I have always been fascinated with shamans, so I was excited to see that Mike Reeves-McMillan has a story appearing in the New Myths anthology. Shamanism weaves together an interesting blend of the physical and spiritual worlds. Sometimes the two worlds meet, and at other times they are separate–but let’s learn more of how Mike envisioned his story.
Your story is “Where Is Your Breath?” Tell us what it’s about and why you chose that title.
It’s the story of a pious Asterist scholar – a member of a formal, almost academic, religion – who meets a smelly, illiterate Earthist shaman while observing the stars. They form an unlikely bond.
The title is part of a line of dialog from the story, and Charles Barouch, the editor of the book, was the one who suggested using it as the title. The shaman asks it of the scholar as a way to help him to an awareness of his own body. There’s a deeper significance to it as well, as the full line suggests:
“We have a saying: a person is a way to turn air into breath. Where is your breath?”
What myth or concept did you build on?
I built on my own background as a Christian who is less and less interested in doctrine and more and more interested in personal transformation, assisted by meditative techniques. I’ve also practiced as a hypnotherapist in the past, and that fed in as well.
In your opinion, why do we enjoy mythology and sharing such stories?
Myths touch something in us that is beneath and beyond rationality. I sometimes say that we need science because the universe is rational, but we need art because humans aren’t rational.
Do you have a favorite myth? If so, what is it?
I would have to say the Resurrection is something that holds a lot of power for me. The idea of passing through destruction and death, being cast down to the lowest point, and then rising again is a hopeful and compelling pattern.
Are there any current projects you’re working on that we should be aware of?
“Where is Your Breath?” is set in my Gryphon Clerks universe, and I’m currently at work on the fourth novel in that setting, Beastheads. It also has shamans in it. In fact, the main character is a failed shaman’s apprentice.
Where can we find you online?