FROM MYTHIC JOURNEYS 2006
Writing about the Mythic Journeys Conference is frustrating because words alone can't convey the experience. I'd like to sit you
down in a conference room filled with images, feathers, water, hanging cloths in bright colors, and green and growing things.
There would be music, Celtic perhaps, or First Nations, or something on a sitar, maybe a sound of bells. When you turned around to
see who was playing, it would be one of your favorite authors, someone in a mask of leaves and flowers, and guys wearing kilts.
At night, Coleman Barks recites Rumi in his warm, round voice. Deepak Chopra responds with Rabindranath Tagore. Their voices are
musical, the accents rich. The young poet Ekiwah joins in, translating Spanish into English, and images into words.
You lunch with Michael Meade, great-hearted storyteller. Jean Shinoda Bolen, transformative psychologist, sits next to you at the morning
presentation. The list of presenters is an incantation of artists, writers, musicians, technicians of mythic vision, surrounding you with
endless possibilities and power.
Which isn't bad for four days in Atlanta in June. Created by the Mythic Imagination Institute and orchestrated by Michael Karlin, Honora Foah,
and Brenda Sutton, Mythic Journeys '06 was marvelous.
As a performer and
writer for the last 25 years or so, I've attended and seen some incredible things: people who are uber-committed to the truth of story,
organizations that bend over backwards to serve their communities, groups that would sooner self-immolate than give in to cynicism,
performances that defy all attempts to define them. My Mythic Journeys experience ranks in my top three amazing
things-I've-witnessed-so-far-in-life, and encompasses most of what I had previously witnessed only piecemeal.
I had an inkling of the depth and breadth of the mythic community, those who know either by education or otherwise how very powerful
and empowering the great stories are, but I had not actually met them in person. Until Atlanta '06. Now I know several things:
My thanks to Mythic Imagination Institute for a truly informative, nourishing, and enspiriting week.
- First, I am not alone, no matter how it feels to me sometimes.
- Second, Story is even more valuable and vital than even I had imagined, and I have quite an imagination.
- Thirdly, I need to not only participate fully in the celebration of the old tales, but also engage in the creation of the new ones. It is a
daunting, breathtaking, terrifying realization. As I move forward in my own storymaking career, I can feel my personal burden lifted and my
mythic burden waxing heavy on me. While sometimes it makes me tired, it is a joyful brand of weariness now. And while I still get the horrifying
idea, like all performer/writers do, that tying Jack Ketch's knot around my neck and ending it all might be better than continuing down the lonely
and painful path, I also know, better now than ever, that it is the Story that rescues me from myself. Even more importantly, is the salvation
of others as well.
Mythic Journeys Conference is like wandering through Faerie in a state of bliss. That such moments can be contained
without one's heart bursting — astonishing!
I can be found remembering...
Remembering... I was off, mad in the woods, having mistreated my lovely wife; that I heard Rumi as if for the first time and heard Tagore
for the first time; that I travelled to a colony of sea lions and fought the great bull outside the city of Uruk; some, I gave the chance to
howl like apes and found myself in tears on more than one occasion.
I missed much, there being only one of me, but in conversation over a ubiquitous late night whiskey (or occasional 23-year old rum) I heard
I want to go back and hear it, feel it, do it all again...but I cannot.
It is in the nature of things that we can only go on warmed in the knowledge that there are other mad people out there...or maybe, we're
not the mad ones after all.
William Todd Jones
Where else in the world can you meet up with soul-brothers and soul-sisters who live, breathe, eat and sleep myth?
When we are asked to come to Mythic Journeys, we spend lots of time dreaming the themes, passing through
time and space to the occasion itself. When we arrive, we are like swimmers who dive deeply into the ocean, swimming
through coral reefs of story, passing through shoals of debate, serenading the stars with myths with have heard from afar
with fellow selkies who only come to these shores once a year. It is our life-food and nurture for our souls.
My own time at Mythic Journeys has been so rich: the music that wells up in me is often the only way I can express
myself, words being inadequate, even to one who is a writer. To be present is to be inside a poem of the heart, for the
gathering is an alchemical brew of themes and myths that have been paths under my feet. for so long. The ability to share,
discuss, sing, debate, squabble and play — not to mention the less meaningful but wonderful conversations over
peach martinis in the bar — is such a privilege for me. Like many people, these mythic themes are not the conversation
of everyday society, even though we are reacting to and engaging with them in every breath we take. To bring the mythic
subtext up to the surface and allow it to play like a dragonfly over the waters is to be inside joy itself.
For this opportunity to share, the dedicated organizers of this wonderful conference deserve high praise for their courage and
vision. We cannot afford to let this confluence of Mythic Journeys fail: it is an eternal rendezvouz of the heart.
It's an honour to be part of the Mythic Journeys enterprise. Thank you for inviting me to be part of it.
Author of Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom
and singer of CD Earth's Own Heart
Mythic Journeys 2006 was a highspot in my year. As a full time researcher and writer in the area of myth it was
a privilege and an at times overwhelming experience, full of richness and enlightenment. The quality of the participation, from
both faculty and audience, was just about he highest I have ever experienced — with both sides giving equally in the
thrust and parry of excitement, discussion, and wisdom. Its not that often that you get this kind of experience from a conference.
Here we were entertained, amused, excited and (dare I say it?) ennobled by the encounters that happened daily. I will always
remember the amazing session on Music, which woke more emotions in me than I think I have ever felt, and the wonderful
clowning of the Trollops, whose appearance was always delightful and welcomed by everyone with cries of 'O look, the trollops are out!'
(Not something you'd expect to hear at a conference on myth!")
Ultimately this was a fantastic opportunity to share, to learn, to experience just how deep and profound myth can be when it
touches the mundane world. May Mythic Journeys continue for many years — in fact, it MUST do so, for we
should all be poorer if it does not!
"We are not seeking the meaning of our lives as much as we are seeking the ecstasy of being alive."
— Joseph Campbell
In 1965, I had the good fortune to meet Joseph Campbell at a seminar at Esalen Institute. That encounter blossomed into a
twenty-year relationship as friends and colleagues. As a conference organizer for U.C. Berkeley Extension, I brought him to the university
to lecture twice a year. The last event we did together was entitled "From Ritual to Rapture". One of the highlights was a free-form
riff between Joe Campbell and Jerry Garcia.
At the invitation of The Grateful Dead, Joe had recently attended one of their concerts. He compared the experience to
a Dionysian revel, a communal consciousness altering event, an exhilarating physical and spiritual ritual. I think Joe would have said
the same about the celebration known as Mythic Journeys.
I have attended both the 2004 (Mythic Journeys), in celebration of Joe Campbell's Centenary, and (Mythic Journeys) 2006. The first
year I enjoyed the event but was puzzled by it. What was this exuberant mélange of art, music, theatrical performance,
academic lectures, panel discussions, inter-active workshops? How did one categorize it?
The second year I realized Mythic Journeys is sui generis. While its roots are sunk deep into the rich loam of the wisdom
traditions and of the primordial mythic imagination, each time the tree blossoms it bears new, juicy, surprising, and nourishing fruit.
Attending a Mythic Journeys Event is akin to experiencing what the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda had in mind when he wrote:
- "I want to do with you
- What Spring does to the cherry tree."
Many thanks to you and your team, Michael and Honora — it was another uplifting, multifaceted and very unique gathering.
I know how much time, sweat and worry go into creating these amazing opportunities, and Ben (Deschamps) and I were both delighted
to bring our contributions to the mix. I hope you'll consider us again for any future conferences and events... until then, all the best from Canada.
The idea of circular time is dependent on the fact that we leave one life to partake in another, carrying with us past deeds and subtleties
playing into now. This concept is not only a metaphysical summation of one lifetime, but actually and really believed to be the case over numerous
generations. In a world governed by the thought that you have around 80 years to accomplish your destiny and take off, this just doesn't hold.
And yet, in a strange way, Mythic Journeys is itself a refuting of this "law." The organizers often admit that it "just felt like the right
thing to do," a rather unconscious duty driving them to create one of the most powerful expressions of mythology on this current planet.
(Joseph) Campbell expressed the seemingly spontaneous occurrences of myth and ritual appearing worldwide in places where cultures would
have had no contact with others. Now that Earth is connected through wires (an effective use of alchemy if ever) and, more interestingly,
wireless means (an even more effective use of psychic energy via radio waves), we have new mythologies to explore and create.
Mythic Journeys is one such event.
(Read Derek's entire article on Mythic Journeys '06 here)
I have to say once again that this year's conference was simply outstanding. The place
looked absolutely gorgeous, the program was superb and you've now set yourselves a standard that may be hard to replicate! We
all basked in the glow of those days and nights in Atlanta and came away filled with light. Thanks again for a tremendous experience.