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Showing posts from April, 2015

Crack the Nutshell; Enter the Lime Tree

This blog is named after the magic nutshell found in the German tale of Allerleirauh. According to some sources, it was given to her by a fairy godmother; in other versions of the tale, it is just something she has--no explanation given. Inside the magic nutshell are feminine objects of supernatural beauty--ball gowns that shine like celestial bodies, golden jewelry and tools designed to make clothing. In some versions, Allerleirauh's father has given her these things as incestuous wedding gifts--in the first version recorded by the Grimm brothers, it was her fiancee in another kingdom. In every version and variant, she uses these items to control her own fate.

I love the magic nutshell because of all the symbolic power it holds in its small, simple form.

It symbolizes femaleness, fertility, and the seed of life. The meat inside is precious food. Crack the shell in half, and you see a heart inside. Take off the green hull, and you see ink on your hands--ink that was used by many…

We Are the Queens of Hysteria

We live in the safest era to raise children in all of human history. So why are middle class mothers so paranoid?

As I reflect on my own anxieties as one of those moms, I've broadened my perspective to take a careful look at major social forces at play.

It's human nature to look back on "the good old days" with our rose-colored bifocals on, harping about how "back in my day" we didn't need to lock our doors, check the Halloween candy before eating it, etc. But the truth is that kids today are even safer--that is, less likely to experience violence, trauma, or premature death--than we were as children, or than children back in the mythic mid-century. But we are more aware of dangers now (both real and fraudulent or exaggerated, thanks to the media), and we place a higher value on the minutest aspects of the well-being of our increasingly scarce children. Thus we are more fearful for their safety.

The prologue to Anita Diamant's feminist Biblical nov…