After writing this post about people who are completely passionate about their work, I got to thinking about things that really get me revved up. Things that make me talk like these people talk: on and on and on, because I'm really into what I'm talking about.
And right away one topic came to mind. It's my go-to soap box topic, except I'm not really complaining about anything. It's something that I honestly find MIND-BLOWINGLY FASCINATING and I am always mildly surprised and a little bit sad when I realise nobody else is there with me.
So here it is. Please imagine me talking faster than usual, and gesticulating wildly, letting my tea go cold or my wine get warm. It's possible my eyes are just a little bit cray-cray. If that scares you (erm, why would it?) feel free to click away now…
One day when the kids are all grown up and the mortgages are all paid off (in other words when I'm 90ish), I want to go ahead and undertake a PhD on the origins of religion and mythology. Proper research study, not anecdotal or speculative "the gods were aliens because you can only see the Nazca lines from above" stuff.
Because to my mind there are just too many similarities in the world's spiritual stories for there not to be a REASON. Look at the resurrection themes in the Christian and ancient Egyptian stories. Or the creation texts of the Jews and the Mayans: there's water, separation, a serpent, so many symbolic parallels. Water and a great serpent are at the centre of a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, too. Now look at the demigods of the ancient Greeks and the Romans: they are the offspring of a human-divine pairing, and they are great and powerful heroes. Now take a look at the story of the Nephilim in Genesis of the Bible/Torah scriptures: they are the offspring of angels and human beings (other translations say "the sons of god and the daughters of men"), and they are known as "the giants and heroes of old."
I get that some of these stories travelled through cultures through wars and along trade routes, which COULD explain story parallels in, for example, the Middle East. But what about South America? Australia? There are SO MANY stories with similarities, all over the world and throughout the ages. Where did they start? Is there truth in any of these? If so, what IS that truth? Who started this millennia-old game of Chinese whispers?
Once upon a time our ancestors didn't worship any gods, and then one day they did. Archaeologists can trace the beginnings of spirituality and religion in our ancestors, through signs of belief in the afterlife. A long time ago when someone died, we left them and walked away. Presumably we grieved because presumably we loved, too, but once a person was dead there was nothing more to be done for them. But then we started burying our dead, and burying them with items of significance. Items to go with them into the afterlife, to ease their passage or make their existence easier once they got there.
WHY? Why did we start believing in life beyond the material? What happened? Did it happen in just one place and then word spread, or did it happen everywhere all at once and then the different peoples and cultures developed their own stories in isolation from one another? Was it an actual god? Many gods? A spectacular and/or catastrophic natural event? Heck, let's indulge all the theories for a minute. Did aliens teach us how to build the pyramids? Were the "heroes of old" actually just another race that existed parallel to us, like the neanderthals (who, btw, also believed in an afterlife)?
Mind blown, right? Right?
Oi. WAKE UP!
So that's my little soap box rant and probably you won't be that into it and to your face I'll say "that's cool" but in my head I'll be thinking WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD? WHY DON'T THEY GET HOW AMAZING THIS IS?
And now I want to know: what's YOUR soap box topic? What gets you REALLY excited, as in, almost as excited as the mystery of the origins of myth? I promise to listen. I do. I really want to know. Go!