’s dragons are so impressive.

You can see the love triangle taking shape between Irene, Vale and Kai. At the same time, you can see Irene growing in strength and purpose. The connections she’s forging, with her team and a wider cast of characters, may indeed save the multiverse one day.


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IMG_20180120_083903058This is a bottle my husband brought home from a visit to a local wine and beer shop.

I’m not such a beer fan, but I’m told it was quite good. One friend said it was so rich it should be called a “dessert beer.”

 


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I mentioned on Wednesday that the taniwha of New Zealand were guardians to their own, but could be dangerous to outsiders. In fact, taniwha could be man-eaters as much as any other dragon. Many tales relate attacks by taniwha against humans they weren’t connected to. Luckily, there were warriors with enough spiritual prowess to defeat a rogue spirit, whether by use of wits or force of arms.

One taniwha, Nagarara Haurau, had devoured several villagers before capturing a young woman as his bride. He lived with her in a cave near the sea. The villagers pretended to accept him as their neighbor, and prepared a feast to honor him. During the festivities they ambushed and killed him. It’s said that Nagarara’s severed tail flew off and landed in a lake or stream. Prominent waterfalls in various locations are thought to have been created by the impact of Nagarara’s tail.

Another taniwha, named Kaiwhare, was preying on the people of Manukau. No one could stop him. There was a warrior named Tamure who lived in Hauraki and owned a magical club with power to defeat taniwha. The people of Manukau pleaded for help and Tamure came to them. Kaiwhare readily attacked, for Tamure was a stranger. They wrestled on the shore until Tamure bashed the taniwha over the head with his club. Kaiwhare was not killed, but he did become tame. This taniwha is still believed to live in the waters near Manukau. His diet now consists of octopus and crab.

Near Kaipara, three sisters were out gathering berries one day. As they returned, a taniwha fell upon them. He captured each in turn, finally selecting the loveliest one as his bride. (The fate of the other girls is unspoken. Perhaps he ate them.) The taniwha took the lucky (?) girl to his cave. As time passed, she bore him six sons. Three were taniwha, like their father, and three were human, like their mother. In secret, the captive mother taught her human sons to be warriors. The human sons eventually killed their taniwha brothers, and later their father. They then returned to their mother’s home with her.

Like their distant cousins, the mo’o of Hawai’ian tradition, taniwha could sometimes blur the line with humans. Tales tell of a “woman from the sea” named Pania, who married a human man. Their child was a taniwha. A priest named Te Tahi-o-te-rangi had served as a spirit medium for taniwha. He transformed into one of them after his death.


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Taniwha are nature spirits in the folklore of New Zealand’s Maori culture. They can appear as large sharks, whales, crocodiles — or dragons! According to legend, these spirits traveled alongside the canoes that carried Maori ancestors over the sea from their original islands. After the Maori established their new homes, the taniwha remained to watch over them. Even in modern times, many tribes and local communities can name a specific taniwha who is their guardian.

It was believed that taniwha granted visions to priests, warning of natural disasters or that enemies were nearby. However, taniwha could be both friendly or deadly. They made their homes in deep rivers, caves, and ocean shores prone to dangerous currents or sneaker waves. Friends of the taniwha might be guided away or rescued from drowning. In return, taniwha expected to be treated with respect. They received offerings of the first fruit each season. Even friendly tribesmen passing near a taniwha’s home would make offerings to please these spirits.

In addition to spiritual guardianship, taniwha were enforcers of tapu (commonly Anglicized as taboo), the social code governing Maori life. Violations of tapu would be met by swift retribution. So would any intrusion into the taniwha’s domain. Though they protected their own people, outsiders were fair game. Strangers might be dragged into the water or attacked and devoured. Women might be captured as brides.

Respect for the taniwha has remained strong even into modern times. Several news reports from the early 2000s related that construction projects had been moved or redesigned to avoid disturbing areas where taniwha were believed to dwell.

Check back on Saturday for a few taniwha legends.


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Coming up on January 16, it’s Appreciate A Dragon Day! In celebration, here’s a reblog from 2016.

Appreciate A Dragon Day

Appreciate A Dragon Day was created by Christian children’s writer Donita K. Paul in 2004 to commemorate the publication of her novel, Dragonspell. This was the first in her award-winning Dragonkeeper series.

Paul called upon her readers and fans to recognize the significance of dragons in cultures all over the world. She urged participants to choose one special dragon character and re-create it for others, explaining why the dragon is your favorite. Her web site includes a number of suggestions, such as puppetry, classroom or library activities, and various art projects.

How can I resist? My favorite dragon is Mnementh, the first speaking dragon character in another first-of-series book, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight. This, of course, was the first in her ground-breaking Pern series. I read it as a teen. Until then, I had heard and read only of evil, destructive dragons. The idea that dragons and riders could bond in a friendship that nothing could destroy was captivating.

Mnementh was a bronze dragon who stayed calm and carried on while all the humans were getting frantic. He set the standard for me, and I went on to write lots of Pern fan fiction in my twenties and thirties. Many friends I met during that time are still close today. My husband, for one!

So here’s a toast to Mnementh and his writer, Anne McCaffrey.


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It’s hard to believe that I’m heading into my seventh year of blogging here at Wyrmflight. Way back in 2012, I was looking for ways to publicize a podcast of my middle-grade novel, Masters of Air & Fire. The book is focused on a family of kid dragons, and I thought a blog might be a good way to begin.

I figured I would go with the topic until I ran out of ideas. At the time, I was most familiar with the European idea of a dragon, though also aware that there were Asian dragons, too. Six years later, I haven’t run out of ideas yet.

Sure, there are legendary dragons like Fafnir, Typhon and Tiamat. There are literary dragons like Morkeleb, Smaug and Kalessin. But who knew there were trees named after dragons? Or flowers? Or fish? Who knew dragons could be ghosts? Or rivers? Or cosmic guardians? Who knew a dragon could rule the underworld?

So here’s to all the dragons, from ages long past and from contemporary minds. And here’s to you, my readers, whether you’ve been following for all six years or just found me. Long may we fly on the wings of dragons!


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