Monday, 1 June 2009

Prometheus

So, this new myth thing I have been posting about. Two spring to mind that could be useful; a creation myth and a 'Promethean' myth. The idea of the Promethean myth (as in Adam and Eve or Prometheus himself) is that of something gained by humanity but at a great loss (whether it being kicked out from the Eden Project or being hepatically challenged) to them at the same time. To quote Bo:

“Either way, we transgressed somehow; deep in us, there is an obscure and lingering guilt--for being animals and yet not being animals, for being so clever, so rootless and questing, for having the power of speech and symbol-making; and, ultimately, a shadowy guilt for being conscious at all.”

It is this idea that we are on the one hand part of nature and the ecosystem but on the other separate from it, no longer as bound by it and free to go against it if we choose. Some of the very fundamentals of nature we have distanced ourselves from entirely: the predator-prey interaction and 'survival of the fittest' for example. I wonder if this guilt and this feeling of separation are at the heart of many of the pagan religions? With their emphasis on landscape, spirits and gods being all around us and our kinship with the natural world? I wonder if the surge in neo-paganisms is a reaction to our onward march away from the Garden of Eden, in vehicles powered by that Promethean flame?

Our conciousness, our ability for abstract thought and our self awareness mark us out as different – more specifically it is the ability to think in abstracts that really set us apart from the other animals, some of whom have conciousness and self-awareness to some degrees – and as such it marks a fundamental and monumental shift in our place in the world. Such a thing should be marked in myth; a moment when we took up the flame and stood out in the world, became who we are today (this we should celebrate) and in doing so we lost something (this we should mourn). Any new myth of this sort should be both a celebration and a mourning and also a story of hope for us as a species and what we can move onto and achieve.

A creation myth of sorts is vital, no other mythic type acts as such a strong glue in placing a people in the landscape and forging the initial links between them and the gods.

4 comments:

Bo said...

I agree! (But then I would) ;)

Heron said...

I agree that a creation myth, or one that places us in our environment, is vital. But the idea of a 'new' myth is problematic. I used to work with a group that had produced a myth with made up god names etc. This was OK in its way but eventually seemed arbitrary to me. The thing about an effective myth is that it's got to be experienced as real. And if we are self-consciously composing the myth it's difficult to see how this could be so. And yet, of course, myths don't come ready packaged and have to be generated by us. So it's what we perceive as being behind them - the given background - I suppose, that matters.

Anonymous said...

You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been....

viktor

Livia Indica said...

I do think that, at least for some, that the growth of neopaganism is a guilt issue related to how we've moved so far away from an "in harmony with nature" lifestyle. My question to you is: even if it is guilt-born would that negate it?