General Myth

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  • Topic: Folklore, Urban legend, Legend
  • Pages : 5 (1184 words )
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  • Published : May 10, 2013
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As classical literature, mythology can give us insight into how other cultures have seen the world. Their myths and legends paint a picture of important heroes and adversities, all usually with a common basis in what everyday people would aspire to, or fear, or question.

In folkloristics, a "myth" is a sacred narrative usually explaining how the world or humankind came to be in its present form, "a story that serves to define the fundamental worldview of a culture by explaining aspects of the natural world and delineating the psychological and social practices and ideals of a society". The most common one is about the beginning of the world.

Mircea Eliade argued that one of the foremost functions of myth is to establish models for behavior and that myths may also provide a religious experience.

In the psychology of Carl Jung, myths are the expression of a culture or society’s goals, fears, ambitions and dreams.

A myth is:

• Sacred narrative, which validates a religious system

• Myth of origins, which purports to describe the origin of some feature of the natural or social world

• Creation myth, symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came to inhabit it

• Etiological myth, intended to explain the origins of cult practices, natural phenomena, proper names and the like

• Political myth, ideological explanation for a political phenomenon that is believed by a social group

• Mythology, a body of myths (e.g., Greek mythology) or the academic discipline that studies myths

• Fable

• Folklore, a broad body of cultural traditions

• Folkloristics, the formal, academic discipline devoted to the study of folklore

• Legend, narrative that is perceived as within human history with certain qualities of verisimilitude

• Urban legend, contemporary legend or modern story with motivating significance

As various Slavic populations were Christianised between the 7th and 12th centuries, Christianity was introduced as a religion of the elite, flourishing mostly in cities and amongst the nobility. Amongst the rural majority of the medieval Slavic population, old myths remained strong. Christian priests and monks in Slavic countries, particularly in Russia, for centuries fought against the phenomenon called dvoeverie (double faith). On the one hand, peasants and farmers eagerly accepted baptism, masses and the new Christian holidays. On the other hand, they still persisted performing ancient rites and worshiping old pagan cults, even when the ancient deities and myths on which those were based were forgotten.

This was because, from a perspective of the Slavic peasant, Christianity was not a replacement of old Slavic mythology, but rather an addition to it. Christianity may have offered a hope of salvation, and of blissful afterlife in the next world, but for survival in this world, for yearly harvest and protection of cattle, the old religious system with its fertility rites, its protective deities, and its household spirits was taken to be necessary. This was a problem the Christian church never really solved; at best, it could offer a Christian saints. For instance, European midsummer-related holidays, traditions, and celebrations are pre-Christian in origin. With the rise of Christianity, god Kresnik was replaced with John the Baptist, which is in Portugal called São João. Kresnik's association with midsummer, fire, and rain are tied to St. John's Eve, when in parts of Slovenia, fires are lit and water poured over the people around them. And in Porto is celebrated Festa de São João.

In addition to the definition of myths being stories from/about old religions, we have current mythology about people and events, and imaginary mythology found in modern stories.

In modern society, myth is often regarded as historical or obsolete. Many scholars in the field of cultural studies are now beginning to research the idea that myth...
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