The Natural Storyteller

 The Natural Storyteller

Wildlife Tales for Telling

For teachers, children and all natural storytellers, with story maps, brain-teasing riddles, story skeletons and adventures to make a tale your own.

The book is a seed packet, full of dynamic story seeds. When you read a story seed, you plant it in yourself, unleashing courage, creativity and love of nature.

True stories of environmental heroines and heroes, botanical tales of living trees. Stories gleaned from the treasures of world traditions, but re-visioned for sustainability and today’s child. Adventures between birds, animals and people. Fairytales from the forest and true tales of sea, earth and sky. Some so good readers will retell them at once. These stories inspire wonder and service for Mother Earth.

 Author      

Georgiana Keable is a storytelling pioneer from the UK and Norway. She launched the Norwegian Storytelling Festival with guests like Princess Marthe Louise and the minister for the Environment. In 2002 she started The Storytelling House (Fortellerhuset) with storytellers from three continents. Georgiana loves stories reflecting our relationship with nature

Georgiana puts on her tattered cloak and walks outside onto the Pilgrims way with hundreds of teenagers each year.

A second annual adventure for 14 year olds is based on Thor Heyerdahl in his house by the sea. She also tells In role as the botanist Marianne North to 1000 teenagers every year at the site of the Viking ship burial in South Norway. She also walks, sleeping in a hammock and collecting stories from strangers about how people and nature are connected. She has told at festivals in India, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iran, travelling overland or sea as much as possible. In 2015 she received the Oslo Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Art in Oslo.

 

Reviews 

‘To protect our planet, in this hour of chronic need, we have to completely re-imagine our relationship with the natural world and its wondrous diversity. Storytelling plays a crucial part in that healing process, especially for young people, as Georgiana Keable so beautifully and powerfully reveals in The Natural Storyteller.’  Jonathon Porritt CBE, Forum for the FutureEar to the ground04112016

The book is life affirming. All of its stories are about taking delight in creation. But what makes her book unique is that her years of working as a storyteller give it a sense of adventure and fun. She knows how to talk with children. She is chatty and engaging. The book is a journey into storytelling as well as story. She understands that once a story is learnt it actually works its way into the nervous system. It becomes part of you.’  Hugh Lupton, award-winning Storyteller

A life of dedication to nature, storytelling and young people courses through the pages of The Natural Storyteller. It is written with intimacy, information and chock full of good stories and creative reflective activities. A wonderful and needed resource for children in today’s world.’ Laura Simms, leading US storyteller and author 

The Natural Storyteller is a gorgeous heart-warming book full of stories that children (and people any age!) can relate to. It is a collection of stories, carefully gathered over a period of years, from all over the world. What steals my heart about this book is that it unflinchingly addresses the turmoil and realities of life in the 21st century.  This book is that rare thing: it unlocks emotions, ideas and a wild surge of creativity. Imelda Almqvist, Paganpages

This beautiful new book, offers a vibrant invitation to embrace a world of stories about animals and plants-and our relationship with them. I especially like how this book is more than just a collection of stories, there is so much scope here to really dive into the tales and to  experience and practice an ancient skill. The stories are timeless, appropriate for a wide age range, and offer an oasis of calm amidst the fast paced society of today, perfect for sharing and as a means of reconnecting with our environment. Luse of Adventures with Monster

 ‘On a cold winter’s night, I found myself running out into the world through Georgiana’s storytelling. I wasn’t the only one. My companions, world-leading climate scientists, swiftly followed. There is something so wonderfully comforting about listening to a story – Comforting and challenging – stories have so much to say to us, if we would but listen. In an increasingly fragmented world, suffering the impacts of climate change, stories bridge divides and bring us back together. Let Georgiana’s stories open your eyes and ears once more. A glorious anthology that grounds our feet in the roots of the earth and opens our hearts to each other.’ Professor Ros Cornforth, meteorologist and Director of  The Walker Institute for Climate System Research

‘The Natural Storyteller is testament to the grace, mystery and joy that have always animated our human relationships with the earth. The stories in Georgiana Keable’s brilliantly chosen collection welcome us back into that special space and place, in which hearts, minds and spirits know we truly belong.’ Dr Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre

This  collection of short stories encompasses enthralling tales from India, Scandinavia, Africa, Russia, Afghanistan and England and include story maps, story skeletons and riddles alongside each tale to aid the narrator’s memory in the retelling of the tales. Extension activities are included so would be useful for teachers, librarians or forest school leaders. Reading through these stories I was struck by their simplicity, warmth and compelling characters.’ Kate Haines for Greenfinder

‘Georgiana Keable has written a gift of a book that will help teachers, parents and anyone who loves good stories.’ Kevin Avison, Steiner Waldorf schools fellowship

The Natural Storyteller is a brilliant book for young people, but it doesn’t end there. Anyone interested in storytelling as an art form, but doesn’t know how to get started, would find this an excellent place to begin. I can very much recommend it for anyone starting down the Bard path. It’s an uplifting read that will leave you with a sense of possibility and optimism — something I think we could all do with right now.’ Nimue Brown, Spiral Nature Magazine

In bookshops, libraries, and directly from Hawthorn PressTanumAdlibris or on Amazon

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You are a silly monkey roaming free!

You have a monkey mind, stop monkeying around, you are up to monkey business. What other insults do we have to describe these relatives? But here, on my third day of spending time with them I still find an involuntary smile of recognition and happiness on my face most of the time.

The story of nature. We are here at Apenheul outside Amsterdam where they celebrate it. We are with over 300 primates, over half roaming free with the visitors.

A tiny spider monkey perches on the shoulder of a five year old. During our days here we have hardly heard a moan amongst hoards of children here, and we are all walking far, through this dutch jungle all day. How can plastic Disneyland ever compete with this living enchantment?

There are loads of people here, delicious organic chips, and here at lunch today was one of the clearing up assistants, a peacock, its relatives were also ridding the path of the place of extra mice, we noticed.

 We were gazing at these extraordinary looking guys throw themselves at each-other across the trees.

‘Oh yes,’ says a young keeper, ‘his son died two days ago and the whole family must realign. That’s the dad. (and she mentions his name – every single monkey has a name and they all seem to know them) He is normally very peaceful but now they are jumping at him and he is responding.’ It looks dramatic and it is.

The lemurs are very friendly and we hear how the large group is led by the two matriarchs. Its the one who has most children and grandchildren etc who is the Queen here and her word is law.

As for the gibbons. Their elegance and grace. A top model cant do that. Especially not up a tree but not even on the catwalk.

Oh monkeys how can I resist? I love you. If I make another book you will be the heroes and heroines.

Nature Worship

They say our ancestors worshipped nature. What on earth does that mean? In Tartu, we meet Ahto Kaasik, Head of the Centre for sacred Natural sites.IMG_0570

Beside a stone which looks to me very ordinary, rather boring and dull. Ahto pointed out that there were pennies and nails  slotted into the cracks and said there are still hundreds of sacred places in use in Estonia.IMG_0561

 

He said the stone is a teacher of natural knowledge.

In 1880 an important theologist complained about this stone and asked Rector of the University for it to be removed. He agreed it was pagan and gave orders for it to be broken. It disappeared.

Some time later the professor of Archeology asked what had happened to it and the builder who was to destroy it admitted that he had hidden it. Now its protected and many come; for example newlyweds come with flowers or seeds to bless their marriage.IMG_0560

This stone is unlike any others in the area. It was brought here by the last ice age. It is 1.8 billion years old, way older than anything else around it. How on earth did the people who chose this as a sacred stone know this? I mean it looks seriously ordinary. Unlike many of the other prettier stones I have seen here…

The Estonian traditional belief is that everything has a spirit. In the North of Estonia are stories of trees that have walked. Near Viljandi (I think it was here), some women had washed dirty nappies in the lake. The lake was highly offended so it also got up and moved away. Not only every natural thing has a spirit also every manmade thing. Like this well, most Estonian houses in the country have a well..IMG_0594

Or these gloves which have been darned? Do they have a spirit?

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Then we went to the sacred forest.IMG_0573

In the entrance was a stone and when Ahto first came here it was filled to the brim with money – roubles and Estonian crowns.

Ahto, gentle, alert, told us the traditional rules for how to be in this forest: Never harm anything in this place. If we curse our mouth might well swell up and if we relieved our physical needs other body parts might become swollen. If we even think of anything bad we might be cursed and that curse might hit not just us but our children down to the seventh generation.

Ahto told of an old man he had met – around 65 years old, being pushed in a wheelchair by his mother. He told Ahto he had once been the boss in a road making company. He had been preparing to remove some forest for a road. As he stood checking the site, an old man had approached, saying: ´Dont do this son, this is a holy ancient Hiis.´

The  young boss didn’t listen and gave orders for the work to begin. Soon after this he suffered a stroke and since then has been in a wheelchair. As for the man who carried out the work – he was a normal man, didn’t drink or seem unhappy. Soon after he committed suicide.

Ahto said – ´Our ancestors came here a lot. They may have walked on a pilgrimage the further the better. Here they played music, they danced. They said that the trees spoke to them. They gave advice – you might ask them if you were thinking of marrying for example.

As we enter we should think good thoughts. Our wishes and deeds should also be pure.´ Ahto said that he himself at times speaks to trees.

Before they entered the old Estonians would greet the forest and bow to it. We did the same. We had with us red wool as they might have, and we IMG_0575discovered that many others had been before us.

Lastly we went to the graveyard. Outside the gates stand tall Pine trees. After the funeral the godson or another relative may cut a cross. Here is a fresh one.IMG_0590

Others are filled with sap, welled up as if a jewel.IMG_0587

Each cross looks different. The cross is said to connect the soul of the departed with the tree. The tree stopped souls from leaving the churchyard to haunt the living. Only on special times could they leave such as all souls night, Christmas eve or Easter.  Then they might visit their old home.

There are about 300 of these places with crosses cut in the trees. They are not recognised by the church officially but they are not forbidden either.

In the 1990s a study was done showing that 65% of Estonians believe that trees and plants have spirits and a similar study was done in 2010.

Thanks Piret Estonias amazing storyteller for bringing me here!

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Courage and the underpants

Yesterday morning as I put my underpants on I thought – if I get arrested today I am going to be wearing these for a long time. I had been doubtful if I wanted to be arrested with all the cosy joys of Christmas coming up, and one of our ducks going to be sacrificed for Christmas dinner. (I mean I am not going to eat Mr Duck but the whole Halal slaughter by the new lodger seemed a shame to miss.)

But by the time yesterday came I was ready for arrest. This had not happened accidentally. A whole movement of people has been in place to waken courage in Paris this week. Peaceful, non-violent action, not by the drilling of soldiers but by the unleashing of creativity. Almost constantly at the ZAC Zone Action Climate there have been young people of colour dancing. Swivelling on their heads, coasting through the space, weightlessly praising life, body and music. What genius put that in place?

dancer solutions

This has been no grey-headed discussion zone, but circles have formed from people far and wide to explore dirty mining, mad deforestation,  mighty food-growing resilience and much more. Art and music have fed the discussions and young men and women have fed us with tasty organic food on the street. And our courage has grown.

Courage is there in the Wonder Tales of Storytelling – check my website www.georgiana.net to see many projects linking courage and stories for young people today.

So by the time we got there, prepared for tear gas, pepper spray and legal actions I felt mildly disappointed that the French powers had legalised the protest. Though they made the right decision. Between the Arc de Triumph and along the Avenue de l´Armée we formed a red line. Symbolic of red lines which cannot be crossed if human and animal life on the planet is to survive. I can´t describe the wealth of creativity which was unleashed. Among the thousands were Norwegian grandparents against Climate change, hundreds of cyclists from many parts of Europe, a kilt wearing Scottish cyclist of 72, groups of clowns, polar bears etc etc.

red angelss

And the climate guardian angels who we met later in a Paris café toilet – they have come from Australia.

Some particularly beautiful banners came in view, swimming in the wind. As I approached them I saw they were salmon. Each one hand painted with the prayers and hopes of people of North West Coast of America. Being as I am involved in a storytelling project from Norway about Salmon we agreed to join them and help bear their many fishes.

IMG_20151212_143816Leading them a man from the Indigenous peoples there. As we followed him ceremoniously he played a large flute which scored into our hearts as to the immense seriousness of what is going on here. The wind filled the silken fish to dance. We passed by a couple of crazy Santas dancing to reggae music, the classical statues of Paris arrayed in red for the occasion, a long, long line of people bouncing a ball along a long red ribbon and countless other wonders. We stopped midway in the Avenue de l´Armée. Paul Cheoketen began to speak and tell stories.

Salmon man speaksWe were surrounded by the last stragglers, most of the thousands were on their way to the Eiffel tower by now. One of the crazy Santas cast off his beard and threw himself to the ground with his microphone to amplify Pauls word. He told us that we are not here for ourselves but for our children. He told us that his people had foreseen this time and he told a story. A story of bones, as many of these stories are. Of how if we take care of the salmon bones and return to the river the fish will do well. We carelessly scatter them at our peril.  Paul and his people make sense. We live in a world, not of lone humans but of a wondrous multitude.  Last night I dreamt that a tiger jumped onto my knee and I stroked it.

 

Active Angels in Paris

There is a state of emergency here. How much will we dare to do? Yesterday we sat in a room stuffed with activists from all over the world. She called out: ´Stand up if you are a woman who can vote.´ Most women stood up. ´Stand up if you have weekends off work.´Most men stood up, and she carried on like that til we realised that all the things we were standing up for were freedoms given to us through activism.

So how can I not want to be active when so very much is at stake? Well Christmas is coming you know and I have made a Christmas pudding for the very first time in my life, now that Mum has turned 90. Then there is the celebration of Yalda, the longest night of the year when the Afghans will be gathering, its the night of storytelling, can I really miss that to languish in a French prison?

ice coffin 2

Here is a coffin of Ice, carried by men from the Andes as they played a mournful march. This action seems noble, so respectful, so right. How can it be at all that we are forbidden to make peaceful protest at this tipping point of global history? Most people I have met so far are young, peaceful and prepared to be beaten.

Angels

At the triple action we attended the other day a few went into the Louvre itself and spilt oil, they were arrested. Then the climate angels appeared, I hope you can see how very beautiful they were. After that those of us who had got through the search were attracted by a row of black umbrellas and joined them singing: ´Oil money out of the Louvre, Move, move move.´

Lets see what courage is found in the next days…

Playfellows – Wandering 2

Wandering festival was a sevenweek ago now.  What remains in my mind?

In the sunshine we are sitting  on this lush mountain with the ecophilosophers, and filled so to bursting full of ideas we long to just go out and explore. They finally stop talking and let us go. Some climb the steep mountain. I’m drawn towards a river of ice melt, running deep in the valley.
Barefoot over snow and warm moss I glance at the bubbling beck and wonder why in the world I drink anything else than this nectar water. I bend down, cupping my hand and it strikes me. Why not drink direct like a beast? As I lean closer and closer to the stream, the pebbles shine – sharpen and brighten, magnified and magnificent. Further and my lips touch the surface feeling its cool touch. I’m bowing down kissing the water. The kiss draws in the freshest drink the mountain has prepared for me. Why haven’t I done this before?

A slight air of the guru wafts round David Abram as was the case with Arne Naess. And like Arne we hope he will engage us in the serious work of play and exploration of the More Than Human World, and no-one wants to more than he. To leave our tedious superficial selves and sink into the fresh EAIrth. And we do.
The openers peeling back the stifling skin are many. David’s insistence is one. He sings the same song, reminding. You are not alone. Everything around you is talking to you. Everything above you is calling you everything beneath you perhaps sensing your every tread. So walking to this mountain farm I made up this song.

sinjarheim

To the Mountain

Do I feel my footsteps on your skin?
Do I feel my soles upon your wet and stony skin?
If you are me and lying prone to catch my dancing steps,
Do I  feel my footsteps on your skin?

Do you feel my footsteps on your skin?
Do you feel my step upon your wet and stony skin?
Do my soles a-tingle on your wet and grassy herbs?
Do you feel my footsteps on your skin?

Do you hear my calling in your breeze?

Do you hear me shouting through your wind?

Do you hear my song which echoes in your rocky ears?
Do you hear me singing through your air?

Do I hear you calling in the rustle of your leaves?
Do I feel your breeze speak to my skin?
Do I hear your waterfall a-fossing in the wind?
As you call me to your vast and airy mind?

One of our hosts was Gjermund. Tall, almost gaunt but radiating action and connection. This valley is not on the way to anywhere now but in former times was a thoroughfare, where cattle, sheep and goats were driven many months march from the Oslo area. The rich soil means that animals are still brought up here for the short season. And Gjermund brings people here, many, over the year. What draws them? Nature and stories of the OUTLAW.

sharing crack

As we encourage one another to step outside the narrow confines of the Only Human World, I remember the old nursery rhyme:

Boys and girls come out to play
The moon doth shine as bright as day!
Leave your supper and leave your sleep
and join your playfellows in the street.

Wandering Festival – day 1 on the mountain


Its not every day you go on a walk with 3 bona fide Eco-philosophers but last week it happened. We started off at Tvergastein, famous hytte of Arne Næss. Here we are on the first day with Per Ingvar Haukeland.
He is telling us about the time when he was 22 and met ‘Arnie’ for the first time. He immediately got invited up to Tvergastein and a couple of days later he and Arne were on the train. Arne said something like ‘Lets have some fun,’ and started climbing up ontothe luggage racks. Even though Per Ingvar was quite shy he felt he had no choice. The train was full up so they trod on the top of the seats and grasping on the racks with Arne shouting back to Per Ingvar – ‘Mind out for that old ladies head!’, pointing down to a woman who was probably 10 years younger than himself. Per Ingvar said it changed his perspective on life. Arne Næss was one of the founders of deep ecology.

I was a bit nervous as I had seen a film showing Arne Næss little hut perched on the top of a cliff and you had to do rock climbing to get there. You could tell these were cool dudes and maybe I was the only one not suddenly able to turn into Spider Man. To my releif, it turned out Arne had another hytte further down. The thing I liked best was a tiny chest of drawers which he had made out of matchboxes. He used to collect teeny weeny wonders and put them into this.

Well walking back over the deadish moss and snow we suddenly came over some lemmings. Martin Large (Hawthorn Press) asked amazed at how this cute furry animal, scuttling around like a huge bee could survive up here in what to the English looked like a desert. Yes folks, check the picture. This lifeless vegetation makes Norwegians flock to the mountains. I used to think they needed their brains testing. When I had lived in Norway for 5 years, I was walking the Pilgrims way. After many long hard days we came up to Dovre Mountain. Suddenly my eyes opened and I could see its immense beauty.

Arne Næss:

Already when I was ten years, and eleven years, I was walking sometimes by myself in this direction, towards the mountain. Already then, I looked upon this mountain as a kind of benevolent, great father. And this big mountain – this great mountain, I mean – seems to be such an entity! So it was alive for me, and therefore I decided the best thing would be to live either on top of the mountain, or further down on the mountain itself.