I watched an interesting video series recently on world mythology. It was a 60 video series and each video was 30 minutes. It took a couple of months to watch.
The first 10 or so were on Greek mythology, Greek and Roman mythology so it was somewhat familiar. The next 10 or so were on Norse mythology. I didn’t know much about Norse mythology other than the main characters like Odin and Thor in Loki. The stories were kind of interesting.
The next 10 or 15 videos run Chinese mythology. The very first video the guy talked about the Yin and Yang concept, which is in a lot of it’s kind of built into a lot of ideas and in Eastern, East Asian mythology.
Yin Yang Misunderstanding
One of the things about the yin-yang concept is something that Westerners seem to misunderstand. We seem to think of the yin-yang concept to some kind of a static balance. Like if you were to go to your acupuncturist and he would tell you that your yin-yang is out of balance and you need to get it back into balance.
That’s actually a a false concept. The basic idea of yin-yang, and you can see this from the symbol that circle with the black flowing into the white and the white flowing into the black, the basic idea has its foundations in the sunrise and sunset. It is very simple, very similar to the idea of the eternal and never-ending battle between Horace and Set.
You’ll find this idea in all areas of Chinese mythology, this idea of something transferring into something else. There also have the five stages where it shows up a lot. One of the kind of misinterpretations we in the West have according to the guy who taught this video series was the idea that yen and Yang is kind of a representation of the masculine and the feminine.
Masculine and Feminine
The masculine and the feminine, we kind of think about as a static balance. On the other hand if you look back on a long enough scale you can see that if you represent feminine by creation and life-giving and the masculine by destruction that you can see this everywhere.
Destruction always leads to creation and creation always leads to destruction. It’s almost like the entire universe is this gigantic fractal. No matter how big or small your your frame is you’re going to see this continuous flow of one thing into the other.
This destruction flowing into creation flowing and destruction, the entire universe is essentially this massively expanding something this can eventually go back to nothing and start over again so there’s a lot of these these ideas.
Oral Traditions Destroyed
One of the main problems in Chinese mythology is kind of the same problem and a lot of other mythologies. All mythologies started out is kind of an oral tradition that was not written down was highly dependent upon the local culture in the local seasons and local farming traditions and stuff.
Only when governments got really big enough to start inventing writing, they needed writing to keep track of all the stuff they owned, that’s kind of when these large governments kind of hijacked mythology and started to change the stories to kind of fit the narrative of their kind of political style.
The reason this is so prevalent in Chinese mythology is because the first Chinese Empire was so big that it essentially controlled the entire realm including all of the stories. So once when modern mythologists study Chinese mythology to have a hard time discerning which part of the stories are actually part of the original oral tradition in which part of the part that have been kind of captured by ancient governments and changed to fit the narrative of their political style.
LOTR Viking Connection
One of the interesting things about Norse mythology that I didn’t know before, that I guess is kind of obvious once you see it, is that a lot of the ideas from the Lord of the Rings is taken from Norse mythology. A lot of the lyrics from Led Zeppelin songs are taken from Norse mythology which kinda makes sense.
Think of England as a country that has it’s kind of it’s organized state religion from Christianity but it has all of his mythological stories from Norse mythology since England is essentially a mix of Saxon and Viking peoples over the past however many hundred or thousand years.
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