Pears are the royalty of all fruit. Their regal line dates back centuries. And there is always an heir ap-pear-ent.
Pears are the royalty of all fruit. Their regal line dates back centuries. And there is always an heir ap-pear-ent.
Writers, how many times have you started a new story or novel, only to jump ship for a new, shinier idea? Well, your written work might have some feelings about being abandoned. The Kyorinrin is literally words given life.
In Japan, the tradition of the tsukumogami yokai allows tools and objects to acquire a spirit. Common examples of objects that can become tsukumogami include tools such as umbrellas, sandals, or teapots, as well as household items like lamps or futons. Once the object becomes a tsukumogami, it gains the ability to move and act on its own, often with mischievous or malevolent intent.
In Japanese folklore, tsukumogami are often depicted as small, furry creatures with big eyes and mischievous personalities. They are said to appear on the night of Setsubun, the day before the start of spring, and cause chaos and mischief in homes and businesses. However, some tsukumogami are more benevolent and may even bring good luck to those who keep them in their homes.
The Kyōrinrin is a special type of tsukumogami formed when a scroll or book has lain forgotten for many years. After gathering a layer of dust, the writing gains a spirit. The Kyōrinrin decorate themselves with extravagant kimonos and ornate details, perhaps because they want to be noticed by their creator. They also develop bird-like qualities: beaks and long expandable wings.
The Kyōrinrin shake off their dust and seek out their owners who have forgotten them. They only want to spread their knowledge and if it has to be by force, then so be it.
So before your own writing grabs you by the throat and forces you to read it, perhaps you should dust off your own forgotten treasures and take a peek.
As long as writing has existed, there have been writers staring at the blank page, utterly blocked. Often, we look to the divine to intervene and help us overcome writer’s block.
Here are three ancient deities of writing that might inspire your to greater narrative glory.
Seshat was a goddess credited with the invention of writing, though her consort, Thoth, received most of the credit. Seshat oversaw all libraries and was the patron of any form of writing. She is seen as either an aspect of Thoth, or his daughter or wife (Egyptian mythology is complicated).
Seshat would guide the hands of scribes as they held their reeds, helping with their attempts to communicate with the divine. In fact, her name translated to “female scribe”. She is the only Egyptian goddess seen in the actual act of writing.
Want your writing to live on forever, then Seshat is the one you should look to. The Egyptians believed that everything done on Earth was mirrored in heaven. When an author pens a story on the mortal plane, an ethereal copy was also created in the celestial realm. Seshat then placed this book in the library of the good, preserving it forever. Thus, when you pass on as a writer, everything you’ve written is waiting for you on the other side.
After the world was created, the gods and humans lived together in harmony. Only Quetzalcoatl felt sorrow for he saw that the humans were subjugated by the other gods. Quetzalcoatl adopted the human form to share divine knowledge and writing with humankind.
Quetzalcoatl was the god of writing and books. His name comes from the Nahuatl and is a compound of “Quetzal” and “Coatl”, or a combination of bird and snake. He was venerated in religious colleges and temples, where future priests were educated.
The “Plumed God” consistently went out of his way to help us poor humans. According to legend, the Aztec people ate only roots and wild game. They knew about maize, but the plant only grew on the other side of a great mountain range. Other gods attempted to move the mountain with brute force.
Only Quetzalcoatl used his wits. He noticed a stream of ants marching over the mountain. He transformed himself into an ant and finally reached the fields of maize. Still in ant form, he retrieved a single kernel and brought this back to the Aztec people, thus bringing them the gift of maize.
The Hindu goddess Saraswati embodies all of the arts. She endowed us the Hindu people with speech, wisdom and the ability to learn. She is depicted with four hands, each representing aspects of human learning — mind, intellect, alertness and ego. In one hand she holds a lotus, the symbol of knowledge and the opposite hand, she grasps the sacred scriptures, the Vedas.
A Hindu festival celebrates Saraswati’s birthday, on the fifth day of the month of Magha, known as Saraswati Puja and Saraswati Jayanti in India. Families encourage their young children to write their first words with their fingers, the very first step in writing. Educational institutions decorate statues of Saraswati, and often arrange poetic and musical celebrations.
A Sanskrit mantra can be said to the goddess, asking to grant knowledge and wisdom. Here is the the Sanskrit version:
“Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey.”
The English translation shows off the beauty of this mantra:
“May Goddess Saraswati,
who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;
who is adorned in radiant white attire,
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
and whose throne is a white lotus;
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”
There is also a curse of Saraswati. When we indulge in the arts, our fragile ego often drifts away from the pure pursuit of knowledge toward the bright lights of fame and wealth. All the more reason to ground yourself with the original intent Saraswati embodies.
Perhaps one of these deities can inspire your own words. At the very least, you can feel in good company as writers for thousands of years have looked to the divine for inspiration.
Everyone wants to lower our carbon footprint and stop climate change. So imagine when scientists come up with a novel solution — a fungus that gobbles up carbon from the air. It could be the savior of the planet. The only problem, this fungus likes to eat carbon wherever it exists. It’s particularly fond of the carbon locked in living cells.
This story tracks a teen girl who is left at home to care for her younger brother and baby. It plays off the tale of the Three Little Pigs with the carbon-gobbling fungus taking the role of the wolf. Can she keep her family safe with dwindling food and the fungus chewing up the house around her?
This story appears in the new anthology by Write Hive titled “Navigating Ruins.” You can find it on Amazon, both in Kindle and print.
This is a Young Adult story tackling issues of self-harm and suicide. It is intended for teen readers or older. If you want to read from the beginning, click over to chapter 1.
The front door squealed shut, the sound reverberating through the glass walls. Kassandra searched for a place to hide, but the options were limited. No way was she going to slip under the covers with paper doll girl.
Kassandra spied one more set of stairs leading up and scooped her nightingale off the floor. The prick of its claws against her palm created a tingling sensation. What would happen if she held it to her chest? The bird would probably leap inside like the one from the room full of cages. But what then?
Kassandra hurried up the stairs, her footsteps creating little clouds of dust. No one had climbed them in a long time. At the top, she emerged into an area only slightly larger than Mom’s room back home. This had to be the top of the tower. Even though the walls were composed of stained glass, it seemed darker. She ran one finger along the wall and pulled away a layer of soot.
Squawking from the bird room echoed through the tower, the noise dampened only a little by the two floors of stained glass. A chill swept through Kassandra. It was Luke. He was chasing down the birds she’d set free. Corralling them back into their cages.
The nightingale fluttered out of her hands. As it scuttled around the floor, the bird left tiny footprints in the layer of dust. Various bits of wood and stained glass lay stacked everywhere. The room swayed, boards squeaking as they shifted position, and she planted her feet to keep from teetering. After a moment, the floor swung back, tilting the other way. Bits of glass clinked together. It felt like a ship rocking back and forth over waves. Of course. The tower hitched a ride on the massive snail.
The door downstairs opened and she jumped. Luke was right below her. Any second, he would climb to this level.
She scanned the stacks of wood for a hiding place and spotted a thin ladder leading to a trap door in the ceiling. Several long planks blocked the way. Kassandra rushed over and began setting them aside.
Her heart leapt. But she hadn’t made the sound. It came from downstairs. Then another crash along with glass shattering. Kassandra knelt down and wiped dust from a section of floor. Luke stomped around the room, flinging papers from the desk.
The sound of wood scraping against glass alerted her and she jerked her head up. One of the boards had slipped, and was now sliding to the floor. Kassandra lunged for it, but too late. It thunked into a pile of scraps. The whole mess tumbled to the floor with a resounding smack, sending the nightingale shooting into the air. A glance down showed Luke running for the stairs.
Kicking the last plank aside, Kassandra scrambled up the ladder and threw open the trap door. A blast of wind slapped her face. The sky outside was a perfect cloudless blue. She scrambled through the opening. The nightingale attempted to follow, but it was hampered by its crippled wing. It landed on the ladder, three rungs down.
Through the stained glass walls, she saw a distorted silhouette of Luke climbing steadily.
“Come on,” Kassandra said in a sharp whisper.
The bird launched off the rung and flapped up through the opening. She slammed the trap door shut, cutting off the room below.
Shards of broken glass and twisted bits of lead made up the parapet of the tower. Once it must have been gorgeous, but now the edges were hacked apart. This must have been where Luke salvaged all the chunks of glass.
The floor swayed with the motion of Monstro the Snail. Below, two massive eye stalks fixed forward as the creature continued its journey through the bleak landscape. The nightingale waddled around, pecking at the floor. The tower shifted to one side and it threw out its wings to hold its balance.
Kassandra scooted toward the edge for a peek down. The parapet would have provided a railing, but now the floor went straight to the edge. The tower tilted again. Thrown off balance, she grabbed for a twisted strip of lead molding. It snapped free and her feet flew off the side. Kassandra flung her arms out, clasping the remains of the parapet. The glass cracked, but it held. She dangled half over the edge.
Her feet groped for a foothold along the slick wall. Kassandra wanted to haul herself up, but the more pressure she put on the thin sheet of glass, the more it fractured. A strip of lead ran along the edge, keeping her hands from being shredded.
A squeaking sound grabbed her attention. The trap door was opening. The nightingale scuttled to the side as the door fully opened. Kassandra tensed, preparing to face Luke. Instead Gabriel popped through the hole.
He rushed over, callused hands gripping her wrists with surprising strength, and heaved her up. Once on solid flooring again, she wrapped him up in a fierce hug.
“I thought you’d left me.”
“Never.” He squeezed her tighter.
Kassandra picked up his musky wood scent again. “Don’t go again. This place sucks even more when you’re alone.”
She pulled away, realizing what a horrible thing she’d just said. This guy had been locked in the Tarot deck for centuries and Kassandra was complaining about a couple of hours.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
Gabriel squeezed her shoulders. “You have endured more of this cursed deck than most. You need not apologize.” The tower lurched to one side. “Let us go below.”
He let her climb first. Kassandra felt the whoosh of air as the nightingale dropped down. Then came a crescendo of chirping. Gabriel had brought up the other nightingale, setting the cage on a table with a sheet draped over it. Stepping off the ladder, she was drawn to this piece of furniture. Various objects bulged under the white sheet, creating odd shapes.
Kassandra lifted the birdcage off and snagged a corner of the fabric. Pulling the sheet away released a cloud of dust right into her face. She stepped back, coughing and fanning the air. The dust cleared to reveal three brass cups and a small leather ball. They reminded her of the trick Luke had played with the bottle caps and the pea. The room swayed and the ball rolled on the table, leaving a little trail in the dust. Kassandra caught the ball before it plummeted off the side.
“Luke could have tossed these into the corner and torn up the table like the others.” She nodded toward the scraps of wood. “Why leave it?”
“This was Luke’s favorite trick. He loved fooling people into thinking the way he wanted.”
Kassandra dropped the leather ball into a brass cup. It landed with a clunk and kicked up a puff of dust.
“This is just sleight of hand. No magic or wizardry.” Instantly she recalled what Auntie Jo had said about the original meaning of the card. “Luke is nothing more than a con man.”
“You’re wrong. The cards change you somehow. They amplify your natural talents.”
“What? He’s an even better juggler now?”
Gabriel looked her straight in the eye. “Luke can read minds.”