On Sacred Storytelling & Telling Stories Designed To Transform The World

“Do you want to place that rock on my altar?”

“Oh no,” James said. He is my 5 year old nephew.
“Only sacred things go there.
And this is a stone, not a rock.”
I tried to hide my shit eating grin.
The last time James (and his family) crossed the country and visited my home (what I call a circular cabin, he calls a hut) we sat in front of my altar and he and his younger brother handled every feather, bear claw, moose tooth, and stone on my altar.
And now he associates those things with the word sacred.
(I’m an easily thrilled and delighted auntie).
But what is this word…sacred?


I asked facebook the other day what people thought of when they heard the term, sacred storytelling. They came back with images of old native women sitting around a fire.

AKA: Sacred Storytelling is something that happens far from home in the forest in another time. You know...back in the days when people would gather around and listen without interrupting. 
Houston, we have a problem. 

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Let’s examine this word: sacred. When we go to the greek root of the term we’ll find Holy. So it leads us into a conversation about being in relationship with the divine.

Sacred if often understood as a designated place where the divine lives. 

So anything that lives outside of those bounds.....isn't. [??]

Matthew calls sacred a traumatized word. (That caught my attention.)
That we define sacred by what isn't sacred by creating a boundary around it. We take it sacred away ~ abstract it~  build temples for it to live within and be separate from the world you and I live in. 

When I spoke at Google last week about How to Tell Stories Designed to Transform the World, I began by giving each person in the room a red rose (little did I know I was setting myself up to be in a scene straight out of the bachelor).

I looked each  person in the eye, and asked them their intention (for what they wanted to out of the talk).
My friend Day said I was courting them.
I would say I was setting them up to receive. I was bringing them present into the room. Connecting the audience with their heart, and with me, as I listened to their voice, heard their desire, and invited them to connect with their senses (and their body) by smelling the rose. I was subtly inviting them to transition them out of the assumed role of passive audience member into actively engaged listener~ because the listener plays an equal role in the creation of every story. 
In essence, I was setting the stage to experience sacred storytelling. Where the listener knows and trusts that what is being given is being given in the name of creating connection: to the self, to community, to the divine.
By taking the time to develop a connection with the audience, by truly seeing, and naming that each soul in the room has the power to be a creator of a universe through the stories they tell, listen to, and share, we (and that’s what makes storytelling a collective sport), created a place for sacred storytelling.
This can be accomplished on a train, plane, or automobile.
No fires in the woods are needed according to this sacred storyteller.
(But it sure is fun when we gather around a fire and tell stories.)

Upcoming Events:  

April 19th, NYC, Soul Story Circle
This is a private event, message me and I would be happy to invite you. 

Story Coaching
I have two open slots for story coaching.
If you are preparing a speech, honing your skills, developing your presentation style, wanting to do an office training, working on a wedding toast, or refining how you speak about a major life event…lets explore how to use your words and your intention to have the impact you desire.

PS: I told James that stone of his was from the earth, so of course it belongs on the altar. Which is where it now sits. Along with a few other things he found while gallivanting through the woods.

PPS: I send out a "storyletter" every so often with things like this and other cool things worth looking at. Hop on my list if you want that delivered straight to your inbox. 

PPPS: All of those beautiful images were of Andy Goldsworthy's work.