Theme: Using Myths and Imagination
Exploring Masculinity through MythologyTime: 2 1/2 hrs
One member of the group recites a mythical story. Other members listen. Then each member thinks about the detail from the myth that is most vivid for him. Each works with their detail and discusses it with the group.
In preparation for this, begin by having everyone individually read "Mythology and Folklore in Men's Work". Once everyone has read it, discuss it to ensure everyone understands it. Voice any concerns or doubts that you have. You do not need to fully believe it - just be willing to be curious and try it out. Once everyone is willing to be curious, proceed to step 2.
One member recites the memorized folktale. Others listen as attentively as possible. The one reciting the story can use whatever props and/or background music he likes to add energy to the telling. Once finished, thank the storyteller.
Each member takes a minute to think about what detail from the story is most vivid in his memory. You don't have to know why; just pay attention to what sticks the most. Don't spend time "thinking" about it. Just notice what is most present in your memory.
Once you've got the detail, write down what it is. Do this before reading on.
Go back over the detail you've just written out and circle every object and every creature that is included. Do this before reading on.
The purpose of this exploration is to see if the myth and your imagination give you deeper insight into the issues your unconscious is currently focused on. You might find that these insights complement what you consciously think are issues in your life, or you might be quite surprised by what the unconscious offers up. The most useful attitude to take toward this activity and the information you get is "curiosity". Avoid judging whether the information is good-bad, right-wrong, useful-useless.
Individually spend some time imagining you are each of the objects and creatures in your detail. Close your eyes and put yourself 'in' the object. Become the object and then imagine what you, as the object, are feeling and thinking. You might find it helpful to say to yourself, "I am (the object) and I..." and just let your imagination finish the sentence without censoring it. When you've got a good sense of what this object is thinking and feeling, make a note to yourself about what it is and move on to the next object/creature. Continue to do this until you've covered all the objects/creatures in your detail. Try this now.
If one or more members of the group are having a hard time understanding what to do read this example:
The detail that is most vivid for me is the soldier opening the third kettle and seeing the general.
There are three objects/creatures in my detail: the soldier, the kettle, and the general.
When I close my eyes and imagine I am the soldier in this detail I feel a mixture of desire to look and fear of what I might find. I feel that something inside me is compelling me to look and that I will have to fight what is inside the kettle or die.
"I am the kettle and I..." feel nothing in particular. I am cooking the general. He doesn't die, but he shrinks and becomes small and insignificant in me.
When I imagine that I am the general I feel like I am the voice of hundreds of years of authority screaming to be heard. I am used to people doing what I tell them, but in this kettle I'm not heard. I am infuriated by this. I want to escape and order that soldier around and when I do, he will pay for this indignity.
Each member will talk about what stood out for them in turn. The sequence should follow the sequence of the story. So, the person whose detail came first in the story goes first, and so on.
Each member describes the detail that most stood out for them, the objects and creatures that are in the detail, and any insight they got from doing the imagination work with the detail.
Other group members can do whatever they think would help the person work with and make use of the information they get from this activity.
Once everyone has presented and explored their detail from the story, discuss what you think the folktale is about. What implications does this have for the detail that stood out for you? Remember, there is no one correct interpretation of a myth - any interpretation which captures some human truth is valid.
Preparation for Next Meetingtime: 15 mins.
Next meeting you will be making decisions about your group's purpose, groundrules and a group name. Use the time between now and then to think about these things.
Each member should come to the next meeting having thought about what they think the group's purpose should be. This should be written down in a brief (1 or 2 sentence) statement.
If someone kept a list for possible groundrules from meeting 2 they need to be reminded to bring it to the next meeting. It would be helpful to either copy these onto flipchart paper so everyone will be able to read them, or make enough copies for everyone to have in hand.
Bring a pad of flipchart paper, markers and masking tape to the next meeting.
Decide when and where you will hold your next meeting. It would be useful to have it some place where there is space to tape flipcharts to the wall.
Decide who will facilitate the next meeting. It should be someone who is certain he wants to be in this group. It would also be helpful if he is not likely to have strong opinions and can remain relatively impartial.