A common theme in comparative mythology is that of a generation of gods (the offspring) killing or displacing the previous generation (the progenitors). In ancient Greek mythology, for instance, Zeus leads the Olympians into battle against Cronus and the titans.
And then there are divine gender issues, including those related to birth and renewal.
HOW MUCH FARTHER?
Male gods tend to be "driven", paternalistic, egotistical, prideful, wrathful, jealous, lustful, in a word: patriarchal. Their psychology is that of black or white, either or, yes or no, right or wrong. They employ deductive logic, eg that of the excluded middle, in which something is either true and/or its exact opposite is true, but that there is no truth in the middle.
Digital, quantum, discreet truth vs fuzzy, analogue, continuous truth.
The male gods have a clear and definite straightforward direction, a forward movement, an arrow, from A to B. With A as starting point. And B as destination. For them, there's no turning back. Time is a vector; time has an arrow.
WHY WON'T THEY TELOS?
Male gods demand obedience, tolerate no disagreement, inflict punishment. And insist on purpose,telos. They insist that there are purposes, that there is purpose. [but they won't tell us what it is!]
In contrast, the Goddess, the Great Mother (eg the Hindu divinity Adi Parashakti) is the antithesis of the above. Her psychology is that of shades of grey. She employs inductive logic when she employs logic at all. Her style is more intuitive, instinctive than logical or analytical. No purpose. No direction. No starting point. No destination. Her metaphysical expression is that of "the eternal return". [Which is echoed in the "big bang / big crunch" cycle in some modern cosmologies.]
What do you get when you shoot the arrow of time at the eternal return? The eternal spiral of course!
In the mythology of many cultures is the theme of male gods murdering or supplanting the Goddess, the first progenitor, eg Marduk's killing of Tiamat in the ancient Babylonian belief system. [I was going to say "Babylonian mythology" but then decided not to make a judgement about ideas held by people living thousands of years ago.]
The cosmic takeover bid, heavenly matricide one might say, has been linked as wikipaedia puts it, "to the rise of Patriarchal power structures ... and the institutionalisation of warfare...".
(To heap speculation upon speculation, perhaps the shift to patriarchal deity reflects also the shift from hunting/gathering to farming. Though it seems to me that in farming there's a strong flavour of "cyclic-ity" --- eg of the seasons, of rainfall, of reaping and sowing --- that tastes more like "eternal return" than forwardness and purpose.)
The Goddess is an obstacle to the forward direction of the male gods. Her existence refutes the very concept of "direction", of "purpose".
So they kill her. Boys will be boys!
So much for the issues of divine gender and psychopathology.
DROWNING IN GODS' TEARS
Another interesting set of globally cross-cultural themes is that of the Flood --- a story told in many of the myths and legends of peoples across the globe. But one should be careful about the application of the label "myth". I believe that there is a kernel of truth at the heart of many myths. Do myths have a heart? Doesn't matter. Move on.
In "Underworld" author Graham Hancock explores the evidence for global "superfloods" destroying prehistorically advanced civilizations in the period between roughly 20,000 to 7,000 years ago.
Note the plural in "civilisations". We're not talking just one prehistoric civilisation here: Hancock is not an "Atlantis hunter". Among the evidence he presents in Underworld are photographs of structures resembling ruined cities that lie beneath tens of metres of ocean. Not just in one or two places, but in many places beneath the oceans and seas of this Planet --- in the waters around Japan, India, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and elsewhere.
Underworld also includes the inundation maps produced by Dr Glenn Milne of Durham University, UK. A world-leader in his field, Milne uses powerful computers to crunch mountains of data relating to sea-water levels, glaciation, ocean chemistry and other factors that determine coastline, the place where water meets land.
The inundation maps in Underworld are those of the past, not of today, ie they show the coastline of continents and islands as they would have been tens of thousands of years ago. Hancock compares Milne's inundation maps with maps known to have been used by civilisations that many if not most mainstream historians, archaeologists and paleontologists would describe as the earliest on the Planet. But what's startling about those ancient maps is that they show places and coastlines that those mariners of ancient Greece and elsewhere would not and could not have known about. Hancock makes a convincing case that the maps could only have been drawn by cartographers of civilisations existing far earlier --- thousands of years if not tens of thousands of years earlier --- than the civilisations deemed by the mainstream to be the earliest.
LIVER LITTLE LIVER LOT
A figure that looms large in comparative mythology is that of the god / godly being who gives humankind gifts of knowledge, and is punished by a literal godfather for disobedience.
In ancient greek mythology, for example, Prometheus gives humankind "the gift of fire" and is punished by Zeus for doing so. His punishment is to be chained to a rock and have an eagle peck at his liver for all eternity. And to make sure Prometheus doesn't get let out early on probation, Zeus makes the relevant arrangements for Prometheus' liver to continually regenerate, so that there's always something for the eagle when it feels a bit peckish.
And then there's Lucifer, "Lightbringer", the rebellious angel, also identified as the serpent who persuades Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. And is punished by Jehovah for doing so.
And on the subject of serpents, the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec entity associated with culture and knowledge, especially gnostic knowledge eg related to priesthood and revelation.
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