Category Archives: Historical Journeys

Spirit Rising: the Song of Hiawatha


Click on the above image of Minniehaha feeding the birds to watch a meditative youtube with beautiful images and music by Yanni, put online by winterstorm2.

Merge with Hiawatha: these were words I heard in a dream last night spoken by a man.  Was this the voice of a dream guide?  I saw nothing just heard the words repeated. It made me laugh: Hiawatha! I vaguely remembered the name as one of a Native American, but didn’t know if he was a real person, or a myth, or someone on a TV show?

I asked my husband this morning and he knew immediately that Hiawatha was a popular epic poem written back in the 1800s.

Here is a Wikipedia comment: “The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero. It is loosely based on the legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabeg) and other Native American peoples as contained in Algic Researches (1839) and additional writings by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an ethnographer and United States. In sentiment, scope, overall conception, and many particulars, Longfellow’s poem is very much a work of American Romantic literature, not a representation of Native American oral tradition. Longfellow insisted, “I can give chapter and verse for these legends. Their chief value is that they are Indian legends.”

It turns out the poem is not literal and not a true but a fictional work of the imagination based on Longfellow’s imaginings and understanding.

I found myself wondering just what did “merge with Hiawatha” from my dream mean?  It sounded very much like an instruction to me personally.  I once heard dream voices from my parents telling me (before a major event that I had no control over) “everything will be all right,” so I suspect this is guidance. But like all myth and wisdom literature, such a direction seems to have many connotations.

It could mean I should forget about becoming a chaplain (something I am currently exploring) and stay home with my husband, who reputedly has some Native American ancestry.  But I cannot say I am keen on the idea of merging with any person, including the man I love most–but in reality when we live with people, associate with them day in day out, we do become like them, and they become like us.

It could mean delve deeply into mythology which I love.  When Joseph Campbell said years ago, Follow your Bliss, I took him seriously, as we all should, and changed my life completely–beginning upon the road of the writer.

Perhaps it was about my novel, Unexpected Journey: Gishuk, one of the main characters, is a native American of my creation, whose name in Lenni Lenape means spirit rising.  I always intended to write a second novel exploring his life, but have not because the first book has not sold many copies. Unlike Longfellow’s poem which is an American classic.

I learned on Wiki that: “The poem closes with the approach of a birch canoe to Hiawatha’s village, containing “the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face.” Hiawatha welcomes him joyously; and the “Black-Robe chief” brings word of Jesus Christ. Hiawatha and the chiefs accept the Christian message. Hiawatha bids farewell to Nokomis, the warriors, and the young men, giving them this charge: “But my guests I leave behind me/ Listen to their words of wisdom,/ Listen to the truth they tell you.” Having endorsed the Christian missionaries, he launches his canoe for the last time westward toward the sunset, and departs forever.”

I found a Longfellow reading of one stanza on Youtube:

I liked it but the image of the baby on the video who I assume is supposed to be Hiawatha looks very white to me and I imagine an Ojibwe infant is brown-skinned.  I suspect the intent of this baby image is to point to the image of the birth of Christ.  He wasn’t white either but has in the West in many many paintings and liturgical tools always been seen as white.  But that’s what people do–our gods look like us.

In my story, Unexpected Journey, Gishuk is enamored of white people and falls in love with a white girl with hair the color of Autumn leaves. White people are not shown as saviors but as interlopers. Quakers get featured too and they are not all peaceful and beatific–but a mix of emotions, of dark and light like the rest of us–the Quaker story is imaginary, by the way, and not based on any particular historical events.

Far better, it seems to me, to embrace other cultures than annihilate them. We might have much to give, but how might we receive the wisdom of other groups who are distinct from us?


You can buy my novel on Kindle from Amazon for $5.99:


It’s also available in print from the publisher for a discount of $12.99.

Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars Perils of Life in the New World, a Surprising Villain, November 6, 2011 by Edwina Pendarvis (Huntington, WV)

This exciting story, set in Colonial America before the Revolutionary War, had a
slow start for me, because of Native American words that were unfamiliar; but
within just a few pages I was hooked. The action picked me up and carried me all
through the book at a pace that should satisfy even the most impatient escapist
reader. This tale is melodrama at its best, with a spunky street-waif heroine,
Anna, who downs a pint of ale every now and then; her best friend, Rachel, a
rich girl fallen on hard times; and, the “noble savage,” Gishuk. Their story has
lots of surprises. The Lenni-Lenape hero–sort of a “last of the Mohicans” (in
this case the Delawares)–is a pacifist, for one thing. The Quakers aren’t for
another. Well, the Quakers in this story may be pacifists, but they’re often
narrow-minded and cruel–very different from today’s stereotype (at least my
stereotype) of Quakers as always wise and gentle. Not being a historian, I can’t
vouch for the accuracy of the social and physical details, but the novel seems
well researched, and it certainly delivers a fascinating, multi-layered portrait
of life aboard ship crossing the Atlantic (the poor apparently endured
circumstances almost as bad as those of African slaves in this regard, though of
course the white passengers, no matter how poor, fared better if they made it to
the “new world” alive) and of life on the streets and in the houses of Colonial
Philadelphia. The wild, surrounding woods are both threatening and sheltering,
and Anna’s house is, fittingly, on the border between woods and town. St.
Clair’s written a wonderful yarn, and I’m looking forward to her next one.





Moonwick–Chapter Four–Kittens and Quilts

I found this photo of a quilt on flickr.  It is warm and cheerful, and that’s just what Maddie wants to feel, but she’s upset for lots of reasons…

Four: Kittens and Quilts

Maddie kicked the covers onto the floor, but waited until she was sure Joseph wouldn’t hear her get up. He’d be likely to call Mom, and then Mom would probably ground her forever. After a while, her brother’s hairy grunts sounded. It meant he was dead asleep, probably on his back with his mouth hanging open. Maggie crawled out of bed and wandered into the kitchen. She stared at the pink post-it note with the cell phone number scrawled across it. She knew it by heart anyway. She looked out the window and imagined the moon rising above the trees. The silver light it cast on the tin roof of the shed was like the spotlight on a soccer night game at Henley High. Not that she’d ever been there. Henley was over by where Dad had his new job.

Maddie couldn’t see or hear the kittens from here, but she hoped they’d be in a big heap, cuddling one another in the old cooler that John and she had filled with straw for their bed. Maddie frowned towards Joseph’s bedroom. He thought he was such a grownup, but he wasn’t. He was a silly little tattle—telling Mom about her bringing Finnegan into the house and all.

What if Mom caught the kittens and took them to the pound? Was it okay to separate brothers and sisters? Maddie shivered slightly. She wouldn’t miss Joseph for one moment, not for a twitch of an eyelid. The noise of a car coming up the hill got her attention. She rushed over to the window. The noise got louder and sounded more like a truck so it couldn’t be Mom. The vehicle didn’t pull into their lane. It must be the Davidsons in their old Chevy pickup heading down to their farm.

Maddie stared out the window wishing she were someone else’s daughter. When a light flashed on above the kitchen sink in John’s house, she thought maybe she’d ask John’s mother if she could live with them. She wouldn’t mind having John as her brother. She stepped outside onto the porch and looked down the lane. When Mom got home, Maddie’d be gone and have a new mother. That Maddie thought, with a dreadful sort of hope in her heart, would make Mom angry enough to give up singing. But Mom really needed to do this bad, so how could Maddie ruin it for her? Dad really ought to lighten up.

 Maddie’s watchface gleamed, but it wasn’t near time to go meet John. She quietly went back inside and flopped on top of the antique quilt on Mom and Dad’s bed. It had been sewn by Mamaw and her church quilting group. Maddie grinned to think of Mamaw smoking cigarettes and cheating at cards. Maddie remembered Mamaw’s sweet ten-layered fruit cakes loaded with iced cream. That would be better than crackers and milk. Things didn’t ought to change. Unless they got better. Maddie gently stroked a section of the quilt. She had to choose something worthwhile to use for the sacrifice. She loved this quilt. What would Mamaw use for a sacrifice if it was up to her?

Maddie went over to the wardrobe and looked inside. When she was little, Mom sometimes let her stuff her shoes with tissues so that Maddie could clop into the living room and pretend to be a model on the runway. There was a photo of Maddie as a little girl with her glasses perched on her nose, wearing a bright red dress, wobbling along on a pair of high-heeled shoes. Maddie thought it would be a good idea to get rid of that photo but it would not be a sincere sacrifice since she hated it. The sacrifice had to be something you loved.

Dad’s shirts and pants and jackets were all gone, but there was a blue tee-shirt shoved onto the top shelf. It was crumpled and a little smelly like it hadn’t been washed recently. Maddie pulled it over her head. It reached to her knees. It felt warm on her shoulders as if Daddy had his arm around her.

There was still a long way to go before midnight. Maddie sat at Mom’s makeup desk and sorted through the various bottles of nail polish. Green looked funky. Bright green. She painted her fingernails and then did her toenails. She waved her hands and feet in the air to dry them. She’d managed to smear the green goop on her little finger on her right hand, and her thumbnail on her left looked streaky, but the rest looked as flashy as fresh pea pods from the garden.

Maddie rummaged through Mom’s old lipsticks and chose a purplish one. She carefully outlined her lips and looked at her face in the mirror. She stifled a giggle. She reminded herself of a fat-faced plum. Dad liked plums.

The grandfather clock hadn’t chimed and she knew it was too early, but she just couldn’t wait any longer. She rushed over to the antique quilt. Mamaw would understand. She ripped away a red checkered section that had been fraying anyway. It was a true sacrifice—something important you didn’t want to give up. Mamaw would do the same thing. Then Maddie made a silent promise to find a very special piece of cloth to repair the damage.


Books by Christina St Clair–click on title

Ten Yen True–contemporary fiction

Emily’s Shadow–mystical/historical fantasy

Blue Caravan–mystical/historical fantasy–sequel to Emily’s Shadow

Unexpected Journey–historical fiction

Between Two Worlds–biography of Pearl Buck–Chinese/English reader


Self-Published Books:

Champion the Dream Horse–yearning for horses and family

Eleven Plus–struggles with classism in England

Ziggy, a Little Book of Healing–miracle and memoir, Reiki healing

Lenni Lenape Shaman

Lenape Lenape performing traditional dance, dressed as the Mesingoholikan, an incarnation of the spirit who negotiated between people and the spirits of animals they killed, c. 1900.

In Unexpected Journey, (historical fiction novel–500 pages) Gishuk, who is hoping to become a Lenni Lenape shaman, leads his people in a ritual during the Gamwing, an annual ceremony of thanksgiving.  The people dance wildly within their Bighouse to try to ward off a storm they think has been sent by Nenabush the Great Spirit to avenge the death of wolves.

Read an excerpt

Buy Unexpected Journey available as an ebook: HTML, PDF, and Mobipocket (compatible with Amazon Kindle). 

Also available as a POD book (500 pages).