Tonight, our storyteller will be Brenda aka Howling Caterpillars. We welcome her sharing of wisdom and strength. Do visit her shop and enjoy her many unique and thoughtful creations! She is spunky, funny, and a very compassionate person who shares generously and with care! Wado for sharing tonight, Brenda!
$94.00 USDWado, Brenda!
Before Howling Catapillar (Brenda) told her story, Soulful Stuff told an interesting story.
A short pre-story—not Celtic….but about the circle of life….Freeman Owle is a lecturer and storyteller from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. This is a true story he told in November 1996 at a Native American awareness program. A few years ago, Freeman Owle went to Cincinnati to make a presentation before a university group. He told about the Trail of Tears and how one set of his great-grandparents had escaped from the march with their infant child, crossed back over the Mississippi River, and returned to find their Georgia home burned to the ground. Realizing that they could no longer stay in Georgia, they moved to Birdtown, a community on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina where Freeman was raised and where he lives today. Mr. Owle also told the students that there likely will never be a Cherokee named Andrew because of the many deaths of Cherokees and people of other tribes during their forced relocation to Oklahoma…deaths attributed to President Andrew Jackson and his anti-Indian policies. [As it turns out, there were several named Andrew even back then.] Following the presentation, several students stated that they wanted to help do something on the reservation. He said he had just the project and arranged for them a come down in a few weeks. The group of about 10 students arrived late one Friday night and called to tell him that they had checked into a hotel and would be ready to go the next morning. Early the next day he took them to the home of an 81-year old Cherokee woman who for the first time in her life was unable to plant a garden and grow the old Indian corn that had been with her family for many generations. Freeman equipped them with hoes and, under the watchful eye of the elderly woman, began to dig long straight rows in the rocky ground. About 10 am, most of the students had stopped to get a cold drink and take a break under a shade tree, except for one girl who kept working. Freeman asked her if she wanted to take a break and she replied that she was fine and kept working. About noon, the students stopped to eat lunch, except for the one girl who kept working. Freeman went to her and asked if she wanted to eat lunch with the others. She said no, that she wanted to keep working. He told her “Joy, you need to take a break and get something to eat and drink.” Putting his hand on the hoe, he pulled it gently from her hands. As he did, he saw that her palms and fingers were covered in blisters, many of which had already broken. With her eyes turned downward, she said “You don’t know who I am, or anything about me, but I need to keep working. I have to give something back to the Cherokee people.” Looking up with tears welling in her eyes and her lip trembling, she continued “You see, Andrew Jackson was my great-grandfather.”
Soul’s story motivated one of our attendees, Jane, to make this comment.
Good evening.Soul, I am deeply touched. What a beautiful story.
For many years, the Native American community around Tallahassee fought to have the Grand Marshall of the Springtime Tallahassee Parade “removed”……Andrew Jackson. Although the local media seemed to ignore them during their coverage of the parades, their message was heard.
This one is called The Three Daughters of King O’Hara
I’ve never heard of this one before but it was neat.
She got her wish; for scarcely had she put off the cloak of darkness, when there came, in a golden coach with four horses, two black and two white, the finest man she had ever laid eyes on, and took her away. When the second daughter saw what had happened to her sister, she put on the cloak of darkness, and wished for the next best man in the world as a husband. She put off the cloak; and straightway there came, in a golden coach with four black horses, a man nearly as good as the first, and took her away. The third sister put on the cloak, and wished for the best white dog in the world.
Presently he came, with one man attending, in a golden coach and four snow-white horses, and took the youngest sister away
When the king came home, the stable-boy told him what had happened while he was gone. He was enraged beyond measure when he heard that his youngest daughter had wished for a white dog, and gone off with him.
When the first man brought his wife home he asked: “In what form will you have me in the daytime, – as I am now in the daytime, or as I am now at night?”
“As you are now in the daytime.”
So the first sister had her husband as a man in the daytime; but at night he was a seal.
“As you are now in the day.”
So the white dog was a dog in the daytime, but the most beautiful of men at night. After a time the third sister had a son; and one day, when her husband was going out to hunt, he warned her that if anything should happen the child, not to shed a tear on that account.
While he was gone, a great gray crow that used to haunt the place came and carried the child away when it was a week old.
Remembering the warning, she shed not a tear for the loss.
All went on as before till another son was born. The husband used to go hunting every day, and again he said she must not shed a tear if anything happened.
When the child was a week old a great gray crow came and bore him away; but the mother did not cry or drop a tear. All went well till a daughter was born. When she was a week old a great gray crow came and swept her away. This time the mother dropped one tear on a handkerchief, which she took out of her pocket, and then put back again.
When the husband came home from hunting and heard what the crow had done, he asked the wife, ” Have you shed tears this time?”
“I have dropped one tear,” said she.
Then he was very angry; for he knew what harm she had done by dropping that one tear.
Soon after their father invited the three sisters to visit him and be present at a great feast in their honor. They sent messages, each from her own place, that they would come.The king was very glad at the prospect of seeing his children; but the queen was grieved, and thought it a great disgrace that her youngest daughter had no one to come home with her but a white dog. The white dog was in dread that the king wouldn’t leave him inside with the company, but would drive him from the castle to the yard, and that the dogs outside wouldn’t leave a patch of skin on his back, but would tear the life out of him. The youngest daughter comforted him. “There is no danger to you,” said she, “for wherever I am, you’ll be, and wherever you go, I’ll follow and take care of you.” When all was ready for the feast at the castle, and the company were assembled, the king was for banishing the white dog; but the youngest daughter would not listen to her father, – would not let the white dog out of her sight, but kept him near her at the feast, and divided with him the food that came to herself. When the feast was over, and all the guests had gone, the three sisters went to their own rooms in the castle.
Late in the evening the queen took the cook with her, and stole in to see what was in her daughters’ rooms. They were all asleep at the time. What should she see by the side of her youngest daughter but the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on.Then she went to where the other two daughters were sleeping; and there, instead of the two men who brought them to the feast, were two seals, fast asleep. The queen was greatly troubled at the sight of the seals. When she and the cook were returning, they came upon the skin of the white dog. She caught it up as she went, and threw it into the kitchen fire. The skin was not five minutes in the fire when it gave a crack that woke not only all in the castle, but all in the country for miles around. The husband of the youngest daughter sprang up. He was very angry and very sorry, and said:
“If I had been able to spend three nights with you under your father’s roof, I should have got back my own form again for good, and could have been a man both in the day and the night; but now I must go. He rose from the bed, ran out of the castle, and away he went as fast as ever his two legs could carry him, overtaking the one before him, and leaving the one behind. He was this way all that night and the next day; but he couldn’t leave the wife, for she followed from the castle, was after him in the night and the day too, and never lost sight of him. In the afternoon he turned, and told her to go back to her father; but she would not listen to him. At nightfall they came to the first house they had seen since leaving the castle. He turned and said:
“Do you go inside and stay in this house till morning; I’ll pass the night outside where I am.” The wife went in. The woman of the house rose up, gave her a pleasant welcome, and put a good supper before her. She was not long in the house when a little boy came to her knee and called her “mother.” The woman of the house told the child to go back to his place, and not to come out again. Here are a pair of scissors,” said the woman of the house to the king’s daughter, ” and they will serve you well. Whatever ragged people you see, if you cut a piece off their rags, that moment they will have new clothes of cloth of gold.” She stayed that night, for she had good welcome. Next morning when she went out, her husband said: ” You ‘d better go home now to your father.”
“I’ll not go to my father if I have to leave you,” said she. So he went on, and she followed. It was that way all the day till night came; and at nightfall they saw another house at the foot of a hill, and again the husband stopped and said: “You go in; I’ll stop outside till morning.” The woman of the house gave her a good welcome. After she had eaten and drunk, a little boy came out of another room, ran to her knee, and said,” Mother.” The woman of the house sent the boy back to where he had come from, and told him to stay there. Next morning, when the princess was going out to her husband, the woman of the house gave her a comb, and said: “If you meet any person with a diseased and a sore head, and draw this comb over it three times, the head will be well, and covered with the most beautiful golden hair ever seen.”
She took the comb, and went out to her husband.
“Leave me now,” said he, “and go back to your own father.” “I will not,” said she, ” but I will follow you while I have the power.” So they went forward that day, as on the other two
At nightfall they came to a third house, at the foot of a hill, where the princess received a good welcome. After she had eaten supper, a little girl with only one eye came to her knee and said, “Mother.”The princess began to cry at sight of the child, thinking that she herself was the cause that it had but one eye. Then she put her hand into her pocket where she kept the handkerchief on which she had dropped the tear when the gray crow carried her infant away. She had never used the handkerchief since that day, for there was an eye on it. She opened the handkerchief, and put the eye in the girl’s head. It grew into the socket that minute, and the child saw out of it as well as out of the other eye; and then the woman of the house sent the little one to bed. Next morning, as the king’s daughter was going out, the woman of the house gave her a whistle, and said: “Whenever you put this whistle to your mouth and blow on it, all the birds of the air will come to you from every quarter under the sun. Be careful of the whistle, as it may serve you greatly.” Go back to your father’s castle,” said the husband when she came to him, “for I must leave you to-day.”
They went on together a few hundred yards, and then sat on a green hillock, and he told the wife:
“Your mother has come between us; but for her we might have lived together all our days. If I had been allowed to pass three nights with you in your father’s house, I should have got back my form of a man both in the daytime and the night. The Queen of Tir nan-Og [the Land of Youth] enchanted and put on me a spell, that unless I could spend three nights with a wife under her father’s roof in Erin, I should bear the form of a white dog one half of my time; but if the skin of the dog should be burned before the three nights were over, I must go down to her kingdom and marry the Queen herself. And ‘t is to her I am going to-day. I have no power to stay, and I must leave you; so farewell, you’ll never see me again on the upper earth.”
After a while she reached a small house near a splendid castle. She went into the house and asked, could she stay there till morning. “You can,” said the woman of the house, ” and welcome.”Next day the woman of the house was washing clothes, for that was how she made a living. The princess fell to and helped her with the work. In the course of that day the Queen of Tir nan-Og and the husband of the princess were married. Near the castle, and not far from the washer-woman’s, lived a henwife with two ragged little daughters. One of them came around the washer-woman’s house to play. The child looked so poor and her clothes were so torn and dirty that the princess took pity on her, and cut the clothes with the scissors which she had. That moment the most beautiful dress of cloth of gold ever seen on woman or child in that kingdom was on the henwife’s daughter. When she saw what she had on, the child ran home to her mother as fast as ever she could go. “Who gave you that dress?” asked the henwife. “A strange woman that is in that house beyond,” said the little girl, pointing to the washer-woman’s house. The henwife went straight to the Queen of Tir nan-Og and said: “There is a strange woman in the place, who will be likely to take your husband from you, unless you banish her away or do something to her; for she has a pair of scissors different from anything ever seen or heard of in this country.” When the queen heard this she sent word to the princess that, unless the scissors were given up to her without delay, she would have the head off her. The princess said she would give up the scissors if the queen would let her pass one night with her husband. The queen answered that she was willing to give her the one night. The princess came and gave up the scissors, and went to her own husband; but the queen had given him a drink, and he fell asleep, and never woke till after the princess had gone in the morning.
Next day another daughter of the henwife went to the washer-woman’s house to play. She was wretched-looking, her head being covered with scabs and sores.The princess drew the comb three times over the child’s head, cured it, and covered it with beautiful golden hair. The little girl ran home and told her mother how the strange woman had drawn the comb over her head, cured it, and given her beautiful golden hair. The henwife hurried off to the queen and said: “That strange woman has a comb with wonderful power to cure, and give golden hair; and she’ll take your husband from you unless you banish her or take her life.” The queen sent word to the princess that unless she gave up the comb, she would have her life.
The princess returned as answer that she would give up the comb if she might pass one night with the queen’s husband.
The queen was willing, and gave her husband a draught as before. When the princess came, he was fast asleep, and did not waken till after she had gone in the morning.
On the third day the washerwoman and the princess went out to walk, and the first daughter of the henwife with them. When they were outside the town, the princess put the whistle to her mouth and blew. That moment the birds of the air flew to her from every direction in flocks. Among them was a bird of song and new tales.The princess went to one side with the bird. ” What means can I take,” asked she, ” against the queen to get back my husband? Is it best to kill her, and can I do it? “It is very hard,” said the bird, “to kill her. There is no one in all Tir nan-Og who is able to take her life but her own husband. Inside a holly-tree in front of the castle is a wether, in the wether a duck, in the duck an egg. and in that egg is her heart and life. No man in Tir nan-Og can cut that holly-tree but her husband.” The princess blew the whistle again. A fox and a hawk came to her. She caught and put them into two boxes, which the washerwoman had with her, and took them to her new home. When the henwife’s daughter went home, she told her mother about the whistle. Away ran the henwife to the queen, and said: “That strange woman has a whistle that brings together all the birds of the air, and she’ll have your husband yet, unless you take her head.” “I’ll take the whistle from her, anyhow,” said the queen. So she sent for the whistle.
The princess gave answer that she would give up the whistle if she might pass one night with the queen’s husband.
The queen agreed, and gave him a draught as on the other nights. He was asleep when the princess came and when she went away. Before going, the princess left a letter with his servant for the queen’s husband, in which she told how she had followed him to Tir na n-Og, and had given the scissors, the comb, and the whistle, to pass three nights in his company, but had not spoken to him because the queen had given him sleeping draughts; that the life of the queen was in an egg, the egg in a duck, the duck in a wether, the wether in a holly-tree in front of the castle, and that no man could split the tree but himself. As soon as he got the letter the husband took an axe, and went to the holly-tree. When he came to the tree he found the princess there before him, having the two boxes with the fox and the hawk in them.
He struck the tree a few blows; it split open, and out sprang the wether. He ran scarce twenty perches before the fox caught him. The fox tore him open; then the duck flew out. The duck had not flown fifteen perches when the hawk caught and killed her, smashing the egg. That instant the Queen of Tir na n-Og died.The husband kissed and embraced his faithful wife. He gave a great feast; and when the feast was over, he burned the henwife with her house, built a palace for the washerwoman, and made his servant secretary. They never left Tir na n-Og, and are still living there happily now.
Brenda also told a second story:
It’s called The Salmon of Knowledge.Long ago King Cormac ruled Ireland. He was a good ruler, and exceedingly generous. In fact he was too giving. Nearly every day he invited people to the castle where he provided feasts and festivals. The wine flowed, and everyone sang and danced. Cormac delighted in the bounty of his castle.
But inevitably he ran out of money to pay for these fetes. And so, worried about how to supply the bounty he had grown accustomed to, he began to look around at the lands surrounding his own. In those days the King of Munster owned rich pasture lands on the banks of the Suir River, and King Cormac began to eye them greedily. At last, nearly out of money, he decided he would go to war to win those lands for his own kingdom. There he could feed herds of sheep and cattle, and he would have plenty of meat. But the King of Munster had a strong army, and he loved his fields and vowed to defend them with all his strength and power. When Cormac heard tales of this fierce army, he sought the wisdom of a Druid. He wished to know what the future might bring. He wanted to know what he would have to do to defeat such a great army, and if he had any hope of doing so.
The Druid listened and told the king of one way he might defeat any army, becoming the most powerful man in the world: In one of the rivers running underground in the western land known as Mayo, there swam a magical salmon.“Catch this fish and eat him,” the Druid told Cormac, “and you will possess all the wisdom, strength and good fortune you could ever wish. The moment you taste this fish, you will have success in every venture. You will be admired and loved by everyone, everywhere.” Naturally Cormac set out at once on an excursion to catch that magical salmon. He and his men reached the banks of the river of the fertile valley and, just as the Druid had said, the valley led to a secret cavern — one that vanished long ago. In that quiet, shady cavern, Cormac and his men found a deep, cold pool swarming with wild salmon that swam and danced over the whirlpools. This was the place, Cormac understood, where he would find the Salmon of Knowledge. But there were thousands of salmon swimming there, and the Druid did not know how to recognize the special one. So Cormac and the Druid began to fish, cooking each one over the fire. They tasted each and every one. But Cormac remained just as he had always been — a pleasant fellow, but no wiser, no more powerful. Before long he was tired of eating fish. “I long for meat,” he complained. “Surely there must be a way to select the Salmon of Knowledge from among all these?”
So he and the Druid changed their methods. Now each time they caught a fish, they studied it before they decided to cook it. They chose to keep only those that were plump and beautiful and pink. No one really knows why they decided the Salmon of Knowledge must be beautiful, but they did.One evening they caught a thin, tired-looking fish with a hooked snout — no beauty at all. Naturally when they saw it, they decided this could never be the special salmon. Instead of tossing it into the river, they merely dropped it on the shore, and it began to wriggle its way back toward the cool water. But as it happened, a lad — one who appeared to be only a simple gossoon, or servant — was watching them, and when he saw the fish wriggling onshore, he whispered to himself, “That may not be good enough for a king, but it looks just fine for me.” This lad was Finn — the son of Cumhal, grandson of Trein the Big, who had saved his people of the Western Sea and had created a great warrior people. Alas, when they were beaten in battle, Finn’s mother gave him for safekeeping to a Druidess who raised him, and to that day he had no idea of his great heritage. But he was hungry, so he lit a fire and put that skinny fish on it to cook. Very soon a blister began to rise on its silvery side, and when Finn saw this, he was uneasy — perhaps there was something wrong with the creature. He pressed his thumb against the swelling, and it burst open and burned his thumb. Instantly Finn pressed the thumb to his mouth to cool, and in that moment, everything changed. The second he touched his teeth, he turned into a wise, all-knowing lad. He had always been tall and beautiful and strong, but now he was also wise — as if he had been 100 years old. He could see the future, too. He could see his future glories and the failure of his enemies. Everything flashed before his eyes, and he saw that everyone would sing stories of his fame. This was the boy who became known as Finn, the fair leader of the Fianna, that great brotherhood of men. The Fianna were mighty hunters and warriors, with no fixed calling. They owned rich robes and gold ornaments and beautiful weapons, but they lived in the wild, among the deer and wolves of the forest. The Fianna, and their great leader, Finn, became famous for their courage and strength and beauty. Some say it was all because of the Salmon of Knowledge. As for King Cormac, he lost his battle when he never could find the Salmon of Knowledge. And it was only after he lost everything that he realized what he once had
Soul, Brenda and Jane….thanks for making this Story Hour so terrific!