Unsettling Metaphor

One of my recent posts was a poem about Orion and I going ‘dream hunting’ during the night. However, the next night I hardly slept at all. Images and ideas, words and phrases, whole poems bolted into my awareness. As the long night wore on, I realised that I was not losing them. I still held them waking. I sat in with a notebook furiously writing, drawing them from the cauldron filled during the night.

So, the metaphor came to me of how I approach writing, poetry as well as fiction. It is not an agrarian/gardening model. I do not take the fragile seeds of ideas, plant them in the rich soil of my imagination and wait for them to grow to harvest. I do not water them with attendance nor weed out extraneous material.

No, for me it is about the hunt. And I knew that when I realised the Orion image for ‘dream hunting’ also applied to writing, ‘word hunting’. I set out on a path, that is the idea. I track various aspects of it. I seek out words, images, phrases in the undergrowth of my imagination. When I find the one I want, I take it. I shoot the arrow of my intention from the bow of my desire to create. If it is the wrong word, or what have you, my shot will miss wildly and the word will safely run free from me.

When I have retrieved the words, images and phrases after a successful hunt I bring them home, as it were. I strip the meat of them to the bones, work with the sinew stretching and shaping. The meat goes into the cauldron. I add a few wild berries, herbs or tubers for contrast and embellishment, for accent to the stew I am preparing. When done I serve up the finished product.

Now, this is not a pretty scenario, and one would think totally antithetical for a person who eats vegetarian/veganish/rawish. A person who abhors hunting, the cruelty of it and the waste of it, bracketing those who really do need to do so for survival. I am a creative hunter/gatherer. I am not a creative agriculturalist.

For me creating is a wild activity. It puts me in touch with the wild, untamed energies of the Awen. I must track through the deep woods, follow the fast running rivers and test my worth against forces with the ability to enrich or destroy me, to nourish or devour me by their power. For me creativity is facing the wildness of myself as well as that of lexicon and grammar. It is about the hunt for the right word; the weak, the underdeveloped, the those too young or old are not what I seek. And I do not take all of the words that might work. I crawl across the page stalking, waiting, feeling deep inside, viscerally for the words I am seeking.

It is then and only then that I notch my arrow. It is only then I release the tension on my bow. It is only then that I take for myself the word I need. You may wonder why I don’t just trap and set free. Well that image and understanding of the process is to cautious. When I need a word, it does me no good to set it free. I need it and it does not work in the context that I understand the process now to borrow it, as it were. Its life and being, that of the word, image or phrase, I must take into myself. For it to nourish my work and my creative endeavour, I have to be able to plunge it into the cauldron so it can be part of the stew which I will serve to others.

It came to me as I wrestled with these images, that perhaps the reason I don’t eat flesh, food obtained originally from the hunt, is that it has become some sort of geis for me. It was framed as a a prohibition to me in a meditation, which fits.

I find these images and understanding very freeing, if initially unsettling, but am doing a lot more writing since I came to apprehend and accept this is how I work. Creativity isn’t always a pretty process. It is arduous. It can eat people alive. It can spit them out broken and mad. I have chosen to be proactive here. Whilst drawn down the paths and tracks where my ‘prey’ awaits me, I am able to work with the Awen as a partner, not a victim, not a slave. The Awen and I become co-creators. There is balance here and sanity for me. Nurture and nourishment. It frames the struggles as ones I can deal with. Yes, sometimes the trails are cold on the path and I come home empty, but I go out again and again, and on days I am fortunate, the cauldron will be full and the stew rich.

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7 thoughts on “Unsettling Metaphor

  1. The “Hunt” has long been taken as just a physical activity. I realised a long time ago that it is much more an act of transmutation than just the physical act of of animal killing.
    For life to survive, it must self consume, in other words, be that animal or plant, we must consume other life to survive. When we consume, be that other life or metaphysical words and actions, we are taking in that seemingly “fixed form” and taking it within us and transmutating it into some thing new, something that is of itself but also now part of us.
    It is an act of creation. Something that humanity, IMO, was “intended” to do. That act is also not “fixed” and part of our expressionism is to discover for ourselves ways in which we can engage in that creationism and to engage those parts of “us” and “it” into the final product. Except it’s not “final”, merely on one stage of its, and ours, journey for a period of time.

    • I appreciate this perspective, the idea of transmutation, is a useful way to look at it. Whatever we ‘consume’ becomes part of us, whether in the natural world or from the human constructed one. Of course the latter ultimately has its source in the former. And as you say, the ‘final product’ is not ‘final’ at all, as those who ‘consume’ it also transmute it via their personal understandings and needs. The cycle is ongoing.

  2. I followed your ‘Hunt’ metaphor appreciatively through this think ‘yes’ all the way. Of course the best metaphors are more than literary devices and this one has a life of its own which escapes the purely literary context although it also enlivens it.

  3. I get this too! Some days I hunt the Awen, with horse and hound, catch some and brew it up. Some days the deities of the Awen hunt me down and it’s me that gets cooked in the pot and served up!

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