Sharing the living art of storytelling   Phone Jenni 0403 328 643

The Story Bird

Written on September 11, 2017

Just heard from the editor of ‘The Northerly’, The Byron Bay Writer’s Festival magazine The Northerly, that he has published my poem in the current issue (p22). I was prompted to write this poem by the Volunteer Poetry competition, again organised by the dynamic poetess and creative, Louise Moriarty. This festival’s theme was ‘Where stories take you’ and the competition theme was ‘birds’. I didn’t get it finished in time to enter the competition, but last year the competition spawned ‘Updraft’, which won.

 

Bird of prey florian-biedermann-314401

THE STORY BIRD

Jenni Cargill-Strong

 

Jump onto her muscular back

grip hard with your thighs

as she wheels you gracefully, thrillingly

from here to there and

through time.

 

She will carry you

through the dark of death

to the ancestors

and the Good People*

both feared and revered

or fly you through black clouds to Iceland*

where the northern lights were an omen

blizzards rage for three days and nights

and it is a struggle to close the opened door.

Smell the stench of the prisoner,

battered and unwashed

Hear the crunch of the executioners boots

upon the fresh snow.

 

Cling, cling to her muscular back

as she weaves and swoops you

through the Dark Emu* in the night sky

to when stories began and ended with

‘We arise from the mother’s heartbeat’.

See this landscape

before the hooved animals

transformed the soil of yam fields

that stretched to the horizon

soil so soft, so well tilled that

horses would sink to their fetlocks

when floods were rare and wild fires unknown.

In Ecuador, the Waorani people call the ceibo tree the Tree of Life. Songs of the Trees DAVID GEORGE HASKELL

Ah take me ancient story bird

take me to that vast forest in Ecuador

where ‘the leaves of plants speak the rain’s language’ *

and ‘mosses grow like filamentous seaweeds in the open ocean.’

Take me soaring to the crown of the giant Ceibo (SAYBO) tree

so I can vibrate top to toe with

the Songs of the Trees.

 

Fly me story bird on your elegant, eloquent wings

woven with ancient words and visions

to wherever I need to go

I open the book

you open your wings

and we fly to

where

stories

take you.

book to flights tatoo Elizabeth Briggs

*1. Hannah Kent ‘The Good People’

*2. Hannah Kent ‘Burial Rites’

*3. Bruce Pascoe ‘Dark Emu’

*4. David George Haskell ‘The Songs of the Trees’

In the Festival Green Room I got to meet Hannah Kent and chatted to David Haskell and his wife, (all very gracious and lovely) though alas- a little bout of shyness caused me to miss my chance to chat to Bruce Pascoe! As you can see, ‘The Story Bird’ refers most particularly to the words of Bruce Pascoe, Hannah Kent and David Haskell. Such powerful speakers and books! Yay.

Next I scored some local schools show work through Byron Bay Writers Festival’s Story Board  program for October which I am looking forward to enormously! I do love performing for and teaching primary school kids in particular.

 

‘Stories in the Club’ warmly embraced

Written on August 26, 2017
IMG_3884

Athol Compton tells a contemporary tale of Dirrangan

The inaugural ‘Stories in the Club’ was very warmly embraced by the local community on Sunday, August 13 at the Muillumbimby Ex-Services Club, with six diverse tellers, including local custodian and former screen actor Athol Compton; activist and actor, Tony Barry; President of Toastmasters, Louise Harrison; author Graeme Innes; traveller and solo performer Shona Anderson and storyteller Jenni Cargill-Strong. (For more photo’s see Tellers page.)

Over 100 people attended, some of whom had travelled from as far as Nimbin, the Gold Coast and Lismore. Organisers, Jenni Cargill-Strong, Jennifer Grainger of the Ngara Institute and Morag Wilson were thrilled at the response. Feedback on the night and since has been enthusiastic: “That was fantastic!” “What a wonderful idea.” “You’d better provide tissues next time, the first tale made me weep!” “When is it happening again?!” On top of that, when Jenni put the request out to her networks for storytellers, the enthusiasm was so great, that she has tellers booked up until December for the new monthly event.

Stories in the club-Banner-2
In September, local legend, beloved historian, former farmer and fire chief, Frank Mills will be the feature teller. Frank, now 90 and living north of the Shire, will be in conversation with Malcolm Price of Creative Mullumbimby and Social Habitat. Alongside Frank, there will be three former members of the ‘Byron Circle of Tellers’: Teeya Blatt, writer, storyteller and Byron Youth Service Manager, who will tell her ‘Hymn to Persephone’; Susan Perrow, internationally published author and founder and Director of Periwinkle, will tell a flood tale from 1974 and professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong will tell a tale of the feminine. Jenni will also share the emcee role with Bruce Long, former President of Toastmasters.

Arrive at 3.30pm for a 4pm start. After the stories, storylovers can eat at the Old School Restaurant. ‘Stories in the Club’ is supported by the The Ngara Institute, Creative Mullumbimby, The Story Tree Company and Stories on Foot. For more information go to: http://www.storytree.com.au/stories-in-the-club/Stories in the Club-poster

Stories can be factual, fictional or factional – which is a blend of the two. We will aim to have regular stories from indigenous tellers. Usually, six tellers will get 8-10 mins and in subsequent months, there will be opportunities for beginner tellers.

Stories in the Club coming very soon!

Written on July 30, 2017

It is getting very exciting as the first ‘Stories in the Club’ Concert date draws closer, enthusiasm in the community is building and people are coming forward to offer wonderful tales of place and hope. August and September concerts are now full!

ATHOL COMPTON smallerAugust tellers will include well-known locals, traditional custodian and former screen actor, Uncle Athol Compton (left); activist and actor, Tony Barry (right); writer and performer, Shona Anderson; author Graeme Innes as well as the President of Mullumbimby Toastmasters, Louise Harrison and possibly some music from young visiting activist musician, Zack Lewis. Jenni will also tell a tale and MC. Tony Barry

September tellers will include beloved long time local, historian, former farmer and Tweed/Byron fire chief, Frank Mills and writer and storyteller and Byron Youth Service Manager, Teeya Blatt.

Stories can be factual, fictional or factional – which is a blend of the two. We will endeavour  to have regular stories from indigenous tellers. Usually, six tellers will get 8-10 mins and in subsequent months, there will be opportunities for beginner tellers.

WHERE: The Ex-Services Club Mullumbimby, (except Oct where we’ll need to find another venue)

WHEN: Starting Sunday, August 13, 4.00- 5.30 pm.

WHO: Hosted and curated by local professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong.

For 14 years and over.

Supported by Ngara Institute and Creative Mullumbimby.

PRICE: $10/$5.

CONTACT: Jenni M: 0403 328 643 jenni@storytree.com.au

OR

Jennifer Grainger (Ngara Institute) M: 0416 777 527 j.a.grainger@hotmail.com

 

Stories in the Club: Tales of Place, Tales of Hope

Written on June 29, 2017

story quote change the world

I am excited to announce that I am launching a new community storytelling concert series, beginning the afternoon of Sunday, August 13, with the support from Ngara Institute and Creative Mullumbimby.

Good stories can be road maps for a life well lived.

In these times of rapid change and widespread loneliness, such ancient, simple soul food can be sorely needed.

the-mullum-music-festival-is-coming-to-mullumbimby--nea_16000751_800510881_0_0_14091452_600Stories of place deepen our connection to country as well as strengthening the weave of our community.

Tales of hope, courage and resilience foster and inspire those qualities in us.

Join us for ‘Stories in the Club’ and feast with your community on a rich banquet of ‘Tales of Place and Tales of Hope’.

Stories can be factual, fictional or…factional- which is a blend of the two.Indeed a storytelling aphorism is ‘never let facts get in the way of a good story’! The aim of the evening is to enchant, engage, connect and inspire.

Tales will be told orally, that is, they are not written stories read aloud, but oral stories told by a teller who connects deeply and personally to the story they are telling: whether it is their own personal story, someone else’s true story or a weave of fiction that fits the theme.*

A community concert hosted and curated by local professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Supported by Ngara Institute and Creative Mullumbimby.

Oral stories max 8-10 mins with different opportunities  in the evening for beginner tellers who need palm cards to confident tellers to polished tellers, including a story each month from me.

WHERE: The Ex-Services Club, Mullumbimby

WHEN: Second Sunday of the month (except October) 4.00-5.30pm, starting Sunday, August 13 (except Oct where we’ll need to find another venue).

Subscribe to stay up to date or check the FB Event page.

*If you have never heard a story told before, you can watch Jenni tell stories here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twhe7QN-dNc

(Golden Tales was the last local stories series I ran with the support of the Byron Circle of Tellers, but ‘Storytelling in the Club’ will be in my home town of Mullumbimby. Also I have expanded the theme considerably, from stories which had to be set in the Rainbow Region to Stories of Place ie tales of connection to place or connection to country or nature anywhere, as well as Stories of Hope.)

Entry price: $10/$5

Got story of place or hope to tell?

  1. Time it to see if its 8-10 mins long.
  2. Email jenni@storytree.com.au or call Jenni on 0403 328 643 and describe the story.
  3. Jenni will get back to you on the selection process.

FUTURE DATES: Sep 10, Oct 8, Nov 12, Dec 10
(In October only, we will use a different venue- to be announced.)

 

lost in the woods siberian elder

Golden Tales

Written on June 12, 2017

We held the last ‘Golden Tales’ concert a year ago on Sunday, June 12, 2016 the Brunswick Community Centre was fantastic.

Sandra Frain tells her hilarious house-sitting, pet minding story

June Concert: Sandra Frain tells her hilarious house-sitting, pet minding story

 

 Audience stillness storytree.com.au:goldentales
Catherine hands storytree.com.au:goldentales

AFFORDABLE FOOD: Catered by Brunswick Liberation Larder for $5 a bowl of food or $5 for hot drink and cake

WHERE: Brunswick Heads Community Centre, opposite Surf Club and behind Scout Hall

Enquiries: jenni@storytree.com.au OR CALL 0403 328 643

Julianna of Clems Cargo tells an original traditional tale of Cultural Collison storytree.com.au:goldentales

Julianna of Clems Cargo tells an original traditional tale of Cultural Collison

LISTEN to our inaugural Golden tales concert here: https://soundcloud.com/the-heart-of-the-story/sets/the-inaugural-golden-tales

Please join our FB Event page  and share it with story lovers you know! Locals and visitors welcome! Listen to stories from our first concert, read about it and see pictures of it here and read what prompted the idea for these concerts here. Blog about Jan 2016 concert in pipeline.

 WHAT are Golden Tales?

Hear colourful local stories from storytellers and community members, set in our local region- as far as our caldera stretches: from Tweed to Lismore to Murwillumbah to Nimbin and Byron Bay. If you didn’t get a story in last time, do ponder a Golden Tale for next concert! This is a community event, so please consider throwing your hat in the ring. Also if you come along to one of our concerts, as you listen deeply to other people’s stories, you may think of one of your own for the next concert. Stories are like that.

Remember it needs to be predominantly set in the Byron Shire region, between 5 and 8 mins long, told orally (preferably without notes) but can be historical, contemporary or even futuristic and it can also be factual, fictional or a combination of both- which we call –factional!

 

Our angelic mascot 2 donated by Clems Cargo storytree.com.au:goldentales April 2016

Our angelic mascot donated by Clems Cargo

Melaina and Annie listening to Catherine storytree.com.au:goldentales The story prompts below might help or you can contact me (Jenni) if you want some story coaching for a specially discounted fee.
Enquiries and workshop bookings: jenni@storytree.com.au OR 0403 328 643

Please join our FB Event page

Donna Jacobs Sife, Jenni and friends storytree.com.au:goldentales April 2016

Donna Jacobs Sife, Jenni and friends

 

Susan Perrow tells her ‘Golden Tale’ Jan 2016

Read my blogpost about our inaugural concert here http://www.storytree.com.au/golden-tales-local-tales/
and about the background to the concert here http://www.storytree.com.au/changing-the-world-one-local-story-at-a-time/

 

Welcome mandala on steps of the Hall

Welcome mandala on steps of the Hall

Kelly Dodd June2015 (1)

Kelly Dodd tells of Tilley Divine’s visit

 

 

 

 

 

Joyality

Written on February 17, 2017

This is a guest post by my friends and colleagues Eshana Bragg and Rachel Taylor who co-created the wonderful course that is Joyality.

Late last year I did the course as a participant and was so inspired, I decided to train as a facilitator. I will be co-facilitating with the next round, due to start in Byron Bay Monday, February 20, 2017. Details below. It will still be possible to start on Feb 27 th http://www.joyality.org/what-is-joyality/ and there will also be an online course starting Tuesdays which you can join if Monday doesn’t suit or you don’t live in Byron Shire. 

Joyality

\joy• al• i• tee/

NOUN

the quality or state of feeling deep and encompassing joy; a feeling of wholeness, oneness and exuberance for life

 

Joyality is that feeling you get when every cell of your being is joyful, peaceful, and alive. It is that feeling that you can’t quite put words to, because they could never do it justice. It is deeply related to beauty, love, and the pure exuberance for being alive, but exactly what it is will always be something of a mystery.

 

Joyality is different for everyone as we are all unique individuals whose souls are sparked by a diversity of people, places, and activities.

 

Joyality is also different than happiness. The word “happiness” comes from “happenstance”- it is something that happens and then is gone, it is dependent on circumstance. Joy is something altogether different. Once joy enters a person it never leaves, it is always accessible to us in the recesses of our hearts and souls, even if we do not feel joyful at that moment. This is because joy is part of the eternal, it is one of the core energies of existence. Think of Joy as one giant entity – the joy in me is connected to, the same as, the joy in you. I may experience it at different times or due to different things, but it stems from the same pot of joy.

 

Joyality is about developing your relationship with that pot of joy, learning to access it in the darkest of times, and using it to create positive change in the world. Hands and sunWe believe that this joy is more accessible if we dive deeply into life. This means fully embracing the wonder of existence, and also engaging with the troublespots, addressing them, and striving to make the world a better place.

 

Ignoring the dangers, the crises, the threats and filling our lives up with ‘stuff’, with entertainment, with busyness, does not bring us joy. These things distract us from the personal and planetary problems we face. While they may bring us fleeting happiness, they do not satisfy our deep and gnawing desire for joy.

 

Through The Joyality Program, we find ways to joy and hope amidst the darkest times.

 

Joyality™ and The Joyality Program™ are co created by Eshana Bragg and Rachel Taylor

 

Why I dance on V Day and my Vagina Conversations story

Written on January 26, 2017
Image Tree Faerie 2015 Courtesy Echonetdaily

Image Tree Faerie 2015 Courtesy Echonetdaily

I entreat you. If you have never taken part in the One Billion Rising V Day flashmob dance in Byron Bay before, consider doing so this year. Then make a day of it and come to the rich and stimulating Vagina Conversations in the evening of the same day or the next.

grant macintyre photography

Jenni Left & Zenith Centre.  Image by Grant MacIntyre

This is NOT a man-hating, angry event. It is celebratory, fun, sensual and exciting! Imagine gathering with women and some men, to celebrate the sanctity and wonder of the feminine: dancing on our spectacular beach with it’s breathtaking views of the mountain ranges within our sacred caldera. We are at the most easterly point of Australia, so if you get there early enough, you can see the sun rise, but also we are the first Australians to dance these powerful steps to this uplifting song. As the earth slowly turns, thousands of women (and men) all over the country rise and dance. Globally millions of people dance this dance on the same day, but at different times. What an act of solidarity. What an act of powerful jubilant magic! But it is also having practical, real world effects too.

As Stroma Lawson, one of the local organisers of our event recently posted on FB: ‘If you have any doubts about the effectiveness of One Billion Rising for Justice, listen to these amazing stories from around the world: https://youtu.be/6guRQb9Plkk

We listen to inspiring poems and readings, then dance together. OK the song is from the US and has an American accent but it is awesome: with strong, fun choreography. It is played on a  magnificent sound system right on the beach, generously provided and manned by beautiful woman- honouring, professional DJ and soundman, Sean Latham of North Coast Events.

Images by Grant MacIntyre

Images by Grant MacIntyre

You can get a feel for the vibe if you still have any doubts by watching these short videos.

Byron Bay V DAY videos:

Echonetdaily video. 

Susie Forster video.

BYRON BAY V Day Event Details:

Flashmob Dance on the beach
On the morning of Tuesday February 14, the 5th Annual Byron V DAY Flashmob Dance event will be held on Main Beach, Byron Bay. The event is one of hundreds in a global action to highlight and stop violence against women and girls in particular.  Gather at 6.30am and dance at 7.30am. Everyone is welcome. Wear Red, or something red. To learn the steps (this is optional and ONLY if you want to- women and men who want to come along are very welcome and there is no necessity to know the steps- its just fun to!)
Steps written out with lyrics: http://www.storytree.com.au/v-day-choreography/
The global movement of One Billion Rising
To understand more about the global movement of One Billion Rising, lead by Eve Ensler, writer of the Vagina Monologues, go here: http://www.onebillionrising.org/about/campaign/
 
Vagina Conversations
This year there will be two performances of original monologues by local Byron women at the Byron Theatre on Tuesday Feb 14 and Wednesday 15th at 7.30pm.
Last year the show sold out a day in advance, so this year there will be two nights. Book early. All new line-up with Zenith Virago as MC, Phillipa Williaqms and Public Act Theatre, Feather, Jannenne As Is, Catheryn Britton & Alison Toft, Annalee Atia, Bintou Burns, Jessica Lu, Jess Simms, Tamar Ben-Hur and ME!  Mandy Nolan will also appear again to finish the night. I have been to two rehearsals so far and it will definitely be a rich, fun, moving revelatory evening!! Book your tickets as soon as they become available.
If you are a local hope to see you there! :)

Back in 2013, I wrote the blogpost below to explain why I not only dance on V Day, but why I think it is so important that I help the Byron Bay organiser of the event Zenith Virago, where I can. Since then, a number of great videos have been made which will give a sense of the exultant atmosphere. Here is the old post:

Why I am dancing against violence on V-Day …and what V-Day has to do with storytelling… (2013)

obr_logo-web

V-Day logo

The ‘One Billion Rising’ movement was initiated by Eve Ensler, author of the ‘Vagina Monologues’.The scale of the movement is breathtaking and exciting: currently 187 countries have signed up to join in. Authors, politicians, filmmakers and celebrities have recorded You Tubes about why they will ‘strike, dance, rise’ on Feb 14. The one billion rising org website states:

‘V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.’

I am practicing the dance for V-Day so I can join in on our local action in Byron Bay (see FB event page.) The anthem and dance tell a story about the empowerment and solidarity of women. While the song and dance are American, there is the opportunity to create your own version and in many countries woman have done this.

For years, I have seen “Reclaim the Night’ rallies and actions which have not attracted me. I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember. This informs my choices in story: the way I retell and adapt folktales and myths as well as the way I write original stories and songs. I love tales of the feminine. This year I working on a new performance of the Inanna myth cycle, which I closely base on Kramer and  Wolkstein’s “Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth”. The ways women and girls are represented in stories of all kinds has a huge impact on the way we think and feel about ourselves and the feminine. This extends out into the way we act in the world. I have always chosen to tell stories of strong, empowered females.

However, I have never been personally touched by sexual violence. It was of concern to me, but not enough of a concern to turn up to a rally.

The Uprising of Woman in the Aran World logo

Logo for the ‘Uprising of Women in the Arab World’

However, lately a number of things have made me feel much more connected to the issue of sexual violence towards women and girls worldwide.

More…

 

Summer Solstice

Written on December 21, 2016
sun-in-poinsettia-flowers

A beautiful petal mandala created at a Summer Solstice party I recently attended.

A very happy Summer Solstice to everyone in the southern hemisphere! (Happy Winter Solstice to you northerners.) According to our European ancestors, now is the time to celebrate the abundant ripe energy of the earth. (If you are looking for a forest loving Santa-free Christmas story, read the previous blog post.)sun-sculpture

I live in Byron Bay, once called Cavvanbah by the Bunjalung people, on the most easterly point of Australia. For the local Arakwal and wider Bunjalung clans, this time of year may have been thought of differently. They knew six or more seasons and marked the changes according to bio-indicators rather than a calendar, such as what was flowering or which bird was migrating. I hope to learn more about this, but while I am ignorant, I will ponder what my ancient pagan ancestors believed. Here is a pastiche of information I have sewn together rather roughly.

The mythic Green Man or the Great Horned God was

 born at the winter solstice, unites with the Goddess in marriage at Bealtaine, and dies at the summer solstice to bring fertility to the land as the Sacred King

The consort of the Goddess and symbol of male energy in the form of the divine, The Horned God reigns. He is the lord of the woodlands, the hunt and animals. He provides for the tribe through the hunt and is honored or rewarded for his deed by being permitted to copulate with the Goddess through the Great Rite. The Horned God is is the lord of life, death and the underworld. And is the Sun to the Goddess’ Moon. He alternates with the Goddess in ruling over the fertility cycle of birth, death and rebirth. He is born at the winter solstice, unites with the Goddess in marriage at Bealtaine, and dies at the summer solstice to bring fertility to the land as the Sacred King. He is not just a Celtic representation of the God, nor does he solely belong to Wicca, as he has been associated with many deities throughout the world.He is not just a Celtic representation of the God, nor does he solely belong to Wicca, as he has been associated with many deities throughout the world.

Green Man lantern, Woodford Folk Festival

Green Man lantern, Woodford Folk Festival

https://www.paganspath.com/magik/hornedgod.htm

 

A friend gave me a wonderful book years ago called “Circle Round” by Starhawk et al and she says: The Summer Solstice is the longest day and the shortest night. The sun has grown to its full strength, and summer begins…The Summer Solstice reminds us that nothing lasts forever. We do not live in the unchanging twilight realm of Faery, but in the living, dying and fading, and growing realm of earth. Whenever something is completed, we must let it go.

Because the things we love don’t last forever, we love them all the more while they are here. But letting go of things and people is never easy. The Summer Solstice is a time to practice giving things away, letting go of what is completed and done…

So what did our ancestors get up to and what do modern earth lovers do at this time? Here are some ideas.

NeoDruidic Solstice / Solar Devotional activities

(From https://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/midsummer/wwtdd-summer-solstice.html)

There are many routes by which we can open our minds and souls to the Sun within the context of a modern Druidic spirituality. Here are some starters for personal contemplative and ritual techniques:

  • Meditate on the Sun, its actuality, physical glory and spiritual dimensions in your life. Leave the gods and goddesses, heroes and lore for later. If you cannot approach the Sun in it’s devastatingly present and neces-sary actuality in your life, you are not spiritually ready to appropriate the mythic lore associated with the Solar Principle for personal work. Start by learning to -not- ignore the real Sun.
  • Compose a Salutation of the Sun that you can do at sunrise or sunset, or any time, even while you’re driving to or from work. Sunrise or sunset rites and salutations can be very powerful and personally transformative. Ask a Yoga or OTO practitioner about their experiences with solar devotions. Just as important, share your experiences others.
  • Observe and mark the seasonal progress of the Sun, particularly its rising and setting, from one or several of your favorite locations. The external component of this activity can be referred to as “Henge Building”, even if you are not dragging boulders around but simply keeping notes of the sun’s rise/set points, apparent altitude or shadow lengths on certain days. In so doing, you are bringing the external and the internal solar aspects together in a magical way; you are building a trans-dimensional solar-temple in your life.
  • Get yourself a big (4″) magnifying glass and learn to light your Sacred Fire from the Sun’s rays. Solar Need-Fire building is a rite in itself. Experiment with using the burning- glass to purify your tools and to “store” the Solar Principle in a quartz crystal: putting something away for a rainy day (or The Dark Night of the Soul…).
  • Begin your personal quest for the perfect Summer Solstice sunrise…

Read more here https://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/midsummer/wwtdd-summer-solstice.html

The Fairy at the Top of the Christmas Tree

Written on December 12, 2016

Each year I repost this sweet Christmas tale, which has no mention of Santa, but a focus on trees and forests, connection to earth.

For five years the recording has been available for free, but this year a little fairy whispered to me, ‘Why don’t you allow people the option of donating for this story? They may like to!’ So I am working now to allow you to make a donation.  Read the story or listen to my retelling via Soundcloud. I hope you retell it yourself to the young ones in your life, perhaps under your Christmas tree or any beloved tree outdoors!

Have you ever wondered, why those of us who celebrate Christmas, bring a tree inside our homes and wind silver tinsel around the tree from the bottom right up to the top? And why lots of us hang a fairy at the very top? I’ve always wondered about that -and maybe you have too. There was no tree or fairy involved at  the birth of baby Jesus and though Santa Claus puts presents under the tree, he doesn’t seem to hang out with fairies.

It was a mystery to me until I met a woman called Morgan who told me this story. She said this story had been passed down by word of mouth for many generations – which means they had never written it down, they just told it to each other. Now Morgan’s family said that the fairies got their name- not because they had fair skin from living in the deep, shady forests, but because they were fair of heart and fair of mind. So the Gods and Goddesses had given them the gift of the knowledge of magic. Here is the way I tell it many years later.

The Fairy at the Top of of the Christmas Tree

Long ago in the lands we now call Europe, before Santa Claus and even before baby Jesus, no-one celebrated Christmas yet. What people did celebrate was Mid-Winter’s Eve. Children got especially excited because they might meet the Queen of the Fairy- and even have a wish granted! Back in those olden days, there were many great forests and only a few human tribes. Deep in those forests lived the fairies. Now fairies love eating, they love dressing up, they loveto sing and dance and they love to have parties. For each season and each time the seasons changed, they would have a big party.  But the party for Mid-Winter was one of the biggest.

As you have probably noticed, when Winter comes, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. But mid-Winter’s Eve is the exact time when the days get longer and the nights get shorter.  So the people and the fairies celebrated. Now the fairies, at least most of them, quite liked children because they were playful and funny.  So they would invite all the children of all the human clans and tribes to their mid-Winters Ball in the middle of the forest. The children dressed in their warmest clothes and thought a lot about the wish they would make.  This sometimes caused a lot of sighing, jiggling and twiddling of hair. The Queen of the Fairies knew that human children would get lost in the dark or trip over tangled roots and vines. So she asked the spiders to weave their webs from the outside of the forest in to the center, where the Queen sat on her magnificent, carved wooden throne. Then with a graceful wave of her wand she would turn the webs into threads of silver that sparkled under moonlight and starlight.

The children waiting at the edge of the forest with their parents knew then that they could make their way in. The older children helped the younger children. They waited as patiently as they could for their turn to meet the Queen. Some children took little presents for the Queen- even though they didn’t have to. Older children took little things they had made by hand during the long, dark Winter nights. Then as each child made it to the throne they would whisper a wish in the ear of the fairy. If she thought it was a good wish she would use her magic to help it come true.

Then the children were invited to stay for the party. The fairies would light a big bonfire. They put on a feast of delectable treats- pastries and cakes and sweet ambrosia drinks. After the feast, the musician and singers would begin. They made the kind of music that makes your heart sing. The children listened to the fairy harp and sweet singing at first and joined in when the dance music started. When it was time for the children to go home, the fairies would wave them goodbye. As the parents and other adults waited at the edge of the forest, they watched the flickering golden torches as the children made their way back out along the silvery webs.

They were remembering what it had been like back when they were children and theyhad gone to the fairies party. So that is why we bring a tree into our houses. Some part of us remembers those olden days and those wonderful Mid-Winter’s Balls. We bring a tree inside to represent the forest, we wrap silver or gold tinsel around the tree to remind us of the silver spiders’ webs,  flashing lights to remind us of the flickering golden torches, presents under the tree to remind us of the gifts of the fairy and a fairy on the top to remind us of the Queen of the fairies and those parties. Nowadays there are grown-ups who like to party and dance the night away in forests wearing fairy wings.They wear  their hair in bright colours or dreadlocks and sometimes wear fairy wings and they dance all  night long.   How do you visualise the Queen of the Fairies?

So when you put your tree out this year ready for mid-Winter -or mid-Summer here in the southern part of the Earth, remember to put a little food and drink for the fairy and remember to be on your best behaviour. You wouldn’t want to wake up as a frog on Christmas Day would you?

 

NB:  Feel free to read or tell it to your family- or create YOUR own version and let me know. Folk tales are dynamic and grow better with each retelling. Write a comment here or share your ideas on my FB storytree page. Happy Solstice!

 

Listen to my retelling for FREE via Soundcloud.

Images: greenlady_blankismet- photobucket, Fantasy forest and throne mega11 dreamstime, fairylove.com, greengrass woman chelsea flower show, soulseasons-yiota143.blogspot

A Labyrinth, a Goddess and a Descent to the Underworld in Byron

Written on October 14, 2016
PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. labyrinth teacher, Catherine of Creative Pilgrimage http://www.creativepilgrimage.com/

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. labyrinth teacher, Catherine of Creative Pilgrimage http://www.creativepilgrimage.com/

For many years, my friend, Jacquelina Wills and I have dreamed of building a public, local labyrinth in Byron Shire. We recently scored a small grant from the Byron Shire Council’s Placemaking Seed Fund, as one of seven catalyst events for the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan to create a temporary labyrinth on the grassy foreshore in Byron near Clarks Beach. Yippee!!

However, we’d also really love to offer a range of events and activities: two ceremonies, twice weekly guided labyrinth walks and other clay modelling activities. Also I want to record the related ancient descent myth of the Goddess Inanna will also be broadcast on The Bohemian Beat on BAY FM Community Radio. To do all this and pay modest fees for creatives and materials involved in the project, we need another $2 000.

We are looking for both individual and business sponsors to support the project with cash and in-kind donations and has created a crowd funding page, which you can find here: https://chuffed.org/project/temporary-labyrinth-byron-bay.

While this is a pop-up place activation, if the community embrace it, an application will be made to Byron Shire Council for permission and seed-funding to install a permanent labyrinth next year.

If you can contribute, please visit our Chuffed ‘Temporary Labyrinth, Byron Bay’ crowd funding page or contact Jenni on 0403 328 643 or info@storiesonfoot.com. https://chuffed.org/project/temporary-labyrinth-byron-bay.

Opening Ceremony

Please join us at our Opening Ceremony on Saturday, November 5 from 4pm.

Come and stand in circle with Jenni Cargill-Strong and Jacquelina Wills, local Arakwal custodian Delta Kay and other locals as we dedicate our temporary labyrinth with a short ceremony and then we can all walk it! We will be painting a labyrinth design on grass on Friday and on Saturday Jacquelina will create an ephemeral mandala within it.

OPENING CEREMONY: Delta will give welcome to country, Whaia Whaea will sing, I will tell a story, Jacquelina will lead a water ritual and meditative music will be played as we begin to walk. We will let you know details of other guests as they are confirmed.

THEME: Our theme will be “Honouring the Sacred Waters”

WHERE: The grassy foreshore (Denning park) along Lawson Street, at Clark’s Beach end, between the two kayak companies.

WHEN: The Ceremony will begin at 4pm
Jacquelina will build the mandala all day, but from 1pm on you can come and paint a stone with a water fractal design.

WHY: Read more about the project and events here. https://chuffed.org/project/temporary-labyrinth-byron-bay
More details will be slowly revealed as we get closer to the Opening.

SUPPORT: We have not yet reached our crowdfunding target and some unexpected insurance costs just came in. Please support our crowdfunding campaign which ends NOV 2: https://chuffed.org/project/temporary-labyrinth-byron-bay Here is the FB Event page https://www.facebook.com/events/1213527485373045/ so you can keep informed.

Jacquelina's water mandala Uplift Festival, Byron

Jacquelina’s water mandala Uplift Festival, Byron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUSINESS SPONSORS of our Crowdfunding Campaign so far:

Big warm thanks to our business sponsors who have contributed the following cash and in-kind donations. We welcome lots more sponsors in cash or see our In Kind Wish List above.

Spiral Foods have made a very generous pledge which will go far.

The Crystal Castle will supply crystals and flags for Opening event.

Moontime Diaries donated 5 diaries worth
Byron Kinesiology (Australian Wellness Centre)

Painted Earth (also known as Green Building Centre) donated non-toxic, eco friendly paint for decorating stones with fractal designs and painting the footpath and clay paint to lead people from busy Surf Club area towards us.

Byron Bay Council with line-marking

Community Partner: Mullum SEED Inc has kindly stepped in to auspiced our event

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