“Stories matter, you see. They’re not just entertainment – stories matter because humans are narrative creatures. It’s not simply that we like to tell stories, and to listen to them: it’s that narrative is hardwired into us. It’s a function of our biology, and the way our brains have evolved over time. We make sense of the world and fashion our identities through the sharing and passing on of stories.” Sharon Blackie
When I was growing up, stories were everything to me. I lived in a world of faeries, magic doorways into the otherworld, white stags on lonely moors and that deep sense of delight and wonder that’s kindled by the words “once upon a time”. As a waldorf teacher, stories were my bread and butter, from fairy tales to legends and mythology, I told and heard stories every day. When I left the classroom I was lost, and it was only in regaining my story that I have been able to make sense of myself again.
We tell ourselves stories daily, whether it’s a fabrication about the life of our neighbour, what our partner thinks or what we’d do if we weren’t in this job / relationship / situation, we have a need to keep up a narrative.
What if that narrative became a conscious meditation? What if we could use it as a way to heal ourselves of our ills?
By working with already existing stories, fairy tales are a wonderful place to begin, we can go beyond the mere hearing and enter into an active listening: who are these characters, where is this place, what is happening? Dropping down into the story we can find ourselves immersed in a world of archetypes where that big bad wolf suddenly appears as the manipulative, greedy part of ourselves. Where we can perhaps embrace that part of our soul that needs to be rescued. Where we can remember that we are heroes who have survived long and arduous challenges.