Last time, we talked about some tall tales. Now, we move back in time to ancient stories. Mythology evolved from primitive man’s wonder about the natural world. It grew from his life experience and imagination to shape explanations of how things came to be. Myth’s metaphor is a blend of science, social law, and morals. We humans wonder. And wonder is the beginning of understanding.
Children are filled with wonder as they discover their world. They connect well with myth. By listening to or reading these stories, our spirits can capture the freshness of new thoughts and discoveries. Myth is part of the great oral tradition. Ancient myths can still be relevant in modern times because they give us an historical perspective on how Romans, Greeks, Norse, and Persians thought. Humans will never stop wondering, even with modern technology. Nor will we stop believing—the foundation of the myth. It is the forerunner of religion.
In Greek mythology, gods were very much human, but with extraordinary power and strength. The whole community of Olympus—gods, goddesses and lesser gods—represented the range of human emotion and experience.
In August, look up at the morning sky, if you live in the northern hemisphere. You will see two equally bright stars. To understand why the heavens contain these stars, we turn to Gemini, the Twins. The twin brothers were Castor and Pollux. Castor’s father was Tyndarus, the King of Sparta and husband of Leda, while Pollux’ father was Zeus, the Greek god, who shared the same mother, Leda. During a storm at sea, they showed courage while saving their shipmates. Afterwards, strange lights were seen above their heads by the sailors. Later, these lights were known as St. Elmo’s fire. Read why Zeus honored them as twin stars, forever together.
The Norse myths explained the universe as Yggdrasill—a huge ash tree that supports all of creation. The giants were older than the gods and the realm of the gods were known as Asgard. The Norse had twelve ranking gods and twenty-four goddesses. Unlike the Greek gods, the Norse were mortal. They, like their human counterparts, believed that a heroic death on the battlefield was a victory.
In Odin Goes to Mimir’s Well, Odin, the All-father of the Norse gods, goes to her well to exchange his knowledge for wisdom in order to deal well with dark events on earth. He disguises himself and meets the wisest of the giants, Vefthrudner. They exchange questions and Vefthrudner told Odin what price he must pay to be granted Mimir’s wisdom.
You’ll see my next feature in two weeks. Until then, go back in time to myths and rediscover wonder.