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History of Storytelling - Part 1

Traditional Tales - Part 2

Story for Schizophrenia - Part 3

Changing Meaning - Part 4

The Storyteller's Art - Part 5

Enchanting Bird 1 - Part 6

Enchanting Bird 2 - Part 7

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The Enchanting Bird Part 2

Back in the woods, rust appears on the knife, so the second brother sets off leaving behind a rosary of pearl. If the pearls stick, then he’s in danger; if they form a leaden lump, then he’s dead. Of course, he finds the same storyteller, hears about the same Bird of Truth and sets out along the heart road.

Like his brother, he doesn’t bother to listen to the storyteller’s story. Like his brother, he sees wonders of all kinds, reaches the mountain and looks straight ahead as he climbs. Like his brother, he hears all kinds of voices calling him here and there, one of which is his own brother’s voice. Like his brother, he can’t resist turning and he too becomes a blue stone.

So then it’s up to the girl. Finding that the pearls are sticking, she sets out, finds the same storyteller who tells her about the bird on the mountain. Off she goes, but not before she has listened well to and marked and inwardly digested the storyteller’s story.

She travels the heart road, sees incredible wonders, reaches the mountain and walks up it to the top, where the bird flies into the air and drops white dust on her and perches on her shoulder. So then she has the truth, can know that she is a princess cheated out of her inheritance by wicked aunts who imprisoned her mother. Her brothers, whom she now rescues along with a thousand other young men turned to stone on the mountainside, are princes. They set off to set wrongs to rights and what happens next is, more or less, another story.

What about the story the storyteller told in the marketplace, you may well ask? Well, it’s complicated and if I see you some time, I might tell it to you in full if you remind me. But the main thing to understand is the little trick it suggested to the girl. Because when she climbed the mountain, the voices were all around but she didn’t hear them. She’d stuffed her ears with cotton wool, you see. Which just goes to show you that, however many lies they might tell you along the way, storytellers are only doing it so you can get to the truth.

© Rob Parkinson 2001 N.B. The above article first appeared in the Systemic Therapy magazine, Context in 2001.

Rob Parkinson has been a professional storyteller since 1984 and has told his tales in many hundreds of schools as well as in arts centres, pubs, theatres, on TV and even in shacks in the Australian outback. He is a former Chair of the Society for Storytelling and has written many articles on storytelling. Rob also practises as a therapist, using stories extensively in his work.

His storytelling CD pack Powerful Stories extends many of the themes of this article, explaining practical techniques for using and telling stories and giving many examples of practically useful stories. It’s available from Uncommon Knowledge at £24.95. Rob also teaches weekend storytelling workshops for Uncommon Knowledge in London and Brighton.

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