Researching European shamanism, and then delving into the fairy tale tradition and observing how indigenous European spirituality lingered on in the folk tradition, has opened new doors of reflection. Joseph Campbell was one of the first mythologists to discuss myths as deeply intuitive messages from our ancestors with important messages for our own personal growth. His "Hero's Journey" theory has been hugely influential on subsequent storytellers. But, there is another important journey that we see depicted by certain figures in myth and fairytales; the shaman.
Years pouring over the myths and tales passed down by our ancestors through centuries to millennia will lead to great personal revelation and insight to those who think deeply and contemplate what they've read. This is true for all cultures, and I firmly believe all people of all backgrounds have something very important to gain by delving deeply into the mythic tradition of their blood ancestors.
These stories have important insight to share with us if we move beyond the surface and look deeper. They provide guidance for our regular everyday lives. And, today, as I am processing a personal tragedy, I felt the urge to share how the rich lexicon of European folk belief helps me personally process bumps along the road and direct me upon my life's journey in the hope that this gift can be passed on to others.
Over several years of studying indigenous European belief (paganism, mythology), and then studying the folk tradition (folklore, folk customs, holiday traditions, witch trial records), I began to realize that the idea that paganism died out after conversion to Christianity was simply preposterous. Native European spirituality remained an incredibly powerful force in the consciousness of the European people well into the modern era.
Fairy tales have been written off as simple stories for children. And, while children do become absorbed in the tales of the land of Faerie, these stories have layers of deep meaning that are applicable to people of all ages. We tend to think of "mythology" as somehow a higher status of literature than fairy tales. Maybe that's due to the conception of their antiquity, and the complex worlds with pantheons that represent a cast of characters whose exploits we can follow.
But, what we don't realize is that fairy tales exist within the lexicon of myth. Many fairy tales have origins that extend back into the murky haze of pre-history. Others build off of patterns and influences from those very ancient tales, and still others were formed during eras when indigenous spirituality was suppressed by the authorities, and so elements of the old religion were preserved in coded form.
By peeling back the layers, we can find deep spiritual insight and guidance in fairy tales that can give us comfort, direction, hope, and other psychological-emotional support.
First of all, I would like to introduce this new blog. I have long needed a place to collect thoughts that revolve around my accumulated knowledge of European folklore, myth, and legend, and how it corresponds with an organic spirituality and life in general. I will collect some of my postings from other venues and relocate them here, and then use this one going forward.