Willi Paul creates myths for the new world. Here, he gives insights about his work, our current mythologies and our need to build new ones. His interests range from green business practices, sustainability and the mystic arts. Check out his website at: http://www.planetshifter.com/
Magic is a word that means many different things to people. What is your definition of magic and how does it function in daily life?
Magic is a multi-layered and integrated mystery to me. Magic is dusk. Yes, there’s sleight of hand and distracting the audience, TV magic. Wonderment, Love, high art, swirl magic.
The magic that I want seems to pull me in and is best related to the alchemy I engineer with digits, values and video. If alchemy is transmutation, then why can’t magic be my hands?
Bill Moyers asked Joseph Campbell a question in the beginning of his 1988 interview The Power of Myth. Why myths? he asks. Why should we care about myths? The world that undulates out of 1988 to 2013 is a fiercely technological landscape with internet expanding an individual’s consciousness across continents and time, and cinema burgeoning new mythologies across the big screen. Do you see a fundamental shift in our relationships to myths in this moment? Does technology find its place among the myths of our time?
As instigator of NewMythologist.com and Myth Lab (and openmhythsource.com before them), I have been posting my symbols, pouring alchemy and launching interviews in support of a new mythological age for many years!
Technology? If you mean video games, then I would say no way. Here teen-techno-capitalists are fostering ignorance and lethargy – hiding behind so-called individual freedoms, while sucking up stained profits with the same old blood and guts.
Movies are spinning cartoon after cartoon and I suppose there are Campbellian elements in some. I would rather watch HBO documentaries than Hollywood’s “Marvellized heros.”
Is technology not to be included in the “nature, permaculture and transition tools and values” that make up the new mythologies?
There are web-based tools and sites, content and value-drivers. I cannot rationalize war games as supporting nature, permaculture and transition tools and values. This content and values is steering us down the wrong path. I hasten to add here that the violence in many of the computer-based games is tearing down pagan and other forms of magik.
But, mustn’t we recognize video games and Hollywood’s “Marvellized heroes” as immediately influential as they permeate society?
No. They are a sexist virus from our corrupt, fear-drenched corporate closet.
Can we hope to manipulate these mythologies that spread like blood or an infection from the violence of virtual reality and turn them into a constructive power?
Good question. We all have choices. I trust that we will make the right selections in the media we buy for our kids.
Many of your workshops are formulated for children to experience new mythologies, connect with nature and reinvent their cultural tool set. What is one of the myths you share with them and how does it relate to their experience?
“Halo and Kat Wing of Caledonia Alley”, New Myth #38 is a recent piece that creates an artifact from a painting on a Mission District (SF, CA) garage. The image is graffiti-like, a common site for kids. Is this geo-magic? The myth works a new community ritual, perhaps more of a challenge in our time.
I am evolving and I want children to do so, too; please show me your visions and sing songs! I do not write new myths for myself but I hope to spark the next two generations of global children as they find common themes, struggles and solutions.
You design an outline for creating your own mythology out of a human-nature made artifact existing in a particular location, for example, a San Francisco art mural. Are the mythologies people create based on your process model supposed to be shared publicly? Or are these mythologies created, internalized, and out of the internalization produce an outward change in society?
The group creative process is shared as are the outcomes. It’s alchemic and a type of localization, too. I will be doing a public Myth Lab for the Transition Palo Alto Group in Palo Alto on June 9. Changes in people may include a new awareness of the public art and graffiti in our neighborhoods, local history and empowerment to write new songs, poems, and New Myths for our future.
Are there places in which one can share their myths?
Online; it would be nice to see the text and image from New Myth #38 painted on a café wall in SF!
Do you envision Planetshifter to become a tool database such as the Whole Earth Catalog of the 60′s?
That’s a stretch! Perhaps a value bank? I have little evidence that such a book would be financed by a publisher.
How do you see the concerns of the 60′s Eco-consciousness movements and the counter-culture practitioners who sought to create the culture they wanted to live in play across the field today?
I see too many meetings, picnics and short-term plans. I appreciated the in-your-face tactics of the Oakland Occupy group. Many in the permaculture and transition groups are only followers; scared and hoping for the best while the clock ticks down and we have less and less choices. We have the evidence of biological corruption, rampant pollution and control of energy and DNA by corporations. We need action. The folks in the 60’s gave us insights into a new earth-based consciousness; it’s our turn to make the global village safe and secure for all.
Do you consider the turn to nature, permaculture, myth and alchemy counter-culture?
No, this needs to be a brand new global paradigm shift. “Counter-culture” is weak – not good enough. We must focus on our children. One can take the best parts of Nature, permaculture, myth and alchemy and build a new human ecosystem.
Joey Kantor calls you “a story writer creating ‘new myths.’” How do you feel myth writing is like creative writing and is there a difference between writing a story and writing a myth?
A story to me is more simple in design and outcome – and not as global in reach as a new myth. I try to integrate specific things in my pieces including Nature, Transition, permaculture and alchemy. I have now a guide to build myths in the Myth Lab but always seek-out my protagonists, antagonists, conflicts and outcomes / lessons as any writer must do.
Campbell’s mythic trio is always here for me: Hero, Journey and Initiation. My 44 New Myths are posited in the future and can come with sci-fi flavors. Cascadia dances between reality and dream; where I feel most alive.
This is a quote from you: “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.” Can you elaborate on the relationship between self-created symbol and its transmutational ability in the world? For example, does my relationship to a symbol change because I’ve imbued it with a particular aspect, an image of the world covered in cloud for climate change, signalling my personal mythology around climate change, versus an image I grabbed off of the internet while searching for “climate change symbol.” How do our self-created myths differ from ubiquitous symbols online and in the media?
Symbols are like new eyes, hands and heart to me. I have created a rich body of work for children on the symbolic relevance and power in permaculture, climate change and Transition. Alchemic in creation and implementation, symbols generate deep meanings and consequences. Check out my Permaculture Ritualizer: A Kid’s Tool for Writing New Stories, symb….
I have no issue with creating New Myths; and equally no dissonance when creating new symbols to go in them. Same problem, same solution, eh?
Myths were told as songs in the distant past, passed on through verse and music. Now, in Western culture at least, our mythologies are largely translated as books and movies. Can you talk about sound alchemy and sound symbols and why you think this is an important form for myths?
First, sound alchemy is a huge jump in consciousness for me on my journey. Technically, sound alchemy is fairly complex from vibe to mp3: FreeSound, Audacity to Windows Movie Maker to web. “Books and movies” carry the baggage of profit, ownership and obsolescence. To me, making sound alchemy is a sacred and personal experience, like the symbols I discussed above: they are cauldrons or holes to another path and experience. Sound alchemy produces sound symbols and magic.
Alas, I need to integrate my symbols and messages for children better!
If you’d like to expand these ideas further, leave a comment! You can find Willi at http://www.planetshifter.com and http://openmythsource.com/
Willi’s Tentative Summer 2013 Workshop Schedule:
Guest Lecture for Christopher Shein’s Summer Permaculture Design Course at Merritt College (date TBD)
Myth Lab @ Transition Palo Alto Garden and produce share. June 9 11 am – 1 pm
Community Alchemy Charrette @ Please Touch Community Garden, SF (Saturday in July – TBD)
Myth Lab @ NW Permaculture Convergence, Portland August 2 – 4 (details coming)