marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Mix-And-Match Myths

A panel on how to work original folklore from multiple sources into a story.  I opened it with the account of how I came to think of it.

I had read a novel where there were Good Folk, vulnerable to iron, and one of them was a kitsune.  Kitsune aren't vulnerable to iron but to virtuous government officials.  I winced a little.  And then I read one where you had British Good Folk who feared cold iron and holy names and a genie who was a devout Muslim praying all the prayers.  I winced a little.  You'd think it came out of a random weakness generator except that no one would make it so random.

One panelist went, in his writings, for the "belief makes it so," and I pointed out that if it were so, our beliefs that the gods were independent of our beliefs would have made them so, long since.  He observed that they had some independence, like pre-existence.

Did we talk about the Roman/Greek identification here?  I think we did.  Roman Mercury=Greek Hermes.  And Egyptian Thoth.  And Germanic Woden.  So they're all really one.

One panelist tried to say we could have a merry medley -- and I counter-observed that worked only as long as they were off-stage.  Put them onstage -- if you can look up and see the sun god, you have a small problem if you don't know what they see.  And an audience member brought up the problem of those universes where all religions are true EXCEPT the one billions of people believe in.  Some discussion about the problems.  Dresden Files has pagan gods appear, and then there are the Knights of the Cross getting aid from divine providence or may be not, which is only appropriate given that that gods and God are not the same order of being.

And vampires came up.  Some talk about precautions against them, such as the Chinese one where you put up a wall before your door so you have to turn -- and what do you do when they show up in Ireland, where you have to build your front door in line with your back door just in case you built it over a fairy road, so you can get some peace from the Good Folk by leaving the doors open all night -- whereupon one panelist tried to hare off on who-are-we-to-judge that vampires are evil  even after another panelist pointed out that if there is objective evil, vampires are, and if there is not, there is no evil in calling them evil.  sigh

Whereupon it hared off on the intrinsically evil vampire vs. the one who can still make choices, not as how to mix-and-match but as to whether one or the other is better.  And then I brought up that pre-Stoker vampires were more like -- well, watch a zombie movie.  Real folkloric zombies were not a danger to meet, they were a danger to become -- someone brought up revenants, and I pointed out the myths were different.  For one thing, in the United States, at the Emancipation, there were ten times as many slaves here as had ever been imported; in the Caribbean, they regularly imported enough slaves to entirely replace the population every five years.  Another panelist took off on the horrors of the sugar raising.  (We didn't get into how the vampires have taken over the deadly lover from the fairies, though we did mention that the winged and tiny fairies weren't folklore.  One panelist blamed Shakespeare and I pointed out why Oberon assures us that he can hear the curfew:  he's not afraid of holy bells, and so please don't burn the playwright at the stake for consorting with fairies and thus being a witch.)
Tags: lunacon, world-building: creatures, world-building: deities

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