Be Your Own Fairy Tale: Working with Storytelling for a Positive Life Change, by Alison Davies
Watkins Publishing, 9781780287591, 160 pp., 2015
If you are looking for an innovative gift book, Be Your Own Fairy Tale: Working with Storytelling for Positive Life Change, by Alison Davies stands out as a beautiful, colourful candidate. It would be a well-received keepsake for dreamers, psychologists, spiritual seekers, or those who appreciate storytelling or have a thirst for self-improvement, and more.
Be Your Own Fairy Tale is an investment in soul makeovers. Life coaches and creative entrepreneurs can benefit from the strategies suggested throughout. The chapter on transformation is especially appropriate for people interested in self-improvement and personal advancement. For teachers, camp counsellors, group leaders, and workshop facilitators, Be Your Own Fairy Tale features plenty of unique techniques for community revival. It includes a number of ideas for story circles.
The layout is simple and elegant, with easy to follow text. Davies’ writing is both knowledgeable and warm. She is experienced at incorporating traditional folklore and fairy tale elements into personal development workshops, and helps academics and law professionals realize their storyteller potential.
Readers will find no shortage of ideas to activate their imaginations and better themselves. Initially, I wanted an index of exercises. I began scrawling my own for sections I didn’t want to forget, such as “Picture It,”1 “Unleash Your Inner Hero,”2, and so on. After reaching an untitled exercise for “whenever you wish to reinvent yourself and move forward with your life”3 at the heart of the fourth chapter, I realized that a full index of exercises would lengthen the entire text significantly: each page either sets the reader up for another style of exercise, explores an exercise, or lists several for exploration.
Davies honors the full spectrum of self-work: her work isn’t limited to happily ever-after. From Cinderella to the Big Bad Wolf, fairy tale characters can help us further our understanding of ourselves. Early in chapter four, “Love and Relationships,” she defines Cinderella Syndrome as “failing to see the good things in your life right now and living for a future that is yet to be realized.”4 Following this chapter is “Fears, Desires, and Phobias,” where readers encounter the archetypal spooky forest, “representing a forgotten part of ourselves, the darker part of our psyche that we’re scared to explore in case we discover something very traumatic.”5 Davies encourages her audience to use the forest as a place to creatively engage with their phobias through story: “Remember, you’re perfectly safe and in control. When you’re ready, emerge from the forest into the light and feel a sense of renewed strength and optimism.”6
The Big Bad Wolf could be, as Davies argues, one of several wolf archetypes. He could be the one in “The Three Little Pigs,” who represents fear of the worst that can happen;7 or he may be a bully, like in “Little Red Riding Hood.”8 Perhaps the wolf challenging your happily ever after is the wolf within, who “is concerned with the traits and aspects of your personality that you’d like to keep secret.”9 She compares the desire for secrecy to trying to stop a river from flowing: “It doesn’t matter how much you repress this side of yourself, it’s always there and eventually it will come out.”10
Davies consistently provides both simple and more intricate means of dealing with each chapter’s themes. Of the five ways to tap into your inner wolf in the book, the wolf visualization may be my favorite, though I am very fond of the one that instructs you to howl. In the wolf visualization, you imagine you are running with a pack of wolves after imagining you have turned into a wolf. As you visualize this experience and reflect on it, you are to take note of and “experience the freedom and the power of being a wild animal.”11
Many such transformations are conjured in this text. The book has no shortage of methods that act as meditation, prayer, and spellwork or manifestation. The page titled “More Top Tips for Transformation”12 delivers welcome approaches to reframing oneself in a holistic manner, as does the entire chapter. The book presents techniques for positive life change as it unfolds its secrets of human emotion and self-discovery.
A favourite tool or ritual I’ve used is “The Glass Slippers.”13 Davies recognizes that Cinderella’s glass slippers are a key to her finding happiness, and that they make her feel like royalty. She writes that this makes it fitting that “these shoes form a connection between her and the prince, and provide a catalyst needed for positive change.”14 She suggests transforming a pair of shoes of your choosing into so-called glass slippers. Anoint yours with a couple drops of lavender oil and rose water, or use anything you have handy — make your own holy water, or moon water, or four thieves blend, perhaps15 — to customize what your want from your transformation. Bathe them in the light of a new or full moon. Now, when you put on these shoes, you can feel “super-confident and glamorous.”16
Anyone can adapt the lessons and exercises throughout. I haven’t worn high heels for some years. To try the glass slippers ritual, I relied on a love of socks and applied four thieves’ to the bottoms of my feet. I let the socks act as my glass slippers. Davies’ magick takes hold when you use this simple ritual to accept that “you are loved and that you attract good things into your life. Step into the shoes and feel the confidence connecting you to the earth and help you to stand tall.”17
Be Your Own Fairy Tale is a lovely remedy for anyone stuck in a rut. The “Hero’s Quest” section, designed for “whenever you feel you’re lacking in direction,”18 captures a range of ways to understand and depict personal goals, beginning with a map of a hero’s quest that uses a long piece of butcher paper and magazine clippings — and the advice to include representations of friends that can help along the way. This engaging book also helps with overcoming depression. “As you start to read, ponder and create your own fairy tales, you’ll feel more in touch with the world. You’ll also feel more creative and imaginative”19. Having begun to work with this book, I have seen such a transformation.
Davies acknowledges, too, how therapeutic fairy tales can be for body, heart, and mind. The Sealskin Ritual20 is meant to help with discomfort in the chest or the stomach area, and it also could begin a worthwhile journey for anyone struggling with other health matters. Should someone need confidence facing their fears or dealing with a medical diagnosis, divorce, financial shift, or other trauma, the “Changing Characters” chapter is a good place to look for solutions.
The sealskin is a key symbol in the Icelandic story of the selkie, a mythical figure. It represents the crux of this book. The sealskin belongs to the selkie, who can move between the human world as a beautiful woman and the watery depths as a seal. When the sealskin is possessed by someone else, the woman forever belongs to that person, remaining in her human form.21
Reading Be Your Own Fairy Tale, you are beckoned to tell stories where you nurture your identity. As Davies writes, “Stories show us the countless possibilities available, they open up our options and illustrate that with a little imagination there really is no limit to what we can achieve. The unexpected isn’t to be feared, it’s what makes your story unique.”22 While playfulness, thinking-outside-the-box and letting oneself be surprised by their storytelling is the point of many of the exercises, intention is the true concept behind the book.