Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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?

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