The Folklore of Teeth

tooth fairyOver the course of history, teeth have played such a unique role in folklore and myth.  From the idea that a large gap between the teeth symbolizes luck in life to large teeth meaning physical strength, humanity has always had some form of obsession with teeth and, of course, what happens to them once they fall out.  But where did it come from?  How have we gone from a world in which our teeth symbolize something more than just a tool for eating to becoming part of popular customs such as leaving them beneath our pillows in hopes of being visited by the Tooth Fairy?

There are multiple traditions spanning across cultures that have been followed throughout the centuries, and they’re all so very different.   From England where children were instructed to burn their baby teeth in order to be saved from hardship in the afterlife, to the Scandanavian culture where strings of teeth belonging to children were worn around the neck in order to bring good luck in battle, all the way back to medieval Europe where the burning of teeth was a tradition in order to keep witches from having total and complete power over you, each culture brings something unique and different to the already expanding lore on teeth.

Though the biggest piece of lore revolves around – what would be eventually known as – the Tooth Fairy.  But where did the fairy come from?  She is seen as a more American myth rather than as a world tradition, however she is present in other forms in different cultures.  In Spanish and Hispanic American cultures, Ratoncito Pérez is a popular figure that originated in Madrid in 1894 in which a child places a tooth beneath their pillow so that Ratoncito Pérez may exchange it for a gift.  In Italy, his name is Topolino, in France and French-speaking Belgium his name is la petite souris, and from parts of Lowland Scotland he is simply known as “a white rat who purchases children’s teeth with coins.”  Even in some Asian cultures, such as India, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, when a child loses a tooth it is customary to either throw it onto the roof – if it came from the lower jaw – or into the space beneath the floor – if it came from the upper jaw – while shouting a request for the tooth to be replaced by the tooth of a mouse.  One thing seems to be a common theme and that is the fact that the Tooth Fairy is actually a mouse.

One of the most widely practiced rituals involving teeth – one that has been documented across the globe from Russia to New Zealand to Mexico – involves the offering of the lost tooth as a sacrifice to either a mouse or rat.  This ritual – generally accompanied by some form of prayer – is performed in the hopes that the child’s adult teeth will grow in as strong and sturdy as the rodent’s.  This concept is known to as a “wish for transference,” otherwise known as “sympathetic magic.”

It’s clear that teeth have become an object of mystery and magic, leaving different cultures to believe in different folklores around the globe – though the idea that a mouse or rat is associated with most of them is quite astonishing.  So tell us, what do you believe?

 

Tooth Fairy in popular culture – there have been several movies and books that have dealt with the folklore of the Tooth Fairy and teeth themselves, from the horror movie “Darkness Falls” to the Rock’s family comedy “Tooth Fairy,” she (or he) has appeared in various forms.  A couple of popular books featuring the Tooth Fairy is “What-the-Dickens: the Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy” by Gregory Maguire and of course you have “the Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor where teeth are currency and have their own sort of magic.

5069876   Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

 

For more information about the Tooth Fairy and its folklore (sources):

https://www.frenchasyoulikeit.com/a-french-lesson-on-the-little-mouse/

https://enchantedamerica.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/the-tooth-fairy-museum-deerfield-il/

https://www.salon.com/2014/02/09/dont_tell_the_kids_the_real_history_of_the_tooth_fairy/

Monstrous Woman Scholarship

dites le avec des mots by catherine chauloux
“Dites le Avec des Mots” by Catherine Chauloux

Hello everyone. I didn’t get as much support for the fundraiser as I’d hoped, but I still want to offer a seat in the Monstrous Women workshop to a promising writer who wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise. The class begins on Thursday, August 30 and runs from 6-8:30 pm (MST). This is a reoccurring live workshop that meets weekly (with the exception of 10/25 and 11/22) through December 13.

To be considered for this scholarship placement, send a letter of intent, a financial need statement, and a short excerpt (up to 1,000 words) of your work to my email address (cmariebissett@gmail.com). The application period is short–just 4 days–so get your applications in by midnight MST on August 28. The award will be announced on Wednesday, August 29. Feel free to share! I look forward to reading your stories.

p.s. It’s not too late to support the scholarship fund. If you want to help a writer attend, the GoFundMe campaign is still live.

About the Workshop

Monstrous Women II: A Feminist Approach to Myth and Magic

This immersive workshop is designed to accommodate flexible scheduling options with no more than five participants assigned to each workshop. While craft development is included in the workshop process, the primary focus of this course is on the exploration of monstrous women in classic literature and myth as a way of providing seed material for original stories. There are five modules included in Monstrous Women II: A Feminist Approach to Myth and Magic The Shifting Shapes of Animal Brides, The Seductive Allure of the Femme Fatale, Weeping Women and Tearful Prophecies, The Female Descent into Hysteria and Madness, and Mayhem in Numbers and the Sacred Three. Weekly meetings alternate between discussions and workshops. Module materials include introductory information, select excerpts, resource links, popular re-tellings, quotes & trivia, writing prompts, and discussion questions.

Monstrous Women NEWS!

avignon
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso

Last Fall, I offered the first modules of Monstrous Women. I’d always envisioned it as a generative workshop with two distinct sets of classes, but the funny thing is that monstrous women and women monsters refuse to be sorted and placed in tidy categories. I noticed some overlap, and so I decided to just run with it.

At the end of August, I will be running the second collection of Monstrous Women with all new material. This semester the selections will focus on The Shifting Shapes of Animal Brides, The Seductive Allure of the Femme Fatale, Weeping Women and Tearful Prophecies, The Female Descent into Hysteria and Madness, and Mayhem in Numbers and the Sacred Three. At the moment, there are only TWO seats left in the Thursday evening course. (Note: This is Friday morning AEDT for the Australian writers.) Come join us. It’s going to be a monstrously wonderful time.

On a side note, if you’re interested in the course, but don’t know what to expect, check out the pieces below, which were published by alums of the first session of Monstrous Women. Enjoy!

The Velvet Castles of the Night” by Claire Eliza Bartlett (Daily Science Fiction)

They wait for you, in the velvet castles of the night.

It’s not like they have anything better to do. Everyone knows the story stops for the hero, and who would the hero be but you? That is why every mirror in every inn in this town is enchanted, showing chiseled jaws, sculpted arms. Nine out of ten heroes have a verified need for encouragement along the way.

Author’s Notes: “The Velvet Castles of the Night” was inspired by the Monstrous Women class on vampires, and my own dislike of vampires, particularly female ones, and the way they are depicted in media.

Author Bio: Claire Eliza Bartlett is a US citizen who grew up in Colorado. She studied history and archaeology and spent time in Switzerland and Wales before settling in Denmark for good. When not at her computer telling mostly false stories, she works as a tour guide in Copenhagen, telling stories that are (mostly) true.

“Hidden in the Shadow of a God” by Cassandra Schoeber (Beneath Yggdrasil’s Shadow)

Odin wasn’t returning. I’d been a fool. Thinking I was special to be granted beauty, to share his bed. Believing that because Odin chose me, that meant that I was still one of the gods. But every time he left, his magic seeped out of my veins. And I waited and waited, dependent on his good will and his return.

Like god, like man.

The bastard had used me. He’d enticed me, fucked me, and left me behind.

Without Odin, I had no more magic. And without his magic, I was only one thing.

The Hidden One.

37375855_823846428004387_3958543791899541504_oAuthor’s Notes: Intrigued by the tales of the Norse gods, I was listening to Neil Gaiman read aloud from his book on Norse Mythology. In his forward, he mentions that only a few Norse goddesses are remembered in story today. Many goddesses have names, but their lives and their deeds have long been forgotten. Curious, I researched the “forgotten ones”, intent on giving one of those goddesses a voice. I decided upon Hulda, who is only mentioned briefly as a witch and Odin’s mistress. I figured it must take a great woman to attract both the Allfather’s attention and ultimately his rejection, and so the seed for this story was planted.

In addition, during Monstrous Women, I discovered that the word “hulder” – the term for a female seductress with a cow’s tail – may have originated from Hulda’s name. I merged the two concepts, blending together the voice of a tale-less goddess with the plight of a woman cursed with the tail of a cow. And so, after hundreds of years forgotten, Hulda’s story is finally being told.

Author Bio: Cassandra Schoeber is a dark fantasy and horror writer. Unfortunately, there are times when her stories escape the page, wreak havoc, and eat innocent bystanders. She has published one novella, Ravenous with Fantasia Divinity Magazine, as well as several short stories, including: “Let It Snow” (Silver Apples Magazine); “When the Last Petal Falls” (Fantasia Divinity Magazine); “Hidden in the Shadow of a God” (Fantasia Divinity Magazine); and “He Knows” (Short and Twisted Christmas Tales).

Amended Fall 2018 Schedule & Open Seats

51WIH3kMERL._SY346_Hello everyone. It’s mid-August and we are counting down the last two weeks before workshops begin. There has been a scheduling change for Monstrous Women and a second section opened for Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Myth. All workshops begin the last week of August and run through the first week of December. There are no scheduled workshops during the week of November 19-25.

Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Myth

Required Reading includes module materials, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire, and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

(FULL/Registration Closed)
TUESDAY Morning/Afternoon–August 28; September 4, 11, 18, 25; October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; November 6, 13, 27, December 4 (10 am-12:30 pm PST/11 am-1:30 pm MST/12-2:30 pm CST/ 1-3:30 pm EST) Note: 7-9:30 pm CET

(OPEN/2 seats left)
TUESDAYS Afternoon/Evening–August 28; September 4, 11, 18, 25; October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; November 6, 13, 27, December 4 (1-3:30 pm PST/2 am-4:30 pm MST/3-5:30 pm CST/ 4-6:30 pm EST/7-9:30 pm CET)

MONSTROUS WOMEN

Required Reading includes module materials and The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley.

(OPEN/2 seats left)
THURSDAY Evening–August 30; September 6, 13, 20, 27; October 4, 11, 18, 25; November 1, 8, 15, 29, December 6 (1-3:30 pm PST/2 am-4:30 pm MST/3-5:30 pm CST/ 4-6:30 pm EST/7-9:30 pm CET) Note: Friday, 10 am-12:30 pm AEDT

REGISTRATION: To save a seat for either Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Myth or Monstrous Women: A Feminist Approach to Myth and Myth, send an email request for an invoice to Carina Bissett at cmariebissett@gmail.com. The fee to attend the workshop is $450, payable to cmariebissett@gmail.com via PayPal. There is a $100 non-refundable deposit required to hold your spot with payment in FULL prior to the first class. (Payment plans available upon request.) Returning students receive a 10% discount. Registration packet includes detailed information on each module, expectations and etiquette, and educational materials. Space is limited.

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Monstrous Women Schedule

undine2Summer is coming to a close, and we’re getting geared up for a new section of Monstrous Women with Introductions starting the last week of August. There are currently only three seats left for the Tuesday Thursday night section of this workshop. Classes run through the first week of December and will be held from 6-8:30 pm MST (5-7:30 pm PST/ 7-9:30 pm CST/ 8-10:30 EST/ 10 am-12:30 pm Wednesday AEST).

Over the course of 14 weeks, participants will write five short stories based on the following themes: The Shifting Shapes of Animal Brides, The Seductive Allure of the Femme Fatale, Weeping Women and Tearful Prophecies, The Female Descent into Hysteria and Madness, Mayhem in Numbers and the Sacred Three. Participants will also have the opportunity to workshop a selection of revised stories during portfolio sessions, which are held the last two weeks of class.

the mere wifeIn addition to the workshop materials and critique sessions, participants are required to read The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley–a modern retelling of Beowulf from the perspective of Grendel’s mother. According to Headley, Beowulf has been translated incorrectly, and her retelling hinges on one word in particular: aglæca/æglæca. This word is used to describe not only Beowulf, but also his three antagonists Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon as well.  Read more about Headley’s research and applications towards a modern retelling in the NPR Author Interview: “Beowulf In The Suburbs? ‘The Mere Wife’ Is An Epic Retelling“.

New York Times bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley presents a modern retelling of the literary classic Beowulf, set in American suburbia as two mothers―a housewife and a battle-hardened veteran―fight to protect those they love in The Mere Wife.

REGISTRATION: To save a seat for Monstrous Women: A Feminist Approach to Myth and Myth, send an email request for an invoice to Carina Bissett at cmariebissett@gmail.com. The fee to attend the workshop is $450, payable to cmariebissett@gmail.com via PayPal. There is a $100 non-refundable deposit required to hold your spot with payment in FULL prior to the first class. (Payment plans available upon request.) Returning students receive a 10% discount. Registration packet includes detailed information on each module, expectations and etiquette, and educational materials. Space is limited.

A Q&A with YA Author Claire Eliza Bartlett

claireQ. Tell us a little bit about your background, and your evolution as a writer. If you’ve taken more than one workshop at the Storied Imaginarium, what is it that keeps bringing you back?

A. I’ve always known I wanted to publish stories and novels, but I began to seriously pursue it in 2012, experimenting with style and genre to see what most appealed to me. My first short story was published in 2015, and two years later I got a publishing deal for my first novel. My recent evolution has been very much oriented towards feminism and bringing in some of the issues of our time to be reflected in fantastic settings.

I love taking classes from the Storied Imaginarium because of the unique set-up of the class. I almost always get inspiration from the subjects we study, and end up with stories I would never have written otherwise – but stories that are very much my own. I also get pushed to finish my stories! That is very important to me, as I struggle to finish short stories. These two things always make good reasons to take another class.

Q. Have you published any stories that have come out of the generative workshops at the Storied Imaginarium? If so, what inspired your pieces, and where can we read them?

A. I have one story that has been published, and one story yet to be published, both by Daily Science Fiction. The first, ‘The Velvet Castles of the Night’, is available here: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/fairy-tales/claire-eliza-bartlett/the-velvet-castles-of-the-night. It was inspired by the Monstrous Women class on vampires, and my own dislike of vampires, particularly female ones, and the way they are depicted in media.

The second story, ‘We Do Not Know What Happened to the Children,’ is forthcoming from DSF. It was inspired by Intersections of Science Fiction and Myth, the Hansel and Gretel unit.

Q. What advice do you have for writers working with fairy tales and myth as well as combining them with current science and social issues?

A. Read a lot! That way you’ll know where the rest of the market is, and what others have already covered – not to mention there will be plenty of ideas to steal. Go down rabbit holes of scientific and social interest, until something clicks. And if the fairy tale isn’t cooperating with you, change it.

Q. How did you come to writing and who are some of your influences?

A. Jane Yolen would be my primary influence – I read her book Dream Weaver (more accurately, my mother read her book Dream Weaver to me) and thought, “I’m going to do that.”

As a teen, reading Neil Gaiman really opened up my perception of what fantasy could be and do, beyond a secondary world, high fantasy noblebright extravaganza. Susanna Clarke combined my love of history and fantasy and showed me that it was possible to incorporate both in the same tale.

And more recently, great YA authors like Leigh Bardugo, Roshani Chokshi, Hanna Alkaf and more have taught me a lot about writing characters that you fall in love with from the first page, that you can’t tear yourself away from.

Q. Can you give us an insight into your writing process? Any habits when you sit down to write?

A. I am hyper productive in the morning, and only the morning – if I get started early and I’m focused, I can write 5,000 words before I stop for lunch. I won’t say they’re good words – for me, writing is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting – but I get them down, and for me the quantity is key. I like to give myself deadlines, and I don’t like to move from my desk until I’m done. Rewards don’t really work for me, so I tend to use the tough love strategy on myself. Once I stop for lunch, I switch to other writing-adjacent things, such as revising or answering emails.

Q. What is next in store for your readers?

A. At the moment I’m working on a proposal that I’m quite excited about, but I’m not sure I can say more! My novel, recently renamed to WE RULE THE NIGHT, will be released on April 2nd 2019, and has all the feminism and history-inspired fantasy that I worked with in the Storied Imaginarium! And of course, I’m still pushing those short stories.

Author Bio: Claire Eliza Bartlett is a US citizen who grew up in Colorado. She studied history and archaeology and spent time in Switzerland and Wales before settling in Denmark for good. When not at her computer telling mostly false stories, she works as a tour guide in Copenhagen, telling stories that are (mostly) true.

Author Website: www.authorclaire.com
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/17293691.Claire_Eliza_Bartlett
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bartlebett/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bartlebett
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bartlebett/