For years, Beatrice Bowles, practitioner of the ancient craft of storytelling, has been sharing tales from all over the world.
I loved fairy tales and nature myths as a child. Their defense of the sweetness of life against evil forces thrills me still. When my children loved hearing and reading stories in the same way, I became a storyteller.
At my first storytelling conference in New Mexico, Jose Rey Toledo, a Hopi-Tewa artist with long, white braids, stood uhnmoving as he told how Grandfather Sun and Spider Grandmother awoke from a dream and brought the world into being with a song. Then on a long, dangerous journey, Spider Grandmother led the way to three successive worlds in which first spiders and insects evolved into animals and then animals evolved into people. In this fourth world, Spider Grandmother still watches over us, whispering wisoom to guide us away from the four evils–fighting, hating, hoarding, and gambling–and toward happiness. With its vast perspective on nature and human nature, the story astonishes me still. Its timeless and loving wisdom leads us towards survival, and if ignored, towards destruction.
With Jose Rey Toledo’s permission, when telling the story to children, I remind them to listen for Spider Grandmother’s wise little voice, our spark of imagination.
My connection with Spider Grandmother deepened when publisher Malcolm Margolin (Heyday Books, News from Native California) introduced me to writer Darryl ‘Babe’ Wilson, PhD, from the ancient Achomawi culture in the Mount Shasta area. In the Achomawi story, Spider Grandmother and two her littlest children lead the way to survival through cooperation, imagination, and hard work. Then in other long-lasting cultures worldwide, I discovered more spider stories, and they inspired my first storybook, ‘Spider Secrets.’
My upcoming storybook, ‘Spider Grandmother’s Webs of Wonder’ (online & print, late 2019) holds all the fairy tales and nature mythsI I love to tell and have recorded–and why I tell them–in schools and places near and far–from the Silk Road House in Berkeley, Marin Art & Garden Center, Filoli Garden in Woodside, San Francisco Botanical Garden, to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I speak at conferences from the Festival of Faiths in Louisville, KY, the American Horticultural Society in Washington DC, to the Moonluza Conference in Sintra, Portugal. On September 14, 2019, I will perform at the beloved Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park, New York City.
I hold a BA in English and an MFA in Writing for Children from Spalding University in Louisville, and belong to NSN’s Healing Story Alliance. I am a director of the Miranda Lux Foundation, a fellow of the Garden Conservancy and the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawai’i, and a Voting Member of the Grammy’s Recording Academy. I am the first storyteller on Audible.com’s new series for children, ‘StoryParty.’