Meanwhile back at….the shrine near Corinth

In a story, there are always people off stage. We follow the main characters into the action, but what are those left behind thinking and doing? Off stage at a point that would be late in my new book Before the New Moon Rises, a priestess of the God of Healing looks for a sign of what transpires beyond her reach.

Leaning on her cane, Echidna slowly climbed the path through the ancient oak trees to the pass above the shrine. The way the shrine sheltered at the base of the mountain, she could not see the new moon rise without this climb. One of the young girls accompanied her with a torch to light her way back once darkness descended.HPIM1282

When the last crescent of the old moon had been stained blood red two mornings earlier, she told those who served under her that the goddess spoke of hope as well as warning. She still believed that was the message, but with Poseidon plotting in so many places, she worried.

She stepped on a loose rock and the pain in her hip made her gasp. She laid a hand on the shoulder of the girl to reassure her. Aging joints did not have the flexibility or the sturdiness they once had.

Where are you now Panacea? she wondered. The younger priestess had rushed to Mycenae the day the crescent moon rose red trying to ascertain what disasters Poseidon sparked. Echidna feared it was an attack on the city Tiryns, but she could not be sure.

A little further, and the two stepped out from the enclosing forest onto a rocky ledge. The path continued north to skirt the city of Corinth, but this was the spot she sought. The sky slowly darkened to the colour of tarnished bronze. A single star shone in the north east. As the rim of the sun fell beneath the horizon, a flash of red light shot upward revealing the tiny horn of the new moon, red as rich wine.

A sharp intake of breath from her companion was the only sound. A birthing moon, she thought. Something new is beginning. She sighed. She had no idea what the goddess was up to. And birthing was the most dangerous of moments for a woman and the baby. Still, she felt that this was a promise from the goddess.

News would come. Until then, she could only wait. Echidna looked down at the young girl who looked relieved but also a little nervous. “Come let us light that torch you carry, and we will descend. I am sure you are more than ready for your evening meal.”

 

The book can be purchased from the publisher Prizm Books. Paperbacks are now available  and Barnes and Noble is the most efficient for that unless you live near me (Ontario near Owen Sound.)

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Posted in Before the New Moon Rises | Tagged , , , ,

Meet author Nikko Lee

Nikko Lee is another of the great authors who writes for Prizm Books. Catch a peek at her book trailer. Then learn a bit more about her.I asked her:

What do you have in mind for your next

writing project?DSCN1105b

I’m currently working on a BDSM thriller. Psychiatrist Jacob Riley is used to being in control, especially in the bedroom. The murder of a former submissive thrusts him into the middle of the investigation. He must find the killer before he becomes the prime suspect.

Is there anything you remember which prompted you to start writing? When do you remember first wanting to write?

I can remember writing my first story that was not a school assignment in seventh grade. For me, it was a way of confronting feelings and emotions that were bottled up in my head. I was always very shy and, at least in my fictional worlds, my characters acted in ways that sometimes I wished I had the courage to act.

How long did it take you to write this book?

Wolf Creek started off as a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. In 2012, I took an outline that I had written the previous summer and dedicated the month of November to writing the first draft. I did manage to write 50,000 words of the novel during the month. Needless to say it took a lot more writing and re-writing before the finished manuscript that I started shopping around last year. Three days before my daughter was born, I signed the contract with Prizm.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I would love to find a book that I’d written for sale in an airport. I want to write stories that entertain and allow people to escape the mundane of the everyday.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

Sometimes I find that my most productive writing sessions occur in a busy environment. I used to write during class in high school. A busy café or a work meeting provides suitable background and allows me to focus on creativity instead of being bored. But it requires a little bit of stealth. The outline for Wolf Creek was written during a basic first aid course. Don’t worry, I still passed the course.

Do you have a day job as well as writing?

My educational background is in genetics. My day job as a scientific curator keeps me immersed in mouse genetic research.

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so how do you get past it?

I experienced a long writer’s block when I started undergraduate studies. I’d finished my first novella about a drug company using a small town as an unwitting test population. After that, I didn’t feel the passion to write until I discovered erotica. I started writing short pieces for myself, then for online groups in a roleplay community. There’s nothing better for a writer’s ego that an appreciating audience. Whenever I hit a block, I try to remember why I write and what I love about my story. That usually gets me writing again.

What’s your passion in life?

Writing is high on my list of passions. I’m also an avid hiker. My husband and I are slowly making our way north along the Long Trail by hiking sections every year. I’m a volunteer search and rescue team member. Generally, I love being outdoors.

You can buy Wolf Creek from Prizm Books. Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairy tale.

wolfcreek

For more about Nikko:

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/Nikko-Lee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/88nikkolee88

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3132914.Nikko_Lee

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nikko-Lee/e/B004LO51T6

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NikkoLee88 #omegasrule

Website: www.nikklelee.com

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Before the New Moon Rises: Excerpt

A minor character in my first novel, Moon of the Goddess, has to step up and take on a major task in Before the New Moon Rises. In this excerpt we see Brizo, prince of Ephyra, as he heads off to confront one of Poseidon’s plots.

 

 

With his hand on the tiller, Brizo watched the single white sail billow as he tacked across the light wind from the north. The second ship followed precisely the same path in the quiet waters. The dolphins that had followed all day shifted their track as well. Their presence gave Brizo a sense of ease: experience had taught that no predators were near as long as these swimmers followed.

Brizo steered the boat around a small island that rose as high as two ship-masts from the water. Swirling patterns had been cut by waves into the rock. There was a hint of green at the top of the cliff, but nothing grew on the sheer face. “Watch for outcroppings,” he called to Apro, whom he had assigned to the prow as watcher.

The sailor did not even raise a hand to acknowledge the command. Fair enough, Brizo thought. Apro knew that it was his job in unknown waters. Even as sheer as the cliffs of this island appeared, there could be rocks just under the waves. He pressed the rudder to steer the ship farther from that possibility.

Since they had put up the sail a handspan earlier, his companions had been sharing stories of shark hunts as they lounged on the rowing benches. These beasts and the larger whales were uncommon but not unknown in these waters. The eldest of Brizo’s companions had hunted shark successfully, and the men hung on his story as they let the wind carry the boat forward.

When the storytelling had begun, Apro complained that it was bad luck to speak of sea monsters while on the water. Others ignored him, but he kept grumbling. That was when Brizo ordered him to relieve the watchman in the bow. Looking at the man’s back, Brizo wondered if this sailor was going to keep being difficult. It would not help morale if he continued complaining. And he seems determined to undermine my authority.

The successful story the older sailor told encouraged the others, but given Eurynome’s concern, Brizo did not think this was an ordinary shark they hunted. Brizo ran through the tales of sea monsters he had heard since childhood. In many, it seemed that the beasts attacked at this time of day when the sailors rested from rowing and let the sail do the work. That is what happened to Jason, according to the poets. When they came near the island of the sirens, the bird-women’s captivating song drove them to take down the sail and to row toward the hazardous rocks. In that story, Herakles figured out what was happening and told Orpheus to sing. The glorious music of the master musician was stronger than the call of the sirens. Jason and his crew rowed past safely and journeyed on to achieve their hunt.

Brizo’s crew were ordinary men, not demi-gods and heroes, but he would give his companions a strong fighting chance. When they got near Corfu, they would shift back to oars. He trusted them more than the wind. Poseidon could stir up a storm in an instant. That god might have left the area, but if he was looking for revenge, the Earthshaker could make the breeze disappear or call up a violent wind just when they met the white shark.

Studying the eastern horizon, he saw a break in the mountains of the mainland. He knew that marked the place where a river flowed into a fertile delta. They were getting close to their destination. He turned the ship so that they angled north-west. When they passed the next small island, he saw a dark shadow above the water, the island of Corfu.

“River valley to the east,” called Apro from the prow. “Steer dead straight for Corfu.”

Brizo pressed his lips together. The sailor stated the obvious as if his captain had not noticed. And he likes to give orders. At least the captain of the second boat was following his lead precisely. He would have to find a way to keep Apro in line.

The boat bounced as they headed into the open channel between the mainland and the large island of Corfu. When they were close enough to pick out the shape of the shoreline, Brizo decided it was time to shift back to rowing. “Sails down,” he called. “Oars in locks.”

“Sails would take us in more smoothly,” Apro objected.

“Watchers, be alert for any sign of the creature.” Brizo held Apro’s eyes until the sailor turned back to his post, then made sure the other captain acknowledged his call.

“Should we prepare weapons?” one of the sailors asked.

“A spearman in front and one here beside the rudder,” Brizo answered. Again, he relayed the instruction to the other boat. Rowers took up their positions.

“Brizo,” said the man in the first bench, “the dolphins are gone.”

“Alert!” Brizo shouted. There could be any number of reasons for the dolphins to leave, from boredom to hunger. But their departure might also point to danger.

The boats bounced as they rowed directly into the wind. Only the caller now spoke as he set the timing for the rowers.

“Disturbance!” called the captain at the tiller of the second boat. “Straight behind!”

“Spears ready.” Brizo scanned the water. A line of ripples ran across the surface as if a large school of fish in tight formation swam just under the waves. No fish swam at that speed. The creature came.

A white fin cut through the surface, chasing the second boat. The creature would hit it in a moment.

“Hold!” Brizo commanded.

The men dug their oars in. The sailors stretched their necks to see what happened with their companions’ ship.

The fin disappeared as if the creature dove. Then, the boat heeled to one side, and several rowers were thrown from their benches. The captain at the rudder struggled to hold steady. The white fin surfaced beside the boat and carved a path back toward it. The boat twisted, and the captain was flung aside. A moment later, the fin appeared, driving straight toward Brizo.

The other captain steadied himself. “Three oars and the rudder gone,” he called. “Bit right through.”

“Oars up!” Brizo shouted. He let go the rudder, and the ship turned slowly across the wind. The oarsmen could right it when the creature passed. The fin dove out of sight a ship length behind them. Where will you attack?

Something hit from below causing the boat to spin. A sharp crack right beneath him, and he knew the rudder was cut through. “Straighten us out, then oars up!” The rowers pulled the boat back into line.

“It comes again!” One of the sailors pointed to the fin that came straight at the side of the boat. “Can it bite through the hull?”

Just as the creature reached them, it twisted, pressing its body against the side of the ship. The boat listed, and men swayed on their benches.

The spearman beside him spoke up. “I can see its back. Do I throw?”

Brizo hesitated for one second. If they only angered the creature, it would do no good, but it felt wrong to sit like a toy for it to play with. “All your might.”

The creature came up on the other side, tearing one oar. then ramming the side of the ship. The boat tipped, taking on water. Two men started baling. The spearman waited until the white fin rose on his side of the boat. He drew back his arm and threw.

The spear bounced off the hard hide of the shark as it would off a bronze shield. The creature swung its head out of the water, showing teeth sharp as knives, then it dove. The water slowly calmed, and both ships became still.

“Didn’t even wound it,” said the spearman.

“Row for shore,” Brizo called. “Neither of us waits for the other. Get to land.”

Suddenly, the fin appeared right by the other boat, and the shark rammed the prow. With no rudder, the boat spun and rocked, but the rowers straightened it and pulled hard. A crack and another sailor was thrown from his bench, his oar broken.

Brizo picked up a spear. His hand clenched it hard. They were going to lose more of the oars, but without a rudder, he could not order the sail up.

“Straight ahead!” called Apro. “It’s coming!”

“Row hard! We’ll try to ram it,” Brizo called. “Be ready to lift oars. Make the call, Apro.”

Apro glared over his shoulder, then turned back to the water. “Row. Row hard. Steady. Lift!”

With one motion, the rowers lifted their oars. The fin of the creature turned, skimming past on the port side of the boat. Its tail thrashed, and it turned away. At two ship-lengths out, it turned and rammed the boat.

The creature surfaced, jaws open wide. Brizo threw his spear into the mouth. The weapon bounced, but the creature halted. A narrow stream of blood flowed from its mouth.

“Hard forward,” Brizo called. His men responded with all their strength.

Again, the shark harried one ship and then the other. The rowers lifted their oars on command, and no more were lost, though the ships spun each time the shark hit. Ever so slowly, the shore approached. Four ship-lengths out, and the shark stopped hitting them. The white fin circled once, and again. Then with a slash of its tail, it swam away.

Brizo watched the creature cut a straight line away from them toward the north, watched until he could not distinguish the fin from the white caps of the waves. He did not think they had injured it enough to drive it away. More likely, the beast knew it had forced them to land.

The sailors put their backs into the rowing. They had seen their enemy, angered it. They had lost several oars and both rudders. They now knew it could cut through oak like a blade through unripened cheese.

“Where do we land?” called the captain of the other boat.

“First beach,” called Brizo. They would not risk sailing to the nearest village in case the beast returned. This night they would set up camp, and in the morning, they would cross over land to find the nearest fishing village for supplies and information. The shark had won this first encounter.

Posted in Before the New Moon Rises | Tagged , , , , ,

Meanwhile back on…Olympus

The lovely author Lorna George is hosting me today on her blog. You can visit to get a look at what is happening on Mount Olympus between books one and two. This visit to England is only possible on a virtual tour. I’m at home working on the next novel, which takes place here where I live.

Posted in Before the New Moon Rises, Old Greek Stories retold | Tagged ,

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

In old western movies and TV shows where most of the action is somewhere out on the range, there was a segment that took the viewer back to the ranch to see what was going on at home. It occurred to me that in between a book and it’s sequel, there is quite a lot happening off stage. So as the sequel to my first novel (Moon of the Goddess) is released, I am going to do a series of “meanwhile off stage” posts. The blog tour will be happening in a number of places thanks to the great author’s who are hosting me on their sites. I will let you know here where to visit to catch up with me as of Wednesday Dec 9th.

 

Posted in Before the New Moon Rises, Greek Stories | Tagged , , , ,

Lorna George’s The Redwood Rebel

Today, I welcome Lorna George to this site. Her first novel The Redwood Rebel is just out. This is how she describes the book:cover_final_smallsize

In the aftermath of civil war, the people of Ffion starve. The trade has dwindled, the harvest has failed, and all power belongs to the cruel and corrupt. Those few who could have fled the forest continent for other lands, but most are trapped by their poverty and love of their homeland, with little hope for change.

Far beneath Chloris Castle, the rebel Naomi has been incarcerated since the tyrannical Princess Adrienne stole the Redwood Throne. Starved of light and warmth for the past four years, she has had only her rage and determination to keep her going as she both fears and yearns for death to claim her at last.

In a violent sweep of fate, she is dragged back into the light once more, the Princess and her Councillor hoping to use her as a pawn against the powerful Dragon King of Koren. Faced with an almost impossible choice, Naomi strikes a deal with her captors that will set her free at last.

Unfortunately, she soon finds she has taken on much more than she bargained for.

***

The book sounds wonderful doesn’t it! And it is. Here is a taste of her story:

‘Bring her.’

The prisoner was dragged forward and thrown unceremoniously to the floor. She tried not to flinch as the hard stone jarred her weak body; the bones far too prominent under her pale and dirt-streaked skin. To the unsuspecting eye she appeared to be no more than a youth of about twelve or thirteen summers, her form so small and feeble, but Naomi was in fact a woman of twenty-two.

The past four years had been cruel, locked away far beneath the depths of the royal castle in a cell with no light and little food, and it showed. She lay where the guards had thrown her, finding herself unable to even move. Her eyes still stung and watered painfully at the bright sunlight pouring through the windows. She dared not admit, even in the privacy of her own mind, that the water streaming down her cheeks could be tears of joy at the sight of the warm, pure light after so many years in darkness. The relief of heated sunlight touching her cold flesh was a balm, and she feared that any moment she would awaken back in her dark pit of despair. The appearance of the guards and her removal from her prison had been so sudden, so abrupt, that even now she found the situation surreal. She had expected to never again see the light of day for as long as she lived. Now unsure, confused, and afraid, she simply lay where she had been dropped, conserving her strength and savouring the gentle heat.

‘Leave us.’

Naomi realised through her hazy thoughts that she recognised that voice. It had been so long since she had heard coherent words from any mouth save her own that she found it difficult to digest. The guard that brought her the meagre amounts of food whenever he remembered she existed never spoke, and the only other voices she ever heard were those of the shrill, grotesque screams of the souls from the torture chamber on the floor above. At some point, she had decided that those almost inhuman sounds didn’t count and had done all she could to block them out. Her inability to do so had almost broken her mind, she was certain.

Naomi realised with a jolt that someone had quietly approached her prone form. She instinctively clenched her body in anticipation of a kick. A satin-shod foot did touch her, but only to prod her over from her stomach onto her back. With her filthy brunette hair no longer shielding her eyes, she gasped and threw her arms up and over her face.

‘Ah, I see. The light.’ There was a click and rush of magic, and the sunshine was shaded out to something much more subtle. ‘Better?’

It was better, but she missed the heat. She still felt disoriented and didn’t move her arms. Who was this man with this reedy voice? She vaguely remembered it. Something told her it was important, but she couldn’t quite grasp why.

‘I must say my dear, I remember you being far more intimidating than this. Perhaps leaving you in that pit for so long has made you useless to me after all?’ He seemed to be pondering aloud rather than actually talking to her. Just as well, as she didn’t have the coherency to respond. ‘That does ruin things a little, but I dare say our dear Princess Adrienne will be more than happy to finish you off once she gets here. Her hatred seems to have outlasted yours, apparently. Pity.’

Adrienne.

Her family. The fire. The deaths. Her parents. Murdered. The screams. The torture. The child. Her father cursing her with his last breath, the blood gurgling up and catching on his words. Master Gerrard… Adrienne. Betrayal.Adrienne!

‘Adrienne,’ she rasped, fists clenching as the memories returned in a rush of fury and pain. Her eyes were open. She glared up at the man she now knew. ‘Cygnus. I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you both for what you’ve done.’

Naomi knew that she must make a pathetic sight, laying on her back, weak, unable to even sit up, but his laughter at her words filled her with such loathing, she was certain she would die of it. He clapped his hands, apparently pleased, but stepped back as though afraid she might somehow find the strength to fulfil the promise.

‘Oh my dear,’ he mocked. ‘We haven’t even begun.’

***

LornaGeorge_AP

So who is Lorna? Well, she says she lives in a crooked little house in Norfolk with her husband, a lot of books, and a fifty year old begonia named Frank. She spends an inordinate amount of time dreaming up magic, dragons, and fearsome ladies, and has decided to try and make some sort of career from it by writing them down. She hopes this will give her a reasonable excuse when caught staring wistfully out of windows when she should be paying attention to the not-so-mystical “Real World”.
Since she has become increasingly vulgar with age, she writes predominately New Adult stories, and despite what a lot of people seem to think, she seriously doubts she will ever grow out of fantasy.

She doesn’t particularly want to.

To learn more about Lorna and her book, try these links:

Facebook

Twitter

Website

Amazon

FeedARead

Barnes & Noble

And the Illustrations by Juliette Brocal

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Perseus: returns in glory to leave again

With Lorna George coming to this blog in a couple weeks–her novel The Redwood Rebel is out soon–I am continuing to think about princes who do not take their rightful throne in the stories of ancient Greece.

HPIM0145Temple of Zeus in Athens

Being a son of Zeus did not guarantee advancement in ancient Greece. More than likely, divine birth pushed one into competition and danger.

So it was for Perseus. With his birth came a prophecy: one of his mother Danea’s children would kill his grandfather the king of Argos. So the king kept his mother imprisoned in a chamber made of bronze. Still in that hidden place, Zeus came to her and she bore a son, Perseus. Fearful of the wrath of Zeus, the king did not directly kill the babe and his mother: he sent them adrift in a wooden box. Protected by the god, they landed on the island of Serifos and were taken in by a fisherman Dictys who raised the boy as his own.

Dictys’ brother was king of that land, and the king wanted Danae as his wife. When Perseus prevented this because he did not believe the king to be honourable, the king gave the young man the task of killing Medusa, the gorgon whose eyes turned people to stone.

With the help of Athena, Perseus succeeded. During many adventures on the journey home, he met and married Andromeda. When he got back to Serifos, he discovered that his mother had taken refuge from an increasingly violent king. Using Medusa’s head, Perseus killed the king and placed his foster-father Dictys on the throne in his stead.

Despite the grace Perseus showed in placing another on the throne of the island, he was fated to fulfill the prophecy and kill his grandfather. Even though he honoured Athena by returning the tools she loaned him to slay Medusa, he could not escape his fate.

Some say that when Perseus returned to Argos, his grandfather did not believe he fulfilled the quest, but when Perseus removed the head from its bag, the king looked on it and turned to stone. Others say that Perseus went into exile voluntarily in Thessaly, but when he competed in funeral games there, an unlucky discus throw veered from its course and killed his grandfather.

Still the gracious Perseus did not take the throne. He gave it to the next in line, and he moved south to the Peloponnesus, and established the city of Mycenae, a place that became a powerhouse in Bronze Age Greece.

This brings us to the edge of my novel Before the New Moon Rises (due out in December), but we will come to the stories of that great city later. Next time I reflect on why the competition between king and prince in a land that claimed honour within families as a basic value.

Posted in Old Greek Stories retold | Tagged , , , , ,

The Prince Returns

Soon I am hosting the first time novelist Lorna George. She has a marvelous story, called The Redwood Rebel about a deposed princess who has to co-operate with the one who imprisoned her in order to defend her land. Check out the book trailer.

She got me thinking about all the exiles in Greek stories, so I’m going to talk about them for a few posts.

When Jason’s father is deposed by his uncle Pelias, his mother mourns that the baby prince Jason died in the fighting. But she manages to send him from the city to the wilds of Mount Pelion where he is raised by the centaur Cheiron. Pelias rules securing in Iolkos, except for one prophecy from Delphi: beware the man with one sandal.HPIM1461

Cheiron is a master of healing and battle. He teaches Jason the skills of bow and sword as well as wisdom.

When Jason grows into a strong young man, he returns to Iolkos. On the way, he comes to a raging river with an old, old woman sitting on the bank. The woman tells him that she must reach the other side but she cannot endure the rushing water. He offers to carry her across. Half way he slips and loses a sandal, but the woman never touches the water and he bears her safely to the other side.

There she reveals that she is Hera and offers him the blessing of the gods in thanks.

When he gets to the city, news comes to Pelias that a man with one sandal has arrived. Jason comes to the palace and announces who he is. The ruler hosts a banquet for Jason. During the meal he tests the returned prince. “Do you have what it takes to be king, I wonder. Let me ask, what would you do with a troublesome young upstart in your kingdom?”

Jason considered. He saw what the usurper planned, but he also knew he had the blessing of Olympus. “I’d send him after the golden fleece.”

“Perfect,” said Pelias. “Return with the golden fleece, and I will give you this throne.”

The story of the search for the golden fleece is complex but with the help of Herakles and Orpheus, along with the timely aid of Poseidon, Jason succeeds. His arrival home is complex, and he ends up ruling Corinth, a prince in exile, but this is a story for another time.

Do check out Lorna’s deposed princess and look for her post here.

Posted in Greek Stories, Old Greek Stories retold | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Apollo and Dionysius

In the classical era, the Greeks emphasized intellect over emotion, mind over body. This split still defines much of western thought.

But there is a tradition arising in Delphi that suggests a different understanding lived. For nine months of the year, the god Apollo oversaw the work of the oracle, and the shrine and town sang his hymns. But as winter set in, he handed oversight to Dionysius, god of ecstasy and emotion. There is a vase which depicts the two shaking hands under a palm tree, a picture of this twice annual exchange of authority.

HPIM0263 - Copy (2)

During the winter, the people of Delphi sang hymns to Dionysius, and in the caves above the city, the mystery rites were celebrated. When spring came, Apollo came back and prophesy was possible again.

In his recent book The Oracle, William J. Broad argued for a scientific explanation for why the oracle could not work in winter. He could be right.

It is also possible that in this place where the mind broke through the boundaries of logical thought, the people understood that intuition, emotional knowledge, embodied thought played an important part in human understanding.

For me, there is a story lurking. One of these days, I will write of someone who seeks Apollo’s wisdom but arrives on the verge of winter and must live under Dionysius. I don’t know yet if it will be a time of impatience or suffering, but somehow I think that the winter will be essential preparation for them to receive Apollo’s wisdom.

Posted in Greek Stories | Tagged ,

Cherishing Diversity

I want to reflect on the way we approach diversity in our community. We have changed as a country so that we are more accepting of difference in culture, religious practice, race, lifestyle, but there are still tensions. There is still racism. We do not interact with all the respect and caring that we could.

Please forgive the rather indirect approach as I begin by talking about some purple cloth I have.

First is a dress made of purple cotton. It is light and comfortable to wear. The cotton keeps its shape, and it always looks fresh. It also stands out. You do not blend in when you wear purple. When I want to be a little less dramatic, I wear a purple skirt with a white top. Both are woven of many threads, but every one of them is dyed purple.

I also have a purple quilt made with a morningstar pattern. The background is white, but the pieces that make up the star are a variety of purples. A few are solid shades, but most are calico with purple flowers and swirls. Someone carefully cut the fabric into triangles and diamonds, chose which to lay side by side, then sewed them together to make a bright star.

quilt

The third purple fabric is a silk sari. It has a wide gold border, but the main fabric is a deep purple which shines and shimmers as the fabric moves. The interesting thing about this sari is that there is not a purple thread in it. It is woven with red and blue threads creating the impression of purple. The life and movement in the fabric comes because it is silk, but also because the threads are constantly interacting.

It is pretty obvious that the purple dress I mentioned is the opposite of diversity. The natural cotton was dyed all one colour. The skirt is a little better because it needs a top that is a different, but those two sit side by side without affecting the other. There was a time when we expected our society to be homogeneous, one culture. It never actually was that flat, but some of us thought it was, and some thought it should be.

As a country, we moved to multi-culturalism, the acceptance that there are differences within our society. This is a kind of cold acceptance, an acknowledgement that difference  exists in other people.

What happens in the quilt is a recognition that we need difference to create a complex pattern in our community. Placing different fabrics side by side highlights different aspects of each: a flowered calico looks different  when it is placed beside white or purple. We see ourselves a little differently when we place ourselves in a different cultural context. Here is a recognition that diversity adds texture and beauty to our lives.

For me, the quilt represents a warmer kind of multi-culturalism, one that appreciates and celebrates diversity. It is limited though. Quilt pieces need to remain distinct from each other: the pattern disappears if the colours bleed together. The pieces are cut and then sewn together to make the pattern. We have over the years made some adjustments so that we can live in the same community with our differences, but we keep our distinct identities. We do not move very far from what we are comfortable with.

The sari shows us what happens when we let other people change us. The individual threads start out red and blue, but they live as purple. They are changed in the interaction, and this fabric is the one that shines and shimmers. In a community, we can live together in a way that allows our differences to interact, to change us. Mutual transformation is an approach that runs deeper than multi-culturalism because the differences between cultures, lifestyles, spiritual practices are engaged.

Tolerance is better than intolerance. Respect is deeper than acceptance. But the differences between people can also change us and help us grow.  To build a healthy, whole society and world, we need to let who others are rub off on us. We need to be open to learn from people who are very different from ourselves.

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