A while back, I was asked to write a personal myth in support of my expanding worldview, as I perceive it to be beneath the veneer of accepted reality. A short time later, I awoke from a dream in which there was a Wise Old Woman storyteller who lived on the outskirts of a village by the sea; thus, the myth “Polina,” was born, almost fully formed in my mind. Only a few minor details needed to be fleshed out in the writing of the tale. I invite you to read this little myth and to think about what sort of story you would write in support of your beliefs; one that might guide you to a more contented, joyful, and creative life…
There was once a storyteller who lived on the outskirts of a progressive village built along the banks of a fog-blanketed bay that meandered out into the vast ocean. The children of the town called the old storyteller Polina, meaning Wise One. Polina felt a special kinship with the children because their minds were still curious and open. Like herself, they were learning from the world around them and connected to the messages of the wise Earth and its nature beings like Hawk, Wolf, Bear, Stag, Tree, and others, as well to their own wild and creative imaginations.
These same Spirit Familiars, as nature beings are sometimes called when connecting with their humans, visited Polina often in her daily life and visions, and brought stories to her in the Dreamtime. Some of the dream stories were frightening, like the one in which Mother Hawk snags Polina with her talons, brings her to a nest high on a mountain ledge, and then nudges her out of the nest to test her ability to fly. To her dream ego’s surprise, Polina soars as she dips and climbs through the air, practicing her own flight moves with the hawk fledglings. Other dreams are terrifying, like the one in which Wolf tears Polina to bits, then guards the pieces that were once herself as they reassemble into the Power Being she is meant to be. Some are simply mystifying, like the dream in which Bear leads her deep into the Dark Wood to drink from a cool, clear pool of Living Water. The dream in which Tree swoops her up and carries her in strong supporting limbs is exhilarating, and reminds Polina of her own connection to Earth and Sky through the energy of Tree. Her Familiars shared all manner of stories with the old woman—themes about Birth, Life, Death, and everything in between. These dream stories seeded Polina’s understanding of magic, mystery and the people’s connections to things that are often hidden from view as they go about the business of everyday living. In turn, Polina shared the Spirit Familiars’ wisdom with the village, regaling the eager children, and anyone else who cared to listen, with the strange and glorious tales.
Unfortunately, the Controllers of Affairs in the village thought the old woman’s stories utter nonsense. Flying from a hawk’s nest! Talking bears! Walking trees! Ridiculous! They felt that it would serve the children better to be learning practical things they could use in the real world instead of silly stories that merely filled their heads with fluff. Things like manners and obedience and memorization of the ancient tomes. These people convinced the parents in the village to keep the children away from the ‘crazy’ old woman the next time she showed up on a storytelling mission. They convinced all, that is, except the parents of one little girl by the name of Serene Sunrise Kimball. Polina was grateful to bring her stories to this special, young listener’s ears.
Serene, as she was known, was only five-years old, but she was exceedingly bright and eager to learn and had a healthy reserve of imagination. Because of this, she was the perfect candidate to become the old woman’s protege. She was taught the important arts of living that included deep listening, storytelling, dream tending, and dream sharing. Over time, Serene gained the ability to bring back wisdom from the spirit helpers that came to her and to focus on important matters that people had formerly known about Life before the Controllers of Affairs had conspired to change their understanding. Polina’s little protege was especially good at being very still during times when the world gave up its secrets and mirrored back, in the form of meaningful coincidences, the innermost knowing of her own heart and mind.
Seeing the positive changes in Serene and how her understanding and power grew in proportion to her knowledge of the ancient truths, other children began forming a circle around the old woman when she came to town. In time, they too began to exhibit the ways of joy, contentment, and balance through dream tending, journaling, art, storytelling, music – all things learned by observing and listening to the natural world around them. Soon the parents of these wise children began gathering around Polina, too. After learning the art of tending their own dreams, visions, and meaningful coincidences and sharing them with their neighbors, the village began watching for patterns and symbols that would support them in making better decisions in their lives and in their community.
Through their shared dream stories, it became clear to the people that they must tend the gardens of their own desires while they were able, before their bodies slowed down and ceased to work, ultimately, becoming food for worms in future generations’ gardens. There was only so much time in each life and they knew they must live it with passion and joy. As for the children, while still young, they learned that each thing is birthed, grows, dies, and is reborn in its own good time. They understood how their own lives began as little seeds in the dark until the time in the cycle of days was ripe for them to push through the Mother’s passageway out into the light in order to expand and grow. The stories also prepared them for a time when their physical bodies would make the descent back into Earth Mother, and that this was part of the natural cycles and rhythm of all life everywhere, well beyond the little community where many of them would spend all of their days.
Knowing that people everywhere love stories of adventure, Polina entertained the villagers with tales of danger, heroism, defeat, and new growth. There were stories of the Dark Wood that warned of destruction and loss, but which also contained the seeds of new growth. In order to change and progress, a journey through the Dark is often necessary. These myths of Descent into Moon energy, as the old storyteller called them, represented the deeper workings of the mind and heart in symbolic and metaphoric ways so that the people could integrate their lessons without fear.
Since Darkness needs the balance of levity and Light, or Sun energy, Polina became a master at the turn of the phrase and pun, and she often made the villagers laugh with hilarious stories of archetypal characters such as Trickster, The Fool, Coyote, and Jester; thus, showing through the portal of humor the folly of human nature. Humor also helped the people integrate the harder lessons of life without fear or recrimination.
As Polina’s reputation grew as a wise woman and teller of remarkable tales, people came from great distances beyond the village to listen and learn the ways Spirit. In spite of this, the old storyteller, always humble, did not want fame. Her only wish was for others to know that they, too, can hear the voice of spirit in the world around them and live lives of inner-directed passion and joy. To that objective Polina devoted her long life unto the very end of her days. The End
Michelle Dr. Michelle Peticolas Grief Transformation Specialist Secrets of Life and Death 217 Ramona Ave. El Cerrito, CA 94530 (510) 524-1227 email@example.com http://www.secretsoflifeanddeath.com
Thanks, Michelle! I don’t know if you remember, but it is the personal myth that I started when you, Ariel, and I were in a creative support group together. Glad you got to see it fleshed out a bit. We really need to get together for brunch or tea and catch up. Jenna xo
That little Serene has wise parents and Polina knows how to tell a teaching story. Archetypes abound in the land of the opposites. May I aspire to be like Polina. Interested in service rather than fame. Thanks for your enticing story.
Jenna, do you know John Tarrant’s book The Light Inside the Dark? He’s a born story teller, an analyst and a Zen master. He understands the need for both spirit and psyche and understands the wisdom of the dark.
Thanks for stopping by, Elaine. I doubt that your ‘service’ will ever be in question. I have gained so much support in my own grief from your blog and other writing and am excited about your new book, “Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey Through Grief,” that readers here can order at: http://elainemansfield.com/ I’m also looking forward, on your recommendation, to reading John Tarrant’s “The Light Inside the Dark.” So many wonderful things to read and contemplate, so little time. Hugs, Jenna
I’ll share it on FB tomorrow. I’m glad to do that for you. Look forward to hearing your reaction to John Tarrant. I imagine you’ll be moved.
Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief (Oct. 2014)
Thanks, Elaine, but I’ve decided to post my blog entries on FB myself. I won’t be responding on FB since I’m taking a break from social media while working on my book. Hopefully, people will honor my request to comment in the blog.
I’m still waiting for Tarrant’s book to come in. However, I’ve received your book and can not put it down. I am going to wait and respond to the whole book once I’ve finished. Suffice it to say, I think it is a heroic and exquisite piece of work. I’ve cried buckets of tears while reading it…both sad and happy tears.
I posted it on FB before reading your email. Always good to have it posted a few places. We’re in a holding pattern here with the book, waiting for an important review to come in from a place that doesn’t like the book to be released until after their review is out. My “due date” is Oct. 7. I hope she’s delivered everywhere before then.
Thanks, Elaine! Wishing you an early ‘delivery.’ Isn’t that what all birthing women want? 🙂