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Changing the Story ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

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1 Changing the Story ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee on Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:02 pm


Changing the Story ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

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“The only way to change the world is to change the story.”

We know only too well the story that defines our world today. It is a
tale of consumerism and greed, sustained by the empty but enticing
promise of an endless stream of “stuff” as the source of our happiness
and well-being. We are finally coming to recognize the model of an
ever-expanding economy on which that promise is predicated as an
unsustainable myth, the domination of nature required to fulfil it as a
desecration. All around us we are beginning to see the ravages of our
culture’s whole-hearted embrace of the story: a beautiful world broken
and dying, on its way to becoming a polluted wasteland.

We may even understand how this contemporary story is built upon an
earlier one that took hold many centuries ago with the spread of
monotheism, the story of a God who has withdrawn to heaven, to reign,
apart and above, over an earth now deprived of its divinity and its
natural magic. This is the story, still alive and feeding into our
contemporary story, of a world in which spirit no longer lives in
matter, in which the whole earth-realm of feminine power is suppressed
to such a degree that it has almost been forgotten. It was and is a
story of domination and patriarchal power, enshrined in the still-potent
myths of the monotheistic religions.

And many of us now long for a new story, one that will restore to the
earth its lost divinity and reconnect our souls to the sacred within
creation, a story that will save our planet. Some have even already
begun to articulate such a story: a beautiful and compelling vision of
the entire universe as a single, inextricably interconnected, living
whole, offering a dimension of meaning to our individual daily lives
that arises from an understanding of our place in the whole.

But is this enough? How do we change the defining story of our world?
Our collective culture celebrates its story of endless desires. It
feeds us with its images that, though they can never nourish us, work
like a drug for our minds and bodies, even as they exploit us and the
earth. We have become addicts to material prosperity and the ego-centred
greed that drives it. We long for a story that can give meaning to our
daily lives and restore the health and beauty of our planet, but we
remain caught in our tale of celebrating stuff.

Once we recognize how these stories hold us in thrall, entranced or
entrapped, we can get a sense of their power. They are not just slogans
created by politicians, corporations or even religions; they arise from
the archetypal inner world where myths are born. We can recognize the
archetypal dimension of earlier myths, the gods and goddesses of earlier
eras, for example; some can see it in the more recent myth of a
patriarchal, transcendent God living in a distant heaven. The archetypal
power of the present myth of materialism is harder to recognize because
it is deceptive as well as seductive. And yet if one looks more closely
one can see the archetypes at work here too. There the patriarchal myth
of the domination of nature—a primal masculine power drive. But less
obvious is the way in which the dark side of the rejected feminine has
caught us in her web of desires. For what is materialism but the worship
of matter, which is none other than the domain of the goddess? We are
more present in the archetypal world than we dare acknowledge.

And now in our quest to redeem our civilization and the planet we
speak about the need for a new story, a story that returns the spirit to
creation and honors the primal oneness that is the web of life. Like
our current story, this new one may also be based upon an earlier story:
one in which all of creation was seen as sacred, with humanity just
part of the woven tapestry of life—a story still lived by many
indigenous peoples. But this emerging story is also evolutionary,
drawing as well on the insights of particle physics into the underlying
nature of creation to express its vision of the world as an
interconnected whole, in which, like the symbolic image of Indra’s net,
each part influences the whole. And this new story of creation connects
the smallest particle with an ever-expanding cosmos of billions of
galaxies—and does so in a way that bridges science and the sacred,
understanding them as expressions of the same reality.

This is a compelling story for our time. But do we recognize from
where this new story arises? Are we acknowledging and honoring the inner
dimension from which all such world-changing stories are born? We know
the vital need for a new story, but are we seeking to change life
without honoring the archetypal forces at work, the gods and goddesses
that still reign in the depths of creation—without recognizing the
primal world that is life’s inner source? If a story is not born from
the inner world it will lack the power to effect any real change.[i] It
will speak just to our conscious selves, the surface layer of our
being, rather than engaging us from the depths. The stories of the past,
the myths that shaped humanity, spoke to our individual and collective
soul with the numinous and transformative power that comes from deep
within. How many men have been called to battle by the archetype of the
warrior or the hero? How many churches have been built on the foundation
of the myth of redemption? The power of the archetypal, mythic world
belongs to the river-beds of life that shape humanity.

But sadly, our present culture has distanced itself from this inner
world. We are not taught to revere these underlying powers, nor do we
know how to relate to them. Our contemporary consciousness hardly even
knows of their existence. We live on the surface of our lives, unaware
of the depths that are in fact the real determining factors. How many
people when they go to the mall realize that they are worshipping on the
altar of the dark goddess?

When our Christian culture banished the many gods and goddesses, and
then when science declared that myths were idle fantasies, we became
more trapped than we realize. The archetypal world does not disappear
because we close our eyes, because we say that it does not exist. Its
power is not diminished by either our ignorance or our arrogance. And
yet we have forgotten how to access and work with this power.
Unknowingly we have disempowered our self in a fundamental way. We have
closed the door in our psyche and soul—we only look outward.

And now, when there is this vital need to rewrite the story that
defines our lives, we are left with the inadequate tools of our
conscious self. We do not know how to welcome the energies from the
depths, to constellate the power we need to co-create a real story. We
have isolated our self from the energy of life’s source we so
desperately need. And so we are left stranded on the shore of our
conscious self.

There is a new story waiting to be born, waiting to redeem the planet
and nourish our souls. It is a story of a oneness that includes the
diversity of creation in a self-sustaining whole, a story that can bring
back the magic within nature that is needed to heal our damaged planet.
It is a story of co-operation rather than competition or conflict. And
it includes the mystery of life as well as the understanding that
science can give us. It is also a new story, arising from deep within
the psyche of humanity and the world soul at this moment in our and its
evolution. We are not the sole creators of this story, because it is the
story of life evolving, recreating itself anew, but we are needed to
midwife it into existence. As with all births it needs to come from the
inner to the outer world.

Only when we recognize the inner origins of this world-changing story
can we participate in this birth. Only when we work together with the
symbolic, archetypal world can its power and numinosity come into our
existence and speak to the whole of humanity. Only then will this story
be heard. We cannot afford the still-birth of new ideas that lack the
life force that comes from the depths. We are called to return to the
root of our being where the sacred is born. Then, standing in both the
inner and outer worlds, we will find our self to be part of the
momentous synchronicity of life giving birth to itself.

[i] Thomas
Berry hints at this in his talk “The Ecozoic Era” (Eleventh Annual E.
F. Schumacher Lectures October 1991). He speaks of a “creative
entrancement” as well as the “psychic energies needed” for

My effort here is to articulate the outlines of a new mythic form
that would evoke a creative entrancement to succeed the destructive
entrancement that has taken possession of the Western soul in recent
centuries. We can counter one entrancement only with another, a
counter-entrancement. Only thus can we evoke the vision as well as the
psychic energies needed to enable the Earth community to enter
successfully upon its next great creative phase.

Thanks to:

  I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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