October 10, 2011

The Healing Power of Story

Kerela storytellers playing the bow instrument
I haven't been posting on this blog since the past few days, as I was busy attending a wonderful Storytelling Festival cum Seminar from Oct 7th to 9th. I got to hear academic papers from people all over the world about various topics - from how to heal with stories, the history of the universe, origins of Hindu mythology, importance of pictures in story telling, the hidden meaning of Jesus' parables and many more.  We were also treated to wonderful narrations of storytelling by young children from 11 schools. We also heard stories from around the globe by story tellers such as Simi Shrivastava, Laura Simms, Muriel Bloch, Carmen, Dave Arthur, Rachel Macbean and some storytellers from Kerela. It was truly an enriching experience with so many cultures merging together towards a common goal - protecting the environment and spreading inter-cultural harmony. Though it was tiring, it was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

 I came back from the festival learning so much. I have always loved children's books and fairy tales. Hence my loveee for the Fairy Tale tarot deck!! These stories are a part of myth and have deep meaning in our collective unconscious. They also have healing powers and are indeed magical. Though stories come from different regions, they essentially celebrate the human spirit and no matter what language they are, we all can understand what is happening, as it is the common experience of mankind. What was wonderful was the methods different storytellers used to tell stories. Rachel Macbean from Kolkatta used puppets to tell her stories, Dave Arthur also used original gypsy puppets from U.K. along with the guitar and accordian instruments. Simi Shrivasta from Kathashala did a wonderful enactment of Indian folk tale. All in all it was a wonderful enriching experience!!!! I hope there are many more to come. :-)

Dave Arthur's Witch puppet
I purchased a sweet little book by Marguerite Theophil in the festival called 'Uniting Heaven and Earth: The transformative power of a story' who has written many columns of the Speaking Tree in the Times of India. Her book begins with a wonderful poem about Story which sums up my entire experience:

It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for Truth
in which alone it finds liberation and delight,
the first reaction of human beings to Truth
is one of hostility and fear.

So the Spiritual Teachers of humanity,
like Buddha and Jesus, created a device
to circumvent the opposition of their listeners:
the story.

They knew that the most entrancing words
a language holds are, 'Once upon a time...',
that it is common to oppose a truth
but impossible to resist a story.

On page 61, she says :

We are different at the end of a story
because the soul
has gone through a process
during the telling,
independent of its syntax
and full understanding of its words.

I think this is what happened to me these past 3 days. My soul had gone through a process that transformed me. It's not the same anymore. :-) The Power of story and words has the ability to transform a person either for the good or the bad. Let us use this art to heal and help our children and adults as well to learn, grow and develop into wonderful human beings. 

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