“As to the myths, Plato declares … that they were the vehicles of great truths well worth the seeking.” H.P. Blavatsky, 1877. ‘Isis Unveiled’
Are myths a description of historical fact or spiritual guidance for us to achieve a state of enlightened living? Or, are they tales to keep us amused and philosophers stimulated with mental exercise?
Myth is an immensely complex subject, and often it is difficult to define except in opposition to other terms. Perhaps an oversimplification: mythology is traditional knowledge associated with ritual or social customs from a particular social group. In this way, myth is related to religious or spiritual elements, and a mythic story contains supernatural beings, deities, and spiritual powers.
Traditional knowledge is passed down by previous generations and can take the form of myth. If myth is accepted as traditional knowledge, it is an inherited set of ideas; and as traditional knowledge is not limited to any format, myth can apply to musical elements, rituals, chants, aphorism, epics, short stories, blessings, charms, spells, and so on.
The important distinction for myth is, generally speaking, the connection of spirituality and religion. A mythic dragon will appear alongside of deities, heroes, or monsters, and the myth will likely relate to a religious element, such as an icon, story, or blessing.
These myths passed from generation to generation has been an effective way to pass tribal wisdom to each new generation. Within the story-line of the myth is a moral value hidden within to stimulate discussion or further enquiry into deeper levels of understanding.
All myths have a similar structure;
- Separation or departure
- Initiation or death
- Return or rebirth
In all myths, the ‘heroes journey’ results in the hero returning transformed or changed in some fundamental way that causes them to gain special powers or recognition of their divinity.
They are often stories about heroes as legendary characters involved in some struggle with a god, person or creature that is opposing them in some way. So they are stories about conflict and eventual victory. They often involve a quest on behalf of some benefit to their community, clan or social good.
The hero needs to face challenges or fears that he uses to develop skills that he or she can use at the next level of challenge. Each new skill helps the hero recognise a new level of their divine nature.
As H. P Blavatsky notes, it is a statement about the inherent divinity that exists in us all that we reach towards as a guide to our behaviour. They are an example for us to aspire to.