The Folktale Project

The Folktale Project

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Who doesn’t love a good story?
How The Five Ancients Became Men - A Chinese Folktale
Apr 17 • 7 min
The Chinese folktale of ‘How The Five Ancients Became Men’ explains the creation of the Gods from nature. It’s a beautiful mixture of folklore, history and mythology.
The Maiden Who Was Stolen Away - A Chinese Folktale
Apr 15 • 7 min
‘The Maiden Who Was Stolen Away’ features a young maiden, a brave brother and an ogre in love that just doesn’t take no for an answer, but still respects the no that’s given.
The Cellar of the Old Knights in the Kyffhauser - A German Folktale
Apr 12 • 9 min
In ‘The Cellar of the Old Knights in the Kyffhauser’ we get a terrific moral lesson about trying to profit from that which is given to us.
Bearskin - A German Folktale
Apr 10 • 14 min
‘Bearskin’ by the Brothers Grimm has the single best twist that I’ve found in over 530 folktales. Even I was surprised.
The Mouse, The Bird and The Sausage - A German Folktale
Apr 8 • 5 min
In ‘The Mouse, The Bird, and The Sausage’, the Brothers Grimm show us once again why once roommates figure out their respective jobs they should just stick to them. Also, why you should never listen to a jealous bird.
The Guest - A North American Folktale
Apr 5 • 4 min
In the Eskimo folktale of ‘The Guest’ an old witch gets her due after getting jealous over some extra game.
Samuel Sewall’s Prophecy - A North American Folktale
Apr 3 • 5 min
‘Samuel Sewall’s Prophecy’ comes from a particularly complicated historical figure, Samuel Sewall. Sewall was an early abolitionist (although not terribly favorable to the African American) and one of judges at the famous Salem Witch Trials.
The Division of the Saranacs - A North American Folktale
Apr 1 • 6 min
‘The Division of the Saranacs’ tells the sad tale behind the schism between the Upper and Lower Saranacs.
The Stepmother - An Italian Folktale
Mar 29 • 7 min
I’m normally all for the antagonist getting their just desserts (as we all know), but I’ll be the first to admit that ‘The Stepmother’ from Thomas Crane’s “Italian Popular Tales” takes it all a bit too far.
The Baker’s Apprentice - An Italian Folktale
Mar 27 • 11 min
In ‘The Baker’s Apprentice’ we hear the familiar story of a tour of the after life with the Madonna, but with quite a unique ending.
The Cock and The Mouse - An Italian Folktale
Mar 25 • 5 min
‘The Cock and The Mouse’ is the most Italian progressive tale ever told. And I love it for that alone.
Maria of the Forest - A Portuguese Folktale
Mar 22 • 10 min
‘Maria of the Forest’ tries to teach us that we can’t avoid our fate, by having a King repeatedly attempt murder because a strange voice said he was fated to marry a the daughter of a poor charcoal burner. Not really the nicest way to teach such a lesson
King Robin - A Portuguese Folktale
Mar 20 • 8 min
While I won’t ever condone murder there is a sense of poetic justice present in the Portuguese folktale of ‘King Robin’ where a boy who tortures animals gets his just desserts.
The Magic Mouthful - A Portuguese Folktale
Mar 18 • 6 min
‘The Magic Mouthful’ is a reminder that folklore can be used to reinforce some pretty misogynistic views and behaviors. The worst of them are like this tale and feature a wise older woman giving misogynistic advice to a younger woman. Not cool.
The Master and His Pupil - An English Folktale
Mar 15 • 7 min
‘The Master and His Pupil’ is the English version of Goethe’s ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ which, in turn, is the basis for Disney’s animated version. And it’s probably the most fun I’ve had with a folktale this year.
Henny-Penny - An English Folktale
Mar 13 • 7 min
In the progressive tale of ‘Henny-Penny’ we really shouldn’t blame Foxy-Woxy for being a fox, should we?
The History of Tom Thumb - An English Folktale
Mar 11 • 13 min
You may think you know about Tom Thumb, but unless you’ve read ‘The History of Tom Thumb’ by Joseph Jacobs you probably don’t know all about Tom, King Arthur’s smallest knight.
The Leaf Fairies - A New Zealand Folktale
Mar 8 • 6 min
‘The Leaf Fairies’ is a type of tale that doesn’t get enough coverage on the podcast, a fairy story for children to teach them about the natural world.
The Magic Mirror - A New Zealand Folktale
Mar 6 • 15 min
In ‘The Magic Mirror’ fairies teach us how to rule a monarchy in a way that endears you to your people.
Tea Tree - A New Zealand Folktale
Mar 4 • 5 min
In ‘Tea Tree’ we have the first of our stories to come from Isabel Peacocke’s “Piccaninnies”.
How the Brazilian Beetles Got Their Gorgeous Coats - A Brazilian Folktale
Mar 1 • 10 min
The first time you listen to ‘How the Brazilian Beetles Got Their Gorgeous Coats’ all you’re going to hear is the story of ‘The Tortoise and The Hare’ and I promise you it’s not. It’s so much better.
The Most Beautiful Princess - A Brazilian Folktale
Feb 27 • 16 min
‘The Most Beautiful Princess’ seems like it’s going to be a very typical “Prince saves the Princess from a Giant” story, but it’s definitely not.
How The Monkey Got Food When He Was Hungry - A Brazilian Folktale
Feb 25 • 6 min
‘How The Monkey Got Food When He Was Hungry’ is part ‘There was an old woman who swallowed a fly’, part begging Peter to pay Paul, and all Elsie Spicer Eells.
The Robe of Feathers - A Japanese Folktale
Feb 22 • 12 min
In ‘The Robe of Feathers’ we have one of my favorite pieces of give and take in dialogue between man and fairy ever. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The Jelly-Fish Takes a Journey - A Japanese Folktale
Feb 20 • 9 min
Every now and then there’s an origin story that really sends you for a loop. And to be honest I admire the individual who looked at a jellyfish and thought, I know how that happened.
The Nurse - A Japanese Folktale
Feb 18 • 13 min
‘The Nurse’ is a story about honor and the love between a nurse and her young charge who is wronged by, of course, his stepmother.
The Bushy Bride - A Norwegian Folktale
Feb 15 • 17 min
In Norway’s version of the black and white bride ‘The Bushy Bride’ we can’t help but end up asking ourselves with so many stories about evil stepmothers and sisters why did anyone bother getting remarried? It never really ended well.
How the Stalos Were Tricked - A Norwegian Folktale
Feb 13 • 18 min
With just a hint of murder ‘How the Stalos Were Tricked’ is a tale about how stupid Norwegian trolls can be and how to get revenge on them.
The Lad Who Went to the North Wind - A Norwegian Folktale
Feb 11 • 9 min
‘The Lad Who Went to the North Wind’ may seem like another story about a boy who is given three magical items (and loses them as quickly as he gets them) but it’s certainly a bit more than that.
Manstin, the Rabbit - A Native American Folktale
Feb 8 • 14 min
Our final folktale from North America is ‘Manstin, the Rabbit’ and it comes from my favorite Native American author of folklore, Zitkála-Šá. And boy, does Manstin have one hell of a journey.
The Mink and The Wolf - A North American Folktale
Feb 6 • 12 min
If the Starks had half the wits that the Mink has there never would have been a Red Wedding. At least that’s how Andrew Lang tells it in ‘The Mink and The Wolf’.
An Event in Indian Park - A North American Folktale
Feb 4 • 5 min
‘An Event in Indian Park’ is a love story from Charles Skinner and like most Skinner stories it reflects a bit of a negative view of Native Americans it’s still very much a love story.
Snow-White and Rose-Red - A German Folktale
Feb 1 • 18 min
‘Snow-White and Rose-Red’ is a very different tale than the one that you know. Plus possibly the first Easter egg in folklore. At least it’s the first I’ve noticed.
The Elves - A German Folktale
Jan 30 • 8 min
‘The Elves’ is an anonymous German folktale that brings us kind and gentle elves that aren’t out to trick or deceive, but rather live comfortably and serve the house of Rosenberg.
The Spindle, The Shuttle, and The Needle - A German Folktale
Jan 28 • 9 min
The Brothers Grimm bring us the love story of ‘The Spindle, The Shuttle, and The Needle’ with a beautiful orphan, a goodly Godmother, a Prince, and some enchanted tools.
Water and Salt - An Italian Folktale
Jan 25 • 6 min
After two rather depressing (and violent) stories from Italy this week I’m happy to bring you ‘Water and Salt’ - a story that has no dismemberment, death or abuse. Just attempted murder.
The Mason and His Son - An Italian Folktale
Jan 23 • 11 min
‘The Mason and His Son’ has some truly messed up parts. Theft, decapitation, numerous burials/exhumations and even senicide ends up with a reward in this Italian folktale.
Fair Maria Wood - An Italian Folktale
Jan 21 • 12 min
‘Fair Maria Wood’ is the kind of folktale that I deliberate heavily before sharing because of the extreme misogyny and abuse. In the end I hope that this spurs conversation about abuse and the place that our folklore has in having brought us to where we a
The Night on the Battlefield - A Chinese Folktale
Jan 18 • 7 min
Haunted burial grounds are a standard part of every culture’s folklore. ‘The Night on the Battlefield’ is one such tale from China with a very interesting twist.
The Dragon After His Winter Sleep - A Chinese Folktale
Jan 16 • 4 min
‘The Dragon After His Winter Sleep’ teaches us one of the most fascinating things I’ve learned from folklore. Definitely the most interesting thing I’ve learned about dragons in a long, long time.
Women’s Words Part Flesh and Blood - A Chinese Folktale
Jan 14 • 7 min
I don’t see any women’s words parting flesh and blood in this Chinese folktale, but ‘Women’s Words Part Flesh and Blood’ is hands down my new favorite tale about moderation.
How the Pigeon Became a Tame Bird - A Brazilian Folktale
Jan 11 • 9 min
It’s hard to read some folklore without seeing the racist attitudes that are undeniably present. Especially in stories like ‘How the Pigeon Became a Tame Bird’, where it has no bearing whatsoever on the origin it supposedly brings us.
How the Monkey Became a Trickster - A Brazilian Folktale
Jan 9 • 6 min
In ‘How the Monkey Became a Trickster’ the monkey uses his skill and knowledge to trick every other animal in existence. Because of course he would.
Why the Tiger and the Stag Fear Each Other - A Brazilian Folktale
Jan 7 • 9 min
The Tiger and the Stag are the Odd Couple of the animal kingdom in ‘Why the Tiger and the Stag Fear Each Other’ and bring some next level passive aggression to their relationship.
Teeny-Tiny - An English Folktale
Jan 4 • 4 min
For the end of a tiny week of folklore we have a teeny-tiny tale from Joseph Jacobs filled with the most amazing alliteration that I absolutely love.
Johnny-Cake - An English Folktale
Jan 2 • 8 min
England’s ‘Johnny-Cake’ is much like Norway’s ‘The Pancake’, but the wily nature of the fox provides an ending that makes this a uniquely English folktale.
Top of 2018, #1 - The Golden Arm - An English Folktale
Dec 31, 2018 • 4 min
As we end 2018 we’re looking back at your three favorite tales of the year. Your favorite story in 2018 was the English folktale ‘The Golden Arm’.
Top of 2018, #2 - The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilisa - A Russian Folktale
Dec 28, 2018 • 25 min
As we end 2018 we’re looking back at your three favorite tales of the year. Your second favorite story was the Russian folktale of ‘The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilisa’.
Top of 2018, #3 - The Sugar-Candy House - A Belgian Folktale
Dec 26, 2018 • 7 min
As we end 2018 let’s look back at your three favorite tales of the year. Your third favorite story was the Belgian folktale of ‘The Sugar Candy House’.
An Account of a Visit From St. Nicholas - A Christmas Folktale
Dec 24, 2018 • 5 min
Merry Christmas from The Folktale Project! Today’s folktale is an annual tradition on the podcast - a reading of Clement C. Moore’s ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’.
Mrs. Santa Claus - A Christmas Folktale
Dec 21, 2018 • 8 min
In ‘Mrs. Santa Claus’ we get to see Mrs. Claus being awesome and stepping in to hand deliver three dolls that Santa forgot at the North Pole.
Babouscka - A Russian Christmas Folktale
Dec 19, 2018 • 6 min
I absolutely love the story of ‘Babouscka’ - the old Russian woman who declined to follow the Three Wise Men on their way to Bethlehem to see the Christ child, then decided to bring him some toys in the morning.
The Legend of The Thunder Oak - A Christmas Folktale
Dec 17, 2018 • 6 min
Stories like ‘The Legend of The Thunder Oak’ do an amazing job of showing how Christianity absorbed the rituals and ceremonies of other religions. Plus we get yet another story of the first Christmas tree.
Androcles - A Greek Folktale
Dec 14, 2018 • 9 min
For our final Greek folktale let’s look at two versions of a story that most (myself included) conflate with ‘The Mouse and The Lion’ - ‘Androcles’.
The Hare With Many Friends - A Greek Folktale
Dec 12, 2018 • 4 min
In ‘The Hare With Many Friends’ Aesop shows us the failing in relying on quantity over quality when it comes to friendships.
The Fairy Comb - A Greek Folktale
Dec 10, 2018 • 11 min
‘The Fairy Comb’ is a Greek story that’s largely about consent and just how damaging it can be to act without it.
The Dun Cow - A Russian Folktale
Dec 7, 2018 • 11 min
In ‘The Dun Cow’ it’s as if Alexander Afanasyev tried to put together as many folktales as humanly possible. And incredibly - it works!
The Wood Sprite - A Russian Folktale
Dec 5, 2018 • 5 min
‘The Wood Sprite’ is a Russian tale all about a mischievous creature who lives in the wood and leaves far more questions than answers.
The Bear, the Dog and the Cat - A Russian Folktale
Dec 3, 2018 • 9 min
‘The Bear, the Dog and the Cat’ is the most Russian version of the ‘Old Sultan’ folktale I’ve ever come across, with the inclusion of the most cattish cat ever.
The Death of the Little Hen - A Brothers Grimm Folktale
Nov 30, 2018 • 5 min
‘The Death of the Little Hen’ is exactly what you expect when you know you’re listening to a Brothers Grimm story. Namely that everyone dies.
The Frog King, or Iron Henry - A Brothers Grimm Folktale
Nov 28, 2018 • 10 min
In ‘The Frog King’ we learn that we should always keep our promises, no matter how ridiculous it may be. Also, always be nice to frogs - they tend to be transformed royalty.
The Crystal Ball - A Brothers Grimm Folktale
Nov 26, 2018 • 9 min
‘The Crystal Ball’ is a tale of love and the strength of brotherly love between the sons of an enchantress and, of course, a kidnapped princess.
A Bird in Search of a Mate - An American Folktale
Nov 23, 2018 • 5 min
‘A Bird in Search of a Mate’ is a silly, sweet love story from North America. The perfect way to head into the weekend!
The Revenge of Josiah Breeze - An American Thanksgiving Folktale
Nov 21, 2018 • 8 min
In ‘The Revenge of Josiah Breeze’ we see that truly everyone should be invited to the Thanksgiving table, even an enemy.
The May-Pole of Merrymount - An American Folktale
Nov 19, 2018 • 5 min
In ‘The May-Pole of Merrymount’ we get a much needed reminder of how religious oppression can destroy a perfectly good time.
The Three Fools - An English Folktale
Nov 16, 2018 • 8 min
‘The Three Fools’ is a version of ‘The Three Sillies’ where the end actually makes me smile. Like a lot.
Mr. Miacca - An English Folktale
Nov 14, 2018 • 6 min
‘Mr. Miacca’ is a pretty terrifying boogey man who matches wits with the very bad boy Tommy Grimes.
The Fish and The Ring - An English Folktale
Nov 12, 2018 • 9 min
‘The Fish and The Ring’ is a story about how you just can’t fight fate. A super horrible, misogynistic story about how you can’t fight fate.
Why the Monkey Still Has a Tail - A Brazilian Folktale
Nov 9, 2018 • 6 min
‘Why the Monkey Still Has a Tale’ is a progressive tale from Brazil that shows what always happens when two friends play pranks on each other - someone always take it too far.
The Adventures of a Fisherman’s Son - A Brazilian Folktale
Nov 7, 2018 • 16 min
‘The Adventures of a Fisherman’s Son’, like so many of the Brazilian tales captured by Elsie Spicer Eells, takes a common trope of folklore and adds a little something special.
Why the Banana Belongs to The Monkey - A Brazilian Folktale
Nov 5, 2018 • 9 min
The ending of ‘Why the Banana Belongs to The Monkey’, in all of its absurdity, is one of my favorite endings in all of folklore.
The Devil’s Match - A Czechoslovak Folktale
Nov 2, 2018 • 13 min
In ‘The Devil’s Match’ we finally have a Devil who doesn’t win and a wise farmer who ends up walking away with his bag of gold.
Stingy Jack - An Irish Folktale
Oct 31, 2018 • 4 min
Happy Halloween! Today I’m rectifying a great injustice, and bringing you the story of the origin of the Jack O’Lantern and one man who got the better of the Devil and still lost out in the end - Stingy Jack.
General Moulton and The Devil - An American Folktale
Oct 29, 2018 • 7 min
In our first of three stories about making deals with the Devil in honor of Halloween, General Jonathan Moulton of New Hampshire shows us all why you shouldn’t try to trick the Devil.
The Wizard-Dervish - A Turkish Folktale
Oct 26, 2018 • 10 min
In ‘The Wizard-Dervish’ Turkish folklore combines a great number of folk tropes (forsaking a child that was born through magical intervention, three princesses and a choice, lots of transmutation and even an awkwardly extended wedding.
The Liver - A Turkish Folktale
Oct 24, 2018 • 6 min
‘The Liver’ is my new favorite progressive story. So much more action oriented (and less silly) than the English versions.
The Creation - A Turkish Folktale
Oct 22, 2018 • 5 min
The Turkish story of ‘The Creation’ is an amazing creation tale that lets us in on the creation of the first man - and the first dog.
Parsley - An Italian Folktale
Oct 19, 2018 • 11 min
‘Parsley’ is the original ‘Rapunzel’ but there’s a dash of the standard Eastern European “escape from Baba Yaga” in there that makes this my favorite maiden in a tower tale.
The Ant and The Mouse - An Italian Folktale
Oct 17, 2018 • 4 min
‘The Ant and The Mouse’ is the heartbreaking story of a young ant in love with a gluttonous mouse.
The Ass That Lays Money - An Italian Folktale
Oct 15, 2018 • 10 min
‘The Ass That Lays Money’ is one of my favorite Italian folktales and it ends with a special appearance from the Beater.
The Little Hunting Dog - A Chinese Folktale
Oct 12, 2018 • 6 min
‘The Little Hunting Dog’ reminds me a ton of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, with a scholar being aided by tiny protectors.
A Legend of Confucius - A Chinese Folktale
Oct 10, 2018 • 4 min
In ‘A Legend of Confucius’ we see the morality of Confucianism and the great knowledge of Confucius in an experience with Tsin Schi Huang after the great teacher’s death.
Fox-Fire - A Chinese Folktale
Oct 8, 2018 • 5 min
‘Fox-Fire’ is a short, simple story from Chinese Folklore about the elixir of life being “borrowed” from a fox.
The Dancers - A German Folktale
Oct 5, 2018 • 8 min
‘The Dancers’ is our final German story of the week and features an agitated priest who curses a group of local revelers. It’s pretty much German folklore’s version of Footloose, featuring a curse from the heavens.
The Flaming Castle - A German Folktale
Oct 3, 2018 • 6 min
I have to say the headless horseman in Germany’s ‘The Flaming Castle’ is much, much more disciplined than the American version. And let’s all remember that torturing old women for secrets never ends well for anyone.
The Conclave of Corpses - A German Folktale
Oct 1, 2018 • 11 min
‘The Conclave of Corpses’ is the first ghost story I’ve told on The Folktale Project that actually gave me chills the first time I read it. OK, the first few times I read it.
The Wanderers - A Maori Folktale
Sep 28, 2018 • 9 min
The Maori story of ‘The Wanderers’ will be familiar tale to those of us who saw last 2016’s Disney hit Moana as the origin story of the Maori as they left Hawa-iki.
On The Moon - A Maori Folktale
Sep 26, 2018 • 10 min
In ‘On the Moon’ we have an abduction and a dash of Stockholm syndrome. But we learn who really is the face in the moon, so there’s that.
Wonderwings - A New Zealand Fairy Tale
Sep 24, 2018 • 8 min
In the fairy tale of ‘Wonderwings’ from New Zealand we learn how a fairy gets her beautiful wings.
Ermine and The Hunter
Sep 21, 2018 • 13 min
In ‘Ermine and The Hunter’ we have yet another tale where I feel pity for the antagonist. But folklore, like history, is written by the winners.
The Tobacco Fairy from The Blue Hills
Sep 19, 2018 • 10 min
Is ‘The Tobacco Fairy from The Blue Hills’ a Canadian folktale or an elaborate, long play Philip Morris ad?
The Mermaid of the Magdalenes
Sep 17, 2018 • 11 min
‘The Mermaid of the Magdalenes’ is a story of the making of a mermaid that’s less about the mermaid than how delicious sardines are and how amazing the lobster is.
The Sugar-Candy House
Sep 14, 2018 • 8 min
‘The Sugar-Candy House’ is one of the very few tales in which I’ll defend the motives of the villain. I mean imagine you’re enjoying your retirement when a couple of kids start eating your house!
Why Cats Always Wash After Eating
Sep 12, 2018 • 3 min
I love a chance to get a good laugh in at a cat’s expense and ‘Why Cats Always Wash After Eating’ doesn’t fail to deliver.
How the Goldfinch Got His Colors
Sep 10, 2018 • 5 min
‘How the Goldfinch Got His Colors’ is a heartwarming tale of a bird who missed out on having his plumage painted, but in the end received the more brilliant colors.
Prince Spin Head and Miss Snow White
Sep 7, 2018 • 17 min
It’s not the Snow White that you’re expecting, but ‘Prince Spin Head and Miss Snow White’ is still a love story. It’s also an origin tale hiding in plain sight, which is amazing.
The Goblins Turned to Stone
Sep 5, 2018 • 13 min
‘The Goblins Turned to Stone’ is the kind of meandering, multi-faceted tale that William Elliot Griffis seems to thrive on bringing from the Dutch people. And we all love him for it!
The Boy Who Wanted More Cheese
Sep 3, 2018 • 15 min
I feel like there’s a little bit of Klaas from ‘The Boy Who Wanted More Cheese’ in all of us. Always wanting more and never really prepared for when we get it.
The Dead Ship of Harpswell
Aug 31, 2018 • 3 min
Our last story from New England, ‘The Dead Ship of Harpswell’, features a prophetic death ship off the coast of Maine, because New Englanders really, really like their ghost ship stories.
The Loss of Jacob Hurd
Aug 29, 2018 • 4 min
In ‘The Loss of Jacob Hurd’ we see the unfortunate outcome of accusing one’s child of witchcraft.
The Forest Smithy
Aug 27, 2018 • 6 min
In Charles Skinner’s ‘The Forest Smithy’ we have a very Skinner unsolved mystery from New England featuring the hidden contents of a mysterious cushion.
The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse
Aug 24, 2018 • 4 min
Finish off a week of Aesop with one of the most famous of his fables and the root of all of the country vs. city stories you’ve ever seen or heard - ‘The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse’.
The Jackdaw and The Peacocks
Aug 22, 2018 • 3 min
In ‘The Jackdaw and The Peacocks’ Aesop tries to keep people in their place in society. Showing that clearly some of Aesop’s fables haven’t aged well.
The Hares and Frogs in a Storm
Aug 20, 2018 • 3 min
In ‘The Hares and Frogs in a Storm’ Aesop tries valiantly to gets us to not live in fear and be ruled by that fear. A noble (but difficult) pursuit.
The Flute
Aug 17, 2018 • 12 min
In ‘The Flute’ we see all of the ill intentions of every “evil stepmother” story we’ve ever come across carried out. And it’s as terrible as you would imagine.
The Good Thunder
Aug 15, 2018 • 11 min
In ‘The Good Thunder’ Rai-Den sends Rai-Tara, the God of Thunder’s son, to the Earth to learn a lesson from mankind.
The Black Bowl
Aug 13, 2018 • 16 min
‘The Black Bowl’ is a Japanese story about true love and how that love can’t be blocked by anything, even a giant rice bowl.
Truthful Joseph
Aug 10, 2018 • 4 min
Honesty is definitely the best policy - especially if your name is ‘Truthful Joseph’. Even when the impossible choice before you is to lie or face the wrath of the King.
The Ass
Aug 8, 2018 • 4 min
In ‘The Ass’ we meet the one animal that’s able to frustrate God, the ass. Because if someone’s going to push the Lord over the edge of course it’s going to be the ass.
The Parrot
Aug 6, 2018 • 4 min
In ‘The Parrot’ we’re presented with that most prevalent of themes in Italian folklore - it’s better to be clever than rich and powerful. Always.
The White Duck
Aug 3, 2018 • 11 min
Our final Russian folktale of the week has a witch, an easily duped king and will answer the question of what happens to the unborn babies if you transform a pregnant woman into a duck. Because I know I’ve always asked myself that very question!
The Bear, The Boar, and The Fox
Aug 1, 2018 • 5 min
‘The Bear, The Boar, and The Fox’ is another Russian folktale with those trying to do something dishonest getting their just desserts (and then some in the case of The Bear). Seeing a trend?
The Smith and The Devil
Jul 30, 2018 • 11 min
The Russian story of ‘The Smith and The Devil’ is one of the oldest tales we’ve done on the podcast and is the perfect “deal with the devil” story.
The Pen and The Inkstand
Jul 27, 2018 • 7 min
In Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Pen and The Inkstand’ the poet shows a great deal of self-awareness. To which his instruments are , of course, completely blind.
The Greenies
Jul 25, 2018 • 7 min
In ‘The Greenies’ Hans Christian Andersen will make you feel guilty for wanting to kill off the plant lice infesting your roses by giving them a voice filled with pride and sorrow.
A Leaf From The Sky
Jul 23, 2018 • 10 min
‘A Leaf From The Sky’ or ‘A Leaf From Heaven’ is one of my favorite Hans Christian Andersen stories. There’s HCA’s usual mixture of faith and science, a dead child and a handful of melancholy characters.
The Listening King
Jul 20, 2018 • 14 min
Our final story for the week is one of my favorites. In ‘The Listening King’ everything seems to work out in the end for everyone in the best possible way. And you can’t end on a better note than that!
Lady Clare
Jul 18, 2018 • 5 min
‘Lady Clare’ may have been scandalous when first told, but it’s a familiar trope for today’s sitcoms. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable though.
Manoel Littlebean
Jul 16, 2018 • 7 min
This week we’re off to Portugal, starting with the familiar - but still unique - ‘Manoel Littlebean’!
The History of Jack the Giant-Killer
Jul 13, 2018 • 13 min
Let’s end the week of English folklore with one of the most English stories of all time, ‘The History of Jack the Giant-Killer’. If you think Jack only killed one giant you’ve only heard part of the story.
Princess of Canterbury
Jul 11, 2018 • 8 min
I absolutely love it when the foolish son is the smartest man in the room. Except for the Princess of course, who sees through his silliness but loves him anyway. ‘Princess of Canterbury’ is just that sort of English folktale.
The Golden Arm
Jul 9, 2018 • 4 min
In ‘The Golden Arm’ we have the story of a husband who marries for all the wrong reasons and is eventually (and rightfully) haunted for it.
Old Esther Dudley
Jul 6, 2018 • 6 min
After stories from American folklore that emphasize some of our (subjectively, of course) least desirable traits, there’s always a story like ‘Old Esther Dudley’ to remind us to be kind to those who are defeated.
George Washington’s Vision
Jul 4, 2018 • 13 min
In the annual reading of ‘George Washington’s Vision’ I ask you to listen with an ear trained to the overwhelming overtones of isolationism and religious destiny. We as a nation can’t grow if we don’t see where we’ve truly come from.
Dunderberg
Jul 2, 2018 • 4 min
The first bit of folklore from the United States this Independence Day week is ‘Dunderberg’, where we see what are ostensibly the original Dutch settlers of New York portrayed as goblins on the Hudson.
The Death of Koshchei the Deathless
Jun 29, 2018 • 26 min
In ‘The Death of Koshchei the Deathless’ Prince Ivan relies on his brothers-in-law to come back from the dead and a Baba Yaga. You know, your typical Russian love story. 😁
The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilisa
Jun 27, 2018 • 25 min
Who knew you could get in so much trouble just for bringing the Tsar a golden feather? ‘The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilissa’ stars a young and un-named archer, a talking horse, a selfish Tsar, and the beautiful Princess Vasilisa
The Hairy Man
Jun 25, 2018 • 10 min
In ‘The Hairy Man’ a young Prince saves a hairy man from becoming a spectacle, loses his birthright, gains an army, and falls in love.
Daikoku and the Oni
Jun 22, 2018 • 6 min
In ‘Daikoku and the Oni’ we get to witness the change of a nation between religions and how some lucky Gods get to make the switch as well. Plus there’s a talking rat that defeats one of the Oni!
Yorimasa, the Brave Archer
Jun 20, 2018 • 6 min
In ‘Yorimasa, the Brave Archer’ Yorimasa gets all of the credit, but in my eyes the real bravery is exhibited by his unnamed retainer who actually deals the beast the fatal blow.
The Battle of The Ape and The Crab
Jun 18, 2018 • 6 min
In the Japanese folktale ‘The Battle of The Ape and The Crab’ we see a familiar battle waged between some unfamiliar combatants.
Clever Grethel
Jun 15, 2018 • 7 min
Now this is a strong female protagonist we can all look up to! ‘Clever Grethel’ knows that a glass of wine at the end of the day is a good thing and to waste a good roast chicken is a terrible, terrible thing. Even if wasn’t meant for you.
The Peasant’s Wise Daughter
Jun 13, 2018 • 10 min
‘The Peasant’s Wise Daughter’ goes from peasant to queen by her wit, does right by a fellow peasant served an injustice and remains a queen by her cunning and love.
The Three Black Princesses
Jun 11, 2018 • 6 min
In ‘The Three Black Princesses’ we meet a burgomaster’s son who just wants to help some princesses, even if they’re probably not quite princesses.
The Two Princes
Jun 8, 2018 • 13 min
In ‘The Two Princes’ we have the tale of loving brothers, a beautiful princess and a scheming coachman. And one of the least pleasant endings for a villain since Cinderella’s stepmother got to try on red hot iron shoes.
The Sparrow and The Bush
Jun 6, 2018 • 6 min
‘The Sparrow and The Bush’ is a string of nonsensical requests showing that the English don’t have that theme on lock.
The Fox and The Cat
Jun 4, 2018 • 5 min
‘The Fox and The Cat’ is a Ukrainian tale of a trusted old friend who make his way in the world after being discarded by his master.
Other Men
Jun 1, 2018 • 6 min
The final story in the trio of Eskimo tales about how Raven created mankind is our last North American folktale of the week. This is ‘Other Men’.
The Falls of Cohoes
May 30, 2018 • 5 min
In Skinner’s ‘The Falls of Cohoes’ we have the death of a brave Seneca warrior and another case of Native Peoples being treated with respect in North American folklore.
The Last Shot at Germantown
May 28, 2018 • 6 min
Today we have a special Memorial Day story from Charles Skinner’s “Myths and Legends of Our Own Lands”, ‘The Last Shot at Germantown’ recalling the death of General Agnew at Germantown.
The First Woman
May 25, 2018 • 6 min
Picking up where we left off with Raven and the creation of mankind from “A Treasury of Eskimo Tales” we find a companion for man and plenty more to hunt and eat. This is ‘The First Woman’.
The First Man
May 23, 2018 • 7 min
You know how much I love a good origin story and there are few things better than mixing an origin story and Raven in ‘The First Man’. Leave it to Raven to create mankind by accident.
Micah Rood Apples
May 21, 2018 • 4 min
In Charles Skinner’s ‘Micah Rood Apples’ we have murder, intrigue, and of course apples.
Clever Elsie
May 18, 2018 • 10 min
Don’t let the title of the Grimm’s ‘Clever Elsie’ fool you. Nobody in this story is particularly clever.
The Aged Mother
May 16, 2018 • 3 min
‘The Aged Mother’ is a super dark and cold hearted story from the Brothers Grimm. And yes, it’s dark even for them.
The Queen Bee
May 14, 2018 • 8 min
In The Brothers Grimm’s ‘The Queen Bee’ we see a simpleton conquer a quest and win the princess by way of kindness.
Tamamo, the Fox Maiden
May 11, 2018 • 15 min
In ‘Tamamo, the Fox Maiden’, we see a mischievous spirit who even goes so far to call herself evil incarnate find a path to redemption courtesy of her love and two holy men.
Where the Frost Comes From
May 9, 2018 • 7 min
It’s an origin story, features the MeaMei/Pleiades, and it’s from Australia. So yes, I do really, really enjoy ‘Where the Frost Comes From’.
How They Found Fire
May 7, 2018 • 5 min
It’s been a while since we’ve spent time with our favorite demi god of the Pacific, Maui. In ‘How They Found Fire’ we have a very different history than “How Maui brought fire to the world’.
The Cat and The Mice + The Cat-Maiden
May 4, 2018 • 5 min
We finish our week of Greek folklore off with a special double dose of Aesop. In ‘The Cat and The Mice’ and ‘The Cat-Maiden’ we get to learn more about our own inner nature than we probably wanted to. 🐱🐭
Little Saddleslut
May 2, 2018 • 12 min
‘Little Saddleslut’ is the much darker Greek version of ‘Cinderella’. If you thought death by dancing in hot iron shoes was bad you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Belling the Cat
Apr 30, 2018 • 3 min
In honor of the newest member of the family, Andy the cat, I bring you Aesop’s story of ‘Belling the Cat’.
The Perfidious Vizier
Apr 27, 2018 • 12 min
The Arabic tale of ‘The Perfidious Vizier’ has everything, Jinn, ‘Efreet, and not one but two(!) gender swapping springs. And it has perfidious in the title. Seems like a can’t lose combination, right? It is!
The Rose Beauty
Apr 25, 2018 • 15 min
In the Turkish story of ‘The Rose Beauty’ we see some familiar themes and elements. We also see a blatant disregard of science and human anatomy. 😁