Introduction to Story, Myth and Archetype

Story is a common treasure shared from our earliest days of ‘once upon a time . . .’. Good stories can activate our imaginations, touch our hearts, remind us of our own life journeys, connect us to the shared family and cultural histories into which we were born, and open us to a growing awareness of life beyond the familiar. They also can move into the realm of understanding and meaning.

When we start to discover in our stories patterns, archetypal energies, and essential ‘truths’ that aren’t facts, we know we are moving into myth, archetype, and the great adventures that take us, as Jean Houston says, across time and culture into the Bigger Picture – the Larger Story. There we find other ‘kindred spirits’ who also tap into the excitement of being called to co-create a New Story needed to meet today’s needs.

As a child I loved The Little Engine That Could, and as a teen I couldn’t read enough Nancy Drew Mysteries. By young adulthood, my heart opened to stories of Catholic mystics like Thomas Merton and Native American holy people like Black Elk and Lame Deer. I also loved the Grail stories of Arthur, Merlin, and Parzifal. Now I also am drawn to the bard Taliesin. Looking back, I realize these myths and stories have been invitations to imagine a bigger life.

Soon I was learning from Clare Danielsson, John Nolte, Ann Hale, and Donna Little how to use action methods for exploring individual and collective stories through psychodrama, sociometry, and sociodrama; immersing myself in core shamanic training with Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman; and actively participating in Jean Houston’s Mystery School, including her Grail Study Trip to England, Wales, and Scotland.

I moved to Edinburgh in 2001, where I heard and read stories about and told by the Travellers; reflected on ‘spiritual allies’ stories gathered by Scottish ethnologists; engaged with numerous Celtic myths; enjoyed the music and exchanges at folk sessions; and quickly met Gordon Strachan and his cohort of ‘kindred spirits’ who were on a Grail Quest and an adventure to learn more about Merlin and Jesus.

In the autumn of 2013, I facilitated a shamanic workshop entitled Inner Journeys: Shaman’s Core Seeds of Storytelling for the Scottish International Storytelling Festival at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. Whether stories are heard, read, discovered through processes like shamanic journeys, or enacted through methods like psychodrama, sociodrama, or Playback Theatre, they can evoke meaningful personal and collective experiences.

Story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman 

I described earlier how the name White Buffalo Associates comes from my personal story, but it also grows out of the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman herself, who came first to the Lakota People with the sacred pipe and its message of universal peace, harmony, and connectedness with all life.

As told through the generations, the White Buffalo Calf Woman originally appeared to two young warriors, who had been sent by their council to scout for buffalo. While roaming the hills, they saw a beautiful woman dressed in white buckskin and among other things, was carrying a bundle on her back. When she reached them, she told them she was sent by the Buffalo Nation to visit their people and present them with something important for their future.

Though one of the warriors did not respect her, the other did, and he took her message back to his people, telling them to make special preparations for her visit. The people listened to the message the warrior brought back, made preparations as they were instructed, and anxiously awaited her arrival. As the beautiful woman came into sight, she carried a pipe – the first the people had ever seen.

She explained that they were to use the pipe to bind peace among groups, showed them how to pray with the pipe, and blessed them. Together they smoked the pipe with awareness of their connection to all that lives – to All Our Relations. When they finished, the people watched in silence as the woman left the lodge walking very slowly. As soon as she was outside, she turned into a white buffalo calf and galloped away.

Since the late 1990s a number of white buffalo calves have been born in various parts of the United States. Shortly after their births, holy people from First Nations tribes have gathered with others of like hearts and minds in ceremony to honor those calves, whose births are symbols and reminders of the White Buffalo Calf Woman’s call to peace and harmony in all relationships and to a vision of life as an interconnected web of All Our Relations.

Selected Resources


See for new information about what Jean Houston offers now that Mystery School has ended.

Celtic & Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh

Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, 

BIBLIOGRAPHIES (downloadable link to pdf):

STORY, MYTH, and ARCHETYPE Selected Bibliography – February 2018

Celtic Studies (pending)




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