Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

truth and memory December 27, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Mythology,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:40 am
Tags: , , , , ,

One of the values of learning another language, is the enlightenment it provides to your own language.  I have links to an article about this in a previous blog post.

While I’ve been working with Mnemosyne and Lethe this week, I’ve discovered an interesting thing.

In English, the opposite of memory is forgetfulness.  In Greek lethe (forgetfulness) is opposed with aletheia (prefix ‘a-‘ making some thing the opposite, remember). Aletheia doesn’t mean memory, it means truth.

I find that very profound.  It’s not the concept of a lie that is the opposite of truth in Greek, it’s forgetfulness.

It begs pondering.

I think I can do something with the concept

.  I’m not sure what, at this point, but it fits with Ben’s reality, doesn’t it?  Lethe has robbed Grace of memory, and it keeps her from knowing the truth.

I suppose this means I’m about to be introduced to the goddess Aletheia.  I wonder what she’ll be like?   Writing is fascinating business.


Mnemosyne & Ben December 26, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Mythology,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Here is a snippet of ‘something yet to be.’ I think it will end up in Grace Awakening Myth, but it will tell me for certain in its own time. The author has very little say in these matters.  Characters have their own agendas.   Lethe is the river of forgetfulness from which humans drink before they pass into the underworld. The personification of the river is the goddess Lethe herself.  ‘She’  is Mnemosyne, goddess of memory.  ‘He’ is… uh…well.  Ben.  Sort of.


She remembers all, of course. She must. It is her talent and her obligation. It is her blessing and her curse. Everything is in balance, an essential paradox poised on the point of a pin.

He doesn’t remember everything.  Whatever he sees in those longing backward glances, Mnemosyne knows the two sided blade. She has gifted him with the joy of them, but she has blessed him with Lethe’s touch as well. Of course, he has no memory of that.

He senses the tragedies though, despite the lack of memory.  He feels the ephemeral pain of loss, rejection, disdain and disgust.  He clings to the fear of them, to fuel his pursuit, but they threaten to overwhelm him at times.  It was doing so now.  She could feel the force of her presence stirring memories in him.

A faint hum stirred the air along with a cool, gentle scent.  Mnemosyne reached behind her to a goblet that had materialized there.  She touched his shoulder, “Here, son.  Drink.”

He smiled vaguely, sipping down the draught.  He nodded gratefully, and she felt the tension leave him  as he gazed beyond the room.  “I must go.”

She nodded.  “I will do what I can from here.”

“Thank you.”

As he turned into the ether, she smiled to herself.  “Thank you, Lethe,” she said to the empty room, and heard the distant  melodious chuckle in response.

Paradox indeed.


Mnemosyne December 20, 2011

Filed under: Mythology — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:01 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve been thinking about memory.  That’s Mnemosyne’s area of responsibility.  My father is in hospital and when we visit, he is spending a lot of time with her.  Stories are told and re-told.  Stories of youth.  Of working days.  Of love.  Of betrayal.  It’s our stories that reveal what is important about us.

Mnemosyne saves the certain moments for us.  Why?  Do you sometimes savour a moment, specifically for the purpose of holding it?  Do you look at a gathering of loved ones, and feel yourself snapping a mental picture that you know will remain with you forever?  It becomes a picture that only you have.  It will alter, too.  You’ll colour it, crumple it, re-imagine it, until the image serves a purpose you want it for.

Is it a catalyst? A purpose?  A dream? An anchor?

Mnemosyne wraps us in the security of our past, and at her best she strengthens and guides us.

Memories can torture and claw though, as well.  They can hold us back in fear as much as push us forward.

We can mire in nostalgia and lose our present when Mnemosyne has too much power in our lives.



getting it October 12, 2011

I was impressed with OneMinuteBooks’ review of Grace Awakening for a couple of specific reasons. Of course, I like that she’s enthusiastic in her praise, but specifically, I love that she GETS it.

She understands that since Grace is the narrator, the reader has only as much information as Grace does. (Well, they get a little more, as they get to peek in on those 3rd person mythic realm dialogues that Grace doesn’t know about). Yes. This is confusing. Yes. This was intentional.  Yes.  This means you are Grace, in all her confusion.

I like that the reviewer gets the mythical allusions, and understands the purpose behind not telling the reader straight out. Yes. You’re supposed to be smart enough to be able to look this up yourself (with the help of the glossary at the back).  Yes. I expect that you are smart enough to figure out that there is another story happening, beyond the one that Grace knows about.   Congratulations on discovering the puzzle pieces that Grace doesn’t understand!   Reading between the lines and interpreting the additional clues take skill!  Grace hasn’t figured it out.  I’m glad when readers can!  😀

Once upon a time I was told “Grace Awakening is Twilight for intelligent girls.” I think this is true. Most people will get the surface story, but there is a lot more at play here than is apparent on the surface. It makes me happy when someone not only gets it, but actually appreciates that it’s there.

Followers of Athena, I salute you! This book was written for you!

Thanks Amanda for understanding what Grace is all about.  After a couple of weird reviews this week when I suspected the reviewers hadn’t actually read the book, this gave me faith in the process again.  Not everyone will get it, or like it, but there are more out there who do!

To read the OneMinuteBooks review visit here.


Concordia August 29, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Mythology — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:44 am
Tags: , , , , ,

In Greek mythology, the goddess in charge of unity and agreement is Harmonia.  In the Roman pantheon, it’s Concordia.  Concordia has some responsibilities that Harmonia doesn’t have.  Concordia is responsible for marital harmony and connection, as well as the unity of mankind.  In Grace Awakening, Concordia was given the surname Iugo.  Iugo is Latin and reflects this role.  According to the Google translator  iugo encompasses the following verbs:

join, joint, join together, bind together, band, link, connect, inosculate, interlace, interlock, bridge, couple, rally, compound, amalgamate, clasp, leash, pair, marry, yoke, wed, complect, harness, aggregate, conjoin, pan, agglutinate, commingle, lark, conflate, compact, unite, fun, mate

You get the idea.  Concordia’s job here is to join couples.  To ensure strong bonds of communication, she has a ceremonial rite of bonding.  Ben takes advantage of this opportunity to strengthen his ties to Grace.  He is trying to tie them together in a way that ensures no one can pull them apart.

What do you think about this?  If you had an opportunity to layer the bonds between you  and your beloved so that your communication was clear and no one could separate you, would you take advantage of it?  Or do you prefer a little mystery in your relationship?  Do you want to maintain more privacy than Grace is able to have after she’s bonded?


freaky coincidences strike again… February 10, 2011

Click to view full-sized image

All the time I was writing Grace Awakening, I’d look up some myth or fact and there would appear a strange coincidence that made the hair stand up on my arms.

I just had another one. You know that famous picture by Sandro Botticelli- Printemps? I use the close up the Three Graces component of that picture to illustrate the Grace Awakening section of this blog. If you pull out the perspective a bit, standing right beside the Graces in the centre of the  painting is a young woman. I understood that she’s supposed to be Aphrodite/Venus. She’s supervising everything that’s going on.

Guess who Botticelli based this particular image on? Are you sitting down? I’ve just learned that it was Laure de Noves de Sade, muse of Petrarch who is standing there watching the Graces dancing with that beatifical expression.  Apparently Laure beguiled Botticelli as well as Petrarca.

(The source is Mario Fubini, Laure in Dictionnaire des personnages littéraires et dramatiques de tous les temps et de tous les pays , Éd.)

Wow. Creepy.

But oh so cool!!

Grace Beguiling, indeed!


PS click on the painting and it will enlarge to full screen


going through the gate January 1, 2011

Filed under: Commentary,Grace Awakening,Mythology — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:17 am
Tags: ,

Janus is the god of beginnings, endings, doorways, gateways, and time.  Here we are in January- the month that belongs to Janus, travelling through the gateway of a new year.

Janus is a two faced God.  One head faces forward to the future and one faces back to the past.  At this time of year many of us are prone to doing the same as we consider the events of the past year and consider improvements desired in the coming one.

2010 was a wonderful year for me, as personally we celebrated a quarter century of marriage with a wonderful trip to Italy and professionally we were thrilled with  the acceptance of Grace Awakening for publication next fall.  In 2011 I hope to see completion of another manuscript that has been in the works for awhile, and hopefully it will be picked up for publication this year.  As well, we are planning a research trip to France to work on a prequel to Grace Awakening (tentatively called Grace Beguiling).  It is a project that I think Janus would find amusing, Grace moving back in time.  I also look forward to improving health by remembering to take my vitamins and getting out for more walks.  The poodles will appreciate that effort.

How about you?  What are you planning in 2011?  What awaits you on the other side of the gate?


aphrodite December 20, 2010

Filed under: Mythology,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:19 am

Aphrodite causes a lot of trouble!!  I’m sure Athena must despair of her as Aphrodite goes flaunting herself around Olympus and leaving all the men pathetic bumbling creatures in her wake. 

I’m sure Aphrodite thinks it’s fun to see the wreckage.  Athena must just shake her head and wish they weren’t such idiots.  She must want to smack them upside the head and tell them to recognise what is important.  Wisdom and intelligence are more beautiful that the hormones that Aphrodite sprinkles.  By the time the men wake up from the chemical reaction and recognise reality, their world is in shambles, and Aphrodite is simply amused.

Aphrodite: the original Mean Girl.

Look what she’s caused now.  A wife gets all puffed up with vanity as she discovers Aphrodite’s artificial beauty.  She forsakes her husband, ends up in others’ beds and cruelly flaunts it! 

Aphrodite, that is not cool.  You need to teach your followers some self-control!  You need to insist the ones who profess other faiths actually stick will all the vows they make, not to go chasing after your vain pleasures.

You are nothing but trouble, Aphrodite!


Ares and Mars November 23, 2010

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Mythology,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:42 am

Mythology crosses time and cultures.  Stories provide the metaphorical framework to explain the world.  Society needs story.  We all need to make sense of our experiences.  Every culture does this through its own mythology.

In Grace Awakening, there is a mixture of both Greek and Roman  mythology represented together as characters mingle together.  Why?  Although the Graces are Greek, they do exist within the Roman pantheon as well.  For some gods/goddesses the names change, but the character of the individuals remains essentially the same.  However, some are distinctly different and although they have things in common, those differences mean that the Greek and Roman gods are different novel characters.

Most significantly this is seen with Ares and Mars.  The Greek god of war, Ares, was known to be impetuous, rage prone and overly emotional.  He battled with unfocused violence.  On the other hand, Mars, the Roman god of war, represented all that was best of Roman military might.  It was all about control, preparation and strength. He was a skilled tactian; his wars were won with strategy as well as power.  As a result, we were able to see distinctive war gods who play very different roles in the book.

It is fun to play with that academic interpretations of mythological characters, and to develop them into realistic individuals who can live in your neighborhood.   That tough bearded guy glaring at you from that truck could be Ares.  That friendly guy who beats everyone at the gym due to his calculated strength could be Mars.  You never know the life behind the face, but with imagination you can create quite a world in every glance.


runes June 27, 2010

Filed under: Mythology,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:25 am

I was visiting a friend today and she pulled out a bag and suggested I cast  runes.  I had never heard of such a thing, but I figured it’d do no harm. A new experience.

Apparently I am at a time of change, oportunities need to be evaluated, and great success is coming. Pretty cool. A young man was also there. His runes showed that he was in frustration giving up possessions, he’d be in turmoil and then he’d face new life.   Since he had his whole life in a U-haul and was heading off on a 4000 km move, that was pretty freaky.

I went on-line afterwards to see what I could learn about runes. All I knew was that in Harry Potter Hermione had studied Ancient Runes at Hogwarts, and was able to read The Tales of Beadle the Bard in their original runic…

On the internet I learned that runes are ancient letters, and that divination with runes is simply about exploring the current situation by pondering it in the various angles brought by the tiles. The author of the site I visited suggested it’s about allowing the sub-conscious to lend its voice to decision making.


Some people don’t make a move without prayer, others without reading their horoscopes, others without consulting the Q’ran or the Bible.  The internet is handy for researching every angle of an issue.  There is always the very useful Magic Eight ball.  😉  Every consultation comes through the filter of our own consciousness and understanding. We can never know our future, because the future is mutable. We can only do the best we can and hope for the best.


%d bloggers like this: