Just a quick one this week - just back from a splendid and lively first weekend of the year programme. We seemed to catch the last of the sunlight with a mist coming down on sunday. And remember all attendees - the recommended reading between this session and Decembers is: Singing Story, Healing Drum: Shamans and Storytellers of Turkic Siberia (Kira Van Deusen - Mc Gill-Queen's University Press), Teachers of Myth: Interviews on educational and psychological uses of myth with adolescents (Maren Tonder Hansen -spring journal books).
We still have some spaces for the below, so please feast your eyes .....
Friday, December 2 at 7:00pm - December 4 at 4:00pm
Blytheswood Hostel, Steps Bridge, Dunsford, Exeter, Devon EX6 7EQ
The Westcountry School of Myth presents the second weekend in its year long study of myth, initiation and wilderness. This time we jump into the rich and paradoxical area of the sacred trickster - through Raven bringing the light by stealing a luminous box from the Otherworld, to the birth of the storytelling god Hermes, to a Siberian woman who becomes a fox and can never go home, to the epic love story of Tristan and Isolde. Where do these extraordinary stories reside in the folds of our lives today?
The weekends promise a deep jump into the mythic world and the inner, whilst held tight in the mighty, mossy paw of Dartmoor. There are wood burning stoves, hot food, fellowship, laughter and depth, even the chance to tell a story or learn more about the art if so inclined. Why not come and find out what story you are living? Anyone welcome to begin the course at this stage, even if new to the school. E-mail
I turn 40 next monday - the 24th - So i turn my head towards one of my deepest allies, old Dartmoor itself, to help me cross the threshold. The decade began in a black tent in a hidden valley - very rich indeed - but i feel filled with gratitude to all the friends i've made along the way. Many of these came through the road of the travelling myth-teller, but many also from just sitting still on Dartmoor and meeting all these inspirational characters that roll into the school. A special thanks to Chris, Jonny, Tina, Tim, Dave, Del, Rebeh, William, Scotty, Sue, Sam, and my good friend Lisa over in California, and Maggie and Luke. Please forgive my encroaching years if i have forgotten a name of anyone who has crewed for us, it's quite possible.
In the spirit of the 'I AM' Celtic poetic tradition (that students at the school put into practice) here is my own kind of variant of that as i approach a winter of following this myth-line of 2,000 yrs of story across Dartmoor (see last entry). For all students finding a piece of land to study for the duration of the programme (or longer) you may want to think of some kind of ritual greeting to it.
View from the Study
I am in the hut. Where language is a lovesick horse galloping inky mad across the bone- white page.
I am sometimes a bird - too often the skalded crow with blood-mouth, or the partridge, fat for deaths pot. My hobbled pedigree ruptures the brittle roof of reeds and eats stars, galloping down their ice language, their hope systems for the stranded hunter. As I gobble the sky I hurl light into soil.
The geese that flew for Parzival I love. The hawk that claimed three drops of their blood I love. The snow it fell to I love.
The hut is a kind of singing. It’s a loose gnotted story, my ramble-bag of low words, sweet feathery intensities. The floor is rutted Devon soil, ochre red, erotic dirt, good to stand upon in bare feet. The walls are big trees – Grimm’s trees, Russian, enormous Irish voyaging stories. The bark shines wet and dark, the roots are rough and deep. Where they hit soil all the flowers of Persia breathe. My fragile roof, patched so many times with my uprisings, threaded with an old woman’s hair, carries tribal rains that drip berry large onto the peaty fire. Water and flame.
The dust on Mirabai’s feet I love. The heavy horse alone in the orchard I love. The woman that lives at the edge of the world I love.
My grasses hum with beehive. I break chunks of honeycomb and offer them up to great Dartmoor. The hut shudders with foamy energy, reaching northwards to coax the rivers – the Tavy, the Plym, the Erme, the Avon, the Dart, and the Teign. I have shells from the green sea threaded in my belt, generous beer in a bronze cup for the spit-wind. I come in the old way. I leave a hollowed out hoof filled with apple-blossom on the turf, I haunch the dream path of the adder up to Hay Tor, Lucky Tor, Hound Tor, Benji Tor, Yal Tor.
The dry-stone wall I love. The moon over corn I love. Branwen of the white breast I love.
At forty years old I bend my head. I come in my fathers boots, and Alec’s, and Leonard’s, and Bryan’s. I carry dark bundles of my mothers hair, and Christine’s, and Monica’s, and Jennies. The blood holds Shaw, Gibson, Causer, Thackery. I come to walk the boundaries. I come to find a myth-line. The territory is the moor – once a desert, a tropical island, a red wood forest. So, shape-mover, what stories do you want to tell? What veins of charge ripple your flank? Where do I place my shoulder, ear and eye? My middle finger taps the tortoise shell that leads us home, I lace granite with whisky and milk. Within the stag’s bone there is a hawkish wine, in the glisten-steps of the morning hare lies the old singing.
Let the tusks of Dermot’s Boar get soaked in the wine of your education,
Let your milk heavy udders splash hot into our story-parched mouth,
Let the wild swan at dawn rise to meet Christ’s dark fire
I ask protection from the good power.
Let all stories hold, heal and nourish my small family. Let they be salmon and hazels for our mouths. Nothing but goodness – no envy, no meaness, no smallness.
Copyright Martin Shaw 2011