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“All of the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” As You Like It, Act II, scene iv, William Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare’s words hold more truth than fiction, in my experience. We’re all telling tales and living them every minute of our lives. We’re more than bit players in the stories of others, though. We’re the stars of our own stories, and often important supporting actors in the stories of our friends, family, sometimes even in the tales of strangers.

With Spider’s help, it’s possible to make transformative changes to the stories you live every day. I call this technique Story Spinning. It involves identifying the part of the story you’d like to change, recognizing and acknowledging it, and writing a new passage that changes you and your story in fundamental ways.

When Story Spinning, it’s important to be willing to let go completely of the old story the way a fly caught in a spider’s web lets go of its old life. It’s Big Work to spin a new tale. It can feel like death. Sometimes it seems to rob you of bits of yourself you’d thought essential to your being. In the end, though, it breathes new life into you and inevitably offers you something far more valuable than whatever you gave up in the process.

I’ve practiced Story Spinning for myself and for others. The biggest bit of advice I can offer to those who wish to try it is to surrender to the process. This is transformation at its most fundamental level. Don’t fight it, try to steer or control the change, or try to hang onto anything. Relax. Witness. Experience. Let Go. Let Spider change your life and you might be surprised at the beauty and magic of your new tale.

Spider came to me one day. He asked me to tell you this:

“For a very long time, I spun my web and I practiced spinning and weaving stories. Many times over, I spun tales. So many stories I spun I lost track of them, but I didn’t care because I loved creating them.

spider“One day as I strolled through a frosted field spinning a winter’s tale, I spied a Buck. He was weeping near a small creek where ice cold water trickled across rocks dark as a winter’s night.

‘What’s wrong, my friend?’ I asked.

‘I miss the company of my sisters, mothers and daughters,’ he said.

“I saw his story. It had been woven long, long ago. When he’d still been young, he’d spent the cold months in the peace and safety of the Does’ herd. The Does wintered in a sheltered valley fed by a warm spring. When he became a buck and grew his antlers, he’d been turned out. A Buck with those sharp antlers cannot slip through the tight undergrowth that protects the valley where the Does spend winter without leaving a huge hole behind him. His antlers would endanger the peace and safety of the herd. So, he was left to wander alone through the cold months until the Doe’s return in spring.

“I offered to help him spin a new version of his story, one in which he would make a payment in trade for safe passage into the valley of the Does each winter. He happily agreed, and to this day all Bucks shed their antlers in the winter.

“This is how I came to use my story spinning skills to help the People.”

Story Spinning is a fiction-writing technique I use for personal transformation. It accesses a variety of Shamanic Realms and encompasses art forms beyond writing. Sometimes, it requires some essay, creative memoir, or non-fiction writing, but the bulk of the work is done in fiction.

To Spin a Story:

  1. Write the story as a work of fiction. It doesn’t have to be elegant or literary prose. It’s just gotta hold the patterns and details that are most important. Often, Dream Work or Journey Work fuels the story, so it’s good to let go and let the words flow without worrying much about whether it’s any good.
  2. Let the story stand awhile. Let it play in your mind, recede into your background, rest. This part of the process can take a day or two, or it may take considerably longer. Ask for clear guidance, and you’ll find Grandmother Spider ready to lend you a claw. Only analyze it if it feels good and healing to do so. If not, let it be. The time for understanding may not have yet arrived.
  3. Pick the story up. Turn it, spin it, tip it, juggle it until you find the transformation point. Sometimes, especially with a story you didn’t quite finish, this will be right at the ending. The transformation point is the part of the story that’s most flexible even though it often seems most rigid.
  4. Journey, then write a new ending from the transformation point on. This is your opportunity to shape the ending, but it must come from a deeper place. Journey Work or Dream Work will most certainly help you find the better choices or endings. Your imagination will likely help a lot, too. Let the words flow into the new ending like a river into the ocean.
  5. Create an object that links your freshly spun story to your life. This can be as simple as finding the perfect rock in your back yard and wrapping it in the same pink ribbon your main character used to tie back her hair, or as complex as creating the multi-level bicycle your main character found that transformed his daily commute and ultimately led to the realization he could find peace and joy in the job he’d once seen as a dead-end prison. Whatever it is, make it personal and keep it to yourself. Don’t share your story or the intention of your object with anyone else until you’ve seen the story of your life spin into a new, more satisfying or healing direction. Once your personal story has solidified as you’d desired, or better yet in a way that’s more joyful and glorious than you’d dreamed possible, you can share the experience with others as much or as little as you desire.
  6. Thank everyone. Don’t skip this step. Don’t forget. Thank everyone, whether you can see how they helped or not, whether they played the role of bad-guy or savior, it doesn’t matter. Offer gratitude. In fact, give thanks every step of the way. Grandmother Spider expects it, and I for one am reticent to disappoint her. You should be, too.
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