Compilation of Stories


The following stories were suggested as healing stories by members of the Storytell Listserve.  Of the many stories that were suggested  I have tried to use only those stories  that are in the public domain.  If  I know that a story is copyrighted, I have obtained permission to use the story here.  Other copyrighted stories are listed and summarized if sources were available.   These stories may be shared orally. 



The Wolves Within


     A grandson told of his anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice. Grandfather said: "Let me tell you a story."


     "I, too, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But, hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.


     It is as if there are two wolves inside me: one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

     But the other wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights with everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great.

     It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of then try to dominate my spirit."


     The boy looked intently into his grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"


    The grandfather solemnly replied, "The one I feed."

This  story by Esther Acosta was reprinted in THE STARFISH, The Rocky Mountain

Storytellers Guild Newsletter. This story was posted on the Healing Arts listserve.

Contributed by Bob Kanegis



Pitching Starfish


A late summer storm had washed a great many starfish up on the beach. .

Those that remained too long out of the water would perish. I saw a man. going from one starfish to another. He would stoop, pick one up, and pitch it back into the sea. Then he would go on to the next and do the same. As I surveyed the immense stretch of beach before him and contemplated the miles of beach beyond, I realized the futility of this man's effort. In a manner that I hoped would seem friendly, I attempted to counsel him that he could not save any meaningful portion of all the starfish that were so stranded, that his effort would in the end make no difference. He picked up another starfish and, as he threw it into the sea, he turned to me and said, "I'm pretty sure it made a difference to that one."

                                                                                                                        As adapted  by Tom Burger



First tears: The First Tears-Jablow-The Man and the Moon-wb398 jab11m


There was once an orphan boy and he was sad for he was all alone, no mama, no papa,  no brothers or sisters, no family....nothing., he was very sad. And the people around him paid no attention to him at all, this made the orphan boy sadder.

But he did not cry, for this was a time before there were any tears.  The people and the orphan boy did not know how to cry. The orphan boy would walk around at night feeling  very sad, but not knowing what to do.

The Moon was watching   this boy and she had compassion for him.  She came down out of the night sky and laid down on the earth in front of the orphan boy.  ³Weep orphan boy, come here and weep on me then I will take your tears up into the night sky².  The orphan boy went over to the moon and leaned over her, his body began to shake and he started to weep.  The tears fell down splashing and splattering on Moon¹s smooth silvery body leaving marks where they fell.   At first the tears were small, but as he wept the tears became larger.   He wept tears of all sizes for not having  a mama, a papa, brothers and sisters, ..a family. He wept for no one paying any attention to him.

When he had finished the Moon rose back into the night sky leaving the boy

empty.  In the morning  the Sun began to shine  upon the orphan boy filling him with joy.  The people that day saw a smile on the boy¹s face and they could fill the joy inside him.  The people were curious, they did not know what this was and went to the orphan boy asking him what had happened.   For before this time the people did not know how to cry and get rid of  their sadness so they had no room for joy and did not know what it was. The orphan boy told of how the Moon had laid down for him asking him to cry upon her.  He told of his tears and how they splattered on her body leaving their marks.  He told of his tears for not having a mama, a papa, brothers or sisters, a  family, and of tears for no one paying any attention to him.

The  orphan boy said that now he was not sad anymore. That night when the Moon rose  into the night sky the people could see where the orphan boy¹s tears had splattered all over her body.  The people now felt the sadness in themselves and began to weep and weep.  They let loose of their sadness through their eyes.  The  next day when they saw the morning sun¹s rays, they could now see clearly that this was a new day.

They could see clearly now for the tears had cleansed the eyes.  And just as they had learned to replace thirst with water and to replace hunger with food,  the people now replaced their sadness with joy of a new day.  From then on they all became the orphan boy¹s family and they always gave him lots and lots of attention.

                                                            This is Steve Crouch’s version of this story and permission has been granted for it to be used.



Master and Disciple Walking Down Road


A very short story about a master and disciple walking on a road. A fine carriage overtakes them rapidly and would have run them over if they had not jumped into the roadside ditch. The disciple climbs out of the ditch cursing at the departing carriage, but the master blesses them and wishes them happiness (and maybe some more good things). When the disciple asks how the master could possibly react in that way, the master replies that surely if they were happy they wouldn't treat others in such a way.


I saw this story recently in print but now cannot figure out which book it was in.       Sheila Darr



The Gift of Insults A Zen Tale


There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.


One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.


Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior's challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.


Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. "How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?"


"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it," the master replied, "to whom does the gift belong?"

Contributed by Karen Chace



Serpent who Terrorized a Village


A serpent was terrorizing a village street. No one could walk down the street without the serpent leaping out of his basket, striking out, hissing and spitting his venom. Finally the villagers  went to the village shaman and asked for a poison to kill the serpent.


"Oh, that's a bit extreme," said the shaman. "What if I can convince him to not terrorize you?"


The villagers agreed that was all they wanted. So the shaman went to the serpent and negotiated with him.  "You are a creature of Allah as well as they are. Why do you threaten them?"


"Because they hate me," replied the serpent.


"Of course, they don't hate you.  They're afraid of you. Leave off threatening them,  and Allah will bless you."


The serpent crawled back into his basket and there he had a dream in which he envisioned a lovely, green forest given to him by Allah. The serpent awoke a changed being.


From that day he did not attack passersby, or spit venom at them, or terrorize them any more.


One day the shaman came to him to see how he was doing. He found the serpent lying in his basket, nearly dead, great wounds in his beautiful sleek skin.


"What in the world happened to you?" cried the shaman.


"This is what they did to me when I no longer spit venom at them. They attacked my basket  and dropped stones on me. "


The shaman shook his head sadly and replied, "I said Allah wants you to not terrorize them. I did not say you can never bite."


That's an Arabian story with a little bite of its own.

                                                                                                                        Contributed by Ardyce Chidester



The Sun and the Wind


The Sun and Wind disagreed about many things. One day Wind said, "Well, whatever you may think, I am certainly stronger than you!" "How so?" asked the Sun. "Watch me!" boasted the Wind. And he blew and blew on a tall tree until the tree bent to the ground. "Hah! See? I can make the very trees bend to my will."


"The tree bent, certainly, but it did not break. And when you stopped blowing the tree became upright once again. I don't think you proved anything," said the Sun.


The Wind became angry and began arguing loudly. "Let us have a contest, then, and we will see who is stronger," suggested the Sun. The Wind agreed, and the Sun said, "See that man walking along the road down there? He is wearing a heavy cloak. Whichever of us can make him take it off is the strongest. You may go first."


"Ha! This will be easy!" cried the Wind and he whooshed down and began blowing the traveler with all his might. Dust swirled around the man, and he coughed as he tried to see his way along the narrow path.  The harder the Wind blew, the more tightly the traveler wrapped his cloak around him. The Wind blew and blew

..and..blew......and.......blew.......and..........blew.......a.n.d......... ........

b..............l............e...............w...................until he had no strength left to blow any more. And the traveler was still holding onto his cloak.


`"My turn," said the Sun. The Sun came out and shone down gently on the man, gently surrounding him with light and warmth. The traveler grew warmer and warmer. Sweat broke out on his forehead, and finally he was so warm that he took off his cloak and bundled it up under his arm.

                                                                                                                                    Adapted and contributed by Granny Sue



America’s Prayer


Poem I found in an old book called Stories and Verse of West Virginia c1923 and 1925, collected by Ella May Turner. This poem, by Nina Blundon Wills, was written in 1917, and to me it speaks to today's world as well. (Substitute your own personal God or deity at the beginning if you wish. I have typed it was it was written in 1917.)


America's Prayer


O, Father-God, in truth 'tis not for wealth

Of nations that we plead; nor yet the power

To rule on land and sea. 'Tis not for fame

That's won by sacrifice; and not alone

For victory; but strength to stay the hand

That slays the helpless innocent, and crush

The thing that stills the voice of liberty;

To rise from wreck of war with stainless flag

And honored name; with faith and hope on which

To build for future good; and then, to know,

With all humanity, the joy of peace---

Enduring peace throughout the world.        Amen.

Contributed by Granny Sue



The Farmer and the Snake (Aesop Fable)


            The weather was getting cold.  The farmer was worried about his sheep in the high pastures.  Wrapping his wool cloak tightly about himself, he braved the wind and climbed the steep path.  As he started back down the path, hurrying to get into his warm house, the farmer saw a snake lying across the path.

            “Pleeeeessssssse help me,” said the snake.  “I am freezing. Pleeeeeeese take me down into the valley where it is warmer”

            “I’m no dummy,” said the farmer.  “I know who you are.  You are a rattlesnake.  If I pick you up, you will poison me.”

            “Oh, no,” said the snake.  “I would not do that.  I promisssssse that if you carry me down the mountain I will not bite you.  You and your children will be ssssssafe from me and my kind from thisssss  day forward.”

            The farmer had compassion on the snake and he picked the snake up and put it under his cloak.  He carried it down into the valley and lay it down upon the ground.  As the snake began to warm, he began to slither and move.  He coiled up and struck, biting the farmer in the leg.

            “Ow!   You promised me that you would not bite me,” cried the farmer.

            “Ah,” said the snake, “ssssso I did.  But you knew what I was when you picked me up.”

                                                                                    Adapted by Rose Owens, 2001


Permission is given to use this version of the story.

Lesson plan ideas to introduce the story is available at


            Evil exists in the world.  We need to recognize it and not be deceived.  Even as we talk about conquering evil with good, we need to recognize the need to defend ourselves against it and take appropriate precautions.  We will see increased security at airports, tighter security for the President, etc.  The world is changed and it cannot be changed back.  We must recognize evil and fight it.

                                                                                                                                                Rose the story lady



The Fighting Rooster - A Taoist Tale from China by Chuang Tzu    (Power of Gentleness)


There once was a man who wanted his fighting rooster to be more ferocious. He took the rooster to a trainer. In a few weeks' time he returned and saw that his rooster didn't squawk as loudly. "Not ready yet," said the trainer. Two weeks later he saw that his rooster barely raised his neck feathers and wings.

"Not ready yet," said the trainer. Another week passed. His rooster looked as tame and docile as a chick.

"You've ruined my fine fighting bird!" screamed the man at the trainer.

"Not at all," the trainer replied, "See how calm and secure he is, how serenely strong he stands today. The other fighting birds take one look at him and they all run away!"


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                                    contributed by Heather Forest



The Lion & The Rabbit -  A Fable from India (from the Panchatantra)


(Self-Destructiveness of Violence)


The animals of the forest made a bargain with a ferocious lion who killed for pleasure. It was agreed that one animal each day would willingly come to the ferocious lion's den to be his supper and, in turn, the lion would never hunt again. The first to go to the lion's den was a timid rabbit, who went slowly.

"Why are you late?" the lion roared when the rabbit arrived.

"I'm late because of the other lion," said the rabbit.

"In my jungle? Take me to this other lion."

The rabbit led the lion to a deep well and told him to look in. The lion saw his own reflection in the water and roared! The sound of his roar bounced right back at him as an echo.

"I alone am king of this jungle," he roared again.

His echo answered him, "I alone am king of this jungle."

With that, the lion became so enraged, he charged into the deep well with a great splash! The lion attacked his own reflection and was never heard from again.


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                                    contributed by Heather Forest



 The Honeybee's Sting -   A Tale from Ancient Greece


Zeus, the King of Mount. Olympus, was giving out gifts to beasts and birds and insects one day. To his surprise, the little honeybee came before his throne and said, "Of all the gifts you could give to me, only one will do.  I'd like the power to inflict great pain whenever I choose to."

"What an awful wish!" said great Zeus, "I will grant it. I hereby give you a sharp sting. But, I'm sure you'll use this weapon carefully in times of anger and strife. You'll only get to use it once, for using it will cost you your life."

And to this day, the little honeybee dies after it stings.


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                        contributed by Heather Forest




A Flock of Birds -  A Folktale from India (Jataka Tale)  (Cooperation and Collective Impact)


There was once a flock of birds peacefully pecking seeds under a tree. A hunter came along and threw a heavy net over them. He said, "Aha! Now I have my dinner!"

All at once the birds began to flap their wings. Up, up they rose into the air, taking the net with them. They came down on the tree and, as the net snagged in the tree's branches, the birds flew out from under it to freedom. The hunter looked on in amazement, scratched his head and muttered, "As long as those birds cooperate with one another like that, I'll never be able to capture them! Each one of those birds is so frail and yet, together

they can lift the net."


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                        contributed by Heather Forest



Quarrelsome Children  (An Aesop's Fable)


There once was a man who had quarrelsome children. Even on his dying day they bickered.  "My last wish," he said, "is for you to bring me a bundle of sticks."

When this was done, he gave each child one and said, "Take your solitary twig in hand and break it." Crack! Crack! went the dry, old wood as each child broke a solitary twig.

"Now," he said, "bind them together. Tie them, and you'll see how much stronger your brittle twig can be."

The old man passed away. His children never forgot that day. Though they each lived separate, distant lives, Each sister, Each brother, In times of trouble they bonded together like a bundle of sticks, Giving strength to one another.


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                        contributed by Heather Forest


 Ten Jugs of Wine - A Tale from Japan   (The Importance of Participation)


Ten men decided to celebrate the New Year with a big crock of hot sake wine. Since none of them could provide for all, they each agreed to bring one jug of wine for the large heating bowl. On the way to his wine cellar, each one thought, "My wine is too valuable to share! No one will know. It'll never show. It'll still be fine. I'll bring a jug of water instead of the wine."

And so when they gathered with the jugs they brought, all ten men poured the contents of their jugs ceremoniously into the big bowl and then looked sheepishly at one another as they heated and poured hot water for all.


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                        contributed by Heather Forest




The Strawberry - A Zen Tale from Japan (attributed to the Buddha)   (Appreciating the Moment)


There was once a man who was being chased by a ferocious tiger across a field. At the edge of the field there was a cliff. In order to escape the jaws of the tiger, the man caught hold of a vine and swung himself over the edge of the cliff. Dangling down, he saw, to his dismay, there were more tigers on the ground below him! And, furthermore, two little mice were gnawing on the vine to which he clung. He knew that at any moment he would fall to certain death. That's when he noticed a wild strawberry growing on

the cliff wall. Clutching the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other and put it in his mouth. He never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste.


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                        contributed by Heather Forest



The Gift of a Cow Tail Switch - A West African Tale   (Remembering Loved Ones)


A great warrior did not return from the hunt. His family gave him up for dead, all except his youngest child who each day would ask, "Where is my father? Where is my father?"

The child's older brothers, who were magicians, finally went forth to find him. They came upon his broken spear and a pile of bones. The first son assembled the bones into a skeleton; the second son put flesh upon the bones; the third son breathed life into the flesh. The warrior arose and walked into the village where there was great celebration. He said, "I will give a fine gift to the one who has brought me back to life."

Each one of his sons cried out, "Give it to me, for I have done the most."

"I will give the gift to my youngest child," said the warrior. "For it is this child who saved my life. A man is never truly dead until he is forgotten."


This story can be used freely and is from the story library of Story Arts Online.

                                                                                                                                    contributed by Heather Forest



The Hoja and the Elephant


The Tamerlane had given an elephant to the Hoja's village.  A gift from the Tamerlane is a great honor, but the village suffered fromthe appetite and destruction of the great elephant.  The Hoja was asked to go to Tamerlane to explain the problem and return the elephant, but without offending the giver.  Hoja agreed, if they would all go with him.  Along the way, the Hoja was rehearsing his speech and did not notice his neighbors slipping away from the group.  When he reached the Tamerlane, he began, "Oh Great Tamerlane, the elephant was a wonderful gift, but my friends and I," and as he turned around to indicate his friends, he realized they were not there, "my friends and I feel she is lonely."  The Tamerlane gladly gave the Hoja a second elephant, with which he returned to his village.  His friends surrounded him with complaints, but the Hoja merely smiled and replied, "And where were you as I talked with the Tamerlane?  Be glad he didn't send more."

Contributed by Mary Garrett



Message of Love  (fable from unknown source)


      Once upon a time there was an island where all the feelings lived, happiness, sadness, knowledge, and all the others, including love. One day it was announced to all of the feelings that the island was going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. So all prepared their boats to leave.  Love was the only one that stayed. She wanted to preserve the island paradise until the last possible moment. When the island was almost totally under, love decided it was time to leave. She began looking for someone to ask for help. Just then

Richness was passing by in a grand boat.

      Love asked, "Richness, Can I come with you on your boat?"

      Richness answered, "I'm sorry, but there is a lot of silver and gold on my boat and there would be no room for you anywhere."

      Then Love decided to ask Vanity for help who was passing in a beautiful vessel. Love cried out, "Vanity, help me please."

      "I can't help you", Vanity said, " You are all wet and will damage my beautiful boat."

      Next, Love saw Sadness passing by. Love said, "Sadness, please let me go with you."

      Sadness answered, "Love, I'm sorry, but, I just need to be alone now."

      Then, Love saw Happiness. Love cried out, "Happiness, please take me with you."

      But Happiness was so overjoyed that he didn't hear Love calling to him. Love began to cry.

      Then, she heard a voice say, "Come Love, I will take you with me." It was an elder.

      Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that she forgot to ask the elder his name. When they arrived on land the elder went on his way. Love realized how much she owed the elder.

      Love then found Knowledge and asked, "Who was it that helped me?"

      "It was Time", Knowledge answered.

      "But why did Time help me when no one else would?" Love asked.

      Knowledge smiled and with deep wisdom and sincerity, answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."

                                                                                                                                                            Contributed by Tom Farley


The Neighbors Shifty Son -  A Tale From China


A farmer was once working in his fields. As he traveled back to his home he discovered that his axe had been lost. As he walked and he tried to think of where his axe might be. He could not remember what had become of his axe.  Just then he saw his neighbor’s son. The farmer noticed that the son was standing idly and not working in the fields. The man looked closely. He had never noticed before how the son looked dishonest and lazy and shifty. The

farmer was filled with suspicion. That boy looked just like a thief. The farmer knew he could not trust him and that the son must certainly have

stolen his axe. The farmer secretly held a grudge but he could not confront the son because he had no proof, other than that he knew that the son looked just like a thief and must certainly have stolen the axe.

Several weeks later the farmer visited a distant field where he sometimes worked. As he was working, the farmer found his axe. The farmer realized

that he must had left it behind the last time he had worked in that field. As the farmer returned home that day, he noticed his neighbor’s son at play

in the yard. The farmer pleasantly observed how the boy had changed. He looked innocent and playful and absolutely normal now. There was nothing

shifty or suspicious about him at all. The farmer was pleased that the boy had changed.


This story is also available in Peace Tales: World Tales To Talk About, Margaret Read MacDonald, Linnet Books, Hamden, Connecticut, 1992.






Brave Little Parrot – text available at


In the midst of the horror and confusion that is taking place right now, let us think of all the heroes working right now... like the Brave Little  Parrot.... let us not despair but dedicate all our efforts to healing.... let our tears water every seed of peace.

Bob Kanegis


Nadia the Wilful

 A story which I feel conveys all of the angry, pain, sorrow and healing surrounding the loss of a loved one is_Nadia the Willful by Sue Alexander. You can find it in Hey! Listen To This by Jim Trelease.


“Let us remember those who were lost today.”  Karen Chace –  (Sept. 11, 2001)


[Let us remember the agony of those who have missing relatives.  See the adaptations at  for this story.]


"Turtle of Koka"  a fun children's participation story.


 There are two parts within it I think would help.  One part the audience responds by folding their arms across their chest, with a sassy look on their face and call out "CAN'T HURT ME".  The other part at the end where the audience puts their hands together over their head and calls "WATER OF KOKA IS MY HOME".  This is all cued by the teller in this call and response story.

                                                                                                                                    Contributed by Steve Crouch




Mr. Fox


I know this will probably sound weird, but the last time I was close to tragedy (someone I knew from high school had opened fire on a campus, killing someone), I found that instead of telling cheerful healing stories, I wanted something slightly gruesome. That night I told Mr Fox to my storytelling class. Somehow it was a comfort to see that yes, terrible things and terrible people exist. and you continue to live.






Story Spirits -   (Korea) – apples from Heaven: Multicultural Folk Tales about Stories and Storytellers, Naomi Baltuck


            Every day the servant tells the young boy a new story.  Then the story spirits must go into a bag on the wall because no one else can hear this story.  On the young man’s wedding day, the spirits decide to get revenge and plot several ways to kill the young man.  The servant overhears and saves his master.  The young man learns his lesson and shares.


Questions to ask?

            Is revenge ever justified?

            Did the story spirits have other choices they could have made?

            Does shutting feelings up inside really work?

                                                                                                                                    Rose the story lady



Bundle of Sticks (Aesop Fable) The Book of Virtues, William J. Bennett, ed.


            Father gives each of  7 sons a chance to break a bundle of sticks.  They can’t.  He separates the bundle.  They each break one stick easily.   “When you stick together,” he says, “you cannot be broken.

            We need to be unified as we reach out to others, as we try to understand, as we strive to make a difference.

                                                                                                                                    Rose the story lady


TipangeeMagic Orange Tree by Diane Wolkstein.


            Tipangee is a wonderful story for kids where a united community confuses/defeats the scarey guy.

                                                                                                                                    Yvonne M. Healy

            Tipangee also carries the message that kids can use their intelligence to outwit evil.

                                                                                                                                    Rose the story lady


Billy Goats Gruff


            We can conquer over evil.  Maybe not at first but eventually.  Just don’t give up.



Beduin’s Gazelle  from Arab Folktales, translated          by Iner


While a Beduin and his young son were out seeking roots and herbs for the cooking pot, the boy was killed.  The Beduin takes his son home wrapped in his cloak.  He tells his wife "I have brought home a gazelle, but it must only be cooked in a pot that has never been used in sorrow."


So his wife went from tent to tent, but though she goes from tent to tent, she cannot find such a pot. 


Lovingly the Beduin peeled back his woolen cloak and said, "They have all tasted sorrow. Today is our is my gazelle."

                                                                                                                        Contributed by Cathy Mosley



Magic of Mushkil Gusha – Moslem story


            Available at

Contributed by Karen Chace


If you know of any other stories that may help heal the children, the adults, please send them to me at


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