S is for Soothsaying Spirits & Slip-upping Snake-Siblings – 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.

SPIRITS & SNAKES-

From Sioux

The Sioux and the Ojibwe tribes do not always get along. Some people don’t like to use the word “Sioux” as the Ojibwe used that name as a way to call the “Sioux” to be “little snakes.” The original word was “Nadowessioux.” Fur traders shortened the word to “Sioux.” Yet, it’s a name that continues to this day.

What makes spirits dangerous? What makes snakes dangerous?

When spirits talk and tell you to do something, it is already dangerous to not follow directions. In this story, the ones who did not listen are transformed. A spirit could possess you and suddenly there could be two spirits depending on what is forced to be done when possessed. As for snakes, this story features rattlesnakes that actually give you warning because they already know they are dangerous. Whether it’s the bite, venom, or both…stay back when you hear that rattle. So if you don’t listen and respond? Be warned. Huh. Both the spirits and the snakes are best managed when listened to the first time. Interesting.

50-words-or-less summary:

Four brothers kill buffalo. Spirits says to lay skin/skull/hooves in certain way. Only youngest obeys. Other brothers transform into snakes. Snake-siblings live in hole and promise to protect brother and tribe. Youngest after horses and asks for snake medicine. Snake-siblings provide. Youngest then faster and more confidence. Success! Continues today.

That youngest brother was smart to listen to the Spirit (thereby lucky) and take that buffalo skin to the hill and lay out the parts as requested. Though, those other three brothers were lucky to be alive and right their wrongs by protecting the tribe as snakes. Only after learning this story did I find it fascinating on the meaning of “Sioux” and how these snake brothers can be respected despite their initial disobedience.

Finding the Story:

When Lame Deer told it in 1969 – https://www.angelfire.com/ca/Indian/SnakeBrothers.html

When published in book and transcribed/edited by Richard Erdoes in 1976 from Lame Deer – “The Snake Brothers” within The Sound of Flutes and other Indian Legends – also found here online to order: https://www.amazon.com/Sound-flutes-other-Indian-legends/dp/0394831810

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!

See a teaser of our Story Crossroads Academy. While the video has closed captioning, the “Storytelling Basics in 8 Hours” is free and includes American Sign Language.

N is for Neutralizing & Negotiating—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”?

Neutralizing & Negotiating-

From South Africa-

The woodcutter’s daughter caught the eye of a sultan and luckily the wazir saw what was going on before it was too late. This story is from the Malay-Indian provence.

50-word-or-less summary:

Sultan wanted to snatch girl. Wazir gave wolf skin/ring to escape. Girl transformed into wolf. Escaped! Captured! Wazir sick. Girl forgot how to turn back. Remembered in time for dance. Wazir not there-still sick. Wolf! Woman! Wolf! Wazir neutralized/killed wolf. Woman permanently. Wazir happy/healed. Married!

Version of the Story: https://www.amazon.com/Nelson-Mandelas-Favorite-African-Folktales/dp/1600246664

Compare to History:

Lovesickness is real though also goes by the name “limerance.” Dr. Dorothy Tennov created that word in 1979, and she explained that people with it “become involuntarily crazy.” Insomnia and lack of appetite are most common as well as an intense desire for their love to be returned. Many symptoms of limerance closely resemble mental illness. A lovesick person can have chemicals released in the brain that can be worse than being on drugs. The poor wazir helped his secret love escape…and a wolf-human relationship would not work. No wonder he got sick. Glad he got better!

More on the History: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1027621/lovesick-is-an-actual-condition/amp/

From Tanzania-

The boy named ‘Mvoo Laana made his own traps from branches and coconut fibers to make rope. The ape he encountered has the name Neea’nee and the ape and other animals can talk. The snake has the name Neeoka. These names count as bonus words starting with “N.” I love the stories that come from when animals could talk. In this story, that’s a good thing, too. Lives are spared…not a typical sickness or fate. A moment in the story is where the boy is mistaken by an old woman to be a doctor. He did not want to claim something he was not.

50-word-or-less summary:

Boy hunted like father. Then nothing. Finally caught ape, snake, and lion. Released out of kindness. Man caught. Released. Ape and lion return kindness with food/drink. Snake gave gold/silver. Woman asked if boy was doctor. Stayed honest. Man housed boy. Saw gold. Lied. Snake convinced villagers of man’s treachery. Saved!

Finding the Story: https://www.worldoftales.com/African_folktales/African_Folktale_44.html

Compare to History:

So many people have battled cancer. This book caught my eye as the title said, “Negotiating Disease: Power and Cancer Care, 1900-1950. So many treatments were used to convince cancer to stay away. This drive can, in and of itself, be enough to boost the person physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

More on the History: https://books.google.com/books?id=QZf5iVjZq64C&pg=PR1&lpg=PR1&dq=negotiate+kindness+doctor+history&source=bl&ots=3fEYOvSqQf&sig=ACfU3U1-7s1W2yEzFRSIGVE0TtG4yE8-9Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiM_Nn97e7oAhUTbc0KHRloAisQ6AEwB3oECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=negotiate%20kindness%20doctor%20history&f=false

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!

F is for Fences that Fix—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”?

Fences that Fix-

From Russia-

If you only had a few days to live, having a strong and sturdy fence would not matter so much. Yet, it is about always doing your best no matter how long you have left. Within this Russian tale “Why People don’t know when They are going to Die,” the fence takes on another meaning that can be healing to our souls in how we approach life.

50-word-or-less summary:

People knew when they would die. Man knew he’d die in three days. Man built rickety fence. Person walked by. Person urged to at least build strong fence for those in the future. Three days. Man lives. Two years, man lives. Man rebuilt strong fence. Person walked by (really God). Decided best people don’t know when they die.

Version of Why People don’t know when They are going to Die story: https://books.google.com/books?id=sn0YDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT111&lpg=PT111&dq=folktale+fence&source=bl&ots=h-yFqd5UN2&sig=ACfU3U0sHGHtOEF3IvF0mbtUU53zW80tfA&hl=en&ppis=_c&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiRvoL6h9XoAhWZHc0KHU5IC70Q6AEwD3oECAwQKA#v=onepage&q=folktale%20fence&f=false

Compare to History:

Many guides have been written to give people comfort as loved ones approach death. Though, the day of death remains a mystery. Sue Brayne and Dr. Peter Fenwick created the manual “Nearing the End of Life: a guide for relatives and friends of the dying” in 2008. Throughout this manual are fascinating quotes on death for each section. The quote that caught my eye was stated by Dr. Sherwin Nuland, “Death is not usually a time of wonderful experiences. But it is frequently a time for healing experiences.” I think of the man building a rickety versus a strong fence. That was a healing experience.

More on the History: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/members/sigs/spirituality-spsig/spirituality-special-interest-group-publications-fenwick-nearing-the-end-of-life-guide.pdf?sfvrsn=ef164fa6_2

From Mississippi/Faulkner Family-

Jim Faulkner shared stories of his family including the famous American author William Faulkner. Though, the percentage of true versus…non-true stories is questionable as he liked to share family memories, tall tales, and fictionalized history in Mississippi. In the book “Across the Creek: Faulkner Family Stories,” the chapter called “Roasting Black Buster” Has a folkloric moment featuring Dolly and a seasoned man nicknamed Lightning on account of his lack of speed. Variants have been told by people in Kansas. This is more of healing of the land than of people.

50-word-or-less summary:

Dolly grew garden with “Lightning.” No rain for days. Snake near Lightning. Dolly requested he kill snake. Done. Dolly requested snake hung on fence vertically belly-side up as will rain within three days. No rain. Day two. No rain. Day three…late. Thunderstorm! Smaller snake for next time. Successful harvest!

Finding the Story: https://books.google.com/books?id=xKZySWbnMOQC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=snakes+belly+side+up+fence&source=bl&ots=mn-SYEWKDP&sig=ACfU3U2e1cRI17vVRYoTUUjXdo691YdW2A&hl=en&ppis=_c&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjs5JuEwNXoAhVKZc0KHZE2CS8Q6AEwE3oECA0QKA#v=onepage&q=snakes%20belly%20side%20up%20fence&f=false

Compare to History:

Before barbed wire fences existed in 1874, people in Kansas believed the power of snakes on any kind of fence to bring rain and heal the land for the crops. Laying a snake horizontal would have the snake twist too much through rigor mortis. Then, the power of the snake would be lost. Thousands of snakes came to this vertical belly-up fate on fences. A Bohemian farmer swore by this act as did so many others. The skies themselves did not always send rain within three days.

More on the History: http://www.legendsofkansas.com/folklore.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!

N is for Golden Nugget–A to Z Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019NWe 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 Nugget-

This story lets me ponder on what type of friend I am. Let us all be like Ki-wu and Pao-shu.

China – https://www.worldoftales.com/Asian_folktales/Chinese_Folktale_13.html

50-word-or-less summary:

Ki-wu and Pao-shu head to the woods. They discover a large golden nugget. Ki-wu offers to friend. Pao-shu refuses. Nugget left behind. They find a man in forest and offer to him. Man searches and finds snake that he cuts in half. Friends return and see two golden nuggets. Happiness.

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.