Dr. Martin Shaw has come to wake us. His words remind us of what we have forgotten, then quicken us into remembering – whether we agree to that rite or not. Too late. The fin-furred creatures of the deep are already out and sprawling on the kitchen floor. Sometimes I feel like I just got exposed to something contagious and dangerous. I want to turn away. It is too late. I feel as if the ancients are both mooning me and wooing me at once. The stories he tells have pushed through for the reckoning of my personal story and the collective stories I tell in my own community of artists and writers.
Did you know Shaw was also a painter and illustrator? I will come back to why that is important to me.
I read Shaw’s new book slowly and deliciously out loud to my Lover. I do not want it to end. During my ritual time with my muse each morning, called Red Thread Cafe, we work our way through. I can’t bear for it to end. We may find ourselves in tears, or laughing within the same story. Mouths open, eyes bulging, WTF AHA moments. At times, like in the reading today – Chapter Ten: Bone Memory – we cried out in astonishment. Soon enough my love will declare, “ENOUGH! I can’t take it anymore.” That signals the end of cafe and the start of the day into the outer world. We hope we are more prepared for that task out there, from the nurturing of our inner world. As for the creatures that wriggle out, they come with us wherever we go now.
I was planning to only write a few sentences with a glowing review but this is becoming personal and more wants to be said. Maybe I am making it all about me. Well then, Shaw indicates that his work may call you to your own work, so perhaps that is the point of this. I have been writing daily for over ten years, but something has changed. Since encountering Shaw my teachings have decided they are better shared through story.
My own story gates are suddenly flooded with characters knocking from the inside. They scare me. Dare me. Delight me. Make my blood quicken and my fingers ache. Almost as soon as I first began to read him, I started to write my own fiction book and now, a year later, I am over 300 pages in. I wrote to Shaw the week I started it, thanking him. It is set in the Bay Area, and is inspired by suicide, illness, community, and translating all of my teachings into myth, where they started. Watch for Animal Queen in 2020. It is as if these characters have been waiting for me to mature enough to see them. They wake me up. Turn me up and on. Get me going. Give me what I had been ailing for.
Shaw says: “Holy isn’t always a church or open meadow. It can be a zone of profound change, where sexuality, the mythic realms, dreams, and the opening of soul can all occur. Those sculptural images on the temple walls are telling us this, warning us of major potencies at play. If you want to keep everything just so, nice and white, go no further.”
This is medicine: To read Shaw. Then to write your own stories. He has assured me, when I saw him last, that his stories are here to call our own stories forth. That we recognize them, because they belong to us too. I am here to testify to his truth on this.
If you are looking for a transformation in your life…look no further than this. Savor Night Wages slowly and watch as the borders of your imagination begin to ripple into territory you have never been, but always been. If you don’t ripple, then you must go find stories that do cause a ripple in your soul. We need stories right now to navigate this terrain. I knew that many years ago when I created my first online course called LEGEND, which is entirely focused on writing a new epic legend for your life and painting the main character of that story. That was 2010, and since then over 500 women have come through that portal with new stories to tell.
Perhaps we are at a place in a story we have never encountered. This bend in the road is awakening the sleeping princesses as well as the long dead beasts. Will we be prepared to meet the challenge? If we are armed with story we will be prepared to tell stories of relevancy appropriate to the context at hand. Being resilient in language and image will carve out the future circles of survival and glory where we will gather with kin. Swapping stories by firelight, candlelight as well as fluorescent and incandescent light.
About Night Wages, Shaw says : Bidden or unbidden, initiations come.
The Night Wages is a leap into the mysteries, a deep conversation between father and daughter, a ragged travelogue of a night sea journey to the temple of Aphrodite.
It’s a rumination on how we handle the volatility of romantic love, and how a parent communicates through stories a grief he cannot speak of any other way. Personal and yet mythical, poetic but earthy, this is a new form. The Night Wages provokes archaic images and modern dilemmas, it is the story of someone trying to comprehend the mysteries of their own heart.
I love that he has translated what he knows to this point, as a message for his daughter. When I read it, I think of her. This past Saturday, spending the day with Shaw at Into the Marvelous in Point Reyes was indeed marvelous. At once both reserved and beyond the boundaries, Shaw startles in the best way. The mystery behind his eyes calls us to account for where we have been. Looking at him is like trying to see clearly through a thunderstorm. Impossible.
At one point he said he recognized many of our faces, as the ones who left home on boats long ago. Tears choked me. My family was one of those, from the shores they came over from a 100 years ago with their crosses and their crossings. Bone memory. Shaw calls those families who left, to remember we have roots from another land and we have a duty to remember where we came. And I might add, because if we don’t, we will never know where we are.
The context has gone all haywire for where we actually ARE, and then who we are inside of the framework we have invented. To explore the mythic stories of our ancestry is to continue to work of remembering. And yes, making sense of strange behaviours.
Being with Shaw is a glimpse of home in my bones. Both England, and in my interior landscape. Beyond his pages, there be dragons. And it is time to ask the goodly dragons off the edge, what it is they are trying to tell us.
Shaw, being both sound in image and language, has something to show us about the story-mind. How to see in new ways. I have often taught my community to look to people who are both writers as well as image makers. Here is a list, some more than others, but still worth naming: Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Carl Jung, William Blake, Frida Kahlo, Sylvia Plath, Lewis Carroll, e.e. cummings, Rudyard Kipling, Baudelaire, Jack Kerouac, Aubrey Beardsley, Ben Shahn, Kurt Vonnegut, Edgar Allan Poe, Dylan Thomas, Lorca, Leonard Cohen. As I wrote those names I give thanks for my poet mother, Caron McCloud who exposed me to every single one of them, from an early age. Then there are more contemporary artists like Ani DiFranco, SARK, and Luisa Teish, all of which I will see this Summer in person. I sent my mom all of Shaw’s books for Mother’s day. As well as a teacup and a red fur blanket to nest in while she reads.
Image and language together is at the root of my work. From my own Intentional Creativity lineage of teachers: Lenore Thomas Straus, Sue Hoya Sellars, my Grandmother Eden and mother, Caron McCloud. Many, like Shaw, are storytellers, poets, printmakers and publishers of their own work. And sometimes, that of others. Perhaps there is an archetype to look to here, a mind and heart who communicates in image and in language.
At the end of the day with Shaw, I approached the altar. Yes, he was sitting on an altar surrounded by books, flowers and whiskey offerings. That morning I wanted to bring him a book of mine, and the only copy I could find had been half chewed by the Siamese kittens. So I brought the chewed copy of Tea with the Midnight Muse, it seemed appropriately loved on. And a copy of my husband’s love poetry for me: Heart Wood. I offered them along with my thanks for his awakening in my own work. And, yes, I did bow.
Get your copy here: https://cistamystica.com/shop/the-night-wages/