Three new ideas came to light this week; reimagining a mythic narrative as a means for getting unstuck, using myth as a way to navigate between the known and the unknown, reinterpreting the words in a myth to discover parallel narratives.
Recently I started thinking about Gilgamesh’s conquest over Humbaba. (See pervious post) There are multiple references to Enkedu as an instrument of fate or destiny for Gilgamesh. A parallel interpretation of this myth is to see these characters represent a shift toward balance in the development of the human psyche as fate/myth (Enkedu) bridges the divide between elements of the subconscious (forest creature) and conscious (Gilgamesh).
My personal myth connection is through Gilgamesh’s decision to destroy the monster. It was only possible to complete the task because of Enkedu and Gilgamesh’s relationship. They pass sticking points of fear by encouraging each other. If we are destine to follow the paths of fate it seems inevitable that, for psyche to grow, we must confront our own monstrous otherness within. The outcome of this confrontation had undesired consequences for Gilgamesh but was a catalyst for further development.
How does this myth play out in the developing psyche of a collective, like our democracy? Could the destruction of the Native American Indians have been our nations first collective quest to destroy the mysterious other? Was manifest destiny the myth that enabled that act of genocide? I could argue that America is still stuck in the forest seeking out monsters and engaged in the act of eliminating perceived threats. Perhaps underlying our democratic nation is the belief that all people on earth must follow the rules or face the consequences. If I re-wrote this myth I would have the king respect to the monster and reach a balanced understanding of each other’s purpose.