One of the things I’ve learned in my Druid studies,and my genealogy research so far is much more of what it means to be an “American”.
Not the “baseball and apple pie” kind, but really the stories of “my people”, compared to being a British or Celtic Druid. This has been important to me precisely because I can see UK Druids have a particular cultural connection to their places and their stories, but I see those as an example of “what I am not”. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about “OK if I’m not that, who am I?”
One thing I noticed is here in the US people frequently will say “I’m Irish” or “I’m Scottish”. They do NOT mean that they were born in, or even that their grandparents or parents were born in Ireland or Scotland,
they mean heritage. But they never say that. They also will say “I’m Cherokee” or “I’m Blackfoot” but they also mean by heritage-they do not mean currently enrolled most of the time.
But one thing that I’ve struggled with is that if we American Druids are NOT British, then where are our stories? And do we even have a right to use the stories that are not really ours-even though they did belong to our ancestors. The answer, for me, for now, is yes. We do have some connection to those stories-my Welsh Ancestors from Anglesey got me into this! But part of me longs for tales as epic as those of Taliesin and Ceridwen that are based here, where I live and involve people like my ancestors-most of whom were of extremely mixed heritage even as early as the 1600’s. That’s part of what makes us Uniquely American.
I am not going to choose solely Native American tales, which I feel (big can of worms, so this is my opinion) we should not be co-opting, especially if we have zero heritage from that tribe, and especially if we only live in a place and have not lived there long. To me, those are off limits.
So now I’ve gotten very, very interested in “American” myths, legends and folk-tales.
I don’t know that we have any myths-maybe we are not old enough as a culture to have gods and goddesses and morality tales-maybe that will be another 600 years in coming…but I am finding out now we DO have “American” Tales.
Yes, some of them were only written a little over 100 years ago, like Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” or Mark Twain’s “The Jumping Frog of Calavaras County”
but there are some, especially from the Eastern US, that have been told elder-to youngster-the stories, like the Uncle Remus Tales that now stand as uniquely American even though they may be traceable, in part back to Africa, or to Native tales or to the UK itself.
Although I detest the romanticized 1800’s references to “brave Indian warriors” and “Cherokee Princesses” and will endeavor to choose versions that leave out that sort of innocent, oppressor drivel, that too is a part of who we are, and thankfully we (mostly) know better now.
So those are the tales I will be collecting and creating links to here on my blog, under the category of “Tales and Myths”….And if you know of any wondrous American tales that I should not miss, please feel free to contact me with suggestions.