Reply To: Metamorphosis: Dreaming the New Songs,” with MythBlast author Kristina Dryža”
Thank you for the thoughtful questions Stephen. And hello dear audience! I look forward to being in conversation with you this week.
I found in my Inbox a horoscope I saved from 2013 by Rob Brezsny: “PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): After studying the myths and stories of many cultures throughout history, Joseph Campbell arrived at a few conclusions about the nature of the human quest. Here’s one that’s apropos for you right now: ‘The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.’ He came up with several variations on this idea, including this one: ‘The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.’ I urge you to consider making this your operative hypothesis for the coming weeks, Pisces.”
I’m sure that it’s like this for many people. You don’t know who Joseph Campbell is one day, and then the next day, you’re spending all your time wanting to know just exactly who this person is! And then a few years later he appeared in one of my dreams.
And something obviously ‘clicked’ as I cashed in my life insurance to go to ‘The Mythological Toolbox™ PlayShop’ at the Esalen Institute in 2016!!! I felt there would be far more safety and security found in the week at Big Sur, California with a group of strangers revisioning our hero’s journey than in any false security that the future could potentially provide. I find the myths protect me in a very different way and are a separate type of life insurance policy.
While I was raised in Australia, all my grandparents are Lithuanian and so I was vaguely familiar with the work of Marija Gimbutas and it was so wonderful to visit her and Campbell’s library that same year as I also travelled to Pacifica Graduate Institute for the ‘Climates of Change and the Therapy of Ideas’ conference. It was certainly a rite of passage for me. Now being in Lithuania during the pandemic (we are still currently in lockdown) and being able to connect to my ancestral and mythological roots in the old-growth forests on the Baltic Sea coast, it puts what first drew me to Campbell – the Grail Mysteries – into context.
Interestingly I purchased ‘The Flight of the Wild Gander’ during the PlayShop (where I also happened to partake in way too much of Campbell’s favourite whisky during his 112th birthday celebrations!) and the book travelled home with me to eventually sit on a bookshelf in Adelaide and is now in storage, never once having been opened. Reading the PDF to write the article for this MythBlast I realised how often we need life to initiate us before we can meet certain ideas, people and experiences. The book may have always been sitting there waiting for us to read, but we’re not always ready to meet the content that waits for us inside. An inner dimension first needs to be carved and hollowed out in us so that the words have a place to land. Can we be that empty vessel to receive the wisdom?
When I grew up Campbell was only known amongst a certain audience in Australia but now the popularised monomyth and films like ‘Finding Joe’ means that there’s a growing recognition amongst more people of the importance of developing a mythic consciousness and an archetypal eye, as well as engaging a poetic and symbolic imagination. After the PlayShop, as I travelled the furthest to attend, it was my responsibility to take some stones from our week-long death and rebirth initiation ritual at Esalen to Uluru, and so in some very tiny way, I feel that there is now a connection with Campbell’s work and the Australian soil.
Thank you also for your kind comments on my essay, Stephen. Like in nature and our own lives (personal and corporate), it can’t always be spring. But we don’t know how to make space in our psyches and in society for the destroyer archetype. Destruction is the right hand of creation. We can’t have constant creation, constant growth, nor constant spring. We need exnovation as much as we do innovation. (Exnovation is characterised by the deconstruction of systems, practices or technologies that no longer serve what wants to emerge.)
There are few spaces in the industrial growth society for rest, decay and putrefaction. These things run counter to the capitalist agenda and a growth economy. There’s rarely time for reflection, a harvesting of what’s been learned, nor the stillness that a fallow field requires as new growth seeds and buds. As the Persephone and Hades myth articulates, there’s the necessary abduction from engagement with a life lived solely on the surface. We need to know what calls us to our depths and we’re often positioned in Hades to learn to trust the cycles of nature and that what comes to life is seeded by what is unseen.
The liminal space is where transformation occurs for it’s the calling card of the fertile void. The process of decomposition returns richness to the soil, which in the meantime provides regeneration and is the midwife to many varieties of a renaissance (in the greater meaning of the word). We have to question though why doing nothing is often times linked to laziness, when in fallow times what’s occurring is highly constructive – but invisible – to the naked eye as new growth is germinating and waits to be born. The undoing, unlearning and unknowing of ourselves is the very compost for seeding the fecundity of imagination.
So how to bring this into a corporate setting? I usually begin with exploring how we are nature. What we breathe out affects the world around us: we exist within a greater ecosystem. All life breathes together. The cycle of birth, growth, full bloom, harvest, decay, death and rebirth occurs in the sun, moon, seasons, plants, animals, humans and businesses. And lack of rhythm can be disastrous in business.
We cannot break the patterns of nature, only ourselves against them. And once people admit and witness the cost of going against nature – as well as their own nature – and grieve what’s been lost, only then is there the possibility to make way for the new. By turning away from the obsession with infinite, linear growth on a finite planet and shifting our attention to new frames of growth – flux, constant change, death and rebirth (both individually and collectively) – we then begin to sense the fragile web of creation that yokes us all.
By living in alignment with the patterns of the natural world, and the illumination that the mythic and archetypal world bestows, we fixate less on prediction and concern ourselves more with presence. This enables us to better relax into the future as we learn to make the mysterious and the unknown our permanent home. Rather than constantly being consumed with ‘what’s next,’ we can instead focus on ‘what’s sacred.’
Thank you all for the listening ear. I very much look forward to hearing from you – Kristina.