Friday, January 1, 2010

Symbolism and Meaning in Mythology

I finally got around to posting my Mythology paper.  Here is the introduction:

MAN BREATHES IN THE WORLD, and breathes out myth. His voice carries over the emerald Aegean, rises from rippling Dakota plains, echoes in Norwegian fjords - a great chant of spoken dreams. What do we learn by listening? Myths are stories, and as such, are a way of crossing boundaries. In one sense, they form a bridge between the Self and the Other. In myth, the primeval and the transcendent are united in a mystical Something spanning the gulf separating the possible from the impossible. Nature becomes a vehicle for Supernature. Historically, the supernatural elements in mythology have been seen as a way for primitive peoples to explain nature. They function as an early form of science. Note how the Native Americans of Wyoming used such a myth to explain their environment.

The Kiowa story has it that eight children were playing in the woods, and there were seven sisters and their brother. The boy is pretending to be a bear and he's chasing his sisters, who are pretending to be afraid, and they're running. And a terrible thing happens in the course of the game. The boy actually turns into a bear. And when the sisters see this, they are truly terrified and they run for their lives, the bear after them. They pass the stump of a tree, and the tree speaks to them and says, "If you will climb up on me I will save you."

So the little girls scamper on top of the tree stump. And as they do so, it begins to rise into the air. The bear comes to kill them but they're beyond its reach. And it rears up and scores the bark all around with its claws. The story ends, the girls are borne into the sky and they become the stars of the Big Dipper. It's a wonderful story because it accounts for the rock, Devils Tower, this monolith that rises nearly a thousand feet into the air, and it also relates man to the stars.

Read the whole paper here:  Mythology paper full text


  1. Good!

    What we see is used to communicate the truth of the mechanism and its underlying way of function, purpose, and history.

    I love it!

    I always love that theme!

  2. Fascinating read. Nice word choice.