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Many Cultures, Same Myths

Posted February. 18, 2006 02:59,   


For centuries, the mythological number “432” has been connected to the observation of the heavens. Today, the sun of the spring equinox is at Pisces, but during the time of Jesus Christ, it was at Aries. Two thousand years before that, it was at Taurus. Every 72 years it rotates one degree, so slowly that it is difficult to perceive. When this equinox precession has made one turn, all the planets will have completed a full revolution, thus completing a full “Zodiac Cycle,“ which takes 25,920 years. Amazingly, if one divides this number by the Mesopotamian sexagesimal system, one gets the number 432.

“The Mythic Image” by Joseph Campbell, brilliantly presents a diverse array of the world’s mythologies, showing the historical unity among humans within this spectrum. In this unity, all of the world’s religions and mythologies are equal. All mythologies tell the same grand story about the human race to form a single mythology.

Campbell is named as the foremost commentator on mythology and comparative mythologist in the 20 century. Through this book, which is his life’s definitive work, he tells us that mythology shows you treasures at the spots where you trip and fall.

He introduces mythology through dreams. Just like dreams pop up within the unconscious mental world, Campbell says that mythology is the same way. “The true meaning of mythology is symbolic. Mythology doesn’t occur in the conceptual system. It springs up from a source of life. It flows out from a place where the mind dwells. Mythology is not reality, but indicates what is beyond.” The author does not try to positively prove or explain what he describes. Instead, he uses the book’s illustrations as medium beyond language, giving his story more impact.

In this book, the Old and New Testaments are considered a type of mythology among the many mythologies of the human race, and a rich and beautiful text.

For instance, the incarnation doctrine that modern people find difficult to take literally, that both God and man coexisted in one body of Jesus Christ, can be construed as a mythological theme that symbolizes that God is everywhere and inside you. “The kingdom of heaven is in you and outside of you as well” (from the New Testament Book of Thomas).

The photo of a depiction of a “Young Virgin Mary,” as well as gods and spirits living within us, are presented as eloquent legendary and mythical images. The photo, “Virgin Mary with Child,” where she is holding Eve’s sinful apple (“the world’s apple”) portrays her as the one who finally brings the world to God’s level.

Through poetic, mysterious, and spiritual meanings, he searches for symbols and common ground shared with traditional myths throughout the world within the paradigm of the Christian message.

Earlier, Thomas Mann, through his newly coined term, “grammar of the moon,” that he used in his mythical tetralogy, “Joseph and His Brothers,” presented mythological thinking and deep insights into methods of non-verbal communication. “The sunlight and the moonlight are different. Inanimate objects under the moonlight look different from the way they do under the sun. The Holy Spirit will shine a light more genuine than the moonlight,” he wrote.

Gi-U Lee keywoo@donga.com