Exploring your mythology
Many years ago I had the opportunity to learn from a wise woman. Twice a month, she would invite a group into her home to listen to her views on life. Very often, people would ask her questions. Sometimes she gave very direct answers. Other times, she would give us an assignment that would let us discover the answer for ourselves.
One time, her assignment was simple… to write an autobiography as a myth. Because I like writing exercises, I decided to try this one. I was quite surprised by what I wrote. In my story, I was the orphaned daughter of a shaman who knew nothing about my heritage until I found myself in a situation where my gifts were urgently needed. Once I discovered who I truly was, I took on the role of healer within my tribe.
Since then, I have written my personal myth two other times, once when I moved across America to live in Phoenix, Arizona, and the other when I decided to quit my job and start my own business. Both times I was surprised by the story I wrote, and I was encouraged.
These personal myths have been magical stories for me. They have helped me to see myself in a new way, and to have the courage to continue with big changes I was making in my life. I don’t know what your personal myth will do for you, but I encourage you to find out!
This exercise consists of four parts:
Guidelines for writing myths
If you have never read myths, or if it has been a long time, here are some guidelines to help you get started.
A myth usual has these events:
An introduction to the main character
An explanation of the situation
A challenge that the main character must face
The challenge is met–with a surprise
The main character is seen differently by others
Very often, there is a supernatural influence. Think about the boy, Arthur, who manages to pull the sword from the stone and is made king. Or about Sleeping Beauty who falls under a curse and awakens from a kiss. Even Cinderella was helped by a fairy godmother who came along a just the right time!
You don’t have to have a supernatural influence, or make your main character into a super hero. You can have your myth take place in ordinary reality. But don’t feel limited to ordinary reality. This is your story… do whatever you want!
How To Start
Here are some general instructions to help you write your personal myth.
Before you start writing your myth, select a time and a place. Your myth can take place in the past or the future, and anywhere you want, even on another planet.
Think about your main character. He or she can be very much like you, or very different from you, whatever you want. Decide these things about your main character: What is your age? Your sex? Your situation?
When you are ready to write, it might help to use the traditional “Once upon a time…” You can add “…in a place far away, over the ocean…” or “…in this very place where I stand today…”
Imagine the story is being told by someone else. It might be a grandmother talking to captive children, or a parent telling a bedtime story, or one of your friends telling other people about your adventure.
There is no right length… write until you feel finished. But try to keep your story short. I generally write mine and then edit them down to under 1000 words.