Humans are storytellers. It’s easy to assume that story making is the exclusive preserve of authors, and that telling is something only skilled bards do, but this is not quite it. We all tell stories. We tell them about who we are and how we got here, what we did today and why it is that certain things happen to us. We all have shared stories, belonging to the tribe, or our traditions. We tell jokes and anecdotes, and ask each other ‘do you remember when we…?’ History is also story.
All kinds of things happen when we transmute life into story. There is a process of making sense that accompanies story creation. You have to kick reality into story shape, and that tends to mean finding a coherent conclusion, a way of tying up the loose ends. Story making is a method of creating meaning out of chaos. In this process, we can get a sense of control. A person who can tell it as a story is far less of a victim than a person who has no voice.
Sharing is critical to storytelling. It’s not enough to make a narrative, you have to be heard. Here too, complicated things happen. Often in life, there is no fairness and no justice, however, having your story heard, taken seriously and empathised with can bring relief over the most bitter issues. Having a witness to failures and triumphs, wonders and setbacks, we feel less isolated. Sometimes someone else turns out to know all about it. Then they offer back another story in which we might see our own experience mirrored. We are no longer alone and out of kilter with everyone. We are part of something, even if it is only a tradition of two. Once one person finds the words, it’s not usually long before other people dare to use them as well.
When we share stories, we open doors to the possibility of change. That which is held in silence, kept in the dark, or too personal to offer up, remains unchallengeable. If I share a story and someone says ‘Nimue, you are being silly, that wasn’t what it meant at all,’ I might have a chance at changing the story, my relationship with reality, and everything I do. If someone says ‘that happened to me too. We should do something about it,’ then in our story making we have just crafted the beginnings of a revolution. It may be small, but then again, it may be epic. There are many people who would do differently if only they knew of the consequences. When we tell them the stories they listen up, and make changes.
We also tell stories about the future, and where we want to be going. For a fledgling tradition like druidry, this is important, shared work. Every time we pause to imagine what druidry could be, we build towards possible futures. Every story we tell about where we have been contributes to the ones we shape about here we might be going. This is a part of how we construct all of the stories of our future, as individuals, family members, as countries, as a planet. Knowing that we are making stories and that we can direct them in very conscious ways changes everything.
Do I believe in magic? Absolutely. Do I believe in Harry-Potter-style, pyrotechnic laden magic? Not so much. I believe in the magic of change and transformation, and the awen, the flow of inspiration that makes all things possible.
What stories will you tell today? What stories will you tell about today? Make them good. You can reimagine the world as it should be. Where story goes, reality will sometimes follow.