The importance of studying the mythos and history of human kind. My perspective + recommendations.

The first time I caught a glimpse of how important mythology can potentially be for our understanding of the world was when I watched the Zeitgeist. When it came out in 2007 it instantly became "the shit" amongst my occult/esoteric friends. It is a shitty, tendentious "documentary" but worked well enough for a kid in their late teens. What caught my attention was the comparison of egyptian and christian mythos and pointing out similarities between Jesus and Horus. Back then, I didn't realize how many of these "similarities" were invented for the sake of the theory and thus weren't exactly true but I still feel like I need to give this film credit for sparking my interest to do my own research.

It wasn't until I got into jungian psychology and the narrative model of research and therapy (at some point during uni, a couple years later) that my interest in mythology got seriously reignited. Now that I had more in-depth knowledge of the human psyche, it was easier for me to grasp how storytelling influenced our growth as a species. Mythologies, folklore stories, fairytales were not only meant to help us understand how the world works or learn to distinguish good and evil, but through shaping our perception and morality, and teaching us that sky is (or isn't) the limit, they influenced the evolution of societies and cultures (as well as countercultures) from ancient times until today.

Apart from the collective, each individual also writes their own narration, the story of their life - interestingly, more often than not heavily based on one or more preexisting stories. Working with mythos can be a powerful self-therapeutic tool because it allows us to "see" the contents of our Psyche through these stories. Looking at our mind can be quite difficult on its own - we can't really see it, it's elusive, tricky, unavailable. That's why we use various mirrors to help us look at ourselves, and mythology, storytelling in general, is certainly one of such mirrors - both for an individual and for the collective.

History obviously plays an important role in understanding who we are as well. If you look at history as a one, big mythological tale, you'll notice that mythos and history are not that different from one another. They complement each other so closely that one would not be complete without the other. If you wish to understand why and how a certain tale shaped your ancestors, you need to know how they lived and what aspect of their everyday life this tale related to. If you worship a deity, you might want to know the history and culture of the people who first worshipped it to have a deeper understanding of it.

If you have trouble finding historical sources about your ancestors, it might mean that they lost a war at one point in history or another - and we know that history is written by the victor. Or perhaps a big war that all the chroniclers were writing about never reached the lands of your ancestors and thus a huge part of their history is missing from the records. You won't know it if you're not interested in folk tales and history. The same folk tales and history that make you who you are.

I know, we're all mortals and there's not enough time in a human's life to read all the books and gain all the knowledge. Getting to know the whole history and mythos of human kind is an impossible task. But it doesn't have to be everything or nothing. Even the slightest glimpse into the vastness of it all makes us understand so much more about ourselves, both existentially and spiritually. It helps us understand what we're capable of, where we come from, how primal and godlike we are at the same time, how the world of our ancestors was surprisingly similar to our own.

Here's a modest, basic list of books and documentaries/movies I recommend to anyone interested in enriching their spiritual practice and understanding of the world through mythology and history of human mind. It doesn't have to be an unpleasant, boring ride and you don't have to be a scholar. We have so many excellent resources to choose from!



TO READ



TO WATCH


What I'm sharing above are books and films that are quite universal and can be helpful to anyone, doesn't matter where you come from and what culture/mythos you're personally interested in. Of course, this list would be much longer if I were to include sources covering each and every one of the world's cultures and mythologies but that is not the point of this post. I might expand the list over time as I tend to forget things.

What are your thoughts? Do you study mythology as part of your spiritual practice? What mythos are you particularly interested in? Got a juicy book/film on this topic to share? Let me know and I'll add it to the list!

Thank you to Alaina from Exploringly Yours for inspiring me to write this blog post. Sorry it took me so long!


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this! I absolutely agree with you on everything, and personally have found mythologies extremely important to my own understanding of myself and the world around me. The myths that were most relevant to me as a teenager were those from Greece and Rome (I suppose that's true for a lot of people simply because they are often woven into high school educational curricula!). As an adult, the myths or sacred stories of Ifá (Yoruba) and the mythologies of Scandinavia and Germany have been fundamental - the former due to religious study and practice, and the latter originally was motivated by ancestor veneration, but has come to play a huge role in my spiritual practice. Myths are the deepest of wells, full of knowledge, metaphor, meaning, wonder, and satiation.

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    1. "Myths are the deepest of wells, full of knowledge, metaphor, meaning, wonder, and satiation." - Couldn't have said it better myself!

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