Having written several blogs discussing mythology associated with ancient and modern cultures, I’ve been getting the nagging feeling that I should define my way of using the word “mythology.” So here I go.
I don’t want to get too complex. The Wikipedia page on mythology is in-depth and academic but there is one sentence that seems to encapsulate my attitude toward mythology: “Some (recent) approaches have rejected a conflict between the value of myth and rational thought, often viewing myths, rather than being merely inaccurate historical accounts, as expressions for understanding general psychological, cultural or societal truths.” Bingo.
To my view, there is no conflict between myth and so-called “rational thought.” None.
Unlike Bill Maher who in Religulous seems to reject the concept of religion based on historical or factual innacuracies in religious texts – or evangelical Christians who insist that the Bible be viewed as historically accurate even when scientific method makes that difficult or impossible – when it comes to mythology, I have little interest in the facts. What matters to me is that a particular story is important enough to venerate and pass down through generations. So when I use the world “mythology” I am referencing important stories passed down orally, and/or in writing, which use symbolic language to describe a people’s deep cultural and spiritual truths.
I am no atheist, but I am also no evangelical. I think there are many ways to understand the vast energy of creation. If you take a ceramic platter and break it into a thousand pieces, each piece is unique, but contains an element of the whole plate. Even if you’ve never seen the whole plate, you can still get an idea of what it was like like by examining and comparing some of the broken pieces. This is the nature of nature, and I very much believe that nature is a manifestation of spirit.
I think that mythology is something like the broken platter. Each story is an endeavor to describe and connect a piece of the broken whole that is human existence. Beyond that, myths and other enduring stories carry important cultural information through time and space. Because cultures are dynamic and alive, these stories are dynamic and alive. In cultures without phonetic writing, important stories are passed down orally, often visually aided by other works of art (paintings, architecture, sculpture, regalia, etc) and natural landmarks.
Now that various methods of recording stories are available, attitudes towards creative and intellectual property have been evolving. These days, what I see in art and storytelling are certain motifs referenced and repeated without necessarily being duplicated or “stolen.” Many of these motifs relate to the “Sun sacrifice” which was simply a mythical slot into which a real human being, Chris Newman, was psychically placed as a very young child and held for about 50 years. A slot where he – and I – continue to be held.
Not for very much longer, I hope.
It is interesting to see how our story evolves and interacts with other stories. But it is still very problematic, especially because we are still being blacklisted on a very large scale, and because the blacklisting continues to cause tremendous financial and psychic conflict and pain.