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Mighty Myth Month: Birds of a feather.


“Humans have always shared the world with animals and, as prehistoric cave paintings attest, animals have always exerted an endless fascination over people’s minds. We have hunted animals, worked with them, and even worshipped them.” —The Illustrated Book of Myths, Tales and Legends of the World retold by Neil Philip.

Queztzalcoatl is the Mayan bird/serpent god who started off as “perfect good.” He was so good, in fact, his brother, Tezcatlipoca, was rather put off by his sibling’s insufferable righteousness. Long story short, Queztzalcoatl ends up in the Land of the Dead, and returning to create mankind out of his bones and blood. He helps them navigate their way through learning how to grow maize, polish jade, weave, and become great artisans.

Then it was time to go;  humans needed to fend for themselves. This is one of the most perfect explanations for a deity’s absence I have ever read. “You can do it, folks! Promise! I have given you all the tools you will need to build a happy, peaceful existence for yourself!”

But…if he returns, does it signal the end of the world, or another renewal?

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Mighty Myth Month: In the loop.


infinite potential

What goes around, comes around.

Circles, rings, and spheres encompass us all.  The dog will circle his bedding before he lies down. We spin around, we measure in degrees of 360, we affect change in concentric patterns. The ring will go on the finger to seal a promise of fidelity. The crop circles will be seen from vantage points before mankind had the technology to witness them. And, at one time, we were afraid of falling off the edge.

 As if.

Rings signal to the world, “Hey–look! I am connected to another soul!” Or, “Hey, look at me! I’ve got too much corn and need to trample it down in artistic mega-scale patterns!” But perhaps, “Hey, Martians! The landing strip is over here!” is the best reason for a circle. Crop circle, anyway.



Other things come in circles, too: fairy rings, Stonehenge, circles of life, and of course,  pi.

Or pie.

pi = 3.14159265



P.S. My ring says “infinite potential” on it, stamped in the silver. It reminds me that anything is possible.

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Mighty Myth Month: Dragon breath.

St. George and the Dragon
St. George and the Dragon

As long as there has been a collective consciousness, dragons have ridden on our dreams. From China, to Europe, Scandinavia, to Africa, dragons have embodied power, strength, and perhaps the most important symbolism: freedom from obedience. Dragons do what they want to, when they want to, and how they want to.

We know that storytelling is one of the greenest energies on earth; yes, our stories are recycled. From the story of Perseus saving Andromeda from that rock and sea-serpent, we get the quintessential St. George rescuing the fair maiden from the cave, guarded closely by a nasty dragon.

What about from the dragon’s perspective? It’s ALWAYS about the princess! Can’t a reptile get a break around here? The dragon will forever represent uncontrolled power, muscle without heart or intellect. The dragon represents our “lizard brain” inside of us. Dragons are dangerous. It’s my theory that people dug up dinosaur fossils eons ago, said to themselves, “Uh-oh…hope these creatures still aren’t hanging around!” and though they did not know the paleotologists’ theory that dinosaurs basically become birds over time, early humanity was onto something with that whole flying dragon thing. I love when a plan comes together!

(But, like good storytelling, nothing is ever that linear; there is no clear-cut path. My theories are sociological in nature, not paleontological, and might be as squished as our poor friend, Mr. Archaeoteryx here:)


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Mighty Myth Month: Blood, sweat and tears

Blood sweat tears

Blood, sweat, and tears–three bodily fluids that represent our lives, efforts, and emotions.

If you review any resource on mythology and simply search for “blood” you will discover almost 200 findings. Mixing these three together creates a powerful potion. It is our primordial soup.

Origin myths use these three elements for the emulsifier of many a great beginning:

The first living thing was P’an Ku. He evolved inside a gigantic cosmic egg, which contained all the elements of the universe totally intermixed together. P’an Ku grew by about 10 feet each day. As he grew he separated the earth and the Sky within the egg. At the same time he gradually separated the many opposites in nature male and female, wet and dry, light and dark, wet and dry, Yin and Yang. These were all originally totally commingled in the egg. While he grew he also created the first humans. After 18,000 years the egg hatched and P’an Ku died from the effort of creation. From his eyes the sun and moon appeared, from his sweat, rain and dew, from his voice, thunder, and from his body all the natural features of the earth arose.

 “Creation myths.” Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online.
[Accessed January 17, 2010].

So, it wasn’t which came first, the chicken or the egg, it was P’an Ku.

The combination of the words, “blood, sweat, and tears” is also an idiom for something that requires monumental effort, but is usually worth it at the end. There is a battle, there is exertion, and there is heartbreak/disappointment, but all of these sacrifices will be rewarded. But you don’t have to cry about it.

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Mighty Myth Month: Heroes.

What is a “hero?”

According to Joseph Campbell, it’s essentially this arc:

There is a call to adventure–refusal of the call–crossing the threshold–initiation–road of trials–belly of the whale—add a dash of apotheosis, atonement, fight that final battle, receive a little rescue from without, cross the return threshold, get the ultimate boon, become master of two worlds, and voila! Hero!

But the hero is more than just a man or woman on a trip around the game of Life. The hero does the thing that the community cannot do for itself. However, the hero is not perfect. The hero has flaws, which his or her naysayers, detractors, and antagonists will work to remind us all for the eternity that the heroes’ good deeds live on. Words like “sacrifice,” “mentor,” and “quest” are commonplace in our vernaculars, and may have lost some of their deeper meanings.

A few months ago, my students worked very hard to dig out the themes of the journey of the hero during a class discussion. I worked very hard to keep my mouth shut, so I could let them struggle, squirm, and think on their own. And their thinking was brilliant. They said the theme of the journey of the hero is “people need to believe in the power of hope.”

Mind you, there were no photographs of Abe Lincoln, President Obama, or Dr. King during the discussion. There were no mass-market media messages displayed in the room.

And that, to me, is the real power of a hero. That their struggles, fight, battles, message, and meaning lives on, even when they’re not in the room.

Thank you, Dr. King.