Wise woman words

September 12, 2007

Although I grew up hearing and knowing her name, I never read anything by Starhawk until recently when her path (which now includes sustainability in addition to her work as a political activist and keeper and creator of the rites of passage and rituals that many of us need in our lives) crossed mine. I am now on her mailing list and periodically feast on her words. Today she is urging us to see “In the Valley of Elah” and if you are in San Fransisco – that is an option. In the sheltered east coast valley that I live in – movies like this often don’t make it to my local cinema.

Last night, I watched James Gandolfini, listen to the stories of soldiers as they talk about their “Alive Day.” I could not stop crying and wondered who is going to be there for these men and women as they process not only the horrors of war, but the adjustments to their physical injuries? Ninety percent of those wounded, now survive, but they survive with traumatic brain injuries and amputations and wounds to their psyches.

So when I got my update from Starhawk this morning, what captured my attention was this:

One of those issues is what we will do, as a society, for the thousands of soldiers who will ultimately return home, carrying horros within them—and facilities to help are thin on the ground. Those who shout loudest about supporting the troops are less than eager to fund their ongoing care and rehabilitation. Our streets are still full of the broken, homeless relicts of the Vietnam War forty years ago. What will happen to the new wave of veterans in a flailing economy, under a regime that systematically defunds and destroys every caring, nurturing role for government?

Much of my recent work centers on the use of archetypal myths and stories as teaching tales. Slowly I am working my way through the podcasts of John Betts – and am now learning the Moreau Guidelines for learning how to do our own amplification of fairy tales. Anyone who is captured by the stories in Women who run with the wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes develops a hunger for more of these tales of mending. Using many of the same techniques used in dream interpretation, we are able to find the essential truths in the stories that originated in our oral traditions and found their way into collections such as the Grimm Fairy Tales.

Each of us has our own temperment and personality which affects how we experience the world. Our unique way of being present is the gift we offer our community. How then could we create ways for these men and women to tell their stories in ways that diminish the horror and identify the roots of resilience? I don’t know. Do you?



  1. The only thing I can think of is to find ways to let them tell their stories to each other, and to respond with more stories, because stories connect and communicat – as you so obviously know. To find ways to let that happen. To find ways to persuade these men and women that there is a safe place where they can tell their terrible stories. And to respond. With more stories.

  2. Of course I meant ‘communicate’ … but perhaps communicat is all right too. At least if it comes from one whose Chinese astrological year is that of the cat … .

  3. I had to come over here to check the URL so I could link it from my creative-output blog because I used one of your pet phrases in today’s post. Had already seen this post of yours but was struck by the ways it related to what I’m exploring both visually and internally right now. That parallel life effect again.

    If you’re interested, here’s the post where I quoted you vis a vis “tending and befriending”.

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