Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The place of myths

Once upon a time, a young girl longed to live alone in an empty castle. 

In her land of birth, castles were as imaginary as unicorns, so she had never been inside of one; but she was certain that she belonged in a stark, gray castle, in an earthly Otherwhere.

Enwrapped by mists, and echoing with a magical, breathing emptiness, this castle was a place where anything could happen. She’d often gaze out the tower windows at another place of mystery: the deep forest all around. Where white stags ran. Where certain ancient oaks had secret doors that one magic word could unlock. Where witches tended their herb gardens by moonlight, and the Questing Beast roamed.

Some might feel such a life to be lonely. But young as she was, the girl had already learned to be comfortable with aloneness, and this breathing emptiness felt like a haven for her dreaming self.

When she wished for something to do, she undertook what seemed to her proper castle-dwelling pursuits; wove at her loom, strummed rather melancholy melodies on the lute, and read for days on end, rich tales of unfolding wonder. In these tales, life delivered on all its whispered promises, and the world sang her down a path marked by signs…birds and animals guided her on her way, speaking to her in words she could understand. Things made sense on a level strange and deep and true as dreams.

By living in the castle, she did more than just read tales; she was inside one, her specific tale, which called to her continually in its undeniable, wordless voice. She, like every human, had a soul-deep yearning for mystery and beauty, and knew, with a bone-deep certainty, that she had a destiny that shone as brightly as that of any hero-princess in any written tale. Even if she didn’t yet know what it was. Even if.

That girl, of course, was I.

For more on why we read mythic stories, read "The Desire for Dragons" on the Moveable Feast page at Myth & Moor.


  1. Lovely, Carmine. For so many of us, magic and mystery are tied to a vision of a deeper, daily connection with the Wild -- of dwellings (whether castles or teepees or snug peasant huts) in ancient woodlands where white stags roam. I'm glad you've found your Place, and the art that comes from it.

  2. This is very nice. As an American, I sometimes find myself almost disconnected from the world of the tales I most love. There's a sense of drift (for me), but you (it sounds) found a sense of place within the stories themselves. I think that's a wonderful thing.

  3. Ooh, I love your blog. This is such a beautiful post. Your imagery is breath-taking.

    1. Thank you so much, Raquel! I am looking forward to reading more of your wonderful stories about your family and magical trees.

  4. Thank you so much for your kind words, Terri and John. John, agreed, living in the actual lands that inspired the tales you love can't help but give them an added richness and resonance. The rest of us may feel linked to them by blood and affinity. Our North American lands of course shaped the mythic stories of the native tribes, which are powerfully at home here.

    I wonder if you've ever read any of the urban fantasies of Charles de Lint? Many of them combine mythic elements from both Celtic and Native American traditions--I highly recommend the Newford stories.


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