By Badb Catha
Culture may be described as a product of both logos and mythos, with both modes of interpretation and understanding working in synthesis, or with one as a product of the other. Artists, musicians, poets, philosophers, theologians, political theorists, statesmen and others rely on the tools of logos in order to create their own works of mythos. While some my favour and utilise one to a greater degree than the other, the realm of culture is a playground of both the concrete and the abstract, the rational and the intuitive. The academic study of mythology itself may be best understood as the application of logos to the products of mythos. This is nicely illustrated by the term’s etymology.
A theme of particular prominence and endurance in the mythological canon is that or the hero and his journey. The hero, upon hearing the call to action, typically embarks upon a dangerous journey into the unknown. Often, this journey is a descent. Often, as with Psyche, Horus and Christ, it is a descent to the very bottom of the pit, down to Hades, the Egyptian underworld, to Hell. Christ shares common themes in the unlikely form of Dionysus, who, like Shiva and many other deities, exemplifies the long tradition of the dying-and-rising God of life-death-rebirth. The hero who returns from the underworld expresses a number of eschatological themes, with the cyclical nature of time and existence being one of the most prominent.
“In imitating the exemplary acts of a god or of a mythic hero, or simply by recounting their adventures, the man of an archaic society detaches himself from profane time and magically re-enters the Great Time, the sacred time.” – Mircea Eliade