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By Karen Armstrong

"Human beings have continuously been mythmakers.” So starts off best-selling author Karen Armstrong’s concise but compelling research into fable: what it's, the way it has developed, and why we nonetheless so desperately want it. She takes us from the Paleolithic interval and the myths of the hunters correct as much as the "Great Western Transformation” of the final years and the discrediting of fable by means of technology. The historical past of delusion is the background of humanity, our tales and ideology, our interest and makes an attempt to appreciate the area, which hyperlink us to our ancestors and every different. Heralding a huge sequence of retellings of foreign myths by means of authors from around the globe, Armstrong’s frequently insightful and eloquent e-book serves as a super and thought-provoking creation to fantasy within the broadest sense—and explains why if we push aside it, we achieve this at our peril.

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An experience of transcendence has always been part of the human experience. We seek out moments of ecstasy, when we feel deeply touched within and lifted momentarily beyond ourselves. At such times, it seems that we are living more intensely than usual, firing on all cylinders, and inhabiting the whole of our humanity. Religion has been one of the most traditional ways of attaining ecstasy, but if people no longer find it in temples, synagogues, churches or mosques, they look for it elsewhere: in art, music, poetry, rock, dance, drugs, sex or sport.

The first great flowering of mythology, therefore, came into being at a time when homo sapiens became homo necans, ‘man the killer’, and found it very difficult to accept the conditions of his existence in a violent world. Mythology often springs from profound anxiety about essentially practical problems, which cannot be assuaged by purely logical arguments. Human beings had been able to compensate for their physical disadvantages by developing the rational powers of their extraordinarily large brains when they developed their hunting skills.

When they watched the waning and waxing of the moon, people saw yet another instance of sacred powers of regeneration,7 evidence of a law that was harsh and merciful, and frightening as well as consoling. Trees, stones and heavenly bodies were never objects of worship in themselves but were revered because they were epiphanies of a hidden force that could be seen powerfully at work in all natural phenomena, giving people intimations of another, more potent reality. Some of the very earliest myths, probably dating back to the Palaeolithic period, were associated with the sky, which seems to have given people their first notion of the divine.

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A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong


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