November 20, 2013

Giants, fairies, Disneyland, war, archetypes: The role of mythology in our lives

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:44 pm

I want to go back to Disneyland! Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to return to a time when the Middle East was represented by flying carpets in the “Small World” ride instead of all those sad videos of dead babies that we now see on the news.

And even in today’s modern world, there are still myths and legends in our lives that motivate us, spur us on and keep us going — such as the myth of the Good War, the hero, the Patriot, the soldier and all those Marvel superheroes who stand between us and our worst nightmares.

And then there are the nightmares themselves.

But on the other hand, we also have many sweet, gentle myths and archetypes that enhance our world and bring us gifts of love — such as the good fairies who grant us three wishes, the Three Wise Men, and Glinda the Good Witch of the North. “You’re capable of more than you know…”

“Please read me another story from the fairy tale book,” says my granddaughter Mena every night before bedtime. She loves fairy tales. They help to explain a confusing adult world to her in a way that a five-year-old can understand. The wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel. Monster High’s cool DracuLaura. The town musicians of Bremen, the three little pigs. Parents as giants, towering over kids. Or even when Mena was a hero herself, during a deadly asthma attack last year. Fairy tales help Mena to understand that there are both good guys and bad guys in the world — and that the good guys sometimes actually win.

Then we have all those other myths and archetypes which are deliberately created by clever PR campaigns, ones that make us believe that if only we buy this fabulous 4G high-speed cell phone or that sexy high-speed car, we too will become a Hero. Not so, sadly. All we really are doing is speeding up the death of the Earth as we know it. And our deaths too.

And did I forget to mention the myth of War? That if you can just kill enough people, then Might will make Right. Where mass murder becomes sanctioned and even glorified. Where “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” becomes a tooth in exchange for a thousand cemeteries What a bloody lie. I myself prefer the “Love thy neighbor as thyself” myth much better. Plus it’s far easier than trying to get blood stains out of the carpet once all those murderous Heroes have moved on to the next Good War.

And then, of course, there is the myth (and the reality) of our own evil twin. I just finished reading a book called “The Tools,” which advises us to harness the power of each person’s evil twin in order to make them our allies instead, and to help us do Good. Good luck with that one.

Bottom line: Legends and myths and fairy tales and giants and archetypes all come from somewhere deep within the dark reaches of our individual subconscious minds. And these myths and archetypes have an important role to play in our lives. I’m just saying. Ignore them at your own peril. Or else try to take advantage of them — before they take advantage of you.

PS: Am currently reading two fairy tales for adults: “Summerland” by Michael Chabon and “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman. Will let you know how they turn out. And am also trying to figure out how to win the lottery so I can go back to Iraq with Hinterland Travel next October, to see where they wrote “1,001 Nights”.

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