Where did I get the name for my previous blog?

In 2004, I self-published the first edition of my contemporary fantasy novel The Sun Singer. The second edition, from a small publisher, came out in 2010. When that edition went out of print, I self-published the current edition in 2015.

The story is about a young man named Robert Adams who travels to a look-alike version of Glacier National Park, Montana, where he finds a raging battle in progress between the evil king and a rebel group. While Robert has had some psychic skills for many years, he buried then as deep in his mind as possible because he stopped trusting them. Now, to survive the battles and find his way home to our world, he must rely on them once again.

The Sun Singer is a hero’s journey novel, that is to say, a story about a person who undertakes a journey and comes back from it forever changed. Oddly enough, I began dreaming about this story when I was in junior high school. On a visit to see my grandparents in Illinois, we visited Allerton Park, now owned by the University of Illinois, which serves as a convention center and nature preserve with a collection of outdoor statuary including The Sun Singer. It was almost as thought my seeing that statue created the connection to a story I was destined to write.

In some ways, I am the Sun Singer. Each of us is, when you consider the fact that our life’s journey seems to be intended to transform us into the very best we can be. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to name original blog “The Sun Singer’s Travels.” It was about the hero’s journey, my own journey through my published books, and–through its writing posts–the journeys each of us take when we write a novel or short story. A few months ago, I merged that blog into this one to reduce the amount of time it took to keep two blogs active and up to date.

The sequel to The Sun Singer, Sarabande, is a heroine’s journey novel in which a young woman comes from the look-alike world into our world to search for Robert Adams. She doesn’t have an easy time of it. Even though I’m no longer using the original blog name, I’m still focused on the same kinds of ideas and subject matter.

I’m very definitely a child of the new age, a long time student of magic, and a strong believer that each of us is much more powerful and complex than we appear. The challenge is finding out how and why that is so and then creating a world that mirrors our highest goals.

–Malcolm

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Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”

– Joseph Campbell

nightsky2It’s easy to point to great inventors, world leaders, writers, preachers, and leaders of social and environmental initiatives and say those people probably know who they are and why they’re living in the world.

We may be wrong about that because we don’t know their stories inside an out. These people inspire us, though, showing us–among other things–what a person can do through perseverance,  a willingness to fight against their challenges, and to have the strength of will and strength of purpose to reach their goals.

The rest of us can get discouraged when we read biographies or news stories about famous people who accomplished great things that have made the world a better place. How, we wonder, can we live up to that? I don’t think we’re supposed to live up to that. As Joseph Campbell would say, they were following their own paths. We have our own paths and, more often than not, those paths don’t involve being famous and ending up in the history books.

Some people say they are here to live ethical lives, to be loving and compassionate spouses and friends, to do an honest day’s work while interacting with customers and colleagues out of kindness and fairness, to bring up their children with sound values, and to take part in a churches and/or secular groups that address important causes in the community and the world. Such people vitalize the world in ways they may never know when you think of the thousands of interactions and influences they have with others during the course of a lifetime.

What we’re drawn to

Perhaps many of us discover who we are and subsequently why we’re here by looking at the causes, books, issues, subjects, belief systems and people we’re continually drawn to. Others get a strong hint when they enter college and suddenly find a subject fascinating or when they get a job and inadvertently take a company training course that leads their career in ways they never suspected on the first day of work. We find ourselves drawn to certain parts of the country or the world, possibly for what may initially seem to be the most flippant of reasons, only to find new lives there that suddenly define who we are and why we’re here.

While many people can inspire us teach us and show us (by example) what a lifetime might look like, only we can ultimately answer the question “Who am I?” Discovering that answer is often a frustrating and a lonely journey. Sometimes negative experiences get in the way of our goals and then–in time–we learn that who we are is a person who can live with adversity without losing their faith in themselves while finding new ways to define why they are here.

Do we plan our lives before we’re born?

Personally, I believe that before we are born, we know who we want to be and why we want to be here. If that’s the case, then we’ll be drawn to the kinds of people, places and things that facilitate our needs. I don’t believe in coincidences or luck or fate, so even if we don’t have a “life plan” before we are born, I think that we will develop one while we’re here as one thing leads to another. Yes, that often looks like a twisting and haphazard path until one reaches old age, looks back on it, and sees that behind all the seeming chaos of it, there was a central focus toward being who they became.

Being open to spontaneity

People used to say “go with the flow.” I don’t think that applies to mob action, acting like sheep or lemmings, or taking the easy way out. I think it means, as Joseph Campbell put it, following our bliss and doing what enlivens us and enriches us and transforms us. One has to be open to that flow to jump into it and see where it leads; we can’t consciously plan upcoming “coincidences,” “chance meetings,” or “lucky encounters with other people” in advance. We can expect them and be open toward spontaneously embracing those moments when they occur.

“Who Am I and Why Am I Here?” is usually an evolving discovery. Most of us don’t necessarily know that in high school or college or our first full-time job. Life will, I think, help us figure it out.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the hero’s journey novel “The Sun Singer” and the heroine’s journey novel “Sarabande.”

 

Inanna’s mythic heroine’s journey

from the archives

“The world’s first love story, two thousand years older than the Bible—tender, erotic, shocking, and compassionate—is more than a momentary entertainment. It is a sacred story that has the intention of bringing its audience to a new spiritual place. With Inanna, we enter the place of exploration: the place where not all energies have been tamed or ordered.” – Diane Volkstein in “Inanna, the Queen of Heaven and Earth: her Stories and Hymns from Sumer”

Inanna, as envisioned by nikkirtw123 on Photobucket is strikingly close to my vision of Sarabande as I wrote the novel.

As an author, I view my characters through a high-powered microscope and present the results of what I see as part of my stories. I will put you into the characters’ shoes if I can because—as Diana Volkstein writes—this is where the energies haven’t been tamed or ordered.

In an older novel, I described that place like this: “He knew him at the binary level where the line between matter and energy is barely discernible and often non-existent: Where urges pull at their chains, where drives push dumbly and drip sweat, where instincts race unchecked, where a horrifying sadness lies buried, where a raw pulse drums a cadence for the primitive rites of changing seasons, where white-hot impulses leap synapses in a shower of elemental fire.”

I wanted a similar, up-close focus in my heroine’s journey novel Sarabande. So, for the story of a woman seeking wisdom and wholeness, I could think of no better model than the myth of Inanna, a graphic dramatization of a woman’s inner journey to find herself outside the traps and trappings of a masculine world that has–as Sylvia Brinton Perera (“Descent to the Goddess”) wrote–forced the binary level of feminine power into dormancy for 5,000 years.

Or, as the late Adrienne Rich said, “The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.”

Sarabande’s Heroine’s Journey

The journey in “real life”

In today’s terms, Sarabande was a tomboy. She was an expert with a knife, bow and arrow, a fishing pole, and everything she needed to know to survive in the wilderness. She learned all this from her father because her her mother believed women should only learn to keep a good home and not question society’s norms for women. However, Sarabande will never truly become herself as long as she is a disciple of either her late warrior father or her misguided, preachy mother. She is being taunted by a ghost that she must approach face to face in the ghost’s world.

Early on in her quest to rid herself of the ghost of her dead sister Dryad, Sarabande learns to see the world at a binary level: The lake, surrounding mountains and the cloud-draped sky broke apart into millions of colored specks. Sarabande leaned against Sikimí, even though he was no longer solid, and saw that her own light-pink hand was not solid either. In spite of her sudden dizziness, she did not fall. In fact, when her fingertips touched Sikimí’s side, a swarm of pink specks flew, like bees, into the permeable yellow gold of the horse, and when they did, their color changed to match the specks in their new environment.

moon

But she doesn’t know what it means. So it is, that her quest to find and confront her sister follows the pattern of Inanna’s Heroine’s journey to confront her sister Eriskigal, Goddess of the Underworld. The underworld, in this case, is not the world of mobs and crime or “hell” in the Christian view, but the more dangerous world of the unconscious. Like Inanna, Sarabande will be broken, shamed and close to death before she learns who she is.

This is the heroine’s journey, to be buried in mother earth like a seed where she will be reborn with the spring into a new creation that finally has the freedom to follow the original injunctions of her destiny and her gender.

–Malcolm

The Kindle edition of “Sarabande” is on sale today (March 31, 2016) for 99¢.

Myth and Magic Resources and Links

While working on Conjure Woman’s Cat, Sarabande and other novels, I compiled a list of resources for others interested in writing about magic or learning more about spiritual/new age resource materials.

mythclipartThe following resources, collected from this blog’s posts, may be helpful to others studying or following the heroine’s journey, folk tales and magical pursuits. These are books and sites I found helpful as I researched my novels and short stories.

Dark Moon

Black Moon and the Black Madonna on Sophia’s Children

Goddess Meditations by Barbara Ardinger

Dragontime Magic and Mystery of Menstruation by Luisa Francia

Moon Phases Calendar

Planting by the Moon

The Moon Watcher’s Companion by Donna Henes.

Moon Watching by Dana Gerhardt

Moon Tides, Soul Passages by Maria Kay Simms

Moon Mother, Moon Daughter by Janet Lucy

Witchcraft vs. Wicca – See one view here on Hecate’s Cauldron

Death and Rebirth

Descent to the Goddess by Sylvia Brinton Perea

The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford

The Pattern of Initiation in the Evolution of Human Consciousness by Peter Dawkins & Sir George Trevelyan

Inanna, queen of heaven and earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer – This book, first published in 1983, presented a long-awaited translation of the original Inanna material from the 2000 BCE cuneiform clay tablets.

Folk Magic

HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE –  An Introduction to African-American Rootwork by Catherine Yronwode – An introduction to hoodoo, including basics, spells, herbs, and related blues songs.

The Black Folder, edited by Catherine Yronwode, 2013.

Drums and Shadows, folk magic practices in the state of Georgia assembled by the WPA in the 1930s. The online overview describes the book this way: This collection of oral folklore from coastal Georgia was assembled during the 1930s as part of a WPA writers’ program, under the supervision of Mary Granger. The accounts in this book, framed by colorful descriptions of the rural locales where they were collected, were principally from elderly African-Americans, some of them centarians. Most had been slaves. In some cases they had known first generation slaves who had been born in Africa.

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, by Catherine Yronwode, 2002.

“Remembering Hoyt’s Cologne,” Malcolm’s Round Table

The Sanctified Church, by Zora Neale Hurston, 1981.

SOUTHERN SPIRITS: Ghostly Voices from Dixie Land – Web site features reference materials from the South during the slavery years about conjure and hoodoo.

Mojo Workin’: The Old African American Hoodoo System by Katrina Hazzard-Donald, University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (December 17, 2012)

Conjured Cardea: Full-Service Botanica and Rootwork Services – supplies, services, blog

Heroine’s Journey

The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock

From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel (See the July 2011 “Mythprint” review of this book here.) Frankel’s website includes a lengthy heroine’s journey reading list.

Sarabande contemporary fantasy by Malcolm R. Campbell released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing in a new second edition November 20151.

“The Way of Woman: Awakening the Perennial Feminine” by Helen M. Luke

Apple Farm Community – The Writings of Helen M. Luke

Real Women, Real Wisdom: A Journey into the Feminine Soul by Maureen Hovenkotter  (See a review here.)

The Heroine’s Coach, the website for Susanna Liller’s journey-oriented coaching services. The site includes an e-mail newsletter for women following their own paths called “Journey News.”

The Heroine’s Journey appears on author Leslie Zehr’s Universal Dancer website and includes a discussion of Sylvia Brinton Perera’s Descent to the Goddess, a book I found essential for my understanding of the journey. Zehr is the author of The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer.

Light of Nature

Light of Nature Website, exploring the science and the philosophy of the concept.

“The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine

“The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abram

Messages from Mother – Author Mare Cromwell’s website.

Heroine Literature

The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore

Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan

The Heroine in Western Literature: The Archetype and Her Reemergence in Modern Prose by Meredith A. Powers

The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts by David Lodge

Mythic Archetypes

Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes for Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Patriarchy

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Unplugging the Patriarchy – A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age by Lucia René

Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher

Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write about Their Search for Self by Sara Shandler

Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom in Navigating the Tumultuous Teenage Years by Cheryl Dellasega

Story Within

And Now The Story Lives Inside You, poems by Elizabeth Reninger

The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram

Alchemical Studies by C. G. Jung

Harry Potter – A New World Mythology? By Lynne Milum

“Dark Wood to White Rose: Journey and Transformation in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’” by Helen M. Luke

“The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling” by James Hillman

Tarot

LaVielle’s Book Jacket Blog

Raven’s Tarot Site

Writer’s Muse

The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity by Jan Phillips

The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write by Mark David Gerson.

20 Master Plots: an How to Build Them, by Ronald Tobias

The Hero’s Journey: A Guide to Literature and Life by Reg Harris and Susan Thompson (This is a series of lesson plans for teaching the hero’s journey in a classroom setting.)

Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Related Stories

Myth & Moor – Terri Windling’s blog

Marina Warner Website – Writer of fiction, criticism and history with a strong focus on fairy tales.

The Endicott Studio – “The Endicott Studio, founded in 1987, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to literary, visual, and performance arts inspired by myth, folklore, fairy tales, and the oral storytelling tradition.”

“The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre,” by Jack Zipes. A wonderful study of the genre available in paperback and Kindle.

Fairy tales and Literature – An online bibliography from author and professor Theodora Goss. Great introduction of resource material.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal stories and novels.

In darkness is where the bright secrets await you

Click here to learn more about her story.

My 2011 contemporary fantasy Sarabande is a dark story because darkness and growth are essential components of a heroine’s journey.

The hero’s journey has gotten a lot of traction in novels and films. That motif had an excellent leap out of the starting gate when Joseph Campbell published The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949. Almost everything out there about mythic heroes stems from that book.

For years, the heroine’s journey was either said not to exist at all (because women were supposed to stay home) or that it was simply a woman following a solar journey like one of King Arthur’s knights on a quest.

While a male protagonist on a traditional hero’s journey faces well-established perils (dragons, Orcs, wizards) and, in the process, undergoes a great many gut-wrenching psychological changes and challenges, the female protagonist’s lunar journey is less widely known. One of the few mainstream feature films brave enough to seriously look at a heroine’s journey was the 2010 production of The Black Swan with Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis.

The Black Swan

Unfortunately, many viewers thought it was a horror film on drugs rather than a dramatization of a woman’s inner journey. In a post called Me and My Shadow, I explored the symbolism behind the apparent weirdness: “Black Swan film director Darren Aronofsky blurs reality in the movie by tangling up Nina’s inner battle with her repressed shadow qualities with her literal confrontations with the sensual Lily. By portraying Nina’s battle as literal, the film has many opportunities for dazzling and chilling special effects as well as an exploration of the old folktales about people being tormented by their doubles–or doppelgangers.”

I appreciated the film’s approach because I often approach my own fiction in a way that blurs what’s happening within a character’s mind with what’s happening in the so-called “real world.” My greatest challenge with Sarabande was that of understanding my own title character well enough to not only know how she would think about the darker aspects of a heroine’s journey, but to present those thoughts in a believable fashion to both male and female readers.

Making a Woman’s Story Believable

Before the novel completed its final edits, I asked two female readers if they though my character’s thoughts truly sounded like a woman’s thoughts. I was happy that they thought so. In her Smoking Poet review of Sarabande, editor Zinta Aistars said that while reading the novel, she had to keep reminding herself that it had, in fact, been written by a male author:

“Campbell describes a rape scene that is difficult to read, yet at the same time, earns my respect with his skill in describing this scene, and its aftermath on the woman. Indeed, I had to keep reminding myself I was reading the writing of a male author. It is rare to find this ability in an author to cross genders even in everyday basics such as conversation, mannerisms. To do so in describing the effect of rape on a woman’s body and psyche is nothing short of amazing. Campbell nails it: her anger, her pain, her humiliation, her ferocity that eventually takes her from victim to survivor to avenger.”

As an author, I will never go into those dark places again. For one thing, men do not really belong there. For a fire-sign Leo who almost always writes about and attunes to the light, the darker world of the moon is a rather cruel and unforgiving realm even though everyone who enters that world as survives it, returns with insights that are truly awe inspiring. Nonetheless, my next fantasy novel will be another hero’s journey!

Great Resource!

Frankly, I was much more comfortable writing about Sarabande’s “real world” fight than writing about her thoughts. Goodness knows, I threw everything but the kitchen sink at this character: a mother who wants her to stay at home, a ghost who taunts her every waking moment, an attack on a lonely road, a male friend who doesn’t want to help her, a sister who humiliates her and then tries to kill her, a flock of murderous crows, and an evil wizard who appears to be impossible to defeat. On the other hand, there are plenty of lighter moments:

Throwing Mother in the Lake

“Control yourself, Standing Cat,” said Gem.
In the gathering celestial light, Sarabande saw that Gem had drawn her knife.
“Is this where you wish to die?” asked Sarabande. While her question was well measured, her tone was not.
Standing Cat looked over her shoulder, saw Gem’s raised knife, and screamed.
“Seth, help me. Seth, my daughter has gone mad.” It was scream that could easily curdle milk.
“I’m no daughter of yours,” whispered Sarabande. She grabbed Standing Cat from behind in a fierce hug, one hand firmly over her mouth, the other around her midsection. “Pick up her feet, Gem, will you?”
Standing Cat had more strength hidden away in her seldom-used muscles than Sarabande expected. But it was not enough. The two women lifted her off the ground and wrestled her toward the lake. She was like a fractious house cat resisting a bath. Her teeth tore into Sarabande’s fingers and her finely sharpened finger nails easily slit the damp fabric of Sarabande’s linen dress and drew blood.
Sarabande pulled her hand out of the old woman’s mouth. While she feared she might crack Standing Cat’s ribs, she didn’t care. She squeezed her all the more.
“Seth, help me, it’s murder. Help.”
Her banshee’s scream remained unfinished. She became airborne over Lake Gordon. For a small woman, she created a large splash, unsettling the pristine reflection of the reds and greens of the northern lights that filled the valley from the plains of Pyrrha past the leading edge of the Angel Wing into whatever worlds existed on the far side of the arêtes that formed the Boundary Wall.
Standing Cat sat, mercifully without words, and stared at Sarabande with an expression that was difficult to decipher. Later, she would wonder about it. But for the moment, her mother seemed a bit surprised, somewhat in awe, and wholly ashamed of the tall young lady in the torn white dress.
“On this night, I have blundered,” Sarabande told her. “Look at me here, torn and bleeding. You have told me a thousand times not to fight in my good clothes.”

Malcolm

“Sarabande” is available in trade paperback, on Kindle and Nook, and in multiple e-book formats on SmashWords

The Dance of Sun and Moon – Stages on the Journey

When the Sun and the Moon are viewed within the arena of Western esoteric traditions, including alchemy and the Tarot, they represent opposites that approach and retreat from each other even though they are destined to be merged into one. In these traditions, the Sun represents fire, masculine, positive (polarity), rational, visible world, and the consciousness mind. The Moon represents water, feminine, negative (polarity), intuition, hidden world, and the unconscious mind.

It is said that the enlightened being, often called The Wonder Child or viewed as the Philosopher’s Stone, is born from the merging of these apparent father/mother, king/queen opposites as depicted in the old art work shown here.

One of the many ways of illustrating the steps on the path to enlightenment, the goal of the hero’s and heroine’s journeys, is through the sequence of Major Arcana (trumps) cards in a Tarot deck. The Major Arcana  cards begin with “0 The Fool,” who is considered the innocent initiate at the beginning of the journey/quest and end with “21 The Universe,” which represents ascension. En route, the seeker finds “18 The Moon” and “19 The Sun.”

I like the description of the Moon and Sun  cards in the ancient quests of  knights for the Holy Grail. The Moon, then, is the Grail in the lake (beautiful water symbolism here) and the Sun represents the Grail lifted up into the pure light prior to completing the quest. Afterwards, the initiate/seeker reaches “20 Aeon” which is viewed as the rising of the Phoenix from the ashes prior to ascension.

Many Paths = One Destination

There are multiple layers of symbols here when we overlay the hero’s/heroine’s journey paths with all their traditional associations, including the Lesser Mysteries and Greater Mysteries, the cycles of the seasons around “the wheel of the year,” the Tree of Life, Tarot, alchemy and astrology. One need not study all of this, or even any of this, to understand seeker’s journey. The journey is who we are and what we are about. All of the paths to enlightenment are pointed toward the same end: transformation. Each of us focuses on the symbols we’re most comfortable with and attuned to.

Some experts say that we’re impacted by these symbols even if we are not consciously aware of them or understand the little we may have heard about them. I am a novice in using Tarot and understanding the cards’ many connections to the Tree of Life, spiritual alchemy and the cycles of the seasons. Generally, though, I like the symbolism of the Thoth Deck of Cards. The Moon and Sun cards shown here are from that deck and have a fair amount of symbolism.

  • Moon: The overall tone here is night. In the Book of Thoth, the Moon is called the “Gateway of Resurrection.” During night and Winter, the waiting Sun is diminished or absent. The landscape here is severe and the stream is mixed with blood. The sacred scarab holds the sun in its darkness while the moon occupies the mind and cosmos.
  • Sun: The overall tone here is light, with the twelve major rays standing for the signs of the zodiac. The light emanates from a rose-like sun, standing for the flowering of the solar influence. The children above the green and fertile earth are forever young and innocent. They represent the seeker’s and/or humankind’s next stage.

The Writer’s Raw Materials

moon
moon

As a writer, I love the relationship of symbols and story ideas. They can strongly impact plots, themes and characters. There are many ways to characterize a journey. For example, readers of my hero’s journey novel The Sun Singer  will find numerous references to light and the other aspects of the so-called solar journey. For more information, see the Journey Page on my website and explore the information on the Joseph Campbell Foundation site. The book’s Glacier Park setting reminds park visitors and fans of “Going to the Sun Road” and the expanse of light one sees from high mountain trails.

Likewise, readers of my heroine’s journey novel Sarabande will find numerous references to water and the other aspects of the so-called lunar journey. The Heroine’s Page and the Sarabande Page on my website have more details. While the book’s story begins in the mountain high country, the plot (which is oriented around the moon’s phases) becomes more focused on rivers, dreams and the so-called “Underworld.”

 

sun
sun

For more information about Tarot cards in general, you might enjoy exploring one of my favorite sites: Raven’s Tarot Site. Here you’ll learn more about the Major Arcana (trumps), Minor Arcana (suits), and their correspondences with the Tree of Life, the classic elements, and astrology.

My first intention in both of these books is telling an exciting story. Both stories have many associations with myths and symbols. Those who know the myths and symbols will, perhaps, smile when they see the references. Those who do not consciously know the myths and symbols will still be subject to their spells.

As Rumi said, “What you seek, seeks you.” So, perhaps when you’ve finished reading the stories, you’ll be drawn into the “inner stories” behind the actions of Robert Adams (The Sun Singer) and Sarabande (Sarabande). When that happens, you’ll find that what you are looking for will begin to appear more often in your life in the form of books, websites and links, things you see on the way to work or on a hike, people who are interested in these subjects, and your dreams.

Meanwhile, as you read the novels, I hope you’ll enjoy the action while you are dancing with the Sun and the Moon—as they dance with each other.

–Malcolm

Earth Language

“To our indigenous ancestors, and to the many aboriginal peoples who still hold fast to their oral traditions, language is less a human possession than it is a property of the animate earth itself, an expressive, telluric power in which we, along with the coyotes and the crickets, all participate. Each creature enacts this expressive magic in its own manner, the honeybee with its waggle dance no less than a bellicose, harrumphing sea lion.” — From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram, quoted by Terri Windling in her recent series of posts.

The plots and imagery of my short stories and novels frequently evoke the powers of Earth and invite meditations on and respect for the natural world. This is especially true in my 2011 heroine’s journey adventure novel Sarabande.

The phrase heroine’s journey indicates that this is a woman’s adventure story and that the trials and tribulations will strongly test the main character. The story is written with a feminine point of view, that of Sarabande, the young title character. Since Earth and the forces of nature are often viewed as feminine, the title character’s adventure is supported by “Earth language.”

Sarabande is attracted to rivers, the earth’s life blood and she is healed by an Indian’s Earth-centric approach. And, for a short period of time, she truly experiences becoming animal when she merges with Coyote, a magical creature in the mountains where she finds the ghost who has been haunting her.

I’m attracted to David Abram’s books because they place humans back into nature rather than as creatures at odds with nature. In Sarabande, the title character’s interactions with nature are important to her physical survival and to her inner growth. As readers will soon discover, her life is in danger quite often: knowing “Earth Language” will be essential.

David Abram suggests that rather than describing nature, we should listen to and talk to nature. He relates the story of a man who has trained himself so well to understand “the dialects of trees” that he can be taken blindfolded to any location in the Pacific Northwest. Once there, he will tell you who the nearby trees are. Perhaps our best contemporary fantasies can lead readers back to an appreciation for such skills.

In Sarabande, I hope readers will not only enjoy the adventure, but will take away a bit of Earth language.

Today’s Writing Links

  • Why We Have Both “Color” and “Colour” by Mignon Fogarty for Grammar Girl – “Have you ever wondered why the British spell “color” with a “u” and Americans don’t? Or why the British spell “theater” with an “re” at the end and Americans spell it with an “er” at the end? We all know that these spelling differences exist, but not everyone knows why they exist.”
  • The Stephen King Guide to Marketing by Jason Kong for Jane Friedman’s blog – “…you need both good writing and good marketing. Many writers see this as two steps. Write first, then worry about marketing once the words are published. The belief is that the writing and marketing processes are distinct.”
  • Quote: I am obsessive about titles. Even for my second and third book in the series, I couldn’t move forward until I had the right title for it. With Crewel, I didn’t want it to be so sewing-based that it would be off-putting. I stumbled upon “crewel,” and I thought, obviously this is the title. I take liberties with it. There’s someone out there who does crewel who’s going to say, “There isn’t one crewel work in the book.” – Gennifer Albin, author of “Crewel” – from Shelf Awareness

Malcolm

Heroine’s Journey Links and Resources

While I was working on my recent contemporary fantasy Sarabande, I found a lot of helpful references about the heroine’s journey. The heroine’s journey has fewer Internet links, so perhaps you’ll find some of mine helpful if you are experiencing, reading about or writing about the journey.

There seem to be two schools of thought about the journey. One is that the heroine’s journey is the same as the hero’s journey, potentially with a few modifications.

While that concept approach works for many people, I don’t agree with it because the hero’s journey is a solar journey and the heroine’s journey is a lunar journey. My novel’s research materials tend to reflect the lunar approach.

Dark Moon

  1. Goddess Meditations by Barbara Ardinger
  2. Dragontime Magic and Mystery of Menstruation by Luisa Francia
  3. Moon Phases Calendar
  4. Planting by the Moon
  5. The Moon Watcher’s Companion by Donna Henes.
  6. Moon Watching by Dana Gerhardt
  7. Moon Tides, Soul Passages by Maria Kay Simms
  8. Moon Mother, Moon Daughter by Janet Lucy

Death and Rebirth

  1. Descent to the Goddess by Sylvia Brinton Perea
  2. The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford
  3. The Pattern of Initiation in the Evolution of Human Consciousness by Peter Dawkins & Sir George Trevelyan
  4. Inanna, queen of heaven and earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer – This book, first published in 1983, presented a long-awaited translation of the original Inanna material from the 2000 BCE cuneiform clay tablets.

Fantasy

  • The Mythopoeic Society – The Mythopoeic Society is a national/international organization promoting the study, discussion, and enjoyment of fantastic and mythopoeic literature through books and periodicals, annual conferences, discussion groups, awards, and more.

Horses

  1. She Flies Without Wings-How Horses Touch a Woman’s Soul by Mary D. Widkiff
  2. Horses and the Mystical Path-The Celtic Way of Expanding the Human Soul by Thomas McCormick
  3. The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov
  4. Torden, Hear the Tunder by by C. Kirkham. (This is a well-written young adult novel about a young girl and a Friesian horse.)
  5. Horses, Somatics, and Spirit: An Equine-Guided Program in Conscious Living, a workshop presented by Beverley Kane, MD, Ariana Strozzi, MSC. (This is an example of some of the programs available today.)

Heroine’s Journey

  1. The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock
  2. From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel (See the July 2011 “Mythprint” review of this book here.) Frankel’s website includes a lengthy heroine’s journey reading list.
  3. Sarabande contemporary fantasy by Malcolm R. Campbell released by Vanilla Heart Publishing, August 2011.
  4. “The Way of Woman: Awakening the Perennial Feminine” by Helen M. Luke
  5. Apple Farm Community – The Writings of Helen M. Luke
  6. Real Women, Real Wisdom: A Journey into the Feminine Soul by Maureen Hovenkotter  (See a review here.)
  7. The Heroine’s Coach, the website for Susanna Liller’s journey-oriented coaching services. The site includes an e-mail newsletter for women following their own paths called “Journey News.”
  8. The Heroine’s Journey appears on author Leslie Zehr’s Universal Dancer website and includes a discussion of Sylvia Brinton Perera’s Descent to the Goddess, a book I found essential for my understanding of the journey. Zehr is the author of The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer.

Light of Nature

  1. Light of Nature Website, exploring the science and the philosophy of the concept.
  2. “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine
  3. “The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abram

Literature

  1. The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore
  2. Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan
  3. The Heroine in Western Literature: The Archetype and Her Reemergence in Modern Prose by Meredith A. Powers
  4. The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts by David Lodge

Patriarchy

  1. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
  2. Unplugging the Patriarchy – A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age by Lucia René
  3. Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher
  4. Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write about Their Search for Self by Sara Shandler
  5. Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom in Navigating the Tumultuous Teenage Years by Cheryl Dellasega

Story Within

  1. And Now The Story Lives Inside You, poems by Elizabeth Reninger
  2. The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
  3. Alchemical Studies by C. G. Jung
  4. Harry Potter – A New World Mythology? By Lynne Milum
  5. “Dark Wood to White Rose: Journey and Transformation in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’” by Helen M. Luke
  6. “The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling” by James Hillman

War

  1. Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay.
  2. Rape: Weapon of Terror by Sharon Frederick
  3. Against our Will: Men, Women and Rape by Susan Brownmiller

Weaving, Storytelling, Linen

  1. American Textile History Museum
  2. All Fiber Arts (weaving in stories and fairytale)
  3. Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
  4. Linen from flax seed to woven cloth by Linda Heinrich
  5. The Joy of Handspinning – many details, photographs and demonstration videos
  6. The Weaver’s Book: A practical, authoritative step-by-step guide for beginners by an expert weaver by Harriet Tidball
  7. Grading, Spinning, Dyeing: an introduction to the traditional wool and flax crafts by Elizabeth Hoppe and Ragnar Edberg
  8. Fibers of Being – Judy’s detailed weaving blog
  9. Eva Stossel’s weaving blog – In addition to information about weaving, both Judy and Eva include lengthy blogrolls.
  10. A History of Irish Linen
  11. Flaxland – Growers and Processors in the U. K.

Wolves

  1. Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  2. The Company of Wolves by Peter Steinhart
  3. The Wolf’s Tooth by Christina Eisenberg

Writer’s Muse

  1. The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
  2. Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity by Jan Phillips
  3. The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write by Mark David Gerson.
  4. 20 Master Plots: an How to Build Them, by Ronald Tobias
  5. The Hero’s Journey: A Guide to Literature and Life by Reg Harris and Susan Thompson (This is a series of lesson plans for teaching the hero’s journey in a classroom setting.)

Classic TA Resources for the Journey

  1. Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments by Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward
  2. Your Inner Child of the Past by Hugh Missildine
  3. What Do You Say After You Say Hello: The Psychology of Human Destiny by Eric Berne
  4. I’m Ok, You’re Ok by Thomas Harris

Writers, You May Also Like: Shhh, I write hero’s journey and heroine’s journey novels

A Series of Posts About the Heroine’s Journey: Sarabande’s Journey

Malcolm

A powerful story of motherhood, seasons and snakes

SnakesSnakes by Patricia Damery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Snakes, by Patricia Damery (Farming Soul, 2010) is a beautifully written novel about a woman coming to terms with family continuity as small farms are packed up and sold off at auctions to those who will never know who once lived there and made of them enduring homes.

Angela leaves the Midwestern farm her family has worked for generations because the roads and fields and traditions are, in spite of their deep values, confining to her coming-of-a-age soul. She attends college in California, receives a degree in biology, becomes a teacher, marries, and has a family. When teaching proves to be an unsatisfactory career, she focuses on her new and all-consuming avocation of weaving.

Snakes is a poetic meditation about the intertwined cycles of life and farming. It is also an evolving letter of love from Angela to her recently deceased father about life as it was, mundane and unexpected daily events, and, of course, the snakes. Snakes and the cycles of life are constant images throughout the book; snakes in the corn crib, snakes in the garden, snakes in the kitchen. We fear snakes, yet we also see them as protectors of the land and as symbols of the natural stages of everlasting life.

For Angela to come to terms with herself and the disintegration of families and farms, she must come to terms with snakes. Her weavings become her medium and her message, the storyboard of her life as it was and as it is, all the memories, dreams and reflections of a nurturing mother claiming her authentic role within the natural order of children and husbands, kitchens and bedrooms, warm tidal pools and freshly ploughed fields, and gardens where snakes live amongst the flowers.

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Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” the story of an alchemist and shaman who journeys between heaven and hell in a world where each place can be mistaken for the other.