Revising Myths: Beginning Thoughts

Many ancient myths are viewed through the lens of modern sensibilities. Because most people regard myths as a tool of social instruction, they consider the old myths to be outdated. Greek myths are deconstructed to show how Hera was deposed by Zeus or Proserpina by Hades. Then, these myths are rewritten with the female Gods restored to their “rightful places.” (The underlying religious philosophy of an old myth is usually ignored or misinterpreted.)

I put “rightful places” in scare quotes since the people revising the Greek myths believe that the Patriarchy overthrew the Matriarchy. For example, the Jewish myth of Lilith, they say, is really about enforcing the Patriarchy at the expense of women. This myth supposedly shows the stages of the disempowerment of women by men. The Goddess was defeated when Lilith choose to become a demon instead of returning to Adam. The Goddess followers seek to redress those wrongs. In their retelling of this myth, Lilith reclaims her power. Now not only is the former Matriarchy reasserted, but the existing Patriarchy is overthrown.

Because Western culture is monophasic, the concept of a myth creating a new reality is alien to many. Monophasic perception regards reality to be only waking thought. Furthermore, rational thought demands that everything has to make sense. “Trust the science” is the motto of monophasic cultures.

Meanwhile in polyphasic cultures, people access new perceptions through dreams, imagination, meditation, and trance. Because these forms act as portals to other worlds and dimensions, they fill in the gaps of the waking experience. In polyphasic cultures, “Dreamtime” can be world building.

Myths can be considered world building as well, for they connect directly with the sacred. In a myth, the creation between the conscious and the unconscious takes on a new creative energy. This becomes a new cosmos. However, the temporal relationship between the mythic and human worlds is complex. Mythic time runs differently than does human time and can fracture human reality. In fact, a person can move in and out of various realities without knowing it.

Therefore, the modern revisions of myths do create new worlds. By doing so, they have changed the axis mundi of the original myths, and reordered previously held perceptions. The axes are flipped with the vertical now the human world and the horizontal the Goddess (or Gods). This reorientation of sacred space requires further consideration, since it changes the values attached to different spaces. (Such as what are mountains now in the mythic landscape?) Moreover, the relations between the macro and microcosmos has shifted.

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