man with a lamb

cabezotapequeno  asked:

Do you have any advice if someone wants to create an entirely new mythology for their story?

Mythology is a human creation which serves as a way to make sense to the world, surroundings and, mostly, natural events. Mythology tells the story of origins of the world, of people, of elements, and such. My approach to the creation of new mythology will have the geography as the foundation for mythology. The reason for this is that we try to explain, or find a reason, to what we see, hear, or sense. I can not explain, even with a myth, snow if I have never seen it, or heard about it. I can not explain the Aurora Borealis if I don’t know it exists. This might be reductionist since mythology relies on more than meets the eye (aka symbolism, rites, traditions, roles, kinship, among others), but it is a starting point.

Geography
When creating a new mythology you have to know where the story will take place and the conditions of said place. The weather, the animals, the flora, the natural events, and so. How do the people of your story understand and perceive the sunrise, the sunset, the waves, the rivers, the eclipses, the storms. Is there a story behind the shape of the mountains, are the animals a representation of gods and godessess. What about the stars, do they mean something to them? Compile the geography of your setting, use mythology to explain what your characters can see, the vital elements to their survival, and natural events that can happen from time to time. The geography itself can play an important role in the developing of the story, take for example a city surrounded by mountains, the sun rises from the mountains and sets behind them. There are no hurricanes, no tornados, no tsunamis, nothing that can harm the population to a big extent. What role do the mountains play here? Are they protectors of the city? How do the people feel when they travel to a place where there are no mountains? On its counterpart, what about people living on an island, how do they feel about the ocean? What it means to them?

Creation
How did things begin for the people in your story? What’s the beginning of their world. What are the elements arround it? Did a powerful entity created it, was it because of a natural, yet untraceable event. How did the rivers become rivers, who or what created the moon, or is i tan entity on its own?

Life
Is life given or is it created? If so, who, or what, gives it; who, or what, creates it? What is the definition of life to the people of your story? Is the ocean alive? Do the mountains speak to the people who can understand them? Is life a synonym of movement? Is the wind an influx of life? Are living organisms separated into body-mind, body-mind-soul, body-soul?

Destruction
Some natural events can fall into the destruction category, such as volcano eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, among others. For your people, is the creator also a destroyer, or are there other entities besides the creator. Is the destruction seen as something bad or as something natural and even necessary?

Death
Is death the opposite of life? What do the people of your story consider death? Is it given, is it earned? Who can die, who can live forever? Does the sun dies after it sets? What happens to the body after death? Is there an afterlife people can look up to?

Time
Is time linear or circular? How is it measured by the people on your story? Do the days turn into weeks or do they remain days forever? How do people differentiate one season from another? Is there an entity that controls the time, or is it time an entity on its own?

Symbols
Do the entities have a correspondece here on earth, are specific symbols associated to them? Are certain events a warning for something bigger?  Do the people wear objects that resemble the entities they worship? Is there any iconography for these entities?

Prophecies
Are there any prophecies in your mythology? It could be about the end of the world, about the arrival of a different group of people, about a natural event, among others.

Heroes
Mythology also relies on heroes who have accomplished great tasks in order to prove themselves worthy of something. They are usually portrayed as role models for the society, as they embody the values of it.

Rites (also involved in religion)
Are there any rites involved in your mythology? This could be before eating, before hunting, before a birth, or after those above. A rite is usually a sacred act that allows people to go from one state to another within their society.

Traditions (like rites, they respond to a diferent structure)
These are a less sacred form of rites. Traditions carry the past on them as they rememorate an event of importance to society, to a family, ore ven to a single person. A birthday celebration can be labeled as a tradition.

Suggestions
Below you’ll find a list of books written by anthropologists and such, about mythology. Not all of them are explicit about it. Also this books were written by people outside the societies they wrote about, so read them with a critical eye.

  • Tim Ingold - The temporality of the landscape (paper)
  • Pierre Clastres - Chronicle of the Guayaki India
  • Claude Levi-Strauss - Mythologiques / How myths die / Many of his work
  • Mircea Eliade - Many of his work
  • Louis-Vincent Thomas - Anthropologie de la mort
  • Joseph Campbell - Transformations of Myths through time
  • Fernando Santos-Granero - Writing history into the landscape: Space, Myth, and Ritual in Contemporary Amazonia

Advice

  • Define what is sacred and what is profane for the people in your story.
  • The same goes for values and moral expectations. Think of archetypes here.
  • In many cultures, as well as in many mythologies, you can find a universal flood and universal fire myth. This is because both elements have cleansing properties. There can be mythological creatures associated to them or not. As well, these myths can be replicated when someone is born or when someone dies.
  • Mythology is part of the worldbuilding, and it plays an important role in society since it permeates to daily life.
  • As time passes, myths change, or are changed, to keep them alive. At the same time, they can be transformed to fit societal changes.
  • Mythology is not the same as religion. This being said, monoteism is not a higher or more advanced state than animism or polyteism.


I hope this works for you!

Lia

Below there’s a not-so-short passage of the book Blindness by José Saramago. It isn’t a major spoiler but it shows how much incidence we, humans, have on the gods we create and re-create. It’s rather long, so if you want to skip it, or read the book (which I advice), feel free to do it. Also, I cut off some parts, but it stills makes sense.

Keep reading

OKAY SO HANNIBAL LECTER, REY AND PETER PARKER WILL BE MEETING IN CHAOS WALKING!? LIKE, HELL YEAHH!!!
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Me, knowing that this cast is going to killed it! (I’m hype AF)

Originally posted by shawnasgonnagif