Rainbow Crow – A Native American Story Retold by Judith Shaw

Now that my Animal Wisdom Oracle is out in the world I’m delving more deeply into the stories and legends associated with the animals I’ve learned about. Though many legends of animals are strongly associated with goddesses and gods, there are also many that focus solely on animals themselves. In both cases these stories help us understand our place in the world and teach about living in balance and harmony with all beings – a cornerstone of feminism and goddess spirituality.  

As winter nears its end, I’d like to share my re-telling of a story with you about Crow. It comes from the storytelling tradition of the Lenni Lenape – a Native American tribe whose traditional territory spanned what is now eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, lower New York, and eastern Delaware. This is a different kind of crow from the one we know today. It goes like this….

Continue reading “Rainbow Crow – A Native American Story Retold by Judith Shaw”

9 Ingredients for Building New Narratives by Eline Kieft

There have been a few intriguing posts recently on creating new narratives (by Carolyn Lee Boyd, whose ‘dollops of mud’ inspired the title of this post), and reinterpreting existing ones that are deeply embedded in the fabric of our cultures (such as Moses and Rambo by Janet Rudolph). I distinguish re-creating personal and collective narratives as two aspects of this fascinating task.

The first aspect addresses our capacity to rewrite our personal narrative. What story do we tell about our lives? One of my teachers, Ya’Acov Darling Khan, says ‘we humans are story tellers by nature, so we better tell a good one!’ This doesn’t mean ‘making up’ a story, embellishing the facts, or putting sugar over shit, but exploring our own hero/ine’s journey, overcoming obstacles with courage, seeking help from allies, daring to go into the darkness and emerging with new insights, and most of all, what I call the skill to ‘harvest the wisdom gifts’ of life’s experiences. I look forward to writing more about this another time.

Continue reading “9 Ingredients for Building New Narratives by Eline Kieft”

From the Archives: “Home: A New Pesach Reflection” by Ivy Helman

Author’s note: This post originally published on this website on March 11, 2018. How prescient it is. I live in Prague, about an 8 hour car-ride to the Ukrainian border. Over 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived here, with more arriving daily. They need homes, and this need is overwhelming our small country. Yet, we are doing all we can each and everyday to help those fleeing the war. Yet, this housing is not home, not when war still rages and when families are still separated. We need peace. Everyone deserves a home.

In ancient times, Pesach was one of three pilgrimage holidays, the others being Sukkot and Shavuot.  According to the the Torah, Israelite men were required to travel to Jerusalem to bring offerings to the temple. Supposedly, this reconnected these Israelites to their religion, to each other and to the deity.  Participating in these pilgrimages brought about a deeper sense of community. In short, three times a year, Jerusalem became a home away from home.

Continue reading “From the Archives: “Home: A New Pesach Reflection” by Ivy Helman”

Metamorphosis and a Press Conference: A Kafkaesque and Shakespearean Fantasy about an Unreal Individual by Barbara Ardinger

Donald wakes up too early. Feeling confused and disoriented, he looks around the room. His bed has disappeared! He seems to be lying on the floor. Why? he asks himself, how’d I fall off my king-size bed? The floor (uncarpeted??) seems to go on around him forever, sans furniture, sans TVs, sans his solid gold toilet, sans even the doors and windows. It’s all a great big blank. All around him. Where am I? he asks himself.

He had disturbing dreams all night, and not just last night, but for…well, awhile. Since the subpoenas. He keeps seeing big, strong, silent men wearing jackets with initials on the back carrying big boxes out of his various offices. All of them. All over the world. In one repeating dream, a man dropped a box. It fell open, scattering papers filled with names and numbers. The men picked everything up, put the papers back in chronological order, and resealed the box. They kept carrying the boxes out to black vans that didn’t have names painted on them.

Continue reading “Metamorphosis and a Press Conference: A Kafkaesque and Shakespearean Fantasy about an Unreal Individual by Barbara Ardinger”

Thus Saith Eve BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver

“I am the Queen of Sheba and I am not impressed.”  This is the first line of one of the monologues from chris wind’s book Thus Saith Eve.  This book features 18 stories of biblical women, and a 19th, Lilith, from Jewish mythology.  Each monologue offers a new interpretation and gives a voice to the women that we think we know.

In this book the voices and personalities of women such as Noah’s wife, Mary of Bethany, Zipporah, and Vashti are reimagined in an exciting and empowering way.  Each of the stories also features an appendix where the reader can learn more about the biblical or mythological context of the woman who is telling her story.

As in her other works, wind uses historical people, events, and understandings to build a truly wonderful source of feminist fiction.  In addition to being an extremely enjoyable and thought provoking read, the monologues can also be used for audition and performance pieces.  On her website wind explains that two of the monologues, “I am Eve” and “I am Mary” can be performed with specific musical selections in the background.  You can find those selections linked to her website above.


Continue reading “Thus Saith Eve BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver”

Toil and Trouble (Part 1) by Barbara Ardinger

…and Ella can’t remember the last real meal she had. After supper with the refugees in the witch’s house, she and the witch put their heads together to begin making significant plans. She’s also been meeting all the refugees who now live on the witch’s farm. She knows first-hand why these people fled the capital and the other cities. “Oh, lordy, yes,” she says. “I used to know all the important people. My dear sisters and I went to all the big events, ate the finest cuisine—” suddenly remembering where she is, she looks down at the table “—oh, dear, but I don’t mean to criticize your cuisine.”

The ravens, all perched on the backs of chairs look straight at her. “Good food, this,” says Kahlil, “except these girls don’t serve eyeballs.” “Stop that,” Domina whispers (if ravens can be said to whisper). “Don’t be so picky. Everybody here gets enough to eat.”

Ella, who is more used to cats and dogs and the occasional parakeet than to ravens, blinks and continues. “I wish I knew where my sisters are now. Thanks to our ‘relationships’ with the princes, we were High Society and—”

Continue reading “Toil and Trouble (Part 1) by Barbara Ardinger”

A Rescue Remedy, Part I by Barbara Ardinger

A year, now. It has been a full year since the phony election that put El Presidente in the Golden Office. A year since people began leaving the capital and the nation’s other large cities. While some of the refugees emigrated to quasi-democratic nations, most of them settled in the small towns and on the farms across the countryside, where they began building new, rural lives. A year ago, it was a flood of refugees. Now fewer people are able to escape.

A year, now, and even though she has studied and practiced, the wicked witch is no wickeder than she ever was. Nowadays she even forgets to put on the wicked-witch mask that she used to think scared people. But it’s easy for everyone to see that, masked or not, she’s just an ordinary woman practicing an old-time religion. She’s never fooled anyone, not the sixty or so refugees who now live on her farm, especially not the various ravens who drop by regularly for snacks in exchange for gossip.

Continue reading “A Rescue Remedy, Part I by Barbara Ardinger”

The Original Art by Elise M. Edwards

Storytelling is the original art as the desire to communicate is a common thread of all the other arts. I started reflecting on the stories – through various mediums–that have shaped me, and I wanted to use my post today to honor the herstories, the narratives of the women that have been meaningful to me.

On Tuesday night, I attended a gathering of storytellers.  I sat with two of my friends and listened to professionals and amateurs alike share stories.  The stories they told presented a range of narratives from Danish folktales to improvised children’s stories.  I was both horrified and enchanted by the content of their works.  While one story was a particularly violent tale of retribution and “justice,” another seemed to offer lessons about cooperation.

I thought about sharing a story of my own, but I didn’t feel prepared.  By the end of the evening, I was aware of the irony of my reluctance to share.  I was afraid I was not a good enough storyteller, yet I’d spent a good part of the previous two weeks traveling and catching up with old and new friends, which certainly involved animated retellings of the events going on in my life. Continue reading “The Original Art by Elise M. Edwards”

Storytelling to Restore the Sacred in Our Lives by Najeeba Syeed Miller

I was recently offering a workshop to a group of Muslim educators from all types of ethnic, racial and community backgrounds. One of my points in the training on conflict resolution was the importance of story telling,the many ways that stories are formed, told and uttered in different cultural contexts. Sometimes, the content of the story is less important that the WAY we tell the story. We talked about how to listen to the form of the story being told, its inherent design logic, and what we learn about a person and her community from the way she chooses to tell her story especially in times of conflict. For it is in conflict times that we resort to what is most familiar and sacred to us all.

For years, I have had the honor of being a peacemaker, a mediator who listens to people’s stories. I jokingly told a colleague that I could tell what they were thinking even as they were telling their story just by the way they sat, how their hands moved, whether they looked away at certain points or by what they also did not say. It is important to hear a story being told as a fully embodied experience. The words, the way they are arranged, the flow of the narrative, its resonance with body language give you a more complete vision and experience of the story and insights into the storyteller. Continue reading “Storytelling to Restore the Sacred in Our Lives by Najeeba Syeed Miller”

The Naming of Our Mother-Lines by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

I am Cynthia, daughter of Pauline, daughter of Ellen, daughter of Mary. I first spoke this litany of names at a retreat given by Carol Christ.  As we entered the chapel, each woman was given a rose to place in the center of the circle after she recited her own mother line.  Simple but incredibly powerful, a beautiful reminder of our matriarchal inheritance.

The reflection of this ritual is all the more rich because today is my birthday. Especially since my mother’s death in 1990, March 9 is a day of reflection on our complicated mother-daughter relationship with all its highs and lows that marked our lives.  But what I really miss from her are the stories told around the kitchen table, starting with the uniqueness of each of our births.  With each one, the hope and expectation of both parents was for a daughter.  Not until the fourth birth did their plea to St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes (and our family’s most depended on saint), bring forth their highly anticipated girl. Continue reading “The Naming of Our Mother-Lines by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

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