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

 

 

 

CRONUS, EATER OF HIS CHILDREN: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS Zoom Concert on Sunday July 19th

Let’s say you’re not just any king,

No, you are King of the Universe.

Let’s also say that you’re paranoid and will never let go of your power. Add in that you, the talentless last son in a big talented family of Titans, have become King by cutting off your king father’s privates and throwing them into the sea. No kidding. That’s what Cronus does in FALL OF THE TITANS.

In the ancient ways of power, if a king loses his virility, he can no longer be king.

To make matters worse, your mother Gaia has given you the slicing weapon to attack Ouranos, her husband and your father. She is angry with him. Henceforward, your siblings loathe you. You are a pariah.

However, you are now Cronus, King of the Titans, and they have no power over you other than to chirp at the margins.

According to the myths, Titans lived before the gods of Olympus, and as giant creators, they basically built the Earth and its ecosystems. It was only after eons that the Gods of Olympus took the Earth from them by force of arms, luck and a few hired monsters. They did this in a ten-year war called the Titanomachy.

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But why did this war happen within a single family? How could they have been so angry at each other that parents battled their own children?

Cronus is the main reason. Gaia tells him that she’s heard of a prophecy that one of his children will overthrow him as King, but the prophecy doesn’t say which child. Shortly after, Cronus becomes a father when his wife, Rhea, gives birth to tiny Hestia, a goddess the size of a pea.

Cronus wonders, “Is this the child who shall overthrow me?” To his wife’s horror, he promptly gulps down the newborn, imprisoning her in his stomach. The next newborn, Demeter, lands in Cronus’s stomach a year later. Baby Hera, little Hades and lastly, infant Poseidon follow in due course.

Gaia does not approve of Cronus’s actions, but she loves all her children equally, including this wayward son. Always, she insists upon loving her children equally. And so she lets the evil of swallowing the children go on. It’s part of her downfall.

Desperate to keep at least one of her babies to hold and love, daughter Rhea begs Gaia to help her keep this next baby’s location a secret from Cronus. Gaia agrees and the newborn boy is cleverly hidden on the isle of Crete.

The little boy grows up hating his father Cronus for imprisoning his brothers and sisters. One night, he drugs Cronus and his father vomits forth the Olympians, now fully grown.

“Follow me,” cries Zeus, no longer a baby, “and we will take this world from the Titans!”

Thus the Gods of Olympus begin to tear Earth away from the old nature spirits who built it.

 

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Now, as a storyteller who tells old myths for adult audiences, I love this old zinger and will bring it to life from my ZOOM studio Sunday, July 19 at 7 pm EST. It’s a full evening’s entertainment, with a score on 12-string guitar and character voices, as usual.

In a first, however, joining me after the show will be Kari Kuelzer of Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, taking questions from the audience, which I’ll answer. I’ve told FALL OF THE TITANS live at her place a couple of times before and so we’ll see how this Zoom experiment goes.

Hope to have you in the audience!

–Odds Bodkin

 

FALL OF THE TITANS: An Adult Storytelling on Zoom

Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time

Tickets: $15 for your meeting invitation and password

 

 

 

 

 

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FALL IS COMING. WILL KIDS HAVE ARTS IN SCHOOL?

School systems across America are facing a back-to-school dilemma. Should students stay home for everyone’s safety or attend real classes this fall? And even if students return, are school assemblies where hundreds gather in a gym or auditorium for arts presentations a step too far?

If you are a parent, teacher or administrator, explore storyteller Odds Bodkin’s ZOOM assemblies. As a solo performer, his presentations are the same music-filled adventures as always, and with ZOOM, every seat is a front row seat. From his Rivertree Productions studio in New Hampshire, he comes to your students live on full screen. Each assembly is password protected and we administer the tech. All you need to do is log on, at school or at home. Live Q&As and follow-up workshops are available as well.

To learn more about elementary school ZOOM assemblies and Odds Bodkin author visits, click on the links or go to Show Requests.

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

A WOMB OF ROCK: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS July 19th Zoom Performance

Tartarus.

Chances are, if you’re familiar with the word at all, it conjures up some dark subterranean prison for ancient Greek titans–towering, evil creatures made of stone–and other bad actors. Take Sisyphus, for example. He’s imprisoned down there. He rolls a boulder all the way up a mountain, only to have it tumble back down, just as he reaches the top. He does this over and over, hence the term “a Sisyphean task”—doing something pointless. Another denizen of Tartarus is evil Tantalus, a demigod king who cut up his son and served him, boiled, to the Gods of Olympus. For all eternity he now starves beneath a fruit tree just out of reach, above a pond whose water recedes whenever he kneels to drink.

But peel away the deeper layers of Greek mythology, back to the time before the gods and humans, and Tartarus wasn’t a super-max prison for ancient Greek bad guys. Anything but. Instead, it was a place of divine feminine creation. A place where the sky, sea and mountains were first born, after Gaia had poured out the stars and created gravity, or, as it was called, Eros.

According to the Greeks, Gaia, the Earth, was the first thing to exist anywhere. She emerged from the silence and stillness of Chaos, and became self-aware. She was the first titan, and the first thing she created was her womb. Tartarus was so deep in the Earth that later, Zeus claimed a bronze anvil, dropped from the Underworld, would fall for nine days before it reached this place.

It was here that she created Ouranos, the Sky, her future husband, and the other early titans who fashioned the first ecosystems.

It was in Tartarus that her husband Ouranos locked away six of Gaia’s children, which enraged her.

It was in Tartarus that she created Typhon, a monster made for one purpose: to kill her grandson Zeus after he betrayed her.

And it was in Tartarus that Zeus imprisoned Gaia’s beloved family of creators forever in darkness, far beneath the light-filled life systems that they originally made.


FALL OF THE TITANS–A Live Odds Bodkin Zoom Performance on July 19, 2020 at 7 pm EST.

Tickets are $15.

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.

I Didn’t Think a Zoom Show Would Work, But It Did

I couldn’t see them as I sang “Meow meow meow meow!’ with my guitar humming, but Gavin could. All I could see was the camera, but behind it, on the studio bench, he was smiling at his computer. “You should have seen them, dad,” he said after the show. “All those little kids, standing and clapping and singing. They loved it.” Gavin Bodkin, in his infinite kindness, helps me with these shows.

“So it works,” I said.

“Yeah, it works.”

This was a live Zoom K-3 concert for a Montessori school in Boston, just last week. All the kids were at home in front of their computers or TVs, and I was in my studio in New Hampshire.  Usually I perform for kids live, of course, in large groups, but haven’t lately, for obvious reasons. Lots of performers have been missing that live audience energy, and I’m one of them. Storytelling is meant to engage the imagination, and that’s tough through a screen.  Still, if these little kids were singing along in real time and laughing, apparently it worked for them.

And so we evolve.

Check out available shows here.

 

Being an Ugly Ogre for the Sake of Love

I came across this photo of me from a recent Facebook Live show and had to laugh. “Man, I can be ugly when I want to be,” I thought. “What story was this?”

Somebody out there captured a screen shot and posted it.

Just this morning I took another look at it. Ah ha, I realized, it’s the ogre from The Little Shepherd! The one who sings badly and who, near the story’s end, picks up Lovely Bargaglina and drops her into the well. You can’t see her in this photo, because she’s imaginary. Still, there she is, helpless in the ogre’s grip.

I’d never seen myself do this onscreen. Talk about ugly. Still, it’s all done to becharm little children for the sake of love. So why not?

 

 

 

Will You Marry Us?

“Will you marry us?” she asked.

She sat next to her fiancée in my kitchen. I’d known him for a while. They’d requested this meeting.

“You guys have been together for years, yes?” I asked, knowing they lived on St. John in the Caribbean, but had grown up in New Hampshire. Old friends with my son Chris, they’d invited him to visit them in paradise more than once. They nodded and explained how they’d heard my work over the years and wanted me to marry them. Flattered, I told them I’d never done that, but thought to myself that since I’m not a pastor, priest or rabbi, I’d probably need to become a Justice of the Peace. No sense collaborating on an artful wedding ceremony only to end up with a marriage that’s, well, not legal.

How, I wondered, does one become a Justice of the Peace?

Well, eight months have passed since then and now I, Bodkin the Storyteller, am indeed a Justice of the Peace. Vetted by the State of New Hampshire and found to be free of criminality and general malfeasance, I have been certified by the governor’s fresh signature. Since I’m able to preside over a marriage that will be enshrined in the State’s official records forever, I hold a public office of sorts. A sacred trust.

I can marry people.

Bear in mind, though, that New Hampshire is a quirky little state. Our Live Free or Die motto? Everybody’s heard it and rolled their eyes. Our first in the nation primary? Everybody despises us for it. Our lack of a motorcycle helmet law? Bikers love it and flock here in June just to ride free in the wind. But what many people don’t know is that here in NH, if you’re a Justice of the Peace, not only can you marry people, you can also issue warrants for their arrest.

There’s a joke in there somewhere but it eludes me.

Or anybody’s arrest, for that matter, at the request of a peace officer. No kidding. That power is conferred along with the appointment.

Issuing arrest warrants feels so diametrically opposed to uniting people in matrimony, it’s almost funny. When I applied, I didn’t know I’d be granted this second power. Then again, I doubt I will ever be tapped to do it. What peace officer in his right mind is going to come to me? Besides, we have plenty of good judges.

I’ll just stick with marriages.

 

“To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, til death do you part?”

“I do.”

“I do.”

“Good. I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

 

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

So listen up, all you fiancees out there. Yes, I’ll give you a storyteller’s wedding, replete with stories, harp music, wit and poetry, and then I’ll issue you a marriage certificate.

Just be sure to keep your wedding vows.

Otherwise, I might issue an arrest warrant.

 

Candles and Imagination

Long ago, when I began telling stories, I’d light a candelabrum at my feet. There in a darkened room the flames would dance across my face and kids loved it, until, of course, schools started to say, “No more, Mr. Bodkin. A kid might go up in flames. You dripped wax on our floor. Leave your portable campfire at home.” Even though I always cleaned up the wax, I stopped doing my candlelight shows.

I still recommend candelight, though, to people listening to my stories, especially the epics. Light a candle. Turn down the lights. Listen and dream.

Something about the flame quickens the mind’s eye.

For instance, Detroit Jewish News reviewed my telling of David and Goliath and said, “With nothing more than his guitar and voice, Odds Bodkin manages to paint a scene more captivating than much of what you see on the big screen.”

It won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, the Storytelling World Award and the Dove Foundation Award. It’s an hour long.

Beowulf: The Only One just won the Storytelling World Award as well. It was recorded before a live adult audience in Cambridge, MA. It’s an hour and 20 minutes.

You can find lots of long-form stories like this at my download shop. Happy listening!

 

 

One Grandmother’s Quest to Send an Odyssey Recording to her Grandchildren

An email to Odds Bodkin’s Shop from this morning, April 24th:

Hope you can help me. I ordered The Odyssey Collection as a gift for my grandchildren but did not realize I had no way to send them the link and think somehow it is now in my email only. At this point I don’t remember my original password since I forwarded the email from you acknowledging my order to my daughter who could not download the stories because I did not have the password. When I went to password reset I was also unable to change the password.

So, if it is possible to send this gift to my daughter who can then set up whatever password she wants to use so these darling 9 and 10 year old grandchildren who are at the moment captivated by Homer can hear your wonderful music and voice, I would be grateful.

Please advise.
M*** C*** P*****

Odds Bodkin’s Shop replies:

Dear M***

If you can send us your daughter’s email address, we will send her a digital gift card
usable at our shop for $49.95. She can visit the shop, follow the directions and download
The Odyssey using her own email. She pays at checkout using the code on the
gift card.

We look forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks for your order, too, of course.

Best regards,

ODDS BODKIN CUSTOMER SERVICE

 

M*** C*** P***** replies:

You have given me a success in my Stay-At-Home week for which I am very appreciative. Thank you. Know this little family will be ever so happy listening together and hope they will continue to be Odds Bodkin fans for their lifetimes. The power of great literature well read and good music well played are a rare but winning combination.

My daughter, M*** C**** E********’s email address is *************@bellsouth.net

Hope you have a good day today and stay healthy.
M*** C*** P*****

 

GIFT CARD SENT. QUEST OVER.

The Odyssey, Beowulf, David and Goliath, Hercules, and Sir Percival and the Fisher King are Classic Epics

At 4 hours and 8 minutes, The Odyssey is the longest of Odds Bodkin’s epic audio tales, but the others average well over 70 minutes.

The Little Proto Trilogy, his original dinosaur adventure series, is more than 3 hours of immersive listening for kids 4 and up. They’ll listen again and again and again, especially at bedtime.

Get all these and 12 other FULL-LENGTH STORYTELLING ALBUMS on the EPIC DRIVE.

$99.95

You can listen to samples of all these award-winning mp3 audios at Odds Bodkin’s Shop.