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A Pilgrim’s Way – with their feet they understand their roots

Young Pilgrims

Pilgrimsvandring på Stovner. Georgette er pilgrim og tar med seg skoleklasser på den fem uker lange turen til trondheim, langs kongeveien. Under veis forteller hun historier.

Along the Pilgrims way in Oslo, year sixes from all the local schools experience for themselves the 1,000 year-old Pilgrim tradition.

This is the 10th year 12 year olds from Oslo’s east sidewalk the ancient Pilgrims’ way leading to Trondheim also known as the King’s Road. Most of their pupils come from Christian or Muslim backgrounds, and today is special, both the bishop of Oslo and the cultural minister have joined the walk.

‘Children today have little chance to speak of how they understand God. Teachers are nervous of making mistakes, and it often seems safer not to mention the divine at all. In my experience children often appreciate the chance to speak about these mysteries. They really like meeting a real pilgrim and they love to be in nature,’ says the storyteller Georgiana Keable.

This Englishwoman has lived for 21 years in Norway. She is a pioneer in the renaissance of storytelling in England and Norway, and has taught for many years at Oslo University. In 2002 she founded the Storytelling House, whose aim is to give children and adults good story telling and listening experiences. Since 2008 she has walked the old Pilgrims’ way with around 1,000 schoolchildren per year.

‘The pupils have different backgrounds so I have to take care not to offend anyone. But everyone seems very curious about my pilgrim life and likes to take the chance to speak about their ideas of spirituality and often very personal things come up.’

Wandering through the forest Georgiana plays the role of the pilgrim 100%. When they talk to her it’s the pilgrim from the middle ages who answers not the storyteller. She asks a riddle: ‘What is greater than God and worse than the devil? The dead eat it but if we eat it we die?’ One of the children answers ‘Mum!’ Another shouts, ‘Nothing is greater than God!’
That’s the answer. The dead eat nothing every day and if we eat nothing we die.’ answers Georgiana.

Pilgrimsvandring på Stovner. Veien mottrondheim er merket med pilgrimskors.

It’s usually a Muslim child who answers that riddle. They have been taught that nothing is greater than God. They are also more likely to know about pilgrim traditions.

The relevance of pilgrimage in our time became real for the Georgiana when she walked from Ringebu to Trondheim with her daughter in 2003.

‘At 11 years my daughter hated going on walks. When I got a job as a storyteller walking on the Pilgrims’ way she begged to come on the 250 kilometres walk. No way! I said. But after she had really pleaded with me I agreed she could join us if she promised not to complain or moan. Amazingly she did the entire journey without a word of complaint. When she arrived in Trondheim anasty skin problem she had had for years was gone and her whole life was changed. Only later did I discover that she had been bullied at school but that had also changed.’

It was not until Georgiana moved to Norway that she became interested in pilgrimage. ‘When I saw what the journey had meant for my daughter I really wanted other children to experience this walk.

Barefoot

On the journey Georgiana tells local stories, her colleague Per Jostein Aarsand tells about Olav the Holy and also goes into role as a bandit, and some of the children join him on an ambush. And towards the end Georgiana tells the story of her daughter who was exactly their age when she walked the Pilgrims’ Way.

And then there are the challenges. The pupils often make quite a fuss about walking barefoot, but once the shoes are off, they seldom want to put them on again! It’s as if they are far more connected to the nature around them when their bare feet contact the ground.

Right at the end they walk 15 minutes in silence. ‘It’s quite an extraordinary thing to experience 50, 12 year olds walking in silence, it’s powerful,’ says Georgiana.

Oslo’s bishop Kari Veiteberg joined the walk this year, ‘This kind of work is at the heart of what the church can do. The children learn about pilgrimage, that it’s a real tradition and that there are holy places in this world. It’s amazing that here, just a few minutes from the local tube station, is this story, this history! This walk is also an example of how faith can be experienced through our feet,’ she says.

Oslo’s cultural minister, Rina Marianne Hansen, also joins the walk about half-way. Oslo council has supported the walks this year. ‘This brings our cultural history out into the local population. Many of these pupils don’t have a long family history here in Norway, so this knowledge is important for them in their lives here. This is also a great way to experience the role of faith in our society,’ reflects the cultural minister.

Religious dialogue

The priest in the local community, Tone Marie Falch thinks this walk is a fantastic way to include local people.

‘Following the footsteps of the old pilgrims clearly appeals to children with all kinds of different religious and cultural backgrounds. They can meet here and share their experiences. This is religious dialogue in practice,’ says the priest, who didn’t need to be asked twice to join the walk.

‘Feel this rock,’ challenges Georgiana. ‘This rock has been a holy place since the bronze age! Long before Christianity, long before Islam, people came here, they lit lamps from animal fat, and gave thanks for all their blessings.’

This article by Olav Solvang originally appeared in the Norwegian newspaper Vårt Land in October 2018.

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Natural Storyteller catches a Moonbeam

The Natural Storyteller has been awarded a Gold Medal in the 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards!  Launched in 2007, the awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to celebrate children’s books and life-long reading. The book has already been awarded First Prize in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.

Back in April Hawthorn Press launched a competition for schools and groups to win ten copies of The Natural Storyteller by Georgiana Keable, plus a visit from this award winning storyteller and author. The book is a seed packet of tales to open the mind and unleash a love of nature. Teachers were asked to write up to 100 words about how great stories can assist learning about our living planet. Countess Wear Community School, Exeter, won the competition and this Wednesday 10 October Georgiana Keable will visit the school to deliver several sessions of captivating stories to the pupils as well as a camp fire in the early evening.

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The Natural Storyteller wins Purple Dragonfly Award

Purple Dragonfly Book Award First Place badge

Purple Dragonfly Book Award announced their winners recently, and we were extremely excited to have one of our books on the list! The Natural Storyteller by Georgiana Keable won first place in the Green Books/Environmental category. Congratulations to Georgiana – we are so pleased and proud.

You can find out more about The Natural Storyteller by following this link, and more about the author Georgiana Keable here. The full list of Purple Dragonfly Book Award winners is available here.


The book is life affirming. All of its stories are about taking delight in creation. It is a journey into storytelling as well as story.

Hugh Lupton, award-winning Storyteller
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Review: The Natural Storyteller by Georgiana Keable

Image shows children and animals around a tree, and book title The Natural Storyteller

his review was written by Kevin Avison, and originally appeared in the SWSF (Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship) newsletter, Spring 2018. Many thanks!

Georgiana Keable has written a gift of a book that will help teachers, parents and anyone who loves good stories. If we are to preserve human culture from the sort of madness and decline that currently seems all but inevitable, positive narrative holds an important place. We might go so far as to describe well chosen and well told stories as antitoxin for the social ills of our civilisation.

Narrative can open minds and hearts to worlds and experiences beyond the narrow compass of a single individual: through stories we learn compassion.

Georgiana provides a selection of forty-eight stories to fire the heart and imagination of both teller and listener. She also relates her selection to the natural world. Alongside “Story Heart” and “Story mind”, we have groups of stories from around the world, in which trees, birds, animals, earth, water and weather feature. Thus placing each individual is brought to life within a greater narrative.

The book includes an easy-to-use toolkit to help the story-teller, or teacher, inhabit the stories, adding memory and understanding of what they are about. In particular, the “story map” and “story skeleton”, will prove invaluable in assisting hard-pressed teachers prepare story their material. There are also activities, riddles and a host of helpful suggestions and hints. As an international master story-teller with foundations both in Norway and the Britain, Georgiana has drawn deeply from her experience teaching at Oslo University and participating in story-telling events around the world.


Buy the book here…

More about the SWSF here…

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Competition for Schools and Forest Schools – win 10 copies of The Natural Storyteller

The Natural Storyteller competition

Are you a UK primary school or forest school group? You could WIN ten copies of The Natural Storyteller by Georgiana Keable, plus a visit from this storytelling author. The book is a seed packet of tales to open the mind and unleash our love of nature. All you need to do is write up to 100 words about how your group needs great stories about our living planet and email to thenaturalstoryteller@gmail.com by 15th April 2018.

Please include a contact name, the name and location of your school class or forest school group. The winner will be contacted by the 23rd April, and announced on Hawthorn Press’ social media. Books will be dispatched within a week and you will be emailed to organise the author visit. This book is very suitable for age 9-11.

To protect our planet, we have to completely reimagine our relationship with the natural world and all its wondrous diversity. Storytelling plays a crucial part in that healing process, as Georgiana so beautifully and powerfully reveals in The Natural Storyteller.

Jonathon Porritt CBE, Forum for the Future

The Natural Storyteller is a gorgeous heart-warming book full of stories that children (and people any age!) can relate to. It is a collection of stories, carefully gathered from all over the world. What steals my heart about this book is that it unflinchingly addresses the turmoil and realities of life in the 21st century. This book is that rare thing: it unlocks emotions, ideas and a wild surge of creativity. 

Imelda Almqvist, Paganpages