Digging Up the Dead

I grew up with one of these two things being prominent: either mythology was “full of weird stuff that ignorant people made up to explain things they (stupid as they were) didn’t understand” or “a group of confusing metaphors obscuring some universal truth that bound everything together that we can only understand because Our Culture(tm) is now worldwide.”

Both of the above viewpoints are wildly inacurate and reductive. And, in many cases, Christians (or folks raised Christians) caused the translation problems.Trying to pigeonhole complex narratives into their own particular box.

It took exposure to living indigenous tribes for me to wrest myself out of the bullshit. And start to see things like they are.

Whenever you study mythology, remember this. These stories meant to educate and entertain, told around hearths to kids and adults alike. People tell them in different orders. But folks steeped in them would be able to construct the narrative as a whole. And learn many salient facts through that.

As I deeply invest into diving into the mythical narratives of a couple of different cultures, I find that, instead of the “well, we just don’t understand what’s going on; it’s woo woo”, a construction exists within it that matches some historical facts, some comprable historical facts added later because no one living connected to the old historical facts, some drama making specific points, some facts presented dramatically, and some spice making it memorable.

For example, it is a truth that Ymir and Auðumbla is a story about a giant and a cow. And a sex joke. And a description of the process of a warm southerly current melting the glaciers during a climactic event that altered the landscape into the livable parts that are there today. Odin and his two brothers is part of a generational story about creation and a family that had interpersonal strife. And a culture that bridged nomadic incursions into the glacial fields into a culture that lasted (in part) to today.

I guess tldr; digging in to roots is fascinating. You can find shallow, arrogant, racist / misogynistic crap. Or incredibly dense looks in to human nature, culture, and the landscape (social or physical) that dominates both.

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