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Michael Berman


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Michael Berman BA, MPhil, PhD, works as a teacher and a writer. Publications include A Multiple Intelligences Road to an ELT Classroom and The Power of Metaphor for Crown House and The Nature of Shamanism and the Shamanic Story for Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Shamanic Journeys through Daghestan and Shamanic Journeys through the Caucasus are both due to be published in paperback by O-Books in 2009, and Georgia through its Folktales in March 2010. Future titles include In a Faraway Land - a resource book or teachers on storytelling, and On Business & For Pleasure – a workbook for Business English students. For more information please visit www.Thestoryteller.org.uk

Armenians even today believe there is writing on a person’s forehead which tells his or her future and that this future is pre-determined. The person believed to be responsible for keeping a record of this information is Tir, the scribe of the supreme god Aramazd. (Aramazd was regarded as the father of all gods and goddesses, the creator of heaven and earth. The first two letters in his name, "AR" is the Indo-European root for sun, light, and life, and Aramazd was the source of earth’s fertility, making it fruitful and bountiful). Through a meeting with Tir the scribe, you have the opportunity to find out what the future holds for you and to change it for the better, thus enabling you to do the same for your own students.

English through the Writing on your Forehead

Astrology, Palmistry, Claivoyance, and the I-Ching have all been used to foretell the future. Have you ever been to a fortune-teller? Why or why not? What other methods of telling the future are you familiar with? Do you practise any yourself? Invite the learners to discuss these questions in pairs or small groups, and then to report back with their findings. Use this activity as a lead-in to the story and guided visualisation that follow:

Armenians even today believe that there is writing on a person’s forhead which tells his or her future and that this future is pre-determined. The Writer, or Grog, who is responsible for recording this is believed by many to be the good angel who sits on the right shoulder of each of us, urging us to do good things and keeping accurate records of such doings. The bad angel, on the other hand, sits on the left shoulder and encourages us to do wrong. This writer, Tir, was believed to be the scribe of the supreme god, Aramazd (see Hoogasian-Villa, 1966, p.323).

The story that follows was taken from 100 Armenian Tales and their Folkloristic Relevance, collected and edited by Susie Hoogasian-Villa and published by Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1966.

Foretelling the Future The wife of a farmer was taking care of the sheep in the fields when she gave birth to a child. A shepherd nearby saw an angel descend from heaven and write something on the baby’s forehead. But since the shepherd could not see what was written, he asked the angel, “What did you do to that child?”

“I wrote his future on his forehead,” the angel said.

“Why? Is he such an unusual child?”

“All human beings have their future written on their foreheads when they are born,” the angel said, preparing to leave. “This child will fall from a tree and die at the age of seven.”

The shepherd was very much interested: “I’ll ask that woman’s name, and after seven years, I will return to see if the angel’s prediction comes true.” And this he did.
After seven years he decided to find the woman and see how the child was. He found her house but saw that there was a large crowd gathered around it. “What has happened?” he asked a neighbor.
“The little boy who live here fell from a tree and died, and the parents want to kill the other boy who was playing with him. They say that because their son died, his playmate must die, too. Of course the playmate’s parents won’t permit this, and so the two families are quarreling.”
“Oh, oh! The angel was right,” the man said to himself, “but one death is enough. I must try to stop the second.” He pushed through the crowd, went inside the house and asked the family about the trouble.
The first woman said, “My son was playing in the tree with this woman’s son, and my boy fell off the tree and died. This woman’s son should die, too.”
“If your son fell off, why should my son die?” the second woman asked.
“Listen to me for a minute,” the shepherd said. “Do you remember me?” he asked the first woman. “I am the shepherd you saw on the day your son was born in the fields. That same day, at the same time your son was born, an angel came down from heaven and wrote on his forehead. I asked the angel what he had writeen, and I was told that the little boy would fall from a tree at the age of seven and die. Now it has happened, and no one is to blame. Come, spare this little boy’s life.”
The first woman, seeing the truth of the argument, stopped asking for the life of the little boy. “What God has determined, we cannot prevent,” she said.


Choose three of the following questions to ask the person sitting next to you. Then report back what you found out to the rest of the class:

a. What feelings did you have during the telling of the story?
b. Have you ever been in a similar situation to any of the characters in the tale?
c. Did any of the characters remind you of people you know?
d. What do you think the "message" of the story is?
e. Did it remind you of any other stories you know?
f. Which was the most moving or memorable bit of the story for you?
g. Which bit of the story sent you off to sleep?

Tir (Apollo) - the god of literature, science and art, also an interpreter of dreams.


What follows is a guided visualisation based on the story presented above. If you are working on your own, it is suggested that you record the script, perhaps with some appropriate background music. You can then lie somewhere comfortable, where you will not be disturbed, and play the recording back to yourself as you go through the process described.

The Mirror that Shows your Future

SCRIPT FOR THE GUIDE: (To be read in a gentle trance-inducing voice). Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths to help you relax. Feel the tension disappear stage by stage from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Let your surroundings fade away as you gradually sink backwards through time and actuality and pass through the gateway of this reality into the dreamtime. (When the participants are fully relaxed, begin the next stage).

Today’s a very special day for you because you’re being given an opportunity to see your future and, more importantly, to make changes now to ensure you have the best possible chance of turning it into what you want it to be.

Ahead of you what appears to be some kind of temple. Up three stone steps you make your way to an arched oak-panelled doorway. The doors are wide open for you, and within a deep blue carpet runs down the central aisle. At the end of it an indistinct figure swaying a censer perfumed with frankincense to and fro, enveloped by smoke. Breathe it in and feel centred. The smoke obscures your vision, but only temporarily, for as it clears the figure becomes clear to you – Tir the scribe and the keeper of the records. He stands by a full-length mirror. Notice both its distinct frame and shape. It shape seems to be that of a human body, your body in fact.

Tir motions to you to approach and join him, where he invites you to stand in front of the mirror and to look into it, in particular to see what is written on your forehead. And you have a minute of clock time, equal to all the time you need for this ...

You're probably now wondering what you can do to change what you see. What you can do is work towards making a better future for yourself and those you interact with by learning from the mistakes you’ve made and by making sure you don’t repeat them again. The time has come now for Tir to speak. And you have a minute of clock time, equal to all the time you need, to hear what advice he has to give you on this subject …
You can make those changes that you really wish to make, for your unconscious mind is listening and will receive and act upon the messages it hears. And you will find, as this is happening, that you become much happier, within yourself - delighted with who you are, what you have and everything you can offer. What matters now, is that you take what you have learnt back with you and that you hold on to it. The time has come to give thanks for what you have received and to take your leave, to make your way back, down the carpeted central aisle of the temple, through the arched wooden doors, down the three steps and back to the place where you started from, where your new life awaits you.

Take a deep breath, let it all out slowly, open your eyes, and smile at the first person you see. Stretch your arms, stretch your legs, stamp your feet on the ground, and make sure you’re really back, back in (name of the location), back where you started from. Welcome home!

Now take a few minutes in silence to make some notes on the experiences you had on your journeys, which you can then share with the rest of the group.


Now take a few minutes in silence to make some notes on the experiences you had on your journeys, which you can then make a note of in your dream journal.


And now you might like to turn to the person sitting next to you and share some of the experiences you had on your journeys.


WHO AM I?, WHERE AM I?, or WHAT’S MY PROBLEM? For another way of telling someone their future from their forheads, stick pre-prepared prompt cards on the foreheads of everyone in your class. Then ask them to pair up and try to guess who they are, where they are, or what their problems are, by questioning their partners. However, they can only ask YES or NO questions, a mximum of 20, in order to find the answers they are looking for.