Stories in all their forms as myths, folk tales and fairy tales have accompanied humans across the earth, migrating with them, changing too as the lives of their human companions altered over time. Those who have studied them much longer than me, believe them to carry wisdom, important truths, moral codes and to be a part of the living world. A while before the first residential weekend I offered in the Spring of 2016, it became clear that the gathering needed to begin with a story. So I found myself starting to build a relationship with a story and learning how to tell it. I had always loved stories. The year before I had attended a myth school where I had experienced stories as living beings who would arrive and move amongst us all, gathered as we were, in a small hall on Dartmoor. The afternoons were spent out on the moor in solitary relationship with the story being told and its’ teachings and gifts. The course at the School was offered as most clearly not, a training in storytelling, but instead, as an exploration of the art of becoming a story carrier. This had immediately provoked me into attending. I had a deep gut and heart longing to learn some of the old tales and to give them a home in my heart – to tell the stories of the land and the wild ones back to themselves. Stories carried in my bones and flesh, awakened and carried on the air, as I spoke the words out into the breath and bodies of the trees and the soil, the wind and the weather. Offered as a giveaway to the all the wild ones. Something I would do simply for the love of doing it. And something I would do privately, secretly even, to particular trees I loved, to the swans on the river, to the waves pounding on the cliffs where I like to sit looking out Westwards. So it was with some consternation, that I realised that I was now being asked to tell stories to human beings and ones who’d be paying to hear me story tell. I tried to bargain, to ask perhaps if there was another alternative way to begin the weekend’s exploration. No, it was clear. It had to be a story.
But why? Well, because storytelling as I had begun to witness it was not a straightforward recitation. Instead it was an invocation. A calling forth to the story. An invitation for the story to come and sit by the fire, amongst the good folks and to touch each one, bless us with teachings, understanding, balm on wounds, to inspire, awaken or puzzle us with a good question… I’d come to understand stories as bridge makers between the human village and the culture of the wild. And our love of hearing the stories as important to keeping them alive and keeping this beautiful world alive. They are gatekeepers and beings of threshold. So at the beginning of the longer courses, they meet us right there at the threshold. And we, in letting them move us in some way, are gifted by them as we travel together over the few days of the course and then onwards as we encounter the work after all such events. The vital work of finding the way to bring the gifts back into our own lives. To our circle of beloveds, to our work colleagues, to our human and more than human kin.