Altered Tales

The Three Companions

Indonesian Legends and Folk Tales. Told by Adele de Leeuw, 1961 Every year Cholera made a visit to the Holy City of Mecca with her companions Death and Fear. One year however, Fear came to the city before Death and Cholera. The old gatekeeper, who did not know Fear, let her enter. When Cholera and […]

The Snake of Dreams

Rewritten from a Georgian Tale by Hugh Lupton. (© Hugh Lupton 2002). Many years ago – and it was neither my time nor your time – there lived a great king. And one night that king dreamed a strange dream. He dreamed that a fox was hanging by its tail from the ceiling above his […]

Trojan War Story

Tale from the Iliad, Book 6. Translated by Joan Sutton. We are departing from our usual type of posting with this very special contribution from Joan Sutton. Joan is a Greek scholar who has been studying Homer’s Iliad for the past six years. This story has not been rewritten for oral performance, but is a […]

The Stolen Child

adapted by Joan Stockbridge. There was a path that stretched from here to there. On one side of the path, tall mountains loomed. Along the other, the cold sea moaned. Along this path came two fairy women, wrapped tightly in dark cloaks. As they walked along, they saw a bundle in the path. It mewed […]

Shingebiss and the North Wind

From a 19th century literary tale attributed to Chippewa sources, retold by Fran Stallings. When I first heard this story in childhood, there was no music: the chant was just recited. I have added the chant melody and the chordal accompaniment, but I also perform it sometimes without the music, and it still works. A […]

Just Enough

A Folktale from Russia. Adapted by Elisa Pearmain. Once upon a time there lived a tailor’s son named Joseph. He worked beside his father in his little shop cutting and stitching clothing for the wealthy folks in town. As he grew older, Joseph began to dream of making something special for himself to wear. He […]

Raven and the Whale

an Inuit (Eskimo) story, Retold by Laura Simms. In the very beginning of time, the Inuit people say, Raven made the world. Raven was both a god and a bird with a man inside. After Raven created everything, he decided to remain on the earth. He loved the people and the animals and he was […]

How Old Woman Kytna Brought Her Daughter Home

A Koryak Story from Kamchatka Peninsula, Retold by Kira Van Deusen. In Kichiga old woman Kytna lived with her old man. They had a daughter named Ralinavut, a grown-up daughter. Not far from their village lived a wolf pack, twenty-eight wolves. One time Ralinavut went for a walk and got lost, she did not return […]

The Snake and the Holy Man

Adapted by Andre Heuer. Once there was a snake with a rather bad attitude. The small village near where the snake lived was very fearful of this snake. You see, this snake slithered through the grass, silently, seeking its victims, and without warning would strike and devour its prey. It was known to eat hens, […]

Outwitting Death

A Hungarian Folktale, Retold By Gail Rosen. I have told this story in many settings. Its humor is delightful and the story allows thinking and conversation about death, in a way that feels safer for people than direct questions about their personal feelings and experiences. But she was full of life, and never dreamt of […]

Monkey Mind

Prepared by Laura Simms. One evening I told my son a story that I had read from the Lemba tribe of Sierra Leone, West Africa. I was delighted to find tales from the country where he was born. Sierra Leone has been involved in a horrendous civil war for ten years. The war has resulted […]

The King’s Wisdom

a tale created by Susi Wolf ©2006. The following original tale, shaped like a traditional teaching story, has been used by Susi Wolf in her healing work. The version that she sent was a transcript of her oral telling. It has been edited in order to make it more available to others to be used […]

Dance with Both Hands Free

A parable from Sri Ramakrishna. Retold by Liz Mangual. I loved this story when I first heard it told. I thought it would be a perfect story to share with incarcerated teens. It served a twofold purpose. I could use it to share a personal story, always a good way to start, and also to […]

The Magic Ball

Adapted by Joan Stockbridge. The Magic Ball is adapted from a story from the Chubut Province in southern Argentina. This version is meant to focus on the addiction and recovery themes useful in recovery settings. Once there was a dreadful witch who lived on a mountaintop where the winds howled and the snow blew. She […]

The Cracked Pot

A tale from India retold by Mary Dessein. Story is a natural tool for use in addiction treatment and offers a safe way to examine some very difficult issues, ones that can be frightening or shameful to have to admit too soon in the recovery process.   A water-bearer carries two large pots on a […]


A German folktale adapted by Allison Cox. I have told this story to women’s substance abuse recovery groups, parenting support classes, caregivers retreats, and for various women’s issues.   There once was a woman who had so many problems, so many worries, so many troubles… that at times she felt she had more troubles than […]

The Brave Little Parrot

Adapted by Rafe Martin, Essay by Cristy West. Brave Little Parrot is from an ancient Jataka tale from India. When a forest fire breaks out and threaten forest animals, a little parrot tries to put it out alone by carrying drops of water on its back from the lake.   Once a little parrot lived […]

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