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Theories of Myth

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From the perception of dreaming by Australian aboriginal clans to the birth of order known in Greek language as cosmogony, the diverse myth of creation varies drastically among many areas of the earth and during numerous periods throughout history (Leonard & McClure, 2004). The telling of such myths and stories gives insight to the culture and behavior of many societies. This information becomes religion for some and yet a way to pass down the history, heritage, and tradition of a civilization to another. The most common way to dissect and question a myth uses tools that would identify the nature of the story and outline the origin. The many distinct views in use to theorize and question mythoi are commonly the social, the psychological, the literary, the structural, and the political form of the myth. The areas in which to question commonly reference back to a toolkit that when brought into use in examination of a myth, the analysis is simple and questions cover many concerns.
The debate of whether a myth is a story of imagination or holds any fact depends on if it comes from “a tale told by idiots,” or rather “sages, religious fundamentalists and agnostic theologians, idealists and cynics, racists and fascists,” or “philosophers and scholars” (Leonard & McClure, 2004, p. 5). Choosing to use social, psychological, and structural for the theoretical methods of inspection to breakdown and question the narrations of various myths of creation will show the function in their respective societies and cultures. The social aspect questions how the myth affects a group of people and whether the society grew or diminished by the acts of the characters in the myth. The social control that the myth may have is oftentimes a part of the functional aspect and is an element of the creation or destruction of a culture told by a myth. A psychological view of a myth will question the emotional attachment it has and what form of archetype or common character is in use. Structural myth looks at the similarities of the various stories regardless of the different locations of their origin. This aspect to find the common threads of a myth shows the building blocks that most stories use to gain an endpoint.
The myth of creation tells how societies began and what force is responsible for the conception of all living creatures. From a cosmic egg to dismemberment of a supreme God or Goddess, the standard stories of how the creation of life originate are dependent on the society the myth came from. A range of scientists and authors categorize these depictions of cosmogonic myth by the type and style for which life emanates. The easily recognizable Greek myth of creation involving characters introduced more commonly in current society by modern media than by literary classics uses the tale of from nothing derives something superior. As the creation of Gaia comes from the void and chaos, the myth then progresses to dismemberment by the antagonist son and father battle in which Kronos castrates his father Ouranos and throws the portion into the ocean. Blood that falls from Ouranos creates the titans and from the very mound of flesh, the goddess Aphrodite is born. The story continues to speak of the creation of heroes and humankind by Zeus with water and clay and how the Olympians act with the world of men. This myth is primarily structural with its many similar character types and events that seem to reoccur. The narrative of morality and social behavior of the fathers and sons in the Greek creation myth gives light to teaching cultures the importance of family values and respect toward their creators.
Many myths of creation use bodily secretions in their forming of bodies, whether it may be a god or goddess or the earth itself. Within the Egyptian myth of creation it mentions expectorating from one supreme being his own brother and sister from whom he and she create all other life. This example is one of many that does not even mention directly the existence of humanity, but instead hints that from the heavens and the earth the creation of man and woman rise from the primal mound. A description in reference to the category of the earth-diver creation myth typically involving a supreme being and an animal that suggests the psychological view of the return to the womb (Leonard & McClure, 2004). For the Egyptian culture, the gods and goddesses gave them hope and direction when very little was evident and by order or request upon the society if not in the name of a god. Although this act of accomplishment by request of the gods is commonplace among many myths, the sacrifice by mortals for the love of their deities brings up more question than love of the supreme beings in societies.
The scientific view of myth draws debate even today for if it is simply a story of fantasy, a poem, or something closer to a depiction to the start of a society. Whether the creation myth involves a big bang, a cosmic egg, a sacrifice, or some supreme being blowing their nose, the importance of these mythoi to the culture and growth, is to some, said to be bad science. The inspiration that these narratives bring to the cultures provides a portion of history that was unforeseen by conventional research. The myths and stories give reasons for war, religious belief, and subconscious needs by psychologists as well as other scientists. Without these narratives, the world of today may not have any reason for how or why ancestors lived their lives. These myths of creation deal with social, structural, and psychological necessity that motivates humanity today. Humanity shares in their dreams, desires, and motivations and provides a look into how their lives may look thousands of years ago.

References
Leonard, S., & McClure, M. (2004). Myth & knowing: An introduction to world mythology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Leeming, D. A., & Leeming, M. A., (1994). Encyclopedia of creation myths. ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara, Calif.

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