In fairy tales, monsters exist to be a manifestation of something that we need to understand, not only a problem we need to overcome, but also they need to represent, much like angels represent the beautiful, pure, eternal side of the human spirit, monsters need to represent a more tangible, more mortal side of being human: aging, decay, darkness and so forth. And I believe that monsters originally, when we were cavemen and you know, sitting around a fire, we needed to explain the birth of the sun and the death of the moon and the phases of the moon and rain and thunder. And we invented creatures that made sense of the world: a serpent that ate the sun, a creature that ate the moon, a man in the moon living there, things like that. And as we became more and more sophisticated and created sort of a social structure, the real enigmas started not to be outside. The rain and the thunder were logical now. But the real enigmas became social. All those impulses that we were repressing: cannibalism, murder, these things needed an explanation. The sex drive, the need to hunt, the need to kill, these things then became personified in monsters. Werewolves, vampires, ogres, this and that. I feel that monsters are here in our world to help us understand it. They are an essential part of a fable.
Camelot is the most famous fictional castle and court associated with the legendary King Arthur. Later romance depicts it as the fantastic capital of Arthur’s realm, from which he fought many of the battles and quests that made up his life. Camelot as a place is associated with ideals like justice, bravery and truth, the virtues Arthur and his knights embody in the romances. It is absent from the early material, and its location, if it even existed, is in England. Most modern academic scholars regard it as being entirely fictional, its geography being perfect for romance writers; Arthurian scholar Norris J. Lacy commented that “Camelot can be anywhere.” Nevertheless arguments about the location of the “real Camelot” have occurred since the 15th century and continue to rage today in popular works and for tourism purposes.
This. All the awards for Penelope. Here’s a fairy tale about a girl cursed at birth with a huge flaw in her genetics: the nose of a pig. Forced to grow up hidden away in her home, with a mother who scared her from ever entering the outside world, in fear of people cringing at her face and ridiculing her. She spends her whole life being told by her family that the only way to break the curse is to marry a man, for only another’s acceptance of her face would break the spell. But in the end, she runs away from her wedding, realizing that she doesn’t want to enter a loveless marriage just to break a curse she was born with. She doesn’t need a man to cure her, because she’s perfectly fine exactly the way she is. She finally accepts herself and loves herself for who she is, flaws and all. And that, my friends, is how the curse gets broken. Not by a man, not by true love. But by loving and accepting herself. Ugh, absolute perfection.
Celtic birds reflected the indigenous birds of Western Europe, where the main carrion-eating species was the crow or raven. There were three Raven goddess sisters, Morrigan, Macha or Nass, and Badbh or Nemhain, who appear primarily in old Irish myth. They were called the Morrigu.
Machaflew over battlefields as a huge crow or raven, accompanied by a flock of ravens, protecting the tribes she favored, warning them of the enemy’s approach, and encouraging them to victory.
Badbh, the Crone goddess, carried the souls of the slain to the otherworld for healing and rebirth. She had the power to choose who should live and who should die. Sister and prophetess of fate, Badbh, it was foretold, would herald the end of time when her otherworld cauldron overflowed. Ravens, like vultures, pick the flesh off corpses; this carrion-eating aspect had magical significance in the matriarchal Celtic world, with the Death Mother being Badbh’s alter ego, the mother who birthed new life.
Nemhain, whose name means frenzy, was the wildest of the sisters. She was called the confounder of armies. Nemhain was the trickster of battle who could set armies fighting against allies by sending down a storm or mists, or who could appear out of the mist, luring warriors onto marshy or unsafe land.
- Fabulous Creatures, Mythical Monsters, and Animal Power Symbols: A Handbook by Cassandra Eason
According to German mythology, there was once a beautiful young maiden, named Lorelei, who threw herself headlong into the river in despair over a faithless lover. Upon her death she was transformed into a siren and could from that time on be heard singing on a rock along the Rhine River, near St. Goar. Her hypnotic music lured sailors to their death.
My great-great-grandmother’s portrait hung in the university up until the Revolution. By then, the truth of their romance had been reduced to a simple fairy tale. And, while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.