The whole thing had begun in earnest when, way back, I had taken myself up to the hills of Snowdonia and simply sat in a small oak gully without watch, food, tent or fire for four days.
The energies of that place had a feast on my grief-racked bones, and then set up conditions and tutoring on the understanding that I would, in some incomplete but sincere way, speech out some of their atmosphere into the wider world. At best their insights gives us a glimpse of that archaic word cosmos; that our own story is no longer held in some neurotically distanced interior, but free ranging.
And what’s more they have no distinct author, are not wiggled from the penned agenda of one brain-boggled individual, but have passed through the breath of a countless number of oral storytellers. In a time when the Earth is skewered by our very hands, could it not be the deepest ingredient of the stories we need is that they contain not just reflection on, but the dreaming of a sensual, reflective, troubled being, whilst we erect our shanty-cultures on its great thatch of fur and bone?
No matter how unique we may consider our own era, I think that that these old tales – fairy, folk tales and myths – contain much of the paradox we face in these stormriven times. Any old Gaelic storyteller would roll their eyes, stomp their boot and vigorously jab a tobacco-browned finger toward the soil if there was a moment’s question of a story’s origination.
In the living world, when certain animal calls collide with another being, they send an echo back to the caller, giving even an almost blind creature a sense of what is in their surrounding domain.
I think the Earth has always done something similar.
Mythology and fairy tales regained a legitimacy amongst adults as a viable medium to understand the workings of their own psychological lives.
By the development of metaphor, tales of sealskins and witches’ huts became the most astonishing language with which to apprehend much of what seemed to lurk underneath their everyday encounters and decision making.
When the Grimms and others collected their folktales they effectively reported back the skeletons of the stories, the local intonation of the teller, and some regional sketching out was often missing from the tale.
Ironically, this stripped-back form of telling has been adopted into the canon as a kind of traditional style that many imitate when telling stories – a kind of ‘everywhere and nowhere’ style.