We struggle, just as the ancients did, to know where we fit on this planet and how we should conduct our lives, and we wonder on occasion, just as they did, whether (or not) our lives and actions are all part of some grand plan.When earlier civilizations struggle with these problems, they wrote stories to help them see their world and their place in that world more clearly. The Greeks had a word for it, all right; to them, the word for “story” was mythos.
~William F Russell
The greatest myths have revealed themselves to be less like dogmatic structures than garments…woven and unwoven and rewoven through the generations, composed always of the stuff from the same source: wisdom from the heart of mankind. Revision (is) essential for understanding and overcoming our past (and) that great human promise of moving towards the future with the spirit of truth.
Today the word myth means a story that is not true–but to call a story that is not true a myth is, in and of itself, a myth… Myths are traditional stories that explain a culture’s historical beliefs on the origins of the world and mankind, the relationship of mankind with the gods, the place of gods and man in the world, the values of the culture and the desired behaviors of members of that cultre (usually by demonstrating what happens when one doesn’t fulfill them). They are absolutely true, but not literal. More importantly, myth is the collective search of humanity for truth, meaning and significance in the experience of life, so that it resonates beyond the merely physical (and short) time that we are alive into something more. While myths can be rooted in factual events or completely made up (but often believed to be true), they embody a truth that deeper and more meaningful that a literal truth could be, because it is not merely a literal truth (and even when one knows they are not). Myths are the collective ideas that define us–our values and what we value (which are not always the same thing), and how we view and interact with the universe and with each other.
Nearly every culture has its own creation myth (though not all of them). But we live in a new culture, one with far more information at our fingertips than ever before in human history, information that can go back millions of years, information that does not rely on dozens of generations of playing the telephone game. It seems to me that we need a new myth (or many new myths). So, I challenge you to write your own creation story. Where did it all come from? Where have we been? Where are we going? Take a story that means something to you and retell it metaphorically. Then retell it again and again and again. Even if you are the one rewriting it each time, it will change. A story has a life of its own, and even when its based on an observable fact (in the case of my creation myth to the kids, the Big Bang and the nebular hypothesis), it changes and grows and takes on nuance and differential meanings in each retelling.
Until it is something true, but not literal. Something with meaning beyond just facts. Something that speaks to more than just our brain, but to our core.
In the beginning was Nothing.
But Nothing was lonely and sad. Nothing thought very, very hard about what to do so he wouldn’t be lonely any more.
He thought, thought, thought, and thought some more. I don’t know exactly how long he thought for, but he thought so hard that all of the sudden Something burst forth and exploded into billions upon billions upon billions of pieces of a Song where there had been only Nothing before.
Now, Something was very different from Nothing. She was loud and hot and fast and just plain chaotic… She was so different that that Nothing was afraid and tried to hide. Something’s Song seemed to chase Nothing, it was was so expansive and it echoed and vibrated everywhere that Nothing tried to go. It made Nothing very upset…but curious too.
But there wasn’t anywhere that Nothing could escape to.
Over time, Nothing got used to Something. And in the places where Something and Nothing met, she taught him a little bit about being Something and he taught her a little bit about being Nothing. Something learned to move more slowly, to quiet down her Song, and Nothing learned not to be afraid.
Eventually, Something and Nothing learned that they could be Together, but he could still be himself and she could still be herself. And in all of the places that they came together, magic happened.
The smallest of these magics were called Atoms, but we can talk about these on another day. The biggest (maybe not absolute biggest, but in the top 5) became the Galaxia.
Now, there are many Galixia, but since I’m no astronomer, I can only tell you a story about one of them…
You see, in one of these places where many of the pieces of Something came together with Nothing, the Song of Something began to change. And from this new tempo, the pieces of something began to dance to a new beat. They whirled and twirled until they became the Galaxia that we call the Milky Way–but according to Chickadee, her name is really Kaias.
Kaias coralled the currents of Nothing to gather the pieces of Something together. She sorted and arranged them, planting them like seeds in a garden.
The largest pieces of Something were planted in the center, forming the heart of Kaias, so Something’s Song could stay as true to her original form as possible. Between the smaller pieces of something, she let Nothing move freely, so he could be as true to his original form as possible as well. And in these smaller (but not the smallest) places where they met (not just here, but in every Galaxia), the magic continued to happen.
One of the song-seeds of Something danced itself into being as Sol, our sun. And as he danced, he couldn’t hold all of the Song. Some of it broke off and became what the Greeks called the Astra Planeta (Phainon–the planet of Kronos; aka Saturn, Phaethon–the planet of Zeus, aka Jupiter; Pyroeis–the planet of Ares, aka Mars; Eosphoros–the planet of Aphrodite, akaVenus); and Stilbon–the planet of Hermes, aka Mercury), as well as our Astra Planeta, Earth and her Moon (which Chickadee calles Terra and Luna), the other planets, asteroids, comets, and other bodies in our solar system.