Storytelling and teachings

Stories we tell ourselves, those we remember, and those we forget, form  the crucible of Dark Mountain’s work. Here at Base Camp we’re delving into time and territory to find and share those stories and songs that make sense of the fragmenting times we live in.


blog-crow-king-and-the-red-bead-woman-yakaghir-woman-chest-sunThe Crow King and the Red-Bead-Woman with Martin Shaw

This wild and delicious Siberian folk tale insists at the very edge of things there is a woman waiting to be wedded to the village, and when she speaks, such is her truth that precious red beads fall from her mouth. These beads are threaded together by the people to make a culture that unites both village and forest.

However, when the bride arrives it is not the Red-Bead-Woman but a Sorceress that belches frogs. In some terrible way the village, hungry for so long for this event, fail to notice the difference.

Over the session we will be asking; what is the difference between seeing and beholding? between comfort and shelter? Between stories that are pastoral and prophetic?

Martin Shaw is a mythologist, storyteller and wilderness rites-of-passage guide. Author of the award-winning A Branch From The Lightning Tree: ecstatic myth and the grace in wildness, he is Director of the Westcountry School of Myth on Dartmoor.


Tatterdemalion with Sylvia Linsteadt

Tatterdemalion is a post-apocalyptic novel rooted deep in the folkloric traditions of Old Europe, and set in a wildly re-imagined Northern California. It was written in a back-to-front manner, and as such, a revolutionary manner, inspired by fourteen paintings by artist Rima Staines.

Sylvia (and co-conspirators) will read from the novel and present some pieces of the world of Tatterdemalion on the Hedgespoken stage, complete with music, in the hopes of welcoming the voices of what David Abram calls the ‘more-than-human world’ into the stories we write and tell.

Sylvia Linsteadt is a writer, artist and animal tracker. She is the creatrix of the stories-by-mail business, Wild Talewort (rewilded tellings of fairytales set in California and sent to subscribers around the world) and author of two books about local Bay Area history and ecology.


IMG_0490Singing the Land with Tamsin Wates, Ben Mali Macfadyen and Darla Eno

Vibrational sound has gathered lives in harmony for as long as Earth has existed.

Tamsin, Ben and Darla are a trio of singers and physical theatre performers who travelled to Upper Svaneti in the Caucasus Mountains where they learnt traditional songs from village elders in the summer 2015. Georgian singers use a non-western scale, warbling between notes as birds do, in a way that cannot be transcribed. Their harmonies are used as a powerful tool to unify communities across difference, harnessing the power of expression to unify in song and heal the soul.

At Base Camp they will offer a space to learn some of their discoveries, to explore the magic of polyphony and joyfully offer human voices back to the song of Embercombe.


hedgespoken testHedge Tales, Road Tales with Tom Hirons and Rima Staines

Hedgespoken is a travelling theatre on a beautiful 1965 Bedford truck with a fold-down stage and a pop-up roof. Rima Staines and Tom Hirons have been telling tales and making art around the Dark Mountain project since 2011 when they first set up their stall of magic and story, bringing woodland art installations, storytelling and workshops on rites of passage. They return in 2016 fresh from a summer on the road, with tales and conversation from their
travels. On Friday night, they bring you, ‘The Castle of Melvales’ an old tale told anew to ignite your imagination and touch your ancient heart.

7822953On Being Human in a More-than-Human World with David Abram

It’s an odd thing, trying to come up with a theme so far in advance, since at any such gathering of big-hearted folks, I’d prefer to let whatever I offer sprout out of the converging strangeness of the moment. Given the rapidity with which the world is morphing these days, I haven’t the foggiest notion who I’m going to be next week, much less in a few dizzy months from now. But still: I reckon I might like to unfurl here some vivid experiences of interspecies encounter and communication, with an ear to what such mind-bending moments of carnal confusion and entanglement reveal about language, about eros, about the intimacy between the human animal and the animate earth.

Most of us camped on the slopes of Dark Mountain intuit that a new shape of the sacred is struggling to be born at this teetering moment on the planet. Many of us are already sculpting various facets of this shape through our creativity and craft.

We intuit that this new/old shape of the sacred has something to do with the muscled intelligence of our dancing bodies, and with the imagination that churns between our bodies and the breathing land. But since your body is curiously different from mine, and since our smooth-skinned bodies are weirdly different from the bodies of spiders spinning their webs, or from the body of an tawny owl hunkered on the branch of an old oak (or from the gnarled flesh of the oak itself, eating the sunlight with its leaves while slurping up water through its roots), so each of us creatures experiences this same biosphere from our own angle, through our unique combination of senses, according to the style of our particular flesh.

How, then, can we speak without flattening this outrageous multiplicity of intersecting intelligences? By what poetics might we give voice to this earth composed of interpenetrating worlds within worlds within worlds? A simple conviction compels us, a kind of animal faith: that we are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.

David Abram, cultural ecologist, storyteller, and geophilosopher, is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology and The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. He recently held the Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and Ecology, at the University of Oslo.