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Quote for the Week

I’ve always been interested in the Mother Goddess. Not long ago, a young person, whom I don’t know very well, sent a message to a mutual friend that said: “I’m an addict of Mary Poppins, and I want you to ask P. L. Travers if Mary Poppins is not really the Mother Goddess.” So, I sent back a message: “Well, I’ve only recently come to see that. She is either the Mother Goddess or one of her creatures — that is, if we’re going to look for mythological or fairy-tale origins of Mary Poppins.”

I’ve spent years thinking about it because the questions I’ve been asked, very perceptive questions by readers, have led me to examine what I wrote. The book was entirely spontaneous and not invented, not thought out. I never said, “Well, I’ll write a story about Mother Goddess and call it Mary Poppins.” It didn’t happen like that. I cannot summon up inspiration; I myself am summoned.

–P. L. Travers, in The Paris Review No. 86 (Winter 1982); courtesy of Wikiquote.

Quote for the Week

Science seeks to explain everything—but maybe we don’t want everything explained. We don’t want all the magic to go out of life. We want to remain connected to the secret parts of our inner beings, to the ancient mysteries, and to the most distant outposts of the universe. We want to believe. And as long as we do, the fairies will remain.

–Skye Alexander, Fairies: The Myths, Legends & Lore (2014); courtesy of Wikiquote.

The Gnostic Mythos

I’ve been thinking about looking at how the Gnostic mythos is expressed in many contemporary movies.  Upon reflection, I realized that despite having written an entire series on Gnosticism, I have never written a post specifically outlining the Gnostic mythos.  Some have touched on parts of it; but I’ve never discussed it as a whole.  Therefore, I decided to remedy this oversight–hence, the current post.

Of course an expression such as “Gnostic mythos” assumes that there is such a thing as a standardized, “official” Gnostic mythos in the first place.  In fact, it has been argued that the term “Gnosticism” itself is problematic at best, and useless at worst.  I wouldn’t go as far as that.  Nevertheless, it is true that there were a lot of very different groups which are often in modern times lumped together as “Gnostic”, with varying degrees of justification.  For the purposes of what I’m going to discuss here, I will specifically look at the mythos of the best-known and most famous Gnostic group, the Sethians.  The side benefit of this is that there is evidence, according to scholar David Brakke (which I discussed here) that the Sethians actually used the term “Gnostic” of themselves.  I tend to agree with Brakke on this.  Thus, by discussing the Sethian mythos, it’s perfectly accurate to describe what I’m doing as discussing the Gnostic mythos.

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Quote for the Week

The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the “happy ending.” The Christian has still to work, with mind as well as body, to suffer, hope, and die; but he may now perceive that all his bents and faculties have a purpose, which can be redeemed. So great is the bounty with which he has been treated that he may now, perhaps, fairly dare to guess that in Fantasy he may actually assist in the effoliation and multiple enrichment of creation. All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know.

–J. R. R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories; courtesy of Wikiquote.

Christ and Mythology

I was browsing though stuff on an external hard drive recently and found a few documents that I’d written that I thought might be worth making into blog posts.  The following essay was originally written as an email response to a friend with whom I was having a discussion.  It has been edited slightly, but still may sound a bit like an email.  I think it holds up, for all that, so I’m leaving it essentially as I found it with only very light editing.  Enjoy!

You said awhile back that I hadn’t told you my views of the dying-god myths of Classical antiquity (e.g., Venus and Adonis, and so on).  As I said, I’ve actually told you my opinion before, which is that such things aren’t really relevant, but I will elaborate.

Let me begin with an analogy.  We know that Leif Erikson discovered North America, a.k.a. Vinland, in the late 10th Century.  We also know that there are other accounts that have been interpreted as European trips to the New World, e.g. Madoc of Wales and St. Brendan the Navigator.  Some of these predate Leif Erikson.  So, suppose a skeptic said, “I don’t believe the Vikings ever came to America.  Erikson’s story is just one of many, probably copied from one of the other stories.”  How would one proceed?

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The Mahabharata: Episode 1

The Mahabharata is the great epic poem of India.  It has both cultural, mythological, and religious significance, sort of like a combination of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Bible. This is an Indian series (English subtitles) based on the epic.  The epic is long, and so is the series, running to 94 episodes.  As I found when I originally ran this on The Caravanserai, for some reason the episodes posted at YouTube can’t be put up separately after Episode 74.  Thus, after importing the Caravanserai posts, I’ve deleted all but Episode 1.  Those who find it to their liking may then view the rest at YouTube.  Enjoy!