After many moons of wandering over hill and dale, through snow and gale, she comes to a clearing in the woods where the orange glow of a fire crackles, the scent of apple smoked wood meets her nostrils. An old woman sits by the flames, the hood to her cloak resting on her shoulders, revealing hair touched by moonbeams, starlight, and frost. Her face is eroded, carved with lines threaded finely around her eyes, marking her with stairs leading up the plateau of her forehead. She has a slab of stone on the ground infront of her, which she is painting with brushes made of sticks bundled with twine and fur, dipping them into hollow bones filled with pigment. The old one acknowledges her with a nod, and gestures to a pot sitting on a bed of coals to one side of the fire. Continue reading →
To begin, a full transcript to Clever Else can be read here.
Three worlds, lower, middle, upper, this tale traverses, starting in the confined bowels of the heroine’s, Else’s, father’s cellar where she’s dispatched to return with beer. Have you ever been in a cellar? When we’d go to Iran during the summer months on visits to my paternal family, the cellar is where we’d descend to endure bomb raids. It was while the Iran – Iraq war was happening, eight long years, the sirens would whine and we’d be on our way down below waiting for the crashes and booms to subside. When we’d return upstairs, sometimes windows would be blown out, shattered glass strewn about, out on the streets rubble and blasted bits of stone wall, soldiers moving bodies, people picking through the remains. The cellar was not only used as sanctuary from bombings, it was also where my granny washed the clothes in a giant cauldron atop a fire, then she’d rinse them in the pond outside and hang them up to dry. The cauldron was also used to cook butter and flour mixed with spices and sugar, the fragrance mouth watering, rising upstairs with the promise of warm, tasty melt in the mouth morsels. Yet, the only time we’d be allowed into the cellar, her domain along with her trusty manservant, Hodgee Podgee, was during the bombings, and while it should have been terrifying it was not; it was magical and extremely exciting to get to see what was down there, not by peeking in through the upstairs door for a stolen glimpse of flickering light but while being down there in it . . . and the key here, as far as place goes, is a cellar is down there, down, below, underground, dug out of the earth, an underworld, a lower place, a place dark and shadowy, definitely not an everyday place but purposed, often to food and beverage storage and the practice of ancient arts bubbling in cauldrons, spiced with mystery and a sense of the unknown that tantalizes the taste buds with wonder. Continue reading →
What the Rose did to the Cypress, A Persian Tale from The Brown Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang, 
Once upon a time a great king of the East, named Saman-lalposh, had three brave and clever sons—Tahmasp, Qamas, and Almas-ruh-baksh. One day, when the king was sitting in his hall of audience, his eldest son, Prince Tahmasp, came before him, and after greeting his father with due respect, said: ‘O my royal father! I am tired of the town; if you will give me leave, I will take my servants to-morrow and will go into the country and hunt on the hill-skirts; and when I have taken some game I will come back, at evening-prayer time.’ His father consented, and sent with him some of his own trusted servants, and also hawks, and falcons, hunting dogs, cheetahs and leopards. Continue reading →
I’ve been studying astrology. I began with tropical but shifted into sidereal placements and study of the 27 nakshatras (indian jyotish astrology) after comparing both my own charts and those of people I know . . . have found sidereal offers a closer picture and a deeper story, sort of zoomed in. It positions information against constellations where they are above rather than against signs, named after constellations when once upon a time there was an overlay, but over time have shifted about 25 degrees due to the way the Earth moves with a wobble, so they’re no longer representing ‘star’ stories but have evolved into having their own story, sign stories. The two systems result in two zodiacs with degrees of difference; as they are tools, depending on the interpretation, both systems can be simultaneously valid . . . Continue reading →
A beautiful flower girl wandered through her mother’s gardens. She wore a pink rose petal dress and delicate shoes made of acorns. She had hair that was the color of gold. Her name was Relaqwel.
Sighing, Relaqwel thought of all the suitors who had come to win her hand in marriage. Castle Tereteety was overflowing with millions of princes. Even thinking of them made her dizzy. There were so many that her father, the King, had a long list with their names on it. His assistants carried the papers everywhere he went, so if he met the princes then he would remove his spectacles and read through the list to find the correct names. To win Relaqwel, she had declared that they had to guess her name. So far none had. If her name was guessed, then the prince had to find a hoard of treasure.
That night a long line of princes lined themselves up in the throne room. The guessing began. Two hours passed. Then at exactly ten o’ clock a prince from across the sea said, “Relaqwel”. The King, who had said no to so many princes, almost said no but stopped just in time.
“Yes,” he said, “You have guessed rightly!”
The Prince could hardly believe his ears and at once all the other princes were on him shouting and swearing. “Silence!” roared the King. Then he turned to his assistants and removed his spectacles and read through the names until he found this Prince’s name.
“Robert, I believe,” he said to the Prince.
“Yes Your Majesty,” Robert replied.
“Now Robert, you must find the . . .”
“No Your Majesty,” interrupted Robert, “The treasure is already mine; it has always belonged to me.”
“I see, well, here is my daughter”.
Relaqwel stepped down from her throne. Robert gave her a dress made of white rose petals. The next night a wedding took place. Then Relaqwel and Robert stepped into a white carriage drawn by white unicorns and drove away in the moonlight. But as the carriage departed, four shafts of moonlight fell onto it and Relaqwel and Robert turned into fairies with sparkling wings.
The Norse Myths have been the subject of Tenderfoot’s study for the past eight weeks. Using D’Aulaires Book of Norse Myths, Favorite Norse Myths retold by Mary Pope Osborne, and Roy Wilkinson’s The Norse Stories and Their Significance, I was able to come up with an enriching and interesting lesson block.
The starting point was the telling of the Creation, beginning with Gunnungagap, Muspelheim, Niflheim, Ymir, Audumla, and the events that led to Odin, Vili, and Ve coming into being. Once this was told, Tenderfoot retold and wrote her understanding of the story. Nouns and verbs were underlined, and used as a springboard for writing sentences with attention to nouns and verbs. We moved on to the tale of Odin, Vili, and Ve’s rebellion against the giants and Ymir, ending with the Creation of the worlds that live in the roots of Yggdrasil. At this point the retelling and writing that Tenderfoot did was focused on tense:
Once there was nothing. There will be something. There is a spark called Muspelheim.
There was a spark. There will be something. It is an icy mist called Niflheim.
There was an icy mist. There will be something. It is water.
There was water. Something will climb out of the water. There is an ice cow called Audumla. There is a giant called Ymir.
She basically transferred the whole story in tense form, beginning with the Gunnungagap and ending with the Aesir ascending to Asgaard on the Bifrost, covering everything in between sentence by sentence using past, future, and present tense. It was quite a rythmic activity. We breathed out of this into discovering Yggdrasil’s inhabitants (the eagle, Nidhogg, Ratatsok, the sacred deer, and the three Norns) a bit more fully; everyone loved the imagery evoked by the squirrel running between Nidhogg and the eagle, carrying insults between the two. There was a lot of discussion about how this began . . . . who spoke the first insult and why did they? was it the squirrel himself who said something that inadvertently caused offense to one, so rather than take responsibility, he blamed the other, thus spurring the whole thing in the first place?
Wrapped up the Norse Myth origins with the three quests that establish Odin as All-Father. These were quite well received and immediately linked to one another . . . . oh yes, one would need to remember the runes in order to use them, and with wisdom one would know who to share them with and how, and of course poetry would come out of it, for with the memory and wisdom to understand both written and spoken words, speaking them persuasively and imaginatively makes sense!! Tenderfoot did a retelling of the quests and wrote about them, this time with attention to tidy handwriting, spellings, grammar, and arrangement of events, paragraphs, etc.
So we covered nouns, verbs, tense, grammar, spelling, handwriting, sentence order/structure, and more through the stories, which connected really well with what we were working on: creative forces, intentional use of one’s will, words and their use, both written and spoken. At the end of each week Tenderfoot copied a poem and drawing into her main lesson book, though she took many liberties in rendering them in her own way. During these eight weeks we also arranged twigs in runic form, and built a home for the Norns by a well that sits by Yggdrasil, which as everyone points out should not be above the Norns but below, since the worlds are in its roots and the Norns are at the base above Asgaard!! But we all know this and were unable to find a branch that could sit beneath the board, so a bit of artistic liberty was applied in the essence of creating 🙂
Seeing that Tenderfoot is able to do some original work within the format we’ve been using, I had her pick out her favorite stories from either D’Aulaires or Mary Pope Osborne’s Norse Myth books. She then translated them into main lesson book material. At some point the children wanted to know just whose stories are these anyway? Tenderfoot returned from the library armed with books on Vikings one day, so we did a study on the people of Midgaard to wrap up the lesson block. This wrap up covered the lives of the Norsemen, how they lived, what they did, and where they are in the world today, which led to more library books on Finland, Norway, and Sweden. So we segued into some geography.
In the meantime Little Man did lots and lots of consonant blends, eight weeks of blending, mixed in with form drawing and the telling of fables that work well with blends, like The Ant and The Grasshopper and The Crow and The Pitcher. We’d pick sets of blends . . . . br/bl, cr/cl/ch, dr, gr/gl, sp/sl/sh, etc . . . . . and spend a few days working with them. He’d think of words with those blends, write them, then read them and use them in sentences one day. Next day we’d read past work, see how many he could read back, write any more that he’d thought of then move to the next blend set. At the end of the week he’d enter a picture and words in his Main Lesson Book. Every two days or so we’d end with form drawing, either with chalk, crayon, or outside looking at leaves/finding forms, making them with sticks, or just hanging out, looking around, making observations, and enjoying some sun. This pattern seems to work for him, so we’re flowing with it.
As for Stormy and Little Bird, between paper flower making, needle felting, drawing, gathering leaves, dipping said leaves in melted wax, and relocating caterpillars, I’d say they’ve enjoyed their days at school too.