THE MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES: Mythical Creatures and Symbols

The MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES employs the use of many symbols and creatures. The following is a discussion of the most important ones.


The Rabbit



In MATEGUAS ISLAND, Karen, the protagonist, is plagued by strange visions of rabbits and it is a rabbit that first shows her the mysterious trail that leads deep into the woods.


In Abenaki folklore, the rabbit is the symbol of Mateguas, God of the Dead, and this is how that creature is depicted in the novel. However, in other Native American cultures (most notably Algonquin) there is the myth of a Giant Rabbit who was the master of all animals and instructed humans in the arts of hunting and fishing. Like Mateguas, this rabbit spirit taught the tribes their religious rites and schooled them in the interpretation of dreams.[1] In other Algonquin legends, the rabbit is a sly trickster, who could change his shape at will.[2]


Both of these alternative Algonquin interpretations of the rabbit fit nicely in with the storyline of Mateguas and its ability to shape-shift figures prominently in the story.


The Owl


In most Native American cultures the owl is a symbol of death and hearing its hoot is considered an unlucky omen. These majestic birds were believed to carry messages or supernatural warnings to humans who have broken tribal taboos. The owl has also been associated with ghosts and the circles around their eyes are believed to be the fingernails of ghosts.[3]




In MATEGUAS ISLAND, Karen finds herself threatened by owls and in RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND, the owl takes on an even more menacing role.



The Waning Crescent Moon



As elderly islander, Madge Parker, tells Karen, the waning crescent moon is, indeed, called “the old moon” and is believed to symbolize the all knowing. In paganism, this phase of the moon indicates a good time for spells that banish, release and reverse. It is also a time to break bad habits and end bad relationships.[4]


In my tale, I have made this phase of the moon a symbol of Mateguas, God of the Dead which is, indeed, a fiction.



The Lightning Bolt



The lightning bolt has powerful meaning in MATEGUAS ISLAND. In many mythologies, including some Native American, male gods hurl the lightning bolt to fertilize the earth and/or its creatures. The Navajo linked it to the Thunderbird, symbol of salvation and the divine.[5]


In keeping along these lines, Mayan mythology characterizes the lightning bolt as the masculine manifestation of fertilizing energy.[6]



These are the major symbols used in the MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES. My next post will be about the island itself and the 'real' island that Mateguas is modeled after.



[1], 01/02/14

[2], 01/02/14

[3], 01/02/14

[4], 01/02/14

[5], 01/02/14

[6] Barbara Tedlock,”Mayan Shamanism” in Mariko Namba Walter, Eva Jane Neumann Fridman. eds., Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture, Volume 1, (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2004) pp. 431-435.