Chinese New Year Storytelling

Last week I told tales to about a dozen children for the Chinese New Year celebrations hosted by Lampeter’s Confucius Institute.

First the dragon awoke from his winter sleep, then we learnt why the New Year is celebrated as it is, and why the year of the Goat comes after the year of the Horse. We saw the legendary beast Nian, still running after all these years, and debated whether it was the year of the goat or, instead, the year of the sheep!

Chinese Zodiac, River of Animals - Goat
Chinese Zodiac, River of Animals – Goat

Goat years are also known as Sheep years, and are known to give rise to gentler things, to be family orientated and caring. I take it as a good sign that I got to entertain the youngest members of the families at these celebrations (and to hear a story about a squirrel from a budding performer as well!) as the year was at its youngest, and the snowdrops are appearing all around the hills of Wales.

I do seem to be getting in the habit of collecting Chinese animal tales, don’t I? They are great fun and, thankfully, suitable for all ages. I do adore the dark and gruesome fairytales, such as those by Giambattista Basile in Pentamerone, but I’m naturally such a softy that the animal tales children love suit me down to the ground! On my list of tales to explore is a darker fairytale set, which the old, weird, Welsh story of Blodeuwedd, the flower maiden who became an owl, and my favourite Anderson tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ (which inspired my short story in Future Earth magazine) would probably sit quite nicely in, don’t you think? For now, I’m back under the direction of the goblins at The Circus when it comes to stories, we’ve got some work to do polishing up the new acts, they and I!

I do feel like now is a good point to just say thank you. Thank you for reading to everyone who comes across this post. Thank you to everyone who supports me in my endeavours, goblinesque and otherwise. And thank you to the Universe (and notably to the Confucius Institute) for the opportunities to tell tales professionally. I do so love it!

 

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Brighid’s Blessings; the Spirit of Brighid Conference 2015

Last weekend, on the waves of Imbolc and the rising spring that washed away the snow, I travelled to Penarth, on the edge of Cardiff, to a Pagan conference dedicated to Brighid as the maiden goddess. It was fitting that she was there, as a Goddess of Inspiration, for the launching of The Goblin Circus as a show.

What is The Goblin Circus, you ask? It is a multi-platform artwork, a world, centring around a one-woman-many-goblin theatrical-storytelling circus show. Which is a mouthful, so I mostly think of it as just ‘The Circus’. It’s online home is growing here

My friend Wendy and I were escorted to the venue by her partner Mike, and we set up a table for her books and my art/books/oracles/stuff. The talks were fascinating, with topics ranging from the history of Wicca, Gnosticism, the Ogham and “Meeting the Great Anaesthetist” i.e. how we as pagans can live a good life and a good death.

We met lots of people, I spent most of the breaks re-learning how much I enjoy the company of five year old faeries, and then the talks were over and it was time for the room to clear (hunting for food, mostly) and the sound-checks to take over. I bounced on stage to make sure I knew what not to touch whilst I did my thing… and was greeted with friendly, supportive hugs (Damh the Bard had been informed that I was nervous!) and help getting my head around the mic! Blanche Rowan very kindly made sure the mic would be in a good place for me and told me she’d move things back round when they began so I didn’t need to worry about it (and wouldn’t accidentally drop something, not being used to tech on stage!) and I trundled off to find food and breathe very deeply…

7pm rolled around. Folks were settling down for the evening. I straightened my jacket, pulled on my top hat, and stepped into the wings.

The crowd were silent. A friend later described them as “spellbound”. All I could do was share the Circus and take a bow when I had done my fifteen minutes. It felt good,

It wasn’t until there was a break later in the evening that folk told me they’d enjoyed it and I could finally relax. (And it wasn’t until hours later that I realised… no-one had talked over it… I had their complete attention for the entire thing. Now that was an achievement! Also goes to show just how respectful that audience was 🙂 )

Then there was music and dancing! While I danced I let the energy rise, in honour of the gods, in honour of my work, in honour of the community of cauldron-born pagans who supported me, and in a blessing on all these things.

Blanche Rowan and Mike Gulston were enchanting and Damh the Bard was inspiring! He was both talented and kind, even inviting the five year old fairy onstage to dance while he played (her very first gig!) I escorted her into the spotlight and felt very honoured to be her back-up dancer.

Finally the evening wound to a close, we packed up and left, talking the entire journey home.

This was a wonderful space to launch the Circus as a performance, as a circus, and I feel very grateful for the opportunity to do so. This was organised as a one off event but I hope, very much, that it returns again next year. In the meantime, I’m looking to take the enchantment of the Goblin Circus on the road this summer… so we shall see what magic the Cauldron Born brings!

On that note, if you’d like the Circus to come to your event, do let me know 🙂

Temple of Tales: Persephone or Kore?

What happens when magic and stories meet?

Have you ever heard the voice of a goddess, whispering in your ear to walk with her for a time? To share her story? To guide others through magic into their own tale?

We call this Persephone’s story, but really… is it Kore’s? Is it the tale of who the Goddess becomes, or who she was once, and always will be?

Kore was the daughter of the grain mother. A flower child she played. She was stolen away from her home and forced to face the greatest challenge we know; death. And on entering the underworld, Kore found pomegranate seeds. Bright red jewels. She hadn’t chosen to face the Lord of Death, or enter his home – few ever do – but she did choose to eat the seed of life that comes from death.

No-one else could have found life in the land of the dead as she did. No-one but a child a life could have claimed that crown. She became Persephone, Queen of the Dead, but she is always Kore, daughter of the grain, daughter of the seeds, just a little more grown up.

 

We live this in our lives. We make choices, face challenges, grow up. But we are still who we have always been, deep down. We still carry the seed we started from. Our genetics, our roots, our childhood dreams shape us and the roles we choose. Even if we choose in opposition to these beginnings…

The question is whether we choose roles for ourselves that allow us to grow, to flourish, to rule over our own lives. How often have we chosen the path of Sovereignity? The path of Queen (or King)?

What do you choose now?

 

Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone...
Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone…

Learning from Fairy tales

In an article on finishing things (that final push is the hardest!) I came across a quote that encapsulated an idea which resonates with me so strongly:

“People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkey skins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kinds that seep up from your subconscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teaches you how to prevail, and trust.”

~ Charles De Lint, The Onion Girl

This is so true. When we read stories they seep into our minds, our emotions, our bodies. We journey through the woods with the lost child, we scale mountains with the hero, we fall and we get up. In doing so, our heart is broken open and the light gets in. We allow ourselves to experience those things which we might otherwise protect ourselves from, and rightly so. In doing so we gain experiences to draw on in our everyday life and we are transformed by these experiences.

Aristotle spoke of tragedy as providing Catharsis and we see this role played by media throughout our lives still but, even more than this, we absorb the tales we read, see, hear. We take them to heart and we act them out.

As a child I loved The Little Mermaid. I would spend hours in swimming pools or by the sea pretending to be a mermaid. (And I still feel most me with ruby-red hair!) It is perhaps no surprise that I lost all confidence in my ability to sing when I gave up swimming entirely because, for some inexplicable reason, I became terrified of deep water. I lost my voice when I left the sea. Without realising it, I played out Ariel’s tale in my own life. Healing that fear has coincided with regaining my singing voice. I began working on both these things almost simultaneously and, shortly afterwards, recognised the story I was living that was not mine.

I’ve written a new ending to this tale. A new ending for me. But this is how powerful stories are. We take them to heart. And we can choose the stories we engage in. We can choose to follow the tale of Taliesin’s transformation to deepen our knowledge and understanding, or the Selkie stories to find our way home, or Persephone’s tale to step into our power to change the world.

And so a new story unfolds. The Temple of Tales begins to form, a sacred place where stories touch our lives with magic and we rewrite our lives using the tales we choose.

Welcome to the Temple of Tales, presenting; Persephone and your Power.

Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone...
Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone…

Click on the gate above for more information and to discover the link to the giveaway of all four rituals!