Today I enter the third week of “Rewilding Mythology,” hosted and curated by contemporary writer, Sophie Strand, who focuses on the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology. Compelled by several inspirations including a night time dream; Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation actions; the writings of Robin Wall Kimmerer and Richard Wagamese; and the valuing of the dark, decayed and dead in essays by Perdita Finn and Matt Licata, I enrolled in this 8 week online course, and only afterwards read its description:
“For most of human history, myth was a durable mode of knowledge transmission, kept alive and resilient by the breath-laced web of communal storytelling. Just as we plant a seed in soil, so were vital pieces of agricultural and ecological lore planted into stories that were built to survive environmental and social collapse.
Myth-telling, as primarily oral and embodied, was revitalized by the same ecological cycles that depend on a balance of decay and regrowth: breaking down dead wood to generate new soil. Our culture-creating cosmogonies rarely grew stale because they were refreshed and adapted to new conditions each time they were retold. Myths were the maps of communities intimately dialoguing with their environment. Most importantly, they were contextual.
But the rise of empire depended on the deracination of mythologies. Just as landscapes were stolen and terraformed so were whole pantheons uprooted from their social and ecological contexts, coopted by the very cultures that ensured the demise of their originating cultures. Galilean magicians were turned into militaristic figureheads. Serpentine divinities were transformed into gorgon-headed monsters. Uprooted from their context and from the renewing respiration of communal storytelling, these stories ossified into abstraction and reinforced the anthropocentric hyper-individuality and colonial capitalism of today.”
Following intuition. Knowing little. Not knowing a lot. Catching wisps – from last week’s poet story-teller, and the depth psychologist featured in Friday’s bonus session – that are coalescing into some kind of vague, embodied comprehension. Yet already it’s been informing what I’m hearing and seeing and talking about. Already, it’s re-shaping my context.
Quoting the host from her invitation: “I can’t wait to see how I’ll be changed by it.” And I wonder, too, “How can we reroot, rewild, and retell?“
I’m far from integration, synthesis, or even a coherent articulation about any of it, but from my notes, right now this excites me and grabs my curiosity:
“When you uproot a myth, dogma is the result.”
“Reading our alphabetic language makes it available for capture rather than response, while speaking we feel the energy vibrations in our body.”
“Is there a mode of writing that allows for space, breath and context?”
“Consider anthropomorphism as courtship to learn how to be in conversation and communion with the land and interior world, so that we can cultivate subjectivities that are less commodifying.”
“What if magic wasn’t supernatural but the most natural experience?”
“Magic is the logic of the world when the world is experienced from its own depths.”
“We’re used to listening in an habitual, usual way in the body. Let’s awaken the ancestral faculties of listening through the body to then become hollowed out for lightening to pass through…to be seized by a flow…”
“What stories are living us?”
Last week a friend invited me to his podcast conversation centering on wisdom, creativity, and living with uncertainty. As prompt, he referenced a meme he’d seen posted on my Facebook timeline:
“The ghosts of all the women you used to be@the global sisterhood
are proud of the woman you’ve become.”
He asked what wisdom I’d have for those ghosts.
As is often the case with such a thoughtful question, in such beautifully contained conversation where we listen and are seen beyond habit, a conversation that is generative and holds the possibility for emergence, I found myself saying out loud things I’d never quite thought about before, let alone spoken. The stories living me. Asking to be spoken and shared.
After a lengthy pause, for his question deserved consideration, I responded that I’d ask about what excites them, grabs their curiosity, incites their wonder.
Theirs and mine. Then and now. To help us “reroot, rewild and retell.”
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.