Creating new myths and alchemies to promote environmental sustainability.
Watch a brief video introduction... (recorded with "Pamela for Skype")
Listen to the full conversation podcast...
- I pride myself on getting out of the box, even though I’m sort of in a [skype] box today:-). I am trying to work collaboratively across the planet… I am very aware of my creative process and involving other voices. I’ve written 8 myths… and am interested in different archetypes and alchemies.
- Based on Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, I am writing new myths, and am actively looking for feedback. I am purposely writing guidelines to the future. We have to get prepared for a new world. The transition we're in now can be either successful or fail. We need new stories, we need to take risks, to consider where we're going, and we need new tools, and new songs and symbols, to spur us on, to stir our imagination.
- One of my new myths is called The Permaculture King. In The Permaculture King, there is an old man who has a shack in the corner of the schoolyard… He teaches kids about gardening, composting, reuse and recycling. He is a modern day OZ – an OZ without a curtain.
- I would assume Joseph Campbell would be both applauding and shrinking to read the stuff I write. I want people to see themselves [in these stories]. I want them to take lessons away about science, about the transition, to learn new tools. I do want people to see universal, archetypal values. I am not shy about talking about the sacred and the spiritual. I am trying to hit these things at multiple levels.
- What I know about permaculture and permaculturists is that they are highly sensitive to natural resources, their use, designing to the lay of the land, improving the economic and cultural structures, using localization. They are people who want to be self-sufficient without being survivalists. These are small-ego folks, generous with their experiences, who want to teach people and get them on board.
A new interview with Willi Paul, by Emily Harris. Enjoy! -- Sue
Willi Paul launched PlanetShifter.com Magazine on Earth Day 2009 to build a database on innovation, sustainability, and mythology. He launched openmythsource.com in 2011 to share new myths and alchemies related to permaculture and the Transition Movement. Please see his article at the Joseph Campbell Foundation. Willi earned his Permaculture Design Certification in 2011 at the Urban Permaculture Institute, in San Francisco. One of nine eBooks is entitled: Regenerator - Transition Tools for Mapping New Symbols, Songs &... (eBook 5)
Mythology at the Edge of the World
Interview with New Mythologist Willi Paul
By Emily Harris November 14, 2012
Willi, you founded planetshifter.com magazine contributing many stories on innovation, new mythologies, and sustainability. You have founded several other websites since 2009 sharing your original writings and novel ideas related to the “Permaculture Age”. How is the “Permaculture Age” defined?
The Permaculture Age started with the moral compass from the sustainability movement, adding a new land design tool kit then quickly aspired to a larger, more inclusive web including the sacred and the new myth. One key change agent here are the new alchemies as we need transmutations to re-forest our Father’s cultural desiccations.
The Permaculture Age is a time of great risk, a shedding human snake seeking environmental justice, a mega-transition on Earth as a global community. Life after the present Chaos Era will be the Post-Transition Era. It is in this near future time that I posit and cook my New Myths.
Tell me about your creative process. Are you, as an innovator, using new alchemies to create change?
My creative process is a hybrid of iteration, white boarding, and frequent idea pulses or quick insights. I have ideas and new concepts spewed all across my desk top, a sort of e-garden for growing. While I categorize and define alchemy in detail, I see myself as an incubator, wave-forming new visions and questions day after day, then sculpting and launching a few polished gems with the alchemy and purpose of a myth-drenched shaman.
One of the new alchemies you mention is the digital. Some may see the digital and permaculture (nature) inhabiting two disparate worlds. How are you and your contemporaries integrating the two?
It would be a catastrophic mistake to separate the digital and soil (alchemic) worlds. I think the best examples of this Nature synergy are the various listservs that underpin our fears and bolster potential solutions. One can also teach permaculture with YouTube videos now. In one hand a shovel and in the other a tablet!
Tell me more about myth scholar, Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. Is this an individual, ego-driven process or could an entire community or tribe collectively experience this rite of passage?
I am not a Campbell scholar but his ideas are incorporated into mine in many places. His “hero cycle” is well depicted elsewhere. I do champion a flattened-ego community journey and a “reporting back” or sharing and evaluation. In the Transition Movement, we have a type of alchemy called “localization.” Here local resources are marshaled and neighbors are the farmers, cops and priests. As we build localization structures and processes, we re-discover our connections to the land and to the spirit – and to creative acts that build the new myths.
What are some of the tools available to individuals who want to participate in writing new myths? Can a new myth be communicated though music, dance, or the visual arts? Is one medium more potent than another?
People and their hearts, their sweat and fears,… our dreams and experiences. Tools are not just computers and concert halls! There is a difference between the tale and the tool. Any format is possible. Consider the rise of the storyteller! A voice and a stage!
What are the symbols or motifs of transition, manufactured or organic, that we humans should be paying attention to?
I must admit that there are many posts in my work about the new symbols. These are necessary new forces and when driven by the alchemies, become change agents for artists and mythologists. For centuries symbols have been considered special instructions or codes and help build road maps to new adventure and visions for both alchemists and mythologists. As transmutational agents, symbols create attention, “knowledge-starts” and awareness at many levels of our being. The circle of wheat is both a labyrinth (journey) and a globally-connected food crop now under heavy pressure from changing weather patterns.
Various faiths associate the sacred with religion. Is the inner and outer system of the sacred a departure from what is traditionally deemed sacred? Is it a return to what was initially deemed sacred?
This is difficult to answer. Yes, the model (below) is “yin-yang” in flow and meaning but this came to me in a vision that was almost complete in design. Sacred is not “approved” by many permaculturists for fear that religion will contaminate the science-based movement.
Much is a future dream (a tool) here. Note that I include Gaia on one axis. What is the principle or hypothesis of Gaia? Stated simply, the idea is that we may have discovered a living being bigger, more ancient, and more complex than anything from our wildest dreams. That being, called Gaia, is the Earth.
What is your personal relationship with music, art, and myth?
Music is an everyday alchemy that propels me into alternative visions and creative troughs. I make art to stay human. Myth is my master.
You are launching the New Global Mythology Institute (NGMI) in 2013. What can you share about your progress and vision?
We are co-developing a virtual and a land-based NGMI to reach and collaborate on the new mythologies with folks on a global scale. One of the components is called the New Myth Accelerator. Here is a draft:
Is there a message you’d like to share with those new to permaculture?
Yes. Respect the history, ethics and movie stars but challenge how the systems that could benefit from wider integration. Find some land and practice it with all your soul. There is sacredness in permaculture if you want it. It is working wonders here.