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Write Now! 3 – Grimm Art of Fairy Tales

  • Posted on June 18, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Kate Bernheimer’s article on The Grimm Art of Fairy Tales  intrigues me in ways I can’t describe. Since I was a little girl, fairy tales have always been a big part of my life. I found comfort in the idea that, like Vassilissa the Fair, my mother would never leave me wanting, and like Snow White, my kindness and general likability would gain me safety. These small morals were the cornerstone to my personality. So of course, I’m obsessed with them now! However, after getting in touch with my love of horror and suspense, I find that the sweet, normal fairy tales of my childhood don’t quite… do it for me anymore.

And after reading Miss Bernheimer’s article, I figured out why. All of them lack something. They lack the original source. They lack the social commentary, the deep, terrifying moral of all fairy tales. Baba Yaga was a warning against disobeying your elders’ wisdom and, at the same time, a celebration of how that wisdom can, at times, be dangerous. Sleeping Beauty was a warning about how sometimes, not inviting the right people can ruin your entire life. The little mermaid did what Romeo and Juliet could not, and warned me away from stupid, single-minded love.

Intuitive logic, Flatness, and Happy endings, the article describes, are the three fundamentals of a fairy tale. to quote:

Intuitive Logic. The fairy tale world does not conform to the rules of this world, outside of a book, but it does have rules. They will not be explained with insistence. A teapot will sing. A path will appear just when children need to escape terrible danger. A girl will outsmart a witch. Your chopped off hands will turn into silver and save your life later. In my early fiction, my characters often argued with those around them that they were misunderstood; when I removed all efforts to justify logic (try removing transitions like “Therefore” and “Because”), my readers stopped arguing the stories were illogical.

Flatness. In many old fairy tales, characters are not very deep, psychologically speaking. Snow White, the target of murderous impulses by relatives (sisters or mother) does not suffer depression as a result. She does have responses however: fear, sadness, etc. They are logical and not lingered on deeply. There is nothing wrong with stories that explore ideas about psychological depth; I like many of these stories. Yet flat characters leave room for the reader. In the space left behind, one can think in new ways – Imagine new planes of existence. By flattening characters out, fairy tales exceed limitations of individuality, uniqueness, and self.

Happy Endings. Happy endings are underrated and misunderstood. In lots of old fairy tales, terrible things precede the beautiful images that begin and end most fairy tales; besides what’s wrong with a little consolation in a world teeming with senseless violence, poverty, grief? J.R.R Tolkien once defended happy endings as a vital technique in literature – reflecting, “Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” If I want to end a story about death with an image of a white horse running down a beach, as men in tuxedos and women in evening gowns wander drunkenly into the sea, leaving a pretty girl on the beach, counting pennies in the moonlight – if I can create poetic joy in the words – this is okay. […]

Fairy tales are storybook worlds. You can cast the spell.

The Grimm Art of Fairy Tales,  Kate Bernheimer

Her exercise then is to find a very short, very old fairytale, and break it down into these three instances. I chose Vassilissa the Fair, as it’s my favorite tale. It’s the story of a girl who’s mother, on her deathbed, gives her a doll and tells her if she runs into any trouble, to feed the doll and ask it’s advice. Since this is a fairy tale, Vassilissa of course runs into trouble.

Now, the intuitive logic here, is that the doll will in fact come alive. No one asks how. Or why. Just that the doll, when fed, comes alive and helps the one that fed it. And this help, invariably, always, helps her. When Baba Yaga tells her to clean her house, the doll has it done by the time Vassilissa wakes from a short nap. When Vassilissa runs from the witch, the doll tells her not to speak to the three riders on the white, red and black horses (morning, noon and night respectively.). And when Vassilissa at the first is sent out of her home to get a flower in the middle of winter, the doll is the one that tells her about the clearing in which she finds the 12 men (the months in order.).

Flatness is easy to find, since all we know about Vassilissa is that she is ‘fair’, meaning most likely blonde and pale.  We know she loved her mother very much. But we don’t hear Vassilissa’s thoughts. We don’t find out if she feels responsible for her mother’s death, or if she hates her stepmother and sister for sending her out into the forest each day. We never find out her feelings on Baba Yaga at all. And she’s wholly unaffected by the world around her. Vassilissa is little but a vessel for us to pour our own thoughts and feelings into.

The Happy Ending changes, based on who’s telling the story, of course, but my favorite is the one where the wicked sister goes out to get a blessing from Baba Yaga the way Vassilissa did, and never comes back, and the mother goes out to demand the men in the clearing give her flowers too, and never comes back. Vassilissa is left alone in her family home, to live her life. It’s not as surreal, perhaps as Miss Bernheimer would ask for, but it suited the story.

You can use this technique on any story really, and every story can benefit from these three instances of fairy tale progression. Remove attempts to describe the logic of your world. Let the readers just accept the premise of your story, and if they have questions? Well, that’s what Tumblr is for. Simplify or eliminate Character depth. It can always be added back in later. But for now, see how you can make room for the reader too. Don’t erase the tragedy, but afterwards, give the reader some odd bit of hope, like a pearl found lodged between an old man’s gums, which can then be used to buy passage onto a boat headed for a better life.

Before You Were Born

  • Posted on January 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm

((A writing prompt from Amanda Patterson‘s Tumblr, Amanda on Writing. The prompt is:

Writing Prompt

I’ll be filling it with two protagonists.))

Karabela felt a quickening in her belly, and smoothed her hand over the soft white cloth covering it. Since her pregnancy, Katar had been providing her with nicer things. Things that took him more time to earn, to hunt. She wasn’t sure how she felt about this. Especially since he was moving her from her home, from her tribe. She should have known marrying from one of the wandering tribes would end in her own wandering. But she’d seen the dark swirls around his eyes and his knuckles and the breadth of the darkness swirling on his back, and she had fallen in love.

‘Hush now, little one.’ She thought to the child in her belly. He would be a fierce warrior, she knew. A hunter, and a leader. She smiled, her thumb rubbing the swell of him there. She could not know if it would be a boy or a girl, but no matter what, the child would be a fierce warrior, a hunter, and a leader. The cart shuddered underneath her, and she lost her smile for a moment. Katar screamed at the poor beasts pulling it. Donkeys he’d purchased from a white-skinned trader. His shaved head shone like mud in the sun, and she glared at him, for the mistreatment of the animals. In the back, the crate of four chickens clucked nervously next to the grains he’d purchased as well.

He was serious about this, about their joining some strange pale-skin village, about living there, and seeing how they live. She did not like this, she really didn’t. What kind of life would their little one lead? What kind of home would he have, without cousins to play with, without girls to teach him kindness, without other hunters to teach him knots and bows and slings? He would be nothing but a farmer, and that was not what she wanted for her son. But her husband insisted, believed it would bring them closer. She didn’t laugh in his face out of respect for his passion.

The child within her swollen womb moved again, and as she comforted him, she comforted herself.

~*~*~*~*

Nikola stared, once again, at the putrid green herb sitting on her table, next to the lavender she grew for her skin, the tea tree for her husband’s callouses. She’d always loathed parsley, even in her food, but now… She grit her teeth, glaring at her useless lump of a husband. He lay, drunkenly passed out, in their bed. They’d just sold off Mendala, her apprenticeship putting them in enough money to actually survive for a few years, provided he doesn’t just drink it away. Now, he’d managed to get her with child again.

She turned, her green eyes staring out the window. The Oleanders were in bloom once again, and though she loved the smell, the children running through the petals outside just filled her with rage. She refused to acknowledge that her jealousy perhaps had something to do with it. She was jealous, yes, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was what to do next.

She touched the barely-there swell of her child. No. No she wouldn’t think of it that way. This was a nuisance. Just like all the other children before. A crying, shitting, useless pile of flesh that only became profitable once men started drooling. She looked once again at the parseley, but didn’t get up to make the tea. Might as well secure their future. The screaming would at least make Dane leave for awhile. She pushed back her freshly washed red hair, and plucked one of the oleanders growing beneath her window. Taking a deep breath, she smiled, and set it in her hair.

This child would be a burden. A useless creature whose life would only have worth with legs spread. It felt sort of poetic, actually. Her crimson lips curved into a sardonic smile, as she thought of all the humiliating things she can have this child do. She hoped it was a boy. Boys were easier to raise. Mendalla, Maka and Anna had all been absolutely horrid to raise, much less to sell. Her hand smoothed over her belly in an almost tender gesture, the same sort of soothing one gives a pig before you slaughter it.

First Light

  • Posted on October 17, 2014 at 12:29 am

Memory is a fickle thing, inherently wrong, yet personal in the greatest of ways. All of our memories are biased, based upon information our mind stores and corrupts. Stories we tell ourselves become memories, despite never happening. Things that happened turn out a different way when we think back on them.

Most personal to us all, and most telling of whom we will become, is our very first memory. The first bit of light our mind stores away for us in the world. These memories hide from us, little snippets of time. And then, like magic, a scent, or a sound, the touch of a familiar fabric, or the hum of a certain frequency reminds us, and it comes crashing back like nothing was ever missing at all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The prickly poking of hay. The scent of his mother, soft and creamy like milk just warmed up, and the sound of his father’s quiet voice. Later, Dirk would learn that the conversation was their first discussion about whether they should go back home to Thosfig, back to their tribe. His nose itched, and he rubbed his little fingers against it to make it go away.Noticing how sharp his little fingernails were, he curled them into his palms. Crickets chirped somewhere, and he could hear crackling, like fire. His eyes felt heavy, and he didn’t want to sleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pain. Yumil remembered pain first. A too-tight grip of an adult hand around a small wrist. The red of lines cut into child-soft skin by fingernails dyed with pigment from berries.  Yumil remembers looking up at her, her tawny hair shining in the sunlight. She is beautiful, and frightful. She calls him a bad boy,voice hissing. Yumil feels his stomach twist and clench, fear climbing inside. She is angry, and to Yumil it’s as if she has always been angry and will always be angry. He finds anger burning inside himself to match, hot and terrifyingly close to tears.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She can’t remember the words anymore, but Eamon remembers the soft feeling of her mother’s chest. Her cheek fits against it perfectly. She remembers the hard push of her sister’s knee against her own leg, and the laugh in her mother’s voice. She recalls the lines of her sister’s hand and how it felt to rub her thumb along them until Lette shrieked with laughter, like it had tickled her. Eamon remembers how warm she felt, wrapped up in the two of them. A mix of flowers and cool water always brings this memory to her mind, and she smiles.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Grass tickling her nose, and a small round bug crawling along between the blades. Red like string scattering across her vision, as she was lifted from the earth. Her hand still reaching out for the little black bug, bigger hands tight against her ribs They squeezed a little painfully, but only enough to make her whine in the back of her throat. A murmur of her name, and Lette looks up. Her father’s green eyes smile down at her like the water of a murky lake. She smiles back, and giggles. His hand, scratchy with callouses, brushes back her hair.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Blurs moving past him, dark things swimming around the edges of his vision. Espin remembers crying, crying so loud and so long that he was sure no one heard him. He remembers unpleasant smells, something he later knows is the smell of sickness and waste. He remembers the crying making it worse, stopping his nose and how panicked he felt. A cool hand on his forehead was all that kept him awake, and he cried, and cried. Sleep would be kinder. His stomach lurched, and he felt hotness sear his throat and splash out his lips. Nothing eases his pain.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her big brother’s back, warm and strong. Anelace was tied to it, she could feel the soft cloth against the back of her neck, feel the bounce of his step as he walked. He talked to her, telling her stories, and she burbled back to him. Her fingers found his coarse woven dreads, tugging for attention. She remembers how he smelt like sunshine and camels. He was so big, and strong, he carried her like she was smaller than an ant, and it made her feel small and she thought he must be the most powerful thing in the world.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She was always angry. So angry. His mother was angry at him, yelling and screaming, and Jorgan hated yelling. He wanted to hide and forget. It made him cry, which made her so much angrier. She called him hurtful things he can’t remember later, things that might be true. Her palm struck his cheek, and his world went spinning. Pain blossomed in his jaw, his teeth rattling, as he toppled over. His cries came louder. The snap of a belt made his chest squeeze, and fear silenced him. His father’s footsteps, shaky and unstable, curled him into a tight ball.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What glimpse does this first light give?

photo courtesy of flickr.com

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group – 09/03/14

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 1:00 am

IWSG badgeI only recently found out about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, so forgive this post being a few minutes late.  Basically, from what I can understand of the website, it’s a group meant to bolster and support those going into writing as a career, by helping them see that others have similar insecurities, and by talking them through them.

To be completely honest, I have more insecurities than triumphs, right now, and that’s not something to shake a stick at. I’ve triumphed a lot in my life, to get where I am now, and so when I say the insecurities way me down, I mean it, truthfully.

The thing about it is, however, that you can’t let that sort of thing hold you back. Several of my fears are completely valid. Being the type of person I am, I compartmentalize, and then end up completely disorganized through out the entire process, which just leads to chaos. So, in an effort to help you through some of the things that I’m suffering through, I’m going to organize a little.

Worry one: I’m not going to make it. 

My mother is an author. My best friend is an author. My Mentor is an author. All of these people, I hold dear. But each in their own way, they struggle beyond what is possible for me to feel comfortable with. My mother has one book published, and is working on her second, and honestly, I’d give anything to be nothing like her. That’s a whole seperate story. My best friend has written five books, and none of them are published because he is waiting for one specific publishing house to recognise his works. And my mentor, possibly the most successful of all of us, has two books published, and still is not earning enough to support himself yet.

None of these are my idea of ‘making it’. Of Succeeding. My idea of succeeding is the type of fandom and fame that people like Neil Gaiman, Andrew Hussie, and J.K. Rowling have. And my fear is that I will never reach that level of success.

But that’s wrong. To worry about that so early in the game. The only way I will ever make it, is if I put my all into it now, if I give everything I have to succeeding. I can’t allow this worry to cripple me, the way I’ve allowed worries like this to do so in the past. I have done so much in my short life, and this will not be something that I don’t cross off my bucket list. So please, don’t let the high pole of your own idea of ‘making it’ hold you down.

Worry number two: The things I’m writing will perpetuate horrible things.

If there is one thing I want more than to be the next J.K., it’s to make sure that my writing MEANS something. That it gives someone who didn’t have representation before, that representation. That it allows people to feel more comfortable being themselves.

So I worry and fuss and drive myself nuts over my books and blogposts and writing, to make sure that they don’t hurt those I’m trying to help. It’s a lot harder than one might think to avoid internalised misogyny, or misandry. To fight off homophobia that I didn’t realise slipped into the way I write. To tear away anything that might make someone feel worse about themselves than they already do. And I’m scared that I might never be able to do what needs to be done to make the world a better place.

To combat this worry, I’m trying to learn as much about the world as possible, so that I might end up helping, instead of hurting. I’m attempting to make sure that nothing is left out. That I leave no stone unturned. Honestly, there are some who would tell me not to worry about this, but it seems to me that not enough people worry. So I try my hardest.

Worry number three: I’m afraid I’ll decide this is a waste of time someday, and quit.

I have picked up a habit over my years on earth, and it’s a bad one. I start something, put a lot of work into it. Hard, fun work, that leaves me breathless and wanting more. And then suddenly, as if nothing ever happened, I just… can’t do it anymore. I can’t pick up the pen. I can’t make myself write that next reply. I can’t tell myself that I need to continue it.

Knitting, Final Fantasy Eight, Gardening, Drawing, Painting, Manga-writing, BDSM, Domme-ing, Relationships, and numerous, numerous story ideas. All thrown to the wind, on a whim. I have come to accept that I am a fickle creature. And what worries me, is that after all this effort I’ve put into working so hard on this, I’ll just… give up.

I don’t know how to combat this worry. I don’t know how to get rid of it, or change it, or make it work for me. The best I can do, the best anyone can do, is take it one day at a time, and try their hardest. That’s why I write as many blogposts as I can, that’s why I read so many blogs on my Feedly. That’s why I twitter more now than I ever have before. That’s why I search for blogs and talk to other writers, and try desperately to tie what I’m doing here into my other areas of interest.

Worry number four: I’m worried that this will take over my life, and kill my other dreams.

I want to open a Manga Cafe. The first Manga Cafe in Colorado. I want to have children. I want to travel the world. I want to be financially stable and own my own home. All of these things… None of them are mutually exclusive. But I’m afraid that all the work, all the effort, all the energy I have to put into this whole author-business, will take away from the energy I’ll have for these other dreams.

How can I run a cafe, a business, when I have to spend so much time writing, just to be a mediocre author? What will my children think when I have to tell them I can’t take them to the park because Mommy has to write? Travelling the world costs money, and since it looks like I’m going to be an indie-author, I can’t afford that kind of expense. My money, my life, my energy has to go towards my career as an author.

This is a simple fix, though. This is all just a matter of perspective. If I can wire my writing into the rest of my life, as well, then maybe, just maybe, I can have it all. Why not write while travelling? It’ll make my books more realistic! My cafe can give rise to whole new book ideas, as well as a place to sell my books, and others! My children will see me working hard towards my dreams, and gain a work ethic themselves. I can do it. I can do this, and I WILL make my dreams come true!

Worry number five: I’m worried that I’ll succeed. 

Now, bear with me here, because I know one of my worries up there was that I WOULDN’T make it. But, making it, succeeding in becoming the type of author I want to be… Well, that’s just as terrifying. The kind of fanbases that J.K. and Hussie and Gaiman have are amazing, but also, dangerous. People have Andrew Hussies’ BABY pictures online. I would have no privacy. Not only that, but these people would be hanging on my every word. I would be responsible for a part of their world view. That’s a horrid responsibility.

And there would be my close friends. What of my best friend, who is still waiting for that publisher to call him back? The jealousy there might ruin our friendship. I would rather die than lose him as a friend. And what of my mother? I love her, but what if she thinks this is some kind of contest? We barely have a tenuous relationship as it is. I’d rather not turn into Rose Lalonde, thank you.

The only balm I can soothe this worry with is that I won’t let success change me. Not really. I will still be friends with those I love. I will still be me. And I know I’ve never intentionally hurt a person. And I’ve never withheld an apology when I knew it was really needed. So I can only hope that responsibility will sit with me easily.

Does anyone else have these worries? How do you soothe yours? Please tell me, because I’d love to hear.

Oracle Reading – 08/01/14

  • Posted on August 1, 2014 at 1:28 am

When I was fourteen years old, my dad got me a deck of oracle/tarot cards. For those of you who don’t know, Tarot cards refer usually to 78 cards, the four suits (Cups, Swords, Wands, and Pentacles), and the major and minor Arcana. You might be used to seeing them like this:

Wheel of Fortune as well as others.

The deck my dad got me, however, was an oracle deck. Brian Froud’s Faery Oracle, to be specific. A deck devoted entirely to the Fae and everything about them. It quite literally called to me, then and now. This deck has been with me my entire adult life, and has never once mislead me. In fact, it has, on occasion, saved my life. In a more general sense then say, the Death appearing just as someone was about to murder me.

My deck

Brian Froud’s Faery Oracle, with Text by Jessica Macbeth

When I was homeless, my cards told my mother, and brothers and I, which direction would be most fortuitous. Now, since I find myself lacking in direction, I intend to consult them again. But since I hadn’t planned a good blog-post for tonight, I decided to explain how it’s done, and basically go over the reading right here, in this blog post!

To explain the situation, just a little, I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend, with whom I had eleven months of psuedo-happiness. Now, I seek wisdom from my cards so that I might determine which direction would be right to go in my life.

Instead of asking a question, however, I’m going to just let the faeries choose the layout, and read it from there. Now, to explain the shuffling process. I literally hold the cards in my hands and shuffle side to side, instead of bridging the cards. That way they don’t wear out as quickly. These cards lasted me eleven years. They can survive a little longer.

Once I feel that the side-to-side shuffling is done, I lay them down and shuffle them face down, so that cards turn sideways, upside down, all over, and mix up real well. Sometimes I don’t have room, so I have to do this in my hands. That’s alright too, and the Fae tell me when to stop, that way I can deal the cards they ask me to deal.

Celtic Cross Spread

To specify which card is in which slot, we’ll be using the numbers. That way, you don’t have to worry about getting too confused, and you can follow along.

1) The Fee Lion

The Fee Lion is in the first spot, which, usually, indicates the querents present state of mind. Me, at this moment, in card form. Since the Fee Lion represents promises unkept, things undone, and duties unfulfilled, it seems to indicate I’m feeling guilty over the split up. That I feel there is much unfinished business, that needs tending to. He looks at me with the same eyes as a kitty that hasn’t been fed today. He might represent the worry I have of missing out on things in my life by not finishing the things I set out to finish. Who even knows?

2) Himself (reversed)

Representing Influences or events in the very near future, Himself is reversed, currently. Which means, he could mean blockage, twisting of meaning, or destruction. In this case, the meaning that resonates most with me is blocked. When the energy of Himself is blocked, one can feel limp, depressed, hurting. Energy is locked into obsessions and out of control behavior.  This seems to refer, to me, of the severe depression I suffer from, as well as the overwhelming hurt that came from the (amicable) split up between myself and my ex. While still amicable, it was a large period of time in my life, and I feel almost bogged down with the leftover feelings and thoughts.

3) Geeeeeooo the Slooow

This position represents the best course of action, and the consequences of ignoring it. Geo, one of the slowest, and calmest faeries in existence, represents here, sitting back. Taking time, and pausing, to begin  to experience the world properly. Allowing yourself to calm down saves on a lot of stress. This card seems to recommend taking a while to get back on my feet, and consider what I need to do from here. Instead of trying to push the river, settle back and enjoy the ride. If I don’t, I’ll only further confuse myself, and cause even bigger issues. My best bet at the moment? Relax, get back in touch with myself, and learn from what has happened.

4) The Singer of Initiation (Reversed)

This card represents an event or situation in the past that has an effect on the current event. The Singer of Initiation is the gateway we pass through when we make a decision, one that affects our entire life. As I have apparently been standing in this gateway for quite a while, it turns out that I have now passed through it. However, I was quite stuck there for a little bit, and that worried them. Perhaps that’s why I’m finding myself so distressed about a decision that I made for myself. Now, I just have to take Geo’s advice, and sit back to see where the choice I’ve made puts me.

5)UnDressing of a Salad

An Event in the more recent past. This most likely means the last few days or so. Things have been in motion, and they commend me for having a clear head here. I needed to use discretion and delicacy with my words and power, and this has in fact yielded the result I wanted. A genial split between myself and someone with whom I do still want to have a friendship with. I care for my ex greatly, and while we will have sore feelings for a little while, it is worth it in this instance.

UnDressing Of A Salad. Look at all of those balls in the air!

6) The Rarr (Reversed)

The Rarr is a Faery of incredible energy. It adds energy to all of the cards around it, making it clear that this was a very, very important event in my life. This card also represents the immediate future of my life, within the next six months or so. It seems to indicate, when reversed, a severe lack of control. A thrashing around of energy and intent. In this case, it represents a cool shower, meditation, and grounding exercises. So it looks as if I’m in for a really wild time soon. One can only hope to keep a clear head during all of this.

7) The Gaurdian at the Gate (reversed)

This position reflects the possible influences, or events, within my own work. Now this could mean my novel, my housekeeping, my job as a jewelry consultant, just about anything. In this case, the Guardian seems to indicate that I’m stepping into things I’m truly not ready for. I feel that this is an admonition against attempting to publish too soon. Which honestly, after doing a bunch of research, I feel might be correct. The Guardian also asks me to prioritize my moves, because otherwise, I’ll find myself flailing, like the Rarr says.

8) The Oak Men (reversed)

The Oak Men are an interesting card, as they do not have a reversed interpretation via Jessica Macbeth’s starter information! Instead, they ask you to interpret their expressions. To me, they look approving. Which is interesting, since in this case, they represent influences or events within my home life, or social life. So, most likely, my home life is going to become very important soon. Those that I care for and wish to spend time with will be important in maintaining the clear head I need to overcome this situation.

9) The Bodacious Bodach

This particular brownie tends towards trouble really quickly, which would explain why he’s in the slot that represents my belief of how the situation will turn out. I am expecting sabotage, and happiness to be short-lived, due to someone’s interference. Perhaps my own, perhaps someone close to the situation. This is completely at odds with the rest of the reading, however, which gives me hope, that perhaps my belief here is completely unfounded.

As any good card-reader knows, sometimes you need additional clarification, and it looks like this one might need it. So, I’m pulling the tenth card anyway, to see if perhaps they’d be willing to give me a bit more insight.  And the tenth card certainly does surprise me! I’ve never drawn this card before, even in readings for other people!

10) Ekstasis (reversed)

Pulling the final card, to get clarification on the final outcome of the situation turns out to be enough to almost make me cry.

You may be feeling sorrowful or grieving. Remember that these feelings, too, are a part of the great song. They are a part of love. Don’t try to block them, don’t try to deny them. Let them flow… There is a saying, ‘This too shall pass.” It is true about everything, all of our joys, and all of our sorrows.

-Jessica Macbeth

The outcome is pretty clear. Letting go, learning the lessons needed, and moving on. Which is just what I needed to hear from this reading, really. It’s refreshing to know they still don’t let me down.

Putting it all together reveals a really important story. With the Rarr and Himself there, along with Ekstasis, it turns out that this was more important than I believed it to be. Leaving my relationships is never easy, but this one, it turns out, I made the right choice. Geo gives good advice, that is backed up by the presence of the reversed Rarr. Rest, learning, and calm is what I need right now.

So, definitely no jumping into new relationships, or new jobs for me. I might, however, jump into a new book, or maybe a nice bubble bath. However, Dear reader, please leave me a message, telling me how you interpreted this, if you saw anything I missed. Or maybe you’d like to share your experiences with a tarot/oracle reading?

Vassilissa the Fair

  • Posted on April 26, 2014 at 12:02 pm

There was once a fair young maiden, with hair like a river of gold. Her beauty was a gift passed down from mother to daughter. Plagued by illness, her mother had grown sicker, and sicker, until finally, only her deathbed await. With her father gone to seek a cure for her mother, Vassilissa, as the maiden was called, saw over her mother’s last words.

“Vassilissa, my sweet daughter, I am so sorry. I will not be here to aide you in your troubles. But do not fear.” Her mother breathed, and Vassilissa, sweet girl that she was, shook her head, begging her mother silent. But her mother continued to speak with the last of her strength. “Go to the cupboard. Inside, there is a doll. This doll will be your companion when I cannot. If you ever find yourself for loss of what to do, feed her a bit of food, and give her just a sip of water, and tell her your troubles.”

Vassilissa swore that she would, and held the doll close to her breast as her mother slipped from this world. And as all things must, her story continued. Her father returned, not with a cure, but with a new bride. Vassilissa tried not to let her heart harden against the man, but it was impossible not to when he left not three days after, leaving her alone with her new step mother and the woman’s daughter.

Her step-sister was not a dutiful girl, spending her time instead in town, flirting with the boys and pushing off the chores of the farm upon Vassilissa. Vassilissa’s step-mother grew angrier and angrier, but instead of punishing the step-sister, she blamed it on the golden haired girl. Vassilissa learned true cruelty at her step-mother’s hands.

 

The step-mother grew colder and more hateful each day, as she watched Vassilissa grow even more beautiful and dutiful and intelligent, while her own daughter grew lazy and spiteful and ignorant. One day, she just couldn’t take it any longer. Her husband had not sent enough money for all three of them to live comfortably, and she was not going to let her daughter starve for this wretch.

So she sent Vassilissa on an errand. In the dead of winter, with the wind howling and the snow falling, she sent the girl out into the woods surrounding their farm, to gather flowers. Fresh ones. Dutiful and sweet, Vassilissa could find no way to say no, to beg pardon from the awful cold outside. However, she was unable, and was sent into the cold. Her tears froze on her cheeks, and her hands trembled around the basket and the little doll she always carried.

At least she had a bit of bread and some cheese to have for a snack. Finding a small hollow beneath a great huge tree, she lifted the bread and the crumbs to her mouth. And then, as suddenly as a lightning bolt, she remembered her mother’s words. With shaking fingers, she fed the little doll instead. And then, she told it of her troubles.

To her surprise, she heard the doll speak. In a voice as cold as the ice around them, the doll told her to continue walking into the wind, and not to stop until she smelt a fire. This seemed a cruel thing, but she was used to cruelty now, and so, after chewing slowly her own respite meal, she did as she was bid.

Cold ate at her, and soon, she felt hope, for she smelt a fire. The light and warmth of it were desperately desired by Vassilissa, and it was only when she heard voices that she cautioned herself to stop. In the clearing there was no snow, there was no wind. There was a fire, and around it, twelve man sat. Three were boys, three were young men, three were men grown, and three were old men. She listened to them speak and tell stories for just a moment, before the cold drove her closer, and she stepped into the Field.

“Forgive me, good sirs, please pardon the intrusion, but might I share your fire, if only until the snow passes? I will be happy to share what little food I carry?” She offered, and waited while the men conferred. Eventually, one of the old men bid her sit, and they all asked her to tell her story, to explain why a girl so fair and young was out in such horrid weather.

“My step-mother sent me for flowers to weave into my step-sister’s hair.” She did not complain, did not whine, but explained truthfully. The men respected this, and when she was done, one of the young men stood, and went to the eldest man.

“January, my friend, might I borrow thy crown for but an hour, to lend this poor girl aid?” And the old man passed his crown to the young, and once it sat upon the young man’s head, the snow stopped, and melted away, trees turned leafy and grass turned green. Soon, flowers were blooming everywhere, and Vassilissa was beside herself with joy. She gathered up snowdrops and tulips, daffodils and wild daisies, and then thanked the two profusely. “Your thanks are not needed, but hurry, for I must return the crown to January in an hour. Run home, and stay where it is warm, sweet girl.”

Vassilissa did as she was bid, running home through the bright warm woods, and only minutes after she was inside, did January sweep April away like a tempest, the blizzard all the colder now for having been warm. Her step-mother and step-sister stared in awe at the basket of flowers, fresh and impossible in Vassilissa’s hand. The step-sister snatched an empty basket, and ran off, following Vassilissa’s story. When she returned she was an old woman, cursed by the twelve men in the little clearing for having demanded where Vassilissa had been given.

#

Again, the step-mother grew resentful and hateful towards the young and beautiful Vassilissa, this time for making an old maid of her daughter. This time, she demanded that Vassilissa seek out the help of the old witch who lives in the woods, that she go to her and get a cure for the curse that her step-sister was under. Being a good, sweet girl, Vassilissa did as she was bid and took a basket full of cheese and bread for the journey.

The wind was cold and the snow still falling as Vassilissa trailed through the woods. She knew stories of Baba Yaga, the old witch who lived in the wood, and she knew that she would not return alive. In her despair, she thought again of the little doll and fed it some cheese and some water melted from snow. The doll asked her her troubles, and she told it her errand.

“Be careful, fair Vassilissa. Drink nothing the old witch gives you. Eat nothing the old witch makes for you. And do not ever open your eyes after dark. She will eat them from your head, should you see her secrets.” The doll spoke in a voice black as the evening sky, which slowly filled with stars.

Vassilissa did as she was told, and when she found the old woman’s hut, her legs shook with the want to turn around. The hut stood upon chicken’s legs, surrounded by a fence made of bones and topped with skulls whose eyes burned with fire. She made her legs move forward, onto the green grass around the hut, and she lifted a hand to knock on the door.

An old woman answered, her eyes dark as night, and her teeth sharp as a cat’s. Vassilissa begged her to help her step-sister, and in the end Baba Yaga refused. Vassilissa pleaded with the old woman, and finally, Baba Yaga declared that if Vassilissa could serve her for three days, she would cure her sister. But if she failed even one chore, Vassilissa would be her meal.

She had no choice but to agree, for Vassilissa wouldn’t be welcome home without the cure.

The first day, her only test was to search out all of the mice in the old woman’s hut, and cook them into a stew. Vassilissa was terrified of this, as mice were biting little things and she did not wish to cook them. But after she fed the doll and gave it some water, the Doll told her to take the cheese from her basket and crumble it up. Scattering it like breadcrumbs, the mice came out of hiding in seconds starved as they were.

Then, Vassilissa caught them all up in a burlap sack, and it wriggled and it squeaked, and she dumped them all, fur and tail, into a pot. She covered it with a lid. Ignoring the terrified scratching, she lifted the pot and set it atop the fire. The shrieks of the mice haunted her dreams that night, and she had no trouble keeping her eyes closed while Baba Yaga bustled around her.

The second day was not nearly so easy. Baba Yaga set her to finding and feeding her chickens. The moment she saw one of these chickens, she knew she would be dinner tonight. Tears bubbled on her cheeks as she gazed upon the razor winged, lion-mawed creatures that had only the barest traces of feathers to call themselves chickens. She hid in a corner, near the hut’s chicken legs, and fed the doll some crumbs of bread, and the salty water of her tears. She begged it’s help and it told her to braid a rope of her long golden hair, and cut it off. Then she was to dip it into the mouse-soup she had made the night before. After this was done, the doll told her to tie it between two trees and to scatter the buckets of feed underneath it. She did as she was told and was startled to see the beasts racing for the rope, gnawing on it. And when her golden hair snapped and fell, the beasts began to eat their own breakfast as well.

When she returned to the hut, and laid down, the sounds of screaming kept her awake that night, and she flinched whenever she heard the drop of a metal cleaver. She only barely managed to keep her eyes closed through the night.

The next morning, Baba Yaga had an even harder task for her. “You must go into the depths of the underworld, and bring me three teeth of the ruler of that realm.”

The old witch took down a cloak of black feathers, and wrapped it around the girl’s shoulders. “This will let you pass unharmed through the gates of the underworld. Do not lose it girl, and bring it back to me.”

Once again, Vassilissa begged the little doll for help, after feeding it its fill.

“Walk towards the setting sun. As you walk, you will see three horsemen. Do not speak to the first or the second, do not even look at their faces. The third, you must ask him to take you home. He will take you to the bowels of hell. When you are there, you must find and pick the largest apple you can find. Give this to the king of the dead, and he will break his teeth upon it. Take the teeth, and run. Do not look back, do not fear, and do not stop running, even if the ground falls out from beneath your feet.”

#

The fair Vassilissa set foot to road, and walked. Dawn came, and with it, a rider upon a white horse. She didn’t dare look up to see his face, and past him without seeing more than the flick of his horse’s white tail, and the flying hem of his white cloak.

She walked, and walked, and walked. And then, when the sun was high in the sky and the world was warmer than she could remember it ever having been in winter before, a red rider came thundering down the pass, the hooves of his great beast running swiftly. She did not even see the flutter of his hem as he passed, and for that she was grateful. The goosepimples on her skin were tickled by the feathers of the cloak.

She walked, and walked, and walked again. Finally, as the sun set and the night sky filled with stars, she saw the black horse, as it stood, fidgeting, in the middle of her path. She swallowed, and looked up to his face. She was suddenly glad she did not look at the other two, for this creature had no true face, had only bones and burning red eyes that felt as if they pierced her heart.

She begged in a quiet voice that he take her home, and soon, found herself over the front of his saddle, and the horse careening like a creature possessed through the woods. The girl screamed, and squeezed her eyes closed, and then, as suddenly as her journey began, it was over. She was standing in a dark place, the ground beneath her glowing faintly blue. Twisted trees made of crystal and rock spiraled up around her.

Remembering the little doll’s words, she searched desperately for an apple. But all she found growing on the trees were rocks. Red rocks, blue rocks, green rocks. All oddly shaped and hanging from branches like fruit. Finally, she picked one, a green rock that was roughly the size of both of her fists put together.

“Who are you?” A voice called behind her, and she saw a woman, dressed in black and with long black hair that fell over one side of her face. “Where did you come from?”

Vassilissa couldn’t get words to come from her throat, and instead, held out what she hoped was the Apple. Vassilissa desperately hoped that perhaps Baba Yaga wouldn’t realize if she took this woman’s teeth instead. They were only teeth after all, how could one tell the difference between one person’s teeth and another? The woman took the fruit, and as if compelled, bit into it. Just as the doll had said, the ghostly woman’s teeth cracked and broke into the fruit, and the fair girl snatched the fruit and ran.

It was hard not to look back, it was hard not to stop when she heard the woman shriek, and felt the walls coming down around her and when it felt like she might die if she ran any longer. But eventually, she found herself back on the road. The road that lead to Baba Yaga’s house. She had succeeded. She had won.

She took the doll out of her pocket, hoping to share her success with it. She fed it a bit of the stone apple and a bit of the juice from it as well and the doll awoke. She told it of her success, and the doll told her not to return to Baba Yaga, to take the fruit and go back home and give her sister a single bite of the fruit, instead.

Vassilissa returned home, quick despite the slick snow melting between the trees. When she opened the door, her step-mother seemed not to recognize her. Vassilissa wondered how long she’d really been gone. Happily, upon giving her step-sister a single bite of the apple, she saw that it reversed whatever curse the men had cast. Her sister was once again young.

The three women lived in harmony for a bit, the rest of the apple hidden beneath Vassilissa’s bed along with the doll. In her happiness, Vassilissa fed the doll one last time, and it spoke to her.  ”All your troubles will be soon forgotten and one day I will leave you. I ask that you do not come to find me.” She didn’t know what to say, but agreed, weeping tears for her mother’s doll. 

It wasn’t until months later, in the month of April, that a handsome young man rode through their farm and Vassilissa caught his eye. She was instantly enamored with the handsome man as well, and when he returned with his father, the king, to ask for her hand in marriage she said yes.

Angry beyond all compare at being cheated out of such an opportunity, the step-sister, still lazy and mean-spirited and ignorant, stole the doll and the apple from beneath Vassilissa’s bed. She went into the forest to find and demand that Baba Yaga give her a spell to win the prince and make her better than Vassilissa. No one saw the step-sister again, and all throughout Vassilissa’s wedding, her step-mother cried bitter tears of grief for her lost daughter.

A new skull sat upon Baba Yaga’s fence, and she kept the helpful little doll sitting right next to the odd green rock with the wrong teeth in it. She wondered where that Vassilissa girl wandered off to, but was preparing for the next tale she would appear in. She had a broth to brew before they arrived, after all.  

Nightmares in Human Shape

  • Posted on April 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm

It seems never ending, the lessons we can learn from Fairytales. But often, villains look human for the most part. A few are even more human (and handsome) than the prince himself! And we are expected to remember that fact. Because it’s truth. Often, in real life, villains are human shaped, and kind, and manipulative, and every bit our friend until suddenly they aren’t. It’s rather interesting how that works, don’t you think?

The evil stepmother, or in some cases just mother, is always human. Although she might be a sorceress, or an evil duchess, or even an evil old witch, she’s still human. And her magic isn’t the only thing she’s got going for her. Our trusting naivete allows her to actually trick us into believing she has the best at heart. How sad is it, when we see these heroines fall for it time and again?

The childhood friend can sometimes become this. Someone we’ve trusted for so long that we barely have to think anymore about the oddly ominous things they say. They’re close to our heart, and dear to us, so we can’t believe that they’d do something wrong or evil or indecent in any way. It makes sense, doesn’t it? That this person would ultimately betray us. Usually out of a form of jealousy. Either of what we have, or of someone else’s new closeness to us. How strange that we should see this most ugly of human emotions on the faces of those we trust.

The greedy leader is worst, though, because often, we are too small, too singular to actually make a difference against them. But sometimes, we manage. Sometimes, we can call enough people together to actually gain a voice, to actually shout out “WE WILL NOT TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” and step out of whatever chains this horrid person has put upon us. It’s always nice, then the searing freedom earned.

All of these archetypes call out to us to be defeated, to be broken. Because they are us, only twisted, us, but broken and wrong and just… not right. They are us at our worst, and we must always put forth the best will we have to avoid becoming such foul villains. We hate them because they remind us of our own humanity. They wear our faces in the dark, and we can see, so easily, the path that it takes for us to slip down and into their shoes. Never once do we realize that by seeing them as they are, we are choosing not to become these beasts, these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

So continue writing, drawing, showing these enemies in front of us. How else are our children to recognise the threat when they have never been taught not to trust blindly. How can we protect the princesses of the future if we do not teach them that anyone can possibly be an enemy? I, personally, prefer the adventure of not knowing, and of believing the best in those around me. Sometimes I am hurt, but I always get back up, stronger and surer.

Eggs of the Golden Variety

  • Posted on April 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Papi didn’t have life insurance. He worked part time for four different companies. But he didn’t have anything to leave us when he passed. Mama was distraught. She was too used to being able to be pretty, nails done, hair cut every week, too used to being pampered to accept the death of the only man who ever truly loved her. My brother left town, on some bender through the next several towns on his way to Santa Monica. I was left with the baby, and the birds.

We had four chickens, Allah, Monica, Veronica and Dolce, one goose, Ricardo, and an old rooster named Bernardo. They lived in a coop in our back yard, and the noise they made sometimes kept the baby awake during her naptime. Little Isadora never did sleep very well. She kept us all awake at night with her crying, unless Papi came home, and held her. He sang to her, little songs from his homeland. I loved those songs.

Life was dull, colorless, without Papi’s songs, without his strength. I took to selling the eggs in the morning so that we could buy milk for Isadora, and bread and cheese. I barely felt it one morning when Ricardo nipped my fingers so hard they bled. We were all different, now that Papi was gone. Armando hadn’t been back home in weeks. Mama wouldn’t come out of her room, and spent all her time talking on the phone to grandmama in Oregan. I think she might have been planning to move us out there.

One day, though, there was a new bird in the coop. Isadora babbled on my hip, old enough to walk, but still easily tired out by the distance between the back door and the coop, reaching for the new bird. It was… beautiful. It shone in the sunlight like gold, it’s eyes dark and fathomless. Long plumes like a peacock I’d seen once at the zoo spread out behind it. Dolce was cozied up to it’s side, cuddling up like she did with any bird that sat still long enough, and she looked drab in comparison. This new addition lifted it’s head, and then, I swear to God above, spoke.

“Mi Flora, take a feather. Sell it, and use the money to buy food. Sell the eggs no longer.” It was Papi’s voice. It was Papi’s voice, coming from the bird, and I was going loco. Isadora squealed, and I must have put her down without realising it, because she toddled over, and just like Dolce, cuddled up to the bird’s side. The bird nuzzled her with it’s beak, and she burbled at him in baby language. Him. Oh god, now I was thinking of it as Papi.

I stepped closer, and again, I must have taken a feather without realizing it. The bird was singing, one of Papi’s old songs, and the golden feather was warm in my fingers. I must have dozed off, to the sound of Papi singing. Isadora and I woke up with the chickens clucking around us, and the strange bird gone. I sold the feather for a fifty in the city, and paid it forward to the landlord. He was happy. Mama asked me where I got the money, but I shrugged and didn’t answer, scraping the last of the mac and cheese out onto Isadora’s little baby plate.

It happened again the next day. And the day after that. Months passed, and we were caught up, had food on the table, Isadora had new clothes and a new blanket. Papi came and sang for us every morning while I fed the birds, and Ricardo got fatter, and the girls’ feathers were shining and their eggs had tripled. Life was good.

Then one day, Mama came out of her room. She took money from the pretty yellow jar I’d found for the extra money. It looked like an egg, and Isadora loved playing with it. She disappeared for hours, and came back dolled up. This became the new routine. Weeks passed. We grew wealthier. I put a new roof on the house. The garden started growing better with the fertilizer we bought. Mama got prettier each day.

I came out every morning and spoke to Papi, and he sang, and then one day, Mama must have heard… because she found us there, and gasped. “Orlando?” She breathed, and Papi turned his golden head to her.

“Mi corazon, te amo, you are more beautiful than ever.”

Mama wept. She cried all day. All day and all night. And then, the next morning, when I went out to feed the birds and listen to Papi sing…

He was dead. Again. Mama sat next to his headless body, and held handfuls of swan-feathers, none of them gold. None of them glittering. Isadora screamed, and then cried. And the world turned grey once again. Papi was dead.

Darling Mother Dearest

  • Posted on April 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

We know the type. The Mother, The Magdelene, She Who Nurtures, and she is the singular woman who defines who we are, who we become, and what we’re going to do with the world around us. Developmental theory often refers to her as the Female Rolemodel. In Fairytales, her title might be Step-Mother, or Queen, or any number of other things. But in the end, she is that one discerning force that brings us out into the world.

Now, this is where we draw the line. There are many types of Mothers.  Good ones, bad ones, evil ones, abusive ones, caring ones, obtuse ones, demanding ones, mothers run the whole spectrum, because they are, in fact, people. And no matter what your experience with them, or lack thereof, they still define parts of you to this day. Often, it isn’t until we grow up and get our own jobs and move on, that we realise our mothers, good bad or missing, are part of what motivates us in the world.

Three very good examples of mothers include Mother Gothel from Tangled, Eudora, Tiana’s mother from Princess and the Frog, and finally, one we all know very, very well, Wendy from Peter Pan. Now, you may be wondering where Wendy comes into this. Just hold on, and let me get to my point.  All of these fine ladies exemplify motherhood one way or another. Each different kinds, each with their own flaws, each with their own strengths. But beneath it all, they’re all women, down to the bones of it. Beneath the veil of “Mother” lies a woman, and it is that woman who determines how her children will turn out.

To start with, we’ll give you a good example. Eudora, the mother from Princess and the Frog, is a good woman. Married to her husband of many years, she works hard in New Orleans in the 20s. Which, for a woman of color, could NOT have been a good time for her. But she made the best of what she had, and because of that, she raised a resourceful, kind, and determined daughter. Because beneath the Mother, there was a resourceful, kind, and determined woman.

Now, Mother Gothel, as you well know, if you watched the movie for even half of its length, was abusive. Emotionally, and at the end, physically. She constantly belittled Rapunzel under the guise of motherly help. She put her down, and if you watch her most minute actions, all of her affection was aimed towards her daughter’s HAIR. The magic, not the girl. No wonder Rapunzel wanted out so desperately! But, if there was anything she did do right, is that she provided for her daughter. Rapunzel never wanted for anything, not food, not a roof, other than entertainment of course. And she encouraged her hobbies, baking and reading and painting. Even the worst mother can have a FEW redeeming qualities, I suppose.

Wendy, however, is a very special case. She actually wasn’t really a Mother. Not to begin with anyway. But the boys adopted her, and unwilling, she ended up a mother. This is the important part. She didn’t WANT to be a mother to those boys. Peter forced it on her, much the way single mothers are forced to take up both parental roles. However, unlike either of the mothers above, Wendy falls under the pressure. She caves. And in the end, she leaves. This too, has an impact upon her ‘children’. The boys once again only have Peter for guidance, and instead of growing up, they languish in Neverland, playing games forever with their child king.

So you see, no matter who she is, absent, missing, there, loving, nurturing, evil, selfish, cold, the mother has a big influence on her children. And before you get into it, fathers do too, but this is about mothers, so hush.  Mothers are what teach us how to emotionally handle the world. They prepare us, one way or another, for what we’ll find when we leave the nest. Some are good at this duty. Some are terrible. But no matter what, even if you loathe your mother and her actions, there is always something that will bring your mind back to them, something that makes you remember her, absent or not. And that, my friends, is why women become Mothers. That is our immortality.

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