Reply To: Finding your story in a time of uncertainty
Thanks for the link to Jean Shinoda Bolen’s piece on liminality, which is such a useful concept – one that rings true with experience (where one is neither one or the other, but inhabits the In-Between).
This was at Mythic Journeys in Atlanta in 2004; I was able to to attend the same event the next (and last) time it was held, in 2006, and what an experience! The Hyatt-Regency in Atlanta was simply a mansion of myth! I met so many people there for the first time that I’ve come to know and love over the years. The event began with a plenary session – seeing so many hundreds of people gathered in one large space because of a deep and abiding love of myth (and of Joseph Campbell) was so liberating and re-affirming (after years of all of us thinking “I guess I’m the only one in my town”). There were so many luminaries there (whether speaking to the crowds, in panel discussions, individual lectures, workshops, or performances).
There would be a ceremony at 9 a.m. to start the day, followed by “the Big Story” – a myth shared to set the tone for the day’s theme. Then morning workshops to choose from, lunch, afternoon workshops to choose from, dinner, and evening plenary session that was generally a performance for everyone (and other, smaller performances – one was a Neil Gaiman radio play staged live), and Dionysian revelry with drinking and dancing into the evening in one or more of the hotel bars (Emerald Rose performing in the larger one – a dynamic, energetic band grounded in Celtic myth). I recall seeing two nine-foot tall centaurs wandering about the first evening; when I ran into them again the next morning on my way to breakfast, I realized it wasn’t the absinthe that was to blame (several talented actors had been hired to don realistic mythic costumes, but the centaurs were truly the most impressive). And then there were the “after-parties” in hotel rooms into the wee hours of the morning, and stumbling into my hotel room (shared with Martin Weyers from Germany and Phil Spartalis from Australia) to catch a few hours sleep before getting up and doing it all over again.
I had the opportunity to meet Jean Shinoda Bolen and attend a workshop she led on “Illness as a Soul Journey.” Such a tiny woman (well under five feet tall), such a large presence!
I also attended a lecture by David Abram (author of The Spell of the Sensuous, and the person who, at Lynn Kaufmann’s request, got the very shy George Lucas and Joseph Campbell talking to one another the first time they met, at an event called “The Inner Reaches of Outer Space” in tandem with the release of the book of the same name, by performing a magic trick that required them to hold each other’s hands), entitled “The Storied Earth: Rejuvenating Oral Culture as an Ecological Imperative.”
Alas, coordinating and funding a multi-day event with multiple performers, presenters, vendors, and over a thousand attendees is truly challenging (as I learned six years later, when I was a co-chair of the Symposium for the Study of Myth). I’m surprised the organizers were able to pull it off twice – but as an attendee, I enjoyed every minute.