Speaking to the Stars: The Meeting place between Myth and Autobiographical Storytelling

With Roi Gal-Or and Stella Kassimati

28th July to 4th August 2018

Together we will discover the meeting place between Myth and autobiographical storytelling, bringing to life the story of our personal journey, celebrating human freedom and responsibility and how they are deeply connected with nature.

Join us in this Ancient Cretan landscape, one of the most beautiful in Crete, abundant with wild orchards and herbs, vines, olive and cedar trees, to explore the dwelling places of Homer’s Gods and Goddesses. Together we will discover the meeting place between Myth and autobiographical story­telling, bringing to life the story of our personal journey, celebrating human freedom and responsibility and how they are deeply connected with nature.

In the writings of Homer (1000 BC), the Gods were intimately involved in human affairs, controlling and guiding the destiny of human beings, but humans had very limited freedom. Today individual freedom is of great value, often at the expense of our relationship with the natural world. Our freedom is essential, yet we long for connection, guidance and inspiration at a time when it seems the Gods and Goddesses have grown silent.

In the village of Amari, cradled in the foothills of the majestic Psiloriti (Idi) mountain, we will walk the paths of the ancients, creatively and playfully discover new ways of communicating with ourselves, with nature and with each other.

This course is offered by Friends of Amari. The  International School of Storytelling receives a donation for every place booked.

 The course starts at 5.00pm on 28th July and ends at 10.45am on 4th August.

Please click here for Prices and to Book

 

 TESTIMONIALS 

"Speaking to the Stars in Amari was eye opening, heart opening, powerful, gentle – an experience that I will never forget.” Hannah Mallinckrodt, UK, August 2018 

“What is meaning of life? I don’t know! I am as confused as everyone else in modern time. But every single time I’ve been listening to a Greek myth, I have had the feeling: “This is the truth! This is what it is all about!” If you ask me afterwards if I can explain and define it to you, I can’t because this is wisdom beyond brains and reason. But while I am listening I sense that I know and I understand. And to be brought there by a myth  encourage me to join daily life and other human beings and think it is not that bad after all and in a larger perspective be able to think: Cheer up, mankind! Practically Greek myths offer you a focus in daily life. In Crete in peaceful and warm-hearted Amari in the course Speaking to the Stars I met Apollo. I am so glad I did.” Inger Lodberg, 2015, Denmark

 

 “I first came across Greek myths when on a course at the International School of Storytelling in Sussex. Of course, I'd heard of them but had never studied them at school and they had never really entered my world in any great way. I was blown away by them. This inspired me to go to Amari on the Speaking to the Stars course with Roi and Stella.
All stories are biographical in some way, shape or form but Greek myths address human nature in a way that is able to speak to everyone. Each myth, God and Goddess talks about aspects of our person and behaviour in the timeless way that only stories manage to do. They are as relevant today as they have ever been. Human nature never changes.
During that week I made friends with Zeus.
For me, it was a life changing experience. Through Zeus I was able to look at my courage, how I had skirted around using my courage for the greater good throughout my life and, perhaps, feared it in some way. Zeus gave me the helping hand to use that courage in the way that he would wish. One of Zeus' big things was about hospitality to the stranger, he would test people on their hospitality and punish them if he thought that they were not offering hospitality to strangers in the way that it should be offered. Zeus was also fairly big on punishment. It was through Zeus that I took the plunge to do the work that I had always wanted to do which is to work with refugees and we are living in a time when there are plenty in the world. 
It has been a bumpy but enriching time thus far. I have to say that if I have doubts about what I am doing, I pick up a story of Zeus, I read any of the Greek myths and they remind me that I am a very small (but important) cog in a very big wheel that has been going round and round since time began. The Greek myths give me the grounding, the space and the enormity of possibility that we all have within us to do what needs doing in the world.
If you have any doubts, banish them and go to Amari. Hold onto your hat for you may be in for one hell of a ride but one that you will never regret and you will come away all the richer for having delved into the world of Greek myths and how they continue to live in our worlds today.” Glenys Newton, 2015 UK

 

 “I enrolled on the ' Speaking to The Stars' course in 2015. This was the start of my storytelling journey personally and professionally. On the first day of the course we sat in a beautiful room in an old school, the sun was shining in through the long windows and we were asked by Roi & Stella to pick up a piece of paper from the floor. We were told that this piece of paper would hold the information of the God or Godless that we would be exploring over the next week. I started to read mine........ Hephaestus, God of fire, the forge, he walked with a limp and he made beautiful things out of ugly things....... Blah, blah..... I was not happy, this was not me, this was my husband, he worked with his hands. I then skipped off to lunch  with my usual haste. As I did that, I fell down some steps , fell flat on my bum and quickly got up with an embarrassed expression. I felt like I had been punched in the face and I walked with a limp for the rest of the course. So on day one I felt the power of the gods, my ego was knocked out of me and I had to really slow down. Amari was a magical place, I felt like there was something holding us all from the clouds, I had real moments where I connected to myself and my memories, I was made to look at moments of my life with a new perspective and this has really helped me in my life.
I have worked in education for the last 20 years, but this way of working is deeper than any other way I have worked before, I hold Hephaestus close to me, I recently painted a self portrait, so Hephaestus is there around me, helping me steer with freedom and support.
Thank You ISOS & Friends of Amari”
Eleanor Shaw, Storyteller and Theatre Practitioner, 2015 UK

 

“Working with myths for me has always served as a grammar and template for my work and storytelling work, especially. The course in Amari gave me the privilege of working with the god that I would not have normally chosen for myself.  As it happens, gods find us despite us believing otherwise. Amari has so much material to begin delving into dimensions of Greek myths and gods, that a week can seem too little. But it is a great beginning to take these fragments of research out into the world and find its interweavings. 
I discovered the spirit and power of this god at the heart of my work. It was like being in denial for a lifetime. And beginning to work with this understanding felt initially like looking at death in the eye, the heart of darkness. But as I grew used to the dark, shades of colours emerged there in and continue to do so. Working with the Greek myths was akin to peeling off layers of an onion, not knowing if we would uncover anything, certainly shedding a lot of water along the way! And certainly the basic spice to any cooking. I found a household recipe with onions today to clear one's throat!
The deep and ongoing enquiry with any mythological divinities is essential to deepening storywork. I may never tell any myths but to live and work with them as templates is vital to my work with storytelling. Working with Greek Gods in Amari led me to discover the importance of this and begin to develop my own work process to work with narratives and stories.” Gauri Rage, 2015, India

 

"I loved my time in Amari with Stella and Roi on the Speaking to the Stars course in Summer 2015. The opportunity to include the Greek myths was at the heart of the learning. The Greek Gods felt present in ways that challenged, soothed, inspired and touched many of us, me included. I was working with the Aphrodite archetype which was perfect for me personally and led to an inner connection that felt deep and delightful. Under that wonderful Amari sky, in the shadow of Zeus’s mountain, the Gods seemed to be with us in the village, in the cafes, in our workshop  and of course in the countryside around and about. Stella has a connection with the myths that are personal, relevant, contagious and deeply deeply inspiring. With her delightful guidance they came alive for me and still are!" Matthew Stone, 2015, UK

 

“Greek Mythology has been part of my life since I was a child and my mother used to me read the Odyssey aloud. In Amari I truly felt those ancient gods, with their archetypal power work by my side. I found a way to reinterpret my goddess as a goddess of those who have lost their voices- which was empowering and a way to deal with moments of powerlessness in my life. I definitely recommend working with Greek mythology and personal stories.”  María Serrano, 2015, Spain/Finland

 

“When I worked with Stella on Greek Myths I learned incredibly much about the power of (the often invisible) Hera who I was linked to. 
One of the deepest exercises was one where I learned most about my own biographical story; it took place during an outdoor storytelling. In this exercise I asked Hera for the courage to be vulnerable. At that very moment, my myopia sunglasses fell off and bumped on the rocky surface. That actually made me vulnerable for the rest of the week; short-sighted I missed my glasses with the right bow unrepairable broken. 
Exactly a year later I was at home, lying on the couch, after an accidental fall on my right eye. From the 7 ophthalmologists I had seen, I learned that my eyesight would not recover in full. I feared for the end of my storytellers path which I had seen gradually unfolding itself after the 3 month storytelling course. It took me roughly another year in which I had to learn to be vulnerable and strong at the same time; I slowly began to see how things were meant to be. 
Last year, two of my partners in biographical counselling went to work with Greeks Myths with Stella as well. After the course we all were deeply impressed by the impact of autobiographical storytelling and myths and the common ground there was with our work. 
Thanks to Hera, my partners and I repositioned the individual work we had been doing for several years and founded our ‘Institute for Biographical Storytelling’. I can see clearly now how Hera affected my professional and personal life; working with Greeks Myths does open doors, deepen insights and give direction.”  Annette Filippo,2014, Holland

 

“Stella Kassimati was just so comfortable drawing on deep wells of wisdom within her own culture with its rich mythology and history.
She told us Greek Myth first as captivating story and then to find a layer of meaning from which we might explore events in our own lives. This latter aspect was shared with co-course carrier Roi Gal Or.
In “responding to the archetype” my work was with Hermes through invoking his qualities.
Hermes has for a long time appealed to me because he is a peaceful messenger.
Now I equate my sense of humour with his being a trickster.
In  Hermes Gorge I offered to Hermes “story for fireside” i.e. my love of telling stories in small group gatherings.
And asked for “messages of peace spread far and wide, the return of spring to each heart” which are among my greatest desires today.
Recently, when translating into simple storytelling language passages from The Routledge book of Greek Mythology, I discovered Hermes’ early life had a great deal to say about family relationships. I am enjoying practising this part of Hermes’ story and eagerly looking forward to telling in a small gathering somewhere out there.” Kathleen Hunter, 2015, New Zealand


“Well as a storyteller I still and joyful tell the story: “How come that Jheronimus Bosch never painted the fall of Ikarus” This story was made during “Speaking to the Stars” in Amari 2014.
My hard working with the Goddess Hestia, the Goddess of hearth and home, has given me a painful insight in my life but also much comfort and joy.” Burt Lintmeijer, 2014, Holland

 

“I was in Amari attending Speaking to the stars during the month of May. May is a very challenging month for because more than one of my beloved have passed away during this month.  Each year I look for a personal celebration to honor them.  In this occasion it is important for me that there is a profound connection with the meaning of our presence on earth and beyond. Two years ago I chose Amari and I could not have made a better choice.”  Giovanna Conforto, 2014, Italy.

 

“Speaking to the Stars, during my one week stay to Amari, has been quite an experience. Greek mythology has always inspired me and poked my imagination. I did know that Greek Gods and Goddesses were the archetypes of all qualities humans projected on them.
However in Amari, all this knowledge did become an experience. By incorporating the energy of the God I was chosen to be and by exploring in many amazing different ways the qualities of this energy, it became more than clear that all archetypical vibrations reside within every one of us and that it is a choice to either express them or suppress them. Interaction with co-participants strengthened this experience, together with the feeling of belonging, co-existing and sharing.
In a similar way myths narrate the history of humanity. Every character, either mortal or immortal could be you and me and anyone in the eternal human pathway. Exploring the myths is equivalent to exploring oneself and by Speaking to the Stars I strengthened connection with myself and others through deepening a little bit more my consciousness. Isn’t that a gift from the Gods?” Eftychia Christodimou, 2014, Greece

 

“As I write this, it was exactly one full moon ago that a dozen of us gathered from different parts of the globe to attend a story telling workshop in Amari in the mountains of Crete. 
Through a range of experiences including voice, play, song, movement and listening, our two experienced facilitators gently brought out skills and strengths to enhance the evolution of our chosen story. This allowed us to trust a deeper and more powerful voice to come through, a voice that was based on true life experience intertwined with archetypal myth. The  week culminated in a magical evening where everyone presented their story in a courtyard smelling of fragrant orange blossom and jasmine under a soon-to-be-that-evening, full moon. 
Many of these stories had never been told before. It seems that people are too busy and distracted to really hear and bare witness to receiving the gift of each other's stories and yet, when we do slow down enough, it is by far the most satisfying and nourishing form of entertainment, and perhaps the oldest, as humans have always engaged in storytelling from the beginning of time.
For me it was a powerful week leaving a deep impression etched in my memory for many full moons to come!”   Eleni Rivers, Australia 2014

“I enjoyed the gentle way in which the Greek Myths and autobiographical work were woven together. The sessions spent working outside in the landscape were particularly special and I left Amari filled with renewed wonder for the tiniest details in the natural world all around us. The experience of listening to others tell stories from their own lives with the context of these ancient myths there in the background was moving and thought provoking, and will stay with me for a long time to come. The course was very well held by the two teachers, who were attentive to the needs of the group and adapted and shaped the week with those needs in mind. Staying in the village of Amari was wonderful - I had never been to Crete or Greece before, and I felt absolutely welcomed by the warm hospitality of the Friends of Amari and the local people in the area.  Bronia Evers, UK 2014

This course was a delight. It felt spacious and uplifting. The facilitators led activities well, with care and graciousness and without seeming to do much and yet I (and other course members) was able to produce my story in a way I never thought possible. It was magical.
I loved that everything was done beautifully with spirit from the opening ritual to our activities in nature, to use of sound and movement.
And of course the beautiful and peaceful surroundings of Amari was as nourishing as the hospitality extended in looking after our needs while there. Thank you for a truly magical and effective course. Femi Hughes, UK 2014

"The biographical course and being in Amari was a heart warming experience of beauty and connection, of culture, magic, wonder, excitement, hospitality, sisterhood, brotherhood. I really felt a whole human being. It deeply touched my heart" Annejet Rümke 2012

"I knew that traveling from the USA to Crete to attend the "Speaking to the Stars" storytelling course would expand my horizons. I did not anticipate the magnitude of the impact that the content, instructors, and my fellow classmates would have on me. I have grown intellectually, spiritually, and culturally. This experience has been transformative!" Anthea Lavergne, U.S.A. 2013

"The course was held in a caring, inspirational way. It was like a trip to fairy land, where everything is possible, the sun shining and penetrating deep into dark places - finding gems which were hidden there." Kaja Vildersboell, Denmark. 2013

"Generous, inspiring, supportive, fun ....The final telling under the stars, beneath the big tree, was a sublime and memorable experience." Christina Rowntree, Australia  2013

"This course was transformative, liberating, encouraging and Fun!" Barbara Leeney, UK  2013

"A really tremendous week to explore life's experiences in a playful, deep and meaningful way." Dinah Pryor, UK 2013

"Intensely beautiful. A meeting of landscape and metaphor inviting you to deeper and braver knowing." Julie Perrin, Australia

“It was amazing how quickly we - much thanks to the leaders of the workshop - established an atmosphere of trust and confidence, and how every member of the course after just a few days became BOTH ABLE AND WILLING to show such an amount of sincere honesty and great openness in their biographical storytelling. You cannot actually learn so much technique in only one week, but what happened was that people GOT THE COURAGE to put their life and experience and whole personalities in their storytelling- and that is what made the final stories on the last evening so captivating, so touching, so funny and so unforgettable.
During this week in Amari I felt really deep contact with people I never met before. And I truly feel that we all, although we came from quite different parts of the world and from different backgrounds, share the same life on this earth.” Nena Stenius, Finland 2013

 

There is always a bit of faith involved in signing up for a course; faith in the teachers, the intention, the other people who will make up the temporary community that you become for that week or several weeks.
The course information – which was useful, considered and accurate – had told us to come to Amari prepared. There are no shops, no ATMs, no pharmacies. We needed to be organised. There was an enormous freedom in the lack of distraction. I got to the end of the 8 days and realised the only time I had actually reached into my wallet was to buy a beer at the beach. I think I spent 3 Euros in the whole week.  These courses are never about money but we were generously taught, hosted and accommodated and fed for a modest fee.
The course formed part of a quest for understanding our relationship to concepts of destiny and choice and relatedness to the natural world. Roi led us into the landscape and over the week we explored a mountaintop near Pan’s Cave, hopped along the rocks by the side of the river at Hermes’ Gorge and visited Poseidon’s realm, diving into the sea.
Stella began by telling us stories from the Pantheon of the Greek Gods. Her voice was sure and she carried these stories that I had often found bewildering, to a new level. As the week unfolded we had a rhythm of meeting from 9am – 1.30pm.  Following a siesta we would regather from 5 – 8pm. The afternoon rest period provided time to absorb and reflect and a fresh beginning in the evening.
I think the mark of a great teacher is a humility that takes things in its stride. Roi has this in spades. Another mark is the reciprocity that takes up learnings from the group. Stella did this with clarity and openness. We remain indebted to them both for gifts shared and exchanged. We drank from the spring, we climbed mountains and leapt over river rocks and spoke to the stars.  We were not disappointed.    Julie Perrin August 2013