Sunday, January 30, 2011

By the Power of Greyskull!

Myths have the POWER!!!

Mythology is all about desires. The desire to explain phenomena before science came around, and the desires that humanity most desperately wants to achieve. Mythology is all about symbolism, and unfortunately religion has poisoned mythology.

Myths are symbolic stories that only make sense when NOT taken literally. They are stories to be shared about desires, but not about literal reality. Religion tries to impose a sense of literalness that debases the myth from something beautiful to something non-nonsensical and silly.

One of my favorite myths is the story of how Odin learned to read: Odin new that to be the father-god and ruler of all, he needed wisdom and magic. After consulting the witches on how to do this, he hung himself from a tree for seven days. During this time when he was hung, twigs fell from the tree and made shapes-- the shapes of runes. After being hung dead, Odin learned the magic of the runes and brought himself back to life--literate. Full of wisdom and magic.

Taken literally, this story is beyond stupid. But again, that's not the power of the myth. What's amazing to me is the symbolic nature behind this story. Odin needed wisdom. He sacrificed himself. Hung himself in order to learn how to read. The Norse storytellers understood symbolically that education comes with a price. And any of you out there who've been to college, know what it's like to hang yourself--choking, gasping, dying just for your education. It's the symbols that make the story.

The Adam and Eve story has a similar beauty to it, but again, not if taken literally. Man was not meant to be alone so god made his partner from his rib. His rib, the bone that protects the heart, but also that which comes from his side. Eve is part of him--part of his side, and she protects his heart.

Unfortunately, re-writing, re-working, twisting the story for "literal" truths can poison the crux of the story. And fighting over a "literal" interpretation can also poison a society.

Eve is "beguiled" first by the serpent to partake of the fruit of knowledge, then forces Adam to partake. Taken literally, and suddenly women are root cause of all of the "suffering" in the world-- when really the symbolic nature of the story would be more appropriate. The fruit of the tree of knowledge is really the knowledge that we as humans will eventually die. We know we will die because we are "smart."

At some point in our past, our species finally figured out that other animals die, and that would happen to us. We gained the knowledge of simply knowing that we would die-- and doesn't that put a damper on our spirits? Suddenly, the world isn't so rosey and Garden-of-Evey anymore because, oh shit, we're going to die. Again, it's unfortunate that religion has to come along and try to make these stories literal, and that their institutionalized interpretation is the ONLY correct interpretation.

As soon as that happens, these stories are either just silly or can become damaging. "God made ADAM and EVE not ADAM and STEVE." Well, had we been raised with the Greek myth of the origin of love, we wouldn't have had this annoying phrase.

The Greek myth (and the movie Hedwig turned it into a wonderful song) has three original sexes. One sex is made up of two human males attached, another with two females attached, and the third sex is one male and one female attached. The gods became jealous of our independence from them and so Zeus split us apart and scattered us. When we find our significant other we find the person who knows our pain of being alone and that aching feeling of "missing something." So we put ourselves back together by making love. We find our "missing half."

Pretty easy to see the symbolism there.

Nameofraptorjesuschrist. Amen.

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