Monday, February 17, 2014
A Mythic Definition
Write with Impact
Why do we need myth? What exactly is it?
According to one google search, myth is defined as:
“1. a traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.
2. a widely held but false belief or idea.”
How to reconcile two seemingly opposite concepts? The Bible itself is filled with stories under the first category and yet there are also a few verses warning against myths as lies.
Rollo May says that, “A myth is away of making sense in a senseless world.” Perhaps that is where the crunch comes—what makes sense in one situation can be a serious threat in another and seen as senseless.
Yet when we study myth under the first definition above we find ourselves building bridges of understanding between a different world and our world. We begin to see with a new perspective. A perspective that drives from a heart/soul story truth rather than a formal legal rule.
Like wisdom literature or love, myths speak across time and across cultures in fresh and ever changing language. It encompasses mystery and yearning, truth and hope, imagination and creativity in myriad possibilities.
Mythic literature refers to stories that have been handed down from generation to generation, orally and finally in print. They include proverbs, parables, wisdom stories, creation, family heritage, cultural, songs, fairy tales, and folktales.
According to Rebecca J. Lukens the term ‘traditional’ or ‘folk literature’ expresses the universality of human wishes and needs. “Folktales have been called the ‘spiritual history’ of humankind, the ‘cement of society,’ binding a culture together.”
Whether we recognize it or not myth plays an integral part in our lives. As writers when we can tap into its qualities we are able to write our stories with deeper impact, regardless of genre. Sometimes myth will drive the entire narrative and sometimes it will add only a few spices. However it’s premise of soul language has the capacity to add significance whenever it is used.
Over the next few weeks we’ll take a close look at mythic characteristics to see how they can help us build our stories and write with impact.
Share: What mythic story has impacted you?
Read deep, marcy