Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Value of Myth

On numerous occasions I use the statement, “We all believe what we need to believe in order to make it through the Night.” It is a foundational assumption that I carry so that I can make sense of the world. It functions to help me understand that other’s beliefs are just as valid and helpful to them as my beliefs are to me.

For instance, I have a large number of friends, acquaintances, and clients who hold tightly to a rather uncomplicated belief – In a distant past, an immortal god not unlike the Greek Zeus, seeded a mortal virgin who then gave birth to a Divine child who would be groomed to be sacrificed to save humanity for all times from its sinfulness. This story works very well for them, giving their lives meaning and purpose.

I have seen this rather simple story deeply transform lives in a very positive fashion. Of course, I have also seen people, especially in prison, seriously embrace Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism resulting in similar life changing transformations.

There is something wonderful and powerful about devotion to a workable myth. And lest you be alarmed, I use the word, myth, not as a false story but in its more technical sense as a set of narratives engaged by a person or culture to make sense and meaning out of what appears at times to be a senseless, random, or purposeless universe. These myths can provide great comfort to their believers whether they see themselves held safe in the arms of Jesus, righteously living by the Torah, or following the four noble truths of the Buddha.
We all carry cultural, familial, and personal myths by which we live our lives. Cultural myths are beliefs like “Everyone wants our freedoms,” “America is always on the side of Right,”  “America is #1!” and “God blesses America.” Family myths are statements like, “The Smiths don’t divorce,” and “All the Johnson family go to college.” And of course, personal myths are beliefs like, “I’ll never amount to anything,” “I am one good looking catch,” or “Women just don’t like me so I never approach them.” The reader can readily see how these sorts of beliefs shape our realities and limit the potentially wide field of experience available to each of us in going about the business of our lives.

This is where astrology excels by presenting us with a marvelously rich field of symbols and metaphors with layered meanings by which we may discover and explore the stories that help guide our choices and often keep us locked in to unproductive and unsatisfying self-narratives. One does not have to believe in astrology for it to be useful any more than you have to believe in arithmetic to accurately balance a checkbook. It is simply a tool for personal exploration, a model for understanding human reality.

Forget the silliness about stars influencing your life, horoscope columns, and astrologers predicting the future, visit me at AstroCare.net for a different perspective.

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