PDA

View Full Version : Ancient Mythology and Pantheism



Poledra
April 29th, 2008, 03:57 PM
How do you incorporate ancient mythology into your beliefs and practices? I have these vague and un-crystallized ideas about how mythology can be used to focus my attention on particular cycles, transitions, and phenomena in life, but haven't quite brought it to fruition. So, I am curious how you use myth!

Poledra

Heart of All
April 29th, 2008, 04:27 PM
I know this is weird, but I'm simultaneously pantheist and polytheist. So the myths are important for worshiping the gods.

But even from my straight pantheist side, I think myths are important because they can help us celebrate the Everything around us. I tend to think that reading myths reminds us of the awesomeness of the All. I have learned a lot about the seasons and nature in general through reading myths. And reading about what natural things were important to the people who lived closer to nature can teach me what's actually important.

I hope that made sense.

RavenStars
April 29th, 2008, 11:14 PM
Oh, so the Persephony myth is a way to celebrate the seasons through symbols. Duh. What are some other ones? I'm not real big on myths. Maybe I should be. What a great idea!

TygerTyger
April 30th, 2008, 03:03 AM
I do not believe in anthropomorphic deities therefore I never make reference to any form of mythology.

In my Pantheism god, or the devine, is a part of the fabric of existence and, consequently, without a single form.

Poledra
April 30th, 2008, 04:02 AM
Yeah, I guess I sort of see myths as a visualisation tool, as a way of reminding myself of the interconnectedness of things. It also helps us understand where we can from as a culture and as a species.

Poledra

TygerTyger
April 30th, 2008, 04:22 AM
If I remember correctly most anthropologists consider what we term mythology as people’s early attempts to explain the natural world around them, particularly that which they did not understand.

Creating deities to explain the transition of the seasons or the occurrence of thunderstorms often developed into a reflection of the human experience onto that explanation and, consequently anthropomorphism. Inevitably human connexions would appear between the deities, spouses, siblings, love, treachery, etc.

However, mythology also illustrates the power of the human imagination to first recognise and then represent occurrences within the natural world through a non-scientific reasoning. The cultural importance of this development is evident in most historic human societies.

No doubt rationalists would argue against the continued use of mythology as a tool to bring us to a closer understanding of the world, but then when has rationalism ever satisfied human spiritual needs?

Poledra
April 30th, 2008, 05:10 AM
If I remember correctly most anthropologists consider what we term mythology as people’s early attempts to explain the natural world around them, particularly that which they did not understand.

Creating deities to explain the transition of the seasons or the occurrence of thunderstorms often developed into a reflection of the human experience onto that explanation and, consequently anthropomorphism. Inevitably human connexions would appear between the deities, spouses, siblings, love, treachery, etc.

However, mythology also illustrates the power of the human imagination to first recognise and then represent occurrences within the natural world through a non-scientific reasoning. The cultural importance of this development is evident in most historic human societies.

No doubt rationalists would argue against the continued use of mythology as a tool to bring us to a closer understanding of the world, but then when has rationalism ever satisfied human spiritual needs?


Yes, exactly. I am a trained prehistoric archaeologist, and that fits my personal understanding of myth perfectly. I can't bring myself to take the myths as anything other than representing the human condition. But, that suits me perfectly as becoming more in tune with the human condition and the world around me is exactly what I need. Myths remind us of the wonder of the tides, the dance of the bees, and the lack of control we really have. Myth brings me to a state of wonderment with the world around me and complete amazement that we have survived as long as we have!!

Poledra

cheddarsox
April 30th, 2008, 06:51 AM
I don't incorporate myths or legends into my pantheism because my personality type finds those things a distraction rather than a focusing tool.

It gets to where I can't see the forest for the trees.

It may have to do with my being raised in a faith in which the details and mythology sort of took preference over the Divine, and I am still working on cleansing myself of that habit.

cheddar

Windsmith
April 30th, 2008, 02:00 PM
I'm not all that interested in ancient mythology. Never have been, honestly. When I was a standard-issue Pagan, I considered this a massive failing. As a Pantheist, it's rather liberating. I get to create my own mythology, stories that actually reflect What Is as it is. Stories about the Earth's orbit around the Sun, about the Earth's hum (can you tell I'm really into that one?), about the former binary star that's shooting out of our galaxy at amazing speeds. Those are the kinds of myths that I'm interested in working into my practice.

Poledra
April 30th, 2008, 04:02 PM
I'm not all that interested in ancient mythology. Never have been, honestly. When I was a standard-issue Pagan, I considered this a massive failing. As a Pantheist, it's rather liberating. I get to create my own mythology, stories that actually reflect What Is as it is. Stories about the Earth's orbit around the Sun, about the Earth's hum (can you tell I'm really into that one?), about the former binary star that's shooting out of our galaxy at amazing speeds. Those are the kinds of myths that I'm interested in working into my practice.

That's a really nice way of thinking about it too. How do you incorporate it into your practice (if you don't mind sharing?). Do you use it in ritual or is it more like self-talk (as psychologists would say)?

Poledra

Eleisawolf
April 30th, 2008, 11:08 PM
I am a storyteller. I am a writer, and an actor, and a singer, and that all has to do with telling stories. For me, mythology is how humanity tells its collective stories, and I can't help but be fascinated by that.

I do love mythology. I use it as a way to reflect on human culture, experience, and connectedness. I use its symbolism to parse my own beliefs and deconstruct them--and, if necessary, to reconstruct them again. I use it to reflect on my own life as related to those around me, my history, and my culture's history. I connect it to the histories of others to find common ground and determine where I come from and where others come from. In that way, I feel a part of the human element of the divine and its whole history--because that's as much a part of the universe as anything.

I have a CD that collects a large number of world spiritual mythologies and stories. I got it from the Internet Sacred Text Archive (http://www.sacred-texts.com/), one of my favorite sites. It reminds me that I'm not alone in seeking.

Peace

RavenStars
May 1st, 2008, 12:06 AM
Thanks for the link, Eleisawolf! I've put it on my wish list. It sounds like you have a great deal of experience including myth and story telling in your ritual, if you don't mind could you share some of what you do?

Windsmith
May 1st, 2008, 04:43 PM
That's a really nice way of thinking about it too. How do you incorporate it into your practice (if you don't mind sharing?). Do you use it in ritual or is it more like self-talk (as psychologists would say)?

PoledraWell...both. I mean, I've only just started getting serious about that kind of mythologizing - this re-presenting scientific events in a more poetic fashion, so I don't yet know for sure how it's going to work out. But when you ask about using it in ritual vs. using it as "self-talk"...well, since my rituals are usually only me and my wife at most, using it ritually often is self-talk. I suppose there's much more room for incorporating the myths into the rituals, or even building the rituals around the myths, but that seems an undertaking for future days, when I have my mythopoetic feet under me a bit better.

Eleisawolf
May 3rd, 2008, 12:56 AM
Thanks for the link, Eleisawolf! I've put it on my wish list. It sounds like you have a great deal of experience including myth and story telling in your ritual, if you don't mind could you share some of what you do?

Well, it varies often, like my rituals do. But chiefly I take a season and often will focus it around a specific mythology--often one that is touching my life at that time.

For example, a few Springtimes ago I was feeling quite water-ish. It's not my chief element, but it is one I need to connect with more--I tend to either drown in heavy emotion or parch myself without it, and there is sometimes little balance.

That Spring, I delved into the mythology of the Rusalka, a Russian spirit who is connected with water. Her basic story is that she's a young girl who is drowned by her lover and comes back to haunt the body of water and drown unsuspecting young men. I discovered that, from earlier traditions, she is also connected to the bounty of Spring and the fullness of Summer. She is strongly related to trees. Much like the tradition of John Barleycorn, Russians take an effigy of the Rusalka at the time of their May festival (the equivalent of May Day or Beltaine-ish), and throw it in the river. Sometimes, they burn it. That is to ensure a fruitful summer of course, but it's also to protect the people and their trees and their sustenance.

I kept with that imagery throughout that season to help keep myself in the spirit of water, and, because I love trees, to focus on the trees that Spring. I meditated on the mythology in my ritual to remind me that water isn't as scary as it seems, and that it is instead necessary to get wet in order to truly live. I saw myself in the Rusalka, but I also realized that letting her drown me wasn't very healthy. It helped me open out my emotions more that year without drowning in them, and I felt stronger and more human for it.

Hm... maybe I need the lesson of the Rusalka again this Spring. My dive into the pain of my recent turbulent emotions has certainly caught me up in a whirlpool...

Anyway, that's an example. Again, it's not necessarily a structured part of ritual, but it's a part of how I recognize the seasons, and life, and who I am and who my human (and non-human) family is outside of that.

Peace

RavenStars
May 4th, 2008, 12:36 AM
I have read that some traditions use myths as theater. But I never really focused on it since I'm solitary. Has anyone taken on the persona of a mythic character? Not drawing down, channeling or anything. Reading a dialog or poem as if they were speaking. If so, how did it go? What did you read or memorize?

Windsmith
May 6th, 2008, 04:39 PM
I have read that some traditions use myths as theater. But I never really focused on it since I'm solitary. Has anyone taken on the persona of a mythic character? Not drawing down, channeling or anything. Reading a dialog or poem as if they were speaking. If so, how did it go? What did you read or memorize?Oh, hells, yes. We do this all the time in Reclaiming. It's one of the best ways to experience myths.

One time, when we were doing Inanna's return from the underworld, I got to be one of the demons who follow her out trying to pick someone to take back in her place (them's the rules of the underworld, kiddies!). We didn't have lines to memorize; we just ran around terrorizing everyone and trying to pull them into the underworld.

It was a fascinating experience. I'd done a lot of "normal" theater, with the house lights down and the audience sitting passively in their seats watching things happen, and the only way the actors know what impact they had was what audience-members tell us afterward. But with this, I was walking right up to people. I could see their faces and their eyes; I could see instantly the impact I was having on them. Knowing that, for some of them, I was part of a profound spiritual experience: what does it feel like, after all, to have a demon of the underworld walk up to you and demand you come with them? Actually, being able to see their moment of fear or relief, of struggle or acceptance, was quite humbling for me.

RavenStars
May 7th, 2008, 02:56 AM
This whole thing maybe a parenthesis, I sorry if it is.

Wow. Sounds really intense. I don't know much about Reclaiming. And I've lived in Northern California for a long time. Just not the right places, I guess. I do know that Starhawk has a yearly ritual in the area (Samhine, I think), but it's a pass for me with all the people who'd go. I do have Spiral Dance on the shelf, of course. One of the most incredible pieces of literature I've ever read is in one of her introductions.

20th edition, pg. 24
The whole 2nd to last paragraph is it for me, but here's the last line:

You cannot fall away from her---there is nowhere she is not.

It just gives me the shivers. Gravity is your friend :lol: But really, it is powerful stuff.