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Reply To: The Antlered Child,” with Mythologist Joanna Gardner, Ph.D.”


Thank you for the book recommendation Joanna! Sounds fantastic! Thanks to these JCF boards, I’m in the midst of savoring “The Spell of the Sensuous.” So I will look forward to another book within this realm!

As for “Sweet Tooth,” one of my favorite aspects are Gus’s ears. I know this is indirectly related to the topic but I love his ears…and they do bring a kind of emotive realism into play.

It reminds me of Avatar in that way…also again the ears…the expressions…and in that case the cat tails too.
I think it’s because I’ve had cats and also dogs, and love horses…and love watching  visiting  does and fawns as well. so much character and emotion is expressed through those ears.
So with Gus too…one feels his sadness as his ears go down or as they flick up when the little actor smiles. The young actor is delightful!

And on a deeper level, I completely agree about the “generous and open hearted way” of bringing in the “Magical Realism.”

I loved the Stag standing behind the door born out of the mist like an ancient Gaelic or Native legend.

Sweet Tooth reminds me of Charles Delint books (though known for urban fantasy some of his books strayed farther into the misty woods of the old country and deeper into the woods and plains of North America and Canada)

And then there’s that darker element which has a touch of Dean Koontz…

But instead of a dog being the counter point of Light. Gus is that counterpoint.

He struggles goes through all the classic paths of stepping out into ones own adventure…with doubts, hopes, friends, guides and dangers along the way.

To me it feels as though something more is at work than Gus currently realizes…seeing the deer run with him through the forest again another breath of that magical realism making itself known. There is a feeling to me of a “becoming,” something waiting to be noticed. Waiting for him. His existence feels symbolic of something larger than himself.

And to be fair there are other characters and other “counter points of light,” in this story: crossroads all coming together to make a larger legend.
Found myself crying a few times…love the friendship between Gus and Jeppard…and Wendy and her “Mom.”
These moments bring the light back in.
And there is also something beautifully “healing,” in some of the other dream sequences even if there is an edge as well. And other revelations on other primary characters are unfolding. But will leave it there.

And back to the figures in the caves…also evokes images of those wonderful Gaelic/British Spirits: Cernunnos and Hern. Those two are wonderfully compelling and fun!
And aspects of the same imaginal and nature energy and imagery! Love it!

The fascinating element of  “magical realism,” just from observing or experiencing nature is how certain moments lend themselves to that “realm.” And the reason it works is because of how Natural it seems…

Anyone that has walked in a fog knows…the way the mists shift around with the air currents.

The way animals come into focus when one is quiet…deer, birds, the piercing scree of a red tail. Coyotes singing to the moon at night.
The arresting color of a forest in green or autumn mantle. The sudden silence of rustling leaves.

A meteor streaking across the heavens. It’s hard not to imagine something more at play something calling out reaching a human longing within…

Thank you for the essay Joanna!