The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

motionofpuppetsThe Motion of Puppets is a clever play on an ancient Roman myth.

Orpheus was a musician who was so talented he could charm the birds from the sky and make the forest spirits weep. He madly loved a woman named Eurydice.

One day, she stepped on a serpent and died. Orpheus nearly lost his mind out of grief for her. So, he made his way to the underworld to beg Lord Hades for his bride.

Orpheus plays such sweet music that Persephone weeps and Hades allows the bard to take the shade of his dead wife back to the living world. There’s one condition, he can’t look back to see if she’s following.

I think we all know what happened then. This book takes that tragedy and places it in the modern world.

Everything is fine until Theo’s wife, Kay, goes missing. “She should be more responsible, should know that he would worry, but he could hear her laughing it off when she came home. You’ll give yourself ulcers, she’d say. You fret too much. I just went out for croissants.” pg 18

He assumes she stumbled into the bed of one of her coworkers and is sleeping off a hangover. But the truth is much worse.

Kay has been transformed into something else, something magical and monstrous. “We lucky few can move about as long as the people are not watching. Midnight to first light, we are free.”pg 41

She is trapped in a metaphorical “underworld,” ruled over by an ancient power and his minions. “You cannot go home,” he said. “You cannot ever leave the Back Room.” pg 76

Even if Theo can figure out where she’s gone, how on earth will Kay go back to the shape she had before?

Keith Donohue has crafted a clever and haunting novel, putting a horror-tinged lens on the myth.

“And, besides, let me tell you a secret: all art needs a little sadness in it, a small tragedy to balance the human comedy.” pg 111

Like Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann’s musical take on Orpheus and Eurydice, the elements of the original story are in both works of art. I think The Motion of Puppets is more weird and other-worldly.

To truly enjoy this tale, you have to be willing to believe in magic.

Highly recommended for readers who like twists on mythology or not-too-terrifying horror stories.

If you like mythological re-tellings, you may also enjoy The Snow Child or Circe.

Thanks for reading!

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller

circeCirce is an epic fantasy that reads like a historical fiction novel, based on the Greek mythology of the witch of Aiaia, the daugher of a Titan- Circe.

I minored in the classics at university and one of my favorite classes was mythology. I love taking apart stories that mirror humanity’s foibles and try to explain the origin of some of life’s harder truths.

In the war between the Titans and the Olympians, a creation story that could be interpreted to mean the ascension of modern culture over more ancient superstitions, the Olympians triumph. But the Titans are not wiped off the face of the earth.

“Beneath the smooth, familiar face of things is another that waits to tear the world in two.” loc 272, ebook.

Some of the Titans’ powerful and mysterious children play central roles in the great mythological stories. Circe is one of those.

“They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and cousins. Least of the lesser goddesses, our powers were so modest they could scarcely ensure our eternities. We spoke to fish and nurtured flowers, coaxed drops from the clouds or salt from the waves.” loc 102, ebook.

She began her life in the halls of Helios, a Titanic deity who was a god of the sun, much like Apollo.

“At my father’s feet, the whole world was made of gold. The light came from everywhere at once, his yellow skin, his lambent eyes, the bronze flashing of his hair. His flesh was as hot as a brazier, and I pressed as close as he would let me, like a lizard to noonday rocks.” loc 158, ebook.

Compared to her great father and gorgeous, manipulative mother, Circe was nothing- one of the many faceless children of the greater gods, whose future was destined to be a wife and then mother to more godlings.

Circe’s future is not as simple as all that.

She, and her brothers and sister, have a unique power that no other gods possess. They have the ability to harness the plants and power of the earth, to create potions and salves with miraculous effects. They call it: pharmakeia.

Modern readers can recognize the roots of the word “pharmacy” in the name.

“Pharmakeia, such arts are called, for they deal in pharmaka, those herbs with the power to work changes upon the world, both those sprung from the blood of gods, as well as those which grow common upon the earth.” loc 909.

It is a power no one understands and, because of its mysteriousness, it makes even the gods afraid.

There is more to Circe’s story than pharmakeia. She also interacts with Hermes, Daedalus and Odysseus. She creates a god and a monster. She shakes the foundation of the oceans.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy mythology or historical fiction. It will transport you to a world where gods and goddesses walk the earth and humanity can do nothing but tremble in their shadows.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for an advance, digital copy of this book.

Thanks for reading!

Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds by Jacques F. Vallée

Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds by Jacques F. Vallée

passportJacques F. Vallee was one of the first scientists to closely study UFO phenomenon. He goes beyond a simple examination and compares it to the fairy religions and mythologies from the past. Passport to Magonia is one of his most well-known works.

Vallee also mentions, in the new preface that he wrote for the book in the early ’90s, of the difficulties that he had compiling the thousands of eyewitness accounts that are included in Passport to Magonia. I suppose with the easy connections to the internet that are available now, that I hadn’t considered how laborious it would be to gather all of that information together in the time before computers.

At the very least, Passport to Magonia can be admired for its thoroughness in the section: “A Century of UFO Landings.” It is approximately 150 pages of account after account of UFO encounters. The amount of information, types of witnesses and manner of UFO phenomena is truly mind-boggling.

Some of the standout examples for me are: Juan Diego’s tilma and the sky anchor that was left behind in 1211 a.d. at a church in Cloera, Ireland. And, Aleister Crowley’s run in with two gnomes or aliens.

Vallee cites the book, Magick Without Tears, for the Crowley experience. It makes me so curious- I may just have to look into it.

So many of these accounts are beyond belief, which makes for great reading, but which Vallee reminds the reader, cannot be taken at face value.

He reminds us of our inability to understand the accounts even as he seeks to understand them. Futility, thy name is Passport to Magonia?

Readers who enjoy UFO literature will probably enjoy this classic book. Vallee doesn’t provide the answers, but he has crafted a framework for UFO exploration beyond the usual acceptance or denial of a puzzling and reoccurring phenomena.

Thanks for reading!

Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen

artemisIn Artemis, Jean Bolen discusses the importance of archetypes and mythological stories. She asserts that we don’t just enjoy the stories for their entertainment value- we respond to the psychological truths contained between the lines.

I’ve always enjoyed academic discussions of mythological tales. I never really knew why though until I read this book.

The meanings of mythology are so layered that our conscious minds may not even know that our subconscious minds are latching onto the veiled truths. We love them without realizing their importance.

Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman contains an intricate dissection of the tale of Atalanta, a mortal whose life paralleled the goddess, Artemis, in many ways.

I think I had been exposed to this tale in a classical mythology course in college, but the complex Jungian psychology that goes along with it wasn’t explained to this extent. Bolen’s explanation of the myth is masterful.

One archetype in particular that I enjoyed learning about was Selene/Endymion. Sometimes, in the frantic growth to adulthood, one can feel alone in their struggles and inner landscape.

I’ve known so many girls (myself included) who were living that pattern but they didn’t even know it. Bolen’s explanation of the motivations and the potential growth that can accompany this life pattern was enlightening as well as encouraging.

Bolen ties humanity together through shared experiences and mythologies. She makes the reader feel that, no matter what they have gone through, they are not and have never been alone. It’s a very empowering message.

My minor in classics covered much that was discussed in this book but the feminist lens that was applied to the mythologies was very unique and different from what I have learned in the past.

In addition to the myths, Bolen includes contemporary fictional heroines as well as real life figures who embody the archetypes. I liked that she traveled beyond the boundary of the tales to apply the energies to real life.

Young women who aspire to embody the vision of Artemis in all of her variations in their own life will find many examples to emulate within these pages.

I enjoyed this quite a lot. I haven’t read Bolen’s Goddesses in Everywoman but this book makes me want to dive into it.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in Jungian psychology, mythology or the elevation of the human spirit.

I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!

Thanks for reading!

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

thepowerofmythThough a bit rambling at times, The Power of Myth is a great introductory text on archetypes found within all world mythologies from almost every time period. Campbell explains why the underlying stories are the same from all over the world and what they mean in both cultural, personal, and world contexts.

He breaks down some of the major archetypes like the sacrificed god and resurrection, virgin births, goddesses, trees, snakes, and more. As someone who has studied tarot and The Tree of Life extensively, I found it to be an illumination.

I particularly liked learning about the mythology of Star Wars. With the release of the new film, that particular series is back in the top of the pop culture charts. I think that The Power of Myth explains why it has such enduring appeal.

If you liked The Power of Myth, you may want to pick up Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen. It is another examination of mythology from a feminist perspective.

Or pick up any of the many books about mythology from any country you’d like. If you immerse yourself in enough of the stories, you will pick up on the reoccurring patterns yourself.

I believe that one of the many purposes of mythology, beyond its entertainment value, is to teach us about what we have in common with each other, and also, the hidden dimensions of ourselves.

As the doorway to the Delphic Oracle said, “Know Thyself.” And, really, that is the greatest power there is. Mythology helps you do that.

Thanks for reading!