WestCountry School of Myth


Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.
Joseph Campbell

“Romanticism as activism.” That’s a statement of intent I can relate to. It would be all too easy to dismiss the WestCountry School of Myth as hippie nonsense, but something about the brazenness of their intent appeals to me. For five weekends spread over the course of nine months the willing initiate stumps up the equivalent of an all-inclusive week in Majorca to go to a hostel high on Dartmoor and explore the “deep topography” of myths and fairy tales. There’s no certificate at the end of it, no degree that any future employer would recognise, so the “value” of something like this can only be measured subjectively, but I read the words of the school’s founder Martin Shaw and find much in the way of common ground:

Whatever we are facing now we need to have a root system embedded in weather patterns, the presences of animals, our dreams, and the ones who came before us. Myth is insistent that when there is a crisis, genius lives on the margins not the centre. If we are constantly using the language of politics to combat the language of politics at some point the soul grows weary and turns its head away because we are not allowing it into the conversation, and by denying soul we are ignoring what the Mexicans call the river beneath the river. We’re not listening to the thoughts of the world. We’re only listening to our own neurosis and our own anxiety.


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