The Salmon of Knowledge

Stories for work, life, the dark shadow, and oneself

By: Nick Owen


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Products specifications
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Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 256
ISBN : 9781845901271
Format: Paperback
Published: May 2009

A collection of stories, analogies and metaphors that invite us to pause and consider what is really important in our lives, our work, and ourselves. They challenge us to re-connect the different parts of our lives, recognise how easy it is to get distracted by contemporary culture and the pace of modern life, and to pay attention to whatever deeper parts of ourselves seek expression.

The stories invite us to slow down, take more time to reflect, experience the world from wider perspectives, and make wiser and more sustainable choices. They invite us to put ourselves squarely in the centre of the on-going story that is our life, to take greater responsibility for connecting to what serves us, others, and the wider context, and to find a greater variety of ways to express ourselves fully through our life, our work, and everything we can be.

Varied and wide ranging, the stories are pragmatic, some spiritual, some light-hearted, some provocative, some work-related, while others still are closer to home. All of them challenge the reader to consider the life they are currently living, and ways they could deepen and enhance it for themselves, and others in a wide variety of applications and contexts.

Picture for author Nick Owen

Nick Owen

What are we called to do in our lives and how can we discover and express our personal and professional genius and purpose? Not easy questions but Nick has been struggling with and exploring them for himself and with others through his writing, editing, and storytelling, as well as in workshops, seminars and coaching sessions with individuals, educational institutions, professional bodies, organisations, and the arts for the last several decades. These days his primary professional passions catalyse around two areas. Firstly, the development of shared narratives that explore how schools, NGOs, and large organisations would do well to be more fully human, more self-organising and self-managing and less stuck in the old paradigms of autocracy, hierarchy, ego, power and control. Secondly, how can people entering the Third Act of their lives see their future less as a surrender into retirement and more as an opportunity to transition into a generative and creative period of contribution and personal exploration of their life's true purpose? In a whole variety of exciting ways, these two areas are both evolutionary and deeply interconnected.




  1. 140 stories all short and simple. One can get addicted to Nick Owen's work, so simple yet so educational, meaningful and empowering. Each of the stories come marked with various symbols resembling work, life, the dark shadow and oneself. Nick's other two books are a prime example of his great work. I found that even his appendix was written well, it flowed and offered guidance and food for thought. This book is much a talk point in many conversations I have. I'm using the stories as metaphors for my clients. As Nick points out, humans have the potential to develop complexity throughout their life. These simple stories just make us sit and reflect, allowing our being, our mind to find the true meaning.

    Nick has used psychology and philosophy to embrace the attention of the reader and listener alike, in the short mesmerising stories. Its a great tool for therapists, mediators, teachers, business leaders and those who wish to share knowledge without having to give speeches. A book that is captivating.
  2. Although change is inevitable in life and occurs often without any interventions, people have always been fascinated by notions of influencing and managing the changes that occur in their lives. Accordingly there have been many books written about how to effect such change and the field of hypnosis is no stranger to advice and recommendation from many sources. But one of the most profound ways of changing the way that people see thing is through telling stories and the latest book by Nick Owen “The Salmon of Knowledge -” Stories for Work, Life, the Dark Shadow, and the Oneself” will not disappoint in the magical stories that he has carefully collected.
    Although the book is a natural extension of his previous books on the subject of metaphor, the “The Salmon of Knowledge” is a work that can be read cover to cover or just be dipped into for specific help in areas. Owen has not only divided the stories very usefully into 81 themes but, like, all great story tellers, has also arranged the stories into 7 broader sections. Owen has enabled the reader to access different ways of reading the stories that are both refreshing and insightful while, at the same time avoiding the dryness and control that can be associated with classifications. Not only is it the richness in depth and colour of the stories but also how the stories are told that allows the reader to savour these stories long after the book has been closed.
  3. The Salmon of Knowledge is the perfect book for these uncertain times. Whether you need a practical guide, creative inspiration or a philosophical companion, its all here. Were going to have to define a new map of the world of business and Nicks stories give clues and inspiration of how we might find our way. Are you sitting comfortably? Then begin the journey of the Salmon of Knowledge.
  4. Nick Owen's latest book of stories brings together an eclectic international collection of tales ancient and modern, secular and non secular. Some are familiar others not so, yet, as with all good stories, they speak to themes we can recognise. Of course, that is the point. The stories here will challenge, amuse, entertain and stretch enabling the reader to explore him or herself and potentially gain a new perspective. Certainly reading these stories left me feeling refreshed and ready to look at the world differently. They provoked a fewah-ha moments and initiated possibilities. Equally interesting is Nicks own story, partly about the genesis of the book and partly about things/situations/ideas which have influenced him and hence the book, which is interwoven in the sections and towards the end of the book

    Nick has organised the stories according to seven sections or chautauquas and four key themes. These classifications have provided a framework for Nicks commentary” which sometimes seems a little didactic. You might choose to overlook the commentary and dive straight into the stories themselves taking out whatever they provoke in you or for you. However, for many the commentary will prove useful at some point as it provides a guide to stories for certain situations and aids interpretation.

    The book works well on a number of levels” for the individual looking for inspiration and stimulation as well as for professionals looking for stories to illustrate/aid their own work. For me, as an executive coach and trainer, the book will be a valuable source of stories to dip into. Taken as a whole the book also provides an informed look into the way stories are constructed and have, throughout history, helped us examine, and make sense of, ourselves and the world around us.
  5. With The Salmon of Knowledge, Nick Owen gently compels us to explore our life and Self with a series of fascinating and intriguing stories. He skillfully guides us to realize grander and grander perspectives on ever deepening satisfaction and by doing so we release a cacophony of as yet unknown potentials.
  6. Are we that much more than the stories we tell of ourselves? And do not the stories we hear make, shape or break us? In which case we should choose our stories well. Nick Owens subtle and subversive retellings open a world of possibility for personal change and adventurous exploration.
  7. All it takes are six little words to catch and hold an individuals attention. 

    ,“Let me tell you a story:

    No matter our age, from infant to nonagenarian, the thought of hearing or telling a story acts at the deepest level of our neural structures and prepares us for a shift in consciousness” sometimes slight, sometimes profound. Telling and listening to stories are acts that define and distinguish us from most of the animal kingdom. Our stories reflect our humanity and our sense of being. Without stories, we would not be sitting at the current pinnacle of our development.
    Nobody understands this better than Nick Owen. A master storyteller in his own right, he seeks out stories and records them in his own inimitable style, sometimes remaining true to the original text, other times tweaking them to ensure that they resonate with a modern listener or reader. More importantly, his finely tuned radar is ever watchful for the stories that evolve out of everyday happenings in his life and in the lives of those that he interacts with. Like the Maggid, the travelling storyteller of Jewish Chassidic times, he captures these stories without any purpose or intent other than knowing that they are gifts that he will be able to use at some future point in time.

    Nick understands better than most that stories are the most powerful of the tools available to him in his lifes work of helping individuals and organizations transform themselves. In the Salmon of Knowledge, he has brought together another fabulous collection of short stories that anybody who is serious about transforming their lives, workplaces, families, communities or even the world should not be without. Some are old friends that we welcome back warmly, others are new or twists on a theme that take us, even momentarily, to some new place of thinking; a place where things will be different because that story is now part of our story.

    Yet, if we are to make real change and real transformation we need to overcome a malaise that is upon us. In a world dominated by rational thinking, our stories strive to be factual with a mechanistic purpose and intent from the teller to the listener/reader. Important as rational thinking is, it pales into insignificance compared to the potential that can be unlocked by moving individuals into a post rational consciousness. To achieve this through stories requires that we learn how to unpack the stories, to read between the lines to understand the intentions and wisdom that exist at multiple levels of consciousness.

    The second gift that the Salmon delivers to us is a framework to help individuals to unpack the stories presented not only in the book but also in their everyday life. Enjoy the stories in this book by all means, but more importantly take the framework offered and start using it to view life differently. Adapt it, modify it, extend it, throw away parts that dont work for you, in short make it your own. If you follow this path, you will notice that your stories grow richer, at the same time you will start to see greater depth in all the stories of those around you.

    As Heraclitus said,“A man can never step into the same river twice” for it is never the same river, and he is not the same man., Similarly, with Nick Owens assistance and the Salmons Knowledge, you will never step into the same story twice. And that, my friends, can only be for the better.
  8. In 2001 Nick Owen brought out THE MAGIC OF METAPHOR with Crown Publishing and three years later MORE MAGIC OF METAPHOR. This year, 2009, sees Nick offering us THE SALMON OF KNOWLEDGE and to quote his own words ” one hundred stories on the themes of wholeness, integration, connection, awareness,oneness, wakefulness-¦....”

    Nick is a teacher educator and a business trainer and uses metaphor and stories in his day-to-day work. My feeling is that his voice has changed over the nine years that these three books have taken to produce. The nimble-footed, brilliant and yes, partly narcissistic younger man has given way to the Nick of today whose voice in THE SALMON OF KNOWLEDGE is deeper, more vibrant and I feel that in this last book much older in the best sense of the word.
    Somehow Nick seems to have found the right voice for re-telling these wisdom tales from deep within them and I think I fully understand what he means when he writes: ” wisdom stories offer us a remote vantage point from which to observe, evaluate and engage with the world of human interaction.
  9. This is a book full of wonderful stories and deep insights which can be used by anyone who wants to inspire themselves and others. It gently, yet profoundly, challenges us to explore more deeply our relationship with ourselves and with the world: enabling us to become more insightful, resourceful and creative. It is easy and compelling to read. I read it from cover to cover in a few hours. At the same time you can dip in and out of it to find what you are looking for since it is clearly and simply set out. The stories in themselves are wonderful and would be powerful enough on their own. The way Nick has grouped them and framed them with personal and honest commentaries deepens and enriches them enormously. This is a wonderful and generous book that, like the many stories it contains, is powerful and engaging.
  10. Overview

    I stared at the dark cover design in my hands, with its subtitle,Stories for Work, Life, the Dark Shadow and Oneself, and found myself tingling, and prepared to accept the incredible invitation the title offered me. The tone was set. I was immediately excited and a little bit apprehensive. What might I find? Could I handle it? Would there be some warning that I did not want to hear? Was there some story I did not want to engage. Insecure emotions were stirred. I felt and heard them switch themselves on. They were ready for me to embrace, but I was not ready for them, not just yet. It seemed to be saying, live deliberately or live by a default hidden pattern. So I quickly put them on pause and then turn them down. My insecurities, which had been sitting just under the surface, had been touched. Whilst all of that was going on, I found myself gradually being put at ease. Firstly by the nature of the books layout. It has a very well laid out chapter structure that created a wonderful visual foundation. Then I was assured by just scanning the topic headlines and found myself gradually opening up to the opportunities that each headline presented. I then just breathed out deeply, and then even more deeply and finally rested into the books content. 


    The book is a real Zen inspiration. It even has a simple foreword by Owens Master Zen Teacher, Dennis Genpo Merzel, which in itself was a superb read. Feeling extra sensitive, I closed my eyes and drifted off, processing a few issues that popped up for me after reading his writings. His words had a lasting impact for me, I then quickly moved onto the main text.

    The Salmon of Knowledge is Nick Owens third book on metaphors. It is definitely deeper and darker than his earlier work and is connected to the moredarker uncertain feminine elements of life. The underbelly of life. Those very taboos that we might sometimes feel are unmanageable are dealt with through the range of stories, in a simple, quick and lasting manner. Often the stories appear indirect, because they reflect a persons unconscious emotions, which may appear to still be undecided, blurred, vague, or doubtful, yet are just waiting for a simple questioning. I recommend that you take advantage of the gift of this book. Only because meeting the underbelly of our own life is an important aspect to appreciate for yourself, yourself. 

    Owen openly invites readers to make this collection, their collection. A collection that helps the reader deal with the more disquieting parts of their life. Just as Owen has reworked each story that he has brought into his collection. So too does he invite you to match each reading closely to your needs. Whats brilliant about this is that Owen reassures you that you can bring your own cultural traditions to these engagingly graceful stories. Each of these which bring light to our capabilities for the Dark Shadow. Yes, reading the stories helps teach how to listen to inner warnings. Your own inner tuition. Opening you up to your own wisdom, which has you acting like your own nurturing inner parent?

    The Salmon of knowledge: A guide to the science of Inner teaching via storytelling and universal truths. I know from my own exposure to the Works of great storytellers like Wole Soyinka, Bob Marley, Maya Angelou, and Derek Walcott, that stories help rediscover the magical side of reality, helping to decide what needs to be worked with at any given point in Life. How to serve in the world, or determine what you want to get from life. How to know what you want to give in a situation and what you want to be. The Salmon of Knowledge nurtures such universal truisms knitting together the taboos contained by our lives. Both Tompkins and Lawley pioneers in the use of metaphor for business, health, and healing go on to state that Owen"allows each reader to find deep meaning ad significance for themselves,. This is a book you can keep returning to like a really good friend who tells you the things that others wont.

    The Salmon of Knowledge, an aide for Personal Development:The stories are short. Some super short. So, if you are pushed for time, you can still find great stories in this book for you that feed your soul. Any way you approach it, is perfectly fine. 

    The Salmon of Knowledge, an aide for Professional Therapists: From my professional therapeutic point of view, this is an ideal book to use with clients. I can ask clients to flip the pages to find a story they enjoy and then probe further into what they have learnt from it. Or I can be more directive and choose story I would like them to read. I wonder how other therapists may use this text. And I would certainly put it in the hands of my master colleagues, those who already assist others to resolve complex issues. I would also offer it to my less experienced colleagues to inspire their genius mastery to flow at a pace they would prefer.

    The Salmon of Knowledge, an aide for Students; The therapeutic world is always looking at ways to assist the next generation of therapists surge ahead. The book is an essential tool to assist students to tap into those issues laying under the surface. This book will really assist students to develop a level of mastery around the usefulness of Shadows for both themselves and their clients, thus creating a more rounded compassionate student, and professional body.

    The Salmon of Knowledge, an aide for Inducing Well-Being in the Workplace; Professional groups who have a significant or minor pastoral element in their functions may truly be able to use this Work to inspire their vocation. 

    Ideal for school teachers, teaching assistants, television presenters, well known Celebrity Television presenters like Oprah or Jeremy Kyle. Civil servants, doctors, nurses, domiciliary care Workers, tradesmen and tradeswomen, fashion designers, retail management, retail staff, performing artistes, visual artistes, graphic designers, farmers, lawyers, drivers, delivery men and women. Pilots, midwifes, school governors, IT specialists, Factory Workers, Police, caterers, publishers, sales personnel, Company Directors, accountants, entrepreneurs, vocalists, songwriters, poets, stall holders, internet cafe owners, chefs, demonstrators, professors, athletes, coaches, PAs, event organisers, florists, make-up artistes, beauty therapists, lawyer, barrister, or dancer. You can see I have come up with a random list of functions in the world, because this work is a practical resource for any other job that deals with people in any way.

    In closing. Owens collection of stories will not lead you to self critisms. Instead, his collection of work, leads you instead to action, to empower and to listen to your own inner teacher. I loved the book. I could use it quickly and simply and found some of the stories lasted with me for ages. Thank you Nick for your collection of three books, this one, The Salmon of Knowledge, being my favourite.
  11. Stories-¦ Ah, stories. Whose ears don't immediately prick up with attention when there is the prospect of a story? Why is that do you think?

    Is it because we wish to hear about someone else, about their woes or happiness as some kind of voyeur?

    Is it because stories tell us something about ourselves, and because it is only a story, what we learn about ourselves is more palatable than if we were told directly?

    Is it because of the way a story can change our mood in an instant as we join with the hero in grappling with the dragon, or ride off into the sunset with the love of our life?

    Is it because stories allow us to live out the unfulfilled portions of our lives as we piggy back on the escapades of the protagonists?

    Its all of these and many more.

    Some of the stories had me laughing out loud and drawing curious looks from those around me on the train. Others engaged my mind and wouldnt let go until I had ferreted out their meaning for me. Then with a sigh of understanding, I could move on, much the richer for having read them.

    This book is such a collection of stories that will give you insight into yourself and your relationship with the world around you. There is much more here than just the words on the pages. Well worth the read, and well worth the thinking that will inevitably flow from the reading.
  12. Nick Owens is a master of storytelling and metaphor. He inspires us to reflection and fresh discovery, particularly about ourselves. He invites us to wrestle with paradox,'or transcend it. For example, in an opening story about a man digging a well to find water, the lessons he offers includes a series of dos and donts, including,'Advice is cheap and often unreliable., I have to believe he also appreciates such irony. By drawing on the many rich wisdom traditions in the world, he even subtly offers a path to the discovery of our connections with each other,'and with our often separated and disjointed ways of knowing and meaning making. Through his narratives he joins science and spirit, the individual with her community, the perspectives of self and society. He links us to our enduring cultures and the brevity of our own existence. And he challenges us to use his work to help us reshape our perspectives to engage the many aspects of life revealed to us. This is a book to which I can return again and again for both solace in the face of lifes challenges and stimulus to embrace the richness of life and living.
  13. Nick really has a unique talent for finding and putting in a wider context some fascinating and pertinent stores. In these times of growing confusion in where we are heading as individuals, and also collectively as the human race, this book can indeed provide us all with some valuable material for re-evaluation, refection and inspiration. Sometimes we all need to sit down and look deeply before heading off again.
  14. From my point of view, being a professional storyteller since almost thirty years, I thought that I hade seen it all, read it all and heard it all. But with great happiness I found, that Nicks stories and examples could both move and surprise me. And in his bouquet of flowers there are samples that I will ask if I may “gently steel”. Both for my personal purpose and eventually for to share with a future audience. May I Nick?

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