Last year for a long time after our so-called ‘climate election’ was lost here in Australia to a coal-loving party, I felt extremely deflated. I couldn’t find much motivation or desire to shine my storytelling light, when ordinarily that is the very thing I feel compelled to do. Usually, I can’t NOT tell stories or teach storytelling, but as I mentioned last blog, my bedcovers were calling me!
One of the tales that helped me grow stronger was the Japanese myth of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. I began researching versions. Perhaps you know the tale. Briefly, Amaterasu’s reckless brother Susanoo, God of Storms and Wild Winds, intentionally creates havoc, desecrates her weaving loom and kills one of her weaving maidens. Amaterasu withdraws to a cave and rolls a heavy rock across the opening.
With the Sun gone, the crops fail, people have only the light of the Moon to see by and all life begins to die. The Gods and Goddesses attempt to lure Amaterasu out of the cave. Finally, after many failures, the Goddess of Laughter and Mirth Uzume succeeds with a hilariously lewd dance.* All the Gods and Goddesses laugh so loudly that the Goddess Amaterasu peeks out and asks, “What are you all laughing about?”
“Come and look, we’ve found a new Sun Goddess!” they reply.
“Oh really?” the Goddess asks excitedly. As she emerges, she sees herself in the world’s first mirror which Uzume has strategically placed in a tree. Amaterasu is awe-struck by her own majesty. Not knowing about mirrors, she doesn’t realise she is gazing at herself until it is explained. By then she is happy to agree to remain in the sky, shining her life-giving light upon the world forevermore.
This helped me adopt a new self-narrative. Just as Amaterasu couldn’t control her brother the Storm God, I can’t single-handedly control politics! Withdrawing myself and my storytelling light because I felt traumatised, may have been temporarily useful as I contemplated, reflected and healed myself, but it doesn’t serve me or the world to do this ongoingly. In fact, if things get dark, then our lights are needed even more. Also, just as Uzume showed Amaterasu her own magnificence with the mirror, people were asking after my work. I then realised part of my story teaching work is to hold up a mirror to my participants, so they can not only see their own brilliance but learn to shine ever more brightly.
This myth may resonate with you in a distinctly different way. That’s the beauty of metaphor! A story can work differently on different people, but a story can also resonate differently with the same people at different times!
In Week 1 of ‘Stories for a More Beautiful World’, I will tell this myth in more rich detail, then get you to discuss its significance and applications for self-healing and social change. Then I’ll support you to have a go at your own informal telling of a story you want to tell. I’ll repeat this structure in Week 2 and 3 with different stories. In Week 4, you will have the opportunity to tell a story you’ve crafted through the course in a very relaxed, supportive group environment.
Would you like to join me? If you think you might miss one of the four sessions, be assured that I will be recording each session.
Please feel free to share this blog with anyone you know who you feel may be interested in this course.
*This scene is reminiscent of the Greek Goddess Baubo in the myth of Demeter, as well as the Irish Sheela-na Gig.