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Flashcards in Mythology Deck (12)
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what are myths

- sacred religious stories that provide the basis for religious beliefs, motivations, and practices
- sacred stories regarded as factual - true
- includes supernatural elements - don't necessarily take place in our world
- ex. creation story, Adam and Eve


myths can be about (what can they consist of)

- origins and history of the world
- creation of the first human beings
- prescriptions for how to think and act
- ethical/moral codes
- provide meaning behind certain beliefs and practices
- myths shape a society's morals and communal activities. They can define a society
s history, inspire its literature, and define its ideals and beliefs


how are myths depicted and transmitted

- texts
- oral narratives
- performances (church program of Jesus' birth)
- art (stained glass windows, tapestries, architecture)
- music (hymns, worship songs)
- dance (pow wows)
oral transmission vs. written transmission
- oral: could be altered, elaborated, changed
- written: true meaning can be lost in translation, no room to ask questions


evolutionary approach to understanding myths

evolutionary approach- ("primitive") myths- folktales- modern science (civilized)
- search common or original form (comparative study)
James Frazer
- The Golden Bough- 13 volumes comparing myths and magical practices
- myths are ways primitive people try to make sense of their world ("primitive science")
-criticized for trying to remove myths from their unique context


functional approach to understanding myths

the function of myths - what they do/provide
- requires ethnographic work instead of relying on the work of missionaries and travelers (ethnographic work= going to a different society, participate in it, write down what you see and learn
Franz Boas
- looked how the "literal interpretations of myths shaped culture
- his students challenged him, arguing that myths are more than just a blueprint for culture
Bronislaw Malinowski
- considered a founder of functional approach in anthropology
- looked at how myths functioned in a culture; how they maintain society
- myths are used to justify and explain religious rituals, social conduct, and moral rules


structural approach to understanding myths

focuses on the underlying structure of myth
- bare bones of myth
- the structure is a result of the human mind
Claude Levi-Strausse
- relationship between binaries (male/female, dark/light, day/night, good/bad, hot/cold)
- focus in the structure, not the content


psychological approach to understanding myths

commmyths are symbolic and this symbolism is rooted in human psychology
- myths are projections of the unconscious
Sigmund Freud
- myths are projections of unconscious wishes (defence mechanism)
- unconscious is individual
Carl Jung
- collective unconscious: shared unconscious that is inborn, a world of symbols to which humans access and make meaning in their own ways
- Archetypes: universal characters in dreams and myths (the hero, the trickster, the orphan, etc)


common themes in myths

- origin myths
- apocalyptic myths
- trickster myths
- hero myths


why are myths important

worldview: the way in which an individual or society perceive and interprets their reality
- provide people and societies with an understanding of how their world works; including the do's and don'ts
- influences the way we think, perceive and behave
- myths shape worldviews
in Canada people are now face to face with different worldviews


Judeo-Christian worldview

- man has domain over the natural world
- either Psalm


Navaho worldview

- native American group in the U.S
- reservations in Arizona and New Mexico
- interconnectedness of nature (land, animals, humans, and gods)
- humans are just one part of the nature
- all natural elements are in harmony with one another
- imbalance has consequence (natural disasters, disease, death)


video: James Cambell and the Power of Myths

- myths are ways to understand the world and help our unconscious
- born from trials and revelations
-importance: gives meaning
- hero myths: facing something bigger than themselves, physical or spiritual request, presence of a mentor (shows up along the way and eventually leaves)
- importance: rite of passage, hero comes from broken society and goes on a "quest" to fix it
- departure - fulfillment - return and share your experience
- water = field of the unconscious
- dragon = malicious, greed, associated with the ego
- psychological perspective - archetypes
- superheroes