Sunday, September 11, 2016

Folktales—Open Book Blog Hop

When I first started writing Wolves' Pawn, I knew I didn't want my wolves to be bound by the traditional rules of werewolves. No changing only at with the full moon, I wanted my characters to be able to shift at will. But in order to break the rules, I needed first to understand what the rules were.

Which led me to research the lore of shifters from around the globe. And most particularly, the stories of shifters in Native American legends and beliefs. What I found fascinated me. There is a large variety of shifter tales and not just wolves. I mention several of them in the book.

One of these is the Navajo skinwalker. The skinwalker is a creature of great evil. Legend has it that they are tribal medicine men who, after achieving power, kill a member of their family. They gain the ability to change into the shape of any animal, but primarily favor coyote, fox, crow and wolf. 

Skinwalkers are described in some stories as being able to read human thoughts. They are also said to
be able to mimic the sound of any animal. In some of the stories they are part man part beast, other stories have them changing fully into animal form.

Traditionally, the Navajo are reluctant to talk about skinwalkers, If you'd like to check out some supposedly authentic modern-day stories, here's a link. Skinwalker Stories. What follows is one of the antecedents which includes many of the standard elements of skinwalker tales. 

This didn’t happen to me but a very close friend of mine. I’ve heard a lot about coyotes and Skinwalkers, and had a weird experience or two with coyotes (creepiest was waking up to my sleeping bag being surrounded in paw prints without ever hearing them during the night) but never anything paranormal so to speak. Patrick’s story, however, kept me from going back to a favorite backcountry secret stash.
He was leaving the area one morning, had been camping there a couple days and said there was a coyote that always seemed to be close by, like in his peripheral vision but never overt. He loaded up his truck and started to drive down the wash out to the fire road. At the end of the wash, he could see the coyote following him. When he pulled onto the road, it was running next to him. Now he was freaked out, so he sped up. He said he was going 35 or so, and it was running along beside him. Definitely not possible. When he looked back, the coyote was running on two legs and was wearing what Patrick said looked like buckskin pants. An instant later, it was a person wearing a coyote fur keeping pace with his truck. When he looked again… It was gone.

We never went back to the grove after that.

Credit to Sean Reveron.

I ended up not using the skinwalker abilities in my book, although I do make reference to the legend. The Navajo aren't the only tribe with shifter stories, and the shape that shifters take vary from tribe to tribe.

To find out what folktales the other authors are talking about, follow the links below.

Additional rescources

Sept. 12 - Folktales -
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  1. In my mother's culture, skinwalker is wendigo. Mom used to scare the tar out of me with her bedtime stories.

    1. What I found interesting is how many cultures have shifter stories. It's a world-wide thing.

  2. I must admit I had never heard of shape-shifters or skinwalkers until I became an author 3 years ago and joined the social media network. I've obviously missed out!