Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

A film team from France were creating a documentary about the Cheiftain of the Viking town in Gudvangen, Norway and I was asked to write a poem in my role as skald to be part of the film…

Njardar Viking Town

Look around

What brings you here?

Dream-creator

World-shaker

Love-bringer

History-maker

Community-seer

Remove-fear

Happen-here

Team-steer

Freedom-father

Gudvangen-leader

Gift-sharer

All-carer

Past-weaver

Peace-caster

Doubt-killer

Hert-filler

Originator

Let love and growth sustain

All because of

Our Chieftain

A man who has no power

And no official role

Who makes things happen by the hour

And gives this place its soul

Let me say it here again

May your gods be thanked for

Our Chieftain.

 

AS

 

 

 

 

 

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Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Gathering in a circle with the theme of stories is more ancient than we would generally imagine and yet is totally relevant.

Circles as part of a festival can be mainly a safe environment for people to listen and to input to a degree. A safe environment to share with the storyteller. So the element of being a show continues somewhat. This kind of environment tends to attract young adults and teens although does work for all ages.

Indeed single people who are not always confident at going out on a night or into bars will be attracted to such circles as something they feel happy within.

There is always the opportunity to share and sooner or later most people do. There is no better time for a circle than after a workshop or series of workshops. It is something to work towards. Somewhere to celebrate.

Circles empower and give confidence.

As well as working towards a solo performance at a circle there is the opportunity to share group work.

The Yggdrasil chorus with taking turns to epitomise elements of the worlds is a good example.

As is a multinational story where everyone translates into their own language a line at a time; always goes down great.

A story in the round from prompts can be great fun.

A trigger phrase also is good IE “I am that Viking who…” (fill in the gap) – “and I…” People can always pick up on it when they are ready.

I am often told I am a great teacher and when I question they say I teach by example. My storytelling is stimulating, my approach is encouraging.

Having an expectation of those around you can lead to miracles.

Here we have a safe environment not only for telling a tale but for discussion. A great place for feedback; both ways.

Suggestions can be made.

Ideas can be practiced.

Discussion prompted by a circle often leads to the group working together to help each other.

I usually start off with a batch of stories before developing the circle further.

 

As with shows, lectures, workshops the circle part of the package empowers the individual; to feel better about their skills, to better understand the process and to be more able to tell.

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

 

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Welcome to the workshops.

We shall be chopping stories up. Following on from the ‘knowing’ comic strip, (displayed on the wall), we can look at the idea of gradually working away from scripts to a far more free-flow approach where important elements come to the fore.

There, that is all you need to know, goodbye – oh no I’ve already done that gag.

 

S.T.O.R.Y. shall be displayed for discussion, and possibly for a rewrite.

Story is to stare at

Traditional told anew

Oral always, abandon all scripts

Reinvent eventually through practicing live

You should be the centre of attention yet forgotten altogether

 

There that is all you need to know – Oh gosh this theme has become really repetitive.

Let us look at story breakdown.

 

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques Subsection #8b The Breakdowns

(Scroll down to see full details of many.)

Here are some tales…

A Survival Tale – Bamboo Girl – Brynhildr Sleeps – Cinderella – Creation – Hansel and Gretel – Old Eater – Hare and the Tortoise – Loki’s Daughter – One Thousand and One Nights – Rocky and Bullwinkle Meet the Mermaid (based on the talking fish) – Sigurdr Falls in Love – Statue Boy – The Bones of the Mother – The Selfish Giant – The Sumerian Tale of a Giant – Viking Sea Travel Issues.

They are below you.

Go scroll down and be back, but rest assured you have just played the breakdown game.

You are back.

You may wish to work out the stories from the snippets as an interlude.

There comes a point where you don’t need this mini script but you may still have places where you falter so you need notes as reminders of these points you find tricky.

Then eventually you need no notes.

Then you don’t need to decide which story to tell until you stand up.

You may even start to weave between tales as you go.

A prompt is always good ie Rebecca’s Babe (it is a title really) – you are building a set list and you may add essentials as a footnote ie 1411 St Marys.

Rebecca’s Babe (1411 St Marys) – Go tell.

We are talking storytelling not Snorri repetition – thanks to all you folklore documenters in one big lump, (especially the female Irish slaves employed as scribes in Iceland), thank you all of you, (often vicars for some reason), fairies and trolls only exist because of you.

Creating the tale from its pieces is still traditional – no, it is even more traditional.

We are the tellers.

(BTW We say full stop in the UK where in the US you say period, period might fit better here.)

We need to get it into our heads that there are elements which have to be fitted in. That is all really.

And then practice.

Now juggle.

Let us take those vital elements of those particular stories and juggle.

Let us deal out a share and seek to create a story of them.

Let us add in our own stories as breakdown (scribbling during a coffee break).

These can be from a wild selection of areas and types.

Think of stories you are familiar with.

Consider the idea of key points and make a list.

Let us add them to the pile.

We are creating the now.

From the then.

So, once they are shuffled and dealt and we all have a few in our hands it is time to create story.

Move them about while you think, (ask to swap one if you are stuck), work out an idea for a tale. Then tell your tale to a colleague.

Once practiced it is time to share, if we feel really confident the listener tells the tale they have just heard on behalf of the creator.

 

Tell me about children. Anything which come sot mind; habits, quirks, feelings, characteristics, choices: anything.

Now pick a few of these and apply them to adult Vikings.

You have a story.

IE Jealousy is very different thing if it is regards a powerful woman with a spearhead hidden in her cloak

Holding hands can conjure up all sorts of possibilities.

Children what are they like!

Be long and slow in your considerations of what your topic needs and fluid and witty in your storytelling

I also shall create a set of prompt cards, similar to the Ales and Tales ones found through the links blog but specific to our topic.

I carry a treasure chest of tiny things to use as prompts always, these make a fun change.

We can also use the snippets to create a group story.

Pull one at random – start a story – then let someone else go along with it – this is for fun – but also releases the imagination.

Often when I do a storytelling show I have different groups attending. It is good to get them together afterwards and have one group tell the other one of my stories.

This works even if you have already heard it because it comes out quite different.

Scripting. OK you might have written a story, or written something down, or written a script I add. I admit I have. Take out the elements and use these to tell. Allow it to break away from its rigidity.

We all have faults and failings. I say play to your failings. I know it is more usual to say to play to your strengths and yes that works too. We have our failings with us and it is them which need playing to. To be aware of where we might go wrong and think of strategies to deflect or prevent. This is mainly to get rid of the anxiety which can come with concern about faults. My big failing is names, I struggle to remember names and or numbers; let’s be honest, I am rubbish at facts. I found I relaxed into telling a lot more once I had realised. Once I had given myself permission. If I could say ‘his son’ – ‘her lover’ and get around the forgetting of a name it helped me relax. It helped me relax to the degree that I probably remembered the name, because the pressure was off.

I allow myself not to be perfect every time.

It was the start of my realising each telling is unique.

Areas which were issues when I first started; all in one tone, not using voices for characters, digressing and losing track as a result.

Describing characters, places or situations without using their name is an interesting exercise. I shall supply a list of suggestions and ask participants to add to the list. Not as a trick or puzzle but with obvious ways of describing so we know who or what it is. This helps with descriptiveness.

Experiments with use of space and ways of moving follow on nicely here.

Dream you have done it – come back tomorrow.

I have always found that performance example inspires and encourages people so will refer people to my storytelling show and look for reaction and discussion. Help us find out why we are here and to self help us into improving.

“I am that Viking who…” (fill in the gap)– “and I…” – This is a good one to throw in to a story share. So people can pick up on it when they are ready.

What is a skald? – imagine you are a chieftain – what do you want from me? We piece together an image and then seek to fulfil it.

You are not a strong brave important warrior or leader, you are other than this, imagine yourself as a less dynamic character, perhaps limited in some way and then consider how you would fit in. Tell us of life on that farm.

We are Yggdrasil and all is gathered within our growth. Then each person personifies a place, character, situation, creature etc; I am wolf. Then repeat the chorus piece and so on. A good one to practice for a group performance.

Creating this blog allows the reader to consider which elements would be most helpful to them so we can shape the workshops between us to best suit our needs.

 

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques Subsection #8b The Breakdowns

 

Warning these story breakdowns are spoilers!

A deity can tire of endless perfection – desire to be human – wear a swanskin and fly to Midgard – Strip and swim naked and mortal – A man recognised her, took her skin as blackmail – Make my side win, she did – As she set off to fly home Odin cursed her – ‘Sleep a loveless sleep for ever’.

A huge downpour – God asked Noah to build an Ark – Take two of everything – Noah called and they all came – the unicorn were all playing in the puddles – they missed the call.

Big storm – Fishing boats turns upside down – all drown – except the chef he is clinging to the upside down toilet – dark with a bit of air, fish start to bite – he swims down to the ceiling and pulls out some of its boards – he floats on the boards for five days in the dark upside down galley – there is a knock on the hull.

Eater down by Tongue River, of the Cheyenne – Caught one of his horses – as he rode away, one was missing, Grey Face! – He rode all day looking – Upon his return his wife hears his tale and says you are riding Grey Face.

Jack’s mother says nothing will grow, us and the cow will starve – Go to market and sell the cow – He comes back with five beans she throws them out in disgust – Jack climbs the beanstalk that grows – in the giant’s castle are a hen that lays gold eggs and a harp which plays – he steals them – then he chops down the beanstalk as the giant is coming.

Loki falls for Angraboda and sees her without his wife knowing – They have three monster children , one is Hel – The gods come to dispose of them – Hel is half beautiful and half rotten – they throw her down the long drop of the dead – She rules the underworld – Her dead servants are building a ship so she can bring an army to Ragnarok.

New step mother is cruel – They overhear plans to dump them in the forest – Sneaking out they collect stones to later mark their way back with – Upon return they again hear plans but the door is locked so they keep the bread from supper – Birds eat the bread crumb trail – They are lured into a gingerbread cottage – She must work to fatten up her brother – She pushes the witch into the oven – Step mother is also dead or gone when they return so all is happy.

Poor fisherman catches mermaid – agrees to release – wife cross makes him go back – grant me a wish of a palace – she keeps making him go back for more – ‘queen’ then, eventually, ‘Goddess?’ – Mermaid asks what he wants and he just wants to be happy like before – “Come in I am so proud of how neat I have got the hovel.”

Poor old bamboo cutter finds golden babe – They bring her up, finding gold to help – to city – many men propose – she falls for the young emperor – discs of warriors and a king appear in the sky – she has learnt her lesson and must return – her memory is wiped – as it fades she throws an eternal life potion so he can find her – he cannot bear forever without her – servant throws it for him – it hits Mount Fuji and burns

Shahryār is enraged when his wife goes with another – Every day he marries a new virgin and executes her the next morning – until there is only the vizier’s daughter left – Scheherazade tells a tale without and end (Tell half a tale) -The king postpones her execution – She finishes the tale and starts a new one each night (You do the same).

The Happy Prince was a gold-leaved statue with sapphires for eyes and a ruby as a sword hilt – A swallows love for a reed make shim miss migration time so he befriends the statue – The once happy prince can see the city now he is dead and feels sorrow – A poor woman cannot buy her poorly son oranges – Statue bids bird to take his ruby – More sad cases until all the gold leaf has gone – Then one of his eyes and then the other – Perhaps when the swallow dies they will be reunited in the meadows of heaven.

There was nothing – in the nothing was ice and fire – fire melts ice old muck comes out – Muck makes Imir – A giant cow floats by dripping milk – Imir drinks – the cow is hungry so licks salt from the ice – Buri forms from the ice – Imir’s angry sweat forms into more giants – the earth’s first beings were giants (and a cow).

We fear as we travel the seas – Ask Njord for help – Ran under the sea sends her nine daughter – They are the waves – Ran throws her net to catch drowning sailors – they will entertain her – Call to Njord, Call to Njord.

Young warrior has killed a dragon – he has gold and a ring (the ring is cursed) – ahead a mountain-top tower shrouded in flames – He rides fast and his horse leaps – A naked woman sleeps – He dismounts and kisses her – It is love – He puts the cursed ring upon her finger.

Zeus gets angry with humans, yet again – big flood – Deucalion builds a big floating box for him and his wife Pyrrha – they land on Parnassus – floods go – Oracle Themis says throw the bones of the mother behind you – so they throw stones over their heads – the stones turn to people.

 

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

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Quote from John Thor Ewing

“It has been a while since I’ve done a “storytelling” show as such, although I still use stories in performances. My own style was always to cut through to “the story itself” as quickly as possible and, although of course I always adapted both wittingly and unwittingly, I always felt that I was telling it “straight”. So, I don’t think I could ever do what you do, which seems to deconstruct the idea of storytelling, as if Chaucer or Bocaccio had decided to concentrate on the storytellers rather than the stories – in my mind, it shouldn’t work and, although I know that you can make it persuasive, thought-provoking and entertaining, I have no idea how you do it. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I really don’t feel I have anything valid to say about this, but I have confidence in your abilities.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #34 Mimir

mimir.jpg

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #34 Mimir

A stunning new approach to the myths the Vikings loved; enlightening and challenging for the novice and veteran alike.

The Gods and Goddesses of the Nordic Mythos Prose Poems were created following research for Gods Bless Ya!! Rock Opera with Alda and Sigrun Bjork Olafsdottir and a forth-coming book with SigRun Viking Art & Design.

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Mimir

 

Herb-head Mimir. Wisest of all but one he is just a head, he didn’t see that coming. His final duty before Sun rises on a new world will be, “Óðin, go out there and die.” For now, the platter-sitter appears whole in your mind and he can read you like a nursery rhyme. Raise his glass for him

Mimir’s Blame

 

If the old gods wish wisdom

Then send them Mimir

He is wise and ancient

He is the guardian

All wisdom springs from his spring

Forming a pool for his guardianship

 

So it was he was sent to the Vanir

He and handsome Hænir

Counter hostages to the Njord clan

Mimir was the wisdom man

 

He stood at Hænir’s right hand

He advised the less intelligent man

Who got the blame

For the irritation?

Mimir

 

Power to Please

 

It could be he had left briefly

To attend to his pool

The axe that was intended

For the head of the handsome one

Swing at him on return

He walked into that one

 

He walked no more anywhere

His head it was sent

Perhaps Gullvieg flew with it

Óðin received it

 

Oh how the All-father lamented

The head cradled close

He wailed out

He wailed out the old songs

The wise songs

The nurturing ones

Bathing the head in a herbal secret

He sang from the runes and the old songs

 

The dead shall have the power of speech

This one

The power to please

With his wisdom

 

Mimir’s Pool

 

Mimir is sat by his pool

Mimir the guardian

Mimir the head

 

Under the root of Yggdrasill

In Jotenheim

Is the Spring of Mimir

Near frost giants

It bubbles and pool forms

Heimdall leaves his horn there.

At the cost of an eye

To the one who paid high

All wisdom it pools here

 

At Ragnarok

Which his wisdom will survive

He benefits Óðin

With his last advice

“Óðin,

Go out there and die”

 

Mimir is sat by his pool

Mimir the guardian

Mimir the head

 

 

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #1 Thor

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #2 Earth

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #3 Night

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #4 Augelmir

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #5 Heimdall

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #6 Eir

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #7 Vili

Norse Gods and Goddesse Prose Poems – #8 Ve

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #9 Siv

 Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #10 Hænir

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #11 Frejya

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #12 the Hyndla Lay

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #13 Freyr

Norse Gods and Goddesses Prose Poems – #14 All for the Love of Gerd

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #15 Skaði

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #16 Njörð

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #17 Frigg

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #18 BalderNorse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #18 Balder

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #19 Then Balder Was Dead

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #20 Iðun

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #21 Iðun’s Apples

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #22 Sól

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #23 Máni

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #24 Rán

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #25 Hel

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #26 Óðin

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #27 Huggin and Munin

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #28 Loki’s Salmon

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #29 Loki

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #30 Loki’s Monsters

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #31 Týr

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #32 Lay of Hymir

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #33 Wisdom Pool Wonder

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #34 Mimir

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #35 The Power of the Runes

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #36 The Poetry Mead

Norse Gods and Goddess Prose Poems – #37 Kvasir

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Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

 

Storytelling is…

 

Holding the attention

Making everyone feel four again

Embracing culture, heritage, nature

Embracing.

Ritual, history, memory, family, conversation

Reinventing without losing

Creating from what we have

Cherishing

Establishing, guiding, nurturing, directing

A magical, empowering, captivating,

breath taking, energising experience

Nothing new, ancient always

That which was, in the now,

in a new and old way all at once

Forever respectful

Universal, singular, local, specific, worldly, oral

Perfect yet fluid

 

Sit down at the metaphorical fireside

You, are a storyteller

 

 

Adrian Spendlow

 

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

 

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Storytelling is… #10 The Links

LH – Living History characterisation tips for re-enactors – My most viewed blog.

A modern continuation of the Viking mythos, I scribble, artists from all over the world replace my images – The Hammer FliesOski and the AmuletThe Horned God and the Wild Hunt

Facts and Fiction storytelling magazine – I am grateful for so much from this by post magazine – in particular the Storytelling is.. poem is published there – The comic strip too.

I cannot wait to get to this amazing festival to perform…NHhorizontalheadline

http://hostfest.com/ – https://www.hostfest.com/experience/viking-village/

I am also looking forward to going on from there to University of Wisconsin Green Bay where I will be lecturing, running workshops and storytelling in their Viking longhouse. https://www.uwgb.edu/viking-house/

I have written prose poems and travelogue pieces as Skald to the Chieftain  click here for the beginning of the series and then click ‘Next in the current series’ on each of the 26 blogs on the topic!  The start of the skaldic writing links

I was commissioned to create an ‘It happened to me’ performance for school children attending Cliffords Tower on the effects of the Normans. Click here to enjoy the blog which is written in the style it was performed.

Under the wing of Viking Comics Inc. comes the quirky series OldMan Comics, here is a link to one of those where I actually change the course of the battle at Hastings, (oooops sorry OldMan does).

I actually am Hobb the Pig-man, originally created for a commission for Barley Hall in York ‘he’ tells tales from a medieval point of view. ‘He’ has also worked on many projects for Scarborough’s Create and here is a project created for the Fossil Festival. Fossils? Yes cos it is Hobb. Hobb the Pig-man, he has also been Hobb the Night-guard and here he is as Hobb the plough boy.

A big thank you to actor Graham Scarisbrick for voicing this piece from my, soon to be released, audio play – The Boat Rises – Click below to hear A Viking Trojan Horse…

 

 

 

Actor Donna Jones, (for those of you who know her, aka Donna Kitching), voices here, the possibly, first ever documentation of a UFO encounter, (of the third kind), in a six-thousand-year-old folk tale; The Bamboo Babe.

 

 

 

 

One of the most interesting jobs I’ve been given was to be paid to sit in pubs listening to people telling me stories. Hundreds of fascinating stories came from the experience, you can read them here.

The main tool I used to stimulate anecdotes was a set of prompt cards. You can see those prompts here.

I am always pleased to be able to work with Alda and to promote her music. Here is a link to her single A Real Good Time.

And of course her sister’s company SigRun Viking Art & Design.

The three of us together produced Alda’s Rock Opera Gods Bless Ya!

For my multinational stories I reduce a popular story to a few lines so those of many countries can help tell the sagas in a nutshell.

One of the roles of the Skald is to host Opening Ceremonies.

 

The Series…

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

 

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen

Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

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Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool

Right, I am going to get strict now.

Storytellers must always tell traditional stories which they have learnt by listening to another storyteller. They must sit and not move and they must never ever utilise items – the sinful prop! Sit still and tell old things rigidly.

Well there we have a whole set of rules to be broken. I certainly break them all. It is a school of thought though, an old school of thought.

There is a vision of the teller in a big chair and everyone hushed and still looking up in awe. It does happen. These are moments to cherish.

My first thought would be, where to put that chair.

Space.

Put yourself in your space. Find the place where you feel right.

I like to get there early. I step into that school hall and I guess I am getting the vibe, I most usually walk straight to a spot, “I would like to stand here”. It isn’t always where they expect you to go.

It is the same on a ship, in cave or on a stage. Put yourself where you need to be.

“Can you put my chair here please?”

“And my table here if you are using ‘the dreaded prop’.

The inner translucent layer of a mammoth skin has been draped across near the rear of this cave, with a small fire behind, you step out of a hidden side alcove when they are distracted and you beat a hollow log with your talking staff; you are suddenly there, a misty figure in front of them.

And you have your place.

Your place in history.

Step around into the open and stamp your white staff to the ground. Stay silent for a moment while they take in the carvings and the natural twist leading to the gleaming crystal.

Play a little on your cave harp.

Or say but three words then lift up your bone flute.

If you are more modern than this you may be wishing to commune with Odin. Your fur-covered Chanter’s Stool is brought out for you and you flick your cloak as you sit.

The large seat.

The shamanic drum.

The soft toy – well, that is me.

Rocky the Dragon gets very sad because he never gets any kisses.

I might be better getting a white wood staff.

And so to sit.

Or stand.

Or both. I tend to be out of my chair most of the time but starting things off sitting seems to work for me. I am a bit all action and cannot keep still.

Silliness seems to happen. In among the gripping and the scary a bit of silliness too.

‘I have lived in the land of fairy – and I have never been the same since.’

Being trapped in a fairy ring causes one to have to dance and for all people laugh they are intrigued. For all the silliness of stories of meeting and even marrying beings from the realm of the Fey I tend to attract people who hang around to tell me of their real-life experiences of meeting or seeing creatures from the mystical lands.

You have to remember who is out there. I will look at the idea of being a ‘Skald’ in a little while, let it be said there is always a sense of ceremony. The way we conduct ourselves, be it at a ritual or on the content of our set lists should always seek to be inclusive. In your audience is someone who happens to have come along, a tourist who wants to see how we do things, a historian, an Odinist or Asatru who follows the ways of the old gods, a person of another religion.

Respect. Respect mixed with entertainment.

Art is always a compromise. There is the viewer the one experiencing the art. They are to be considered. And yet one must maintain their own integrity.

Yet you must always do what it says on the tin. If it says chocolate milk we don’t want root beer coming out into the glass.

Many circles are spontaneous of course. Chiefly though, you have been invited. The audience have come along because of what the publicity said.

The publicity has been written by the inviter, they wrote it after talking to you, but they also put their own needs into it.

You must try and fit with this description.

You might always try and describe yourself slightly differently from the last time.

What does it say on your tin?

We have talked a little of the oral tradition; that the content and possibly style of our ‘show’ come from the past.

If we talk to a ballad singer, someone from the folk world or perhaps a shanty singer, we will come across the school of thought; traditional means that nobody wrote it. An old song has gone through so many singings, been passed from one singer to another, that the version we hear now is no longer anything like the first song which somebody actually wrote.

The shanties or other work songs have been created by the group to fit a rhythm or a need so have really evolved and developed.

We do live in a modern world where information is available to all. So it is possible to go back to the root or at least dig deep.

We are also freed up a little by this information availability. We can ‘tell’ in our own way. As long as we are respectful to the story.

Some of the records of folklore etc are a little clumsy, they are a record for posterity, not a classic novel.

This is where that second storyteller by the universal fire comes into things. Making the story better, more fun, gripping, relevant to the original concept, getting it all across is a skill. A developed skill. This is just as much a tradition as passing along the accuracy of the tale. We are all somewhere in the middle of this quandary, this long drawn out ‘story’. That innovative storyteller is a tradition.

Take the responsibilities with you but bring that tale alive. It deserves you. It deserves you to be your very best.

Embrace the past in your own way.

Where are we in the timelessness of storytelling and can we become our self back then as if we are there.

There are old stories. They were not always written down, as they are now, yet they survived. The enjoyment of them survived. So, although we can be glad of those who recorded them and of those who share them today, it was never meant for such a rigid thing as text. Never let it be so.

Tens of thousands of people may have told of that dugout canoe the first people survived in before and spider taught written signs to any tribe.

(I am not too sure how the canoe got to every single nation in the world – but I have heard of it wherever I go!)

I cannot tell you what to do. I don’t know how your mind works. I do know one thing; every individual’s mind works in a different way.

Go with your failings.

Mine is names. So I allow myself to forget. I think of ways. His brother. The tall giantess. With a flick of her hair. You know; avoidance, distraction.

You might want to force yourself to digress. Or to get back onto topic quicker.

I’ve talked of being a collector. Here is an aspect which can make the whole audience die of groaning or can fill hearts with soaring fire, (not to be sexist, but I think I am talking blokes); details.

Factual information. I struggle here in the same way as I do with names to be honest. I did, however, experience a split of reactions recently.

My father drove steam engines. You can already see where this is going. I have told great stories from his experiences for many years. Before a recent performance I thought I should have a refreshing look through his book. There was all that information; fourteen-foot fireboxes, that sort of thing.

Then here among it all was, 40302.

Engines always had a number like this. To me it is just a number. Then I read in my own father’s book that there is a reason behind this number; a sense to it. It refers to the wheels; 40302. There are four axles, a space, three axles, a space, two axles.

I look quickly now at my (currently virtual) audience and half of them are raising their eyes at an obtuse angle and half are achingly keen to hear more of such things which will fill them with inner bliss.

Where do you sit in this factual quandary?

How are you going to challenge yourself!

(Or cope with yourself.)

To be fair to myself I managed to play on that division within my audience and they laughed as they re-enacted their reactions.

I actually challenged an audience member, (it was in a chatty circle event were sharing was encouraged – and there was beer.), “How can you be so sure?”

“Oh,” he replied, “I file all my memories in date order”.

We are all different.

Shout out a date, another friend of mine can tell you not only what day of the week it was but every little thing about what happened. I gave her a date from the seventies and she described the embroidered flowers on my yellow large-lapelled suit jacket.

Another friend cannot pick and choose she has to scroll. She can recall every single thing which happened to her from the age of three, every feeling, every sound, smells, the works.

Will your mind allow you to be spontaneous?

Find a way.

The Skalds did poetry. Bards too. Many say poetry is a means of remembering something. I say do not memorise poetry. It will rattle along like a maraca in a samba band.

Poetic works need the meaning emphasising not the rhythm, beats or rhymes.

For me, I have written thousands of poems, I have two I can do from memory.

Set me on with storytelling though.

I have worked a full week of six hour days and finished the story just in time to clock off.

(It was a queue constantly streaming into a museum so I had to be sure and make every element work alone.)

I am quirky.

Not being believed is another failing of mine. The whimsical way I portray tales makes people think I have made it all up, I think it is my cheekiness. The fact that I have spent hours on research and finding new ways to think are lost in the gag.

“You have made that up.”

We are quirky.

You are and you need to deal with it alright.

Reinterpret, research, reconsider, posit, discover.

Hours of research go into one snippet; a gag from hours.

This is a concept I have real difficulty explaining. There must be a word for it. There must.

Like there is for what Jung did. To posit. He explains how he was asked how the brain worked and he didn’t know. So he said there were two parts; the conscious and the unconscious. Now there is. There really is. He posited.

Say how something is and therefore it is forever so.

Edward De Bono reckoned that we posit all the time; especially politicians.

It is one aspect of what I mean.

I’ve described this idea in detail to someone whom was writing a thesis for academics to assess and she said what I meant was historical research.

That doesn’t seem quite right to someone plodding along in their own way hoping for the best.

If you talked to anyone going to a museum they would describe it as ‘the point’ because every single person who goes in an old place has a point to make. It is more important than looking to see what is in there. They have researched. They have thought. Here is the thought!

I am full of such thoughts.

(I try to address my stories with such things.)

I slip them in. I am the only person in history of Vikings to give the Gods surnames. Well, Patronyms. It took me ages to think about it and then I do a story and say Odin Borrsson and nobody notices. ‘Ah yes, that is his name.’

This is an inspirational talk so you can go away and not be motived either.

Yet…