METAMYTHIKA: A Mythmaking Manifesto

The Dialogs

Will Franks 🌊
Phoenix Collective

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In this piece we meet with the Metamythmaker: the maker of myths about our myths. Relating to this mysterious character opens up the possibility of re-writing our myths about myths, and our personal roles (and powers) as the mythic creators of reality itself.

Prologue here.

I stand at the foot of the steps, looking up and ahead to the plane. My feet move me on and up, and the entire space begins to open in every direction at once. It is vast – inconceivably vast, and dark and brilliant, as a cave lit from within, only the lights are invisible. It is not silent. There is a deep whirring, a frittering high-pitch chirrup, and occasionally a terrific and unlocatable ripping sound. The space is full and full of movements I can sense but cannot see.

I have come to talk with you.

Soon you will see if this means you or another – or both. I have come to talk with the Metamythmaker. The journey has been long – arduous, beautiful, transformative – and I have many questions. I enter into this myth in order to put them to the Metamythmaker, in order to understand – and to create.

I see them before me. They are all warped gold, like mangled jewellery melted and deformed into swirling limbs and reaching shapes. Feathers protrude from the gaps in the gold and through them I see a pulsing fluid, a red wine, a blood. They have a mad grin but I sense a kindness – and an incredible, ancient power. Their face is skull-like, also gold, but shifting, impossible to place or picture for more than a moment. There is something impossibly deep and wild about this being. I see my misted reflection in shining, morphing gold.

I speak.

I: Metamythmaker. You have been active in my life for a little while now. What are you doing and why?

Metamythmaker: Yes, I am born. a very good idea of yours, too, to create me. As my name so clearly explains, I am the maker of metamyths. That is, myths about myths. I shall now launch into an extended monologue on this topic. Do you consent to this?

I: I do.

MM: Very well. I am speaking of – and helpfully, mythically personifying – your own metamythmaking abilities. You see, you can create myths about your ability to create and recreate myths, to discover the myths that are alive in you and the collective, and to kill and let die dysfunctional myths when they are causing harm. You need metamyths, myths about your myths, if you are to effectively wield these tools consciously and proactively. You gain incredible power once you realise you have this ability – once you see that your every perception is shaped by a myth, or mediated or actually equal to the image or symbol of a given myth (or set of myths), for then you see that every perception, every moment of life can be transformed through the activity of mythic recreation. Mythic recreation is active, conscious and creative, as well as exploratory. It is infinitely open-ended. Mythic recreation proceeds through the language of myth: image and symbol (the two are not really distinct).

Myths can be written and rewritten without limit or restriction: an integral thread of the evolution of consciousness through the human.“To create life out of life”, said James Joyce. Limitless reconstruction: we receive an infinite web of myths which we are free to recreate through evolution and expansion of images and symbols, as well as our relations to these images and symbols. These relations are also images and symbols; they are also mythical. Realising that our relation to our myths is also mythic (are mediated by our fantasies and fantasy-images, the archetypes we embody and seek to embody), we make the meta – move. We realise that how we live by myths is the function of our metamyth.

So we already have metamyths and live them out! But the dominant metamyth of society is the metamyth of mythlessness: that myths are dead, irrational, useless, imaginary. Thus we see, that this myth-restricting and myth-killing metamyth prevents us from living out new and ancient myths that bring meaning and beauty to our lives. We are de-mythologised and therefore disenchanted, disempowered, and disenfranchised – living in an apparently cold dead universe that is nothing more than the product of chance. We take this interpretation as literal, and not myth, hence our bind.

We are coming to realise that we live under the reign of the murderous myth-killing metamyth that “myths are dead, worthless, only relevant to studies of ancient civilisations. This could no be further from the (mythical, not literal) truth: that myths are wholly alive and they govern and influence every single aspect of our lives. The very basis of the human mind is mythical in that it operate through images and symbols and associations between these images and symbols. A mythic basis of mind, and of the human.

By denying the mythic basis of mind we deny our humanity. This allows repression of our morality (observe: animal holocaust, species extinction, neocolonialism, racism, classism, and so on.); deprivation of our senses of beauty, meaning, sublimity; denial of our innate creativity; denial of sacred and divine and mystical and transcendent experience; denial of our imaginal and imaginative basis of mind.

We are mythic beings in a self-destructive myth: the myth that says myths are dead and gone and we now live in the real / era of the TRUE FACT. Realism killed magic. But seeing through fact as fiction, as based on myth we are free to return to the myth that we are magic, everything this, even reality itself. We are not saying that “everything is unreal” which leads to nihilism. Not at all. We are charting the middle way between the real and the unreal. This is the “imaginal middle way”.

Realism is killing us, and everything and itself. This is why we must return to imagination and to magical realism (the same as mythic realism): to honour the mytho-magical nature of every human, every experience and indeed the totality of reality (which is infinite). Vital here is re-opening the conversation with the non-human earth and wider cosmos, the mythic womb of life that continually holds and sustains us.

To do this, we first need to go to the central nervous system of our mythic reality: the dominant metamyth. We have seen that we live under the tyranny of the myth-denying metamyth. Our project is thus to overthrow this tyrant and to restore in his place the new metamyths, the myths about our myths that will enable us to once again recognise and honour and reawaken the fundamental mythic sense of the human. The new metamyths will differ for every individual – there are as many metamyths as there are people, this is part of the beauty of the adventure, the evolution of the collective through the individual, the all through the one.

But we can describe the general qualities of metamyths that are conducive to freedom and flourishing:

With this, the metamythmaker hands me an ancient-looking piece of paper on which is written:

  1. The images and symbols (the referents, subjects, objects, characters) of a metamyth are the myths that an individual lives by. Exploring and modulating their relationships to these images allows the individual to remythologise their mythology. An individual’s metamyth and personal mythologies operate in every moment of their lives; indeed they are what determines the quality of every moment, and which aspects of self, world, personality, are perceived at all. Our myths generates and shape the totality of our experience – meaning that recreating our myths can generate and shape the totality of our experience in an infinity of new ways. We are invited to engage in consciously and creatively updating, discarding, recreating, reinventing and reimagining the myths we live by. There is no end to the process, but once we do sufficient unravelling of restrictive myths we enter the infinite artistic constructionphase a.k.a. second childhood.
  2. The consciously-held metamyth will remythologise the importance, centrality, influence, meaning-making faculty, power, individuation-potential (and more) of the myths that one lives by. It will do this in the direction of increased meaning, beauty, freedom, sacredness, morality, etc. The metamyth is self-aware and self-referential: it knows that only a myth, but it also knows that all narrative, and all reality, is mythic. As such, the identity of the self is re-imagined as a mythic character, who is then able to participate in the supreme beauty, challenge and discovery and of mythic stories.

I: Wow, thank you. I’m glad I asked!

MM: I now have a question for you: why not rewrite all the restricting myths and replace them with the myths your soul wants to live by? Why not create and hold spaces in which radically new metamyths – and metamythmakers – can present themselves?

Metamyths are powerful, because they can recentralise and remythologise our already-active mythologies. They make our metamythmaking activity conscious.

I: And how does all this help me? What’s it going to look like, practically? What do I actually do?

MM: Typical egoic inquiries, but then again that is your job, managing this whole riot.. (Jung: the self is the principle and archetype of meaning). You need to adopt the myth of yourself as mythmaker. As a myth-liver, myth-destroyer, myth-weaver, -creator, and -recreator, myth-magician, author, God, slave, child, artist… This is a deeply empowering and enriching act: it reinstates the self (which is vilified, denigrated and even denied by much modern spirituality) as a creative, active and mythic entity. And this is what the self and soul are craving: recognition as mythic entities: myth-makers, myth-bringers, now given free reign to live by the myths they long to live by! So, self as mythmaker.

I: Perhaps soul has a different function, closer to a mythic guide, an oracle, or diviner?

MM: Perhaps. But let’s stay with self for now. Next you want to entertain the notion of self as metamythmaker. Now we see that by adopting the myth of self as mythmaker, we have introduced a metamyth: a myth about the myths we live by. Now you will see that, having adopted the myth of self-as-mythmaker, this myth comes alive and acts through your life by way of images and symbols. These may include images of the self as an artist, an author, a writer, a scribe, a God, a servant, a saint, a devotee, a child, and so on. By living this myth you recognise that you have given birth and life to a metamyth, and also to a living expression of the archetypal metamythmaker. This is incredibly empowering! Not only can you rewrite the myths of your life (self-as-mythmaker), you can rewrite the myths about how they impact and influence you: how deeply, quickly and widely they deliver you (and others) to freedom, soul, beauty, richness, meaning. It’s a way to turbocharge the remythologisation of reality. So, little self, know that you are a metamythmaker, and always have been and always will be – as is everyone is! You haven’t previously been conscious of this myth. Now you are. Now you can wield it like a tool.

I: I think I need an example.

MM: Sure, good idea. Lets take a basic self-belief myth: “I am a gift to the world” -a very simple but very lovely and powerful myth to adopt about oneself, capable of bringing much beauty and meaning into one’s life. So: first recognise your ability to introduce this myth into your life and to start living by it. Develop images and symbols of yourself as a gift – an example might be an image of your face or body, smiling and bright, like a child – creative and loving – so obviously a gift to the world. This image will make you feel happy, and more aware of your ability to give, and so you will give more, in whatever ways come most naturally to you, and and the people around you will become happier as a result. Thus you observe: by adopting a new myth about myself, my life was enriched and became more beautiful and meaningful. Thus you come to recognise your power as mythmaker and you get a taste for the mythic self-recreation process. It’s good. You want more. (Don’t worry, it’s infinite). But how to get more? That is, more beauty, richness, love, juiciness, meaning? Well ,we just saw the hypothetical effect of adopting one new myth about yourself, so why not start rewriting and recreating all the myths of your life, and introducing new and beautiful ones as an ongoing project? Why not adopt a new myth about your ability to do that – a metamyth? Some expressions of such a myth might be: “I am able to I rewrite my reality by adopting new myths”; “I am able to free myself from old restrictive/dysfunctional myths by recognising them as myths and introducing better ones”; “I am able to recreate my entire sphere of perception like an artist, transforming all reality into images, beauty, divinity, meaning”; “I willingly participate in an infinite and inexhaustible adventure of artistic recreation.”.

We recognise that the metamyth is “just a myth”, a groundless fiction, but when we recognise also that all. we have taken to be “reality” is equally mythic, groundless and fictitious, that there is no objective reality unmediated by image or symbol, we see that all we have done is replace a dead and unconscious metamyth with a living, conscious, intentional one. And the weary doth protest: “But I am unable to rewrite reality! Reality is fixed and I am its passive observer, a victim of circumstance, uninvolved in such fantasies as myths.” To these we say: such is your myth! Live by it as you please! Join our ranks, whenever the fancy takes you. With metamyths, we become a metamythmaker in an infinite community of metamythmakers. And we decide that this is an infinitely richer myth to live and love by than the myth that myth is dead.

We begin to recreate the image of the self through the images and symbols of the self as mythmaker and metamythmaker. Thus we have entered the artistic, creative, open-ended and lifelong mythic recreation of the self, through a conscious entertainment of self-images that reveals that recognising that self is an image and has been all along (as are all apparent phenomena). The self can become a thing of beauty, a symphony, a raging theatre of sublime experimentetion and divine devotional artistry. it can become a comedic. masterpiece, an underground smoking jazz bar where the myths of a new being and a new world are typed up in hot long nights of drunken wailing stupor by candlelight revolutionaries. Thus they ascend to the beer-stained tabletops to proclaim: “the metamythmakers are FREE. We wrote them out of prison! No myth can limit or restrict them —everything we see and sense can be recreated and rewritten in a new myth that is conducive to greater freedom and deeper beauty.”

The lake-like eyes of the Metamythmaker meet with mine, but I feel they are seeing many things at once, and I am but one apparition before their wild and ecstatic gaze. From somewhere inside them I hear a sound like the clattering of a million typewriters.

The Metamythmaker opens a hole in the floor. I look into it, and see a floating space of distant reflections, as if I am peering into a liquid mirror where images dart and flit about together. In one image I see myself climbing into the body of the Metamythmaker and proceeding to a large wooden desk – my grandfather’s – and there sitting down and writing with a green pen for many hours, even days, in a frozen early-evening light, eternally fading. I look at the paper and read:

A Historical Timeline of Mythmaking

“From the Ancients to the Metamoderns” *

* Which just so happens to be the title of the next post in this series.

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Will Franks 🌊
Phoenix Collective

A Heartbroken Terrified Warrior Who Is So Happy To Be Here. Meditator. Researcher. Soulmaker.