Friday, April 21, 2017

the wild and weedy medicine of storytelling

It was twelve years ago that I first encountered the idea that stories can be medicinal. I'd previously come across something similar - the therapeutic power of stories to help troubled people. But when I became involved with Steiner education, I developed a deeper understanding, one which resonated on feral, sacred levels of bone and sinew, deep grief and profound love.

Stories, they're thread to stitch the wound we all carry, the cut between us and the other. - The Storyteller of Cyriae, Driftways.

Other people and animals.
Other places.
Other perspectives.
Other kinds of lifestyle.
Other aspects of our selfhood.
Other layers of consciousness.
Other ways of touching the world.

I personally believe medicine, done right, is woven through with the spirit of Life, the magic and mystery and the ineffable beauty of Life. That's where it gets its healing power from.

My apprenticeship with medicinal storytelling began, of course, with the old fairy tales. They're old for a reason. People have kept them going because they say important things and minister to our souls. When there is no real medicine in the tale, it withers away, untold, unloved. (And of course invaders have always understood the importance of repressing or reassigning a people's stories, to leave their culture with no soul-remedy for invasion.)

Soon, I was learning to make my own gentle medicine. I especially found it helpful in mothering. For example, being able to see things in the frame of a story, a narration of that moment in time and yet braided to other moments, the progression of life - this has been invaluable in providing me with clear perspective (although not always in the particular moment!)

Ever since, I have been trying to practice a wise and nurturing narration within my heart for my daily life. It isn't always possible. But when I remember, it always helps.

Novel writing is very different from this kind of storytelling. I think perhaps it's too easy for the writer to focus on the plot, the grammar, the precision of editing, rather than to grow the spirit of the tale. I think too novelists worry a lot about structure, pacing, word counts - whereas medicinalists know to value weeds, unexpected growth, symbosis. I know some medicinal novels. But they are less common than I would wish them to be.

I believe that everything is, and should be dealt with as, Story. It makes me sad that our culture has come to believe a story is something you find inside a book, or perhaps on a CD, composed by a person for whom tale-telling is a career. But the truth is, your life is a manifestation of your inner narration. A day is good or bad because you tell the story of it one way or another. And we can all heal ourselves with story. The medicine is weedy, wild, everywhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment