Korreds: The Underground Folk of Brittany

Korreds (also called Korrs) are guardians of treasures and standing stones in the folklore of Brittany (northwestern France). They prefer to live underground, in caves under the dolmens. They might also live under heaths, in sea-cliff caves, or in natural caverns. The related teuz and poulpikan types live in bogs or swamps.

Korreds have the strength of giants despite their small stature. They are said to live beneath the dolmen stones of Brittany. They have bright red eyes, dark skin, and often a hunched back. They are prophets as well as magicians, and are said to know the secrets of all treasures hidden in their neighborhood. They congregate around stone circles and love dancing but are more malevolent than other Gallic faeries. They are sometimes called bogul noz, “Children of the Night.”

The main delight of korreds is in dancing, which they do so vigorously that the grass burns in circles under their feet. They only dance at night, and usually on Wednesday, their traditional day off. They react with violence to mortals who disturb their dance-rituals, although mortals may be swept up in the ecstasy of the dance. Korreds are not always unkind to mortals, but they are never overly friendly.

In ancient times, Phoenician dwarves or sprites arrived in Brittany and intermarried with certain families of korreds. These dwarves were both kouretes (courètes) and karkinoi, another word for kabeiroi (carikines). Modern korreds are divided into the “old korreds,” the original pure lineage, and the “new korreds” who have a bit of this foreign heritage. Old Korred lineages include: Jetins (somewhat shorter), Vihans (also shorter), Hommes Cornus (from Gascony), Corics, Kerions, Kouricans, Gwazig-Gan, Kourils (or Courils), and Korandon. New Korred lineages include: Corriquets, Guerrionets, Korriks, Boudiguets, C’Horriquets, Corrandonnets, and Kornikaned (carry small horns on their belts).

In other parts of France, these beings are known as crions. They are also found in the Pyrenees and in Cornwall, where they are known as spriggans. Unlike spriggans, korreds are apparently unable able to grow to giant size.

The Evolution of Fae

Alas, the title of Leo Elijah Cristea’s most recent post on the fae is not a reference to how these beings emerged and diversified through random mutation and natural selection. It is, however, a wonderful discussion of the varieties of Fair Folk one encounters in myth and literature. In particular, this post tries to tackle those elements that are recognizable as at least suggestive of faeries in world mythology, always admitting that whatever overlap (or identity) is claimed must only be claimed with due appreciation for how the source cultures themselves do different things with their various nature spirits, angels, or what have you.

If we delve back in time and focus on the birth of these various stories, even widening our net and including other “fae-like” beings whose appearance or vocation has led them to be tangled up in the same net as faeries—such as the short, stout Northern Dwarves, the elfin Álfar and Svartálfar who could become the aos sí, as well as the creatures already discussed—it becomes clear that appearance alone is sometimes enough to define the beings from different realms as fae.

In this way, we can trace the evolution of the faeries through their alteration and adaptation, drawing up lines of likeness between similar beings, as well as their manmade transformations throughout literature and popular culture.

This is an excellent article, well worth the read!

A Real Live Paleontologist Discusses the Biomechanics of Godzilla

Mark Witton is mostly known (to me) from his research into pterosaurs. In this blog post, he has some appreciative things to say about the new Godzilla movie:

For 2014, Godzilla is a fully digital and, as we all know, relatively faithful to the original designs. It has, however, been altered in ways which would be difficult to execute if we were still watching a man in a suit. A lot of these changes, as well as the design of Godzilla’s adversaries, were pretty neat because they tie into what we know about animal biology, scaling and functionality, and I get the impression that the guys behind this latest Godzilla – Legendary Pictures – put a lot of effort into making half-sensible creatures which biologists, biomechanicists and functional anatomists can be relatively happy with. And yes, yes yes: there’s a buttload of stuff which is clearly nonsense: there’s no way these animals could be the size they are, or firing beams of nuclear fire from their throats and so forth. But that’s just par for the course for a Godzilla movie, and I’m not going to jump on boring old bandwagon of highlighting how impossible the whole lot is. What’s far more interesting, and what I want to focus on here, is how Legendary built their animals around standard movie monster tenets to produce creatures which are not only intriguing and cool-looking, but also chime with real animal biology and functionality.

My favorite line:

If we’re willing to stretch belief a bit (I assume we are, what with a fictitious 100 m tall reptile being the subject of discussion here)…

Witton discusses the new Godzilla’s foot structure, gills (!), and proportionally smaller head and finds that each makes a certain amount of sense within the context of the movie. Then he really shines as he looks at the aerodynamics of the flying beasties Godzilla battles. It’s all quite fascinating if you enjoy a little bit of science with your enormous lizard beasts.

Tolkien: The Meaning of LOTR

A long-lost audio recording of a speech Prof. Tolkien delivered at a social gathering in Rotterdam is soon to be released to the world. According to Noble Smith at HuffPo:

The recording took place on March 28th, 1958 in Rotterdam at a “Hobbit Dinner” put on by Tolkien’s Dutch publisher and a bookseller. Tolkien’s own publisher, Allen and Unwin, paid for his trip to the Netherlands to attend this special party. According to his letters the author was chuffed to find that Rotterdam was filled with people “intoxicated with hobbits.” Tolkien showed up at a packed hall where 200 hobbit fanatics had come to hear him and other scholars talk about Middle-earth.

And there was much rejoicing.

The Science of Game of Thrones

I always enjoy it when fantasy makes at least some kind of scientific sense.

The video mentions fire-breathing dragons. A while back I found this explanation, apparently written by someone with a background in organic chemistry, of how dragon fire might work. If I ever had a cause to include dragons in a story, this is probably how they would breathe fire.