________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 21 . . . .June 24, 2005


The Golden Woman: Dreaming as Art.

Kay Stone.
Winnipeg, MB: J. Gordon Shillingford, 2004.
281 pp., pbk. $24.95.
ISBN 0-920486-77-0.

Subject Headings:
Dreams and the arts.
Dream interpretation.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Gail de Vos.

***½ /4



The message of not being excessively determined and goal-oriented is strong in both dreams and folktales, though it seems to go against much of what we learn in life. Helpful creatures who offer advice, assistance, or magical objects often do so precisely because they have not been compelled to do so. When I began to study folktales I was interested to discover what central role animals— especially horses—play in these stories. There is hardly a tale without a helpful creature prowling in it somewhere. These need not be large animals, either, but may be humble insects like ants and bees. They often help merely because protagonists, unlike their cruel siblings, notice the small creatures and avoid doing them harm. Other helpful creatures are actually bewitched people in need of transformation; foxes who beg to have their heads cut off so they can become princes again, swans who turn into maidens, mice who can do surprising things, and of course that annoying frog in the Grimm tale who, by the way, is not kissed but thrown against a wall. In all cases creatures respond to respect and generosity, as did Lady [a dream horse discussed previously]. (p. 97)


In the introductory chapter, Kay Stone states that "this is a subjective, poetic quest and not a rhetorical exploration of the psychology of dreams and dreaming. My guiding thought throughout is that the dreamer is an artist." (p. 3) Kay, a folklorist and storyteller residing in Winnipeg, MB, dreams vivid dreams and images which she has contemplated, discussed and analyzed throughout her life time. She invites the reader into these discussions in an accessible, warm and confiding tone; making a convincing argument as the reader is taken into her dreams, and those of others, and into the deliberations and the folkloric connections with the dexterity of a well told tale.

     The book is divided into three sections. She first explores biographical stories, both her own and others who have been active participants in Kay's journey to understand and appreciate the power of dreams. Folktales are the focus of the second section where she considers the dream-like qualities of many familiar, and not so familiar, tales. Kay pays particular attention to tales of beasts, frogs, tricksters, witches and transformations. The third section, "Dream Worlds," appraises the artistic values of the dreams and invokes these expressions, through lucid dreams, into waking life. Her journey, and that of the reader, is one of discovery, anticipation, and understanding. It is a journey that becomes even more introspective as the reader begins to contemplate the dreams (or lack of them) for him/her selves.

     Kay firmly believes that dreams are an artistic creation that can be harnessed, but perhaps not tamed. She contends also that the images and messages contained within folktales are lessons for our subconscious to ponder and act upon. What is necessary is to comprehend these lessons and implement them in our daily lives. This can be done by remembering, recording and articulating the dreams. It also doesn't hurt to be familiar with the universe of folktales to aid in the articulation process.

     While highly autobiographical, Kay's musings about her dreams and their relevance to both her life and various folktales brings awareness of the creative aspect of dreaming. She discusses, among other topics, unresolved dreams and the challenges they present in order to decode their meanings, the aptness of various and varied interpretations offered for dreams and folktales, as well as the work of Jung, Freud and Joseph Campbell. She presents her methodology, and its ongoing development, for contemplating the images in the dreams. Rounding out Kay's ponderings are poetic renderings of her dreams created by poet Tanis MacDonald.

     This is a book for dreamers, storytellers, and artists. It is also a book recommended for repeat visits. Educators will find numerous possibilities for connections to language arts, creative arts and health awareness. While the book is placed in the "Professional Category," high school students (who discuss dreams all the time) would find it an interesting read.

Highly Recommended.

Gail de Vos is a storyteller and author of seven books on storytelling and folklore. She teaches storytelling in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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