Owning our myth

By Melissa Hardiman

By Melissa Hardiman

The teachers tell us we are larger than the physical body we occupy. That larger self is the stuff myths are made of.

We have replaced myths with sterile stories about the need to be obedient, and the requirement to accept a definition of normal invented by someone we have never met.

We are now wary of wildness. Mystery and wonder have been diluted.

myth: 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.

Men have gone silent in their pain.

Robert Bly published his classic Iron John, A Book About Men, in 1990. In that period of time the affairs of men have deteriorated further.

Relationships among men have frayed, the bonds between generations have weakened to the point of irrelevance.

During the nineteenth century, grandfathers and uncles lived in the house, and older men mingled a great deal. Through hunting parties, in work that men did together in farms and cottages, and through local sports, old men spent much time with younger men and brought knowledge of male spirit and soul to them.—Robert Bly, Iron John

If we talk about male spirit now it is only to mourn its demise. Male spirit thrives only in movies. “We’re on a mission from God,” Dan Aykroyd declared in the The Blues Brothers. Our mission these days is to survive.

Men are now working to regain some of their repressed feminine qualities—sensitivity, intuition, and the ability to feel and express emotion.—Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey.

We would do well to identify with a myth that speaks to our larger self. I see myself as a mentor, a classic character in myths. A mentor sees things in people that they do not see in themselves, and he or she helps bring those things into awareness. The mentor might use riddles, or puzzles, or challenges to guide the person to seeing differently,

Mary LuI like to use photography to invite a shift in a person’s point of view about themselves. I often see more beauty and dignity than people see in themselves.

We can also think of other people in the context of a myth—ours or theirs.

In The Wizard of Oz the farm hands become fanciful characters who accompany Dorothy on her journey. Our mythical identity brings a much wider range of possibilities with it. It creates a kind of magic that provides an alternative to the bleakness we often imagine for ourselves.

What is your mythical role?

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