navajo mythology

Yeah Southern Gothic is the best thing since sliced bread but do you know what I wanna see more of? Southwestern gothic. Creepy desert towns, alien lore and unexplained lights, bones and spurs and burnt-our oak scrub everywhere. Cattle rancher blood feuds, neo-Apache and postmodern-Navajo mythology, Spanish architecture and Americana dreams in equal states of crumbling disrepair. Californian curses and New Mexican ghost towns and long stretches of road with nothing but the deceptive moon or hazy heat mirages for company.

There is a door in the history department. It never looks the same twice and is always cracked open when it’s actually there. No one has ever returned through it.

There once was a chemistry major that went through the door. Their friend followed after.

One returned.

One did not.

The story did not begin there though. It began long, long ago, in the tales and songs of ancestors long gone; passed from mother to daughter and father to son. They did not fade through time, starting anew in each beating heart of the family line.

They reached a young girl with olive skin and hair like raven’s wings. Her dark eyes would shine as her grandmother wove the tales by the fireside.

She spoke to the girl of a woman with fiery hair and burning eyes, who spoke with flames and held infernos between her palms. Perhaps that sparked the love in her for all things she should not, and she strove to make the embers dance, like the one with fire in her hands.

Her grandmother knew in her old, wise bones that this child needed the tales more than most. Their family had always been aware, trusting their intuition had never led them wrong.

So when the girl came to Elsewhere, (For where else could she have gone?) Everyone steered clear (The school gave up on roommates before very long.)

Perhaps it was because of her reputation of playing with fire, or perhaps it was simply fate, but her chemistry professor paired her with a boy who loved to play with ice. They became unlikely friends, she with her burning salts and he with his liquid nitrogen.

“Call me Pyrra.” she said.

“Frozone.” He grinned, white teeth gleamed against his dark skin.

He told her of his girlfriend back in Louisiana who was pregnant with his child: “It’s too soon to know the gender yet.” And she would just smile.

She told him of her grandparents and their small, simple home that stood alone on the reservation and of the wild horses that would thunder by.

They knew what everyone would say, how unwise it was to share so much about themselves, but they were chemistry majors—those rarely got taken.

The two were closer then blood and they both forgot one very important fact— being Taken isn’t the only way to Vanish.

It had been an accident. Frozone hadn’t been paying attention. He had forgotten to count the doors, as he stumbled to his history class after a long night in the labs. No one probably would have known if a fellow student hadn’t seen him stepping through the door—too late to stop his fate.

Pyrra was the first one told, the RA’s decided to wait till the end of the term before notifying his family. They knew it was a futile hope, but anything beat having to make that call.

Pyrra wouldn’t accept this though. She gathered up her craft, and armed herself with salts to burn. She dressed herself in her tribe’s garments and war paint on her face—there is power in being claimed—and set off for the history building when the moonless night was at its darkest.

The door gave way before her and she crossed into when; not where, her friend had gone. She travelled far until she found where the Little People were gathered round. They vanished as she drew near, but she was unshaken by this or fear.

“I have come to bargain for my brother of heart.”

“What will you give?” They whispered in reply.

“A story like none other.” She called bravely into the night.

“There is no story to match his fate, for his return we will need something great.”

Pyrra paused before standing straight.

“Then I will take his place.”

“Is this your choice?”

She thought of her grandparents, sitting at home, they had only gotten electricity a few years ago.

She thought of Frozone’s sisters, all so young and alone thriving off their brother’s hope to give them a better home, on the income of the degree the scholarship would to them all. She thought about his girlfriend, who worked two jobs by day, and attended a community college to get her art degree by night. With that her mind was made.

“It is.”

Frozone stumbled in, lost and confused as if it had only been an hour instead of a day. He caught onto what had happened more than quick enough.

“Pyrra, you can’t do this! Please! It’s my mistake to pay.”

“Call my grandmother and ask for my name, give it to your daughter and your debt shall be paid.”

That was all the time they had, before he was gone and she had stayed. The Little Folk drew near her now; intent on Their new pet, but she held up her hand, she wasn’t Theirs quite yet.

“I have another bargain to make.”

“What now?” They grumbled, discontent and bored.

“My story for my freedom, I chose to stay, but not to be yours.”

“Fine.” they hissed “But the bargain is this: you must keep us entertained till dawn or to us you will belong.”

What choice was there left for her to make? The sky was at it darkest—the hour before dawn. But how that hour stretched on and on!

She dared not tell her family’s tales, or sing to Them their songs, so she told them what she had, her science close at hand.

She told them how a star was born and how precious gems became; all the while between her hands she wove the tales with flame.

When that never nearing dawn finally broke upon the sky, They praised her skills, and kept their deals; blessing her all the while.

Fire-tongue they called her; Flame-speaker, They would say. They kissed her eyes and painted her lips, dressing her in flame.

She smiled and simply said, “That is not my name.”

For she had a new name now, one that no one could ever Take, now that she had given her old name away.

Frozone made it back and tried to keep his word. He called her grandmother who patiently greeted him and told him Pyrra’s name, only requesting that in return he send her things and bring his daughter by some day. She waved him off when he explained that the baby was still too small to tell, whether it was female or male.

Years passed and soon it was time to graduate. Everyone assumed that Pyrra’s grandparents came for Frozone. No one expected Pyrra to appear and collect her diploma as if she had been there all along. Then again, no one mentioned how her eyes were embers now or how her hair had turned from raven black to crimson—so she very well may have been.

         A few decades later a new student comes—a chemistry major that loves to play with fire. She wears a white smile; which is near blinding against her dark skin. She claims she came to prove that her father paid his debt. She won’t say anymore than that. But sometimes she would leave the dorm shortly before dawn on moonless nights with a string of fireworks in her hands. She would always return the next morning, humming ancient songs as she wrote an email to her father.

         During her time a new tale whispers its way into campus lore.

It’s breathed into the ears of distraught students—those with the courage to try and reclaim the Taken Ones are the only ones to hear the advice.

“Come to the edge of the woods on a moonless night, just before dawn and set off fireworks of every color—then wait.”

The ones who listen return with tales about a woman in smoldering garments, blazing red hair, and glowing embers for eyes who would test their resolve. To those who passed she would gift them with words or song, depending on their need, she might even gift them with her fire.

Regardless of what you get, it is always enough to get them back.

Except no one can remember what it was she gave them. They could never remember the tale itself, just that she gave them one; the songs she granted would dance just beyond memory’s grasp; the image of a mesmerizing flame leaving a ghostly impression inside their eyelids. There was only one thing anyone remembers her saying.

“My name is Story—”

There is a door in the history department. It never looks the same twice and is always cracked open when it is there. No one has ever returned through it.

There once was a chemistry major that went through the door. His friend followed after.

He returned.

She did not.

“—and I create myself.”

A/N: I know the Gentry come off a little strange in this. It’s mostly because Pyrra is Navajo and thus the stories she knows are of the Little People; but at Elsewhere, the Gentry are for the most part from Great Britain, Ireland and thereabouts. I tried to blend these two cultures. I’m not gunna lie, I didn’t do great. I haven’t done much with Navajo mythology in a long while. I feel it came off pretty shoddy in this. I’m not trying to offend (I’m part native American myself). Also, I love Chemistry but I suck at it which is why I didn’t go as into depth as I would have liked. (My grammar sucks too, so apologies there as well.)


Some Piper doodles that I’m projecting my emotions onto

I think it’s just that time of night where you think about every life choice you’ve made and start regretting some of them. 

I’m native american and growing up was hard with the lack of positive representation and whatnot. When I was younger I didn’t want to be native, I wasn’t proud to be native. I felt like I was a part of group that didn’t exist and natives only make up a small percentage of the population. It was hard growing up with relatives who did nothing but drink alcohol. There wasn’t a lot to be proud of. I can’t name any famous native americans off the top of my head. No comedians, no radio personalties, no nothing. So I rebelled being native every chance I got. I refused to speak navajo. I refused learning it. I regret not learning when I had the chance bc it’s a dying language and less and less people are speaking it and I’m contributing to that growing number. I can’t talk to my grandma who only speaks navajo. I can’t hear her stories. 

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To Neinilii, of the Rain and Laughter

To Neinilii hangs out with that crowd that is always laughing, joking, having fun. You can never take him seriously, though his jokes are generally harmless. He is the one that brings the rain, just when you’re late to a big meeting, or are getting ready to go on your morning jog. He himself doesn’t even seem to notice his dark hair smearing across his smiling face, red with laughter. Rain never bothers To Neinilii; the storm is his friend, the gray clouds swirling around his head. Some say the lightning is a warning to others of a cruelness hiding under him, but that is not right. He simply wants people to not take the gray clouds in their lives so seriously, lighten up a little. If it takes a couple of storms to get the point across, then so be it.

one perfect way to start your day...

is the three-song loop of Navajo songs, beginning with one of the most beautiful animation videos Ms L has been privileged to see: The Navajo Early Morning Blessing.  Greeting the dawn with the video, then going on her balcony and greeting the dawn and the directions is a lovely way to begin a day.

“Walk in Beauty” is a beautiful Navajo philosophy of spirituality.  More complex and elegant than slavish following of religion, more subtle and rich than New-age attitudes, it has much to offer the student of culture, art, and life.

The Navajo Healing song helps to heal and restore Ms L’s soul whenever she hears it.

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illustration: “Athene noctua” by J. Andreas

In Ancient Greek mythology the Owl was a creature sacred to Athena, Goddess of the night who represented wisdom. Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom had a companion Owl on her shoulder, which revealed unseen truths to her. Owl had the ability to light up Athena’s blind side, enabling her to speak the whole truth, as opposed to only a half truth. The Ainu in Japan trust the Owl because it gives them notice of evil approaching. They revere the Owl, and believe it mediates between the Gods and men. The bird features prominently Celtic folklore where it is considered both to be sacred and to have magical powers, again because of its abilities in the dark. Zulus and other West African nations consider the bird a powerful influence in casting spells, and think that using parts of the owl gives great strength to a person involved with magical incantations.

To the Welsh, the Owl is a night predator – the only bird capable of defeating the swift falcon and then only at dusk, its time of power. The Owl symbolizes death and renewal, wisdom, moon magick, and initiations. Their Goddess Arianrhod shapeshifts into a large Owl, and through the great Owl-eyes, sees even into the darkness of the human subconscious and soul. She is said to move with strength and purpose through the night, her wings of comfort and healing spread to give solace to those who seek her. A star and moon Goddess, Arianrhod was also called the Silver Wheel because the dead were carried on her Oar Wheel to Emania (the Moon-land or land of death), which belonged to her as a deity of reincarnation and karma. The Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, her palace was Caer Arianrhod (Aurora Borealis), or the secret center of each initiate’s spiritual being.

However, many cultures have focused on the dark side of the Owl’s symbolism. People have always been suspicious of the Owl because of man’s fear of the dark, or night, and those things that might dwell there. In general, the hooting of an Owl is considered a portent of death or bad luck, and it may even prophesize death, as the death of Dido was foretold. It is a medical fact that most people die at night, and for that reason also the Owl has been seen as the messenger of death.

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anonymous asked:

Can you go more in detail with Roy and the Native American stuff if you haven't already? This is the first I've heard of it. Also what was his relationship with Cheshire? Does it differ a lot from different comics and reboots/adaptations?

Okay, I decided to separate this ask into two parts so I can dive into each individual question properly. I’ll work on the Cheshire question after I post this one because I’m clearly not capable of keeping my answers short.

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anonymous asked:

what is the difference between fairytales and myths?

Hello Nonnie!!

The differences between fairy tales and myths are often not completely clear cut, to be quite honest with you. It might help to look at both the similarities and the differences!

In terms of similarity, both fairy tales and myths are forms of traditional story, meaning that they employ narrative tropes and techniques that are instantly recognisable to the listener / reader. These tropes can be character based, such as the Trickster character that we can recognise in Norse mythology (Loki), Greek mythology (Hermes) and Navajo mythology (Coyote), as well as in many folk narratives and fairy tales, such as Rumpelstiltskin and Brer Rabbit. They can also be plot / narrative based, such as the trope of the ‘calumniated wife’ (meaning a woman who is innocent but presumed guilty of a hideous crime, usually infanticide, and treated like a criminal whilst maintaining her virtue throughout, ultimately proving her innocence). This trope is evident in the Celtic myth (what’s left of it!) of Rhiannon as well as the fairy tale of the ‘Three Little Birds’ collated by the Brothers Grimm.

Both are also generally the products of an oral tradition, meaning that there are usually multiple versions of any particular narrative. A good example of this would be the myth of Pandora, which has multiple variations - in some versions, for example, she’s unaware of the danger that her jar contains, and in others she is more than willing to unleash doom on humankind. The story of Pandora is also strikingly similar to the myth of Eve, showing that the narratives not only have different versions within their own traditions, but within other cultures. Similarly, there are multiple versions of the story of Cinderella, with variations of the narrative found in - amongst many places - China, Greece and Wales.

The differences, then! The primary difference between myths and fairy tales is simply that myths are generally based in religion, whereas fairy tales are stories told purely for entertainment or for didactic reasons (i.e. to teach your kids not to be absolute jerkbags like the evil stepsisters, or they’ll have to cut off their own toes, or something). It’s a little more complicated than that, particularly when you get myths which don’t involve gods and fairy tales which derive from myths, but that’s the basic difference.

Broadly speaking, myths originate in religious and cultural traditions, usually to explain the unknown (e.g. how the world came to be, which is explained by creation myths, or how humans got fire, which is explained in Greek mythology by the myth of Prometheus and in Māori mythology by the myth of Māui) or to express elements of ritual. Even the weirdest and most wonderful myths are sacred, and fit into a corpus or canon of religious belief and cultural tradition. The myth of Osiris and his severed penis (which I need to write as a retelling, as I promised - I’m trash) is sacred, even though it involves a golden dick, because it expresses Ancient Egyptian beliefs about death and liminality, and also conveys their ideas about the links between death and fertility through resurrection.

Conversely, fairy tales tend to focus on supernatural elements that aren’t necessarily religious, such as sprites, trolls, dwarves, and the eponymous fairies. They generally take place in magical realms, or at least in realms removed from our own reality, meaning that they aren’t supposed to be true or believable - again, this distinguishes them from myths, which are often considered ‘real’ not necessarily in the sense that they actually occurred, but in that they symbolically express a truth; it’s complicated!

It’s also important to note that myths and fairy tales are often closely linked, particularly within cultures where non-religious supernatural beings (e.g. fairies!) are considered ‘real’ and part of cultural practice in some way, or in which many of the myths themselves don’t place a great emphasis on the actions of deities. There’s also an issue when attempting to separate myths and fairy tales from cultures which have become somewhat polluted or degraded over time due to colonisation or other religious influences. Celtic mythology is a good example of this, in which much of what is banded around as ‘Celtic mythology’ is actually fairy tale narratives which have evolved from the original mythology, which has itself been lost due to Christianisation. The Christian monks preserved the original Celtic myths but sanitised them of their religious overtones, turning them into fairy tales which were clearly not supposed to be rooted in reality, symbolic or otherwise. These fairy tales, such as those found in the Mabinogion, are what we now think of as Celtic mythology, but the actual myths themselves are lost. People have tried to reconstruct the lost originals from the later fairy tales and folklore, but that’s a pile of wank, to be honest. It’s like trying to do a 1,000,000 piece jigsaw where all the pieces are the same identical shade of beige and all the same size - you can’t recreate it.

Fairy tales are part of folklore, which is a broad category that also includes fables, legends and proverbs. Mythology is not considered to be part of this category, but is quite confusingly often lumped in with it in study. You’ll often see people discuss folklore and mythology as though they’re synonymous, which is a tricky one, in my opinion. Theorists like Stith Thompson, who helped to come up with the Aarne-Thompson classification system for folklore (basically a handy tool where you say ‘hey, this story is about X, Y, and Z! That means it fits into story types 1, 2, and 3 - just like this other story!’) and Vladimir Propp, the foe and fave of structuralists everywhere, both tended to include mythology alongside folklore in their work. That’s fine, and it definitely works in certain ways, particularly when considering the similarities I outlined at the beginning, but it should be attempted carefully because mythology generally has more sensitive cultural nuance than fairy tales or fables. It’s all well and good to say ‘hey, this Greek myth and this Norse myth both have a huge war between the gods! That’s neat. It must say something about the universality of the warrior tale, or something,’ but when we’re talking about religion, we need to contemplate what those similarities in mythic narrative say about the respective societies in terms of social structure, ritual and ideology, and cultural identity.

So, that waffly answer can basically be summarised as follows: myths are religious and rooted in ritual, culture and etiology, whereas fairy tales are fantasy stories told for the sake of telling stories. Both tend to have similarities and counterparts across cultures, and both often have various versions of the same story within their own culture.

sniffur  asked:

So, hi there. Im Astrid, from the comments. I really really like your comic. But i recently noticed something that im pretty sure is problematic. Its a small thing, but still think it counts. Jasper mentions the existence Skinwalkers in TGS. Skinwalkers are a part of Navajo mythology thats been appropiated. Using it outside of the culture it came from is still disrespectful eventhough its become mainstream. Nativeappropiations and WritingWithColor explain about it if you wanna read.

Hey Astrid! So, cultural appropriation is always a tricky subject! In general, I am totally onboard with stopping white people from stealing literally everything and not paying their dues. But … I also feel like there’s a line between cultural appropriation and just … acknowledging the existence of something. Jasper is not himself a Skinwalker–so we’re not talking about a white person taking over a role that could otherwise have gone to a native american character–he is just casually mentioning their existence. He is a magical creature nerd, so I don’t think it’s stretching things too much to say that he would be aware of magical creatures who exist outside of his own culture. He’s not claiming them as his own or belittling them, he’s basically just saying “hey, this is a thing.” 

Now I am not Navajo, so of course I don’t get final say on what is offensive and what is not. The closest I can come is to use an analogy: I am Japanese American, and I would be totally pissed if some white lady dressed up as a geisha for Halloween. But I would not be pissed if the same white lady said, “In Japan, geishas exist.” (Tone matters, of course–if some dude was like “In Japan, geishas exist, and they are TOTALLY HOT. Asian chicks are so sexy.” That’s a different thing.) But again–not part of Navajo culture.

I also get that Your Mileage May Vary on the issue of cultural appropriation. For instance, I know the best way to turn my mom into a human volcano is to show her a picture of a white woman in a kimono. Like, even if she’s wearing that kimono in a totally respectful and informed way. Mom can’t handle that shit. But I also know that not all Japanese American people find it objectionable. So, maybe my perspective on this issue–that Jasper’s mention of Skinwalkers does not qualify as cultural appropriation–is not the majority opinion! So I figure I would turn it over to you guys. Thoughts?

neptune-star  asked:

What are skinwalkers?

SKinwalkers are a legendary creature from Navajo mythology, though I say mythology, Many Navajo native Americans are adamant that they exist and are not comfortable talking about them.

Basically they’re a medicine man or a witch who have gained a power to transform into animals. There hasn’t been any reports of one killing someone but they can torment people by mimicking voices and taking on the forms of animals but not looking quite right, usually missing a tail and having large human shaped eyes. Let’s just say I’m happy not to be living in America talking about this.