The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Posts Tagged ‘mythology

Why I Love Comic Book Conventions

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I love conventions because they bring the myths of out times alive. They are like modern rituals. Here is a quote and a video that represent what I am trying to say. First the quote:

A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life. I think ritual is terribly important.

Joseph Campbell, “The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell,” New Dimensions Radio Interview with Michael Toms, Tape I, Side 2*

Now the video:

*You can find more quotes like this one by liking the Joseph Campbell Foundation on Facebook. I found the quote in their page. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/JosephCampbellFoundation/posts/10151367311751722

Written by Hector

July 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Comics

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Spring!

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Triptolemos' departure. Side A from an Attic r...

Image via Wikipedia

After a few false starts in April, spring is finally here. Every year, since I moved to the East Coast I cannot help but be reminded of the story of Persephone and the pomegranates. As the tale goes Persephone was kidnapped by the God of the underworld. Her mother Demeter, the mother Goddess, could not bear to be separated from her daughter, and so she quit doing whatever it is that goddesses do to bring life, and abundance to Earth. After a while, some of the other gods began to worry that humanity would perish if they didn’t do something about it, so Zeus–who witnessed the whole kidnapping thing–told Demeter about that Hades did it, but the God of the underworld refused to let Persephone out of his realm. Eventually, when Persephone was allowed to leave, she ate a pomegranate seed, and, of course, anybody who eats anything from the underworld has to stay there for eternity, however, being that Demeter had some influence with Mount Olympus, her daughter was allowedto leave for the first half of the year, which is why we have spring and summer, but also have to put up with fall, and winter.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I miss Persephone when she  is not around. Having lived the first part of my life in Mexico City, and the second one in California, I found it difficult to adapt to the winters of the East Coast. I actually had never seen snow before, so seasonal affective disorder had a blast in my brain. This was the first year I actually managed to deal. It wasn’t that I was happy without Persephone, but I didn’t miss her as much. I discovered that a healthy dose of exercise, friendships, books, green tea, and the occasional glass of red wine made the season a little more enjoyable. Of course not having her around always made me idealize her. I thought about her warmth, and the way in which the soft winds of spring surrounded me, as I hiked through the many public parks in my area. She became like the goddess that is her mother.

Needless to say, when she returns I’m all smiles, and lay outside surrounded by her warm embrace. I look forward to her reign, as if it was the return of a long, lost lover. At first things are great! But towards the middle of the summer, she starts to annoy me. The constant heat and humidity surround  me and  make me wish that it was winter again. When she leaves again I am almost grateful.

In the story, when Demeter is at her darkest and about to give up on the search for her daughter, a Greek maiden with a sense of humor, makes a joke that brings laughter to the goddess, and it is through her laughter that she manages to free herself from the depression that has almost made her give up. I suppose that the irony of the seasons kept me together this time around. I found comfort in friendship, and books, and exercise, and tea, and family. Like many myths, this story is not just about the changing of the seasons, but about the changing of the heart, and about how we must learn to deal with life regardless of what it brings, because we get easily used to things. Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter, we all must learn to find comfort in what we have, because if we learn to remain constant, diligent and aligned to our principles when things are good, maybe we will have the flexibility to sustain the when they are not so good. Let’s face it, we all lose our way, sometimes. We all bemoan the tragedy of our lives when things are good, so maybe we can learn from the myth, and laugh a little when things are bad. The things that matter are important regardless of seasonality.

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Written by Hector

April 22, 2011 at 2:48 am

Myths Upon My LIfe

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I took this image from the Wikipedia, and it is in the Public Domain

Normally, I prefer to read science fiction, and science non-fiction, but all throughout the end of December and most of January, I’ve been consuming large amounts of mythology and Urban Fantasy.  Most of my reading falls under the umbrella of delicious escapism. I have particularly enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, The Dresden Files, and even Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, as we well as the more literary works of Charles De Lint and  Padraic Colum.

I think everyone needs the kind of fancy that comes from the raw imagination of humanity. When I was a child, I used to pretend that I was somehow related to Poseidon–way before The Lightning Thief. My first crush ever was Aphrodite (Venus), as portrayed by Uma Thurman in Terry Gillian’s The Adventures of Baron Münchausen. I think my early relationship with myths was a healthy one. Everyone needs to hear a good fairy tale, and to be terrified or elated by the unfolding images it brings into our consciousness.

By the time I was in my teens, my fascination with mythology had grown a little bit outside of the ordinary, and I became very interested in spirituality and religion. I think I might have tried almost everything under the sun, from astrology, to meditation, homeopathy, and prayer. I became suspicious of science, because it didn’t fit my world view, and I even had the audacity to believe that my improbable ideas had a better foundation than other people’s improbable ideas. I don’t know how many hours I spent working to understand the mysteries of the universe, by browsing  the religion and spirituality sections of my local bookstore. I am not about to count my early explorations as wasted time, since I did learn some valuable skills, some even based on fact, for example, lucid dreaming and relaxation.

My problem was that I expected too much from practices that time and time again have shown themselves to be useless. Homeopathy never quite worked, neither did dream interpretation, and, other than teaching me to feel amazingly relaxed, I do not think that meditation ever opened my “third eye.”

It wasn’t until my early twenties, after completing some of the basic biology courses required by the general education standards set forth by the state of California, that I began to look into science once again. Particularly, into the theory of evolution. The sweepingly beautiful saga of life blew my mind, and invited me to question the layer of stories I had placed upon my world. Many of the spiritual meetings I attended  began to feel like playacting. At one point, I finally quit going to them, especially after I was criticized, and even verbally attacked for believing in science.

Emergence theory, Information science, and the idea that we can test reality have enriched my life immensely, as well the reading of philosophy, neurology, and skeptic thought. I am oversimplifying my journey into skepticism, but I am glad to have made it.

I am enjoying, however, revisiting mythology and dreams in the form of metaphors, and playful wraiths of the imagination.

Stories are important. According to Paul Bloom, they teach us how to behave. I   sometimes feel like they imbue us with the ideals, and the patterns of their heroes and characters, as they stitch themselves into our minds. I am glad to once more feel the pull of the gods deep within myself, this time around, however, I do not fear them, for I know that they reside within me. Of course, most of my reading is just light fun, an escape into a world where the primordial personifications of our fears and hopes mingle with soapy drama, and inane tensions. It’s fun.

I am happy to have recovered a healthy relationship with the beautiful sights of the imagination, especially when they are personified by Uma Thurman.

The image comes from the Wikipedia, and it is in the public domain.

Written by Hector

January 30, 2011 at 1:29 am

A list of new Fairy Tales

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Fairy Tales are woven in to our lives. They are the unescapable raw materials of our imaginations. No matter how much time goes by, we continue to refer to them to create our fictitious universes. In some cases, we even believe them to be more than stories, and start religions based on them. Of course, their value lays not in their reality, but in their ability to interact with our minds. A good fairy tale does not have to be real to capture our attention. It seems like there is something about them and their characters which begs for retelling. Newer heroic tales like the ones with superheroes have been told almost as often as their older mythological cousins. What matters, however, is that even after they are told and retold, they continue to charm us. The following short list includes some of my favorite retellings of myths and fairy tales. I hope you like it!

1) Fables, by Bill Willingham

What would happen if every single fairy tale character that ever existed had to move to NY in order to escape prosecution at home? This is the question Bill Willingham sets out to answer in his multiple award winning comic book. Here, we meet a likable big bad wolf, and an overwhelmed Snow White, as well as a not so great Prince Charming. This series takes the idea of fairy tales in to a whole new direction. 

2) American Gods and Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

Mr. Gaiman uses both books to explore how belief may give raise to the existence of Gods. The first one is a lot more serious and ambitious in it’s scope, while the second one is a little bit lighter and more amusing. Both are great reads. 

3) The Madness season, by CS Freidman

This is the only original vampire book in existence. I’ve read many, many books about vampires, but noneof them  come even closer to being as cool and surprising as this delightful science fiction tale. Yes, you heard me, not fantasy, but science fiction. Not hard science fiction, but awesome nevertheless. If you want to see the most original, fun, and exiting take on the whole vampire mythos out there check this book out. 

4) Anything Charles De Lint Writes

 His books are filled with beautiful landscapes of urban fantasy where we meet magical creatures from every possible tradition. One minute we are strolling around the woods with Old Man Coyote and Raven, and the next we find out that the mild mannered coffee shop owner that made our espresso is really a Celtic goddess. His stuff helps you to see magic in everything. 

I know that there are more books that would fit this list, but I’m not feeling well, and I need a break, plus, the ones I mention here should keep you busy for a long time. If you have any suggestions feel free to post them in the comments section.

Written by Hector

November 5, 2008 at 7:12 pm