open bookEveryone loves a story, whether we read them, watch them, hear them or dance or draw them.  The world is full of stories, the narration of life in the world, or other worlds, or hidden worlds.  We identify with them, learn from them, are moved by them, are horrified, disgusted or terrified by them.  They enable us to feel into somebody else’s life, culture and experiences.  It’s so nice to be told a story.  It’s an intriguing escape to be pulled into a narrative and hope for things like resolution or justice or for love to conquer, to have a mystery revealed and things explained, to experience suspense and relief, or to share a joy or sorrow.

The group has a new book!! Philip Pullman’s ‘Grimm Tales’.  The Grimm brothers wrote down German versions of fairy tales and folklore in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Though the stories themselves are often much older, sometimes thousands of years old.  Passed on through the generations in an oral tradition, they have crossed continents and cultures so that different versions of the same story exist around the world.  We discovered this ourselves in a previous storytelling session where quite by accident we read an English story and a Middle Eastern story and although the setting was different the story and its message were the same.

A Fairy Tale is a very particular genre, it’s centre is not the written text given its oral history and fluctuations through travel and storytellers, we do not get fully developed or even named characters, but find a lot of princesses, stepmothers, frogs, witches, mirrors, elves and dwarfs.  The story is just kind of told without background, history or embellishment [Philip Pullman; 2012]. And the Grimm tales really can be quite grim with grizzly deaths and punishments, unfairness, injustice, beatings, imprisonment and occasional cannibalism.

So to be cheered up we read a tale called ‘The Fisherman and his Wife’.  The tale involves an enchanted prince in the form of a fish who grants the fisherman’s wife everything she wanted.  We enjoyed listening to the story and afterwards reflected on the ambition and greed of the fisherman’s wife and how she was never satisfied and didn’t know when to stop.  We applied this discussion to our present culture and the emptiness sometimes of just having money and things and how relationships come to be about status and prestige and association thereby lacking real connections leaving people feel quite lonely and isolated because they are befriended for their fame or status and not because of a common interest or genuine liking of one another.

Group members really enjoyed the meaning behind the story and the escapism it provided.

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