Ra rolls his flaming orb across the sky;
its rays are captured in the eyes
of cats, sacred creatures of mystery,
revered as a deity and symbol of fertility.
In my cats’ eyes solar flares flash
green and amber every night,
when Bastet the goddess beast
protects the Pharaoh
and stalks the dark
until the sun climbs in the east.
Kim M. Russell, 2018
My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Day 21: Mythical Creatures
Brendan says that our animal cousins have never been far from us, especially while we sleep. We only think we’re different. He has given us an interesting summary of humans’ connection to animals scientifically and mythically. He tells us that in myth, transformation from human to animal is a commonplace; for example, in Greek myth Cyncus, who grieved the fall of his friend Phaeton so deeply that he turned into a swan; Philomena’s rape and disfigurement transforms her into a nightingale whose song pierces the heart; and Actaeon the hunter is turned into a stag while spying on naked Artemis in her bath and then devoured by his own dogs. He says that when human and animal pair, the result is never sure, resulting in, for example, the Minotaur on the one hand and on the other Helen, whose beauty launched a thousand ships. Some gods are animals and some mythical monsters are animals or combinations of animals, such as the griffin – eagle and lion- and Scylla – a many-tentacled she-beast whose lair is just before the mouth of Charybdis, the whirlpooling monster.
Brendan’s challenge is to pick an animal and write its myth. We can riff on existing tales or concoct our own. We can put beloved pets in folktales or walk a mile in an animal’s paws.