Why we are surrounded by mythology every day – especially movies

Why we are surrounded by mythology every day – especially movies

Dec 6, 2021 | Articles, Latest

Myths explore how individuals answer the call of their culture.

While some myths are about origins, or ritual explanations for natural events, we’re talking about something different.

We’re thinking about what it means to be a person, a hero, challenged to take action within the morals of our culture. We are no longer children. We have formed our sense of identity. Now that sense is put to the test.

Mythic stories are often wide and epic in scope, with heroes, heroines, talking animals, gods and angels, demons and dragons, great themes of light and dark.

Myths are about the contact between our center and our culture, often to discover that we have fallen short – short in our idea of ourselves, and short in what reality is. As a genre, the myths themselves are largely ignored, but they are the foundation of almost every fantasy story, superhero story, frontier fiction… anything heroic.

They can be as immersive and original as Tolkien, as allegorical as Lewis, as intentionally detailed as Sanderson, or as world-blending as Rowling. Heroes can be irrevent as Tony Stark, loyal as Captain America, broody as Batman, lighthearted as Superman.

And there are many others. Star Wars. Harry Potter. Game of Thrones. Narnia.

Mythic tales are usually flattened into ‘pre-scientific origins of a people,’ or explanations for weather. Usually people who say these things haven’t read enough of them. Or they’ve only read comparative summaries.

Others have dismissed them as ‘lies breathed through silver’, or the antics of demons. These aren’t fair either.

Myth is much more. In fact, our entire world of story that we surround ourselves with is basically mythology. We live mythology constantly.

So what is mythology?

It is the step beyond the fairy tale. It is a story that makes our interior life external. It embodies what we can’t see in our spirit and psyche. It’s our personal drama, explored within the context of our culture.

It is like a ‘sacrament’, making visible an invisible reality. It holds up paths of action, reveals great relational truths, and connects the individual with the strangeness of creation.

Mythical characters usually have names, unlike most fairy tales. Myths often probe a deeper , more definitive question. “I should be ‘like’ Hercules, or Loki, or Anansi.”

Fairy Tales reveal the normalness of the person, the individuality of the child, the identity emerging from a confusing inner life.

Myths chart the next step. What do we do with our selves? What do we do with our time? Essence and time creates our arrow of destiny, and the call to adventure. The call to explore and express the limits of our being.

Myths come to us from the deep and tortured and brilliant religious traditions of the past. From the depths of pyramids and temples and oracles, we are given stories of gods bartering with elves and dwarves, of creation moments, and endings. They are wracked with hybrid beasts and puzzles and intentional numerology and constellations.

Myths are the fairy tales of the world around us. Myths help us begin to understand that creation is filled with the same forces and fields we find within ourselves. The journey into ourselves happens hand-in-hand with our sacred pilgrimage of life together as community.

The gods and their antics stand for deep truths, usually hidden behind silly-seeming adventures. In that sense, we must see they all have a hidden meaning. They can be enjoyed and laughed at and thrilled at by ordinary folk.

But they can also unlock deeper psychological and spiritual truths.

Myths ride the line between the human psyche and how it emerges from the tapestry of spiritual realities, how we resonate with and are informed by gods, angels, demons, elves, dwarves, animals, stars, and the Great Abyss of Being in which everything thrives.

Our First World West is starved of mythology. We tell ourselves we don’t need them any more. Ironically, we simply live out myths blindly.

In America, we are bound by deep myths. Our culture and country is defined by the founding myths of our origins; the Robin Hoods, rebellious Loki, or Jack and Beanstalk tales. They capture a sense of rebel heroism that rises up against oppressive father figures. We believe in building a Round Table of unity that binds free folk together.

But we don’t have a common sacred tradition. Our religious culture has been emptied out and starved of humanity.

We’ve agreed among ourselves that the only myths we can endorse are spiritual stories from Sacred Scripture.

But as history shows, they’re not enough.

How can they be? Stories of spiritual adepts and spiritual realities are the full flowering of the fairy tale and the myth. They cannot be understood without these human aspects.

Because understanding is something only humans can do, to ‘stand under’ these things. If we are unprepared, and don’t know it, we aren’t capable of unlocking the meaning.

Superheroes today are a modern mythology. They are for us what the gods were to the ancient people. They are expressions of a people, of a cultural ideal, of a subculture’s dreams. They make visible what is invisible to the normal human mind.

We look at them, and love them for what they reveal about ourselves. And we mimic who they are, because they are symbols. They are more than mortal men.

Look at every movie in the Netflix lineup, or on DisneyPlus, or Hollywood’s century of filmmaking. All of them are mythology.

All of them ask who am I, how should I act, how do I respond, why should I do something. We watch them and upvote them depending on how they resonate with us, on how they reveal us to ourselves.

Netflix’s Top 10, and the enduring classics from our century, are revealing a new mythology for our age, the mythology of the Every Man, where not just the royalty and the priests are favored, but we are all gods (Psalm 82:6).

But without mystagogy, or sacred stories, myth remains forever the call to adventure without a clear sense of the destination.

In myth, these stories are less about discovering identity, like they are with fairy (numinous) tales. They are about the ‘use’, the integration, the implementation of that identity.

How that identity meets the trials of life. How that identity builds up culture.

Myths don’t often change, don’t often have internal journeys of conversion. They are archetypes in action.

That’s why we need sacred stories as the next step in our journey.

This post is excerpted from ‘The Rewilding of Enchantment

Founder of LegendFiction. Geeks over epics, mystics, science, the angelic, & Netflix. Got an idea for a guest post? Send me a note! | Visit my website

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Join the list for the Weekly Digest of interviews and updates!

You might also like:

LegendHaven Convention 2022

LegendHaven Convention 2022

LegendHaven is the free 2022 online convention to meet up with Catholic and Orthodox fiction authors. Ignite  your excitement to write fantastic fiction!

read more
Katy Campbell | Meet the Mentors | Legendmakers

Katy Campbell | Meet the Mentors | Legendmakers

Katy grew up in a family that was always joking around and laughing. “My grandma taught me that humor is a powerful tool for getting perspective, especially when working through difficulties. I brought this value to my writing and have yet to create a story I don’t consider at least a little bit fun. So far, I’ve published four comedy fantasies and have many more in the works! ”

WEBSITE: www.katysfables.com

Q: Favorite fandom/movie series?

This is the worst question ever because there are so many awesome fandoms to choose from. Since I have to choose, I’ll say Star Trek from the original series through Voyager. (None of these new-fangled Star Treks you kids are watching.) My fairies draw a ton of inspiration from Q, the mischievous all-powerful space alien that appears in Next Generation.

Q: What are you writing these days?

Lots of things! I am doing a sequel to my first novel, Love, Treachery, and Other Terrors. A sequel to Rosaline’s Curse, and a new fun fantasy for middle schoolers about a fifteen-year-old girl’s search for her long-lost parents.

Q: Why is LegendFiction a Good Idea?

Because Orthodox and Catholic writers need a place to tell fun stories that reflect their worldview. I mentioned how much I love Star Trek earlier, but numerous episodes depict religious people as superstitious, science haters that need to be defeated. It’s a pretty standard sci-fi trope.

What’s the solution to this? Help religious writers create awesome sci-fi! Their stories might not be explicitly religious, but they also won’t perpetuate anti-christian stereotypes.

Q: What Services Do You Offer?

I offer story coaching for novels and short stories. As I am reading through your story, I will leave inline comments with my real-time reaction and predictions about where the story is going. This will help you understand if your emotional beats are working.
I try to be as specific as possible with feedback whether it’s constructive or praising. So instead of saying, “I like Chapter 6” I’ll say, “I like how you built tension in Chapter 6 by introducing the mysterious stranger. He was really creepy and the way he kept showing up everywhere the hero went got me really on edge.”

Instead of saying, “This section is boring.” I will say, “Cut this section down because it repeats information you gave us earlier in the story.”

Q: What’s your dream audience?

I like working with people who are open-minded, willing to consider my notes even if they don’t end up using them, and people who are willing to ask clarifying questions about my feedback. I also love working with people who have great senses of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously.

Q: What’s one thing that you wish people knew about editing?

Nobody’s work is perfect. All the great books you’ve read went through numerous rounds of editing. Don’t be embarrassed if I catch a mistake in your manuscript. I’ve probably made the same mistake a hundred times. Editing can hurt, but it’s an important part of making your story awesome!

ABOUT THIS SHOW: Legendmakers
Interviews, convos, and community news about LegendFiction, the creative community for Catholic & Orthodox fiction writers! We talk creed, craft, and co-creation, rooted in grit, grace, gods, and dragons. Let’s inspire your faith and your fiction.

ABOUT LEGENDFICTION
The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox authors. Discover new worlds, support your favorite authors, share your works in progress! Share your stories for free, or join our private community.
https://legendfiction.com
About: https://legendfiction.com/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendfictions/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendfiction/

FREE COURSE: How to be a Catholic Author
Helping authors write exciting novels, connect faith with fiction, and be a better Catholic! https://legendfiction.com/free-course

read more
Alien worlds, morals, and Markmakers with Mary Woods | LegendFiction

Alien worlds, morals, and Markmakers with Mary Woods | LegendFiction

Mary Jessica Woods was raised and homeschooled in the Chicago suburbs, where she read as many adventure stories as she could get her hands on. At the age of ten, she realized she was doomed to be a writer and has been following the muse ever since. Still seeking adventure, she headed out west to Wyoming Catholic College, where she climbed mountains, rappelled off cliffs, and studied the Great Books.

After graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in the Liberal Arts, she returned to the Midwest to work as an editor. Mary also volunteers as an editorial assistant for the literary magazine Dappled Things, and her nonfiction has appeared in America Magazine, Catholic World Report, and First Things. In her mind, she spends most of her time on distant planets or alien spaceships, but she actually lives in rural Michigan.

WEBSITE: https://maryjessicawoods.com/

GET MARKMAKER:
He swore to paint the truth. Now he is living a lie. For the Noxxiin people, tattoos define identity: they commemorate birth, ancestry, accomplishments—even crimes. As a tattoo artist living on an ancient generation ship, Mariikel Serix has sworn to record the truth. So when he becomes an unwilling accomplice in the banishment of an innocent man, he is horrified that he has broken his oath—and his eyes are opened to the misery of the Underbelly, the realm of the outcasts. https://chrismpress.com/books/markmaker/

ABOUT THIS SHOW: Legendmakers
Interviews, convos, and community news about LegendFiction, the creative community for Catholic & Orthodox fiction writers! We talk creed, craft, and co-creation, rooted in grit, grace, gods, and dragons. Let’s inspire your faith and your fiction.

ABOUT LEGENDFICTION
The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox authors. Discover new worlds, support your favorite authors, share your works in progress! Share your stories for free, or join our private community.
https://legendfiction.com
About: https://legendfiction.com/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendfictions/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendfiction/

00:00 Why Mary is a Dinotopian Skybax rider
02:35 Mary’s origin story
05:46 Markmaker
11:22 Traditional publishing with Chrism Press
15:13 Faith-inspired fiction
27:00 Mary’s fandoms that influenced Markmaker
33:00 Mary’s writing process & revisions
40:00 How Mary’s growing her brand
44:33 Mary’s 1 minute message to authors

FREE COURSE: How to be a Catholic Author
Helping authors write exciting novels, connect faith with fiction, and be a better Catholic! https://legendfiction.com/free-course

read more
Welcome to LegendFiction (formerly CatholicAuthor!)

Welcome to LegendFiction (formerly CatholicAuthor!)

ABOUT THIS CHANNEL
Interviews, convos, and community news about LegendFiction, the creative community for Catholic & Orthodox fiction writers! We talk creed, craft, and co-creation, rooted in grit, grace, gods, and dragons. Let’s inspire your faith and your fiction.

ABOUT LEGENDFICTION
The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox authors. The creative community for modern Catholic & Orthodox fiction authors. Discover new worlds, support your favorite authors, share your works in progress! Share your stories for free, or join our private community.
https://legendfiction.com
About: https://legendfiction.com/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendfictions/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendfiction/

FREE COURSE: How to be a Catholic Author
Helping authors write exciting novels, connect faith with fiction, and be a better Catholic! https://legendfiction.com/free-course

read more

Pin It on Pinterest