By Louisa Foster, PsyD, RDT/BCT
I have a made it a practice of turning off the news as of late. Yes, I know I have written about this before. I share it here again because it is an ongoing commitment I must make to myself, especially as the political landscape begins to burn its way into our consciousness again.
It was a gradual disconnection which began with relying on aural media only, to spare myself the images of suffering, loss, and plain idiocy. Now, I find myself staying informed through friends, trusting that anything that I truly need to know to maintain my status as a world citizen will make its way to me through them. Though I will admit that I now worry about them and their exposure to toxic storytelling and heightened fear-driven rhetoric.
There are challenging days ahead. We know this in our bones.
Though we may not yet feel the bite of change, we know it is imminent. We are holding a breath that will need to be exhaled when the forces that are brewing conflict and mischief in our world finally clash.
We hunger for ways to make sense of this chaotic world, as we teeter on the edge of the unknown abyss, where the world before us is shrouded in dark gauze. Imperceptible, frightening even, as the unknown always is.
What will the coming months bring as we navigate the treacherous roads of political division, cultural strain, climate change, willful ignorance, and uninformed self-righteousness? There is a palpable sense that monsters lurk around every corner, and we find ourselves ill-prepared to face them.
But there have been monsters before. These monsters that call out in each of us our highest capacity as monster hunters and bringers of the light. And there will be monsters again, as the wheel of human experience continues to turn ever forward.
Our forefathers and foremothers had better tools to handle these liminal spaces. Before the advent of science and mathematics to explain our world, our ancestors relied on myth, story, and oral tradition to explain not only the sacred, but the mundane as well.
Once the age of reason began to supplant our communal storytelling practices and dismiss any pursuits of knowledge that could not be empirically validated, we left the path of image-based learning and healing in favor of the quantifiable and concrete. Yet both are needed to navigate the challenges of our world. We must be able to understand at profound levels both our tangible reality and our inspired dreams of who we can be, as individuals, as community, as a nation, and as a planet.
Here, at this time in history, we find ourselves on the precipice of what is both sacred and what is profane - two archetypes that often travel together in unremitting and uncomfortable tension. However, from these moments, if we can stay present and alive in this discomfort, if we can hold the tension of these opposites, a glorious third option may emerge.
In honoring all those who have come before, in the millennia that have encompassed all human experience, all those who have weathered discomfort, political corruption, a commitment to greed rather than compassion, we know that we can survive this threshold space.
We might ask “What new, or rather, what old tools can we bring to these experiences?”. Surely the answer does not lie in the news, in reality television, or in the circles of despair that we gather in to bemoan the state of the world.
Perhaps it is time to look towards old stories for the answers? Perhaps it is time to let go of the idea that logic and rationality, in the absence of expansiveness and mystery, are enough to bring us through?
Both are needed now. Only both the collected logic of rational thought, as well as the aspirational reverie and poetry of the human experience can help us cross this threshold.
In the coming months, I invite you to join me on an exploration of both modern and ancient stories, old and new traditions, and art making in service of facing the monsters, both internal and external. This series of workshops use an art form known as Mythopoesis, the writing of our own personal myth, to be used as a lantern to illuminate our path as we move forward through the dark.
Let us together banish those forces that keep us from experiencing our own power. This is an opportunity to shed a skin that no longer fits, to experience ourselves and the world through the eyes of old wisdom and, together, to find the third option.
In these workshops, we will steward the old stories and rebirth them in our modern understanding. We will rewrite our own stories and join together, not to feed our grief, but to honor it, and to experience ourselves in a community dedicated to seeking our own wisdom for the betterment of all.
*Our first Mythopoesis workshop will take place at the end of October (see above). Stay tuned for more information.