Listen to the four winds…

It has never seemed right to label the American Indians with one title. Even if, or rather just because you are trying to label them a specific type of people based on geography, which itself is rather subjective. After all, aren’t the citizens of Russia also Asian? In any case, the larger problem is that each tribe is so different in culture and tradition from each other, that while there are tying binds in their pasts, they are all unique to the point of being nothing more or less than the peoples of the tribe that they are.

We have two such stories today. The Pima have a tradition of origin so very different from the Hopi. And I’d like to share these with you now. First the story of the Pima.

Pima Indians

These stories will put some of us in familiar territory, I myself was born in Arizona and have visited the Superstition Mountains on occasion.

Superstition+Mountain+Range

“In the State of Arizona, the Pima Indian tribe declares that the father of all men and animals was Great Butterfly-Cherwit Make, meaning the Earth-Maker.”

Shall we listen to the four winds as they tell us a story?

Four winds

 

Not soon forgotten, that Ghostly Hornpipe

In addition to classic literature and Greek mythology, we are going to cover folklore, legends, and stories from some of the world’s cultures. I had the opportunity while living in North Carolina some years ago, to visit the outer banks. In one of the little hotels I stayed at, near the front desk, were small books about a quarter page large, that caught my eyes. Written by a Prior Judge Charles Whedbee, these were books containing collections of the folklore from the outer banks. There are ghost stories, pirate stories, and local legends.

I want to share one of these with you today, and more in the future. The author himself has quite the story, but I’ll save that for another time. Let us go back a ways to when we were using what are now called tall ships but were once just called ships. In this case a couple of fishing schooners.

Schooner

We will go to a town called Portsmouth, only a ghost town these days though.

Portsmouth

Getting there will be through a tricky inlet called the Ocracoke inlet.

Ocracoke Inlet

It was a hazardous opening for ships to sail through but was in constant change of its sandbars, and so needed local experts to guide the larger, less frequenting ships in. At the last, our sailors will leave us with a dance called the Hornpipe, which has been a tradition of sailors for ages and ages.

Hornpipe

Let’s join them now…

 

There’s an odd sort of fellow.

When The Reluctant Dragon was first introduced to me, I was a child. At that time the story was no more than a cartoon, and one I had not seen. While it’s still a cartoon you can find on such channels as youtube, I found that its origin was of literary note.

Book cover

It is a short story written by Kenneth Grahame. Now, Mr Grahame also wrote another more well-known story, The Wind in the Willows. As it turns out The Wind in the Willows was also the book that A. A. Milne adapted to a theatre production. Funny how small the world can be at times.

Mr Grahame was born in Scotland in the year 1859 in Edinburgh Scotland.

Grahame

When he was but a year old his mother passed and his father left him in the care of his Uncle and Aunt, moving him to the village of Cookham in Berkshire, England.

Cookham Bridge

It was in the home there that he was enamoured of the outdoors and boating. This is generally thought to be his inspiration for his landscape in the book on Mr Toad and his adventures (which we will read from at a later date). Mr Toad and his friends come from his own son, and friends and family.

The Reluctant Dragon was actually published earlier along with a number of other short stories of which the collection was entitled, Dream Days. This was published in 1898.

In it, we find a different sort of character in a dragon. What a most affable character. I’m going to let you listen and see for yourself.

 

Illustration

 

A Faint Whisper, & a Fair Face

Before the title is addressed I’m going to cover a small piece of knowledge that has been both lost and found in different cultures. The word retribution means the dispensing or receiving of reward or punishment. This simple definition applies to one of the goddesses in this story. Nemesis was seen as the goddess of retribution. To mean she would both reward the just as well as punish transgressors. Nemesis was to be seen as the balance between good and evil. A common trend in today’s casual way of speaking is to reference Karma. Which, although sourced from a different culture, is essentially the same concept of balance. Balance is the key. Both concepts concern the whole of actions and their just rewards.

Nemesis

This story primarily contains two characters whose names are still used regularly. Have you ever called into a mountain and had that call returned? Have you ever walked into a room empty of everything but when you spoke it came back to you?

Echo

Over the bank of many ponds and in the planting beds nearby in many parks and gardens, you can find a white flower with a yellow or orange center. Do you know what this is called? Did you know the ancient Greeks believed there is a reason the flower dips to look downward?

x-default

Listen to this story and see if you can divine the answer to the questions just asked:

Pomegranates cause what!?

Before there was an understanding of why the seasons are the way they are, there were people that would ask the question. Whether in haste or by tradition people would create explanations as to why. In this story, we have an ancient Greek explanation for that proverbial question, ‘why’.

Seasons

Through it, we’re going to learn a little bit more about the language we use today.

Hermes, while messenger of the gods, was also the patron god of magic.

Hermes

Would you believe that medicine is closely tied to magic through history? Working in reverse, the science of medicine, with its close association to the science of chemistry, are the offshoots of alchemy. Alchemy is the medieval practice of turning one substance into another and was known as a hermetic art due to the perceived magical nature of what an alchemist could do. When air is sealed in a bottle by heating and twisting the neck of the bottle it is known as a hermetic seal. To mean the seal of Hermes. Today still the terms hermetic and hermetical are used to describe both an airtight seal as well as the cloistering of someone or something away from outside influence.

The goddess Iris is the goddess of the rainbow.

Iris the goddess

In relation, we call the pigmented membrane of our eyes the iris due to its colorful and pigment variation nature. See how brightly the flower, and iris is.

Iris-flower

It is used as the root of the word iridescent. Whose meaning is ‘showing luminous colors that seem to change when seen from different angles‘.

So what does that have to do with a pomegranate? Winter is caused by pomegranates. Didn’t you know?

Pomegranate

 

Wings of feathers and wax

Not all stories have happy endings, as this one does not. There is a lesson to be learned here. How often do we find ourselves hearing but not listening to not only what our parents may say, but also what any other may say? How we respond to what we hear usually depends on the difference between hearing and listening.

This story also brings into character the Sun god Apollo.

APOLLO

But Apollo was not actually the sun god in Greek mythology. That title belonged to Helios. Helios is also the Greek word meaning sun.

Helios

There is a trace of this in our language today. In 1886 Scientists analysed a solar eclipse and found that the spectrum from the light of that eclipse revealed an element previously unknown. At the time they thought that the element only existed on the sun and created a name for it out of the Greek word for sun. This is how the element helium got its name.

Helium

While it was discovered the element does exist on earth as well, the name of this element gives us a reminder as to its discovery.

As an aside, helium is also a lot of fun to suck out of balloons as it will make your voice change into a high squeaky tone.

In the following story we will meet Daedalus

daedalus

And his son Icarus. Who must leave us at the end of the story.

Icarus

But I’ll let you listen and ponder as to why he was no longer with us at the end.

 

Horse or Olive tree?

Today we take a turn and run around the corner from the Hundred Acre Wood.

Athens 1

Ancient Greece is a place with so many tales, they have not only been told over and over and are still being told, but so much of world culture can find roots in its stories. They have become interwoven into the very fabric of language. Take the following story. The use of a trident plays a small part, but the word ‘trident’ has great meaning. it is broken into two pieces tri, meaning three. Then dent, to mean tooth. This is to say a trident has three teeth, and so it does. Where might we also find words with the prefix tri? Tricycle, triathlon, triple, triangle? On to the suffix or stem dent. Can you think of any common words that use dent and are associated with teeth? Perhaps Dentist, or dentures? Can you see how interwoven the language has become?

Athens on map

We are going to take a look at how one of the greatest cities in history got its name according to a myth. The thing about myths is they may be purely fictional, but at one time people put a lot of stock into them. In any case, they make for wonderful stories.

Athena

Let us hear of Athens.

A Tail like no other

Now as it happens. Mr Milne was an eclectic when it came to his own writing. He always wrote what he wished and when. Publishers would tell him the piece he was going to write was not in demand when he wanted to write it, but he would write it anyway. He is quoted as saying “the only excuse which I have yet discovered for writing anything is that I want to write it; and I should be as proud to be delivered of a Telephone Directory con amore as I should be ashamed to create a Blank Verse Tragedy at the bidding of others.” Thank goodness he was of such a nature. Only from this do we have Pooh Bear and his friends today.

Pooh bear and friends

Eventually Mr Milne passed, at the age of 74, in 1956. There’s a commemorative plaque near Ashdown Forest commemorating A. A. Milne and the legacy he has left.

Christopehr Milne and a commemoration plaque

When he died he left the rights to the stories to his family and three others. His widow sold the family share to a Mr Stephen Slesinger, who passed. At which point his widow sold the rights to Disney. Disney has, of course, brought Pooh and his friends into the limelight and for most of us, it is through this light we are first introduced to the Hundred Acre Wood at all.

Pooh Bear.jpg

Now we will join Pooh in a search for a tail worth the telling. Eeyore seems to have lost his. When things like that happen, it’s good to have friends to call on to help us out.

Let us look for a Woozle

Mr Milne had written many other pieces. From propaganda articles for MI 7b, to plays and even full novels. After his son was born he wrote a collection of children’s poems entitled when we were very young. All that and it is the Pooh stories we know the best.

When we were very young

Christopher Robin, is in fact, Christopher Robin Milne. He is our authors’ very own son. It was his toys which were used as the inspiration for the stories we have now. Winnie-the-pooh was once named Edward bear and was one Christophers’ stuffed animals. The ‘Winnie’ came from a Canadian black bear who was called ‘Winnie’ because she was from Winnipeg. She had been a mascot during WWI and was left to the London Zoo after the war. ‘The-Pooh’ comes from a swan called ‘Pooh’.

Winnie

Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Tigger, and Eeyore were also among Christophers’ toys and used just as much for inspiration.  Rabbit and Owl are the only two who are purely imaginary, and yet so needed for the stories as we saw in our last adventure.

pooh group1628604

Today we are joining Pooh and Piglet on a little hunt. Let’s see what kind of mischief they get themselves into.

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