This season of autumn is rich with mythical lore. From Halloween – All Hallows Eve – to the All Souls or the Day of the Dead in Mexican culture, we honor those who have passed and create ritual and myths about loved ones as a way to keep them with us. The shortening of the days, the falling leaves, the cold weather coming on and the darkening of light all remind us that the season of growth and harvest have come to an end. The ancient Greek myth of Demeter the goddess of harvest symbolizes this yearly cycle telling of her beautiful daughter Persephone being stolen to the underworld by the God Hades. In her mourning and despair Demeter caused the symbolic death of winter to come upon earth until the promise of spring and the rescue of Persephone. Each year we too must begin our annual descent into the darker realms, into hibernation, the dream world, the unconscious, and the place where archetypes are born. As we tidy up the garden and batten down the hatches of our homes, our bodies begin to slow down, become sleepier and need warm foods and sweaters.
This past weekend in the Writing for the Soul workshop we explored myths and the role they play in our lives. How mankind needed myths to explain phenomenon, which were beyond their control – like the seasons and dramatic forces of nature, strong winds, rain, tornados, volcanic eruptions. Or to maintain culture values and traditions. Icarus flying too close to the sun with his wax wings was a cautionary tale against pride and hubris. Cultural and ethnic myths like the notion of the “evil eye” are widespread and serve a protective function.
In every family there are myths of the “pretty one”, the “smart one” or the “black sheep.” We asked, “What kinds of myths do we each hold about ourselves and our families?” Do these myths help us or hinder us? What function do they serve?
Numerous images of mythological creatures from dragons, to medusa to Pegasus, vampires and the three fates were provided and workshop participants created drawings, collages and stories which combined personal myths with universal myths that resonated for each in their own way.
For one member the story of Demeter and Persephone reflected the strained/distance in a mother daughter relationship. For another it was the twin gods of Mayan culture and the dual nature of having always to be what your parents expect of you yet while trying to be an individual.
Another chose the symbol of the menorah and a family meal to represent the importance of tradition and togetherness to her family heritage.
Explore this notion of myths in your own journaling process:
1) Think about what myths you hold about yourself.
2) Make a List of three or four
3) Choose one to expand on and journal for ten minutes on this subject. What function does this myth serve in your life?
1) Think about your favorite myth stories
2) Look up images and stories on Google
3) Collage or draw using these images and create your own myth story combining elements of your own story and those of the myth, which resonates with you most.