Do you know the story of Hercules?
How about the story of the Trojan Horse? The Thunderbird?
Do you know who Boudica was? Amaterasu?
No matter your culture, it has myths. Myths give us Heroes and the Boogeyman. These are stories that permeate our consciousness without our awareness.
Greek myths are the best known in Euro-Western culture. Myths are the stories on which the Hero’s Journey pattern is based and many of our beliefs about overcoming great odds to achieve success.
Layered on top of cultural myths are your own personal myths. It might be a family story of the grandmother who raced across Hungary, just one step ahead of the Soviet tanks, to emigrate to America. Maybe you found out your ancestors were a station on the underground railroad. You may know the story of your uncle who rode a raft from Cuba to Florida and helped dozens of other refugees survive the trip.
These are stories we are told. These stories become our own personal Hero’s Journey examples. They can inspire and intimidate at the same time.
And then there are the stories we create all on our own. We create myths about the popular girl: she’s a blonde cheerleader. Her life is perfect. We create myths about the popular boy we crush on: He is completely confident and sexy. Myths create monsters, too: Your mean neighbor is totally evil.
We write our own myths for the musician we admire, the writer whose books we read, and the actor whose beauty entrances us. We dream of being how we imagine them to be.
As we mature, we (usually) learn that our personal myths are spun from candy floss — not reality — and do a terrible disservice to the one mythologized. Every person is multi-dimensional, parts light and shadow both. Every person has her own angels and demons.
We must always remember the most important aspect of a myth. Myths are about the message, not the messenger.