Navigating the Line Between Myth and Personal Gnosis

I feel pretty confident saying all modern Pagans love the old stories.  We get a thrill with how much they permeate everyday culture.  Parents tell myths to their kids, and some pantheons get covered in school.  Art museums are loaded with sculptures and paintings depicting deities and heroes.  They’re everywhere!

Yet just like any other faith, Pagans develop personal feelings and interpretations of myths and legends.  For me, this is especially true regarding my conception of Persephone and her stories  Because she is my patroness and I work with her a lot, I spend a lot of time thinking through the implications and morals behind her tales. Like after being married for a while, she didn’t mind Hades so much.  I didn’t read that anywhere; I just know it in my gut.

Yet I would never, ever express that as truth about her as a deity to anyone else.  Why?  Because that is how I perceive her. But other devotees may not get the same vibe from her.

Personal gnosis is purely self interpretation.  It has nothing to do with the mythology.  Expressing personal thoughts about these stories is natural, but the key is to distinguish the difference.

For example: “So therefore for a portion of the year, Persephone dwelt with her husband.  And in my view after time passed she grew to love him.”  Not “So therefore for a portion of the year, Persephone dwelt with her husband.  And then they lived happily ever after.”

See the difference?

This concept is especially true for comments made on Tumblr, WordPress, Facebook, and other online outlets.  Because there’s no face-to-face discourse, it is easy to lose the respect for the person you are talking to.

So next time you find yourself talking to fellow devotees, approach their interpretation with the respect.

© Ariadne Woods

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Mabon Myths

For many reasons,  Mabon is one of my favorite holidays.  It is a time to give thanks for everything we have received in the year. It marks the beginning of my favorite season.  But it also incorporates my two favorite myths, the descents of Persephone and Inanna.

Persephone is not only my patron Goddess, but I have always felt connected to her story.  Kore was just a girl with a love of life until she was taken by Hades to the Underworld.  No warning, no period of transition, BAM!  She is suddenly Queen of the Underworld. She reacts in a relatable way, by resisting the change and wallowing in her fate.  It isn’t until she is returned to her mother Demeter that Persephone realizes that she is no longer the same person.  She has changed and has a new outlook on life and death.  It’s a tale I take comfort in during big, unexpected changes in my life.

The difference between Persephone and Inanna’s tales is the element of choice.  Inanna choose to go to the Underworld to see her lover (or sister in some translations).  And yet she didn’t realize the toll it would take on herself and the world.  As she goes down the seven layers, Inanna gives up everything and remains unsuccessful.  It is a tale for those making hard choices.

There are, of course, other myths to explore: Osiris’s murder and restoration (and Isis’s search for him), the births of Dionysus, and the cauldron of Cerridwen.  I encourage you to check these out and to think about them as you approach Mabon.

Bright Blessings,

Ariadne

© Ariadne Woods