I wish I could say my dream job was a teaching job, but that’s not entirely true. While I think I have a calling for teaching (actually, the more I look at it, I think my calling is in counseling, not teaching), I would really love to be an archaeologist, or a folklorist. I love studying ancient cultures, and luckily for me, it helps me to teach literature!
It also helps me when I counsel people because I can talk about the myths, legends, stories of older cultures to help teenagers know that some of the issues they are going through aren’t exactly new:
- Your dad doesn’t like your boyfriend? Have you read “Romeo and Juliet”?
- He left you for someone else? At least he wasn’t Henry the Eighth…
- You feel like a failure, even though you tried your hardest? Pick a successful inventor of any time period.
- She is completely irresistible, but dangerous? So… she’s a siren?
So, those aren’t all exactly ancient stories, but the myths of the Greeks and the Celts are often a little more than my high school Freshmen are ready for… although I do love telling them about the origins of the days of the week and of the Easter holiday.
In case you don’t know, the days of the week come from a combination of Norse and Roman myth:
- Monday is the day of the moon
- Tuesday is Tyr’s day (Norse myth)
- Wednesday is Woden’s day (the Welsh spelling of Odin, from Norse myth)
- Thursday is Thor’s day (Norse myth, and member of Marvel’s Avengers)
- Friday is Freya’s day (Norse myth, and a woman)
- Saturday is Saturn’s day (Roman myth)
- Sunday is the day of the sun (the sun is often a symbol for God)
And the story of the Easter bunny is a fun one, as long as you aren’t easily offended by the Christian faith’s appropriation of Pagan stories into their holidays.
The goddess Eostre, from some Scandinavian myth, had two animals that were sacred to her: the robin and the winter hare. A robin broke it’s wing and couldn’t go south for the winter, so the goddess turned her into a winter hare to stay warm for the winter. As is the nature of bunnies, there were so many of them once the winter was over, Eostre had to wait to see which one would lay eggs like a robin so that she could turn her back into the bird she was.
And the Easter Bunny legend was born!
I really love the old stories! If I could spend my days following the old myths to find the island of Atlantis, I would be a happy, happy girl.
The way I figure it, everybody looks for Atlantis solely based on Plato’s account in his Timaeus and Critias. But, that’s a story based on a story he heard from someone who read an account of it once in the library of Alexandria which had been burnt down a long time before Plato heard the story. And it was a story of thousands of years before. How can it be accurate?
Given that every culture has a flood myth, and given the idea of Spiritus Mundi (the spirit of the world as Yeats calls it, or the collective memory of the world), I believe that this might very well be because there was one beginning culture at the island.
Perhaps it was an evolved culture, and it is from this island that the flying machines that ancient alien theorists go on about actually originate.
Maybe the peoples from the island are the ones referred to when the sons of Adam go out to find their wives…
I’ve always wondered about that little tidbit, especially since incest is kind of frowned upon in the Bible. They mention the daughters of Men, as in not related to Adam, but if it is accepted that Adam and Eve were the first children ever, then where do these other people come from to keep their children from being inbred idiots?
I believe that there are elements to the myths across the world that are too similar to not be based on some singular story. Most stereotypes are born from some truth, as ugly as it may be, or as outdated as they may have become. You still shouldn’t judge people based on stereotypes, but there is a reason why the stereotype exists. I think it’s similar with these myths.
For instance, the Celtic myths and many of the Norse and Scandinavian myths have a story of a mystical, never-dying island. If you’re familiar with the King Arthur legends, you’ll know it as Avalon. Tolkien took the more Germanic approach to the island to create the islands that the Elves leave Middle Earth for.
What if we found the similarities between myths and followed those instead? I think there’d be more luck. And if I won the lottery, or if money were no object for any reason, I’d take that as my job, following the archetypal myths from around the world to create clues to find the lost island of Atlantis, or prove for once and for all that it doesn’t exist.
*Cover Photo taken from CNN. TrowelBlazers: In search of the female Indiana Jones