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WokeTales - Woke Folktales

Storytelling Podcasts

Stories have so much power and so does whoever controls the narrative. It is time to dissect and analyze these stories.

Stories have so much power and so does whoever controls the narrative. It is time to dissect and analyze these stories.


United States


Stories have so much power and so does whoever controls the narrative. It is time to dissect and analyze these stories.




Episode 56 - The Legend of Black Mountain (Australian Aboriginal story)

The Legend of Black Mountain is Australian Aboriginal story, taken from Jean A. Ellis’ collection This is the Dreaming, is strictly speaking more legend than fairy tale but contains all the familiar ingredients. Black Mountain is actually a real place in northern Queensland. Two strong brothers build a tower with black boulders to win the girl they fancy. It’s interesting to note, though, that while most legends and fairy tales reward the hyperbolic displays of their heroes, in this story...


Episode 55 - The Ailpein Bird, the Stolen Princess, and the Brave Knight (Scottish Fairytale)

This week’s fairy tale is a Scottish story about a collective effort of good people to save the princess instead of one person doing it all. This is a story of unexpected complications. Even the best laid plans laid by knights and wicked kings can sometimes go spectacularly wrong. There is a princess is abducted by a wicked king, someone gets the intel, someone whisks her away from the castle, and someone comes up with the plan to get her back. It was a group effort and in the end team work...


Episode 54 - My Lady Sea (Greek fairytale)

‘My Lady Sea’ is an ugly piece of folklore that pushes its female characters into an impossible position between a raging psychotic for a father and a bridegroom who uses tantrums to get whatever he wants. The father tries to control his daughters who in real are dolls and the prince pursues them for marriage. But in the need to control the dolls they both forget the dolls aren’t living. Both men are rewarded for their abysmal behavior. But let alone current real life, not even a character...


Episode 53 - The Stolen Bairn and the Sìdh (Mother’s Day Special Scottish Fairytale)

Mothers in the world of fairy tales are often considered to be an endangered species. This Mother’s Day special is a Scottish story of a mother’s determination, her courage, and endurance to reunite with her baby. For mothers it isn’t easy to have adventures of your own when there’s children to look after but what makes the mother in our story magnificent is how she rises to the occasion anyway. The young mother won her baby back from a whole court of fairies had the odds stacked against...


Episode 52 - The Kingdom of Ocean

This Indian fairy tale begins when a ship encounters a storm at sea and promptly disintegrates. All hands on board are lost save for one young sailor, who meets a mermaid queen. He becomes her king and they are very happy together, but after some time they separate. This fairy tale is unusual in recognizing that some relationships can be impermanent without either party being evil. The narrative does not condemn the sailor, and more importantly, it does not condemn the mermaid.


Episode 51 - Chien-Nang (Chinese fairy tale)

This is a story of wronged lovers, a Chinese fairy tale taken from the 1974 reprint of Ruth Manning-Sanders’ A Book of Charms and Changelings. This is a story of Chien-Nang, who is torn between her father and the love of her life. She figures out a way to be with both but will we find out who is real and who is the changeling?


Episode 50 - Mannikin Spanalong (German fairytale)

This is a German story of Mannikin Spanalong and although has elements of curse sorcery, overall it is pretty simple and straightforward which makes it all the more unique. It begins with a motivated young woman who sets off to find work and in process helps Mannikin Spanalong through his curse. She is rewarded in return. The reward however, is not marriage which is very rare to find in a fairy tale about a helpful woman and a cursed man. They both get to live their life their own way, and...


Episode 49 - Why The Cheetah’s Cheeks Are Stained (A Traditional Zulu Story)

Today’s story is a traditional Zulu story about Cheetahs. If you notice it looks like Cheetah’s face has tear marks and this story tells us why. Kwasuka sukela, which means once upon a time in Zulu, a lazy and wicked hunter wished he could have the meat without the work (hunting) and steals cheetah cubs to do his work for him. The mother cheetah cries until her tears make dark stains down her cheeks. Today the cheetah wears the tear stains on their face as a reminder to the hunters that it...


Episode 48 - Rake Up! (Danish fairytale)

Rake up is a Danish fairy tale and is a story of a mermaid and her cows. It has elements of xenophobic attitudes, greed, and obviously a happy ending. Given how often fairy tales portray the other – be that minority groups, non-humans or just non-pretty people – as evil or at the least untrustworthy, it’s rather wonderful to encounter a story in which such attitudes are so roundly criticized.


Episode 47 - Black, Red, and Gold (Spanish fairy tale)

Black, Red, and Gold is a Spanish fairy tale, and begins with the very familiar theme of the desperate childless couple and their kindness is rewarded by a daughter and a son. It has kidnapping by pirates, adoption into wealth and misery, the terrible choice between love and duty! Only it isn’t the traditional love story, it has friendship and family love instead.


Episode 46 - The story of Holi (Hindu Mythology)

Holi is a Hindu festival, also known as the "Festival of Love", the "Festival of Colors", and the "Festival of Spring". The festival celebrates the eternal and divine love of Radha Krishna. It celebrates the spring season and also signifies the triumph of good over evil. Here is the story of how Holi got its name and the legend of Radha and Krishna.


Episode 45 - Tatterhood (Norwegian fairytale)

This Norwegian fairy tale is the story of Tatterhood. It is a story about sisters, beautiful Berenice and the hideous Tatterhood. When some witches replaces Berenice's head with a calf's head, the brave Tatterhood starts the adventure to get her sister's head back. Surprisingly the story refuses to pit beauty and ugliness against each other as metaphors for good and evil. It celebrates strength, family, perception, and magic!


Episode 44 - Lilith (Jewish Mythology)

For Women’s History Month, this is a story of Lilith, the first woman ever created. Belonging to Jewish mythology, the perception of Lilith is complex and polarizing. Lilith was the first woman ever created alongside Adam. She was unfairly demonized because she refused to submit to Adam and called him out on inequalities. Her story is one of deep hardship, and even consequential evil, rooted in her refusal to submit to a man. With the fight for freedom from gender roles in the 1960s, Lilith...


Episode 43 - The Owl who was unwelcome (Australian Aboriginal legend)

This Australian Aboriginal legend, from Collins Dove’s 1994 collection, This Is the Dreaming, is a cautionary fable about what happens when humans forget to treat other living creature with respect and kindness. The kids mistreat and torture a new bird they see, who is actually sent by god Wandjina to help humans. The story has a strong message against animal cruelty. It is, admittedly, more mythology than fairytale, but it shows the same compassion towards what is different and what is...


Episode 42 - The Padishah’s Daughter and the Young Slave (Tajik Fairytale)

This Tajik fairytale is from Sergei Palastrov’s 1986 collection of retellings Folk Tales from the Soviet Union, and begins with that commonest of themes, the royal father who’s desperate to get his daughter married off. She is equally determined not to marry until she’s good and ready. An old fortune teller tells the padishah’s that his daughter will marry a slave. The padishah isn’t happy about that and sends the slave off on a fool’s quest into the world, never to come back. It’s a story...


Episode 41 - The Gay Goshawk (Scottish Fairytale)

For Valentine’s Day enjoyment, here is a fairy tale about forbidden love, The Gay Goshawk. It is a love story between an English lady and a Scottish Lord. They figure out a clever way to be together against her family’s approval, with the help of a goshawk. It takes a true lady to deliver such a stinging ‘screw you!’ to the people who failed her. It’s interesting to see a father’s failure actually addressed for once, instead of being piled entirely onto the nearest stepmother. The Gay...


Episode 40 - Legend of Monster Nian (Chinese New Year Story)

Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is celebrated at the second new moon following the Winter Solstice. This festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of a long-awaited spring! This episode is the Chinese legend behind this day and is a story of a ferocious monster named “Nian”. According to the story, Chinese New Year's Day is also called "Guo Nian" (过年) in Chinese, Guo can mean 'celebrate (a new) year' or 'overcome Nian'. The character 年 (Nián)...


Episode 39 - Filo d’Oro (Italian fairytale)

This week’s story is an Italian fairy tale from the 1982 Ruth Manning-Sanders collection A Book of Heroes and Heroines about Filo d’Oro and Lionella. With ogre curse and fairy magic thrown in it makes for an interesting story and shows that in a world of ogres and fairies, when you get your shot at happiness you seize it with both hands and just hope for the best.


Episode 38 - Capricorn & Aquarius (Greek myth of zodiac signs)

Astrology is looking for answers, signs, and predictions in the movements of the celestial bodies, and has a long history of humans looking up at the stars to plan their lives. It’s January which means it’s the month of Capricorn and Aquarius. The ancient greek zodiac sign of Capricorn, represented as a sea-goat is December 22 – January 19 and Aquarius, represented by water-bearer, is January 21 – February 19. There is often more than one story behind the symbols of the star signs, so...


Episode 37 - The Nightingale

Today's story is The Nightingale. It is a beautiful tale about friendship and realness by Hans Christian Andersen. The story follows an emperor who prefers the tinkling of a bejeweled mechanical bird to the song of a real nightingale. When the Emperor is near death, the nightingale's song restores his health. The theme of the tale is real and artificial, the role of a true creator and art in the life of a person. We also learn that true friends let each other be themselves. The emperor...