What is Myth?
Part 4: Myths are “True Words”
This post quote: “Mythic words and speech are reports from the ‘beyond’ about spiritual conditions along the high and radiant path of Truth.”
Quote #2: “It is the healing of everything that has ever been broken within you.”
Continuing from “What is Myth? Part 3” let’s explore more insights on the meaning of myth. In our last post, we saw that myth (Greek: muthos) meant story. No surprise there, other than the understanding that myths are stories considered absolutely true by their sources. Myths convey truths.
What is surprising, however, is that muthos also means word or speech. Everyone implicitly understands that myths are normally housed as stories. While the truths of myth can be presented as an assertion or proposition (such as, “Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, and practical arts”), we nevertheless expect a story about her. In contrast, mythic truth can also come to us encapsulated in a certain type of speech or phrase; perhaps sometimes a saying.
What kind of word or speech, then, is muthos? What is mythic speech? Let’s take it to mean profound words, sometimes paradoxical, spoken in the moment, unfiltered, from the heart, truthfully, and without guile or calculation. Such speech is direct, perhaps abrupt, in its simple honesty yet never by intent offensive or rude. Such words are apt to the situation and “ring true” with hearers. Mythic speech inspires assent. Part of the beauty of such golden words is such that the speaker takes on the mantle of truth and is viewed by hearers in a new light. The spontaneity of mythic speech is often startling in the way it distills a situation’s essence and can sometimes “ruffle feathers.” A muthos can be paradoxical or, otherwise, present a challenge to the hearer; challenge and response. Do we as listeners have the wherewithal to encompass and adopt greater truths beyond our present state of consciousness? Or, do we hesitate and recoil? Does the non-rational repel?
To react out of pique (ego) to such moments and resist the truths of mythic speech is to unwittingly accept lesser realities about oneself and ignore the greater truths toward which mythic speech points. Mythic speech opens a portal through which we first witness the transcendental vision. This image is of Sophia; Wisdom who beckons us toward her. Wisdom beckons, but will we accept her embrace? Do we have the courage for the next spiritual step? Mythic words and speech are reports from the “beyond” about spiritual conditions along the high and radiant path of Truth.
We all have access to Truth and it is often recognized when heard or seen. Yet, we spend our lives in a slumber, forgetting our innate divinity. The reality of mythic speech is that these truths resonate and stir ancient memories of our spiritual roots; our connections with our Source. The remembrance and recollection of our spiritual legacy is profoundly subjective, beautiful, and transformational. It is the healing of everything that has ever been broken within you. It is a mystical experience.
Mythic words may be as brief as a “well turned phrase” or as long as a heroic speech. In any case, supernal truth is conveyed. In Greek myth, whenever a god or goddess is speaking, they are often uttering muthos; mythic speech. The Muses spoke muthos to Hesiod, a lowly shepherd, and gave him the gift of mythic speech allowing him to become a poet and “speak forth” his work, Theogony. “They breathed into me their divine voice, so that I may tell of things to come and things past.” (
Theogony, p. 54, lines 31-33, trans. by N. Brown, Bobbs-Merrill, 1953: Indianapolis, IN) Perhaps this was, spiritually, a kiss between the goddesses and a man. Sacred kiss, sacred breath! Muthos is spoken, too, by Greek seers and heroes, as well as poets. The words of the blind seer, Tiresias, in predicting Narcissus’ fate were absolutely true. Let us also remember that a biblical Prophet is “one who speaks forth.” Mythic speech can be prophetic.
In recent times, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is an example of modern day muthos. Abraham Lincoln’s “Second Inaugural” and “Gettysburg Address” are examples of mythic speech. In 1969, Neil Armstrong, upon first stepping onto the moon, uttered “One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.” An apt and well turned phrase, indeed. But, children can speak muthos, too, and often surprise their parents with their truths, innocently spoken. Such is the source of the phrase “Out of the mouths of babes…”
The above are all examples of individual excellence and each serves as an ideal with which we may commune and, in some measure, adopt as our own. Such is the power of the spoken word to uplift and transcend mundane realities. Transcendental words show the ways to greater truths and, thus, touch the Divine with its attendant spirits of inspiration and rapture. Small words from small hearts are mundane. Great words spoken from great hearts evoke greater truths. And, spiritual words from spiritual hearts evoke, invoke, and invite spirituality. The greater the truths conveyed, the more these words ring true and convey the mantle of mythic speech.