GAIA: AN ANCIENT MYSTERY

The name “Gaia” entered the popular lexicon along with the “Gaia Hypothesis”, a theory proposed by scientist James Lovelock that views the Earth as a vast, self-regulating organism. Gaia hails from the mythology of the ancient Greeks, who viewed her as the originator of life on Earth, and as the Earth itself. This is all pre-scientific thinking, of course, but nevertheless, Gaia’s story is a creation myth worth knowing.

With Nature in revolt in many formerly livable lands across the planet due to an excess of human activity, the consequences of which are drought, flooding, see-sawing periods of hot and cold, crop losses, human migration, pandemics and social stress, among others, renewed interest in the original Gaia story isn’t surprising.

Upon reading the Greek poet Hesiod’s most famous work, The Theogony, or “Birth of the Gods”, as a storyteller I decided to create a version of this old Greek creation myth from Gaia’s point of view. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, takes a similar tack only with the Arthurian legends: the author views the events of Arthur and Lancelot from the POVs of the women of Camelot and the Lady of the Lake.

In Babylonian mythology’s creation myth, the Enuma Elis, the primordial Gaia goddess is called Tiamat. In one benign version of the story she is the feminine salt water who mixes with male fresh water to produce early life. In another version, Tiamat is a monster, a vengeful bringer of storms and chaos.

In my FALL OF THE TITANS tale, Gaia is a little bit of both.

I’ll be performing it Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm EST on Zoom. A $15 ticket will buy you the URL and a password to join the event. It’s sponsored by Grendel’s Den, where I’ve told FALL OF THE TITANS to adult audiences before. I also performed it at the Boulder Climate Conference a few years ago. It’s a fun evening, filled with characters and music on 12-string guitar.

It is not for children, however, since there is treachery and sexual violence in the tale.

To read more backstory on FALL OF THE TITANS, scroll through my recent blog posts. You’ll find more articles about the characters and situations in the epic.

FALL OF THE TITANS

Odds Bodkin, Storyteller and Musician

July 19th at 7 pm on ZOOM

Tickets: $15

 

 

 

THE DEATH AND RE-BIRTH OF STORYTELLING

THE DEATH OF STORYTELLING

My last show before a flesh and blood audience was at Grendel’s Den, a famous watering hole in Cambridge, MA, on March 8th . Even then, that Sunday night, waiting backstage in the sold-out club, I felt a squirt of paranoia. Word was there was a deadly new virus loose on the streets of America. Meanwhile, here I was telling Norse myths with huge voices and guitar music to a bustling crowd in a single big room in Boston.

Squirting hand sanitizer on me, I remember telling myself, “Well, if it’s here, there’s nothing you can do about it. Do your show and get home.”

Turns out it wasn’t there.

Since my business is to travel places to meet live audiences, I’d always used hand sanitizer during the flu season, but that night, no one at Grendel’s wore a mask. It was unthinkable and not yet necessary. Mask-wearing in public was what they did in the crowded lands of SARS. Places like Hong Kong and China, not the U.S.

How things have changed.

The next week, mid-March, as I’m sure you remember, the country shut down. Schools closed. Restaurants. Sports events. Gatherings of any kind. We all went into isolation, if we were lucky, just after we stripped store shelves of sanitizer, TP, water and food.

The hard waves of the pandemic then struck, particularly in New York, where I’d spent my twenties. Meanwhile, so many people tumbled out of work, Congress passed the CARE Act, an unheardof moment of generosity in America, but also, an act of economic self-preservation for a government wary of food riots.

Now here it is, months later, just after a Fourth of July like no other, midway through a summer of discontentment riots, which are much the same thing. Most of the rioters wear masks. In New Hampshire where I live, everybody wears one in public now. Elsewhere, though, freedom-loving mask-deniers laugh at kow-towed mask-wearers, while mask-wearers despise mask-deniers for what they deem selfish ignorance and the idiotic spreading of predictable death. Certain industries—sports, cruise lines, hotels, eateries—have taken a tragic downturn and a new, distanced normal has set in, except wherever in beach country they’re not hurriedly shutting the beaches again as cases surge.

2020. A year for the history books.

Meanwhile, in my little world, live storytelling for crowds of happy kids has become illegal. So has live storytelling for crowds of happy adults, as I was doing back on March 8th. It’s the same for everybody else in the people business. Late night hosts working alone in their basements aren’t funny any more. Newscasters with their makeup and hair looking funky endure interruptions by their bored kids while on live TV.

The glitz is gone.

And this Fourth of July weekend, millions of families aren’t driving anywhere. Instead, they’re getting together with grandma and grandpa over Zoom.

 

THE REBIRTH OF STORYTELLING

Looking to adapt, even I’ve done a few shows on Zoom, from my attic studio. Two schools, both in Massachusetts, and a public library in New York State, have bought and paid for Zoom shows. Not that many, but enough for me to have tested the system, and with my producer, Gavin, perfected HD sound and video. Unlike most other entertainers, I’m already stripped down and have been for decades. My hair is already bad. I don’t wear makeup. I have no backup dancers. And my kids are grown up, so they won’t interrupt me. In fact, they’re helping me.

Back to Grendel’s Den, because Kari, who owns the place and runs it, and I, who have performed there for years, have ongoing intersecting business interests. She’s just recently been able to go from take-out only to socially distanced outdoor seating, so at least she’s getting to sell food and drink again. But inside, there’s no way shows can be mounted. Not yet. Many are saying not until a vaccine is ready. Meanwhile, Kari wants to maintain the zeitgeist of her operation, and part of that is me.

Back to Zoom. A month ago Kari and her team decided to sponsor and promote a show of mine, one of Kari’s favorites, Fall of the Titans. So I said sure, let’s try it. Instead of tickets for seats in your club, we’ll sell tickets for a Zoom meeting URL and a password. I’ve got a pretty solid base of fans down in Boston and elsewhere, so maybe they’ll go for this, we reasoned. The storytelling won’t be live in space but it will be live in time, so that’s something. In her club, people sat way in the back, sixty feet away, for a $20 ticket. For most, I’d think, I was too far away for them to watch the characters’ facial expressions I create as I work, but with Zoom, well, the camera’s just a couple of feet away. So every seat in a Zoom show is better than the best of the VIP front row table seats folks were paying for before in a live show. Plus, Kari suggested, we could do a Q&A afterwards, taking questions from the audience, something unworkable in a club setting. She wants to be the MC for those questions. Sure, I said, let’s give it a try. Fall of the Titans is at 7 pm on the East Coast, so Californians could watch it live at 4 pm. Folks in Europe would need to stay up until 1 in the morning to start watching, but who knows, this is live on the web and you never know what people will do.

So it’s on for July 19th at 7 pm EST.

Fall of the Titans is too intense a tale for young children. It’s cosmic and elemental Greek mythology with some very disturbing scenes. It is, however, the story of how the Greek gods came to be born, and why the Titans, their parents, fell. Hot stuff if you like myths.

On my blog here I’m writing semi-scholarly articles about it leading up to the performance. They’re good for background because even people familiar with Greek mythology aren’t necessarily familiar with this earliest of origin tales.

So, we’ll try to re-birth my storytelling in pandemic times and see what happens. If it works, we’ll do more of these adult shows on Zoom. I hope you attend.

Tickets $15

THE BIRTH OF APHRODITE, ELDEST OF THE GODS–Mythology Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS Zoom Performance July 19th

 

Ouranos is a good guy. He’s the Titan of the Sky, after all, and father to Gaia the Earth Mother’s twelve perfect children. As one of the very first titans she created along with the mountains and the sea, Ouranos is flattered when Gaia asks him to become her king. He’s a gentle, protective father who revels in his children’s creative talents. He watches Oceanus turn the sea to salt, and Phoebe invent prophecy. Tethys creates streams and rivers. Hyperion invents the moon and sun. On and on. They’re a talented bunch. And yes, as they begin to marry one another, the whole thing is incestuous, but who else are the first beings supposed to mate with? It’s a myth, after all.

Tickets $15

When next a daughter, Rhea, is born, she has no obvious talent. She’s beautiful, but that’s about it. Ouranos even comments on Rhea’s mysterious lack of talent to Gaia, but she replies, “Not everything I make is perfect.”

Cronus, the last born of the twelve titan children, has no talent either, apparently, other than to covet everything he sees. He’s a greedy fellow who’s convinced he knows more than anybody else.

However, the real family-destroying problem arises when Gaia gives birth to a Cyclops. Although it’s just a baby, Ouranos knows it will grow up to be larger than any of the titans and will be very dangerous. “Why did you make that?” Ouranos asks her, shocked. Cooing at her baby monster, she replies, “Not everything I make is perfect.”

Things grow worse when she births two more Cyclopses and then three hideous, many-armed, many-headed beasts called Hecas, each the size of a mountain. After all, creating life is what she does and she can’t really control herself. All these monsters, once they grow up, will dominate the titans, Ouranos knows, and so he carves six prison cells into the rock walls of underground Tartarus and locks the screaming baby monsters inside them.

Tickets $15

“Free my children!” Gaia demands, but he refuses, claiming he doesn’t need her permission. This mistake proves terrible for Ouranos, because for the first time in her existence, Gaia grows angry. As volcanoes erupt and earthquakes shake the land, her calm, patient side vanishes and she plunges into a vengeful fury.

Deciding the Sky is no longer worthy of being her king, she sharpens a sickle and holds it up before her twelve children. “Who among you will castrate your father so that he is no longer king?” she roars. Horrified at the thought, eleven shake their heads. But then Cronus, he who covets power, asks, “If I do it, mother, will I become King of the Universe?” “Yes, my son, you will,” she replies.

As the story goes, Cronus ambushes Ouranos and does it, hurling his screaming father’s sex organs into the sea. A pink foam wells up from where they sank and upon it appears a seashell. The foam floats to shore, the shell opens, and out steps a tiny goddess, fully-grown and stunningly beautiful.

Thusly, from the sex of a fallen king, the sexiest goddess of them all is born, Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

She is the first Olympian god. At this point, no others have been born.

No one knows what to make of her.

 


FALL OF THE TITANS: An Adult Storytelling on Zoom

Odds Bodkin

July 19, 2020 at 7 pm EST

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

SUNDAY JULY 19TH at 7 PM: Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS

From Odds Bodkin’s cave of magic comes a ZOOM performance that translates 100%: FALL OF THE TITANS.

Where did the Greek gods come from? Who were the Titans? Who was Gaia? Why did Cronus the Titan swallow his Olympian children? How did only Zeus survive?

Find out in a feature-length adult storytelling on Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm. Buy your ticket, get your ZOOM invitation and password, then sit back and watch elemental characters come to life. Greek lore explained with Celtic harp music, then a tale told with 12-string guitar.

Every seat is a front row seat.

A performance for adults. No young children please.

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA.

Tickets are $15.

WINNER of the 2020 STORYTELLING WORLD AWARD: an hour and 20 minutes of intense audio adventure

When Odds Bodkin set out to tell Beowulf, he knew he’d need to create two classic monsters: Grendel and Grendel’s Mother. And musical themes for each on 12-string guitar. Of course, a lovable voice for Beowulf himself was required for contrast.

The result of years of work is Beowulf: The Only One, Bodkin’s award-winning 1 hour and 20 minute tale for adults. Don’t invite the kids to listen because it’s just too horrific in places, but if you’d like a genuine feature-length movie for the mind, download this epic today!

$19.95

While you’re at Odds’ Shop, grab an Odyssey: An Epic Telling. 4 hours of more award-winning audio.

Shiva, Parvati, Yudisthira, Ganesha, Bhima, Arjuna and a Faithful Dog in Mahabharata Tales for Adults

Although the princes of two families grew up as demigods together, they have always competed for rulership of the city of Hastinapur. Each armed with fantastical powers, the Kurus and the Pandava brothers fight with magical mantras as much as with weapons. They’re not above trickery and murder. And it is their sweeping tale, arcing across history, bejeweled with hundreds of stories-within-stories, that is The Mahabharata.

When I first read it, I was stunned by the particle weapons and cluster bombs the characters wielded–this in a book created 2,500 years ago. I was also amazed by the immense floating cities. And by the Himalayan forests where emeralds were the leaves. And by the epic journeys encountering beings of all kinds. And by the Hindu gods especially, visiting humans like aunts and uncles on vacation from heaven.

It reminded me of Homer’s Iliad, and how the Greek gods whisked warriors away from death on the Trojan plain.

It’s a mythic storyteller’s dream, this great epic. And with my 12-string guitars and harp tuned to the world of Indian ragas, I’ll scratch The Mahabharata’s surface on Sunday, March 29th at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

If you’re of Indian descent, please do come. You’ll enjoy it. It is highly honorable and Indian folks in Chicago loved it.

This fourth Grendel’s Den winter season has been a series of sell-out shows, and India’s Ancients: Tales from the Mahabharata and Beyond is the performance that fans voted for, out of a field of four adult tellings, to be the final one.

So this is the one I’m preparing for.

Some of the finest, most wondrous stories I’ve ever come across.

 

INDIA’S ANCIENTS: TALES FROM THE MAHABHARATA AND BEYOND

ODDS BODKIN

MARCH 29, 2020 AT 5:30 PM

GRENDEL’S DEN, CAMBRIDGE MA

TICKETS $20

VIP TABLES AVAILABLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWO EVIL DWARVES: They Who Kill for the Blood of Wisdom/Viking Myths at Grendel’s Den with Odds Bodkin

“Fjalar.”

“Yes, Galar.”

“I miss the mead. I miss those sips. I didn’t understand what happened to me when I drank it, Fjalar.”

“I did. Wisdom happened to you, Galar. That’s why you didn’t unders…”

Suddenly their heavy oaken door blew in and landed flat on the floor. There stood an old man in a grey robe and wide hat, his one-eyed, scarred face half-obscured in the swirling stone dust. He carried a gnarled staff in his left hand.

“Dwarves…” said the stranger, who, although they did not know it, was Odin, who was about to kill them. He’d finally found the murderers of his best friend. “Welcome…”

A mortal fear swept the two dwarf brothers of Nidavellir.

 

 

THE MEAD OF POETRY is the second story in ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS, an adult storytelling with music at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA this coming Sunday, March 8th at 5:30 p.m.

Eat Viking food, drink mead, and then settle in for an evening of adult storytelling.

“a consummate storyteller” — The New York Times

“a preternatural ability to create characters with an array of simply inspired voices.”—digboston 2020

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

ODDS BODKIN

GRENDEL’S DEN, CAMBRIDGE MA

SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 2020 AT 5:30 PM

TICKETS $20 IN ADVANCE, $25 AT THE DOOR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Sunday in Cambridge, MA: ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

As Loki hangs on while Thor thunders his chariot down Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge to earth, Loki hollers over the wind, “Thor, how fast can this chariot go?” The heavy vehicle is drawn by two He-Goats, Snarler and Tooth Grinder.

“I can cross ten leagues in an hour!” Thor proudly replies.

“Oh, then how many leagues can you cross in ten hours?”

Thor’s brows knit. He snorts, unable to think that far. “Don’t ask stupid questions, Loki!” Then a light enters Thor’s eyes. Ah, he has the answer. “Far enough!”


In Odds Bodkin’s telling of Thor’s Journey to Utgard, although Thor knows Loki is a liar and tells him so to his face, he still needs Loki’s cleverness. At least he thinks he does. Their insulting banter is constant as they make their way to Utgard, the capital city of the Frost Giants.

Thor is there to prove his strength. The outcome is altogether different.

This is one of two Viking myths, along with Viking lore, I’ll be offering Sunday March 8th at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

Come eat Viking food and drink mead from Grendel’s Den’s complimentary Odds Bodkin glass!

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS

An Adult Storytelling with live music

Sunday, March 8th at 5:30 p.m.

Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, Cambridge MA

TICKETS: $20 in advance, $25 at the door

 

TAKE ODDS’ STORIES HOME WITH YOU.

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE Wins the Storytelling World Award 2020

Odds Bodkin’s audio, BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, just won the 2020 Storytelling World Award. The 1 hour and 21 minute tale, told with 12-string guitar, Celtic harp and character voices, was recorded before a live audience.

It is available as a $19.95 mp3 download from Odds Bodkin’s Shop.

Recommended for listeners 12 & up.

A MEAD GLASS WITH EPIC POETRY

When thoughts and hands grow liberal,

And single toasts turn several

-Odds Bodkin

If you can believe it, my quote about drinking alcohol is now emblazoned on specialty mead glasses created by Grendel’s Den and given away at my adult storytelling performances. I’m thrilled. Arriving along with flights of mead to the VIP tables, the two lines of iambic tetrameter are from The Water Mage’s Daughter, my 13,000-line epic poem about magic. Read it. It’s fun.

Meanwhile, your next opportunity to drink mead, eat Viking food and take home a glass is on March 8, 2020 at a performance of ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Grab yours soon. Beowulf and The Odyssey were sell-out shows, I’m delighted to report.

 

The Fans Have Spoken: India’s Ancients is My Final Cambridge Show

I was a bit wary when Kari Kuelzer, she who runs Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA, suggested that for my final show this winter, we ask the fans to choose it.

“Nobody’s going to do that,” I observed.

“No, we’ll put it up on Eventbrite so when people buy their tickets for Beowulf and The Odyssey, they can vote,” she replied, looking determined, which spelled doom for me to say no.

I remained skeptical but grudgingly agreed to offer a choice between Heartpounders: Tales of the Supernatural, Hercules in Hell, India’s Ancients: Tales from the Mahabharata and Fall of the Titans. They’re all full evenings of storytelling.

Lo and behold, people voted and in the end India’s Ancients edged out Heartpounders. This was all revealed at the Odyssey show last Sunday. So it looks as if I’ll be trotting out some of my favorite tales to tell, especially Yudisthira at Heaven’s Gate. And I’ll have to practice up my 12-string guitar motifs designed to sound like a sitar. I developed these stories for shows at the Art Institute of Chicago years ago, and recently at the Peabody Essex Museum.

 

India’s Ancients: Tales from the Mahabharata and Beyond

March 29, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.

Grendel’s Den, Cambridge MA

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Story Flash Drives Tomorrow Night At Grendel’s Den: A Chance to Buy All Four Hours of Odds Bodkin’s THE ODYSSEY

18 full-length storytelling albums on a single flash drive.

TICKETS: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

ILIADMATIC: ODDS BODKIN BRINGS BARDIC STORYTELLING TO A TRANSFORMED GRENDEL’S DEN