Forgotten stories, forgotten voices

On my way to finding new stories and speculative fiction I take a look back at an old forgotten tale.

Zeus, the ancient Greek god that ruled Olympus was a jealous old man.  Mention of his name still strikes a chord with many though mostly the stories of his exploits are now forgotten.   These days he is remembered as a legendary character, a frozen relic from another time and place.

One story about Zeus has all but vanished from our trove of myths and legends.  That story is the complicated relationship between Zeus and his first wife, Metis (pronounced Meetus).

Metis was one of the original Greek gods and goddesses, the Titans.  Chronus, the father of Zeus was also a Titan.  When his wife Rhea gave birth to a son Cronus feared that the child would overthrow him.   To prevent this he swallowed all five of his children.    When Rhea gave birth to another child she saved him from this fate by hiding him in cave.   That child was Zeus.

When Zeus grew up he did indeed seek to throw his father.  Metis helped him in this.  She concocted a drink which caused Cronus to regurgitate the children he had swallowed.   By this time they too were adult.   Two of them, Poseidon and Hades, helped Zeus overthrow their father.   Zeus then killed him.

Soon afterwards Zeus and Metis got together and Metis became pregnant.   Fearful his children might eventually seek to overthrow him Zeus tricked Metis into shapeshifting into a fly.    He then swallowed her.

As an archetype Metis represents those parts of ourselves that have been swallowed up by the culture we live in.   Perhaps it is that you are a person who has sacrificed a career to raise your children and are now unemployed and unemployable.   Perhaps you are a person who supported your partner as they climbed the career ladder only to have them leave you without ever acknowledging your contribution to their success.   Perhaps you are a person – male, female or agender – who’s voice has been silenced because of race, class, disability or gender bias.

Perhaps there is some other reason why you feel you feel your voice has been swallowed for Metis represents a type of intelligence that is often overlooked or discounted.   We live in a culture where rational, logic, scientific thinking is given preference.   Metis intelligence is intuitive, subtle and resourceful.   This type of intelligence is often dismissed as unscientific and illogical.

The ability of Metis to shapeshift can be seen as a metaphor for that kind of street wise cunning and ability to strategize quickly that can get you out of a sticky situation.   The shapeshifting ability can also be seen as the capacity for metamorphosis.  By thinking things through on a deep level and calling on the practical skills we have learnt through experience we can figure out how to move forward.   We find ways to adapt and respond to changing conditions by calling on our under-developed abilities and resources.

In these difficult times where so many of the old ways that have underpinned our culture are beginning to crack and crumble under the weight of their own deceptions Metis intelligence offers a way forward.  Quick, intuitive thinking that utilizes practical wisdom gained through experience may just be the thing that saves us – individually and collectively.




Climate change and the quest for new stories

Late last year I wrote about going on a quest to find new stories about climate change and possible future scenarios that might occur because of it.

Somewhere (and I’ve no idea where now) I read that stories that depict dystopian futures turn people off.    Rather than galvanizing people into action they tend to lead to paralyzing depressions and feelings of powerlessness.

When I googled a question about finding new stories I discovered many articles  about our need for new stories – not just about climate change but new stories about politics, economics, new cultural stories,  stories about disability that don’t focus on overcoming disability, stories about sustainable agriculture and industry …   the list goes on and on.

I read an article in the Guardian Newspaper about a group of concerned individuals who have created a collection of new fairy stories that deal with current issues such as climate change and refugees here

The article concludes with the statement –

“Most tales, at some level, present a rite of passage through difficulty to maturity, awareness or resolution. Now, more than ever, it feels like we need new tales to lead us through our troubling times.”

I kept searching online and found a comprehensive article about the power of story and why we need new ones using stories to change systems  The author, Ella Saltmarshe, writes –

“Systems change can involve painting compelling visions of alternative futures. We can use story to create immersive scenarios of the future that engage people on an emotional and intellectual level. This work can make the possible feel more probable, bring new perspectives that challenge the goals and mindsets of a system, and enable the transformation of rules and processes.”

Further searching led to this article about the role of science fiction in envisioning new, positive futures –

Reading these and other articles I concluded that the first steps towards creating a better world lie in imagining just what that world would look like.

My quest to find new stories continues but at least now I have defined what I am searching for and why.  IMG_20170913_212524.jpg


Climate Change Summer

January in Oz and the temperature’s rising.  Hordes of tourists gather on the coast.  The beaches are covered with their gear – surf boards, paddle boards, boogie boards, jet skis, sun shelters, deck chairs, bright towels and clothes.   They say it’s fun.

On the roads cars crawl bumper to bumper through dusty roadworks – highway duplications designed to bring yet more tourists to the coast.  Abutting the roads new housing estates are being constructed for those who desire a permanent sea change.    Shopping malls too.  Today in my neighbourhood residents are advised to seek alternate routes for a mass clearing of trees is taking place on the main road.  The clearing is to make way for another vast shopping mall.

In the mall constructed last year babies bawl and toddlers scream with rage as they are denied the toys and sweets they were showered with at Christmas.

They call it fun,
progress on steroids
– it’s getting hotter.



Climate Change and The Shift

photo prompt: 

Will the world as we know it crumble and fall?   Will the archaeologists of some future race stumble upon the ruins of our civilization?   Will they then shake their heads and wonder why we did nothing to halt the climate change that brought about our demise?

Lately I’ve been thinking that there are two ways to respond positively to the threat of  climate change .    One response is the outer response – this where assessing the facts takes place – it is where we petition governments to change their policies and it is where we to make changes in the way we live our lives – where we learn to consumer less,  to eat less meat,  and to monitor the ways we use electricity in our homes etc.

The second response is the inner one.   It here where we shift the way we think about life on Earth and humanity’s place within the ecosphere.

Quite possibly the driving force that will implement real and positive changes in our outer world will come from a shift in consciousness.

We humans tend to think we are at the top of the evolutionary ladder.    From that position we assume the right to dominate and exploit nature for our own gain.   What we forget is that we are actually part of the natural world.   It is the ecosphere of planet Earth that gives us the air we breath, the food we eat and the raw materials we use to create our ever more elaborate lifestyles.

This attitude of superiority hasn’t always motivated humans.   Indigenous cultures across the globe live in ways that are in harmony with the environment.    Looking at the archaeological evidence of human society before the birth of the city state it’s easy to imagine that once upon a time our ancestors were more in tune with the rhythms of nature.   A shift in consciousness would take us to a similar place.

I am not suggesting though that we all go live in caves or herd reindeer.    Rather, if our hearts and minds become more tuned into the natural world around us, the way we live on the planet will inevitably change. 

With increased awareness of the inter-connectedness of all things the focus of hearts and minds begins to change.   We are no longer so fixated on exploiting the Earth and it’s people and animals to satisfy our desires for more money, more stuff, more power etc.  We become more interested in working out ways to live in harmony with the natural world.

Opening up to this shift in consciousness can be remarkably easy.   It can be as simple as going for a walk in the park and becoming aware of the air quality, the light on the plants and the way being in such environments often creates a more relaxed mood.

Speakers at the climate change conference in Poland are telling us the end is nigh.   If we continue down the path we are currently on they will be proven right. 

If we shift our consciousness to a more holistic understanding of the world around us and our place in it we will start to change the way we live on the planet.  Instead of being the exploiters of the Earth, its animals and disadvantaged people we could become the caretakers.

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Climate Change and Depression

Talking about climate change can be utterly depressing.   People feel powerless in the face of the might of Big Business and short sighted Governments.   Beyond that there is the weight of unexpressed grief over species loss and habitat destruction.   Then there are fears that it could be too late. We worry that there may not be enough time to make effective changes.  We worry about possible disaster scenarios that will directly impact our way of life, our health and our wellbeing. We worry about the world we are leaving our descendants. 

The actions we are advised to take as individuals seem too slight to make much impact.   Turning off a light in an empty room is hardly likely to drastically reduce the amount of CO2 in the upper atmosphere.   Sure, every little bit counts but let’s be honest, most little bits have very little impact.  The changes that need to occur are systemic.   They are huge.   They involve worldwide action that needs to be co-ordinated on a global level.  

It’s telling that studies show that the main group of people who are depressed and  anxious about climate change are those have don’t have much of voice on the world stage:

“Most hard-hit are women and people with low incomes who worry about the planet’s long-term health, said the study published in the journal, Global Environmental Change.”

No doubt many of the rich and powerful feel their money will somehow shield them from the most devastating effects of climate change.   They’ll simply move to a safer area or perhaps, as a last resort, they can relocate to Mars!   

So while many of us who aren’t rich and powerful feel depressed by climate change many of us also feel utterly powerless to do anything that will have a real impact.   The Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy says that we are collectively grieving but the grief is unacknowledged.    She maintains that we need to acknowledge this grief and allow ourselves to feel our deep sadness before we can act effectively to create solutions to the issues climate change raises.  John Seed, the Australian Deep Ecologist explains her ideas here:-

“Joanna Macy reminds us that we need to have the courage to allow ourselves to descend into hopelessness, resisting the temptation to rush too soon into a new future. The taboo against feelings in western culture tethers us to a futile struggle as we are unable to respond with effective, creative and inspired solutions.”

Joanna Macy and John Seed have developed a workshop where participants access their grief over climate change and species extinction by identifying with particular animals. Obviously these workshops are not for everyone.    Personally I am more drawn to deep shamanic healing processes but again, that’s not for everyone.   I do think though that everyone has the ability to find the healing processes and tools that work for them if they open to the idea.   It can be as simple as finding a web page or having a conversation that suddenly present you with a healing process that works for you.

While most of us aren’t in a position to make a great impact on the global scale we can work on finding ways to process our grief, anxiety and depression over climate change etc.  In so way doing we empower ourselves.   By acknowledging, feeling and then releasing our sadness and anger over what’s happening to our world we can find our voice again.    We can reclaim the energy that has been locked up in negative, fatalistic thinking and begin to find our way towards effective action.  

Climate Change from another angle

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by dire and depressing thoughts when thinking about climate change but maybe there is another way to look at it.

There is a Native American story where Coyote the Trickster comes across two men arguing.   One man stands on one side of the fence loudly proclaiming his point of view is the right one.   The man on the other side of the fence is doing the same thing.   They are yelling so loudly they are disturbing Coyote’s peace and quiet.   He jumps up on the fence and begins to act the clown.   He mimics the men.   He does acrobatic tricks right in their line of vision.   He makes lewd gestures that distract them.   The men get so annoyed by Coyote’s antics they stop arguing and work to together to get him to stop.

Maybe climate change is the Trickster in world events – the third player in the perennial battle of us v. them.

Many people are saying we need to change the way we live on the planet.  The current system of rampant capitalism exploits the planet and favours the rich at the expense of the poor.  Maybe climate change will be the catalyst that will bring about fundamental changes to the way we live.

Climate change does not discriminate.   It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor.  If you live in area affected by crippling drought or are in the path of a flood or wildfire caused by climate change you will be affected no matter how much worldly power you have or how much money you have in the bank.

Humans are very ingenious, creative, resourceful and innovative.   We also like our comfort.   When we get comfortable we tend to stay put and not rock the cart.  Maybe climate change is the Trickster element that will make us so uncomfortable we will seek to find more sustainable ways to live on the planet.   Many of us are already doing this.   Maybe the effects of climate change will soon become so apparent people across the globe, both rich and poor, will find they need to work together to develop ingenious, creative, resourceful and innovative solutions.   


The Earth is our Home

The Earth is our home.   We destroy it at our peril.

This week the UN released another report on climate change.   The message is dire.

“The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth. The window of opportunity for action is almost closed…

The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, when the temperature was 2 to 3°C warmer and sea level was 10 to 20 meters higher than now,”  said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

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I posted a link to this article on Facebook but no one commented or even clicked like.  No one!  Curious – many of my Facebook friends are environmentalists.  Did the Facebook algorithms somehow work so that the post didn’t show up in anyone’s Newsfeed?   It’s a possibility.   There seems to be a world wide push among the rich and powerful to keep the general populace in the dark about what’s really going on with climate change.  More and more we are seeing evidence that climate change is already in play yet still governments refuse to act.

What kind of world are we leaving for our grandkids? 

The UN site has posted a list of things that we can all do – drying clothes outside, using less hot water, turning off unused appliances.   I already do these things.   They don’t seem enough.    I vote Green but in yesterday’s State Election here in Victoria, Australia the Green vote was down.   Most likely because it’s been revealed that the Party is misogynist and that some members are facing sexual harassment charges!   WTF.   Who can you trust?   It seems the entire power structure that governs our world is corrupt.

It’s time for a change.   

What kind of world are we leaving for our grandkids?

Personally I refuse to stay silent any longer – even if it means that no one reads my blog or leaves a comment or even clicks like.

The Earth is our home and we destroy it at our peril.