Female Tricksters

I’m trying to find female tricksters in mythology and literature. I’m also trying to see how they are different from male tricksters. Scheherazade comes to mind. I’m think Judith, as well. Circe, maybe. Eris comes to mind as well. Dido, with her oxhide trick is another. Isis, for tricking Ra into giving her his secret name. Rosalind, in As You Like It. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books is considered a trickster.

I’m looking through Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris (On Famous Women), and will have to go down that list. Among many, he lists Semiramis. She’s credited with inventing the chastity belt – which seems like a rather mean trick all the way around. I don’t think that makes her a trickster.

One academic, Marilyn Zurich, labels female tricksters as “trickstars.” She takes a lot of care contrasting trickstars and tricksters. Most of the ones I’m coming up with differ from their male counterparts in that they aren’t troublemakers. They employ trickery to accomplish an end, rather than as a continuous expression of their being. Eris is an exception to that. I want to think about this further, I’m considering writing about a female character who is a trickster.

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Isn’t it amazing that something as well-known as Stonehenge can still have things discovered about it? It’s like the controversy over the age of The Great Sphinx of Giza. Egyptologists say it was built about 2900BC, but geologists look at the rock and surrounding strata and say it was built about 5500BC, only a 26 century difference in data. No one knows of a civilization that early with the competence to build such a structure. Maybe the Sphinx is like some humongous Hello Kitty toy that the giant inside the Earth is holding. If you think about it, Egypt is about where one of his hands would be.

Gives a more ominous meaning to the notion that we should tread lightly on the Earth.

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trout/salmon mask replica

In Celtic mythology the salmon ate hazelnuts from trees that ringed the Well Of Wisdom and gained the knowledge of the world. I think this is why a sagacious person is said to have the Wisdom of Salmon. Often, fish are drawn with only one eye: one-eyed creatures in Celtic myths are able to see beyond this world. Perhaps the salmon are hints to us that we need wisdom beyond this world to see what is truly going on.

In The White Goddess, Robert Graves posited a Celtic zodiac (not accepted by most scholars) which has been taken up by some neopagans. The signs are mostly associated with trees, but also having an animal spirit and god associated with each sign. The salmon spirit is associated with the hazel tree sign (August 5 to September 1) – and the god Manannan Mac Lir (a Sea God and a master of disguise).

In the mythology of the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, the Salmon People promise to return to the shores and streams to be food for the humans as long as the humans throw their bones and other uneaten parts back into the water – allowing the Salmon People to be resurrected.

With that as a prelude, I was inspired to write the following. Trout, salmon, they’re related.

I want to leap, dance, shout.
I want to let that slippery fellow out.
He’s wild and wiggly, have no doubt.
He’s a natural wonder, the trouser trout.

And yet.

My trout aches, and a drippy wetness pains
My sense, as though of menthols I had smoked,
Or emptied some dull malt liquor to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had stroked:
‘Tis not through envy of our brotherly lot,
But being too happy in thine maliciousness,—
That thou, light-finned Naiad of the streams
In some mellifluous creek
Of mosses green, and depths measureless,
Scheme of ruination like some scaly freak.

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399 Years Ago Today

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare
Blese be the man that spares these stones
And curst be he that moves my bones

Shakespeare’s epitaph

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention

Prologue, Henry V

But my God, how beautiful Shakespeare is, who else is as mysterious as he is; his language and method are like a brush trembling with excitement and ecstasy.

Vincent van Gogh, letter to Theo van Gogh (July 1880) as translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger

The one Proteus of the fire and the flood.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

Every time I open Hamlet, I am stunned by it hostile virtuosity, its elusiveness and impenetrability. Shakespeare uses language to darken. He mesmerizes by disorienting us.

Camille Paglia, Sexual Persona

A few of the 1,700 words he coined. I like “articulated,” “congreet,” “dispunge” (I’ll need to use that one), “incarnadine,” “mistempered,” “relum’d.”

Anthony Burgess suggested that Shakespeare helped with the 46th Psalm in the King James Version, because the 46th word from the beginning is “shakes” and the 46th word from the end is “spear” – if you don’t count the “selah”s.

Read him and be reminded of the best, deepest, highest, most, liveliest, bitterest that humankind can produce.

Sonnet 49

Against that time (if ever that time come)
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
Whenas thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
Called to that audit by advised respects;
Against that time when thou shalt strangely pass,
And scarcely greet me with that sun thine eye,
When love converted from the thing it was
All reasons find of settled gravity:
Against that time do I insconce me here
Within the knowledge of mine own desert,
And this my hand against myself uprear,
To guard the lawful reason on thy part:
To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,
Since why to love I can allege no cause.

Sonnet 117

Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay,
forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do time me day by day,
That I have frequent been with unknown minds,
And given time you own dear-purchased right;
That I have hoisted sail to all the winds
Which should transport me farthest from you sight,
Book both my wilfulness and errors down,
And on just proof surmise accumulate;
Bring me within the level of your frown,
But shoot not at me in you wakened hate:
Since my appeal say I did strive to prove
The constancy and virtue of your love.

Sonnet 129

Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe,
Before, a joy proposed, behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads me to this hell.

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Nick Cave and the Happy-Happy Joy-Joy

Just wanted to post his Higgs Boson Blues

And this cool interview he did with Rolling Stone.

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You Shouldn’t Let Other People Get Your Kicks For You

I know it’s about a year old, but I spend a happy 20 minutes flipping channels through Bob D’s interactive “Like A Rolling Stone” again. Hey, maybe you should, too.

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Lying and Forgiveness

So much of the music I enjoy could be summarized as “Frack you, I rule.” Or “I rule, Let’s frack.” But there are some songs that touch on forgiveness and understanding.
Here’s one from First Aid Kit


Oh the bitter winds are coming in
And I’m already missing the summer
Stockholm’s cold but I’ve been told
I was born to endure this kind of weather
When it’s you I find like a ghost in my mind
I am defeated and I gladly wear the crown

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

Now so much I know that things just don’t grow
If you don’t blessed them with your patience
And I’ve been there before I held up the door
For every stranger with a promise

But I’m holding back, that’s the strength that I lack
Every morning keeps returning at my window
And it brings me to you and I won’t just pass through
But I’m not asking for a storm

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

And yes I might have lied to you
You wouldn’t benefit from knowing of the truth
I was frightened but I held fast
I need you now at long last

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me
Just sing little darling, sing with me

And from the wonderful Patty Griffin (with Emmylou Harris helping)

Little Fire

My friend, come stand beside me
Lately, I’m feeling so lost
A flood came and washed the stones of the path away
And a hot sun turned the mud to dust

Calling the sheep in for the evening
There’s a voice, calls above the howling wind
It says comes rest beside my little fire
We’ll ride out the storm that’s coming in

My friend, you know me and my family
You’ve seen us wandering through these times
You’ve seen us in weakness and in power
You’ve seen us forgetful and unkind

All that I want is one who knows me
A kind hand on my face when I weep
And I’d give back these things I know are meaningless
For a little fire beside me when I sleep

All that I want is one who knows me
A kind hand on my face when I weep
And I’d give back these things I know are meaningless
For a little fire beside me when I sleep


Be kind and forgiving to the people you meet. As Longfellow wrote
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not;
and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

If you’re lucky, life is long. And you’ll be grateful for the folks who treat you kindly when you are least deserving.

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Now That’s A Good Line

From the short story The Only Tricks We Know over at Joyland.

“This goddamn curse wasn’t gradual, I said. It came out of nowhere. Like happy thirteenth birthday, you’ve hit puberty so now you get to be a freak.”

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All Are Equal in Death

A cemetery in Brooklyn, Most Holy Trinity Cemetery, where stone monuments were outlawed by the German Catholic Most Holy Trinity Church. The thinking was that rich and poor alike should have similar markers – markers that were subject to decay.

From Atlas Obscuraimage.

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Rome’s Skeletal Sculptures

Atlas Obscura has a great set of photos of skeletons in reliefs, sculptures and on tombs. Go check it out.
not proud

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