On this page you will find UNFAMILIAR stories that I have found in my years of perusing ancient and medieval literature. Many of the old stories contain a message for us living in the midst of a pandemic in the divided 21st Century. Where is there hope? In my telling these stories I hope to create a space for reflection and contemplation. My aim is to create a place for you to listen to find a space for inward connection - to connect the dots within yourself. Stories help us get at that space. They are important because they help us get at hard to talk about subjects - loneliness, fear, change, sadness and the possibilities of growth. The right story heard at the right time can have profound impact. Once we open up, we can hear things we didn't know we could hear. Stories "juxtapose us" within ourselves so that a new awareness can happen. Inwardly, we see. This page is my attempt to carve out that space for you - I share them because I have found this a helpful practice for me. It's why I so believe in the power of these old stories. I hope you find time to carve out a place for yourself to listen. JB
1. Pygmalion and Galatea 10:54
This story is from Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY. It is an ancient myth told originally by Ovid. It is a tale that addresses the perpetual struggle which men have in addressing the feminine aspect in themselves. Ovid internally weaves deep psychoanalytic truths which evoke the struggle men have with what Jung called the "anima" - the feminine aspect in every man. If this story was heard at a young age, when boys were beginning to notice how beautiful girls were, much of the suffering in our day, that involves the suffering men experience in their hunger for pornography and in their tendency to "objectify" women, might be alleviated. Of course, it could be said that any quest for the beautiful is really an internal one. In a materialistic world, we have made it an external one. Ancient wisdom addresses much of the pain and suffering which we in the 21st century now experience. Both men and women. Our pain, many times, turns us to stone. And it's not until the "stone-like" quality is addressed, that we can find our deeper, beautiful humanity. That is what Ovid's tale addresses. That's what I think anyway. Please leave your reflections below. JB
2. The Three Snake Leaves 13:08
There's no question that relationships go through phases. Sometimes one person must help another person through a difficult time - that is ultimately related to their growth and becoming - as individuals and a couple. The power of love, as portrayed in this story, is the power that aids us in our personal growth and transformation. But intimate relationships can, though at one time well intended, find moments where each partner questions the relationship's legitimacy. Darkness and doubt occur. Decisions are made that either further the growth of the relationship or cut it off completely. This story reveals the shadowy fear of death when it comes to going through hard times in our love relationships. The shadowy theme of death - the ultimate truth - bears intensely in this story, and though metaphorical, gives those who listen a chance to contemplate their denial or acceptance of death reality. The old storytellers of the medieval world were wise and forthright in their counsel. They minced no words. "Die before you die" echoes in this story. And for good reason. If you don't embrace death (and growth) your reward for betraying life's death processes will be your final destiny. There is no escaping death - and thankfully, life gives us many moments in our relationships to learn of both its horror and its sweetness. Please leave your reflections below. JB
3. The True Sweetheart 13:48
The True Sweetheart Part 1
Do you ever feel like the odds are stacked up against you? Do you ever have the experience of people hoping that you fail? One of the complaints that I have heard so many of my friends say is that for some reason, even though they have accomplished so much, they just don't feel "good enough?" One of the psychological handicaps we have as a result of living in the world overrun by technology and digital distraction is the feeling like we've just not made it. Others seem to have made it better, or "more," than we have. This gnawing feeling is something that I think lives deep in the unconscious shadow. Restlessness, impatience and frustration with what we think is in the outside world, may indeed be a deficit we feel deeply within, that, no matter how our circumstances would change, would just lay there laughing at us. Now, the mystery is that sometimes in order for us to finally find a sense of satisfaction in life, we must learn to rest and let the energy that's already there take over. Profound it is to me that this experience of never being good enough is a theme that haunts those in the medieval world also - how do I know that? Well, one storyteller whom Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm met in the forest, told a story which addressed the feeling of not being good enough - and that the forces "outside" were against one. Those who suffer from the straight jacket of perfectionism might benefit if they listen to this story - told long ago. JB
4. Ferdinand the Faithful 20:07
Come from poverty? Rags to riches story? It's not what you think. This story points to an interior poverty at the beginning and works it's way out throughout. What if we have no "internal support" from the beginning? Parents are poor - even godfather - "the link" "the inner bridge to the self" is broken or, in this case "poor" - and has nothing to give. This story is another case in point where the storyteller addressed the issue of bad parenting and unfortunate beginnings - and that, just because that was the case - to let listeners know all was not lost. With a bad beginning, how can you expect a good outcome? After such a rough beginning, this story has the main character (the victim of circumstances) learning all the way through about his abilities. This poor beginning, I think, manifests later in the story as our character's opposite - wonderfully illustrated! Jung called this the shadow. The shadow shows up clearly in this story - which is at least 500 years old. The utter despair out of which this story develops (I'll give you nothing, you'll give me nothing) to the appearance of the gift at the "end" (from the wild) describes the inner journey to self-discovery. "I may be poor, but I am rich." Most people chase riches because they are poor and as a result their character suffers. In LIFE most people don't realize that they are in the process of running from, escaping from their own shadow. This story pleasantly redeems the place and honors the place of the shadow (our past story) throughout. This story makes it plain to see. This story promotes the working out of something, the slow process of realization, that sometimes is a total surprise at the end. It will surprise us if we are "faithful" to follow it - Joseph Campbell called it "bliss." This, to me, is what Ferdinand discovered at the end. His wild self is at the same time his sovereign self, royal, self. At 14 he discovers the magic - the white (pristine) energy - has reserved for him. Just amazing to me that the old medieval storytellers knew how to address the shadow. This story is evidence.
More stories are on the way!