Two entries in one week- is there no end to the madness? Just a couple of moments taken out of a larger essay, putting them together like this they seem to have some sort of relationship. These are just a couple of little nibbles, and need alot more fleshing out. So, something on the breath of the storyteller and the organising currents of the natural world. The phrase 'bridge of breath' was coined by Daniel Deardorff, and very beautiful it is too. Wishing you a great weekend.
WILD STABILISATION: Learning How To Dance on the Tips Of Spears
One of the few unifying factors in the experience of wilderness initiation is a growing awareness that the wild seems to have some kind of rough organizing quality to it; that the gnotted forest and bleak mountain - and the plant, animal and mineral life on it – find some way of surviving, battling for primacy maybe, but appearing less chaotic than may seem at first appearances. Without the keen hand of a human, over time the area takes on a shape and atmosphere all of its own, it dictates its own terms. The hemlock, willow and blackthorn bush are all involved in some epic dance with each other, involving territory and compromise. The specific animals, trees and minerals of that place have been challenging boundaries with each other for thousands of years, without a human voice in the debating chamber.
We see an echo in this quote from Robert Bringhurst;
” the order of the garden may be easier to see, but it is fragile and superficial. It is artificial and unnatural in a very convincing way: it cannot take care of itself. The order of the wild is self-sustaining, flexible and deep” (Bringhurst 2008 :275)
For some this creates a fresh perspective on tangled and fierce moments in their own evolution: our garden years (tranquility, pruning, afternoon tea) may be more fragile than the strange, quick moments when the wild (abrupt change of circumstance, uncertainty) steps in, and with it some deep part of our own psyche that knows how to negociate its rapid currents. Without those moments we are unlikely to encounter our own capacity for wild stabilisation.That stabilisation may appear to be a frantic juggling act to those still doing garden work, but encoutering the wild brings a visual otherness with it - the terms are stranger, the stakes higher.The stabilisation may look like coyote running around with his paws on fire, but that liminal orientation is what the old Irish sagas call 'learning how to dance on the tips of spears'
THE BRIDGE OF BREATH
When you watch the magician at work…then you realise how serious is the belief that the magic is in the breath and that the breath is the magic (Malinowski 1983 :109)
In the widest association you can compare storytelling to an act of magic. As Malinowski indicates the breath is crucial - no breath, no story, no breath, no spell, no breath, no life for any of us. The breath is the incantational core, the primordial seed that binds every living being in the room; to be unaware of breath in such a moment is to build your story house on sand. It is useful to regard the indigenous practices of breath control –faster and slower – to alter consciouness.
The breath also forms a contrary landing strip for the memory of the story and the spontaneous images and reflections of the teller. In a splt second the two negotiate territory on the tongue, a wild terrain not wrestled into a ‘garden’ by use of a recited script, but kept fluid, reflexive and curious by honouring the convergence of the two streams. Just as we detect a powerful self-regulating principle in the organizing of the natural world, the storyteller can facilliate an in - the- moment confluence of energies in the power of a true oral telling. When this has already been hoed, planted and weeded into shape by unswerving repetition of language, then this convergance, and thus relationship to wild nature, is lost. Although the practioner may claim this is an act of oral narrative, its deepest gift - its relationship to spontaneity and the living world - has gone.