As we wander, limp and stride into deep summer, here are just a few, possibly rash, thoughts on community to stick in the back pack. ( A few bits i have put on here before) Talking of community, i send a hearty hail to all second years at the school of myth who have just completed - a great honour to be part of this wylde band of vagabonds, minstrels and river boat gypsies. ( please note above pic of a few of the wider group this weekend on news that more cake, wine and a new translation of the Mabinogion had been smuggled in)....half completed longhouse to far left of snap.
Community and Reclaiming Time
Finding community is a tricky thing; the main emphasis I want to make is the belief that community should live at least partially in the imagination, rather than continually forced into the literal. Our community should involve long dead poets, sharks teeth, the shimmer - mist on a Scottish Glen, the erotic trim of a Bedouin tent. We could reach a wider perspective on the word rather than attempting to wrestle it always into concrete solutions, petitions, cult-is, finger wagging, committees, living in a tiny house of comrades arguing over who last bought the toiletries and who stole the tofu from the back of the fridge.
Communities could also be to do with reclaiming time: it seems to have a harsh, worried, pulse to many people. It is useful to reach back through it to a community of ancestors. I don't mean some vague concept but in the work of vitalising folks down the centuries. It is naive for us to claim personal impoverishment when we are connected to the legacy of Emily Dickinson, Taliesin, Delius, Mirabai, Black Elk, Wolfram Von Eschenbach or John Coltrane. We could find a specific soul - teacher from history and follow their lead. This will also broaden and deepen time around us, and in the same moment make us more genuinely present.
It’s quite possible to completely re - experience time. A start is to regard the coming of night as a regular move into the eternal, the end of clock time till the sun rises the next day. Take questions to the night,questions that could never accomplish themselves in the agitation of day light. Become a night walker, invite it to become an ally. What are the scents and impression that night brings? What Goddesses glide through the open window? Night as a disorderly community of dreams, sudden fears and sideways epiphanies. Allow the art you make of your life to beguile the Moon to wander to your bedside and start to talk. This allows us to flood into the wisdom of shadows and the indistinct blessings that midnight offers. It’s a grave mistake for us to only associate wisdom with the daylight hours or ‘light of knowledge’; we isolate ourselves from half the insights that twenty four hours carries. Night as an ally is to understand that it follows different deities to well mannered day: Lillith, Nyx, lusty Pan and his disgraceful fantasies – the ‘luna’tics have taken over the asylum. At the same time that very hoard of impulses can cut to the marrow of all sorts of worries, and amplify all sorts of truths that we can’t get near in the daylight hours. Night is the entering of a temple.
James Hillman claims that to reach back through history becomes a kind of osmosis, that you can merge into the leafy mulch of mystical texts and hard ideas, that you can become thousands of years old. This is another invitation to shape – leap. So we extend community by actually retreating backwards.
Become an apprentice to the way Caravaggio handled color and don’t worry about having an original thought for at least five years. Allow yourself to feel strange and slightly magical. Compose poetry that is irritable and fiery, that runs to hundreds of lines, then learn by heart and recite to nearby jackdaws. Write letters again, and find the oldest mail box you can to post them from. Decide that your hips are an altar to old Romanian Goddesses and take up Belly dancing. Give out library cards as birthday presents. Run a three week course from your porch on the relationship between the Aztec temples and Gypsy gambling games from Medieval Wales. Don’t go easy on yourself.