I am currently reading Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth. A few years ago I was first introduced to Campbell when I watched what I could find online of the 6 hour PBS special where Billy Moyers interviews Campbell. A year or so ago, I found it at my library and watched it again. The book is taken from the interview and is on the subject of myth. I purchased it in book form last Fall when I felt sure I was going to need it at some point to feed into The Magic School.
In correspondence with a Magical Apprentice from The Magic School 101, Campbell's name came up, along with Marion Woodman, Jung and Clarissa Pinkola Estes. All of these writers and teachers and philosophers had something to say on the topic of archetypes - about story and how it is used in our life to convey metaphysical understanding of ourselves. The conversation with her inspired me to pull my Campbell book off the shelf and start working my way through.
As writing about what I'm reading helps me process it, I thought I would blog about it as I go.
In the Introduction, Bill Moyer is reminiscing on conversations he had with his friend Joseph Campbell, one of which was about the funeral of John F. Kennedy.
He greatly appreciated the steps we went through as a country to recognize the significance of the loss. To process the feelings, to come to any sort of understanding and healing, a significant rite was needed.
Continuing in the book Moyers mentions how he thought of Campbell's words regarding JFK's funeral when someone posed the question "Why do you need they mythology?" She regarded "all these Greek gods and stuff" as irrelevant to the human condition.
I have found myself in a place of deep need for imaginative story. Stories that are bigger than normal everyday life. Stories that can help me process my feelings and come to some sort of understanding and healing about life in the "real world." The surface of living is not enough for me. Give me epic.
I have also found that ritual is often an action that great stories call us into, if we're looking to be called into something special. Small rituals are making their way into my days as I seek to saturate my life with meaning and even hope. In order to evoke such things out of my ordinary everyday life of making messes, cleaning and sleeping I am making a big hairy deal out of my story, like it is on mythological proportions.
One such significant rite has been my gathering of things I find while outdoors. I gather them and place them in the plate that my Buddha statue holds in his outstretched hands. I call it temporary art. I call it things that migrate to Buddha's arms. I call it a spiritual practice. A way to interact with my life and gather up treasures so that I feel rich and full. Like I am a curator of beauty, expected to prep the next museum showcase, so we won't lack for wonder. It is my contribution as a member of this whole big whopping community.
One day I took the time to clean the dried leaves from around his body. I spruced him up a bit.
It is both about the hunt and the gather. The seeking and the finding. The caring for my space. I get to be a character in a story who has a Buddha whose arms are never lacking. I provide the fullness. This is my magic.
Looking out our front door earlier this week, Tony said, "Look, someone put some greenery in Buddha's plate.
"It was me," I said. "It's Juniper."
"It's wonderful," he said.