Sunday, January 6, 2013

On the nature of myths and science, via the myths of Zeus.

In this argument, and I admit that my arguments are often meandering things, so I will try to stay on topic here and make an actual point.


It is noted, for this is not some sacred revelation I have just had and am imparting on humanity, that religious myth, of most religions, seems to reflect many aspects of cosmology and other philosophical sciences (physics, for example). That is to say that when reading creation myths, for example, they often speak of occurrences in times so ancient that no man could have ever witnessed it, and yet often, the myths themselves speak, in metaphorical terms, of things that science seems to indicate actually happened. No, not the same way they happened in the myths, remember, metaphor, but did happen none the less. 

Because I am currently trying to focus on Zeus, let us use him as an example. 

According to myth, in the beginning there was chaos, and while the word chaos has survived today, and currently means disorder or a disordering, in the myths themselves they seem to indicate a gap (like the Ginnungagap of the Norse Myths) which in a way is an indicator of nothingness.  From the nothingness come certain "gods" who are named things like night, darkness, aether, light, earth, and attraction (Nyx, Erebus, Aether, Hemera, Ge, and Eros) and there is something to be said for this, because as we look back into the beginnings of the universe we see the nothingness, the darkness, the sudden light, the formation of matter and gravity, and so here there seems to be an instinctive, or perhaps revealed, knowledge if the beginning of things. 

But then the earth gives rise the the sky, again, factual in a geological history sense. Together, these two, under the influence of eros, being the gravity that binds them one to the other, give rise to the ocean, the mountains, etc. It is during this divine age that what we know as the Earth is made into something similar to what we know today, a world of water, raining skies, varied landscapes, etc. Eventually the darkened skies clear, and the Titans are released from their imprisonment, and so they see the Sun for the first time, for Kronos is a much more tumultuous being than Ouranos, not the starry sky, but perhaps the cloud heavy sky of the primordial earth. Here, the same forces become more refined, they are Titans rather than Protogonoi, but the Titans are wild, gigantic creatures. Brutal forces of nature rather than the gentler forces we know today. 

Eventually, this Titanic Age gives way to the Olympian Age, and it is here that we meet Zeus. Zeus, the new Sky Lord, Zeus, the storm, the lightning, the thunder god. With him, the children of the Titans, in many ways, nearly indistinguishable from the Titans except that these beings seem to be more subtle, smaller, more down to Earth. It is as if the divine power that began with the Protogonoi has spread itself out into the cosmos, becoming more diffuse, more subtle in its power. One might even say that as the universe itself expanded, so did these beings. But here on Earth, the aspects of these beings, these Gods, that have shaped and given form to our world have also been experienced by the very life that has come into being here. 

In myth, it is not 100% clear who or how life is created, is it there when Zeus ascends to the throne of heaven, is it created by the Gods, that is, by the forces they unleash on the world, or is it brought into being even later, by the death and resurrection of yet another of Zeus' children, Dionysos? Whatever the case may be, we do know this, that earth, sky, and sea were all fundamental in the formation of life, and thus its creation. That the very air, the fluid of the ocean, the elements of the earth, and the spark to fuse them to chemical life from lightning were all part of how it happened, and Ge, Poseidon, and Zeus are all part of how it happened.

That Zeus, the Sky Father, is the great King of Heaven is not at all surprising then, as man dwells upon the Earth, cultivates it. Man may sail upon the sea, fishes from it. But man lives in sky, walking in it, taking it in and letting it out at every moment, and so he is there,  the Father we live within, part of him in a very real way. Could the being we know as Zeus, then, be female? Sure, the Egyptian story has Earth as male and Sky as female, it is essentially irrelevant, these are beings of eternity, beings who lived long before there was such a thing as gender, for even gender is essentially an accident of chance. 

Yet as we ponder Zeus, his coming into power, the great war that shaped the very world, we must also ponder the nature of his myths, and those of all the Gods, with a much keener eye, to understand that within them there is truth, sometimes subtle, sometimes blunt about where we came from and how, and the only real way to understand that is to view them through a mind that can correlate the myths with science and observation, so that we can understand a fundamental reality about the relationship between man and god, that we must put into it as much as we take out of it. Not just read myth and take them at their word, but seek to make sense of them. 

Zeus is not literally the sky, but it is his power that makes the sky what it is, and as you breathe it in, remember him and the stories that can guide you to wisdom. 

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