September 13th, 2011


Life in Medieval Crusader States

I'm writing about the Third Crusade and life in Outremer (Israel etc) for ordinary people in the 1180s (or there abouts) - I understand that when Jerusalem was taken back by the Muslims all Christians were dismissed from the major cities, but what about villages/in the more countryside-ish areas?

I've also read in various books detailing the subject (God's Warriors, etc) that in the countryside before/during the Third Crusade Muslims and Christians seemed to tolerate each other's presence to a certain extent, but for how much? Would they be living in the same communities or would they be more segregated? Would it be realistic to assume followers of the two religions managed to live alongside each other reasonably tolerably?

Have Googled the usual things - 'middle ages muslims and christians living together'/'middle ages muslims and christians communities', and also have quite a few books on the subject of the Kingdom of Jerusalem; but only got entries on how the two sides fought against each other in battle, not about the ordinary lot.

Native American mythology: possession or impersonation

I'm in the planning stages for a horror story involving a teenage girl whose friends undergo drastic personality changes during their freshman year of high school.  While the adults in her life consider this normal adolescence, the girl realizes that the change always happens immediately after someone is dared to spend the night at a certain place (an abandoned building, graveyard, or secluded spot, I haven't decided yet; the kind of place teenagers normally go either to scare each other or to drink and make out).  After some investigation, she comes to the conclusion that supernatural entities are either possessing her friends' bodies, or killing/capturing them and assuming their forms.

I would like for her to go to her Native American grandfather for help.  This is more for the sake of addressing the lack of POC protagonists in YA fiction than a desire specifically to write a Native American, but considering the North American setting, this seems like the best fit.  (For the supernatural being, not the main character.  I recognize that there are many Americans who are neither Native American nor white.)

My question: are there any Native American legends involving either shapeshifters impersonating human beings, or spirits possessing or otherwise controlling human bodies?  If so, which tribes should I be looking at?  If not, are there any other non-European traditions that an elderly man who is reasonably connected to his culture would be able to share with his granddaughter (who, like many adolescents, was not particularly interested in her heritage until she needed it.)  I intend to fully research the culture once I know what it is, but I really need a starting point.

The setting is modern day United States, specific region to be determined later.  Or possibly Canada.

The search: I googled "Native American shapeshifters" (and only got information about the skinwalker, which is not really what I'm looking for), checked "Native American mythology" on wikipedia and followed the links to specific tribes (but not all of them, because I got frustrated), searched Myth Beasts, searched Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: an Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth, read the wikipedia pages on spirit possession and demonic possession (although I definitely don't want this to be about demons in the Biblical tradition), and browsed this community's tags for native americans, religion: native american, folklore, and demons.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated, even if the answer is that what I'm looking for doesn't exist.  I don't mind coming up with my own creature, but I'd like to work with established mythology if possible.