What is the power of Myth? Why do modern myths such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Dune Trilogy or the Matrix Movies; have such a powerful and profound effect on people? Why do they seem to have such resonance with us? And all through the history of humankind why have myths been stories of such central importance to their respective cultures and which have held them in such high regard? What is the meaning of Myth, their significance and purpose?
So what is Mythology? The word Mythology derives from the Greek word ‘mythos’, which means story. Therefore myths are stories but at the same time not all stories are myths. So what then are these stories that comprise the Mythology of the World. It has been said that “Myths are things that never happened but always are.” This quote is attributed to the 4th century Roman historian and mystic Sallustius. It describes the allegorical nature of Mythology and suggests that they contain behind their often fairy tale and fantastical nature, hidden truths and higher meanings. What we will try to do in this chapter is to unlock these higher meanings behind the World’s Myths and provide a better understanding of what Myths are really about.
In a sense, Myths are stories that talk about the higher things and the more profound subject matters. They deal with the important issues to do with God, Cosmic Origins, Ultimate Conclusions, Purpose and Destiny. They derive from humankind’s quest to answer the big questions concerning the nature of the divine, the nature of reality, the human condition, higher powers and our relationship to those higher powers, they deal with the meaning of life.
Inevitably there exists a lot of over lap between World Mythology and World Religion which also concerns itself with these sorts of things. In one sense Mythology may be seen as proto-religion or an early forerunner of religion as we know it today. Also many of the stories contained in the more ancient literature of the Worlds Religions may be regarded as Mythology. We know that ancient myths found themselves incorporated into the holy texts of some the major World Religions. So for instance, a significant of the Bible consists of myths, especially in some of the earlier books such as Genesis. A similar situation exists in Hinduism which early on produced an extensive and elaborate collection of Myths. So Mythology blends into and is incorporated into religion and vice versa, certain religious ideas are often represented as Myths.
Essentially the issues and themes that Mythology deals with are really the same subject matter at the heart of much of World Religion. We’ll be demonstrating this point throughout this chapter. What we will show is that certain central ideas and themes from World Religion and World Mysticism allow us to clearly see some of the important hidden meanings behind World Mythology. These central Religious and Mystical notions are also ideas which are discussed at length in the rest of this book. These ideas and themes include the belief that ‘Everyone is God’ and the idea of a spiritual journey which leads to a state of ‘Mystical Awakening’ or Enlightenment; and also the Prophecies contained in World Religion together with the idea of a Messiah or World Saviour. We will show that these Religious ideas are really what’s behind a lot of the World’s most important Myths, both ancient and modern.
Everyone is God and the Spiritual Quest
One of the main ideas behind this book and part of its title, is the belief that ‘Everyone is God’. In an earlier chapter we demonstrated that this esoteric or hidden belief is found at the heart of all the World’s great Religions and Faith Traditions. We also in the earlier chapter discussed how once this is accepted then it is very easy to suppose therefore that the ultimate goal of religion is to realize our true nature and inner divinity. So this would be the true meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven, Enlightenment, ‘Awakening’, Moksha etc. Ideas of Union with God, or being One with God or becoming One with the Universe would be equivalent to this interpretation. The Scriptures of World religion also describe a life path or spiritual journey which is the means by which this ultimate of attainments is obtained. This might variously be something along the lines of, ‘The Path to Perfection’ or the ‘The Way to God’.
With these considerations in place it is reasonable to conjecture that this idea that a person’s real identity is God is also something related to the Hero Quest Myth tales which is the best known category of Myth to most people, including the Grail Myths and Odysseus. This is particularly so when we also understand that Mythology in general is intimately related to Religion and its concerns, with the ancient Myths existing at the heart of humankind’s earliest religious traditions and Myths serving as spiritual allegory. Seen in this light it makes sense to think of the Hero Quest Myths as coded stories that are really about a person’s spiritual evolution towards, potentially, the ultimate goal of union with God or becoming God.
Anyhow, what we propose now is this idea that ‘Everyone is God’ and the journey to the realization of our true nature i.e. God, is exactly what is behind what’s known as the Hero Quest Myth. So for instance, given this interpretation of the Hero Quest Myth, the quest for the Holy Grail in the various Myths involving King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is therefore really about the quest for Enlightenment. This interpretation is supported by the fact that many versions of the Myth of the Quest for the Holy Grail describe not the obtaining of some physical object but rather a prize that is more ineffable and transcendent. Instead of just being a journey involving a translocation from place to place, rather the quest for the Grail is described as a process of purification and self development towards some future more evolved state of being.
And the same for the Classical Greek Myth called the Odyssey which describes the adventures of Odysseus the main character. Whereas instead of a Holy Grail symbolizing the prize of Enlightenment, instead the uniting of Odysseus with his Wife Penelope at the end of the story would serve the same purpose. In the mystical and spiritual literature, all through history, the Union between a man and a woman has been used to symbolize Union with the Divine. From the mystical poems of St Avila and the Troubadors and the Mystical Love poetry of the Song of Soloman in the Bible, to the Union of Shiva and Shakti in the Eastern Tantric traditions; the Quest for God and Mystical Union has often be represented by the coming together of a man and woman.
In both these examples, the trials and tribulations faced by the Grail Knights and also by Odysseus and his sailors, are representative of the challenges and obstacles that face any mystical aspirant and spiritual seeker. So seen in this light the Hero Myths are really about the spiritual evolution of everyman and everywoman, and hidden within these timeless tales are guides, sign posts and also warnings which are relevant and meaningful even in modern times, for the contemporary seeker of the transcendent.
Further support for the idea that the Classic Hero Quest myths are really about the spiritual journey of mystical awakening and union with the divine comes from examining the parallels between, on the one hand the two Myths already discussed, i.e. The Grail Myths and Odysseus; and on the other hand, the great Mythic Epic from Hinduism called the Mahabharata. What’s most significant here is a slim volume contained within the main body of the Mahabharata called the Bhagavad Gita.
To provide some background, the Bhagavad Gita is probably the most important book in Hinduism. Many people in India, today and all through the ages, learn it word for word, such is its importance. When we examine the Bhagavad Gita closely then we realize that it is a sort of condensed Mystical Manual and Spiritual guide book. The central idea contained in the Bhagavad Gita is the notion of Union with God. This is quite explicitly stated or else alluded in various verses such as 13:30, ‘When a man sees that the infinity of various beings is abiding in the One, and is an evolution from the One, then he becomes one with Brahman[ i.e. God ]’ & 5:19, ‘Those whose minds are ever serene win the victory of life on this earth. God is pure and ever one, and ever one they are in God’. So here in the Bhagavad Gita the purpose of the spiritual journey and mystical quest is clearly stated. By seeing the parallels between Bhagavad Gita in relation to Odysseus and the Grail Myths then we can therefore more clearly see the underlying idea common to them all, i.e. the idea of a spiritual journey leading to Union with God or God Realization.
Here’s a first example of an interesting parallel between the Bhagavad Gita and the Grail Myths. So for instance Joseph Campbell, the renowned Mythology expert, in one of his books describes a version of the Grail Myth where 3 of the Knights of the Round Table eventually find the Grail and they are Percival, Beofur, Galahad. Each of these 3 Knights has a certain quality which enables them to attain the prize. So Percival is pure of heart, Beofur is the thinking Knight and Galahad is the Knight of actions and deeds. Interesting this perfectly corresponds with the three paths to Union with God described in the Bhagavad Gita, i.e. Bhakti-marg the path of the heart, Jnana-marg the path of knowledge and Karma-marg the path of action. These parallels support the notion that the Grail represents the goal of God Realization or Mystical Awakening.
Interesting parallels also exists between the Bhagavad Gita and the book the Odyssey, which describes the Myth of Odysseus. Both books are contained within a much larger body of Mythology and exist as jewels in the crown with respect to the larger works in which they are embedded. We have already mentioned that the Bhagavad Gita is found within the Indian Mythic Epic called the Mahabharata. So it is in the same way that Odyssey is found within the famous Greek Epic called the Illiad. Also both great works have or have had a most special significance for their respectively Civilizations, i.e. Indian and Greek. In fact, the Illiad and Odyssey may be regarded as the most important texts of Classical Greek literature.
Interesting both the civilizations of ancient India and Greece had strong mystical traditions where the idea of a person’s ultimate identity being God was central. In India, both past and present, this idea of everyone being God is more formally called Advaita Vedanta and is described in ancient texts such a the Upanishads, Brahma Sutra and as already mentioned The Bhagavad Gita. The pursuit of the goal of union with God has always been the main pre-occupation of India’s Holy men known as Saddhus and is also behind the mystical Tantric practices found in India through the ages. Correspondingly, in ancient Hellenistic civilization we have the Greek Mysteries, where again the central aim was unification with the deity or God. Given this background, therefore in a sense the ancient Myths of the Mahabharata/Bhagavad Gita and the Illiad/Odyssey would have served as a sort of introduction to the mystical beliefs of their respective cultures and the idea of union with God or the notion that Everyone is God.
One further parallel exists between the Bhagavad Gita and the Odyssey which is the allusion to idea that certain substances, i.e. plant extracts, can facilitate states of Union with the divine. These sort of substances as sometimes labelled as Entheogenic in that they produce states of closeness to the divine. Sometimes the expression Psychedelic or ‘mind manifesting’ is used. This is a recurring theme in early religion and also Mythology which will be dealt with more fully in its own chapter later on this book. Here we’d like to point out the correspondence between the Soma Drinkers of the Bhagavad Gita and the Lotus Eaters mentioned in the Odyssey. The Bhagavad Gita clearly states that the Soma drinkers as a result of their ingestation attain certain mystical states. Though the Odyssey with regard to the Lotus Eaters is a little more enigmatic, a clue to its meaning is derived when we consider that ancient sanskrit texts discovered in India describes a variety of the Lotus plant as Soma. We know that the sanskrit word Soma literally means ‘to press out and extract’. So from this we could sensibly presume that at some point people in ancient India were pressing out and extracting something from the Lotus plant in order to make Soma and thus attain its mystical effects. Therefore we can reasonable extrapolate from this the true meaning behind the Lotus Eaters found in the Myth of Odysseus. That here too we are seeing the allusion to the idea that the ingestion of some plant or substance, in this case Lotus, can illicit in the user some sort of mystical experience and perhaps spiritual insight. Further support for this interpretation comes from the Greek Mysteries and in particular the Eleusian Mysteries which took place at a sacred spot near ancient Athens where the participants drank a concoction called Kykeon which was key to producing a state of mystical union with God. Also the very ancient Sumerian Myth called Gilgamesh, which is probably the oldest recorded story know to humankind, makes mention of a ‘plant of immortality’, which can be interpreted in the same way as Soma and Lotus. It is known that Homer, the Greek sage who wrote the Illiad and Odyssey was influenced by and derived of some of his storyline from the myth of Gilgamesh. It is also highly probably that Homer would have know of the Eleusian Mysteries and may even have been a participant as many of the cogniscenti of his time and locale were. So this adds further support to a Psychedelic interpretation of the Lotus Eaters encountered by Odysseus on his Mythic journey.
This connection between Mythology and Psychedelia is also apparent in modern Myths such as the Matrix movie and the Dune Trilogy. In Matrix the hero’s journey begins with the ingestion of a pill which allows him to ‘awaken’ from the illusion of the Matrix. In the Dune Trilogy a substance called Spice produces mystical states in people and gives users the power of prophecy. We’ll be discussing Modern Myths, their relevance and significance, more fully a little later on in this chapter. But first we’d now like to from a bridge between the ancient classical myths and the Modern Myths of the present, in order to show their continuity, likeness and essential equilvalence.
Mythology: Freud and Jung
In modern times, this idea that stories about Mythological Quest are really coded allegories representing a person’s evolution and journey towards some sort of existential goal, was initially best elaborated upon by the renowned explorer of human psychology Carl Gustav Jung. His one time friend and mentor the equally well known Sigmund Freud, also explored the themes of Mythology in relation to the human mind and behaviour. However it was Jung who saw Myths as representing a spiritual and transcendent dimension. During the course of Jung’s life, he was always something of a mystic. Later on he became very interested in Gnosticism and other ancient mystical ideas. His mystical leanings were captured in his notion of a ‘Collective Consciousness’, which is a common pool of memories and archetypes or universal themes, shared by all human beings. His idea was that this Collective Consciousness was normally occluded during normal wakefulness. But also that through intuition and in our dreams, we could access this deeper knowledge. At various stages of his life he was not totally sure about the basis for this Collective Consciousness, vacillating variously between a biological and cultural interpretation. Therefore supposing that the knowledge of the Collective Consciousness was something either transmitted in our Genetic DNA or else culturally i.e. through symbols, language or ritual. However he eventually settled on a mystical interpretation seeing the Collective Consciousness as something transcending biology, culture and matter. In this way Jungian Psychology intersects with Religious and Mystical notions that somehow we are all One, together with the closely related idea that God is One and existing within us individually yet at the same time undivided and indivisible. A shared divine essence at the heart of the being of everywoman and everyman in a way that is completely analogous to and convergent with the Jungian notion of the Collective Consciousness. Later on Jung’s idea of a Colllective Consciousness would be taken up by various psycho-analytical schools which called themselves Transpersonal.
Mythology: Joseph Campbell and the Mono-Myth
Another related thread in the development of our modern understanding of Mythology has been the work of the scholar and great popularizer of Myth Joseph Campbell. Partly influenced by the ideas of Jung, Joseph Campbell synthesized a concept know as the Monomyth which he described in his influential work ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’. Essentially what he did, was to survey a vast array of World Mythology from many of the major ancient cultures and also indigenous peoples of this planet, including well known Myths such as Odysseus and the Grail Legends. As a result of this study he identified certain themes and central storylines which occurred in these Myths time and again. It is this distilled recurring story that he called the Monomyth. It is as if a common template was being used to produce most of the World’s great myths, even though there would be various variations in the main storyline and differences in their details or specifics.
This Monomyth is therefore a generalization of the Mythological quest and involved a main character, the Mythic Quest Hero, whose purpose was to realize some transcendent or spiritual goal. So even though there is a huge variety among all the different stories about Mythological Quest from all the cultures of the World; what the concept of the monomyth is saying is that there is a universal story underlying all these different Myths. What we have then is the distillation of the central and recurring underlying narrative that seems common to most of the Hero Quest Myths of the world.
So in a sense these tales are really about the same character in different guises, inhabiting various contexts and epochs. But all the while playing out the same drama and encountering recurring situations and circumstances. Hence ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’. The title of his other great work, the three volume ‘Masks of God’, also alludes to idea of Myth as religious and mystical allegory, which is one of the main idea behind his writings. This religious aspect of Campbell’s interpretation of the meaning of the Hero Quest Myth is further highlighted by his use of the Mono-Myth concept to explain the lives or experiences of some of the founders of Religion such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Moses and Muhammad when he was interviewed at length over the course of the TV series ‘The Power of Myth’. It was his assertion that their respective personal life journeys and formative episodes were really expressions of the Mono-Myth and best understood in this light.
A Basic Outline of the Mono-Myth
The Mono-Myth is the idea that there exists a common underlying storyline behind many of the Hero Quest Myths found various cultures and times from around the world. The Mono-Myth can be depicted as a diagram where the hero’s journey is mapped out on a circle which is meant to convey the idea that the mythological quest is a recurring undertaking(See Figure below). That is it is a repeating process that happens periodically over the course of succeeding generations or epochs. It is as if it is a necessary quest that is essential for the maintenance of the life of a culture and also perhaps its progress. This cyclical aspect of the Hero Quest Myth implies that every so often in the course of the history of a civilization, fictional or real, a person or group of people will embark on the Mythological Hero Quest in order to find some spiritual or transcendental prize that is necessary for the life of the culture to carry on and thrive. Put another way, the Myth Cycle and cyclical nature of the Mono-Myth is really saying that Camelot will recurrently enter into phases of malady and disarray. And when this dark periods occur then this necessitates the Holy Grail to be repeated sought, found and brought back to Camelot in order to remedy the situation. Seen in this light we can grasp an important aspect of Mythology and the Hero Quest. For not only are they tales serving as allegories for a person’s journey towards Enlightenment and God but they are also about the spiritual renewal of societies and perhaps entire civilizations. In this way the story of the Mythic Quest Hero takes place as a part of a wider drama involving the Hero’s societal context and special circumstances he or she finds himself or herself in. And the Hero Quest becomes within this wider context not merely a tale of personal redemption or enlightenment but also something undertaken in order to save a world from calamity and disaster and/or to spiritually revive and culturally revitalize a society. In the words of Joseph Campbell, ‘If we could dredge up something forgotten not only by ourselves but by our whole generation or our entire civilization, we should become the boon-bringer, the culture hero of the days - a personage of not only local but World historical moment’. So to repeat, the concept of the Myth Cycle inherent to the idea of the Mono-Myth suggests that the process of Mythic Quest is a recurring undertaking which is not only a personal journey of spiritual discovery but also one which has implications for the wider context, i.e. society, from which the Mythic Hero emerges.
This diagram shows the basic outline of the Myth Cycle and which was a concept formulated by the great scholar of World Mythology, Joseph Campbell. It was first introduced in his influential work ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces'. It represents the various stages of the Mythic processes described by Campbell's idea of the Mono-Myth, which captures the recurring and essential underlying storyline that is common to many of the Worlds Hero Quest Myths.
It is important to point out at this stage that this Myth Cycle and MonoMyth idea act as a sort of complete template from which Mythological Hero Quest stories may be created, as in the case of the Star wars discussed early. Also vice versa, existing Hero Quest Myths found in the ancient cultures of the world may also be mapped to this MonoMyth template and corresponding stages or features identified. However it will not always be the case that a complete mapping can be made. That is, though just about all the worlds Hero
Quest Myths are made up of central elements contained in the MonoMyth, not all these myths will necessarily contain all the themes and stages outlined in the Mono-Myth. And in turn various Myths may contain unusual elements or themes that don’t quite fit in neatly with the Mono-Myth template. Yet the Mono-Myth can still be a useful guide for understanding the key aspects or motifs of the Worlds Hero Quest Myths. With these qualifications in place we’ll summarize the different stages of the Mono-Myth.
The Mono-Myth as represented by the Myth Cycle starts with things in a state of equilibrium or place of peace and this is represented by the topmost point of our myth cycle diagram(Figure 3.1). The Mythic Hero and adventurer is usually to be found in a state of relative youthfulness, inexperience and perhaps one of naivity. The setting here may be the homestead, perhaps a village, farm or palace. But then something happens which upsets this equilibrium. For instance a princess may be abducted or some precious item may be stolen. Another example would be that perhaps the society or home in which the hero lives falls into disarray for some reason such as a sudden of death of some person, or else a natural disaster. After this perturbation occurs then the goal of the mythological quest is communicated to the Hero to be by a messenger perhaps in the guise of a wise old man or some Oracle. Once this goal is understood the quest is taken up by the hero. This goal may come in the form of a princess or some other beautiful woman who needs to be rescued or found. Or else some precious item such as a holy grail or perhaps a magic sword needs to be recovered that will restore things to the previous equilibrium and the tranquil way things were before the upheaval. This stage is labelled the ‘Call to adventure’.
So events transpire that cause the hero or heroine to leave his or her natural context and embark on a perilous journey in search of some goal. Once the hero is determined to pursue his goal then he is said to be crossing over the ‘Threshold of adventure’. This step may involve defeating the ‘Guardians of the threshold. These obstacles initially facing the Mythological Hero may be internal, i.e. self doubt or fear of the unknown. They may come in the form of friends or family members who try to persuade against pursuing the quest. Or else they can be physical adversaries. Once this threshold is crossed then the mythic adventurer is at the start of his journey.
Having crossed over the threshold of adventure the quest begins in earnest. The hero enters into another world quite different from whence he come. He enters into the realm of the mythic quest and somewhere within it lies his sought after prize. This ‘other world’ may be represented in the myth as a Labyrinth, a Cave, a Dark forest, a Sea Voyage or some other environment that is far removed from the hero’s natural context. In this alien land the Mythic Hero will encounter all sorts of trails, obstacle, tribulations and challenges. All sorts of adversaries will confront our intrepid seeker coming in the form of strange humans or weird beasts. A necessary part of the journey is that the hero must finds ways of somehow overcoming them, perhaps winning them over or else destroying them. Also along the way friends and helpers will be encountered who may offer guidance or provide the hero with useful tools and magical talismans. Some of these characters may even join up with the hero and become travelling companions helping our central character to complete his or her journey of mythological quest. As the journey progresses and the challenges are met, then all the while the hero becomes more experienced, grows in knowledge and develops special abilities. This prepares the hero for one last struggle before the ultimate prize is reached.
This final conflict may come in the form of a Dragon, a Master Sorcerer or some other potent adversary. After a great battle or else through a some cunning trick that the hero employs, perhaps taking advantage of knowledge of the enemy’s weak spot, gained during the quest, then this last adversary is defeated. After this the prize is attained, i.e. the princess is saved or the holy grail found. This is represented by the bottom most point of the circle on our myth cycle diagram. Often Myths will make allusions to the transcendental or spiritual nature of this final goal pointing towards some sort of mystical interpretation of the Mythic Quest. The Hero is somehow transfigured or in some other way illuminated. After achieving the final prize the hero has become a different person having undergone a profound transformation.
So the hero having achieved his goal, then has to bring his prize back from the perilous realm of adventure and this involves a process of escape where a few more obstacles may present themselves. After overcoming these last challenges the hero crosses another threshold that separates the realm of the quest from the more mundane reality from which the hero emerged at the start of the tale. After this we arrive at the penultimate stage of the myth cycle which is called ‘The Return journey’. It involves a triumphant homeward course to the ending of the story and the last stage of the Myth Cycle. Here the initial equilibrium is restored, the hero’s world is restored to its previous tranquil state and Mythological Quest has served its purpose. His or her society has been saved or otherwise restored, the Holy Grail has been brought back to Camelot. So in the end we arrive at the point in the circle of our Myth Cycle diagram which also represents the beginning of the cycle. This represents the fact that this happy ending and harmonious state of affairs is only transitory. That is at some point in the future, perhaps many generations on, the tranquility will be perturbed and the Myth Cycle will begin all over again.
So in abbreviated form this is the essence of the Myth Cycle that is described by the concept of the Mono-Myth. It is a stereotypical sequence of events and actions that seem to be recurring themes in many of the Worlds great Hero Quest Myths. And with their allusions to the transcendent and spiritual, Hero Quest myths are also allegories pointing towards hidden metaphysical meanings. Without this important and key ingredient then Hero Quest Myths would be nothing much more than very elaborate adventure tales. However it is this added component, which may involve experiences of the numinous, encounters with gods, the divine or notions of eternal life, that gives these Hero Quest Myths their quite distinctive character. So for instance in many renderings of the Holy Grail myths from Medieval Europe, the Grail is not some physical object but rather a rarefied state of being that is achieved by certain chosen knights who are endowed with certain virtues. In one version of the grail myth at the end the knight Galahad is lifted up in into Heaven. In this way the grail is used as a metaphor for spiritual perfection.
These allusions to the transcendent and mystical are also found in the contemporary Modern Myths. For instance at the end of the third instalment of the Star Wars Myth called ‘Revenge of the Jedi’, some of the main characters who had died earlier return as immortal beings. In the Lord of the Rings story, the main character Frodo Baggins goes off to live with the elves and earns immortality for himself. In both the Dune trilogy and the Matrix myths, the central characters of the two tales Paul Artreides and Neo respectively, both become Messianic figures with superhuman powers. Furthermore in the case of Neo in the Matrix, he plays the role of the dying godman who sacrifices himself to save the world and to give others life. So we therefore see a pattern behind all these different Hero Quest Myths both ancient and modern. They allude to themes normally associated with Religion and their respective mystical traditions.
Hero Quest Myths and the Myth Cycle also reflect the ordinary lives of ordinary people.
We may ask and try to answer the question of why it is that these hero quest myths are such powerfully captivating and inspiring tales. One answer is that even though these myths are highly fantastical and far removed from our day to day existence, they serve as a mirror which reflects the concerns and problems of real life. That is in a sense we are all on our personal quests to realize some dream or to fulfil some aspiration, no matter how mundane. In this way we are all able to identify with the Mythological Hero and relate to his or her difficult journey. For the simple reason that we see in his or her problems our own.
In fact we can go much further and draw direct parallels between the stages of the Myth Cycle, described by the Mono-Myth, and the life cycle of a normal human being. We’ll now explore this idea a little further and discuss the relationships between the Myth Cycle and the normal Human Life Cycle, to show the parallels between the mythic hero quest and the lives of ordinary people.
In the diagram below, which follows exactly the same format as the Myth Cycle diagram shown earlier, is depicted the major stages of a typical person’s life. It represents a common norm and of course the lives of many individuals will be different from this generalization in varying degrees. However the diagram does portray a pattern of existence that has been found throughout the world and all through human history. The important thing about this diagram of the Human Life Cycle, in regard to present discussion, is that a meaningful correspondence can be made between each of its stages and each of the stages of the Myth Cycle diagram. Once this connection is made then we start to see that everybody is like the Mythological Hero and that in a sense we’re all on our own intrepid adventures. We’ll go through the various stages of a typical person’s life to elaborate upon this idea.
This is a diagram representing the normal course of events in the life of everyday people. It is meant to show an ideal and prototypical situation only.
Beginning at the top of the diagram we find the beginning of the cycle which is the idyllic and uncomplicated happiness of childhood and the family home. We start in state, in the idealized view, where everything is alright, all is good and as it should be. This corresponds to the peaceful homestead or palace in Myth. But then we enter into puberty and adolescence. The harmony we had in our infancy vanishes and our sexual awakening is often accompanied with a sense of incompleteness and insecurity. We are perturbed by this and so go on to endeavour to become adequate in our own eyes and in relation to others, in particular to members of the opposite sex or the gender we’re sexually attracted to. Thus we set out on the long journey towards maturity, sexual fullfilment and the quest for love. This stage of life is correspondent with the call to adventure in the Mythological Hero Quest whereas in this context the precipitating factor is sexual awakening.
So we venture out into the world, typically leaving home or leaving behind childish modes of being, and setting out to make something of ourselves. We try to become the perfect image that we have of our future selves, that we think will enable us to achieve our goals, gain status and win love. We pursue our ambitions, work, study, explore and compete. We are engaged in the adventure that is life and this is correspondent with the Dark Forest, Labyrinth or Perilous Sea Journey of Mythology. Within this stage we face the trials and tribulations of life, the pleasure, the pain, the successes, the setbacks, the rewards and the disappointments. And on we go until the primary goal for most people is finally achieved, we meet our chosen partner, fall in love, have sex and raise children (perhaps not always in this order). This for a lot of people is like finding the Holy Grail and of course like finding the Mythic Princess or Prince.
The rest of the Human Life Cycle involves setting up the conditions that we started out with in the first place, i.e. setting up a home, having children and creating a situation of domestic bliss. And so like the Return Journey in Mythology we have a reinstatement of the original state of equilibrium and tranquility. Also in the same way that the Myth Cycle repeats itself, so it is in our Human Life Cycle. That is once we have completed our life’s adventure, found a partner, set up a home and produced offspring, then so in turn our children grow into adolescence, sexually awaken and likewise set off on their own life quests. And so the Human Life Cycle repeats itself again, generation after generation, further mirroring the Myth Cycle with its own recurrent cyclical nature.
In this way, what we have is an interpretation of the Mythic Hero Quest, which sees them also as symbolic descriptions of the normal life journeys of everywoman and everyman. They can been seen as stories which encapsulate within themselves the most significant and overriding concerns of living, to do with growth, sexual awakening, reaching maturity, the conflicts of life, finding love and having children. It is perhaps another reason why these sorts of Myths have such a deep resonance with so many people.
So there exists another aspect behind the Hero Quest Myths and therefore also behind the Mono-Myth concept. That is apart from alluding towards spiritual and transcendent realities, the ideas and themes behind the Mono-Myth and Hero Quest Myths in general, also can be interpreted as being about the human condition and the lives of normal everyday human beings. But which by doing so is also highly suggestive, that the seemingly ordinary and perhaps mundane lives of ordinary people are at the same time reflections of the sacred, heroic and transcendent. We’ll next pursue this idea a little further in this chapter, and much more in later chapters.
The Myth Cycle and Human Life Cycle both as reflections of the Image of God
There is one other interpretation of the Myth Cycle which also casts a higher and deeper meaning behind the Human Life Cycle. It relates to the idea that there exists an Image of God, a sort of Cosmic Template or Blue Print from which all the patterns and processes of the Universe are themselves derived and which therefore reflect this in their make up and dynamic. Therefore it is really this Image of God, manifested as an evolving process, which is behind both the Myth Cycle and Human Life Cycle.
The idea that somehow in our lives we reflect something of the divine, is already familiar with a lot of people. It is an often quoted para-phrase from the Bible that we’re all made in the image of God. It is the idea that somehow we in our daily lives and in our ordinary existence, reflect the nature of God. This same notion is expressed in many other ways, for instance the mystical text the Corpus Hermeticum we find the often quoted passage ‘As above so below’. In Taoism there is the Triad symbol which reflects the essential unity between man, Heaven and earth. In the Western occult and Kabbalistic traditions this concept is called ‘correspondence’, which states that for every essential element of the person, there is a correspondent aspect of the divine. Finally in the Upanishads, a revered set of Hindu texts, it states that, ‘As is the human body so is the Cosmic body. As is the human mind so is the Cosmic mind’. So this idea of the human being reflecting the divine is quite universal. What we’re doing is extending the idea somewhat and picturing the transcendent Image of God, as manifested in the human being, not as some static form but rather as a dynamic process evolving in time, which makes up the Human Life Cycle and which in turn is a reflection of the Myth Cycle.
The key difference between the Human Life Cycle and the Hero Quest Myth Cycle
We’ve just discussed that both the mythic hero and the everyday human being are reflections of the Image of God and are partaking of the divine process but does this mean that the Mythic Hero is an everyday human being or that all normal people are Mythic Heroes? We established that many of the aspects of the Mythological Hero Quest seem to have their parallels in lives of ordinary people, when we explored why these myths resonated with some many of us. However, the difference between the mythic hero and lives of most people is that the goal of the mythic quester is to find the secret of eternal life and become united with God; whereas the goal of most people is to find a partner and have children. So the difference is between a spiritual prize versus a set of more earthly rewards. So this is the distinction between the journey of the Mythic Hero and that of everyday people. However this separation becomes blurred when we realize that everyday people sometimes take it upon themselves, when the circumstances are in place, to pursue for themselves the Mythic Hero Quest. Even though Hero Quest Myths are invented stories communicating hidden metaphysical truths, they also inspire actual people to undertake the spiritual hero quest in their real lives. So then the Mythological Hero emerges out of the realm of fantasy into the real world. The Hero Quest Myth has then become not merely a inspiring tale but also a call to action for us to realize our greatest potential as human beings, that is the ultimate goal of spiritual awakening and becoming God. This is perhaps the most important purpose of the Hero Quest Myth and Mythology in general, to orient our minds and lives towards the Transcendent and Divine. They tell us of life’s spiritual dimension and remind us that the ultimate purpose and destination of life is to realize our true nature as God.
However, in modern times there exists a state of affairs which prevents people from seeing the transcendent and hidden meaning behind the Hero Quest Myth. If these Myths a suggestive of the path to the Divine and Union with God, then the problem in the current age is not that people don’t know the way to God but they don’t know that the journey even exists. In an age dominated by on the one hand Secularism and on the other, Religious Fundamentalism with its literal interpretation of scripture, including Mythology and aversion to mysticism and higher meanings; then the idea of the Hero Quest Myth as allegory for the spiritual journey towards union with God and mystical awakening is lost on most people. Yet if the mystical idea that Everyone is God can be introduced into mainstream society in a convincing and compelling way, then surely this could revive in people the original purpose of the Hero Quest Myth and unlock its power. It is as if through the absorbtion of Myth and particularly Modern Myth, by a lot of people of today, a seed has been sown in their minds, lying dormant and awaiting some stimulus that will set into motion the unravelling and fruition of the true meaning of Mythology in the Consciousness of modern minds. We’ll explore this idea more in the summary and conclusion of this chapter. We’ll turn our attention now to a more Cosmic perspective and relate the Myth Cycle to the life cycle and process of the entire Universe.
The Myth Cycle and Human Life Cycle both as reflections of the Cosmic Life Cycle of the entire Universe
We can also draw direct parallels between the Myth Cycle and the Cosmic Cycle describing the evolution of the entire Universe. This rests on the assertion that the evolution of the entire Universe in time reflects our notion of an Image of God or Cosmic Template introduced earlier. And also on the assumption that the evolution of the Universe is Cyclical. So as a result both the Myth Cycle and Human Life Cycle will both be reflections of the Cosmic Cycle of the Universe. Indeed the microcosmic would reflect the macrocosmic.
Put another way, what we’re suggesting is that all three cycles the Cosmic Cycle, Myth Cycle and Human Life Cycle are totally correspondent with each other. This is because the Image of God and Cosmic Template is manifested at the scale of the entire Universe as the Cosmic Cycle, and at the same time manifested throughout the Universe in all places, all processes and at all scales of consideration, from the atomic, human, planetary scales to the interstellar, galactic and back to the Cosmic. In this way the Myth Cycles and Human Life Cycles are really instances of the Cosmic Cycle and Divine Image manifested in the lives of human beings, heroic and ordinary.
These are powerful ideas which will be supported and explored in much detail later on this book in the chapters entitled ‘The Nature of God and Sacred Cosmology’, and ‘The Spiritual Journey’. In elucidating the Nature of God and the notion of the Divine Image we will show the essential unity and correspondences between the Divine Image, Cosmic Cycle, Myth Cycle and the Human Life Cycle. Also in the later chapter entitled ‘The Nature of God and Sacred Cosmology’, we will explain the important mystical and mythic idea of the Cosmic Battle. By showing how this Cosmic Battle is fought out in the minds of individuals, including Mythic Hero Questers, within Society and between Societies and also on inter-planetary, galactic and ultimate Cosmic scale, then we will be demonstrating one of the main underlying processes and recurring themes behind the Worlds Myths. This is the struggle between Light and Dark or Good and Evil, happening on a personal, societal and also Cosmic level. The Cosmic perspective is described by some of the ancient Cosmogonic or Creation Myths which describe how the World and Universe first come into being through a process of conflict or dialectic. And a recurring theme of these Cosmogonic Myths is the recurring idea of the Universe or World being created from the dismembered body of a sacrificed god. In the Mythology and Religion of Hinduism in India this idea is well elaborated, where the body of God becomes the Universe followed by a complementary process by which the Universe becomes the Body of God again in an eternally repeating cycle. The ‘Nature of God’ chapter will explain the meaning behind this common Mythic theme.
We now move the current discussion to the Modern Myths and explore their relevance, meaning and impact.
Modern Mythology: From Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and The Dune Trilogy
As already mentioned Joseph Campbell’s ideas about Mythology were quite widely read and significantly one of the people who was heavily influenced by his idea of the Mono-Myth, happened to be the creator of the ground breaking film Star wars. It was George Lucas who conceived, wrote the story for and directed Star wars. He is fond of mentioning that while he was writing the storyline for the film, he would often refer to the work of Joseph Campbell to make sure he was on track and that there would be close correspondence between the outline of the Mono-Myth and the story behind Star Wars. So In a definite sense, it can be said that Star Wars is a Modern Myth and faithful rendition of the Mono-Myth. Though set in a technological science fiction context and communicated using the modern medium of film. It is natural therefore that there should be correspondence between the story in the film Star wars and the ancient myth of Odysseus and also the Grail Legends. Also indeed by the same token, that there should be meaningful correspondence between Star Wars and many of the ancient Hero Quest Myths of the World. What we see therefore is a continuity and equivalence between on the one hand the traditional or classical Myths of old and on the other hand, modern Myths like Star Wars. We can trace a sort of lineage and chain of derivation, whereby scholars like Joseph Campbell distill some of the ideas behind the pre-existent Myths of the World, followed by popularizers such as George Lucas who then bring these ideas in a more accessible form to the masses. This process of borrowing and re-telling was also the way another well known myth, namely The Lord of the Rings Trilogy came into being. Essentially J.R.R Tolkien the originator and writer behind it, set out to create a body of Mythology for a people who didn’t already have one, i.e. The english speaking peoples of the World. He made this clear in an interview. And he did this by extensively borrowing themes and motifs from the Norse Myths and Sagas. So the Lord of the Rings is really a reworking of existing Mythic ideas in much the same way that the storyline behind the Star Wars movie is. When we also examine two other influential examples of Modern Mythology i.e. the Matrix movies and also the Dune Trilogy then again we see this same borrowing and re-telling process at work. In these cases we also see some borrowing directly from some of the Worlds major religions. In both cases there is the notion of Prophecies for the coming of an expected one or Messiah. In the Matrix, the main character Neo is the chosen one and prophesized saviour. In the Dune Trilogy, the writer Frank Herbert borrows straight from Islam the term, ‘Mahdi’ or Muslim Messiah.
At the same time this process of borrowing and re-telling is not something peculiar to modern myths but is also part of the process by which many of the ancient Myths were synthesized. For instance we have already mentioned how Homer the writer of the Illiad and Odyssey was influenced by some of the Myths which were known to him such as Gilgamesh. And the Grail Legends were constantly re-worked and re-retold such that there exist many versions of it to be found all over Europe, with some quite different storylines and inclusion of a variety of different Mythic motifs and themes. In this way Modern Myths shouldn’t be seen as being somehow less because they have borrowed ideas from the ancient Myths, because this has always been part of the process by which Myths have come into being. So in a very real sense people like George Lucas, J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert are like the modern day Homers of this world and present age.
Indeed, it can be argued that the Modern Myths are far more important than classical Myths such as Odysseus and the Grail Legends because their impact on modern people and the familiarity that most people have with them is far greater than with the Myths of old. In the minds and imagination of a lot of everyday folk today, and especially in the younger generations, Modern Myths like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and Dune; have a level of influence, relevance and meaning that perhaps in previous ages Myths like Odysseus and the Grail Legends would have had for their respective cultures. So generally speaking, the power of Myth in modern times really derives from the Modern Myths such as those mentioned. But what is the power of Myth? What is their influence on modern society and might be their effect on the greater scheme of things?
The Power of Modern Mythology
The power of Myth is multi-faceted and exists in various aspects some subtle and some quite direct. On a simple and direct level Myths entertain and excite, i.e. they serve as stimulating stories and gripping yarns. On a slightly higher level Myths can inspire. They can instill in people a sense of idealism, selflessness and even heroism. Especially in children and young people, Mythic Heroes can serve as role models or exemplars. It is probably not an uncommon phenomenon whereby impressionable young people have imagined themselves as Mythic Heroes after exposure to Myths and in particular Modern Myths. It has probably been fairly common for certain people to have identified with some of the characters of Modern Myth, perhaps Luke Skywalker of Star Wars, one of the Heroes from the Lord of the Rings or perhaps Neo from the Matrix. But then this has always been the effect of Mythology. People have always been inspired powerfully by Mythology for better or worse. To give two examples of famous historical figures who were driven by the Mythic imagination, for instance we know that Alexander the Great was heavily influenced by the Illiad/Odysseus myth. The infamous and perhaps not so great Adolf Hitler was much inspired by the Grail Legends and the story of Parsifal.
Another aspect of the power of Myth is that they can give people an attention grabbing and immediately accessible introduction to transcendent and mystical ideas. And as such they can serve as doorways into spiritual realms. This was a side of Myth discussed early on in this chapter when we proposed that the Hero Quest Myth can be seen as an allegory for the spiritual journey. And that the goal of the Quest Myth, for instance the Holy Grail or Princess can be seen as symbolizing the ultimate spiritual goal of unification with God or mystical awakening and realizing God Consciousness. In this way Myths can serve as pointers to the inner mysteries and esoteric truths behind the Worlds Religions and their respective mystical traditions such as Kabbalah in Judaism, Sufism in Islam and Christian Gnosticism.
There is another way that Myths and in particular Modern Myths are very relevant and powerful with respect to what happening in the World today. And this derives from their relationship to the Prophecies contained in the just about all of the World’s major religions and great spiritual traditions. The idea that the Prophecies are Now, that is the events and circumstances described in the Prophecies found in the World’s Religion correspond to and are describing the issues of the age and aspects of the World today, is part of the title of this book and the main concern of a later chapter entitled, ‘The Prophecies are Now’. What we could like to do now is to make a powerful and highly consequential assertion; which we will devote a lot of space to later on in this book in order to support. This is the idea that there is a very deep connection between on the one hand, the ideas and themes behind Mythology; and on the other hand, the ideas and themes behind the Prophecies contained in the World’s religions.
If there is a Mythic Archetype which is a distillation of the basic themes and storylines common to all or most Myths then the same idea holds true for the Prophecies contained in the different religions of the World. That is we can describe a Prophetic Archetype which likewise distills the common storyline and themes behind all the different Prophetic sources. What we propose is that the Mythic Archetype and the Prophetic Archetype are really two views on the same underlying truth and that they are essentially equivalent. The Prophetic archetype can also be called the Apocalyptic archetype. Apocalypse is a word that is often associated with prophecies of the end times or the end of the age and one which has strong associations with disaster and calamity. Howeve the word Apocalypse, as literally translated from Greek, means something along the lines of, ‘The unveiling of the hidden thing’. Apocalypse was also the word used by those involved in the Mystery Religions of Ancient Greece to describe the state of Union of Mystical Union with God. So Apocalypse really describes a revelation, which can be personal or one given to an entire society. So the word Apocalypse doesn’t necessary imply a lot of negative happenings though disaster and malaise is a part of the generic prophetic storyline. With this more positive meaning of the word Apocalypse in mind, we’ll be later on using the expression Apocalyptic archetype a lot later on in this book. This is in place of the equivalent expression Prophetic archetype, they mean exactly the same thing.
What we’ll do next is to explore some of the parallels between the Mythic archetype and the Apocalyptic archetype and further support the notion that there is a common truth underlying both. i.e. that the Apocalyptic archetype and therefore the Prophecies of World Religion are really also expressions of the Mythic archetype and the predicted or prophesized manifestion of the central themes of Mythology in the real life and the real
Mythology is like Prophecy. The Prophecies are Now and so Mythology is also like Reality
The important thing for us to consider in the present chapter is the relationship between Modern Mythology, which is most relevant to the modern mind, and the Prophecies of World Religion, which have a strong correspondence with the circumstances of modern times. What we are saying is that the essential storyline of all the major Modern Myths and the generic description for the unfolding of events during the end times prophesized, which are common to all the various Religions and which make up the Apocalypse archetype; are really directly correspondent with each other. In other words both the Modern Myths and the Prophecies of the World’s Religions are really telling the same underlying story. And because the Prophecies are really talking about present times and World in which we live today, then we can find very meaningful correspondences between on the one hand, Modern Mythology and the Prophecies, and on the other hand, the events and circumstances of the real World. If Myths exist as transcendent archetypes, or as the famous quote mentioned earlier states that, ‘Myths are things which never happened but always are’. Then what this means is that even though the fantastical and phantasmagoric details of Mythology will never manifest in reality and neither should they be expected to. Yet nonetheless the less superficial aspects of Mythology, that is the key themes and essential story behind them, do happen and become manifested in the actuality of the real World. So for instance the idea of a struggle between opposing forces of Good and Evil and the determination of the future of a World or Civilization, which is behind the story lines of Star Wars, Dune, The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix; has a lot of resonance with actual situation of the World today and the problems we face, i.e. the Ecological and Environmental problems of the World, together with all the Political problems of encroaching Tyranny, Oppression and Injustice, coupled with the Spiritual and Religious problems of the age. But then this is also exactly what the Prophecies from the Religions of the World are generally talking about, i.e. a time of spiritual darkness, calamity and great peril culminating in a great struggle between dark and light, where the forces of evil are destroyed, the planet is saved and where a better World emerges from the old. Which is also what’s behind the Modern Myths we have already mentioned.
Therefore the Modern Myths have served as introductions to the Prophecies of World Religion. A lot of modern people will have had no interest in any of the World’s Religions and would be completely unfamiliar with the Prophecies contained within them and described in their respective scriptures. However many of these same people, particularly the younger ones, will be quite familiar with the storylines of the Modern Myths and so in this indirect but accessible way the key ideas of the Prophecies will have already been introduced to them. This is true even though they most people probably would never have made a connection between Modern Mythology on the one hand and on the other, either the Prophecies or the circumstances and events of modern day reality. This is another way that Modern Mythology is powerful, in that it is preparing people for what is about to happen and has seeded in people’s minds possible roles that they might be playing in the drama of the unfolding of the Prophecies that is about to occur and whereby the boundries between Mythic imagination and Reality will become increasingly unapparent.
So if the common themes behind Mythology can be distilled into a Mythological archetype, and if the same can be done for the common themes described in the Prophecies of Worlds major Religions to extract an Apocalyptic archetype; then to reiterate what we are essentially saying is that the Mythological archetype and Apocalyptic archetype are really different views on the same thing. Therefore it is not surprising that we should detect strong parallels between the various Mythic and Prophetic storylines. Later on in this book in the chapter entitled ‘The Nature of God and Sacred Cosmology’, we explain why this should be the case. Next, we’ll explore another important parallel that exists between Mythology and Prophecy and which concerns the idea of a central protagonist behind both the Mythic storyline and also the process of the unfolding of the Prophecies or Apocalypse.
The Mythic Hero as Messiah and Expected One
Earlier we mentioned than the creator of Dune, Frank Herbert, borrowed directly from the Prophecies of Islam and also that the idea of an expected prophesized Chosen One or World Saviour is central to the Matrix movies. In these instances we are seeing a more direct transfer of ideas found in the Prophecies to modern people through the medium of Modern Myth. Here what we are seeing is the direct communication of the Messiah or World Saviour theme which is common to all the Prophecies contained in the Worlds Religions. In both the Dune and Matrix Mythhs we have situations where the central character and Mythic Hero of these respective Modern Myths, is also a prophesized chosen one, whose emergence in the mythic storyline had already been expected based on prophetic predictions. This would be exactly correspondent with the actual prophecies of this world and its major religions. And also just as in the Prophecies of the real world, the respective Messianic characters in the Modern Myths of the Matrix and Dune are also the critical agents involved in the realization a benign outcome or happy ending to these tales. That is the defeat of dark and oppressive tyrannical powers, the saving and/or renewal of a World and the creation of a better, happier, more just society. In the Matrix myth at the end, the hero Neo saves two worlds, the virtual world of the Matrix and the human community of Zion by defeating a character called Agent Smith representing Satan. And from this a new and ideal circumstance comes into being. In the Dune story, the main character Paul Atreides becomes the Mahdi and prophesized one, defeating an evil and exploitative incumbent power structure and turns an arid hostile desert planet into one that is lush, fertile and fully hospitable to comfortable habitation. Also an oppressed people are made free and a more just new order comes into being.
At the same time, what have just described for the Matrix and Dune myths can also equally apply to the other two best known modern myths, i.e. Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings. Though they don’t explicitly mention Prophecies or the concept of an Expected or Chosen One, nonetheless the storylines are very correspondent with our other two Modern Myths which do. So that the main characters of Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings play the same roles as that of the main protagonists in Matrix and Dune. And likewise they involve the defeat of evil tyrannical powers and the creation of a better world, or in the case of Star Wars a better Galaxy. As already stated, this is also what is described by the actual prophecies of the Worlds Religions where the Expected One, i.e. whether the Messiah of Judaism, the Second Coming of Christianity, the Mahdi of Islam, the Maitreya of Buddhism and Saoshyant of Zoroastrianism etc. plays respective roles which are very correspondent to that played by the main characters of the best known Modern Myths. But instead of bringing about the happy ending of the Modern Myths, the Expected One of World Religion is predicted or prophesized to be critical in bringing about a happy conclusion to the Problems of this World and in addressing the major concerns of the human condition.
So therefore if we can draw parallels between Modern Mythology and the Prophecies of Religion, we can furthermore also draw parallels between the Mythic Hero and the Expected One of the World’s great spiritual traditions. In effect, another purpose which Modern Myth has served, as well as introducing people to the general circumstances and events of the Prophecies, is that they have introduced to modern people what is behind the idea of the Expected One associated with the prophecies and who like the Mythic Hero is the critical agent of spiritual and/or cultural renewal and of societal and/or World transformation.
So we’ve established and highlighted the deep connections that exist between Mythology and especially the Modern Myths on the one hand, and on the other hand the Prophecies of the Worlds Religions together with the Apocalypse archetype that is common to them. Later on in this book we’ll be discussing a lot more the Prophecies of World Religion and the notion that ‘The Prophecies are Now’. Also in a later chapter entitled ‘The Power of Apocalyptic Mass Movements’, we’ll effectively be further exploring the power of Mythology. Due to the close correspondence between the Apocalypse Archetype and the Mythic Archetype our later discussion on Apocalyptic Mass Movements could easily be interpreted as also being a discussion about Mythic Mass Movements.
Summary and Conclusion
In our examination of Mythology we have explored a variety of facets of Myth and considered some related topics which help us understand what is their higher meaning and true purpose. The main overall idea of what is Mythology, is that they are stories which in symbolic form have encoded in them some of the answers to the great philosophical and religious questions that people have come up with through the ages. They are allegories which deal with a variety of the most important questions in life and therefore often touch heavily upon spiritual and mystical topics. In fact they really talk about the same sort of things that this book as a whole is concerned with. So by discussing some of the major aspects of the meaning of Myth, we also in effect provide an opening discussion to a lot of the themes which will be examined much more in depth throughout the rest of this book. In particular the two main themes of this book as reflected in its title, ‘Everyone is God and the Prophecies are Now’; are strongly related to core Mythic themes that occur repeatedly in World Mythology both ancient and modern. That is the idea of the Hero Quest for some transcendent higher goal and the recurring storyline of a struggle to save and spiritual renew some society that is in a state of malaise or facing some impending major calamity. What we have proposed is that this Hero Quest will generally be allegory for the spiritual journey leading towards the goal of Union with God and Mystical Awakening to our true nature. Also by showing the correspondences and parallels between the predictions of the Prophecies of the Worlds Religions and some typical Mythic storylines; then we showed how the absorbtion of these Mythic storylines will also have the effect of communicating to people what is the basic storyline behind the Prophecies and their unfolding. We showed how this is especially true for the Modern Myths such as Star Wars, Dune, The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings, which not only faithfully communicate the Mythic archetype and Mono-Myth but also the main ideas behind the Prophetic or Apocalypse archetype. Therefore there is a deep and tight relationship between what is behind Mythology and the idea that Everyone is God and the notion that the Prophecies are now. In an accessible way, Mythology really prepares people for these sorts of Mystical and Religious ideas and which has always been one of their purposes. In that they serve as Outer Mysteries serving as allegorical and symbolic pointers towards the Inner or Esoteric Mysteries of Religion.
Something we also discussed is the direct relevance of Mythology to modern times and also the connection between Mythology and Prophecy. We suggested that if there exists a Mythic archetype and a corresponding Prophetic archetype, then these two notions are essentially equivalent and different perspectives on the same underlying truth. Also we presented the idea that in the same way that the Prophecies are Now and that the general circumstances of the World and issues of the age correspond to the descriptions given by the Prophecies; so it is that the same is true for Mythology and in particular the Modern Myths. So as a result we are able to find meaning correspondences with some of the things which define the present age, i.e. a planet in peril, corrupt power structures, a state of transition and feelings of uncertainty and impending calamity, with aspects of the Mythic storyline. So it is as if the Mythic archetype is manifesting itself in reality and the events of the real World. We also discussed the parallels between the Mythic Hero of Mythology and the Expected One or Messiah of the Prophecies and proposed that the two concepts are very correspondent with each other.
So in conclusion Myths though far removed from everyday life are really about real lives and their settings though fantastical are a mirror of the real world. And vice versa the real world can seem Myth-like. Indeed the boundaries between Myth and real life are indefinite and in the lives of certain people, these two realms merge together. Furthermore at certain times during human history and in certain places in this world, events and circumstances come into being that are very much like the storylines from Mythology. These are times of transition, conflict and upheaval which necessitate the quest for some spiritual revelation or change of political organization that will allow the societies caught up in these periods to adapt, survive and grow. I believe that the times in which we live today and the world we find ourselves in are exactly equivalent to those conditions found in some of the epic Hero Quest Myths and also particularly in the storyines of the best known Modern Myths. These are exactly the circumstances that precipitate the beginning of the Myth Cycle and the undertaking of the Mythic Hero Quest in the first place.
This is a world on the brink of calamity and disaster. Truly like no time before in human history, the planet as a whole is in a state of peril. The Ecological and Environmental systems which support life itself are in a state of such stress and perturbation that the very future of civilization as we know it is being threatened. All the while the myriad and seemly intractable conflicts of this world are diverting our focus away from these global problems, making any attempts at their solution much harder and next to impossible. On a worldwide scale, in mythic terms Camelot is in disarray. The equilibrium of the mythic palace or village has been upset and the Myth Cycle has come into play. So in the real world there is a feeling of unease that things are not right. There exists today that unless there is some drastic intervention or some new, significant and benign agency, then humanity will inevitably continue to get closer to the abyss and eventually fall in.
It is in these times of crisis that Mythology and the Hero Quest Myths plays another role. That is they serve the purpose of acting as a call to action and for people to take on the role of the mythic hero. I believe that modern myths such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Dune Trilogy and the Matrix films can act as a powerful catalyst and have prepared a lot of modern people to take on the role of the mythological hero in real life. For these tales can help to inspire people toward the selfless and heroic. There is an unconscious suggestion in these epic stories for people to take it upon themselves to save the World. By including pointers to the transcendent, they allude to the spiritual and point people towards the mystery that is God. Thereby mythology precipitates and makes sense of our quest for mystical awakening, helps in the process of spiritual renewal and inspires the struggle to save the Planet.