Archive for the ‘edits’ Category

Bards of the Pacific: the Legacy of Katharine Luomala

October 23, 2014

katharine-luomala-1955-1959_250x250 (image from Guggenheim collection)

Bards of the Pacific — the Legacy of Katharine Luomala

As the autumn season continues to wind down toward Samhain, it is a time to celebrate the legacy of the honored dead. This multi-part article is going to focus on the life’s work of my great aunt Katharine Luomala Phd, Polynesian folklorist.

As you hopefully know already, bards and oral instruction are a crucial part of the Druid path among humans, however it is now structured. So also was it throughout Polynesia. The peoples of these far-flung island nations are remarkably similar both genetically and culturally, part of a prehistoric diaspora from Southeast Asia that some argue stretched as far east as the Americas. Marked similarities in their cultural practices, traditions, and mythologies fascinate folklorists, who rushed to record what remained of the oral traditions after missionary and colonial contact in the early 20th century.

Much like the Neo-Pagan movement, modern Polynesians are rediscovering their cultural roots, and in the process rediscovering the preservation of their ancestral stories by dedicated academics like my ancestor, Dr. Luomala. Traditional practices are enriched, and new ones formed, with the help of such studies. And unlike many scholarly works, her writing is seldom dry and inaccessible. Her popular and synthesizing style earned her the 1984 Hawaii Award for Literature shortly before her death.

So how did a Finnish-American farm girl from northern Minnesota end up dedicating her life to collecting local myths at the University of Hawaii? For dedicated is the correct description. She never married; she traveled the world upon the conference circuit sharing with her peers, and was known as extraordinarily helpful to her grateful students. Her collected writings number in the hundreds. The University of California-Berkeley houses her collected papers and memorabilia.–+Dept.+of+Anthropology&subjectid=4015&item=3

Katharine, or as the family knew her, ‘Aunt Kai’, was a seldom seen legend to us kids back in the north woods. Born before World War I, she grew up tri-lingual in Finnish, Swedish and English on the Luomala dairying homestead in St Louis County near Duluth, Minnesota. Her childhood recollections of surviving the Great Cloquet Forest Fire she has shared with the Minnesota Historical Society.

The fire spared the homestead, which the family will eventually give to the local Historical Society as well, as a rare surviving example of 19th c. Finnish log construction; but for now it is still in use by Luomala descendants. I too grew up there, in a no-nonsense farming family that encouraged scholarship with a glass cabinet-filled library of 19th and early 20th century books against its plastered plank walls, including first editions of Rackham’s fairy tales, science texts, and the Kalevala.

From here young Katharine progressed in her academics as far as the distant paradise of California, attending the University of California-Berkeley, known for its strong contributions to anthropology, ethnology, and folklore.A stint of research in Navajo country interviewing elders introduced her to folklore as a discipline, so she threw herself into academia, getting her doctorate and relocating to the growing new University of Hawaii. Phd level was achieved in 1936.

She also served the US government during World War II, recommending largely ignored re-socialization measures for the Japanese citizens in internment camps. This was when she met the love of her life, a US Navy officer who was killed in action before he could divorce his first wife to be with her. They spent happy times together, I am sure, both in California and in Hawaii— but this, while serving as fodder for future romance novels by yours truly, is not how Katharine wished to be remembered. She poured out all that loving energy into her life’s work instead— capturing what she poetically described as the ‘voices on the wind’ in Polynesia.

Honolulu was to be her home for the rest of her long life. People hearing her surname would sometimes be surprised to see a leggy golden blond with a square jaw instead of a native Hawaiian. Finnish and Hawaiian do have some superficial similarities! But Dr. Luomala demonstrated admirable love and respect for her chosen culture. She dressed informally in the muumuu, even sending them to us little grand-nieces as presents, and wore fresh leis at least once a week. She never neglected present day traditions in her studies, as titles like Hula’ Ki’i: Hawaiian Puppetry demonstrate.

But her most famous works were about the great mythic figures of island legend, such as Maui of a Thousand Tricks, or the syncretic work I am going to discuss in later articles, Voices on the Wind.

Teaching came naturally to her. Online I was able to find this paean to her from one of the myriads of anthropology students she served to inspire.

There is also a commemorative volume in her honor, full of the work of those she influenced, and influenced her in return, in the field of Polynesian studies.

Here is a link to her Huge List of Publications  

I was surprised to find no good photo of Dr. Katharine Luomala online, so here is a remedy to that, scanned from a book jacket.


I leave to you the decision about whether she qualifies as a Bard herself, or is merely a celebrator of Bards. Next article will deal in more depth with the content of the message, the ancestral voices she preserved, much as Elias Lonnrot did for the Finnish national epic.  He interviewed the singers of Kalevala and compiled their songs into one huge cycle. I suspect this is the true inspiration for my ancestor Dr. Luomala’s work in Polynesia.



The Big Idea: Catherine Lundoff – Scalzi’s Whatever guest post

May 24, 2012

The Big Idea: Catherine Lundoff – Whatever.

Catherine Lundoff writes FF books. I think she’s onto something when she says,
The werewolves of Wolf’s Point are called into being by the ancient magic of the place where they live. It picks and chooses which women will serve as the valley’s protectors, deciding who will change and who will not, based on a logic all its own. Sometimes, it makes mistakes.

Becca thinks she might be one of the latter; it must have meant to pick someone else and somehow got her by mistake. But then, she thinks that about a lot of things. In this respect, Becca was a hard character for me to write. Like her, I’m a middle-aged woman just entering menopause. Unlike her, I’m not terribly introspective or insecure about what I’m doing. Of course, I’m also not dealing with the changes she’s wrestling with.

That, really, was what I was hoping to capture in this novel: the experience of change, both physical and psychological, that is absolutely earth shattering. I wanted to examine what an ordinary woman does with those kinds of events. Menopause is a time in a woman’s life where her body feels like it’s transforming into something else, something alien, and potentially monstrous. Not unlike changing into a werewolf…

The Big Idea: Catherine Lundoff – Whatever

I am Helga the Hutt on the Internet. I too feel the monster in me like an inner truth that cannot be ignored. Writing and making art are ways of handling that discomfort with what I am, instead of what I have been told to be, by forces internal and external. It is a dilemma all humans face, I think.

That is is triggered in her tale by the place makes it Druid. We all become the place where we live for a longer time, drinking its water and eating the crops and creatures grown on its soil. Subtle forces too, whether ley lines or radons, impact us as greatly as architecture.

We are monsters.

only less fun, at least from my perspective.

Objectification, Worship and Power– Ennobling ‘Things’

December 3, 2011

Objectification, Worship and Power– Ennobling ‘Things’

I have been working upon manuscript which deals with the liberation of ghosts from bondage even beyond the grave,wrought by the will of another.

The happy ending is finally achieved when the spirits realize they are free to remember another identity outside the bondage state.

Part of the binding of the victims’ spirits involved reducing them to household appliances and furniture. Another part required stripping them completely of their previous identity as humans through loss of name, which in magical tradition is a puissant means of creation, or in this case, destruction.


All of this was rendered evil because it was achieved through force.

It occurred to me as I lay with my beloved, and he called me ‘his throne’, how different the outcome of the villain’s impulse to subjugate could have been.

I am happy to be my beloved’s throne. It in no way diminishes my many other identities, as mother, editor, artist, and ArchDruid. The vicitms in the story were denied all other identitites except for furniture, and there’s the rub.

In mystical tradition, inanimate objects also contain spirit, each as worthy as our own incarnate human version, but invisible to us as we go about our daily lives. We can ennoble our pets and our other life companions by treating them with love and respect, honoring the divinity in them as much as the divinity in our fellow sentients.


In other parts of the world, household and business machines, such as taxicabs and assembly lines, are given ceremonial blessings and these blessings are renewed seasonally.

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’, and similar monotheistic pronouncements, can exist in harmony with such practices when one remembers that the Universal Life Force, or whatever other name you prefer, is everywhere, including these objects.


Ceremonial worship is essentially the bestowing of love and attention of a positive nature upon objects. When the Wiccan heroine of the book I was editing blessed an athame, consecrated a thermos of herbal tea, or filled an area with incense or salt, she was performing actions of love. She was invoking the harmonic aid of the world around her to lessen suffering. Whether it is in a High Mass, a Buddhist temple, or a kinky bedroom, worship is a healing, and the healing is received when the worship is gladly accepted.

It is hard to tell, in our incarnate limited bodies with their attenuated senses, whether inanimate objects such as an idol, or a taxicab for that matter, is gladly accepting our worshipful attention. WE can only judge by the feeling of satisfaction we may have after the service, or after we gaze down at a well-scrubbed kitchen floor.

When it comes to being my beloved’s ‘throne’ I can be much more expressive of my acceptance, and this ennobles us both. When it came to the villain in the book I’m editing, he got pleasure only out of the victims’ sorrow and discomfort. This degraded him as well as them, and rendered them ‘stuck’ in the wrong plane and going the ‘wrong’ direction, once they were disembodied by death.

Once I am disembodied, I don’t think it will matter to me so much whether I reincarnate as an angel or as a chair. There are shiny ‘thrones’ both
ways! the victims of the madman on the other hand had to remain as ghosts. They made the living humans uncomfortable and the physical spaces they were ‘stuck’ in unusable. They were very glad to be angels instead, as soon as they realized that they could. Being ‘stuck’ had cut them off from love.

With the oriental greeting ‘Namaste’, or a bowing motion, one offers love and worship even to a stranger one has just met, because they too are a part of the universe. When there is involuntary bondage, exploitation, or degradation, that is a desecrating of a part of the universe, a cutting it off from love.

How different the villain’s character would have been if instead of forcing human beings to be objects, he had treated objects as nicely as human beings! It’s quite common, after all, to value things in our cultures. We want money and many things, and to display them to others for their admiration and our own. This impulse does not have to be bad for us because it springs from love.


A lonely person like the TV character Pee-Wee Herman begins to imagine that his household furnishings, the food in the refrigerator too, is alive and willing to be his friend. And though we might label this crazy behavior, it is not in a mystical sense false. And so he takes good care of his things, because he wants his inanimate friends to be as happy as he is when he is well cared for.

Humans can be fooled into involuntary bondage for a while, but eventually they usually will get up the nerve to realize it must stop before they die of it. That is called revolution, and it only frightens those who have been getting reward or pleasure from degradation of fellow beings in some way. When they stop this, or are stopped, their fear of change will ebb away from them.


We also see a large number of humans acting out of sympathy for beings with less ability to be understood, such as animals and plants and geographical locations. All these so called ‘lesser’ entities would benefit from worshipful treatment instead, just as much as our fellow humans would. Every material object has the potential to be a sacred ritual object, because they are all portions of the same Universe.

pastafarian tat

Recently I read an amusing Twitter post from a young man– ‘None of the gals I know are into golden showers so I tape pics of boobs on the toilet and it’s all good.’ In my view, the next step should be for him to give thanks to his toilet for accepting his piss. Maybe he’ll give it a nickname. It should aid him in his quest for the happy fulfillment of his fantasy, until that ideal shower partner comes along.

By the way, Helga is not THAT sort of ‘throne’. I believe too strongly in compost.

Fall/Winter Holiday Spices via Dark Roast Press Books

October 4, 2011

Fall/Winter Holiday Spice’s via Dark Roast Press Books.

‘Sameenasphere’ is our lovely author and cover artist SM Bach.  She did the cover for my new book The Incredible Heidi Wasabi

She also let me be co-author on the out-of this world fantasy romance, Harmony

Now available at smashwords for all ebook formats.

Special Samhain Treat

November 1, 2009

——>  <——

This is a link to where I have uploaded the latest issue of the Druid Inquirer, a free offering from the Reformed Druids of North America.

Mike put it in a members-only Yahoo group, RDNAtalk, instead of the usual place, but I’d like to get it to more viewers.

The occasion is that 1) Mike the Fool’s website is migrating away from Geocities this month so they aren’t available there until his new ‘org’ site is established,

2) it’s damn good, as usual, and pertinent to some of the ethnocentric squabbling I have been stepping in at Usenet’s alt.religion.druid

3) Dark Roast Press went into the erotic romance end with
Samhain’s Embrace by Jesse Fox,  (out of print, 2014)
as well as the all-ages horror business with Chris Newman’s
Tales from the Uprising,
and AP Miller’s
All Hallows Eve.  (out of print, 2014)
So I am in the mood to share.   New Dark Roast link

What would the ancestors want? is one timely question that arises in us now. They mainly want us to keep our DNA going, I reckon. But what else?

That has been tossing like salad in my head as I reread George Orwell and the Stargate Chronicles of McMoneagle.  And I hope it won’t be too costly to inter what is left of me when the time comes.  I do want to be recycled.

Samahain Hits me in the Press this year!

October 31, 2009

book trailers here  My book at Barnes & Noble

why ebooks rule

August 31, 2009

I think I am going to kvetch here.

July 12, 2009


It’s a Sunday and I have signed up to blog at The Pagan and the Pen. To do it I need to put on my WordPress hat.

I have so many blogs already, but Myspace blog, ‘Helgaleena says’, where I wanted to do my romance business, is not working due to evil msplinks that thinks everything at is spam.  Perhaps I will repost what is worthy here. There are so many thinkings involved with putting links up.  The Hutt’s brain moves slowly across the webs.

What I have been mainly doing is crocheting, combing words, nursing a paraplegic old pet, and recovering from my own health problems, which I could not do fully until now until the visits to and from relatives and the supervision of contractors was concluded.

But damn, I lived. They need me alive.  And smiling when possible.