The Power of Myth

by | March 18, 2020

Myths are a unique breed of stories.  They started life as explanations for the cause of what we now deem to be natural phenomena, Such as the sun rising and setting, storms, etc; or stories of mythical, cultural heroes and heroines that embody the traits and characteristics that one’s tribe or greater culture consider most important (examples include Maui for the Polynesian people, and Heracles for the Ancient Greek Diaspora that colonized Southern Italy).  Now they have morphed into anachronisms, morality tales, psychological snapshots of a bygone era and its people, or a glimpse into our common human experience.

These bigger-than-life stories have a way of fascinating us, through their multi-layered simplicity, and how their interpretation can be accomplished through a variety of lenses.  We can look at these myths through the lens of Psychology for insight into our shared human condition.  We can look at these stories through the eyes of the historian or archaeologist to dig into the historical religious beliefs and ritual practices of a culture that has gone before.

The Psychological lens of a Jungian sort à la Joseph Campbell can be part of the underpinning of the lens of Magick and its’ varied practices.  Mythological consciousness in Magickal practice could be (simplistically) said to be an attempt to harness archetypal energies to cause changes within reality.

If we believe that hundreds, or thousands of years of belief in a mythological god or goddess has imbued said deity with the energies of millions of fervent prayers and unyielding faith/belief like some über- thought-form, then by tapping into this archetypal energy through focus, and meditation, visualization and ritual, one can use it to gently nudge three-dimensional reality (existence) in one’s favour.  I cannot claim a deep knowledge of this practice, but if memory serves me right, this is the purview of Chaos Magick (but don’t quote me).

Are we a product of our own beliefs and imagination? Are we self-created archetypes?  An aggregation of all the big (and little) stories we tell ourselves?  Furthermore, are the gods and goddesses of myth solely in the realm of imagination? Lacking any true reality? Or are they more like powerful thought-forms, or Magickal servitors of immense power that are given a form of existence because of the collective belief and worship of millions over the centuries, throughout our human history?  Can Pop-culture characters have a quasi-existence? An archetypal existence? Has the collected love and attention throughout the decades directed at the modern myth of Spider-Man, for example, granted a form of reality to Peter Parker/Spider-Man?  Can we tap into this mythical/archetypal energy of Spider-Man and his  ethos of great power demanding great responsibility and imbibe some of it, thereby bringing a bit of it into ourselves? 

Like the ritual of drawing down the moon wherein one can partake of the energies of a particular goddess, can we partake of the qualities and energy that has been our collective attention and emotional investment through the years that has found a receptacle in the imaginative (?)/ archetypal existence of Spider-Man?  Is that what Chaos Magick teaches?

Should myths not be approached with magickal intent?  Should we stick to a psychological approach? Or an archeological/historical approach? Or a quasi-New Age approach through confronting and integrating myths and mythical personas/archetypes into our psyche?

Should we attempt this task through investigation and contemplation, like a scholar would?  Should we attempt this task through focused meditation as would a monk or mystic of the Eastern religious traditions?  Should we approach myth as would a Shaman, interacting with it in the imaginative realms in order to learn and bring back wisdom and healing to ourselves and our community?  Or should we approach myth as would a sorcerer, immersing in the mythical energy in order to grow spiritually and/or bend reality to our Magickal will?

How about all four approaches in order to saturate our lives with the archetypal energies of our choosing?