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Author Topic: mythic stories  (Read 2380 times)

HeartShadow

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mythic stories
« on: March 20, 2012, 01:03:59 pm »
*this post was inspired by a talk I gave at Paganicon.*

Structure of Mythic Stories

What makes a story a mythic story as opposed to a regular story?  What is it we need when we are creating and discovering our own myths, and why do we need to do it anyway?

Myths are a truth told in allegory, a truth that isn't necessarily the same as the physical truth of the world around us.  Myth is a way to understand the spiritual side of the world and how we relate to it.  It speaks to a different reality than the language of science.

That does not mean myth is a lie.  A mythic story needs to speak to a truth that the physical world does not.  A creation story tells not of how we were made, but why we are here.  Stories of hubris, pride, accomplishment and failure – they are not of the literal truth of what happens, but teaching moments of how we are to live and how the world works.

We have the opportunity, right now, to build our own myths.  To start with how the world works and go from there to story, to myth.  To understand the process and enter it deliberately.  We can tell our own stories – but they have to be true.  Not literal truth, but true.  If they don't resonate with the spirit, they're not myth.

What goes into a myth?  There needs to be a reason to tell it – something that cannot be told with scientific fact.  Science can tell us how, but it cannot tell us why.  It can speak of evolution but not what we should do with our lives.

Our myths tell us how we should try to live our lives.  The great American myth at the moment is that of pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps – that one can go from poor to rich through personal effort.  It is a story that tells us how to live our lives, how to proceed with our goals.  We all have stories like this.

It is not enough to have gods and rituals.  It is not enough to have rules and pomp.  We need stories to tell each other, stories to teach to our children and to share with our families.  Stories to bind us together and yet celebrate our individuality.

Without the story, without the myth, we don't know what it is we're doing.  We might have a how, but we don't have a why.  We don't have reason.
   
Without story we might as well just go through the motions.

Prompt – what are your stories?  What are you trying to say with them?  Why?

Juni

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2012, 02:40:15 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;46562


 
You know, I had things to do today. I did not need this earworm!

*hmphs*
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HeartShadow

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mythic stories
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2012, 03:53:25 pm »
Quote from: Juni;46567
You know, I had things to do today. I did not need this earworm!

*hmphs*

You're welcome!

I'll get the ball rolling with the FK creation story.

Once there was everything that existed.  It was all in one place, compressed into one spot, outside of time.  Then it became aware of itself, and there was not enough room in that timeless place for both what existed and awareness, so it exploded into time and space as we know it.

What does this story tell us?  It tells us that the universe is aware, and that awareness is the defining changing moment that creates reality.  It also speaks to our connection and being part of that whole, as the universe is all there is.

dragonfaerie

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2012, 04:53:25 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;46562
Prompt – what are your stories?  What are you trying to say with them?  Why?


I'm sure I'll use this as a journal exercise later, and come up with something more profound, but what instantly popped into my head is...

"Shit happens. How you deal with it makes you or breaks you."

What does that say? It says that there's no destiny, nothing happens for a reason... it just happens.

And it also doesn't say that "you only get what you can handle". Handling it or not handling it is up to you.

Now, on the other hand, I do ascribe to the cosmic clue-by-four, but that's in how you handle it. I think when the Gods decide we need a "lesson", it may or may not be something we can easily handle. Deal with it, don't deal with it... absorb calmly or go batshit crazy, those are the choices WE make in assimilating what goes on.

But, you know, that's not really a story. It's the "moral" to a story. The story I could tell to illustrate this would be the deeply personal myth of a woman losing her mother suddenly one day, and having to deal with the aftermath and the continual process of grieving and loss. Which is, you know, my life.

Karen

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2012, 05:42:14 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;46576

Once there was everything that existed.  It was all in one place, compressed into one spot, outside of time.  Then it became aware of itself, and there was not enough room in that timeless place for both what existed and awareness, so it exploded into time and space as we know it.

 
I've always been fond of the 'in the beginning was nothing - then this nothing exploded'.
But I like this version a lot more. That it is the awareness that is exploding all over the place. Yes. This.
\'You had to repay, good or bad. There was more than one type of obligation.
That’s what people never really understood.….Things had to balance.
You couldn’t set out to be a good witch or a bad witch. It never worked out for long.
All you could try to be was a witch, as hard as you could.\'
Terry Pratchett \'Lords and Ladies\'

Confuzzled and proud. :p

Altair

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2012, 10:14:53 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;46562
Prompt – what are your stories? What are you trying to say with them? Why?

My esoteric specialty!

THE SINGER AND THE DRAGON
a creation myth

   In the beginning, there is Unu, and Unu is All; from its harmony and its discord, all things flow, and to its ever-shifting pattern all things return, for in truth they have never left.  But in the end, beyond Unu, the dragon waits: the all-consuming nameless, whose shapeless form is chaos, whose hunger knows no bounds, whose gaping maw forever strives to swallow all sound and to extinguish all light.

   Feeling the cold breath of the dragon as it drew near, the great goddess Unu raised her voice and began to sing; and this Song of Diversity, intolerable to the dragon, became the Goddess’s sole weapon in her struggle against the beast.  The magic of the song set to work instantly, changing one into many, so that the Goddess now has three faces and wears three different forms, the better to fight the dragon with.  The first face, shining with the fearsome light of his flaming eyes, is that of Cosmos, Lord of the Stars; the second face is that of gray-haired Chronos, Father Time; and the third face remains forever hidden in shadow, for it belongs to the dark lord, Logos--better known as Night, the Lord of Things Unseen.  Together, the Three Who Are One struggle against the dragon to this very day.

   But the great song had only just begun...

   The Three Who Are One looked out into the void and saw their own reflection, knowing themselves for who they truly were: Unu in her fullness, beckoning her other selves as suitors.  Through the power of her song, she shattered all boundaries so that reflection and self could momentarily touch.  Seeing the beautiful Goddess made manifest before him, the bright lord, Cosmos, could not contain the fiery lust within him; his powerful body surged toward her, rashly pushing his two brethren aside.  Night too was smitten, falling in love with the Goddess for her fathomless complexity; but he courteously stepped aside and, with a knowing smile that on his shadowed face none could see, he let the physically superior Cosmos lie with the Goddess first.  Aged Chronos, meanwhile, had absolutely no carnal interest in the Goddess; the twilight lord was well beyond such desires and focused his attention with infinite patience on his sole task: shepherding the passage of time.  

   And indeed, a long time passed before Cosmos, in ecstasy with Unu, had finally spent himself.  But once he had, it was time for Night’s long-awaited union with the Great Goddess.  She was already pregnant with billions upon billions of children from Cosmos’s potent seed, so virile was he; but now Night set his plan in motion, for as he lay with the Goddess he used his magic to change the nature of all that was in Unu’s womb, so that the countless children that would have been Cosmos’s would now be his, Night’s.  

   Learning of this after the fact, Cosmos was beside himself; he raged, and wept fiery tears from his flaming eyes, and, finally, sought help from Chronos.  With a heavy sigh, the graybeard intervened, joining with the Great Goddess himself.  Though he could not undo Night’s spell, Chronos added his own magic to it, so that although all things born of Unu would fall to Night’s domain, they would do so only at their appointed hour.

   And so from the Great Goddess were born the children of Cosmos, the celestial gods--trillions of worlds and stars, beautiful daughters and radiant sons whose dance forms the whirling heavens and whom Cosmos lovingly embraces in the folds of his cloak of space.  To Chronos the Goddess bore a single child, their son Doom--alone, save for his father, as a temporal god.  And from Night’s seed, Unu gave birth to the nocturnal goddesses, the twin sisters Death and Sleep.  With all these new melodies, the universe was born, reverberating with Unu’s song.

   And still the song unfolds, in infinite complexity...

   Cosmos, his lust irrepressible, took all the trillions of celestial gods as his own lovers, shapeshifting into myriad wondrous forms to pleasure them.  But though Cosmos found each coupling exquisite and unique, none could rival that first joy of his union with the Great Goddess, a joy he vainly strives to re-create, finding her everywhere and yet nowhere until the end of time.  Still, of all the celestials, the twin goddesses Maia and Luna were his favorites; his passion for them was matched only by their passion for each other.  Thanks to Cosmos’s potent seed, soon Maia gave birth to earthly life--millions of species, from the lowliest microbe to the commonest weeds to the mightiest dinosaurs to humankind itself.  Each was a new note, shifting in
combinations harmonious and dissonant, of concordance and conflict, but all contributing to Unu’s song.

   Even now the Great Goddess sings her Song of Diversity, turning one into many, who dance to her spiraling tune.  We are born of Unu and that song, the children of a fertile earth and a starry sky, fated to return to her through Night’s embrace at our appointed hour.  Until then we sing, each of us and everything, creating All anew every day, holding the dragon at bay.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2012, 10:18:08 pm by Altair »
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Annie Roonie

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2012, 10:26:23 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;46562
Prompt – what are your stories?  What are you trying to say with them?  Why?

Being apt to write on this day, I spent a good deal of time writing my own myth inspired by this. In doing so, I understood more fully what I was trying to say with the story. It is the message I am called upon to send to most every child who risks the process of learning. Simply nutshelled: It's going to be okay. You're beautiful in what you do and who you are and how you learn. It's going to be okay, so risk it. Try. If nobody else ever cares, I will. And I will remember you.

It s a message I need, but in this expanding populace it is a message I think most children must hear at some point from someone not obligated to tell them such things. And I do not mean they need an esteem boost about their physicality or intellect, but they do need to realize they are their thoughts and no matter how special or not anyone else is, they also matter. The children I see are far too visible to themselves physically. And with every achievement roll, their brain functions are put on display or not. These two pressures in school at least, I believe, work wonders to making children want to disappear to the point that they often behave as if they and nobody else matters.  So my stories are typically pointed reminders that they do matter and that someone will remember them if only their crazy old teacher.

It's a sneaky double edge. On one side they have to admit something of their own thoughts and on the other they have to risk learning something and how it might change or add to those thoughts, and they have to know they will be seen and valued regardless. A relief and an onus all at once, but if told correctly, they are usually far to involved in the process of trying to worry about how it will change them. :) And that, to me, is beautiful to see.

I am not always successful with my story telling, but I cannot see the point in giving up either. Giving up is the abyss and after that it is only try again anyway. So the stories as much for me as for them.

Thank you for the prompt. I've saved my myth for some fine tuning, so know at some future date, my thanks to you will be doubled.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2012, 10:28:02 pm by Annie Roonie »

earth_dragon

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2012, 02:24:37 am »
Quote from: Altair;46619
My esoteric specialty!

THE SINGER AND THE DRAGON
a creation myth

 
I had not seen or read that before. It's absolutely lovely!  :)

Altair

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2012, 05:57:27 pm »
Quote from: earth_dragon;46742
I had not seen or read that before. It's absolutely lovely!  :)


Thanks! It's an old version of the first myth in my larger myth cycle; the myths have evolved greatly since then, but the basic structure of that first myth still holds true. I was lucky enough to get it published way back when, albeit in Llewellyn's Magical Almanac (either the 1999 or 2000 edition, I can't remember which offhand).
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: mythic stories
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2012, 07:16:30 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;46562

Structure of Mythic Stories


I had to force myself to stay away from this thread until today, aside from posting one of my myths as reply (that was quick and easy; just copy and paste). I had a self-imposed deadline of the first full day of spring (yesterday) to finish writing a myth I’ve been procrastinating on forever. (Did it!) Now I can give this proper attention…

Quote
What makes a story a mythic story as opposed to a regular story?

  • a Big Issue: the origin of life, the meaning of life, the reason for death, our place in the universe, what is love,…
  • Timelessness: They happen outside of normal time; even if they happen at a specific time and place, it’s at a remove from the daily existence we know
  • Reflects the world around us: A bit at odds with #2, but not really. Myth, while timeless, is grounded in the phenomena we experience in the world around us—the sun and moon, thunderstorms, the ocean…

That’s what comes to mind as making myth distinctive from regular story, off the top of my head.

 
Quote
What is it we need when we are creating and discovering our own myths, and why do we need to do it anyway?


You need to find something you know to be true from your experience in the world. Not a trite truth; something meaningful. That’s the seed of a myth.

We need myth for the same reason we need music and art; more so, IMHO. Myth is the operating system by which we make sense of all the raw data that life as a human being throws at us.

Humans excel at abstract thinking; it’s why we have language. We use language to fashion story, an even more abstract way, I think, for transmitting ideas. Myth takes two of our greatest tools of abstraction—language and its natural outgrowth, story—and uses them to think abstractly about the facts of our own existence. For a species that thrives on abstract thinking, that makes myth irresistible.

I’ve babbled enough. Shutting up now.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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