Sunday, January 22, 2006

Seven Cherokee Myths

I'm reading Seven Cherokee Myths by G. Keith Parker. I worked with Keith for six and a half years and the strange thing about reading his book is that I don't really hear the voice I know so well. I do see him reading the journey he and I took into the story of Tsul’Kalu’, or Judaculla, the Slant-Eyed Giant. But he always saw "perfect love casteth out fear" as a fuller answer than I did. I see the issue of being seen as more fundamental to the story than the issue of fear.

The book has carefully selected texts for seven Cherokee myths and sets them in some historical context. Keith even uses Theda Perdue's analysis of gender patterns among the Cherokee. Seven Cherokee Myths reflects on the myths in several different ways. Keith grew up and now lives in the area discussed and one of the things he does is set the stories in the actual landscape, as well as in the social patterns of Cherokee culture. The primary focus of the book is on a Jungian analysis of the stories, pointing out archetypes and reflecting on how the stories speak to how individuals struggle today with family issues and the task of becoming fully ourselves. For each story there is also a reflection on how it compares to Christian theology, not evaluating beliefs against each other but rather pointing out similarities that reflect deep patterns, in some cases common to many cultures.

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