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Myth-of-the-Month Club: No need to PANic.

Play that funky music, goat man.
Play that funky music, goat man.

Pan – the little goat-man, lover of beautiful girls, and chaser of dreams. His presence creates panic in men because of his wild nature, the forces that cannot be controlled, when we lose ourselves to crazy behavior, mob rule, or “herd” mentality. When we act like sheep, Pan is the deity to blame.

PAN was the god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music. He wandered the hills and mountains of Arkadia playing his pan-pipes and chasing Nymphs. His unseen presence aroused feelings of panic in men passing through the remote, lonely places of the wilds.

Maybe that’s why over eons Pan morphed into a devil-like manifestation: from Greek mythology, he changed into something to be feared, a representation of temptation, debauchery, and evil. Mankind versus Nature has been an age-old conflict, and we all know which side Pan is on.

But perhaps Pan doesn’t deserve this reputation. Maybe he was just ‘green’ before everyone else was. He was a funky hippy dude, playing his flutes, hanging out with Mother Nature, and making organic feta cheese to sprinkle on his pita chips. Soap wasn’t his friend, per se, but animal instinct was his middle name. Pan is the free-thinker, the non-conformist, kind to animals, and not intending any harm. He has his share of heartbreak, too. Maybe if he had used a little deodorant…but there was no way to cover up that stink.

The mythos of Pan gave us other personifications of wildness, youth, and nature, not just the devil. We have the charming tale of never wanting to grow up, in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and of course, we all get a little ‘satyr but wiser’ with Phil, the trainer in Disney’s Hercules.


Pan is also featured in one of my favorite authors, Tom Robbins’ novels. But he’s not until you get to college.  Not that anything’s bad, just some more grown-up ideas. Sometimes experience does have its benefits, young ones.

So, when you’re feeling like you need some time to kick back, listen to some music, and just chill, thank your friendly neighborhood Pan for helping you get back in touch with nature. And, don’t forget: reuse, recycle, and reduce!

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Wannabes, posers, and the real deal.

This is something that’s been nagging at me a little bit–have you ever noticed that a hit book will come out, and then there comes a slew of wannabes? For example, when the Harry Potter series was published, and J.K. Rowling made more money than the Queen, publishers would have sold their own mothers to publish titles that were very similar genres and plots. Twilight has bitten millions of readers, and now anyone with a keyboard is dreaming up other traditional monsters to transform into anti-heroes with ripped abs and swooning heroines.

Well, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Like plots, readers are, more or less, individuals. And even in a vat of vanilla ice cream, there are nuances to be found. (There’s French vanilla, homemade, Mexican vanilla, and birthday cake vanilla.) So, just because one kind of vanilla isn’t to your liking, perhaps another will be. And maybe you can have your cake and eat it, too–meaning, you can find novels that entertain, and add a little more to your life than before you read.

No matter what anyone tries to convince me otherwise, I still go back to Harry. I will defend the Potter series–no amount of sparkling vampires can compare. Sorry, Ms. Meyer–I know you’re secure enough in your belief in your talents and your bank account to take a little criticism. But it’s a flick of the wrist and a know-it-all bookworm witch, and jester/joker twins who enchant me.

the ring

However, if you really want to go back to some authors who influenced the fantasy genre the most, you’ll have to go to the kings: Tolkien and Lewis. My grandmother was a fan of CS Lewis, but I never really delved into his works as much as I should; but Tolkien…oh yeah. The Hobbit, and the Lord of  the Rings trilogy was my first taste of being transported to another time and place, completely and wholly, in my mind.

From the Writer’s Almanac, January 3, 2010:


It’s the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, (books by this author) born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in Bloemfontein, South Africa (1892). His father, a banker, had moved to South Africa for work, but he died when Tolkien was four years old, and his mother moved the family back to England. They lived in a rural village outside the city of Birmingham. Train tracks went right beyond their house and young Tolkien was drawn to the Welsh names on the sides of coal cars, names like Nantyglo and Senghenydd. And his mom tutored him in Latin, and as a young child he was fascinated by the way that language worked. When he was eight years old, his mom converted to Catholicism, and her family was so upset that they disowned her. Now the family, which hadn’t had much money anyway, had even less.

And then, when Tolkien was 12 years old, his mother died from complications of diabetes, and he and his younger brother were put in the care of a Catholic priest. He went to a good school, started inventing his own languages, and formed a literary group called the T.C.B.S., friends who exchanged ideas and critiqued each other’s work. He graduated, got into Oxford. But before he started, he took a summer trip with friends hiking in the Swiss Alps, and much later when he wrote about Bilbo Baggins hiking the Misty Mountains, he used his memory of that summer in the Alps.

But as a teenager starting at Oxford, he had no desire to write fantasy novels. Instead, he was interested in language. He studied Classics, Old English, Finnish, Welsh, and the Germanic languages. He went to fight in WWI, spent four months on the Western Front and then got trench fever and was sent home to recover. All but one of his friends from the T.C.B.S. literary group were killed in the war, and to honor them and also to help work through his own awful war experiences, he decided to write down some stories. They were stories about elves and gnomes, but they were not cheery fairy tales — they were filled with war and violence and trenches dug under battlefields.

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Myth-of-the-Month Club: Gone fishin’ (King of Sharks – Hawaiian)

This is a story with some bite to it: 

Copyright DC Comics
Copyright DC Comics


  The King of Sharks
retold by
S. E. Schlosser

One day, the King of Sharks saw a beautiful girl swimming near the shore. He immediately fell in love with the girl. Transforming himself into a handsome man, he dressed himself in the feathered cape of a chief and followed her to her village.

The villagers were thrilled by the visit of a foreign chief. They made a great luau, with feasting and games. The King of Sharks won every game, and the girl was delighted when he asked to marry with her.

The King of Sharks lived happily with his bride in a house near a waterfall. The King of Sharks, in his human form, would swim daily in the pool of water beneath the falls. Sometimes he would stay underneath the water so long that his bride would grow frightened. But the King of Sharks reassured her, telling her that he was making a place at the bottom of the pool for their son.

Before the birth of the child, the King of Sharks returned to his people. He made his wife swear that she would always keep his feathered cape about the shoulders of their son. When the child was born, his mother saw a mark upon his back which looked like the mouth of a shark. It was then she realized who her husband had been.

The child’s name was Nanave. As he grew towards manhood, Nanave would swim daily in the pool beside the house. Sometimes, his mother would gaze into the pool and see a shark swimming beneath the water.

Each morning, Nanave would stand beside the pool, the feathered cloak about his shoulders, and would ask the passing fishermen where they were going to fish that day. The fisherman always told the friendly youth where they intended to go. Then Nanave would dive into the pool and disappear for hours.

The fishermen soon noticed that they were catching fewer and fewer fish. The people of their village were growing hungry. The chief of the village called the people to the temple. “There is a bad god among us,” the chief told the people. “He prevents our fishermen from catching fish. I will use my magic to find him.” The chief laid out a bed of leaves. He instructed all the men and boys to walk among the leaves. A human’s feet would bruise the tender leaves, but the feet of a god would leave no mark.

Nanave’s mother was frightened. She knew her son was the child of a god, and he would be killed if the people discovered his identity. When it came turn for the youth to walk across the leaves, he ran fast, and slipped. A man caught at the feathered cape Nanave always wore to prevent him from being hurt. But the cape fell from the youth’s shoulders, and all the people could see the shark’s mouth upon his back.

The people chased Nanave out of the village, but he slipped away from them and dived into the pool. The people threw big rocks into the pool, filling it up. They thought they had killed Nanave. But his mother remembered that the King of Sharks had made a place for her son at the bottom of the pool, a passage that led to the ocean. Nanave had taken the form of a shark and had swum out to join his father, the King of Sharks, in the sea.

But since then, the fishermen have never told anyone where they go to fish, for fear the sharks will hear and chase the fish away.

Read the original post on the American Folklore site.

King of Sharks

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Myth-of-the-Month Club: Kiyohime

KiyohimesmThere are many stories of love-gone-wrong. And when women especially get their hearts broken, well, brother, you had better watch out. They change. They destroy. They…get…really…upset.

Today’s legend is the Japanese story of Anchin and Kiyohime. Just a couple of crazy kids, in love, planning a life. Until Anchin becomes bored, restless, and is ready to move on, literally and figuratively, taking his love on a boat ride…Well, that’s one version. Other versions say he was just hanging out, minding his own business, and Kiyohime mistakes him for her one true love, and turns into a snake/serpent to show that she is VERY DISAPPOINTED. Unrequited love hurts. Love scars. Love wounds, and mars. (Sorry– went back to 1974 for a second).

It’s not really a very old story, relatively speaking, originating circa 928: there are other older an newer stories that connect with this one, such as Medusa (the old “turn you into stone” thing), Circe (“you’re such a pig!”) and various harpies, sirens, Scylla, and Ariel. Yes, I said Ariel. Because in the original Little Mermaid story she takes the high road and doesn’t turn into a sea serpent, murderer, or even a a shrimp boat captain, but sea foam. Sea foam. Really, Hans Christian Andersen? Foam? Ultimately she turns into some kind of spirit that seeks out good children, because for every good kid she finds, it moves her closer to heaven:

The little mermaid lifted her glorified eyes towards the sun, and felt them, for the first time, filling with tears. On the ship, in which she had left the prince, there were life and noise; she saw him and his beautiful bride searching for her; sorrowfully they gazed at the pearly foam, as if they knew she had thrown herself into the waves. Unseen she kissed the forehead of her bride, and fanned the prince, and then mounted with the other children of the air to a rosy cloud that floated through the ether.”

“After three hundred years, thus shall we float into the kingdom of heaven,” said she. “And we may even get there sooner,” whispered one of her companions. “Unseen we can enter the houses of men, where there are children, and for every day on which we find a good child, who is the joy of his parents and deserves their love, our time of probation is shortened. The child does not know, when we fly through the room, that we smile with joy at his good conduct, for we can count one year less of our three hundred years. But when we see a naughty or a wicked child, we shed tears of sorrow, and for every tear a day is added to our time of trial!”

How’s that for some guilt? Every time you were naughty, you kept the little mermaid from going to her just reward.

But, let’s return to Kiyohime. The symbolic meaning of serpents, snakes, and reptiles is huge. People have been afraid of All Things Wiggly since the beginning of time. Dragons deserve their own day in the Myth-of-the-Month club, and their belly-crawling cousins, snakes.


 One perspective I found interesting is that Kiyohime is not really considered an evil being, just misunderstood (isn’t that right, gals?):

Kiyohime was not a villainess, even in folklore. The concluding words of Koi no tenarai, “The Learning of Love”, from the Nagauta cycle “Kyo Kanoko Musume Dojoji” paint a sensitive picture of a woman tormented by her love, and an unfeeling rejection from one to whom she considered herself bound.

The moral of the story is, sometimes when you love someone, they don’t love you back. Try not to be so clingy.


I’m not sure who originally wrote this website, but there are a lot of misspellings in it. However, you’ll get the gist of the story:

Here’s a synopsis of the story here:

And a longer, more detailed version here:

One more:

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Myth-of-the-Month Club: Janus

Janus My fellow bloggers out there in the technosphere have taken up the challenge to write a post-a-day on their blogs for the month of January. (“I can do that!” Mrs. L thought to herself.) So what if there’s laundry to do, meals to prepare, and holiday decorations to take down? I can do this! Or can I?

And like any good resolution, which is also part of the “resolve” word family (resolution, resolve, resolute) I am going to give it my best.

But I needed a theme. I love themes. Those are the universal truths and connections among all cultures, societies, time, and beliefs that allow us not to float away, untethered, distracted, or isolated.

Don-da-da-da! (That’s supposed to be trumpets blaring):  The theme for January is the “Myth of the Month Club.” Each day I will feature a myth, legend, folktale, deity (remember? polytheism? deity? gods…goddesses…demi-gods, etc.? Come on…you remember, right?) And what better or more appropriate way to start off January with that two-faced deity himself, doesn’t know if he’s coming or going, looking back to look forward, JANUS!

Roman god of doorways, gates, and transitions, who faced forwards and backwards. The name January comes from the name of Janus. Janus statues show twin faces. –


Two-faced rock.
Two-faced rock.

Janus imitates its two-faced Greek god namesake by catching light on two sides.

The brighter side of Janus is lit by the sun while light reflected off Saturn dimly illuminates the rest of the moon and reveals the non-spherical shape of this small satellite.

This image has been scaled to twice its original size. This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of the Janus (179 kilometers, or 111 miles across). North on Janus is up and rotated 22 degrees to the left.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 12, 2009. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1 million kilometers (621,000 miles) from Janus and at a Sun-Janus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 112 degrees. Image scale is 6 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.

Janus is one of Saturn’s (the planet) satellites (moons).  Remember, Saturn is, in mythology, the old man who grunts and grumbles at Baby New Year. It is no accident that French astronomer Audouin Dollfus who discovered this tiny, two-faced moon in 1966 named it Janus.  Janus and Saturn are connected to the same myth: that time turns, we look to our past, and to our futures, all at the same time, in the present moment.

Here is another thought about Saturn:

Vouet completed the piece “Father Time Overcome by Hope, Love, and Beauty” (1627).: 

Old Man Time

(I’m not sure if time can be overcome by love, beauty, and hope. That’s what is advertised to us. If we buy wrinkle cream, we HOPE that we will still have BEAUTY and we can keep LOVE.)

In any case, Happy New Year. Like Janus, I think it’s important to honor the past, learn from mistakes, and appreciate the experiences we’ve gained, while simultaneously looking forward to the future.