by Elyn Aviva
My husband, Gary, and I recently went to Cornwall to walk meandering paths with a small group. At least, thatwas the story. One morning over breakfast at Rosemerryn House in Lamorna Valley, one of our group revealed she is a professional storyteller. She described learning to take storytelling seriously. “After all,” she mused, “We don’t usually think stories are important. At least, not in the real world.”
I realized that often the word “story” is used as a code word for “false.” As in: “Oh, that’s a likely story! You don’t really expect me to believe you, do you?” Or it’s trivialized to mean something soothing, as in, “Tell me a bedtime story.” Of course, a story is much more than that: it is how we make meaning out of our experiences—as in, “telling the story of my life.” Sometimes I identify so much with my story that instead of me telling “it,” it starts telling “me.”
That morning the group set off on a journey to Boscawen-un stone circle. Usually, my story would have been to go along. But I decided to tell a different story: a story of following where I lead myself instead of where I am led by others.
I set off on a different journey—a journey to 2500-year-old Boleigh Fogou, an underground, stone-lined passageway (in Cornish, fogo means “cave”) hidden in nearby Rosemerryn woods. There is much debate about the original purpose of fogous (storage? A hiding place?), but it seems clear that they were primarily used for community ritual and ceremony. As a guest at Rosemerryn B&B, I had permission to visit the fogou.