Telling the Old Stories ~ a Meditation on Nature Myths

by Diane Edgecomb, Sharing the Fire 2016 Workshop Presenter

edgecomb headshotYou don’t often hear, ‘Wow, I heard a really cool nature myth today!’
You probably won’t hear, ‘Did I tell you the one about how the Evergreens came to be?’ at the neighborhood bar.

They may not be the most popular narratives these days but I say that Nature Myths* are the most sorely missed. So much missed that we have forgotten what they once taught us to know.

One thing they taught us is that we belong to the land, as much as if not more than it belongs to us. We lost that sense as the old stories that rooted our imaginations in the landscape were shredded by assimilation and modernization. We have continued to travel further and further from that Eden, from the feeling that we are in a unified place. We are faced more and more with things we do not know how to process, in terms that are alien to our soul. Mythology, revisited and reinvigorated, can still be a deeply orienting narrative. Myths speak in the archetypal language of dreams and meaning, encouraging us to suspend disbelief and to wonder as a child does at the marvel that is our world.

I have worked with nature mythology for all of my life as a storyteller, plumbing its depths for Seasonal Celebrations, Stories in the Landscape, explorations of specific natural elements like trees and flowers and more. What I find is that these old stories always challenge me to think more deeply about a creature or plant or celestial body. When I am outdoors, those tales accompany me – encouraging meditative thoughts on the natural world and revealing each plant or insect in a new way. Sometimes I feel as though surrounding a natural element with a myth is like gifting it with a new perfume!

For me now, these old stories clothe the world, drawing my imagination closely to it. Truth be known, that is why I began the search. Feeling alienated from the natural world when I grew up and stopped building forts and running through the pastureland and became a responsible adult, I wanted more than ever to find a way and a reason to have nature still be my constant companion. Exploring nature myths has been a ‘way’ for me and my wish is to bring my discoveries to others.

Whenever someone says to me after hearing a myth on roses, “I will never see a rose in the same way again.” I know the right chord has sounded. What they mean when they say ‘see’ is ‘experience.’

The Australian Aborigines call the time of myth the Dreamtime. One of their tribes has a beautiful saying: “It’s true that we need the earth, but that is not the whole story. The earth needs us. It needs to hear the laughter of our children. It needs to hear the pounding of feet to the rhythm of the dance and it needs to hear the old stories told in a sacred manner.”

Does the earth need to hear the ancient stories? I say YES, it needs to hear them and so do we need to be tied back to them as we were “in the beginning time.”

We are such an important element of nature. Better weavers than the spiders. Our myths were designed to weave our intangible imagination into the fabric in such a way that we ourselves could be caught in delight, suspended in wonder and meaning.

Can you imagine that?

* By Nature Myths I am referring to ancient stories of origin that tell how elements in nature came to be, including Nature Mythologies where natural forces are personified.

Want to learn more about how nature myths can bring new life to your experience of nature as well as that of our communities? Register for Diane Edgecomb’s workshop, Nature Myths: Sourcing Meaning in the Natural World, at Sharing the Fire on Saturday, April 2 at 3:30.

Learn more about Diane and her work at .

How have nature myths have shaped your life? Leave a comment.



Telling the Old Stories ~ a Meditation on Nature Myths — 5 Comments

  1. Dear Diane,

    such an important issue – the reminder to not forget to not only tell , but hear, immerse oneself, fall in love with these old tales for the sake of our world. thank you for all you do. love, Laura

  2. Well said Diane!

    Nature myths have given me a sense of wonder and belonging, when the wind, or the leaves of an aspen tree, or the colors of a beetle are presented in a tale. It reminds me of the quote from Muriel Rukeyser: “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” Perhaps stories deepen and “make” our experience, our perception of Nature.

  3. Diane,
    I am so happy when I read your blog. After all these years living by the Lake (Cochituate) I believe now that the glacial beginnings, the trees that grow here and later when they’d fall into the lake, gave messages about cycles of change that keeps inspiring me to want nature myth in my life. Time with you in past workshops or walking through tree paths with your stories has definitely given me the sense of wonder and awe. Unfortunately, I will only be at STF on Sunday for Jays telling. Story-poems is meaning so much to me now that I’m taking my extra time and dollars to work further over 9 sessions with Kate Chadbourne and then, hopefully be abel to join my love of myth with my own journey in storytelling again. Thank you so much for your ongoing life-work and love. L.

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