Ronel Janse van Vuuren
The idea of the winged horse has captured the imagination since Ancient times.
In Greek Mythology, Pegasus is the only known winged horse. His story is a little tragic, though.
In one version, Poseidon and Medusa got together, she got pregnant and Athena cursed her to be unable to give birth. Perseus cut off Medusa’s head and Pegasus got born – fully grown. Pegasus spent some time on Mount Olympus as Zeus’s bolt carrier and then had some fun on earth with various heroes from Greek Mythology. It’s not clear if he had anything to do with his father the sea god Poseidon, his mother’s Gorgon relatives or the woman who cursed her (Athena, goddess of wisdom). It is clear, though, that he is a winged horse, typically depicted as being pure white.
In another version, he is the offspring of the sea god Poseidon and the Gorgon Medusa but was born of the blood that spurted from Medusa’s neck when Perseus decapitated her. He then stayed in servitude to Perseus until the hero’s death and then went to live with the Muses. Then Athena somehow captured and tamed Pegasus and gave him to Bellerophon so the two could slay chimaeras and other magical monsters together. Until, of course, Bellerophon decided to join the gods on Mount Olympus – Zeus sent a fly to sting Pegasus, Bellerophon got thrown down to earth and Pegasus became a constellation and carried Zeus’s thunderbolts.
Tragic or not, it is still the thing of fancy. So when I read in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series that he used “pegasi” as the offspring of Pegasus, I loved the idea of more winged horses surviving since Ancient times. I’ve wanted to use them in my writing ever since, but nothing magical tied me to them. Yet.
Then I got my girls. Libi is half Pinto, half Friesian. Calto is half Boerperd, half Friesian. They have the same father, different mothers, and are the same age.
Honestly, they do intimidate and frighten me from time-to-time. But so do my chickens. Anyone who says that chickens are meek, never had a flock of the wild things.
Magic at Midnight by Ronel Janse van Vuuren Magical Pegasi
One morning while cleaning the chicken coops, Oliver watching me like I’m messing with his belongings, I realised that my chickens and horses are quite similar: Libi and Calto have to go into a separate camp from the one I’m cleaning or we have a turf war. As I emptied the wheelbarrow on the compost heap, next to what had come from the horse enclosure, something clicked. This is what it smells like when you have pegasi.
And the premise for “Magic at Midnight” was born. I based my winged horses on my own horses and chickens, and also on Caitlin’s actions (she’s the inspiration for Idil in “Magic at Midnight” even though she is a Rottweiler).
I wanted there to be a big change, physical and magical, and that’s why Idil has a unicorn horn on the cover… Though it isn’t strictly folklore, more a figment of the imagination, even WB Yeats wrote about the winged unicorn in his “The Unicorn of the Stars”. Mine is still a pegasus, though.
I’m not going to go into all the magical qualities of the pegasi here (I’m releasing a full folklore and writing post about them on my blog on the 24th of July, if you’re interested in more), but the fact that Idil physically changed means a lot more than is explained in the story itself. I’m sure, though, that my readers have already inferred the deeper meaning.
Do you like horses? And chickens? What about the legend of winged horses? Do you have a favourite story involving any of the above?
My Review of Magic at Midnight on Amazon
Live Book Launch of Magic at Midnight. Take a look!
Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
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