Mythologically Speaking

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” 

― John Lennon

I had a peculiar moment when I was a small boy. Growing up in the Midwest, there’s a staple to that upbringing that is prevalent for most — church services on Sunday. While I must assume the vast majority of children buy into whatever religion the adults in their lives is selling, it never clicked with me in any meaningful way.

I enjoyed Sunday School well enough. Was never much more than story-time, really. During sermons I was armed with tiny tablets of paper from my grandma’s pocketbook, drawing Universal Monsters, alien spaceships, and super-heroes while some old man rattled away about original sin and the passion play.

The kicker was some innocuous reference to the Christianization of Heathens, usually by the sword, that triggered a thought in me that this desert religion being fostered upon me was not the faith of my ancestors, but one saddled upon them by conquering forces. My ancestors, those who called Northern Europe their home, believed in an altogether different pantheon of deities, deities I read about in books by Hamilton and Bulfinch and the like, that I found in picture books and comics, and in movies on Saturday afternoons.

I went into the school library and checked out a book by Padraic Colum called The Children of Odin and devoured it, realizing as I immersed myself in this tales of the ancient Norse, that these were the stories my forefathers told around the campfire — stories of Odin and Thor, Loki and Frigga, Sif and Freya, Balder, and more.

It occurred to me, as a boy not yet even ten, that these stories should mean more to me than those found in the Old and New Testament.

The myths of a culture are defining references that speak to a greater truth, that showcase virtues that a people held in high estimation. This was cemented even more once I had discovered the Havamal and began adding Celtic tales to my growing obsession.

Myths were the attempt of our ancestors to answer difficult questions about te world around them. They were teaching tools, disguised as colorful stories, that spoke of mighty beings and devious creatures that were as important to their daily lives as their flesh and blood.

These ancient gods were a real and vibrant force. Before philosophy and science, mythology defined the universe for those who came before us.

As these mythological entities were stripped away from us, so too was the magic that held us together as tribes and communities. The common bong was severed, as we lost our ties to the gods that breathed life into us and to the very land from which we sprang, then slowly over the centuries we became unmoored and lost.

Recapturing those tales that spoke so eloquently to our ancestors, reminds of of those ties that bind us. They call out from beyond the pale, life breathed anew into their lungs.

Why do I study mythology? Because they are my roots and without roots, a tree cannot stand.

Bob Freeman
occultdetective.com
writing from the banks of
Little Pipe Creek

2 Responses to “Mythologically Speaking”

  1. “triggered a thought in me that this desert religion being fostered upon me was not the faith of my ancestors, but one saddled upon them by conquering forces. My ancestors, those who called Northern Europe their home, believed in an altogether different pantheon of deities,” – different time, different place and different books – but exactly the same thought process. Its nice to know it wasn’t just me. I could never understand what a djinn from the desert was doing in my mountains, ancient woods, and sacred springs. It made no sense. Thanks Bob, regards Paul.

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