She takes me to see the Storyteller visiting our town this weekend. It is her favourite one, and apparently, I need to see her, too. She tells me that she used to listen to the Storyteller spinning the forgotten tales of the forgotten tribes a long time ago when she still lived in her country.
“Listening to stories is the greatest medicine there ever has been,” she says while we leave my flat, “and the Storyteller, she senses what story wants to be told and what story needs to be heard. They might come from remote lands, the tales, but they hit home EVERY TIME.” Her eyes glow with warm light. I have seen this light before. It usually appears before something magical happens.
We get into her car, and she continues, her voice full of emotion:
“Stories have the magical power to create new worlds, summon the past, and foretell the future. They stir the imagination. They are as alive as a golden flame that paints the beautiful illustrations of various narratives. They take on shapes. Seemingly the same, but how different in the minds of the listeners. They are their stories, resonating in their souls depending on their experiences, dreams, desires, joys, fears and anxieties. Stories allow you to forget, for a minute, about your responsibilities; they help you rest and let your soul feel the happiness, sadness, or any other emotion living within you; they help your soul find the answers.”
“I can’t wait to hear the story the Storyteller has to tell,” I say.
I love how beneficial and healing all her practices are, so I am always happy to participate in whatever she comes up with, although sometimes I may feel a bit sceptical initially. Trying something new and seeing how it helps me grow feels liberating – it is what I have learnt since I met her. She also has taught me to adapt everything I try to my abilities, needs, and likes.
“It is a tool. You are in control of how you use it,” she always says.
I have seen her perform her songs at the fire circles, inspiring me to sing and dance myself. I am curious if the Storyteller’s Tale will encourage me to tell my stories or offer something different I need now but don’t know about.
Suddenly, the car stops.
“Brace yourself,” she says, pulling me out of my thoughts back to the present moment. “We are here.”
We get out of the car, walk a little, and…
I am blown away.
It’s dark. Fire torches illuminate a dirt path we follow. The trees hum in the distance. The wind gently whistles its tune. I can see wooden buildings dotted around, and an Earthhouse with a grass roof is in the centre. Through its door, I notice a hearth burning warmly, people gathered around it, sitting on wooden benches circling up like in a theatre.
“Have we travelled back in time to a place that looks like an Iron Age village?” I ask.
She smiles and pushes me through the door of the Earthhouse. We take our seats at the top of the benches by a massive oak pillar, one of many supporting the building.
“Shush, now. Soak in the atmosphere,” she says and passes me a mug of warm apple cider she has taken off a tray offered by a lady in a sage green linen dress.
So I do. I look at the dancing fire. I listen to the sounds of instruments I have never heard before, played by a woman with long dark hair. She looks as if she belongs to one of the forgotten tribes of the Asian steppe. I marvel at the eclectic character of the place, the event and the Storyteller. They don’t go together. Yet they do. Like so many things in life, really.
The Storyteller puts the string instrument she has been playing away and beats her drum. The chant follows, sending waves of magic around the Earthhouse.
All the chatter fades out.
In a quiet, mysterious voice, the Storyteller begins her tale:
In the time when there was no time, in one of the realms of the Universe, there lived the forgotten tribes. As it happens, sometimes they would live peacefully alongside each other and sometimes fight one another. Everything was in balance, though. Each tribe knew its place and its unique gifts, which they would share more or less willingly with others. Sadly, one of the tribes got cursed one day: a snow-white fog descended onto their village. All the tribe members lost their ability to see one another and people from the other tribes. And the balance became unbalanced. Since then, thirteen women who were the heart of the tribe had lived lonesomely bereaved in sorrow in their little huts neatly placed around a barren meadow that once was a magnificent forest. In this Forest, the tribe members tended to their gifts to share with the others. In this Forest, all people of the realm could find tranquillity and rest. In this Forest, they could encounter their souls, recharge, get inspired or be. The women did not remember who they were. They did not remember what gifts they had. They did not see one another. They were lost. Many times, they would set out to search for others. But in vain. There was just the fog, fog, and only fog. The women could feel, though, in their bellies, that there was some other world beyond the fog. One night, when the moon was full, each woman heard a calling of a drum, a calling of a song. The most enchanted song they had ever heard woke them from this weird, long dream. They looked out the windows and saw the fog slowly lifting, clearing, dispersing, and disappearing. And finally, it was gone, just like that. The women could see the clearing, the huts, and one another. They dashed out of their little huts and gathered in the meadow. With overwhelming joy, they embraced each other, tears sparkling in their eyes. They could feel the magic happening. They knew the change had come at last. Since that night, the women had spent a lot of time together. They could recall their names but still did not remember their lives before the fog. They still needed to learn what their gifts were. They still could not see other inhabitants of their realm. At the next full moon, they all gathered at the meadow: the Warrioress, the Sensitive, the Housewife, the Poet, the Teacher, the Artist, the Storyteller, the Traveler, the Lazy, the Gardener, the Healer, the Sensual, and the Sorceress. "Sisters," the Sorceress began, " I asked you to gather here tonight because I had a dream after our last gathering at the full moon. In that dream, I heard a calling to plant a Forest—the Forest of Sensitivity and Creativity. All the other women smiled and nodded. "First, we need to prepare our seedlings. I know we don't remember our gifts and powers yet, but I sense that tonight is the night when that may change. I invite you to close your eyes and sit silently to connect with your soul and the qualities that have been lost for far too long. Hopefully, out of that connection, our gifts will be reborn. And from those gifts, we will conjure offerings for the fire to create our seedlings." The women scattered around the meadow, finding a comfortable spot to sit. When they were ready, they closed their eyes and asked themselves: "Who am I? What am I? What do I have that I can offer to create the beautiful Forest of Sensitivity and Creativity? There was no sound apart from the sound of silence. After a few moments, all thirteen women remembered who she was and her powers. "Sisters, it's time," the Sorceress's sweet and melodious voice woke the women up. They opened their eyes and stood up. Swaying their hips with a song on their lips, they circled a fire and started to dance. Then, each of them knelt and scooped a handful of dirt, which changed its colour to best represent each of them. "I offer courage, bravery and protection," bellowed the Wariorress, throwing her red-coloured dirt into the fire. "I give the ability to see what is unseen, to hear what is unheard, to understand the ununderstandable," whispered the Sensitive, throwing soft magnolia-coloured dirt into the fire. "I bring the guidance, the inspiration, the knowledge and wisdom," said the Teacher, throwing brown dirt into the fire. "I offer sensitivity and tenderness expressed in words," hummed the Poet, throwing pink dirt into the fire. "From me - the gifts of imagination and ability to create new worlds," said the Artist, throwing blue dirt into the fire. "I give stories, narratives and tales," declared the Storyteller, throwing orange dirt into the fire. "I offer the sense of curiosity and ability to be open-minded and open-hearted," said the Traveller, throwing rainbow dirt into the fire. "My gifts are rest, relaxation and recharging," yawned the Lazy, throwing navy-blue dirt into the fire. "Connection with Nature and the Elements are my gifts," said the Gardener, throwing green dirt into the fire. "I give the ability to heal souls," said the Healer, throwing lavender dirt into the fire. "From me? Pleasure, pleasure, pleasure!" laughed the Sensual, throwing crismon dirt into the fire. "Thank you, Sisters," said the Sorceress. "I offer the mystery and awe," she added, throwing silver dirt into the fire and mixing all of the gifts together. "Let the magic happen!" But nothing happened. "Why is the spell not working?" asked the Warrioress. "Something seems to be lacking," replied the Sorceress. "But I do not know what," she added sadly. "But I know," said a hoarse voice. The women turned their faces towards it. A hooded man with a drum in his hand stood at the edge of the clearing; next to him was a lady with long white hair and thirteen men behind them. "Who are you?" asked the Sorceress. "We are your neighbours," said the man. " We live in the village." "I am the Crone," said the white-haired woman. "I have been singing my Heart Song for a long time, but nobody has heard it until now. When the Shaman returned from his wanderings last Full Moon and drummed the rhythm of the Heart Song, both you and the men heard it. Now is the time. Now is the time. To make your spell work, all the members of the tribe must offer their gifts to the fire. Otherwise, it will not." Thirteen women looked each other in the eyes. Could they trust the Crone and the men? They could not understand their presence. They did not remember them. "Before the fog, women and men worked and lived in unison. They wove the space together. The balance requires male and female energy equally. It also requires the wisdom of those who came before. It needs the respect and understanding of the ancient ways that have been forgotten for a long time. Without all of that your, our Forest will not grow," said the Crone as if she read their minds. "When all those qualities are brought together, the magic will happen. Trust me, my children," she added, pushing her way to the fire. She looked at the women. She looked at the men. And she threw gold dust into the fire. "I offer the ancient wisdom and everlasting intuition." And the women fell in their hearts what was right. They stepped away and let the Shaman through. The Shaman opened a pouch attached to his belt and gingerly took out maroon-coloured dirt. "Sisters, thank you for accepting us into your sacred circle. Please receive respect and love from my kind to yours," he said and bowed, throwing his handful of dirt into the fire. "My gifts are perseverance, concentration, critical thinking and action." "Thank you," said the Enchantress. "We thank you and offer our respect and love from our kind to yours. At this moment, thirteen men stepped forward, joining the women in their circle. They looked into the women's eyes. What they saw was unity. The men opened their pouches with the dirt in colour matched with the colours of the women they stood by and threw it into the fire. Bright flame burst into the sky. Golden sparkles circled the people gathered around the fire. The women started swaying their hips, song exploding from their throats. The men beat their drums. The magic was happening. The song of the heart was complete. After some time, the Sorceress approached the fire and carefully took out twenty-six seedlings and distributed them among the members of the tribe. Both men and women put their seedlings into the soil, whispering their blessings over them. Then they talked, enjoying each other's company. The Crone and the Shaman summoned rain to water the budding Forest. The women and men looked after the Forest of Sensitivity and Creativity for the following months and years. The birches and the oaks grew tall and beautiful, providing shelter and shade to those who needed it. The members of the tribe reclaimed the magic they had lost for so long. They tended to the Forest together. Side by side. And the roots of the Forest spread deep into the Earth, connecting and empowering the land. And the seeds of the Forest scattered across the Universe, giving life to more Forests of Sensitivity and Creativity. The magic happened. The balance was restored.
The Storyteller finishes her story. The silence in the room is profound. I can see everyone, men and women, touched, and changed, considering what has just been told.
The story has touched and changed something within me, too.
She can see it, too.
“Told you, the right story told in the right times works miracles,” she says, smiling.
I have no words, so I just smile back at her, happy I have trusted her again, feeling my own story string in my heart, feeling the answers to the questions that have been bothering me, feeling comforted and inspired.