Posthumously published book honors late ‘mythsinger’

Posted 6/21/23

His words still resonate today.

“A myth is a story that tells a sacred truth without the use of facts,”   Daniel Deardorff once said.

In celebration of the third …

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Posthumously published book honors late ‘mythsinger’


His words still resonate today.

“A myth is a story that tells a sacred truth without the use of facts,”  Daniel Deardorff once said.

In celebration of the third posthumous publication of Deardorff’s book, “The Other Within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture and Psyche,” Phoenix Rising will host a book signing from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 24. 

Judith-Kate Friedman — an award-winning composer, vocalist, steward of the Mythsinger Legacy Project, and Deardorff’s life partner from 2006 until his passing in 2019 — will read passages from the book and sing original songs related to some of the book’s themes, including otherness, belonging, reconnecting with the wild, and how myth can be the key to living wholeheartedly.

Deardorff was an eponymous “mythsinger; a master storyteller, author, singer, songwriter, beloved teacher, a maker of ritual, and a carrier of ancient oral tradition stories,” Friedman said.

A survivor of paralytic polio and resulting paraplegia, Deardorff believed that one of the greatest oppressions is the suffering of meaningless wounds. Knowing well the oppressions of exclusion, estrangement, and betrayals, Deardorff guides readers to discover their own true identity and honor the “other” that lives within each of us. His book is an initiatory journey through ancient myths, wisdom literature, and personal revelation.

Deardorff was in the music business for five decades.

“Though it was long, he saw it as three separate careers — rebirths,” Friedman said.

It all began in the ’70s. By the time he was 16, Deardorff had written enough songs to sign a record deal. He lucked out in LA and met with the management company of soft rock band Seals and Crofts. The next day, Deardorff was signed.

He spent the good part of 10 years on tour, opening for Seals and Crofts at
10,000-person stadium shows. During this time, Deardorff struggled to make a name for himself.

“Because of his disabilities, the music industry had no context for him,” Friedman explained. “They would never let him be the front man of his own band without pairing him with an able-bodied person.”

Given these barriers, he ended up feeling exiled from the industry.

However, the circumstances could not keep his passion for music at bay; he started his second career in the ‘80s, returning to his Seattle homeland and becoming a record producer for other artists.

This new path was cut short when post-polio syndrome began to take hold. His nerves deteriorated to the point where he had no choice but to officially retire from the music business.

He relocated to Port Townsend and became an independent scholar of myth, collaborating with friends and mentors Robert Bly, Martin Shaw, Robert Simmons, and others to restore the wisdom of myth to culture and community.

Friedman marveled at how all these different parallel paths — hers, Deardorff’s, and even Bly’s Shaw’s, and Simmons’ — magically intersected.

In 2003, Bly held a conference on Orcas Island and invited Deardorff to speak. He had just written the first edition of “The Other Within” and was ready to share his teachings for the first time. Friedman attended. She was blown away by the connections he made between music — something she herself was passionate about — and storytelling.

“He drew from poetry, anthropology, psychology,” she said.

“He talked about how there’s an order to all things that cannot be seen. It’s understood by science, but not by humanity.”

Deardorff applied this concept to identity.

“Identity is implicate. It’s seen by all the ways we show ourselves to the world,” Deardorff said. “It’s also how the world sees us. And sometimes, in the words of William Butler Yeats, we are seen by malicious eyes. If we aren’t careful, we can believe the malice. The ‘otherness.’”

“Even though the book was written 13 years ago, the relevance has never been more potent today. You can’t turn on the news without hearing the otherness in everything, everyone. Between the need for racial justice and equity, environmental healing, and navigating the psychology of post-pandemic life, it’s important we acknowledge the other and learn how to manage it.”

This will be the third edition of this book (it was originally published in 2004). It now includes commentaries by Bly, Shaw, and Simmons, with words of acknowledgment from Friedman. 

For more information on Deardorff’s work, visit

The book event will be live-streamed. Contact for the link.