Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Collecting Dreams

"God said to Abraham 'kill me a son.'
Abe said 'man you must be puttin me on.'
God said 'no.' Abe said 'what?'
God said 'you can do what you want Abe but
next time you see me coming you better run.'"
   ~Bob Dylan

                     Continuing the discussion with Jenna St. Hilaire and Mr. Pond

Myths can be difficult to collect and to study. But to understand them we must collect, we must study, and we must immerse ourselves in the ever changing relationship between myth and culture. Because when a myth is living, it is in constant flux, and even within a culture, the relationship to the mythology is varied - Jenna rightly describes our own culture as "an enormous sampler platter both for use and study, not only of belief systems but of exaggerated tales" in which we search for things to believe in, and for fresh ways to experience what we do believe in.

Jenna writes that she loves fantasy fiction because it allows her to "take a night off" from the polarizing aspect of living mythology, from religious, social, and political conflicts and immerse herself in a comforting  mythology, one that lives, but that may not be so polarizing. Right now, as the discussions around me because increasingly full of conflict, it is refreshing to take refuge in soothing mythologies, both real and fictitious. I'm fortunate that my home is full of both - it's easy to feel healed in the mythology of living when surrounded by candle-light, reading about Long Meg and Her Daughters, standing stones which no man man can count, while coyotes howl in the night. My own collection of myths is full of tales of Christ coming hidden in the night, of saints who hide among the birches to keep the evil out, of feasts, and fasts, and reasons to avoid mirrors at night. Like Jenna's retreat into fiction, my mythology strengthens me, allowing me to resurface calmer, stronger, and kinder than I could be alone.

Understanding mythology is like collecting dreams, something is always left out, forgotten or misplaced. The essence of myth is not something that can be studied, it can only be experienced. The stories and characters can be written down, studied, and known, but the essence is elusive, like a half-remembered dream.


  1. Really beautiful, and lots to think about. I particularly love your second paragraph--the pictures of soothing and comforting myths, and the idea that "my mythology strengthens me, allowing me to resurface calmer, stronger, and kinder than I could be alone."

    Well put!

  2. Thanks! I had another, not so good post drafted before reading yours, which made my thoughts go more in this direction, so I'm really glad you liked it! Happy All Saints!