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Why I Love Myth, fables & story Telling

This is my favourite section of the recommended book list.
I don't know about you, but when I was a child, I never really enjoyed being lectured at.

I would soon lose interest, and stop paying attention. But whenever something was related to me in a story form, with wit, charm and fantasy- my ears perked up.

Many times, the language of symbols, fables and magic, conveys and expresses spiritual teaching in a charming, fun and profound manner; without having to feel that one has been "lectured".

I believe partly because it speaks to the child within- that refuses to grow up but continues to be inspired by imagination. And mostly because I believe the soul understands creativity- part of developing our spirituality is to do with developing our creative ability and freeing our imagination.

I remember when I was about 10 years old, my brother returned home from England, and came to greet me while holding The Hobbit under his arms (not in his suit case) as if he could not wait to give it to me. I sensed immediately that this was a meaningful gift. I started reading it and could not put it down.

It was this book that ignited my interest in myth that sealed my continuing interest in fable and fantasy. I also came to appreciate how rich is my own culture is in myth and fantasy. Most of us would know about Arabian 1001 Nights; but wait till you read The Fables of Kalilah Wa Dimnah and Tales of Alhambra (hard to come by).

On this page, I share with you a personal favourite list of Myth, Fable & Fantasy books. I hope that it will fire your imagination and enhance your spiritual understanding too.

It is a list of treasured books that I own and which I would never lend out!

(You will also note from this book list and other recommended lists on my website that I have favourite books, and not necessarily favourite authors. Classics, I believe, cannot be repeated).

© Sahar Huneidi

Read my article about The Mystery of Myth: Are Fairy Tales Spiritual?

Myth, Fable, & Fantasy

On this page, I share with you a personal favourite list of Myth, Fable & Fantasy books. I hope that it will fire your imagination and enhance your spiritual understanding too- as the following books did for me.

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream (Paperback), by Paulo Coelho. "Like the one-time bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a highly unique situation. And though we may sense a best selling formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two. Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coelho introduces Santiago, an Andalucian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream."
Amazon UK, Amazon USA.

The Fables of Kalilah Wa Dimnah, by S. Saleh Jallad. Adapted and translated from the Sanskrit through the Pahlavi into Arabic by Abdullah ibn al-Muqaffa AD 750. Translated from the Arabic by Saleh Saadeh Jallad. Drawings and cover design by Myriam Misk Saikaly. Dust jacket. Hardbound. London: Melisende. £14.95 from Foyle's, London, July, '02. "The book thus infuses wisdom with amusement." Hard to find- grab it when you can.
Amazon UK
, Amazon USA.

The Hobbit, by J. r. R. Tolkien ( illustrated)
"Tolkien wrote this story for children; to be more specific, this was written for HIS children. There were several stories like this, but it was this, The Hobbit, that was his master achievement in children's literature. The Lord of the Rings ( a single epic, NOT a trilogy) was written to cash in on The Hobbit's success. Tolkien wanted to get on with the more serious work of his mythology, and ultimately that is what happened with The Lord of the Rings."- from Amazon reviewer.
Amazon UK, Amazon USA
The Hobbit, Or, There and Back Again (Paperback), by J. R. R. Tolkien
(children's version),
Amazon UK, Amazon USA.

Iron John: A Book About Men, by Robert Bly.
Robert Bly writes that it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by popular culture are worn out, that a man can no longer depend on them. Iron John searches for a new vision of what a man is or could be, drawing on psychology, anthropology, mythology, folklore and legend. Robert Bly looks at the importance of the Wild Man (reminiscent of the Wild Woman in Women Who Run With the Wolves), who he compares to a Zen priest, a shaman or a woodman. 'Important.timely.and powerful' New York Times.
Amazon UK, Amazon USA.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach - A spirituality classic!
Amazon UK, Amazon USA.

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author), Katherine Woods (translator). There is a modern translation of this book by Richard Howard, but I personally prefer the one here, by Katherine Woods.
Amazon UK, Amazon USA.

The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran.
Amazon UK
, Amazon USA.

Tales of Alhambra, by Washington Irving
"The mood is bewitchingly enhanced by Spanish guitar music and beautiful packaging. Perhaps the most romantic travel book ever written. . " Washington Irving’s dreamlike description of Spain’s Granada and the beautiful Moorish castle, the Alhambra, remains one of the most entertaining travelogues ever written. Enhanced here with exquisite Spanish guitar music, the narrative is a heady mix of fact, myth, and depictions of secret chambers, desperate battles, imprisoned princesses, palace ghosts, and fragrant gardens, described in a wistful and dreamlike eloquence, will transport listeners to a paradise of their own. This book is hard to come by, unless you are in Granada, Spain where you can purchase the version published by Granada University. So, buy it where you can find it!
Alibris UK, Alibris USA, Amazon UK, Amazon USA.

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The Mystery of Myth: Are Fairy Tales Spiritual?

Article fist appeared in Prediction Magazine, April 05, page 19.

Last month we discussed the lower-self as an aspect of our spiritual-self or inner-child and; how to reconnect with our ‘innocence’ via creativity and children. In fact, bridging the higher-self (wiser part) and the lower-self (child-like self) is a major part of our spiritual journey and development. In other words, bringing spiritual wisdom to a lower physical, or mundane, level; where spiritual understanding can manifest and can be applied in practical everyday life. Enter fairy tales.

Childhood and spiritual development

At each stage in our human and spiritual development we build on the foundations of each earlier stage, but do not replace them. Western psychoanalysts from Freud onwards, have acknowledged that childhood is the basis of our human development. It follows that our childhood is also the basis of our spiritual development.

In my view fairy tales, for children and adults alike, are an essential aspect of our ongoing understanding of spirituality and the spiritual laws that govern our lives, or our earth-bound experiences (as a spirit in a body). The imagery and metaphor speak to our brain, providing it with means of accepting new concepts. These means are creative and often subliminal. At times when our brain rejects the obvious, it may welcome the mystery of myth instead!

Myth awareness & spiritual growth

Reoccurring themes (love, betrayal, the dark side, the triumph of good over evil etc.) in fairy tales are really archetypes, or patterns which exist at the unconscious level. Carl Jung described these as elemental forces which structure our imagination and make it distinctly human.

Archetypes may emerge into consciousness in many ways. In other words, the stories that our parents read to us in childhood can shape not only our life-beliefs, but also our spiritual awareness. As adults, reading fairy tales can help our spiritual understanding grow to the next higher level of awareness. Continue reading this article.

© Sahar Huneidi