I have been re-reading Ursula Le Guin’s ‘Earthsea Quartet’. The mesmerising tales of Ged, a goatherd lad from a rural community who comes by strange powers over nature and attains the knowledge of ancient ways.
Ged’s story has none of the gooey cleverness of Harry Potter, or the quasi-Biblicality of Lord of the Rings. It unfolds the exhausting, lonely, dangerous path of a magician. Told beautifully and sparsely by the author, the narratives feel like they have been pulled from deep inside mountains and stone circles. Wet, cold skies, foreign lands, and hardships. Fires to warm by, and seas to cross. Hunger never far away. Gratitude for small mercies. Surviving while making a difference. Knowing when to accept kindness, and when to press on.
And outcomes. The first story, Wizard of Earthsea, takes an archetype running through our DNA – that we fuck things up and then redeem ourselves – to the very ends of the world. As a rookie magician, Jed lets his vanity get the better of him and unleashes magic of such power that it separates him from his shadow.
The shadow is evanescent, hard to define, increasingly evil, and difficult to outwit. But it will run amok with growing power unless he can reintegrate with it. The effort nearly kills him. But his life can never be whole again without such effort, and so he lets his instincts take him to the darkest places, where it will show itself. And where he can face it head on, embrace it and process it.
This story bangs my gong. Resonates up and down my chakras.
Hello Jung. Greetings art therapy. Welcome in, psilocybin.
Howdy writing out one’s story.