Philosophical counseling is in this way an attempt of creating a mythic language in which we can talk about the abstract, as for example philosophical questions such as: Who am I? Where do the thoughts come from? What is consciousness and where does it come from? Is there a meaning of life? How does man preserve peace of mind and balance in all the relationships of life? How do we learn to appreciate the true goods and flout all transient and vain goals? Is the destiny of Man part of a larger plan?
Herbalists and hedge-witches of the British Isles once used stories not only as a means to preserve information about the medicinal properties of plants, but also as a means of communicating with the spirits of the plants themselves.
"There is a plant for everything in the world; all you have to do is find it," an old herb-woman in the Louisiana Bayou told folklorist Ruth Bass in 1920s. And there's a folk story attached to nearly every plant -- as volumes of folklore and herb lore from all around the world can attest. The history of modern medicine is rooted in the history of folk medicine, entwined with myths, folk tales, fairy tales, and the homespun magics of countryside healers.
In a number of Native American traditions, the word "medicine" does not refer to the pills or tonics we take to cure an illness but to anything that has spiritual power, and that helps to keep us "walking in beauty."
Terri Windling writes:
Words can be strong medicine. Stories can touch our hearts and souls; they can point the way to healing and transformation. Our own lives are stories that we write from day to day; they are journeys through the dark of the fairy tale woods. The tales of previous travellers through the woods are passed down to us in the poetic, symbolic language of folklore and myth; where we step, someone has stepped before, and their stories can help light the way.
In "The Joys of Storytelling 1" (A Way of Being Free), Okri writes:
"The earliest storytellers were magi, seers, bards, griots, shamans. They were, it would seem, as old as time, and as terrifying to gaze upon as the mysteries with which they wrestled. They wrestled with mysteries and transformed them into myths which coded the world and helped the community to live through one more darkness, with eyes wide open and hearts set alight.
"The storyteller's art changed through the ages. From battling dread in word and incantations before their people did in reality, they became the repositories of the people's wisdom and follies. Often, conscripted by kings, they became the memory of a people's origins, and carried with them the long line of ancestries and lineages. Most important of all, they were the living libraries, the keepers of legends and lore. They knew the causes and mutations of things, the herbs, trees, plants, cures for diseases, causes for wars, causes of victory, the ways in which victory often precipitates defeat, or defeat victory, the lineages of gods, the rites humans have to perform to the gods. They knew of follies and restitutions, were advocates of new and old ways of being, were custodians of culture, recorders of change."
Rold Forest has become a gathering place for the resistance: a Pirate Utopia, a Neverland, a Rivendell, a Lothlorian, an Orchid Pavilion. The members come from all over the world. These keepers of stories are Philosophical Globetrotters, Life Artists and Idlers. Each year we gather here in a campsite, deep in the forest. In front of a campfire we share our stories of the brave old world.
All this is a part of the hacking code which the resistance sends into the Matrix Conspiracy, or, The Godgame, so that someone, in a graffiti code written in a narrow alley, in a glimpse in a shopping window, in a plant breaking the asphalt, in a flickering neon light on a rainy night, suddenly, in a moment of wondering memory, might see a sign from a forgotten, enchanted world.
Main text book:
Philosophical counseling withTolkien (free Ebook)
1) Pirate utopias. Pirate utopias were defined by anarchist writer Peter Lamborn Wilson (Hakim Bey), who coined the term in his 1995 book Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes as secret islands once used for supply purposes by pirates. Wilson's concept is largely based on speculation, although he admits to adding a bit of fantasy to the idea. In Wilson's view, these pirate enclaves were early forms of autonomous proto-anarchist societies in that they operated beyond the reach of governments and embraced unrestricted freedom.
Wilson is a practitioner of the so-called “Refusal of Work” movement. So am I. But, he is in my view a “Gatekeeper” (see my article: The Godgame). I would recommend his book T.A.Z – The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, as a help of breaking up your negative thinking, and making your stagnated reality tunnels flower (download it for free).
But his nihilistic approach much be combined with a coherent metaphysics. I have offered a such in my ebook, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien. You can namely see Rivendell, Lothlorien, Neverland, and the Orchid Pavilions, as precisely such Pirate Utopias.
And, I recommend that the Grail seeker is seeking out places in the world, that reminds of such. Or, as a life artist, includes pathfinders and trail markers in his or her art, that points towards such pirate utopias (for example in Graffiti). I believe Rold Forest to be one of them.
2) The Idler Academy. Back in 1991, bored to tears by his job, 23 year old journalist Tom Hodgkinson lay on his bed and dreamed of starting a magazine called The Idler. He’d found the title in a collection of essays by Dr Johnson, himself a constitutionally indolent man. How to live, that was the question. How to be free in a world of jobs and debt? And curse this alarm clock. Tom was fortunately sacked from his job and started to sign on. He wandered across the road to where his old friend, designer and writer Gavin Pretor-Pinney lived. Gavin was the kind of person who could help Tom to realise this dream. And he did. In August 1993, the pair produced issue one of the Idler. It had the sub-title “literature for loafers”. Dr Johnson was the cover star and there was an interview with magic mushroom guru Terence McKenna. Contributors included a young journalist called Louis Theroux. The magazine has since enjoyed a number of incarnations. In the nineties it was published by the Guardiannewspaper, then by Ebury publishing. Tom published the Idler as an annual collection of essays until 2014, then relaunched the mag in 2016.
The Idler Academy, founded at a festival in 2010, is the Idler’s educational offshoot. It is a school which offers online and real-world courses in the classical liberal arts and practical skills. From 2011 to 2015 we ran a small bookshop and café in Notting Hill. The Idler Academy teaches philosophy, astronomy, calligraphy, music, business skills, English grammar, ukulele, public speaking, singing, drawing, self-defence and other subjects. Here you can educate yourself in the ideas of Plato or learn the ukulele, in convivial surroundings with like-minded and interesting people.
3) Links to Idlers (links similar to the above-mentioned).
The hacking code:
Forest Therapy (ongoing category)
Meditation as an Art of Life (finished category)