Thursday, December 26, 2013


"We might want to try thinking about art a little differently. "Art" is less about what we could be and more about what we are than we normally acknowledge. When we are fixated on getting better, we miss what it is we already are--and this is dangerous because we--as we are--are the origin of our art. "We" are what makes our art original. If we are always striving to be something more and something different, we dilute the power of what it is we actually are. Doing that, we dilute our art."
- Julie Cameron

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The value of myth

“The value of myth is that it takes all the things you know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by the veil of familiarity.”-C.S. Lewis


Thursday, December 5, 2013

A world of juggling women; web-making and sources for myth

While winter sets frost and freeze here in the woods, my wandering spirit is warmed by the search of story in the depth of web-making. The Safety Pin Cafe is open to that spirit of story searching fueled by the cold night dreams, drama in some cases; and as well she is open to the everyday magic that is born of necessity.
 "Folk tales are like collective dreams; they are told in the kind of voice we hear at the edge of sleep, mingling the facts of our lives with their images in the psyche." - Lewis Hyde, The Gift
When winter comes we often tell ourselves, we aren't ready for it. As if the season was part of our checklists, we say the thing that is exactly so. We aren't ready, but winter doesn't think about whether she is ready. She simply lives it. The world I live in, as writer and border witch, is one that does exactly as Lewis Hyde suggests mingling and weaving the facts of my life with the images in my 'mind' but something else happens as well. I feel the border where the everyday and the myth cross and park myself there, and pin the magic together to create story. Let me spin a tale from this and see where we are ...


I am in the middle of putting down the newest story in the on-going ka'au (saga) of The Safety Pin Cafe. New characters and the plot begun with a silver-haired raven and an aging woman we come to know as 'border witch' has grown. (I hope adventurous readers and myth-makers will join me in the  the magic of the story already put down ... in a workshop starting January 1, 2014. Check it out here.) The story that grows now is about a juggler; meddlers; mending; and more border crossings. My process of writing is organic and spins invariably from the daily reality of living. This juggler is based roughly on the character and life of my younger brother. He asked me to write his story, and that is what I'm up to. He may or may not recognize himself by the time the story is put down, but "it makes no nevermind." Juggling is what a writer goes, and there will be much more added to the arch of the story than a straight line chronicle.

Last night as I slipped into the dream place images and ideas fished around in my mind, and in the morning I settled them into my belly. Breathing deeply I filled up with new life and let it all swirl in the darkness of the vardo. Juggling was on my mind and in my breath. I wondered this: "Women Jugglers" ... as I felt the part.

Picking up the threads

The story of the juggler is growing nicely, the characters and the continuity full enough to welcome what is next. Not what I want necessarily but what the story has in mind. The threads: Winter. Finding locations for the telling of story from The Safety Pin Cafe. Being patient with the process of growing the cafe. Audience participation: I love that part most of all when I tell. The Juggler is mythic -- man and beastie both. Genealogy.

This morning three threads have fit themselves into the eye of my needle, a thick sort of threading takes place when my hands, my imagination and my real life have a place in the web-making. A source that once offered my wandering spirit a place to light when I was taking a leap of faith from one career to something else. The source was a small elfish man and teacher Brian Way. 
I was sad to learn he died in 2006, but glad we had met when we did. It was time for me to be meddled with, I was about to meet the play actor who would tickle me in a magical way. The pun was not intended, but it does work. Brian Way was a glorious magician of children's theatre and offered me both a structure (lesson plans) for the start of my journey with storytelling and an invitation to meddle with what was. It was 1993. This morning I found an old text book available at written by Brian Way in the 1980's. It focuses on 'audience participation.' 'Aue!

The second thread came when the internet led me to the YouTubes that begin this post. Women Jugglers. Yes, the women of Tonga are jugglers! Beautiful. The videos above are that, and the feeling I get, the sensitivities that juggle inside and outside me are alive with life. I listened and watched both the videos in the early morning hours, still dark. I noticed the nuts the women were juggling, and heard the pronunciation of the word: tui tui nuts. Rewinding the video I took a closer look at the nuts and the tree from which the nuts were being gathered. I watched the women, the girls, the kupuna (elders) and I recognized the nuts. In Hawaiian we call them kukui, candlenut. Kukui is the tree of life, tree of light. From the oil of the kukui came the light, the lamps of kukui hele po (the candlenut that came when the darkness came). The women of Tonga have been juggling light for hundreds of years. It was, and is, a game, it is play, it is what they can do. It is what they do.

The third thread was the use of safety pins, once again pinning a need in a common and efficient way.

The every day necessity of our real life safety pin cafe comes from now: today we need an added layer of warmth against the 20 degree temperature outside. It's the Quonset Hut that's in need of extras like a pair of long underwear. Flannel sheets, our layer of choice over and over again serves the purpose.
A double sheet doubled up and safety pinned into lengths of a decorative binding found years ago in a thrift shop (and gentling washed in baking soda and aired of lingering fragrances) keeps the draft out.
 JOTS' felt covered door is now a bit changed. She will need some time to get used to the in and outs. She's adaptable, not always living it, she makes do and mostly likes the warmth more than the inconvenience.
Peeking through the newly safety pinned layer of flannel, the coZy den is warm and more ready for the promise of lower temperatures.

There in the dreams and the deep well of listening my belly brain was tickled. The web, the jugglers' invisible arch and the storyteller's melody pull themselves through the eye of a needle. Noticing the value of a story present in the everyday, the story hums. Listen. Hear it?