“AN INTERVIEW WITH ‘NEW MYTHOLOGIST’ WILLI PAUL”, by Sharon Blackie, Editor, earthlinesreview.org


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We recently came across Willi Paul’s work, which is aimed at creating new myths for our times, based on Transition and permaculture principles. We thought that Willi’s unusual take on mythology might be of interest to some of our readers.

Willi Paul launchedPlanetShifter.com Magazine on Earth Day 2009 to build a database on innovation, sustainability, and mythology. He launchedopenmythsource.com in 2011 to share new myths 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 & Mythology

What originally inspired you to create your OpenMythSource.com andPlanetShifter.com Magazine websites?

Obviously I have the advantage of looking back and offering a more holistic response! I launched PlanetShifter.com Magazine on EarthDay 2009 and openmythsource.com about one year later. PlanetShifter.com is a conduit for my growth, collaborations, and a channel to promote others who are trying to make changes. The Magazine is my place to archive each interview, review and article that comes out. PlanetShifter.com Magazine has posted over 550 interviews and has 2086 posts. I explored rock music, green business and then sustainabilityand alchemy on my way to things sacred and mythic at communityalchemy.comand openmythsource.com. Permaculture then entered the picture in 2011 and my work blossomed into symbology and the new mythology. 2013 broughtNewMythologist.com into the mix, through which I reach out as a creative consultant ideation leader.

The four websites briefly discussed above combine into a meta-machine, a resilience or transmutational process that keeps me in the next phase of me, in the future with eyes wide open.

Why are myths and stories so important to you?

Ironically, myths and stories are important because we have so few that have any value or integrity for today’s issues. I say that classic myths are burnt-out and Hollywood’s “big screens” are hopelessly redundant in themes and soap operatic in message. Game Boys and shoot-’em-ups are all the rage at home, but there are no valuable myths in the depiction of white soldiers shooting up Arabs or undergrads doing beer bongs! What spurs me to write my own new myths are the ethics and principles of permaculture. But this so-called new “soil design science” is down on the idea of a spiritual / culture kit, and desperately needs visionary and sustainable partners to widen and realize a “community-garden future” without electricity, gasoline and nation-sponsored war.

In focusing on building new stories, are you rejecting old myths?

Putting aside, yes, for the most part. I think that my Nature-Permaculture powered Mythblog for the Joseph Campbell Foundation website opened up many eyes. I was invited back to present my work at the 2012 Symposium, “Exploring Myth: Culture, Theory, Practice“. New myths are envisioned and built for the future, for next generations. It is crazy to reference Greek mythology for the heroes, initiations and journeys as we move forward.

 In what way are your stories new? Haven’t myths always been focused on our connections to the natural world?

As I wrote above, I am not a scholar or a fan of the old myths. I favor a new combination of earth energies, healing tools and mega-courage. My new mythsare built on personal experience, vision, alchemy and a little magic.  All 36 of my tales are Nature and community-based.In my model of the Eras unfolding on Earth now, the triad is:

  • Transition Era
  • Chaos Era
  • Post-Transition Era

So I have identified five new key ‘alchemies’ that will assist us after the Chaos Era:

  • Permaculture – a new soil design science
  • Rock music – Unique due to its convergence of ancient and modern sound alchemies, themes and appeal
  • Spirit: Transition Movement
  • Community: Localization
  • Religion: Dark Green Religion

So you see your myths (and indeed, the Transition and permaculture movements themselves) as having the function in part of preparing us for life ‘post-apocalypse’ – or, to use your terminology, ‘post-Chaos Era’. Can you say something more about this?

I have touched on this already but a post-apocalyptic reality does not have to mean the end of humans!  There are many courses of action out there to choose from, including Occupy-type movements, sustainable capitalism, permaculture, and survivalism. The key is to start dismantling the huge negatives in the corporate-driven capitalist way of life and start building local food and governance systems to replace it. Start fresh now! – there is scant time to complete this global transmutation.

In what way do you think new myths can become maps and guides for the permaculture and Transition movements? How can the stories you are producing contribute to the paradigm shift we so badly need?

Most of my new myths constitute small lessons for a new Post-Transition Era life that, when combined together, begin to propose a strong pattern for change. The new myths try to combine specific experiences with new values, in settings and with characters that we are likely to face.

You have quite a strong focus on working with children…

Yes, especially with a new focus for kids in 2013 (The Alice Greening series;New Animation Model & Case Study for Transition Children; “Cascadia Dream & Rituals” – Children’s Video). With the exception of PBS and a few others, Corporate America continues to spew media garbage into the minds of youth. My focus is to break down the creative process into its components and offer up a new toolkit.

Can you give me an example of a story that brings the permaculture/ Transition movements into focus, and go through the specifics of how you feel it works?

Great question! Let’s look at New Myth #31: Delta Trestle Tribe, Cascadia. 2028.Are the following ideas supported in this new myth?

 * re-use of infrastructure and human energies

* working with Nature

* surviving the Chaos Era and creating the Post-Transition Era

* land as protector and provider

* transition from Dark (capitalism) to Light (permaculture principles and ethics)

* sustainability has an active gear in the new settlements

* openness to care for others in Transition

Here is the introduction to this myth:

 “Science and technology by themselves aren’t enough. We need to turn to the arts in order to infuse passion into the pursuit of sustainability and get real results that will heal the planet,” he says. Shrivastava argues that art is a survival instinct. Narratives, stories, music and images served to warn our early ancestors against predators and natural disasters. Art helped them develop defense mechanisms. My colleagues and I believe that art should be used to deal with modern survival threats such as climate change and environmental crises.”

The Light Network works at night. No one has officially usurped the old rail track system that rusts in the decaying Sacramento Delta near the fire-stained and bruised metro region. Water control was the big green fist in the early years after the Chaos Era tweaked into the present Post-Transition Era. The old Delta ecosystem system was destroyed by regional planning agencies and southern farmers and their corporations back 2017 when a huge underground pipeline and several unauthorized dams went lunar.

The abandoned rail buildings are now look-out towers and burnt-man sculptures from another era, now refortified with human spirit. Instead of camo canoes like the old days, many Cascadians are now burrowed into the soggy banks of the semi-exposed tributaries of the Delta for protection from the hot climate and the soul-eaters.

“Compost train!” New black soil-making and other production processes are kept out of the drunken eye of the Dark Forces and are passed up the food chain to the brothers and sisters in the mountain spine of Cascadia.

Ancient two-person hand-pumped rail carts are the new silent transportation trucks in the Delta, hauling workers and their students – generating small caches of electricity for the LAN. The Light Network is using this ‘duck-duck grid’ at night when the corporation goons are gobbling each other up.

Senior permies run the frontline transfer stations – first in line as ex-pats head east to the wet caves, night rail corridors and solar ovens glowing up in Cascadia. The weedy and rusted ditches make for excellent duck and cover and food forest locations; the water table is usually at ditch bottom, so these areas self-irrigate.

One fool’s abandoned rail ditch is another woman’s red beans and brown rice.

Often, individuals and families leave the city’s Dark Side camps to join a permaculture tribe in Cascadia. No one is turned away, but all are carefully interviewed and set up with a mentor and a goals agreement. De-brainwashing is the key to rebuilding a community sanity that’s been whacked by years underdas kapital.

The question that follows, for me, is what it is that makes you call this a myth? At first glance it reads like a description of a future place, maybe a story, rather than a myth as such. Can you explain what leads you to label it ‘mythical’?

What’s a myth? What’s a classic myth? And what is a New Myth? This is the grey area that I wander in these days, contributing to many debates on the power of myth. There are many opinions, charlatans and stories swirling. In my work, new myths embrace Joseph Campbell’s triad: initiation, journey and Hero. But not every New Myth will have a full complement of ‘alchemies’, or the same geography. These are visions through a cloudy crystal ball. But my goal is to create tales that cross cultural boundaries and that include a paranormal character or theme.  My New Myths weave new symbols, new alchemy, new forms of community –  based on real-time issues – climate change, poison seeds, food justice, innovation, technology, war. New Myths are best understood as morphing  and speculative. Add to them! The classic myths are seen as more out of touch, more black and white.

‘New Myth #31: Delta Trestle Tribe, Cascadia’ teaches us many things about the future and the options ahead, especially about the principle of re-use and working with Nature. It’s about acceptance and welcoming your “enemies,” and provides clues to surviving the Chaos Era and creating the Post-Transition Era. Heroes, journeys and initiations abound. In the future Delta, water is gold and land is protector and provider. Transitions abound! One social segway is from Dark (capitalism) to Light (permaculture principles and ethics).  Sustainability is now an active daily mantra in the new settlements of the Light Network of Cascadia.

‘New Myth #31′ is a part of my FAQ, or ‘soul map’  in progress, where I want to achieve a blend of lessons, integration, struggle, survival and ingenuity based in Nature as a sacred place.

About [ open myth source ]

The [open myth source] project gathers conversations, symbols, songs, visual art and stories. Building a house for Myth in the Sustainability Age.
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