Susan Perrow and the Healing Power of Storytelling

In this latest guest post writer C. East discusses the power stories have to heal.

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 This morning I listened to an interview with Susan Perrow on 702 ABC (Australia) ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler’. Perrow is a passionate writer, storyteller, teacher trainer and parent educator. Listening to her tell her life and career stories inspired me to tell others about this incredible talent and her unique work. She’s known as a ‘Therapeutic Storyteller’ and believes in the healing power of stories.

Stories have been an integral part of humanity’s existence, probably since we could produce intelligent speech, to communicate in oral tradition; knowledge, wisdom, belonging, danger, safety, hope and many more, which have enabled us to survive and thrive long before modern times.

Some indigenous people’s use the oral tradition of storytelling otherwise known as; ‘dreaming/songlines’ to First Nations people in Australia. For First Nations people of Australia they used storytelling to teach each generation the lines they would walk as nomadic people, where to find water, hunt for food, sacred places, healing places and their own laws and culture.

In a modern context, storytelling is just as vital to our existence, surviving the rigors & stressors of modern times and thriving in these circumstances, requires more joy and hope perhaps than ever before.

There are stories for; explaining death to children, giving hope to adults & children alike, encouraging imagination & learning, and stories to distract from our busy, fast-paced, stressful lives. Slowing down to read a book, is a simple pleasure which most people can enjoy.

Towards the end if the interview Pellow detailed the power of storytelling in one tale as she briefly recounted an opportunity given to her by Norway, after the bombing in Oslo & mass shooting at a summer youth camp in Utøya in 2011, when 77 were killed, 69 of those youths and 319 injured by Anders Behring Breivik.

Norway asked her to write a story for children ranging from primary school age through to high school age, it was to be read on the children’s first day back at school since the attack over the summer, they wanted a story to instil hope in the children after what had happened, as every child in Norway would have been privy to what had occurred. It was a big responsibility and Perrow didn’t feel adequate for the task, but did some research anyway, which sparked the idea.

She came across information on the marches the Prime Minister of the day organized for every major city to march with roses, citing “we are going to answer hatred with love”. And so they did, every person from children and babies to 80 year olds participated, they marched together each carrying a single red rose, which were carried through the streets and then left in the town squares.

She also discovered that Norway has a royal family and castles, the whole fantastical ideal for a fairy-tale story.

Perrow said she had a vision of a rose, a rogue thorn and falling petals, so combining this and the Norway culture of royalty, “The Rose and the Thorn” was born.

Teachers read the story to children and children started their school year not in fear or grief, but in hope. Teachers said children drew pictures of the story and spoke about it, it was exactly what was intended and shows how the right story, at the right time can give you what you need to be happy, to be healed, to change your mindset, and perhaps even your life.

You can listen to Susan Perrow conversation with Richard Fiddler here:

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-susan-perrow/8495006

More about Susan Perrow can be found on her webpage:

http://susanperrow.com/about/

 

WFTSC Chapter 2

Book 1 of the Sundered Crown Saga- Heir to the Sundered Crown can be bought here http://authl.it/3hw

SunGuard

Luxon watched the bustling city below. The people looked like ants as they scurried back and forth and from his high vantage point from the top of the King’s spire, they even looked the same size as the tiny tenacious insects. He had only visited the rebuilt palace twice in the past five years, once to visit the King and the other at the behest of Caldaria’s Grandmaster.

During his first visit, the spire had only been half-complete and on his second, the final additions had been hastily made. The spire towered over SunGuard to offer spectacular views of the huge city below and the expanse of countryside outside the high walls. On the horizon, he could just make out the outline of the distant seaside city of Kingsford and if he stood on a balcony on the opposite of the tower, he would have been able to see the clear calm waters of the Ridder River. He stepped back from the railing he was leaning on and stretched his back. He had been waiting for over an hour and his patience was wearing thin.

“You sure you don’t want some of this pie?”

Luxon smiled as he turned and walked back inside. On one of the waiting rooms, ornately decorated chairs sat his best friend. Yepert had grown taller in the past few years but his waistline was still wide. Food would always be his passion.

“Maybe later,” he replied as he sat down on another of the rooms dozen or so pieces of furniture.

“You would have thought the council would offer you some respect and not keep us waiting for so long. I mean you’re a wizard and the hero of Eclin,” Yepert said through mouthfuls of blueberry pie. His mouth was already covered in the blue fruits juices.

Luxon ran a hand through his sandy blonde hair and blew a raspberry in exasperation.

“Only a few people call me that Yepert, most just blame me for what happened. If it weren’t for me there would be no dragons terrorising the Western lands or Fell beasts marauding unchecked throughout the realm,” he sighed.

For a brief moment in time, Luxon had been hailed a hero for his actions at Eclin. Together with his friends and the brave men of Balnor, he had defeated the dark wizard Danon and saved the boy who now sat upon Delfinnia’s throne. It had not taken long however before his name was used with scorn and anger. The tear, which had opened upon Luxon and Danon’s escape from the void, had unleashed countless Fell beasts and other long forgotten horrors onto the world. He was snapped out of his thoughts by his friend.

“Lux, you ok?” Yepert asked.

Luxon looked at his friend; his right hand was shaking uncontrollably. He grabbed it with his left and willed it to be still.

Not now!’ he thought.

“I’m fine…”

Yepert looked at him unconvinced.

“It’s just stress…” he added.

“What’s happening out there is not your fault. The whole mess could have been cleared up if the council had allowed the mages to leave Caldaria and aid the Nightblades in hunting down the Fell beasts,” Yepert replied.

Luxon’s hand stopped shaking, he was about to offer a retort, when a tall woman wearing a blue velvet dress approached them. She was one of the city’s noblewoman charged with overseeing the kingdom’s administration and civic affairs. The sapphire pendant around her delicate neck was the badge of her office. She was young, no older than twenty at a guess. She smiled politely at the two magic users. Luxon frowned slightly as he could see in the woman’s eyes that she was nervous around them.

“The council will see you now Master Edioz. I’m afraid your friend will have to stay outside however as the Barons…well, the barons aren’t comfortable having two spell casters in the chamber at once,” the woman said nervously.

Her eyes moved quickly between the two young men. Yepert wore the long blue cloak of a mage whereas Luxon wore green, the colour of a wizard. The cloak had been dusty and in need of repair when the mages finally found it hidden away in Caldaria’s stores. With no wizard seen in the kingdom for a century the etiquette of how to treat Luxon had been confused at best.

Yepert rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath.

“You go on ahead Luxon; I’ll just sit here and finish my pie. Wouldn’t want my mighty powers to scare those brave lordlings too much now would we,” he said his tone dripping with sarcasm. He flashed the woman a smile before settling back into his pie.

The noblewoman bowed slightly an uncertain look on her face.

“If you would follow me,” she said before hurriedly leaving the waiting room.

Luxon took a deep breath and followed her out of the room. The woman led him along a corridor that spiralled upwards. Lining the marble walls were large arched windows, which offered more stunning views of the city below. As they went higher, Luxon could see as far as the distant Eclin Mountains to the far northeast. Memories of the terrible battle in the now destroyed city of Eclin flashed into his mind. The bodies scorched by dragon fire and those rendered asunder by the claws of the un-dead. He shook his head to get the memories out of his mind. Since that day whenever he found himself alone, a dark mood would threaten to overwhelm him. It was at those times that memories of his time trapped in the void would try and surface in his mind.

“Everything alright?” said the woman. A look of genuine concern and perhaps a little fear was on her face.

Luxon looked down and noticed that he was gripping the marble handrail that ran along the corridors side. His knuckles were white. Slowly he opened his hand and stared at it for a moment.

“Master Edioz?”

He looked at the woman. For a brief moment, she looked like his mother before her features reverted to those of his now ashen faced guide.

“I’m fine. I’m sorry…please lead the way,” he said giving her a poor attempt at a smile. Hesitantly she turned away and continued up the corridor.

Do they really fear us that much?’ Luxon thought.

He had heard the stories filtering in from across the kingdom of magic users being attacked. Now that he had witnessed the looks of fear and mistrust for himself, he knew that the stories were likely to be true.

Finally, they reached the towers highest level. A large foyer was decorated with statues and exquisite pieces of art. The windows on this floor were taller than a man and instead of the glass being clear it was stain glassed. Images of Delfinnia’s kings and heroes adorned the panes.

The noblewoman stopped in front of a pair of large oak doors. Two members of the King’s legion stood guard on either side their silver armour contrasting with the purple of their tunics. At their hips hung short stabbing swords and in their hands they held a long spear and large oval shields adorned with a silver background and the image of a golden sword, the badge of King Alderlade.

They too gave Luxon an unpleasant look as they opened the doors. The woman bowed politely before hurrying off back down the spiralled corridor.

Luxon braced himself, held his head and walked into the council chamber. A large circular table made of serpentine was in the centre of the oval room. Twelve high backed chairs were placed around its circumference. To Luxon’s surprise, only two of the chairs were occupied.

Why the long wait if there is no one here to see me?’ he thought in annoyance.

His nerves eased slightly as he recognised one of the men who were in the middle of a heated debate with the tables other occupier. Of the child, King there was no sign. The men stopped their hushed argument as they noticed him standing in the doorway.

The elder of the two stood and walked over to Luxon. He still moved with a limp. A broad smile was on Davik’s face, but his eyes gave away his tiredness. The man had fought at Eclin and had held the title of King’s regent for the last five years. His rule had been anythingbut easy, as dealing with the aftermath of Danon’s return had tipped the realm into chaos.

“It is so good to see you my lad. I apologise for making you wait for so long. I trust you and Yepert are well?”

Luxon smiled back; there was no fear or distrust in Davik’s eyes. The other man in the room however regarded him with barely concealed loathing. The man stood and cleared his throat.

“Introduce us Davik. Long have I wanted to meet the wielder responsible for the kingdoms woes.”

Davik frowned. ‘Sorry’ he mouthed to Luxon. Reluctantly he gestured to the man.

“Luxon Edioz. This is Ricard, the baron of Champia.”

Ricard was a tall man. He wore a tunic of black felt lined with gold. His grey eyes shone with intelligence and his neatly trimmed short black hair and beard made him look dashing. The baron of Champia was the King’s uncle and was well renowned for his prowess on the battlefield; his hatred for magic users was also famous.

“I have told you time and again Ricard that Luxon was not responsible for the destruction of Eclin and all that has followed. If anything, he could help us,” Davik added angrily.

Ricard scoffed.

“Davik, your fondness for wielders is well known, but even you cannot deny that since that day this realm has been in chaos,’ Ricard replied shortly. The baron pointed at Luxon;“this boy may be a wizard, but the realm would be a far better place without his kind constantly endangering us all, Danon is free because of him.”

Davik shook his head in exasperation. Luxon felt an anger rise in his chest. He knotted his hands into fists; it took all of his willpower stay in control.

“Sadly I have pressing business elsewhere, so I will leave you two in peace. I’m sure we will meet again…wizard,” Ricard said. With a mocking bow, he turned on his heel and left the chamber.

“I am sorry Luxon,’ Davik said gesturing to one of the vacant seats. Luxon sighed and sat down.

“I had no idea how bad things were getting outside of Caldaria, I’ve lost count of the number of people who have looked at me and Yepert with fear in their eyes,” Luxon replied sadly.

Davik sat heavily in one of the other chairs. He reached into his tunic and pulled out an envelope, which he then slid across the table’s shiny surface.

“It’s worse than you know. This arrived this morning penned by the hand of our mutual friend Ferran of BlackMoor. I fear that magic users will not be safe. Attacks have increased and now even Nightblades are feeling the wrath of the mob. Luckily, Ferran escaped, but the village of Resden was lost to Fell beasts.”

Luxon’s stomach knotted as he read the letter.

Davik rubbed his eyes with his fingertips. His time as regent had been a disaster. It had been a role he had never wanted and one that he was never trained to do. He was a warrior; he preferred a straight fight to all the intrigues of politics. Ricard however, was better at the game of Kingship; Davik could feel his grip on the council slipping through his fingers. Even the eight-year-old king was falling away from his influence.

“I may be losing control, but at least I can offer you some positive news, and tell you why I summoned you to the capital,” He said with a weary smile.

Luxon put down the letter. Excitement filled him.

“Do you have news?” he asked, some enthusiasm returning to his voice. He had lost hope of finding his mother.

Naively he had hoped to find her after the crowning of the King but quickly he had discovered that she had hidden her trail well. Luxon’s mother had been a source of mystery throughout his life. She had answers to questions he had to know.

“A strange woman was spotted at the gates of the fortress of the Watchers. The woman apparently wanted to pass through the gates and enter the Great Plains. The King’s legion commander on duty tried to stop her, she…resisted,” Davik explained.

“Magic?” Luxon asked.

Davik nodded in the affirmative.

“Six legionnaires were left unconscious but unharmed, and the fortresses gates had been forced open. The commander sent riders out to find her, but after a few hours of searching they were forced to turn back after coming under attack by one the plains tribes.”

Luxon sat back in his chair and stroked his chin.

“What makes you think it was my mother? Perhaps it was a witch fleeing persecution or perhaps a rogue mage?” he asked. His mind raced. Why would his mother have travelled so far to the southwest? Why now?

“The commander said she had an emblem on a brooche about her next. He drew a sketch…”

Davik pulled another piece of paper from his tunic’s pocket and passed it to the wizard. On it was a rough sketch of a golden serpent upon a blue background.

“The sigil of the Diasect,” Luxon’s blue eyes widened as he recognised the image.

He quickly stood from his chair, the paper gripped tightly in his hand. Years of dead ends, now he had a solid lead. Finally, he had a place to start. He would travel to the Watchers, he would traverse the vast Great Plains and he would find his mother and get the answers he sought. Davik stood too and held his hand up.

“Before you go Luxon I must ask something of you. Do you remember the sigil stone we retrieved in Eclin?”

Luxon paused. The last time he had seen the stone was on the day of the king’s coronation. When he had touched it, visions of war, and a sword shining brightly in the darkness had burned into his mind.

“I do,” he answered warily. The visions still appeared in his dreams.

“King Alderlade wants answers. I want answers. According to Esma, his guardian, his highness dreams every night of the stone. In fact, he dreams of it so often that he rarely sleeps through the night. She grows concerned about his health,” Davik said pacing the room nervously.

“I have caught him staring at it for hours in the royal vaults. Whatever it is, its grip over the boy seems to be growing stronger.”

“Perhaps my mother will have some answers. From what I’ve learnt in my research of the sigil stone the Diasect was charged with hiding it away,” Luxon said thoughtfully. The answers they both sought were with his mother. Now all he had to do was find her, and that would not be easy.

***

Copyright 2015 M.S. Olney

 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

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WFTSC Chapter 1

Book 1 of the Sundered Crown Saga- Heir to the Sundered Crown can be bought here http://authl.it/3hw

1.

The girl whimpered as the jeering crowd roared its hatred towards her. Men, women and even children she had grown up with, all were there, all with hate in their eyes and vile words pouring from their mouths. She cried out as strong hands shoved her forward, the force of the blow sending her crashing to the mud-filled street, which wound its way through the village and led to an ominous wooden scaffold. Her white dress was now covered with mud and filth.

“Keep moving witch,” the guardsman growled. With one hand, he violently grabbed the girl’s golden hair and hauled her back onto her feet. In his other hand, he held a long spear, which he used to shove back those in the crowd who drew too close. Behind him were other guards, a dozen in all and each escorted similarly terrified people.

Rotten fruit and excrement flew from the screaming crowd to pelt the pitiful prisoners. Some tried to shield their faces; others simply took the extra insult. Finally, the sad procession reached the scaffold, a dozen nooses hanging from the wooden frame.

The guards roughly shoved their charges into place behind each of the hoops. One terrified man pleaded with the baying crowd. Another pissed himself. Fear was evident in the air. Once all of the prisoners were lined up and stood on square wooden blocks, a large man with a black hood upon his head stepped up onto the scaffold. Upon seeing the executioner the crowd’s cries grew more excited, they knew that death was fast approaching.

The hangman stood silent. He raised his arms into the air to quiet the crowd. The guards formed a line in front of the gallows their spears pointed outwards towards the increasingly excited mob. A tall man adorned in a long leather coat and purple coloured trousers stepped forward from the sidelines. His long gaunt face was fixed with a long bony nose, thin lips and cruel grey eyes. A wicked smile creased his lips as he stared at the pitiful prisoners. The magistrate had long ruled the village with an iron fist.

“Behold! Here stand those who have deceived us all. Those wretches who made you believe that they were just like us. These villains have broken the sacred law; the wretches have hidden their wicked powers from us and the eyes of Niveren. Magic users brought doom upon Eclin, they brought doom upon the world!” the magistrate shouted above the roars of the crowd.

“Under the laws of our King, Alderlade the First you are all sentenced to die!”

The man gestured to the hangman. The prisoners screamed in terror as one by one the hooded man kicked awaythe blocks. The first to die was the blonde haired girl; the snap of her neck could be heard above the crowd’s shouts. As the executioner reached his last victim, the yells had stopped as the horror of it all sunk into the minds of the villagers.

Women wept and the men stared on, white faced and ashamed.

The final prisoner stared out over the crowd his shoulder length black hair hanging loose over his shoulders and the rope about his neck. A scar ran down his right cheek. His brown eyes stared at the crowd. To the people’s surprise, the man chuckled.

“Something funny worm?” the tall man snarled.

The condemned man’s chuckle turned into a mocking laugh. He turned his fierce gaze upon the magistrate.

“You’re all going to die you fool. Whilst you wasted time arresting magic users the Fell beasts that I have spent the past week hunting have entered your village, you have condemned me Ferran of BlackMoor, the only man who can save you from death. I find that ironic and amusing,” Ferran replied humourlessly.

A scream came from the rear of the crowd. Quickly another sounded and then another. Soon the villagers began to push and surge forward towards the scaffold. Over the panic the sounds of came unearthly roars. The magistrates face drained of colour.

“Cut me free you fool, or this whole village will be destroyed, and bring me the items you stole from me. I’m going to need them to save your wretched hides,” Ferran snapped.

The magistrate stared in horror as a pack of snarling beasts appeared down the muddy street. Squat brown creatures stalked their way towards the scaffold. Their long talons holding an assortment of iron weapons, saliva dripped from their fang-filled jaws. Upon their heads, the creatures wore material stained with the blood of their victims, which gave them their name of Redcaps.

The magistrate bellowed at the hangman who was holding an axe in his large hands, the man’s fear was evident even through his thick black executioner’s hood.

“Free him! Cut him down hurry!” the magistrate yelled his voice filling with panic. One of the goblin like creatures had cornered a petrified woman against the scaffold and was advancing menacingly towards her.

The hangman swung his axe, the blade slicing clean through the rope tied above Ferran’s head.

Ferran sighed in relief as the pressure eased about his neck. Angrily he removed the knotted material from his throat and threw it to the ground.

“My affects if you please magistrate,” he demanded, holding his hand out to the terrified man.

“Here take your things! If you get rid of these beasts I will spare you I promise!” the magistrate pleaded as he handed Ferran a sack containing his valuables.

Ferran tipped the contents of the sack onto the ground, sighing in relief as he saw the hilt of his Tourmaline sword. The magic item was the weapon of all Nightblades. When inactive it looked just like the hilt of an ordinary sword minus the blade, but activated by the power of a Nightblade a bright blade of pure magic came into life. It was a weapon made to fight dark magic, and nothing was darker than the Fell beasts of the Void.

The hangman turned and fled pushing the magistrate to the ground in the process. The tall man scrambled about in the mud in a desperate attempt to regain his footing. Before he could regain his balance, a snarling Redcap leapt onto his back. The magistrate screamed as the beast plunged its dagger like teeth deep into his neck.

Ferran simply watched. As far as he was concerned the magistrate was getting what he deserved, he was the murderer of innocent men, women and children. He was a man who ordered the deaths of people simply because they were different.

After a brief struggle, the magistrates pitiful cries stopped and the Redcaps gorged themselves on his flesh. Slowly Ferran moved away from the horrific scene and jumped from the scaffold. There were too many Redcaps for him to fight alone. This village was doomed and he was not sad to see it be so.

Using the skills of his trade, he sneaked out of the village doing his best to ignore the pitiful screams of the folk who had moments before being lusting for his death.

He ran from the chaotic scene jumping over a low fence to reach the open fields beyond.

Ferran refused to look back. The smell of smoke drifted on the breeze as the monsters torched the doomed village.

***

Copyright 2015 M.S. Olney

 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

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