SO! I love me some podcasts. I must, because I do them. lol
But I wanted to turn y’all on to a particular podcast that I stumbled onto about six months ago via the Twitterz (I think that’s where) and IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST LISTEN. Of course, Amanda and Julia do not know that it was love at first listen on my part, but perhaps they may know now…
That podcast is, as I so enigmatically included in the title of this blog, Spirits Podcast. I’m sure the martini glass with the skull stir-stick probably had something to do with my initial luuuuuv for this podcast…
So what is it that drew me here? Well, here’s the description:
Spirits is a boozy biweekly podcast about mythology, legends, and lore. Every episode, co-hosts Julia [Schifini] and Amanda [McLoughlin] mix a drink and discuss a new story or character from a wide range of places, eras, and cultures. Learn brand-new stories and enjoy re-tellings of your favorite myths, served over ice every two weeks, on Spirits.
HOW COULD YOU NOT WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS?????
Little-known Andi factoid: I was a HUGE mythology buff as a kid and my interest never waned. I devoured book after book about Greek and Roman mythology, then got obsessed with Egyptology, so I devoured books about Egyptian mythology. Then I expanded into other mythologies of the ancient world, including those of Babylon and Sumeria. Later, as a grad student, I dug into Aztec and Mayan mythologies and mythologies of indigenous peoples of North and South America.
So I was already hard-wired to listen to something like this.
And the first episode I listened to had me at hello. I chose Episode 29, titled “Our Lady of Guadalupe” with guest Catherine Addington, who studies religion, mythmaking and fútbol in Latin America. Along with other awesome things.
Before I tell you why this was so awesome, for those not in the know, La Virgen de Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but associated with an image that is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. She is the patron saint of Mexico, and is honored every year on Dec. 12. The legend behind this interpretation of Mary hinges on her appearance to a poor peasant, Juan Diego, on Dec. 9, 1531. She appeared as a young woman and spoke to him in Nahuatl and told him to build a church in her honor at the top of Tepeyac Hill, where a temple had once stood to the Aztec goddess Tonantzin.
Juan Diego tried to convince the Spanish archbishop of this young woman’s entreaty, and that she was Mary, but the archbishop didn’t believe him and told him to go back to the woman and request a miracle. So he did as the archbishop requested and Mary told him to gather Castilian roses (the archbishop’s fave) at the top of the hill (which are not indigenous to the area). He did as she requested and she helped him arrange the roses in his cloak and he carried them back to Mexico City, went to the archbishop, and opened his cloak out of which spilled the flowers but also, Mary’s — the Virgin of Guadalupe’s — image was imprinted on the fabric and people began to pilgrimage in the three days after this occurred to the hill at Tepeyac to pay respects.
So being the kind of history geek I am — and because my roots are in a part of the country that recognizes La Virgen de Guadalupe — I chose this podcast as my intro to Spirits Podcast.
The first thing I noticed was really good production, great sound (thanks, Eric Schneider, production and editor guy!), and the amazing and effusive energy of the hosts, Amanda and Julia. Plus, they swear. And y’all know how I feel about swearage. It’s necessary. So when I heard them drop the F-bomb, I was all, “I FOUND MORE OF MY PEOPLE! SWEARING AND CONVERSING ABOUT MYTHS AND GEEK STUFF AND OMG I HAVE GOONIE-SLID INTO A VERITABLE GROTTO OF PODCAST TREASURE!”
And Catherine was having a blast, too, and even though I’m pretty up on La Virgen de Guadalupe, I learned a ton of shit and also got some insight into gender that I hadn’t considered during the conversation these three women had.
So I chose another podcast. This one was about the Hindu goddess Kali, who I also have a fascination with, and coincidentally, it was Episode 28, right next door to La Virgen in the Spirits episode list.
Kali’s name is derived from the Sanskrit root “kal,” or time. Basically, nothing escapes time. And though Kali has been associated with death, for her and her mythology it’s more about the killing of the ego. In Hindu stories, Kali does kill, but it’s demons. She’s not running around randomly killing people. That was her earliest incarnation, as a destroyer of evil forces and she is worshipped as the Divine Mother/Mother of the Universe and seen as a protector.
She is often portrayed as dancing on the body of her consort Shiva, to whom she is a counterpart because he is known as Shiva the destroyer. She wears a garland of skulls and as skirt of dismembered human arms not because she’s some kind of sicko or the myth is some kind of creepy underworld homage, but rather because the ego arises from identification with the physical body.
So I listened to this episode and DAMN! Same thing! Great production, great discussion, great energy, irreverence, and an absolute joy to be discussing the topic and again, I learned a bunch about Kali and, again, about sex and gender within her context. Fascinating.
Selkies are mythological creatures found in Irish, Scottish, Icelandic, and Faroese folklore. They are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to walk as humans on land. Kelpies are water spirits that look like horses and are said to inhabit Scottish lochs.
I was woefully ignorant of selkies and kelpies, but this podcast remedied that. So hot damn, I learned even MOAR shit!
And THEN! OMG! Episode 35 dropped on May 24th and it was all about WONDER WOMAN, with guest Greg Rucka, the guy who freaking writes Wonder Woman in the DC Rebirth series (Wonder Woman goes back to her roots!) that recently launched. Rucka said back in September that DUH Wonder Woman is of course queer, and he had that discussion again with Amanda and Julia. Amanda identifies as queer, so this discussion was of personal interest to her, especially since she’s a total comics geek and Wonder Woman was part of her comics pantheon growing up.
At any rate, Rucka made this point in that September 28, 2016 interview he granted Comicosity (linked above):
Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola [Scott] and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.
And it needs to be yes for a number of reasons. But perhaps foremost among them is, if no, then she leaves paradise only because of a potential romantic relationship with Steve [Trevor]. And that diminishes her character. It would hurt the character and take away her heroism.
When we talk about agency of characters in 2016, Diana deciding to leave her home forever — which is what she believes she’s doing — if she does that because she’s fallen for a guy, I believe that diminishes her heroism.
She doesn’t leave because of Steve. She leaves because she wants to see the world and somebody must go and do this thing. And she has resolved it must be her to make this sacrifice.–Greg Rucka, interview with Matt Santori at Comicosity, Sept. 28, 2016
And he made those points again on Spirits, and he said it really bothered him, how people seemed to diminish Diana’s heroism by saying that she left Themyscira because of a man. No, he said. She left because she wanted to and, in terms of the nature of Diana’s character, leaving was a huge sacrifice. If she was allowed to come back, then the character isn’t really sacrificing anything and Wonder Woman makes big sacrifices, as we know, but it never diminishes who she is or the love that is intrinsic to her being.
I was literally saying, “YES” and “DAMN RIGHT” throughout this podcast and y’all know how I’ve been dropping love all over social media to Wonder Woman and Amazons lately, so Amanda and I totally bonded virtually over this discussion with Rucka though she doesn’t even know it. LOL
And I know there are jillions of podcasts out there and I know you’ve got your faves. But if you want something quirky, intelligent, wacky, fun, feminist, occasionally queer, and full of history, culture, and folklore (y’all, try the show on Bigfoot and the latest on urban legends), THIS IS YOUR CREW. Give it a try.
Happy Friday, all. And may the odds be ever in your favor.
And maybe help share the love on their Patreon goodness.