We all have access to the Rio Abajo Rio, the river below the river that flows under reality much like Faery does, and the ticket is creating in our deepest, truest selves. That flow of energy in the altered state that comes when we are completely immersed in the creation of new work takes us out of Mundane and into Sublime. But we have to come back.
One reason that so many folks of creative spirit end up with alcoholic or other chemical dependencies is that they seek help to deal with the mundane after experiencing the sublime. In WWRwtW, p. 30, Estés tells about the four rabbinim who saw the sacred Wheel of Ezekiel. Only one of them was able to go back to the mundane world and live his life, with praise and gratitude. Another went made, another lost his faith in trying to explain the experience, and a third lived in denial. Marion Woodman suggests that alcoholics are literally searching for spirit, crack heads for enlightenment and sugar junkies for nurturing. They are caught in the Rapture Trap, always replacing true experience with easy substitutes that are as poisonous as artificial sweeteners and shelf-life preservatives.
We don’t have stories about how to do this kind of work, and that’s what is so important about Estés’ work: She tells us new stories and tells us a new way to hear the stories crammed down our ears from every side in every medium. That is why I am spending a month with her work, getting to know her voice again, listening to her speak on MP3 and re-reading her words.
One of the first stories she tells is that of La Loba, the Wolf Woman. who collects the dry bones in the desert wilderness and when she has a whole skeleton, she sings over it until it regrows it’s life and runs away, first as a wolf, and then as a wild woman. There is much grunt work in creativity–journal keeping, canvas-stretching, endless dance classes, sketching, models and studies, drafts and outlines, auditioning. Each grunt, each blister, each failed sheet of watercolor paper is a bone, and it takes 206 of them to make a human skeleton (I didn’t bother to look up wolves, as this is a story, not a science project.)
The key, though, is that La Loba thens sits with her materials and decides what song to sing over them. It is not the same song every time, it is never the same wolf, and certainly never the same wild woman who emerges from the deep song. The fairy godmother, La Que Sabe, does not wave a wand over us to make these changes instantly with lots of sparkles, though changes may come very quickly when the grunt work is done consistently over time. If the preparation is not there, We may dissolve in it. But if we don’t prepare, and we don’t try to express that deep song, then we dry up, dead women walking, grit in the wind.
So I go looking for my bones, the missing pieces of my soul, the things that I know but that I don’t know that I know.
I stop saying, “I don’t know” and start saying “I will find a way.”
I stop saying “shoulda, woulda, coulda” and being to say “am, choose, decide.”
Now I leave La Loba to sit with La Que Sabe (She who knows) and begin to sing the song of this next novel as it kicks within me to be born. I’ve been wobbly from the Rapture trap of world-building and backstories and outlining and character sketches. The bones are calling.