Harnessing the power of mythology: 3 ways to enrich your storytelling

mythology

Myths are stories; stories narrated for a thousands of years, having life of their own in our minds and subconsciousness. They are reflection of our belief system, an eternal fight between evil and good, a struggle for achieving beyond perceived, understood and obvious. Mythology can relate to many religious rituals as well, where in the form of songs, poems and stories was used as a vehicle to explain to younger generations how people acquired speech, fire, grain, wine, oil, honey, agriculture, metalwork, and other skills and arts.

In mythology everything is possible: existence of Gods, Goddesses, beings with supernatural powers and humans taking traits that makes them larger than life and heroes in our minds. For example, Parson Weems created a myth about George Washington in the story of the cherry tree, describing an event that never took place, but used to illustrate the moral behavior of a young George.

parson-weemss-fable-amon-carter-museum-of-american-2

Parson Weem’s Fable (Amon Carter Museum of American Art)

Many crafts, like astrology use the power of mythological creatures and language of symbolism to emphasize the archetypes of human nature, where even the heavenly bodies take on the roles of Gods, and as they “dance” in the sky they “plot” the scenes of our life events.

Mythology was a communicating medium among indigenous people, as it can be found in ancient texts and it is foundation  upon which modern culture has been built.

But this is not where the power of mythology stops. It’s well established in the modern western cultures as classical scholar and professor Elizabeth Vandiver claims: Star Wars, Star Trek and other similar stories are myths as authentic as those found in Hesiod, Homer, and Ovid. They have the elements of classical mythological tales and are so engraved within our culture, that metaphors and psychological profiles defined, we often use in our everyday life as a reference.

And look at poetry:

Leda and the Swan by W. B. Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

 

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

 

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Yeats’s poem was inspired by a Greek myth about Zeus and Leda, the daughter of a king named Thestius. Zeus disguised as a swan seduces Leda and takes advantage of her. In the poem this event Yeats in every, tiny detail described very powerfully. And as we know how the myth continues, Leda gets pregnant and gives birth to Helen of Troy.

Many men were enchanted by the Helen’s beauty and she becomes abducted  by a young man named Paris that led to the Battle of Troy, the centerpiece of Homer’s Iliad. Yeats’s poem hides between the verses a drama that takes place in the tragic fall of Troy; it illustrates familiarity that Yeats had with artistic story of Leda and the swan, retold  by sculptors and painters like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci.

This poem was written in the same year Yeats was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1923. Here, he poses the question of predominant misuse of power and how an apocalyptic consequence that might have, beyond the possibility of what our mind can conceive.

So, in a nutshell, mythological approach to storytelling can help us:

  • convey the message on diversity, especially looked from the perspectives of cultural backgrounds;
  • argument the importance of ethical approach in business and other types of relationships;
  • make story more “alive”, entertaining as people like myths: it captivates their attention and ignites imagination, lifting their experience to the level of adventure and pleasant uncertainty.

Let your story become a myth.

16 Comments

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  1. O dear Sunshine! I can’t let my story become a myth! No matter how interesting and attractive Mythology can be, Mythology caused me a heap of troubles and I dare to say, Mythology is the cause of our Escapism–the cause of the human paradigm of troublesome life.
    Unless we face reality, the reality of our One Creator and His Ten Commandments, we are doomed to live chasing an elusive happiness. Doomed to chase after a love & peace to live happily in a world that is not meant to be our home.
    All such achievements on the basis of Mythology shall come to nothing at the end. So it is written and so it shall be in spite of my beliefs, opinions or what have you.
    NO! If no one soul read my story. If no one soul is touched by my story, still, I will not let it become any part of Mythology. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely understand and respect your point of view. The purpose of this post was to showcase that mythology can be an effective communication tool to spread a word. The way we apply it will determine its effect. Thank you very much for your comment and taking time to read my blog post 🙂

      Like

      • Now I am really confused! lol I thought I was commenting on Sunshine’s blog. Maybe you are Sunshine? Have to figure that one? Enlighten me, plz.
        Anyhow, at the end of the article I did get the idea the writer had on mind. Even so, I am so spooked up by this Mythology thing as have read and lived on those basis since my early childhood, so spooked up that even the mention of the word raises a DANGER sign to me.
        Thanks for your understanding. I, too, would like to have the honor to chat with you if your time permits. 🙂

        Like

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