Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Well another year programme at the School comes to it's end. I always experience a mixture of emotion - sadness as for sure there are some faces i won't see again, but also the delight at a memory-bank of robust and glorious windswept moments this last year has offered -salty tears and raucous soul laughter. I will see you all the Westcountry Storytelling Festival if not before!

news just in; there is to be a conference on;
'Myth, Literature, and the Unconscious' to be held at The University of Essex, UK, 2-4 September 2010

I am giving a paper on 'storytelling and the ecstatic image' and the conference as a whole looks very interesting. I will post more details when i get them, in the meantime i suggest going direct to the university for details.

I hope you are enjoying the coyote ride of government intrigues this week brings us-takes my mind off that biting north eastern wind.

Deposits for the next WHEEL OF STORY day workshop are now being taken. We will be studying the gnarly old Northern English tale 'The Lind Wurm'. What shadowy twin sister or brother was thrown out by the mid - wife the day we were born? At what stage in our our lives do we meet that dark sibling on the road bellowing 'Eldest Marries First!!'- and lo, soul trouble begins. The ancients say we approach that shadow being with ritual, story and understanding, lest it devour all our best laid plans (plans that involve finding just what it is we want to quest for).

I begin an extensive U.S.teaching programme from the end of next week (around the 22 May) and so am asking for a prompt response if you are planning to attend -Sam and I would appreciate getting a clear picture of numbers before i leave as i return only a few days before the event. Please make cheques for £20 to Martin Shaw at: Tregonning House, 27 Eastern rd, Ashburton, Devon, TQ13 7AP

A BRANCH FROM THE LIGHTNING TREE is in negotiation for a re-release in early 2011 with an American publisher and world wide distribution. Here's a taster of some new material that will appearing in the new, revised addition - you may notice words and phrases from old blog entries, so please, just chant along with it.

New Words

The patterning of crows over a winter field is an oracular thought of the mud, sky and bird; the elegant procession of the raindeer across a spring meadow is part of some epic train of imagination that has been running for tens of thousands of years. The swift dive of the killer whale is a new vision from an ancient sea. Thought is not just contained in language, not even for us humans. But it is all story. The hundred ways the otter gleefully crosses a stream is the same way the storyteller splashes their route through a story: the same destination but differing currents, details and varying intensities of stroke. The animals are myth – tellers in the way that they are. These images are more than just metaphors for our ‘own’ condition but, entered respectfully, offer a glimpse of the great, muscled thoughts of the living world. It is always thinking.

The joy of an oral culture is the old bones of story reconnecting to the inflamed tissue of spontaneous language. It is a specific kind of animation, an incantational convergence of narrative tracks worn smooth by the ancestors and giddy new vistas of linguistic image that are only glimpsed in that telling in that moment. Oral culture understands that the voice spoken in this attunement reaches towards the harsh thinking of the wind moving over a fissured moor, the excitement of the bat as it senses dusk. So does nature think? The ancients thought so. The whole point of something like a Vision Quest was to create an axis of experience that somehow accommodated the thought – ripples of nature.

This is a complicated business; the ‘thinking’ of nature could well seem inexpressible; to truly encounter it involves a coming adrift from entirely village centered ambition. What we are left with is a strange image - language that seems to have hawk feathers and the tough, green scales of the alligator in it. Poetry is the natural result of any mythic experience. The myth teller somehow articulates the story from many positions; its empathies are generous, its community oceanically wide. To hold rigidly to the script is a western plague, to deny what Finn Mac Cool call’s ‘the music of what is’, to concrete over the entrance to the badgers den. The more defended we are, the more ‘in dominion’, the more wildness shrinks from us.

We could say that earth is relaying a lot of information right now, and not all of it is accessible with statistics and logic. I believe it is a call to the prophetic within us-a big word. The pastoral-creative work designed to appeal and comfort mass-civilisation, completely lacks the receptivity for the task.

However, without a process similar to the one I am describing it would be very difficult to engender the psychic readiness required. To be clear: to function in their deepest vocation, the storyteller – teacher - poet, should stand in the ground of prophetic image, a scarecrow of words, pushed by invisible winds. There’s a great deal of grandeur in that statement, and all sorts of problems, but I’m sticking with it.

I thought i'd finish today's entry with a poem i'd forgotten that i'd written and just found in a draw whilst looking for my passport. its dedicated to all parents and those 4 am trips to the hospital, whilst trying to remember if the child is allowed to doze or not after a banged head.

A Fall From The Bed

We love the little head
Never more so than when we pace the minor injuries reception
Dulcie’s eyes incomplete and sleepy
Ready for some purplish dream we can’t follow
So we throw nettle lines of question
to keep her hovering above the swamp of rest

Oddly, the nurse is a gate-keeper of night
And recommends twenty minutes dives
Providing we assemble our anxious tools
To unchain the ivy every now and then
But she doesn’t want to rise from the ink-mouth,
Too many Dragons are cleaning her blood
Golden mice are tingling her elbows

These Healers are underground powers
Surging up from Guinea into our local views
Indecent energies throng our daughters muscle
Waves crash, continents rise and fall as she lies under
my tweed coat,
Whole empires pour like lemmings over ruddy cliffs
The black priests sing a Madrigal
While we sit by the edge of her ocean, feet in the foam,


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