The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!
This month’s theme is mythological creatures, and anyone who’s been following along with my writing prompt posts can probably have a good guess at where my first thoughts went, being Welsh: dragons! What mythological creatures leap to mind for you?
I said dragons were the first creatures to leap to mind (there’s a dragon on the Welsh flag, after all), and they’re deep at the root of some of my favourite myths and legends. (For example, the origin story of Merlin, in Arthurian legends, involves two dragons fighting under the foundations of a castle and causing it to fall down repeatedly.) That said, we’re nearing the Christmas season, and I have another sort of creature in mind: the Mari Lwyd.
Strictly speaking, the Mari Lwyd isn’t really a mythological creature. Traditionally, a Mari Lwyd is a horse’s skull mounted onto a stick and carried round by a person hidden beneath a cloth. It’d be carried around the village or town by a group, who would knock on doors and demand entry, with the Mari causing havoc by snapping its jaws and making a mischief of itself. It was basically an excuse for a party, with lots of food and drink and horsing around. My first meeting with a Mari Lwyd wasn’t like that, though: I read about it in a fantasy novel, Susan Cooper’s Silver on the Tree, where it’s a living creature of sorts, and chases two of the protagonists. It’s a genuinely tense and creepy scene, and part of a book I really love, so perhaps it’s no surprise the Mari Lwyd is deep in my imagination!
Of late, I’ve noticed a lot of people in the wider world talking about Mari Lwyd traditions online, sometimes adding their own flourishes (which is fine, as far as I’m concerned—I’m sure the Mari has caused mischief in many ways over the years). Every year, someone sends me some variant of the image I’ve included with this post: “If you’re cold, they’re cold. Let the Mari Lwyd in.” (I’ve received my first one this year, in November! Like mince pies going on sale, the Mari Lwyd seems to begin earlier every year…) The actual history of the tradition is mixed and confusing, but you can read more about it on Wikipedia if you’re interested in the ins and outs.
So this month, let’s hear about your mythological creatures! Are they creepy or friendly? How seriously are they taken? Are there any interesting traditions about them? You can answer in the comments on this post, or write about them in the postcards you send this month. Or both!