So right now I'm working on a story that contains a lot of divination magic and there's a character in it that reads tarot cards, so I'm putting together a fictional deck of tarot cards made up solely of mythical creatures. I've put together a list of potential tarot cards and their meanings, for example:
Unicorn: Peace and healing (physical or mental)
Pheonix: Change and rebirth
Banshee: Death and loss
Kelpie: Deception and betrayal
Succubus: Lust and desire
Sphinx: Wisdom and personal growth
Pixie: Mischief and playfulness
Leprechaun: Luck and wealth
Vampire: Draining (physical/emotional/financial)
Werewolf: Loss of control
Etc, etc... Obviously, I've got no shortage of mythical creatures to choose from (thank you wikipedia) the issue is sifting through all of them to find creatures that fit specific meanings. So for instance, I'm having a hard time finding a creature that represents love. I guess I could use a cherub/cupid type being but I'm not particularly keen on those and would prefer an extremely benevolent animal type creature. Anybody got any ideas?
Also, any ideas for a creature that could represent any kind of emotion/life event would be great. Things like:
Or any other concept that you might relate to which ever creature you're suggesting.
The creature can be from any culture, but I would prefer if the names were easily read (i.e. you can pronounce them in your head without having to think about it.), so no Ceffyl Dŵr or Tsuchigumo please. Also no Gods as the story I'm working on has it's own religions. Thank you! ^_^
I found an animal who could be associated with love; the moon hare/moon rabbit. It's basically a rabbit companion for Chang'e (the sad moon goddess love story who brew an elixer of immortality yadayada, forced to go to the moon, lover dies on earth)
Witte Wieven/juffers : vengeance, maliciousness, mist, graves, child swappers.
Cyclops: craftsmanship and strength OR brutishness and sheep (depends whether you choose the Odyssey or the creation myth as your guideline)
Not sure about the moon rabbit I'm afraid, as the story is set in an alternate world with three moons (I suppose it's possible that one of the moons might contain the image of a rabbit but highly improbable.)
I like the idea of Witte Wieven as maliciousness, but according to wikipedia they were originally depicted as benevolent until they were bastardized by Christianity because... You know... Witch = Bad. Burn them with fire! But I'm sure I can find another spirit with a very similar story. I know La Llarona likes to drown children. ^_^
Cyclops I'm not personally keen on using just because they look super derpy to me.
Caladrius I definitely plan on using. I already have unicorn for healing but I think I might have Caladrius represent sacrifice. (Would prefer to have a creature that actually gives it's own life to save humans, but I'm having trouble finding one of those.)
To represent all three moons use a Jackalope, a Wolpertinger and an Al-Mi'raj. All three are monster bunnies.
Hatred- The Bonnacon is a medieval animal that's basically a type of large wildebeest who, rather than charging with its horns, prefers to turn tail and shit its enemy to death with boiling-hot acid diarrhea.
Danger- The Keythong is a type of griffin that, in lieu of wings, is covered in jutting spines. I feel like that's pretty dangerous.
Freedom- In medieval writings, the "Pantheon" is a heraldic animal that's sort of like a deer with a fox tail. Its fur tends to be either black or blue, but some people portray it as red if it has noble connotations. Because of its association with the night sky, it's actually become used in logos for aerospace institutions in the UK and Canada- But something that's fast like a deer, tricky like a fox, and looks like the sky itself, is probably quite a wild and un-catchable thing.
Power- In medieval writings a panther is not just a black cat. The Leopard and the Antelope didn't start out as the real animals we know today either. We adapted these names from older things just like the Japanese refer to giraffes as kirin (a kind of antlered dragon-unicorn) and tapir as baku (an ethereal trunked fairy-monster that eats bad dreams). A panther is still a big cat, of course, but it's a colorful animal, often blue, with many-colored spots. If you thought Aslan was a little heavy-handed with the jesus symbolism, a Panther's head is wreathed in a halo of shimmering flame when it's awake, and it sleeps in a cave for three days just like that one guy slept in a tomb for a while. Whenever it rises, it roars out into the wilderness and the animals come to it like the beginning of the Lion King, which is where the Panther eats another creature from the court assembled and repeats the cycle.
Family- The Hoopoe is also technically a real bird, but it's also a medieval fantasy bird. Hoopoes are said to care for their elderly parents by trimming off their old feathers and licking their cataracts away like a dog licks a wound, which rejuvenates the old bird. This trait is also given to storks. Pelicans are said to alternately feed their chicks with their own blood since birds have no milk, or strike their own offspring dead when their attempts to drink blood become too much, and then use some power to bring the chicks back from death when they have learned their lesson. Such sacrifice, such miracles, surely these allegories could all be combined into one super-bird for some kind of absolutely deranged family metaphor.
No. No magic burning diarreha shit monster.
The rest sound pretty cool. Though I'd be reluctant to use mythical animals that share a name with real animals at the risk of confusing stupid people... That said, I've never actually heard of a Hoopoe, so I might be able to get away with that one. ^_^
I think Hippocampus would work for loyalty. A Satyr for freedom. Dragon/Wyvern would obviously work well for greed.
Thinking of using the Satyr to represent merriment and debauchery, but yeah, definitely a dragon for greed. Hippocampus are pretty awesome sounding creatures and would make for a very pretty tarot card, though I'm not quite sure what about them represents loyalty. Care to elaborate? ^_^
Hippocampi are seen as the loyal steeds of Poseidon. They're known for being good-natured and helpful. :)
Yeah, but Poseidon doesn't exist in this world, so there's no God for them to be loyal to.
Some really great suggestions there.
Drow I'm pretty sure are actually copyrighted but I could potentially find another name for the same creature. (I think Svelk rolls off the tongue quite nicely. Don't think anybody's used that term before.)
Basilisk for danger is a great idea, though I think I'd rather use a cockatrice since the basilisk puts in mind too much of Harry Potter and they're pretty much the same thing.
Was thinking I might have the griffin represent strength/power. For loyalty I'd prefer a creature that actually serves humans, like a familiar (though I'm not keen on the name and will try to find either another name for the same creature, or another creature with similar loyalties to humans)
For sacrifice, I'd much rather use a creature that sacrifices itself rather than one that demands sacrifice of others, though I am having trouble finding one.
Angels and demons I would prefer to avoid because they're more related to religion than mythology.
Gorgons are cool. I like gorgons. Though I might have them represent something a bit more complex than fear though. Not sure what.
Minotaur I'm not so sure of. While the minotaur was super cool, I'm pretty sure that the minotaur was an individual rather than a species, and I'm trying to avoid things like The Minotaur/Pegasus/The Rainbow Serpent where only one exists. I feel like if only one exists then that ties them too closely to the original myth they stem from, making it feel like they don't really belong in a world where that myth doesn't exist. Shame because I'd really like to use a winged horse for a card, but as far as I can find, Pegasus was the only one. (I should really be less fussy.) Think I might have a kraken represent destruction.
Djinn I think I might use for wish fulfillment rather than trickery since it's such a specific power they have and I already have the kelpie for deception.
Golem for obedience/subserviece, definitely yes. Great call!
Centaur for wildness, yes, definitely.
Ents I think are too heavily associated with Lord of the Rings. Maybe dryads instead I like dryads.
Wendigo yes, but I think I'll have it represent bloodlust or a desire to kill.
Thanks so much, my list is expanding nicely. ^_^
Heh, I was actually thinking of the sacrificing of its own life and humanity in order to attain its twisted immortality for the lich.
I just thought of one for love: one of my favorite mythological creatures, the hippogriff, from one of my favorite Renaissance Italian epic poems, Orlando Furioso. According to Wikipedia, in some traditions, it's a symbol of love. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippogriff#Beliefs_and_symbolism Just don't think about its Harry Potter appearance.
Yeah, was thinking of avoiding the Hippogriff because 1. It's association with Harry Potter. 2. It's so similar to the Griffin.
Also I find that, when looking up creatures heraldic meanings, there's not really a lot of meaning behind them. For instance, the Hippogriff represents love, but why? Who does the hippogriff love? How much does it love them? While Hippogriffs are benevolent in nature, I can't seem to find anything particularly loving about them.
Would prefer to find a creature that actually displays it's love in some way or other, but I've got a huge wikepedia list to go through. I'll find one somewhere. ^_^
In regards of Love, really difficult to find anything that isn't very creepy or disturbing.
Ehh, you also have Swan maidens (you know swan turns into human kind, the stories seem less malicious so...), kitsune/fox spirits (same thing, but they are depicted more as assholes and pranksters)
The one that is actually the most wholesome would be Bai Suzhen, a white snake from the legend of the white snake. I think her husband still loved her after finding out he was married to a snake. Wiki. It's just that an average western reader would probably be a bit peeved if they find out that a white snake is the symbol of love. Lol
Yeah, it seems like you either have to choose between evil succubus seductresses or animal shapeshifters.
Might just go with a cupid after all. That or change the meaning of unicorn.
You could go with nymphs for love
Could do. Suppose I've been avoiding nymhs because they're pretty similar to dryads. But there are different kinds of nymph. I could always use another. ^_^
Awh! Forbidden love. That's so cute! ^_^
Says "Drow" are a Norse/Scottish mythological race and can't be copyrighted. (No matter how much Wizards of the Coast might want to)
Though other than the fetish of having hawt half naked dark elven women running around I imagine if you made them exactly like the ones from D&D (Spider worshippers, etc) then you'd run into potential issues.
From what I understand, they're considered copywrited if they have black skin. Can't remember where I read that. That said, there are plenty of different names for drow. Dark elves, Dusk elves, Dökkálfar, Svartálfar, Myrkálfar. Just wish they were easier to pronounce.
Svartalfar - black elves
Elf - elf
Dokkalfar - dark elves
Sven - Sven
Elk - Elk
I hate the frozen moose, he looks like a miserable little creep. One of the most evil things Disney has ever done, was take the most adorable and majestic beast that God has ever been generous enough to allow us to domesticate and use it as an excuse to create this foul and wretched thing that looks like both of the deuteragonists from Open Season at once. He profanes the very guild of animated ruminants, all of them. I hate his foul grubhub face. He looks comprehensively wrong, like he's supposed to talk with a weird man's voice but he doesn't talk at all and leaves us in suspense. Every time I see the frozen cow and am reminded of what it is meant to be I recoil from it. That image alone looks like it has a smell. It has to be the most abjectly disgusting of the childrens movie sidekicks I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing in a movie from my lifetime, and that's saying a lot because the spiderleg-haired snow goblin is in the same fucking movie and I don't hate him even 1/30th as much by comparison. Blast and damn the frozen moose, may he be stamped to bits by wild boars and distributed among the ravens.
Really? I always hated the retarded snowman more. I was so disappointed at the end of the movie when he didn't melt.
Avery, I'm mistaken by the assumption that there are no mythological beings that are associated with love and not in a weird creepy way or something that won't gel with the average western readers base like shapeshifters, nymphs or a snake.
What about a Jian bird? It's a bird with one eye and one wing, who cannot fly on its own without a partner. During my own fairy tale deepdive I suddenly remembered this bird. So far as I recall, this bird will probably fit right in and the name is not too hard either.
And it's not a humanoid!
OMG, this shit is perfect! Yes! Definitely. I shall use this bird and I shall make it all pretty and colourful like a cross between a peacock and a parrot and a toucan and a hummingbird because fuck what they're actually supposed to look like, I like pretty colours! Thank you Darius! Have a commendation because I've only just realized I can commend people and want to exploit it. ^_^
Okay, I have a task for you guys. I think I've got an almost complete list of all the mythical creatures I'm going to use in my tarot deck, but there's one important one missing. Sacrifice.
Right now, I have the Caladrius representing sacrifice, since it heals sick humans by taking the sickness on itself... But, according to wikipedia, the Caladrius actually benefits from this action rather than becoming sick itself, so it isn't really a sacrifice. I would prefer to have Caladrius represent healing and have some other creature represent sacrifice. A really benevolent creature that actually makes a personal sacrifice in order to benefit others.
So far, the best example I can find it the legend of Gelert. One day, King Llywelyn of Wales goes out hunting and is surprised by the absence of Gelert, his faithful wolfhound. After the hunt, he returns to his palace to find his baby's crib overturned, the baby nowhere in sight and his dog Gelert standing nearby with his mouth covered in blood. Convinced that Gelert killed his baby, the King stabs the dog with his hunting knife. As the dog lets out his dying yelp, the King hears the cries of his baby son. He then lifts the upturned crib to find his baby unharmed, next to the body of a dead wolf that Gelert had killed when it tried to harm the baby. Overcome with remorse, the King buries his dog with great ceremony and the town is renamed "Beddgelert" meaning "Gelert's Grave".
I was very tempted to use this as the card for sacrifice, with only one tiny little problem... It's not a mythical creature. It's just a regular dog. Tried to find a way to spin the story to make the dog more magical but... Didn't really work. Just a dog.
So, if anybody can find any example of some kind of mythical creature that made a personal sacrifice in order to help someone (preferably a human, but potentially an animal or another mythical creature (not a God please, because that God will not exist in the world I'm writing)) I would be most grateful and shower them with love, gratitude and commendations because I can do that shit now! ^_^
The Phoenix sacrifices itself to hatch its child (or rebirth/reincarnation)
Baku protects people by eating nightmares. Not sure if it suffers any ill effects from this though that would be considered a sacrifice. In fact, you shouldn't call upon them too often, because if they're still hungry after eating your nightmares, they'll eat your hopes/desires as well, leaving you with an "empty" life. Which technically is a sacrifice, but just not to the detriment of the creature.
Thanks End! Think I'd rather just have the Pheonix representing rebirth.
Baku... Maybe, maybe. Might conveniently leave the part about eating hopes/desires out.