Bleddfa, valley of the wolf, a place full of symbols: Tobias and his dog, the orchard of magic apples, the withered tree halfway up the hill that offers a phone signal but bears no fruit.
Bleddfa feels like home for storytellers. It’s a place of feasts: one table spread with food, another with books. I stayed up half the night devouring all kinds of books from dark South American tribal myths to the paler colours of Andrew Lang.
There’s a feast of stories, from some of the best storytellers out there. I heard big chunks of searing epic; Shiva’s dance of destruction, Efnisien’s
malice. There’s time to hear long expansive pieces, to work on longform
workshops. There’s time to find yourself in story. I sat by a brook and listened to a character in my story telling me the story of her life. I followed Phaethon up the hill to find his father in the courts of the rising sun.
It’s a place to give in to the power of stories. To go into what seemed like a little workshop exercise and suddenly find myself in over my head. Stories came tumbling out in this safe telling space. It’s a place to get drunk on stories.
I’ve been twice. Once with people who had little or no experience of stories and storytelling, once with a group of professionals I had to work hard to keep pace with. It didn’t matter: you make your own space and find your own work.
On my first evening at Bleddfa, Michael Harvey launched into the story of Bran the giant and his normal-sized brother. Since that moment it has seemed to me that the valley of the wolf is a place to discover the giant storyteller in yourself behind the normal sized storyteller you think you are.
Has it had a lasting effect on my storytelling practice? Yes. I could talk about
the exercises and the ways of working that I keep coming back to. I could talk about the friends I made; the networking; the way a week at Bleddfa looks shiny on my CV. But what Bleddfa keeps on giving is the memory of that letting go, getting drunk on stories, and falling into their power.
You can find out more about Marion and her storytelling work on her website.