“Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day.”
C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Mythology is a story of the sacred that has come down through the ages of humankind. The breadth and depth of this discussion is immeasurable for it encompasses all cultures throughout time. Even definitions and categorizations are complex and the subject of ongoing debate. But there is one certainty: myths seek to answer those questions that give substance and meaning to our existence. How did life begin? What happens in death? Why is there good and evil? Why am I here? What is my purpose? We want to be masters of our universe, which can only be realized when we understand our place within that universe.
Joseph Campbell, a mythologist who wrote and lectured on comparative mythology and comparative religion, suggested that “Mythology is composed by poets out of their insights and realizations. Mythologies are not invented; they are found. You can no more tell us what your dream is going to be tonight than we can invent a myth. Myths come from the mystical region of essential experience.” This is indeed a topic for deep discussion. Even so, there is a genuine simplicity imbedded in these spell-binding mythological tales, each of which offers a wealth of imagery to amuse and stir our senses. They reveal the power of love, courage, loyalty; and address the darker emotions of jealousy, cruelty and violence. They help us understand loss and the finality of death in our reality.
As a ten-year-old, these thoughts were far from my mind when I searched the library shelves for books that would take me back to ancient Greece and the heroics of Hercules, the beauty of Aphrodite and wisdom of Athena. I felt a connection with their stories that continue to this very day. Perhaps being the master of our universe is merely being a voice within a universal conversation.
Civilizations pass; myths endure.