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Reply To: I’m surprised there is no topic for Personal Mythology


Just an FYI, James – from the context I don’t believe SidianMSJones necessarily has questions about personal myth – it’s just a fascinating subject worth discussing, and he has much to share on the subject. The questions he does ask are the kind that elicit self-reflection – definitely a good place to start (after all, every question does begin with a quest).

So how would you answer those questions? What have you discovered about the mythological imagery underpinning your life?

Hercules was the hero and demi-god I most wanted to emulate as a child (and later, as I was introduced to Norse myths, Thor). There weren’t as many widely recognized superheroes in those days (at least, not for any kid who didn’t have access to the pages of Marvel and DC Comics), and Hercules, as portrayed on big screen and small, was always in the thick of the action, rescuing others. This superficial portrayal ignored the huge shadow he cast – all those weaknesses and flaws. Apollo, too, was a being I admired.

It is intriguing, though, that I kept coming back to Athena, whose practical wisdom makes her the patron goddess of civilization. Learning was my first love as a lad, and remains so today, so no surprise Athena continued to speak to me long after my hero worship of Herakles and Apollo had worn off; though I pretty much ignored Hermes as a child, over time his mythology made an ever deeper impression.

Of course, that’s just the Greek pantheon, as filtered through Golden Book encyclopedias and, later, Bullfinch’s mythology – which is just one expression of the mythological forces in play. But that theme – learning, meaning, esoteric knowledge, and wisdom – continues to command my attention.

Yet that’s just my conscious perception. Over time, I found myself embracing the shadow side of those archetypal figures – emotional energies, chaos, disruption, a love of intoxication (not so much adult beverages, but psychedelics, and the intoxication that comes with poetry and art), so Dionysus entered the mix (as, eventually, did Shiva).

That’s just a little snapshot of what ultimately proved a deep dive so many decades ago (though a continuing process yet today). These deities from different cultures allowed me to put a name to it – many names – though they are but masks for the mythological forces at play in my life.

In my writing, I am at my best when Hermes and Dionysus collaborate, or are at least in balance – but that’s another story.