It's almost the end of 2018 and as I reflect on a year where deeply embedded patterns of acquisition, status and fear were gradually revealed, accepted and then consciously let go, I find myself returning to a fascination with a mythic perspective that inhabited an earlier sense of who and why. Enraptured by the question of how could a more interwoven perspective offer a generative and live enhancing meaning to a changing world, I re-member, 'The Old Woman Weaves the World.' A creation myth from the Native American tradition of storytelling which exists within its own cosmological universe, one that invites us to see the world and our place within this world in fundamentally different ways. As this is a world where seasonal cycles and rituals inform daily life, and there is no barrier between the human, animal or spirit world, each co-exist and are active in the continual transformation of the other.
From within this perspective, Native American peoples call the Old Woman of the World the original weaver and her purpose is to craft and curate the very threads of our shared existence. Within this narrative the ancient stew of seeds and roots is symbolic of the living soup of creation that needs to be stirred up again and again or else it stagnates and spoils or overheats and boils over. In this world it is only natural that trouble and turmoil are part of the way that this world changes, the exact process through which life alters itself and thereby renews, learning to take on different shapes and forms. In the vast flow of life somehow Nature is always cooking something up and continually shape-shifting, both devolving and evolving at the same time. Nature means change and change is the real essence of a creative life.
Native American’s tribes would re-tell and pass this tale to generation upon generation, as they understood in their bones that the cave where the great cloak unravels and becomes woven again is the wondrous earth herself. That the fire in the cave reflects the necessary yet unseen fire that ever burns at the centre of our green-garmented living planet. The cauldron is an alchemical vessel of creation with its stew of living seeds, its troubles boiling and bubbling away, and its ancient, sacred fire hidden at the very core. A living narrative that did not seek to elevate reason above all other ways of knowing, but a holistic way of seeing and interacting with the problems and uncertainties of the world from a very different angle. One grounded in connection and reciprocal relationship rather than coercion and control. They understood how quickly things can unravel and they appreciated how a little story could be used to consider big things, and to reveal many issues using only a few narrative threads.
For most of us this magical way of thinking is nothing more than an elaborate fairy tale as we have become lost to the art of learning and shared meaning making by listening and interacting with mythic stories; a rich past that offers different ways to inform our creation of the ever-present future. We have become disconnected and disembodied to the pulse of life that exists within wondrous tales, and we are no longer present to the undulating rhythms and symbolic nature that is woven into the fabric of our lives. Instead we either forgotten or have chosen to ignore the metaphorical threads that give our lives meaning and purpose. We prefer to seek order over chaos, clarity over the nebulous, perfection over the messy and we can equate no value to the glorious messiness of what is a human life. We even have a word to illustrate our collective feeling of becoming undone; VUCA. Often feared but when viewed through a mythic lens the arrival of such an uncertain and disruptive time in our history could be seen a moment of possibility or the Great Turning, which symbolises a critical evolution in our unfolding world story.
Forget about good intentions; chaos faithfully follows order wherever it goes and could be perceived as a creative re-generator that loosens the patterns and beckons us to let go of all that is known and embrace the unknown; to begin again somehow renewed and reformed. Now more than ever it is important to purposefully look and glimpse behind the scenes where the issues of life get stirred up, where destruction and creation forever change places. Creation and destruction are the creative opposing and necessary poles of existence and our imagination is the binding thread that exists in the space in-between.
A middle ground of generative becoming, a living expression of authenticity which with a lightness of touch can bring change back to life as we collectively remember how to turn towards life rather than deny life the centrality of place. To be alive at this time means that we are all caught up in the mass disillusionment that can be found between the unraveling of the world as we know it and the yet unseen generative designs for life on earth. So rather than resist or despair when life offers moments of significant change and upheaval, imagine what it means to feel what the old weaver feels when she finds her beautiful creation reduced to chaos and confusion, learn to openly embrace the great uncertainty that exists in the timeless moment between one beautiful world and the next.
That fleeting moment between loss and renewal, collapse and re-creation that exists in a span of indeterminate duration. To be fully alive at this time means that we each are being asked to cross multiple thresholds, to choose what world do we want to co-create, to learn how to take the fabric of our lives and weave a path that is both joyous and sad, one in which there is enough for all, and where we are all learning how to be fully present to our mutual co-dependency and our need for a shared co-existence.
What could this mean for us as we cross yet another threshold into a new year?
Nature Inspired Leading Change, Coaching, Organisation Development & Facilitation. Writing about relationships, uniqueness, authenticity, love and the creativity of being.