Telling one’s own story is an ancient art. Nowadays, we have forgotten how to listen and how to tell. Yet the very survival of our species depends on our ability to communicate with each other in such ways as to be mutually enriched by the telling and the listening. If we cannot tell with expression, our life is mute. If we cannot listen like a mirror, we cannot reflect back the wholeness of the four shields -- the body, soul, mind and spirit of the teller. The best stories are about human nature -- that is, the human of us which is, after all, nature in her basic manifestations as physical, psychical, rational, and spiritual. One of the best ways to create a four shields story, if not the best, is to put people in contact with nature in the raw.
What comes forth in the story is the stuff of self-transformation. Even as we “myth” ourselves into experience, so we express ourselves into existence. Our stories about our natural selves, and our means of expressing them, lead us to courage, determination, commitment, hope, wisdom, and the will to survive, to transcend the difficulty, to go beyond ourselves. Those of us who work with people must know how to listen and respond to the stories our people tell, so that we can help them create a life that is deeper, richer, and of greater benefit to our community and the earth.
We will meet together in outdoor settings. Mornings will be taken up with meetings, afternoons with solitary excursions into the surrounding wilderness that evoke the four personas. Trainees will forgo companionship, food, and shelter during these times. In the evenings, we will tell and listen to stories that empower. The objectives of the seminar are to experience human-nature deeply; to elicit personal “mythos” through the expression of the story; to acquire knowledge of how to listen and respond to the four personas of human nature (to “mirror”), and to utilize a powerful incorporation tool of self and group empowerment -- the “elder’s council.”
The telling of stories, like singing and praying, would seem to be an almost ceremonial act, an ancient and necessary mode of speech that tends the earthly rootedness of human language. For narrated events always happen somewhere. And for an oral culture, that location is never merely incidental to those occurrences. The events belong, as it were, to the place, and to tell the story of those events is to let the place itself speak through the telling. David Abram