Musings on Mythology and Folklore

I think a lot. My boyfriends says I think too much, “You over think everything.” And he’s right I do (but shhh don’t tell him), but that’s part of being a writer. The longer I think about something more I’m able to imagine ways to manipulate it and take it to that next level. Folklore and mythology are two of those things that I enjoy thinking about as a writer. These stories have a simple essence that has managed the test of time and the telephone game. It doesn’t matter how you change the characters or settings the meaning stays the same.

Folklore and mythology are a symbol of culture, they combine the beliefs, morals, religion, and philosophies of a people. Those elements form the basis of what defines a society.  I started learning about Greek and Roman mythology in my single digits when I read Edith Hamilton’s “Greek Mythology”.   I was so fascinated that years later I completed a degree in Classics. I even considered graduate study and a full-time career in Classics. But other things happened along the way and I decided to study writing but my love and appreciation for mythology and folklore continues.

It seemed natural that when I started writing I drew on folklore and mythology. One of my first stories- “Jamila and the monkey” builds on the story of Rumpelstiltskin. I didn’t choose Rumpelstiltskin, I was inspired by my (then) neighbor who was a seamstress. I wanted to tell a story about her because I felt she would be a great heroine in a story.  But it wasn’t until someone pointed out in a critique the story of Rumpelstiltskin that I realized what I had done.

Despite my love for the Brothers Grimm, some European Lore, and Egyptian lore I wanted to know more about the mythology and folklore of other cultures like my own – the less popular ones.  So I have started collecting books and links to websites about folklore and mythology. I received a great book C. Scott LittletonMythology: The Illustrated anthology of World Myth and storytelling” it has stories from different cultures around the world with highlights and a reference section.  Also, I read Alexander McCall Smith’s “The Girl Who Married a Lion and other tale from Africa”. After spending several years in West Africa the stories really touched home with me.  I’m always on the lookout for books, so if you know of one please let me know.

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