B is for Blind Banishment-A to Z Blog Challenge

Blindness Banishment-

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”?

From China-

The power of healing blindness is contained—of all minerals—jade. This lovely green ornamental mineral is highly featured in Chinese art as well as surrounding countries. Jade symbolizes purity or purification. Thus, One must wonder if it’s the container and not the ointment inside that makes all the difference in the following folktale known simply as “The Jade Bottle.”

50-word-or-less summary:

Shi Long shares bread with old man-really god of mountain. God rewards youth with jade bottle/healing ointment. Heal girl who is blind? Marry? Boy heals but father breaks promise to allow marriage. Youth run! Pursued! Youth marry. Father burns them. Old man/god takes jade bottle. Revived! Happy!

Find Version in the “Folktales of Love from China”: https://books.google.com/books?id=EAvADgAAQBAJ&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=cure+blindness+folktale&source=bl&ots=ohlOgB5S_L&sig=ACfU3U1ZdPDNWgjAOmVW3KbS7yPrvSE7-w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjJo57uzsjoAhUIK80KHWnBCbAQ6AEwDXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=cure%20blindness%20folktale&f=false

Compare to History:

There have been many ancient Chinese Civil Wars, and crazy enough, have affected eyesight for generations and centuries. Soldiers for these wars were recruited from the strongest man with great eyesight. Those who were weaker and could not see so good were left at home. Soldiers died. The man left behind and families and their children inherited their bad eyes. Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, can sometimes be as high as 90% in east Asia compared to only 12% of Americans and 23% of Australians.

While the folktale does not explain how the girl became blind, I now wonder if it could be nearsightedness.

More on History: http://newoptixoptometry.com/why-do-asians-have-bad-eyesight/

From Norway-

Brothers can be rough with each other. My Dad is a twin, and he got in plenty of trouble with him. Yet, the extreme found in this story called “The Two Travelers.”

50-word-or-less summary:

Brothers named Truth and Untrue fought while traveling. Ow! Untrue blinded True. Blinded brother spent night in tree (safety from wild animals). He overheard animals talking and learned the king was going blind and his daughter was going deaf. Lime tree’s dew heals blindness. Crumb cures deafness. True heals all.

Version of Story: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0613.html#norway

Compare to History:

Scandinavians, which of course includes Norwegians, had a tradition during the Viking times of planting sacred trees. This was likely to reflect the world tree, Yggdrasil, that had roots connecting to the underworld, the land of the giants, and home of the gods.

More on History: https://norwegianjournaloffriluftsliv.com/doc/192010.pdf as well as https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/linden-tea#section10

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 virtual plans that can be seen here: https://storycrossroads.org/contingency-plans-covid-19/.

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 donating today!

A is for Apples of Alteration–A to Z Blog Challenge

A2020We 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”?

Apple of Alteration-

From the Norse-

Apples are symbols for many things around the world – goodness to fertility to sin. One of my favorite stories featuring this fruit would be the apples of youth and healing protected by the Norse goddess Idun.

50-word-or-less summary:

Giant disguised as eagle to trick gods by not allowing meat to cook unless they promised to get healing apples from Idun. Loki told Idun that her apples were not as powerful as she thought. Kidnapped! Gods age without Idun/apples. Loki redeemed when saves her. Gods regain health.

Version of Idun and the Apples story: https://norse-mythology.org/tales/the-kidnapping-of-idun/

Compare to History:

The Vikings certainly have been known to plunder, and, of course, kidnapping. Many Viking men practiced polygamy to assert status. As a result, there were always a shortage of single women. This made the men always on edge and prone to violent behavior.

Now the hoarding of toilet paper seems harmless compared to what was done around the times of the Vikings of 750 to 1050 AD. Take comfort in the civility of today.

More on the History: https://www.sciencealert.com/vikings-might-have-raided-because-there-was-a-shortage-of-single-women

From Norway-

Rather than pulling from the Viking lore, this story focuses on a boy who wants to impress a princess. He discovers that apples-or at least a particular one-can cause horns to appear on one’s head or extend one’s nose. You could say that he found a way for this apple to cure him emotionally from a princess who rejected his marriage proposal. Yet, a different apple brought healing to the harm done by the first one.

50-word-or-less summary:

Boy inherited bottomless purse, wishing hat, and horn that created soldiers. Proposed to princess. She stole magic objects. Ran away! Boy ate apple. Horns! Long nose! Found another apple that removed/restored. Found princess and offered first apple. Gave second apple once she returned magic items.

Finding the Story: Hodne, Ørnulf. The Types of the Norwegian Folktale. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1984. https://www.amazon.com/Types-Norwegian-Folktale-Serie-B-Skrifter/dp/8200068498/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=Hodne%2C+%C3%98rnulf.+The+Types+of+the+Norwegian+Folktale.+Bergen%3A+Universitetsforlaget%2C+1984.&qid=1585810014&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Compare to History:

If you think about the story where the apples could bring harm or healing, think of how the doctor’s white coat can either bring the patient peace of mind or anxiety. However, back in the 1800s, doctors tended to wear black as the medicinal practice was sometimes questionable and a visit would represent a formal affair and often death. You can find paintings depicting doctors during that time period dressed in black. By the end of the 19th century, the practice of medicine was more scientific–and one could say “pure” and sense of cleanliness–and thus the change to white coats. Some of this came from Roman influence with the white togas. Today, Norwegian doctors wear white coats like their Finnish and Swedish counterparts. Though neighboring doctors in England and Denmark still wear the black coats.

Interestingly, the young tend to prefer doctors in black while older people feel more confident with doctors in white coats. So keep that in mind when you have a crying baby!

More on the History: https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/doctors-white-coat-historical-perspective/2007-04

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/.

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 donating today!

Cap’s Off to You!-Denise Valentine (Posthumously) and Celebrating Story

Denise ValentineFeaturing:  Denise Valentine (Posthumously)

Story Mama, Historical Teller and Chautauqua Extraordinaire, Keeper of Traditions

Denise Valentine – Story Mama – had much to share around the world as museums, libraries, and schools opened their doors to her.  She said, “My purpose is to build storytelling skills, tools and techniques needed to: reclaim their ancestral names and homeland, reclaim their stories and the authority to become the “storyholders” in their communities.”  She traveled to South Africa and studied folklore traditions and then jumped to Jamaica and performed for festivals there.  She often welcomed her audiences in more than one language and got people dancing before even getting to the stories.  She delighted in being a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers and was also part of a delegation in connection with the National Storytelling Network.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADenise was 60 years old when a heart attack came upon her, and a message went out for extra prayers.  Our family sent out prayers as many all over did.  Then, I learned that on March 22, 2020, Denise had passed on.  I remembered those last hugs when Denise took the plane at the end of our 2018 Story Crossroads Festival.  For most of the time, she was herself and at the very end of it all, she became Sojourner Truth.  She sang with that lovely voice of hers and thrilled my heart in wanting to know the words of that song as well as she did.

Now a Denise Moment:

When Denise Valentine from Pennsylvania came for the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival, we had her stand and be recognized by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (since renamed as The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square).  She specialized in West African stories of her ancestry.  Amazingly, the Choir also recognized the President and Board with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  Beyond the Broadcast, the Choir did the negro national anthem.  Denise was moved to tears.  We both got to shake hands with the President of the NAACP, who was interested in Denise’s work and she invited him and the Board to the Festival.  The Salt Lake Chapter said they would post it on their webpage.  Later that same day, Denise mentioned to me that she is Buddhist and felt that Utah was such a welcoming place of all cultures.


Then, the next day was an article in the Salt Lake Tribune that I shared with Denise so we could reflect on those lovely memories:  https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/05/17/after-a-historic-meeting-mormon-prophet-russell-nelson-naacp-president-call-for-greater-civility-and-an-end-to-all-prejudice/



More Impressions with Denise:

The Utah Cultural Celebration Center block-booked Denise Valentine on behalf of Redwood Elementary in the Granite School District.  I watched as the 4th-6th graders ate up all her words.  When Denise announced her time was up, the students all groaned, “No!”  When I checked in with the principal later, she said that this outreach performance in the morning was so impactful that she heard kids still talking about Denise at lunchtime.


Another Snippet:

We invited many congressmen to the Story Crossroads Festival. Mia Love was in Washington D.C. though sent Mike Squires on her behalf.  This representative said he fell in love after the first words spoken by Denise Valentine.  He was convinced to linger longer and also experienced our self-led Story Walk and was “adopted” by an elementary class for that activity.

May 23, 2018--Denise Valentine Performing, taken by Suzanne Hudson

Learning Moment:

I was privileged to attend a 5-hour Intensive Workshop led by Denise Valentine entitled “Walking in Their Shoes: Living History and Storytelling.”  We met in the home of one of our Board Members and enjoyed a heart-to-heart on why we delve into historical pieces in the first place.  She taught a process that she called “unforgetting and reconnecting.”  She had a skill with archival materials such as maps, plantations diaries, and oral histories.  As she studied these items, she connected odd coincidences of people, places, and objects.  Then, she expanded this further to parallel the past with the present.  It was mind-boggling stuff and I wish I could remember all the fascinating details she tumbled out of her mouth.  Obviously, I already understood and experienced extreme research when telling historical tales.  Though, taking the time to delve deeper—whether it made it to stage or not—can affect how you perceive and take meaning from the world around you.

What Now?:

I wish to honor Denise Valentine more so than this blog post.  Tossing around in my mind is the possibility of having a Zoom Panel to honor her as well as feature historical/Chautauqua tales and why we as humans are drawn to presenting in this way.  This is still in brainstorm mode, though any details will be shared through Facebook and our website.  We will likely use a Zoom Webinar where people can register for free and then be given the link after that registration.

The news of Denise Valentine’s passing is still fresh for me and I want to have the blessing of her family before anything is set in stone.

Remember…Death is not the end.  We miss her here, though Death is the beginning of her new adventure.  I know she is making those unforgettable connections and having people drop their jaws at her discoveries there.  I can imagine a reunion with her friends and family who have gone before and also a special visit from Sojourner Truth herself.  I picture her singing, too.  Now “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” will have even greater meaning to me.  I look forward to when we all see each other again.

Where You Can Hear Her:



We do have footage of her performing and presenting through Story Crossroads, though this will take time as we want to go through her family before anything is available.

I appreciate Denise for the influence of yesterday, today, and forever in storytelling and her authentic and beautiful spirit of love.

Denise still has a story.  You have a story.  We all have stories.



Theme RevealTime to beat the drums and enjoy the anticipation of a 5th Story Crossroads theme reveal as part of the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com) that happens throughout the month of April. These are 26 postings for each of the letters of the alphabet (with rest on Sundays). This is our fifth year participating in this challenge.






THEME: Hope & Healing…folktales around the world that beat back viruses

No matter the contagion, pestilence, or curse, there would always be a way to succeed and be cured. Almost all stories have some level of “happily ever after,” where all returns to how it was…though a little wiser.

The medical field is constantly changing their approach to keep up with science and compassion.   Myths, legends, and folklore are always created as these miracles take place.

While many men receive accolades for advancing the medical field, do you know about the first female doctor whose name was recorded for us to know?  Do you know Merit Ptah who lived around 2,700 BC and hieroglyphs on her tomb call her “Chief Physician.”

Now compare Merit Ptah to Isis, goddess of life and magic and who healed many people with special protection of women and children.  Perhaps it is not surprising that both Merit Ptah and Isis come from Egypt.

Or have you heard of the ships of Jacques Cartier that were trapped in ice in 1536 near present-day Quebec City?  The crew got scurvy with flesh falling off and no one had any idea of what to do.  Then Cartier kidnapped two men with one known as Dom Agaya.  Despite the lack of trust, Dom Agaya made a concoction from a tree to boost the deficiency of the Vitamin C.  The crew wondered if this could be a poison but took it anyway.  Today, it is unknown what this “tree of life” was exactly though it is guessed to be white cedar or white spruce.  While Dom Agaya was released due to this miracle, Cartier later on kidnapped Dom Agaya as well as nine other people when the scurvy came back.  Scurvy did was a problem for sailors for more than 200 years, but stories about a “tree of life” sailed the seas.  Almost all cultures have “tree of life” stories and even today we attempt to protect the rainforests, knowing that the bark or roots or other parts of trees there provide cures to more than we can imagine.

Folktales take our imagination and then transform them into fascinating stories on how humans can defy death from any number of  would-be-deadly diseases and countless curses.

There are Apples of Alteration to Elixirs of Exuberance to Infertility Interdicted to Knock-out-of-the-park Kissing. 

Some of these seem obvious, though what about Loud Laughter, Omnipotent Ointment, Purging the Physique, and Troll Trophies.

What?  Did we write “Troll Trophies”?  We sure did.

And More Surprises!

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 13, 2020 (and how exactly that will actually look like is still up in the air due to the COVID-19…but we will figure out something).  Our latest plan can be found here:  https://storycrossroads.org/contingency-plans-covid-19/

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to go directly to donation page.)

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 5th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 13, 2020.

Cap’s Off to You!–Legacy: Fables Adventure Studio- and Celebrating Story

Legacy-Fables collage with logoFeaturing:  Legacy: Fables Adventure Studio – and Celebrating Story

Role-playing Studio with Immersive Environments and Captivating Narrators

Legacy: Fables is a unique choose-your-own-adventure storytelling experience for groups of 4-6 people at a time in an intimate setting with enthralling ambiance to boost the imagination in Provo, Utah.  I was in shock when this organization slipped by my ever-alert storytelling radar as this organization made many appearances at role-playing and comic conventions.  While establishing themselves in 2017, the official opening was September 24, 2019.  I came upon Legacy: Fables when researching different family passes available in the Wasatch area.  This particular one had me pouring over their website and videos.  I got to chat with Alysha Milligan, who works alongside her husband Rob-whom you could call the mastermind, as well as partner Zack Barker and other dedicated people.  The vision and potential of this already-wonderful organization thrills me, and I encourage you to go and be part of the story yourself.  We are also excited to work with Legacy: Fables for our 5th Annual Festival on May 13, 2020 where they can give a taste of what happens during a studio session/adventure.

Interview before Legacy: Fables had their grand opening on September 24, 2019.  We received permission to re-publish this interview with adaptations in brackets.  Clicking here also gives you an under-2-minute video on what Legacy: Fables is like.

In 3-4 sentences, how would you introduce someone to Legacy Fables who has never heard of it?

Fables is a first-of-it’s-kind Adventure Studio where you can become the hero or villain of an epic tale. Our talented narrators guide the guests through a story but leave it to them to make the choices the protagonist would usually make. This can change the plot drastically and results in each guest to walk away with a story that is entirely their own.

What sparked the idea for Legacy Fables? What inspired it?

Years ago, Rob played a game called Dungeons and Dragons and hated it. It was too complicated and didn’t know much about it. Honestly, he hated it. Years later, he rediscovered it through a show called Critical Role, which portrays a deep and emotional adventure driven by several talented voice actors. He tried it again and discovered that it was an experience that anybody could love. Now he’s introduced many people to the merits of group storytelling but wanted to bring it to more people. Fables is a place where groups can go on immersive adventures together without the burden of learning several books worth of rules.

Please describe the experience(s) a customer can expect to have. How long is it? Is it one room? What do they see? What do they do?

When guests enter Fables, they will be checked in by a Fables Concierge. While waiting for their experience to begin, guests can explore the Emporium, a Victorian style collector’s den full of various strange artifacts and objects from other worlds — with several secrets hidden throughout. When the time comes, they will be ushered to their room. Our first and current offering is our fantasy experience, where guests will be seated at a table illuminated by candlelight in the Broken Shield Tavern. The setting is further support by both sounds and smells As they take their seat, they will be introduced to their proxies in the story and the narrator begin setting the first scene.

Why should people want to come to your establishment?

Come here to get away from screens and make a real human connection with other people, make new friends, and in general invigorate your creativity. When you read a book, see a movie, or play a game, you take on the role of an observer: someone who simply watches the story unfold. Your mood, opinions, and ideals have no sway on the plot. You rejoice in someone else’s successes and mourn their failures. But you’re often left wondering what it would be like to be the hero. You can experience heroism here.

What artistic elements went into creating these experiences? (set design, props, actors, costumes, voices, lighting, sound effects, special effects, music?)

All of the above. We have no background in production ourselves but through research and trial and error crafted the Tavern and the Collectors Den. We created our, room by hand as well as many of our props. The sound effects and lighting are all part of our original set design. Our Narrators, also called Watchers, wear handmade leather outfits crafted by a local artisan. Each Watcher was selected based on skills steeped in improvisation and storytelling.

What makes Legacy Fables unique compared to any other experience-based adventures?

Rather than interacting with characters of another world you get to BE the characters upon which the entire narrative rests.

Any fun facts you’d like mentioned?

One fun thing that just happened was Brandon Sanderson’s personal staff come through! They left us beaming reviews on Google and Instagram. If you don’t know, Brandon Sanderson is a New York Times Best Selling Author that also teaches at [Brigham Young University] as a give back to the community.  My husband is the writer for our business and studied under Mr. Sanderson so it was a huge honor for us when they wanted to come through and even better when they LOVED the storytelling aspects!

For those interested in sharing their experience with others, we offer the ability to live stream their experience to services like Twitch. It’s like being the star of your own show.

How much does it cost? Are there group rates?

For one hour it is $22.50 but, for a limited time, we’re offering a discount at $18 and will further discount the price if you bring a full party of 6 people. The full party discount is $15 a person. Participation in our Opening event discounts our Season Passes which are $250 for 12 sessions.

Did I miss something you’d like included or mentioned?

We offer a Give-Back program to the Community. Part of the admission to our rooms goes to fund monthly workshops focused on several “Makerspace” type initiatives. We focus on children but are not limiting the workshops to a specific age range. Those interested in writing books, sculpting clay, or bringing ideas to life will be given a place to create and connect with others similarly minded for free during 2-hour sessions guided by a Master in their craft.

Basic Info:

Legacy Fables: Adventure Studio

443 North University Avenue, Provo, UT

Robert Milligan




@legacyfables on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube


So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Legacy: Fables!

Remember, we also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 5th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 13, 2020.  Give back to Story Crossroads by donating through the #GivingTuesday Facebook Fundraiser from December 3, 2019 to December 17, 2019.