Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: (1) The Central Question
Updated: Apr 30, 2019
This post is an excerpt from Dennis Patrick Slattery's Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Plotting Your Personal Story (Fisher King Press, 2012).
“Living one’s myth doesn’t mean living one myth. It means that one lives myth; it means mythical living.”
– James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, p. 158
Within the mystic spiral, a geometry that many cultures and civilizations of the past have venerated as a powerful universal symbol for life itself, there may develop in each of us a fundamental question that guides or goads our quest in life. I call it the Central Question. It may stem from our past, come on us in moments of meditation, reading, or reflecting on our lives, or it can suddenly abrupt into our lives through the poignant fissures of an illness, the death of a loved one, an unexpected event that throws us out of the orbit of our daily lives into a reflective moment that takes us deep into our being’s fundamental purpose.
I have witnessed in conversation with a friend questions suddenly crop up between us: “What is this all for? What is it pointing to? What is its purpose?” We may engage some possible responses or leave the question resting quietly in the calm pool of silent mystery. Nonetheless, the question itself is important to ask and to navigate through at several stages in our lives. If you have not thought about it, then this meditation might be a ripe occasion for you to ponder it. I bring back the spiral here because it is such a rich image of our lives recursively folding back on themselves without ever duplicating the past. As Jill Purce writes of it, “each winding marks a containment and a completed cycle in the development of the whole; but, as each is a part of the whole, the completion is also a beginning” (The Mystic Spiral: The Journey of the Soul, p. 15).
Let us then enter the tabernacle of the spiral we are currently moving around and entertain a few ideas that might lead into a question that is in the forefront of your mind or one that you may be formulating for the first time:
What is my Truth?
What is my Wisdom?
Is it possible for me to learn and to trust more?
What contribution can my Truth add to the world’s Truths?
What is my unique question that keeps me questing?
What do I continue to or wish to begin to say NO to?
What do I continue to or wish to say YES to?
What other Central Question might I hear within myself or craft consciously to move me along this spiral of my life’s curving trajectory?
The assumption at work here is that the Central Question I pose to myself and, by extension, the world, carries within it reverberations of my personal myth. The quote that begins this meditation suggests that this same myth may be multiple within a coherent unity so that we allow what might feel like others’ myths, or fragments of this one, to become a part of the overall pattern or design of my myth. My personal myth is a patterned way of perceiving, purposing myself in the world and in plots of self-reflection.
Reflect on the questions posed in this Writing Meditation and (w)rite your responses in whatever form most inspires you...
FEEL FREE TO SHARE OR DISCUSS THE TOPIC ON OUR DISCUSSION FORUM