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.




A gratitude list

I’ve been wondering where this blog was going to next.  This challenge on Tales from the Motherlandgives me a way in.

“Set a timer for 15 minutes. Really; do it (it’s in red, clearly I mean it). This isn’t your usual post. It’s meant to be as spontaneous as you can be. It’s not supposed to be finessed, but from the heart. You’re not explaining every thing you put on your list, you are just listing as many things as you can, in 15 minutes. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write things that make you happy, or things you’re grateful for. Don’t think too hard; just write what comes to mind in the time allotted. If you use the numbered mode and just type what comes to mind, it’s easy. When the timer’s done, finish whatever sentence you’re on and stop writing. If you’d like to add links or photos, do it after the timer; keep your list short and spontaneous. “

start 10:01

1/ I’m grateful for good food.   These  ancient grains and strange seeds you can get now really seem help with stamina.

2/ I’m grateful for light, sunlight, warmth of summer even when it gets too hot for comfort it brings a lovely sense of ease to my muscles

3/ I’m grateful for the garden in this rental house I moved to last year.   The enormous ash tree had me a bit in awe at first but yesterday something clicked.   I started to think about that ambiguous agender ash fairy.   What a glorious energy to nurture in 2019.

4/ I am grateful I could borrow my daughter’s garden rake and start to tidy up this wild overgrown yard.     I’ve been missing the Medicine Wheel I made in the backyard of my old rental.   (I dismantled it in a ritualized way  before I left ).    The layout of this yard makes creating another one difficult.   I decided (influenced by the agender ash fairy I think)  to use the existing rocks in this yard to create a ring around the ash tree.   I guess it will be more of a fairy ring – if you can have made of lava stone – but I will still mark the Four Directions.   I don’t think it will easy to walk around inside it.   This time I will have walk the circumference when I call in the Four Directions.

5/ I’m grateful that I learnt this stuff about the Four Directions in 2017/18.   It gives a focus to my day to start of by walking the Medicine Wheel first thing.

6/ I’m grateful for coffee.

7/ I’m grateful for family and friends.   Particularly the little guys in my life.   My autistic grandson – watching him so diligently and wholeheartedly ignoring us all on Christmas Day while he coloured in the pictures in a colouring book someone had given him.   His focus was so intense.   Admirable really.    Something to learn from.   Such wholehearted focus on what he was doing.   With my current 15 second ‘I’ve been on the internet too long’ scattered brained attention  span I think I’ll take out a leaf out of his book.

8/ I’m grateful for what I’m learning from my other little grandsons that have verbal apraxia.   One quite badly, the younger one not so much.   From both I am learning to slow down.   To choose my words with care.   To listen more carefully to what others are saying.   Also these two little guys seems to have something that is missing for most of us – they are really attuned to visual stimuli and notice things that barely register with me.  They bring something new to our family.

9/ I’m grateful for my life.   It’s precious.   I realised that when I started to recover from illness last year.   Although it’s hard to keep the feeling going within life’s hurly burly its something I want to consider more and more in 2019.

10/   I’m grateful for my creative abilities – my camera, the things that inspire me etc.

10:16 stop



The quest begins

Although I said I would wait till till the new year to post again I have been working away at making blog posts.   I’m starting to feel I need to start posting again to clear the way forward into 2019.     Here’s the first one:-

Thoughts on ways to age positively –

In my post time-for-a-quest I wrote ” Growing older and moving into the third stage of life I find this culture is not providing me with models of aging that sustain me.  The medical model of age as a disease is sickening- literally –  the cultural idea of denying and/or defying age doesn’t work for me either.   Of course bodies age and interests change – that is the way of life.  The idea of retiring to play golf and bingo bores me witless.   There has to be more fulfilling ways to age.”

When I attempted to sort through my thoughts around aging I found I had so many conflicting ideas they overwhelmed me.   I needed some way to organise the chaos within – some way of externalizing my thoughts so that I could sort them out.  I decided the first step would be to make an art journal.

To get started with this I collected together 8 small pieces of watercolour paper that were roughly the same size (15 x 20 cm).    I then painted on these with acrylic paint.   At this stage I just slapped on colour to cover the white paper.


When the first side was dry I turned the paper over and painted the back.DSCF3008

Once both sides were dry I started embellishing them with words and pictures cut from magazines.   I also used a few of my own photos and digital images I had printed out some time ago.   To select the magazines pictures I flicked through old magazines without much conscious thought.   Whenever I found a picture that made me look twice I tore out that page.  Once I had pile of pages I cut out the bits of the pictures that attracted me.

I struck the words and images onto my painted papers using a glue stick.  At this stage I had stop myself getting caught up in my thoughts.    Whenever I started to manipulate the pages so that they reflected a specific idea the process would bog down.  For example, I stuck the words ‘building blocks’ onto one of the papers in the photo below but soon after taking the photo I pulled them off again as they seemed too definitive.  Luckily the paper was still damp from the painting process so they peeled off easily.DSCF3010.JPG

I then drew and painted on the papers – again without too much pre-meditated thought.


Once all the paper was dry I folded the pieces in half and collected them into a book format.   To make a cover  I used a piece of leather.  I punched three holes into the pages and the cover and laced them together with thonging.

Although a lot of the pages were incomplete the book began to develop a theme.   On one page  I had glued a photo of a Buddhist woman on a spiritual pilgrimage.  It was only when I had assembled the book that the words “Aging as a Spiritual Journey” popped into my mind.   I wrote them on a scrap of paper and glued them onto the page.


I now had a journal to work in and a broad theme to work with…

more in the next post

Time for a quest

new horizonEarlier this week I explained how so  much of the creative work I’ve been putting on this blog is really only reworkings of ideas I’ve expressed before.  I’m starting to bore myself – and quite possibly, my readers.

Combined with the facts that my internet connection drops in and out and that the battery in my laptop died yesterday blogging is becoming harder  for me.  Typing words letter by letter with a stylus on my tablet is tedious.   Most of my photos are locked up on my laptop as well so I have limited photographic material to play with.

Getting the laptop working again will have to wait till the new year.

So all in all, a blogging break is in order for me.   Again and again. I am coming across the idea that the way forward into our collective future is to find new stories.  I am at  the stage of life where I need to find new stories in my own life too.        Growing older and moving into the third stage of life I find this culture is not providing me with models of aging that sustain me.  The medical model of age as a disease is sickening- literally –  the cultural idea of denying and/or defying age doesn’t work for me either.   Of course bodies age and interests change – that is the way of life.  The idea of retiring to play golf and bingo bores me witless.   There has to be more fulfilling ways to age.  Jung’s process of individuation interests me – what is it and how do you do it?   I want to find out.

To find new personal stories that sustain me and to find new creative stories to tell I need to retreat  to the places where stories are born – the  imaginative, meditative realms  of dreams where  archetypal figures roam.     For me,  such quests are best taken alone.

Thank you for reading and following my blog.    I have enjoyed our conversations.   I will probably return to blogging at some future time but for now wish you a happy holiday season.


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.  

A light appearing

prompt:    Here is a complex thought for you to decipher. Choose a part of it, if you so desire, and use it as an inspiration to write your piece.

In the immensity of consciousness, a light appears — a tiny point which moves rapidly and traces shapes, thoughts, and feelings, like a pen writing on paper. And the ink which leaves a trace is memory. You are that tiny point and by your movement the world is ever re-created.

 Sri Nisargadatta, I Am That

My recent illness left me unsure and uncertain as my creative direction.   (I wrote about this here)  For the past few years so much of my creative energy has been expended creating images and poems on the computer.  For quite a while I’ve been feeling like I want to get back to more hands on work but I haven’t been able to find a way into it that inspired me.  While I was sick the feeling grew even stronger.

When I first came home from hospital I was too sick to do much but note that these feelings were growing stronger.   It’s only been the past few days that I’ve been starting to think that I might actually do something other than watch TV.   Going through my art making supplies and sorting through my stash of art papers I kept thinking I’d like to make to some handmade journals but I had no idea what I’d put in them.

In the months before I got sick I moved house.    The garden where I now live is dominated by a huge tree.    When I moved in late winter the tree was still bare (I live in Australia).   While I was in hospital spring sprung and by the time I got home the tree was covered in a spreading canopy of lush foliage.


It’s an enormous tree and everyone who visits my place comments on how beautiful it is. Many people ask what kind of tree it is but I haven’t been able to tell them.    It wasn’t until this afternoon that I finally began to wonder if the internet could help me identify it.   I found an online site where you can identify deciduous trees by their leaves and quickly discovered the tree is a North American Green Ash.

“In the immensity of consciousness, a light appears — a tiny point which moves rapidly and traces shapes, thoughts, and feelings, like a pen writing on paper.”

I had some vague idea that Ash trees were important in Celtic mythology so that led me on another search of online information.    It wasn’t long before I discovered the Ash is a sacred tree in many cultures and the World Tree of Norse Mythology.  Suddenly a wealth of information, ideas, legends and stories opened up for me.  One idea that appealed to me was the Ash Fairy –

“The Ash Fairy is androgynous and ambiguous, carrying great mysticism and power and making many connections: between this world and the Otherworld, between masculine and feminine, and between differing ideas. The ash fairy understands that problems are rarely solved on the level at which they were created.”

A couple of weeks ago when I thinking about healing I first read the idea that problems are rarely solved on the level at which they are created in a book by the Medical Intuitive Caroline Myss.   This idea  led me to some deep meditations and healing visualizations that really helped me pull myself out of the daze I was in.   To discover that the fairy associated with the ash tree carried a similar message appeals to me.  Lately I’ve been spending time every day sitting in the shade of the ash tree in my garden.   Every time I sit there I have a sense that the tree holds some special kind of healing energy.

As is the way with internet searches one link led to another and I found myself reading post after post on a fascinating blog
Many of the posts are illustrated with drawings from the author’s own journals.   There are also posts describing the druid’s approach to creativity.

The ideas about the  connections between spiritual practice, nature and creative expression really resonate with me and correspond to many of the ideas about creativity that I explored when I was deeply involved in writing haiku.     Somehow though today’s internet explorations and the energy of the ash tree in my garden have lifted me into something new – some tiny spark has been ignited and I begin to see to my way into new creative expression.    My ideas are moving rapidly and I’m sure it won’t be long before a new art journal begins to take shape.