Tag Archives: William O’ Connor

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Griffin

Then silently it landed with its wings completely spread But never moved its gaze from Galen's face it must be said. The monarch screeched with lifted head, its brow in regal frown, And Galen trembled as he kneeled and laid his burden down. From: The Kraken by Robert Lambert Jones III
Then silently it landed with its wings completely spread
But never moved its gaze from Galen’s face it must be said.
The monarch screeched with lifted head, its brow in regal frown,
And Galen trembled as he kneeled and laid his burden down.
From: The Kraken by Robert Lambert Jones III

 

My brother-in-law, James P. Wood, made the above illustration to go with a scene from my first story poem, The Kraken, in which the main character has an encounter with the Griffin King. I obviously borrowed this creature from existing mythology and medieval heraldry, and it appears in historical and current coats of arms, two examples of which are shown below.

Crimean Coat of Arms
Crimean Coat of Arms

 

Flag: Utti Jaeger Regiment, Finnish Army
Flag: Utti Jaeger Regiment, Finnish Army

The Griffin (or Gryphon) has the head, wings, and legs of an eagle at its front and the body, hind legs and tail of a lion. It is similar to the Hippogriff, which is the offspring of a Griffin and a mare (see the appropriately titled earlier post in this series for more on the Hippogriff). In heraldry, the Griffin represents courage, boldness, and skill in battle. It was sometimes given significance in Christian symbolism.

Perhaps my favorite rendition of a Griffin is this one made by John Tenniel for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I like the way the artist places it in the pose of a sleeping dog.

griffin-3

Of course, I must offer the requisite version by William O’ Connor from Dracopedia: The Bestiary.

griffin-4

I will leave you with one more illustration by James P. Wood from The Kraken.

Amid the whir and flutter of appendages, they sailed In feathered flight. A mighty squad, through azure skies they trailed. From: The Kraken by Robert Lambert Jones III
Amid the whir and flutter of appendages, they sailed
In feathered flight. A mighty squad, through azure skies they trailed.
From: The Kraken by Robert Lambert Jones III

The Kraken can be ordered on Amazon by clicking here.

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Freybug

"Best to stop," the Shedu cautioned. "Hidden by the hoot of owl, I perceive the furtive footsteps of the Freybug on the prowl." From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
“Best to stop,” the Shedu cautioned. “Hidden by the hoot of owl,
I perceive the furtive footsteps of the Freybug on the prowl.”
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

Also called the Hellhound and a Warg, the Freybug is something of a demonic canine from medieval English folklore. Perhaps the most famous Hellhound is Cerberus from Greek mythology. This is the three-headed dog who stands as the keeper to the gates of Hell. Milton even included him in his epic poem, Paradise Lost, which I recommend reading if you have the patience.

Cerberus and Hades (Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete, Greece).
Cerberus and Hades (Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete, Greece).

The twelfth labor of Heracles was to bring back Cerberus. Here are two selections which portray this.

Cerberus and Heracles, etching by Antonio Tempesta (Florence, Italy, 1555-1630).
Cerberus and Heracles, etching by Antonio Tempesta (Florence, Italy, 1555-1630).

Heracles and Cerberus (1636) by Peter Paul Rubens.
Heracles and Cerberus (1636) by Peter Paul Rubens.

On a more personal note, my oldest daughter owns a rescue dog whom she named Cerberus (Cerbie for short). Despite her large size and  ominous name, she’s actually an amiable pooch.

As a final offering for your viewing pleasure, here is the rendering of a Freybug by William O’ Connor from his Dracopedia: The Bestiary.

freybug

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Alphyn

Leonid, with eagle's talons, wingless, though, with knotted tail, Through the mist, an Alphyn sentry stared them down and gave them hail. From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
Leonid, with eagle’s talons, wingless, though, with knotted tail,
Through the mist, an Alphyn sentry stared them down and gave them hail.
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

 

The Alphyn combines various characteristics of a lion, a dragon, an eagle and a wolf, so it is a type of chimera. It has a long, knotted tail. For my poem, The Staff in the Tree, I chose to interpret it as a lion with eagle’s feet, but historically only the forelimbs are those of an eagle. In heraldry, it was sometimes used as a symbol for judgment, and it appeared on various coats of arms.

Coat of arms for the Alphyn Union, a Caldavakian alliance.
Coat of arms for the Alphyn Union, a Caldavakian alliance.

Below is a more modern rendition by William O’ Connor, a well known fantasy artist who specializes in mythological creatures.

From Dracopedia: The Bestiary by William O' Connor.
From Dracopedia: The Bestiary by William O’ Connor.

My first drawing is a bit cartoonish (actually, I have a hard time escaping this), so let’s try again…

"Turn around," the Alphyn ordered, "or your lives will soon be through." Said the leader in defiance, "I see only one of you." From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
“Turn around,” the Alphyn ordered, “or your lives will soon be through.”
Said the leader in defiance, “I see only one of you.”
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

Next post: another week, another creature.

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Enfield

Said the wily, flitting Enfield, auburn fox with wings of gray, "Have you seen the Spirit Father? What, exactly, did he say?" From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
Said the wily, flitting Enfield, auburn fox with wings of gray,
“Have you seen the Spirit Father? What, exactly, did he say?”
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

 

The Enfield is a type of chimera which combines the features of a fox, an eagle, a lion, a greyhound, and a wolf. In heraldry, it stood for subtlety, cunning, fierceness, and fortitude. It appeared on coats of arms.

An Enfield is on the right side and on the shield in the coat of arms for the Borough of London.
An Enfield is on the right side and on the shield in the coat of arms for the Borough of London.

Here is an interesting interpretation by famed fantasy artist, William O’ Connor:

From Dracopedia: The Bestiary by William O' Connor.
From Dracopedia: The Bestiary by William O’ Connor.

In the drawing at the top of the page, I simply portrayed the Enfield as a winged fox. It afforded me an easier rhyme, and it was something I felt I could actually draw with more skill.

Another chimeric cutie will be featured next week.