Friday, September 30, 2011

Light out of Darkness

It's funny, sometimes, how "good" and "evil" get mixed up and thrown together.
A few days ago, we had a thunderstorm here in SA. We have had several over the past week or so, finally ending our long drought, and bringing temperatures down from over a hundred to the much more comfortable mid-90's. How odd it seems to be saying, thank goodness, for our high today is only going to reach 91 degrees.
One thing, though, that thunderstorm caused the power to blip off, only for a few seconds, but enough to start a bit of a problem with my PC. It took a while for the reset button to work, and even after, the computer would simply shut down, for no discernible reason.

One of those shutdowns occurred late yesterday morning. I had my journal out, and was writing to myself as I worked on a new chapter for my book, or tried to, in spite of some dark little distractions. I was on my igoogle page with its little inspirational widgets and images, when the  quote on my Joseph Campbell widget shifted to this one: "One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation."

It seemed so apt for my personal feelings at that moment, I picked up my pencil and began copying the message into my journal. I got the first sentence out and started on the second. "The blackest...."
Well, that was as far as I got, because all of a sudden, instead of my igoogle page, I was starting at the blackest monitor screen imaginable. The computer had blipped off again.

Once again, too, it took a while for the reset button to work, and by the time I was back on, the widget had changed its message. There was something about the timing of it all that I knew I really wanted to see the rest of that quotation, so I typed a few words of it into the search engine window and a page popped up that contained the quote I was looking for:
. First thing I did, though, I wrote the rest of that lost sentence: "The blackest moment is the moment when the message of transformation is going to come."

The page I had found the quote on, Northstar Gallery,  was part of a photographer's online gallery. The artist, Dennis W. Felty, had written a mission statement discussing the importance of his work. He wrote of storytelling - in his case through recording images he had seen through the lens of his camera, but in a general sense, it applied to all storytellers. And every storyteller is a myth teller

Finding that article yesterday was, indeed, the high point of the day for me. Most of the rest of it was filled with black moments. In a sense, it was not a day I would wish to repeat.

It was a day, when, at the end, I found myself confronted by my own shadow. I went to bed, finally, but I did not sleep well. When I got up this morning, I had a strong urge to find and reread that artist's statement about the value of our dark moments.  I check out my browser's history, and returned to that Northstar Gallery page, and reread Felty's statement.

I read, "Within our being, moment by moment, each of us holds the ability to be both hero and villain. Indeed, it is only when we understand and embrace this reality that we can hope to rise above the competing duality, choosing hero."

I found myself thinking of Luke Skywalker, in that cave on Dagoba, confronting an image of Darth Vader. In his anger, he wielded his light saber and lopped off the black-masked head, only to find himself looking at his own face. Later, he would learn that Darth Vader, that personification of evil, was his own father, and as the series ended, he faced his father and himself, and was finally able to help his father see that there was, "still good in him."

I come back to that Jungian concept of "Shadow," that part of each of us we are generally unwilling to recognize, and so, we tend to see those qualities in the people we conceive of as enemies - the evils that we must fight, the dragons we must slay.

But Joseph Campbell, the source of the original quotation, often spoke about the importance of "embracing the dragon." When we try to kill it, he explained, we kill a vital part of ourselves. We are all who we are, "warts and all," and everybody is capable of doing both great harm and great good. It is important, then, for us to explore our own darkness., because it is there , in that very spot, that the source of our light lies.

And, as the artist, Dennis W. Felty, said in the conclusion of his statement, "By following our passion and our bliss and by being willing to enter the 'underground,' we find paths that have been there all the while, waiting for each of us. The life we live becomes the life we should be living and one has the opportunity to know the fire of passion and the continuing renewal of the life within."

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I began writing in my journals, stories of a hero who was forced to go under water (According to Jung, a symbol for our own unconscious self), where he found an underground cave, and in that cave, a shining red stone with healing powers.

Redstone had entered the darkness and found his own light.

As I re-explore and rewrite those stories (the journals themselves are long gone), I come to realize more and more that I am relating a universal myth, that cropped up, somehow, out of my own journeys into that archetypal collective.

We all tell the same stories. Each of us has a unique way of presenting the truths that lie at the heart of the myth, but the message of the myth remains the same.

Everyone of us is capable of shining a great light.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Redstone Saga

In 1819, Daniel Thorne, younger son of a New Orleans merchant seaman family, set out with his wife and children from Nacogdoches, in the Spanish New World territory of Tejas, for the community at San Antonio de Bexar.  Along the way, his group was attacked by members of a band of Penateka Comanche.  Daniel and his wife Rachel were both killed.  Their 21-year-old son, William, was severely wounded and left for dead.  Their 15-year-old daughter Alice was captured.
William survived, and was taken to San Antonio by his father’s friend, James Bowie.  As soon as he recovered, with Bowie’s help, he began working to find his sister.  It was not until 1822, after the defeat of the Spanish, and the establishment of an independent Mexico, that Alice was found, along with an infant son, whose light brown hair and blue eyes belied the fact that his father was a Penateka warrior. 
The baby boy’s uncle decided that it would be wiser to keep the Comanche connection a secret.  The boy was named Daniel, after his grandfather.  As soon as it was feasible, William returned to New Orleans with his sister and their “younger brother,” insisting to everyone there that the young Daniel was his and Alice's brother, born to their mother Rachel just before her death in Texas.
 The young Daniel Thorne grew up in the protected environment of the merchant class of New Orleans society.  When he was fourteen, he sailed around the world as a crewman on a family-owned clipper ship as part of his training to take his place in the family’s trading company.
He returned to New Orleans at 16, to learn of the death of the woman he had believed to be his older sister.  Among papers she left behind, Daniel found references to his birth, and to his true father, the Comanche warrior who married Alice, his mother, shortly after she was taken captive.
He returned to Texas to find his father in January of 1836, and was advised of his parentage, and the probable location of his father’s band, by James Bowie of San Antonio.
He immediately left San Antonio to find his father, and his quest took him deep into the hill country of what would soon become the Republic of Texas, and to the magical medicine hill, the singing rock, the sacred red stone of the Penateka Comanche. 
The Redstone Saga tells the story of his life, and the lives of his friends and descendants, all of them a part of the history of the Texas Hill County and the myths and legends of its Enchanted Rock.

The Redstone Saga

from Redstone's Valley



"This land, this valley, these hills,
is this not a special place?"
"It is home."
"More than home, Maria." Daniel spoke with an intensity she had not heard from him before. "It is a sacred place. Do you not feel it?"
"I feel it," she whispered.


The Redstone Saga consists of works of historical fiction/fantasy, all set in the Texas Hill country, and all relating to the lives and adventures  of of the Thorne-Redstone family.

The Redstone Trilogy:
A series of western fantasy novels set in the vicinity of the Texas Hill Country's legendary Enchanted Rock.

Redstone's Valley
Daniel's Daughter
Thorne's Return

Redstone Stories
A collection of short stories and adventures featuring the characters of the Redstone Trilogy.   The first two of these short stories, "Vision Quest" and "Incident at Bandera Pass," are now available as free PDF downloads, on the "Documents" page of my website,