Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Midnight Summer Festival Starts Today!!

This is a fascinating new literary event, hosted by
the following blogs!

The purpose of the event is to highlight and explore
the various world mythologies.
During the time period from July 10th to July 20th,
the three hosting blogs will feature
author interviews, giveaways,
and posts related to mythology.

What a terrific idea!!

If you haven't already joined this event,
you can do so by clicking
on the event button, which you will
find in my sidebar.

Just what is mythology, and how did it originate? 

I have always been fascinated by mythology.  But then, I have always loved the fantastical, the unusual, the surreal and supernatural.  Mythology is all of these things.  As a child, I believed that all the tales of fantasy I read were true, that these things really did happen.  Of course, as I grew into adolescence, I became aware that this wasn't so at all, which only served to heighten my fascination with and attraction to this type of reading material.  So I was quite surprised when I learned that there was a time when adults in ancient cultures actually believed in the gods and goddesses in these tales. 

The human mind, always searching for answers to the puzzles of the universe and existence itself, needs explanations for these mysteries.  The ancients devised such explanations, and they are poetically beautiful, to the extent that the subsequent scientific explanations discovered in later centuries seem pedestrian by comparison.

What could be more beautiful, more sublime, than the idea of a sun god driving a chariot across the heavens?  It wasn't a planet orbiting around the solar system's star that caused night and day.  Instead, a magnificent deity blazed through the ether, with his equally magnificent, fiery horses. 

When Icarus demands to be allowed to fly near the sun, we feel his father Daedalus's anxiety, and when Icarus plunges to his flaming death, we also feel his father's pain... This myth is similar to that of Phaeton, who wanted to drive the chariot of the sun (see picture and link below).

What we moderns know as 'mythology' was once sacred to our ancestors.  Far from being fantastical tales passed down from generation to generation, mythology was once a set of beliefs.  Some cultures at the present time still have what could be termed a mythologically-based religion.  Examples would be Hinduism in India, and Shintoism in Japan.  Wicca, a modern Neopagan religion, also incorporates pantheons from several cultures. 

According to Wikipedia, there are several theories for the origin of myths.  One such theory is named "euhemerism", because the mythologist Euhemerus (c. 320 B.C.) suggested that the stories of the gods and goddesses were really legends about actual human beings.

Another theory proposes that myths originated as allegories of natural phenomena.  Max Muller, a 19th-century Sanskrit scholar, favored this theory, which also encompasses philosophical and spiritual concepts.  Thus, Apollo came to represent fire, Poseidon water, and so forth.

A third theory proposes that the ancients, not understanding the forces of nature, tended to personify them, and thus began to worship them.  This is the theory of mythopoeic thought

Yet another theory states that myths are connected to rituals.  This is named the myth-ritual theory, proposed by Biblical scholar William Robertson Smith.  According to this one, people performed rituals for many years, eventually forgetting the reason for them.  They then invented myths which supposedly were the reasons for those rituals.

No matter which theory one wants to follow (I personally believe that they are all equally plausible explanations for the origins of mythology), it cannot be denied that mythology is a fascinating topic even in the 21st century!  Although many of us book addicts love to read 'hard' science fiction, and may be passionate about our computers, cell phones, and iPads, there's still something about mythology that calls to the human soul, that part of us that loves poetry, that is enchanted by the mysterious, the beautiful, the imaginary. 

How interesting that the United States chose the name "Apollo" for its series of lunar expeditions!  Indeed, even the insignia, or patch, chosen for the Apollo 13 mission features the blazing solar horses! 

I hope more of you will join us for a truly fascinating journey through the world of myths!  After all, they are the source of our wonderful tales of fantasy and the supernatural, as exemplified by our greatest authors in these genres! 




  1. Thanks for joining in! I love this post it is so informational and interesting about the origination of mythology! Love it!

    Thanks again for joining in!

  2. Thank you, Rie!!! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading it! It was truly "a labor of love" researching and writing it, too, because I LOVE mythology!!

    When I found out about this event, I signed up right away!

    Thanks again for your lovely comment!! : )

  3. Great post Maria! Very informative! Sorry for the delay in responding! I was out of town this weekend and just got back. Thanks so much for participating and letting me know about Blogger's hiccups. Enjoy what's left of your weekend!

  4. Oh, no problem! I understand! And you're very welcome for my participation! This is a subject that totally FASCINATES me!!

    Let's hope Blogger gets their act together VERY soon!

    Thanks for commenting!! : )

  5. Awesome article, Maria! I was very interested to learn about the three different theories behind the creation of myths, because I'd never really thought about any of them save the third.

    I'm participating in this event, too, though I haven't had much time to write posts lately! Must get on that... Anyway, I hope you have a great week. :)

    PS Like the new banner!

  6. Oh, Kat, you're so sweet!! Your comments always make me feel happy!!

    When I saw this event on Carmel's website, I joined in right away, because I've always LOVED mythology!!!

    I'm looking forward to your post -- I'm sure it'll be FANTASTIC!!!

    Thanks for your compliments!! I'm going to have a great week because you've not only made my day, but my week, as well!!!

    As for the new banner, I found a terrific tutorial online that showed me how to make it with Picasa. I have PhotoShop, but need to learn it first, and that will take some time...Glad you liked the banner!!

    HUGS!!!!!! : )


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