“Because your path led to the firebird feather, your life now depends on finding the Firebird!”
In the telling of our story on Tuesday, one I’ve told perhaps twenty times, a nuance was coming through, one that I haven’t felt before and that seemed quite significant. “The Horse of Power” tells of a series of meetings between two archetypal figures: hunter and ruler. The nuance came in with an increased awareness of why the hunter had to bring the firebird before the ruler.
I felt this keenly perhaps mostly because I’m looking at the firebird as a passion and I know that passion can be consuming. When a person gets possessed by a passion, he or she moves into dangerous ground. It’s like getting on a fiery stallion without having the skill to command it. Finding the firebird or the stallion or a passionate engagement is the proper task of the hunter, that part of a person that knows how to track the object of desire, the way Arthur pursued and found the hart. But the firebird can burn up a hunter who does not connect with the ruler, indeed, who does not serve the good ruler.
Archetypally, the ruler stands for our capacity to bring order, in its varied meanings, into our lives. We command action, and we organize for survival, for efficiency, for productivity, even for happiness. A good ruler sees capacity and orders the worker to advance in development, even beyond the worker’s vision.
My recent rides with Leg’cy have added my insight related to this. The advance in our capacity has required me to increase the support I’m giving with the reins and from my legs. At earlier stages of our development, my attempts to increase contact with the reins would have been harmful and increased pressure from my legs might have been dangerous. As my skill and sensitivity have improved, however, the higher level of contact is now needed in order to support Leg’cy. This allows us to hold a new form while we learn and adjust to the more elevated motion. If I get stuck in my previous enactment of respectful and safe connections, our advance gets stifled.
Similarly, the interactions between the ruler and the hunter adjust as the development advances. The ruler commands the hunter, “Because you have brought in the firebird feather, which no one has done before, you shall now go and bring in the Firebird!” A person can get stuck at the feather level. This happens when a person feels that his or her hunt is at the peak of accomplishment. If we have that mindset, we see the ruler’s command as cruel, greedy, and tyrannical.
If our imagination advances, however, so that we can accurately envision a ruler who sees capacity beyond the present accomplishment, we might realize that the ruler is holding the reins in a way that supports elevation. Once we know the entire plot line in the “Horse of Power,” we’re aware that the story traces the development of the hunter into the ruler, and we can consider the demands along the way as the shaping of this development. The journey may be demanding; as the song goes, “I never promised you a rose garden.”
Our next story, “Lion Time,” repeats this theme of development with a nice variation. In case you haven’t heard the story yet, I won’t give away the plot line here; but after you enjoy it on that first-time level, return to absorb it on the archetypal level because the teaching is important about how fear must not stop our journey. We saw this in “Horse of Power” when the archetype of power warns, “If you pick up that feather, you will learn the meaning of fear.” Our enactment of power requires discernment about fear. Sometimes we should back off and other times we move through the fear; discernment depends on a positive and strong connection between the hunter and the ruler.
In “Horse of Power,” the hunter receives guidance from the horse and commands from the ruler. In “Lion Time,” the emergent ruler receives the teaching from a series of experiences. As you can see in the video, I interpret this series as developments of an accomplished person; the experiences build the complete personality that is necessary prior to presuming to lead. This attention to becoming well-rounded reminds us of Teig in “One Without a Story” who mastered craft, art, religion, and science on his way to his new profession. One reason we lack powerful leaders who inspire dedicated support comes in our flat structures that allow movement into elevated positions when persons have not developed the necessary structure. In “Lion Time,” this is imaged as facing the lion.
We’ll apply the sequencing of experiences in our work next week and we’ll integrate it into the design of our final digital media project.