of Modern Myth In “Ancient” Religion
A funny thing
happened on my way to the website…
I have been
lucky. I ‘grew up’ in a large Pagan
community. I’ve always had people to talk to, and new ideas presented
to me, throughout my years in the Craft.
Some of these
ideas may seem odd in first light,
but as you think about them, they start to make more and more sense.
long, and prosper.”
I doubt there
is a person reading this, who does
not at least know this phrase comes from Star Trek. In the series, it
is a greeting used by the Vulcans. It was originally thought up for an
episode on the original series called Amok Time, where Spock returns
home to Vulcan, in order to mate.
wasn’t common knowledge to the average
viewer at the time, Gene Roddenberry knew that Spock’s family was an
ancient and venerable lineage. He wanted to show that importance in the
greeting that Spock received, when he got home.
I could go on
about Spock’s family, and other
trivia about the show, but the important thing, is the greeting that
was thought up.
the taciturn race they are, never
waste time with excess verbiage, when they can use more expressive
words. In this case, those four words say so much.
long, and prosper.
wish you a long, full life, with
everything you could ever wish for. Do well in your personal life, and
your business ventures. Enjoy what life brings you, and do so for a
very long time. You are wished well in all that you do, and that you
live long enough to enjoy all that might entail. Don’t just survive,
How many of us
would like to have someone wish us
this? And remember, this isn’t just an off-hand greeting, it is said
spent an entire paragraph saying what is
summed up so well in just four words. Why is this important? I’ve been
sitting here trying to think of a parable from the Bible, and I can’t
think of a single one.
Even if I
could, how relevant would it be to life
today? I’m not saying that the Bible is irrelevant, just that ways of
expressing thoughts and ideas from two or more millennia ago probably
don’t make a lot of sense in today’s society.
Path must makes sense to the person on
it, if it is to have any value.
Gardener never meant for what he taught to
be the one and only way of expressing what Witchcraft is. If he had,
he’d have written a book, and called it the Witches Bible. Instead, he
told his students to write their own books, and to put into them the
things they thought were important.
a basic outline of what a Book of
Shadows should contain, but the details of exactly what should be put
into it, he left up to the individual student.
the force be with you.”
Joseph Campbell talked about the
importance of Myth in our lives. Even more, he said that each
generation has its own myths that explain important ideas and concepts.
Lucas came up with the idea of Star
Wars, he talked to Joseph Campbell, about how to make the story come
alive for his audience.
Anyone who has
read Campbell, or done any study of
ancient cultures will immediately recognize the first Star Wars movie
as the Hero’s Journey.
Here is a
prime example of taking an ancient idea,
and telling it in a way that makes sense to modern society. Even if you
are not into science fiction, you can’t deny the impact that Star Wars
has had on society.
myths. Myths allow us to express
complex ideas abstract concepts in understandable ways. It took Lucas
six full movies, to explain just what “May the force be with
you”, really means.
allowed anyone to understand in six
words, that you wish them the benefit of doing the right things for the
these two examples for a couple of
reasons. First, both are immediately recognizable. Almost everyone has
heard them. The second reason I’ve used them here, is that they are
both phrases that I’ve used in ritual.
of The Warrior Mage used both at
the end of rituals, to express comradeship, and the bond of working as
I’ve talked to, sort of recoil at the
idea of using either of these phrases in ritual, when they first hear
it. Their thought is that we somehow cheapened our spirituality by
borrowing from commercially successful science fiction.
Then I would
explain how “May you never thirst...”
was used by Robert A. Heinlein, in his book, Stranger In A Strange
Land. It was part of the Water Ritual done by the Martians.
A good myth is
a good myth, no matter the source,
and we use science fiction in ritual every time we have cakes and ale.
Spiritual Paths you can think of are
dead. I say that because they get their core beliefs from a book that
was written centuries ago, for a time long ago, that is no longer
relevant in today’s life.
Do we really
worry about someone going around
poisoning wells? That’s what the oft-quoted phrase “Suffer not a Witch
to live” was originally about.
If you go back
just one version of the Bible, to
anything before the King James Edition, it actually says, “Suffer not a
poisoner to live.”
It was written
for a nomadic, desert dwelling
society, where the poisoning of a single well or water source could
mean the death of everyone.
When was the
last time you had to carry water from
a well, to your home, worry about the purity of your tap water?
spiritual Path to be relevant, it must live
and grow with time. Right now, live long and prosper is relevant. It
has meaning to me. Will it still have meaning for anyone a century from
If it does, it
might still be used, but more
likely, our children will have come up with myths and ways of
expressing those myths that we can’t even comprehend.
As long as
Witchcraft welcomes those new thoughts
and ideas, it will live and grow, and it will always be relevant.
this site, I have said that you must
take what works for you, and use it. If it doesn’t work, modify it, and
make it your own. If it is just completely wrong for you, file it away.
Someday you may find a use for it.
thing is for you to find what works
for you. In the Beginning
Witchcraft section, I give specific thoughts and ways to do
things. They work for me. While you were learning the basics, it was
good to have guidance and structure to work within.
Now that you
have the knowledge needed to perform
ritual, it’s time to spread your wings and try new things.
As a kid,
there was nothing worse than being
forced to listen to the same old sermons year after year. A lot of us
have fallen into the same trap, recycling Esbat rituals from last year,
and the year before.
Even if it’s
not the same ritual, it usually tells
the same old story, because that’s the way it’s always been done. It’s
time to stop telling the same stories year after year, and start
reimagining them. As your imagination takes flight, so does your
key words and phrases that speak to
them. You hear Witches talk about how things speak to them all the
time. It’s critical that a Witch use what makes sense to them.
I know that
you have something that expresses a
thought or concept ideally for you. I have no way of knowing what it
is, but everyone has several of these in their life. Use them in
ritual. Claim them in your spirituality, the same way you claim them in
your mundane life.
afraid of what anyone might think or say,
should you tell them. If it makes sense to you, and you want to, use
it. You don’t ever have to tell anyone else, if you practice solitaire.
If you work with others, and it’s a good concept, others will
Our culture is
full of myth, all you have to do is
look for the things that inspire you, and you’ll have ideas that you
can and should incorporate into your ritual.
Those who let
a book tell them what to do are not
thinking for themselves. You have your own book to write. Put into it
what you will. Use modern myth within your rituals to express ideas.
I’m sure there
are many times while writing a
ritual, where you’ve thought of some well known phrase that perfectly
says what you want to, but you may have thought that everyone would
think you were weird, if you used it.
Use it! It
doesn’t matter what you may decide to
use, as long as it expresses an idea, especially if it expresses the
idea better than you could.
I will never
forget how I felt the first time I
read the Rede. “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.”
I was stunned.
eight words that expressed everything I
had been thinking, but could never have voiced in such an eloquent way
in a hundred years.
If a line from
a play, or movie, or TV show, says
something just so perfectly that it moves you, use it. I’m in no way
advocating that all or most of your rituals should be stolen from TV
and movies, nor am I saying that any phrase from any movie or TV show
saying is not to be afraid of mixing
modernity into your rituals. After all, living things must grow, and
adding new thoughts and ideas is how Witchcraft grows.
I once put out
to a forum, the idea of modern myth
in ritual, using the examples above, and I found it interesting that
there were those who thought that Star Wars couldn’t be considered myth
because it wasn’t old enough.
At what age
does a story become a myth? Does it
matter? Can A Midsummer Night’s Dream be considered a myth? It’s
certainly based on one. Is it old enough to be called a myth, and if so
is it a modern myth, or is it too old to be modern?
Myth tells a
Myth tells a
story about the culture it is
relevant to. In the case of Star Wars, that cultural truth is that man
is greater than the machines he builds, no matter how much of the man
has been replaced by machine.
More to the
point, it shows our belief that evil
can not only be overcome, but that even the most evil of people can
redeem themselves, if they choose to.
a choice. We make choices every day.
The choices you make, no matter how small they may seem, have large
consequences on your life.
This is a
truth, and it is masterfully shown in
the six Star Wars movies. Therefore Star Wars was a myth the moment it
was written. Age has no impact in what is myth and what is not.
By using these
modern myths, we talk to each other
within ritual, in terms we all understand. What’s more, the words “May
the Force be with you” also tend to bring images to mind, and
therefore it talks to our subconscious too.
already discovered that the
subconscious is where magick happens, doesn’t it make sense that myth
is the perfect way to express a concept in ritual?
A Witch isn’t
worried about what others think. A
Witch considers what is best for them. While some may cringe or make
off-hand comments about the choice of modern myth in a ritual, what is
important is that those attending the ritual understand the concepts
expressed by the myth.
As long as
that happens, the purpose is properly
served. Don’t worry about what others might think. Think for yourself.
If we don’t
add to our rituals with things such as
modern myth, our rituals become old and irrelevant. When that happens,
there is no magick, and our Craft dies.
always meant to be a living
spiritual Path. Unlike the religions that require a book, Witchcraft
has no rules that it must follow. Anything can be done in ritual, just
ask a Discordian.
Campbell would say, Follow your bliss...
from Modern Myth
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