The Myths and Legends Behind The Ironspell Chronicles

If you’ve been a fan of mine for some time, I’d wager you probably know I take quite a bit from myths and legends. It’s not surprising to see werewolves and vampires in an urban fantasy. But what about the gods and the creatures, such as the Jotun? Well, in the next several posts, I’m going to give you insight into my crazy world and what I’ve borrowed and from where.

Norse Legends

Not surprisingly, I take from the Norse and Viking legends. The Norse had some pretty cool ideas when it came to their pantheon and the landvaettr (land spirits) that inhabited their world. The Norse had their own version of zombies, vampires, and yes, even werewolves, so I tried to blend that into my writings to provide richness in that particular world.  If you’re a fan of the Marvel comics, you know that Jotun are giants. In the myths, Jotun could be frost giants, fire giants, or something else. I tried very hard with Winter of Our Discontent and Oathbreaker to add these creatures to the story and make them believable. You’ve already seen Eir, Loki, Odin, Thor, and Tyr, not to mention Fenrir and Jormungandr, so I figure that’s pretty well covered.

What About the Christian Side?

I’ve decided to add the archangels and demons (not to be confused with Tuzren, the daemon) to the mix because Christianity has its own rich lore. I decided that dealing with the Watchers and the Angels gives me enough to work with without adding Yahweh and Jesus to the story. Sure, the Christian god is part of people’s faith, which is why I keep the story focused on the angels and demons. I figure the Christian god has enough to do without worrying about what our hero, Ironspell, is doing. Plus, he’s got angels to handle the tasks at hand.

What About Other Pantheons?

I’ll probably be adding more pantheons as the series progresses.  The Roman/Greek gods are always interesting, and probably the best known. But there are Celtic gods, Slavic gods, Hindu gods, Native American gods, and Egyptian gods. I suspect I’ll be bringing those in as the stories progress.  After all, there are plenty of rich tales in that folklore.

I’m hoping to give a little background in some of the legends I use right here as the books come out. Anyway, be free to ask questions in the comments.

Why Shifters Fascinate Us

Werewolves and other shifters have fascinated people long before Lon Cheney Jr. appeared as Larry the Wolfman on the silver screen. Just about every culture past and present, had their version of shifters, from skinwalkers to ulfhednar and beserkers to werewolves.

Whether or not you believe the old stories that many people have relegated to myth, you have to admit that the fuzzy ones with big fangs even fascinate us today. But why is that?

Shifters: The Beast Within

Part of our fascination with shifters is the exploration of the beast within us. Each of us humans have the capability of doing evil, or at least, violent acts. It is our civilization which keeps us from turning back into the animals we evolved from. It is our civilization that keeps us from being “the wolf at the door.”

Look at the story, Beauty and the Beast–and other stories along the similar theme. The Beast demands Beauty as the price for her father stealing a rose from his garden. When the father reluctantly sends Beauty (the civilizing factor in the form of a woman), the Beast is taken with her, and only Beauty’s love can free him from his beast nature.

But obviously that’s not all of it. We see shifters in the forms of other creatures like otters (selkies) and foxes (kitsune), although these creatures are often dangerous for humans to deal with. We fear more the human side of the cute and mischievous creatures, who can possibly destroy us with their magic or lead us to our doom.

A Fascination with Metamorphosis

As humans, we’re intrigued by creatures and people who aren’t what they seem to be. The change from human to animal gives the shifter power over us puny “Normals.” They can go places us humans can’t. They can do things we can’t. They can choose which life they prefer and they hold a magical attraction that is hard for us to resist.

How many of us have at one time or another wanted to be a bird and just fly away? Or maybe you imagined you were your favorite pet, who didn’t have to worry about all the things we worry about in our lives? Or maybe you just admired an animal you saw and wished people could be more like that animal? If you have, trust me, it’s normal. Animals don’t necessarily have it great in nature, but we idealize them a lot. So, the concept of changing into one is magical, in more ways than one.

Just as the act of changing from one thing to another is magical. Whether it’s a child growing up to an adult, getting a degree in college, or becoming something you weren’t even a few years ago. We’re fascinated with butterflies, who start as lowly caterpillars.

Shifters Changed in a Variety of Ways

If you’ve been a fan of Urban Fantasy for any length of time, you know that shifters can change in a variety of ways. In myths and legends, a very common way people changed to werewolves was with magic. Someone puts a wolf skin or a belt on and they shift to a wolf. Or someone drinks a potion or casts a spell and they become a wolf. Or someone is cursed and becomes a wolf. In Norse legends, the goddess Freyja could change into a hawk by wearing a cloak of hawk feathers.

Some shifters were naturally born shifters. If you were Fae, chances are you were born with your abilities. Selkies, for example, were pretty much born into being selkies and not changed by a curse or magic.

Another popular way to become a shifter was for another shifter such as a werewolf to bite or scratch you. Then, you received the curse that the shifter had. Along those lines, a full moon could change people into werewolves, possibly related to Artemis/Diana legends and the strange behavior some people seem to show around full moons (at least anecdotally).