Retelling of the Myth of Romulus and Remus for Modern People

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Patrick Dempsey from “Mobsters”

Since myths are theology, a way to understanding them is to re-enact them. By taking different roles in a myth, a person can gain different perspectives and deeper understanding. Hidden aspects often become apparent. Meditating inside a myth can yield further insights.

For my meditation, I decided to rewrite the myth of the founding of Rome. After reflection, I choose to write a crime noir story. I realized that at their core, the Romans knew that they were criminals, who “made good.” Romans were realists about who they were. Their focus was on their destiny through war and guile.

Read the myth here: The Founding Myth of Rome
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In the City of Alba Longa, the Numitor Crime Family ruled the criminal underworld. The head of the Family, Don Numitor was so powerful that he had a seat on the National Commission, which ruled the criminal underworld of the nation. The head of the Commission (the Boss of Bosses) was Don Maroni (Mars, the God of War). In addition, Don Maroni was interested in Rhea Silvia, Don Numitor’s daughter.

Meanwhile, Amulius seized control of the Family from his unsuspecting brother. After his coup, Amulius confined Numitor to his home, and forced his niece into a convent. To ensure that Rhea Silvia remained at the convent, Don Amulius bribed the Mother Superior.

After Don Maroni found out where Rhea Silvia was, he also bribed the Mother Superior to ensure that his visits were unimpeded. In a few months, Rhea Silva became pregnant. Therefore the Mother Superior asked Don Amulius to come and fetch his niece. After he arrives, she informs him that the father of his niece’s children is none other than Don Maroni. Not willing to offend the Boss of Bosses, Don Amulius imprisons her with her father in their house.

However, Don Amulius regarded her children to be a different matter. He would tell Don Maroni, that the two boys died at birth. Meanwhile, he ordered one of his men to “take care” of them. The goon dumped the twins into the Tiber River. They floated downstream until a stray dog paddled out and pulled them to land. Since she had lost her puppies, the mangy dog nursed the boys as her own. Then, a passing farmer heard their cries, rescued them, and took the babies to his farm. Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised Romulus and Remus as their own sons.

Like many young men, Romulus and Remus longed to leave the farm and go into the city. During a trip to Alba Longa, Romulus and Remus got into trouble. Don Amulius’ men dragged them to the “Padrino,” Don Amulius, since Remus had killed their Capo (Crew Boss). However, Romulus escaped, and formed a gang of toughs to storm Don Amulius’ office to rescue his brother. In the melee that followed, he killed Don Amulius.

The Underboss of the Amulius Family recognized the two brothers as the children of Rhea Silva and Don Maroni. Because of this, he offered them the position of Don of the Family. But, Romulus decided that his grandfather be reinstated instead, and their mother freed. After reuniting with their mother, and learning who their father was, Romulus and Remus set out to start their own crime family, in another city.

Empowered by being the sons of Don Maroni, the two brothers gathered an impressive group of criminals. As they searched for a suitable city, Romulus and Remus fought with each other. Arriving at a likely town, their arguing became more intense about who would be boss of the new crime family. After Romulus claimed that he received a sign from their father, he decided that this small town is the place to start their Family. Moreover, he announced that he would be the Don. Chagrined at being ignored by his brother, Remus taunted him for being so stupid to set up “business” in such a small town. Enraged, Romulus killed him. After ruing the murder of his brother, Romulus gave Remus a magnificent funeral. Then, he became Don Romulus, the head of the Rome Family, his new crime organization.

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The Founding Myth of Rome

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The founding myth of the City of Rome centers on the twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. This myth encompasses the circumstances of their birth, their coming of age, and the death of Remus by his brother. What makes this myth remarkable, for me, is that this is essentially the creation myth for ancient Romans. The myths of Romans usually focused on civic ethics or piety toward the Gods. (Any myth that detailed the creation of the world was usually adapted from the Greeks.) This founding myth presents the belief of the Romans that they were called to a greater destiny in the world. However, they were unsparing in highlighting that Romulus murdered his brother or that the original Romans were criminals.

The elements of this myth are twins with a divine parentage: in their case, Mars, the God of War. Numitor, their royal grandfather is overthrown by his younger brother, Amulius. After killing the male heirs, he forces Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silva, to become a Vestal Virgin. During her service as a Vestal, Rhea Silva is visited by Mars. She later gives birth to his twins.

Romulus and Remus, the twins, are sent out to be killed by their great uncle, but are saved through magical intervention. The River God, Tiberius guides the basket to a river bank. A wolf rescues them and nurses them until they are found. Meanwhile, a woodpecker sent by Mars ensures the safety of the twins.

A childless couple, Faustulus and his wife Acca Larentia adopts the twins and raise them as shepherds. When the brothers are grown, they get into trouble with King Amulius’s men. When they were taken before their great uncle, who happens to be the king, Romulus kills him. Later, the brothers reinstate their grandfather and free their mother. Afterwards, Romulus and Remus leave to find their own fortune. Along the way, they argue over where to establish their new city. Goaded into fury by Remus, Romulus kills his brother. Filled with remorse, he buries Remus with great pomp, and then founds The City of Rome.

Read the full myth here: Romulus and Remus

Death and Rebirth In Myths and Nature

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Many cultures have stories of death and rebirth. In Japan, Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, has to be coaxed from her cave to bring back the light. Meanwhile, the Hittite God, Telepinus, has to be coaxed from his mountains to bring back the rains. Among various Native American nations, Corn Mother has to be sacrificed to be reborn as corn for the people. The Inuit of the Arctic tell stories about Sedna, from whose broken body comes the bounty of their land.

Why do these disparate cultures have myths of death and rebirth? One could argue that they explain the cycles of life on earth. Daily, the sun rises and sets, and then rises again. In Ancient Egypt, Tawerat of Egypt acted as midwife to the daily rebirth of the sun.

However, these myths go beyond simply explaining the daily or seasonal cycles. They make explicit the delicate balance between the needs of people and nature. To keep the balance of life, deep harmony has to exist between the two. Lest they upset it, people need to be reminded of their relationship with nature. Myths are more than stories; they are theology.

The Enuma Elish: History as Mythology

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During the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia, empires rose and fell. In the Enuma Elish, the creation story of the Babylonians, this is told in mythic terms. One part of the Enuma Elish tells of the rise of the Sumerians. Their generation of Gods were Anu (An), Enlil (Ellil), and Enki (Ea), who focused on developing agriculture and decreeing divine law. While Anu ruled the Gods, Enlil granted kingship, and Enki created people. These Gods had overthrown Tiamat of the Saltwater and Apsu of Sweet Water, the original Gods of the Ubaid people of the late Stone Age.

The Sumerians drained the swamps, dug out the canals, and began irrigation. They tamed the “sweetwater” thereby killing Apsu as a God. Moreover, they transformed the salt marshes into farmland. Then in 2330 BCE, Sargon of the Akkadians established the first empire. He began the first dynasty by deciding that his son should rule next. This was the beginning of having males be the heads of families as father figures (paterfamilias).

Then came the dark times, starting in 2218-2047 BCE, when the Gutians invaded from Iran. The wars between the Sumerians, Akkadians, Elamites and Assyrians became endless. The Enuma Elish describes this time as Tiamat raising an army, and defeating Enlil and the other Gods. Through continuous irrigation, salt made the land of the Mesopotamians infertile. Faced with dwindling resources including water, the various cities fought each other to gain these precious resources for their peoples. During this awful time, the suffering people wrote lamentations describing their misery — bodies melting in the sun and cities shrouded in smoke.

Into this war-torn landscape came the Amorites, who adopted the Sumerian culture and established their main city of Babylon. Under their king, Hammurabi, the Babylonians cemented their empire and imposed law and order in Mesopotamia. The Babylonians described their victory in the Enuma Elish. The Sumerian Gods, Enki and Enlil cede their power to Marduk, their principal God. Then He defeats Tiamat, and remakes the Cosmos with her body.

Like Marduk, Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE), who expanded the Babylonian Empire, established order. He wrote down and organized existing laws of various cities into the Code of Hammurabi. These statutes consisted of 282 laws, which ranged from setting wages to punishments for stealing to arranging for divorce. His reign was one of peace and prosperity.

Works Used:
Baigent, Michael, “Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Bear & Company: Rochester (VT). 2015.
Black, Jeremy and Green, Anthony, “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary.” University of Texas Press, Austin, 1992.
Jacobsen, Thorkild, “The Treasures of Darkness.” Yale University Press, New Haven, 1976.
Mark, Joshua, “Sumer.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. 28, April 2011. Web. https://www.ancient.eu/sumer/. <accessed 12 October 2018.>
Siren, Christopher, “Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ.” 2000. Web.
https://stason.org/TULARC/education-books/assyro-babylonian-mythology/index.html. <accessed 12 October 2018.>
–, “Sumerian Mythology FAQ.” 2000. Web. http://humanpast.net/files/sumerianmyths.htm. <accessed 12 October 2018.>

Gods of the Month: Acca Larentia of Rome

On the Larentalia (December 23), the famen (priest) of Quirinalis (the Divine Romulus) performs the rites of parentiatio at the gravesite of Acca Larentia. This Goddess is considered to be a Divine Ancestor of Rome. However, She has three conflicting myths about Her being a Founder of Rome.

The first is that Acca Larentia is a very old Etruscan Goddess who cares for the Beloved Dead and their living families. This benevolent Goddess is the Mother of the Lars. Besides being a Household God, She is a Goddess of the Underworld.

When Rome was expanding its borders in Central Italy, they created a second myth. Acca Larentia, a human, was the mistress of Hercules. Later, she married Tarrutius, a rich Etruscan. When her husband died, Acca Larentia donated his lands to Rome. This was the basis of the Roman claim on disputed territories. After Acca Larentia died, She became a Divine Ancestor.

When Augustus reformed the Roman religion, he changed what Acca Larentia, the human was. She became the wife of Faustulus, the shepherd. Together, they adopted Romulus and Remus and raised them to manhood.

In all these myths, Acca Larentia is tied to Rome and to the Ancestors. I see Her as the Mother of the Lars. She cares for Our Dead and for us, the living. For me, She is a Goddess of my household.

Salve Acca Larentia
Mother of the Lars
Mother of the Beloved Dead
Guardian of the Living
Guardian of the Dead
Goddess of the Underworld
Goddess of the Household
Salve Acca Larentia!

Gods and Archetypes: Archetypes and Postmodern Spirituality

The term “Archetypes” came into common use from Carl Jung’s work. He hypothesized that there is a deeper layer “under” the unconscious of the individual. According to Jung, the “Collective Unconscious” is universal to humankind. The Archetypes (Note 1) who are the organizing principles of Time, Space, and Matter are created by “Collective Unconscious.” Jung added that religious experiences are linked to the experiences of the Archetypes.

Since Jung’s theories are ingrained in popular culture, many people have added on their own concepts of Archetypes. In “The Fire of the Goddess,” Reiki Master Katlin Koda, who believes in the Sacred Feminine, defines Archetypes as “An energetic imprint that lives with in the collective unconscious and carries specific qualities, such as priestess, mother, and teacher.” (Note 2)

Meanwhile, Caroline Myss, noted medical mystic, has a different point of view. She writes that Archetypes are not “entities with which we have some sort of interactive relationship… They are impersonal patterns of consciousness that forms the essence of human nature. However, archetypes are an active part of our consciousness.” (Note 3)

In devising their Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI) for psychologists to use (Note 4), Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, both Jungian psychologists, interpret Archetypes to be the original patterns of roles and stories of humans. They write, “Archetypes are the psychological structures reflected in symbols, images, and themes common to all cultures and all times…. The PMAI is devised to help people to better decode the underlying logic of their life.” Therefore, each person can revise their story to attain their special gifts.

Neo-Shaman Linda Star-Wolf speaks of Archetypes as cosmic energy. According to her, the Akashic Records (Note 5) hold the Archetypes in the sacred archives. Since humans vibrate at a different energy than the Archetypes, They feed people their stories. Reflecting Pearson and Marr’s ideas, she says that people then rework the stories and upload them back to the Akashic Records. For example, Star-Wolf claims that she and her late husband lived the Archetypal Story of Osiris and Isis, in a cosmic dance between the Transmuter and the Mother, respectively.

Core-Shamanist Hank Wesselman writes, “The goal of the authentic mystic … is to access the true transpersonal archetypes – the ‘lights beyond the form.’” He says that the “collective unconscious is a field that contains within itself the Akashic Records, the collective wisdom and experience of all humanity in our long journey across time.” (Note 6)

If it seems that Jung’s Archetypes have become the basis for religious beliefs, it is because he, himself, was an occultist. After receiving visions of the coming World War, He had a near-psychotic breakdown in 1913. Retreating into mysticism, Jung created his own cosmology with God being reborn in the human psyche. Some of his ideas do reflect Theosophy (Note 7), since Jung knew prominent Theosophists such as Alice Bailey. Although, Jung did have his differences with this system of religious-science or science religion, he did agree with its concept of divinity within humans.

(Previous post in this series: Gods and Archetypes: Jung and Postmodern Spirituality

Notes:
Note 1: “Archetype” is an explanatory paraphrase of the Platonic eidos. For our purposes this term is apposite and helpful, because it tells us that so far as the collective unconscious contents are concerned we are dealing with archaic or- I would say- primordial types, that is, with universal images that have existed since the remotest times. The term “representations collectives,” used by Levy-Bruhl to denote the symbolic figures in the primitive view of the world, could easily be applied to unconscious contents as well, since it means practically the same thing.

Another well-known expression of the archetypes is myth and fairytale. But here too we are dealing with forms that have received a specific stamp and have been handed down through long periods of time. The term “archetype” thus applies only indirectly to the “representations collectives,” since it designates only those psychic contents which have not yet been submitted to conscious elaboration and are therefore an immediate datum of psychic experience. From Carl Jung, “Archetypes of Collective Unconscious.”

Note 2: Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess.” P. 189
Note 3: Caroline Myss, “Archetypes.” P. 18
Note 4: Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, “What Story Are You Living?” P. 14-15. They developed the PMAI based on Jung’s Archetypes and Joseph Campbell’s work, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).”
Note 5: A concept from Theosophy, the Akashic records are the records of every soul, past, present, and future. Theosophists believe that they exist in a plane of existence called the etheric plane. These records can be accessed through deep meditation.
Note 6: Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.” P. 172-3.
Note 7: For more information on Theosophy: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/ryan-wh/wit-hp.htm “What is Theosophy” from The Theosophical Society.

Works Used:
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess.”
Caroline Myss, “Archetypes.”
Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, “What Story Are You Living?”
Romanian Association for Psychoanalysis Promotion (AROPA), Resources for Carl Jung. http://carl-jung.net/index.html
Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering.”
Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.”

Each-Uisge (Water-Horse): Be Cautious, Be Aware

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More tales of European lake monsters.

Throughout the lands surrounding the North Sea, stories abound of dreaded lake monsters who lurk below the surface. These tales describe many of the monsters as “water-horses.” This beast resembles a seal with two sets of flippers, a long neck and a small head. People usually divide “water-horses” into two types – the long-necked Nessie and the maned Each-Uisge. While Nessie of Loch Ness is more benign, the Each-Uisge, also of Scotland, is more sinister. Haunting lakes and lochs, this shapeshifter kills and eats unwary humans (leaving only the liver). The Each-Uisge usually lures people by pretending to be a docile horse.

From ancient times, the Each-Uisge has filled people with dread and fear. The Picts depicted Him in all his ferocity their pictographs. The Romans recorded deadly sightings of this beast during their time in Britain. Described as a glistening black horse with a greenish patina, the Each-Uisge would appear on the roadside as a tame horse. Seeing relief, the weary traveler would mount Him, only to find themselves firmly affixed to the beast’s back. After that, the “horse” would quickly trot off. When the Each-Uisge smelled water nearby, He would race into the lake drowning the unfortunate victim.

One blood-curdling account tells the killing of several children by the Each-Uisge. This creature had appeared to several children as a pretty pony. As each child sat on his back, the “pony” would lengthen it to fit more children. When commanded by the Each-Uisge mount, a frightened boy ran away. As the boy escaped, he heard his friends scream as they were drowned in the lake. The next day, the sorrowful villagers only found the children’s livers floating in the water.

The Each-Uisge is called by many names throughout the North Sea region. In Norway, this beast is Backahasten or Nokken, the “brook-horse.” In The Faroes, He is known as Nukur, and Nuggle in the Orkeys. The Irish call Him, the Capall-uisce, and the Manx, the Cabbyl-Ushtey.

In Wales, the Each-Uisge is known as the Ceffyl Dwr. This small beautiful “horse” lived in mountain pools. Once someone mounted Him, the Ceffyl Dwr would fly over the water and, then melt into a mist. After the victim drops into the water, He would reform and eat the body. At other times, this beast would transform into a frog and leap on the victim’s back.

No one is quite sure what the Each-Uisge is. Is this creature, an undiscovered mammal such as a new species of otter or seal? Or are the stories too fantastic for an ordinary animal? Whatever the Each-Uisge is, everyone will agree that He is deadly and vicious.

The Each-Uisge is real to those who believe the old myths. Something lives in those lakes, pools, and lochs; Something that will kill and eat you. Ignore the myths at your own peril. Be cautious and aware that not everything you encounter is benign.
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Note: The Kelpie is similar to the Each-Uisge, except that She dwells in rivers and waterfalls.