Where did I get the name “The Battle
for Light”? The choice of name is easily explained. In many different cultures
the people have clear viewpoints on the creation of mankind. These include a
belief in a universal darkness at the beginning of time. Nobody could explain
when and how the darkness was overcome. Some students of mythology say the
peoples living in early times thought that they were being persecuted by
visitations of catastrophes through their Gods.
Should a common thread prevail
throughout the spectrum of mythology, it would be discovered by focusing on
catastrophic events. These included a world periodically punished by fire, ice,
deluge or darkness. In the beginning was the phenomenon of a time of fire upon
the earth. Men have looked to the heavens for explanations and solace through
many ages. If this time of fire could be connected to the close passage of a
comet, it would be seen as a calling down of judgement upon the people.
The symbolism of the comet came to be
identified by the Morning Star, but it was also seen as being a serpent or
dragon of fire, or even the lightning let loose after a term of imprisonment.
Other depictions of the celestial body saw it as a sword or sickle, as the sun
chariot or as a phoenix passing through the sky. However you might categorize
it, for each culture it was the manifested terror of an end time equivalent to
God and the devil, in a metaphorical final struggle between the righteous and
the wicked, or the light and the darkness for creation.
In describing such a time, the people
would play active or vital roles in explaining what they saw. Some saw the
appearance of this fiery event as a high rider who in leaping from mountain to
mountain lit the capstones in going forth, or as the Mahabhrata puts it, the
friction of the trees started fire after fire, covering the mountain with
flames. By comparison, Deuteronomy speaks of a malevolent God whose anger had
kindled a fire that engulfed the earth, the crops and the mountains in flames.
Though you may question how many
divergent texts or traditions can embody similar ideas when we look for
explanations, no matter how much evidence is found there will always be an
element of uncertainty. Both Plato and Genesis talk about a wickedness on earth
evident among some of the oldest cultures. When I speak later of the dis-acknowledgement,
I am alluding to a time when the world was seen to be without God. The rationale
is that the people of this era ceased to call out to God but also that God
ceased to believe in what the inhabitants of the earth were accomplishing.
Greek creation links the concept of a
God blind to the people as being excessively evil, so much so that a love for
heaven could not exist. God was seen to be the author of terrible retribution
upon his people; in this instance, God was the father and the people were
envisaged as his children. Or as a Delaware Indian chant admits, there came
wickedness, crime and unhappiness followed by evil, distemper and death.
Even the Mesopotamians despised their
Gods because they would not protect them and thus the people feared the forces
being manifest around them. We are told when the Gods punished mankind it was
because of our ignorance. The justice of the Gods was important to the Greeks
though Epicurean belief was that the Gods were not interested in mankind and it
may be tied in to divine law failing the people.
For the Apapocuva-Gurani Indians,
after the coming of the great fire, a long night followed. Nobody could leave
their homes, and they became prisons resulting in the extinction of the
occupants. The Tale of Utanapisthim also records the era as a time when one
person could not see another and the Gods looking down from heaven could not
find the people either. In the Apocryphal Book of Adam and Eve, Adam says to
God, `You cannot see me, neither can I see you,’ which is reminiscent of the
time of darkness.
In Josephus, God testifies that it was
not he who called down destruction on a polluted world. But if not God then who?
The Arawaks had the myth of the Great Spirit who scourged the world with fire
causing the community to take shelter underground. Afterwards came the Deluge.
In the Book of Revelation, the Queen of Heaven says to herself, `I will see or
know no sorrow’, perhaps meaning that there will be no responsibility amongst
the Gods during a time of catastrophe and ruin.
The idea was that a time of darkness
had passed in which there was generalized confusion and a night of prolonged
seasons. The time of darkness however could be seen to be the direct offshoot of
that of a volcano though there is no disputation that the eruptions were
connected to stellar conflagrations. Sometimes in time of fire, deluge
traditions coincided – looking at it thousands of years later makes it seem
less credible, because we have to look at it rationally and we cannot relate to
a world in chaos.
In the book of Psalms was the claim
that we have been through both fire and flood. Tupii-Gurani myth has Monan the
creator being vexed with mankind and resorting to destroying the world by fire,
but there is a second powerful magician who extinguishes the conflagration
through a rain storm. This is similar to another legend of
Part of this story has the Ethiopian
causing a darkness among men, though light is eventually restored. My way of
looking at the biblical Deluge is tied in to a subsidence event, which acts as a
catalyst for widespread global migrations. This is what I see as causing a
division or separation between cultures and faiths or religions.
In many unique places, rulers claim
direct descent through a celestial entrance. Perhaps one of the best passages
that shows the coincidence of these times is part of the Deluge tradition: in
the Akkadian Gilgamesh is the dream of the mountain falling when darkness
beckons, then there’s lightning and fire and ashes. In the story of Kurma, the
people stir the oceans using the golden mountain as a rod and the serpent as a
While undergoing this process the
mountain sinks and becomes a part of the ocean floor. Cherokee legend tells that
the earth floats on the waters like a great island held by four ropes – if
they ever break, the world will fall down and there will be widespread
annihilation. Herodotus has
On the transition from the Kali Yuga
to the Maha Yuga, or in this case from the last age to the first age,
resurrection would occur and drought would prevail until the oceans were empty.
And there would be fires upon the lands then elephant clouds would bring the
flood. In the Satiable Stonemason of Chinese origin, the stonemason kept sending
among them scorching flames, a cloud that blackens the sun and great winds when
the rock is moved aside.
Huai-Nan Tzu says that the earth could
not bear all things at once; fires raged that could not be dampened and waters
accumulated in vast floods. Montigy spoke about Indian traditions of the
moon’s descent in the skies and of its appearance as a fiery serpent. What
followed was earthquake, a permanent night and great flood. Even though our
forefathers knew times of difficulty, none was seen as being as formidable as
when the lord of heaven brought them these perils.
Perhaps the reason we turn to myths is that we can relate to the story no matter when it was set or why it was written. We find in these stories something about ourselves, maybe a solution to our way of life – the reality that though we all live and die that something lives on around us and that we can find something more profound than our own perception of the world and how it changes.
About the Author
SKAROTT was born in
author has an academic background and has specialised in comparative mythology
for over five years. For several years, he studied archaeology and ancient
history at the
has been writing fiction for over ten years and has produced several titles
including Shadows Recollecting, also published by Poseidon Books. He is
currently working on a sequel to Shadows
Recollecting, titled The Reflections
Storm at the Oracle: the Battle for Light is the culmination of four years’ mythological research.
If you are looking for a universal truth,
everything in the world and all that lives has a song or a story. It is said
those who have the same voices call to one another. Because they are alike they
have identical opinions and might have the same destination. Consider the
universe as being a performance in which each star plays its part; as long as
the music continues the stars and constellations keep their places.
Everywhere there is a rhythm, in every action from
the smallest creature to the entire universe. Qabbalah believes the power of the
human sacred music has an effect in the celestial realms.
Our most profound theories and thoughts could be like
tunes which seem familiar to us even if we have never heard them before or know
them, even if they are directions in which life takes us with fate and destiny
acting as notes in the song of life. Another way of saying it is as the sound of
thunder or a collective cry calling for attention, or it might be said the blood
surging through your body also surges through the harmony of the world itself.
Legends are significant if they apply to our own verse
in life and make sense on a personal level. If there was a story of a hero it
could be set to song and it would then be an inspiration for those who followed.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that all language is spoken; in some
societies, whistle, bell and drum languages
co-existed with the spoken language. The reason archaeology exists is that
people are searching beneath the earth to illuminate past events. Some might
even believe that the creation of the earth was a conspiracy in which the world
was set up to conceal God’s reality from us.
Entering a forest you might find lost ruins. Why
would anyone believe that someone had once lived there. Perhaps the abandoned
city would be regarded as just as lost as the probability of stumbling across
it. Such discoveries would be like a blind man taking a jewel from a rubbish
heap. He would not be able to attach value to it and would think nothing of it.
Individuals who think they know where they are going could be seen to be walking
in forests or travelling through paths built by other generations of which they
have no knowledge and are yet dependent on.
It seems the rediscovery of the past through
archaeology has occurred in comparatively little more than a few centuries
foresight. Whether we like it or not we will approach our work with a bias and
discrimination that has been determined by our own view of history. Today we
imagine the past in terms of foundations which have been built over. We do not
imagine history is concerned with present events or said to be happening around
us. Geologists recognised earthquakes and volcanoes could be truly catastrophic
in nature. Grabau, a Neocatastrophist, believed the history of the earth could
be understood through the cyclical changes in sea level.
If you thought you had a message which seemed
clear cut, through all the turmoils of history, then the aim was to have an idea
which went beyond what anyone else had said. You had to believe that there was
something fascinating or aesthetic to the story so that it would continue to
captivate through successive generations. In a sense, ancestral beliefs were as
dangerous as propaganda; the messages that they created would be manipulating
the view of the masses if the propositions were accepted. In a sense, the
legends and myths of religion were more risky than leadership, because the
politician or orator could be substituted while a system of beliefs transcended
culture. African legend has a taboo against the trading of cultural ideals. By
comparison Lucretius spoke of terror tales as being common knowledge; they
caused a rift between storytellers.
Comparative mythology was conceived in 1856 by Max
Muller who at the time was working with the Indo European language idea.
scholars do not accept a universal interpretation of mythology, because when you
asked why virtually the same myths are found in different corners of the earth
and you begin to ask more than what could be coherently explained. The
implications of a common system of myths evident among all peoples raised the
issue of how widely separated peoples could develop stories that were the same.
Could the myths of certain societies be disguised as modern stories transformed
into less familiar forms not so readily perceptible or meaningful to us today
due to a lack of recognition of the contexts in which they emerged.
By always choosing how to classify myths, you
decided whether they should be treated as events or if they had been modelled on
such diverse subjects as containing the defects of culture. The African people
label Western culture as being essentially blind, and that our belief is that we
take nothing for granted unless we can see it happening before our eyes.
Even the Popul Vuh holds similar sentiments. When
the vision of individuals is limited and our foresight is dim we can only see
what is directly before us and not what is around us. What complicates myth is
our acceptance of them based upon utterances of reality and the fact that they
have left behind the structures or contexts that initiated them. To some these
traditions were revered as being more reliable than history. Perhaps our biggest
failing is that we perceive ourselves as grasping the truth more clearly or as
solving all the problems that had been faced by our ancestors.
For some people to have their sacred stories
downgraded to myths would be insulting. If identity was calculated through myth
then their meaning or purpose revealed something to us long before they became
the communal voice. Sometimes there were no boundaries between people’s
stories and the environments in which they lived. As long as people had stories
to fall back on they had some rules or ethics to guide them but if they had no
tales to tell, it appeared that they would not know how to act. Often the
storyteller was a translator between forgotten worlds. If their message was
overlooked who knew what would be the ramifications? In The Ghost Dance cultural
heroes and the ancestors of the past were no longer regarded as being gods, but
only men like ourselves.
Tradition as the Imperfect
It is remarkable that anyone could tailor the
legends of the world to their own purposes when so few know them well; it would
be akin to describing a nation that no one remembers. Joseph Campbell in Myths
to Live By states that without mankind’s ability to fall back on myth and
religion there would be no law and that people need illusions or symbols.
Disequilibrium follows in the absence of direction and the world becomes a
thief. The problem with legends is that they come to us indirectly. When we see
or hear them we don’t know how much. One interpretation of these traditions
suggests that they may be moulded together or that the contents of these stories
can be described as psychology and politics. Ancient legends are compared to a
horse race in which it isn’t always the most popular stories that endure or
the ones that can go the distance. Along the way anything can happen.
At any stage of its existence, a myth might face
extinction. If a culture was in transition both their knowledge and stories
might be lost or corrupted. Sometimes legends were spoken of in alehouses and
any member of the community could relate to them, though they could be limited
to the education or wisdom of the storyteller.
Almost anyone can tell a cheap story but few can
base them on facts and deliver it as if their life depended upon the telling. A
common belief was that you couldn’t walk away from a story unless you knew
every aspect of it. There was always the danger that a myth would change each
time it was told, but because these instructions were believed to be sacred
truths, they might seem more like rehearsals or imitations being passed on
instead of real events.
In the past because the earth appeared untamed and
unresolved, its size created a lasting impression upon the minds of its
inhabitants, nations sprang up distant from one another but communications
between neighbouring states were often obscure relations that seemed little more
than alienated tales. The problem with fables is that they could create entire
events which could not readily be proved or disproved.
You could always condemn a myth because it did not
distinguish the difference between the object the myth portrayed and the idea
which was being posited.
If the truth of a myth could not be answered or
believed in, then these accounts were like riddles which would eventually die
out regardless of cultural integrity. There was always a connection of myths to
primitive peoples which suggested the stories lacked truthfulness. You could
alternatively explain myths as being the remnants of the powerful chants of the
dreaming of the Gods or ancestors you could receive shamanic powers, myths or
learn songs. It is said that the same
oral tales are found in Europe, the Middle East and
What people sought in myths was a moral or a
message, something by which they could measure themselves and which would either
guide or mislead their society.
The paradox of classic storytelling is that those
who told the tales often presented more questions than answers. One view is that
in the future we will need a stronger story or message than any of our ancestors
gave us. Mythical motifs could be dubbed ‘collective’ elements or even seen
as ‘memory deposits’ so that we have a criticism of our ancestors’ minds.
One view of mythology is that the events
represented sprang up out of nature as if nature was a language so that all
mankind had to do was to listen. The purpose of these stories was that they were
an interpretation of the world but also a way of living a balanced life. Among
the questions that remain with myth was what happened if the stories vanished
but you didn’t know where the customs had come from. Henrich Schliemann should
always be mentioned as someone who utilised myths as being historical and turned
them into reality. By doing so he applied archaeology in an unconventional
manner that few would have expected.
Arguments in Myths
There is the comparison of myth to being a
‘mighty weapon’ which could overcome any threats that come along the way.
That myths were taken across the oceans and continents is not entirely strange;
that different peoples could hold the same ideologies and at the same time could
not understand one another and yet see myth as being a gateway. The storytellers
who were proficient at telling their stories could unfold one story within
another. At times having a story was a bit like having a claim to existence. As
long as your children had their own legend of who they were, their lives and
what they could achieve were reinforced as an unlimited frontier.
The setting in which storytelling took place was
usually at night by a fire or at meal times. What carried the legend was that it
could strike upon a common experience and be retold thousands of times so that
it would never be forgotten. Sometimes the power of a message could be carried
for a thousand miles and all that it would take was one word. In the modern
world rumours are like wildfire. Information is so readily available that it is
no longer the privilege of a few unique individuals as it was in the earliest
One rationalization of myth is that at its core
there is a universal life or mystical gateway and that in life we are living by
reflections and impressions of it. If there are sceptics of myth it was that
they appeared untrue or not serious and that they are based on illusions or
falsehoods. You could call myth a misaligned version of history in which the
figures are elevated to being gods. What we remember of the past were situations
which only lasted as long as we could remember. Beyond that were the legends
which remained as timeless as the stars.
Often the boundary between myth and religion is
indistinguishable; myth in a sense was a channel through which the sources of
the universe passed. These sources were outlets in which all truths were put
under the microscope before they expanded out into the macrocosm. Overall it was
surprising that oral traditions withstood the test of time. They usually
revolved around descriptions of the world as being a test or ordeal but also had
the world’s character magnified in power.
These stories weathered the testimonies of time
and those who told them were seen as being the focal points of the past and
future. They were guides in human endeavours as well as the health and
well-being of the community. In order to find reality or claim an identity by
having a personal myth something larger than life echoed in the profundity of
your soul. Similar explanations were made of heroes; those who died with a story
lived on as an immortal. It is also said that it would be pointless trying to
understand myths if you didn’t have your own ability to create them. Aristotle
had seen myths as comprising knowledge because they would fascinate those who
Because myths were based on symbols they were
based on two separate realities – the structure of the tale and the messages
hidden from the reader or audience. In native American tradition we are told of
the talking stone which said, stories are eternal like the stars that shine
forever but never fade. It was also said that all the wisdom we have comes from
the stars and that each tale is a gift of life though more precious than life
itself. The second Peter talks about the ‘cunningly devised fables’ as being
in themselves centres for the ‘power and coming of the lord.’
Carl Jung refers to the myth as being found
through the inner vision of first sight, but also through the external sight of
eternal images. Euhemerus the Macedonian suggested that all myth and legend did
not merely contain the reflection of truth but that they all to a certain extent
stem in manner, shape or form from historical events. Myth was also the coded
indication of the central values of a society, but if a society coexisted with
other societies in witnessing common events then we have an overlap of
cataclysmic events. These seem to predominate through the entire spectrum of
With the passage of time the secret and sacred
primitive beliefs diminish. As they become common and no longer sacred there is
what we call a progressive diminishment and the out-phasing of traditions. If
you were to view legends as being the keepers of lost secrets then there would
be no difference between a legend and revelation. One version of the oral or
Bardic tale admits to the memory of the stories as being a subconscious process
which gives us only the skeleton of the original so that each oral stage becomes
tainted by the creativity of the storyteller.
Plato hypothesizes myth as being the direct
offspring of time and successive ages in which cities have had the recreation to
reflect upon where they have been thereby creating philosophical tales. A view
of similarities in language or in this case story assimilation is that prolonged
contact between cultures comes only with extreme intermixing and the absence of
isolation. There was one view that it was only after mankind had achieved a
certain level of abundance that the people also found peace or tranquillity,
after which the people became alienated to the concepts of wars and bloodshed.
At times, the influence of culture has been
regarded as more dangerous than flood or fire or drought. Native peoples could
withstand all of these but they could not withstand civilisation. Typically,
myths represented a common connection within a group through which everyone knew
themselves; foremost in their mind were conflagrations. One goal of the
progression into language was that historians might hope to learn how we had
evolved out of barbarism. Fundamental to this was the connection between
primitive peoples and deities of the sky. For the continuance of any culture,
the backbone was power, the power to influence another race and the ability to
be included in numerous places at the one time.
Symbols, Language and the Logos
You can recollect within a word or phrase memories
of the past, the oldest words having three or four different meanings. Language
could always be seen as a determinant of thought, of our customs or attitudes to
life. One of the mystical capabilities of language was the belief that symbols
contained energies. If these energies were reproduced they would be a
ramification. Another way of saying this was that when you spoke words each word
contained a vibration. Words represented the beginning of life and creation as
occurring by the most sacred and powerful of
languages. Buddhist philosophy was that because words and ideas make no sense on
their own they are reliant on other words and ideas and are merely constructs of
consciousness. The word or logos was seen to be a bridge between the hidden
world and our own manifest world. For
They might be at times songs and echoes of
thoughts mirrored on a people’s memory of immense events. If there is a
contradiction in symbolism it is not in how people interpret their world,
because a majority of people have essentially the same instinct. The older
languages were, the more they were supported by and relied upon metaphors. No
matter how we look at language, it is only because of philosophy that we give
meaning to language. Where language has dimensions it is because man created
A people might take part in star dances in order
for their lives to be like those in heaven. Urbanisation has always been treated
as an alienating factor which results in the dissonance of traditional culture.
There is the view of Ed Sapir’s that mankind is a prisoner of language. Names
could always be misleading because the material with which they dealt remained
the same but the names themselves would change over time.
If I ask you what the Summit is all about, the
Summit is all about how I found my own myth, a myth about initiation and about
how people live for the stories that somehow are more important then their own
lives. It’s about taking risks and sacrificing everything you’ve got to a
higher cause. It’s about people like you and me and living up to your destiny
and holding nothing back.
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