Myth & meaning in our lives

For aeons human beings have asked questions like ‘who are we?’ and ‘where do we come from?’ They have tried to make sense of the patterns of their lives, the rites of birth, death, war, love. Stories and myths have offered us a frame work in which to make sense of what it means to be human and to be in this world. Growing up in the 1970s I loved reading the great Greek Myths, such as the adventures of Jason and the Argonaut’s. Also through my regular visits to the local cinema the Star Wars films played out epic themes of the hero’s journey. Consciously or unconsciously myths give meaning to an often confusing world. They can be found in creation myths, folk and fairy tales, Homeric epics and Norse sagas, Greek tragedy, radio plays, novels, movies and even television soap operas.

For me this exploration of myth has continued into my adult life and, at different stages of my life, various myths have helped me come to termswith grief, love, my mortality, and a desire to live a unfolding, meaningful life. Maybe you are aware of what stories or myths have stirred and touched your lives? Some myths speak to women more than men such as the Sumerian story of Inanna-Ishtar and Ereshkigal or for men the Myth of Perseus and his meeting with Medusa. Jungian psychologist James Hollis writes:

Myth takes us deep into the psychic reservoirs of humanity. Whatever our cultural and religious background or personal psychology, a greater intimacy with myth provides a vital linkage with meaning, the absence of which is so often behind the private and collective neuroses of our time. In short, the study of myth is the search for that which connects us most deeply with our own nature and place in the cosmos.

For further reading see Descent to the Goddess ( A Way of Initiation for Women) Sylvia Brinton Perera

The Hero with a Thousand faces Joseph Campbell