Mythology, Symbolism & Storytelling
For as long as modern humans have existed, we have attempted to communicate that which exists psychically, verbally through language and stories, and visually through symbols and iconography.
The conscious expression of unconscious material is the will of the inner self and is most effectively carried out through music, art, poetry and stories. By not coming out straight and saying it, by taking the long way around through a mythical tale of the hero or a tragic love story, we might begin to see the truth of life and the human experience.
Before writing, at the time when Celtic people dominated western Europe, they would tell tales of their ancestors and Gods through poetry and song. For hours they would gather to hear the ancient stories of the past. These tales would then be passed down from generation to generation, becoming myth and legend.
I remember as a 11 or 12 year old boy, Mr. Sewell reading tales of Cúchulain and Na Fianna in class on a Friday afternoon. Those stories captivated me and held my attention like no other thing in or out of school. I imagined myself as a giant celtic hero, overcoming our oppressors and becoming champion of the cause!
Mr. Sewell is principal now at St. Vincent’s School Glasnevin. I hope he’s still introducing kids to these stories because they are vitally important. They are important because they take the reader away from the noisy surface level reality that vys for our attention at every hands turn.
You see, we are generations of people with over activated amigdalas, always alert, always looking for stimulation, reactionary, never calm or collected, never able to access our creative minds where the secrets to life are waiting to be uncovered through our imagination.
Modern western industrialised society is killing our ability to create. But not only that, it is closing the door to that level of the human mind responsible for bringing to consciousness important realisations related to the nature of being, and it’s been doing it since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
We were drawn from the countryside by the lure of shiny things, convinced by the new way of life to forget the silly faery tales and get into the “real” world where things could be achieved and where ambition and success were peddled as the new Gods.
We soon forgot the old way. But I believe something in us still craves this connection to that deeper more substantial part of ourselves.
The telling of stories is the way there.
Each week here on Storymaker Letters, I’ll be sharing a book or two with you that I’m either currently reading, have read, or that’s in the must read pile under my bedside table.
Considering the subject of today’s Letters, I’m sharing Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology. I bought it recently as part of my ongoing research for a new mythological adventure I’m working on called The Legend of The Altar Stone.
The book, translated from the Irish language for the first time, the chronicles of the warriors, Gods and Goddesses of pre-Christian Ireland.
Here’s an extract from the preface by W.B. Yeats
“Lady Gregory could with less trouble have made a book that would have better pleased the hasty reader. She could have plucked away details, smoothed out characteristics till she had left nothing but the bare stories; but a book of that kind would never have called up the past, or stirred the imagination of a painter or a poet, and would be as little thought of in a few years as if it had been a popular novel.
The abundance of what may seem at first irrelevant invention in a story like the death of Conaire, is essential if we are to recall a time when people were in love with a story, and gave themselves up to imagination as if to a lover. We may think there are too many lyrical outbursts, or too many enigmatical symbols here and there in some other story, but delight will always overtake us in the end. We come to accept without reserve an art that is half epical, half lyrical,
like that of the historical parts of the Bible, the art of a time when perhaps men passed more readily than they do now from one mood to another, and found it harder than we do to keep to the mood in which we tot up figures or banter a friend”. — W.B. Yeats
I found Clair Heavy on Twitter and I instantly liked her stuff. For whatever reason it caught me. That doesn’t happen all the time with poetry. Most of what I read lack something I just can’t quite put my finger on most of the time.
This was different. So I’d like to share her stuff with you.
He kindly made a contribution to Storymaker with this short story called Molly. Check it out…
I’ve been podcasting on and off for a couple years, experimenting with shows and different material. But a recent podcast experiment has had some longevity and I’ve been sharing episodes here on Storymaker.
Here’s my own show and a couple others you might like to check out;
Book Marketer Tim Grahl leads us through his launch process
Irish comedian and deep thinker Dave Chambers offers an alternative perspective on life and society
American Irish comedian Des Bishop on the irish American way of life
Well, this one’s from me. I get deep on stuff that matters.
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