Monday, 15 December 2014

Mythology — part two: stories

Exciting stories
Carl Gessler, 1866
Long before writing was invented people told stories and those stories evolved over time. The characters in the story might change as new heroes emerged and old heros were forgotten. Not only did details of the story change over time, but what was mostly remembered and passed along was that which resonated with something in the collective unconscious. If a story element happened to contact a very highly charged part of that unconsciousness, then the effect could be rather dramatic: at the very least, a feeling of numinosity could ensue and at the extreme, that numinosity could trigger synchronicity whereby contact with an archetype is reflected by a incident experienced in reality.

After writing was invented or adopted by people, some of these stories were written down and became frozen in time. Only in fairly recent history were old written stories modernized, and then, it was a conscious act to do so. The changes were more likely to omit archetypes than to provide more because the changes were conscious decisions.

Over time, the storyteller might use verse, repeated phrases, and alliteration to act both as mnemonic devices and to provide "rest points" whereby the story can continue while the storyteller thinks of what will come next.

The stories that lasted longest were full of archetypal imagery and created many feelings of numinosity. It was these stories that brought about myths that were finally incorporated into religious stories because of that numinosity.

Nowadays, many people believe that the most archetypally loaded stories (almost always very old and evolved stories) told of historical truth while other people who might either have experienced alternative versions applied to different histories or might have the sort of personality type that avoids the inward-looking contact with the archetypes will call them "fiction" or attribute to them efforts to understand reality. So what went wrong and how bad was it? We will look into that tomorrow.

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