Sunday, May 12, 2013

The deep, dark roots of fairy land

Next week I graduate from my story-teller seminar. I started these lessons, because I thought it will teach me how to tell stories nicely and therefore how to be a good narrator. I was really hoping it would help me with my writing.
Not even the first class had passed, when I realized how mistaken I had been. The class has only dealt very little on how to narrate a good story. We actually spend 7 whole weeks only getting to know this world of fairy tales and learning how to speak their language. It hasn’t even been about interpreting the stories; it was more like learning how to execute a proper ritual: like giving wisdom on. We should work as channels, certainly deploying our individual ways, but losing the self-centredness of a main character on the stage. In some way I could say, loosing the idea of being performing as a narrator and just living the tale.
Our sensei, who in the following weeks would guide us in our discoveries of the woods and labyrinths of the different fairy tales, insisted that we work quiet strictly with popular stories, the ones which were past on from generation to generation, not the ones written by modern authors. He said, “no matter how clever the authors are; young stories mostly lack the depth”. And in this first class he also explained that some of the stories we will deal with are hundreds, even thousands of years old and we should treat them as good, wise friends and over all with lots of respect.
Like every new thing you try out, the suit of the tale-narrator felt weird and uncomfortable at first. Not because I am shy while talking in front of an audience, but because of the type and rhythm of the stories. See, popular tales are actually really a bit like old people. Their pace can be sometimes awfully slow, like when situations are repeated three times. Or sometimes the tale has parts which actually sound incoherent inside the plot development of the story and you feel kind of stupid having to narrate parts you don’t really grab the meaning of. So the first thing you have to learn while dealing with popular tales therefore is patience.
I actually think, you can only have true patience with the ones you love. So at the beginning, I didn’t really care for the old stories. I was reading, hearing and learning them randomly while searching for one I could actually manage to narrate without my scepticism getting in the way. And so it happened that I read one after another, one after another, one after another. And while I was reading like that, I actually got used a bit to their pace, I got used to their particular way of speaking, and over all I stopped expecting the things I always expected. Because usually, when I hear about a labyrinth, an enchanted forest or a witch I expect the glittery hoogey boogie we know from the movies. But mostly they are not. Like I like stories about dragons, but I like cool, nice dragons like Fuchur (from the Neverending Story) were you can ride on. Or I like to be really scared, like when you see a vampire movie and the protagonist (the human one) has to enter the vampire’s house... But traditional fairy tales don’t speak this same language. They are actually not really there to entertain you like that. Or let’s better say: they don’t give you this kind of light entertainment. If they give you entertainment, it comes at a price: ...your soul, and therefore it actually is a complete other journey than expected. And when I finally understood that and started being open, without expectations, I got to know them a bit and I started loving them for what they are, and now I am patient with them and they are very patient with me.
Old fairy tales are actually little pieces of wisdom told in a way that your conscience stays and listens to the story, but what is actually getting addressed is your subconscious, so it can put the questions and find the answers it needs.
It sounds a bit odd, I know. But think it this way. Why do the most famous psychologists like e.g. Freud and Jung analyse dreams and fairy tales and work with ancient symbols?
It seems to me: There are still things in this world which are to scary to pronounce. There are also still other things, which are too complicated to really grab. Notwithstanding how civic and domesticated we are, there are truly still needs inside us, which we can’t explain and which we fear. And all of this has a remarkable tabu-label in the modern society which produces cars, warm homes and regular income.
But all these un-grabable topics have been with us since the beginning of our conscience I guess. And the collective wisdom of our cultures which has been collecting the tiny little pieces of questions and answers during several lifetimes lies buried in these stories and in some ancient habits.  In modern times we have misinterpreted them and are now about to loose them. I think when someone sais we have lost the old ways, what it means is, that most of us during most part of the day like to forget how wide and alien the world is, how many big mysteries there are still unsolved, how lonely and exposed we are. We still have not even a hint why we are here and how we happen to be. Of course we can do like we always do as adults. We either choose to believe in a religion which answers these questions for us or we say we are more pragmatic people and just shrug our shoulders and forget about the questions whose answer we know for certain we will not find.
But is this true? Are we that satisfied with our solutions that the question is off the table forever and always? Or is it still out there, waiting for us behind the next door, or even inside us, hidden in the deepest, darkest parts of our soul?

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