This past week was a busy one for me, and because of that I didn’t have the time to commit to reading Don Q. I went to my bookshelf in search of something I could quickly devour. What I found was Myths and Legends From Cherokee Dances To Voodoo Trances by John Pemberton. I forgot how much I loved mythology, the origins of a story, and the way tales shape our society.
Over the weekend, my friend K visited with her son L. They had an iPad with neat child friendly apps (very privileged, I know). While I was still figuring out how to turn the thing on, L, a two year old, went to town showing me the different apps and how to open and close them. One app in particular was that of Little Red Riding Hood. My friend told me that it was a new version of the old tale, and in this one the grandmother just gets tied up and locked in the closet by the wolf, where eventually the hunter cuts her free.
Husband reminded us of the older tale where the wolf eats the grandmother and the hunter cuts her out of his stomach. I liked the new tale because it was less violent, but Husband didn’t miss a beat—the older tale was much more memorable.
To me, the new version still contained the message and moral without the unnecessary violence. I found it to be a step of progress for society. What is it we really want to teach our children?
JP’s book had numerous myths and legends from all over the world, presented with glossy photos and illustrations. All the while I was reading, I kept thinking that people used to believe these stories—they lived their life by these morals and values. They actually thought thunder was from a god in the sky. They made sacrifices and held services to these deities who now have been forgotten.
They’re just tales woven into our subconscious.
Thanks to science, we don’t have to kill a virgin to make it rain.
I heard the Kanye West song, “No Church In The Wild,” for the first time this week and something about the lyrics struck me: (listen to the song here)
Human beings in a mob. What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything? Will he make it out alive? Alright, alright, no church in the wild.
Gods lose all of their power when we stop believing in them, but what then, happens to society? To the non-believer? Where do we find our new morals? In media? Family? Friends? If the legends are lost, a certain void appears, hence no church in the wild. No church, but does this really mean no morals? Or does it mean we invent a new king and a new God to mold to our current belief system?
Within the glossy pages of Myths and Legends From Cherokee Dances To Voodoo Trances one can discover the exact location of Timbuktu, that the Malaika is an East African spirit created from light and is very similar to an ‘angel’, it is more common for one who practices Voodoo to pray for rain than ask for revenge, the Blue Jay was depicted as a trickster in American legend, Japan had the female Izanami and the male Izanagi who brought the world into being, and none of this is strange, or wild, or crazy, if one can see that the common thread is humanity’s need to make sense of itself and preserve future generations.