One of our most popular courses
weaves together wilderness practices
with mythic perspectives:
To fall out of myth is to fall out of meaning
What does it mean to come into relationship with the mythic aspect of our lives?
Confusingly, Myth is a word often associated with the notion of a falsehood. But Myths, in fact, speak the language of deep imagination, symbol, and truth-telling.
Something mysterious is bought to life between the stories of those epic tales and the story of your own life; we are invited to look again, to re-visit again, chapters of our own life.
When we listen to ‘sacred’ stories we see echoes of our own lives in them. Whether it’s the moment that Alice, wielding the Vorpal sword to slay the Jabberwocky, finally remembers six impossible things,
or the moment the King, with a tear in his eye, announces a room must be made in his castle for The Lindworm,
or the moment, ‘The Shaman who ghost-dances through history, The shaman who refuses not the perfume of Gethsemane, The shaman bleak-shudders through strata’s of mucky-waters,’ to where Sedna can be found…
These moments, where we are ‘touched’, where resonance occurs, are our personal invitations.
What do we learn from stories?
We learn to navigate by stories from a young age; we learnt there may be a doorway to another world and to look out for it, we know to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way out of the dark forest and we learn that, just as in mythological journeys, transformation and growth also comes from wounds, and trials.
How can myth and folk tales lead us to live more deeply and more authentically, and inspire us to fall in love with the world all over again?
Myths help us pose the big questions of our individual and collective lives. Why am I here? What does it mean to be someones child, parent, sibling? How do I uncover my destiny? What part will I play? What is the nature of passion, love, marriage? What will my legacy be? What is death?
These are the real questions we ask during our time together.
Seeing our lives through the lens of metaphor and symbol awakens our deep imagination and gifts us with meaning. We begin to listen for the story that is unfolding around us, rather than just the story we are telling ourselves. The mirror of the myth has the capacity to awaken what it means to be fully human.
Moments of our life can be re-examined as though they are a fragment from a poem, or a dream. Revealing to us we are part of a story way beyond our comprehension - every bit as real as the prosaic world.
Tracking the Songlines of our lives
What happens when we tell, re-tell, and study myths and other sacred stories: awakening our consciousness to the archetypal and the numinous.
What happens when we write our own personal myth: understanding the events of our own lives from a larger, deeper, symbolic perspective.
What happens when we story-tell or story share, recounting our personal journeys, including the stories of our woundings, told within a compassionate, ceremonial container that embraces the transpersonal dimension of all narratives. To be witnessed by kin and community.
What happens when we practice solo time in nature, brooding and unfolding stories contained within the landscape.
What happens when we tune our ears to our dream-life and listen to them as though they are calling solely to us.
The Pearl as a symbol of transformation
That a jewel can begin as an irritant is part of the pearl’s fascination. A grain of sand or bit of organic matter enters the shell of an oyster and can’t be extruded.
The pearl is self-made in the fleshy oyster, intimating something singular and of inestimable worth luminously hidden in the psychic darkness of our fleshy nature, a ‘pearl’ that could be discovered by chance, actively sought or mysteriously shown. For alchemy, the pearl represented the ‘arcane remedy’, an inherent ‘virtue’ or tendency in the unconscious to restore what has been compromised in the self to its essential integrity. In the Gnostic Hymn of the Pearl, the pearl is the gnosis or ‘self-acquaintance’ that reunites the soul forgetful of itself with its divine origin. Pearls have been likened to drops of rain that bring moisture and renewal to sere land, and to teardrops that are the priceless emollients of bitter sadness.
So, too, the pearl evokes the ‘irritant’ that can’t be extruded, the grain of suffering that gathers to itself layers of living matter, and reveal in time, as meaning, it’s pearly substance.
- The Book of Symbols, Reflections on Archetypal Images
One of the guiding myths of our culture is The Myth of More; a myth of economic growth with consumer characters who are defined by what they buy.
If our personal myths are not aligned with the guiding mythology of our culture this deeply affects our place in the world - we easily become alienated and rootless.
Change begins with imagination - to re-imagine stories that help us to see our place in the world differently.
This piece of writing has been inspired by, and draws upon the work of Sharon Blackie, Maureen Murdoch, Jospeph Campbell and Bill Plotkin. Three of the Tracking Practices are shared from Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin.
Images Credits: The half human-half palm tree image is by Firelei Baez and the Tracking through the night sky image is by Quint Buchholz.