H is for Helping Heads—A to Z Blog Challenge

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Hope & Healing…folktales around the world that beat back viruses. Each post highlights one or more balms to soothe and cure our struggles of today with oral tradition and lore of the past. At times, a post will make a connection to history. You can guess what inspired this theme. Yes, the COVID-19. What better time to delve into tales where things can and do turn out “happily ever after”?

Helping Heads-

From India-

Within Hinduism is shared the story of Dadhyanc Atharvana who revealed the secret of brewing mead from honey. Indra, king of the gods, pronounced the punishment for Dadhyanc to lose his head. Thankfully, he had people who admired him and told him a way to survive the punishment. As you read the summary, keep in mind that the horse is a symbol of rescue and help.

50-word-or-less summary:

Asvins, sons of Sun god, wanted Dadhyanc to reveal secret of mead-making but knew he would be beheaded for telling. They brought horse head for Dadhyanc to trade for his head before seeing Indra/god. Dadhyanc had horse head chopped and returned to Asvins to get own head. Successful surgery!

Versions of Dadhyanc story: https://listverse.com/2015/04/05/10-ancient-tales-about-severed-heads/ and https://tamilandvedas.com/tag/dadhyanc/

Compare to History:

In 2006 to at least 2011, Stanford Medicine students have worked with horses to better understand patient-doctor relationships. People describe the experience as zen-like. Horses are sensitive to the body language of people and respond accordingly. The medical students learn many skills including communication and convincing horses to go through scary-looking obstacles. In the Indian story, I applaud who could convince the horse to give its head. The story does not say, though I am hoping the was healed besides Dadhyanc.

More on the History: https://archive.org/details/hayagriva014842mbp/mode/2up -importance of horses- and https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2011/06/24/how-horsemanship-techniques-can-help-doctors-improve-their-art/ -skills doctors today gain through horsemanship

From Welsh Gypsies –

The Gypsy culture is hard to locate because they are scattered across the world so it was important to distinguish the area for the story “The Black Dog of Wild Forest.” Cutting off heads becomes crucial for recovery. When we are sick, we can feel like animals. And what if we were animals?

50-word-or-less summary:

King/father hid Jack from Black Dog/Beast. Jack found in witch’s home. Witch and dog Hear-all beat Beast. Ran! Jack hides at different witch’s home. Witch and dog Spring-all defeat Beast. Ran! Beast burned but bone placed in Jack’s ear. Coma! Hear-all and Speak-all lick bone out. Revived! Dogs beheaded-really women.

Finding The Black Dog of the Wild Forest story: https://books.google.com/books?id=ZTFCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA268&dq=the+black+dog+of+the+wild+forest&hl=en&ppis=_c&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjtrIjF_dzoAhUSbc0KHYcxBSsQ6AEwAHoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=the%20black%20dog%20of%20the%20wild%20forest&f=false

Compare to History:

The Black Dog, with its persistent pursuit of Jack, feels like a dog of death or the plague. Often a plague is called “Black Death.” Dogs, however, are resistant to many bacterias and other infections. You would be more likely to transmit from mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, and rabbits to humans. When plague kills these rodents, the likely infected fleas find someplace new…which can mean dogs. If a dog is sick, it could show signs of fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, and cough. In April 2015 of Flagstaff, Arizona, there were many deaths of prairie dogs from the infected fleas. The dogs current on their flea preventatives protected their owners the best. Maybe Hear-all and Speak-all were current? Of course, they were really women.

More on the History: https://www.doghealth.com/health/infectious-diseases/2227-bubonic-plague-the-role-of-dogs-in-the-spread-of-plague

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings in process of being adapted due to COVID-19. Our postponed Festival is now scheduled for May 12, 2021 with other plans that can be seen here: https://storycrossroads.org/contingency-plans-covid-19/ and http://www.storycrossroads.org/virtual.

We thank our funders such as National Endowment for the Arts, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, Zoo, Arts & the Parks of Salt Lake County (ZAP), City of Murray, Salt Lake City Arts Council, and many other businesses and individuals. Join us in the support by donating today!

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