Understanding Mythology


Here’s a snippet from what I consider to be one of the most important essays in the Cults Book.

Readers will see that many of these stories in these volumes seem to contradict each other, even when they are about the same entity. What, one may well ask, is the actual origin of Death? How can Umath be circling the rim of the universe when he is also at the cosmic court talking to Yelm?

One aspect of myth is that it simultaneously holds multiple versions of truth at any moment. It also means more than one thing. It cannot be contained by mere logic, not even by solitary illogic. It is a manifestation of Mystery that is simultaneously both a protective mask for, and an obvious path to understanding the Mystery. These different aspects are brought forth depending upon the circumstances of the ritual being observed, the magic being obtained, or whatever form of consciousness the participant or observer has.

Four Ways To Experience These Stories

Myths carry layers of meaning, and their meaning is also imparted differently depending upon the position of the recipient of them.

1. Reading

You will probably read this book silently to yourself. The narration is necessarily externalized and will be from a distance. Only the mental facilities will be used. This is the weakest method of experiencing myth.

2. Verbal Retelling

To listen to someone else read or narrate these stories stimulates the listener much more than just reading silently would. The listener uses more senses, and more of the self is engaged and excited by sound, gesture, and surprises.

3. Witness

When the observer actually witnesses other people performing the myth all senses become engaged, and external perspectives give depth to the narrative. Furthermore, observers will see things being done that are entirely absent from the verbal retelling. This is how a gloranthan lay member experiences myth.

4. Participatory

To actually participate in a dramatic myth provides the most power and impact. Perspective is more limited than witnessing, for naturally the participant must take care to play his part and not be distracted by other things. But incredible depth can be obtained from participating in key roles, and in being observed by others, and in channeling the deity’s story. Participating in myth is part of the initiatory experience of every gloranthan cult.