Changing Narratives

“Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.”
― Clifford Geertz

Ok, some of you may have noticed that there was not a blog post last week. Maybe some of you did. Either way, there was not a blog post last week because I powered my way through the end of another book. So that is another project off my list. Also, we don’t currently have internet at the new house, so that has made posting here a little more of a hassle. We are working to resolve that issue, hopefully this week.

So yeah, you could say this is another filler post. I will, ideally, be posting another piece later this week. I am working on a series about initiations and the bear cult. I just have to finish it up.

There are a lot of thoughts swimming around in my head. I have been thinking a lot about narratives. About the stories that surround our lives and give them meaning. I have been thinking about the narratives the create meaning in my own life. They have been shifted over the last year, and it has changed the way I view myself as well as the world.

I have commented a little in the past on how narratives are born out of experience, and at the same time they help to shape that experience. We tell stories about our lives. At the same time, those stories define our lives. Our experience shapes us at the same time we shape our experience through narrative.

We are constantly surrounded by narratives. Take modern media, such as Fox News, MSNBC, or NPR. Each can take the exact same story, and spin very different narratives. You could also use recent events as an example. Think of the recent events Ferguson. That is a great example of multiple (often competing/opposing) narratives.

Storytelling is an interactive process. From Wikipedia; “Narrative storytelling is used to guide children on proper behavior, cultural history, formation of a communal identity, and values. Narratives also act as living entities through cultural stories, as they are passed on from generation to generation. Because the narrative storytelling is often left without explicit meanings, children act as participants in the storytelling process by delving deeper into the open-ended story and making their own interpretations.”

Honestly, I wish I was a better oral storyteller.

Living entities. I really love that part. It gets me thinking about the narratives of my ancestors. I have a pretty good idea of the grand scope. However, adding Skadi to the mix shifts that narrative a bit. It shakes up my preconceived notions, and adds face and personality to the overall story. She could be considered among my Mesolithic ancestors. Between myth, genetics, and genealogy, I can shape a narrative that traces my ancestors from the Mesolithic in Scandinavia, through England, to America and down to the present. It shapes a narrative in such a way that adds meaning to my life. That is a curious thing.

It also makes me think about the narratives as they are passed down to us. As modern pagans, we inherited the narratives, the stories of previous generations. These are not fixed things, in unalterable form, by those like Snorri. We are participants in the narrative process now.

Now, there may be something else going on that shifts the narratives I tell myself around even more. More on that in the next post, where I hope to expand on these themes a little more.



About Nicholas Haney

I am a writer, author, hunter, craftsman, and student of anthropology/archaeology. View all posts by Nicholas Haney

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