“Stories contain the hidden secrets of transformation, the alchemist’s formulas for turning lead into gold.”
~~ Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD., PhD., Coyote Wisdom, 2005
The stories we tell about ourselves are powerful. Story is the domain of Trickster — a place of shape-shifting, transformation, wildness, change. Sometimes a story can be — or, as circumstances change, can become — a cage or a windowless room or a festering wound. Nonetheless, we often lug these old stories around with us and defend them against any perceived threats, believing them to be fundamental to our identity and the world as we know it. And, indeed, that fear is justified. What if we encounter — as I did with Raven Brings the Sun — a new exuberant story to replace an old one of fear and hiding? We may find the new story creating windows, opening doors, changing the shapes of our dwelling-places and of our understandings of self and others. Or what if we ourselves re-tell our old story in a new way that opens our heart, deepens and widens our sense of self and of others, and brings us healing and empowerment?
Many years ago, I sat down to write about an old betrayal that was still baffling me at times, shards of its desiccated residue still needling occasionally beneath my skin. I had no preconceived idea where the words would take me. I was just along for the ride. And a wild ride it was! When I finished & reread the story, I felt a sudden sense of strength and closure. I had freed myself, acknowledged my strength. I was healed, made whole once again:
STORY FOR A STORMY NIGHT Once upon a time--long ago and far away-- I was the princess glad and golden; you, the prince. It had to be so; I knew how these things were supposed to go. And off we danced into velvet nights and secret bowers where you were the prince who kissed me asleep: Through dimming eyes, I saw your feet grow webbed, your mouth widen, your back hump down under slick green skin. And off you hopped to other wells, spilling from your waistcoat pocket, broken promises, broken heart--seeds cracking open in the dark. Out and up sprang vines and briars-- catching twisting--thick and deep. Quickly I buttoned my skin tight over the tangle and no one knew. And all the blossoms were hidden. And all the blossoms were the color of blood. But fierce things thrive in wilderness-- weasel, wolf, and wolverine--and I, year by year in my spiked cocoon, slept more wildly, dreamed more wise. I woke myself when it was time. Then, what else could I do with a lifetime of ivy, creeper, and kudzu, honeysuckle and bramblerose? I have pulled it, peeled it, soaked it, chewed it, made it pliable enough to plait. I have woven baskets for bread, baskets for brides, wicker cradles, caskets, coffers. I have hawked my wares from door to door. I have grown singular and shrill. Now I weave one last basket, round and tight as any coracle flung by crazed Celtic monks into Atlantic brine. I climb into my craft and fly, like Baba Yaga, along the seams of nightmares. I ride the currents of your lies, the windsheer just beyond the edges of your eyes. I have woven well; I fly high enough. Don't be afraid, old frog, when my cape feathers out into wings and I plunge-- hook-beaked and taloned--down and down. It is not your soft body I want: I will rip flesh off one old corpse, I will lay bare the bones of the matter. These are my bones. I claim them: picked clean, they shine. ~~MCK