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Scatterlings: Getting Claimed in the Age of Amnesia
by Martin Shaw and David Abram


This book explores the power of local storytelling, urging readers to reconnect with the "wildness" of their own land and rediscover the stories embedded within it. Shaw, a self-proclaimed "pagan romantic," draws on his own experiences growing up in Devon, England, and his subsequent journey into wilderness initiation and storytelling, to weave a tapestry of local folklore and myth.

Key themes:

  • The Importance of Place: Shaw argues that stories are inextricably linked to their place of origin and are best understood when experienced within that specific landscape. He emphasizes the need for "getting claimed" by a place, becoming a part of its rhythms and lore.
  • The Power of Oral Tradition: He critiques the tendency to psychologize and abstract old stories, advocating for a return to oral storytelling as a way to retain the full power and richness of these traditions.
  • The Nomad in the Local: Shaw acknowledges that stories can migrate, but contends that they are best understood when they are "curated" into a new landscape, acquiring new meaning and relevance within that context. He explores the role of the nomad as a bridge between place and the "commons of the imagination."
  • The Importance of Submission and the Wilderness Initiation: He argues that true healing and growth often require a degree of submission to something greater than ourselves, whether it be the wildness of nature or the power of myth. He emphasizes the transformative potential of wilderness initiations as a way to break free from self-imposed limitations.
  • The Dark Side of Progress: Shaw critiques the Western ideal of progress, arguing that it has led to a disconnect from the natural world and a loss of respect for ancient traditions. He highlights the dangers of ignoring the "giants" of our own psyche and the importance of reconnecting with the "small gods" of the earth.
  • The Power of Storytelling: Shaw sees storytelling as a vital act of service, a way to reconnect with the earth, its spirits, and our ancestors. He explores the various ways that stories have been used throughout history, from healing to social commentary, and emphasizes the need to listen to the wisdom they hold.

*Overall, "Scatterlings" is a call to action, urging readers to: *

  • Embrace the Wild: Step outside of the comfort zone and into the wilder aspects of nature, seeking connection with the earth and its creatures.
  • Listen to the Stories: Pay attention to the stories that are whispered through the trees, the rivers, and the wind, allowing them to shape your understanding of the world.
  • Become a Storyteller: Seek out opportunities to share stories, engaging with the power of myth and passing on its wisdom to others.

The book is rich with local folklore and mythical tales, featuring characters such as:

  • Moo Roa Man: The wild man of Dartmoor, a former preacher who chose to live in harmony with nature.
  • Chaw Gully Raven: A dark, powerful sentinel of the underworld, guarding secrets and demanding respect.
  • Brutus: The legendary founder of Britain, who arrives with a sword, displacing the "giants" of the land.
  • Elfrida of the Flowers: A beautiful and fiercely independent woman who challenges the conventions of love and marriage.
  • The Grey Wethers: A pair of stone circles on Dartmoor, said to transform back into sheep on Midsummer's Eve.
  • The Wild Man and Woman: Mysterious beings who inhabit the forests and represent the untamed side of nature.

"Scatterlings" is a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of myth, place, and the human soul. It's an invitation to rediscover the stories that lie dormant within us and our land, and to embrace the wildness that connects us all.