Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Chinese myth’

Storytelling Starters ~ Seeing it out

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

Cropped paperweightProfessor Ruth Finnegan is a specialist in oral tradition. I remember being especially moved when I read her 1981 book on storytelling among the Limba people of West Africa. One storyteller she wrote about told her he’d need several days of preparation before telling her a particular long story she wished to hear. I won’t get the exact words he used quite right at the moment (the book is not to hand) but, as I remember it, what he said was that, in order to be ready for his telling, he’d need several days alone in his hut ‘seeing the story out’.

What especially interests me about that Limba storyteller is that he was blind. He was one of a number of renowned Limba storytellers of that time who were blind. 

Eyes and eyesight are currently much on my mind. Just before Christmas, I received a date – it’s next week! – for a cataract operation on my left eye. The right eye will. I hope, be attended to soon after. Both operations are now much needed: my sight has become foggier and blurrier as the days have gone by.

My personal situation has made me think a lot (and not for the first time) about the links between sight and storytelling. Perhaps the story in my repertoire that feels closest to me is the one that was entitled The First Storyteller in the book where I first came across it. It’s a Chinese myth about an Emperor’s son who was born blind and, in consequence, abandoned. In the absence of sight, the boy grew up becoming acutely attuned both to the world of nature and of people. What he heard, felt and experienced were what made him into a storyteller. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Cam Ceiliog

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

The stride of the cockerel may not be massive but it’s certainly very determined – a purposeful strut! And that’s why I love the Welsh phrase, cam ceiliog.

Ceiliog means cockerel, cam is a step or a stride, and cam ceiliog describes the way in which the light draws out after the Winter solstice. It happens by small but sure degrees, not in one giant leap. At this time of the year – and Happy New Year by the way – you really begin to notice the change. After the darkness of late December, and perhaps with the resoluteness of the New Year spirit, you start to notice the earlier light in the mornings, the evenings going on longer. ‘Cam ceiliog’ does it as the mother of one of my schoolfriends always used to remind us. She was a very positive woman.

That link between the cockerel and the coming of light is an appealing association. I remember the cockerel’s distinctive doodle-doo-ing from childhood mornings on my grandparents’ smallholding. I remember it too from more recent times, for instance on holiday in the Sierra Tejeda in Spain. The wake-up call would sound out round the village (and sometimes, because it recurred all day, it would finally become exasperating).

Stories that link us to the earth and its creatures

I love associations between human beings and nature. To me, they’re one reason why we could do worse at the start of a year than remind ourselves of the numerous stories that link us to the earth and its creatures. For where would we be as humans if we lost a sense of those links? For one thing, we’d be at risk of losing a proper sense of the richness of this planet and our place as one – but only one – of the species that inhabit it. (more…)