This Witch Reads episode 5

This Witch Reads Podcast Episode 5 – The Power of Story by Harold R. Johnson

“This Witch Reads” is a podcast about learning how to be a witch and tend to the soul through books.

In this episode, I share what Harold R. Johnson’s book, “The Power of Story: On Truth, The Trickster, and New Fictions for a New Era”, taught me about being a witch and tending to my soul.

I was in the bookstore looking for my next read for the podcast when I noticed this book saying “Pick me. Pick me.” I picked it up, flipped through the first pages and came across the opening paragraph from Harold’s wife. She explained how Harold passed away a couple weeks after completing the edits for this book. She described her husband as a gifted storyteller whose last words are powerful and dedicated to all peoples. Upon reading her words, I had to learn more.

In “The Power of Story”, Harold explains the role of storytelling in every aspect of human life, from personal identity to history and the social contracts that structure our societies, and illustrates how we can direct its potential to re-create and reform not only our own lives, but the life we share.

In this episode, I summarize some of the teachings you’ll find in his book and share my experience reading it.

I include a written version of the episode here for those of you who prefer to read. If you’d like to listen to this episode, click on the link below.
This Witch Reads – Episode 5


Before I get into the book though, I want to share an update with you.

In episode 3 of the podcast, I read Marta McDowell’s book “Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life”. The way Marta wove together gardening with Emily Dickinson’s life and poems drew me in because I love poetry and I’m surrounded by women who garden. I myself, do not. As I explained in that episode, I’m a wanna-be gardner or more accurately, a part of me wishes I loved growing and working with plants. Unfortunately, I much prefer the stars and the plants and flowers I paint when I art journal with the moon. But my exciting update is this… I planted a garden with my husband. Well, that’s not exactly the exciting part. We’ve planted gardens before but he’s been the one who has been excited about them and who took great care of them. I really didn’t care much about our garden until it was flourishing and the plants created an oasis on my deck. I was excited about the atmosphere they created not so much about the food we grew. I know, it’s terrible. I wish I got more excited about these things but I just don’t.

Anyway, my exciting update is the garden we planted has tiny shoots pushing out of the dirt and I got excited. I’m actually having fun watching the plants grow. It’s a simple thing and if you love gardening then you probably think I’m describing something obvious but to me its pretty momentous – I have a genuine interest in the garden! All my years living on a farm and I’ve never felt the joy of wanting to grow anything.  I’m crediting Marta McDowell’s book for this shift. I started this podcast as a way to share my journey learning to be a witch through books with you and already two major shifts have happened. All the dark Mother wisdom I absorbed through Demetra George’s book “Mysteries of the Dark Moon” and through Cyndi Brannen’s book “Entering Hekate’s Cave” caused me to change how I work with the dark moon in my art journal and now, here I am having fun growing plants. Who knows who I’ll become after this podcast?

Which brings me to Harold R. Johnson’s book “The Power of Story: On Truth, the Trickster and New Fictions for a New Era”

If you’ve known me long enough, you know I’m a creative thinker which means, you know to expect my learning how to be a witch through books will be a windy, unusual path. If you don’t know me yet but are only just joining the podcast, you’ve been warned. I don’t always read typical “witch” books to grow and expand my magic and I don’t always read typical spiritual books to tend to my soul. This is one of those times I veer off in an unexpected direction.

I’m also not super thorough in my research for this podcast. My goal here is to pick up a book, read it and experience how it helps me grow in my magic or how it helps me tend to my soul. I’m not writing a thesis. I just want to have fun reading and learning so I’m going to have gaps in my understanding from time to time. Expect that as well.

I feel like this happened while reading this book. I don’t know who the author, Harold R. Johnson, is or anything about his background and I haven’t had a chance yet to look further into it. I just happened to come across his book.

I was in the bookstore looking for my next read for the podcast when I noticed this book saying “Pick me. Pick me.” I picked it up, flipped through the first pages and came across the opening paragraph from Harold’s wife. She explained how Harold passed away a couple weeks after completing the edits for this book. She described her husband as a gifted storyteller whose last words are powerful and dedicated to all peoples. Upon reading her words, I immediately imagined myself in her shoes – my husband having died a couple weeks after completing what would be his last book. Writing a dedication under those circumstances would be so hard yet her dedication was touching and it made me tear up and her invitation to read the book drew me in.

I had to learn more.

So here we are. Me talking about a book I read to help me learn how to be a witch and tend to my soul that has nothing to do with being a witch but admittedly, has a lot to do with tending our souls during these dark times.

Storytelling as a Way of Learning About Myself

In this book, Harold explains the role storytelling has in building our histories, our identities and the social agreements that structure our society.

Even the way he structured the book was around story. It could have read like a speech but he built his thoughts about story around the story of people from many different faiths coming to his home where he hosted the group in a circle around a fire.

In the prologue, he explains how the book is what he said to them about the power of story while they were there enjoying the fire with him. He could have just wrote about what he said but almost every section in the book ends with a small paragraph where he pulls the reader back into the story of that evening sitting by the fire. He talks about the light at the end of the day and the warmth of the fire and preparing tea late into the evening when his talk was running long. I appreciated the way he did that. It made me feel like I was sitting around the fire with them, listening to his wise words.

In fact, the whole reason I chose this book for the podcast was because of the story his wife shared on a page before the forward – the story of a wife sharing her husband’s last words.

The book itself is short but it’s one of those books that says a lot in few words and it’s the kind of book I’ll be reading again and again. It was so enjoyable – well, except for one section that triggered me but I’ll get to that later. Regardless of my own emotional issues, this will be a book I treasure for a long time. It’s really good.

It starts off in this way that was just so damn lovely.

Harold starts off by talking about land acknowledgements and how he was to offer his acknowledgment a little differently. I want to share this part with you because it’s so touching…

“It has become common in situations like this to give what people are calling a land acknowledgment. Well, I want to do something like that was well. But I am not going to simply acknowledge the people who originally occupied this land, my ancestors the Nehithaw and our cousins the Metis. Instead, I want to acknowledge the actual land we are sitting on. All these trees, and that water over there, and this grass, all the animals, and the birds, and everything else, and the spirits of the place, are all part of a shared story that we – Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike – are included in. The land – us- the water – the sky – we’re all part of one big, beautiful story.”

He then goes on to share stories about his grandparents and his wife and the river and he finishes by taking us far back to ten thousand years in the past when someone sat in the same spot and flaked stone to make hunting arrows.

I’ll confess, I had to look up what flaking stone meant. My imagination could visualize someone sitting down fidgeting with a stone arrow but I had to google “flaked stone” to learn that flaked stone tools were made by hitting a piece of stone with a harder piece of stone like a pebble. This would remove sharp fragments of stone which are called flakes and those flakes would be used to make arrows or tools.

So there, now if, like me, you didn’t know exactly what flaked stone was, now you know.

Harold’s stories of the land carried me to my own story of the lands I’ve lived on since I was born.

I’ve always lived in Canada but growing up as a French white girl, I can tell you the stories I was told about the land sounded nothing like the stories Harold shared in his book.

I remember, in the eighties during my elementary years, being told about the French fighting the English. I remember being told about the lumberjacks or “les Bucherons” and how their way of life was celebrated and passed down. I was told about the Saint-Laurence river and fur trading and about wagons rolling west and cutting down trees to build homes and clear fields. I remember being told about wood stoves and hard winters and starting with nothing but making friends with the Indigenous people – as if everyone in the past was happy and lovely.

I didn’t learn about fishing and trapping and living off the land and I definitely didn’t learn how racist our history stories were. In his book, Harold helped fill in some of the stories my white culture left out. Like the story of how Columbus went looking for India because he wanted a new trade route to perfume and spices. Spices were needed because they didn’t know how to preserve meat and the perfume was needed because Europeans didn’t bathe regularly and they stank. So on page 51, Harold explains, “So the main reason Europeans stumbled upon the Americas in search of perfume and spice is because they stank and their food was rotten and tasted bad.” He had me laughing out loud at that one and he explained how it’s not fun to hear negative stories about your history but that he understood because negative stories about Indigenous people have been told for a long time – like how they were backwards and childish and needed Europeans to save them. Growing up, that was definitely the kind of stories I heard in my church, family and school.

It’s another reason why I enjoyed this book, he has a great sense of humor which made it fun to read. The stories he shares are hard to sit with. It’s kind of him to sprinkle in a few laughs every once in a while.

His stories made me think of my own history.

I thought about how when I tried to learn about my ancestors I could find information about a few of my male ancestors but the only way to find out about my great great grandmothers was to read about their lives through the biographies of their fathers, husbands and sons. Women’s stories weren’t written down.

It also made me think of the journey I went on a couple years ago with my art journal and the moon to clear ancestral money blocks. I started on a Scorpio new moon.

I started my journey by inviting my ancestors to join me and learning a little about their history with money. I then created a page in my art journal to sum up my experience.

Sounds simple but it wasn’t.

It was really hard.

You can read about it here.

How Story Affects Us

On page 33, Harold writes, “We become the stories we are told and the stories we tell ourselves.”

He then goes on to explain how our own life story intermingles with the stories society tells us. We have the power to change our life story and that can influence the stories society tells but we must first control our own life story.

Who do you believe you are?

What is the story you are telling yourself about yourself?

What are the stories you tell yourself about your past?

What are the stories you tell yourself about the future?

I was on a walk listening to an episode on The Astrology Podcast about the month of June and as they spoke about the upcoming new moon in Gemini, they, like Harold in his book, discussed the importance of story. Apparently, the new moon in Gemini is a great moon to create under and one of the things we love creating are stories.

Story helps us escape our everyday reality.

Story helps us imagine a different future for ourselves.

Stories entertain us.

Stories teach us about ourselves.

Stories can also help us locate ourselves emotionally and spiritually.

For instance, on the podcast Austin Coppock (Copick) suggested asking yourself, what kind of story am I? And what kind of story am I in at this time in my life? What is this part of my life about and what kind of character am I playing?

Maybe you have to kind of story you are in during this time of your life mixed up and you’ve been playing the wrong character. Maybe you wish you were in a role you are no longer in?

I see this a lot in my work when a client is having trouble accepting the story they are actually in. Maybe the story is a story of addiction and it’s time to be the character who hits bottom, wakes up and makes a change but they’re stuck believing a story that tells them everything is fine. Maybe they’re in a story of health struggles and limitations but they hate feeling limited and so they decide to believe they’re in a story where it’s not really that serious and soon everything will be okay. They think they’re in a different story than they actually are so they’re not doing a great job of the role they are actually in. Sometimes my job is just helping people see the story they are in. Once we are fully in the story that is currently playing out in our lives THEN we can work to change the plot. When you’re trying to deny or escape your own story, you lose the power to change it.

So my friends, what is your narrative? What is the story you are living right now and what role are you playing in it?

I like to imagine that is what Harold would have wanted us to do – to see the stories we’ve been told, the stories we’ve been telling about ourselves, the stories we’ve been telling about each other and if they’re not working or they’re unkind or they’re leading us to destroy each other and the world, edit, modify or completely rewrite the story because it’s all make believe anyway.

The “I am Safe” Story

As I was reading Harold’s stories I realized there was one story missing in the book and in my life – the story that I am safe. That is the story my body and my heart most want to hear – that I am safe.

If I could truly believe that, the walls around my heart would come down.

If I could truly believe that, the cells in my body could relax more deeply than they have ever relaxed before.

So many of my inner parts do not believe I am safe.

There are a few reasons why so many of my inner parts don’t feel safe.

The first of which is I am a woman and the story my society tells by the events that happen in it is women are not safe.

Also, I was raised in an environment where my emotional needs weren’t inquired after. No one asked me how I felt. In fact, emotions weren’t given much consideration at all. No one around me taught me how to identify my emotions, no one inquired after my emotional needs and the adults around me just pushed through or buried their emotions and expected the same of me.

How do you know yourself and what you need if you don’t know how you feel? How do you tell the adults around you that you don’t feel safe when you don’t even know that’s how you’re feeling?

I’m also a highly sensitive person and an empath. Highly sensitive people and empaths absorb more of the emotions and energy from people and places than other people. They also internalize the feelings and pain of other people and have a hard time distinguishing their own feelings from what they are absorbing from others. All those emotions that the adults around me tried to push through or bury didn’t actually go anywhere. They still carried them around and I soaked them in without being aware of what I was doing and how much it was affecting me and my body.

The person whose energy and emotions I absorbed the most were my mothers and that wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except she didn’t have her emotional needs met as a child either so she suffered from chronic stress, anxiety and depression. When she was anxious, stressed or depressed, I felt scared. This is not her fault. She wasn’t raised in an emotionally nurturing environment either and society doesn’t support and nurture mothers – especially back then.

I didn’t feel safe or taken care of so I tried desperately to soothe and comfort the adults around me or be invisible so as not to add to their stress. It caused me to absorb bigger emotions and energy than my nervous system knew how to deal with effectively. Because I didn’t know how to manage the big feelings I was absorbing I couldn’t move them out of my body and they stayed stuck with me and I carried that kind of emotional overwhelm in my body for years. This did not help my body to feel safe.

Another reason I never felt safe is because at a young age, I experienced sexually traumatic events and I disassociated from my body and emotions. I remember leaving my body and looking down at what was going on from above. I was disassociating from the experience because what was happening was too much for my little brain to process.

As time went on, my brain started to respond to any stressful event as if it was traumatic. Disassociating and going into freeze mode became habitual. Experiences like running my own business and dealing with illness and heartbreak were not just causing normal levels of stress, my brain responded as if I were in life or death situations! It was an exaggerated response that shut me down, made me unclear and hurt my body. Unfortunately, I was always trying to be a ‘good girl’ and a ‘good student’ and a ‘good friend’ so I never let any of it show. I just pushed through and ignored how I was feeling. I did it so well that no one knew I lived with chronic anxiety, stress and a trauma response that was constantly triggered, including me. Since I started disassociating at such a young age, it was all that I knew so it felt normal to me. But it wasn’t normal and it wasn’t healthy and it had catastrophic consequences.

Anxiety and my trauma response kept me stuck for years and I didn’t even know it and I see this with my clients ALL THE TIME.

We see the physical problems – like getting sicker, feeling unmotivated, having a hard time finding the energy we need to get the things done and experiencing overwhelm to the point where it shuts us down.

But we don’t realize that the fact that we don’t feel safe is causing so many of these physical problems.

After reading this book, that’s the story I want to spend time believing – the story that I am safe.

Telling Stories without Spiritual Bypassing

When I prepare for this podcast, I write my thoughts down. I write what I want to say because there is no way I can organize and remember what I want to say if I just sat down in front of the mic. I need my thoughts to be somewhat sorted before I share them.

As I sat down to organize my thoughts about this book I realized my body was in a disorganized state. One particular story Harold tells was highly activating for me. I felt rage and my body was having a hard time digesting that emotion.

As a person who lives with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and POTS, my body doesn’t just respond to difficult and intense emotions in a normal way. It doesn’t respond to many things in a normal way and the things it reacts to are so strange I feel odd just talking about it… like driving up and down hills make my mast cells overreact and feeling too hot or too cold or having an empty stomach makes my mast cells overreact. Especially strong reactions happen when I’m around chemical scents or when I eat any kind of sugar and my MCAS restricts me to a very odd assortment of foods.

Living with MCAS is a balancing act of managing symptoms while trying to ensure I don’t experience too many triggers at one time. If I do, my body goes into an atypical anaphylactic response. My heart rate becomes erratic which means it climbs to 200 beats then drop right down to 40 beats then skyrockets back up again within seconds. This makes me dizzy and unable to breathe or function properly. My body temperature has dropped to hypothermic degrees in the past. My symptoms can come on fast and strong within seconds and they can last for several hours or days.

The problem with Intense or heightened emotions is, for me, they can set a train of MCAS symptoms into motion – including full body inflammation, atypical anaphylactic symptoms, irregular heart rate, labored breathing, brain fog, anxiety, chest pain, dizziness, flushing, swelling and a drop in body temperature just to name a few.

My body works much better when my nervous system is calm and regulated but as I’m sure you’ve experienced in your life, maintaining a calm and regulated nervous system every moment of my waking life is impossible. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned how to tend to my trauma response and I use a variety of highly effective techniques like working with the MAP Method, Internal Family Systems and somatic practices that have improved my life immensely and I finally know and understand my body and what it needs so finally, after 10 years of confusion, suffering and pain I now live 90% of the time in a strong and healthy state. But intense emotions like rage are one of the things that aggravate my condition so my emotions no longer ever go unnoticed.

This book was wildly triggering at one point. It was in the chapter that began with the sentence “Stories can heal and stories can kill.”

In this chapter, Harold shares examples of people who were made sick by a story they believed and examples of people who were cured from a sickness by believing a different story about themselves. For example, on page 87, he shares a story about a little boy.

“There was a young boy with leukemia who told himself a story about the Lone Ranger riding through his veins, shooting the cancer cells with silver bullets. He cured himself of leukemia.”

He then goes on to share similar miraculous healing stories and repeats the idea like the one he shares on page 89 which states, “Every story we tell can heal or kill. You have to be very careful of the stories you tell.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. This statement is not devoid of truth but at the same time it feels like it bypasses BIG important experiences of people who struggle with illness. It diminishes complex pain and suffering down to one problem with one solution. It’s reductive, unkind and dangerous.

Not every body begins at the same place. People in able bodies struggle to see this sometimes. Physical health is complicated and conscious creation and the power of my mind and positive thinking is one factor in a complex system. It is NOT the only factor.

I don’t care what kind of enlightened master I become and how well I master my mind, my body will not be exactly like someone else’s body. Getting to the emotional root of my problems, rewiring my brain, positive thinking and conscious creation are all a part of my healing but they are not everything. There is so much more to consider.

Sometimes, no matter what story you tell yourself, your body is sick. That doesn’t mean you’re not being positive enough. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong enough mind. It doesn’t mean you’re secretly harboring negative thoughts in your subconscious. It doesn’t mean you’re telling yourself the wrong stories. Despite what some new age thinkers will have me believe, I am not the only reason my body struggles. There are much more complex factors to consider.

People in strong bodies have trouble seeing what living in a sensitive body is all about. They reflect their experience onto me and don’t really see me at all. My body has always been and will always be sensitive. Period. No matter how much inner work I do or how strong my ability to heal with my mind is. Many people don’t know how to be with that. I didn’t know how to be with that for so many years. I’ve been conditioned to think the baseline for wellness is a certain kind of body that is strong and resilient. That’s not my baseline. It was never meant to be my baseline. When that kind of strong, resilient body was my goal, I suffered because it is not attainable for me. I had to come to terms with what is attainable for me which is hard when you’re living in a culture that only sees one kind of experience as the example of health and when you’re surrounded by people who think my experience can be reduced to my believing the wrong things about myself.

I think my spirit chose a more sensitive baseline for a reason and it sucks sometimes and I have to learn how to manage things differently than most people I know but no amount of willpower or healing will change my body at its core. My body’s idea of strength and health is different than someone else’s body. My body will always be sensitive and it will always have more needs than many of the bodies around me. It doesn’t have more needs and it isn’t more sensitive because I’m not strong in my mind or I don’t do my inner work or I’m not addressing my emotional wounds or I’m telling myself a story of sensitivity and so that’s what I’ll experience. It is sensitive and has more needs because that is how it was made. It’s supposed to be this way. A thousand things contribute to my sensitivities. Some of them are genetic. Some of them are rooted in trauma. Some of them are environmental. Some of them are a consequence of living in a society that isn’t well and allows toxic substances to permeate my air, food and water. And some of them, I believe, are rooted in my spirit’s desire to experience this kind of body.

Don’t misunderstand me, doing my inner work, addressing my emotional wounds and coming into alignment with my body will support me and I will continue to change and grow and improve but I will always be in a body that is more sensitive than most. That’s just my reality and it’s not wrong or bad nor does it mean I’m less effective at my inner work or that I’m telling myself the wrong story.

It reminds me of the times I sought out support for the way my body was putting on weight and the advice I received over and over again boiled down to “calories in and calories out”. It’s laughable to me now how ridiculously reductive that is. For some people, it is nowhere near that simple. For many people it is and it is usually those people who cannot see me and my body. It’s laughable now but at the time, the reductive nature of that thinking was dangerous. It made me feel like something was wrong with me. It made me feel like I was the problem but I wasn’t. There was a whole history of conditions that led to my experience and when the solution was reduced to one simple thing that did NOT work for me, change couldn’t happen. People in my life who find that “calories in and calories out” works for them see me as someone who was eating too much or not exercising enough. Talk about being completely blind to my experience! I eat healthier and I’m just as active as most people I know.

Reading that my experiences with my body can all be cured by telling myself a new story felt insensitive, cold and dismissive.

Now, does that mean I don’t believe in the power of story?

No it doesn’t.

I do believe in the power of story.

I also believe in something I don’t exactly know how to name but has a bit to do with complexity, nuance, surrender and something along the lines of paradox and “two opposing ideas being true at the same time”.

I believe I can heal my body by changing the stories I tell myself about it AND….

…there will be some things that will never change and I will need to learn how to accept.

I don’t always know which is which and I don’t believe I’m meant to know. I think that’s part of the mystery.

I am powerful and have magical abilities to create amazing change in my life AND…

…there will be some things that will never change and I will need to learn how to accept.

No one outside my body can know which is which. That is between me and the mystery.

And things do and can change over time.

Right now my body is telling me a story of trust and acceptance.

For many years, I thought it was telling me a story about overcoming, mind over matter and will power but I was swimming against the current of my spirit.

I also think reducing illness to an idea as simple as “you’re not telling yourself the right story” is dangerous because it places all responsibility on the individual.

We are shaped and affected by more than the stories we tell ourselves.

We are shaped by the environment and each other and how cruel and ineffective would it have been for the cigarette companies to blame the diseases their cigarettes caused on the stories smokers told themselves. If only you told yourself the right story when you were smoking, you would be fine now. It’s your fault!

What a convenient philosophy! Now nobody has to take responsibility except the person suffering.

Okay, I think I’m ready to get off my soapbox now.

Favorite Quotes

Now that I’m finished ranting, I want to share my favorite quotes. This is one of my favorite parts of the podcast. I love sharing quotes with you.

One of my favourite quotes about the power of story from Harold is on page 36 when he states:

Page 36

“Every thought you think is framed by story. I am story. You are story. The universe is story, and it all comes from the Trickster.”

I love the Trickster and if you do too, you’ll like a lot of the stories Harold shares in his book about the Trickster.

A quote that made me think of episode 2 where I read Cyndi Brannen’s book “Entering Hekate’s Cave” and I was deeply moved by the story she told of living with an open heart and a strong spine was on page 45, where Harold said…

Pg 45

“The reason our stories have humour is become people put shields up in front of themselves. When we make them laugh, their shields come down, and we can slip in the message of the story. That’s also why we sit in a circle. If we sit across from each other, the shields we hold in front of ourselves get in the way. The best way to communicate with someone is to sit side by side – that way our shields don’t block our communication. When we are in a circle like this, we are all sitting beside each other. We are all equal.”

In the book, Harold had a great way of reaching into the past but he also had a great way of guiding me toward the future like on page 59 when he said…

Pg 59

“…we must be careful of the stories we tell. We don’t know what impact they might have five hundred years from now.”

And on page Pg 93, he really had me thinking about the shows I’ve been watching on TV when he said…

“After you learn to be careful with what you say, then learn to be careful with what you hear – what you listen to. You become the stories you take in – the stories you inhale – the stories you believe.”

As a writer and artist, I love how he helped me remember the importance of editing and rewriting when it comes to my life story. ON page 101, he writes…

Pg 101

“Yes, a lot of bad shit has already happened. But no, it’s not too late to change the story. It’s not fixed. You can edit a story after it’s told. You can go back and make changes, important, relevant changes. That’s what editing is. When we edit a manuscript, we go back through the story and retell it using different words, better words. You can edit your lifestory the same way. It’s not so much what happened to you as what you tell yourself about it.”

On page 108, his truth telling was plain and clear when he explained…

Pg 108

“You get to choose all the characters in your story. If the people you surround yourself with pull you down, endanger you, or bring disrespect – you can write them out of your story. Yes, it’s that simple.”

And a quote I think I’d love to see in my art journal or on a wall somewhere was on page 110 when he stated…

Pg 110

“Don’t let others write you in a bad place.”

I love how on page 111, he made me think of the story I want to be able to tell myself on my deathbed when he wrote…

Pg 111

“No, you don’t know the details of the end of your lifestory. None of us knows the date, time or circumstances. But we all know there is an end, and the end of your lifestory is just as important as the end of a fiction. It’s a good strategy to be writing toward it all the time. It’s that last minute that’s important. That moment when you know this is your last breath, your last heartbeat, your last thought. In that moment, you will be alone…This is what the entire story you are creating has built toward. If in this moment you have regrets, it’s your fault. You were the author. But if in that defining moment you look back and say, “I am satisfied”, then you have written a masterpiece.”

And another quote along those same lines in one page 112 where he explained…

Pg 112

“Every one of our days should be good enough to die in. It takes an incredible author to write days that good. We have to practice writing those days until we can fill our lifestory with pages so good that endings don’t frighten us anymore.”

There’s a quote on page 115 I think would make a great T Shirt. It states…

Pg 115

“…anyone who says they are not a racist is full of shit if they are not checking their story every time.”

Okay another great T Shirt quote is on Pg 125 when Harold writes…

“I cannot tell you who you are. That’s for you to decide.”

I’d wear the heck out of that T Shirt.

On page 127, I love how he weaves our ancestors into the present when he says…

Pg 127

“Remember what I told you about our ancestor’s atoms in the soil, how the plants reach down and bring those atoms to the surface and animals eat those plants and we pick the berries off those plants and eat the animals that eat the plants and so we have our ancestor’s atoms in us. That, too, is part of the story.”

And the quote that best speaks to my need to feel safe is on page 144 where Harold writes…

Pg 144

“You are whole and complete. You are plugged in to the neural networks, the mycelia, the root systems of the forest. You experience and can translate energy and frequencies. You are repeatedly told by the spirits of plants and animals and insects, “you are a beautiful human being.”

That quote makes my body melt.

On Pg 145, he says something I think every witch should remember…

“”You are in charge”, doesn’t mean that you are abandoned, alone and on your own. It means that you make the decisions and the spiritual forces that surround you will assist. They’re your helpers. You decide where you want to go, and if you work with them, they will help you get there.”

On page 153, he says something I think every billionaire should have tattooed on their chest…

Pg 153

“WE have a huge web of story that perpetuates the suffering of billions to maintain the privilege of a select few.”

On page 160, Harold cuts right to the core of our problems by explaining the power of the story of economics.

“If we don’t tell our story in line with the economics story, we are not listened to. It has become the overarching genre of storytelling.”

And on page 162, he tells a beautiful story of unity when we writes…

Pg 162

“We need to find a story that we can share, like we share the heat from this fire. We need to learn to live like family.”

He continues to deepen his argument on page 180 when he says,

“What we’re all experiencing, white people, Black people, LGBTQ people, Aboriginal people, is real suffering. The best way to alleviate that suffering is to create a new story, an inclusive story where no one is left out. When people see themselves as part of a shared story, they can relate to the other characters in that story.”


And finally, my absolute favorite imagery in the book,

Pg 102

“I was given a powerful story about snakes. I really liked it. You know how some stories can make your skin crawl? Well, this snake story would make you want to tear your skin off, throw it in a pile, and run – that’s how good it was.”

Now that’s a good story.

I hope you enjoyed the podcast and my thoughts on Harold R. Johnson’s book, “The Power of Story”. I just picked up Juliet Diaz’ book “The Altar Within” so that will be next up on the podcast. I can’t wait to dig into it. See you next time.

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If you know a witch who would love this episode, please share it with them so they can be inspired by the book too. Witches who read together get free together.

And so you don’t miss the next episode, make sure you subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app.

If you like what you hear, leave a review on your podcast app. It helps me grow and improves accessibility to other listeners. Why have a book club of one or two when you can hang out with a whole gaggle of witchy book lovers? Plus, my heart does a happy loop de loop when I receive a little support and love.

We all need a little more love in our lives.

with love,

Dana da Ponte



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This is a space where art and spirit come together. On the blog, I share art rituals for working with the magic of the moon. I also work with the subconscious mind to lighten your emotional load and follow your creative dreams.


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