“The world as it existed for the first man still exists. It taunts us & breaks into our dreams. The poet dares to face it without hope & to create from pure desire, from pure love, the world as it existed before man. The primal world, not yet hardened into the mold of law. …A return to the beginning. A struggle to shape the world through the power of the creative moment, the flash of light that overthrows the darkness & is itself a greater darkness.”
“The task of a bricoleur is to take the leftovers from the day and to shape them into new figures within a new setting. The dream serves two principles, love and death. The bricoleur, who is in the service of the death instinct, “scavenges and forages for day residues, removing more and more empirical trash … out of life”; the love instinct fuses and shapes the junk into a material for soul-making.”
The story of The Girl Who Married Coyote presents the essential dilemma of being born into a world of unexpected circumstance: the girl is the child of a poor family, the prospects for her future seem unfavorable. She is unpopular, unpromising, and uninteresting; and therefore freed of social expectation. Following her own inclinations she moves toward the margins, the hidden, the lost and neglected. She becomes a bricoleur.
By following the practice of her heart and art her circumstances change: she gains recognition. She evades the danger of being seduced away from her sources into the approval of an elevated status, by her sheer devotion to her art. Now the divine world, in the form of Lord Coyote, takes full notice of the girl and engages her in a dance.
It is this dance with the first beloved, the dance with the divine, that we most long for. The old stories offer us a portal into that dance. Here, we move from the passivity of entertainment to the ritual enactment of efficacy.
Last Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010 a group of 16 people gathered at the Duvall Coffee House for a day of myth and ritual. My friend Phil Bennett did the leg work of promoting the event and collaborators Michael Scott Brooks and John Hulburd assisted me in leading the journey. The text on the flyer read as follows:
The critical balance of reciprocity between the human world and the Otherworld has been lost. So much of what we long to receive and what we long to give remains unfulfilled. Burdened to the breaking-point with misplaced expectations, our human relationships are overwhelmed with blame and disappointment. The “apparent” reasons are, at best, misleading; the underlying truth is simple—human beings are not gods.
Yet the proportions of our disappointment are equaled only by the grandeur of our magical, mythic, and holy longings.
Rather than turn upward to the great and grand, The Girl Who Married Coyote asks us to go down, to the small, neglected, and unwanted, into the gap, the contradiction, between what we expect from the human community and what we actually long for from the divine.
When the essential relationship between this world and the Otherworld become confused all forms of relationship are threatened.
It is not an easy thing to face untangling human expectations and divine longings. As Friedrich Hölderlin tolds us:
Oh friend, we arrived too late. The divine energies
Are still alive, but isolated above us, in the archetypal world.
Hölderlin saw that the human world was turning away from a direct engagement with the Otherworld, but the good news he gave us is this:
They keep on going there, and, apparently, don’t bother if Humans live or not… that is a heavenly mercy.
So the old gods of the living world are not dead and gone. It’s up to us then, to re-initiate the wild dance steps of reciprocity.
Whether we say they live in the Otherworld or in the human unconscious we should know that “the divine energies”— however remote and removed from the steady life—are beings of great power. It would serve us well to clear the path to right relations with those energies. Truly we long for such, but we become entangled in our expectations and dis-appointments.
And so I am deeply grateful for the beauty and ferocity of all the participants who brought so much intention and willingness to our gathering. I look forward to the next time we make soul and restore culture.
© 2010 – 2011, Daniel Deardorff. All rights reserved.