For those interested in myth, metaphor, and meaning, above and below are links to the movie Mythic Journeys I mentioned in my last post. The stop motion “Bone Orchard” part of the film was screened at the event I just attended; to see the rest, I purchased the 2 DVD set. The imagery is beautiful, and the words are inspiring. The “tree girl” pictured on these banners was based on the work of Virginia Lee, artist Alan Lee’s daughter. And the “Bone Orchard” segments of the film are based on puppets crafted by Brian and Wendy Froud.
Today my daughter and I returned from another realm, where we spent a weekend immersed in myth, story, music, and art.
Here are photos taken just before the Good Faeries Ball (I recycled my Halloween costume for this):
And just before the Bad Fairies Ball:
We also attended panels of writers and artists, including Brian and Wendy Froud, Jane Yolen, and others.
Of particular interest to me was the session by Whitney and Steven Boe on their film Mythic Journeys, about the importance of myth, enchantment, and spirituality for our lives.
Brian and Wendy Froud, Whitney and Steven Boe
A handmade bench provided a focal point. It is really a headboard but framed a bench for this event.
It was a special weekend.
The Factionist/via Flickr
Today on an NPR blog I read about a symposium (at Concordia College in Minnesota) regarding “re-enchantment.” The posting caught my eye because “re-enchantment” is one of my forms of sacred play.
From the College’s website:
Awakening to Wonder: Re-enchantment in a Post-Secular Age
The symposium will explore the role of wonder in today’s world by asking such questions as:
- What role does wonder play in popular culture, including literature, movies, and games, and what is the significance of the current attention to wonder and mystery in these areas?
- What place does wonder have within the intellectual vocation of making sense of the world?
- Can reason and wonder coexist, or are they in serious conflict with one another?
- How and why is the place of religion changing in the contemporary world?
- Do such changes in religion involve changes in our sense of the world as a locus of wonder?
- What are the experiences writers in a wide range of fields of study have in mind when they speak of re-enchantment?
- Do shared experiences of wonder represent a common ground where people of different faiths, cultures, and academic disciplines might meet, understand and appreciate each other, or explore solutions to problems they have in common?
How I wish I could have attended! A post-secular age. The rebirth of wonder.
At this time of year, when the green melts away from the tree leaves, leaving on display the reds and golds; when the air has that delicious crispness in the morning; when the pace of summer activities has slowed; when I feel myself beginning to be drawn inward ~ the story-spinning part of me begins to awaken, and of course it whispers of inner and far-out worlds. My fingers itch to create masks and otherworldly garments, all in the service of re-enchantment, at a time on the wheel of the year when the earth appears to be falling into a doze.
Awaken! We need new, more expansive ways of understanding the world and our places within it. May our common ground in experiences of wonder lead to many stories, works of imagination, and the enchantment that will empower our creative connections to this amazing planet, and with one another.
At the moment I’m reading a book which was mentioned on the blog called Urban Mystic (thanks, Tim). The title of the book is Beyond Religion: 8 Alternative Paths to the Sacred, by David N. Elkins. Because I haven’t finished it, I’ve not decided whether to add it to my list of recommended books.
“Buried deep in the heart of every adult is a longing for a life that matters. We want to drink deeply from the stream of existence and know the passion of being truly alive. The purpose of this book is to say that such a life is possible, and that it all begins by learning how to nurture and care for the soul.”
OK. Nurturing the soul is what Elkins considers the spiritual life to be about. But I’m trying to understand exactly what he means by soul, since it is basic to what he is putting forth. He does claim that one doesn’t need religion in order to nurture one’s soul. Should be interesting to see what moves he makes to define soul in non-religious ways. More after I’ve read more.
Meanwhile, some of the ideas I’ve already come across in this book may be fun to play with at the Sanctuary Without Walls monthly gathering tomorrow. Please come if you are interested! 4 PM.
By the way, the eight paths are: The Feminine, The Arts, The Body, Psychology, Mythology, Nature, Relationships, and Dark Nights of the Soul.
Born innocent, one
– that’s I –
strives hard to become
an adult, no longer childish,
in one’s art, one’s love, one’s life . . .
that no one ever
becomes an adult,
or pitifully juvenile . . .
one’s art to be outside the art game
one’s faith outside the religious game
one’s love outside the sex game
one’s own little song
and dares to sing it
in all variations,
unsuited as it may be
for mass communication . . .
here and there
someone will hear it
From Art as a Way: A Return to the Spiritual Roots, Frederick Franck, New York: Crossroad, 1981
Deirdre, a Facebook friend, recently posted this photo of a challah, which is a braided bread often part of the meal on Fridays in Jewish households. Looking at the photo, I can almost taste the crunchy crust and smell the delicious aroma of home-made bread. The challah was made by her daughter, Elisheva, age 11. On her flickr page, Deirdre wrote, “We had one [a challah] last night with dinner and one this morning as french toast. We are not religious, but we still usually have a special meal, with candles, wine, and bread, on Friday nights.”
“Special.” The word jumped out at me. Ellen Dissanayake, in her books What is Art For? and Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why, describes art not as a thing but as a process, the process of “making special.” She considers “making special” a fundamental human behavioral tendency along with speech and tool-making/using. She writes, “Moreover, one intends by making special to place the activity or artifact in a ‘realm’ different from the everyday.” (What is Art For?, p.92, emphasis in original.) Dissanayake also relates this aesthetic process of “arting” to human play, ceremony, ritual, and its importance to our human evolution. Sacred play.
Deirdre’s daughter’s bread was made for their “ritual” Friday night meal, and the wine and candles beautifully round out the specialness of the event, which is set apart from everyday meals. Warmth and beauty, connection and sustenance: the bread by which we live.