Myths

&

Legends

Viking, Celtic, Arthurian, South American, Ancient Greek, Sumerian, Roman – I love these legends. Because for me, the old tales are like ancient treasure maps: frayed, splotched, slightly illegible and spattered with candlewax: but bursting with adventure, secrets and magic.

They show us that whatever we’re going through – love, loss, betrayal, leaving home, our first big battle – or whatever upheavals are shaking the world – our ancestors have walked those paths before us. And they’ve left their stories behind. Not only to entertain and inform, but to offer comfort and a possible way through. The old tales say: ’We hear you. We’ve been there too.

There are also sites on earth where the curtain between this world and the Otherworlds is thin. Ruins, ancient places of worship, deep woods, wild moorlands, chambers beneath the earth. These are places where legends rise up from the ground and ghosts walk through walls. Sometimes, such a place will share its story with me too. If you’d like to hear one, click on the Faces in the Stone.

‘Storytelling is an essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.’

Tim O'Brien

Want to Hear a Story?

The Making of a Monster Part 1

Words by Nickhola-Susanne La Brooy ©

Photography & video:  Antonia Redding

First 5 lines of poem at end of story:  Meghan Purvis: ‘Beowulf: a New Translation.

This story contains references to adult themes. Parental guidance advised.

‘The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth’ (African Proverb)

Heard of the legend of the monster Grendel and the warrior Beowulf? Sure you have. But have you ever heard the monster’s side of the story? Or his extraordinary mother’s?

Grendel was the ultimate Outsider longing to be let in. Yet he’s always been shown as terrifying, unlovable – the demonic assassin who dined upon men. His mother was described as a fat She-Hag tearing all-comers to shreds in defense of her child. Yet she was not human, had once been royalty and in her youth was more beautiful than the Northern Lights.

Now after 800 years, mother and son are stepping free from the corridors of time. For they have a story to tell. One that you will never find in the ancient manuscripts, search them as you may.

So will you walk with me, legend-seekers? Down to the beach fire on the Viking shore where they both wait? Come. Sit. Listen…judge for yourselves what is true and what is not.

The Making of a Monster Part 2

Words by Nickhola-Susanne La Brooy ©

Photography & video:  Antonia Redding

First 5 lines of poem at end of story:  Meghan Purvis: ‘Beowulf: a New Translation.

This story contains references to adult themes. Parental guidance advised.

The Hare Who Spoke to The Stars

Words: Nickhola-Bradford La Brooy ©

Photography & Video Antonia Redding

Hare painting (minus sunglasses) : Janet Gammans, www.janetg.co.uk

For children 6 yrs+

You may have heard about how the Romans conquered Britain nearly 2,000 years ago? But did you know why they could never take over Wales?

This was down to a Hare who could speak with the stars  (in fact, most of them still can). And a young apprentice Druid who was not very good at his job, and about to be kicked out of the priesthood for incompetence.

What they managed to do together was nothing short of astonishing. The mighty Roman army never knew what hit it…

I said No

(Incorporating ‘Overheard on a Saltmarsh’ by Harold Monro)

Words by Nickhola-Susanne La Brooy ©
Photography & Video: Antonia Redding

 

No is a magic word. No is a power word. No brings a mighty energy to those with the courage to use it. ‘No’ draws uncrossable lines in the quicksands of life. No restores sovereignty and respect instantly, as a lightening strike scorches the earth.

It’s not always easy to say it, though. When was the last time you tried, and somehow it came out as ‘Oh all right then?’ And if so, did that make you feel angry, irritated, or less than you truly are?

I have a story about someone who once said No. It worked out very well for them. Want to hear it? It’s pretty short…

The Wolf that Swallowed the World

(by Nickhola-Susanne, 40 Minutes)

This is the gut-wrenching Viking legend of Fenrir, son of Loki.

Loki was the handsome, brilliant god of trickery and lies. Fenrir became the Wolf who will one day destroy the world – yet the truth was that he had longed for something very different.

The tale’s about many things (including Ragnarok, the forthcoming End of the World). It also feels like its about what can happen if we reject others because we cannot understand them, and therefore fear them.

Fenris has been depicted as the bad guy for the last 10 centuries. This is the first time the story’s ever been told from his point of view.

The Beginning of Dragons

(by Nickhola-Susanne, 40 Minutes)

Those who don’t believe in Dragons are usually first in line to get eaten by one.

This is the story of a little girl called Avilon, who could talk to them. She refused to listen when everyone told her ‘girls can’t fight,’ and grew up to be the first and youngest female captain in the army of King Uther Pendragon, father to Arthur of Camelot.

But first she had to face a wounded Dragon – alone. Her task was to tear off the scaly defences which had grown over his heart, and were stopping him from being able to love.

‘Each rising sun is a gift to all who live. But to be a Dragon is a gift afforded to few. We Dragons know that each day is what you make it, so we have a duty to be Extraordinary. Each day therefore, we must rise with the sun  – and burn! And you Humans? You can do the same.’

The Selkie's Son

To see the magical NEW music & storytelling video of The Selkie’s Son filmed by Tim Harbridge, click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2HmRiN7_pw&t=179s

Have you ever heard of Selkies? The mythical race of celtic seal-beings who could become mortal men and women at will, and were sometimes beloved by humans? 

They never stayed long. Because sooner or later, a desperate hunger to return to the ocean would overwhelm them. Yet love between ordinary people and  Selkies can last until all seas of the world have become desert and the last of the stars goes out. 

This is what happened when a boy from the Scottish Islands – who refused to believe in Selkies – found out that he had one for a mother. 

Faces in the Stone

(Nickhola-Susanne, 40 mins)

Geraldo and Madrigal are a pair of barefoot wildling children living in a village that’s practically falling into the sea, on the far west coast of Ireland.

Disobedient, elusive and curious as Cats, they spend their days roaming the hills until one day they discover they’ve got something extraordinary. The power to fight a shapeless, nameless Evil that’s spreading across the land.

Its draining the sacred springs of Ireland dry, but what it likes best is devouring human souls. Preying on families living in lonely farmsteads and isolated villages, it’s gaining strength as it goes.

It realises that the children are a threat. Unable to kill them, it summons a magus whirlwind to imprison them in a stone. One of several million on the beach they used to play on. Unable to speak or move, they remain trapped for 700 years until they’re found by –

Faces in the Stone Part 2

(Nickhola-Susanne, 40 mins)

– a teenage surfing addict called Kyle, who reckons magic’s rubbish, and Leprecauns an invention of the Irish Tourist Board.

Much against his better judgement, he soon finds himself working with both, to free the children from the stone so they can finish what they started seven centuries earlier.

You think rainbow coldfire, troll farts and dragon snot aren’t real? Or that if you met a deadpan leprechaun at a bustop, you’d just be hallucinating?

So did Kyle. At least, at first

The Descent of Inanna

(Re-telling of 3,000 year old Sumerian legend, 45 mins)

This is the ancient tale of Inanna, goddess of Love and War. She goes down into the Underworld to comfort her sister Ereshkigal, who’s pregnant, and frantic with grief because her husband just died.

To reach the Underworld, Inanna must get past seven Gatekeepers at seven gates. Each demands something. The first takes her crown of power, the second her sacred necklace, the third her silk dress… All swear to return her possessions when she comes back ‘(if you come back’) but the goddess is steadily stripped of everything she thought made her herself.

When she reaches her sister’s throneroom, Ereshkigal strikes Inanna dead for the disrespect of showing up naked, and hangs her sister’s body on the wall.

But the Queen of the Underworld hadn’t bargained on the intervention of two small beings made from mud, tears and the breath of a god. They restore Inanna to the upper world, and she returns in triumph, her beauty and strength more dazzling than ever.

What Women Want

(Re-telling of Arthurian legend, 50 mins)

The truth about What Women Want lies hidden in the legend of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell. He’s the poster boy of the Camelot Court, but she’s more of a wild, one-woman ecosystem than a lady.

Ragnell has Crows nesting in her hair, ivy erupting from her cleavage, a bad temper and plays a barbed-wire mandolin. Gawain’s the ultimate courtly knight in service to the sacred feminine, which meant that he instinctively understands, likes and respects women. All women. And they really (really) like him back…

King Arthur’s in a tight spot: a giant has sworn to behead him if he can’t find out of what all women secretly want. The King’s desperate: he hasn’t a clue. Nor, it seems, has anyone else. Ragnell is the only one who knows. And her price is high. It’s marriage. Marriage to the most popular and gentle knight ever to sit at Camelot’s Round Table.

The Condor & The Hummingbird

(Re-telling of Peruvian legend, 12 minutes)

The Birds of the Air were arguing over who should be their Ruler. Every single one reckoned it should be them. Feathers flew in all direction. The mountains echoed with furious screechings and twitterings.

They decide the only fair way to decide would be to have a race to see who could fly the highest. Whichever bird won was, they felt, would be the most Extraordinary and therefore entitled to be King or Queen.

But the Hummingbird (who feeds on light and honey weighs less than a 2p piece) knew something the others did not. She knew that when Strength and Sweetness come together, nothing can withstand them. And she teaches the mighty Condor a lesson about Being Extraordinary that he will never, ever forget.

The Fatekeeper

(by Nickhola-Susanne, 40 mins)

Long long ago, people had no control over their own destinies. You didn’t like the fate you were born with? Your best friend’s was better, your sister’s was better, hey, even your worst enemy’s was better? Tough.

Because life was controlled by three implacable, immortal sisters: The Three Fates. There was no changing their minds. What’s more, any human who got within a mile of them would be sent packing by Fates’ young bodyguard Arundil, armed with The Sword You Just Can’t Argue With.

Until the day that Arundil himself began to wonder if the system was, well, quite fair? Until the day when he secretly, with help from a tiny Salamander and a blind Mole, did something that changed the lives of humankind forever.