An Epic Poem

One of the neat things about the set-up that wordpress has, is I can check how many people look at this blog on a daily basis. What I love even more, is that i can actually look at the what your typing into your search engines to get here. I started to notice there were some intresting phrases being used. I started to save them over the past few months and have created a little “poem” as a little experiment. I hope you enjoy it, as it is written by Mythblogogy users, for Mythblogogy users…

Hungry mythological gods,

Candies named after greek gods,

Satanic Lilith,

Faust witch,

Naked goddess,

Aegina: nymph-like daughter of river god asopus,

Boulder down the hill hell,

Faust wine cellar,

Raven on a bottle of wine,

The beggar and the faithful dog Odyssey,

Evil ship captain,

King midas has asses ears,

The joker original,

Harold Godwinson with an arrow in his eye,

Shadow pushing boulder,

Bearded bacchus,

Bugs bunny and the gremlin,

Famous norwegian pirates,

A guy pushing a rock up a hill,

Eagle with broken shackles,

Odysseus disguised as a beggar,

I‘m Sisyphus,
-Mythbologogy

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Myth In Life Pt. 2, “Wine”ing About Mythology

I didn’t expect to have a theme by the second posting of Myth In Life, but while walking through the wine and spirit section of the grocery store I noticed that wine labels are like a magnet for myths. So armed with nothing but my cell phone camera, I went about capturing more proof that the myths have not all gone home.

FAUST

Faust was the first bottle that really caught my eye and inspired the theme for this installment. While you could make a valid argument that Faust is not a myth (It didn’t originate through oral tradition and it has a recognized author. I feel that Faust has become a cultural obsession and we have connotatively gravitated towards him as a newer archetype of a man willing to sell his soul to the devil.

PEGASUS

Pegasus was another one of those real obvious mythic figures. The winged horse seems to pop up quite a bit and I suspect that he’s get his own myth in life segment in the near future. Pegasus came into life when Perseus severed the head of Medusa. Pegasus sprang from a drop of her blood.

ARTEMIS & ACTEON

I saw a lot of bottles with deer on them and wanted to write a piece on Acteon, but none of the wines seemed specific enough. Then I found Artemis. Artemis/Diana, Goddess of the hunt was bathing with her attendants in the forrest. Young Acteon is out hunting with his hounds and comes across the nude Goddess and decides to take a risk and spy on her. What we have here is essentially the first version of the Porky’s shower scene.

Unfortunately for Acteon, he is caught, and believe it or not, our naked Goddess isn’t to happy about the situation. She punishes Acteon by turning him into a stag, who is then hunted down and killed by his own loyal dogs. Oh sweet irony…

CAMELOT & AVALON

I was never one who followed the whole Arthurian myth scene, but i’m starting to become a fan. It seems like an area where you can’t deny diffusion was a major role in evolution of the stories. So I had to include Camelot, the kingdom that Arthur created, home to the Table Round.

And while we’re on the subject ancient, medieval, mystical realm’s, there’s also Avalon. As I mentioned earlier, Arthurian legend is not my strong point, but I do recognize Avalon. In some versions, this island was the origin of the sword Excalibur, and the place that Arthur went to heal his wounds. I think there might be a future blog on the subject of mystical islands, so stay tuned for more Avalon.


RAVEN

This one’s a homage to back home. In Alaska, and other areas in the Pacific Northwest, Raven is a trickster deity. He stars in a number of tales, my favorite one “Raven steals the light.” In the story, a wizard steals the sun. Raven steps up to get it back and on the journey eats his own scabs, making hime eternally hungry, and switches genders…what a goofball. He is successful and steals the sun back, restoring light to the world.

SOPHIA

The idea of Gnosis is new to me, but a subject is growing more and more interesting. According to some Gnostic beliefs, the Angelic Deity Sophia leaves the presence of the Alien God and looks upon the Earth/Choas. She tries to create Life/Order and creates a terrible being known as the Demiurge. His form is a snake with a lion’s head. The curse of the demiurge is that this flawed being thinks he is the one true god, and according to Gnostic belief, we think he is too. Sophia is often compared to other feminine archetypes like eve, first eve, lilith, hecate…etc…

“ORIGINAL” SIN

“For the wages of Sin is Death” This is another one that gets me excited! Here we have a Motif with multiple meaning for different cultures and time periods. Of course most people associate Sin with the Christian concept of a bad deed. But Sin is also the name of the Mesopotamian moon god. The Ur knew him as Nanna, the god of wisdom. He was the head of the pantheon. He also had a beard made of Lapis Lazuli, thats pretty awesome.

BACCHUS

And it wouldn’t be right to do a blog on myth and wine without this guy. Bacchus’s Secret Cellar is a wine bar not far from my house. Bacchus/Dionysus is the God of Wine. The followers of his cult really shook up Greek and Roman culture to the point were worshipping him was banned at times. Supposedly, it was common practice to rip apart a living virgin at his festivals. They later switched over to a living lamb; maybe they ran out of virgins. Bacchus is a great example of mythic resurrection. His mother burst into flames after demanding to see the true form of Zeus. Zeus sowed the unborn child into his leg for the remainder of his development. The Titans also tried to eat poor Bacchus and cut him into pieces and ate him. Zeus rescued him before they could eat his heart, using it to resurrect the boy. This is the second time Bacchus has made it into Myth in Life. In part one, he was attributed to giving King Midas the ears of an ass.

Great news! Mythblogogy has a shiny new email account. If you have any pictures you think might be interesting for an installment of Myth in Life, send them in. The more places they come from, the better. Send them to Mythblogogy@gmail.com.

Myth In Life part 1

This is a series is a reminder that the myths have not all gone home. These are images i’ve taken with my phone while out and about. They serve as a reminder that these ancient motifs/archetypes are still with us. If you encounter anything like this, please take a picture and send it my way and it will be part of the next series. Enjoy!

King Midas
The Midas Touch. King Midas was given the gift of the golden touch by the god Bacchus. Realizing that “everything” he touched turned to gold (in some versions, his daughter fell victim), he begged to return his “gift,” which the god finally did.

Later, he insulted the ego of Apollo after a musical competition between the sun god and Pan. This resulted with Midas growing ears like an Ass!

Hermes1
This is from a shop in the Honolulu Airport. They do fashion and perfumes…stuff like that. Hermes is off course one of the more well known Greek Gods. Considered a “Trickster,” Hermes is the god of thieves, weights and measures, merchants, travelers, and shepherds to name a few. He is also in charge of guiding the souls of the dead and is credited with the creation of the lyre.
Hermes2


I was very excited when I saw this sign. The story of Narcissus and Echo is one of my favorite from the Metamorphosis. In the story, Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and stays at the spot, admiring himself until he dies(in some versions he kills himself). In the spot where he died, a flower grew.

Well thats the first installment. Like I said, if you have a picture that you think would work in this series, send it my way and it’ll probably end up here!

Hades is not Satan

An Opinion on the De-secularization of Myth

I feel I should warn you there Spoilers in this blog for the film Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, as well as Clash of the Titans (the 2010 version as well as the 1981 version).

Three brothers met after a battle, a heavy burden lay on their shoulders, they were now the masters of the world. As seen as a fair way to divide the earth, sky, and underworld, they drew lots. Zues received dominion over the sky, Posiedon the Sea and land, and Hades the underworld.

Hades was not tricked into ruling the land of the dead, nor was he sent there as punishment. These are popular misconceptions that are unfortunately growing more popular. With a lack of understanding for the ancient world we combine little bits of what we know with other bits. This is far from objective, and so the majority religions cast a shadow over these wonderful ancient stories and taint them.

Now let me be clear, this is not a rant against Christianity, nor a rant against the mono-mythers or the diffusionists, more of a rant on anti-intellectualism and a lack of objectivity when it comes to examining myth. I bring the figure Hades up in this piece, because he seems to become the victim more so than his other brothers.

In the new remake “Clash of the Titans” Hades as represented as being “tricked by Zues” into ruling the underworld. And when he appears in the court of Olympos, telling Zues that he has been to loving to the humans and that he must be cruel as well, one sees a scene more akin to something from the Book of Job than from any story from ancient Greece.

Now this is not to tear apart a film for straying from the original source material. The original “Clash of the Titans” did not stick perfectly to the legend of Perseus (the character “Calabos” never existed until the film, also there aren’t any “Titans” clashing in the film either), had a great story structure and was still able to represent the stories of the Greeks, that it was often shown in schools! Unfortunately, the version of the film does not have that same value.

But this is not the first time our modern culture have tried to pin the sins the devil onto poor ol’ Hades. In the 2010 film “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief” the first time we see Hades, we see a giant monstrous figure made of burning embers with giant bat-like wings and devilish horns, more akin to something from Dante. Later in the film we find out that this is only a disguise and that the real Hades is something more like a man, but even then we see that he is dressed in a leather vest and sports an electric guitar. This is a very funny image, but its funny this guitar wielding Hades is a representation of the Satanism that all those worried mothers thought was in rock n’ roll in the 80’s.

This has been going on for a while. In the 1997 Disney film “Hercules” Hades is seen a plotting schemer sending out his henchmen Pain and Panic. Its fairly certain there are many more examples of this of this mythological projection in our culture and it makes sense. In the Christian faith, Satan plays a big role. He’s responsible for the fall from grace, he destroys Job’s life, he is seen as a liar and a scemer; He’s already rebelled once!

I think its partly the connotation of the UNDERWORLD that makes some modern Christians project Satan-like qualities onto Hades. The belief in an underworld is something we share with the ancient Greeks, but there was no Heaven for the Greeks. Now there was Elysium, a special section of Hades designated specifically for Heros, but that was about it. You weren’t roasted over a spit a demons jabbed at you with pitch-forks.

Now there are tales of punishments in Hades that might mislead as well. Two of the most famous being Sisyphus and Tantalus. Sisyphus is the one who must forever roll a large stone up a hill only to have it roll back down whenever he nears completion. Tantalus must stand in water neck high with grapes above him, but whenever he bends his head down to drink the water recedes; whenever he reaches for a grape, wind takes the branches out of reach.

Harsh, customized punishments like this often might sound like what some believe to be a private Hell, but these stories of punishment are rare and usually meant to teach a moral lesson. Even in Homer’s Odyssey, the dead are merely “Shades” who’s only real punishment is existence. And so even though we confuse the two and their masters, Greek hell is much less dramatic than the Christian Hell. It is really just a place of drab existence. This would make sense since the Greeks viewed the human experience as the ultimate experience. Their focus was not on the next life but living in this one.

But to get to the heart of this, here’s the real question. Who cares? What does it matter? By endowing mythical gods with the powers and intentions of our modern day spiritual archetypes, we make them bigger than who they really are, and that is an injustice to the Greeks. For the Hero’s story was not about the Gods, it was about the men.

Traditionally, Hero’s are endowed by the Gods with Gifts and/or protection that help them complete their quests. If it was really about the gods and their gifts, it wouldn’t matter who received them. Anyone could complete the quests with the right gifts. But it is the actions of the Hero that earn him those gifts. Just like Jason who helped Hera, disguised as an old crone, across a river. It is these simple acts of kindness, wisdom, humility the allow men to become Heros.

The real magic of this line of thinking is that if it really only takes these simple actions to be a hero, then we are much closer to these Heros that we realize, and in so are that much closer to the Gods. But if we tear apart this culture were man and his intelligence come second to Supernatural figures that we give power to, then that culture, that way of thinking is lost

The real irony is that this rant started from a movie based on a Hero, Perseus, who actually represents all three brothers mentioned earlier. He is the son of Zues. Being buried alive as a baby he has already experienced death in the eyes of Hades. And he was cast into the ocean, Poseidon’s realm, and was delivered to safety.

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