The Alchemy of Myth and Writing

Exploration of Mythology and Folklore

Sioux Reading B: Iktomi’s Blanket

There are many things that caught my intention in this piece. First of all, the language was beautiful. There was a lot of description of the sky and the gods and the area, more so than many of these stories gave. I could imagine the absolutely beautiful sky, and the metaphors only added to the color. My favorite was when it described winter and spring-like exchanging robes. It just makes the words more dynamic. Any story I write would include this.

The second is the blanket. The idea that the blanket could symbolize a lot of things is something I could carry. The fact that the blanket was his saving grace and his downfall is very ironic, and it can be used to tell a very moralistic story.

My third point could actually be found in one of the last lines of the piece, “Then his blunted sense will surprise you, little reader; for instead of being grieved that he had taken back his blanket, he cried aloud.” At first glance, there is nothing unusual. But my writing eyes trained immediately on the “you, little reader.” I know these were oral stories, but this is the first one I’ve read that had reference to the person reading/listening to it. I’ve been commanded to never write in the second person (using you) or to be omnipresent or fourth-dimensional (acknowledging someone is reading it) but that is something I want to do if I turn this into a story. I feel like it would compliment it perfectly.

I think if I was to choose between the two Sioux story to write, I’ll write about this one. There are so many little things I can play with, and it makes it very exciting to plot out.


Zitkala-Sa. Old Indian Legends.


A Navajo woven blanket (because a Sioux one could not be located.) Image found here.

Reading Notes: Sioux Reading A: The Wonderful Turtle

I’ve always been curious to know where the origin story of the wise turtle comes from. I’ve read books like It that depicted the turtle as a sage, almost god-like being. It all seems to originate in the animal beliefs tied into the Native American culture, and I’m very fascinated by it.

In writing, we would call the turtle character a mentor. The mentor is often an archetype of a person there to assist the protagonist through areas he or she is unfamiliar with. The mentor will guide the individual through the story until they are capable to stand on their own, or forcefully removed from the narrative to force the protagonist to operate independently of them. That is how much characters like the turtle have influenced current storytelling, and I think that is absolutely amazing.

Going off of that, I can obviously tell any story about a mentor or through the mentor’s perspective and keep the integrity of the story. I also love symbolism and metaphors, so I could easily incorporate many referencing the turtle.

I think the turtle’s response and ultimate leave after seeing the baby is an interesting response. This wise turtle also seems prone to other human emotions and can be fallible. Every character needs to have a negative trait, and jealousy is easily a trait that can be inserted into a mentor-like character.


Marie McLaughlin. Myths and Legends of the Sioux.


Turtle swimming in the sea. Image found here.

Microfiction: With the Tick, Tick, Ticking of the Clock

I chose once again to go with the microfiction option. Here’s my two-sentence one:

The stroke of midnight came only seconds before she took her last breath. The baby born at the exact same time giggled when her ghostly hands caressed his face.

And my dribble:

I was born at 3:33 am on the dot. I like my eggs boiled, and my coffee cold. I like sweaters in the summer, and I don’t go out in the winter. I like simple books and the number three.

I like my ghost roommates. They’re great company.


Author’s notes: You can read my theories about microfiction here and here. This time, I want to talk about where my idea came from. My best friend actually suggested it. In English folklore, there is a belief that people born at certain times of the day are able to see ghosts. I wanted to explore that in these stories. The first is the story of a mother who died giving birth, but because of the timing, her child will always see her ghost. The second was about an odd girl born at an even odder time and enjoys to rhyme (see what I did there) and she tell us about the ghosts she sees as if she as talking about the weather.

I wanted these to be sweet and light-hearted since my last few microfictions have been the opposite.


Source for the material on chime hours was located on Wikipedia.

Image of a bronze clock found here.

 

 

Reading Notes: Cherokee Reading B: The Ball Game of the Birds and the Animals

This story was absolutely adorable. Like I said in the previous post, I have a soft spot for Native American creation stories. The idea that a flying squirrel and a bat were created because of a ball game and some bullies is pretty aspiring.

I can’t help but imagine and dystopian/fantasy idea. People survive by joining a team. Everyone wants to join the animal team because it has huge, beefy leaders like Bear. However, when these two characters attempt to join, they’re brushed off. Then they go join the Birds, who help them gain powers/advantages during the match that allow them to win. Essentially Hunger Games mixed with superpowers (because I can’t write fantasy without magic, it feels too much like a crime.)

Crafting a creation story about something that is familiar to us today would also be fun. I could just create my own creation myth and tie it to some sort of animal like the Native Americans did. I might actually lean toward this story because I love making mythology. I actually started working on a universe based in mythology during my freshman year in college. The word document for it is over 100 pages long, and this doesn’t include the many additional pages dedicated to all the characters and mythologies present. In total, I probably have almost 300 pages of text. I’m also a DM for a DND campaign, and I’m constantly world-building, and I like ironic moments that hint back to something we know. I actually do that a lot in my novel, but I don’t want to reveal too much, because I want you to buy it!

So far, this has been my favorite unit. Native Americans have a unique voice when they tell stories, and it’s something I want to replicate in my own writing. I look forward to writing this assignment!


James Mooney. Myths of the Cherokee.


Native American etchings at Arches National Park in Utah. Image found here.

Reading Notes: Cherokee Reading A: How The World Was Made

This story was fun. I always loved how Native Americans told their stories through the eyes of the animals and plants instead of a great divinity beyond. Something about that always enraptured me as a child. If I was to write a story about this, I would want to keep the integrity of their storytelling and add elements of animals into it.

I can’t help but think of the Disney movie Brother Bear and their rituals revolving around animals. I know it’s a very different culture from the Cherokee, but when the children become “adults,” they are given a totem of an animal they represent. Sitka, the eldest brother, had an eagle. Naturally, the protagonist, Kenai, wanted a cool animal. But when the medicine woman presented him the totem of the bear and called it the totem of love, he rejected it. I love stories like that.

It reminds me of the point of the story where the animals and trees were ordered to stay up for seven nights. Those who managed became the nighttime animals we know of today and the trees that failed lost all their leaves in the winter. I’m just absolutely in love with the connection to nature and the way they explain things. Something about it speaks to me better than, “And then God created it,” with little to no explanation as to why or how.

Probably the funniest part of this story was the end. I like how procreation was explained. The Cherokee were very good about tiptoeing around incest, especially when the first humans were brother and sister. To correct this, they just had the brother slap the sister with the fish and she started to procreate. Something about that is absolutely hilarious to me. Just strike someone with a fish, and they will make babies. Just watch and wait.


James Mooney. Myths of the Cherokee.


The medicine woman, Tenana, giving Kenai his bear totem in Brother Bear. Image found here.

Week 9 Story: Rings Can Be Our Crowns

“Prince Gil!” his companion called. “You must come quickly! The rain has stopped!”

Gil shot out of bed so fast that his circlet with a simple jewel cut into the center flew off his head and clattered on the planks nearby.

“Ah, prince!” Sayer said, still speaking loudly, and he scrambled down from the window to grab the circlet. “I’m sorry for startling you!”

His friend’s cheeks were ruddy, and his curly hair bounced around his face. Though Gil’s hair was blond, it was equally curly—a familiar attribute in their people.

“Don’t worry, Sayer.” Gil sat on the edge of his bed and pulled on his navy-blue slippers. “You said the rain has stopped—has it really?”

“Yes!” Sayer bobbed his head and handed the prince his circlet. “The guards were afraid it was going to flood the canal but luckily it didn’t.”

“That’s good.” Gil slipped the silver crown on top of his curls. “What about the evacuation? Did you manage to get the people to high ground?”

His friend stared at the ground, and Gil’s heart pounded in his chest. I gave the warning too late.

But then Sayer’s face split into a grin. “Of course, sire. We got them all to safety.”

Gil took a deep breath and stood. “Thank goodness…”

Sayer bowed and motioned to the open window. “After you, your highness.”

Gil stepped over the windowsill and onto the brick below. It formed a bridge across the deepest part of the canal, and the water roared below them. It was dark crossing the pass, but at the end of pathway was a half-circle of light.

Gil hurried over the bridge and to the outside. Water pooled on the ground, and the tall green trees shivered in the breeze. A section of the trees was cut away to form a path. Gil’s guards marched up and down it, their black and red cloaks fluttering in the breeze. They bowed as he passed.

Sayer’s footsteps were right behind him, one pace behind the royal heir.

“This will do our water supplies wonders,” Gil said. “We will be able to last through the summer.

“Even the fall at this rate,” Sayer said. “The farmers are storing the water now.”

The rain was a good thing after all. Usually, the storms gave him anxiety. He was afraid his kingdom would blow off into the sky with a strong gust of wind.

“I want to have a celebration,” Gil said. “Call in the courtier and—”

The ground shook.

It jarred his crown off his head again, and the ground vibrated so violently that Gil collapsed to one knee. In an instant, he heard hundreds of trees crashing into the ground.

“Prince Gil!” Sayer and the guards tried to rush over to the prince, but the ground jarred them from doing so.

“Is there too much water?” Gil felt violent sick, and he forced himself to look at the sky.

A giant shadow stared back at him. It was so big that it blocked out the sun. it had a mountain in the middle, and two lakes on either side.

What is this monster?

A giant hole opened on the shadow, and a stream of noises left it, none of which Gil could understand. But the ground stopped shaking, and Gil forced himself to stand.

“Get the people in the castle!” he ordered Sayer and the guards. “Get everyone to safety!”

“But your highness!” Sayer replied.

“Do what I asked!”

Two worms pinched Prince Gil’s waist, and it startled him.

“Prince Gil!” Sayer rushed toward him, and Gil reached for his outstretched hand.

And then suddenly he was flying, rising in the sky, and he saw the vast green forest of his kingdom. Another set of worms lingered near him, holding his circlet.

“Let me go…!” Gil pounded at the thick worms, but they didn’t flinch. Instead, they twisted him to face the giant shadow.

The air that came from the hole was hot, and it blew Gil’s curls. One of the worms slid on his circlet.

“That’s my crown!” Gil said. “My grandfather earned that crown in the war!”

But he realized it wasn’t a worm—it was a finger. A huge one.

He stared wide-eyed at the shadow, whose lakes and mountains and holes seemed oddly like a giant version of his own face.

This was human.

We have been found.

Bibliography: “The Little Hunting Dog” in The Chinese Fairy Book by R. Wilhelm.

The image is a ring in the shape of a crown. Image found here.

Author’s Notes: If you haven’t read any of my work by now, I’ll preface this author’s note with this: I do not do complete stories. What I write are small tidbits of a bigger story that make you buy into the idea. That makes you want more. This is completely intentional for me to gauge the likability of a particular concept.

That being said, I wanted to expand upon the idea of the little people in one of the Chinese stories. If you go back and reread this story, you will notice a lot of things—the trees are actually blades of grass. The canal is a drainage area, etc. etc. I just wanted to tell a story of a little fantasy colony of people advanced enough to have royalty and military having their worlds unbalanced by the arrival of a human. Would you buy this concept as a fantasy story?

Reading Notes: China Reading B: The Little Hunting Dog

This story came as an unexpected surprise. I chose the story based on the title alone. Naturally, I thought of Old Yeller and other famous dog stories. I didn’t expect not only for the dog to not entirely by the main focus but for there to be an entire miniature set of people to accompany it. The small people with falcons the size of flies was so unexpected but so interesting at the same time. This is one of my favorite stories we have read so far because, besides the ending, it’s so magical and wonderful.

I want to create more information for the little people.  Where did they come from? Do they have a history? They appear to do this often because they even have a king that follows them after they have done all the hunting. Do they go to particular houses or all houses? Where do they live, if not in the houses? How big are children? Is there a queen?

There’s an animated movie called The Secret World of Arrietty. Its about a small girl that lives within a house with her family, and the events that happen when her world collides with the natural human world. I imagined this movie while I read this story. I want to world build for these people.

I know the main focus of the story was the human and the dog, but I definitely want to focus more on the little people and their culture. Maybe I’ll have an interaction with a human character, but I would rather focus on the fantasy element than anything else. I could talk about the history of the race, or of other races like them. Are they a military-like culture? Other than humans, do they have natural enemies? I’m so excited to explore this concept, and I can’t contain it.


R. Wilhelm. The Chinese Fairy Book.


Arrietty’s room from The Secret World of Arrietty. Photo found here.

Reading Notes: China Reading A: God of War

One of the things that shocked me the most about this story was I actually knew what was going on. I took a China to the 1600s class as a survey for my history major. When the piece talked about the Yellow Turbans and the warring period, I knew exactly what was going on. I actually also recognized some of the names. Because of that, it would be cool to retellt his story in its original historical context and take out all the mythological improbabilities like a horse running for a hundred miles. Just a generic story about traditional China, and I add little bits and pieces that could be connected to how the mythology I read came to be.

From a story perspective, I think it’s interesting that Guan Ye leaves after the monk protests him with one of the best comebacks ever.  I wonder what would have happened if he continued to demand his head. Would he come back so many times that the monk would go insane? Would the ghostly Guan Ye attack people? Would he have someone search for his corpse? The possibilities on this front are endless.

I also wonder why the story included the three friends when only one was significantly relevant to the story, especially since they sacrificed the horse. If I write a story, I might go more in-depth into the friendship and the other characters then I would Guan Ye. Why isn’t the friendship mentioned at length later in the story? Why does the story even lead with that, anyway? Is it somehow deeply connected to the ending Guan Ye received? There are many different angles I can look at.

This story is a perfect template for many jumping-off points. I could do fantasy or historical. I love rather vague, blank slates like these, and I look forward to writing something if I chose this story.


R. Wilhelm. The Chinese Fairy Book.


Ancient Chinese artwork. Image found here.

 

Week 8 Progress

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my storybook. When I originally imagined the idea, I didn’t expect it to turn out how it did. I didn’t expect to have people click on my website and think it was a legit Netflix show, and I’m so happy there are people who thought that. It couldn’t have turned out better so far.

Are there any changes you want to make for the second half of the semester?

I want to explore a wide array of writing styles. So far I’ve done my typical writing, microfiction, and scriptwriting, but I want to add even more variety by the end of the semester. I hope to discover some really interesting myths that all me to expand my writing toolbox.

A person writing. Image found here.

 

Biography: Lemon Drop of Sunshine

Writing prompt: write about a favorite food or beverage and memories connected to that food or beverage.

Once, I was a little girl with a dream. A dream of stepping foot in Europe.

It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that my parents handed me the ticket to my dream–that summer, I would travel to London, Paris, Versailles, Florence, Assisi, and Rome. It was a ten-day trip I had been aching for since I understood history, and it was a once in a lifetime chance to experience what I always wanted.

As you can imagine, all those places in ten days is a nightmare. By the time we reached Florence, I was exhausted, hot, dying for ice, and wanting nothing more to stay in our hotel all day. That particular day was a scorcher. Our local guide took us on a tour of the city and stopped us in every piazza that didn’t have shadows. By the time we broke for lunch, I was suffering, but going back to the hotel wasn’t an option.

Our tour guide for the trip was an Italian, and she was familiar with Florence. She pointed us to what us American’s qualified as a mall food court. We passed through a jungle of booths selling leather to get into the building, which was full of different stalls. My friend and I picked a sandwich, sat down, and rested.

Behind my friend was a little cart. The sign read, “Italian Lemon Ice. Granitas.”

I couldn’t find a two-euro coin fast enough. Finally, a place with ice. I purchased a cup full, and my mouth watered with each lemon bite. It was delicious.

Granita is very much like shaved ice, but in Italy, it’s much different. The flavor is rich, but not sour. It melts in your mouth, but doesn’t become water down. It cools you but doesn’t make you cold. In that moment, granita was liquid gold. I proceeded to buy a cup in Assisi, and then two in Rome, forgoing buying my coveted gelato for another drink of sunshine.

To me, granitas remind me of the musk of leather. It reminds me of cobbled streets and rich blue skies. Of slopping plains beyond ancient walls. Of the gentle whisper of water gliding by. Of singers with guitars performing in a piazza at dusk. Of resting on the Spanish steps, laughing, clutching our plastic cups of lemon sunshine.

Granitas remind of Italy–the dream I wish to return to.

My friend and I outside Assisi with our granitas. Photo taken by me.

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