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by Mary Saracino

  • ISBN: 1597190063
  • Category: Fiction
  • Author: Mary Saracino
  • Subcategory: Genre Fiction
  • Other formats: mbr lrf doc docx
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Pearlsong Press (October 1, 2006)
  • Pages: 348 pages
  • FB2 size: 1139 kb
  • EPUB size: 1907 kb
  • Rating: 4.9
  • Votes: 100
Download The Singing of Swans fb2

Mary Saracino's novel, The Singing of Swans, is so chock full of goddess lore I am tempted to keep it for a reference book.

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The swan song (ancient Greek: κύκνειον ᾆσμα; Latin: carmen cygni) is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement. The phrase refers to an ancient belief that swans sing a beautiful song just before their death, having been silent (or alternatively, not so musical) during most of their lifetime

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19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Spirituality Category. Madalene Ross's complacent life is about to be turned upsde down.

Overview of Mary Saracino's books. The Singing of Swans takes protagonist Madelene Ross on a multi-century journey back and forth through time to reclaim her soul and her very contemporary American life. Along the way she encounters healers who fly through rooftops, herbalists who paint flaming images of Black Madonnas, an ancient priestess who helps rescue a Goddess statue from the clutches of an evil 70 BCE governor of Sicily, and an environmentally compromised lake in need of restoration. Madalene Ross's complacent life is about to be turned upsde down

19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Spirituality Category. Never one to make waves, she's content to coast along, live in her head, guard her heart, and pay no mind to national or world events. But lately weird events have been happening. On the way to her downtown office building she's hounded by a homeless woman who asks, "Got a match?". At night bizarre dreams haunt her sleep.

In the January 15, 2012 Pearlsong Conversations teleconference call, er Peggy Elam, P. talked with Mary Saracino, author of The Singing of Swans & other books. Mary discussed how she came to write her multi-century novel rife with magical realism and feminine spirituality. She talks about the Black Madonna, which appears throughout The Singing of Swans, and Her roots in pre-Christian traditions

19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Spirituality Category. Madalene Ross's complacent life is about to be turned upsde down. Never one to make waves, she's content to coast along, live in her head, guard her heart, and pay no mind to national or world events. But lately weird events have been happening. On the way to her downtown office building she's hounded by a homeless woman who asks, "Got a match?" At night bizarre dreams haunt her sleep. Women fly through rooftops, chant in ancient temples, paint tongues of fire on vivid white canvases. Was it something she ate? The stress of rumored downsizing and impending layoffs? Or a message trying to rouse her benumbed spirit? Will Madalene pull the cover over her eyes and fall back to sleep? Or wake up and smell the triple venti latte?
Reviews about The Singing of Swans (5):
The Singing of Swans by Mary Saracino, Pearlsong Press, 2006, Nashville, TN ISBN-13:978-1-59719-006-0
Reviewed by Chickie Farella

Gotta match? Pffft! I doubt it. In fact I'd be hard pressed to find another novel that explicitly teaches the concept of the female side of God, or The Divine Feminine, we have not been allowed to know, such as The Singing of Swans by Mary Saracino.

By using the backdrop of her uncanny highly detailed level of scholarship, combining dramatic creative storytelling, get ready for the Her-story-agricultural spiritual lesson of your life! Dragging the reader, through earth, wind, fire and waters, from the north, to the south of Italy, one ultimately stops for a dip and a short swim to the island of Sicily. Saracino will slap you belly down, digging and crawling into the earth like a determined canine or perhaps a skunk searching for the treasures he/she knows are waiting to be discovered, as she rattles our cage of truth. (whether we like it or not:)

Earth: Get ready to see, feel, touch and smell the ancient fragrances of lemons, olive groves, poppies, violets, Rosamaria bushes along with her countless healing herbal brothers and sisters. Finally we learn how these ancient peacekeeper women healers of compassion and unconditional love, took our great mother earth's abundances and pestled plants into curatives into the form of potions, ointments, curing every thing from snake bites to depression in their respective neighborhoods. Presently, the closest we've come to remotely relating to this kind of healing and compassion hundreds of years ago, are those of us who arrived on the planet before 1960 when the family physician made house calls, sported a black leather tote filled with pharmaceuticals. This was a time period marking the segue from healing to a multibillion dollar chemical business of human destruction.

At this point, forgive me if I bore you with science. For there is another side of this story, and I highly recommend the reader to be sure your cardio vascular system is in shape before you read.

Wind: Ever take a stalk of fennel, shove it between your legs and transform it into a fuel injected broom? Never say never and do enjoy the super flight high up the night sky, as you get to mirror your shadow against the full moon with your ancestors! Sounds like fun? Perhaps at first. However the saying, "Women's work is never done," begins right here!

When the day of tending the fields, cooking, feeding and concocting curatives for ancient locals, these "Benandanti" women and men flew into the night sky guarding their fields and fighting off the spiritual negativity of the "Malandanti" who "chose ill-will and mischief over communal prosperity and harmony. They sought personal gain, not collective wealth." Here we learn of the blurred melding of Catholicism and the persistence of the old ways of the pre Christian rituals. We experience the grueling persecutions, tortures, silencing and stealing of women healers' traditions by the beginnings of the dominant faction.

Bored with my excavation of Antiquity? Not to worry. Saracino effectively creates the marriage of antiquity and modernity through her left brained corporation computer burn out character, Madalene Ross. Call me crazy, but I can't deny that SOS left brained Madalene feels like the millennium version of the 70`s Mary Tyler Moore. Yet MTM's right brained character was a writer, shared feelings with all the characters and she even had an astrologer, her best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern, (Valerie Harper) Today's SOS Madalene's new best friend, actually her only best friend is Julia, who takes her under her wings in Sicily, assisting her in deciphering the messages that haunts Madalene's dreams. This relationship is delicately similar as Rhoda was always there to share some astrological wisdom when MTM needed spiritual assistance.

Remember how MTM flung her beret high in the sky only to be silenced by the freeze frame at the end of the weekly opening and closing themes? It just so happens that there is a reoccurring image of a beret in Madalene's story, however no freeze frame allowed in this version! Here trickster Saracino tags that beret as a metaphor connecting the past with the future. whether Madalene likes it or not. She wakes up to her suppressed right brain of creativity, unconditional love, and justice with compassion. She finds out who she is and the enormous possibilities of who she can become, through an ancient spiritual force. This enormous spiritual ancestral force interrupts her dreams, her lunch breaks and howls like a wolf in her in office parking garage in beloved Mary Tyler Moore's Minneapolis, City of the Lakes! This force spins her out of control of her utterly "in control" world that's is about to remove her from their list of paychecks!!

Now at this point I can give you a list of scholars to confirm this work such as Dr. Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Lawrence DiStasi, and a host of others including the reviewers on the back of her book. Nor can I forget Madalene's friend, Julia who states, "History has been written by the conqueror." Though I've sported 12 years of Catholic education, my feminine spiritual studies have forced me to uncheck a few of the boxes the CEO's of the Vatican forced me to sign at a very young age.

Water: Saracino's ancient character Ziza in 1550 A.D gazed at the walls of the frescoes of so called heretic Santa Lucia's Chiesa. That said, I came into this world with multi visual challenges. I adopted Santa Lucia who encompasses the old with the new, who plucked out her eyes in exchange for her virginity and gave up wealth by feeding the poor and curing the blind. In my own work I have repeatedly written that the physical body of Santa Lucia should sail back to her mother island, Sicily that was stolen in the Fourth Crusade. Today, I say there is more than a message in "SOS" that meets the eye. Through Mary Saracino, Santa Lucia has spiritually returned to the present chaotic planet by giving us vision and light for a better future by feeding us poor of heart the truth!

Fire: Sooo if ya "Gotta match," after reading this novel teaching tool to future balance, I urge you to share it with the rest of us, whether your roots stem from Mexico, Ireland, Asia or Australia. The truth of She is everywhere! In my opinion, for humanity to survive, we are in desperate need of an abundance of these stories. I say Bring `em on! And if I may hark back to the MTM theme song, written and performed by Sonny Curtis, I say to Mary Saracino.

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You're gonna make it after all

I hope the film of a lifetime!

Chickie Farella, Multimedia Artist
Mary Saracino's novel, The Singing of Swans, is so chock full of goddess lore I am tempted to keep it for a reference book. The author has crammed her story with well-researched information about the Dark Mother, Cybele, or Demeter, who she calls "humankind's first deity, and our most ancient memory."

The story begins with Ziza, a woman who flies through the roof of her house on a night in September, 1575 and meets with other "keepers of the blood ways," shamans, healers, herbalists and astral travelers. They are the Benandanti, and four times a year they leave their bodies to battle the Malandanti, their arch enemies, thus ensuring a bountiful harvest.

In the second chapter, we meet Madalene Ross, a workaholic software specialist in Minneapolis who smokes, drinks and is troubled by strange dreams of old women chanting and holding handfuls of herbs.

Soon she is stalked by a homeless woman who appears out of nowhere and tells Maddie "Your Mother wants to talk to you." And then Madalene finds a note that says "Go to the Lake" written in her own handwriting.

In her closet, in a box her deceased mother saved for her, Maddie finds a notebook labeled "Rossolino Family Tree" and a small figure of the Virgin Mother with dark skin. Still troubled by disturbing dreams of women healers, Madalene suddenly loses her job in a corporate downsizing. She gives in to an overwhelming desire to travel to Pergusa, Italy, in search of her family's roots.

Meanwhile, the author takes us back to the women of the Benandanti as they struggle through the years. The leaders of the Catholic Church try to demolish their traditions and force them to conform to church teachings. Some of their tactics are violent, but the women persevere. In secret, they keep their worship of the Dark Mother alive. She is called the Black Madonna by all who join them, accepting her as the virgin mother of Jesus, which the church allows. But in secret, they worship her as the Divine She, a deity in her own right.

I first learned about the Black Madonna as a child, when I saw a painting of her in my Polish Catholic church. I was told that in the original painting in Czestochowa, Poland, her skin was blackened in a fire. Imagine my surprise and joy to discover, as an adult woman, that her image is older than the Church and can be found throughout the world. Most recently, I visited another Black Madonna in a four-hundred-year old church in Puerto Rico, and was told her skin was darkened by the sun.

Back in the present time, Madalene arrives in Pergusa and finds the lake is dying from pollution. She meets an eco-feminist working to save the lake. In a dream, she meets Ziza and the other ancient women, learns about the long tradition of the Dark Mother and talks with her own mother, who urges her to use her intuition, which she has always ignored, as well as her brain.

Madalene realizes what she needs is to reclaim her self, in all its complexity, just as others are reclaiming Lake Pergusa. For me, she is a stand-in for women as a whole, throughout history, especially in times of patriarchy. Saracino is realistic in her portrayal of the violence of women's struggle for personal power and self-determination in ancient times. We would do well to remember this and realize that even today, voiceless women suffer at the hands of male-dominated societies around the world, a story we don't often see on the evening news.

Without being heavy-handed or taking political sides, Saracino educates the reader about women's spirituality, herbalism and Italian culture and traditions, while keeping us turning the pages, rooting for Madalene and following her adventures to the conclusion.

Linda C. Wisniewski, Author of Off Kilter: A Woman's Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, and Her Polish Heritage
Previously posted at [...].
lucky kitten
I am a fan of Mary Saracino's poetry, so I was delighted to read this novel. And I was definitely not disappointed. The writing rings with purpose, passion, power and poetry. I love her description of the Feminine Divine, The Great Goddess, the Black Madonna, as the Divine She. Sicily has long been high on my list of must-do pilgrimages, and now it is so much more real and enticing to me. I'd leave tomorrow if I could! Though I have long been an avid researcher and devotee of the The Goddess, Saracino's depictions give Her life in a new and enchanting way. I highly recommend this lovely book for those who already know and love the Divine She and also for those who are not yet acquainted with Her. All readers are in for a real treat.
I could not put The Singing of Swans down. From the first page, I was hooked. There are plots within plots, characters to fall in love with, all twisting and dancing together to delight and inspire the reader. I felt transported to ancient Sicily and completely caught up in the lives of the Healers, Priestesses and followers of the Black Madonna.

Mary does an excellent job of making their lives and experiences personal and real to the reader. It is rare that a book will so totally capture my attention - I found myself thinking about the characters while performing the mundane details of my own life. I was so absorbed in the story that I began to feel like Ziza, Ibla, Fiora, Madalene and the others had become my friends and family.

The Singing of Swans is a well researched book and I highly recommend it to everyone. You will be entertained and enriched by the history of a culture and time almost forgotten. Bravo Mary, This is a great book!

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