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The Sacred Quest

The Sacred Quest

Tammy December 4, 2012 5 comments
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Yellowstone Park, 2010, by Tammy Vitale

Don’t let the word “sacred” scare you.  In fact, it isn’t always about gods and religion.  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary on-line, it includes the meanings of something that is entitled to reverence and respect and  highly valued and important.

That’s you and me, there.

Yes.  The divine spark in each of us is indeed due reverence and respect.  And everyone of us is highly valued and important as we weave our spot in the Universal web.  No one else can because no one else is us.  We are very special, you and me.

We are each on a sacred quest – a quest due reverence and respect, a quest that is highly important.

Here’s a secret.  There ARE maps.  We have just left them behind as if childhood is the only place where fairytale can teach (yes, they were teaching stories that reflected their societies before they got nailed to a page and died at the last telling) and myths can show the way.

Hidden in plain sight as it were.

http://www.tammyvitale.com

Altered book page by Tammy Vitale

If you visit here often you know that I am in awe of story – the story we tell ourselves, the story the community tells itself, the story the country and world tell themselves.  I am fascinated by how a small tug on one thread of the story can change everything, just like that.  And how that strand touches things we could never imagine.

In 1995 when I was working all of this mythology/fairytale/quest thing out into something I could use as a thesis as well as a life strategy, few others were paying attention to story.  Fast foward 17 years and story is everywhere.  And the things folks are saying are important and deserve respect.  These stories are sacred.

Because so many different ways of saying that stories are sacred dropped in my lap today, I decided that I am supposed to be the conduit that allows this information to reach some others who are on their quest, and looking for a way, a map, a guide…..anything that help them through the deep dark forest so they don’t feel so alone, so scared – but rather sacred instead (see that scared/sacred thing?  don’t you just love it?!).  Well, at least two of us are looking for that map.  Me, and a FB galpal were just chatting about that this a.m.

http://www.tammyvitale.com

Cairn, Sedona, AZ 2010, by Tammy Vitale

So here are my gifts for you today:

Jean Houston.  Just about anything by her has maps and directions and exercises to try on for size.  I first met her through The Possible Human back in the 90s.  She has a new book out, The Wizard of Us, described as a modern take on the Hero’s Journey (the sacred quest by any other name….and hero is both masculine and feminine, as is anything divine).  “We are the people who are treading air over the abyss, the people of the parentheses.”

This wonderful post from Fear.Less  addresses what to do when your world falls apart. Let’s face it.  We all will cling to our comfortable, known existence way longer than we should unless chaos befalls us (internally or externally) and we are shoved out of the nest and onto the quest.  Yes, “Most people don’t know that there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life.” (Brian Andreas)*  Be careful when you call on angels that you don’t get caught in the draft of their wings!

Tama Kieves.  She of “I hate decision.  Oh, and sweet mother of prairie dogs, I hate being wrong…When I was deciding what career direction to move in, I was terrified of making a mistake.  I didn’t want to waste my time, so of course I wasted my time by obstinately not doing anything.  I didn’t want to go forward in the wrong direction.  But the problem was – I wasn’t going forward in any direction.”  Her first book, This Time I Dance, has become a sort of bible for me.  Right up there with Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves.  And her just published 2nd book, Inspired and Unstoppable, is no disappointment. Which is why I read it in 3 days and am now going back through and working the exercises.  She is an awesome writer (really – anyone who can write “Oh, and sweet mother of prairie dogs” is right up there with Anne Lamott’s awesomeness.)

And this amazing post on story from Patty at Living Deep Studio.  It includes exercises you can start right now.

Don’t fret about where to start your quest.  A quest always starts right where you are.  Where else could it possible start?

http://www.tammyitale.com

“Birth of the Moon” print by Raina Gentry, purchased in Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery, Jerome, AZ

Bill Moyers:  In the old myth of Theseus and Ariadne [the weaver], Theseus says to Ariadne, ‘I’ll love you forever if you can show me a way to come out of the labyrinth.’  So she gives him a ball of string, which he unwinds as he goes into the labyrinth, and then follows to find the way out.

Joseph Campbell:  That’s all you need – an Ariadne thread.  That’s not always easy to find.  But it’s nice to have someone who can give you a clue.  That’s the teacher’s job, to help you find your Ariadne thread…..Going in quest of a boon, a vision, has the same form in every mythology.  You leave the world that you’re in and go into a depth or into a ditance or up to a height.  There you come to what was missing in your consciousness in the world you formerly inhabited.  Then comes the problem either of staying with that, and letting the world drop off, or returning with that boon and trying to hold on to it as you move back into your social world again.  That’s not an easy thing to do.

http://www.tammyvitale.com

I am the one who knows that written words grow old, the one who believes in experience. I am the one who brings forth the wisdom passed from mouth to mouth, who knows the knowledge between the lines. I am the one who sees in color, beyond black and white. I am the one not always welcome and sometimes murdered. Tammy Vitale, vision card, Teacher

Christina Baldwin, in Calling the Circle, puts it in more modern terms:

In every path that leads to maturity, there is some form of dark night, a readiness finally to enter into shadow, to explore that which we have kept hidden.  We enter into darkness by dealing with the wounding we have endured and the woudning we have caused.  We enter the darkness by walking off the edge of our life maps into unknown territory.  There is no more meandering.  There is no more escape – not one more errand to run, not one more load of laundry to wash and fold, not one more phone call to answer, not one more word I can write until I take the next step.  Until I am willing to fall…I shout…’Are you sure I’m ready for this?  I already feel as though I’ve been hurtling from one experience to the next.  How do You know I’m ready?’  I am staring into the bright eyes of an angel.  ‘You cannot know if you are ready until after you fall,’ she says. ‘This is a leap of faith.’  Iface the dge.  I do not jump.  It more subtle than that.  I simply let go.

Ready to start your quest?  Need to hold on to what you’ve brought back from your last quest?  I am here to help.

 

*Brian Andreas, StoryPeople.  If you don’t know him and his work, go browse.

Comments

5
  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    Monisha Mittal
    December 4, 2012
    Tammy

    What a beautiful rich post. I had no idea you were so inspired by ‘story’. I am a story person too. I love how you wrote, “I am fascinated by how a small tug on one thread of the story can change everything, just like that.” So well put. I couldn’t agree more. much love, Monisha

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    Tammy Vitale
    December 4, 2012
    Tammy

    Hi Monisha – thanks so much for stopping by!
    Story and Social Change is the name of my Individualized Master’s Degree from Goddard College in Plainfield VT. I became interested in story after reading Women Who Run with the Wolves, which led to work in Jungian archetypes, dream expansion and then to my master’s work on myth, fable and fairytale and how story underpins *everything.* It’s such a fascinating subject – I could talk about it forever!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    December 5, 2012
    Tammy

    Wow, I’m speechless, Tammy. To be included in a post that references Jean Houston, Tama Kieves, Christina Baldwin, Joseph Campbell…well, that just bowls me over and I’m truly honored. Thank you.

    Your post is beautiful (and not because you mention me). I didn’t know how deeply steeped in story you are and I’m so delighted to find a story soul sister. My experience is a lot like yours, remembering back 10 or more years when story and myth kinda grabbed me by the neck and wouldn’t let go. Now it’s every where! What started it all for me was a line from the preface of one of C.S. Lewis’ books: “And some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
    Turns out I was old enough, and I started reading them.

    Also if anyone wants to dive further into story I give heartfelt recommendations to Carol Pearson’s book, “Awakening the Heroes Within” as well as the workshops that Jonathan Young does through Folkstory.com. I’ve studied with both of them and they are truly wonderful. (Okay, I guess I wasn’t speechless after all!)

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    Tammy Vitale
    December 5, 2012
    Tammy

    Patty: you’re welcome!
    omgoodness! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Carol Pearson. and that book I’m very steeped in story. My master’s thesis was a creation poem – “an act of trespass on all male-originated creation stories” (me – ever the rebel). I completed my thesis in 2 weeks. After telling my facilitator what I had in mind I came home and thought: am I crazy? What if I have writer’s block?! And then I opened up and it spilled all out and at around 100 pages she said: stop! Enough! So I had nothing to do for the rest of the semester!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    December 5, 2012
    Tammy

    Another wonderful post with such rich content. I am investigating all these links. I love Joseph Campbell and watched all the Bill Moyers interviews with him and still re-read Campbell. It’s nice to see the word quest used by women for women. I think many people connect it to male activity. But a quest is a wonderful thing for all. Thank you for another fascinating read.

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