Brighton-based theatre makers, performers, neighbours and dreamers Daisy Eris Campbell and Kate Alderton have been working together since staging the world’s longest play ‘The Warp’ in the 90s, directed by Ken Campbell. They recently produced and staged Daisy’s ‘Cosmic Trigger: The Play!’ along with many creative collaborators from The Mycelium Network.
In 2019 The Mycelium led a pilgrimage on a double-decker bus to the mathematical centre of CERN in Switzerland, and then on to Carl Jung’s garden. Because of a dream Kate had, the pilgrimage then added a visit to the artistic community of Damanhur in Italy to learn how to dance the phrase "show us so we can understand"(in the Damanhurian movement based language). The resulting ritual was performed at the centre of CERN, the world's highest-energy particle collider, and, more importantly for the pilgrims, the largest concentration of true Nothing in the known universe.
Apiary director and fellow pilgrim Leslie catches up with Kate and Daisy to recall this journey and reflect on what they playfully term 'Dreamaturgy'.
Leslie: Can you describe the process that you're working on right now?
Daisy: I am in an interesting place at the moment because I have been following a kind of narrative unfolding. A combination of what I call ‘myth fudging’, as well as seeing what the story wants to be. This process has carried me through since I wrote Cosmic Trigger, and turned out to be the beginning of an initiatory sort of artistic magical journey, which steered me very well, and blew my mind constantly.
Somewhat tongue in cheek, my dad used to say that there are four choices open to the artist. One: you can distract and entertain and therefore help to sustain the status quo. Two: you can pose as exposing wrongs, but actually help to sustain the status quo. Three: you can expose wrongs and bring about change (nigh on impossible according to my dad because if you really know what’s going on you can be sure they’ve got something on you..)
But their might just be a fourth choice: to pose as exposing wrongs, but in fact deceive, but with such a wilful mix of truth and lie, research and fantasy, as to send the status quo hunting for needles that nobody’s lost in haystacks which don't exist, thereby distracting from the ensuing release of hitherto imprisoned forces which will bring about change but of an unpredictable nature.
So that has been my choice as a working artist, like with Cosmic Trigger. Let’s make it look and smell like a play, but let’s hold the intention that we actually release hitherto imprisoned forces in such a way that change will happen for all of us, hopefully the audience, and maybe even beyond.
Then, while we were putting the CERN pilgrimage together, I stumbled upon what I now call choice five, which is an Alan Moore quote — “to create a narrative so utterly complex and so endlessly self-referential that it becomes, to all intents and purposes, alive.”
I'd already been playing with the metaphor of mycelium. The mycelium is the network of fungal threads that create pathways in the soil structure. And when enough of these threads cross, a mushroom will appear seemingly overnight.
I found mycelium a useful metaphor for underground culture, because here are all these artists beavering away, like we're kind of carving something in the subsoil. But we are crossing our threads with all the others who are genuinely following their deepest impulses. And a mushroom may well appear in the above ground. This mushroom might take the form of an actual art piece, or it might take the form of a new movement, or a new consciousness even, and the world above can see this mushroom and probably will begin to commodify it. But what they cannot see is this incredible network of underground threads.
So I have this idea of feeding the mycelium, just as a gardener must feed the soil. So you achieve wonderful cultures by really nurturing those points where people cross, but also nurturing each individual thread's trust in its own process, and thereby this networked narrative will become, to all intents and purposes, alive.
I can only speak for myself, but the sense in the run up to the pilgrimage was that there was an explosion of synchronicity, a tsunami of meaning and yet more pointers to the deeply weird nature of reality.
A dream that Kate had was a big part of the CERN Pilgrimage. In her dream we had to go to Damanhur and learn how to dance the phrase ‘show us so we can understand’. So it's the three year anniversary on Saturday since we immanentised the Eschaton at CERN. I would say leave it a mystery
I feel that these three years have genuinely been a response to that question “show me so I can understand”. But sometimes the understanding has been really thin and the doubt and the confusion that I've experienced in the last three years has really knocked me on my arse a lot of the time.
So in terms of process, I have now gained this profound trust that nature stories: nature has a story force that powerfully takes us to the next stage of whatever this human project is all about. And we meddle with the story at our peril. Because once we impose a mythology of capitalism or a mythology of Christianity or any great overarching theory of everything; rationalism or scientism or materialism, we actually start to kill the mycelium that is building stories that need to be told, the stories that the deepest, deepest forces need to tell.
And so my grand conundrum at the moment is the question of what does a narrative-based creative do when the first round of narrative has become alive? So alive you can't report on it anymore. Which synchronicity would I choose? Which dream? It is just all extraordinary now it's come to be the truth and the reality. Choice five has come alive! But what do you do as an individual creative in the midst of that? It's a real conundrum for me because I don't want to act in a meddling way. I want to act from genuine, deep intuition from here on in. And so I must adopt a kind of ecstatic readiness.
That's all I can conclude. And it's really hard because I want to know - what's the next big show? Should I maybe write a book? But all of this is forced and largely ego based. And so I wait. That's kind of where I'm at at the moment. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to articulate that, because that's the clearest I've been in a long time!
Leslie: What you just said reminds me of the Maya Angelo quote, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you".
Daisy: That's really good. That hit home. There's an untold story, but also the story is not just mine. So I suppose finding and learning more and more mycelium-like ways of structuring any endeavours. That probably means moving away from authorship and the idea of the individual visionary. But yet for me personally these don't often spark up the ego enough to get the engine firing to get the thing sort of generating. But it's an incredibly creative, fertile time nonetheless. The dreams are profound and the personal growth is extreme, it's all happening.
Leslie: Kate, what is your process at the moment. Your research?
Kate: I just want to hold those two words. Ecstatic readiness. I love that so much. I'm always and forever steeped in dreaming, no matter what it is I'm up to. I was thinking back to what you said, Daisy, about Cosmic Trigger and that being a catalyst for things that we had no idea about.
I was looking at the program the other day, and at the very end of my bio in that programme, I put as a weird little joke, Kate is a member of the Dream Fishing Society. The Dream Fishing Society didn't exist at that point. It didn't mean anything. It was just a weird name. And in the last three years, the Dream Fishing Society has become an active, alive, populated, busy place.
So I suppose what I'm up to at the moment is thinking about the individual versus the collective. My interest in dream work in the last three years has really been tunnelling down into how to work with dreams, both as a community and as individuals, so that we're working with the images, with the dream visitors, with the landscapes of dream, not only from an individualistic perspective.
I’m in Jungian Analysis at the moment, which is amazing and vital, and we look at symbols and what they might mean to my psyche, my dreaming, the archetypal and the collective unconscious.. But I'm also really curious about what happens when we work with dreams and don't only relate the symbology, the landscapes, the visitors, the people, to our own psyche or unconscious, or even our collective one. So we don't put ourselves in the centre of the dream. Rather, we start to engage with the dreams and the essence that they have, and the wisdom that they have in their own right.
So there's two ways that I've been really looking at and training in that. One of them is social matrices dreaming through The Centre of Social Dreaming. In a social dreaming matrix, we gather together in community to share dreams, and we let the dreams speak for themselves. So they have a chance to be shared and be spoken beyond interpretation, beyond us concretising the meaning of the images or the symbols or what we experience. We just let the dreams and the energy of those dream visitors, symbols and visions stay alive and be alive and keep dreaming through us and see what happens when one symbol, and one dream gets to speak to another dream beyond having to be attached to our psyche. Beyond our wanting to pin meaning endlessly onto things, which I think can really stop dreams from unfolding what they have to offer us, particularly on the planet now.
I think we spoke about it a lot during the Cerne to CERN trip, because so many of the dreams that we were all having, not just me, were really clear embodied dreams from particular places on the planet. We dreamed of Cae Mabon, and Damanhur, and of the Long Man of Wilmington. I'm really passionate about this- what happens if it's not us dreaming about the land? What if the land is actually dreaming through us, and asking us to act on its behalf or at least to hear what it has to say? I think that when we can work collectively, I suppose dream activism is a lot about that, we can go to those places and find out what the land is asking of us, particularly at this time on the planet.
And then the other thing I've been doing in the last three years is training in Dream Tending with Steven Aizenstat, at Pacifica Graduate School. So he's in the lineage of Jung, Hillman and Woodman who are all from the same tree and roots that I'm passionate about.
Dream Tending is a one-to-one version of working with dreams. It's looking at what happens when we don't concretise meaning when we hear and experience dream symbols and dream images. Rather than encountering a tiger in a dream and deciding what that might means about ‘my maleness’ or ‘my wildness’, what happens if we actually engage with that image as a living-body presence, and find out what Tiger is about, what that particular Tiger is bringing into being through our dreaming? That way, there's an energy and an essence inside the living imagination in dreams and in dream images that can really come alive in the physical body I feel: through art, through movement, through collective activism. It can really change waking-life exponentially when we allow the forces and the energies of what is inside a dream to come through us in the waking world. I think interpretation always has its place, but interpretation for me, or at least only interpretation, stymies the fullness of the dream process. It contains the dream into a cup of meaning that says ‘this means that and that's that - I understand it now’
I'm really curious about how we can keep the dreams dreaming. It’s so interesting because it’s a reflection from the dreaming world of the conundrum around this deeply human desire to box everything up and tie it up with a bow. It seems like the message is that desire is becoming more and more destructive. We've got to let it be and see what it wants to be. And the tigers might want to be tigers.
Leslie: We keep talking about the CERN trip. Let's go into talking about that a bit more.
Daisy: I think it's important to know that as we stepped out into that trip, we really stepped out in total unknowing and with a spirit of pure fun. Bill Drummond once said to me, “if we knew why, we wouldn't be doing it”, which became our mantra. It turns out to actually have quite deep roots in chaos magic, and all sorts of magical approaches. But it really blew my mind when I first heard it. I suppose that phrase, if we knew why, we wouldn't be doing it, allows you to have a deep structure, that forward momentum that the story needs to kind of start unfolding, but it also refuses to meddle.
Then added to that, the pilgrims were starting to get very interested in Eric Wargo's book Time Loops in which he argues that most paranormality can be explained if we just accept the fact that we can sometimes remember the future. So that became our second mantra: this has all already happened. So all we have to do is remember what happened in the future and do that. And if we remember something that doesn't end up happening, it's just that it was a wrong memory of the future.
The initial intention was simply to go to the centre of CERN, the Large Hadron Collider. So when I say the Centre, I don't mean like the actual sort of built up reception area. What I meant always was the centre point of that 27 kilometer circle of nothing. And this was because of Gnostic ideas about the true nothing being the real nature of God, and CERN was the highest concentration of nothing in the known universe. If we're people seriously interested in nothing, then we ought to make a pilgrimage to the heart of the highest concentration of nothing in the known universe. A bus load of nutters would come with me. We'd have a hilarious story to tell. I'd get a show out of it at the other end. That was kind of the small ego thoughts that lurked for me around this trip. But it became obvious really quickly that it had captured some kind of imagination. It ended up, as I say, being 69 pilgrims on a double Decker bus heading for the centre of Nothing. But then John Higgs, the author said to me, well, look, I'm not going to go be in CERN on the 23rd of April. I'm going to be in the other Cern, Cerne Abbas, which is the Cerne giant, the chalk figure on a hillside in Dorset with the enormous cock. And I thought, this is brilliant. This is absolutely brilliant. If we start there, it can be Cerne to CERN, the large hard on to the large Hadron!
So here is a good example of how one meddles with the narrative and then steps back. So I thought, well, John using a dodgy pun to get out of having to come on the bus isn't the greatest story. But if Kate would dream that that's where we're meant to start, then that would work, wouldn't it? So then I commissioned Kate to have a dream. But I didn't tell her what about? She just had to report in on dreams. And it didn't take long until she had dreamt that the pilgrimage began. The only other chalk man in the country. There are other chalk figures. But the only other chalk man, which was right near where she lived at the time, is the Long Man of Wilmington. And she was having a whole dream that the pilgrims were all arguing about where we should begin the pilgrimage. And she said, I think we should begin at the Long Man of Wilmington. So I took that as proof positive. She just dreamt up the wrong chalk figure. But fine, close enough.
It was noted that we were going from the enormous ancient cock to the most cutting edge feminine principle of the Great Nothing, the great circle of Nothing - were we involved in some sort of fertility rite?. We had months now to prepare for what we were going to do. But we also knew if we knew why, we wouldn't be doing it. So nothing could get locked down too soon and nothing could be done unless we really felt we were remembering it from the future. And this is where certain collective principles came in. Kate began to track everyone's dreams in the run up, people were tracking their synchronicities. There were endless email threads that were allowing us to track what was coming up from the collective unconscious. And of course, added to this, one of the early things that happened was I approached the Liverpool Arts Lab to see if they fancied coming along on this pilgrimage.
Get this, it turned out they were planning their own pilgrimage to Switzerland for the same time period! Because they wanted to go to Carl Jung’s garden, where Carl Jung had created his garden on the banks of Lake Lucerne and carved into this stone. And that is where he had his dream of Liverpool; he dreamt that Liverpool was the pool of life - but that's a whole other rabbit hole of extraordinary synchronicity, particularly for the Liverpool contingent of the Mycelium. But I hadn't approached them based on that. I just said, you want to come to CERN? And they said, man, we're already planning a pilgrimage to Switzerland to go to this Jung place. We said, let's combine it all. So then Jung joined the party, you see. And so now it was Cerne to CERN to Lake Lucerne!
Then Kate told me she'd had another dream. She dreamed, as I mentioned earlier, that we had to go to the artistic and magical community of Damanhur in Northern Italy and learn their ancient dance language. The phrase that we had to learn was, Show us so we can understand.
But Kate didn't know that Damanhur really does have an ancient dance language! She just assumed that was part of her dream. So then it was like, oh, man, I’d better try and make this happen. I had a few contacts in Damanhur. I'd been there a few times. So I got in touch and they were captured by this whole extraordinary caper. And they let us camp on their football field. And we declared we would put on a show for them in Italian(!) by way of an exchange for learning how to dance this phrase ‘show us so we can understand’.
These pieces of the puzzle all kind of came together. And the extraordinary people, just an incredible mixed bag of magicians and artists, undertakers, rock stars, dreamers, all sorts of kooks and wonders, and off we went to reset the world. One of the rules we had was that any rituals we conducted throughout the pilgrimage had to be done with everyone wearing false teeth. This was so there was no chance of forgetting The Cosmic Giggle. But I think one of the things I've had to grapple with in the three years that followed has been losing my sense of humour somewhat because it all got so real…
Leslie: There's a responsibility because of that tendency to have to explain and pin down the mystery that creates its own entropy. But there's this other type of structural responsibility in keeping things open and present. I guess, this is why you have this ‘dream tending’ Kate is talking about. I think that's got so much potential to help us to live in that newer open ended narrative because we all dream. That our dreams can remain alive and can continue after they've been dreamed. There's also a discipline to it, because not everybody dreams because they don't have the discipline of it. There's the method of asking your dreams to speak to you for example and to recall them and so on. I mean seriously, the possibilities within them. It is extraordinary how you both dream more and remember them more.
Kate: But just thinking about what you're saying about the mystery and the uncertainty, I feel like that is one of the greatest challenges we have as a planet at the moment. To find ways to constantly create situations where we can practice grappling with uncertainty without putting spokes in the land of meaning and definiteness so that we can encounter what is actually coming towards us and is actually present. And I feel like collective dreamwork and social dreaming, community dreaming, is a place where that can really be practised because there is no concrete meaning that comes through it. You have to invite in whatever dreams come, and then look at what you've got and then look at what multiple types of meanings there might be.
I feel like a real place to work that muscle as a community is encountering the mystery of collective dreams. In the lead-up to the pilgrimage we did a lot of intentional dreaming, to see if we could dream the future of what had happened when we got there. Daisy referenced the work of Eric Wargo. After a while it became impossible to tell if we were dreaming the future, or if we were working with the dreaming of the present and creating the future from that. The level of synchronicity, collective dream symbols, colours and symbology we experienced became so specific the further into that journey we sailed as a dreaming community.
Our dreams were coming through every morning on an email thread with multiple images of the same thing and multiple similar colours and multiple encounters with similar beings. It was really an extraordinary privilege to dream with so many people for such an extended period of time. That's the longest I've ever been in community dream work.
Daisy: But also actually coming out of this conversation is something that I have been thinking about a lot, which, in terms of narrative, is the vital importance of the Telos, which is the pull. To have a teleological viewpoint is to feel that we are being pulled somewhere, that our evolution is purposeful. As Ken Wilber puts it, we have an innate pull from dirt to divinity. The Telos is the pull. So for example the telos for a grass seed is the sun. The sun ‘pulls’ the seed up towards itself. And so in storytelling, we need a Telos, we need a sense that we are going somewhere, that’s what allows the magic to begin. And that kind of undertow of us all knowing we're about to embark on this (on paper), completely barking mad escapade - 69 of us sleeping on a coach and camping in the freezing cold and all of the madness of it as a logistical exercise, it was truly batty. But the pull of that, I think, activated and pulled at the unconscious in a deep way.
Our commercial storytellers have - for a long time now - used the apocalypse as their Telos because you can't use the transcendental as your Telos anymore. It's just not cool and it doesn't pay or whatever. And so instead, we've been fed this sense that we're being pulled to the end days. Maybe certain temperaments will get pulled to action because of that terror, but I think this kind of story tends to burn us out as well. There needs to be a joyous Telos to really pull the joyous magic through.
Kate: We need the pull towards the transcendent utopian future, but we need to know that as we make the journey our knees are bleeding and our hands are in the soil and it's raining and it's difficult. I think the transcendent function comes when you can integrate that. It is both difficult and beautiful that they can exist at the same time. That death is coming, but it's not only horror, that there is beauty in darkness. It’s that union, that principle of the union of the opposites that brings the third thing- it’s then that the transcendent function can happen. I think, because we're living in a time where polarisation is so prevalent that it has to be black or white. It has to be this or that.. It's very hard to reach the third way when so many of our systems, political, social media and debate itself are based around picking a side.
Daisy: It's really hard to find the middle way or the third way. The other way. And the other will be the alien. It will be the unknown.
Kate: That’s why we need practices that help us flex that muscle of grappling. What if it isn't what I'm saying, or what you're saying? What if it is something entirely different that neither of us can think of? And I think that the way that we can do that is through dialogue. Whether it's dialogue, through dreams or story, there is something that often occurs between two sides, two people. Which David Bohm wrote an amazing volume called On Dialogue, he talks a lot about that.
Daisy: My dreams often have to remind me to be funny. Because when the mystery presents itself, it has a tricksy nature, it can make you think you're going to be able to solve this. That's the sort of human element that wants to go: “I think I might be about to tie it all up with a bow!” And that can send you mad. I think trying to get the mystery into your head will send you mad. Whereas holding that you are dancing with a mystery that is unsolvable, it's an unknowable mystery, but you do have some capacity to dance with it; it’s freeing. But the ego doesn't like that, I think. Also I was thinking about what you were saying about your knees are bleeding and it's raining and it's hard. And I think we all know those feelings, particularly over the last three years. And again, the function of the Telos tells you: ‘and yet keep crawling’.
That's what people are losing sight of. We feel like we're crawling and our knees are bleeding, but we don't have a sense what we're crawling towards. And that's the work of the artists and the mystics and the magicians and the more visionary activists. The story can't be what we don't want anymore. We've got to start building a story of what we do want - but it doesn't feel as entertaining. It's not fraught with the same stakes, the same conflict. But finding a way to create the narrative space for the third thing to emerge is fundamental.
So what happened as a result of the Cern pilgrimage was that through the dream space, it became apparent that we had conceived. There'd been all these jokes about someone's going to end up pregnant at the end of this mass fertility rite. And then it turned out we had collectively conceived a magickal orphan…
So I was reading up about this, and discovered that many magical groups had worked to create the birth of an autonomous being, if you like, filled with their collective intentions. But ours was an accident, a love child! It is currently taking the form of a wooden baby. So people have pledged to look after this child that we conceived and we pass it around on the 23rd of every month, this wooden child, and it's its birthday on this coming Saturday, 23rd April. So there's going to be about 15-20 Orphan Keepers in Snowdonia, at their birthplace. And it's going to be interesting because I can feel in myself and in others a desire for this story to do something, go somewhere. Like pushy parents: ‘let's try and send my child's story in a particular direction’ - but maybe this child really is simply passed forever on the 23 of April. It's not much of a story, but it's sort of deeply profound as well. It's really interesting as we come together to hold back on the meddling and to just enjoy the unfolding. Yeah, it's a kind of interesting tension and I don't know what that tension gives rise to yet.
Kate: It can be so hard not to lay things on top of things, to not give them space enough to become what they are actually destined to become. Because The Orphan came from dream space, they are a dream figure that has carefully, expertly, slowly, tenderly been lifted from the fertile soil of deep, deep dreaming across the border into waking reality, always following where it wants to go. It's been clear so far along that journey what its essence wants to do, because it came so clearly through that dream you had. But here in the waking world, I think it's much harder to keep that awake consciousness back a little bit, and keep dream consciousness in dialogue with whatever dreaming is. Whether it's a dream figure that's come, or piece of art that comes across or a creative project. I think that is the challenge: to find that balance between meddling and surrendering.
Daisy: Each of us is born into a heavily meddled-with reality. So just undoing the pre existing meddling is a lifetime's work in itself. And yet we must act and we must create.
Kate: And it's a perfect balancing game to play throughout life, isn't it, to find the balance between deep listening and action and not only getting stuck in one? Because we could sit forever deep listening and do fuck all and nothing would ever happen and nothing would ever change, or you could constantly act and miss all the deep treasure that's held inside the mystery.
Leslie: Isn't that also an element of dramaturgy? So far we are talking about acting in life, but the actual dramaturgy of acting in theatres, understanding those tensions and what conflict is and what all the dramatic elements are so that you can tell a decent story that captivates. This is what's so funny about dreamaturgy as a concept that we talked about before recording. I love it. Maybe we're just on the cusp of dreamaturgy as an actual art, something that's actually studied, and accepted into the mainstream. No longer delegated to the esoteric realms of magic, mysticism and the supernatural.
Daisy: Well, I think the theatre itself - unlike filmed art form - has this added archetype of the stage. The stage and curtain-up is a telos like no other. The fact that a group of creatives gather and they set a date and say on that day, on that stage, the curtain will go up and the audience will be sat there and something will happen. That's the undertow. That's the pull. That's why we crawl on our knees through the dirt. And all we ask of you is your eyes. Actually I was reading somewhere - I need to look deeper into it - that theatre and healing have only relatively recently been thought of as two different things.
Leslie: Well, ritual is at the heart of the history of theatre right? The Dionysion rite?
Kate: I mean, Epidaurus - which is the birthplace of modern medicine in Greece outside Athens - what you had there was a combination of theatre, song, ritual, body work, nutrition and dreaming. People would pilgrimage there, and spend their days weaving and experiencing all of those forms of healing arts. The Telos was towards working deeply with dreams at the end of the day. To enter the sacred chamber of dreaming ‘The Abaton’, with the intention that they might incubate a healing dream and then work with what came through the dream as a form of medicine: either by receiving a direct healing in the dream, or by taking an action on behalf of the dream in the waking world.
So that was the kind of inner abaton/ dream chamber which Damanhur has attached to the side of the Temples in the mountain. So it's interesting, I think you're absolutely right. There is this kind of re-fusing of those modalities which have been separated, much like science separates so many different things.
Daisy: You're exactly right. That's exactly what all the conversations I'm having are about at the moment. Everyone being allowed to come out of our boxes of expertise and cross pollinate again, I think, in whole new ways. But the question of ego, I think is a really fundamental one, because it's definitely got power as an engine, but it's definitely got such destruction.
Leslie: Well, if it's just coming from one person and not a collective engine. Right. Every part is a channel, including the author that wrote the play. Maybe it can be something a little bit more inter-dimensional than just, okay, end on staging and writer to actor to stage. Theatre makers are knocking down the fourth wall all the time. Also there is something about presence, connection, being willing to go there and have that intimacy at all. A lot of people won't look each other in the eye. Right. There's something about being able to do that that allows the dream to come through, the intimacy of life itself. That's what I've always appreciated about theatre, especially the aliveness of it.
Daisy: And this goes back to Martin McCluhan’s The medium is the message. I've arrived at a deep revulsion about how market forces underlie so much of our culture. I find making peace with that almost impossible. I just so yearn to know what a world would look like if you just produced the art that your soul told you to produce, and that's all we were ever asked to consume: the real genuine outpouring of soul-makers. And I'm not saying all culture is currently made by sellouts. No, not even slightly. We all swim in these waters, we all have to survive. But we've got to somehow square that circle. Each of us in our own ways need to find the structures that allow for minimal meddling.
Leslie: I think this is all part of the role of the artist, is to remind everyone, like, hey, this is worth appreciating.
Daisy: But it’s also the magical nature of life. I mean, I find it just extraordinary that if you absolutely, fully and totally adopt the rationalist materialist mindset in your early years, you can actually get through life without anything weird happening to you! I mean, that to me, is proof of magic more than anything else. You can actually put a spell on yourself so profound that you will never encounter the weird. Wow, that's extraordinary. So, in the same way, if your powerful deep desire is money, you'll make it happen. It will be at the expense of probably a lot of other aspects of your life and maybe others lives as well, but you can do that. But I think the nature of the artist is that isn't generally what motivates most of us.
Leslie: I mean, that's another thing that's happening. We're somewhat talking about the decentralisation of story. Other people at the moment are trying to decentralise our monetary systems with the surge in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
Daisy: And actually, if you think of its deep structure, it's mycelic (like mycelium) again. So to me, anything that's pulling towards the mycelic, more like the neural pathways kind of deep structure is for the good. My favourite metaphor for transformation, which I've probably bored you both with before now, is from Barbara Marx Hubbard. She talks about the butterfly forming inside a chrysalis. What actually happens inside that cocoon is that imaginal cells begin to appear. That's what their name is. These imaginal cells appear one by one. But as one appears the old body of the caterpillar immediately kills it off. Then one appears over here and the body of the caterpillar kills it off. But then two appear over here at the same time and the caterpillar only manages to kill one of them off! And then three appear here and four appear there. And this battle ensues between the old body of the caterpillar and the new body of the butterfly that's apparently quite violent. And we know we want a butterfly, we want a beautiful butterfly to spread its wings, but it can't do that unless the old body holds its form and fights.
The new cells literally cannot constellate, without the fight put up by the old body. And the new cells are clearly on the rise... I mean everyone I meet is an extraordinary genius these days. I only meet mind bogglingly visionary, extraordinary people everywhere. It feels like there's more than enough of us imaginal cells to spread our wings any day now. But we're still being killed off by the body of the caterpillar. So that's the bit of the process that we must be in. For me it's a really hopeful perspective because it also allows for some compassion for the reactionary forces. Might we be able to bless the dinosaurs. Could they simply be holding the old body steady in the best way they know how whilst we imaginal cells find each other? And maybe in this story, it’s not one imaginal cell that gets crucified by the caterpillar soon after his emergence, it’s tens of thousands of imaginal cells! What are you going to do, crucify us all?
Kate: I love that metaphor of the imaginal cells and the necessity of the struggle to hold up the old structure. I find that such a hopeful metaphor. Particularly because dreams, deep imagination, art, creativity and our capacity to create enough space - to be able to capture glimpses of the future through those, is where the work is. We need enough time, space, opportunity in community to be able to catch glimpses of the imaginal cells as they come into being.
Leslie: It also reminds me, it was Easter when we did the CERN trip. And I remember looking into the Eucharist a bit, and also the act of Communion and resurrection. It's not that the imaginal cell just dies. It also gets resurrected and then gives eternal life. And transubstantiation and the sacrament of eating the body of Christ!
Daisy: That’s the nature of the sacramental universe. Our world becomes a living artwork that we can kind of interact with. And therefore, the stakes stay high. Thinking about it in terms of story, I notice that a lot of modern thought is essentially a brand of Gnosticism: “I'm creating the whole of reality inside my own personal head”. But if you’re creating it all inside your own head, you kill the stakes of the story.
Leslie: To finish here is the quote from David Bohm's 'On Dialogue' that I mentioned earlier:
“On the whole, you could say that if you're defending your opinions, you are not serious. Likewise, if you were trying to avoid something unpleasant inside of yourself that is also not being serious. A great deal of our whole life is not serious. And society teaches you that. It teaches you not to be very serious, that there are all sorts of incoherent things and there is nothing that can be done about it and that you will only stir yourself up uselessly by being serious. But in a dialogue, you have to be serious. It is not a dialogue if you are not. Not in the way I'm using the word. There is a story about Freud when he had cancer of the mouth. Somebody came up to him and wanted to talk to him about a point in psychology. The person said, Perhaps I better not talk to you because you've got this cancer, which is very serious. You may not want to talk about this. Freud's answer was, this cancer may be fatal, but it's not serious. And actually, of course, it was just a lot of cells growing. I think a great deal of what goes on in society could be described that way. That it may well be fatal, but it's not serious."
Kate: So I'm going to read you this one. This is Russell Lockhart, who is again, one of the roots springing from the Jung tree. And yeah, it's running through me constantly, this one at the moment. He says - “the community that learns to operate on the basis of the circulating gift of dreams will be the community immune to the commodification of desire that so threatens the true potential of the human spirit.”
Daisy Campbell is a playwright, dramaturge and nascent psychomagician. She wrote and performed Pigspurt’s Daughter, has been working with The KLF to build a pyramid of dead people, adapted and staged Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger and conceived and led the Cerne2CERN pilgrimage.
Cosmic Trigger Play www.cosmictriggerplay.com
Kate Alderton is a performer, dream tending practitioner, collage artist and founder of The Dream Fishing Society. She’s passionate about accessing and working with the deep imagination held in dreams and creating spaces where we can reignite the art of dreaming-in-community.
Dream Fishing Society www.dreamfishingsociety.com
The Temples of Human Kind https://www.thetemples.org