I love hearing and creating stories. Over the past 30 years I have learnt or created huge numbers of stories, some thousands of years old, some I have made up about my experiences. The text in the long biog is the starting point for many of my recent stories. Most of my stories are about rites of passage, gender, and spirituality.
I have told stories to groups all over Europe. To schools, Universities, Mind, Body Spirit events, as part of rituals and ceremonies, men’s groups, women’s groups, social workers, and many willing audiences.
The ancient stories reach into the spaces in our mind where magic used to live. They re-ignite the forgotten parts of our psyche. They connect us to our wildness, by cutting through our domesticity.
These are some of the ancient stories I tell. Most of which are over 10,000 years old.
Copper Woman and Snot Boy
The retelling of part of the Northwest Coast Native creation myth by Anne Cameron which became an underground classic in 1981. It is an ancient oral history held by the matriarchal society of Vancouver Island for tens of thousands of years. Only in the last decades has the story been written down, and for the first time permission has been given to a man to tell the tale, for the first time in it’s long history. And that is me. I tell three stories.
1 The journey of the thirteen – thirteen women set adrift in a boat to find new lands.
2 The loneliness of Copper Woman – the survival and perseverance of the surviving sister. 3 The creation of Snot Boy – the first man, a mixture of tears, snot and mucus, the women’s fluids, of which she should be proud not embarrassed.
This is a moving, deeply emotional, beautiful and significant story - a female creation myth. A creation myth which has just as much validity as any other. It questions our adherence to the stories we are told by the logical, scientific parts of ourselves.
The Ugly Duckling
A very familiar story, I use a modern accurate translation in the exact style Hans Christian Andersen used to tell it. It is a wonderful example of how we can pursue our dreams through adversity and achieve a humble maturity. Andersen wrote it as personal therapy more than anything else. His father dies when he was 11, he had to become the breadwinner in his family, and only went to school aged 17. He told his teachers he wanted to be a storyteller even though he couldn’t read or write. Despite being told he was stupid for having such an aspiration, he achieved long lasting fame, by pursuing his dream. I want the audience to be inspired by his journey, but also to challenge the commercialisation of beautiful and inspiring stories. Not to accept the ‘Hollywoodisation’ of powerful stories, and to seek the original versions which almost inevitably deal with the human shadow as well as the triumph of good over evil. When I first read the final passages I cried for days!
“And the Ugly Duckling lighted on the water and swam towards the magnificent swans. When they saw him they ruffled their feathers and started to swim in his direction. They were coming to meet him. ‘Kill me’ whispered the poor creature, and bent his head humbly while he waited for death. But what was that he saw in the water? It was his own reflection; and he was no longer an awkward, clumsy grey bird, so ungainly and so ugly. He was a swan!
It does not matter that one has been born in the henyard as long as one has lain in a swan’s egg. he was thankful that he known so much want, and gone through so much suffering, for it had made him appreciate his present happiness and the loveliness of everything about him all the more. The swans made a circle around him and caressed him with their beaks.”
The Monkeys and The Parrots
This is a story from the tropical rain forests of central America. It is tens of thousands of years old, and yet amazingly relevant to today. It is metaphor about men and women. A story told by Martin Prechtel, a Guatemalan Shaman. The story is about our eyes and perception of the world. The parrots have their eyes on the side of their faces, the monkeys have their eyes set in the front. So, when a parrot looks you in the eye she turns her head, when a monkey looks you in the eye he faces you. A metaphor for us to understand how men and women see different perspectives of the same world, and it is very good for people to enact as it is humorous and moving. I use it because it gives the audience an explanation of the misunderstandings between women and men, but also how they provide food for the rest of the world.
The Alpha Wolf and Death
Is a story I constructed for the book ‘The Alpha Wolf’. Using a basic template provided by the Shamanic traditions of Siberia. Many of the tribes believed that the wolves were the alpha species of their lands, and that the humans needed to learn how to behave by copying the wolves’ examples. The story gives an outline of the various stages that a wolf goes through in their life, and relates them to our own life stages. Moving from being a ‘mother’s boy’, pale, naked in the cave, to being the ‘lone wolf’ cast out of the pack, and having to learn how to survive on his own. If he survives and becomes useful to others, ready to serve, he then joins a pack as the ‘grey wolf’, a useful member of the pack. Only very rarely does it happen, but there is the opportunity to become the ‘alpha wolf’. If he does so he is respectful, making decisions which take into consideration every ones’ needs. We need to appreciate that becoming the alpha wolf is not about personal power, it is being of service to the wider community.
The Four Genders
The Four Genders is a concept belonging to our ancestors, which I first heard from the Sami people of Norway, but am now being told of it’s existence in Hawaii, Polynesia, and certain tribes of Central America. The story explains how there are four genders. The North is the Female/Female, the South is the Male/Male, the East is Female/Male, and the West is Male/Female. We can make the journey from Female/Female to Male/Male through the east or the west. Indeed that most people inhabit the east and west most of the time, and rarely visit the north or south. The concept frees us from the gender constrictions of our past, and liberates us into a gender flexibility which is essential for a health humanity. The Sami initiate their children into all four genders, not just one. I have told it many times and it causes a huge release of emotion and restriction for the audience.
FILMS OF STORYTELLING
YOUTUBE FILMS FEATURING NICK CLEMENTS
As Good As It Gets https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTt6Qvh6O-o
A celebration of Nick Clements' 60th birthday, performing live stand-up 33 years after his first performances
Pioneer of Modern Masculinity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQAszSZR7n4
An in-depth interview about Nick's beliefs and principles around the development of rites of passage and the genders
The Alpha Wolf - promo animation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBevD1u2GZs
A film made to advertise his book 'The Alpha Wolf'
The New Ages of Men https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsQJlKtzk0k
Highlights of a one-man show he toured round the UK, and which became his book 'The New Ages of Men.'
Real Men Conference Stroud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQRG2RxUZMw
A brief introduction to the first of a series of conferences he initiated on men and women and rites.