We Need New Tales to Live By
Have you noticed that our worldviews need therapy? That the discourse on every side is glum, depressing, and beset with low expectations?
It doesn't have to be this way.
What is this and who started it?
Actually, it didn't start with me. Seeking livable wisdom through imagination, story, and Earth-honoring relationship is found at the roots of every culture. Some still follow this path of perpetual enchantment. Maybe Thoth started it; all societies know some version of the archetype of the Mage.
A moment dawned in which everything I had done professionally, including teaching depth psychology (my first PhD), psychotherapy, mythology, ecopsychology, terrapsychology, and ecospiritual practices, aligned with my love of fiction, symbol, and storytelling. I realized I had been doing a kind of imagination-based philosophy - lived in the flesh, not highly intellectualized - for my entire life. And that this also served me as a non-religious path to the sacred, a path without confining creeds, supposed absolutes, or mindless obedience.
The dissertation for my second PhD, this one in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, focuses on speculative fiction as a wisdom path: a path I have walked since childhood without reflecting on it much, until lately. A non-dogmatic wisdom-seeking path of imaginative learning and exploration that appreciates place, elements, nature, and Earth and stretches out into the cosmos. That is Worldread, also known more technically as Terragnosis.
Worldread is an example of a loreosophy: an imaginative body of fictionally framed narrative and personal practice built around a common aspiration. This activity fills out a mythic-feeling story arc, and provides life guidance via ideals, a sense of play, fun, and meaning to participate in. Read more about loreosophy here. As the Abstract to my dissertation draft puts it,
Belief in absolutes is overrated. This study argues that inspiring tales can serve as a playful and creative frame of orientation, inspiration, and action, not to believe, but to believe in. “Loreosophizing” refers to how we can use compelling fiction (broadly defined) as lore for weaving guiding stories, personal or collective, around an ideal, vision, or dream without dragging in massive systematizing, creedal absolutism, or hardened dogma.
Worldreading involves partnering with the imaginal in order to interpret the symbols living all around us. Worldreading places us in a world of presences rather than objects; a world in which everything is speaking.
This website offers resources for getting started with worldreading. A key element is story: exploring your own story deeply, including how it fits the time we live in.
Each page of the site offers something about this adventure in embodied, imaginative pathmaking. The Mission section summarizes this adventure and also includes a vision for a desired result. A key section is Worldreading, where you will find a discussion of what that activity means and six steps to take along the path. The blog contains most of the writing. You will also find images and videos. Also, my podcast on Worldread offers an overview.
This page features worldreading mentors of various kinds; I've worked with them and have asked them to join an international network of facilitators of the path of storied enchantment. I'm also building a forum for visionaries to dream together practically. We can't move forward into more desirable futures unless we can imagine them together.
If you want to get started right away telling inspiring stories, download this folder of resources. Why would doing this matter? From organic farming comes the dictum: Feed the soil and the plants take care of themselves. We have solutions and fixes in abundance, but not the kinds of tale-telling that strengthens and brightens the soul for enduring difficult times.
My hope is that what you find here will inspire you to walk your own storied path in the company of other creatives, visionaries, and Worldreaders toward the beautiful, just, and sane world community of our desire.
Having worked as a psychotherapist, graduate instructor, department chair, and higher ed administrator, I find myself called to consult, teach, present, terrapsychologize, and create various kinds of trouble outside of academia as well. I've published books that show how psyche, story, folklore, and nature intertwine. I enjoy sketching, photography, being outside, traveling, meditating, working with dreams, listening to music, and talking to farmers and gardeners.
Although I continue to teach in higher ed, when I finish an online course I bundle it up and sell it at my website. That way it's available for people who can't afford tuition. I also sell lectures and other depth-oriented materials offering guidance on the way of reenchantment.
PhD in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness (in progress)
PhD Depth Psychology
MS in Marriage and Family Therapy
Certificate in Permaculture Design
Certificate in Sustainable Landscaping
Various certificates in mythological studies
Fields and disciplines I've contributed to:
Mythology and folklore
Higher ed pedagogy
Professional website: Chalquist.com.