We’ve always imagined what our future might look like, as individuals, and as a species. Whole genres of literature have been created out of our need to know what we might become. We need to explore our possibilities before we can create them. In the century before we ventured into space we took flight in our imagination, and the passion that was ignited in the hearts of people like Robert Goddard led them to do the work that led to the rockets that took us to Moon
Looking at our own lives from different points of view can likewise be useful in understanding who we are, and where we want to go. You can make this journey in writing, or in song, You can likewise draw or paint it. It’s a valuable exercise, however you choose to do it, for it takes you deeper within, and can lead you places you had never imagined you would go. This is how mythic writing helped me travel to the lands of my ancestors.
Back in 2012, I was facing turning fifty. Born and raised in California, I’d never traveled off the continent of North America. The only other country I’d ever been to was Canada. In a country like the United States, this isn’t unusual. Most of us are hundreds of miles from the border of Canada or Mexico. In many of the larger Western states, it isn’t unusual to be a hundred miles or more from the border of the next state. I had always wanted to travel, but had never had the means to do much of it. I decided to make the means. I couldn’t justify taking from our living expenses, as I’d be going and my partner wouldn’t. So I turned to my music. I’d been a busker at the Renaissance Faire in my twenties and thirties. When the Black Point site had been lost, I’d given it up. I decided to try my luck in the transit stations. I discovered that I could make at least ten dollars an hour doing this, and Chris Guillebeau’s travel hacking course made me realize that airfare wasn’t the insurmountable obstacle I thought it was. I thought it might take me a year or two, but I was determined to go, so my days off became busking days. With some unexpected help from my father, I made that first trip, and the year after, a second one. I’m working on a third one now, and another project as well.
I got, and am continuing to get, a lot more than experiences in the lands of my ancestors, though. My own journey is becoming clearer, and I’m writing more songs than I ever have in my life. One of the tools I used to create the trips is a mythic version of my travels. Placing my story in mythic time is something I’ve been doing for years. Here’s a portion of that ongoing tale:
It came into the Hero’s mind to travel to the land of her ancestors. She had little gold and fewer prospects, but she had sung in the streets in her youth and she still remembered the old songs. She picked up her drum and her basket and set herself to earn the money in the Caverns of Travel. The journey would be short, but the distance vast, and the price to fly across the Eastern Sea on metal wings was dear indeed. What would she do when she got there? Where would she stay? She knew no one, had never been so far from her home, but no matter. She began the task, and with a purse of gold her sire tossed into her basket, she was on her way much sooner than she had hoped to be. A shaft of sunlight came through the glass and fell across her as the metal bird touched the Land of Albion. She gave silent thanks, for she knew her feet had found the path at last.
In Albion she met the Druids of Anderida, friendly folk full of wisdom and hospitality. Together they sang around the great leaping fire and shared all that they had. There, before Arianrhod, the Hero shed her name and her former life and became a Bard.
The Hero become Bard had traveled to Albion to find her ancestors, but she had found the Land instead, and new connections to it, and to the folk who lived there. Her few songs became many, and many more, and she sang them into forms that would last well beyond her, if people found them worthy to do so. She sang of the wonderful, terrible, pivotal age she lived in, and created choruses memorable and easy to join in on because music creates connection, and spreads joy, and many voices were needed to change the doom that was rushing towards the folk of all lands. Her words likewise spoke of connection between the people, the Land, Sky, and Sea, the trees and the birds and all beings, for humanity had forgotten that all of us are one greater being, as a single human is likewise a collection of smaller beings joined together in the song of life, cooperating in the dance and nourishing each other.
What would your life look like, told in mythic terms? How could you find the means of expressing the pattern of your life in this way? This is a tool that may or may not fit your hand and your inclinations, but it is there to be picked up if you feel so inclined. We are all the heroes of our own story. This is as it should be. If we just remember that every other person in the world has a life as rich and precious to them as our own, we can use this tool to grow wise, rather than insufferable.
You don’t have to have a plan to get to the future, but it helps to know where you want to go. I thought I was going to Scotland to get the song of Scathach. We had a great adventure together, but it was really Cerridwen I went there to see, and to Cerridwen I will return.