Monday, March 31, 2014

Goddesses in the Dust: Journaling and Memory

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...

I've been keeping a journal for decades, since I was in college. An entire row on my bookshelf is devoted to them.

Over the years, I've used different kinds of journals. When I lived in Greece during my junior year, I used the Greek schoolchildren's plastic blue books. 
  

When I lived on the island of Crete with a family, I used an old ring binder type journal,

which became filled with observations of my family's daily life, and my burgeoning understanding of the Greek language.

In graduate school, I switched once again to the standard hardcover journal that was offered at the University book store

For the past twenty years, I've pretty much exclusively used the classic black and white composition book (often earmarked with a dragon's scales of post-it notes for reference)

Journaling for me is therapy. I don't approach it as something in which I have to capture every aspect of my life, or every trip I take. More often than not, I journal when I'm inspired by something I read, or by some event in my life that provokes me. I write when I'm happy and when I'm sad. It's a place where I can confide my deepest feelings

and favorite quotes from authors
I hope for nothing
I fear nothing
I am free
-Nikos Katzanzakis

and sometimes quotes from unlikely sources

When I travel, I like the small Moleskine books. They remind me of classic adventurers, such as the writer Bruce Chatwin, and explorer Peter Beard


The little pages get filled with observations, notes and addresses

and the back pocket with all sorts of ephemera

Being an inveterate journal writer, I even keep a journal devoted exclusively to dreams. As you can imagine, it has its own special color

In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne is the goddess of memory and the mother of the Muses.
Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Mnemosyne, 1881
We have Memory to thank for The Odyssey and The Iliad, epic poems that existed for centuries before they were written down. In antiquity, the oral tradition ruled because poets had to carry their work in their memories.

Today with so many electronic devices, we don't need to rely so much on our memories. But I will continue to write in my journal, regardless. I see it as a form of meditation and way to communicate with myself. No matter how much technology rules our lives, it is soul-nourishing to take time to reflect on our lives, and there is something refreshingly analog - and physically reaffirming - about putting pen to paper to do so.

17 comments:

  1. i think you are absolutely right in not relying on technology. the less we ask ourselves to remember (or think) the closer we are to peril in so many regards.

    your journals are beautiful.)))

    for christmas i bought my 12 year old son, at his request, a leatherbound journal, and calligraphy ink and pens. last night he came to me and asked for the name of the artist who composed spiegel im spiegel. it is arvo part. he likes to listen to calming music while he plays minecraft. he wrote this information in his leatherbound book. the cataclysm of this coming together of small strange elements flooded me.

    when i moved a couple years ago i began to rid myself of old journals. when i move again i will burn the last of them, i think. i am ready to not have these things around me. it works both ways, i think, having and not having. but most importantly it is the creating which is of paramount importance, the time and attention to life.

    xo
    erin

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    1. As a Cancerian, I tend to keep things, so I am ever struggling with the opposite energy of letting go. You are right that it's in the order of nature that we need to give away so that we can bring in the new. As always, you've given me a lot to think about, Erin. I've been working on letting go with other things in my life, as well as old habits that no longer are necessary, but I will probably keep the journals. I admire your ability to burn yours - it's a true act of courage in the face of creation.

      Your son's desire to journal is a wonderful thing - again, that human need to make sense and form of what is in our hearts and minds.

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  2. I have not one of the journals I wrote before marriage; and only snippets of pages I wrote in the years since. Only after I retired and discovered blogging I began to write regularly.

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  3. You are very dedicated, Amanda. Though I write down things, phrases, etc. I can't seem to write about personal things. It does make it easy to find info, I would imagine. Good for the writer methinks.

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    1. Donna, what we don't write about I think we express in other ways - as a creative person you undoubtedly use numerous forms...

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  4. "ephemera" is such a great word.
    Since I am an older father, I keep a journal of my daughter, for my daughter, because when she will want to know this stuff, I may by old or gone.

    We will lose such much of this stuff with modern electronics.

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    1. John Foster! Good to see you in these parts!

      I've never thought about keeping a journal for someone else.....that's a fascinating concept. Your daughter will be grateful that you've done so, I've no doubt.

      Now that I think about it, my kids will inherit my journals, whether they want to or not! Sometimes it occurs to me to censor my feelings because of that fact, but that quickly comes up against my need to be authentic. An ongoing issue.

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  5. I love what your aunt said, "People respond to someone who is sure of what they want." That is so true. Or is it not "aunt" and rather "Anna"?

    Supposedly you get more out of journaling by hand writing rather than typing as it is supposed to make the connection to the brain more clear and complete. However, it seems I can't write unless I type. Nice collection of journals Amanda!

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    1. That's my terrible handwriting, Rubye - the quote is attributed to Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue.

      I've heard that about the hand/brain connection when it comes to handwriting. However mine is so terrible that I can't sustain it for long. Even though all my journals are handwritten, I do write my fiction and nonfiction work directly onto my laptop - works much better for me.

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  6. We are kindred spirits in that respect - although I have only recently taken it up again. But i always carried a journal with me on our travels. I love your journal dedicated to dreams. I think that's very original.

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  7. Love your journal collection. I don't keep a journal just a notebook at hand, (pretty low-tech I suppose) to write down addresses and things I would otherwise forget.

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  8. I write some notes only when I travel, no time for every day journaling!:( Pity!
    I usually do it in my laptop

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  9. I enjoyed seeing your journal collection over the years. I also have kept journals for a long time, since I was 11, but I've written less frequently in them since I started blogging. The teen year ones are really helpful for writing YA now. I keep a tiny notebook in my pocketbook to scribble notes.

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  10. I love that you have kept journals throughout your life. I lack the discipline and energy and have done so only sporadically. Recently when a friend from the 70s died I looked back at what I had written on those days and I realised I had forgotten so much. I think it is instructive to have such a link to the younger us. x

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  11. I love the fact that your journal, and that a you have done it for so long. The different styles and colours of the books add to the intrigue about what lies between the pages.

    I have journaled some, using a computer. But that, somehow, doesn't feel right. So I'm returning this year to a written journal. If slow food can be better than fast food, then slow (pen) writing might be better than fast (keyboard) writing. I think.

    Also,as I do this, I'll go "whole hog" in the process, and get out my "Fountain pens" — Waterman, Mont Blanc,
    Parker, Sheaffer, Nokia, Tornado, Esterbrook, Conklin, and the like. (What? Me, collect fountain pens? Whatever would make you think that?)

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. I'm a collector of pens too - an understandable preoccupation of a writer...

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  12. Wow! These are all so impressive, so much of you sitting right there on a shelf. Do you ever go back and read them all? x

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