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Archive for January, 2018

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.

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. It was believed that taniwha granted visions to priests, warning of natural disasters or that enemies were nearby. 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.

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.

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.

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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IMG_20180101_084103447_HDRHere’s the latest addition to my personal dragon menagerie. It was a Christmas gift, of course. My family knows me well.

Say a prayer and ring the bell!


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IMG_20171223_111134070

Wine-holding dragon. Photo by Deby Fredericks, December 2017.

Here’s a friendly and helpful dragon, seen on a store shelf at Christmas time. It even guards your wine bottle for you!

 


Sign up for my newsletter and win a free E-book, The Weight of Their Souls. Just to go my Facebook page, AuthorDebyFredericks, and click the link on the left that says “Join my mailing list.” Easy, right?

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