Sunday, December 14, 2014

Street team news! And Native nativities.

We're getting ready for Yule here at La Casa Cantwell. The tree is up, the gifts are (mostly) bought, and the cookie baking leviathan is cresting the hill and picking up steam on the downhill run. (Which is to say that I made three batches of cookies this weekend.)

But I've also taken a few minutes to get the Woo-Woo Team up and running. I've set up a Facebook group, which you can join by clicking here. I've got the group permissions set to "closed", which means that you'll be able to see that it exists, but your friends won't be able to see what we're posting unless they join. (Muahaha....) Ideally, my team members will read my books and post reviews of them. But really, I'm thinking of the group as just one more tool to help you guys find out about my newest work. And team members will get perks now and then. And maybe we'll create a little community along the way. It's been known to happen.

If you've got a blog, feel free to grab the team badge, too. Hope you'll join us!

I was poking around on teh intarwebz the other day (probably in lieu of something I should have been doing instead -- the circumstances are a little hazy now) and ran across some photos of Native American nativity sets.

Now I know you guys realize that Native Americans don't all live in tipis and aren't all godless heathens. But apparently a lot of people don't know that. And folks are sometimes surprised to learn that many Native Americans are Christian, even if they also honor the spirits that are important to their tribe.

The Native nativities come out of the tradition of the storyteller figurine, which Pueblo artists were making as early as the 1870s. By the early 1960s, Cochiti potters including Helen Cordero were making "singing ladies" or "singing mothers": a woman with her mouth open in song, as children clung to her. Cordero was commissioned in 1964 to make a male figure in a similar pose. She called it a storyteller. Artists from other tribes took the idea and ran with it. Today, you can find storyteller figurines just about anywhere that sells Native American-style pottery; in fact, I have one that I hang on the tree every year.

Anyway, given that Christianity is as widespread among Native Americans as it is among the general population, it's not surprising that potters make nativity sets. And some of them go for big money. The Field Museum in Chicago is selling one on its website right now for $585.

But it's not just the price tags that struck me about these nativity sets. It's that all the major figures have their mouths open. They're all singing. They're all telling the story of Jesus' birth.

I bought my storyteller ornament because of the obvious-to-me connection -- I'm a mother and I tell stories. But now that I've seen these nativity sets, I wonder whether it's supposed to be Mary with the baby Jesus. And here I am, a Pagan, putting it on my Yule tree. Ah well -- it doesn't matter. There are many, many routes to Spirit, after all, and plenty for all of us to sing about.

These moments of bloggy storytelling have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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