A Short History of Myth – Karen Armstrong

I remember buying this , quite short, book after glancing across a few of its pages and seeing a few references to ‘archetypes’.

Archetype extraction was an early additional part of many of our Cognitive Edge based narrative workshops at English Nature. Dave Snowden instilled in us an interest and an adherence to many anthopological approaches especially that of the importance of myth and ‘sense of belonging’ stories.

Here are three quotes from Karen Armstrong’s book which I feel are particularly relevant and interesting:

When an Australian goes hunting, for example, he models his behaviour so closely on that of the first hunter that he feels totally at one with him, caught up in that more powerful archetypal world.

The story of the Golden Age, a very early and almost universal myth, was never intended to be historical. It springs from a strong experience of the sacred that is natural to human beings and expresses their tantalising sense of reality that is almost tangible and only just out of reach.

The myth was not simply an exercise in nostalgia, however. Its primary purpose was to show people how they could return to this archetypal world, not only in moments of visionary rapture but in the regular duties of their daily lives.

The Guardian review of 2005 can be found here.

 

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