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Into the Forest we went....

The Soul Shed offers you spaces of Seeding your Imagination, and what it asks of you is that you simply allow your human beingness to receive impressions from the world around you- to be moved and affected by life doing its lifing, and to be curious about what this creative use of your imagination might bring your way.

This past lunar month some of us have been walking with Forest and Fairy story as a deep-mapping theme. Some of us took part in a SoulCollage® workshop, and the imagery that came was rich and wild and wonderful as we went into the forest. Another group of us have been exploring our correspondences with Sara Maitland's book 'Gossip from the Forest' where she writes about Forest through an incredible frame which manages to hold history, geography, the stoies themselvs, and her own felt sensing of being in forest. It is this book I would like to share more about here as a companion guide to a personal deep-mapping process, and with refernce to her unique, nuanced and very textured understanding of Fairy Story.

Maitland points powerfully to the importance of these strange old stories, in contrast with some of our more modern modern disney-flavoured story-telling lenses:

'We have kept the magical element of fairy stories in modern books for young people...but we have abandoned the immensely reassuring realist element of these old tales: the forests are dangerous but you can survive; use your intelligence and courage and you will come back safely'.

This perspective is all about honoring the instinctual parts of our human being, that somatically know about having our wits about us, and are able to problem solve in a crisis! They also know how to recognise safety as well as danger and to respond accordingly! Incidentally, if this interests you - please do check out this free Soul Shed event later this week about deep-mapping with the instinctual self in collaboration with Takdir Transformation and enneagram teacher Ingrid Hurwitz.

With a love that shines through for the stories themselves, Maitland makes it clear that the collectors who wrote down the stories, (which are from a much earlier narative tradition) such as the brothers Grimm, retold the stories with their own bias. And in her own exploraions, pairing a well-known story with a forest in the UK, she goes on to retell some of them with her own unashamed bias.

Maitland is also illuminating about the stories being inseperable from the places they spring from, and part of a cultural form inseperable from its landscape, even though the themes may be accessible much more widely. There is an intimacy in the way she sees them in their particularity, and in doing so she hands us back our own capacity to be keepers of stories.

In this sense she also echoes the ethos of every Soul Shed event, and especially the online ones: We each come to this creative journeying with our own life stories and from our own unique corners of the world!

Heres a section from her response to Hansel and Gretel. In her sequel the] twins are in their fifties now, and only get together from time to time. This is their remembering back to their time as children in the forest when they got lost and in danger:

'I killed her' [Gretel] says, in the same whispered tone. ‘I killed our witch. I pushed her into the oven and I killed her’.

‘You had to, [Hansel] says’, you had to. She would have killed and eaten me’.

‘Would she Hansel? Would she? I try to remember and it is all like a story. Are they true, the stories? Are they ever true?

‘Sometimes they are true’, he says with great gentleness. She turns and lays her head against his chest; they stand in the sunlit wood and he holds her. ‘Here is a true story. Once upon a time there was a brave little girl; she had a foolish brother, a weak and pathetic father, and an evil cruel stepmother who certainly wanted to kill her. But in terrible fear, in the raging of danger and sadness and terror, she kept her head. She rescued them both. That is a true story’.

‘And the gingerbread house? Really? And a forest that big? We know it is not that big’.

‘I don’t know’ he says. ‘I’ve never known’. But we were away for months and we survived. Perhaps we dreamed the witch, I don’t know; perhaps we made her up so that we had some sort of story to tell. It was such a dark place, a dark time and we were somewhere so bad we had to tell a story to make it bearable, to allow up to come back into the sunshine. That is what the stories are for’.

‘Oh’, she says, ‘thank you’. She pulls away and walks on a little and he follows her, watching her spine move as the weasals’ had, flexible graceful, lovely.

Of course, it is not only Maitland that might take liberties in repurposing these stories - these stories offer us this license too. In making them our own we too can grapple with darkness as well as light – recogise that the canopy of the trees offer us a place to soften into a world where we can both lose ourselves and to find and reclaim parts of ourselves. Here is my SoulCollage card for Hansel - as inspiring reflectio of my own capacity to get out of scrapes over the years!

This coming lunar month our Deep-Mappig theme will change to the Woodland animals. More about this in the mailing that will be with you tomorrow!

If this way of exploring is speak to you, I do hope you will join us for the next SoulCollage event: Explore your inner connection with woodland animals. A SoulCollage®and Deep-Mapping Journey.

And if youre not on the Soul Shed mailing list yet and would like to be – please do join in here.

I look forward to creating with you soon.

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