Here are the things my brain needs to make sense of something: What is its name, Why is it that, and Am I the only person who sees it. I have to name the mystery, understand it, and then check and double-check that it’s real. It’s my job, as a writer and storyteller, to name the monsters. I point them out, and say “yes, I see it, too.”
That’s what writers do, we wrap words around the unnameable. That is the function of myth and symbol, of art and music.
Sometimes, the act of finding someone else naming, explaining and validating an experience can be life-affirming and exciting. That’s where I am this morning, and I can’t stop waving my arms like Kermit.
This morning a friend, healer (and fellow wonder-tracker), Loraine Van Tuyl, shared a piece on Archetypal Activism that resonated right down to my bones. The educational institution mentioned – Pacifica – is where I have applied to the Mythological Studies program. The work outlined – well, if you’ve read my blog in recent months, you know that’s exactly what I’m already doing.
I have a name for it. And a why it works. And it’s a real thing that other people see and recognize. Not only that, but there’s a freaking to do list. I have guidance about what to tackle next. I’m so excited and invigorated by this.
Putting all this together, we arrive at the following overlapping activities involved in doing archetypal activism:
- Witnessing or dreaming something (a “pressing concern”) in and from the world that needs tending,
- Heeding its images as potent metaphors in motion,
- Resolving to reflect on and respond to the concern with soul,
- Creating a support network for the effort,
- Viewing the concern empathically and non-judgmentally from different points of view, especially those pushed to the margins of collective consciousness,
- Maintaining openness and curiosity about the particularities and details of the concern,
- Amplifying them (Jung) by doing cultural and historical homework on them,
- Staying in a space of uncertainty, exploration, and tension until new understandings emerge,
- Allowing these understandings to shape action on behalf of what is witnessed or dreamed,
- Taking three concrete steps on its behalf,
- Assessing the effects of these steps, and
- Either ritualizing a closure for the project or deciding on further efforts on its behalf.
My very daunting blog to do list has been surrounding #7 lately – namely, unpacking the various aspects of the cultural shadow work that we are collectively doing. I think I need to see the value of some of the other activities to support that, first.
It’s hard to describe the level of validation I’m feeling. That this came sideways via Pacifica feels like a nudge. “You’re on the right track, keep going.” That I have a name and a field of study to look at is immensely encouraging.
Words Have Power
I remember learning the concept of what an “introvert” meant about 10 years ago. It was a word, a concept and an idea that validated my experience so deeply. It provided avenues for sanity and support that I hadn’t been able to access before that.
Until I knew the word, I struggled to explain it. I have pages upon pages of painful journal entries describing of how I experienced overstimulation. I just needed the word for it. I needed to name the monster. It helped to learn why I am an introvert. And it helped immensely to know that I’m not alone.
Because extroversion is normalized by society, and because everyone around me was an extrovert, I had no idea that there was another way to be. That I was really okay, just different. There were points when I couldn’t handle the TV one more moment that I was pretty sure I was insane.
The sense that I had, upon learning about intorversion, was a huge, validating, I AM NOT CRAZY! WA HOOOOOO.
This is kind of similar to how I feel this morning. Archetypal Activism is a thing. I’m doing it already. I can learn more about it, and I’m on track to do so.