Mythologies as Mirrors

Often when I visit Oregon, there is a giant book on world mythologies that I borrow from my brother in law entitled “Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth & Storytelling” edited by C. Scott Littleton. There is one line on the book that struck me: “…myths represent the heritage of the world’s imagination.” If we personify the world as having a collective imagination, and make mythology synonymous with that concept, then I think we can also say that mythologies are allusions to the collective subconscious. Stories of Odin’s self-discipline and sacrifice on the World Tree, or Rhea deceiving Cronus by handing him a stone wrapped in blankets to save baby Zeus, appeal to the multi-faceted traits of human nature. Through those stories, we can discover so much about human psychology and values, both the flaws and the virtues that permeate the actions and intentions of the collective and of the individual. So long as people are around to echo the traditional mythologies, or develop new ones, myths will continue to be an ornate reflection of humanity itself.

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