The Singing of Swans tells the story of Madalene Ross, a thirty-year-old American who "lives in her head," cut off from her body, her heart, and her sense of purpose in the world. En route to and from her job as a computer programmer in Minneapolis, Madalene is hounded on the downtown streets 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.
Madalene's story is interwoven with the lives of three women: Rosalina, a priestess of Persephone in 70 B.C.E. Sicily; Ziza, a strega (Italian witch) in 16th century northeastern Italy, and Ibla, an herbalist and painter in 18th century southern Italy. Sicily's Lake Pergusa and the Black Madonna also act as a portal to the rich tradition of pre-Christian spirituality that lies beneath Church dogma.
The Singing of Swans takes readers on a multi-century journey to uncover long-silenced traditions, crack Madalene's spiritual code and reclaim her soul. Elements of magical realism dovetail with historical storytelling as this compelling tale of redemption unfolds.
"The Singing of Swans is a remarkable narrative calling -- even compelling -- us to connect with our own ancestral roots, to seek our own inner wisdom, and to reclaim, our own inner voices," says Margaret Starbird, author of The Woman with the Alabaster Jar & Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile.
"The Roman poet Ovid sang of the beautiful Sicilian lake where Persephone descended to the otherworld -- a lake now dying from overdevelopment," says Patricia Monaghan, author of The Goddess Path and The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog. "No siren's song could be more commanding than this novel centered on that magical lake. Generations of women of the streghe tradition -- call them pagans, call them witches -- join their voices in this tightly wrought magical chorus."
Mary Saracino is a native of Seneca Falls, NY who lived in Minneapolis, MN for many years and currently resides in Colorado. She is the author of four other books (Heretics: A Love Story, Voices of the Soft-Bellied Warrior, Finding Grace, and No Matter What), and has studied the Divine Feminine as an independent scholar for more than 30 years.
Her essays and fiction have been published in the anthologies Writing by Italian Canadian and Italian American Women, She Is Everywhere, Don't Tell Mama! The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing, The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Write About Food and Culture, Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul, Hey Paesan! Writings by Lesbians & Gay Man of Italian Descent, and the literary and cultural journals Italian Americana, Voices in Italian Americana, and Sinister Wisdom. Her poetry has been published in The New Verse News Online Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, Mothertongued.com, & Writers Who Cook.
Her novel The Singing of Swans was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards finalist. Her other honors and awards include 1999 & 2005 Writer's Residency Awards, Norcroft: A Writing Retreat for Women; the 2000 Salvator & Margaret Bonomo Memorial Prize for Literature (co-winner) for "Valentino, Puglia, & Seneca Falls," a personal narrative published in the summer 2000 issue of Italian Americana; the 1999 Colorado Authors' League "Top Hand Award" (Adult Fiction Mainstream/Literary) for Finding Grace; 1999 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (Children/Young Adult category) for Finding Grace; 1994 Minnesota Book Award finalist (Fiction category), No Matter What; and participating in the 1991-1992 Loft Mentor Series program (fiction category).
She is a member of PEN America, the National Writers Union, the Colorado Authors League and the American Italian Historical Association.
Antonio Albóndiga is sent to Sardinia after mishaps in his homeland, and is eventually banished to the village of Orune. Half the villagers—including Sarda and Shardana—follow a pre-Christian religion, while the other half observe a makeshift version of Catholicism and paganism.
Hate holds the priest's heart hostage, and he scorns Sarda and Shardana's adherence to ancient ways. Despite their suspicions, the healers and their village attempt not only to accept the stranger but to transform him.
The fifty contributors in this anthologyscholars, creative writers, and visual artistsshare their vision for a world that reclaims the inviolability of the Divine Female in all Her many and varied manifestations.
She Is Everywhere! Volume 3 is the latest edition of a leading-edge series which, like its predecessors, offers an invaluable contribution to womens spirituality, religion, philosophy, and womens studies. The contemporary voices contained within its pages echo an ancient clarion call to embrace the values of justice with compassion, equality for all people, and transformation.