Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Everyday Mythology

"Christmas time is snow time, and in no time it'll be Christmas again..." A cute little holiday melody, yes? Just one problem. It's snowing here in the mountians - snowing hard - and it's still October! They leaves are still firmly attached to the trees (or were, this morning) and the sky is already dishing out winter weather.

But I'm not complaining (much). Because of the snow, I got to see something magnificent. I was heading to class early this morning and happened to turn around and catch a glimpse of my mountain - Timpanogas. I grew up in love with that mountain. As long as I could see her, I was home. And she was always so beautiful - just as colorful and varied as the sky itself. This morning she was wearing white. Gleaming, pristine, flawless white. The suns rays were reflected off her slopes, causing the whole mountianside to shine. Her peaks were cloaked in cotton-thick clouds, rendering the summit invisible from the valley floor.

I wondered if it wasn't just such an image that inspired the myths of Mount Olympus in the minds of the ancient Greeks. I can just imagine the gods and goddesses sitting in council on the mountaintop, looking down through the clouds on the sorry mortals below. To those who had no need to climb the higher mountains, who had no knowledge of what a mountaintop looked like - the possibilites are endless.

I've thought similar things while observing the cosmos for my astronomy course. What the ancients must have thought looking to the unfathomable heavens, and seeing the forms of their heros among the stars... the very least they could bring to the table of explanation is that an all-powerful being had put them there.

We modern mortals look to the storm-enveloped mountains, pity the poor wretch who is attempting the climb, and go on with our day. We look to the heavens and think of millions of miles of outerspace, of laws of gravity and the speed of light. But what would it be like if we could put our modern knowledge aside and look at the world through the eyes of the ancients? If, instead of explaining the world through logic and knowledge, we could put our imaginations to the test for a while? If we could stop seeing the laws of science and start searching for the touch of the Gods?

I think that in letting ages past take over, we might just get a clearer view of the present.

1 comment:

  1. Certainly, science has changed our ability to view the world through an imaginative eye. Matthew Arnold wrote a poem called Dover Beach where he talks about the sea of faith receding. Recapturing the world from the eye of a child is the goal of so many poets--it is an effort to see without explanation--to wonder. Great thoughts again Rach.