TWELVE INDICATIONS WE ARE LIVING IN MYTHIC TIMES
It’s Easter morning, a day of myth about a true king wearing a crown of thorns; a sinless man nailed to a tree; yet the one dead and entombed has risen; and Man is revealed to be Divine.
All marvelously mythic material! Whatever myth is, it has to do with paradox, with appearances getting reversed, with something thought to be one way being seen as exactly the other way. Myths are about reversals, about opposites — the surface and the inner reality — exchanging places. A myth turns the perceived world inside out. Even upside down.
The gifted mythologist, Joseph Campbell, told us in the 1980s that a myth is not a lie. In fact, a myth is something so true that it can has told as a story layered with meanings, so that each time we hear that astounding tale, we gain new insight.
He also noted that our post-modern age is “between myths.” That means that our (mainly Western) society is no longer tethered to timeless values, to wisdom and to knowing why we are here and what we are about as a species. In short: We’re in the dark, between a rock and a hard place.
Before we muse about how to exit our necessary circle of Hell, let’s get a description, a mythic sense, of the nether-world territory which we inhabit. Only in that recognition will our freedom be possible.
Here’s a dozen glimpses of our predicament:
1) The Death of God: In 1882, Nietzsche stated: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?” Seeing into a rise of atheism and a corresponding religious decline, he was speaking into the waning of higher moral authority and the comparative chaos that would arise in its place, along with unprecedented guilt and shame. What little meaning of life that would be left now defines our current status of living without a controlling myth.
2) Time no longer a Constant: When in 1905 Einstein announced his theory of Special Relativity, a given in human awareness was suddenly relativized, and that which we assumed to be constant was shown to be relative. Not that people on the street understood such relativity, only that the collective unconscious of humanity had shifted from what was thought to be known into what was now taken to be the unknown. The unknown is mythic territory.
3) World Wars: When virtually the entire world enters the state of impoverishment known as War, then weaponry overtakes livingry and mankind is forced to move to its opposite: manunkind (as ee cummings put it). As I write, a third World War is rising to inform our mythic reality.
4) Cells Gone Mad: The rise and branching out of cancers to act as an anti-plant (in which the cells of a body go mad) point to a time of madness, a situation of humanity in which our real misery and actual tragedy are hidden by the skin of ‘normalcy,’‘political correctness’ and comfort.
5) The Drugging of Reality: When such a large percentage of human population resorts to reality-altering drugs to make palatable a daily existence that holds mainly surfaces rather than depths, then such arid ways to find a fount of juiciness indicate that the fundamentals of human life have fundamentally dried up.
6) The Rising of the Seas: Though civilization has been built on dry land, the seven seas occupy some 70% of our planet’s surface. With the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, the oceans are now rising to threaten civilization as we have built it. Such a massive shift can only be called mythic.
7) The Dying of the Bees: Symbols of fertility and plenitude since ancient times, the beloved bees are falling prey to the poisons of our trying to control our world. When the prime pollinators of flowers and all the food with which we humans fuel ourselves, we have entered mythic times. Honeyed days are no more…until we deal with the actual sting of an unpollinated existence.
8) The Poisoning of the Waters: As that water is the eternal symbol of Consciousness and the emotional level of life, the low pH (~5.6 and nearly 25% less than the normal 7.25–7.3) of wells in America suggests a reduction of mental and emotional fluidity and a basic level of illness in the entire populace.
9) Language Reversal: Bad is Good: When we reach the point that the symbols with which we communicate become reversed — such that “bad” in many circles indicates “good” — then we see a prime reversal, an indicator of mythic proportions.
10) The Death of Meaning: Artificial Intelligence, alternative ‘facts,’ the ability to re-pixel photographs, and to fabricate any and all communication indicate a dying of trust. As that civilization is held together by cooperation and agreed-upon symbols, such erosion goes to the heart of every relationship on every level of human interaction.
11) The Destruction of the Earth: Nuclear arms have become so potent and prevalent that our entire planet could theoretically be blown up every day for a year. Talk about a mythic state of affairs!
12) My ‘favorite’ image of mythic times is the inevitable bursting of the dam (whose base is limestone and is constantly leaking and being eroded) above Mosul: A work crew was mixing concrete round the clock to stave the limestone’s erosion, but ISIS chased them away, leaving the problem unsolved. Soon the dam will break and more than 10,000,000 people living on the Tigris, one of the twin rivers considered to be the origin of Western civilization, will be flooded away. Pondering the end of the beginning of civilization requires mythic understanding.
The above breathtakingly vast dangers create a matrix of paucity, of emptiness, of destitution. Such a virtual desert must be answered, must be filled, for Nature abhors a vacuum. While Nature will wash away much of the debris of failed cities and their institutions, those who survive will still need to re-empower themselves and their societies with meaning and depth of purpose. What to do? Because life is everywhere layered, we are being called revolt against the mere surfaces of our daily world. Our revolution must take us inward, into the deeper reaches of heart and mind and the mythic territory of our spirit.
In doing so, we will find ourselves heroes of our own journey. We will be in search of our individual version of “the Beloved,” as Campbell defined the goal of our human questing. Gaining the opportunity to merge with this treasure of treasures, we will each be invited to re-empower our body, our mind, our heart and — yes — our very soul.
If Jesus was merely historical, then there is no mythic dimension to his unparalleled story. So…Happy Easter: It’s time we wake and rise.