This is Sea Gabriel with Mythic Deviant and part three of the Shapeshifter: The shapeshifter as a Game-Changer.

I want to note that the stories I’m telling are stories. They are not purely historical events. They are based on Truth with a capital T: the essence of what it is to be human. They are (arguably) not based on little-t truth: events that happen in a specific fashion in the physical world. 

Many of these stories are told in a variety of ways. There are even storytelling caves where the different variations of myths are all on the wall so that storytellers can put them together in a way that best serves the people who are there. Different people, at different times, need different stories. But the same archetypes and conflicts arise again and again. So I may tell the same story differently, or you may have heard the story differently, and that’s appropriate. The one that speaks to our hearts at the time is the one we need in our present stage. The others also reveal captial-t truths, but we might not need to hear those at this exact moment. They’re still good, and we may want them later. They can be filed away for future use.

Back to our subject: the Shapshifter. The Shapeshifter is about change, deep, lasting, true change, not just the illusion of change. And this time we’ll look at how it’s used to change the world. It’s a little dire.

Second Person

Sometimes we just need to make an example out of someone. And, in this case, it’s Nirobe. 

Thebes is having a major party in celebration of Latona (mom of Apollo—Greek Sun God—and Artemis—Greek Goddess of the Hunt, and one of Zeus’s many ex’s. She’s a titan.). Niobe arrives on the scene, and is deeply offended. People just don’t worship her enough. So she lets her feelings be known.

“What are you people doing worshiping someone who you’ve never seen, and who may not even exist? I am the woman who rules this place, and I rule it well, if I do say so myself. I am beautiful and happy and have everything I could ever want. If anyone deserves worship, it’s me. Besides, I have seven daughters and seven sons. Surely that is evidence that I am better than an outdated titan who has only one of each. I’m seven times a worthy as she.”

As one might expect, Latona is not thrilled with this. So she calls her kids, Apollo and Artemis. “Do something,” she says, “she’s humiliating me.” And her deity-offspring comes through. Artemis takes her bow and arrows and shoots each of the seven daughters dead, while Apollo takes his arrows of death and disease and gives the sons a slightly more lingering, but still swift, end. 

When their father gets home and finds all his 14 children dead and/or dying, he, too, takes his own life. Within days Niobe finds herself alone. In her heartbroken stupor, she begins sob . . . and to walk . . . and walk . . .  and walk . . . until she turns into stone. To this day, she sits, as a huge stone on Mount Sipylus, weeping eternally for all she has lost.

She is shapeshifted, by another. Her life is transformed, to teach us a lesson: to teach us that all things gained can be lost; to teach us that gratitude is a safer choice than pride; to teach us that humans, no matter how fortunate, are not appropriate objects of worship. 

This is the second person use of the Shapeshifter as a game changer. 

First Person

For the first person version of this story, I’m picking Quetzalcoatl. 

As a child, Quetzalcoatl watches the annual sacrifices. A ‘volunteer’ (usually some captured from a war with another tribe) is taken to the top of the pyramid. The chief lays the person across the altar, takes his sacred blade from its hallowed case, raises it to the sky to bless and purify it, then plunges it into the volunteer, ripping out his still-beating heart, and holds it up as an offering to the gods. This assures that the rains will come, the crops will grow, and the community wil be blessed.

As a young man, Quetzalcoatl is fierce, brilliant, and deadly. So he is groomed for the throne. The first year he is in charge he easily selects a captor. After all, he had been at the battle. That young man’s father had killed several of his men. He walks him to the top of the pyramid. He lays him across the altar, shaking, he takes his sacred blade from its hallowed case and, with the rage of a young warrior, he raises it to the sky to bless and purify it, then plunges it into the volunteer, ripping out his still-beating heart, and holds it up as an offering to the gods. Then he shakes for a long while, even after having a stiff drink.

As the first few years go by this becomes easier. And at his 3rd annual sacrifice, he is cool, competent, and professional. He has no need for a drink. And he continues to lead his people in their wars against the neighboring tribes. 

But by the 9th year he is becoming weary. He has seen too many of his own men die. And he recently had to kill a young man who too closely resembled his brother. 

So he prays on this extensively, and, from there, he begins to lobby the council. The sacrifices, he argues, can be made in time, animal, and grain. There is no need for human life to be involved. The Gods, he claims, are satisfied with the care and attention of the populace. They do not require its blood. But the council balks. “We have always done it this way. The gods need fresh blood or they will turn on us.”

So that year, he does as he is told. He walks his captor, a healthy young man who, he has learned, makes beautiful art and sculptures, to the top of the pyramid. He lays him across the altar, shaking, he takes his sacred blade from its hallowed case and, with the trepidation of a man who has seen too much blood, he raises it to the sky to bless and purify it, then plunges it into the volunteer, ripping out his still-beating heart, and holds it up as an offering to the gods.

And he continues both his prayers and his campaign. He concentrates on increasing the rituals at other times of year, to take the pressure off the annual sacrifice. And he leads people in deeper and more frequent worship.  And he insists, to the council, that it is time to do away with human sacrifice. As the event approaches he argues passionately that there is enough death in the world, that what they need is life and the way to get it is by honoring and respecting the lives they have.

But the council disagrees. “If you love your home, if you love your community, if you love your people, you will do this sacrifice.”

So when the day comes, He walks his captor to the top of the pyramid. He lays him across the altar, with a strong and steady hand he takes his sacred blade from its hallowed case, he raises it to the sky to bless and purify it, then plunges it into his chest, and rips out his own still-beating heart.

And Quetzalcoatl is no longer a chief. He is now a God. A God who ended blood sacrifices, and whose return we still await. He’s sometimes referred to as the Mezoamerican Christ. 

Other stories would have worked here, too: Achilles, Tyr, Indra, Odin, MLK, Ghandi, Sita, Loki, Rosa Parks, or any other of the thousands of gods, heroes, spirits, and people have laid down their lives, literal or figurative, so that we can live with a little more depth, a little more awareness.

Jesus is well heard of in our culture, but far from the alone. Even now there are homeless folks sleeping in the park uncomfortable, hungry, and uncared for. They are dying for our greed, fear, and self-righteousness: we can go outside and watch them die for our sins.

And us?

One last shapeshifer story because the one’s we touched on were so, well, terminal.

On to the Norse. In Norse mythology there are nine worlds. We live in Midgard, in case you ever get lost on Yggdrasil, the world tree, and need to find your way home. The Gods we know today largely live in Asgard, which is the realm of the Æsir: the Gods-of-Human-Conquest. But there is also Vanaheim, the realm of the Vanir: the Gods-of-Human-Nature. This ream birthed the ‘old Gods’ such as Frej (the green man or nature god) and Freja, the Goddess of love, sex, and death (the giver and taker of life). 

Predictibly, the power shift is not gentle. There’s a war between the Aesir, or residents of Asgard, and the Vanir, or residents of Vanaheim. It is ugly and ends in a mutual hostage situation, which is how Frey and Freja make it to Asgard with their dad, Njord, God of beaches, edges, and margins (how cool is he?)

But tensions run high for quite a while, even after the trade. One day a hearty looking gentleman comes into town and offered to use his services as a builder to construct a great wall around Asgard so that the Æsir, with their impenetrable defenses, can become rulers of all 9 realms. Odin, the Allfather, asks about the conditions. The gentleman requests a year for completion, Freja (the aforementioned sex-goddess), the sun, and the moon, as payment. This displeases Freja greatly. There’s another story about how she came to also rule over death, as she started out with just love and sex. But I think this may have something to do with it as well.

Anyway, Loki suggests they drop the timeframe and insists the builder can’t have help. He suggests that the builder can’t make the terms and they will get most of a wall for free. The gentleman agrees under the condition that his horse, Sva∂ilfari, can assist. They agree.

And that horse can build! Sva∂ilfari and the builder whip the wall into shape and it’s looking like they may complete in time, which is thoroughly unacceptable to Freja and others. They freak and begin to bodily abuse Loki, who insists he has a plan and flees the room. 

The next day, when the builder arrives with his steed to finish the end of the wall, a sultry young mare awaits him. And his horse, who he needs so much, takes off after her. The steed finally returns the next day, but the terms have not been met, and the Æsir do, in fact, have a free almost-complete wall.

The builder complains, but it’s about that time that Thor returns from a tour of giant fighting and instantly recognizes that the builder is secretly a giant. They fight. Thor smacks him with mjölnir, his hammer. That’s how most things end with Thor. 

But Loki, our shapeshifter (Odin’s also one, but he’s stayed put in this tale) is missing for a while. He returns a year later, leading a colt, Sleipnir, who has 8 legs and the ability to travel anywhere through any medium, even the realm of the dead. Loki presents him to Odin, who is further empowered.

Loki has shapeshifted. He changed into the mare, altering himself at a cellular level. He saved love, sex, and the natural world. He protected Asgard through its new wall. And he empowered Odin to conquer the remaining outliers in the 9 realms. 

Loki, unquestionably, is a God who learns. And the lessons that he garners along the way, including the way the Æsir attacked him when under stress, including what it’s like to be left in the wilderness—alone and pregnant, including giving away his chid for the good of his community—and the stunning disrespect that comes with that likely contribute to his role in the eventual downfall of the group.

He shapeshifts, by choice, of his own accord, and saves his world . . .  at a huge cost to himself, and I believe it’s fair to say that he’s never the same again. 

So how do we shape-shift in service to our world? For some of us, there are things for which we’re willing to trade in our current lives. For some of us there are not. Each of us can reflect each archetype, but some are so deeply embedded, we can not cast them off if we want to, while others are a distant reach that we can barely stretch to. 

The Shapeshifter, like all archetypes, is a superpower. And it can achieve super results, at super prices—and sometimes they’re worth it: use with caution . . . and wisdom.

 

Next time, the Love Goddess. Until then, author responsibly.


Welcome to Mythic Deviant with Sea Gabriel.

Today a cultural myth: The Ends Justify the Means.

Apparently, we think that Machiavelli said this, but he didn’t. He said that we should keep the results in mind when choosing our methods . . . which is entirely different. 

The ends justify the means informs us that it’s all right to do something questionable if it is in the service of ‘the greater good’ as Edgar Wright would say. For example, registering ‘qualified’ individuals, while normally perverse, may be worth it if it thwarts later terrorist activity. It’s sort of a ‘first strike defense’.  Let’s look. 

‘The End’ says that the story’s over. But any sequel writer knows that stories are circular. The end of a story is most often the beginning of the story. Remember, myths have a beginning, in the ‘normal world’ a middle in the ‘mythic world’ and an end back in the ‘normal world’ that demonstrates what has been learned. The beginning and the end are the same. We go on quests to learn things and then we come home and start again. Ends are beginnings.

As human beings, we like to pretend that some arbitrary moment in 5, 10, 2.000, years, is an ‘end’, but really, time has never ended (And I can’t say that I predict that it will, at least not before we do). Time just keeps going. And so does matter . . .

One of the tenets of the Science, one of our favorite contemporary Gods, is the Conservation of Mass, which states that nothing is lost, only transformed: there is no end. And this also applies to experience.

Things that are done are never undone. The repercussions go on eternally. In the end, there’s no end. There are only means: life affirming means and death affirming means; courageous means and fearful means; honest means and deceitful means. But only means . . . 

Because life is change, not completion. So, let’s look at life. Most of us agree that life ends. If the ends justify the means then the point of our lives is to die and we should whatever it takes to do so as quickly and expediently as possible. 

But the point of life is not really death: it’s end, but is life itself: it’s  mean. The way we live and the things we do while we are alive are the actual point. The moment we die, while potentially interesting, is neither the place where we gain meaning, nor the reason, we live. 

A life is, well, alive. It has constant growth: gain and loss, fun and pain, peace and anger. Only death is stagnant and risk free. Life is risky. Death is secure. Life is the means. Death is the closest thing we come to an end (and even then all our bits go on. It’s really just a change we don’t understand, so we tend to unreasonably empower it).

To illustrate repercussions of the cultural myth of ’the ends justify the means', I’m going with Oedipus the King. I kind of love this bit of the Oedipus story, but not for the reasons Freud did. You’ll notice that this is not about Oedipus being hot for his mom. In Oedipus' opinion, his identified ‘end’: to avoid his horrific fate, justified his ‘means' of abandoning his family and duties as upcoming prince.

Once upon a time there was a king, Laius, and a queen, Jocasta. They have a baby, Oedipus, and take him to the local seer for a quick blessing. The seer tells them that the baby will kill his father and marry his mother, which they find a bit pervy and disturbing. So they ask a herdsman to take the baby and klil him, cause that’s what you do.

The shepherd takes that baby away, but does not kill him because, well, he’s a decent human being. Instead he gives the baby to the king and queen in the next town and they raise him as their own. Oedipus grows up believing Polybus and Merope are his real parents (the actual moral of this story may be ‘don’t lie to your children’). When he is an adult he goes to an oracle who tells him he will kill his father and marry his mother. He freaks. He immediately leaves town never to return. On the way out, he meets a man at the crossroads and they dual, thus he kills his father, then he gets to the next town, which he does not know is his original home.  

The city is being besieged by a Sphinx who is asking riddles, casue that’s the kind of plagues they had then. He correctly answers the riddle: what walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three at night. It’s a human who first crawls, then walks, then uses a cane. He saves the city and wins the grand prize: the queen (who he does not know is his mother). He marries her and has four children, two boys and two girls. Woohoo. Prophecy fulfilled.

He then states that he will banish whoever had the bad grace to kill her husband, the prior king, oblivious to the fact that it was him. Eventually the truth comes out and tragedy ensues leaving Jocasta dead and Oedipus wandering the country blind, each at their own hand.

There’s more—two sequels, because things don’t end, but for now we’ll pause here.

To me, this is the most dangerous repercussion of 'the ends justify the means' myth. I think of it as shadow-casting. It’s the concept (proven again and again in both story and life) that if we fear something enough, we will pretend it’s an ‘end’: a terminal destination. We then build our lives around combatting a thing that doesn’t exist until we make it so., thus actually creating the situation we were trying to thwart. It’s like pulling up all our plants so we don’t have weeds. We will invariably get weeds because we’ve created a bit of soil with no plants in it, which is weed nirvana.

Oedipus does this with his fate. In his desperate attempt to avoid it, he creates it. Hitler did this as well. He was terrified that the German way of life would be diffused by the subcultures with it, so he attempted to get rid of them. in doing so, he started a war that left his own people devastated and broken. Germany now atones by accepting people from all over the world, thus diffusing the German way of life. Like Oedipus, Hitler created exactly what he was trying to avoid. 

However, there was a point in there where he was winning. Around 1940, Hitler was leading Germany to world domination. And he made a great case about the ends justifying the means. But, it wasn’t the end. 70 years later it still hasn’t ended. And it never will. World War II, just like everything else in history, will have repercussions until the end of time, should that manage to occur (you can’t rule anything completely out, but it does seem improbable). 

So why do we have a cultural myth that clearly doesn’t work most of the time, because it’s built on false premisses? 

Because, it’s great if we want to do something short-sighted that will harm people—which, for some people, is often. There’s always that subversion thing, where a few people like to get the masses to serve only them rather than ourselves There’s nothing a coward likes better than to get other people to do stuff so they can pretend they’re brave and strong leaders. 

This myth is great when what we want to do is subvert other’s power and take advantage of people. But is there a way we might actually use it for good?

To me, the key here is determining what an actual long-term end might look like: it would have to be sustainable; it would have to be an actual solution; it would have to have a unified vision and structure that would support it indefinitely. Because any other type of end isn’t one. So, how do we create and end, that is honest and stable, that has no backlash and is, therefore, an actual end (as far as our limited lives can tell)?

I’m using vaccinations as an example. Right now, in my ‘hood, vaccinations are strongly recommended for children, but not enforced. We can opt-out, with enough paperwork. Arguably, our vaccination rate is around 89%. Some people want them to be mandatory for everyone, some people choose not to vaccinate, and some people choose to vaccinate for some things but not others.

Vaccinations do quell outbreaks. When we can predict that someone will die (they have lower immunities) we recommend that they not be immunized. And a small percentage still die (or arguably have other negative ramifications). This is a complex issue and the details are not the point. The point is that many people have an ‘ends justify the means’ attitude toward this practice.

Here are some thoughts: The reason we have a two-person procreation system is to ensure the greatest number of variations in personal genetics so that, in case of tragedy, like plague, we have some individuals who survive. 

If we uniformly (even accidentally) kill off a subset of the population that falls outside the norm we are limiting the variations in our species genepool. Yet, when we don’t vaccinate, we are permitting an otherwise avoidable number of tragedies.

Which is more important: my child not getting sick, or my species not going extinct (cause that would be a big bummer for him, too, right)?  

Do we prioritize individuals, communities, or the species? Do we want to create a single immortal guy (who will probably kill himself because he is so lonely)?

What, in essence, is the end we are trying to achieve, when we understand that the only legetimate definition of ‘end’ is ‘sustainable ongoing means’? (If it lasts longer than we live it can actually seem like a real ‘end’)               

How does this apply to subcultures? What are the sustainable ongoing means we are hoping to create by doing things like registering groups of people? We pretend that our ‘end’ is to reduce terrorism, but most two year olds have a good understanding of what happens when we escalate tension.

Segregation is not an actual ‘end’, it needs constant maintenance, and even then it’s just a means to backlash and violence.  Is that the best we can hope for? Or might we be better off if we worked toward another end, like peaceful co-habitation? What if our end was something like trust and respect?

How do we, in our lives, identify ‘ends’ that are really means to a better life? How do we avoid ‘ends’ that are really just fear-based tricks to get us to do stuff that enslaves us when we feel overwhelmed or weak?

I think we need to remember that the real point is a life well lived, not a life well died, that a ‘good life’ is a life lived through ‘good’ means, not necessarily one in which the protagonist dies with finesse, though that could be fun, too.

And one day we will need to address ‘good’ and ‘bad’ but not today.

 

Next time, back to finish the Shapeshifter. Until then, our live are stories: author responsibly.


This is Mythic Deviant with Sea Gabriel and this week I'm looking at the Shapeshifter. 

Shapeshifting is always a change, at the core. It's not pretending to be different, but it's actually becoming different. So, there is a way in which all learning all growth all change for the better or the worse is shapeshifting. The world is shape shifting around us in every moment. 

We have a tendency to look at the archetype of the shapeshifter with a great deal of skepticism. We often see films in which the best friend turns out to be the villain or the mentor turns out to be the evil dominator, but there can be other kinds of shapeshifting as well. 

Sometimes the shapeshifter is a suspected villain that turns out to be a friend, like Snape. In our actual day-to-day lives shapeshifting often looks like reframing. So, the shapeshifter in your personal world is that friend who can tell you why that terrible thing that happened to you is actually the best thing that could possibly have happened. 

Like all archetypes the shapeshifter has its light aspect and its dark aspect and it can be used in all sorts of ways: it can be used for personal gain. The shape shifter can be used for growth and development, or, like all things with power, of the shape shifter can be harnessed for a higher purpose: for heroism, for friendship, for love. 

Shapeshifters are all around us all the time: advertisers, spin doctors, politicians—all shape shifters—people who try to prove that the world can be seen from a different perspective. What we believe is a reality can always be looked at differently and seen as a different reality. 

While it's true that all types of storytelling can be used to propagate lies, and we're going to do our best on the show to figure out how to not buy into the ones that are lies—how to differentiate the lies from the truths—shape shifting is not lying. 

Shape shifting is a genuine change at the cellular level of something that is happening in the world. It is true change. It is true growth. It is true development, at its core. Shapeshifting is illuminating a new, true, perspective. That said, let’s look at some stories. 

In Hindu mythology, there are three primary gods: Brahma is the God of creation; Shiva is the God of destruction; and Vishnu is the God of eternity, or everlasting life. One of the two most important books in Hindu mythology is the Ramayana and in the Ramayana we have a story of Vishnu, that God of eternity, incarnating so that he can enter the physical realm and deal with a character named Ravana.

Ravana begins this very, very, long story as a devotee of Shiva. So, I'm going to be skipping a all whole lot in the story. Ravana is born falls in love with Shiva and decides to devote himself to him. He does 10,000 years of austerities. Austerity's can mean anything from sitting in meditation or, as Ravana, cutting off one's head again and again in the hope that the God will descend and put your head back on for you. 

After 10,000 years, Shiva decides that Ravana has really done a good job and shows up and says ‘yo, dude, you need a perk’ and Ravana asked for immortality. Shiva said no and actually put him through several more tests, but Brahma eventually goes ahead and gives Ravana immortality, as it relates to gods, and as it relates to animals. So, the caveat is ithat Ravana can still be killed by humans.

Ravana then goes about his business. He becomes king. He rules the world. He does lots of really great stuff. But then, you know, he gets bored: because people get bored. And so he wants to shake it up a bit. He starts hanging out with a few bad apples and things are starting to look like they're not so under control anymore. And at this point Vishnu thinks ‘so, I better step in just in case something goes awry here’. 

So, Vishnu incarnates as a Rama and he enters the world as well. So, I was skipping ahead a lot again. We have all of Rama growing up and eventually Rama finds himself wandering the woods with his brother Lakshmana, after he has married the love of his life, Sita. 

So, you see, they happen to be a away when Rama and Lakshmana run into Ravana’s sister, Shurpanakha. Shurpanakha, Ravana’s sister, falls immediately and madly in love with Rama. She must have Rama. But Rama says ‘no, I'm sorry you're not my type and I'm madly in love with my wife, Sita’. Shurpanakha is not thrilled about that, but she moves along and she goes to Lakshmana. ‘Oh, you are the man for me’. Lakshmanan says ‘oh, no, just no’.

Shurpanakha happens to be, by all accounts, strangely unattractive, in addition to having an evil heart. When she is rejected by both Rama and Lakshmana she decides that this is not about her. This is about Sita. 

And so she goes after Sita and she attacks her. Rama and Lakshmanan defend Sita, and in doing so cut off Shurpanakha’s nose. A girl really never likes to have her nose cut off, so she goes to her big brother.

Shurpanakha tells Ravana ‘you have to help me’. 

And Ravana is ‘actually a don't have to help you’.

‘Please Ravana’. 

‘Nope, I can’t help you’.

So then she comes back a day or so later and says ‘I don't want your help or anything, but I just want you to know how incredibly fabulous Sita is’. ‘Sita was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She had a heart of gold. You would love Sita. In fact, I’ve felt really concerned that you don't have such an incredibly wonderful woman in your life. And really you deserve Sita. Of all people, Sita should be yours. And she compels Him.

So Ramana becomes obsessed with Sita he must have the Sita.  First, Ravana goes and he attempts to seduce her, but to no luck. So he kind of goes stalking her through the forest. Meanwhile, Rama and Lakshmana have caught on to the fact that Sita, perhaps, is in peril here. 

And so they left her alone in a hut and they put a magical boundary around it telling her not to come out. But, of course, Ravana is able to get her to come out. He transforms himself into the world's most beautiful golden doe and he taunts her just outside of the circle. With very feminine energy he essentially attracts Sita out of her own protective boundaries so that he can kidnapp her and go running off.

There's much more to the story. The point is that Ravana is able to transform himself. Ravana, who is a very manly kind of king, who has been ruling over people, has also been doing 10,000 years of austerities. He's really built up his own self-awareness and his own self-knowledge so he behaves in a way that is completely transformative instead of being his kingly, discerning, overpowering, self. He turns into a very feminine, beautiful, creature that is able to attract, to lure her out. He gets what he wants by being different. 

It's important to note that he is not pretending to be different. He really becomes the doe. We can use shapeshifting to change, not who we appear to be in the world, but who we are in the world, so that we’re able to get more than we would be otherwise. We can change who we are in the world in order to get what it is that we want. It's important to note that when this pertains to reality we can change ourselves into things we never thought we wanted. 

Now we’ll shake it up and move over to Greece. Our goddess of the hour is Athena. Athena totally rocks. Athena is the goddess of war and strategy. Her mother's Metis and Metis is intuitive wisdom, experience, or the ability to understand by understanding a variety of perspectives. So Metis is insightful wisdom, and Athena uses her insightful wisdom to understand what is happening and create strategies for moving forward. She is a warrior.

Athena also happens to be in charge of spinning and weaving. Spinning and weaving are an external feminine energy in ancient Greece. So, women would sit at home. They would spin and they would weave. You hear about it in all the stories. There are people spinning and weaving in the background. That's because that's how they created value for their families. They would create beautiful things and then they would go out and they would barter them with one another for other beautiful things. This was really the development of income and so is the way that women got out in the world and essentially embraced and used their personal power in order to support their families.

So this is part of Athena's territory because it's part of the warrior aspect of the feminine. Athena as the goddess naturally is the world's best spinner and weaver. However, there's a young woman named Arachne. And Arachne has spun and woven since she was a wee wee wee baby. And she is incredibly good at it. She makes the most beautiful tapestries that anyone has ever seen. They are just phenomenal.

People come from all over the land to see her tapestries and to buy her tapestries, which bring enormous amounts of money. And everyone tells her how incredibly beautiful they are, and how much they love her tapestries, how it makes it look like the wind is blowing, and how you can almost see the waves lapping on the shore when she makes these incredibly beautiful things. 

She starts to take it a little personalty and be like ‘yeah, yeah, I am the best’. One day she takes it as far as to note that she is better than the goddess herself. This is always going to go somewhere bad. Anytime anybody says they are better than a god or goddess, like, bad things are going to happen: that's all. 

So Athena obviously overhears this and incarnates. She incarnates as an old woman and she comes up to Arachne, who she does lik,e because, you know, you can remember that she is into spinning and weaving. She really has great respect for this art, and so this girl is doing a fantastic job she does care about her. 

Nonetheless, as an old woman, she remarks ‘certainly you're not better than the goddess’. But Arachne stands by it says ‘yes, indeed, I am better than the goddess’. And then, in that moment, Athena reveals herself as a goddess— which it is worth noting does not kill anyone. Many gods and goddesses reveal themselves as such and suddenly everyone drops dead, but not in this instance. So Athena's tempering her destructive power. 

She reveals herself as a goddess and she challenges Arachne ‘okay, right here right now, Babe’ to see who is the better spinner and they both take to their looms. Athena weaves a beautiful tapestry she's actually pulling the clouds from the sky and she's picking up the colors of the sunset and she's putting them all into these gorgeous vibrant scenes and all of the scenes are about the vindictiveness of the gods. 

In Athena's tapestry, it shows Athena and Poseidon vying for Athens. Athens had a competition between the gods to see which one they would give their loyalty to Poseidon showed up and made them a very beautiful salt water fountain in the middle of the city but they thought ‘we don't really need a salt water fountain, as beautiful as that is’ and then Athena showed up and she gave them the olive tree and they, of course, went out to make incredible amounts of money and prestige in their lives by creating olive oil; they gave the city to Athena. 

So, it shows Athena as the victor right in the center of the tapestry, then the tapestry goes on to show Athena punishing Medusa. It shows a king and queen of Trace, who compared themselves to Zeus and Hera, and were therefore transformed into mountains. It shows the pygmy-queen, who boasted that she was more beautiful than Hera, and who was immediately transformed into a stork and then her entire people were set out to Hunt her, and all storks, for eternity. It shows Antigone, of Troy, who said that her hair was more lovely than Hera’s . . .and then Hera turned her into a crane. And it shows a king weeping on stone steps after his daughters are taken from him after he offends the gods. And the whole thing is woven together in a beautiful border of olive branches, once again reinforcing Athena’s supremacy. 

Everyone thinks that this is incredibly beautiful. It's just a gorgeous tapestry and they applaud to no end and then they turn towards Arachne's tapestry . . . and there is Arachne's tapestry. Her tapestry, which is also stunning, is filled with beautiful vivid colors that no one thought one could even reproduce, and you can see the motion in it as if it's coming to life. Arachne's tapestry is the most gorgeous thing anyone has ever seen and it is all about the rediculousness of the gods. 

It shows Zeus desperately attempting to seduce young women by becoming a variety of things: a beam of light; a wannabe bull; andEagle. It shows Poseidon and Medusa behaving inappropriately in Athena's temple. It shows Apollo, chasing after a young woman who turns herself into a tree rather than give them a smooch, and it shows Dionysus behaving so drunkenly he can't even stand to seduce someone. And the entire thing is adrift in a border of ivy, indicating that it is all tied up. Everyone looks at it, and gasps. 

How could she do this this? It is not going to be okay. But Athena stands up and says ‘okay, everyone, vote—who has the more beautiful tapestry?’ And they go back and forth from one to the other and they are comparing them, but the fact is that they are both incredibly beautiful. Meanwhile Arachne, who'd been busy working on her own tapestry, really inspects Athena's tapestry. And she sees all of the retribution's of the gods. And she thinks ‘this is going to be my fate: it is going to be a fate worse than death’. In thinking that, she feels humiliated and guilty and she understands that she has moved outside of her proper place in the world.

She gets her beautiful, silken, threads and she makes the most attractive noose anyone has ever seen. She throws it over the bow of a branch and she hangs herself as Athena goes on about the beauty of the tapestry. 

Athena looks over and sees Arachne is dangling from the tree and she thinks that's not quite what I wanted’. That's going too far. The girl is beautiful and she does beautiful work and I do want to punish her, but not like that. Athena steps in and, as Arachne dangles, she transforms her from a girl into a spider. She tells her that from now on she may spin forever the most beautiful tapestries in the world: that few will ever notice. Arachne has retained her power, and her beauty, and the wonderful thing that she did so well, that Athena loved in her so much, but she has lost the ability to boast about it. So Athena has shapeshifted Arachne into the spider. It's pretty clear that Arachne, as a spider, is going to be—at her core—in her nature—quite different than she was before her spider experience. 

In myths and stories, people have godlike powers. They have superhuman strength they can do all sorts of things that I cannot do in my immediate life: my personal wand does not work that way. However, human beings have kind of a magical thing about us in that we only notice what we understand. 

We’re completely ignorant about much of the world—because we don't get it. So, we just ignore it. That's the way we work. If we know something well enough to magnify it into an important aspect of a story then I guarantee that we can do it to some extent. It is within our understanding. So, we can shapeshift ourselves and we can shapeshift our own worlds, just not with wands. 

The way that we shapeshift, is by changing our perspective, by changing the way that we see things and the by changing the way that we do things. So, let's say the thing that I want to shapeshift is the fact that there is a person in my life who isn't listening to me. And this really irritates me. It's very upsetting to me that this person is not listening to me. I really want her to listen. I keep trying to talk to her. What I would like to do is whip out my magic wand and just magically make her listen magically: make her understand what it is that I need to convey.

It’s actually okay with me if she never gets on board with me, if she never agrees, that's fine. But I really want her to listen and hear it and that's not happening right now. I can’t do that. I don't actually have power over other people in my immediate surroundings, nice as that would be (for me). I only have power over myself. So, I have to change the other component of the problem: she is not listening to me and that bothers me. 

Instead of concentrating on ‘she is not listening to me’, I need to concentrate on ‘that bothers me’. Why is it that it bothers me that she is not listening to me? at least in my own world I guarantee that it bothers me because I do it too. It's that human superpower again. If I didn't do it, I wouldn't understand it, therefore, I wouldn't notice it ,and it wouldn't bother me. 

The fact that it bothers me means I do it. The way that I can diminish the amount that it bothers me is by dealing with the way that I do it. So, it bothers me that am I not listening to me: and how can I make that not bother me? 

I am not listening to me because I never have enough time. I really love doing things and many things seem really important to me: I am always overcommitted. I really want to do more, and more, and more. As I constantly drive myself to do more, I do not listen when I need a break. I totally roll over myself and power through it. 

If I got in the habit of getting up when I wanted a break: walking around the block walking—over to the park—coming back five or 10 minutes later, calm able to actually think again and move things forward . . .  I would be so much more reasonable. I start doing it and I realize that I am much calmer. I’m much nicer when I show up to talk to the same person again. I'm able to be more present. Time no longer makes me anxious. And if she doesn't listen to me it doesn't really bother me. She doesn't have to take care of me now because I'm taking care of myself. 

She doesn’t really need to listen to me because I am listening to myself. On the other hand, the irony is she's actually more likely to listen to me. She's more likely to listen to me because I am calm, because I am more rational, because I am taking care of myself. 

So, it can be that by shapeshifting myself internally I actually shapeshift her internally: she genuinely changes the way that she feels about and behaves toward me. Or she might not. 

I remember encountering John Cleese talking about writing the life of Brian and how not-funny Jesus was. Effective humor actually depends on people behaving in ways that are irrational. Something is funny when a person is behaving in a way that has nothing to do with their it external environment but only has to do with their internal environment. 

So, I know that if I show up completely differently, if I am now calm, and I'm cool, and I'm taking quietly, and I'm fine, and she continues to act really defensively and hostilely: it has nothing to do with me. She is reacting to something that is happening inside herself, which is none of my business, and which I have no control over. 

But I have still completely shapeshifted her, because, not only do I recognize that this is not my problem and has nothing to do with me, everyone around us can see that to well. 

When I was behaving all anxious and all stressed out, then it looked like her defensiveness was appropriate. But when I show up being all calm, and cool, and collected, and everything is no big deal and I'm not taking it personally, and she is still behaving all defensively, everyone understands that the problem is now about her interaction with the world and not mine. 

So I've completely shapeshifted my own external reality, in addition to my own internal reality. 

 

And that, my friends, is the shapeshifter for personal gain. Next up: shapeshifting for growth and development have a great day. Author responsibly.


This is Sea Gabriel with Mythic Deviant and part two of the Shapeshifter: The shapeshifter for Growth and Development.

Last time we looked at how the Shapeshifter archetype could be used for personal gain. That is about fulfilling our most base needs. This time, we’re on to using the Shapeshifter for ourselves and/or others: usually we suspect that change will be positive . . . but, really, one never knows. More on that later with ‘The Ends Justify the Means.’

For now, the shapeshifter, while taking a bit of a beating by our current indoctrinators, is really about life, change, and growth, at it’s core. Shapeshifting is eluding death: death of the heart, mind, soul, or body. 

That said, let’s launch into story, because it’s interesting (at least to me).

Second Person

This is a Celtic story about a character called ‘Math’. Yes, that is a funny name. Math is the God of Increasing Wealth or, well, growth and development. So it’s appropriate that he’s one of our stories for today.

Math Thab Mathonway was vital for humanity. He assured our survival and physical fulfillment. He also protects us. But, like with so many things. There’s a catch. Math must, when not in active duty, continually rest his feet on the lap of a virgin in order to exist in our world: not a bad life, though, in my estimation, virginity is overrated, when physical. I say that as a person who embodies the virgin archetype: you know us, the people who weep when someone walks on new snow.

Back to the story. Math has a palace in Gwynedd. It is a lovely palace and it houses his extended family, most of whom are Gods (a gender-free word when I use it. I personally have no need to focus on a diety’s genitalia, well, except, perhaps, in this story).

Math’s virgin ottoman, Goewin, is a lovely girl. And when his nephews, Gilvaethwy and Gwydyon, come to live with him, Gilvaethwy agrees. He falls madly in love with the young lady. He must have her. So they devise a plan to get Math out of the house.

The young men convince Math that they must go to another kingdom in order to procure a new, tasty-sweet, animal: the pig (sacred animal to the vikings). 

They disguise themselves as bards and play beautifl music for King Pryderi, knowing that he cannot refuse their sow-request when they are finished. But he does so, even though it is considered incredibly rude. He explains to them that he has sword an oath not to gift or sell the pigs. Gwydion, our magician and  trickster, explains that they want neither the gift, nor to purchase the pigs. With that he conjures 9 (Sacred number for the Vikings) black stallions and insists that he would like to trade for them. Trading is not part of the oath.

King Pryderi, after checking with his elders, agrees. And Gilvaethwy and Gwydyon head home. But as soon as they are gone, the stallions also disappear. And Pryderi, knowing he has been had, launches an attack against them. Much fighting ensues, buts the young men eventually make it home to Uncle Math and tell him they’ve been unjustly followed and attacked. 

Math, in his sacred duty as protector, leaves his home and, with his troops, combats Pryderi. 

Gilvaethwy and Gwydyon, thrilled that Math is distracted, heads home. There Gilvaethwy approaches Goewin and tries, unsuccessfully to woo her. She is dedicated to her position with Math. Eventually, as Gwydyon stands guard, Gilvaethwy rapes her.

The war wages on until Pryderi, an apt leader, insists that his men must return home saftely. He suggests a one one one combat with the opposition under Math’s leadership. Gwydyon, having returned to the battlefield with his now shamed brother, agrees to fight. He agrees because he is the magician. He casts illusions which Pyderi attemps to fight and eventually wins unfairly. 

When they get home there is a great victory celebration and Math rewards them. Until, that is, he goes to put his feet on Goewin and discovers that she is no longer the virgin he requires. He asks her about this and, feeling ashamed, she tells the truth.

Math is somewhat livid at this point.

He calls his nephews in his quarters and confronts them. Gilvaethwy admits his transgression. With that, Math transforms Gwydyon into a Stag and Gilvaethwy into a Hind and sends them into the forest. A year later they return with their son, who Math returns to human. He then changes them into a Boar and Sow. Again they leave for a year and reproduce.

When they return with their son, Math turns him into a human and them into Wolves, this time switching up the gender so that they each can learn what it is like to be a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’: to be predator and prey. A year later they return with their son and Math turns them all back into humans. 

As usual, there is more to this story. But, the point is, here Math has used shapeshifting to turn his nephews into animals to teach them two important lessions: the difference between human beings and other animals, and to teach them the expreince of animalistic forms of each gender: to teach them compassion. 

This is the second person use of shapeshifting for growth and development.

First Person

There’ also a first person use. But I need to mention that this brings up the question “Do Gods and Magical Beings learn?” 

There is a good argument for ‘no’. If immortals learned, then they would all be completely enlightened in just a few human lifetimes. And there would be no more stories. Narratives depend on conflict, which, in turn, depends on people behaving In ways that are ignorant. If all the Gods knew everything and did their personal work to understand who they were in the larger picture, they would be capable of producing a world without conflict. And we would have no new stories.

On the other hand  they could choose to reach this place within themselves, but continue to behave in a way that plays out conflict, not because they feel it internally, but because it’s fun, and teaches us. For this story, I’m going with that theory. So back we return to the Ramayana. Last time I mentioned how, in this story, Rama marries Sita and the two of them take off into the forest with Rama’s brother: Lakshama.

The two gentlemen are out when they encounter a woman who tries to seduce each of them. When she fails, she runs back to her brother, Ravana, who is profoundly powerful in both worldly and spiritual ways. She convinces him that he must have Sita, Rama’s wife. Ravana turns himself into a deer and kidnaps Sita. He takes her back to his palace, across the ocean. As they fly through the air, she throws off a trail of jewelry for her husband and brother in law to follow, sure that they will rescue her.

That’s about as much as I mentioned last time. But now I’m adding that Rama is not human. There is a triumvirate of male Hindu Gods: Brahma, the god of creation; Shiva, the god of destruction; and Vishnu, the god of eternity. In his job of preserving the continuity of life, Vishnu periodically incarnates as a physical being in order to teach, learn, and repair. And this is Rama.

So Rama is not a normal guy, he’s the God of Eternity, incarnated into physical form in order to ensure the perseverance of life. And he’s come to experience an understanding of trust, betrayal, and personal values, in order to teach humanity, through his stories, and ensure the continuity of life in general.

Back to the story, bearing in mind that I’m not telling the whole thing, just illustrating the archetype for now. Rama and his brother, Lakshamana, return to their place in the woods and find that Sita is gone, even though the magical protective barrier is still up. The call for her and look for her, eventually finding some of her jewelry. And off they go traipsing through the woods in search of her.

Meanwhile, the monkey princes are hosting a civil war. Hanuman, the commander of one of the monkey armies, is sent to investigate Rama and Lakshmana as they stumble near the battlefield. 

Just as Rama is secretly an avatar of Vishnu, Hanuman is often thought to be an avatar of Shiva, the God of Destruction. 

In any event, they recognize each other’s souls immediately, and Hanuman drops to his knees in praise of Rama. 

The story gets complex here as they encounter issues over the monkey war, and random demons, but eventually Hanuman goes off to in search of Sita and finds her at Ravana’s island estate, Lanka. En route, he has also had a few bouts of personal shapeshifting where Hanuman alters his size as small as a cat, to creep, and as large as a mountain to prove his divinity.

Back in Lanka, as this adventure was happening, Sita has been refusing Ravana, who is desperately trying to court her. He is much more gentlemanly than Gilvaethwy and Gwydyon and does not take her by force. 

So, when Hanuman arrives, he sneaks into Sita’s quarters, knowing that he can’t defeat Ravana just then, and tries to persuade her to return with him. She refuses. She wants Rama to save her. Some would say that, at this point, Sita is being snotty or just rude, but it’s likely that she doesn’t want to be left alone in the woods with Hanuman. If she’s going home with a man, she’d like it to be her husband.

And eventually, Rama does show up and take Sita away, however he suspects her of enjoying her time with Ravana. In time, she offers to do a trial by fire. When she is not burt to death, but rather saved from incineration by the Gods, Rama comes to believe in her innocence.

But in time that is not enough. Sita returns to the palace with Rama but the townspeople are whispering not-very-nice things that indicate that they think Rama is a pansy for allowing his unfaithful wife back into his home. 

So he banishes her into the forest, where she gives birth to his twin boys who are trained by a sacred master. Rama finds out and, impressed with his offspring, wants to see them. But not so much Sita. He’d like her to prove her innocence again. So she does.

But this time, Sita does not ask to be spared if she is innocent. Rather, she asks that the Earth rise up and consume her if she is innocent so that she doesn’t have to live with his hollow accusations anymore. And that is the end of Sita. And the heartbreak and shame of Rama.

The Ramayana, while it contains many lessons, can be seen as an illustration of the God Vishnu incarnating as Rama in order to assist in our growth and development by illustrating the repercussions of trust, betrayal, and values.

And us?

So how do we shape-shift for our own growth and development? I think it’s both the simplest and most difficult thing we can possibly do: change. 

Somebody said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Benjamin Franklin have all been attributed, but there’s no evidence that they said it. It was probably my next-door neighbor, the irritating one.

Anyway, we shapeshift for our own growth and development by stretching our comfort zones, taking small steps toward big dreams. 

When we think it’s too late, it’s not. 

Dreams don’t always look the same in the light, in fact, they never do. But when we take steps to make the impossible come true it almost always does, just perhaps not the impossible we had envisioned. 

Want to be a rockstar? Learn to play an instrument, yes, even if your 87. Want to write a novel? Write something, anything. Want to go back to college. Do a search online for programs you’re interested in. Dreams are pointers in the direction we should move, not end-point destinations. We are happy when we follow our dreams, not necessarily when we catch them. Light is squelched when we hold it in our hands, but lights our way when we pursue it.

Be bold: Shapeshift. Because when we can see ourselves clearly enough, we can subtract our reflection from our images of the world. 

There’s one more Shapeshifter coming up: shapeshifting for communal or cultural change. Plus we’ve got to get in that ‘Ends Justify the Means’ thing I mentioned.

Until then, author responsibly.


Corpses are boring.

They’re corporal bodies that are closed books, no longer capable of surprise: and that makes them exactly the opposite of mythology.

Mythology is a story that's alive, that's changing, that has great value, but that does not have a body. 

Mythology comes from mythos, which is an experiential sensory kind of component, and logos, which is a calculated thoughtful intellectual kind of component, so mythology was meant to imbue someone with helpful logical guidance in a way that appealed to all of their senses and allowed them to incorporate. 

Originally, mythologies were stories that illuminated truths, that helped us to see how the world actually works, and allowed us to view ourselves in a good context—in the context of the universe—so that we could move forward in our best way.

But we like to subvert things . . .  so after a while we began to use the concept of mythology in order to actually propagate lies rather than illuminate truths (so that we could get people to do what we want). Mythology became a tool of manipulation. 

In addition to the types of mythologies we have different layers of mythology. So, each of us carries around our personal mythology: what our lives are about; what our origins are; what our life means. Then we have communal mythologies: what we do at work; what we do in this city; what we do in this country; how we operate as a group—and so we have lots of different layers of mythology that create our belief of how we are and who we are in this world. 

Mythology has always been about stories, but just as there are different types of mythologies there are also different types of stories. For some people, a story can be a thing that happened. If a story consists of I did this and then this and I went there and that happened and it has no kind of greater meaning to it and it has no kind of emotional attachment to it that is not a myth that is just a story. 

However, if we tell the same story again, and again ,and again, and again, and again, we will begin to imbue it with feeling, and with meaning, and it will become a myth. So with the same story, even if it doesn't mean anything originally, repeated again, and again, and again we can make our own myths.

Making myths is a superpower. 

So, the way that the human mind works is unlike other minds we know of in that we're always remembering the past and envisioning the future—while living in the present. This means that were always sort of in three locations at the same time and this is reflected in everything we do.

If we go to a lecture, it's going to have an introduction body and a conclusion. If we go to a play, it's going to have a first act, in the normal world, a second act, in the mythological world, and a third act, back in the normal world. 

Not only do we always imbue this three-part structure on everything, but our introduction and our conclusion always contain the same content. If you're putting together a lecture you're told to always say what you are going to say, say it, and say what you said. Notice that what you're going to say and what you said are probably the same thing. 

So, when we change our understanding of what already happened—the first act—we change our expectations of what's going to happen—the third act—and we change what we actually do: our choices in this the middle act, the present. When we change our understanding of the past we change our future. 

When we get a new piece of information we try to fit it into our already existing three-part structure. For example, someone might come up to me and say ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. And if I happen to sew, and I've already ripped things out ,I will totally get that because it fits into my past experience of sewing and my future expectation of my sewing coming undone. Totally done.

However, if I have nothing to do with sewing and I've never had something ripped-through that is going to mean absolutely nothing to me: even if I totally love, totally trust, the person the best I can do is file it away for future use. 

However if they were to actually tell me the story: 

Once upon a time there was a little boy and he had a tiny hole in his pocket and it would've only taken one stitch to sew up that hole, but he didn't do it. Instead he went out, he played on the beach, had a great summer, but in the autumn he was wearing that very jacket when a giant bear came to attack the town. The little boy came running out, because he was going to combat the bear. He went to grab his slingshot out of his pocket: but it was gone. There was a whole. It would've taken at least nine stitches.

We get it. We can get whole stories in a way that we cannot get little pieces of wisdom because they come with their own context. They have their own first, second, and third, acts: their own introductions, bodies, and conclusions. And, therefore, we can just absorb the whole thing. It doesn't have to fit into what I already know of the world. It has a world with It. 

I was a strange child, in exactly the same way that I'm a strange adult. I went running around talking to angels and archetypes and all my invisible friends. And I said really weird off-the-wall things to anyone, at any time. 

My family had no idea how to deal with this, so they didn’t. They increasingly ignored me, and as they ignored me I became louder, until finally by the time I was a teenager I was screaming all the time and no one was ever listening. And so, at 15, I walked out of the house not to return. 

I did not speak to most of them for nearly 20 years: except my brother. I went out to the world and I did my own personal work. And I got into college, and I studied, and I worked hard, and I really felt like I was making progress. After about 20 years, I thought ‘I have done my personal work. I can so handle my family now. I'm gonna go home.’ 

So I did what any courageous, mature, adult would do and I called my brother to plead with him to go with me. Much to my delight, he said that he would. So he flew from New York and I flew from Seattle and we met in Alabama, where my grandparents lived. It was near my grandfather’s hundredth birthday. 

Shortly after we arrived, my great uncle, Lucian, phoned and asked if the two of us would like to come over. and have tea. I totally love Lucian, because he’s completely subversive, so I said yes of course we would go. 

My brother and I went trekking through the mud over to Lucian's house and it was this key little yellow cottage. My great aunt, Ruth, opened the door and invited us in. She escorted us to the parlor. Everything was pastel and floral. We sat down on comfy chairs. 

There was Ruth, a giant American flag that completely dominated the room, my uncle Lucian, my brother, and I. Very shortly a little kitten came pattering into the room and my great aunt Ruth did the cat. She went ‘y’all don’t come round here very often’ (with a thick souther accent) and I thought ‘my God, I am in another world’. This should have been a clue. 

Then we all began to chat. Well, more to the point, they begin to chat. Because I had absolutely nothing to say. They began having a conversation: Lucian and Ruth peppering my brother with questions and him answering them expertly. I had absolutely no way into the conversation. I just sat there for 20 minutes. And I began to feel invisible, just like when I was a kid. 

I started wondering if I was a figment of my own imagination. But then I thought ‘I have done my personal work. I am so not going to fall for this. I am not going to go there. I going to take control. I'm going to pay attention, and I'm going to figure out what is going on here.’  So I pay attention and I shortly discovered how tremendously tangible my brother is. Wow. 

He makes frames . . . and they have held them . . .  for beautiful art  . . . they have seen it  . . . in New York, which not only have they heard of, they could probably locate it on a map. I on the other hand do . . . something . . .  in the West. For a moment, this delights me. I have figured it out. I have conquered the issue. I now know the problem here is that I am not very physical and my brother is very physical. 

But then I begin to really reflect. I begin to wonder if we aren't physical beings, put on the physical plane, to have physical experiences. I begin to wonder about my own things and contemplate how I've done enormous emotional, spiritual, and even intellectual work, but how much I really suck at the physical. And I wonder if I have missed the point. I consider that, perhaps, I have wasted my entire life. And as I'm spiraling down into that sinkhole my uncle Lucian suddenly sits up and says (at the top of his lungs) “I have to tell you a story.” 

“I went to Florida last year and I took my dentures. I had them the entire time we were in Florida .I took them everywhere with me. I was wearing them when I got there. I was wearing them at our last meal on the last evening. I went home. I put them in a glass by the bed. I went to sleep and in the morning . . . they were gone. 

We looked everywhere. I combed that hotel room. We went through all our luggage. We went through every pocket in every piece of clothing. The dentures were nowhere. After several hours, we had to go to the airport so we left. I called the hotel. ‘Look for my dentures.’ They said they would look for the dentures. We came home. As soon as we got home, we went through everything again: every item of clothing; every pocket; in every suitcase. The dentures were nowhere. The hotel called. They did not find the dentures. After a week I called and said I needed new dentures. And I sat down in this very chair . . .  I put my hand in this very crack . . .  looking for my remote . . . and there were my dentures!

“It’s the miracle of the dentures!” I thought. And then I suddenly understood. And I wanted to tell him that that entire thing it had happened to him just so that he could tell me that story in that moment: so that he could illustrate to me that just because something is located doesn't mean it doesn't exist; just because something is invisible doesn't mean it's not important; and just because they can see me it doesn't mean that I don't matter. 

The mythologies that we hold internally and externally, at every level, affect our every belief and our every choice. And many of them are unconscious. 

When we learn to recognize our mythologies we learn to control our worlds: we learn to be in charge of our own lives. When were finally done eating our lives are nothing more than stories.

 

Author responsibly.

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