“The Magic Tassels” is in The Write Festival’s Fantastic Stories Anthology
This is one of those fantastic times when an editor contacts you and asks you to submit a story to a festival.
“Are you saying I’ll win?”
No, the editor wasn’t. The editor was asking me to submit a story to a festival.
Because she likes my work and believed it’d be a nice fit.
“Are you one of the judges?”
So what the heck, go for it!
I submitted The Magic Tassels thinking I didn’t have a chance.
Turns out I did.
I received an email that my work was shortlisted.
Then I received an email that it was going to be published.
And you know what?
I’m so glad!
Want to know the story behind the story?
Long ago I studied cultural anthropology/behavioral psychology specifically with indigenous communities and as a participant/observer.
Part of that participant/observerness meant learning what they wanted to teach me. One thing I learned is that there are twelve disciplines (that I know of) within most Shamanic Communities regardless of their location, environment, …
One such discipline is that of StoryKeeper and another is StoryTeller. People confuse the two and StoryKeeping is a different discipline from StoryTelling. Both are extremely important to the people.
StoryTelling is the use of traditional mythologies and related cultural metaphors to guide the people, heal the tribe, remind, teach, et cetera. If you’ve ever been with someone who could hold your attention, cause your imagination to fire, make your heart pound and breath come in gasps while they told a story, you’ve been with someone who, in traditional cultures, would be the people’s StoryTeller. StoryTeller disciplines appear in modern societies as everything from stand-up comics to psychotherapists to engaging lecturers to (ahem) authors.
StoryKeepers and StoryTellers may share a few stories in common and that’s where the similarity ends. StoryKeepers are the living histories of their people. StoryTellers will create new stories based on need, StoryKeepers can’t with a few specific exceptions.
StoryKeepers’ role is to preserve the history, unchanged, from generation to generation while adding each generation’s story to the history of the people. It is no small task and various cultures have methods for developing a memory that blends synaesthetic recall (think “full sensory eiditic memory”) with hyperthymesia, et cetera. Modern studies have shown that these methods make use of neuroplasticity to a high degree and people trained in such disciplines have described “feeling” their brains making new connections.
One thing required of all StoryKeepers is that they create a story that tells of their coming into the tradition. So the two occasions when StoryKeepers add to the people’s history are when they add their own story to the tribe’s tradition and as new historical elements are added (usually with agreement of the people).
“The Magic Tassels” was my addition to one culture’s history when they asked me to become a StoryKeeper of their people.