The Storytellers

After our journey and return, plus some reflections about what it means, we gather around our campfires and share what we think about our explorations in our tales. We become raconteurs  ...

The Storytellers



History … Herstory … Ourstory … The Story of the Humans

Yes, We are storytellers ...

The Storyteller    by  Dee C. Taylor

In the dead of winter
He makes a world come alive
Gray and barren limbs
Spring forth with fresh green leaves
Ice cakes melt above their brooks
As warming waters foam over rock and shale
Redbirds flock to budding limbs
Geese return to their summer home
And all the world, once dark and dim
Is sunny, spinning, and bright again
Beneath the magic of the storyteller's yarn;
Like a brightly painted top
That's lifeless and still
Til a hand reaches out to give it a spin
And like a top, as the story he's spun begins
To wind down, all comes slowly to a halt;
Blooms disappear, leaves are fallen and gone
Snow sparkles beneath a distant white sun
And all is still, and quiet, and winter again
Without the touch of the storyteller's brush
To paint the world with the life of a springtime's sun.


It is said that we seek not knowledge, but experience. And the way we share experience is through stories. For thousands of years as nomads under the stars, we shared our stories and songs around campfires. For example here is one of my favorite  stories, usually attributed to my Cherokee friends and family :

But when we left our nomadic life and became settled in farms and cities, society tried to capture our stories and freeze them, into gods and religions - institutions of society - in an attempt to make everyone conform to the same story. Even though there have been many great religious thinkers, eventually these institutions came to inhibit rather than encourage new thought - suppressing even the thought of their founders. 

Lathgertha by Morris Meredith Williams

We know many famous stories: 

Real = Columbus and Magellan - the explorers;
            Galileo and Archimedes - the thinkers;
            Newton and Einstein - modern mathematical scientists; 

Half real and half fable = Lagertha the shield maiden;
                                         Scherezade the ultimate storyteller. 

Pure fables = Hercules, Pegasus, Hector & Achilles, Odysseus
          Arthur & Guineverre, Lancelot, Galahad and Gareth [my namesake].
          Noah - or Gilgamesh as he was known in earlier flood stories.

Lagertha the Shieldmaiden
click for full size image

Sometimes fables connect, even lead to, reality:


Here are some of the original Star Trek cast in front of the space shuttle Enterprise.
What fugly pantsuits! My ex-mother in law once gave me one the same color as Gene Rodenberry’s.

And the Star Trek Skippers:


NOW, with the help of a new thing called science,
                                    we are beginning to tell stories again,even new stories:

New stories - about:
mountains on the Moon,
    moons around Jupiter,
        rings around Saturn,
            sailing around the world, 
                flying like birds, 
                        conquering diseases,
                                walking on the moon!

There are storytellers in every one of us. We translate and combine objective reality with images that lie only in our own heart and mind - giving us the ability to see our lives in many different ways - everyone valid to our own personal worldview. Today we can even use modern technology to portrray our fantasies in dance, music and movies as well as books and literature.

Here is Annie Lennox singing of the elves' departure in the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece now set to film. We translate from this story to our own lives, including a modern scientific atheist like me. Yes I am as scientific, mathematical and rational as can be, while also being sentimental, feeling my story and your story, from deep within - connecting and belonging to each other and this universe in which we dwell:

by sharing our stories - stories that come from our hearts, we understand - and belong.

When in Oxford, I would sometimes eat in the Bird and Baby pub - formal name: The Eagle and The Child, where Tolkien and C. S. Lewis often met, so I could sit in Tolkien’s seat. I don’t think any of his talent rubbed off on me.

Joseph Campbell described the key to stories and myths as  The Hero’s Journey  
      as found in Tolkien’s  
The Lord of the Rings or the Peisander’s greek classic Trials of Hercules
            for more,  See also Campbell's: The Power of Myth - The Hero with a Thousand Faces 

Here is Campbell's diagram showing myths as cyclical:



From Tolkien’s fantasy of the past, then  to a short trailer of the future by modern story tellers:

Where is your story ??   Where are you on your journey???

… more later 

… more stories ….  ...

Another tale, but also true: Enrico Fermi had to run from the Nazis in the 1930s with his Jewish wife. He brought a famous experiment with him from Rome to Cambridge - but it did not work !! Actually his experiment worked on the marble table in Rome but not on the wooden table in Cambridge - a clue to what we now call “slow neutrons" and thence to nuclear chain reactions used in nuclear piles in power stations and unfortunately also in nuclear bombs. “ 

It took the brilliance of someone like Fermi to see the clue. What other clues are we missing?

I recommend reading “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes. It can be read by non scientists.


Next >>>> Sharing Worldviews

© Gareth Harris 2017       --------        Contact email:        --------         see also: