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Reply To: Defining Myth


Dear friends,

I’ve been panning for gold and came across a new definition for our thread:

‘C.S Lewis offers the following description of how myth can affect us today:

[Myths] give us (at the first meeting) as much delight and (on prolonged acquaintance) as much wisdom and strength as the works of the greatest poets. […] It goes beyond the expression of things we have already felt. […] It gets under our skin […] and in general shocks us more fully awake than we are for most of our lives. (Phantastes xi)

I believe the key to understanding the effect myth can have on us lies in Lewis’ word beyond. Myth pushed our ancestors beyond their everyday lives to a different reality, a higher plane of existence, such as the land of the gods. From there, they could look back on their own lives with a perspective that challenged them to rise above a mere animal existence and fulfill their human potential. We can still find in these myths inspiration to do the same.’

Source: Journey to the Sea

Perhaps this isn’t a definition per se (more a description of the experience of engaging with myths?), but there’s truth in there for me – I love the reference to the shock that myths can give! And the reference to ‘beyond’.