As we drift, incuriously, in the changing winds of our modern ways; the faint echo of sea monsters and heroes, unicorns and wise old wanderers touch our screens like ghosts. We once lived within a landscape of stories and myths; whose cryptic language coloured our worldview with mystery.
Today, more words pass among us each moment than ever before and yet so little is truly said, so little is truly heard. We fill our silence with meaningless words, afraid of the vulnerability captured in the unspoken. The void where our authentic connection dwells.
The spoken word is the art of storytelling and true listening. From mouth to mouth like birds feeding their young; the elders fed the youth with enchanting dreams of love and self discovery since time immemorial. This was the way wisdom and new ideas passed among us. They taught us many things, of pains and pleasures, of mystery and of morality.
Perhaps our myths evade us, not because they are illusions but rather allusions, refusing to serve our cynicism on a silver platter. We try and understand them with our head, until we realise theirs is not a language of the mind. These are the voices of the symbolic, metaphoric gateways into our hearts and imaginations..
If we had a modern myth, perhaps it would tell of a great allegiance to a Master poisoned with madness; a world run by the Mind and the great loyalty of the heart long forgotten, but destined to rise again. A time where it takes great will, persistence and courage to listen to the souls cry, and reject the heavy trodden paths laid by its kingdom to walk their own way forward, following their own rhythm and listening to their own voice. Once more will we reclaim the magnificence of the subtle and the slow.
We may have forgotten to evolve our narrative, but why have myths survived for so many years?
Myth is the mirror for the ego
The ego, is not the shadow of our humanity, it is our everyday personality. Mythology is much like our dreams, they reflect back to us, the patterns, and universal lessons in the experience of our life; they reveal our consciousness and with what eyes we see. It is the place where the otherworld and the everyday meet. Our joys and fears, pains and struggles remain true to our human story of centuries past. Being universal, myths are our unified voice of morality.
Our most powerful tools are those that lullaby the mind. The meditative rhythms that soothe the dragon to sleep, by way of mantra, breath, drumming, walking, music, poetry, dance… myth. These are access points to the otherwise inaccessible parts of our being. We use myths to converse with our deeper selves, we transform, transfigure and step through, where only pure imagination can enter and logic must be left at the door. This is how the mundane is rendered sacred.
Ritual is myth in practice.
“Society has provided [children] no rituals by which they become members of the tribe, of the community. All children need to be twice born, to learn to function rationally in the present world, leaving childhood behind.”
When initiation is neglected, it occurs naturally; through life experience. Yet unguided by myths, under-celebrated by society they pass ultimately, unrecognised by our own selves. We become caught in the cycle of our first myth, the story of our childhood.
We overcompensate with rebellion for recognition. That we are not sons and daughters, but people in our own right. We tattoo ourselves and pierce our skin to scream independence and claim ourselves as our own. If we are not recognised as a sovereign being by society, with our own minds, and our own voice; it is only natural to force that validation by means of power play with authority.
A woman’s first initiation is in her first blood. A unanimously potent rite of passage to womanhood; in fertility there dwells a sacred service to our species. Her experience of menarche captures a frame of beliefs, what it means to be a woman. She recognises her change through the eyes of society. Must she hide, in shame of the raw and wild blood that denotes her wild self? Or will she be celebrated for the power she now possesses within the swelling stomach, hips and thighs; knowing her body carries the pure mystery of life itself? Society unfortunately tells a different story.
“We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.”
Myth helps us to understand ourselves. Whether we consciously embark on it or not, our existence is a journey of discovering who we truly are. It is written, in myth and in stone, upon the Temple walls of the Oracle of Delphi, “Know Thyself”. Here we find the penultimate truth of the purpose of mythology and the path of our existence. We are not seeking meaning, but rather as Joseph Campbell puts it, “the rapture of being alive.”
To know our passions is to know our path. Or to rephrase in the ubiquitous words of Campbell: follow your bliss. Let your work become sacred and your actions become devotions to the small.
Lets sink our feet into the alive, wet earth and recognise the most sacred myth of all: human nature.
The golden arrow of this phrase, our essential expression; our human nature. Inseparable, is our own breath with the breath of Earth. We all belong to this myth, where our own human bodies and the body of mother nature are sounding a siren of unequivocal and uncompromising, rebirth. Forests must burn to be born anew, we must die to ourselves to know ourselves. The sacred story of the hero archetype lies is at the forefront. This is the ultimate truth, the ultimate question.
How will we rise to meet our destiny… how will we save this story?