Rocamadour: Ritual Wanderlust

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have stopped in this gorge on their way through France to the Santiago Di Compostela. There’s a shrine to a Madonna here.

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When we’ve come this far, we may as well keep going along the only street.


Buildings cling to the canyon walls, while a castle crowns the crest.


How do we get up there? Where are we?


Climb more stairs at the castle, past the clock tower which begins to toll the hour. Shakily, step out onto the ramparts to get a better view: a sense of where we are in the world.

DSCF0593Looking down, there’s the Sanctuary with its basilica and chapels. Put one foot in front of the other. Go in and light a candle. Sit. Go back in time. Read the words on a mural ” Aimer, Evangeliser, Servir.” (To love, to proclaim, to serve.) Sit still in the space.


Later, we followed the sheltered path, down past the 14 Stations of the Cross, where millions have walked before.  We talked of history and how fortunate we are to live now.


I’ve taken a while putting this post together. ‘Wanderlust’ doesn’t seem the right word to me. I’m more of a WanderLuck person.  Now, especially with my camera, I notice good fortune more that ever.

When I was travelling in 88, setting out as a storyteller for the first time, I was given a copy of an Armenian story by New York storyteller Diane Wolkstein. She wanted me  to write it out again in my own way. It felt like a test. I did a fearfully poor job of it then. Years later I realised what a significant tale it is.


Here’s a shortened version of what I read then in Virginia Tashjian’s collection “One There Was And Was Not.” Like most stories, it’s so much better told, face to face –

One there was and was not, a man who walked off in a temper one morning to find God. He was a poor farmer who’d struggled all his life. He wanted to tell God, once and for all how unfair his life had been.

On the way he met a ravenous, skinny wolf who wanted him to ask God why he was always so hungry, then a beautiful, rich woman, who was so lonely and next, a huge tree by a riverbank withered and thirsty. Each listened to his complaints, without judgement, and requested that he ask a similar question of God on their behalf. The man agreed and went on his way.

He met God sitting on a rock in the middle of nowhere. The man asked for answers for those three he’d met on the way. When God heard his complaint, he agreed with the fellow and gave him the gift of luck.

On the journey back, the man reiterated the solution to each character as he had been told … but was in too much of a hurry to dig up the treasure choking the tree roots and rejected the rich woman’s proposal. He had to get back home for he had been given the gift of luck.

And the wolf’s god-given solution ? ” Soon he would meet a very foolish man and once he had devoured him, only then would his hunger be truly satisfied!”

(I’ll leave you to imagine the ending.)

Thanks for your time.

All text and photos by Meg©2017

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.




Learning to tell stories

As a storyteller I have some well-used books.


Here are some that I’ve found useful in developing my skills as a teller. Many  are out of print. Try your local library / online or second-hand book stores.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading and telling stories to learn, see, hear and feel how it works. I’ve also put myself in the way of events that would make a good story to tell – you know what I mean? But that’s another story.

IMG_1876Simple, clear guidelines in a booklet Mem Fox, Australian author and drama tutor,  put out years ago.


A classic collection of folktales from Haiti,with descriptions of the local teller, how they told the story, and how the audience reacted.  There was a new edition of this published recently.


The first book I ever read about storytelling. Well – worn.


Handy list of recommended stories, eg for girls. It was from USA, compiled by Nancy Schimmel.


A friend went to a workshop run by Anne Pellowski (also from the US) and came away inspired.


I attended a workshop with Norma Livo (USA) when she was over here. Broad in scope, academic and analytical – heavy,  but full of gems.


I often dip into this book when I’m working on a fairy tale.


I need to read more of this. In a recent Story Slam I was put on the spot – having to tell a personal story about Love just 5 mins long!

IMG_1865Alida sets out an interesting approach to creating social change and building community using certain stories.


This psychiatrist has selected tales for a particular age group and provides an analysis of each of the 20 stories.


I have met Margaret Read Macdonald often since 1988 and she’s an authority on stories and storytelling. During her PhD, she researched and created The Storyteller’s Sourcebook – a reference book indexing folktales & variants. Since then she has written lots of books about storytelling and stories.


 There are lots of books written about storytelling in school, or storytelling and teaching. This one was just published in the USA last year

Please feel free to suggest other titles about the art of storytelling which you have found useful. This one was first published in 1915 and set the ball rolling for storytelling in public libraries.

IMG_1870All these titles are in my personal library and part of my continuing study as a professional storyteller.


All text by Meg ©2014

Story Twigs the Imagination!blog by Meg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.