Living the Myth

Mythology In Magical Imagination by Nick Farrell shares a cautionary story of a magical group that made the Arthurian mythos a part of their identity and consequently ended up re-enacting that myth in their lives. The point that Nick makes is that too close of an identification with a mythos can cause you to manifest the themes and characters in your life in ways that aren't desirable. In the case of that magical group, the head of the group lost his wife when she ran off another person in the group (a Lancelot to the head's Arthur) and then had issues with other people who ended up replicating other aspects of the mythos. It's a good cautionary story that highlights the reality that when you work closely with a given mythology and identify with the entities in that mythology, it can take on a life of its own and effect your life both positively and negatively.

Pop culture mythology is no different than classical mythology, other than the fact that its contemporary mythology. If you look at a given mythology it has themes and values written into the story and it has characters that perform essential roles in moving the story along and relating the narrative to people. Most importantly the mythology establishes a shared sense of identity with the fan. That identity is what causes the fan to like the pop culture mythology and to either replicate it or create new myths within the mythology. This is why fan fiction of various types is written, because it allows the people writing it (and reading it) to contribute to the pop culture mythology and also interact with the characters they love.

If you want to magically work with the mythology of your favorite pop culture, it's worth while to do so carefully. You may find that you identify strongly with certain characters, but you don't want to identify so strongly that you take on their flaws. I once did some work with several characters from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms mythology and part of that work was influenced by how they were depicted in the Dynasty Warrior video game series. I identified strongly with the character Lu Bu, but ended up taking on some of his less desirable traits such as his anger and short-sightedness. Once I realized this I stopped working with him and those issues just as quickly ceased showing up in my behavior. What I've done since then is build in filters so that if I'm working with a given character closely, I'm only taking on the attributes that are helpful to me and the work I'm doing.

When you work with the pop culture mythology at large, you need to not only pay attention to the characters, but also the themes of the mythology itself so that you can be aware of how those themes are showing up in your life. That awareness can help you to build in appropriate filters while also drawing on the themes in a way that is helpful to the work you are doing. I also think it can be worthwhile to actually do some banishing if you find that the theme of a given pop culture mythology is replicating itself in your life too much. At the same time, its important to recognize that if the pop culture mythology is a central part of your practice, then part of accepting that mythology involves recognizing that the themes may need to occur in your life because of how you are making them central to your identity. However that doesn't mean you have to let those themes into your life in an unhealthy way, which is why it is so important to filter and focus on what relationship you really want to have with the mythology you are working with.

There is one other point to make and it is that when you choose to work closely with a mythology, pop culture or otherwise, you are inviting change into your life and you won't have complete control of that change. What you do have control over is how you respond to it and so it is very important to pay close attention to your behavior and interactions with other people. If you find that certain thematic elements are coming into your life, ask yourself how you will handle those elements and make sure that you are aware of how they show up in the lives of the people around you. That way you can be prepared for them and make sure that the themes show up in a way that is helpful to your life journey and spiritual practice.

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