Oral storytelling is a lost art that is beginning to revive across the world. Once it was a rich and integral tradition, passed on through families and communities. Stories carried important cultural knowledge and wisdom to be shared down through the generations. In the space of less than a century, this art has largely disappeared from our communities and families.
In a world now mapped by digital hyper-connectivity, so many have become disconnected from the “more-than-human world” (David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous) that surrounds us. Renewing the art of storytelling may offer a remedy for reconnection. As we sit by the communal fireside, listening to stories told from memory, with gesture and expressive voice, and sometimes with song and props, we feel our hearts and minds awakening to ancient ways of relating to each other and to the realm of animals, plants, landscapes and natural forces. We begin to remap ourselves and our world into wholeness.
A well-told story is spellbinding: we walk away with fresh insights, challenged by questions or mysteries—our emotions and spirits stirred into new possibilities of becoming. There is something deeply confronting and moving about listening to a story drawn from the imaginal wellspring of another’s life experience. By weaving wisdom, passion and imagination into mythopoetic stories, we can deliver complex messages that are provocative, moving, and inspiring, without being didactic.
Toko-pa Turner writes: “There is a world behind this world. The old cultures used to be in constant conversation with it through the sacred practices of storytelling, dreaming, ceremony, and song. They invited the Otherworld to visit them, to transmit its wisdom to them, so that they might be guided by an ancient momentum. But as we succumbed to the spell of rationalism, the living bridge between the worlds fell into disrepair. As fewer made the journey ‘back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,’ we forgot how to find the Otherworld.” (Toko-pa Turner, Belonging.)
This project aims to rebuild and strengthen the bridge between the visible and invisible worlds, encouraging participants to travel this bridge, drawing from the invisible world, through dreams, imagination and creative artistry, to enrich their capacity to share knowledge and visions with their communities in the visible world.
Together, through a mythic lens, we will weave threads of heartfelt story, embroidered with the natural phenomena that surround us, and coloured by our cultural ancestry.
By Nicola-Jane le Breton & Silvia Lehmann