One of the things I like to do is highlight the details, the small things, in flowers that you don’t see unless you – or your camera lens – get very close to the subject.
This week, I found out how challenging it is to find the details in mythology. I posed a simple question to my Comparative Mythology professor and spent hours and hours over the next two days responding to his attempts to get me to look at the details, find the answers, learn to compare. I didn’t get the right answers, I got completely lost along the way, but it was interesting trying to find how Snow White was possibly, maybe connected to the World Tree concepts which were spread across Eurasia (I know, right?).
Comparative Mythology is my favourite class. Usually. Mostly. I like all my classes but this is the only one that I willingly get out of bed and drag myself out in the cold of winter to attend at 8:30 in the morning. Given that every snowstorm we’ve had seems to occur on a Sunday night/Monday morning, this is no easy feat.
There is something about the power of myths coming down through time, the ways in which they have told and retold history – it’s just so captivating. It’s like it spins a web around you and pulls you in. The search for the details, the way that this tradition meets up with another, how these languages changed and evolved and distorted over time. Seriously.
It’s like looking at a flower and seeing the hundreds and thousands and millions of flowers that came before it to make it this flower.
The fact that the professor is brilliant and has lived a bit of a mythical life helps. His stories about finding the details in the stories, well, that’s half the fun. The way he says something and then laughs at the weirdness of the details. It is amazing to think that a person can live their whole lives in pursuit of something so elusive.
The first in the Nart Sagas we are studying right now has a section that reads:
If our lives be short,
Then let our fame be great!
Let us not depart from the truth!
Let fairness be our path!
Let us not know grief!
Let us live in freedom!
Really, how much better can it get than that.