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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Change and Mythological Species of Humanoid # 23 – Werewolves

[Sorry for the delayed posting, my son's high school graduation party was this past weekend. I decorated the picnic tables with daisies from my garden, because daisies are a symbol of friendship. My best friend in high school gave me daisies seeds in a card to say we'll always be friends. I used the quote from the card for my son's party: He has power who gains wisdom from a flower. - author unknown. ]

The theme for this post is change. I am experiencing a lot of changes in my live over the next few months. So I figured I'd share my musings.

Change is a difficult topic for most people. The bigger the change the more difficult it can be to deal with.

I believe the secret for dealing with change is an attitude of adaptability. Adaptability can help us deal with new changes that we are stuck with whether we want them or not or old problems that need
help changing. Remember though that adapting to big changes is much easier if you break them into small changes and then work with those.

The tools for developing adaptability are knowledge, vigilance and early action (I'll call this tool kit KVEA for short.) Knowledge of which small changes are beneficial and which are detrimental is the first step to dealing with big changes. Vigilance in being aware and looking for the beneficial and harmful small changes is the next step. And finally early action is the crucial step. Early action is needed to remove harmful changes and traits before a problem develops and to encourage beneficial ones changes and traits before they disappear. Later action can still be effective, but it requires more work with less positive results.

I find KVEA helpful in most of the pursuits I enjoy: parenting, moral development, teaching, writing, editing, health, painting, drawing, photography, gardening. All of these are more enjoyable when a person is adaptable, maximizing on the good that is found and being knowledgeable enough to recognize the unwanted aspects and working diligently to remove them.

The best analogy for using KVEA is gardening. When I garden I look for the weeds, which I must educate myself to see and pull those out while they are still small and haven't taken a firm hold yet. I am also familiar with the volunteer seedlings that my various perennials spread haphazardly about my yard. Vigilance helps me  recognize the desirable plants by their baby leaves. Then I use early action to either water them where they are or move them to a more favorable location for growth and artistic appeal. If I do not act early enough they may perish before they can get a firm hold. The added benefit of this early action is that volunteer seedlings are free and are already proven to like my soil. This is how I change my yard for the better using KVEA.

Octavia E. Butler uses the idea that "God is change" in her Earthseed series, where she says that change is the only thing that endures. I find this a challenging idea that I've been musing on for years. Deep and true on many levels. I'm not sure how many though, so I continue to muse on it.

An example of a volunteer plant lead me to a related thought the other day. While harvesting strawberries from my strawberry patch I was reminded of something that I had read in fairy gardening lore.
Some believe that fairies want us to always leave a patch in our yard untended because that invites fairies to visit and perhaps leave gifts.

The reason my strawberry patch reminded me of this is that the strawberries just appeared in my yard on day. I used KVEA to encourage the change of developing my strawberry patch.

My strawberry patch feels like something that could be interpreted as a gift from the fairies for not overly tending my yard. Or it could be interpreted as a gift from God for taking care of his creation. I assume seeds were dropped by birds in their droppings as they bless me, my yard and my fence for feeding them, for I know that I certainly didn't plant them. So maybe I should interpret the appearance of strawberry plants in my yard as a gift from the birds for being generous to them.
Regardless of how I interpret it, the fact is that shaping the gift with KVEA is how the change becomes a positive one instead of a negative one. A strawberry patch with delicious sun-warmed berries, instead of just some more weeds that have to be pulled or mowed.

 Having explained to you and myself about the usefulness of KVEA, I admit that change can be hard, often harder than we expect. Recently the priests in our parish were relocated to better fit the changing needs of the diocese. At the last mass, totally unexpectedly, I bawled to the point that I needed to go clean up in the bathroom. I had only been slightly sad at saying goodbye to men who had given me very good moral advice from the pulpit and in the confessional, but who really didn't know me very well, since I tend to keep a low profile in a moderate size parish.

But change is daunting and I was overwhelmed with the loss of a friendship I didn't develop as much as I wanted to, and just loss in general.

[This does not bode well for dropping my first child off at college  next month. I'd better take a box of tissues with me.]

Despite the fact that change is a scary thing, usually things work out just fine and they just take some adjustment time and KVEA. Often the change is actually for the better. We humans are adaptable and we are being watched over (I believe by God, others may interpret the providence as fairies or birds/nature, but we can trust that we are cared for.)

This brings me to the fact that I will be changing the way this blog is structured. I have learned from my MOOC on writing for the web that I shouldn't be putting multiple topics on one page. It makes navigation more difficult and the topics harder to find. So I will be breaking up the topics and providing more links between them to improve navigation. I hope it makes your reading experience better. I will attempt to provide summary pages for different subjects and group material for different age groups too. Please let me know if my changes are improvements or not.

As a teacher, I try to be very responsive to my students, since I want to empower them to own their education and help them to become their own teachers eventually, but as a writer I find it very difficult to know what my readers want and how to make their reading experience more enjoyable because there is so little feed back for me about what I write. So I hope some of my readers here will let me know who they are, what is working and what is not working, or how their day is going. Right now I just have to guess based on a numbers game from my blog analytics. [I often lurk, too, so I understand, but if some of my readers would offer comments or click more often on the feedback buttons I could greatly improve what I am offering to my readers.]

Mythological Species of Humanoid # 23 – Werewolves

Werewolves undergo a huge change. Lycanthropy is a popular topic on the web. I'll try to offer you my unique perspective on the subject.

People changing into wolves is popular because animal have always been and always will be popular. In our fellow earth mates we recognize ourselves and their otherness and it helps us to understand ourselves better. World wide and back into prehistoric times humans have imagined becoming animals to gain benefits from the abilities and adaptations they have to imagine improving ourselves, to imagine a simplified life of animals without all the human complications and to gain powers of destruction animals have to give faces to our fears.

Werewolves were popularized by us Westerners with our movies, but around the world people use the faces of any available animal for the same purpose. Lycanthropy, the idea that a curse or disease can cause people to uncontrollably change into wolves can be traced back to Roman myths, and wolves are powerful animals for our imagination due to their intelligence, but Dungeons and Dragons has usefully expanded the idea of lycanthropy to include many and perhaps all types of animals.[ I expand on this idea in my SylF` Sagas.]

But one thing I've always struggled with as a writer for any transformation is what to do with the clothes. If one is writing for adults the nakedness that results from changing back is easily used for either humor or romance, but how should a writer deal with the clothes or lack there of for children.

Comic books have always given their heroes special clothes that transform with the hero and back again to avoid the complications of clothing loss, but that is not very realistic.

I recently read The Curse of the Night Wolf, by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, a middle grade book that involves werewolves, that I can recommend.


Anonymous said...

Hi KC. I'm loving reading your blog so please keep posting. :o)

It was a good idea to split up posts into separate topics as in 'Change and Mythological Species..' the part about KVEA was very different to that of werewolves.

I have found with some posts that the titles didn't fully reflect the content. For instance with 'Change and Mythological Species..' it didn't reflect the richness of your discussion on change and adaptability. I could have missed it altogether if I was just looking through the post titles. Also when I clicked under SF on 'Conversion chart for time passage differential' I got a post on the summer solstice - perhaps this was an incorrect linking?

I do love the nexus you have between fantasy, SF, mythology, spirituality and teaching. Its very nice to see how you are sharing your passions in these areas and attempting to integrate across them to seek understanding. I'm still exploring your blog - just started today - and will add comments as I go.


KC Trae Becker said...

Yup! This is an example of how writing a blog is helping me develop as a writer.

Thanks for pointing out the mistake in my index. I'll get on that.

Thanks for the comment on my "nexus." Yes, attempting is the optimum word there. I like integrating ideas. But this is a difficult nexus to integrate. I feel these areas are closely related but few seem to be trying to find this connection point, so I'm blazing a trail.

I'll definitely keep going, unfortunately at my tortoise pace. I comfort myself with the idea that it's because I'm thinking deep, but really I'm just slow. Fortunately persistence is one of my greatest allies.

KC Trae Becker said...

I checked out the link you thought was a mistake. It turns out that it's correct. I start out there discussing the time differential in the series I'm writing. That is what the image to the right is a chart of. It's a little obtuse. Sorry, if you were expecting something else.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes I re-read. I think I misinterpreted the title that's all, was expecting some Interstellar-esque SciFi. :o)