image: Wikimedia commons (link).
My research over the past several years has uncovered overwhelming evidence that virtually all of the world's ancient myths, scriptures, and sacred stories are based on celestial metaphor -- and that they are using a common system of celestial metaphor which makes all of the world's myths related to one another.
It would be a serious mistake, however, to conclude that because the ancient myths -- from virtually every culture -- are based upon celestial metaphor they are somehow "not true" or that they represent "primitive" or "pre-scientific" time-tracking almanacs for keeping track of the calendar or for knowing when to plant and harvest crops or even for giving reverence to the forces of nature upon which all life on earth is dependent (such as the sun and the rain and the seasons and the soil).
All of those functions (tracking the months and years, and planting and harvest, and giving reverence to the gifts from the sun and the earth and the rain) are of course vitally important -- and on one level the ancient myths and sacred traditions perform all of those functions. But they probably would not need the level of metaphor that they exhibit in order to perform those functions -- and I believe that they operate on many levels at the same time, such that they can do all of those things and much more.
I am convinced that the ancient myths given to humanity remain profoundly important to our lives, even if we have other ways of tracking the months, for example. As I have explained previously in many other places on this blog and in published books and videos, I am convinced that one of the reasons that the ancient myths employ their amazing esoteric celestial metaphor is that they are picturing for us the truths of an Invisible Realm which we cannot see, but which is very real -- a realm of spirit, a realm of the gods -- and that the stars in their motions depict for us the interplay between spirit and matter, soaring across the sky but also plunging down into the sea or into the earth, and toiling for a time through the "lower realm" before they pop back up on the eastern horizon and soar into the infinite heavens once again.
In doing so, they are picturing for us the experience of each and every human soul. Here in this incarnate life, we are toiling through that same "lower realm" of matter -- and yet the myths and scriptures point us towards the truth that the material realm is not all there is, and that it is in fact intertwined with and interpenetrated by the Other Realm at every point.
We ourselves, and everyone we will ever meet, are also intertwined with that Invisible Realm at all times, even as we are also enmeshed in the physical, material, visible realm. And, one of the messages of the world's Star Myths would clearly seem to be that when we disappear from this realm, we enter again that Invisible Realm from whence we came into this incarnate life, as well as the possibility that we have done that before, and that from that Other Realm we may again return to this one, even as the stars can be seen to cycle in between the two domains in their nightly motions and in their annual motions as well.
Thus, I am convinced that the ancient myths and scriptures have crucially important things to teach us about what we are doing here in this incarnate life, and answers to guide us during this journey. I will not presume to speak for them by declaring definitively what those messages might be -- I believe it is far better for each of us to consult the ancient wisdom itself, and that the ancient myths and stories, of any of the world's incredible tapestry of cultures and places, will richly reward any effort made to delve into their timeless wisdom.
Having said that, I can offer a few general concepts that the ancient myths appear to be putting forth, regarding our journey through this simultaneously material and spiritual realm in which we find ourselves. These are just a few thoughts -- the ancient wisdom has much deeper teachings to offer and again should be consulted directly -- and they are obviously subject to the limitations of my own experience and capabilities and thus should not be considered in any way definitive or authoritative, but having spent some years exploring the myths and sacred stories of many different cultures and traditions, a few broad outlines do seem to suggest themselves and might be helpful to consider.
First, it seems to make sense to suggest that, if the ancient myths depict the heavenly cycles and the "plunging down" and "soaring aloft" of the heavenly actors, which point us towards the endless unfolding and refolding of the "myriad things" out of the Infinite Realm and back into it again, over and over, then our sojourn through the material realm, in a physical body, must be for the purpose of interaction with matter itself. In other words, it seems to be that there are lessons to learn or experiences to encounter which cannot be learned in the realm of pure spirit, which involve matter and the interaction with the material world.
There are certainly numerous myths or scriptural passages which seem to support this general conclusion, including the passage in the first epistle of Peter which declares that the mystery of the incarnation is something into which even the angels (beings of spirit and not of matter) desire to look into (1 Peter 1: 12), but also the many myths from cultures around the world involving "twinning," in which a divine twin is paired with a mortal twin (such as in the myth of Polydeuces or Pollux and his mortal brother Castor, in ancient Greece, or in the story of Gilgamesh who is two-thirds divine and who must be given a companion who is wild, a child of nature -- Enkidu -- in order to work together to complete various missions and quests).
Thus, I believe that our engagement with matter in this world is part of the reason why we are here, and that we are participating in a very important mission or purpose when we engage in all kinds of actions or pursuits which involve interaction with the physical material of the universe -- whether performing tasks of engineering such as building a bridge or designing a heart-valve, or pursuing excellence in sports such as making a jump-shot in basketball or a slap-shot in hockey, or practicing disciplines such as Yoga and the martial arts, or playing an instrument or singing or cultivating a garden or harvesting a crop or cleaning a floor or preparing a meal or any of an endless number of examples which could be offered.
Running through the world's myths and ancient texts, however, we also encounter the idea of the elevation of matter and the material -- Enkidu, for example, must transcend his original condition and become something different because of his interaction with Gilgamesh. The "divine twin" helps to elevate and uplift the "mortal twin" -- just as Castor is rescued from the underworld by his brother Pollux.
Thus, one of the dominant themes we see running through the myths and scriptures of many cultures is the idea of blessing and not cursing. In many previous explorations of this subject, I have voiced the opinion that the idea of "blessing" involves the elevation of the spirit in oneself and in others and in the world around us, the assertion of the truth that there is more to ourselves and everyone we meet than simply our physical or material form, and the integration of that spiritual nature in order to elevate the physical and transform it into something that is more than material alone -- while "cursing" generally involves the suppression or denial of the spiritual, the attempt to reduce ourselves or others to that which is only material and physical, debasement rather than uplift.
The presence of this theme throughout the world's myths and scriptures is undeniable and abundant. We see it in passages of ancient scriptures which exhort us to bless and "curse not" (such as in Romans 12: 14) but also in stories such as the episode in which Noah becomes drunk and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth react to his situation very differently (see this video discussion, for example), or the story of the "blessing mother and the cursing mother" in the episode known as the Judgment of Solomon (see here and here), or in the Greek myths where the denial of the primacy of the gods and the divine realm always results in disaster.
Additionally, as readers of some of my books such as Star Myths of the World, Volume Two might be aware, some of the ancient epics (such as the Odyssey, one of my personal favorites) appear to demonstrate through the "motion" of the epic through the stars of the heavens this same concept of the importance of the elevation of the spirit as being central to our mission during this "arduous journey" through the lower realm (the realm of Poseidon, for Odysseus in that work -- and we see that Noah and Atrahasis are also require to pass through a similar watery flood).
Thus, as we all probably realize intuitively, while working to gain skill at engineering or martial arts or surfing or rock climbing or agriculture or music or sculpting or are all valuable, we would be very disappointed if we met someone who demonstrated great mastery in any of those but who was constantly "cursing" and treating others with demeaning words and actions. We instinctively expect great accomplishment in these kinds of endeavors should (and usually does) make men and women more likely to be uplifting and elevating in their words and actions. And, even if we ourselves have not reached such levels of accomplishment, we can try to act and speak in ways that are uplifting and positive and accord others the dignity and respect that they deserve, even as we continue to work on our own skillful interaction with the material universe in our own engineering projects, or artistic pursuits, or Yoga practices.
We can conclude from this emphasis on blessing versus cursing that one of most important things we should be doing as we travel through this incarnate life involves acting and speaking in ways that uplift ourselves and others -- as well as opposing oppression and violence and impoverishment and everything which tends to brutalize or debase or demean others or deny the divine spark which is present in every man, woman or child no matter where they are or where they come from.
These general concepts seem to be important aspects of what we are doing "down here," according to my reading of what the world's ancient wisdom is trying to tell us. Perhaps these general thoughts will be helpful to you in your own exploration of the riches of the world's ancient myths and scriptures, and in your own contemplation of our purpose in descending from the spiritual realm into this one -- bridging spirit and matter.