23395Re: [mythsoc] How does myth "work"?
- Oct 19, 2012Well, considering that I've written a book about myth and storytelling (a
reference for writers), I've given a lot of thought to its presence in our
lives. And frankly, I think you're still being far to analytical in
approaching the matter.
As long as you stay in an analytic mode of thought in considering myth, it
will stay exterior to you and feel rather dead.
The major conclusion I came to while working on THE SCRIBBLER'S GUIDE TO
THE LAND OF MYTH - is that myth is about meaning. The "truth" that myths
convey all have to do with what things MEAN to us. The variances occur
because some aspect of life may have a different meaning or priority to
one group than it does to another. For instance, in arctic cultures, the
sun is considered the fickle heavenly body because it goes away for six
months of the year. The moon, even though it has a cycle, is constant.
Thus, mythically, in arctic cultures, it is the sun that is feminine and
the moon that is masculine. (Yes, we have an inherent biological
inclination to regard "male" as the "stable, unchanging" quality and
"female" as the one that goes through changes.)
A personal myth will reflect what is importation to that particular
individual, what has meaning and life to that person. It shows up in small
ways in the way we as individuals personalize our space and possessions.
For instance, people who name their cars and endow them with personality.
Myth is about MEANING - and naming things is one way of creating meaning.
What we name something, the significance of the name to us.
Facts about things are straightforward and clear cut.
Meanings about things are layered with many issues, and thus end up
requiring a story to convey what is important.
If you want to have or create a myth of your Self, then just start telling
a story of meaning to you - or draw on some dream imagery that had such
meaning for you. Dreams reflect our subconscious language for ourselves,
and often are the source of the imagery for a personal myth.
Here's an example of what I mean: My "personal myth" if you will, which
became clear with a dream. In the dream, I was looking at a brick wall,
but the bricks were the color of ash. And as I looked, I realized that the
wall was actually encasing something. Whatever it was, moved, and the
bricks fell apart, because they actually WERE ash. And underneath, I could
see the gleaming, golden scales of a dragon - it was waking up, and
beginning to break out of the encasement. And I knew that I was that
dragon. This made me very happy.
That's a "personal myth." I can break it down and analyse the significance
of the elements of this dream/story. But I also happen to just like it as
A personal myth is what has meaning to you. You can't decide the meaning
first and then concoct a story to follow. The meaning and the story are a
unity, and the "truth" of it will not be obvious to you until you start
telling the story. Don't try to work from the truth back to the story --
that will only give you "facts." Just start telling the story and the
truth will make itself known.
That's my two cents on the issue.
Best, Sarah Beach
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>