Organs Speak in Stories

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By: Nancy Mellon
Imaginative pictures, like color and musical tones, offer nourishment for both body and soul. In the Old Testament Apocryphal Book of Tobit, an Angel directs Tobias to the heart, liver and gall of a mysterious fish, saying: “Catch the fish by the gills. Open it and take out the gall, liver and heart for they are excellent remedies.” The angel leads Tobias exactly where he needs to go and asks no reward beyond the success of his mission. His unimpeded vision sees which path to take, and the healing properties of the fish they catch. His spiritual eyes are open, like Saint George’s are as he meets the dragon. Under his strict guidance Tobias is able to release his true love from an appalling enchantment. When Tobias’s father’s sight is restored by the juice of the fish’s gall, he sees before him the joyous fulfillment of his old age.

It is often daunting to experience healthy gall radiating in our lives, nudging ardently at our blind spots, as it goads new vision. The princess’s gall in “The Twelve Huntsmen” leads to happy marriage. In “The Juniper Tree,” divine gall gloriously redeems the horrifying darkness that surrounds the stepmother.

The liver too can find nourishment for spiritual evolution in stories. The healthy liver feels brilliant excitement and pleasure at being alive. It embodies the spirit of adventure in close connection with others.

In “The Two Brothers,” the longest tale in the Grimm’s collection of fairy tales, twin boys early in their lives eat the heart and liver of a mysterious golden bird. From then on, through their many adventures, they are deeply connected. The healthy animals that accompany them on their human journeys restore life. They liberate them from destructive emotions and death, just as healthy breathing and good liver detoxification can restore a sense of bursting healthy love and joyous adventure.

Rosicrucian fairy tales often portray heart-strong characters who at the end of their stories, rule wisely and well. Their elder brothers and sisters, with shriveled heart forces, ignore and abuse what these characters warmly embrace. I love to be inspired by these tales in the Grimm’s collection. In “The Queen Bee,” a heart child disenchants a whole realm. When his two elder brothers want to destroy an anthill, Simpleton says: “Leave the creatures in peace; I will not allow you to disturb them.” Later he dissuades his brothers from killing ducks for their dinner. When the two older brothers want to suffocate bees and eat their honey, Simpleton again stops them, saying: “Leave the creatures in peace; I will not allow you to burn them.” The three brothers eventually come to an enchanted stone castle. The only living soul within it is a wizened grey man, who is guarding a book that holds the secrets for restoring life to the kingdom. Where the elder brothers fail to perform the essential tasks and turn into stone statues, Simpleton succeeds. In response to his loving protection, the creatures of the earth, water and air help him do what needs to be done. When the story ends, through his courageous and majestic gentleness, he becomes King and transforms his unruly brothers into loyal subjects. Simpleton and the youngest Princess rule with love. His path to power is made possible because of his commanding power of compassion.

For centuries this little story has stirred evolving heart forces. Its picture language encourages us to remember the even-tempered and generous pulse at the heart’s core. Another tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, “The King’s Son who Feared Nothing,” also gives vivid pictures of unimpeded heart forces. A young man goes forth into the world, accompanied by a mysterious lion. When he is drawn, like Tobias, into a household enchanted by evil forces, he fearlessly stays his ground and delivers love. Beset by heartless devils who torment his body, he is restored by the waters of life that he receives through the ministrations of a loving maiden. At last, with stolid warm courage, he is able to free them both from the dark forces that had surrounded them.

Stories, like angels, can inspire us to greater consciousness of the wisdom at work in each of these endlessly evolving organs.

Nancy Mellon teaches storytelling as a healing art at many locations in the United States and abroad. She is the author of Storytelling with Children (Hawthorn Press) and Storytelling and the Art of Imagination (Yellow Moon Press). Her new book is about how stories resonate with the human body. Learn more about storytelling as a healing art by visiting the website of the Healing Story Alliance,

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