While I was living on Turners’ Field I worked and interacted creatively with lots of people, most of them more or less interested in how to find or generate community. Wherever I went, I seemed to meet people who wanted some kind of eco-communitarian life. The only model we had was the nuclear family romantic pair bond, with the two person home, co-dependency and then children. It was stuck like concrete in our unconscious so it was the default position. I knew that once these young people who came to stay and learn with me met someone and found that a baby was on the way, they would only have four or five months to secure a safe nest for it to arrive into.
I decided that what was needed was structure. I began to see that all the complexities of eco-community could be located inside 6 parts of the whole, like the segments of an orange. I put up 6 large sheets of card on the walls of my room and whenever I thought of something I posted it up. It was exciting as what I started to call INTERCULTURE came alive.
One category contained everything to do with accommodation design and particularly the main building that would be needed as a place for the whole group to be together and for all the shared resources, like food storage, library, computer room, laundry and so on. There are categories for finance and legal constitution that sustains justice and shared power and responsibility; for journeys, networking, exploring the wonders of the world and time for individuals to be away on their personal quests; right use of science and technology and livelihood with integrity; personal development and individual achievement of potential. Last but not least there is an equal place for play, art, music, drama, entertainment, sexual love and beauty in all things.
At the same time I was looking carefully into the Celtic Round Table mythology. This fabulous mythic tradition is familiar to people the world over, through many old tales and then in many films, as ‘Arthurian’ mythology. In the interests of inclusive sex and age equality I talk about it as ‘Celtic Round Table’ mythology. Around that round family table can be seen six main characters, representing the three ages of woman and the three ages of man. Merlin and Vivienne are the grandparents, Morgan and Arthur the parents and Lancelot and Guinevere the son and daughter.
One evening I was having dinner with an old friend Nick Mann over and talking about my six pages up on the walls around us. Nick is a writer and teacher of ancient history and mythology and his presence inspired me with the idea that these six characters might fit into what I started to call the six nodes of INTERCULTURE. Once the process started, all six characters fell naturally into place and I saw them sitting clearly around the round table of community!
Guinevere, the daughter in the human family, first slipped naturally into the node covered by the arts, beauty, leisure, drama, entertainment and what we might call ‘romance’ or sexual attraction. The Guinevere nature is stronger in some of us than others, but in all of us is the need to play, to rest, refresh ourselves with something non-material and lighthearted, passionately dramatic or simply self indulgent. Connecting with our Guinevere energy or desires, we remember to initiate and announce, call for, welcome and accept the need for a party, a celebration or an entertainment. As one of the six synthesised places around the table, this node and character of community life is as essential in the long term sustainability of any project or culture as the seriously material. The maintainance of the buildings for example will only be enjoyed and managed well if people are happy and fulfilled overall. The Guinevere in us makes time to paint a picture or to dress ourselves up to please ourselves and others. ‘Guinevere’ thinking tells us that we can live in a world where leisure and play are as important as work. With our Guinevere hats on we know that whole works of art lie dormant and that we have the latent talent and ability, individually and together, to produce music, poetry, writing, sculpture, film and all manner of abundant cultural diversity and genius. In Guinevere mode we celebrate life and art at every opportunity, knowing that is essential for health, wealth and happiness. Guinevere energy is sometimes narcistic, flirtatious, enjoying being sexually alive and attractive, knowing that sexuality and creativity are very closely connected. When we feel free from the direct responsibilities of the other characters, we can play like children and tap into new depths of self expression and creativity. “If there’s no singing or dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming!”
The youngest male character, Lancelot, represents the quest, that in all of us that needs to travel, to take journeys near or far, to discover, find adventures and make discoveries. The questor returns from their travels bringing new ideas and development potential into the community. They may bring new people, new skills and encourage diversity and innovation. The Lancelot quality in us knows when to support and encourage others of any age in their questing. In Lancelot mode, we learn to intervene to support those who may try to deter another from exercising that part of themselves, maybe for fear of what they may find that will take them away from us, or because we are avoiding that of Lancelot in our own hearts and minds. Lancelot’s node is about freedom of action. The challenge of developing that part of ourselves is to learn to integrate this with responsibility for our own safety and for how others are affected. Wearing our Lancelot hats we know that people can’t be expected to take responsibility unless they are free to do so and that my freedom must be your freedom and universal freedom for all. Otherwise it is merely dangerous license, to pollute, control or exploit. Lancelot thinking knows that people must co-operate to create and sustain a true quality of freedom and accepts the special duty to guard the community from any coercion or influence that threatens personal liberty. To satisfy the Lancelot part of our psyches, we recognise that it takes a whole community to rear a child. Within the isolation of the nuclear family culture, fathers commonly have to suppress this Lancelot part of themselves. Social statistics reveal huge numbers of children left by their fathers in the lone hands of women who may then make unwise or dangerous liaisons to lessen boredom and loneliness. Within an imaginatively designed eco-community setting, no-one is excluded from full participation in their society or unable to travel away from it. Outer exploration is here matched by equal courage in inner exploration and Lancelot energy within us loves diversity in others, refuses to judge himself or others according to outmoded moral codes. Wearing our Lancelot hats we forgive ourselves when we fall from grace and teach others to forgive more easily.
Morgan as nurturing and protecting mother focuses our attention on the happiness and well being of the children and the child in all her companions. She shares this focus with Arthur the father, although they have different main concerns. The Morgan faculty in us all makes sure that the community constitutional, social and financial arrangements and commitments in all language and details protect the freedom and equality of every member. ‘Morgan’ thinking never lets us forget that constant vigilance is needed to maintain the integrity of our freedom, neither that the language we use to think and speak creates our experiences of what is happening in every moment. That mature interdependent mother energy in everyone also ensures that emotional needs are treated with as much importance as other needs. That includes physical spaces for emotional release and nurturing, such as cosy corners in the community house, where people can be wrapped up warm and looked after when they need that.
The character of Arthur focuses attention on the safety, inclusivity, efficiency and abundance of the community home and overall physical infrastucture. ‘Arthur’ thinking tells us when the roof needs fixing and checks to make sure that the store-cupboards are full. The Arthur in us creates and maintains a safe physical space for all the members of a community family to be together in one building for all collective purposes. That focus ensures that there is room for everyone to gather, to eat, play, engage in collaborative creativity, make entertainment, hold meetings and include and provide hospitality for visitors. ‘Arthur’ thinking knows when someone needs support in the community setting and intervenes with protection when necessary. All are safe in the community house. This Arthur focus also takes responsibility on the rare occasions when it becomes necessary to remove any element or presence from the community that cannot integrate itself or self regulate or receive support to be able to do so. This might be a person or a behaviour or an object, like a vehicle in the way or an eyesore that needs removing. With our Arthur and Morgan hats on working together, we interact with the wider community, with local or bigger authorities and concerned or influential neighbours for example.
Vivienne in the Celtic round table mythology is the grandmother who makes it her particular interest, responsibility and commitment to support people in their personal development, training and education and their striving towards their unique and full potential. ‘Vivienne’ thinking applies itself to supporting individuals to maintain a dynamic balance between their own ‘work’ and their community participation, their co-creativity with others and their relationships, with lovers and children for example. With our Vivienne hat on we will keep a close eye on how the life of the community supports individual development and self-realisation. We support individuals to give their own ‘selfish’ needs and activities all the attention and energy required for them to satisfy themselves and their ambitions. Because we are part of a community round table, we know we don’t have to worry overduly about where the balance is between ‘selfish’ concerns and group concerns. There are others there to keep their eye on other aspects of life. Morgan might speak up about a person’s creative involvement with the children of the community or lack of it. Arthur might remind them that they are needed on a site maintainance day. Vivienne’s eye remains clear and true to individual aspirations. ‘She’ also calls for a womens’ circle whenever she feels that is needed and brooks no interference from those who resist that idea. Even if only a few other women join her, she knows that sometimes the sexes need to separately communicate to explore any perspectives or experience that may be particular or different from that of the other.
Finally we come to Merlin, the grandfather, who is represented in mythology as a wise magician with a special role in shaping the history of the culture and directing its development along a path of enlightened relationship with nature and human evolution. Our visual symbol here is the raven who sits on Merlin’s shoulder and travels between his human world and the animal freedom of the wilderness. If Merlin in us were to try and restrain the raven, control it or limit its freedom, it would abandon us and refuse to communicate and keep us company. ‘Merlin’ thinking knows that working with nature is necessary for our health and safety on Earth. The raven flies freely between the worlds and facilitates study that informs our human understandings, in trust that we know we are ‘all in this together’. If we want sustainable human evolution we put our Merlin hats on to see how to co-operate with all the other animals we share the planet with. Merlin also focuses our attention on what we might call ‘right use of science’. There are brilliant engineers and inventors who deliver enormous power into human culture, with little if any say in how their creativity, ingenuity and genius is used. Once something has been invented, like nuclear fission for example, we have seen how it can be used to destroy and put the whole human project at risk. Merlin in us insists that all our technology is seen and understood to be in the deepest interest of the whole ecology of Earthly life and for the common long term human good. ‘He’ calls a mens’ circle whenever he feels that is needed, while acknowledging that neither a mens’ nor a womens’ circle has decision-making power, but is to investigate, reveal and allow the expression of what may be a particular or somehow different sex oriented or conditioned perspective.
Two extra unisex characters then appeared that are not fixed but move freely around the community table. One I am presently calling the Fool, or Joker and their role is to disrupt when that is needed and generally make sure that no at of community life starts to take itself too seriously
I have been sitting on this model for many years now and wondering why I have been s shy about publishing it.