Malevolent Creatures Research

mythThere have been two main categories of research for Malevolent Creatures. First is the folklore itself: stories, traditions, rituals and beliefs from the British Isles that center around fairies and other supernatural creatures. The second is how those beliefs fit together, how they have changed over the years and the various theories about where they came from and the meanings behind them.

One of my favorite pieces of reading has been Karen Armstrong’s book A Short History of Myth, which traces the evolution of mythology from the Paleolithic period to the present day. In considering the place of mythology in our world Armstrong writes that “The imagination is the faculty that produces religion and mythology…the imagination is also the faculty that has enabled scientists to bring new knowledge to light.” She also points out that “…like science and technology, mythology…is not about opting out of this world but about enabling us to live more intensely within it.”

MCResearchThat intensity is evident in nearly all of the individual stories and beliefs we discovered and is one of the reasons they have been retold and appropriated over and over; by poets, by scholars and by writers of literature for all ages. I am personally very interested in how fairy stories have been rewritten by authors of young adult and children’s literature and one of the pleasures of this research process for me is that it has given me an excuse to re-read some old favorite children’s books that incorporate British and Celtic myth. If you are interested in British folklore but maybe don’t feel like getting into the heavy academic side of things, I recommend these titles as both fun and worthwhile.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

The Dark is Rising (series) by Susan Cooper

The Moorchild by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea

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Library Connections for Fabulas Mayas

Many of the stories in the show came from this collection.

Many of the stories in the show came from this collection.

I wrote the show Fabulas Mayas because I wanted to share some of the rich oral traditions among the Maya people of Mexico and Central America. While these stories are nowhere near as widespread and familiar as European folktales, they often follow similar patterns and are humorous and entertaining. Most of our work at Wit’s End Puppets is inspired by stories and artists that you can find easily at any library or bookstore. If you saw Fabulas Mayas and are interested in learning more, or if you just like stories and sharing them, here are some resources to look for at the DC Public Library.

Source for some of the stories of Fabulas Mayas:

The Monkey’s Haircut and other stories told by the Maya by John Bierhorst

Other Latin-American stories and story collections:

People of Corn by Mary-Joan Gerson

Tales our Abuelitas Told by F. Isabel Campoy & Alma Flor Ada

The Hungry Woman: myths and legends of the Aztecs by John Bierhorst

Señor Cat’s Romance by Lucia Gonzalez

Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales

Once Upon a Time/Habia una vez by Reuben Martinez