Friday, September 30, 2016
Mythic Animals: Magic
Mythic animals live on the edges of our minds. Moreover, they live in our world, in places where everything is a little wild and primitive. Furthermore, we may encounter them, when we least expect it. For example, on a foggy day or a moonlit night, you may glimpse one. I have seen dragons sunning themselves on mountains as I traveled a busy highway. Dragons have also appeared briefly in raging snowstorms in my local area.
The edges of cultivated areas and wild areas are the best places to encounter mythic animals. Since they are “between places,” these border areas have great power and mystery. At marshes and beaches, encounters with water beasties will often occur. Also, you can come upon mythic animals in deserts or deep in the forests, where things are lonely and wild.
Mythic animals come from many places. To ancient peoples, they were the forces of nature, in all her aspects. For example, thunderbirds governed the weather. Later travelers returning from faraway places told of the exotic creatures they saw. Romans reported on dragons that lived in Joppa in the Middle East. In the Middle Ages, people reported on their encounters with local dragons and other animals. They listed them in their bestiaries, describing each animal.
When people started measuring and examining the natural world, they lost their ability to see any mythic animals. At the same time, all the mythic animals seemingly disappeared. In modern times, people usually seek rational explanations for every phenomenon that they witness.
However, the mythical beasts never really went away. Some people believed that they could still see them. The mythic imaginations of these folks led scholars to continue collecting tales of griffins and others. Today, more people have been able to see more of the mythic animals.
In her book, The Great Work, Tiffany Lazic writes that “mythical beasts guide us in our quest to find the synthesis between our inner and outer worlds.” She sees their uses in heraldry, such as the griffin, connects people to the past and to the future. Because mythic animals are both products of the human imagination and composite of actual animals, Lazic believes they are excellent helpers for integration work.
How do we begin the search for the Mythic Ones? What do the mythic stories, from around the world, have in common? What is the true treasure that the Mythic Ones hold? Does it differ from mythic animal to mythic animal? How can we deepen our relations with the ones, who are friendly to humans? Are there any that we should avoid? Study the myths of the world for the answers.
One example would be the griffin (half-lion and half-eagle). Often used as a last name, this mythic animal is also featured on people’s coats of arms. Lions and eagles both represent royalty. Moreover, the eagle is the Ruler of the Skies, and the lion, Ruler of the Land. Mythology has the griffin protecting and governing both realms. Given the griffin’s exalted status, only the most noble and courageous of people could approach him.
Once we know who are friendly to humans, such as fu dogs, we can begin to approach them. When we do that, we widen our realm of possibilities and develop a new sense of worth. Our relations with them will nurture our hopes and dreams, as well as, give us a greater reverence for all life. When we embrace their energy, we become conscious of the mystical in our lives. Finally, we align ourselves with the mythical world. We bring magic back into our lives.