Myth, Religion, and Social Development

Myth, Religion, and Social Development

Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I’ve been reading several authors recently that are related.

I just finished The Gospel & the Zodiac by Bill Darlison.  I’m now reading Christianity: the Origins of a Pagan Religion by Philippe Walter.  I’ve also been perusing two of Joseph Campbell’s works: Thou Art That and The Flight of the Wild Gander, and Alexander Eliot’s The Universal Myths.

They all are related(in my mind).  First, they’re all about mythology.  Second, they all speak about Christianity.

There are 5 mythic/archetyapl characters that fit closely together.  There is the Trickster, the Primal Man, the Titan/Giant, the Hero, and the Savior.  The Hero and the Savior are obviously related as Jesus fits fairly well into the Hero’s Journey.  The Primal Man is known as Adam in Christianity and Jesus is known as the Second Adam, one causes death and the other conquers it.  The cause of death is normally an element of the Trickster which is closely related to the Primal Man.  Loki connects the Titan/Giant with the Trickster, and Prometheus fairly well brings together the different categories.

In Walter’s book, he theorizes about a European pagan mythology that was incorporated into Christianity of the Middle Ages.  He sees at the center of this was a Giant and also related was the class of Birdwomen.  Birds have been related to shaman’s and their visions for as long as man has been thinking about such things.  He mentions the difference between myth and ritual, and how rituals are more reliable evidence of ancient religions because rituals are more stable and unchanging even as the explanations(stories) surrounding them change.

Campbell writes about the differences betweem visions and rituals in reference to what he calls the ‘Titan-shaman’.  He also details how this can be understood through looking at the differences of hunter societies and planting societies.  This relates to paganism and Christianity and the development of religion in general, and Campbell also mentions the differences of religions that emphasize the individual vs the collective.  All of this fits into the insights from Spiral Dynamics.  I also thinks this relates to Jasper’s notion of the Axial Age.

Furthermore, I’ve been thinking about the distinction between symbol and sign, connotation and denotation.  And also what Campbell was saying about tender-minded vs tough-minded.

I plan to go into more detail, but I wanted to do an intro blog to set out the ideas I’ve been pondering.

Access_public Access: Public 4 Comments Print Post this!views (604)  
Nicole : wakingdreamer
about 3 hours later

Nicole said

this would be a great series for the God Pod. what do you think?

love,

nicole

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 7 hours later

Marmalade said

Yeah… most definitely.  I was actually thinking of posting it in one of the pods, and it probably fits well into the theme of the God pod.  Feel free to add it, or if you’d prefer I could start a thread.  My next entry should give more detail to my thoughts, and I’ll try to get to it tomorrow.

While I’m here in the comments, let me add two other related archetypes.  I was reading the chapter about the Trickster in Jeremy Taylor’s book The Living Labyrinth.  He mentions how the Divine Child and the Shadow are polar opposite faces of the Trickster.  As an example, the child who points out the king is wearing no clothes is simultaneously playing both roles.  Also, two well known examples of the Divine Child Trickster are Hermes and Krishna.  As for the Shadow, I’d think the Trickster archetype would be inseparable from it.

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 20 hours later

Marmalade said

Here is the link to the thread where I posted this blog entry in the God Pod.

Nicole : wakingdreamer
1 day later

Nicole said

I’m really intrigued by your comment about the Divine Child, Shadow and Trickster… If you’re willing to take the discussion into archetypes and these kinds of interactions, it could really help get things rolling by sharing that in the thread on the God Pod. Many are not sure how to comment on something as intellectually challenging as your posts there, but these archetypal aspects are more accessible and intriguing to more people… what do you think?

 – – –

Here are comments from the forum threads:

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Myth, Religion, and Social Development: A series by Marmalade

Marmalade said Apr 8, 2008, 5:36 PM:

  By the way, if anyone has any info to add, I’d be glad to hear it.  Specifically, I’m interested in anything about the relationship between comparative mythology and Spiral Dynamics.  I know of various theories about the development of myth, but I’ve never come across a Spiral Dynamics analysis.

I’ve always wondered why comparative mythology doesn’t get much inclusion in integral discussions.  I know Julian has blogged about comparative mythology and has blogged about Spiral Dynamics, but I don’t know that he has blogged about their possible connections.

I’ve done thorough searches about this on the web, and have yet to come up with that many leads.  There is only one that comes to mind is James Whitlark who wrote about Jungian archetypes of individuation in the context of Spiral Dynamics.  However, Whitlark wasn’t looking at myth in terms of social development.

 – – –
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 9, 2008, 2:44 AM:

  I’ve been recently thinking about comparative mythology.  I’ve been reading some books on the subject including Campbell of course, and the developmental perspective often comes up.  I thought Spiral Dynamics would be a good model to analyze theories such as Campbell’s, but I was wondering if there were any in-depth integral interpretations of comparative mythology.

In doing a web search, I see that Wilber speaks about Campbell in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality.  Its been a long while since I’ve read that book and I don’t have a copy of it on hand.  I also came across this old discussion of Wilber on the Joseph Campbell Foundation discussion board, but I haven’t had a chance to look through it thoroughly.

Does anyone know of any other info out there… websites, articles, books?
Does anyone know Wilber’s most recent thinking on mythology and mythologists?
Does anyone have any personal opinions or theories on this subject?

My thoughts at the moment are primarily focused on a particular set of archetypal characters that are often closely related in mythology.  Included in this are the Savior, God-Man, Man-Beast, Primal Man, Titan, Trickster, and Divine Child.  But I’m always interested in all aspects of mythology.

 
  Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Balder said Apr 10, 2008, 9:57 AM:

  Hi, Marmalade, I’m just checking in to let you know I’m not ignoring your question – just waiting for an opportune time to write.  And to research something.  I have some books at home that discuss the works of some folks who might be of interest to you, but I haven’t had a chance to look them up yet.  I’ll try to get back to you this evening or tomorrow morning.

Best wishes,

B. // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#271097′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//

 
  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 10, 2008, 1:16 PM:

  Balder, I’d appreciate anything you had to offer. 
 
  theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

theurj said Apr 10, 2008, 2:18 PM:

  I received my indoctrination into mythology via iniitiation into a hermetic and qabalastic Order. Tarot study was one of the vehicles into the meanings of myths. One of the early pioneers of tarot study is A. E. Waite, also a member of said Order. He (and his artist) published one of the most widely-used tarot decks today. His free e-book, The Pictorial Key to Tarot, can be found at this link. Enjoy.

 
  theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

theurj said Apr 10, 2008, 2:37 PM:

  Jung was also fascinated with tarot and it is claimed that he got his four basic personality types from the tarot court cards. Sallie Nichols wrote an interesting book on Jung’s study of it: Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey.
 
  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 10, 2008, 4:25 PM:

  I’ve studied Tarot a bit.  I became interested in myth through Jung, but it was through Tarot that I became interested in Jungian typology.  I’m not familiar with what Jung knew about Tarot, but he was knowledgeable of Temperaments in its pre-Kiersey form.

And it’s good that you posted that image of the Fool.  That is definitely another archetype closely related to the Trickster and Divine Child. // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#271339′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//

 
  theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

theurj said Apr 10, 2008, 6:58 PM:

  It is ironic that part of the curriculum of the Order was assumption of God forms through ceremonial ritual. Comparisons have been made with Tibetan deity yoga. We also used Tarot for pathworking, i.e., stepping inside the tarot card and interacting with the characters and symbols via imagination. Of couse we were first inculcated over years in the symbolical meanings of the images and other hermetical, alchemical, astrological etc. lore so that our “astral” travels were fairly pre-ordained by “right view.” On the other hand I did have some rather unique and idiosyncratic journeys with the cards, often revealing my personal and familial psychodynamic material. // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#271436′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//
 
  Bill : practicioner & free  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Bill said Apr 11, 2008, 1:47 AM:

  I did have some rather unique and idiosyncratic journeys with the cards, often revealing my personal and familial psychodynamic material.

Me too. Fun times. // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#271565′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//
 
  Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Balder said Apr 11, 2008, 10:01 AM:

  Hi, Marmalade,

One of the authors I was thinking of is Lawrence Hatab – and in particular, his book, Myth and Philosophy.

I just looked on the web and found the following brief summary of (and editorial response to) this book:

Myths make sense in (and of) a cultural context. When the context changes, the old myths stop making sense. That’s what happened to the Greek myths over twenty-five hundred years ago, when philosophers like Xenophanes began to question the reality of the traditional gods and goddesses. In a similar spirit, our own philosophers have been chipping away at the Judeo-Christian mythos for the past couple of centuries, attempting to replace it with a secular substitute.
In Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths, philosopher Lawrence J. Hatab of Dominion University has argued that myth cannot and should not be reduced to other modes of expression (such as rational explanation in philosophy, mathematics, or science), and that in its own way myth offers truths as real and important as those of rational discourse. Moreover, according to Hatab, when philosophy tries to break completely with myth, it loses its way; and it is this attempt on the part of modern science and philosophy to demythologize human consciousness that has weakened our ties with the deepest truths of our cultural heritage.


The materialist philosophers that Hatab opposes say that we should get rid of myths altogether, become more rational, and wean ourselves from superstition. Myth, they say, should retire in favor of science. But science, though it is formulated in a way quite different from traditional myths, still serves a mythic function: It tells us how the Universe began, where the first people came from, and how the world came to be the way it is. This suggestion that we do away with mythology is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of myth and of the human psyche. Myth in some form is inevitable and necessary. Our knowledge is always finite, and is always overlapped by our need for meaning. Our thoughts and aspirations seek some symbolic language through which we can talk about, and participate in, what we otherwise cannot see, touch, or taste. What is our goal, our meaning, our purpose as human beings? These are the questions a myth can answer.

Virtually every thinking person sees the need for dramatic global renewal if our world is to survive; and, as the greatest politicians, artists, spiritual leaders, and even scientists know in their bones, only a new myth can inspire creative cultural change. But where will this bolt of inspiration come from?


Ironically, while many scientists have sought to undo myth altogether, it is science itself that seems to me to be serving as a primary source for a new myth. Science’s great strengths are its continual checking of theory with experience and its ability to generate new theories in response to new discoveries. While it is still a very young enterprise, and capable of generating its own irrational dogmas, science is in principle malleable and self-correcting. Currently, it appears that elements of a new myth are emerging through quantum and relativity physics, though more directly and powerfully through the findings of anthropology (which is “discovering” the wisdom of native peoples), psychology (which is only beginning to develop a comprehensive understanding of human consciousness), sociology (which offers a comparative view of human economies and lifestyles), and ecology – as well as through the profound, nearly universal human response to the view of planet Earth from space, an image that owes more to technology than to theoretical science.


Each of these sources is, I believe, contributing to the formulation of a myth whose general features are becoming clear enough that it can be articulated in simple story form. We could call it the myth of healing and humility. It starts out somewhat like the old myth, but diverges rather quickly.”
// <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#271713′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//

 
  Lionza : Sweetfire  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Lionza said Apr 14, 2008, 3:50 PM:

  Quoting from Balder´s post :

´´Currently, it appears that elements of a new myth are emerging through quantum and relativity physics, though more directly and powerfully through the findings of anthropology (which is “discovering” the wisdom of native peoples), psychology (which is only beginning to develop a comprehensive understanding of human consciousness), sociology (which offers a comparative view of human economies and lifestyles), and ecology – as well as through the profound, nearly universal human response to the view of planet Earth from space, an image that owes more to technology than to theoretical science. ´´


It is all too apparent that Science Fiction, particularly in the last 40 years, has combined all of these fields;  physics (warp speed…), anthropology (…and new civilizations, to boldly go…), psychology ( I did not kill your father:  I am your father…) sociology (… we cannot interfere with…), ecology (… this is project Genesis…) and much more – and has unoficially become a steady source of modern mythological reference.  Not many Western kids can refer to Hanuman but they probably know Chewbacca.   And as these things go, Science fiction was/is heavily inspired from Ancient mythologies the world over. 

It seems that now movies such as the ´Lord of the Rings´ Trilogy, has joined this esteemed loop of neo-mythology.  Wasn´t the horned demon  Balrog a superb mix between Satan and the Minotaurof Crete? 

Yes, our new Mythology is here already and the great thing is that we don´t have to be conned into any crazy belief systems or worship rituals to call it ours – maybe we can re-organize it a bit…

L. // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#273327′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//

 
  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 16, 2008, 3:12 AM:

  I’m looking at several books I own right now that are about the connection between mythology, religion, and culture including pop culture.

The Secret Life of Puppets by Victoria Nelson

The Melancholy Android by Eric G. Wilson

The Gospel According to Science Fiction by Gabriel McKee

I read The Secret Life of Puppets several years ago, and its a great book.  The other two I haven’t read all of the way through, but I have read another book by Gabriel McKee which he wrote about Philip K. Dick. // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#274130′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//

 
  Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 11, 2008, 10:29 PM:

  Balder – Thanks!  That is the kind of book that interests me.  I have some books about Jung and philosophy.  Jung certainly felt mythology and philosophy were related. // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#272032′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//
 
   

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Zakariyya [no longer around] said Apr 16, 2008, 2:08 PM:

  I really think that modernism and post-modernism doesn’t understand spiritual mythology, Including Ken Wilber.

Mythology is only the outer face of spiritual cosmologies that explain very intimately the workings of the inner [human soul] and outer universe
[UNIVERSOUL]

A GROUP OF IGNORANT PEOPLE MISINTERPRET THE MYTHS THEREFORE MODERNIST AND POST-MODERNISTS THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER

The wisest humans in history have left great pearls of knowledge in these myths. A group of secular philosophers want to label them as obsolete, though these philosophers, not a single one of them can come up with knowledge that can replace any of the real meaning of the ancient myths // <![CDATA[
SHARETHIS.addEntry({
title:'Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?',
url:'#/conversations/view/270408#274356′
}, {button:true} );
// ]]>//

 
  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 16, 2008, 3:23 PM:

  I hear what you’re saying about modernists and post-modenists… and Wilber too.  I do feel that most people don’t have much understanding of mythology.  This isn’t surprising as its not a subject widely taught in schools.

I don’t know to what degree that someone like Wilber does or doesn’t understand mythology, but it does seem that he doesn’t see much value in studying it as he doesn’t talk about it much.  Is this just a personal bias in that it doesn’t interest him?  Or does he see mythology as being limited to a specific quadrant at a specific level of development?

So, what would second-tier mythology look like?
What is a genuine trans-rational perspective that integrates both the rational and non-rational?

 
   

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Zakariyya [no longer around] said Apr 17, 2008, 4:14 PM:

  Wilber looks at mythology as “ myth of the given” metaphysics. In other words the great thinkers don’t need it anymore because the myths are obsolete.

There is nothing further from the truth!

The myths HAVE NEVER BEEN FULLY DECIPHERED!

People are impressed by the highly intellectual scientific mystics like Wilber because of their appearance of knowledge.

In my opinion their knowledge isnt that deep

Some important points about mythology:

1.Mythology has nothing to due with stories or fables.

2.Mythologies are just allegories that describe universal subtle laws on all levels of understanding.

3. A myth is usually based on a real event, simply because myths are always playing themselves out in the real world in some form. It is important to understand that myths have levels of interpretation

For example: The statement in the mythological New testament of Jesus:

“I and the father are one”

Is a description of the path of the mystic merging with the universal idea of cosmic science? This is the high level interpretation.

The lower level [for the exoteric believers] is a description of being one with “God”

Another myth– that of the Garden of Eden story– is also HIGHLY misunderstood.

The tree of in the Garden of Eden is really very lofty states of “Paradise” not a real tree with an apple.

The Garden of Eden itself is the inner structure known as The Essence, that which rules all of our states of consciousness.

These are just two examples of the very rich dynamic knowledge and wisdom that are cloaked in mythology.

The modernist, and postmodernists, personified by folks like Mr Wilber apparently dont understand the higher levels of interpretation of mythology.

 
  Lionza : Sweetfire  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Lionza said Apr 25, 2008, 11:12 PM:

  Yes I agree.  Myths ARE multy layered coded stories of the major  principles, havoc and games playing in  nature and her creatures, human emotions, stellar events, etc.   But since many of them have not only been coded but have also been warped by additions and twists along the corridors of time , it  gets difficult to see how consistently they do this. 

I too have been perplexed as to why Ken Wilber practically dismisses them without a close examination. Jung first understood the idea of archetypes when a bizarre dream of one of his European patients described an image of the Sun exacly like a Mithraic myth which the patient had never known.  

And I also agree that advanced laws of science are coded in myths.  For example, the idea of all of creation springing out in a Big Bang from a ´tiny seed´of compressed potential was described centuries ago in myths of the Indian sub- continent . 

Definately, treasures would be had if myths were to be deciphered  AND weeded out of warped additions.

Jesus: Trickster Who Saves The Damsel In Distress

A while back, I purchased several collections of Gnostic (and early Christian) texts.  I’ve been reading them off and on.  I’ve noticed a couple of things.

First, a number of Gnostic texts refer to the Christ in a particular way.  One text said that different people called him by different names and he didn’t care by which name he was called.  Another one said that the Christ presented himself in different forms and that people saw what they expected.  These seem like attributes of a trickster.  I’ve noticed in reading books about comparative mythology that saviors are very close to tricksters.  Many saviors have trickster like qualities, especially as children.  There is even an apocryphal text of Jesus’ childhood that portrays him as a troublemaker with magical powers.  Some Gnostics portrayed Jesus as only apparently physical and so couldn’t really suffer.  One story has him switch places with someone and that person suffers on the cross as Jesus laughs.  A very strange character, but no stranger than any other trickster/savior figure. 

Here is a blog post by Tim Boucher: Jesus, The Trickster

Second, the Christ is typically spoken of as descending into the material world.  The Christ represents the active masculine principle that seeks out Sophia who is the feminine soul lost in this lower realm ruled over by the Demiurge.  This also made me think of comparative mythology.  In many myths, the savior will rescue the woman from the tyrant through fighting but also through intelligence and deception.  Here is something from the Wikipedia article about Sophia (wisdom):

The analogy of the fall and recovery of Sophia is echoed (to a varying degree) in many different myths and stories (see Damsel in distress). Among these are:

The Non-Unique Messiah: It Doesn’t Matter.

I came across an intelligent blog about the Jewish tablet that describes another supposed messiah prior to Christianity.  What is interesting is that this messiah was resurrected after 3 days.  But this isn’t anything new.  This 3 day motif related to a savior is found withn pre-Christian Paganism.  It’s an astrotheological motif about the solar cycle.  Similar 3 day motifs can be found within Jewish scripture as well, but what is significant is that it is directly related to the messiah in this tablet.  If orthodox Christianity was actually based on the evidence of historical documents, there would be a mass loss of faith at hearing such news.

Below is an excerpt from the blog and below that are some excerpts from the comments.

The Non-Unique Messiah: Does It Matter?

Frankly, if you’ve been paying attention or looked into history at all, this shouldn’t be that surprising.  That a story about rebirth and resurrection should crop up while the Roman Republic was reinventing itself, and while its newly appointed Princeps Augustus was touting his reign as rebirth on a national scale, is no coincidence.  During the first half of what we now call the first century C.E., rebirth was a common religious theme: mystery cults built around rebirth, like the cult of Isis and Osiris, were cropping up everywhere.  New religions always mirror and appropriate temporal events to the divine (look at Mormonism).  Christianity is no different, and it’s not immune from history.  That the non-uniqueness of the Christian story should be so strikingly and starkly presented by this tablet may be shocking, but that human events beget religious beliefs is an anthropological Law.

What I wonder is whether that should be troubling.  No doubt many believing Christians will feel threatened by the discovery that their religion has roots older than the name “Jesus,” and no doubt it proves that religion is always affected (and at least partially inspired) by humans.  It may even suggest that it therefore might be fabricated.  But if you really believe in the truth of the underlying story – i.e., if you’re truly spiritual and not just religious – that shouldn’t matter.

9 Gotchaye // Jul 8, 2008 at 10:03 pm

…it seems to me that a witness who maintains that someone performed a miracle is a whole lot more persuasive by himself than he would be if we’d already heard (and discounted the testimony of) other witnesses making similar claims about other people.

12 Gotchaye // Jul 10, 2008 at 6:08 pm

…as the number or likelihood of possible explanations for something increase, the likelihood of any other explanation being correct decreases. This tablet is at least suggestive of other explanations for our observation that modern Christianity (or something indistinguishable from it beforehand) exists, and so other explanations (including that Jesus actually rose) must be seen as less likely.