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Author Topic: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?  (Read 3615 times)

Zanze

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Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« on: April 27, 2013, 02:34:52 am »
Although I have read quite a few mythologies of gods from different cultures, I have an aversion to ancient mythology. I often feel uncomfortable relying on myth and ancient texts as part of my practice, mostly due to the fact that I often associate it with my birth religion, Roman Catholicism and also Abrahamic religions in general. I'm not sure I want to have any sort of mythology involved in my practice at all.

Would you say reading mythology is a big part of being Pagan? If I'm not willing to read myths or have lore as part of my practice, do you think getting involved in Paganism is a waste of time?

Sarah

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 06:04:47 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106858
Although I have read quite a few mythologies of gods from different cultures, I have an aversion to ancient mythology. I often feel uncomfortable relying on myth and ancient texts as part of my practice, mostly due to the fact that I often associate it with my birth religion, Roman Catholicism and also Abrahamic religions in general. I'm not sure I want to have any sort of mythology involved in my practice at all.

Would you say reading mythology is a big part of being Pagan? If I'm not willing to read myths or have lore as part of my practice, do you think getting involved in Paganism is a waste of time?

 
What Kind of paganism are you interested in? I think that makes a big difference to the answers you are going to get.
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

Zanze

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2013, 06:46:22 am »
Quote from: maybeimawitch;106864
What Kind of paganism are you interested in? I think that makes a big difference to the answers you are going to get.


At this stage, I'm open minded. I've researched lots of different traditions but nothing has jumped out at me just yet.

Sarah

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2013, 07:15:32 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106866
At this stage, I'm open minded. I've researched lots of different traditions but nothing has jumped out at me just yet.

 
hmm, for me stories are important to who we are as human let alone who we are as pagans. I think all religious beliefs/outlooks are basically built upon stories, I kind of see religion as codified storytelling. Have you gone back and read the myths in the earliest forms available to you? Or at least in  trusted true to the original retellings?

If you are not working with deities then myth may not be important to your practice but folklore may very well be. Have you studied any of that?

Why do you associate all myths with your birth religion?

I think the way Christians view their myth cycle and the way people from other religions view their myth cycled differ a lot. I think Christians mostly view theirs as literal whereas many other religions view theirs and not necessarily literal but true (as in it didn't actually happen OR it didn't matter if it happened or not it still has important deep down things to teach us)

I wrote a post about how I feel about the importance of stories here: Deep stories (The Folklore of Discworld is actually a really Good introduction to folklore if you have a passing acquaintance with The Discworld series)

Anyway bear in mind this is just my opinion as a writer and a book nerd, other people probably have very different ideas on the issue
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

Zanze

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2013, 07:37:54 am »
Quote from: maybeimawitch;106868
hmm, for me stories are important to who we are as human let alone who we are as pagans. I think all religious beliefs/outlooks are basically built upon stories, I kind of see religion as codified storytelling. Have you gone back and read the myths in the earliest forms available to you? Or at least in  trusted true to the original retellings?

If you are not working with deities then myth may not be important to your practice but folklore may very well be. Have you studied any of that?

Why do you associate all myths with your birth religion?

I think the way Christians view their myth cycle and the way people from other religions view their myth cycled differ a lot. I think Christians mostly view theirs as literal whereas many other religions view theirs and not necessarily literal but true (as in it didn't actually happen OR it didn't matter if it happened or not it still has important deep down things to teach us)

I wrote a post about how I feel about the importance of stories here: Deep stories (The Folklore of Discworld is actually a really Good introduction to folklore if you have a passing acquaintance with The Discworld series)

Anyway bear in mind this is just my opinion as a writer and a book nerd, other people probably have very different ideas on the issue


I've studied Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu and various Celtic mythologies and never personally thought much of them. I just for some reason seem to associate people who have mythology and lore as a big part of their practice as having a Abrahamic mindset. I came from a religion that places that in high regard, I don't want to go onto another one. It seems silly but I prefer a path with a much more personalized, individualized and spiritual side to them.

Gilbride

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2013, 07:47:17 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106871
I've studied Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu and various Celtic mythologies and never personally thought much of them. I just for some reason seem to associate people who have mythology and lore as a big part of their practice as having a Abrahamic mindset. I came from a religion that places that in high regard, I don't want to go onto another one. It seems silly but I prefer a path with a much more personalized, individualized and spiritual side to them.


I think you're making a false dichotomy. Or several of them actually.

Sarah

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2013, 08:03:12 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106871
I've studied Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu and various Celtic mythologies and never personally thought much of them. I just for some reason seem to associate people who have mythology and lore as a big part of their practice as having a Abrahamic mindset. I came from a religion that places that in high regard, I don't want to go onto another one. It seems silly but I prefer a path with a much more personalized, individualized and spiritual side to them.


This seems...odd, which resources have you used for studying these? I know quite a lot about Norse mythology and a reasonable amount about Irish and Welsh mythology and  a a smattering of other mythologies, you'd have to squeeze most of them them into pretty unrecognizable boxes to follow them with an "abrahamic" mindset.

Have you met a lot of non-christian people for who myth is an important part of their religion/spirituality?  I think a lot of them would be puzzled at being referd to as "abrahamic"

I think you can have deep connections to myths while still having an individualized spirituality
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

Rainfall

Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2013, 08:05:35 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106871
I've studied Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu and various Celtic mythologies and never personally thought much of them. I just for some reason seem to associate people who have mythology and lore as a big part of their practice as having a Abrahamic mindset. I came from a religion that places that in high regard, I don't want to go onto another one. It seems silly but I prefer a path with a much more personalized, individualized and spiritual side to them.

Paying attention to myth isn't mutually exclusive with having a personalised path. Remember you don't have to take myth literally or necessarily agree with conventional analyses; I think there's a lot of worth in exploring what you feel the myths represent for you. In this way you can connect with myths in a way which is, IMO, quite personal.

Rhyshadow

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2013, 08:07:05 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106871
I've studied Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu and various Celtic mythologies and never personally thought much of them. I just for some reason seem to associate people who have mythology and lore as a big part of their practice as having a Abrahamic mindset. I came from a religion that places that in high regard, I don't want to go onto another one. It seems silly but I prefer a path with a much more personalized, individualized and spiritual side to them.

 
Quote from: Gilbride;106872
I think you're making a false dichotomy. Or several of them actually.

 
I have to agree with Gil - to me the stories and myths of the Irish form a core. It's more about how the ancestors thought of themselves and their relationship to the Gods than a true account of events. That's the big difference between those and the Abrahamic religions who place emphasis on the historical truth of the Bible/Koran/Talmud.

To read and understand the myths gives insight to the beliefs of the ancestors, not to be taken as literal fact but as psychological truths.

And to be honest, there's not a Pagan path out there that doesn't deal with myth in some form or fashion, even the newcomer on the block - Wicca - has it's own myths and stories that form the basis of the religion.

You're not going to be able to get away from myth and still have a functional belief system - that's my opinion anyway after 20+ years as a Pagan.

Sage

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2013, 08:27:38 am »
Quote from: Rhyshadow;106879

You're not going to be able to get away from myth and still have a functional belief system - that's my opinion anyway after 20+ years as a Pagan.

 
I think it's also really important to emphasize (and repeat as needed) that a literal and often fundamentalist or conservative interpretation of myth (alá certain Christian denominations) is not the only way to understand and utilize scripture or mythology in someone's religious life. I know very few Pagans, for example, who would believe their tradition's important mythology contradicts a scientific explanation of how the universe came to be, for example. If anything, many Pagan viewpoints work in harmony with science, and many of the Pagans I hang out with are some of the most scientifically curious folks I've ever met. :)

There's also the big difference between mythology and scripture. I don't think that most mythology is presented as "holy words written by or inspired by the Divine" but rather "human stories about the Divine." There's of course overlap, and I imagine that, for example, a very traditional Asatruar is going to approach the Hávamál differently than a very eclectic Neo-Wiccan would approach a general collection of Goddess stories. However, while I might be able to make general guesses about what people read and how they might utilize it, they are of course just guesses, and we can only know what people believe by asking them and listening when they reply.

Finally, mythology itself is a very human thing. We're saturated in it today, from mythologies about our history and our respective nations' political identities to summer blockbusters that tell the stories of spandex-wearing and gadget-wielding deities sworn to protect cities and uphold justice. Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen are our Hercules and Boudicca, Dumbledore and Gandalf our wise mentors who dispense justice. If you find that you absolutely cannot connect to Deity using the myths of our ancestors (and there's nothing that says you have to), then why not look around at the myths in our culture today and see what's there?

Or at last resort, consult your inner connection to the Divine and write your own myths. :)
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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2013, 08:28:32 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106871
I've studied Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Hindu and various Celtic mythologies and never personally thought much of them. I just for some reason seem to associate people who have mythology and lore as a big part of their practice as having a Abrahamic mindset. I came from a religion that places that in high regard, I don't want to go onto another one. It seems silly but I prefer a path with a much more personalized, individualized and spiritual side to them.

Most JCI religions are text-oriented: what is written in the Bible or the Qur'an is what matters. While some of those books are mythology, much is laws for behavior and the like supposedly handed down directly from deity.

Pagan religions treat mythology differently. First, it is generally assumed to be stories humans tell about the Gods, not stories the Gods tell about themselves. Second, any rules and laws derived from the myths are seldom seen as divine commands. Asatru, one of the more strongly myth and lore based common Pagan religions, even recognizes that the only copies of their myth and lore were written by Christians and therefore might be different from what was handed down orally.

Mythology in Pagan religions is generally used as a way to understand the Gods, not as a holy text from the Gods.
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Jack

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Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2013, 11:28:25 am »
Quote from: Zanze;106858
Although I have read quite a few mythologies of gods from different cultures, I have an aversion to ancient mythology. I often feel uncomfortable relying on myth and ancient texts as part of my practice, mostly due to the fact that I often associate it with my birth religion, Roman Catholicism and also Abrahamic religions in general. I'm not sure I want to have any sort of mythology involved in my practice at all.

Would you say reading mythology is a big part of being Pagan? If I'm not willing to read myths or have lore as part of my practice, do you think getting involved in Paganism is a waste of time?

In my personal practice, I believe stories and storytelling is sacred, but I'm gonna set that aside for the moment.

I think the question is, if you're not drawing from any mythology, what are you drawing from? Are you worshipping modern gods? Purely archetypal deities? Pop culture egregores like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman?

If you're into something non-theistic like animism, that can work out very well.

Or are you asking permission to do religion without having to think about it?

In general, paganism expects you to put thought into what you're doing and why. It may not be a lot of thought, but unless you've got a local group big enough to do rituals that you can just show up at like church, your bare minimum is going to be higher than the Christian bare minimum.

If you want to worship gods, yes, you probably will need myths, for some definition of myth. If you are actually interested in the old gods, you really ought to at least know the broad shapes of their lore, out of respect. But if you're not interested in gods or spirits, you may be able to have a fulfilling practice without myth.
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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2013, 12:09:08 pm »
Quote from: Rainfall;106878
Paying attention to myth isn't mutually exclusive with having a personalised path. Remember you don't have to take myth literally or necessarily agree with conventional analyses; I think there's a lot of worth in exploring what you feel the myths represent for you. In this way you can connect with myths in a way which is, IMO, quite personal.

 
Mythological literalism is also a modernism, and has nothing to do with how most religions use or interpret their sacred stories.  (The fact that mythological literalism arose in significant part from Christianity does not surprise me, since some approaches to Christianity confuse the validity of moral and ritual contents with historicity of founding figures.  But this isn't even a problem with all forms of Christianity.)

Mythology talks about things like the storm rain being wedded to the lady of the wheat-gold hair (Norse), the powers of attraction and dread as critical parts of royal power (Egyptian), the importance of retaining proper interrelationship with the land (Quechua), developing relationship with one's twin/other self as part of coming into full being (Sumerian)....
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Zanze

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2013, 10:35:35 pm »
Quote from: Jack;106894
In my personal practice, I believe stories and storytelling is sacred, but I'm gonna set that aside for the moment.

I think the question is, if you're not drawing from any mythology, what are you drawing from? Are you worshipping modern gods? Purely archetypal deities? Pop culture egregores like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman?

If you're into something non-theistic like animism, that can work out very well.

Or are you asking permission to do religion without having to think about it?

In general, paganism expects you to put thought into what you're doing and why. It may not be a lot of thought, but unless you've got a local group big enough to do rituals that you can just show up at like church, your bare minimum is going to be higher than the Christian bare minimum.

If you want to worship gods, yes, you probably will need myths, for some definition of myth. If you are actually interested in the old gods, you really ought to at least know the broad shapes of their lore, out of respect. But if you're not interested in gods or spirits, you may be able to have a fulfilling practice without myth.


To be honest, I don't know where I stand. I have no desire to involve myself in a Reconstructionist path, to be honest I don't have time for it. I've always believed focusing too much on the written word and sources, stifles spirituality. Despite looking at various different mythologies and giving offerings and prayers, I haven't found any gods or goddesses as of yet that I feel connected to (or rather they are not connecting with me). I probably would describe myself as an Animist, however I do believe in deities and am not "athiestic". The thing is, take the Norse myths for example, how exactly do we know that we are actually reading the views of our ancestors of the gods? Most of the Norse myths were written down by Christian monks several hundred years after the Pagan era. For all we know, the Christians could have completely made up the myths, maybe even made the myths up to ridicule the gods. We just don't know.

It's not that I dislike or hate mythology, I just don't wish for it to become a large and important part of my practice.

Darkhawk

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Re: Is Lore and Myth Really Important?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2013, 11:01:39 pm »
Quote from: Zanze;106935
It's not that I dislike or hate mythology, I just don't wish for it to become a large and important part of my practice.

 
A question for you: you appear to think that mythology is a "large and important part" of some people's practices.  What does that mean to you?
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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