Myth*Used

Thanks to Frank Paynter for clueing me in to a major Crone, Kathleen Jenks, whose scholarship and writing I find interesting but from whose approach to personal spirituality I diverge when it comes to believing in past lives and all of that kind of stuff.
Nevertheless, her Myth*ing Links web site is chock full of mythic stories that I hadn’t read before, and her Crone Pages section of essays will having me linking back there for a while.
Right up front, I was most interested in her essay on “Artists and Muses: the Creative Impulse.” After relating the new-to-me Navajo myth of Changing Woman (as she creates the first sand painting), Jenks offers a quote from Anthropologist and Buddhist teacher, Joan Halifax, who commented in a 1996 interview that:
Traditionally, there are three female archetypes: the maiden/virgin, the mother, and the crone. I think there is also a fourth, and that is the woman of craft. She is the woman who takes her creativity and turns it toward the healing of the world. She can be a weaver of textile or a weaver of text. I think that’s where the women of the twenty-first century will find themselves. They will be virgins, mothers, crones and wise women, and many of them will be women of craft
I guess that has been my fundamental intent as a woman of the craft of blogging — to “take my creativity and turn it toward the healing of the world.” While that sounds arrogant, I don’t mean it that way; I mean it as a statement of positive purpose. Of course, I recognize that sometimes my positive efforts require some sword-wielding, but that’s the Kali way, you know.
Jenks’ essay on “Prometheus and Me: The Mythic, Artistic Life in Which We All Share” offers a really good description of how we “live” archetypal myths in our own lives. As she considers the Prometheus myth, she realizes:
Those were the pieces I needed: night, art, rebellion, healing, fire.
Like many intense people, I’m a night person. That’s when I heal. The too bright sun, the demands of clocks and colleagues — all these tear me apart. In the daytime, there’s no respite. Time itself turns rabid and ragged. I’m clawed apart –always have been — and the projects birthed in the night, the rich and fertile night, arrive painfully stillborn and burnt black by day’s sun, Zeus’ eagle. It was right in front of me all the time, hidden in the glaring sunlight: the myth living the greater part of my creative life has been Prometheus.
It was a shock to recognize this, but also exhilarating, for it tells me that my nature really is to steal fire for others, but also for myself, for I too need that numinous magic, that gladness.

I know just what she means. And, as she continually points out, it’s not just a Crone thing or a female thing.
Paynter ends his post about Jenks with some poems by Marian W. Love, whose work Jenks apparently recently published. I particularly liked this one because it’s about the artist’s hardest task:
Discarded Beauty
Collecting rare
rocks by Lake Superior.
“Now throw away half.”
It was hard to
discard so much
beauty.
“Now half again.”
Poetry.

3 thoughts on “Myth*Used

  1. “Maiden, mother, warrior, crone”
    Is the way I heard it. Wish I could remember the entire Pagan chant, but it escapes me. I see the artist as the warrior, not within the violent aspect of agression against persons, but in the challenging aspect. In she who takes a stand.

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