Creative Wordshops June 2018 Writing Newsletter

STOP PRESS

Zen Pen Absolute Beach Britannia Bay 22-24 June
The Rough Writing Road A 16 week self-directed Online Journaling Course

The End of Story? Death closes all: but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. (Tennyson)

Do you believe in an afterlife? Our myths reach back to our beginnings as thinking beings. Some people believe there is such an abode, some like Ulysses say ‘death closes all’ while for others who are convinced that we reincarnate, death opens an in-between-lives space. Given the mystery, we create an imagined reality, an extension of the life we know in time, distance, place and space.A bodily existence.

The Mesopotamians thought the dead lived on in the Dark Earth. Caves or ponds could be an entrance to that place. Pacific islanders imagine a mirror image of the upper world. Divers in New Guinea claim to see the souls of the dead working in undersea gardens. In Navajo mythology, the dead also descend into a watery underworld. For the Ibo (Nigeria) the goddess Ala receives the dead into her womb. The Pueblo believe we become clouds.

While physical details differ, the themes in mythology and religion echo each other. The Persians gave us the word paradise (a walled garden). In Zoroastrianism on the fourth day after death, we cross the Bridge of the Separator, which widens when the righteous approach. A maiden, the feminine embodiment of good works on earth, escorts you into the House of Song to await the Last Day. The Ashanti people of Africa tell of Kwasi Benefo, whose four wives die. He travels to Asamando, land of the dead, to seek his lost loves, passing through a trackless forest. On the far side of a river Amokye, the old woman who greets dead women’s souls, allows Kwasi to cross the river where he finds the invisible spirits of his wives. Other African myths, invoke an
upside-down mirror image of a mountain. People sleep during the day and are active at night. Chinese myths tell of ‘China plowed under.’ Whatever our faith or non-faith, we project a story into the unknown. It features the familiar
objects of this earth – doorways, gates, rivers, harps, flames.

Here is one:

A man and his dog die on the same day. They find themselves walking along a golden
road and come to the pearly gates. They are both thirsty.

The man asks the
gatekeeper ‘What place is this?’ “This is heaven’ says the man. The gatekeeper invites
the man to enter and slake his thirst at a fountain but blocks the animal.

‘Your dog
cannot come in.’ ‘In that case’ says the man ‘we will walk on.’

The road deteriorates into a rutted track. They come across another gate hanging on its hinges. It looks like it has never been shut. Someone leaning against a tree calls out
‘You and your dog are welcome. Enter and drink you fill.’
After satisfying his thirst the man asks ‘What place is this?’

‘Why, this is heaven’ says the
keeper. A look of confusion crosses the man’s face. ‘But that place down the road…

they say that is heaven.’ ‘Oh no, that is hell.’ ‘But aren’t you scared of competition?’
‘Not at all. They do the screening for us.’

June 2018 letter