121Lect2SP14

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Chapter 2
Mythology
The most common mythology people
think of is Greek:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJC
m8W5RZes

Introduction
But mythology is actually a broader term
 Myths are religious narratives that tell
stories and are important to religious
beliefs

 Origins
 Histories
 Rules of behavior
 Can be written or oral
Myths and Worldview
All people experience things they can’t
explain
 The way we perceive reality is our
worldview and it colors all we see and
how we interact with things
 Ex. Navaho vs. Judeo-Christian view of
nature

Myths and Worldview
Read the Judeo-Christian and Navaho
creation myths on pg.34-35 & pg. 45-46
 Analyze for themes:

 Nature-human interaction
 How humans are created
 View of animals
 Interaction between humans and
supernatural
 Element of time
Myths and Worldview

So how would we summarize the
different worldviews from these two
creation myths?
Myths and Worldview


Navaho:
interconnectedness
with nature, living in
balance, respecting
living things
Judeo-Christian:
controlling nature,
humans were given
the world and can
exploit it
Supernatural




Read the story on
Snow White (pg. 3031)
What is the ‘moral’
of the story?
What aspects are
supernatural?
Is this a religious
study? Why or why
not?
Supernatural


This story is a
folktale
It entertains and
gives a lesson, but
is not a religious text
Supernatural
Legends are stories that people believe
really happened, but have been
embellished
 Urban legends are stories that
supposedly happened in the recent past

Supernatural

What are some examples of urban
legends?
Supernatural
Bloody Mary
 Big Foot
 The escaped killer with a hook hand
 Basically anything that people think is a
hoax or tabloid story

Myths
These are sacred stories
 They explain:





Human’s origin
Creation of the universe
Values and norms
Good vs. evil
They are religious and used in religious
rituals
 Bible stories, Qur’an, Torah, etc.
 (Table 2.1, pg. 32)

Myths
Be able to distinguish what makes
folktales, legends, and myths different
 Use table in book

Written and Oral Texts

Some cultures do not have written
histories
 They use oral traditions to pass down
cultural knowledge
 Oral texts are performed, not recited
 Slightly altered each generation
 Can be adapted to new events

Others are written
 Qur’an means “recitation” and is literal word
of God and so not changed in any way
Example

Genesis from the Bible is a creation myth

Part 1:
 God makes the world in 6 days
 He makes plants, then animals, then humans
 Importance of the Sabbath

Part 2:
 Creates Adam and Eve
 Fall from Eden
 Makes humans first and then animals
 Creates Eve out of Adam
Example

These myths reflect worldview and
social charter (human interactions)
 Male dominance
 Humans given control over nature
 Correct and incorrect behavior
 Punishments
Myths
There are different forms of written
traditions
 How many versions of the Bible are
there?
 Some keep traditional language (it
sounds more “religious”) and some use
current language

Understanding Myths
Myths are found in all societies but vary
widely
 There are different ways to approach
studying them

 Most of these are connected to theories we
discussed in chapter 1
Approaches to Myths

1. Evolutionary
 (incorrect) idea of unilineal evolution
 Evolve from simple to complex
 Primitive to civilized
 Frazer (The Golden Bough)
NO!
Approaches to Myths

2. Fieldwork and Functional
 Can use myths to understand cultural
system
 See what function myths have in society
 Boas (Father of American Anthropology)
 Malinowski (Essential needs of humans)
Approaches to Myths

3. Structural
 Look at structure of the myth
 Dualism: light/dark, good/evil, male/female
 No focus on meaning or content
 Levi-Strauss
Approaches to Myths

4. Psychological
 Unconscious projections
 Collective consciousness
 Archetypes: orphan, creator, fool, etc.
 Freud
 Jung
Common Themes

Know common themes to use on
homework!!
Common Themes
Common themes may come from diffusion
of knowledge or from collective
consciousness
 Birth Metaphor

 Supernatural creating something

Chaos
 Things created out of chaos or darkness

Emergence
 Things created by emerging from under the
earth

Holy People
 Holy beings create people
Apocalyptic Myths


Center on the
destruction of the
world
Cycles of
destruction and
creation
 Noah’s flood
 Revelations
○ Four horsemen, lamb
of God, lake of fire,
etc.
Trickster Myths
Some myths are for entertainment and
some discuss serious matters
 Trickster myths are less serious and
teach people how not to behave
 Example: Haida story of the Raven (pg.
49).

Hero Myths
Though stories all vary, there is a
common pattern or story line
(monomyth)
 Hero leaves common world and enters
supernatural world  receives training
 encounters obstacles and is
victorious  hero returns to help his
friends and family
 Common in our stories and movies

Discussion Questions
1. Define what worldview is. How does
this impact how people see nature and
the environment?
 2. What are some common themes
among different religious creation
myths?
 3. What is a monomyth? Why are
popular movies (previous slide) not
considered religious?

Assignment

ICA #1 “Creation Myths” together in
groups
Videos

As you watch videos look for:
 Similarities
 Common themes
 Connection to environment
 Examples from lecture
Videos
Egypt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTy49JlgJZE
 Inca:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75kDb2OqBWI&list=PL32257EC
AC08445A3
 Aboriginal:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koxp_q46z0Q&list=PL32257ECA
C08445A3
 Japan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIQ9Ea7WDSI&list=PL32257EC
AC08445A3

Greek Mythology Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQN1
vGmHxs4

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