One day in 1997 I was reading a stolen Caduceus magazine, when there emerged before my eyes an article on traditional storytelling. The article smacked me in the gob. Excruciating, but revealing.
It wasn’t punishing me for thieving. It was telling me something which would change my life. Up to that moment I had never heard about weird people getting together to tell traditional tales. “What about that then?” said the article. “Hell’s teeth,” I replied, only stronger, “I want to be weird as well. And tell stories.”
Half an hour later I had joined the Society for Storytelling. A day later I enjoyed my first gig, with Nick Hennessy. Two weeks later I went on a storytelling course at Blethfa – The Place of the Wolf – in remote Cymru, lead by Jenny Pearson and Michael Harvey. I was taught to tell stories by some wonderful storytellers: Ben Haggarty, Duncan Williamson, Jenny and Michael.
At Blethfa I told my first story to a public audience, Skeleton Woman, a wondrous tale. In the afternoon I had intended to tell Sealskin, Soulskin. Both stories are from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ essential book ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves.’ Except, Skeleton Woman kept interrupting me, calling to me and demanding I tell her story. I heard her and responded to her. In the evening ceilidh, Skeleton Woman helped me tell her story. Much as I love the Sealskin, Soulskin story, I have never told it. So it is.
Two weeks later I sold my house and metaphorically took to the road. The start of a journey down an unforseen path. It made all the difference.
When I came to write my MA thesis in 1998, traditional storytelling informed my choice of theme, how the ancient stories illustrate and illuminate the trials which we mortals, heros and heroines all, face on the path of life.