Archive for May, 2015

Wordless Wednesday 13th May 2015


Inspired By Ravens

I’ve always been fascinated by shamanism, which is probably why it wove its way into Echoes of the Past almost without my realising. As a teenager I would meditate for hours, searching for my spirit guide and longing to traverse the astral plain. Now I’m writing a series that features a magnificent plain of pure crystal that the shape shifting protagonists can travel to, and ritual magic that is sometimes performed in trance-like states. It’s not difficult to trace the inspiration!

Raven

Image courtesy of Willow C. Winsham

Norse mythology has also been hugely inspirational and has some wonderful examples of shamanism. Odin, the Allfather, highest of the gods, is depicted as a shaman in various primary sources of Norse mythology. He undergoes a great trial and loses an eye in order to receive the knowledge of the entire universe, he then spends most of his time in a trance, observing life in the other eight realms. He has two helpers in this task, two ravens called Hunin (thought) and Munin (desire), who fly out into the world to be his eyes. The idea of spirit familiars, or a shaman projecting their consciousness into an animal is common in mythologies from around the world. It is unclear from the original texts whether Hunin and Munin are animal familiars or Odin’s own consciousness. Either way, he uses them as his messengers throughout the nine realms.

Another example of shamanism in Norse myth are the berserkers, fierce warriors thought to channel the spirits of wolves, bears and dogs on the battlefield.

Archaeologist Neil Price has this to say:

They run howling and foaming through the groups of fighting men. Some of them wear animal skins, some are naked, and some have thrown away shields and armour to rely on their consuming frenzy alone. Perhaps some of the greatest warriors do not take the field at all, but remain behind in their tents, their minds nevertheless focused on the combat. As huge animals their spirit forms wade through the battle, wreaking destruction.

– Price, Neil S. 2002. The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia. p. 394. As referenced here: http://norse-mythology.org/concepts/shamanism/

The Berserkers in Echoes of the Past are based heavily on these accounts, and are able to channel “Odin’s fire”, or ecstasy to propel them to great feats of strength and ferocity in battle, as well as rapid healing. This of course is linked to the phenomenon of adrenaline enabling humans to display apparently superhuman speed and strength.

I have connected these two elements of Norse mythology, and so ravens feature heavily in Echoes of the Past. These enormous, black birds come and go as messengers for Odin’s Warriors, and are often seen observing Ariana and her fellow Berserkers. The symbol of the city of Caerton is a raven, and the oldest pack, The Watch, have it as their identifying mark. The shifters of the city have long had a close connection to Odin, and that is reflected in their traditions, their allies and their rituals. Readers will see far more about this history, pack symbols and the pecking order of power between packs in the forthcoming third book in the series, Tides of Spring. Ariana also begins to explore her ancestry, where she came from, and what makes her so different from other shifters.

It’s interesting that ravens have evoked similar feelings in different cultures, being linked to similar themes in mythology. In Celtic mythology they are thought to be messengers and protectors of warriors. Irish Celts believed that the Morrigan would take the form of a raven and fly over a battle, protecting warriors. The god Lludd was also said to have two ravens, like Odin. Ravens are also associated with wisdom, another of Odin’s attributes.

Image via Duncan @ Creative Commons

Image via Duncan @ Creative Commons

Ravens are heavily associated with the Tower of London, being a permanent feature of the historical landmark. It is believed that if the six ravens of the tower leave then the kingdom will fall. When the site was bombed during WWII and the ravens disappeared, Winston Churchill ordered them replaced immediately, fearing the superstition. Today there are seven ravens kept at the tower, the minimum six, and a spare!

It’s fair to say that ravens have inspired many people to incorporate them into their beliefs, so it’s no surprise that authors would draw on the strong associations and feature them in fiction.

If you would like to see how I have been inspired by these magnificent birds, and the shamanism associated with them, then do please check out my books, Seeds of Autumn and Ghosts of Winter!

Don’t forget, you can still nominate Ghosts of Winter for the BooksGoSocial Book Awards. For more info, see my previous post.

If you like what you read here, subscribe to my mailing list to be among the first to hear all the latest news about my books and for special offers. If you subscribe today you get a free copy of my short story The Storm Riders’ Vigil.


Books Go Social Book Awards!

red rosetteNomination Time!

I’m rather excited to announce that Ghosts of Winter is in the running for the BooksGoSocial Book award for Best Self-Published Book of the Year.

I’m asking all of my lovely followers to add their nomination for my book so that it stands a better chance of being shortlisted for the public vote, which will follow in June.

You can nominate Ghosts of Winter here.

The URL that you need to link to Ghosts of Winter is as follows, just copy and paste it into the URL field on the nomination form: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghosts-Winter-Echoes-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00PUQMUZC/

Please put your reasons for nomination in your own words.

GWIf you happen to be a member of BooksGoSocial, you can also nominate the cover of Ghosts of Winter in the Best Cover Award category.

I’ll keep you up to date with the nominations, and if I am shortlisted I’d really appreciate it if you could vote for my book and share the link with your social networks.

In other news, revisions on book three in the series, Tides of Spring are well under way and I’ll be running my crowdfunder campaign on Pubslush throughout July!

I truly hope that I can count on all of you to support the campaign. There will be pledges to suit all budgets, from £1 right up to £500, with exciting perks that include naming a character in the next book and the chance for a one-to-one Skype chat with me about the series!

Subscribers to my mailing list will be the first to know when the campaign page goes live. You can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/bifpgf

Last but not least, happy Star Wars Day! May the fourth be with you.

That’s all from me for now folks, thanks for reading.