Friday, April 29, 2011
This book is for fun, for families, and for anyone who has ever worried about what is wrong with them. More at www.patricilapidus.com/gideonsriver
You can get Gideon's River from amazon.com
Friday, January 7, 2011
How can ancient fairy tales help us understand ourselves and move into our strength?
Swamp Walking Woman is a modern fairy tale about the environment and the people.
In this You Tube video I speak about the stage of innocence.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I sometimes think about how the bullying started. If those who write about the ancient goddess cultures are right, there were few bullies in those matriarchal villages and any who attempted to bully others were quickly wrapped in a love that stopped them. In extremes, a bully could be sent into the forest to fend for himself, but that would not be done until all other efforts had failed.
If my history lessons are accurate, domination cultures started about 10,000 years ago in Eurasia and washed from the dry steppes down into the more fertile river valleys. In any case, there came into the peaceful lands, tribes eager to harass and fight and enslave or kill those they found. These same peoples also fought among themselves and established a hierarchy of power based on size and strength and willingness to cause physical hurt or emotional harm.
What is the matter with the bully? He lacks confidence in himself and covers his self-doubt with force and taunts. What is the matter with the rest of us? We've been wimping out and folding up, letting bullies harm us. That's because we, just like the bullies, lack confidence--and we need guidance.
The theme of "the bully and the wimp" is played out in my novel Gideon's River and in Swamp Walking Woman, a novella size fairy tale in which alligators represent the bullies in the story of our threatened environment. While in the fairy tale, people must literally fight the alligators and take back their world, in the novel a mother and son find their way out of the destructive drama by communicating. It has been said that communication is the great solvent.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Responses to Swamp Walking Woman
[Swamp Walking Woman is] a depiction of how humans create their very own swampland on this planet, allowing the ‘gators’ amongst us to usurp our power and to control our lives through fear tactics. I like [the author’s] solution: recreate your own reality and reject the fearmongers’ agenda. Dismantle their power base one positive thought at a time. EB
SWAMP WALKING WOMAN
A Tall Woman Tale
Cold water numbed the woman’s legs. Sun burned her face. Leaves and burrs hung in her thick, unraveling braids. The pack was hot on her back. Her arms ached from carrying the child. One more time she asked herself how life could have taken such a difficult turn.
She had been out late one evening helping a neighbor with a sick grandparent, had started home down the familiar wood path. All at once her village vanished. She knew she had gone the right way, but instead of finding her home nestled among other homes in Oak Valley, she found only scrub oak forest petering into a boggy marsh. In the distance she could hear voices, but when she called out, only her echo answered. And when she turned to retrace her steps, even the scrubby oak forest was gone. All around were ponds dotted with small, wet islands, some of which were but hummocks of tufted swamp grass and a tree or two. She proceeded west by following the moon and, the next day, the path of the sun. Her village should have been in this direction. She pushed hopefully through the mud and water, subsisting on berries and sleeping that first night on a tiny island.
On the afternoon of the second day she walked across one such small island and almost stepped upon a little girl asleep on a grassy hummock. She stepped back and looked around for the child’s parents. She called out, but, as before, only her own voice came back in muffled echoes from the misty wasteland. The child yawned and moved. In the mud the woman found a single footprint with large spreading toes. A wildcat? She wished she possessed her grandfather’s knowledge of the signs of animals and the uses of plants—but no one in her modern world had thought that old stuff of value.
Waking, the child regarded the woman soberly.
The woman squatted beside the little girl. “Hello. What is your name?”
“Where are my grownups?”
“I don’t know, honey. Who left you here in the grass?”
But the little girl didn’t explain.
“Come. Let’s find your grownups.”
The girl did not protest being lifted onto the woman’s hip. She was dressed in professionally faded Gap jeans and a purple Gap shirt. In her hair was a purple bow. A child of good fortune, thought the woman. May her good fortune return.
“What is your name?” she asked again.
But the child did not answer.
“I’ll call you Futura.”
Two more days of travel brought no change in the territory. There was no firm ground anywhere. All of Earth seemed a misty, murky place where one struggled to find a solid step. A horsefly buzzed around, whispering in the woman’s ear, “Swamp life is too hard. Why not give up? You could sink into the water and sleep.”
“I can’t give up,” the woman said. “I have the child.”
“Saving the child,” he buzzed. “How noble of you to save her for swamp life. I am touched.”
The horsefly droned around her eyes and hair.
She brushed at the fly. “Dammit!”
“Dammit,” said Futura, the first word she had spoken since “the cat,” and she puckered up to cry, the first emotion she had shown.
The woman, who had been known as Song in her village, smiled at the child and straightened her back. “I am Swamp Walking Woman,” she said. “I will persevere. And I should not be teaching you to curse.” Then she shouted with all her force, “Darn it!!”
A pretty blue dragonfly lit on some rushes.
“Oooh!!!” said Futura softly. With the backs of her fists she rubbed the tears from her eyes.
Before the woman could blink, a flock of dragonflies—also called Darning Needles—thickened the air. Flying and lighting and flying and lighting, they wove the rushes together into a long mat. Back and forth they flew, up and down, in and out, carrying the tip ends of long blades of swamp grass, weaving in and out until a tight rush path stretched before the woman and the child toward an island they had not seen before.
“Put me down!” said Futura.
Swamp Walking Woman set Futura’s feet on the rush path and followed her. When the two reached the beach they ran forward and back and around each other in all directions. The woman laughed and the child shrieked with an exuberance as high as her apathy had been deep. At the edge of a sunny patch of gravel they found morning glory vines climbing tall grasses, blue blossoms sparkling with dew. A sea of flowers carpeted the area between the beach and the trees. There were big bull thistles with bulging purple buds, a bank of wild roses, and fuzzy broad-leafed plantain with spikes taller than Futura. Daisy heads danced in a pleasant breeze and buttercups shone like gold. Futura bent to examine the tiny purple flowers of a Bittersweet Nightshade, deep purple petals curling back from each long yellow center.
“Don’t touch,” the woman said gently, knowing the plant was poisonous.
Near a little stream that ran from under the alders, Futura made sand pies and sprinkled them with seeds. Digging into the bank of the stream, she discovered colors—a layer of purple sand, under that, a layer of red sand, then yellow, then green.
“Why is the sand colored?” she asked.
“Each layer was laid down at a different time. This reddish layer has iron in it. The green has copper. The others have different minerals.”
“Oh.” One sand pie, she said, was a strawberry apple pie, two were pumpkin pies, and one was a blackberry pie. She sprinkled more red and yellow sand on her cakes and left them to dry in the sun. Together the woman and the child ran into the woods looking for adventures. In a glade were fat skunk cabbages whose thick garlicky smell filled the air. Here and there a Jack-in-the-Pulpit stood, ever ready to give a swamp sermon.
Friday, November 5, 2010
I have posted a video about The Innocent as seen in ancient fairy tales.
I say "ancient" because in more recent times the old stories were changed to reflect a different and usually lesser wisdom. For example, the Brothers Grimm altered older tales to make them scarier and more graphic with blood and dismemberment. Because they were writing in the context of a patriarchal, domination culture, the tales begin and end in slavery, which is to say that they make us afraid and give us no guidance. Disney, on the other hand, takes the fear completely out of the tales. Disney's fairy tales, rewritten for children, begin and end in innocence.
We could say that every life begins in innocence, however brief. Some of you can look back to the very day you realized your parents didn't have life figured out and were only hoping you would grow up and tell them what was going on. I know of one child who came to such a realization at the age of six, much too young. Even babies, sadly, can lose their innocence if poorly cared for. If you are lucky, you may keep that simply belief that life will work out as you plan right up until college or the first time you get fired from a job.
People can remain innocent well into adulthood, no matter what they may hear of the troubles of the world and of children starving in Biafra, as long as nothing too disappointing happens to them. They lead a charmed life. They feel chosen--and perhaps a bit puzzled why, but willing to have the good life while others do not. I remember feeling that way.
In the old tales, The Innocent was one who did not yet suspect the trials that lay ahead. Her only task is to fall, to lose that state of protection we call grace, and to suddenly be vulnerable to a world that is not as benevolent as she thought. In Swamp Walking Woman, the main character walks down a familiar path and sees her world change into a swamp. A polluted swamp--which is a metaphor for our world today, abused and misused and quite a mess, a hard place to live.
In my next blog I'll speak about the next stage of growth, The Orphan.