See those gorgeous cards? The ones with the luminous watercolor artwork? On the back of each one are four words or phrases. They come from Waldorfish, and you can have some for your very own.
This week, I told stories at the Linden Hills Farmers Market. I was in a very small space, which was not totally ideal, but I was right next to Heartfelt's crafting area, so that was cozy and sweet (Heartfelt is one of my awesome day jobs, and I get to tell stories there next week!). I had my secret weapon, the above-pictured cards, tucked in my purple purse, and my fat, water-stained Grimms' tales to lend me ballast. At 5 minutes to show time, I stood in each bay of the greenhouse where our market is happening, and bellowed "STORYYYYYYTIIIIIIIMME!!!"
I opened with Mother Holle.
Mother Holle is a story related to many other tales -- Diamonds and Toads is one that comes to mind -- in which a good child is rewarded and a bad child punished. I had eight or so listeners, and they were all deeply engaged with the story. That is the power of fairy tales: in the midst of a busy, noisy marketplace, people gathered to hear a story, and were instantly transported to another world. I stood as the medium of the story, and tried to help it into the world.
When Mother Holle was finished, and the bad child who hadn't shaken the featherbeds well enough to bring snow to the earth had been doused in pine pitch, many of the listeners stood and smiled and disappeared into the crowd. Those who stayed saw me bring out the Storystarter cards, shuffle them, and fan them in my hands. "Choose one!" I urged them. They did, and I held the chosen cards in my hands for a moment before the story began to spin itself into being. First one element, than another, sent out its bright thread, and I caught them and twisted them into my words. The story was fairly simple, with a journey and a fairy ball and a mask, a letter and a market, a return to the everyday world, with a memento of the revels. When it was done, we all sighed contentedly. There. The shining plaited threads of story dispersed like smoke when a candle is put out.
I've used these cards to tell stories to my son, and that was lovely, but there was a magic in bringing something from each of the listeners -- their own contributions to the tale -- into a woven whole.
Want to try it? Join me Sunday, or get your own cards and let others draw the stories out. I'll be telling every Sunday at noon throughout November, and at 1 o'clock in December.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.