THE POWER OF MYTHS

Western society is thirsting from the drought it was instrumental in creating. Small voices are being heard again, telling stories of magic and mystery. This tired world, gripped by fear and uncertainty, wants to listen to stories of wizards, fairies and things that go bump in the night. The phenomenal success of the Harry Potter stories is a good example of this thirst for the fantastic.

The power of our imagination is awesome and creates the lives we experience every day. Imagination has also created every manmade object we see around us. Dream it to conceive it! With more and more mythical heroes filling cinema screens, myths are again alive and kicking!

STORY MAGIC

From the dawn of human existence, man has been telling stories, fantastic stories about gods and demons, monsters and angels.  Myths stir the imagination and invite the mind to experience worlds far away from the reality of our earthbound lives.  Stories are universal and can stir the emotions of all who allow themselves to be carried away by their magic. Mankind has always tried to understand the heart of nature. Ever since he observed the power of lightning, and heard thunder booming, and watched his fellow tribesman exhale his last breath, he has feared the forces of nature and pondered the mysteries of death. However, fear of the unknown has never dampened man’s irrepressible desire for knowledge. This has motivated him to move from his own lands across angry oceans, over great mountains and through sprawling forests, to discover the secrets that lay in the great beyond.

BIRTH OF GODS

Throughout the centuries, we have sought to learn the origin of our species, and of life. From this desire to understand the meaning of things, we developed superstitions and rituals. We created gods to call upon in times of need. From this, the early religions developed and at this point in man’s evolution, myth and religion were married to create belief structures we still use today. This goes hand in hand with the development of human intelligence and the maturing of the intellect.

Ancient man, with his simple ways, was more spiritually aware than we are today. In times of stress, the loneliness of the human soul becomes more acute and it is at these times, man has, and still does, turn to a god for support and deliverance. In other words, mankind has never rejected the supernatural..

Religions change and develop. They also decay. When the most advanced nation of the nineteenth century sent explorers to claim New Zealand, these men found a stone age race of people who believed all things have souls. They decided the belief system of the Maori needed conversion to the ‘correct’ way. This meant the wonderful stories of Rangi and Papa, and all deities in between, needed to be exposed as rubbish, so the ‘savages’ could live in a world focused on logic, and reality.

To attempt changing a culture’s belief system is not only fool hardy, but also morally wrong. Unfortunately, history is blighted with one culture imposing its beliefs on another, usually resulting in the conquered literally losing their spirit. This has happened to most indigenous peoples, but a glimmer of hope is pulsing in the darkness. A new awareness is emerging, brought on by the withered spirit of the conquerors themselves.

MAORI MYTHS

To hear how Mother Earth, known as Papa, was separated from her husband, the Sky God Rangi, and was forced to lie face down so she couldn’t see him, may appear to the cold spirited as pure fantasy. But to witness a spring shower is to witness Rangi crying for his wife.

To see mist rising gently from a little valley, is to see Papa reaching to the heavens for her husband, and suddenly the fantasy in these stories takes on a spiritual dimension. These wonderful myths speak to our own souls, and by speaking to the soul in this manner, it is fed and given life.

The magic that myths contain also opens new pathways for each of us, and as we travel along them, we discover truths about ourselves. In this manner, fantasy, becomes reality.

Myths help us lighten the burden weighing on our shoulders, the cross we all carry, and allow us to see new possibilities where dreams are created and lives are enriched. Embedded in the myths of indigenous peoples are elemental riches to inspire and uplift us. Their messages make us think about our own tenuous hold on life, as we experience it. Take time to notice a tree or a rock. Ponder for a moment and remember there’s a story behind them, a wonderful story to help our imagination soar, and our soul sing.

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Ceidrik Heward

 

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