Probably the precursor to the King Arthur tales, the story of Tristan and Isolde includes star-crossed lovers, castles and the wilds, as well as questions of loyalty, duty, and truth. The versions we can access today are set in a fractionated England in the time after Roman rule. Ireland, still unconquered just across the sea, is key to the plot as well as the spirit of the saga.
Our guest Sophie Strand is working on an epic novel about Tristan and Isolde. She ushers us through the relationships, betrayals, passions, and tragedies that are part of this long, episodic, non-linear story that refuses to conform to a textual, climactic narrative.
Sophie Strand is a writer based in the Hudson Valley who focuses on the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology. Her first book of essays The Flowering Wand: Rewilding the Sacred Masculine was released in 2022. Her eco-feminist historical fiction reimagining of the gospels The Madonna Secret will also be published by Inner Traditions in Spring 2023.
- Sophie speaks mythologically, calling on stories and characters as diverse as David and Saul, Joseph and the sons of Jacob, Demeter and Persephone and more.
- This novel about Tristan and Isolde, set in Cornwall, perhaps as far back as the Bronze Age, is still a long way off from publication.
- Sophie’s original inspiration: the Ridley Scott film version of the Tristan and Isolde story at age 12. (A remarkable parallel to 12 year-old Marisa falling in love with Ireland thanks to the Tom Cruise movie, Far and Away!)
- Joseph Campbell thought of Tristan as epitome of the hero, but Sophie sees Tristan’s constant attempts to escape the Hero's Journey The trauma inherent in the hero’s journey and Sophie’s quest to diversify it, rather than eradicate it completely. Her work resonates with Marisa’s Heroine’s Knot and the desire to honor the life that happens even when we do not cross the threshold of typical adventure.
- The continuum between potion and poison and how dosage determines what is medicinal and what is deadly.
- The “mycelial intelligence of the internet” and how Sophie and Marisa found each other through an Irish organization called The Trailblazery, though they live only about 7 miles apart in the Hudson Valley.
- Metaphorical and mythic resonance with fungi which confuse our concept of species and relationship in compelling, necessary ways. Book recommendation: Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life.
- How does our understanding of individuality, gender, and romantic love change when we see ourselves as holobiont?
- There’s an unfathomable biodiversity of knowledge, of ecosystems, and in our own guts. Sophie explores this idea further in the forthcoming The Flowering Wand: Rewilding the Sacred Masculine.
Music at the start of the show is by Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called "The College Groves." billyandbeth.com
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