What is storytelling?
For as long as we have been human we have told stories. Sat around fires in caves and within ancient temples; in longhouses, feasting halls and forests we have passed stories to one another and around the world. Individual stories have weathered ice ages and the rise and fall of empires; they have travelled from South Africa to Siberia and from India to Ireland, shifting in form but retaining their essential nature.
In medieval Wales kings feared the travelling poets whose curse could topple their kingdom. In Viking-age Scandinavia the storytelling ‘skalds’ would travel from settlement to settlement with the assurance of hospitality and protection wherever they went. Everyone, young and old, wanted to hear their stories; to partake, for a few long evenings, in the awesome mystery of their world, its gods and their strange and exhilarating adventures.
Nowadays stories are everywhere; on the cinema screen, in newspapers, novels and on social networks. The myths that once informed entire cultures are seen as entertainment for very young children. Yet gather any group of people together and tell them these ancient stories ‘mind to mind, eye to eye and heart to heart’ and the centuries and epochs fall away; we are around the fire again, eyes shining with wonder, while within earshot the lions are roaming, roaring, reminding us how lucky we are to be alive.
The stories I tell come from all over the world. Some are many thousands of years old; a few are my own creations. A good number of them are Scottish highland folk-tales, Siberian legends or aboriginal/indigenous myths.
There are hero quests; stories of monster-slayers; stories of the gods of Ireland, India and Scandinavia; Tibetan and Zen Buddhist teaching stories; comical tales and tragedies; stories of the human heart, of the animal powers and of the spirit realms.
They all have one thing in common; they are stories that I love.
I look for stories with a certain kind of magic. Stories that make the eyes sparkle; stories that light a fire which illuminates dim, forgotten corners of memory and imagination. These stories remind us that the world is full of mystery and riches and that to live in it is a wonderful, precious gift.
Some of the themes and traditions I tell from are:
Greek & Roman
John Muir Stories
Global citizenship stories