American Mythology: The Phantom Train of Marshall’s Pass

During the late 1800’s in Colorado, narrow gauge railroads crossed the Great Divide of the Rockies heading for Sante Fe and other parts west. In those days, nothing facilitated the Westward Expansion and what Americans thought of as Manifest Destiny more than the invention of the steam locomotive. The Iron Horse, as it was known.

Various folklores grew up around the railroads, including those of ghostly trains. Much as in earlier seafaring times when folklores centered around phantom ships—the Flying Dutchman being the most famous—where dead souls seeking vengeance chased the living, so too in the early Industrial Age in America similar tales were handed down about the captains of the locomotives. The engineers.

Whether these frightening accounts were actual events or not remains open to debate. Still, they are a part of American mythology.

The attached early map from the Denver and Santa Fe Railroad shows Marshall Pass (in the story, Marshall’s Pass) the topmost rail crossing of the Great Divide. It is at this Rocky Mountain pass that one of the tales I’ll be telling this weekend takes place.

It’s accompanied with a flat-picked score on a Taylor 6-string guitar.

 

DARK TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL

Friday, October 19th at 8 p.m. at the Sweet Beet, Bradford, New Hampshire.

An outdoor event. Bring warm clothes, chairs and blankets.

Freshly made hot food and drinks available for purchase.

 

Tickets $13 in advance, $15 at the gate

With all of the sounds he was able to make, the unique voices of each person, and intricate guitar playing…it was unbelievable.

Martha Taylor, Chair of Classics at Loyola University Maryland, passed this note on to me after an Odyssey performance last September. It was written by a college freshman.

“I didn’t know what to expect and I was completely blown away by the whole thing. The way he told the stories was so captivating! With all of the sounds he was able to make, the unique voices of each person, and intricate guitar playing…it was unbelievable. With all of the sensory details he provided it really was as if I was there, during ancient times, transported to 700 B.C. in the “Belly of the Beast” so to speak.

I absolutely loved his Polyphemus voice, the old man/priest in Apollo’s temple who gave Odysseus the brandy, the men who accompanied him during the travels, the people in the lotus flower scene within the ivy of the sickly-sweet perfumed island–everything! The way he created such a vivid scene made imagining a transcendent and effortless gift.”

I’ll be at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, February 11th at 5:30 p.m., to tell this tale again, with Celtic harp and 12-string guitar.

Catch some adult storytelling this February. THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST at Grendel’s Den.

Tickets at tables are $15.

“One of the great voices in American storytelling”–Wired Magazine

Let’s say you want to give the gift of story audios from an artist who Wired calls “one of the great voices in American storytelling” and Billboard calls “a modern-day Orpheus.”

We, the dedicated gnomes at Odds Bodkin’s Shop, want you to know about Magic Coins.

Just like the enchanted bag that creates gold, our Magic Coins give you a little extra enchanted buying power.

 

$9.99 becomes $11.00!

$19.99 becomes $23.00!

$49.99 becomes $60.00!

$99.99 becomes $125.00!

 

It’s magic!

And we never forget how much remains in your loved one’s bag of Magic Coins if they haven’t spent them all. So if they download The Odyssey and like it and you’ve bought $49.99 worth of Magic Coins for them, they’ve still got $10 to spend on story collections or Odds Bodkin’s original music!

Just let us know what you’d like us to say. Along with your Magic Coins, we’ll add a personal message from you.

Happy Holidays from the Gnomes at Odds Bodkin’s Shop!

 

 

 

Mahabharata Backstory: Births of the Pandava Brothers

Once Upon a Time in Ancient India…

 
Out hunting one day, King Pandu comes upon two deer copulating and against all wisdom shoots them both in their helplessness. When he approaches to retrieve his arrows, the stag is still alive and says, “For killing us in our moment of delight, I curse you. If ever you make love again, you will die in that instant.”

 
Pandu’s two new wives, princesses Kunti and Madri, are horrified upon hearing this but stay with him anyway. The three go to live in the forest. However, before she was married, an old hermit, covered in ashes, has told Princess Kunti that if she ever wants sons by the gods, to utter a certain mantra. And so one night, alone in her bed, she calls upon the Sun, Lord Surya, and to her amazement, he appears in her room. The next day she gives birth to a son and sets him floating down the Yamuna River, which flows into the Ganges. He is found by a couple and raised, becoming the greatest warrior who has ever lived.

 
But then, two years later, Kunti wants sons to keep, so she summons Lord Dharma, the God of Justice, and the next day gives birth to Yudisthira the Wise, the first of the Pandava Brothers. Next, Vayu, the Wind, fathers a son destined to be the strongest man in the world, Bhima. Lastly, Indra, the God of a Thousand Eyes, fathers Arjuna, destined to be the greatest archer of all. When Madri, Pandu’s other wife, sees this, she asks for the mantra and summons the Aswins, Physicians of the Gods, and produces the Pandava twins, Nakula and Sahadeva. And so the five Pandava brothers come into the world, all with heavenly fathers.

 
In Yudisthira at Heaven’s Gate, a tale I’ll be telling this Sunday, King Yudisthira, now old, must journey to Mt. Kailasa to die, entering the the gates of heaven there. The battle discussed in the Bhagavad Gita is long past. But Arjuna and Bhima won’t let him go alone. Nor will Draupadi, wife to them all. What happens during their journey, and what happens at the gates, is one of the most dramatic stories I’ve ever learned to tell. With full characterizations, it’s accompanied by sitar-tuned 12-string guitar. Come here it!

 
The show is Sunday April 9th at 8 pm at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA. Tickets are $20 and $10 and you can buy them here.

 
India’s Ancients: Tales from the Mahabharata and Beyond.

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE Audio Thanksgiving Day Release

Beowulf: The Only One
A New Bardic Telling with 12-String Guitar

Odds Bodkin’s new 65-minute bardic telling of the oldest story in the English language will be available at https://www.oddsbodkin.net/shop/ on Thanksgiving Day. Employing a cinema-like score on 12-string guitar, human characters and monstrous voices, the audio tells a tale of gratitude and simple courage in the face of ancient evils.

Beowulf: The Only One is gruesome in places and filled with vivid details of old Viking life. Unlike recent Hollywood versions of the tale, the audio closely follows the original poem’s story, from the monster Grendel’s first attacks on Hrothgar’s mead hall to Beowulf’s battle with the Fire Dragon fifty years later.

The story includes frank violence. Not recommended for listeners under 12.

This recording joins Bodkin’s collection of epic tales for older children, teens and adults that includes The Odyssey, David and Goliath, The Hidden Grail and The Myth of Hercules, all available as mp3 audios at www.oddsbodkin.net.

The download will be available for $14.95 using PayPal.