A Mythic Perspective

March 12, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


Myth is much more important and true than history.
History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.
Joseph Campbell

If you’ve followed my writing you know this quote is a favorite. Through his life and work, Joseph Campbell dispelled the misconception that myths are not a credible view of our past. Myths are not, as suggested in common vernacular, lies. They are stories handed down through countless generations that offer an understanding of how ancient people lived with each other and the world around them. Theirs was a world and world view rooted in other realms. Our worldview is not so inclusive.

Irish mythology tells us the ancient people built sacred monuments and megaliths. So we look to the science of archeology for insights and information. Irish mythology also tells us the people had a relationship with the sun, moon, and stars. So we look to the science of astronomy. Only recently have these disciplines acknowledged a mutual and integrative relevance in understanding the mysteries of early Irish culture.

On my first trip to Ireland I bought several books on stone circles. Focused entirely on an archeological perspective, they offered nothing more than the location, size, and number of stones. Wanting to understand the purpose of the circles, I fell into conversation with a bookshop owner. She told me there was a book but that it was out of print and likely wouldn’t be reprinted because the archeological community in Ireland rejected the contents. I eventually found a used copy. The Stars And The Stones presented the work of Martin Brennan and Jack Roberts who would become a friend and colleague. Spending time and many a cold and dark night in the field, they had discovered that most if not all the major Irish megaliths are oriented to the rising or setting positions of the sun. Even more remarkably, they found that the beams of light projected into the inner chambers of these megalithic structures illuminate images carved on the stones, as if spelling out messages in an archaic code. The book was first published in 1983. Years later it would be republished with a different name. Although archeologists would eventually accept these findings, almost forty years later the megaliths are still called burial chambers reflecting the long held belief that this was their sole purpose. 

So now archeology and astronomy are on speaking terms and their combined perspectives are insightful. But they still tend to reject a major and significant perspective. Even my dear friend Jack rolls his eyes at the mere mention of ley lines and names them a load of rubbish. Yet mythology is clear that unseen and other realm influences were fundamental in the lives of early Irish people. This mythic perspective, while still present in folklore, legend, and stories of farmers like Noone, is regarded with skepticism. While mythology is filled with stories of shape shifting, visiting other realms, and communication with plants and animals, those influences are not allowed a place in our modern world.

About the Santa Claus myth we say that just because you believe in him doesn’t mean he’s real. About other realms I would say that just because you don’t believe in them doesn’t mean they aren’t real. I offer that this is the better mythic perspective.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com