‘Oral storytelling is alive in the moment that it happens. It could be described as a mixture of breath, will and imagination.’

Clare Viner

 

My Journey as a Storyteller

My career as a storyteller began in my twenties with a spiritual experience; a message from the otherworld in a time of deep distress. The message came direct from my grandfather, who in life, had been a wonderful storyteller himself. He told me very simply, ‘Tell my stories’. I had no idea what he meant. It was two days later that I found myself chatting to a collegue who told me that he was heading out to a ‘Storytelling club’. I had no idea that such things existed. He told me about it and invited me to join. That evening I told my first story.
  • Trained at Emerson College in ‘The Craft of the Storyteller’ in 2000.
  • Told stories widely in my community; schools, libraries, museums, children’s centres, festivals,  pubs, events, etc. 
  • Projects have included collaboration with Beaford Arts, WOMAD festival, Devon Record Office, The National Trust, English Heritage, Lamer Tree festival, A Women’s journey to Avalon.
  • Created ‘Storywalks’ in collaboration with numerous West Country AONB’s (Area’s of  Outstanding Natural Beauty). 
  • Wrote my first book, ‘The Emerald Dragon and other Magical stories of the Blackdown and  Quantocks Hills’ as result of the Storywalks. 
  • Pilgrimage – these have been both Christian and Celtic, stories told include; St Sidwell, St  Michael, St Mary Magdalen, Guinevere, Merlin and Nimue (A women’s journey to Avalon), Enid  and Geraint, St Katherine.

‘In this (storytelling) tradition a story is ‘holy’ and it is used as medicine’

Clarissa Pinkola Estes  author of ‘Women who run with the Wolves’.

Storytelling as a Spiritual Practice

Here I am telling the second part of a wonderful creation myth from Ireland. I’ve loved working with it, finding the core of the energy ( the written version was very beautiful but quite wordy). I feel closer to Brigit for telling her story.

To begin with I found acting very easy but telling stories difficult.  Telling a story meant I had to bring myself.  

After a time I realised that what I was struggling with was my own  presence. Storytelling gave me a power that I then had to hold. Maybe  Spiritual practice could be descibed as a journey to meet our own  power – the power of our presence and it’s impact on the world. And  of course there is a responsibility with this.  

My journey to this art form has been a learning that is relevant to life well lived.  I learnt that I am not in control but that I must take responsibility,  relaxed and utterly focused. I discovered that I must dare to let go.  

I also began to learn that when I approach a story with complete  humility, passion and openness, when I allow myself to really listen to  the story, the spirit of the story, it holds me. And at various times, I  have experienced the spirit of story in tangible ways in my day to day  living. I work on the story and the story works on me. It’s a very  magical process and has to be experienced to believe!  

On the Shaman’s path the shaman is sometimes described as being ‘a  hollow bone’. So she gets herself out of the way, so that spirit can  speak through her. Storytelling as a spiritual practice needs a similar  discipline. In this way the Storyteller can become the mouthpiece to  this fragile earth which so desperately needs us to stand up for her, to  speak up for her, in ways that touch hearts and facilitate new ways of  being with the natural world.  

There has never been a time more urgent than this for us to speak for  the earth, to listen to what she is saying, as best we can and to tell the  stories she offers us.

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Established religions hold great wisdom at their core. My belief is that these wisdoms have often been manipulated to serve those confused few in political power. Working with old stories I have been amazed at how quickly and easily they seem to wake up in my mouth. The stories remain the same but allow themselves to be seen in totally new ways. Sometimes this feels like discovering an old stone, then with touch and breath and spit, working it clean to find colour and beautiful inscriptions. So the old stone takes on a new meaning, possibly it’s original meaning but certainly one that is relevant and touching for the modern time.

‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’


Philip Pullman

Get Involved

Telling the Celtic Year

Half day workshops in Devon to explore the eight cross quarters of the Celtic year in story.
31st October – Baba Yaga and the Washer at the Ford – 2pm – 4.30 Stoke Woods, Exeter.
20th December – Elen of the ways – the path finders.
Early Feb – Bridget, the Bright One.
In these workshops I will tell a story at the beginning. Then in pairs the story will be retold, allowing time to explore personal responses to themes and characters of the story. There will be a short ceremony at the end of each workshop.
Venues to be arranged. Numbers currently limited to 5 with social distancing. For more information and to book your place click here.

Stepping into the Power of Story

In these workshops we will explore our own presence. We’ll consider how we bring ourselves with authenticity and theatre at the same time. Working with simple stories to develop a confident voice and body both on stage and in life.
22 November – venue to be arranged. Numbers limited to 5 with social distancing.
More events planned for 2021. For more information and to book your place click here.

Telling the Trees

Working with the Celtic tree calendar, sometimes called the Ogham, will work around the year, exploring the stories and legends of each tree. Circumstances allowing this will include both inside and outside telling (outside as much as possible).
Mid February 2021 – The Rowan tree (date to be arranged)
March 15th – The Ash tree
Early April -The Alder tree (date to be arranged)
Numbers limited to 5, for more information and to book your place click here.

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are weak. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond  measure’

Nelson Mandela.

Testimonials

‘Tremendous…I was totally gripped…a great talent and great fun’

Adults at a summer garden party, Totnes.

‘Clare was BRILLIANT!…She has an amazing memory for all her songs and stories and should do MORE of them all over Devon’ Liz Platt, teacher

Liz Platt, teacher