Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mentors and My Favorite Myth

Sorcerer’s Apprentice from the animated film, Fantasia, is one of Walt Disney’s most memorable characters. In the millions of images swirling in the subconscious of baby boomers, Mickey Mouse plays an apprentice who gets too big for his britches and starts playing with magic before he has the skills to control some of his experiments. This is just one of many good reasons for a monitored apprenticeship!

Mentoring is a lot like an apprenticeship. Mentors take their mentees under wing to teach them a job, a craft, or a life skill—anything from music to magic to managing to be a kind and loving human being. Mentoring is often more informal than an apprenticeship training program. If you’re a parent, aunt or uncle, an older brother or sister, or a teacher, you mentor others all the time, usually kids. Bosses may ask a long-time employee to mentor another employee new to the job. In
Toastmasters, the Vice President of Education assigns all members a more experienced mentor.

The Mentor Years
Now is the perfect time in life for baby boomers to serve as mentors. One
definition of mentor is an influential senior sponsor or supporter. Mentors bolster and cheerlead. Memoir writing can be a form of mentoring by example—why I write this genre and encourage other boomers to do so. With 28 percent of the US population reaching the wisdom years all at once, boomers represent more than a brain trust. We’re nearly an embarrassment of riches. As “seasoned citizens,” we have the ability to share what we’ve learned about making life meaningful—not just with other people supposedly entering the golden years—but with people of all ages. Indigenous elders have done this in their tribes for eons. I call this practice indi-genius. In the Foreword of Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights—the book—I talk about a boomer icon, the stage play Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. Your tribe needs you now more than ever!

Chiron, Mythical Mentor
One of the most fascinating and useful things I learned in my study of astrology is mythology. Planetary bodies are named after mythical beings, mostly from the Greek tradition. Since I’m half-Greek by ancestry, I was probably drawn to the mythology more than most people. It’s in my blood.

I fell in love with the meaning of the planetary body
Chiron (KY’-ron), discovered in 1977. As both a planet and myth, Chiron is primarily symbolic of how we find wholeness. Chiron, the planet, was named after the famous and kind centaur, whose upper half was man—his bottom half, horse.

Chiron mentored heroes in Northeastern Greece on Mt. Pelion. His charges were famous in the galaxy of Greek mythological stars, among them Hercules, Asclepius (the Father or Medicine), and Achilles. Chiron became my astrological specialty. Not hard to understand why I fell in love! Chiron symbolizes a skeleton key that unlocks the portal to where we find fulfillment. I learned there is both a personal and community aspect to “finding ourselves.” We all have gifts we must give in order to feel complete. I write about this need in a chapter of Hot Flashbacks called, “It’s Just Got to Come Out of You.” However, it’s not satisfying to live our passions in a vacuum. We must find how to give our gifts in a way that also benefits our community.

How Chiron Mentored Heroes
Chiron provided a well-rounded education to young heroes-in-training at his boarding school on Mt. Pelion. His education was holistic and included not just the martial arts, but the creative arts, as well. He taught in a balanced way, the full spectrum of skills, from archery to music. The discovery of Chiron coincides with men getting in contact with their animas, helping to rear children, like the many Chiron both foster-parented and mentored. Once there was matriarchy, then there was patriarchy. The discovery of Chiron signals a chance in our lifetime for true integration of all polarities within us and the “oppositions” we experience with others. One of his astrological meanings is bridge between heaven and earth. If we’re not in inner or outer conflict, that’s heaven!

My Mentoring Assignment
I was just sitting at my computer minding my own business one day recently, when I got a surprise request from a friend. Would I be interested in mentoring her daughter, a high school senior, in a writing project? My heart said yes immediately—it nearly leapt out of my chest. My mind, of course, said “too busy.” After asking some questions about time commitment and specific need, I sat with the idea and got a green light from Spirit. Kayla and I have teamed on her book-writing project. I love playing Chiron, and I can’t wait to see how this relationship contributes to the development of her special gifts. I could tell from the first paragraph of her book: she is a terrific writer and visionary in the making. I am already proud of anything I can do to coach her into what leaps off the page as her true destiny.

Where Can You Mentor?
Of course, there are many opportunities to become a mentor, if this idea appeals to you. Transmit your desire from your mind-spirit and bolster them with prayer, meditation, or however you connect with the larger cosmic consciousness. This intention will often bring a chance to help right to your doorstep, telephone—or e-mail box!

However, if your inner guidance says
seek, and ye shall find, you can start with the organization, Mentor. It defines mentoring and provides a list of organizations, such as Big Brothers & Big Sisters, searchable by zip code and within a designated mile radius. I was surprised to find a dozen organizations within 15 miles of my home providing mentoring services to young people. Churches and nearly every other kind of organization offer opportunities to help show the ropes to members, both young and older alike. In my own church, I am a lay minister in a program that mentors individuals returning to their faith after a long absence. Since I’d been there and done it—returned after more than 40 years away—I wanted to share the excitement of how I integrated my larger spiritual journey into my homecoming to the church of my childhood.

Mentoring Magic
If I can help Kayla take even a single step toward claiming the place where she lives her passion, while sharing her greatest gifts with others, it will be one of my most fulfilling accomplishments. There is a divine domino effect in “
each one, teach one.” There is no doubt in my mind why no man is an island. Earth is a school, and each human being we encounter is one of the many mentors or teachers in the custom curriculum of our soul development.

Who could resist helping create a planet with a lot of soul?

Image: The Education of Achilles (ca. 1772) by James Barry (1741-1806), oil on canvas, depicting the education of Achilles by the centaur Chiron. Located at the Yale Center for British Art. Public domain.


Donna Cunningham said...

Wonderful article, Joyce! I had some excellent mentors in college and early on in my astrology career, and I owe them so much. Over the years, I have functioned as a mentor to a number of very worthy people, mostly in astrology, and love the role.
One question that came to my astrology advice column in Dell Horoscope was about a reader's difficulties with her various mentors, all in a certain pattern. And so I was lead to consider what astrological features would show the mentorship process. You're saying Chiron, but to me it was sort of a combo of Saturn and the 9th house. A mentor is a teacher, but a special kind of teacher, like Master's level independent studies type of teacher. It's also kind of 11th house, but again, with a bit of Saturn involved, older more experienced friend.
Here's a question I have been wrestling with for a while. Now and again someone I don't know from Adam will write to ask me if I will be their mentor. (Some of them don't even bother to spell check their request.) And it always puts me off, seriously.
In thinking through who I am comfortable mentoring, it is usually someone I know and am familiar with their work AND find the work or their mind has great potential. In short, these are quality people I believe in and whom I feel have a kind of integrity about their work.
Sometimes they are people who I run across and am favorably impressed with, such as some of the first-time authors in The Mountain Astrologer. I always take the time to write them a fan letter or note on their blog, and so the relationship develops from that. (But then I feel guilty that maybe I'm being elitist.)
So, again, for me, it is a Saturn thing. Comments?

PopArtDiva said...

I do a lot of work with seniors on how to use and enjoy computers. It's a lot of fun to take the fear and trepidation away and show the joys of cyber life to folks in their seventies and eighties!

Joyce Mason said...

Hi, Donna--

Since Chiron's planetary position is intermediary between Saturn and Uranus, I think of Chiron as being able to help people ground and bring into form their parcticular genius. In the myth, Chiron was literally a mentor who did just that. What a group of heroes he helped create! However, this isn't to say there isn't more than one astrological signature for where mentoring might show in someone's chart. Looking at Saturn and the 9th makes complete sense to me. I agree about a mentor being a special teacher--more one who gets beyond formal "book learning" and into mastery of life--again, where one's special gifts finally find expression.

It's not a role to take lightly, and I'm with you. It would take just the right feeling and fit for me to do this for someone. Otherwise, we might delay or derail the mentee's finding the person that can really help him or her the most.

Thanks for these evocative thoughts,

Anonymous said...

I recently discovered you on the WE magazine list of "101 Bloggers to Watch". (Heidi asked me to tell you she sent me.) Fascinating reading. I know it's my turn to mentor (just turned 50) but I still want to HAVE a mentor! I love to learn.

Joyce Mason said...

Thank you, "drulewis!" Welcome! Followed your link to your LifePoint blog. It's great.

Just had to say that in my first meeting with the young woman I'm mentoring, I realized that I am getting just as much mentoring back. I know that sounds paradoxical--most truths are--but it's amazing. Sharing with Kayla allows me to identify and capsulize much of what I've learned. It makes me realize I knew more than I thought! In a way, I'm becoming my own mentor in the process... but I still have many other personal mentors. I think we can wear the shoe on either foot. On days when I am frustrated and need a mentor most, I wonder if it's better to be "dementor" rather than "demented." LOL! But I'm here to attest to the two-way street, and it's all more give-and-take I realized at first.

I thanked Heidi personally for her great networking on the 101 Bloggers to Watch list. I'm honored to be among them and for her marketing support--another form of mentoring.

Karen O'Bannon said...

Great piece and quite timely for me. Many of the thoughts I've been having were reaffirmed in reading your post. Thank you.

Eileen Williams said...

I think mentoring is such an valuable concept--especially for women our age. We grew up in a time when there were only limited opportunities for women and we had to fight long and hard battles to achieve all that we did at home and in the workplace. So, if anyone understands the value of a helping hand, IT IS US!
Thanks so much for the fabulous post and the important reminder!

Beverly Mahone said...

I think mentoring is a wonderful idea but I also believe there are many older people who are really out of touch with the younger generation. As an avid volunteer at my daughter's schools while she was growing up, I saw many needs for young people but in order to reach them you have to understand where they are coming from. The old "my way or no way" days are gone.

Pam Archer said...

I believe that when we are blessed with talent, we are responsible to share it with others, and particularly through mentoring to develop their skill and passion. It is a rewarding experience for both, and we get to give back in a lasting way.

Leslie Thomas Flowers said...

Generosity is a virtue. Mentoring is generosity. Interesting how that's been around since the beginning of time.
I developed a story and marketing campaign for my chocolate company (non operational now) several years ago. It began on a planet that was inhabited by spirits who were chosen by the Gods based on exhibiting the epitome of a Virtue.
I think people love living virtuously because it feels good and is a simple, satisfying life.
Imagine if each one of us in mid life took one one person to mentor in the thing that we love the most. Imagine our world then! I have two I am mentoring now to facilitate 10 week free mastermind studies on Bob Proctor's You Were Born Rich!

Years ago when I was chairman of our County's Tournament of Bands competition, as president as well, I set up mentoring programs for each subcommittee because I saw that when parents 'aged-out' with their children, those left behind were faced with reinventing the wheel again.

Joyce Mason said...

What a wonderful perception, Leslie. I've never given much thought to mentoring as a act of generosity. It is truly giving of yourself--your life experiences, what you have learned the hard way and even the happy way--in hopes of making the road a easier for the next generation. That's why encourage baby boomers to write their memoirs. I hadn't realized, till your comment, that memoirs are a written form of mentoring.

Melodieann said...

I have been a Girl Scout volunteer all of my adult life for just that reason. One of the most memorable experiences of my life? A girl I had worked on a project with was told she could invite the person who had the most impact on her life to her senior awards luncheon. She invited me. What an honor! You never know just how much influence your mentoring may have on someone.

Joyce Mason said...

What a beautiful story, Melodieann. Thank you for sharing it!

Pat Montgomery said...

You are so inspirational. And Kayla is blessed to have you in her life.

And thanks for the Mercury retrograde warning for next month...!

Joyce Mason said...

You warm my heart, Pat. I believe inspiration is one of my gifts, and when I hit the mark, I feel like an angel who got her wings! (It's the holiday season.) I just met with Kayla tonight, and I was telling her how our mentoring energy seems to have created a vortex of attraction. A dear friend from Australia has resurfaced in my life just when she could use some inspiration to get going on her creative writing, the thing that really feeds her. I feel so warmed up to do that from mentoring Kayla.

As to "Murky Retro," it would be criminal to know and not inform the public, LOL! It is actually a great time when used for its intended reason--to pause and rethink, reconsider, redo, etc. Mercury's antics when in retrograde occur when we try to run around at the usual frenetic modern pace when the universe is telling us to take a nap. :)

Thanks for making my day.