Living Life's Circle:
Mescalero Apache Cosmovision
        Dr. Claire R. Farrer 

Although covering 24 years of fieldwork and information from two hundred individuals, this is really Bernard Second's book.  Mr. Second--who, during his lifetime, was a religious specialist for the Native people of the Mescalero Apache Reservation--was Farrer's primary teacher. It was he who first envisioned the book and he who insisted she write it.

The cosmos is both exemplar and template for all that is known to be appropriate behavior for Apache people. Literally, the voice of Creator is given vision and written in the sky for all to apprehend and for all to follow. It is this cosmovision with which the book is concerned. Farrer shows how the sky as template organizes life from body painting to a ceremonial round, from sprinkling salt on food to a tribal meeting. While so doing, she also develops theoretical constructs: the base metaphor and chiasm.

A base metaphor underlies all that we know of cultural behavior. It organizes that behavior and the culture itself and, by being so basic, also gives life to root paradigms and key symbols. Chiasm is the medium of change, or the potential for change. A chiasm may be a person, a place, an event, a narrative--indeed, it is all these and more as well. Chiasms allow people to view the now and envision the potential. As such, they are potent vehicles for both change and affirmation.

The entirety of life is viewed, among the people of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, as a circle. One moves through various stages of life within that circle, from birth, to childhood, to adulthood, to old age and eventual death. All are comprehended with the circle that is formed by the cosmos.

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Thunder Rides a Black Horse
     Mescalero Apache and the Mythic Present
                   Dr. Claire R. Farrer

The impressive four day and four night Mescalero Apache girls' puberty ceremonial provides the structure for Farrer's consideration of the ways in which old myths and legends inform contemporary actions and beliefs. Why people behave as they do is as much a focus as is their actual behavior. Through instructions given to Farrer by Bernard Second, her Apache teacher for fourteen years, readers gain insight into the importance of narrative, not just in ceremony but especially in everyday living on a comtemporary Indian reservation in the American Southwest.

Sights and smells are almost palpable as the author provides the best in reflexive ethnography by allowing readers to see her as a person rather than an all-knowing anthropologist. She neither romanticizes nor patronizes the Apachean people, who are presented as people with foibles as well as possessing much worthy of admiration.

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Earth & Sky
                Visions of the Cosmos in Native American Folklore
  Edited by,
      Ray A. Williamson
      & Claire R. Farrer
 Published in 1991 by the University of New Mexico Press. This cover is from a seriagraph by Dr.Trudy Griffin-Pierce,
 who also contributed a chapter. Dr. Ray A. Williamson, an astronomer, organized a symposium for an annual
 meeting of the American Folklore Society, for which Farrer provided critical commentary. That symposium led to this volume. Archaeologists, sociocultural anthropologists, astronomers, and others contributed chapters. Each chapter considers the way in which astronomy impinges (or impinged) on a group of North American Indians. The Table of Contents is self-explanatory.


 I - Introduction: The Animating Breatb / page I

 2-Cosmos and Poesis in the Seneca Thank-You Prayer

 3-The Celestial Skiff.-An Alabama Myth of tbe Stars

 4- ".... by you they will know the directions to guide them":
 Stars and Mescalero Apacbes

 5- Morning Star, Evening Star: Zuni Traditional Stories

 6. Navajo Earth and Sky and the Celestial Life Force

 7- The Hooghan and the stars

 8, Saguaro Wine, Ground Figures, and Power Mountains:
 Investigations at Sears Point, Arizona

 9. Menil (Moon): Symbolic Representation of Cahuilla Woman /

 10. Racing Simloki's Shadow: The Ajumawi Interconnection of Power, Shadow, Equinox, and Solstice

 11.North Pacific Ethnoastronomy: Tsimshian and Others

 12. Clot-of Blood

 13. On the Necessity of Sacrifice in Lakota Stellar Theology as Seen in "The Hand" Constellation,and the Story of
 "The Chief Who Lost His Arm"

 14. The Chief and His Council: Unity and Authority from the Stars

 15. The Conjurer's Lodge: Celestial Narratives from Algonkian Shamans

 16. Asking the Stars: Narative Indicators of Seneca Hunting Ceremonial

 17. Epilogue: Blue Archaeoastronomy

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Women and Folklore: Images and Genres, 
Edited by Claire R. Farrer
In this, Farrer's first professional book, there is a consideration of women's folklore, the images of women such folklore projects, and the genres through which women's folklore is generated and disseminated. Compiled and published when she was still a graduate student, the book is largely papers that were presented at an annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in the early 1970s that Farrer organized and chaired and that featured papers primarily by other then-graduate students. At that time, the idea of a women's folklore that differed from the known (men's) genres was a novel idea. Unfortunately, Farrer's student status mitigated against her being able to argue effectively and to be a proper advocate for her contributors; thus, some of the papers were dropped and others added during the editing process. Nonetheless, the book broke new ground by being the first scholarly work devoted to women's folklore in the United States.

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