Monday, January 5, 2009

The Wonder Book

Happy New Year!

If your friends and relatives are anything like mine, I bet you were gifted with pretty notebooks just like the billions of pretty notebooks you've got hanging around your room. Here's one way to kick-start the one that's climbed to the top of the pile and cried "Write in me! Make something pretty and meaningful!"



Mythologist Joseph Campbell described sacred space as a place where wonder can be revealed. The form sacred space can take is varied: a garden, poem, painting, room, altar, shelf, a circular bench underneath an old apple tree, and of course a book. And that is how I created what I call the Wonder Book.

...While there are many books on personal mythology, the most sensuous way to begin your search is with a picture. Somewhere, in an art book, on a gallery wall, or in a box of old photographs at an antique stall, there's an image that will stop you cold. This is your first clue. To find it, you'll have to take a delightful detour to libraries, museums, or flea markets. By all means seek out places you've never been before, but don't discount what's nearby either...

What I would like you to do is find a large, beautiful blank book that speaks to your senses. (Mine is a peach colored journal with long leather ties that wrap around.) Everything about your Wonder Book should appeal: the size, the cover's texture, the color and weight of the paper. Search until you find one that thrills you with its look.

Books are living presences and reflect on every page and in between their lines the love that has gone into their creation. This should be the same visceral experience you have with your own intimate journal. Feeling magnetically drawn to your own Wonder Book is part of a romantic mystery that will slowly unfold before you eyes.

After you have found both your mythical image and your book, set aside a time when you can be alone. Light some candles, listen to some exquisite music and sip something festive. Glue your image on a page in the beginning of your book. Gaze upon it reflectively. That's all for now. Both you and your image have traveled far to find each other...look at your picture, and ask it to begin to tell you a story. It will, and as it does, write that story in your Wonder Book. As your story progresses, you'll discover (as I have) that you'll want more pictures to illustrate the tale. Keep searching and they will come to you.


“There is for every man and woman, some one scene, some one adventure, some one picture that is the image of our secret life,” W. B. Yeats tells us. “For wisdom first speaks in images and this one image, if we should brood over it our whole life long, would lead our whole life long, would lead our souls disentangled from unmeaning circumstances…into that far household where the undying gods await all whose souls have become as simple as flames.”

There will be many wonderful revelations in the days, weeks, and months ahead as you are drawn deeper into the mystery of your personal myth. But for now, simply be grateful that you are being gently lead into the luminous future, one reflective glance, one heartfelt chapter, at a time, of the one story worth telling. Yours.

9780743218771 Selections from "Mythical Women" and "The One Story Worth Telling," from Romancing the Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

Photos from "Into the Woods: A Fairy-Themed Birthday" from Cookie magazine. Follow the bouncing link for more gorgeous photos!


Penny Lane said...

bee-utiful pictures. i shall have to check this book out. add it to the list. i read the privilege of the sword and stayed up very late. it was amazing. you rock my world with your suggestions once again :)

happy new year!

Jack said...

I confess to always being wary of anyone who cites Joseph Campbell as anything other than a crank... :)

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