Good Reading : July 2004
Copyright © Global Book Publishing Pty Ltd 2003 Published by Hodder Headline Australia, rrp $100.00 from MYTHOLOGY: MYTHS, LEGENDS AND FANTASIES edited by Dr Alice Mills goodreading 43 All civilizations have created their own myths, mostly satisfying the great thirst for insights into the mysteries of life: what is the beginning of life?, why is this mountain shaped the way it is? With countless telling and retelling, myths have evolved like Chinese whispers: heroes becoming more chivalrous, animals and people talking to each other – everything more extraordinary with each telling, and continu- ally stretching our perception of the world. With the invention of the printing press and then radio, film and TV, the oral tradi- tion of retelling has declined, but some of the old myths are being retold, such as that of the Basilisk, a snake-like creature renowned for its ability to kill with just one look, which featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , and the reshaping of the hero and the quest from Germanic and Finnish mythology which re-emerged in The Lord of the Rings. Our fascination for myths has survived millennia and where once they were shared around campfires and on the walls of ancient caves they are now flourishing anew in our global village on the world-wide-web via email and chat rooms. Carl Jung says that myths voice the truth of our uncon- scious selves and that gods, goddesses, and heroes of myth embody aspects of our creativity, cleverness, grief, joy, aggression and ecstasy. It would seem we human beings are mythmakers by nature. The exterior of a megalithic passage tomb, c.3000 BC, in County Meath, Ireland. It is said to be one of four underground palaces of the Dagda (which means ‘good god’), who was the Lord of Perfect Knowledge, mighty ruler of the Tuatha. This painting is of the Saif ul-Muluk, an Egyptian prince, and Badi’al-Jamal, a Jinn princess. According to One Thousand and One Nights, the lovers are brought together by the Jinn, and carried off in a golden carriage.