Announcing a new Facebook Group and a new Blog

We have created a new Facebook Group called

The Childress (Texas) High School Classes of 1960-1966

Created for anyone from the Childress (Texas) High School classes of 1960-1966 who is looking to reconnect or connect with former friends and classmates.

If you are currently a member of Facebook or if you are planning to become a member of Facebook, we invite you to join the group. Contact either Nicki or Jennifer for information.

You are also invited to visit our new blog, Voices From the Class of '63,

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Guinevere the Druid Goddess: Rumpelstiltskin ... Fairy Tales ... and Straw Into Gold ....

St. Laurentius Gold Embroidery on Royal Blue


Oh, hello there.... Who are you??? Where am I??? What am I doing??? Blog??? The Troll??? Come to me my melancholy Bloggie!!! Oh ... the other blog.... Well, we make do....

Just apparating back (obviously with an unexpected turn) after waking from an admittedly self-imposed stupor following the fabulous Lughnasadh ... the Festival of Light ... the Feast of Lugh (pronounced "Lou"), the Celtic Sun God ... also celebrating the Druid warriors' return from the battlefields to begin harvesting the crops ... also a time when marriages were contracted so couples could begin "Celebrating the Journey" ... although for some time there was a great popularity in "handfastings" ... "trial" marriages which lasted for a year and a day ... at the end of which time the marriage contract could be finalized, or the couple could walk away from each other forever, with no penalty.

The festival also honors the Earth Mother and incorporates music, games and displays of horsemanship, as well as recitations of poems, genealogies and romantic tales. There are also jugglers and clowns ... sometimes it seems there are always clowns.... Lots of mead, vibrant sky-clad sacred dancing, stories and more stories.... So, as long as I'm here (even if my poofcipitous entrance was unplanned)....

Once upon a time there was a poor miller who, despite his industry at his trade and long hours of toil, only managed to eke out a bare existence. Obviously he had short-sightedly failed to pick up an MBA at Miller University ... you surely know the "School Song" (to the tune of the Notre Dame "Fight Song," and recalling an old ditty from the dim mists in the land of CHS):

Brew, brew for old Miller U,
Bring on the Stoly, Heineken too.
Send the grinders out for gin
And don't let a sober millwright in.
We never stagger, we never fall,
We sober up on grain alcohol....

But I digress....

Anyhoo ... the one extraordinary thing in the disgruntled miller's life was his beautiful daughter Guinevere (no ... I'm not that Guinevere!), and it was on her that he began to pin his hopes for advancement and security in a difficult world. The miller learned through the National Embroiderer that the King was seeking a wife, and became fixed on the idea that if he could only bring his beautiful daughter to the attention of the King, the King would fall in love with her and the miller's future ... and retirement, since Miller's Security was skating perilously close to insolvency (partially due to the depredations of the King and his predecessors) ... would be assured. Apparently the miller didn't give very much thought to whether being married to the King would bring his daughter happiness ... but what were daughters for, if not to please their fathers, and later their husbands???

One day the miller managed (after ponying up his meager savings to the Miller's Lobbyist) to win an audience with the King, and after the ritual bowing and scraping and forelock tugging ... stopping just short of a totally undignified full kowtow ... finally stammered out that he had come to offer his daughter in marriage. And the King, who had been searching high and low for a wife (sometimes really low ... which seems counter-intuitive ... but we may charitably assume that he just wanted to be thorough), asked the miller what was so wonderful about his daughter that he thought she might be suitable to be the First Lady of the land.

First, the miller praised his daughter's beauty ... but the King replied that there were many beautiful girls in the kingdom ... and that beauty itself was certainly not a sufficient recommendation to elevate a girl of low birth to the position of Queen. Then the miller told the King that his daughter was home-schooled (!) in the domestic arts, particularly spinning ... but the King countered that the woman who became Queen would have many servants to carry out quotidian domestic chores ... and that there were likewise many talented spinners among the King's maidenly (and not so much) subjects.

Illustration of Rumplestiltskin from The Blue Fairy Book, ca. 1889

In desperation, seeing his chance to impress the King slipping away, the miller blurted out: "But my Guinny can spin straw into gold!" And this did succeed in getting the King's attention....

The King had Guinevere brought to the palace, then placed her in a tower room with a spindle and bundles of straw, locking the door and leaving her with the warning that when he returned in the morning, if the straw had not been spun into gold, Guinevere would be executed. Nothing here about executing the father ... no leeway for the fact that Guinny herself had not made the boast that she could spin straw into gold ... just literally a "do or die" imperative....

When the King departed, Guinevere immediately began weeping copiously, for she knew she could not spin straw into gold, and she feared that on the morrow she would surely die. Suddenly a funny looking little man, Rumpelstiltskin, magically appeared (without introduction) beside her in the locked room and asked the reason for her distress. ("Rumpelstiltskin" takes a lot of keystrokes ... let's call him "Rumpy" for short ... grin and groan ... not to be confused with a somewhat treacherous and malevolent Secretary of Defense of the Dark Arts ... with a nod to the brilliant J.K. Rowling ... in more recent times....)

Guinny sobbed out the story of her dire predicament, and Rumpy asked what she would give him if he spun the straw into gold for her. Scarcely daring to hope that this odd character might be her salvation, Guinevere promised Rumpy her necklace ... which he accepted before proceeding to spin all the straw into gold, vanishing just as the dawn's first rays were beginning to touch the window.

Well, the King was so impressed that he immediately clapped Guinny into an even larger tower room, with an even larger amount of straw, and demanded that she repeat the feat the next night, or face death on the morning after (there's got to be one). And as darkness crept across the land, Guinevere's lamentations filled the night. Suddenly Rumpy appeared next to her and asked what she would give him if he spun this new straw into gold. So she promised him her ring, which he accepted before setting to work ... vanishing as the sun began to light the sky, leaving behind mountains of glowing, golden strands.

Once again, when he came to the tower, the King was impressed ... but still not convinced ... so he had Guinevere conveyed to an even larger tower room, with even more straw. That night, when Rumpy appeared to bargain with Guinny, she wailed that she had nothing left to barter for his services ... and so Rumpy demanded that Guinny give him her first-born, when the child reached an age where it could be separated from its mother. Guinny, distraught over her safety ... her very life ... hysterically assented, and once again Rumpy performed his magic.

When the King unlocked the door the next morning, he was so overwhelmed by the blinding sight of the spun gold that he fell to his knees ... and immediately asked Guinny to marry him ... which she did. None of the slightly variant versions of the fairy tale I have seen specifically addresses why the King ... obviously more than a bit enamored with the idea of Guinny's "ability" to spin straw into gold ... suddenly ceased his ultimatums (ultimata???) for more and more ... so one can only assume that his interest was, if not sated, dropped as a plot development device at this juncture in the story. Or perhaps the King developed an interest in gold spun from the fields in the kingdom of Exxon/Mobil ... or war profiteering, like KBR (Kings Buds & Reprobates).... But again I digress....

In the fullness (no pun intended) of time, Queen Guinevere (no, not that Guinevere either ... or this one!), with assistance from the King, produced a beautiful, healthy son, and all was well ... until one day when Guinny, who had forgotten her long-ago promise to the strange little man, was sitting plucking the dulcimer and softly singing Geisslerlieder (the songs of wandering flagellants) while reflecting on her now-wonderful life.

Suddenly Rumpy appeared out of nowhere and reminded her that it was now time to pay the price he had extorted from her under duress. Guinny wept, wailed and gnashed her teeth (not a good thing in those days of less-than-efficacious dental care and shoddy, actual eggshell veneers) and begged Rumpy to rescind their bargain. Rumpy pondered for a few moments and then told Guinevere that he would give her three days to guess his name ... and if she failed to do so, he would then take her child, as previously agreed.

Telescoping a bit here ... in a panic, Guinny dispatched knights and servants throughout the land, charging them to learn the name of the strange little man. And for two nights Rumpy returned and laughed maniacally at her as she ran frantically through a repertoire of "John" and "James" and "Joe" and "Percy" ... departing with a smirk at the end of the second night, sure that he would have his prize the next morning. But that day, Guinny was visited by one of her minions, who reported that in his travels to do her bidding, he had come across a strange house, in a strange forest, where he had observed a strange little man (do ya think???) hopping around a roaring bonfire chanting:

Tomorrow I brew, today I bake,
And then the child away I'll take,
For little knows my royal dame
That Rumpelstiltskin is my name.

Queen Guinevere despaired, for who in their right mind(s) would name a child "Rumpelstiltskin"? Aren't there laws??? At least in France and New Zealand??? Nevertheless, when the strange little man appeared that night to demand the fulfillment of their verbal contract, she ventured: "Is your name Rumpelstiltskin?" As she pronounced the name, rain began to lash the castle and the winds moaned ... and Rumpy emitted an unearthly howl ... whereupon he vanished ... resigned from his evil intent, some would say.... And Guinny and the King and their son (and their 2.4 other children) lived happily ever after.

Arthur Rackham illustration of Jack and the Beanstalk, 1918

(Like differing versions of this tale, there are diverse renditions of the end of Rumpy ... some quite gory ... but I have elected the kinder, gentler "vanished" and leave you to your own imaginations as to what happened ... or may happen ... to Rumpy. There is some talk of "war crimes".... Yet again, I digress....)

In analyzing the impetus(es) (impetii???) for this tale we find first a caution against bragging ... okay, let's just say lying ... to gain one's own nefarious ends. Also ... the assertion that Guinevere is able to spin straw into gold may be a metaphor for a woman's need for outstanding domestic skills ... although truth be told, the King does seem more interested in potential riches than in Guinny herself, or any real skills or talents she might bring to the relationship. Rumpy's demand for Guinny's first born child may carry a warning to mothers that if they do not properly care for their children, their progeny may be stolen and/or perverted by malignant spirits ... hobgoblins ... some deranged trolls (although certainly this reference would not apply to our sweet misunderstood friend Blog).

Regarding Rumpy's secret name ... there is the admonishment that we cannot vanquish problems until they are specifically (sometimes bravely, as in the case of the child who first dared to speak out that the President ... er, the Emperor ... actually had no clothes) identified for what they truly are ... that by accurately naming the problem(s), we begin to understand and overcome.

Further, the King in the story of "Rumpelstiltskin" may also be seen as an allegory for businesses (and bottom-line businessmen) who impose unreasonable, killing demands on their workers ... including that upon completion of assigned tasks, higher and higher demands and greater and greater tasks are imposed ... generally with no concomitant credit, acknowledgment, appreciation or remuneration. (Whoever first wove this yarn knew about lawyers ... some would say the second oldest and arguably the more ignoble profession....)

Like most fairy tales, there is a moral (actually more than one) to the story. First ... don't promise something that someone else is required to supply or effect (like the present fortunately term-limited "King" of a much closer land).

Second ... if you find yourself caught in a terrible scenario ... an absolute debacle ... take steps ASAP to clear up the picture ... hopefully sooner than seven or eight years later ... like telling the King that your father (or whoever has the King's ear) is senile, venal, deranged, depraved, delusional, at best a victim of fantasies ... or all of the foregoing. (And indeed it may be worth noting that the King himself seems a taco and a tamale shy of a combo platter.)

Third ... don't bargain in desperation with the devil, or with Kings or Presidents (redundant, I fear), or other strange little men, including any old, cranky, wealthy, tending lately to the sleazy and dishonest, totally out of touch former warrior (who despite claims to the contrary has never won a war), who when last hors d'combat was shot down ... which may not bode well for the ship of state he now seeks to pilot.

Fourth ... stop spinning disingenuous fantasies about drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Area (ANWR) and in undeveloped offshore areas when there are already thousands of leases covering millions of acres of land which are already set aside for drilling ... and when there are renewable resources such as solar, wind, etc., which will serve better in the long run and should have been developed starting 30+ years ago. Sidebar: It should be noted that drilling in ANWR, even if remotely feasible, would not reap any benefits until at least the year 2030. (Ooops! Wrong story ... That's "Jack and the Giant Drilling Rig" ... er, "Beanstalk"....)

Ali Baba by Maxfield Parrish (1909).

Ali Baba
by Maxfield Parrish (1909)

Fifth ... stop trying to sow fear and dissension among your subjects, particularly using overblown and manufactured fears to cling to power and satisfy your own greedy ends. (Ooops!!! Wrong story again.... That's the tale of "Ali Baba and the 40 Boogeymen" ... er, "Thieves" ... actually more appropriate in the current pervasive climate of cronyism amongst leaders of all political persuasions. Yet once again I digress....)

Sixth ... whether your name is Rumpy ... or George ... or Dick ... or Karl ... or Condi ... just go away ... quickly and quietly ... and let the rest of us get on with living happily ever after. Perhaps they should become itinerant Geisslerlieder minstrels, with all appropriate accoutrements....

Seventh and finally ... when there is a Guinny ... or a Nicki ... or some other humble (grin) soul ... sitting down regularly to try and spin straw into gold for the entertainment and enrichment of the "kingdom" ... the least you can do is provide a little more straw ... a bit of "conversation" ... perhaps some encouragement.... It gets lonely (and silent) in that tower....

Opinions expressed herein are my own goddessly musings, covered by provisions of the High Amalgamated Druid and other Constitutions, and all comments ... even from Kings, Presidents or wannabees ... are gratefully (and gracefully) accepted ... within reason and propriety, of course....

But enough! Gotta hurry and get Sister Triple Goddess Brigid back to the keep ... first drop that barely worn new frock at the resale shop ... before Bres sobers up and knows she's been gone....



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