Spinning Silver

This book draws from the thematic threads of the German folktale about Rumpelstiltskin, that magical little imp who makes a horrific deal in exchange for his ability to spin straw into gold.

For me, the stories in Spinning Silver are about finding and making manifest one’s golden brilliance. It’s about not being afraid of your power and allowing yourself to be fully present in your gifts.

I read an excerpt from the end of chapter six where Miryem encounters the otherworldly Staryk king for the second time.

Spinning Silver written by Naomi Novik and published by Del Ray, 2018. Naomi Novik is the author of many other novels, Including Uprooted (which is perhaps an origin story of Baba Yaga), a series about dragons, a series about a secret magical society, and numerous other stories.



Contemplative Prompts

I invite you to witness all your thoughts without judgment. Okay? Could you allow your thoughts to arise and be expressed without censure or editing? Could you allow yourself to be as you are at this moment?

In this podcast, I read a quote from Marianne Williamson despite the fact I find her teachings lack nuance and are steeped in privilege. None the less, this quote of hers sums up what I think the folktale of Rumpelstilskin is alluding to and that is our light is often hidden. Here’s the quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Williamson’s quote makes the assumption it is always safe and appropriate to shine brightly yet that is not always the case. Take some time to consider all the external forces that influence your decision to keep your light hidden. I’m not talking about playing small because of shame or fear but rather because sometimes keeping your light private is very wise. Can you recognize times when you’ve been prudent in regards to keeping your light hidden?

What needs to be in place for you to feel safe to shine brightly? How does it feel to do so? What feels possible when you’re shining?

What are some of the qualities of your brightness? Are you comfortable with all those qualities? Which qualities do you prefer? Which qualities give you pause?

How do you respond to brightness in others? Does it make a difference if they are someone you know or don’t know? Like or don’t like? How does it feel when you contribute to someone’s shine? How does it feel to dim someone’s shine?

Do you accept the light that others see in you? Why or why not? What do others see in you that you do not see? Or do not want to see? What aspects of your lightness do you reject? How do you reject your brilliance?

What polishes your shine? What contributes to your luminosity? What do you look like at full wattage? What does the world around you look like? What will you do?

Do you believe you contain within you an undimmable nugget of brilliance? A thread of gold? I do and I’m going to leave you with another quote; this time from someone I love dearly and agree with wholeheartedly, John O’Donohue:

“…there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you.”

— John O’Donohue, interviewed by Krista Tippett for On Being

Shine on dear one, shine on. You’re magic.

The Raven Tower

This delicious retelling of the classic Hamlet, is a familiar tale of deception riddled with class, court, and gender politics. It’s told from the point of view of the narrator whose identity is not revealed until the final pages of the book. It’s a good reveal!

I read an excerpt from the opening chapter of the book.

The Raven Tower is written by Ann Leckie and published by Orbit of Hachette Book Group, 2019. Other novels by Ann Leckie are Ancillary Justice.(2013), Ancillary Sword (2014), Ancillary Mercy (2015), Provenance, (2017), Translation State (2023), and numerous short stories.



Contemplative Prompts

I invite you to witness all your thoughts without judgment. Okay? Could you allow your thoughts to arise and be expressed without censure or editing? Could you allow yourself to be as you are at this moment?

At the opening of this book, a young man returns to his home town to step into the role his role is about to vacate. He seems ready to take on the inherited mantle and perhaps even optimistic with his new role.

In thinking about the roles you have inherited, what stands out? Can you identify some of those inherited roles? Or what are some roles that others have assumed you have or will step into? Do you accept the roles? Or do you bristle at them? Is there a mantle you desire? What would your life look like if you were to inhabit that mantle?

In this reading of the opening chapter, we also meet a servant. There seems to be a close relationship between the young man and the servant. There’s a familiarity between them that blurs their class and courtly status.

Power dynamics in personal relationships and social arenas are complex and dynamic. They are not fixed and change in response to the players and surroundings. How do you respond to these fluxing power dynamics? What does it look like when you’re playing big? Playing small? What situations support you in feeling your power surge? How do you respond when you’re in the presence of discordant social status? 

The story of this book is a delicious retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Hamlet. It is a familiar tale of deception and decay from top to bottom. What is it within you that remains true and stable regardless of the players and surroundings? What is fixed within you? What are you sure of? What lies at your foundation?

A Potential Can of Worms

What are the three things we’re told to never talk about in polite company? Politics, religion, and money. Three topics near and dear to my heart. I talk about them a lot. Oh and death; I bring that topic up in conversation too. Oy vey.

During the recording of this podcast, I said “politics is personal” and that twigged something in my brain but I couldn’t recall at the moment. What I failed to recall is the phrase “the personal is political” which was the rallying cry of second-wave feminism. It referred to the fact that politics plays out in personal relationships and not just on the larger stage of society and government. The slogan also spoke to the inherent power dynamics and imbalances in relationships.

While most second-wave feminisms don’t resonate with me, this phrase does. I do think the world stage, while evasive and abstract, has direct and concrete effects on individual citizens. Furthermore, we have an effect on each other. We are all interrelated.

How about you? What are some of your political stances? How do they play out? How have they evolved over your lifetime? What is your rally cry? What is your rebel yell?

You cannot copy content of this page

Skip to content