Reflections on ‘Tales of Truthful Enchantment’ written by Steve

“A moment in a story in Maja’s set, before the break, became for me a motif running through Martin’s tales-within-tales in the second half. A retired railway worker covets a gold watch, but when he receives it, sets its time by the stars. Because he always did know the time. Because Nature had taught him. And Martin’s young prince, drawn into Nature’s heart by the forest he wishes to cut down, is taught by it the tales of its true worth. Leaving it, he says ‘I must come back because there is even more to learn.’

We had learnt about Hungary’s treasure-box of folktales from Maja. 30,000 texts, lifted and alive through the work of traditional storytellers, and of those bringing the stories into modern therapeutic and educational situations. Riddles, wisdom, wayward priests and loss made good by music – all threaded through with Maja’s captivating song and lightness of touch. Personal authenticity will out, it’s what people respond to in a storyteller, and healing will follow. This she has learnt in her work with vulnerable people, telling stories ‘with heart’.

Martin told of the forest ‘with heart’. Implicitly he was asking, what are we losing when we let the forests burn? He wove in science, which has given us a fresh vision for the truths these stories have always conveyed. And once again, vivifying the words, was the music of Maja. Martin’s young prince found the heavy woods to be a place of deep magic, food, shelter and metamorphosis. And the trees will take into themselves, and deliver in time, all who become lost, even a girl shot by her lover’s arrow, who becomes a willow.

It seems to me that stories are the way that Nature teaches, the way it rewires the forests in our heads and hearts. From the riddle that flips a neuron, to the narrative of redemption that salves a grieving heart, this night showed us that they are still absolutely potent.”