Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Bear Skin’

Storytelling Starters ~ Harbingers of Spring

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

P1070285In folklore, bears are the harbingers of Spring and last weekend, visiting friends in Berlin, I saw a good many of them. Like the painted elephants that appeared all over London in the summer of 2010, these were extremely colourful creatures. Unlike the London elephants, which disappeared at the end of the summer when they were auctioned off for charity, the Berlin bears are there to stay. The bear. after all, is one of the symbols of the city and they are among its new emanations.

Bear stories

Covered in slogans or embellished with pictures, upside down or arms raised in a wave, the Berlin bears kept reminding me of bear stories. One I recalled while walking around is a foundation myth of the Modoc Indians of California. A very touching story, it tells how the little daughter of the Great Spirit is peeping out of the mountain in which they live when a great wind catches at her hair and blows her out of the mountain. After sliding down the snowy side of the mountain, the little girl ends up being found and raised by a mother bear. When she is grown, she marries one of the mother bear’s sons. Their children become the Modoc people.

But alas, when stories are prompted, it’s not always a matter of remembering them fully.  One of the curses of the storyteller is sometimes being plagued by half-remembered things, flotsam from stories that, once encountered, are no longer there in your mind. Back in London, I’ve had to try and catch up. One question that was bugging me had been prompted by my favourite among the Berlin bears, the blue one painted with signs of the cosmos. Wasn’t there a constellation or two that represents bears? And the answer, of course, is yes. It’s a story that occurs in Greek mythology. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Bear

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I’ve got two different topics this week. Bears are first. My thoughts on this subject were inspired by a snow bear which I came across leaning up against a wall in the street next to ours. It must have been there for a couple of days before I saw it, admired it and went back home to fetch my camera. By the time I’d returned barely ten minutes later, part of its face had crumbled off. So I picked the missing bit up from the ground, pressed it back on and took my photos.

Bear Stories

The snow bear reminded me of stories of bears. For instance it brought to mind that North American story of the Boy who went to live with the bears. He was badly in need of care and attention after being cruelly treated in his human world.

Then there’s that old French romance, Valentine and Orson, in which twin babies are born in a forest to the exiled wife of Alexander, Emperor of Constantinople. Minutes after their birth  one, Orson, is carried off by a bear mother into the forest where he grows up wild and rough and strong. When he’s finally caught and brought back into human society, he also proves to have sterling values. He is loyal and honest and true.

Orson became one of the best known of all the wild men of story. In so many ways, he embodies the values that humans have linked with the bears of the natural world. Bears are strong and canny. They are also family-orientated and we see them as cuddly, which probably accounts for the popularity in the Western world of the teddy bear. (more…)