By Karen Armstrong
"Human beings have continuously been mythmakers.” So starts best-selling author Karen Armstrong’s concise but compelling research into fable: what it truly is, the way it has developed, and why we nonetheless so desperately want it. She takes us from the Paleolithic interval and the myths of the hunters correct as much as the "Great Western Transformation” of the final years and the discrediting of fable through technological know-how. The background of fable is the historical past of humanity, our tales and ideology, our interest and makes an attempt to appreciate the realm, which hyperlink us to our ancestors and every different. Heralding an incredible sequence of retellings of foreign myths via authors from world wide, Armstrong’s routinely insightful and eloquent booklet serves as an excellent and thought-provoking advent to delusion within the broadest senseand explains why if we brush aside it, we achieve this at our peril.
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Additional resources for A Short History of Myth
The very existence of the gods was inseparable from that of a storm, a sea, a river, or from those powerful human emotions – love, rage or sexual passion – that seemed momentarily to lift men and women onto a different plane of existence so that they saw the world with new eyes. Mythology was therefore designed to help us to cope with the problematic human predicament. It helped people to find their place in the world and their true orientation. We all want to know where we came from, but because our earliest beginnings are lost in the mists of prehistory, we have created myths about our forefathers that are not historical but help to explain current attitudes about our environment, neighbours and customs.
Shamans operate only in hunting societies, and animals play an important role in their spirituality. During his training, a modern shaman sometimes lives with animals in the wild. He is supposed to meet an animal, who will instruct him in the secrets of ecstasy, teach him animal language, and become his constant companion. This is not regarded as a regression. In hunting societies, animals are not seen as inferior beings, but have superior wisdom. They know the secrets of longevity and immortality, and, by communing with them, the shaman gains an enhanced life.
These early people had not yet developed agriculture. They could not grow their own food, but depended entirely on hunting and gathering. Mythology was as essential to their survival as the hunting weapons and skills that they evolved in order to kill their prey and achieve a degree of control over their environment. Like the Neanderthals, Palaeolithic men and women could leave no written record of their myths, but these stories proved to be so crucial to the way that human beings understood themselves and their predicament that they survived, in fragmented form, in the mythologies of later literate cultures.
A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong