Sacred Storytelling: Harnessing the Power of the Bard + Rewriting your Story
Today, we're going to explore sacred storytelling and learn how to rewrite our story by working with the magical power of the bard.
Storytelling is a rich part of the human experience, and there is so much wisdom encoded into our stories.
Human beings are born storytellers, and our search for meaning drives our desire to craft compelling narratives that help us make sense of our life experiences and our place in the universe.
However clichéd it may sound, we are all on a journey, and we like to be able to look back from our present vantage point to see where we have come from and to look forward to the horizon to see where we are heading.
Stories give our lives not only meaning, but also a sense of direction, and we find contentment and sometimes even joy in piecing together the fragmentary happenings of our lives into a mosaic picture that makes sense to us.
Storytelling has a power all its own, not dissimilar from magic. With our words, we can - figuratively speaking - weave a charm or a curse, and we are all, of course, familiar with satire - where humorous language is used to criticise and scorn human vices. And If words were not powerful, people would not use them as weapons as readily as they do. The old saying, 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me' is simply not true. Words can hurt us, and often do. But words have far more power - as everything does - when this power is wielded for good.
Storytelling, in its purest form, is a beautiful thing that has the ability to connect a group of people who have never met before and turn them into friends, united by the shared commonality of emotion.
I have always loved storytelling and the idea of telling tales around the campfire, and something about the ancient Celtic tradition of the bard really speaks to my soul.
A bard was a professional storyteller, poet, and musician, and it is thought that the word itself comes from 'bardos', which means 'praise-maker'. A bard often trained for over a decade or two to become a master storyteller and to memorise all the myths and legends of old. The bards essentially wove together the narrative threads that created many of the legendary Celtic heroes and heroines.
Perhaps the most famous Celtic bard of all is Taliesin, whose name means 'radiant brow'. The story goes that Taliesin stirred the 'cauldron of inspiration' belonging to the witch Ceridwen for a year and a day, ultimately leading to his ability to shape-shift and thus transform his experience. He is also believed to have been the bard at the legendary court of King Arthur, alongside the wizard Merlin. Taliesin's story tells us that we all have the power to tell our own story and to transform the way that we see ourselves and the way that we look at life.
Our folkloric past really fascinates me, and I believe that myths and legends have the power to enchant and captivate us, containing within them a rich symbolism and an essence that resonates with us all.
Our stories are important, and the way that we share our stories is as varied as we are. One person may write a story or a poem, whereas another person may turn to music or song. The fingerprint of our unique creative essence is imprinted into whatever we create, and this essence cannot be copied, even if our stories are similar to someone else's.
How we choose to tell our stories is unimportant - what is important, though, is the creation of them, and the telling of them. We matter, and our stories matter, and it matters that we preserve our history - not only so that others remember who we are, but so that we remember who we are. When we tell our story, we set the record straight, as we see it, and do not allow others to write our story for us. If we don't write our own story and take ownership of it, others will happily do that for us. Storytelling returns us to our own heroic essence that the knocks of everyday life can make us forget.
Our stories, then, are not simply told to entertain, but to share truth with others, to share wisdom, and to share memories. Storytelling is the great connector, and storytellers are the archivists of human experience. Each person who shares their story, and thus their essence, consciously adds another thread to the tapestry of life - and like the shape-shifting bard, Taliesin, our stories have the power to shift our perspective, allowing us to see things from a new and different perspective.
In the Irish and Scottish bardic tradition, there was a sacred role - similar to that of the bard - called the 'filidh' which meant 'seer-poet'. Their creativity and poetry, then, was seen as a divine gift that allowed them to see into the future and even prophesy.
Telling stories and being creative is not defined, then, simply by talent or training, but rather by a desire to seek meaning and to share something of our soul and spirit.
The act of creativity and telling our stories taps us directly into the divine, and our ability to find meaning and evoke emotion through storytelling helps us to see the rhythm and patterns of our life - and when we can do that, then we become a 'seer', able to predict what might happen in the future.
Our stories help us to know ourselves, and each other, better - and when we know ourselves better, we can change our future for the better, too, and rewrite our story. So, what story are you telling yourself today?