Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Myth of the Easter Bunny

With the Easter holidays just ending, I thought that it would be appropriate to go on a bit about the mythology behind the Easter bunny and how he was created. When we think about Easter we think about chocolate bunnies and coloured eggs hidden for children to find. But how did it all start?

The holiday was named after the Saxon goddess Oestre or Easter. Bringing an end to winter and having a passion for creating new life, she brought an end to winter, making the days brighter and longer. Wherever she went, plants flowered and babies were born-- both animal and human. The rabbit, known for its rapid reproduction, was her sacred animal.

One year, after feeling guilty about arriving late one spring, Easter came across a bird whose wings had been frozen in the snow. Saving its life, it became her pet, but it could no longer fly. She turned him into snow hare and gave him the gift of being able to run incredibly fast to protect himself. In order to remind him of his earlier form as a bird, she gave him the ability to lay eggs in all the colours of the rainbow, only one day a year.

One day, he angered the Goddess. She cast him into the skis to become a constellation (what we know as Lepus-- the hare), right below the feet of Orion. He was allowed to return to earth once each year, but only to give away his eggs to the children who attended the festivals held in her honour each spring.

And thus explains how the story of the Easter bunny began. What do you enjoy most about the holiday? Is it the chocolate? The gathering with family? Or is it the hunt for candy eggs?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dreams in books

Last week I talked a bit about dreams because well, they're something everyone experiences. Dreams are also something that play a lot of part in novels. Why?

Dreams are an insight into a character's mind, but just like anything, there's a line. It doesn't matter how great the dream is written, there's a time and place for them. They need to move the plot or else they are just there to drag the story down. But, when used effectively, the reader gets to know the character on a whole new level.

When it comes to Paranormal, often times, the dream becomes part of the plot. Psychic characters may be able to slip into the dreams of others or even control that of the sleeper. They may be prophetic dreams or something else entirely. This can be because dreams (along with meditation and various shaman practices) enhance and relax the conscious, directing brain activity from the left hemisphere to stimulate the limbic system to be more active than the cortex, allowing for a breeding ground of psychic abilities. A few of these abilities could be, for instance, clairvoyance (i.e. a psychic chasing down a serial killer), precognition (i.e. Harry Potter dreaming of Voldemort) or even out-of-body experiences (i.e. where the dreamer may not know it, but they are in an altered state of mind and wandering outside in the real world unknown to anyone else).

There are a lot of things that writers can do. So many possibilities. Can you thin of more instances where dreams are used in plots? What are your favourites?

There are a lot of options.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Commence the weird dreams

I don't know about you, but I have weird dreams. So weird that sometimes, I wonder what's it all supposed to symbolize. For instance, the other night, I dreamt I was walking on a bridge with two other friends and noticed something moving in the water. After a bit, we realized it was a body of a woman floating upside down. My friend Theresa Breaux dove in and got the woman out... who was fine out of the water. I was calling 911 and trying to explain where we were on this bridge...but then for some reason we didn't stick around. I somehow then was in my apartment (not an apartment I know but somehow it was mine) and this guy breaks in. From that point on I couldn't leave or do anything. I was like a hostage in some kind of a messed up relationship. Even when a friend I haven't seen in years came over, I kept on whispering and mouthing at her to call 911 and get me help because I couldn't help myself.

The dream trailed off a bit but still weird!

Then last night, I dreamt I had another mind in my body. A guy mind. And it was just weird cause there was something like trying to find the body and there was some kind of a relationship brewing in the midst of it. So yeah, very weird. I'm not even sure how I would being to try and decipher it.

So what are dreams? According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, dreams are a successions of images ideas, emotions and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.

From Wiki:

There are many other hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:

-Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.
-Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.
-Jung suggested that dreams may compensate for one-sided attitudes held in waking consciousness.
-Ferenczi proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
-Dreams regulate mood
-Hartmann says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place" and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.
-Joe Griffin, following a twelve-year review of data from all major sleep laboratories, led to the formulation of the expectation fulfillment theory of dreaming, which suggests that dreaming metaphorically completes patterns of emotional expectation in the autonomic nervous system and lowers stress levels in mammals.

What do you think? Do you think dreams mean something? Or are they just random things your mind concocts? Do you have weird dreams?