A woman instinctually remembers how to give birth to her child, even though it is her first time in labor. A teenager rebels from family conformity so that she may find her own voice. A man takes a walk in the forest to unwind from a long week of corporate work.
These incidents are seemingly not random, as they occur again and again around the globe. Instead, there is a sense that they arise from a universal continuity which lies at the foundation of myth and its meaning. A unifying language courses beneath the surface of everyday survival and play, a language which reverses the scattering of Babel and, concurrently, offers purpose to individual expression.
This is the language of myth.
By 1963, when Mircea Eliade’s work entitled Myth and Reality was first published, the term ‘myth’ had already begun to stabilize in semantic value from its formerly accepted understanding as ‘fictional fable’ to a more complex definition of ‘sacred truth’. Eliade suggests that from the time of the fifth century to the nineteenth, the Western notion of myth had been gradually compressed to connote superstitious tales told by primitive and uneducated people to help them relate to their mysterious surroundings (1).
Today, however, myths are realized as universal imprints that originate within the collective human psyche and profoundly influence and affirm the human experience. Thanks to scholars such as Eliade, our understanding of myth has expanded to respect its immensity as “an extremely complex cultural reality, which can be approached and interpreted from various and complementary viewpoints” (5).
The term mythology may apply to the vast study and observance of this “cultural reality.” A mythologist is a story hunter who unearths the treasury of symbol, story and ritual that lies embedded within the soils of every culture, to recover meaning to the human experience.
From time immemorial, world mythology has adopted and informed astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, architecture, literature, dance, sex and medicine to deposit its rich treasury of meaning into our current human culture. Each human walks a different journey, witnessing the grandeur and squalor from a different point of view. At the same time, we are all one dynamic field of consciousness.
Our mythic experience lives as a universal truth—energetic imprints, symbols, stories—so profoundly real that the question of fact (ie: Did the events actually occur?) is irrelevant. Myth provides metaphor that informs your beliefs and your relationship to the world. It inspires your behavior and provides purpose for your life. Myth offers messages of healing and hope. It advances lessons that, when recognized, keep us from repeating History's mistakes.
The creative power of the archetypal goddess empowers the birthing prowess of the first time mother. The rebellious teenager must take to life’s symbolic battlefield, alone. It is her hero's quest to discover her authentic truth and individual significance. The corporate worker journeys into the woods to restore the breath of his true nature as part and parcel of infinite reality.
Throughout the world, meaning, purpose, and inspiration is granted to each human experience through the pervasive influence of myth.
Soul Stories offer messages of healing and hope.
They provide clarity, inspiration, and purpose.
Soul Stories transform everyday routines into rituals or transformation.
They return sacredness to the human experience...and give life meaning.
About The Author
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Founding teacher of Inner Power Yoga®, Shakti is a Contemplative Mythologist, ritual facilitator, and writer who presents a Tantrik approach to personal empowerment and social action. Through contemplative story-telling and mind/body practices, she offers a vision of deep peace and radical freedom.
PSYCHE + SOUL