Have you ever appropriated elements of the worlds’ mythologies without researching them first? When I was younger, usually one image was enough to inspire something in me, and so I would roll with it, without considering things like the origin myths (and how they might help me or make me further avoid the road I was heading down).
I’m going to assume that most of the readers on here have heard of Yggdrasil before, or have at least seen images of it. The giant ash tree that holds together the world. The tree that Odin called “noblest of all trees” before sacrificing himself upon it.
I didn’t. The very first picture of Yggdrasil that I ran across didn’t even look like a tree:
The graph has inspired me several times for many stories (which is unfortunate, because when I play favorites on a theme, I really play favorites. Case in point: In 2013, 80% of my short stories dealt with death in some way).
I won’t go super into detail about everything its inspired me for, but it’s a good example among many. I borrow a lot of elements from non-European sources these days, mainly because I think elements of central European and Christian stories are overdone in fiction, but Yggdrasil is an interesting point for me.
I recently have decided I want to get up to speed on all of the Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies that I skipped out on learning as a teenager (mainly because one of my favorite authors is writing a bunch of LGBT works in the Greek world of gods and goddesses and I have no idea what’s going on), so I looked up Yggdrasil.
Independently of the image above, I made a tree central to my plot in the stories influenced by the graph. Not only that, but I have the main, tragic antagonist run around with one eye missing. Sound familiar?
It’s kinda cool, now that I think about it. It seems that there really are some tropes that are just ingrained into us, no matter what culture we come from.
If you’ve incorporated mythology into your work, what would you say surprised you, or helped you most from the experience?