History & Myth

So many stories and tales around the world of the early days of humanity sounded similar to me, as if they were describing the same events: the flood, etc. I figured there had to be a connection between all the widely separated tribes and cultures.

Still, there was something about the idea of Pangaea and the drifting continents that did not sound right to me. (But I won’t get into that right now.)

Psychologists would have us believe that the ancients had “racial memory” of an earlier time and interpreted the symbolic memory structures into tales about things they only “imagined” were true.

Somehow, I never quite bought that story either.

And then a book was recommended to me: Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky. Wow! That opened my eyes!

Even though he had many detractors from many different fields of human endeavor, I figured his greatest gift to us was showing us that the myths WERE based on fact – real events – and not in some vague “racial memory”.

Most people may not realize it but we have myths of our own and we accept them as historical. Lincoln starting the Civil War to free the slaves? – myth: he was later talked into it against his better judgment. Washington the “first great action hero” (as a History Channel program proclaimed)? – myth: he did not win a single battle of the Revolution; historians will give a draw at the Battle of Brooklyn but every other one he lost.

I could give a lot more examples and there are many. It is human nature to memorialize the heroes of the past – real or imagined – to make us feel good about our own history.

But the myths we are talking about are another sort, those of a terrifying nature. Without the technological context that we currently have, how would ancients be able to describe an alien invasion? Flying craft? Meteors? What words or descriptions could they summon to tell in their own words what they saw?

They would have to put it into a context that would be meaningful to them and their offspring. And that context was usually of a religious nature. The gods are always heavily involved in such events (what we know as natural events) because the event is more than a simple man could cause.

As Velikovsky showed in his books, the trick is to reverse-engineer the story to see what the events could have been, then try and find explanations for the events. His books make good reading for the detective work alone, even if you are not a catastrophist.

So, not all myths are to be shunned. Historians need to take a closer look rather than simply discount them as silly folk tales.

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