Get into the legend

The legend says that in the beginning was the word.

Then, the word became emotion. And then, it became fire, the burning fire of the tales of the world. During the mythological Big Bang, this fire scattered to the four corners of our earth including Pougne-Hérisson in a huge burst of flame, spreading the pollen of tales and myths.

Tales take on the colours, the smells and the clothes of faraway lands and people. They are roads of life, crossing through centuries and civilisations, insensitive to the misadventures of the world. Tales return to regenerate themselves, to the source of emotions, to Pougne-Hérisson, where everything starts afresh, where every tale is told anew…

In the early Middle Ages

the umbilicalogic laboratory of The Nombril du Monde (the world's belly button)
The umbilicalogic laboratory

Pougne-Hérisson was a village bustling with life and laughter. The Benedictine monks from the priory of St. John could be seen around. Men-at-arms and merchants could be heard feasting in the St. George inn. One can imagine the salt-tax collectors watching over the tollgate of the marvel. Yet, it was not a village like the others. For, at the foot of the castle, trouvères and troubadours from all over Europe came to meditate at the source of tales.

But a cruel destiny hit the country : the One Hundred Years war with its trail of cruelty and suffering. For a century there was nothing but frenzy, the sounds of battles and fury. The deadly Englishman laid siege to the castle of Pougne-Hérisson and destroyed several chapels. He had cause to regret it, the counter-attack from the valiant marshland soldier was terrible and it has been told that several hundred English cavalrymen were buried alive in a trench, astride their mounts.

It was not until June 6th, 1944 that a certain John Barney Ferguson, an American from Colorado, parachuted by mistake onto Pougne-Hérisson, fell into the abandoned mine and rediscovered it… When he fell, JBF twisted his ankle and remained hidden in the mine, where the villagers brought him food and drink. During that troubled time, JBF, all alone in the cave of the mine, made an extraordinary discovery which was to change his life completely.

After the Liberation

This discrete gentleman, who learnt French and the local dialect within a few months, settled into the “Chez Françoise” Bar. There he met a man who was to become his friend and collaborator, Robert Jarry, the village blacksmith. Together, for several years, they were to examine in detail the role of Pougne-Hérisson in the world.

In the early fifties, JBF travelled far and wide to observe the effect of the phenomenon on the other continents. Over the years he brought back pieces of evidence, collected proof and wrote his famous thesis “The Navel. Why ? How ?” which brought to light the dominating role of Pougne-Hérisson and revealed its vocation as the Navel of the Earth.

Unfortunately, this fundamental work disappeared along with its author in a mysterious fire in the great library of Pougne-Hérisson, on July 30th, 1958. From then on, Robert Jarry, this grumpy and stubborn man from la Gâtine (the hilly and wild area around Pougne-Hérisson) decided to continue the work of his companion.

the big stories-ore machine bugger of The Nombril du Monde (the world's belly button)
The big stories-ore machine bugger

He worked without respite, writing journals, plotting the land, making models and drawing hundreds of sketches to make a machine designed to accommodate the pilgrim tales. He imagined and produced, in his garden, some “paleofuturistic” machinery, like an altar of repose, a damp area for migrating tales, a machine-garden for collecting the essence (the senses), the sap of tales.

He had actually underestimated the energy required to start his tale reactor. He thought that the machine would work all by itself. But in fact, his invention needed an impulse : it had to be filled to bursting point with stories and tales in order to restart the pump. Unfortunately, back in those days, there were not enough tales wandering through the Gâtine skies.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ferguson, the Navelist’s son, who had become an astrophysicist, went to France to find his father. He quickly got involved in the Communist Party which led to his hiring within KGB. In Moscow, he undertook to build a laboratory in an old space capsule to study the links between stars and navels on the Earth. He died from sadness when his spaceship disappeared in a fire. His Sputnik, fully restored in Pougne-Hérisson, can now be seen in the Garden of Stories.

The amazing job these 3 Navelists did would have been lost if, in 1990, the storyteller Yannick Jaulin hadn’t found and shared this story with people from Pougne-Hérisson.

For the last decade

Thanks to the presence of storytellers, and narrators, and all kinds of artists, and thanks to the organisation of a biennial festival tales have come alive again in Pougne-Hérisson and it seems today that the fantastic machine is about to work. Down in the suffering mine, the source of tales which used to trickle along like a thin voice, is beginning to swell.

If the Gâtine fairy saves us from that terrible disease which frenetically strikes human beings in the navel : the swelling of the navel (self-admiration), Pougne-Hérisson should recover its activity as the source and crossroads of stories and tales, and in so doing, its role as Navel of the World.


These eccentric machines, which are such a treasure, work and attract new tales in the Garden of Stories, during the Season and the Festival in Pougne-Hérisson much to the delight of people popping in.