C is for Countering Curses – 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 Beating the Odds…Lucky Folktales Around the World to Brighten Your Day. Each post highlights that the stars aligned and what would have normally been…bad…turned out after all. Considering what we – as humankind – have experienced the past year, how nice is it to remember that all of us can “beat the odds” to some level in our lives.

And we’ll admit now…some are actually myths, legends, or epics rather than only limited to folktales. So is that a type of “loading the dice”? Ah, but the stories were too wonderful to pass by.


From Menomini-

Growing up in Wisconsin, I learned about the Menominee as the Menominee River itself drains into Green Bay. You may have heard of the Green Bay Packers? So this was one of the key tribes we talked about in school. There are five clans in the Menomini: Bear, Eagle, Wolf, Moose, and Crane. These five were brothers who took on different duties so that the whole tribe would flourish. Bear was in charge of administration. Eagle oversaw war and fire. Wolf led in hunting. Crane guided in anything that needed to be built. Moose was part of distributing and guarding the rice and protecting the village. For this story, we need to focus on the Bear Clan and the other animals within Bear Clan: Beaver, Muskrat, Otter, Sturgeon, Mud Turtle, Sunfish, and Porcupine. Notice that last animal – Porcupine? Important. Each of these animals within the Bear Clan are considered “younger brothers” to help with the overall tasks of the clan.

How dangerous are “Friends”?

We love friends and can “curse” friends. Sometime we hurt the ones we care about the most. Though, if each of us had to undertake a friend test…well, let’s say that these 9 “friends” would not pass it. When someone tells you that something must never happen but then you go ahead and do exactly that as a prank? Be that friend and believe them. The story does not reveal which Clan they were part of but it was obvious who one young men originated.

50-word-or-less summary:

Man warns 9 friends that he must never eat porcupine meat. Friends purposely dip meal in porcupine grease. Man eats. Turns into catfish. Friends grieve. Catfish asks friends to tell his father who then lives near shore. Despite curse, catfish guides animals to father so always has food.

Those 9 friends got lucky that no vengeance was sought for the betrayal! And while the man would forever remain a catfish, he took an “unlucky” time and turned it into a blessing for his father. So perhaps not THAT happy of an ending, but the catfish-man never had to worry about providing for his father. There is always love and relief in that act.

Finding the Story “The Man Who Transgressed a Taboo”:

https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/man-who-transgressed-taboo that is also from “American Indian Literature: An Anthology” by Alan R. Velie

While not of this story, here are hints of other wonderful Menominee stories: https://www.mpm.edu/plan-visit/educators/wirp/nations/menominee/oral-tradition

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings with virtual as well as proper-distanced/masked/outdoors.

We are excited for the monthly All Things Story virtual workshop series as well as the hybrid Story Crossroads Festival on May 10-13, 2021 (then viewing beyond the event to June 15, 2021). Interested in deeper articles and e-workbooks plus stories, activities, and recipes? Then pursue Story Crossroads Memberships.

As we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you can also support by donating today!

L is for Golden Lucky-Bird Huma’, Leg, Lamb, & Leaf–A to Z Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019LWe 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 Golden…And All Things That Glimmer.  Each post highlights golden items from a folktale from around the world. Each time you have to wonder, is something that is golden a blessing, a curse, or both?

What has inspired all this gold?–The Golden Spike with the 150th Transcontinental Railroad and the Spike 150 Grant for this year’s Story Crossroads Festival.

Golden Lucky Bird Huma’-

Compassion and greed seem to go hand in hand. This reminds me of the Golden Elephant Tusks shared earlier.

Kashmir, India – https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/goldfowl.html#kashmir

50-word-or-less summary:

Lucky Bird Huma’ took pity on poor man. Gave golden egg while man slept. Shopkeeper promises more wealth for bird. Man pretends to sleep. Captures bird. Bird says burn feather to travel to his land, receive gold. Man prefers bird. Bird dies. Man burns feather. Bird revived. Man still poor.

Golden Leg-

So we have Golden Arm (America mainly), Golden Hand (England), and now Golden Leg (Germany). I enjoy the differences and similarities. So really…beware of any golden body parts!

Germany – https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0366.html#goldenleg

50-word-or-less summary:

Girl slips on ice and loses leg. Surgeon says best to have golden leg. Wrong! Death himself arrives and tells mother the girl must come with her. Perhaps Death and girl seen by gravedigger? Gravedigger steals golden leg. At midnight, girl-ghost demands golden leg for three nights. Finally returned. RIP.

Golden Lamb-

Several picture books have shared of this classic tale that is much like the Golden Goose. This Hungarian one is more delightful to me.

Hungary – https://www.amazon.com/Little-Golden-Lamb-Ellin-Greene/dp/0395715261

50-word-or-less summary:

Shepherd-boy plays flute and sheep dance. Farmer promised any wages asked. Golden lamb born-only that. Lamb given. Flute-playing causes lamb to dance. Boy stays at inn. Innkeeper’s daughter touches golden fleece. Stuck! More people. Stuck! Boy plays flute and all dance. Makes princess laugh. Three bags of gold…and marriage.

Golden Leaf-

This does not qualify as a folktale though has some of the qualities of one. Enjoy this original modern fable created by Kirsten Hall and beautifully illustrated by Matthew Forsythe.

Modern Fable – https://www.amazon.com/Gold-Leaf-Kirsten-Hall/dp/1592702147/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=golden+leaf+picture+book&qid=1555159003&s=books&sr=1-3

50-word-or-less summary:

Tree grows one golden leaf. All animals want it. Warbler snatches it for nest. Chipmunk steals from Warbler. More animals steal until golden leaf in tatters. Next spring comes. Golden leaf appears, but animals enjoy it from afar. Happiness is not in possession but knowledge that it is there.

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 15, 2019 with free performances May 13-16, 2019 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2019-schedule/.  

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 Utah Department of Heritage and Arts (Spike 150), the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other businesses and individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.