we are story carriers
‘storycarrier’ - someone connected to the wyrd beauty of their own walk in this world.
I have been immersed in Martin Shaw’s ‘A Branch from the Lightning Tree: Ecstatic Myth and the Grace of Wildness. I was inspired to do so after reading a review in Earthlines Magazine.
Have we fallen out of our own story? ‘Where does the story land within you? ’asks Shaw. ‘We all need stories. We also need nature to bring out the stories. Nature holds a series of mirrors much the way stories do’
oil on waxed panel, 12x40in, 2012
‘Martin Shaw gave up a three-album recording deal with Warner Brothers to live in a tent in the Welsh mountains for four years, during which time he learned to live outside in ‘the kingdom of wood lice, badgers, elder, nettles, brambles, roe-deer, and ivy that gave feral lectures endlessly into my fool ear, the shattering cold of the waterfall that was a morning shower, [while] bellowing out ancient stories from the black hills of Wales, the source of the stream.’ If there’s a better qualification for a rites-of-passage wilderness guide, let alone a storyteller and mythologist specialising in initiatiory experiences, I haven’t yet found it. Martin is now based in Devon, and runs the Westcountry School of Myth and Story (http://schoolofmyth.com) in between teaching in the US, UK and Europe and serving as a visiting lecturer in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Leadership Programme at Oxford University. ’
A Branch from the Lightning Tree explores the relationship between myth, story and the wild in prose that is beautiful, poetic and vividly alive. It’s a book that is both entertaining and scholarly, and if you like your Barthes, Derrida and Heidegger leavened by Trickster and Baba Yaga, then it’s a must-read. The heart of Shaw’s thesis is that we have forgotten how to be wild: we have exchanged the old longing, the old call to a deeper knowledge of the world for ‘a trance state, engineered by clumsy media spells’. And so the essence of this book is a rediscovery: the psyche’s journey from the civilised world back to the wild. We can, Shaw tells us, regain a Culture of Wildness through rites of passage, through necessary initiations into the wild that is still within us. And we can be guided through this process of initiation by myths and stories. ‘The heart of ecology is mythology,’ Shaw says. ‘With this in mind, it’s possible we could re-vision through story a kind of curious genius that wraps us back into accord with the great tapestry of earth. In short, we could remember what story we are actually in.’