As I’m thoroughly entrenched in writing my young adult fantasy trilogy now and sick of trying to market my ‘psychological suspense’ novel Dunn, I’ve decided to focus my blog on the mythology that underpins the trilogy. I will probably alternate between that and the biology that underpins my marathon training because I love them both, and both provide a wealth of material…. I will probably chuck some other stuff in on self-publishing occasionally, but Im disillusioned at present. So it’s time to focus on things I love…..
Last week was aerobic cross-training and mitochondrial biogenesis. So, this week is:
Sun Gods…..The Celtic one to be specific.
Sun Gods crop up in most ancient mythologies. In fact, lots of old religions have more than one Sun God or Goddess. The sun, air, water, and the minerals in the earth are the source of all life, after all. It’s no wonder our ancient ancestors looked to these key elements to explain life. Without them, we are nothing. Literally!
I’ve read around mythology in my time. I loved the Nordic Edda with the tree of Yggdrasil; the Mabinogion; the Egyptian stories of Isis and Osiris. I’ve forgotten them all now because I forget everything I read, but I do remember that all these ancient mythologies appealed to my imagination. And that was before I started writing. The one that stuck with me, though, despite the fact that I don’t think I’ve got a drop of Irish blood in my body – was always the Irish Celtic myths.
The characters and stories – even though they are bitty, incomplete, and often contradictory in the sources I have read – just appealed to my imagination and stayed in my memory. Perhaps its because they are incomplete and a bit ‘buried in the mists of time’; perhaps it’s because the landscape of Ireland (and Scotland) appeals to my love of rugged, wild places and you can see these characters in them. Or perhaps it’s because they have that ‘epic light versus dark’ element to them and the story of Lugh and Balor just had too much potential to be ignored….
Whatever my subconscious reasons.
Lugh of the Longhand was the Sun God for me.
I have mostly used the translations of Lady Jane Gregory and the more modern Beresford version to (loosely) base my novels on because they are still some of the most complete versions of these old Irish myths that I’ve come across. I don’t read any Irish, let alone ‘ancient Irish’, so I’d struggle to go back to source.
Are just so dramatic. They have an almost Star Wars quality to them….
He is the grandson of the Formorian leader, Balor – a monster with a third eye that he has to keep covered at all times, because it kills everything it gazes on.
Balor heard a prophecy that he would be killed by his grandson, and so he imprisoned his daughter, Ethne, in a tower away from men….
Obviously his security wasn’t all that because Cian – Lugh’s father- got in and…. Well… I’ll let you use your biological knowledge to work out what happened next.
Ethne gave birth to triplets and Balor cast them into the ocean. (Thanks grandad).
Two of the babies drowned, but Manannan Mac Lir, God of the Sea (to be discussed in a post coming soon) rescued Lugh and took him to the Land of Dawn, Emain Ablach, as his foster son. (Photo on Wikipedia commons. I really wish I was good at art so I could draw/paint all these characters)
Lugh’s fostership in the Land of Dawn
In the myths, Lugh remained in Emain Ablach for his whole childhood, encountering all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures. Particularly mentioned are large spotty cats, and as a cat lover, I had to bring them into my story. My cats (Emhin and Fallon) are with Lugh when he encounters Balor’s version of the SAS – The Shades – trying to break into the Land of Dawn. These entities (that are figments of my twisted imagination not in the original myths) come from all the pain of major catastrophes. (They make me shudder. They are the worst thing to come out of my brain yet, but there’s time! I’m only middle-aged.) But Louis’ a Sun God – he pre-dates The Shades – they are no match for him.
Lugh’s return to the mortal realm
In the original myths, Lugh decides to go back to Ireland to save his people – the Tuatha De Danann – from the Formorians (the history of the Tuatha de Dananns/Formorians and the subsequent battle between light and dark is far to much for one post, so I will come back to it in a subsequent post too).
Manannan lends him his ship, Wavesweeper and his wave-horse, Enbhar, and furnishes him with a spear that can never miss; a cauldron that gives mortality to those that drink from it; a sword called answerer; and the stone of destiny that can only be wielded by the true king of Ireland. (Picture from Wikipedia commons original by Harold Roberg Milar 1905)
I decided that having to find most of these to defeat his grandfather was far to good-a story arc to be missed, so my version of Lugh, Louis, has got to find them in my stories. As if he hasn’t got enough to deal with.
Lugh’s love life
In the myths, Lugh abducts a human woman, Deirdre, on the eve of her wedding to her mortal fiancee. Lugh fathers his son – the hero Cuchulain – and then the myths are vague. Deirdre goes mad, but little else is mentioned about her.
This was also too good-a story arc to miss, so I’ve kept Deirdre. But I have Lugh meet her in the Land of the Dead, The Nothingland. In my story, Lugh perpetually follows Deirdre through life and death, trapped in a cycle that stops him fulfilling his mission – to unite the Host, defeat Balor and save planet earth.
So far, they have met in book one and she hasn’t cropped up again in book 2 yet.
But she’ll be back….
In book one, she was the dead granddaughter of Pirate Queen, Grainne O’Malley, trapped in the Nothingland looking for a portal to rebirth. We left her there, heading for New Zealand.
I have no idea yet, how she’s coming back, but I’m looking forward to finding out