Episode 63: Workers of Death: Aspis
The folklore of aspis in a nutshell, how I reimagined them for my writing.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2023 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about aspis in folklore here.
Get the transcript here.
As featured on the Top 50 Folklore Podcasts.
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Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
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We’re continuing our exploration of the workers of death.
Today’s Faery: Aspis
Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel
The Aspis is sometimes confused with the Wyvern because they both are dragons with only two legs, but the Wyvern is much bigger and with other attributes than the Aspis.
From the folklore of Medieval Europe, the Aspis is a small dragon poisonous to the touch. Even getting too close to it is to invite death. Its bite causes instant death. Even dead, touching it can be fatal. The type of death varies from tale-to-tale, from bleeding to death to swelling up and putrefying on the spot.
The only weakness of the Aspis is music, as it makes it docile or distracted, depending on the source. This small dragon knows of this, so plugs its tail into one ear and presses the other to the ground to save itself from being enslaved by song. This, however, allows its prey to escape. Most depictions of the Aspis is of it in this position.
Sometimes confused in Medieval manuscripts with snakes as its name means “snake” and both snakes and aspises were depicted the same in these bestiaries, it is still difficult to find references to one without the other.
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an Origin of the Fae: Aspis
Aspises are only found in the deepest forests, near caves – either natural or created by them – where they protect trees that grow golden fruit. These fruit are only meant for consumption by fae, but mortals often challenge each other to acquire the forbidden fruit.
The Aspis is small, the size of a foal, and moves quickly through the forest with its two legs. Its wings, shaped like that of a bat’s, can take it high above the treetops. Aspises vary in colour from the deepest green to black. Its breath is poisonous to mortals. Its bite is instantly fatal to all creatures. Touching it will systematically paralyse you until your breathing stops.
Just as folklore suggests, music is its one weakness. For some, music puts them to sleep, while for others it brings it under the thrall of the one wielding the music.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
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