Paranormal Inspiration for Stories
Mythology as Inspiration
Myths, legends and folk tales are all stories in the beginning. They are said to be based on true events and encounters which people had with supernatural beings or cryptids such as dragons or fairies. Because they contain this grain of truth in their hearts they are wonderful inspiration for other stories, not entirely truthful, but, which, in their execution seem so, and are therefore all the more believable and enthralling.
The mythology of many cultures have been used in various contemporary retellings, which are often as captivating as the originals in many ways, since, even within the original tales, there was great divergence in adherence to fact (if such it was). Because of this, to research the Greek pantheon, one encounters a very muddled lineage and connections between characters is not always consistent. This is the case in most mythology, probably because of the great age of the original stories; the distance in time causing distortions and modifications to be made to the tales along the way, much like the effect of Chinese whispers.
Modern retellings of such tales can, therefore, often supplant these older, more jumbled versions, in the minds of younger audiences. For example the Marvel superhero Thor based on the thunder god of Asgard is now the definitive version of that character to many.
Apparently unexplained phenomena have been going on much longer than recent media reports would lead us to believe.
For example, it seems mysterious airships roamed the skies before the term Unidentified Flying Object had even been thought of. Were these blimp like craft secret tests by mad inventers, as the news reports of the time (1890's) would have had people believe? Or were they really the precursors to flying saucers and powered by aliens looking us over?
Categorising phenomena is difficult. There are many unusual things seen in the skies. Some flying like the airships, UFO's and the like, and even unknown creatures like dragons have been seen undulating through the stratosphere and closer to earth. Angels have been witnessed soaring up into clouds too. But some are simply strangely shaped kites or models designed to fool people.
Yet there have been huge, miraculous visions of flaming crosses and ghostly armies, seen by whole towns and villages. These are not so easy to explain.
On the ground curious footprints lead superstitious people to believe that the devil has been walking among them and crop circles, formed out of thin air in a matter of minutes were originally believed to be caused by Satan too. Now it is considered that UFO's cause them.
And sea serpents still roam in lakes and lochs, frequenting seaports and being tracked on radar (though not as often as they used to). Unknown species are being discovered all the time in the most extreme of locations. Most cryptozoological specimens, however, soon turn out to be hoaxes stitched together bits of other animals, but some - just some - may be more interesting.
Omens in the Skies
Ancient tales of Selkies, seals who turned into people abound in Scottish and Irish folklore. Werewolves - humans who turned into wolves at the full moon are one of the oldest of all, as shown by the etymology. Were=man in old English, which is a word no longer in use anywhere else. In sea and on land the two creatures who lived closest to Man became known to be able to become men.
Sirens, Harpies, Mermaids, and enchantresses turning themselves into animal form speak of the most ancient of humankind's religious beliefs. Worship of Nature. That, in many ways we have returned to that state, regarding the Universe in all its vast scope and majesty to be the one thing we still do not understand, and so worthy of awe, is telling. The new myths for our generation are science fiction's flights of fancy. Yet within them, if some essence of the ancient myths can be captured, then, truly they will shine for many millennia to come.
In science fiction and fantasy now there is the ability to create new and more wonderful fabulations of the mind. But if you think how long the first mythical creatures have been around it is not surprising that many authors choose to incorporate those well-loved and known beasts into their tales.
Dragons are perhaps the most popular in literary terms as either killer beasts or stalwart companions. Perhaps it is this dual guise that has made them the most flexible and often used fantasy creature. They are also equally available for fantasy or science fiction settings.
The emergence of UFO's in popular culture, just before the advent of the space race, may not be a coincidence. If we are going to find the little green men then they may well come and find us first! The ubiquitous alien described by so many close encounters is another staple.
Dragons in Real Life
Recently I was looking up some videos of dragons seen in real life and found some interesting stories which I thought might be of interest. Since dragons are my personal favourite mythical creatures I was fascinated to learn that many people believe that they do still exist in remote parts of the world and especially in China.
Dragons in the Sky
It is impossible to know if any mythical creatures or unusual phenomena are real. There are not many facts which can be proven one way or another. However it is great fun to research them and they continually give me inspiration for stories.
Next week I will go into detail about some specific story idea I have had based on distinct phenomena. I may also drop in the start of a serial.