Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Mythology of Supernatural - My Last 2011 Appearance

Hey Folks,

First of all, so sorry for not getting that Osiris post up yet. I had an appearance in Amarillo, TX at the B&N over the weekend. When I got home, I came down ill for 3 days with strep throat (not fun). Sometimes, I find that being around groups of people puts me at risk for getting sick.

So, this is the first day I haven't been bedridden since I got back from the Amarillo trip and I have been playing catchup all day. However, I promise to do my darnedest to get that Osiris post up on the blog before tomorrow night's episode.

Speaking of today, I am finally feeling well enough to work (and the doc assures me I am no longer contagious).

And it's a good thing, too.

Tonight I will be speaking about The Mythology of Supernatural at the RICHARDSON PUBLIC LIBRARY (900 Civic Center Dr. Richardson, TX) from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. There will be a book sale and signing after the presentation. And, yes, I WILL sign books that are brought in.

FYI - I NEVER require readers to buy a book from me in order to have me sign it.

So... if you are one of my DFW/Garland/Plano/Richardson, TX peeps ... and you are not glued to the Rangers game ... please come out and see me.

It looks like tonight will be my last appearance for the 2011 year. No more have been scheduled until 2012.

All my love and thanks for your support!

Nathan

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kitsune: The Mythology of Supernatural, Update #3

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted, folks! I was on vacation last week and forgot to put it up before I took off. My bad.

FYI - all of the below info (along with a ton of other stuff about the various mythologies of the world) can also be found in another book of mine, The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Mythology

In the Japanese language (Nihongo), the term kitsune can be used to refer to your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill fox. However, in Shinto mythology, kitsune also refers to a race of fox spirits/demons whose main purpose is to act as messengers for Inari, the Rice Kami (in English the word Kami translates, more or less, as “a god”). Kitsune also have a close relationship with a slightly more troublesome race of nature spirits known as Tengu.

Kitsune have the ability to shapeshift, and often assume human form in order to interact undetected with humans.

According to lore, kitsune spirits enjoy playing tricks on people (an attribute they share with the more trickster-like Shinto spirits called Tengu, though the Tengu tend to be a bit crueler with their pranks … kind of like Gabriel/Loki on steroids). Kitsune are often playful in nature when it comes to their mischief, and they are almost always portrayed as being helpful allies to humans (that is, of course, as long as the humans treat the kitsune with respect).

Since normal foxes often reside near humans (attracted by such things as domesticated pheasants and/or discarded food), they were a common sight among the villages of ancient Japan. So perhaps it should not be all that surprising that so many myths regarding the kitsune arose in the Shinto tradition.

Kitsune could best be described as strong, wise, and clever beings. In some stories, it is said that a kitsune’s power can be measured by counting the number of tails it has. You see, kitsune can have anywhere between 1 tail (Ichibi) and 9 tails (Kyuubi). Therefore, myths warn that a person should be extremely careful when dealing with a kitsune that is a Kyuubi (meaning it has “nine tails”). In fact, nearly all of the lore surrounding kitsune advises that a person should be kind to foxes that are not doing any harm, as doing so might cause one to accidentally end up offending a powerful kitsune spirit … which, needless to say, is something that you REALLY do not want to do … seriously … an offended and/or otherwise provoked kitsune (especially a Kyuubi) is capable of doing a LOT of damage.

One particular piece of kitsune folklore, and of which I am rather fond, goes something like this:

The story goes that a samurai encountered a fox on the road while riding home from the residence of his daimyo (lord). While still a fair distance from home, the samurai decided to nock a special “flash-bang” (gunpowder) arrow into his bow that is normally used for scaring away wild dogs. He fired the arrow at the fox and hit it in the back of the leg. As the samurai drew for a second shot, the fox darted into a nearby bush. The samurai dismounted and approached the bush, planning to finish off the fox with a final shot. However, when he aimed at the fox it disappeared into thin air. As the samurai went to retrieve his first arrow, the fox suddenly reappeared in front of him. He quickly drew his bow to loose another arrow, only to have the fox disappear before his eyes once again.

Needless to say, the samurai was feeling a bit unnerved by this experience, and decided to get back on his horse and continue on towards home. When the samurai was but a short distance from his home (say, less than a mile), the very same fox emerged from the forest on the road ahead of him. In the animal’s mouth was a burning torch, which at first puzzled the samurai. Then … the fox darted off in the direction of the samurai’s home. Overcome by a sudden and strange panic, the samurai spurred his horse into a full gallop.

By the time the samurai was within sight of his home he could see the fox sitting right next to the front door, the flaming torch still in its mouth. While he was still too far away to fire an arrow, the samurai watched as the fox suddenly transformed into the shape of a human. This “fox,” the samurai now realized, was actually a kitsune! This realization, however, did him little good when the kitsune took the torch and lit the house on fire. As the flames rose, the samurai finally came into firing distance and drew his bow once more. Before he could loose his arrow, however, the fox spirit returned to its original form and vanished into the nearby woods. The samurai could do nothing but stand by helplessly as he watched his entire house, and everything within it, reduced to ashes.

As for the whole “kitsune eat pituitary glands” thing that they did on the show … I have NO IDEA where the writers of Supernatural got that from. Seriously ... that was a REALLY weird addition.

I do know there has been some scientific research into fox growth hormones in recent years … but seriusly ... I am a mythologist, not a scientist … so I am not even going to TRY touching on that subject.

Thanks, everyone. As always, the support of readers means the world to me.

I will be posting the Mythology of Supernatural, Update #4 sometime over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eve & Leviathan: The Mythology of Supernatural, Update #2

Howdy Folks,

Before I get started, I want to warn everyone that the below information deals with events written of in the GNOSTIC scriptures, which differ greatly from the scriptures of traditional Judeo-Christian myths that many of you likely know. I ask that you please not “shoot the messenger” (a.k.a., “Me”) if you find any of what is written in this post offensive to your personal religious beliefs ... I am simply presenting information. Do with it what you will. I am not here to convert anyone.

So … it really took me a while to figure this one out.

Like many of you, I was a bit perplexed when the mysterious “Mother of All” in Season 6 of Supernatural turned out to be Eve. To be honest, I had been expecting Echidna (from Greek mythology) … possibly even a resurrection of Lilith (she is mother of all demons and monsters in Judaic myths). Therefor, when the name Eve came up … I have to admit that I was NOT expecting it. However, I realized recently that I was working under the assumption that the show’s writers were still using either the Enoch text or the usual tradition of Judeo-Christian texts.

My mistake. I should have learned by now that the writers of Supernatural are masters of going “outside the box.” It appears that they have begun to move into myths from a sect called the Gnostics. Long story short … it would seem that they are beginning to pull more and more from the Nag Hammadi, a collection of Gnostic scriptures that offer a very different version of the events written of in Judeo-Christian texts.

In a scripture from the Gnostic text, On the Origin of the World, the “Creator” (God) was actually created by the Divine Mother (Sophia, the creative feminine power of the supreme Godhead):

"And when Pistis Sophia desired to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into a likeness and to rule over matter and over all her forces, there appeared for the first time a ruler, out of the waters, lion-like in appearance, androgynous, having great authority within him, and ignorant of whence he had come into being. Now when Pistis Sophia saw him moving about in the depth of the waters, she said to him, "Child, pass through to here," whose equivalent is 'yalda baoth'."

According to the Gnostic scriptures, Eve was not created from the rib of Adam. In fact … the situation was quite the opposite. After the "new god" is accidentally brought into being during the early events of creation, this being tries and fails to bring life to the inanimate form of Adam. So, Eve is sent as a physical manifestation of the divine feminine (Sophia) to breathe life into the man who will become her mate in Eden. Simply put … based on this version of events, it turns out that Eve really is the “Mother of All” … even herself. Take, for example, the following scripture, also from On the Origin of the World, in which Eve (whose mystical name is Zoe, or “life”) descends to Eden as the daughter and messenger of Sophia:

“Sophia sent Zoe, her daughter, who is called ‘Eve,’ as an instructor in order that she might raise up Adam, in whom there is no spiritual soul so that those whom he could beget might also become vessels of light. When Eve saw her companion, who was so much like her, in his cast down condition she pitied him, and she exclaimed: ‘Adam, live! Rise up upon the earth!’ Immediately her words produced a result for when Adam rose up, right away he opened his eyes. When he saw her, he said: ‘You will be called “Mother of All Living”, because you are the one who gave me life.’”

Later in this same text, the wrathful and jealous new god (voluntarily ignorant of having been created) and his fellow immortals conspire while Adam sleeps:
“Let us teach him (Adam) in his sleep, as though she (Eve) came to be from his rib so that the woman will serve and he will be lord over her.”

And so here we find an interesting idea, that the whole “rib thing” regarding Eve was a deception put forth by this new "half-Creator," later to be call YHVH (Yahweh, Jehovah, etc.).

We all know how the Judeo-Christian traditions claim Eve was seduced by the serpent, convinced that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge would make her and Adam all-knowing. Also, such traditions claim it was Eve who then seduced her reluctant mate Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit. Therefore, Eve is often portrayed in these traditions as the person responsible for the humankind's fall from innocence and expulsion from Paradise.

According to another Gnostic text, The Testimony of Truth, the traditional version of the Eden story is incorrect. The Testimony of Truth claims "the serpent was wiser than all the animals that were in Paradise." In the Gnostic texts, the Creator/YHVH is repeatedly portrayed as "an envious slanderer," a jealous and genocidal God, one who wrathfully (and often with cruel creativity) punishes any who dare to defy his orders and commandments (this sounds a lot like Cass in Episode 1 of Supernatural Season 7, doesn’t it?).

Another Gnostic text, The Hypostasis of the Archons, informs us that both Eve and the serpent were blessed with the same supernatural wisdom granted by Sophia. Sophia, in a sense, becomes one with the serpent when she places some of her creative light within it. The serpent (who is from that point on referred to as "the teacher" or "instructor") then educates Adam and Eve on their true origins, explaining to them that they were once beings of light, a part of the Sophia, and that only by fear had they become slaves to this new deity. There was a greater being than this new deity, the serpent told them; a Supreme Godhead that enveloped both light and dark (male and female; sun and moon).

This Supreme Godhead, the serpent explained, was the real father of humanity. On top of that, they were children of the Supreme Mother, Sophia, the femine nature and creative light of the Supreme Godhead. The serpent tells them that during the long and violent process of pre-Creation, Sophia mistakenly gave life to a new spiritual being (this new “God”), who was terribly powerful … but apparently not very wise or patient. It was this new being that now forbade Adam & Eve from eating of the Tree of Knowledge. After all, if it was forbidden ... why create such a thing in the first place? Why leave it where they had access to its fruit? The Gnostic answer to this would be something along the lines of "Because the new god did not create the Tree of Knowledge ... it was a gift from the Supreme Godhead, and in his jealousy the new god did not wish for the humans to have it."

This new being was actually an integration of many entities, whose names are Yaldabaoth (child of chaos), Samael (blind god; but is sometimes translated as “blind to God”), and Saclas (the fool; sometimes, “foolish one”). This integrated being, having proclaimed itself as the one and only "True God", used the power it had leeched from Sophia to create our world, and later Adam (though he had no soul and was therefore inanimate until Sophia/Eve intervened). Neither the world nor man truly came alive when first created by this new being. After all, what sort of life comes solely from Chaos, Blindness/Darkness, and Foolishness? For Chaos there must be Order, for Darkness/Blindness there must be Light/Vision, and for Foolishness there must be Wisdom. All things exists within the cosmic balance of opposing yet coexistent forces. Therefore, Sophia sent herself to the physical realm in the form of Eve in order to bestow movement and soul to these "half-creations" with the power of her creative light.

By this rationale … Eve is truly the Mother of All. Not just the Mother of all monsters (though she is that, too) … but MOTHER of ALL: beasts, bugs, monsters … even humans, though we were lost to her a long, long time ago. Would it be any wonder why Eve would have begun putting her creative power into humans in a destructive way (as portrayed on Supernatural), creating monsters to hunt the children who abandoned her?

According to the way things are told in the Gnostic scriptures, we humans abandoned our own divine mother in order to follow a cruel, jealous, homicidal God … because we were afraid of what this new god would do to us if we did not.

Lastly, I would like to point out that the combined nature of this new being also offers us a small clue as to how the concept of Leviathan may have come into being. Even in Judeo-Christian texts, Samael is said to be one of the destructive entities that make up Leviathan. And since this being is the creation of Eve … it makes sense that the writers would put Leviathan in purgatory.

After all, according to the Gnostic scriptures … Leviathan is part of Eve’s brood, too.

Okay, I am going to end this here and give you all some time to digest this … and to give me some time to do some more research. If I come across any new info, I will post a second part to this update ... like I did with the Leviathan update.

As always, thanks for the support! See everyone on Twitter this Friday for Episode 3!

Nathan