I have been telling stories all of my life. In my family, you had to be a storyteller to get any attention at all. The competition was fierce.

One day, while visiting my uncle Chuck, now an Iroquois chieftain, I asked him if he knew any stories about Raven, the American Indian god. He smiled broadly and leaned back in his chair; his wife and kids quickly stacked up their dishes and left the room.

"Craig," he told me, "You are the first person in my family to actually ask to hear a story, and because of that, I will give you the stories that I am about to tell you. You see, to the Indian people, a story is not just something you can tell just because you know it. A story is property—medicine. It's valuable, and it belongs to someone. You don't just tell a story unless you own it. And so I will give you these stories, that you may tell them again to others."

That night in 1994, Chuck told me three stories: one of Raven, one a Coast Salish Changer myth, and one of Thunderbird. After that long evening, I actively searched for tales to add to my collection. Today, I could tell you well over a hundred myths and folk tales from memory, ranging from Norse myths to Touraeg tales from West Africa—from Romanian ballads to Russian fairy tales. Some I have discovered in hundred-year old dusty books on forgotten shelves in university libraries, and others I have learned from friends in counties such as Romania, India, or Nepal. Some tales, such as Mullah Nasruddin tales, take only a minute or two to tell, whereas others, such as certain Hindu epics, take all night. I can usually tell a substantial fairytale in twenty to forty-five minutes, but I never tell a tale exactly the same way twice, because each audience is unique, and the spirit of the moment changes each telling.

In addition to traditional tales, I have many personal anecdotes to share. It has been a pursuit of mine to live life in a way that makes for a good story afterwards. The worse things get, the better the story will be if I survive! Well, I guess I got what I asked for, and if you'd ever like to hear a tale of one of my travels or an experience that changed the way I look at things, let me know. If it feels right, you just might get to hear what happened. My friends know that if they ask me a question about my life, they'll probably get a story, so be careful. Some of them rival those Hindu epics in length.

Here are some of my own writings about storytelling and retellings of stories I've written down. I hope you enjoy them. Please drop me an e-mail if you'd like to use them or if you would like me to tell a tale at your event.

Happy tales,

Craig Coss