F is for Foxing Foxes – 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.

FOXES-

From China

Three foxes roam China: red fox (most common), corsac fox, and the Tibetan sand fox. You could maybe count the raccoon dog that is related most closely to foxes. Those raccoon dogs do like to trap fish…and perhaps crabs.

What makes foxes dangerous?

Foxes in China are seen as spirits possessed with magical powers. These creatures are mischievous. The nine-tailed fox (jiuweihu) can shapeshift and lure people, especially in the form of a beautiful woman. And…no good intentions with that part. The fact that this story focuses on the fox’s tail? Hmmm. This story appears to be a one-tailed fox. Probably already lucky for that crab.

50-words-or-less summary:

Fox made fun of Crab as “slow.” Crab suggested race. Crab claimed he could win if Fox tied down this tail. Fox agreed to place weight on tail. Go! Fox ran. Crab clung to Fox’s tail. Fox turned to check on Crab. Crab let go and won. Fox slunk away.

That crab was lucky to outfox that fox and gain back his pride. It’s hard when faced with a bully. While no treasure or love interest was gained in this story, being repeatedly insulted can have an emotional drain. To then gain that self-confidence again? Yes, lucky indeed.

Finding the Story and Background:

“Nursery Tales Around the World” by Judy Sierra pp. 81-83 can be found online to purchase here – https://www.amazon.com/Nursery-Tales-Around-World-Sierra/dp/0395678943/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=%22Nursery+Tales+Around+the+World%22+by+Judy+Sierra&qid=1617852487&s=books&sr=1-1

Aesop fable that also involves Fox and Crab…and proves how lucky the Crab from China is – http://read.gov/aesop/103.html

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!

Z is for Zealously Zen—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”?

Zealously Zen-

From China-

Brocades are woven with fine details and embossed cloth. The skill to make a brocade has always been highly prized as it is by the fairies in this story. The loss of one’s work brought sickness near death for a woman and the son is willing to find it. That is zealous action, and yet it is a type of zen he needed for his mother.

50-word-or-less summary:

Mother lost favorite brocade to wind/fairies. Sick/dying! Son/Chen sought zealously to bring peace to mother. Fairies attempted to copy mother’s work. Li-en and Chen shared glances. Wove herself in brocade. Chen returned brocade, healed mother. Brocade enlarged as castle, Chen and mother entered. Mother taught fairies. Chen married Li-en.

Finding the Story: http://www.aaronshep.com/stories/056.html

Compare to History:

In October 2013, David Wilson with the South China Morning Post reported the increase of mental illness diagnoses and that critics accused psychiatrists of inflating the numbers. Labels such as “disruptive mood disregulation disorder” and “social anxiety disorder” could simply mean common temper tantrums and shyness. Was the mother exaggerating her condition so much that her body responded physically? Did the son truly need to go on a quest or discover another to bring her peace. Though, Chen would never have found Li-en without that adventure.

More on the History: https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health/article/1339739/how-zealous-psychiatrists-are-diagnosing-quirks-mental-illnesses

From Zen Buddhist-

Buddha is reborn as many animals and learns lessons with each birth. This time, Buddha becomes a Banyan deer. He leads other deer and makes a choice that affected a king.

50-word-or-less summary:

King obsessed with hunting. Ruined fields. People upset. Trapped deer herd, king could hunt without hurting land. Buddha/Banyan deer witnessed deer injured in stockade. Decided by lottery one deer offered to save others. Finally doe willing to die once fawn born. Buddha took her place. King moved, gave up hunting.

Finding the Story: https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/banyan-deer

Compare to History:

The Zen Caregiving Project began in 1986 through the San Francisco Zen Center. Martha deBarros sought a Zen Hospice where patients without social or financial support could be eased from their pain or transition peacefully. Run by volunteers, they used to use a Victorian guest house until October 2018. They persevered and received help and a home through Laguna Honda Hospital. Their good work continues to this day.

More on the History: https://zencaregiving.org/our-history/

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 2020 Festival has been transformed into Story Crossroads Spectacular, a virtual experience. See here: http://www.storycrossroads.org/spectacular on May 13, 2020 starting at 9am MDT with events all day.

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!

X is for Xi (Greece) & Xi (China)—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”?

Xi (Greece) & Xi (China)-

From Greece-

Xi is a Greek letter. Two Greek gods gave their word—or many Greek letters—to a generous husband and wife named Philemon and Baucis. Yes, a little stretch for the letter “x,” but I enjoyed the connection.

50-word-or-less summary:

Zeus and Hermes disguised as beggars. Poor couple gave best meal they could. Gods revealed! For kindness, couple received two wishes. They wanted to serve the gods in their temples and die at same time. Couple had long health, died together, reborn as linden and oak tree by temple.

Finding the Story: http://classictales.educ.cam.ac.uk/stories/metamorphoses/baucisphilemon/explore/Baucis%20&%20Philemon%20transcript.pdf

Compare to History:

Joe and Helen Auer had been together for 70 years. When Helen passed on at the age of 94, Joe whispered to her to “Call me home.” About 28 hours later, 100-year-old Joe died of an aneurism. People wonder if science could explain such happenings. Emotional shock/broken heart is usually partial reason for the surviving spouse to pass not long after. Though is it broken heart or a heart-felt promise made from the heavens above?

More on the History: https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/life-after-death/the-science-behind-a-broken-heart

From China-

Xi is the name of a river in southern China and the western tributary of the Pearl River. This story involves a river in China…so we can let this count as “x.” The four dragons in the story represent the four great rivers of China: Heilongjian (Black Dragon), Huanghe (Yellow Dragon), Changjiang (Yangtze/Long River), and Zhujiang (Pearl River). Now you see the Xi/Pearl connection?

50-word-or-less summary:

Four dragons beg Jade Emperor over heavens/earth/hell for rain. Humans suffering. Some people ate bark, more sickness. Emperor promised to send rain. Distracted! Dragons attempt to cause rain by borrowing from sea. Sea god complained. Emperor transformed dragons to mountains. Dragons/mountains caused rivers to flow. Healing!

Finding the Story: https://wyrmflight.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/the-four-dragons-a-chinese-folk-story/

Compare to History:

The people suffer when there is no rain and when there is too much. Little rain causes famine though too much rain (perhaps when dragons steal water from the sea), can cause more insects and diseases to spread across the land. Lately, we have experienced global climate change and precipitation has increased from Taiwan to Bangladesh to the United States. Yet, even when there are floods or monsoons, people rally together to get through it and become closer in the end. Dragons and humans are there for each other.

More on the History: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3380951/ and https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32393-0/fulltext

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 2020 Festival has been transformed into Story Crossroads Spectacular, a virtual experience. See here: http://www.storycrossroads.org/spectacular on May 13, 2020 starting at 9am MDT with events all day.

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!

I is for Infertility Interdicted

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”?

Infertility Interdicted-

From the Egypt-

Heket is the Egyptian goddess of birthing and fertility. She collaborated—and sometimes schemed for the better—with other goddesses as shared in this story involving triplets. Her name can be broken down to “heka,” which means magic. Power over fertility was considered by Ancient Egyptians as truly magical. She is depicted as the frog-headed goddess as the frog represents fertility, Think of 10,000 tadpoles from one frog. The Nile Rivers becomes overrun with frogs, and it is considered the most fertile time of the year.

50-word-or-less summary:

Raddjedet suffered with triplets in womb. Ra sent four goddesses including Heket. They disguised as dancers/musicians and let in by Raddjedet’s husband. They said they were also midwives. Heket sped up birth. Triplets healthy! They left sack with grain and three crowns. Said would return. Didn’t. Meant as gift. Received!

Version of Raddjedet and the Triplets story: http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/egypt_magic.html#.XpENi8hKiUk and details http://folkheartpressblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/frog-lore.html?m=1

Compare to History:

The Ancient Egyptians had friends, neighbors, or servants within the household who usually assisted as midwives. Noble homes, such as in the story with Raddjedet, would have delivery in a temple and usually surrounded by statues of goddesses who blessed births in one way or another. As Heket sped up delivery, the Ancient Egyptians used rushes from the Nile placed on the woman’s abdomen. Interestingly, Heket was connected to frogs that also came from the Nile.

More on the History: https://www.midwiferysupplies.ca/blogs/ancient-midwifery-blog/295322-ancient-egyptian-midwifery-and-childbirth

From China-

Jade is dominant in many Chinese folktales to bring goodness. In this case, the Jade Emperor himself blesses Jiang Yuan who longed to bear children for Emperor Ku.

50-word-or-less summary:

Emperor’s wife, Jiang Yuan, was infertile. Sky god/Jade Emperor walked on earth and left footprint. While walking, Jiang Yuan stepped in footprint. Pregnant! Son became god of agriculture, Houji. He was an expert with millet, could grow anything. Fertile gift given to mother and fertile gift of earth given to son.

Finding the Story: https://books.google.com/books?id=LPlOO3_s898C&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=emperor+ku+giant%27s+footprint&source=bl&ots=kEP9q5_MhY&sig=ACfU3U2N_lrHS0x8NSuQ0YDCm7ZvF4Oe6g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiT5-_2ud_oAhXGGc0KHUcIDj8Q6AEwAHoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=emperor%20ku%20giant’s%20footprint&f=false

Compare to History:

Emperor Ku is considered a semi-historical character. People still debate on details of his life, especially in relation to his wives and consorts. More than one have had fantastic and hard-to-believe stories of how the descendants of Emperor Ku were born. One swallowed a black bird’s egg that fell from the sky and was then able to conceive. Another had a dream she swallowed the sun and the next day realized she was pregnant. Earth and water are common symbols of fertility. With Jiang Yuan stepping in the god’s footprint in the earth, it would be considered sacred earth.

More on the History: about Emperor Ku https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Ku and also article on myths and fertility https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769851/

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!

E is for Elixirs of Exuberance—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”?

Elixirs of Exuberance

From Japan-

The hermits in this story are from the mountains, which are likely the Yamabushi known for supernatural powers. The sacred mountains Kumano and Omine could be the mountains where Isamu found the hermits.

50-word-or-less summary:

Isamu sought hermits who created Elixir of Life. Hermits said Isamu was too selfish. Sent to land with no death. Everybody ate poison hoping to die. Isamu flown over sea. Fell! Shark! Isamu wished life! Hermits said he had no spiritual strength. Given book of wisdom. Became kind. Died happy.

Version of The Elixir of Life story: https://www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/2017/4/23/the-elixir-of-life-a-japanese

Compare to History:

Modern-day hermits in Japan are known as hikikomori. Over half 1 million prefer are choosing to self isolate. This was before COVID-19. Japanese psychologist Tamaki Saito used “hikikomori” to describe the people and the condition back in 1998. This has increased as people interact without connection with the real world. The face-to-face and video chat are still possible for people to fight depression. Perhaps Isamu needs to return the book of wisdom to these hermits. Let us create the Elixir of Life and reach out in whatever way we are able—whether that be by phone or computer or face-to-face.

More on the History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamabushi and https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190129-the-plight-of-japans-modern-hermits

From China-

Magu became Goddess of Hemp with healing powers. Though, she had many tools and techniques, and this story focuses on peaches.

50-word-or-less summary:

Magu, poor seamstress, was paid with peach. Gave peach to woman poorer than her. Headed home to give same woman porridge. Took too long and locked in her room by father. Next day Magu couldn’t find woman except peach pit. Magu planted pit. Peach tree had healing powers. Magu immortalized.

Finding the Story: https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-asia/magu-hemp-goddess-who-healed-ancient-asia-008709

Compare to History:

Peaches originated from China over 4000 years ago. In the 1980s, a peach tree was found in Tibet that was 1000 years old with a 30 foot circumference. In China, giving the gift of a peach was blessing that person with long life. Within the saga “Journey to the West,” the Monkey King traveled to the Peach Garden of the Heavenly Queen Mother. These peaches gave the gift of immortality.

More on the History: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/peach/ and https://www.clemson.edu/extension/peach/commercial/rootstocks/chinese-peaches-past-and-present.html

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/ or 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!