WokeTales - Woke Folktales

WokeTales - Woke Folktales

Stories have so much power and so does whoever controls the narrative. It is time to dissect and analyze these stories.

Episodes

September 28, 2022 9 min

This week’s story comes from Thistle & Thyme: Tales & Legends from Scotland by Sorche Nic Leodhas. This is a story of a beekeeper who lives alone in a cottage on the moor with his bees. He took care of a blue-eyed hare only to discover that reality was different from his expectations.

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The Four Clever Brothers is a story of four skilled brothers, a stolen princess, and an angry dragon. The brothers set out to learn their crafts in the big wide world and return home as skilled men: a thief, an astronomer, a hunter, and a tailor. The brothers’ are then put to the ultimate test when the princess is stolen away from the kingdom by an angry dragon. Do they have the skills to save her?

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The Red Shoes is a story of a young girl who puts on a pair of red shoes that will not allow her to stop dancing; she must dance and dance, in a grotesque mockery of happiness. It is written by Hans Christian Andersen, and is a depressing story which vilifies and punishes the little girl who committed the heinous crime of wanting to look pretty.

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Jorinde and Joringel is a German fairy tale. The plot is set in motion when they accidentally stray onto the property of a witch, who punishes them for trespassing. The witch punishes Jorinde by turning her into a bird and keeping her caged in her castle and Joringel by casting a spell on him that freezes him temporarily. Joringel when released from the spell is greatly saddened by the loss of his sweetheart but after some time, ha...

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The Goblins at the Bath House is an Estonian fairy tale, taken from Ruth Manning-Sanders’ A Book of Ghosts and Goblins. It is a story of what a clever girl does when encountered by a group of goblins who want to kidnap her for an impromptu wedding.

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The Seven Leavenings is a Palestinian story and is taken from Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales. The story is about an old woman who is a baker, a strategist, and likes to travel. While baking some freaky bread, she travels and tries to resolve domestic disputes.

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The Tinderbox is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a soldier who acquires a magic tinderbox capable of summoning three powerful dogs to do his bidding. Sometimes the heroes of fairy tales are not people you would want to know.

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This folktale from Arunachal Pradesh’s (India) Mishmi tribe speaks about the origin of weaving, how the art of weaving was shared from the first weaver to the other tribes, and weaving becoming a work of God within the tribes. The god Matai taught the art of weaving to one girl, Hambrumai, who used nature as inspiration and guide for her designs.

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A woman gets a daughter, Uletka, by striking a deal with the Sun, to return the child back when she is twelve years old. Sun takes the girl back but after realizing how unhappy the girl is decides to send her back to her mother. But, there is a brave hare, a witch who wants to feed her family, and an intense chase on Uletka’s way back home. 

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The Witch and the Sister of the Sun is taken from Alexander Afanasyev’s Russian Fairy Folk Tales. Fleeing from an evil witch, Ivan Tsarevitch gallops towards the Sun’s sister for safety. It’s a long journey and on the way he seeks shelter from two seamstresses, and two great giants called Vertogór and Vertodúb. However, it turns out that they will all be dead soon. Only the Sun’s sister can keep Ivan Tsarevitch safe.

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The Palace of the Seven Little Hills is a story of breaking curses after curses. It is almost like a duel between the two women in their separate towers, each appearing to be so passive, yet in conflict as much as if they were fighting it out with broadswords. The story doesn’t follow the usual fairytale recipe of a quite or absent father, but instead shows a normal-esque family who supports each other.

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This story is from Sudan and is taken from Ruth Manning Sanders’ 1973 collection, A Book of Sorcerers and Spells. It is a story of abuse of power vs standing your ground. A sorcerer, who cannot take no for an answer from a girl he fancies, changes her into a bear and the guy she intends to marry into a lion so they cannot be together. Although, his inability to accept no as an answer is what eventually brings about his destruction.

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This is a Scottish fairy tale with a protagonist, who is a master baker, a woman so talented that every event of significance for miles around is considered incomplete without one of her cakes. Her cooking draws the attention of the local Fairy Folk, who want to kidnap her and keep her as their personal baker. Her cleverness is how she escapes, but her kindness brings a different reward. Her arrangement keeps both sides very happy....

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Florinda is a Chilean Fairytale and is notable for its freewheeling approach to gender and sexuality, which lends itself to many interpretations of the main characters, their identities, and relationships. The original motivation for Florinda adopting a masculine identity is to escape her father’s incestuous interest in her. Once she is safely free of her father’s sphere of influence, however, the story shifts to a love story betwe...

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June 22, 2022 7 min

The Happy Prince is a story by Oscar Wilde. It is a timeless tale about friendship, compassion, and the transforming power of selfless love. The Happy Prince is a statue covered with gold and many fine jewels and sits overlooking the city. One day a swallow bird seeks shelter under the statue and discovers the prince is not happy, but sad. The Prince and the Swallow develop a true friendship built on love and sacrifice, but that sa...

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This is a Juneteenth special episode. The story, ‘The People Could Fly’ is taken from Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, an anthology of stories originally told by African slaves and retold by generations of black American storytellers. This story is rooted in one of the ugliest events of human history. I warn you, it’s not easy to hear.

 

It is a fantasy tale that tells of how some enslaved African...

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This week’s story, like many of Hans Christian Andersen’s other works, is not subtle about its moral messages. ‘The Garden of Paradise’ is religious in tone and is more of a fable. There’s a formidable mother, her four sons,  fairy, the garden of paradise, and a prince who we know from the moment he was given a warning he won’t listen. 

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This English story is taken from the 1981 reprint of Ruth Manning Sanders’ A Book of Witches. It is a story of two thieving sisters, but one escaping the punishment because of her helpful nature. First sister seeks out employment and ends up with a lot of gold. While, the witch is just a rich old lady who gets some form of justice on an opportunistic ex-employee.

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The Legend of Black Mountain is Australian Aboriginal story, taken from Jean A. Ellis’ collection This is the Dreaming, is strictly speaking more legend than fairy tale but contains all the familiar ingredients. Black Mountain is actually a real place in northern Queensland. Two strong brothers build a tower with black boulders to win the girl they fancy. It’s interesting to note, though, that while most legends and fairy tales rew...

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This week’s fairy tale is a Scottish story about a collective effort of good people to save the princess instead of one person doing it all. This is a story of unexpected complications. Even the best laid plans laid by knights and wicked kings can sometimes go spectacularly wrong. There is a princess is abducted by a wicked king, someone gets the intel, someone whisks her away from the castle, and someone comes up with the plan to ...

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