Contrast worksheet for Path of the Stray

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Kim Falconer

Contrast

What is contrast and why is it important? Or is it important?

Is there an Upside to Darkness?

Ruby’s sword master at Treeon Temple teaches here about judgment and contrast. Pg. 190

‘. . . We don’t know what effect our
life journey has on consciousness. I suspect we need
the peaks and the valleys, the challenges, the fears, the
exhilarations. We need the contrast just as a child longs
to know who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are in a
story. Pathology — disorders — may be better seen as
adventures of the spirit.’

Ruby tells Loni about Gaela, pg 399

On Gaela there isn’t the desperation or oppression. Earth is
saturated with it. Here, everything mourns its own death, even
while it’s still alive. There, everything celebrates, even if there
is a death. It’s so beautiful. Life there is … magical. I wonder
if it was ever like that on Earth.’

There is a fundamental difference between Earth and Gaela. It boils down to two perspectives, it and thou. On future Earth all but ‘man’ is an it. Object. Expendable. On Gaela, everything—people, animal, rock, tree, river, storm—is a thou. Revered. As Joseph Campbell said, our whole psychology changes when we see the world as a thou. The contrast in POTS helps demonstrate the difference between a world of it consciousness and thou. By recognising this, it expands the mind and changes how we see our Earth, the one that’s under our feet.
Note: It turns out the brain can’t tell the difference between a dream, a memory, a fantasy or ‘reality’. If we are emotionally engaged with the story—seeing it unfold through the eyes of the main characters, frightened

when they are in danger and uplifted when they find safety—it’s the same, to the brain, as if those events are really happening to us.
This is the magic of storytelling. It doesn’t just talk about what was, or what is, it takes us to a place where the question what if becomes true. By going there in the mind, new neural pathways form, connecting the experience of things like gender bias vs. equality and reverence for all life. From the darkness of future Earth and its contrasts to Gaela, we may gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and where life as thou can lead. From that point a different future becomes possible because we have, for a moment in time, lived it.

Light and Dark Nature

Where is the love? Sometimes we have to turn out all the lights to find it.

You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to whether your myth presents nature as fallen or whether nature is in itself a manifestation of divinity, and the spirit is the revelation of the divinity that is inherent in nature. –Joseph Campbell

In Path of the Stray’s Earth, Nature is seen as ‘fallen’. On Gaela, Nature is one with all life. Divine. Consequently there is a totally different way of living in each world.

Janis arguing with Cheng about nature, pg 83

‘Women are the embodiment of nature, Cheng,’ she
said. ‘If the female gender is marginalised, so is the
environment.’
‘That’s ridiculous. A woman is no more of nature
than a man.’
‘As individuals perhaps, but I’m speaking
symbolically. It is a connection seen throughout history,
in all places and times. Cultures that honour the sacred
feminine do not defile nature.’

* * *


Janis and Luka explaining the origins of the ‘Hammer of Witches ‘to Celia, Pg 170.

‘The god, their God, mirrored the culture,’ Janis said.
‘Every woman on the planet became a target — an Eve,
Lilith, Pandora. Read the myths.’
‘It was nothing new,’ Luka said. ‘Patriarchy by its
own dichotomy fears its wild side and so denies it,
represses it. As soon as nature strikes back — as soon as
there is a plague or a storm or an earthquake — the
scapegoat is sought. Ironic, isn’t it? Nature brings a
catastrophe and women are tried, tortured and killed by
the tens of thousands.’
‘It’s not ironic, Luka,’ Celia said. ‘It’s heinous.’
‘That too,’ he said. ‘But with the sacred feminine, the
dark feminine mystique of Mother Earth, deleted from
the major religions, the energy emerged from the
collective unconscious as witches. Patriarchy’s first
response was to stamp them out.’
‘Emerged from the collective?’ Celia asked. ‘Explain
what you mean.’
‘Blasted through the floorboards is more like it,’ Janis
said. She turned to Celia. ‘Whatever we push under
gains power simply because we resist it. In those dark
centuries The Hammer of Witches was written as a
manual — instructing magistrates on how to identify,
interrogate and convict “witches”. Effectively, it was a
licence for gendercide, a way to keep the sacred
feminine repressed.’

Discussion

How do you respond to contrast, in the story and in life? Does it feel expansive or restrictive? Can you suspend judgment and see events as ‘part of the journey?’ If it were a film, would you close your eyes? Why?
How do you experience life around you? As a thou or it? When you feel connected or disconnected to Nature, what happens in your body? mind?