The Memories of a Myth
Is there anything left to say right now that hasn’t been covered on social media somewhere already?
I don’t think so.
I can’t think of a single sentence referring to the right now of it that hasn’t been said.
And this is where I find my reassurance.
Not on what is being said right now, but what was being said back then.
Back, back, back when words were whispered into one another’s ears, shouted in exclamation while a handed rested on someone’s shoulder. When they were in the beginning places of being written down, carved into stone, delicately painted onto parchments and leaves.
It is that repetition that comforts me in my lostness now.
There is a saying from a particular school of thought on myth work – where do you find yourself in the story?
Maybe I am just being awkward for the sake of it, but I never feel this to be true. It is never about where I find myself in the story but where the story finds me.
Where is a particular story reaching out to me, where in amongst it’s words and ideas, it’s feeling and breath is it speaking to the soul of me, the whole of me, the places in me that desperately need guidance, support, to know I am not alone.
Where in me am I in need of medicinal aid right now. This is what it means to me to be found by a story. I don’t wake up suddenly in the midst of it, but am called to by the story itself, offered counsel by it. If we look at the story as a living entity that can offer us guidance, rather than a passive frivolity it changes our relationship with them. They are not a thing at the beck and call of our whim, not egocentric – which is how I see the idea of me finding myself in the story – but something offering it’s hand to us.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Myth is something that existed long before man, that we did not conjure it into being. I don’t think it matters so much what it is if not man-made right now, just let’s entertain the possibility that it could exist outside of time or be the voice of the earth itself speaking to us, or actual gods...that it really is mythic.
And if we can hold that, hold this idea of a myth or story being a great guru, a being of wisdom, what could it offer us now? As we sit truly not knowing how the rest of our lives will be, what use could it possibly offer to us?
Is there anything left to say right now that hasn’t been covered somewhere already?
No, Myth tells us. No there is not.
This is it’s salve, it’s solace, it’s poultice, it’s sweetened pill.
There is nothing you are experiencing now, Myth says, that is not tucked away somewhere in my memories. I have been and seen every single thing, Myth says, and I can, if you would like, share my experiences with you.
I woke a few weeks ago with a particular name filling my head over and over like a mantra.
Most know her as Inanna, a Sumerian Goddess of Love and War.
But she still keeps insisting I call her Ishtar.
Ishtar the Mesopotamian Goddess of Love and War.
It feels strong, powerful, solid to say her name...Ishtar.
I feel held and supported by the feel of it on my tongue...Ishtar.
I have no idea why she wishes to be known by one name and not the other but, it’s there, something I cannot possibly fully understand when I say it...Ishtar.
My body understands though, it feels full, strong, resilient, able to fight the sickness that still lurks inside it...Ishtar.
There is a clarity, a focus, a certainty to her name...Ishtar.
The myth of her is as slippery as the snake she is associated with though.
There is no clear agreement on the reason she embarked on her journey to the Underworld. Grief over the loss of her husband? To visit her Dark Sister? She waves a hand at me, dismisses the question, claims not to remember fully herself. So I skip.
What about when she was there, fully in the Underworld itself?
What happened to her?
Again she waves a dismissive, disinterested hand. It doesn’t matter, not right now, she says. What matters, what memory she calls forth, what memory is always called forth whatever her name or whoever speaks of her, what repeats itself time and again is the how of her journey. That she must pass through seven gates to reach the underworld, she must pass through seven gates to leave again. That at each gate she must give up something of herself, be that veils or rich jewels until, once passed the seventh she is stripped of everything that identifies her as Queen, she is alone and naked and vulnerable. She has no idea when she sets out that this will be asked of her. She is given no clear reason why she must give of herself in such a way other than that it is (perhaps) the wish of Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. But who is to say if even that reason is given. Again Ishtar shrugs. It is a specific memory she wants to share with me, to offer as support to me. She is stripped bare by the seven gates with no idea really why and no idea what will happen to her when she reaches her destination.
She still does it, she at no point says no.
She steps fully into the unknowing.
Equally important, she says is to remember, whatever happens to her in that unknowing, she comes out again. She returns back through the gates. All that identifies her as Ishtar to the outside world is given back to her.
Her story, the story repeats and repeats.