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Author Topic: Writing Your Own Myths  (Read 12302 times)

Altair

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Writing Your Own Myths
« on: March 14, 2013, 01:04:32 pm »
A few of us on this board, it turns out, write original myths. Not re-tellings of existing myths, and not so much myths for a fantasy world conceived as part of a work of fiction, but myths for the here and now.

(Or maybe these other categories of myth should also be examined here? Chime in.)

In another thread where this discussion began, SkySamuelle wrote:

"Part of my religious path involves getting to the core of 'storytelling as sacred art' which is mostly about delving into the initiatic potentialities in telling a story - basically knowing a subject/truth through fictional exploration, admitting that a story that takes form through inspiration is more something 'discovered' than 'created'."

If you write original myths:

1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?

2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?

3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?
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

Lokabrenna

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 02:52:13 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101294

1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?


I write them because I think it's important to have stories that reflect my experiences as a queer woman and the experiences of queer folks in general beyond "there are vague hints that such-and-such deity was queer" (though of course I can only ultimately speak for myself as a cisgender lesbian).

Quote
2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?


Even if I'm the only person who takes any value from a myth I've made, does it really make it any less valuable than myths that thousands of people find valuable, especially when everyone has their favourite variation of particular stories, and then everyone has their favourite way to interpret myths as well.

I don't think the myths I create necessarily have value for other people, but they do for me.  

Quote
3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?


I think so, it only takes a single person to tell a story, and stories tend to spread and are adopted and integrated into cultures all the time. I mean, think of the "Burning Times" myth, it's a greatly exaggerated take on historical events, but I would say it definitely has "mythic" status in some communities.

Altair

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 03:31:58 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;101306
I write them because I think it's important to have stories that reflect my experiences as a queer woman and the experiences of queer folks in general beyond "there are vague hints that such-and-such deity was queer" (though of course I can only ultimately speak for myself as a cisgender lesbian).


I'm curious: Do these myths involve deities of your own "invention," or do you work with existing pantheons?

Quote

Even if I'm the only person who takes any value from a myth I've made, does it really make it any less valuable than myths that thousands of people find valuable, especially when everyone has their favourite variation of particular stories, and then everyone has their favourite way to interpret myths as well.

I don't think the myths I create necessarily have value for other people, but they do for me.  


But do you consider your myths "true"?

That's a treacherous concept when one is talking myth, but I think it's important. I find one of the recurring themes--perhaps even central--in my myth writing is locating the truth in myth. I'm not talking literal truth, but rather metaphorical truth.

Your point about everyone having their favorite variation anyway is a very good one. If a particular variant is accepted as valid, why not go all the way with an entirely new myth?
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

Jack

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2013, 04:53:22 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101294
Or maybe these other categories of myth should also be examined here? Chime in.


I write in an AU version of this world with some gods recognizable as being from this world. I consider all of them "real" for the purposes of working with - Kuan Yin and Loki are certainly real, but the other beings work with me in the same way, so I go with that.

Quote
1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?


A greater understanding of how the universe seems to work, the possibilities it offers, and my place in it.

Quote
2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?


My one and only criteria for anything spiritual or magical (or psychological, for that matter) is "does it work for me". If they work for me, I trust them and they are valid for me. What "validity" established myth has is an illusion half the time anyway. (See also: Norse, Baltic and Slavic myths were largely written down by Christians when they were written down at all...)

Quote
3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?

 
I am... not sure how to answer this question, honestly, since you seem to be working from a definition of myth that isn't the one I know. Myth means traditional story, or sometimes made up story. They can be massively retold with lots and lots of variants. They can also be made up by one person a while ago (see also: some opinions on Snorri's inclusion of Ragnarok and BALDR IS JESUS).

Stories start somewhere, even if a lot of other people work on them later. Star Wars started with Lucas, and Superman started with Siegel and Shuster. Lots of other people also worked in those universes, but someone wrote the first version of those myths.

(Also not everything is cemented to the culture from which it sprung. Dionysus is a good example for starters. So I don't think that's necessary.)
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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 05:09:01 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101294
1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?


I write them for several reasons:

A. To honor my gods with all new stories. To me, it's a form of devotion, because frankly, writing good myths is a difficult task.

B. As an addition to the original lore. I'm kind of forming my own tradition-ish. . . Kemetic thing that doesn't operate under an Ausirian context. Most of Kemeticism operates under this context--the contendings, Ausir's death and rebirth, etc--and quite a few of the myths are connected in some way with this cycle of myths. So I've found it necessary to write my own myths that are relevant to the tradition.

C. To add further functionality and relevance to my practice. The environment I live in is way different from the ancient Egyptians'. The seasons where I live are generally opposite of what the seasons are like in Egypt at the time. So by adding new myths--such as Set being a snow deity on top of being a desert deity--I find it easier to connect to the world around me.

I feel like this is keeping with the spirit of Kemeticism, if not its letter.

D. To discover my personal beliefs.

Quote
2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?


Define validity.

If you mean validity as in historically backed, then no, these myths aren't valid and cannot be "trusted".

If you mean validity as in functional in a practice--ie: the bedrock of certain festivals, spells, interactions with the gods--then yes, these myths are valid and can be trusted.

Myths are simultaneously completely false and completely true. They get at certain truths, but cloak them in a language of symbolism. Myths hint at who our gods are, too, but as many of us have found time and again, the stories can lie.

Quote
3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?

 
I call it a myth if it continues a dialogue with some other mythology, its spirits, or its gods.

For example, I'm writing a myth that incorporates parts of the Return of the Distant Goddess, Set's battle with A-pep, and more. I am not just "making something up". This is a continued dialogue with the gods, concepts, and beliefs of an ancient culture. If the myth doesn't fit somewhere with the concepts and beliefs, it just doesn't strike me as right (whatever that means in this context). If the gods tell me I'm on the wrong track--and believe me, they have--then whatever I've written isn't right.

I don't know about anyone else, but my myths are under constant revision. They evolve and I'm a different person every time I approach them. Maybe it's not the same as a myth passing through many hands, but given the modern world, it's a reasonable approximation.
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Altair

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2013, 05:46:02 pm »
Quote from: Jack;101323

A greater understanding of how the universe seems to work, the possibilities it offers, and my place in it.


Yeah, that dovetails neatly with why I do it. Plus it's just a story I have to tell, like an itch that has to be scratched.

Quote

Stories start somewhere, even if a lot of other people work on them later. Star Wars started with Lucas, and Superman started with Siegel and Shuster. Lots of other people also worked in those universes, but someone wrote the first version of those myths.



But neither Star Wars nor Superman are myth. They certainly have mythic qualities, but neither of those examples functions as a proper myth; they're entertainment. (Myth can be entertaining, but that's not its primary function.)

I agree that all stories started with one person's telling, but--and maybe I'm wrong here--I think if you can still trace it to one individual, it's not myth yet. You and I may still use the term for the stories we write because it's the easiest shorthand to describe it, but I think it's probably actually proto-myth: a story with the potential, with enough retellings and if it gets enough traction in the culture, to become real myth.
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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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2013, 05:53:39 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101328
Yeah, that dovetails neatly with why I do it. Plus it's just a story I have to tell, like an itch that has to be scratched.



But neither Star Wars nor Superman are myth. They certainly have mythic qualities, but neither of those examples functions as a proper myth; they're entertainment. (Myth can be entertaining, but that's not its primary function.)

I agree that all stories started with one person's telling, but--and maybe I'm wrong here--I think if you can still trace it to one individual, it's not myth yet. You and I may still use the term for the stories we write because it's the easiest shorthand to describe it, but I think it's probably actually proto-myth: a story with the potential, with enough retellings and if it gets enough traction in the culture, to become real myth.

 
In the case of "Star Wars" and "Superman", couldn't there be an argument that the intent was entertainment but the result could be commentary on modern cultural morals/challenges and receive a myth-like status.

Both examples started as one man's story, but now, it includes many more and includes audience/collective participation. Is it truly exclusive, or could it be inclusive as a valid cultural myth by the impact on so many people's lives and thought processes in our modern era?

Jack

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2013, 06:13:31 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101328
But neither Star Wars nor Superman are myth. They certainly have mythic qualities, but neither of those examples functions as a proper myth; they're entertainment. (Myth can be entertaining, but that's not its primary function.)

I agree that all stories started with one person's telling, but--and maybe I'm wrong here--I think if you can still trace it to one individual, it's not myth yet. You and I may still use the term for the stories we write because it's the easiest shorthand to describe it, but I think it's probably actually proto-myth: a story with the potential, with enough retellings and if it gets enough traction in the culture, to become real myth.

 
I chose those examples specifically because I've seen both of them referred to repeatedly as "modern myth". There are people who, in all seriousness, list their religion as Jedi. There are people who know the members of Superman's family better than they know the twelve apostles.

Of course, the grand total of what most people know about the Trojan War comes from Homer.

So I guess the question is again, what definition of myth are we working with here?
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Fireof9

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2013, 10:22:51 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101294

1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?


This is where I get all hesitant LOL
Honestly the idea came about because there is so little written about the deity that I write about. So I just started writing down the sometimes blatant, sometimes vague impressions that I got during and after meditations. I decided that it would be cool and hopefully honour her if I turned it into a story, a myth.
What I hope to get out of it is a better relationship with her and a better understanding of what she can teach.

A side note, one of the strongest impressions I got was that she is not really happy about the way she is portrayed in the little bit of lore there is about her.

Quote from: Altair;101294
2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?


I can trust them personally because I understand enough about myself to know how strongly these impressions hit me, that unless I am a whole lot more imaginative than I thought, I likely would not have come up with most of it.

TBH, I would say that in sharing it with others I would not ever expect them to take it as having the same validity as established myth. Its based on my experiences and for all I or anyone else knows I may be out of my mind. I have only ever found one other person that has had actual dealings with this deity so its hard to compare notes .

Quote
3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?


Thats a really good question, and I had not thought of that before. Possibly they are the beginning of myths? That they are something that further down the road will spark something in another and they will add to it, so on and so on and then at some time it will actually become a myth?
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Olie

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 12:44:14 am »
im so excited this topic got made! and it comes with homework too! lessee here...

Quote from: Altair;101294
1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?

i started writing them first just cuz i really wanted to come up with a mythology and it was really important to me and i couldnt think of anything else. they i found out that a bunch of details i added that i thought were just random ended up fitting together or making a lot of sense if i just added one more piece of info. and i thought it was crazy how much that started happening. so then when i got more into witchcraft and tried workin with gods it made me really want to work with my own gods cuz i know them so much more. i didnt think any of it would work at first tho but then it did! like super easily! so i thought that part of my thanks would be to tell more about them

Quote from: Altair;101294
2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?

yeah thats somethin i was confused about too i guess. stuff worked when i prayed to them but i remembered making them up so i was like "wot? am i a god??" then i figured that they're just in charge of a certain force or something. and it doesnt matter what name i give them cuz the force is still there.
every week i pray to a god named Arlit who's the god of media and a bunch of other stuff. ever since i did that i been enjoying my favorite tv show more. which is what i asked for. so i guess thats pretty valid?

Quote from: Altair;101294
3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?

i donno... thats kinda deep. i guess. i mean spiderman was still a comic even in the early years before a bunch of people wrote for him. but theres probably a million reasons why thats a bad comparison

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 12:58:40 am »
Quote from: Jack;101340
I chose those examples specifically because I've seen both of them referred to repeatedly as "modern myth". There are people who, in all seriousness, list their religion as Jedi. There are people who know the members of Superman's family better than they know the twelve apostles.

Of course, the grand total of what most people know about the Trojan War comes from Homer.

So I guess the question is again, what definition of myth are we working with here?

i was just writin a argument against this and had like a whole paragraph until i remembered that i put down "Xenite" as my religion. and even though i know its fake i sorta do take it kinda seriously. so. you win this round mr jack.

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2013, 08:02:50 am »
Quote from: Altair;101294
If you write original myths:

1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?

2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?

3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?

 
I have little to add here, except that it's been a helpful thread for helping me sort out the mess in my head that is slowly forming itself into a seasonal myth relating to one of my deities. I am appalling at fiction-writing, so was concerned that writing down the myth I've experienced would kill it for me. I'm encouraged that it's worth a try, thanks to this thread, though. Altair's question of whether we can trust them is an interesting one, but I think I'd be writing it more for the experience of writing it down than to create a myth. It already exists in my head as UPG. And nothing says I have to take the ancient myths as entirely trustworthy, either. They are not the Word of Gods. :D:

And my definition of myth is *broad*. There's a quote from Angel: the Series sitting next to a quote by Julian of Norwich on my office pinboard. Equal levels of wisdom. I've also written about how the arc of that TV series is the closest thing to a workable myth of enlightenment through fighting the battles of this world that I've ever seen, and that it inspires me more than most ancient myth. There's a great article out there by a theologian who compares it to Gnostic myth, too (which I cannot currently find). Modern stories can be just as inspired and full of wisdom as the classics.
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Altair

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2013, 10:08:06 am »
First off, there's so much from so many people that I want to respond to, but most will have to wait until tomorrow, when I'm not in my role as office drone. But to tackle a few thoughts from the latest post...

Quote from: Sophia Catherine;101404

 I am appalling at fiction-writing, so was concerned that writing down the myth I've experienced would kill it for me.


SC, for what it's worth, my experience has been the exact opposite: Once I started actually writing down the myths, instead of just carrying them in my head, they took off, fleshed out, and evolved in all sorts of amazing ways. It continues to be a rich and deeply rewarding experience for me.

Quote

And my definition of myth is *broad*. There's a quote from Angel: the Series sitting next to a quote by Julian of Norwich on my office pinboard. Equal levels of wisdom. I've also written about how the arc of that TV series is the closest thing to a workable myth of enlightenment through fighting the battles of this world that I've ever seen, and that it inspires me more than most ancient myth. There's a great article out there by a theologian who compares it to Gnostic myth, too (which I cannot currently find). Modern stories can be just as inspired and full of wisdom as the classics.


My definition is more narrow. I don't doubt the inspiration possible from modern stories (I'd better not, since I've written some!); but they're still *stories*, not necessarily myth, even if they have mythic elements. For me, myth is a story that offers truths so deep about the fundamental questions of life that people use them as the organizing principle for how they approach life, for their worldview.
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

Jack

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2013, 10:54:26 am »
Quote from: Altair;101409
For me, myth is a story that offers truths so deep about the fundamental questions of life that people use them as the organizing principle for how they approach life, for their worldview.


I will note that novels fulfill that requirement better than "traditional" myths for me. :)
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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2013, 11:18:51 am »
Quote from: Jack;101340
So I guess the question is again, what definition of myth are we working with here?

 
My definition: myths are stories that are accidentally or deliberately True, in profound but non-literal ways.

After all, even the Iliad started with somebody telling everybody else a story.

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