Borrowing from mythology

I was chatting to a friend about Christmas this week – and how many religions have a festival around this time of year. Any culture which emerged outside of the tropics will have found ways to make the long winter nights more bearable. It goes right back to pagan times and most cultures ‘borrowed’ from the practices of their predecessors to make their own preferences more acceptable. That’s why Christmas is in December – so that the indiginous pagan cultures would be more inclined to accept the incoming religion.

So, it seemed entirely appropriate that, in the development of my fictional culture of Bremmand I too borrowed from other ancient cultures to give my books colour. One key example of this is in the use of tree worship.

Tree worship is a pagan tradition and when someone sent me some Celtic tree characteristics a few years ago it seemed highly appropriate to my civilisation. In the original, when you were born is assigned to a tree and each tree shapes your personality.  So if, like me your birthday is 20th January your tree is the Elm and this has a character as follows:

ELM TREE (Noble-Minded) – pleasant shape, tasteful clothes, loudest demands, tends not to forgive mistakes, cheerful, likes to lead but not to obey, honest and faithful partner, likes making decisions for others, noble-minded, generous, good sense of humour, practical.

In the original, trees come up more than once in a year, and it changes every 12 days. All I did to make it work for Bremmand Chronicles was to apply my own calendar – which works in moon-cycles – and adjust the definitions a bit to fit some of my key characters. What could be easier? The whole of the original and my adaptations of the tree mythology is in on my website if you want to know more.

One of the great blessings of writing narrative fiction is this ability to adapt from the real world – I’ve used a real mixture of cultures and technologies to make up an ancient society and no one can see it wouldn’t work that way because Bremmand is my kingdom so it works just the way I want it to.


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