The following is reprinted without permission from Hear the Silence: Stories by Women of Myth, Magic, and Renewal. Copyright 1986 by The Crossing Press.

It is the custom of the People that when a story has been told to you, you give the teller something of equal value; a story of your own. And so it often is, the storytellers meet and first one will tell a wonderful tale, and another will share with a second wonderful tale. The first will be so moved by the story of the second that she will offer a third wonderful tale, and on hearing the third tale, the second teller will be so moved she will offer a fourth tale. Then a passer-by, hearing one of the stories, will seat herself with the storytellers, and she will share. And soon, there they are, sitting in the central compound, tell stories, one after the other, forgetting everything except the stories and the joy of telling, and though their throats parch and their voices become hoarse, all are loathe to leave the storytelling circle, and they might starve, or perish of thirst if it were not for the mercy of the People, who bring them water, and food, and if it is cold, light the poor fools a fire while they spin their yarns and keep alive the songs, the riddles, the tales, the stories, those things which are our only touch to that other place, where we will all go one day, but not for a long time, I fear.

from Magic in a World of Magic, by Anne Cameron.