About this Course
Muttering, Messiness, Magic, and Myth
An exploration for writers into coming apart and coming together … differently. And again.
Your Guide on this 5-Session course: Reverend Sara Jolena Sequoia
"Ideas about "myth," as medicine stories are called, abound.... the Greek terms it is derived from mean "one who is initiated" and "a mystery, seceret, a thing muttered," and are based on the Indo-Germanic root MU. The terms "muttum" can signify both "muttering" and "muteness"... and are at the root of the word for "mother".... Muttering, in which magicians frequently indulge, is an activity frequently ascribed to the mad, the elderly, the female, and the powerless. Muttering is a word that once signified whatever mothering signified ...several thousand years ago. Myth and mother - both discredited in the modern world - are nevertheless essential to the modern world's existence." - Paula Gunn Allen
To create, give birth to, to craft new stories out of the messy stuff of our lives and our cultures is often like putting together a collage: we tear pieces apart, cut around corners, look at it, walk away, look again. We try to get out of the “normal” patterns aka as the heritage of colonization and find some kind of creative process that is less destructive – of ourselves, as well as others – while working with the remnants of what we have inherited.
Building off the integrative eco-theology of one of the great leaders of actual reconciliation, Howard Thurman, this course for women writers supports us in writing our books through delving into some wise women writers who know what it is to work with fragments and to mold beauty out of the mess. We here privilege women voices, people of color, and indigenous voices. We engage in and share poetry and collage and music. We respect the silences that fall in the midst of our conversation as much as the dialogue.
This course operates via a heavy “emergent pedagogy” philosophy. While Rev. Sara Jolena uses this philosophy in all of her teaching, making each course fully unique and shaped by the people who are in it, this course, in particular, is designed with a high level of “emergent processes”: what we do now will shape what we do later. The questions, ideas, sparks, and moments of “resonance” in the first few sessions will determine the reading material and exercises for the next sessions, and so-forth in an iterative process. This requires honesty, good communication, trust, and a willingness to go with the flow without knowing exactly where we are going. Please feel free to offer suggestions throughout the course, including for reading material. All will be considered even if it is not taken up.
This course is at its core a spiritual development/writing course. We engage with other authors to support, guide, and inspire us as writers. This is NOT a humanities course offering in-depth analysis of the authors we engage with. I am not an expert on these authors; I offer them to you as ways of supporting you in your journey as writers pushing your own boundaries and that of society to manifest new, honest, and powerful renditions. In part because Each student has her own pace, and will set her own targets/goals and support needs during our time together. The course thus offers a structured framework for you to engage with your writing based on your needs – not based on the needs of the instructor or the other students. The community we create together is critical for our collective success. It is my capacity as an excellent conceptual pastoral editor, not as an expert on this particular reading material, that I am leaning on in this course (unlike other courses I teach where I am more of an expert in the subject material).
Please email me directly: your goals for the next 10 weeks for your own books prior to April 5.
If you have not taken Howard Thurman Part II: A guide for writers, then be sure to read the first few pages of Paula Gunn Allen's book Grandmothers of the Light (available after you register) prior to April 5.
Session 1: Lucille Clifton and reflections on selections from a “Grandmothers of the Light: Medicine Woman’s Sourcebook”
In class reading:
Clifton Children’s story (read to us by Anna)
Clifton Poetry (read to us by Rachel)
Writing: each person share her specific goals during this 10 week time together so we can support you/hold you accountable. If I feel you are being too ambitious, I will let you know.
Session 2: Selections from Remnants: A memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering
Everyone do and bring a collage piece related to a theme from Remnants AND your own book (this should not be difficult for anyone)
Session 3: TBD - (tentative: themes related to May Day/Beltane/Erotic – real and mystical, rituals, unions, and the yearning for flowering wholeness)
Session 4: TBD (tentative: Skywoman and Dreaming the Dark – what magic do we make with mud and mess?)
Session 5: TBD (tentative: Growing into Summer – Cracks in the asphalt, corn in the field)