Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Last chance saloon for the "Red Eared Hounds' weekends, with Robin and myself, we are down to the last few places. Friday night gig with Robin begins at 8pm at St Lawrence's Chapel, Ashburton, tickets on the door 10 pounds. for workshop and gig 130 pounds, ring 01364 653723 and hope they've not gone.
Hard for me to say anything approaching intelligent this week as i have been working on my new book so hard i am a growling, tusky loon of befuddlement. The horrendous situation in Japan got through though, and i send much love to anyone over there right now.

Here is this weeks taste of the upcoming " A Branch From The Lightning Tree" - older readers will have read bits of the below in earlier entries...

Myth: A Collision of Ruptures
The word “myth” carries a variety of association too wide to explore fully in this book. The stories we will explore may be described as initiatory myths: they follow the archaic progression that rites-of- passage also offer; they are indeed two strands from the same rope. I use the word myth to describe a story that instigates an intense, personal reaction and at the same time a wider range of relational awareness.These are visions of what we call eternity, or outside daily time, and have little regard for catagories of folktale, fairy tale, or myth. From this perspective these categories are secondary functions.As I have written, myth is promiscious. Just as we start picking out wedding rings and carving its meaning onto tablets of stone, we find it in the bed of another tribe, society, or civilization, enjoying a quite different set of associations.

What we can say is that initiation myths often deal with rupture. How secular society accomodates rupture is an interesting question—the word indicates a break or fissure in the surface of appearances. In the myth world, it is not the steady road of societal affirmation that defines us but rather that we orientate ourselves through hierophany—a sacred rupture. Myth could be said to be a collision of ruptures. From this perspective, our rupture, our ruin, is our axis mundi, our place of orientiation, our holy hills, our cathedral.

Myth has also had its critics, Roland Barthes describing it as “an abnormal regression from meaning to form, from the linguistic sign to the mythical signifier”4.

I would argue with Barthes that a sign is something that has literal significance laced upon it, whereas a symbol has a far wider web of connection. Within the realm of story a sign denotes, a symbol connotes. When images from the un- conscious or myth are seen only as signs, they are robbed of their transformative power; their use as psychic guides is erased. It can only point towards a breakdown of the imagination when we interpret a symbol as a sign.

Mythic understanding is subterranean; it lives underneath. A woman who is really a seal, a Dragon obese with conquest, a bridge that is a razored sword—it is rash to suggest these doorways are falsehoods; they provide a poetic space for the imagination to flood into. Rather than frozen, they are vast-collapsing and refiguring with every consciousness that encounters them. Barthes’s position arises when we are deprived of the real thing—when the myth stiffens into religion or certain ritual techniques are used to subvert the conscious- ness of large groups—this seems to me his real bone of contention.

Initiatory myths are clear that real story is not designed for societal crowd control, but that they are forged in the great smelting ore of earth consciousness—not just the human. Are myths literally issuing from rocks, lightning storms, and snowflakes? Is it possible that what we call myth is an arc of imagination that rises from the awakened mind and at some invisible but tangible moment collides with the arrival of plant, mineral, or star conciousness? What also is the sound comunicating from concrete, fumes, and electricity? Do they engender a kind of twisted mythic arch, or does the vital, truly mythic synthesis require contact with an unmanipulated natural force?

What is Wild?
To be in touch with wildness is to have stepped past the proud cattle of the field and wandered far from the twinkles of the Inn’s fire. To have sensed something sublime in the life/death/life movement of the seasons, to know that contained in you is the knowledge to pull the sword from the stone and to live well in deep woods in fierce winter.

Wildness is a form of sophistication, because it carries within it true knowledge of our place in the world. It doesn’t exclude civiliza- tion but prowls through it, knowing when to attend to the needs of the committee and when to drink from a moonlit lake. It will wear a suit when it has to, but refuses to trim its talons or whiskers. Its sensing-nature is not afraid of emotion: the old stories are full of grief forests and triumphant returns, banquets and bridges of thorns. Myth tells us that the full gamut of feeling is to be experienced. Wildness is the capacity to go into joy, sorrow, and anger fully and stay there for as long as needed, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Sometimes, as Lorca says, it means “get down on all fours for twenty centuries and eat the grasses of the cemeteries.”5

Wildness carries sobriety as well as exuberance, and has allowed loss to mark its face.

Martin Shaw Copyright White Cloud Press 2011

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