Four Chinese Animals/Elements of Creation—Four Guardians of the Enchanted Bookstore Legends
My series, Enchanted Bookstore Legends, has two worlds, reality and a parallel fantasy world called Dragonspeir. The organization of magical power and leadership in that land is based upon the balanced system of the four Chinese elements of creation: earth, fire, water, air. Chinese mythology ties those elements to sacred animals that foretell future events. The unicorn is supposed to spring from the center of the earth as the phoenix represents fire, the tortoise water, and the dragon air.
For my legends, I selected those four animals as the four Guardians who collectively govern the Alliance. That is the realm of Dragonspeir which is good and fair, opposing the Dark Realm led by the Black Dragon. My heroine, Lyra McCauley, confronts a quest: save Dragonspeir from destruction by the Black Dragon before he utilizes power of August’s red moon to expand his strength and overthrow the opposing Imperial Dragon. Lyra accepts the challenge. She fears that the wizard she loves, Cullen Drake, will perish if evil wins since his immortality is dependent upon Alliance magic.
The unicorn represents the earth element. From times of the Ming dynasty, the unicorn was specially praised its ability to discriminate between good and evil. It would gore only the wicked with its single horn. Emperor Shun, the first law-giver, employed a minister who had such a beast in his court to do just that. My Guardian Unicorn is very powerful and a tough character, a sort of bad-ass, but fair to a fault. He judges whether Lyra is ready to begin her quest.
The phoenix, a legendary bird with brilliant colors, lived more than one life. It consumed itself by fire periodically, and a new young phoenix sprang from the ashes. In Chinese mythology, the phoenix symbolizes fire. Within its spirit, the Feng Hwang bird contains the balance of the solar Yang and the lunar Yin powers. The phoenix is called the Empress because it represents qualities of beauty and peace. I titled my Phoenix Guardian as the Lady of Peace, appearing only during happy times. She presides over the Meadow of Peace, a quiet collection of villages in the Alliance territory.
The third animal, the tortoise or turtle, represents water and was thought to be a model of the world. Its upper shell curved like the vault of the heavens, its lower shell flat like the Chinese envisioned the Earth at that time. They read the future in the pattern on the tortoise’s shell. The animal is perceived as a symbol of longevity and wisdom. My Tortoise Guardian is in charge of keeping the history of Dragonspeir for the Alliance. He commands a vast library of records and magical documents. Lyra and the higher magical depend on his resources to fight evil.
The dragon, the fourth prophetic animal, was a divine creature that signified wisdom and represented air. For centuries, it was the imperial emblem. The emperor’s throne was called the Dragon Throne and his face was called the Dragon Face. It was said that when an emperor died, he ascended to heaven riding on the back of a dragon. The celestial dragon, T’ien Lung, is sometimes represented as holding up the sky. For these reasons, in the Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I gave my Imperial Dragon the title of Head Guardian. He serves as a wise leader, coordinating the actions of the other three Guardians. In charge of the air element, he is expert in the magic craft of mystic astronomy, reading and gaining power from the stars by using an array of unusual instruments.
Additionally, astrological signs are grouped in a similar manner, according to their dominant elements of earth, fire, water, and air. In my books, residents of Dragonspeir who inherit magical tendencies must learn to utilize their dominant element in order to control and develop their abilities. Lyra, like all Scribes, is born under a fire sign and must learn to communicate with the main star of the Aries constellation—her birthmate star—in order to utilize her vast powers. This is awkward and she must work hard to master the techniques.
These four animals and the elements they represent were believed by the Chinese to make up all of creation. The realm of the fantasy world in the Enchanted Bookstore Legends that is good and fair embraces this balance. From this foundation, I utilized many more ties to Chinese mythology.
Read more about those in Seeking a Scribe: Enchanted Bookstore Legend One.
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Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Her creativity also spills into watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transforming into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and already addicted. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and that spiritual quest helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!
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