MYTHOLOGY IN TRUTH: RECLAIMING A LOST WAY
Many of us are familiar with the popular concept that history repeats itself. We hear it and possibly agree, acknowledging that much of what we see troubling us in the world is of an ill-nature – interpersonal conflicts, wars, floods, famine, poverty, disasters and so on. We recognise none of this is necessarily new and feel somewhat bound to an ever-turning wheel of human misfortune.
Yet how do we know that what we are witnessing now has gone before? Obviously, we have historical accounts to which we can turn – first-person narratives written or recorded by people who lived through a notable event or era. We have analyses of past events and times made by historians who are using data from various sources, including first-person accounts. We now have period films that beautifully realise and recount such happenings, bringing them to life for modern audiences in a way that was not possible only decades ago. There are many wonderful documentaries and novels too that also bring history to life in a way we rarely experienced when we learnt it at school.
But do we read or watch a meticulously detailed and moving account of war, for example, and truly take to heart – en masse – the message at the heart of it? Do we actually take stock of these re-tellings in a way that might begin to arrest the kinds of destructive patterns we seem doomed to repeat? We might be powerfully affected by such stories, but then what? Life goes on and we go on, continuing to recycle all that has gone before.
Perhaps then there is something missing in our stories, our histories. Or perhaps there is something missing in us, in terms of how we receive them. Could it be we do not quite give our stories the true credence they deserve: perhaps we do not give to them the mythical status they deserve?
The difference between history and mythology - Paul O'Hara (1.18)
To many this will seem an outright contradiction in terms: isn’t a myth a fabrication, a falsehood, a lie, something to ‘bust’? Yes, today this is often the implied meaning. Yet if we return to the origins of the word – investigate something of the history of the word itself – we find something quite different. Here is one account of the word ‘myth’ that turns our current understanding on its head (emphasis our own):
‘The word ‘myth’ originates from the Greek word mythos, meaning ‘word’ or ‘tale’ or ‘true narrative’, referring not only to the means by which it was transmitted but also to its being rooted in truth. Mythos was also closely related to the word myo, meaning ‘to teach’, or ‘to initiate into the mysteries’. This is how the word was interpreted by Homer – who is generally identified to have lived in the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. – when composing his great works, including The Iliad, in which he meant to convey a truth.
As the age of science and philosophy began questioning truth itself, the meaning of the word began to evolve. Early scientists and philosophers questioned the truth, or validity, of their traditional myths, thus birthing the scepticism that would forever change the meaning of the word. About 400 years later myths became limited to fictional tales of superstition or fantasy, symbolic stories. This is how the definition of the word ‘myth’ is still viewed – a story without proof.’ (1)
If it is true that we have lost our true understanding of the word myth, it could be equally possible that we have lost our capacity to convey and receive the truths inherent in a mythical account. The following passage by Serge Benhayon captures and expresses the dilemma perfectly (emphasis our own):
'In very old days mythology was esteemed as a great teaching and learning medium. Hence, mythology was respected in no different manner as was, much later to come, the education modus known as a parable. Be it a ‘myth’, an allegory, a legend or a parable these were mere teaching styles and people knew how to listen to them because they were educated as to how to contemplate what was being conveyed. In other words: the listener knew the method so they knew how to comprehend and draw advance from the imparting. However, like all things that truly evolve mankind, the lack of responsibility to make true our human life results in the reductionism of truth and of true value with regard to the society we ought to have. Not surprisingly then that we find the word mythology today being no different to the word sophistry; quite a hilarious deviation from their roots if it were not such a tragedy and an indictment of how we allow the complete corruption of what offers true advance to be so cheaply diminished if not reversed to mean the opposite.’ ~ Serge Benhayon (2)
If we feel the truth inherent in these passages it would seem not only have we lost our way in terms of our failure to change the repetitive nature of the so-called ‘human condition’, we have lost our capacity to teach and receive truths via myth.
On these pages we will reclaim mythology in the light of these understandings.
We will do this by exploring myths native to New Zealand (yet universal in their truth-full application) and by investigating myths – truths – so universally shared they are common to numerous cultures, such as that of the great flood/Atlantis. In doing so, we will re-claim the educative power of our myths and understand the messages that lie therein.
Serge Benhayon (2016), excerpt of a draft of a work intended for publication by permission of the author.